Thursday, July 19, 2018
The next morning, she woke around 10:00, stretching and smiling as she sat up. She felt rested and refreshed for the first time in years. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she'd woken up with a smile and wondered if she ever had. She set up the coffee pot and called Lionel. He answered breathlessly, with a laugh.
"Catch you at a bad time?"
"I'm wet and dripping on the floor."
"Did I get you out of the shower?" Her mind played games with her, picturing him naked.
Almost as good an image.
"I'm hanging on the edge of the pool. I heard the phone as I hit the wall."
"Not literally, I hope."
"If I had, this would be an entirely different conversation. I imagine I'd be a lot less responsive."
She giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder with a practiced flip of her head.
"Well, I'm awake."
"I'll be over soon. Got to grab a shower and pick up breakfast."
"What are we having?"
"It's a surprise. Coffee ready?"
"I've but to push the button."
"Great. Start it in about twenty. I'll be there in twenty-five."
"Okay. I'm going to hit the shower. See you soon."
She'd just gotten out of the shower when her phone rang. Picking it up without looking, she assumed it was Lionel.
"Please tell me you aren't lost. I thought you never forgot the location of a beautiful woman."
"Um..." It wasn't Lionel. "Rista?" It was Chad.
"What do you want?" Her voice grew frosty.
"Why are you so pissed? I just called to say hey."
"So you've said it."
"Baby, come on...."
She'd forgotten how he had a tendency to whine when he wanted something from her. Usually sex, but sometimes money. Given his current location, he wasn't after nookie.
"What do you want?" she repeated, even more hostile. "I'm expecting an important call."
"From some guy can't even figure out where you live? Who is he? I'll break the fucker's legs."
"What," she said again. "Do you want, Chad?"
"To hear your voice, darlin'" He tried a different tactic. "Nights get cold up here in the Rockies."
"You're lonely and want phone sex? Is that it?"
"Just wanted to hear your voice, baby. How's stuff at home?"
"Wouldn't know. I'm not at home."
"Huh? What're you talking about?"
"Did you think I was going to wait for you to come home and decide which woman you were going to fuck next? Do you think you're that irresistible?"
"What's with you? You PMS-ing?"
"It couldn't possibly be that you ran out of town owing me money, could it? Or maybe the fact you've got at least three bastards you won't claim. Maybe it's the fact that you were screwing three different girls at the same time you were living with me. Any of that sound remotely familiar, Chadwick?"
"Say it like that, sounds kinda wrong, babe."
"It is wrong, Chad. Not just my saying it makes it wrong. You're a dirty, nasty, redneck, son of a whore and I never want to see you or hear from you again."
"No reason to insult my mama," he said defensively.
"She's a ragged, toothless Oak Hill hag!" Arista yelled, throwing her phone across the room with a scream.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
This assignment was a tough one for me. Growing up, we didn't have pets. We had a dog when I was a baby, but we left her with friends when we moved from Tennessee. Later, we found out I was allergic to everything but fish, so we never had dogs or cats.
However, I have had some strange, disturbing & eventful encounters with animals, so I'll relate a few of those. First one I can think of is the Castinada's dog, Daisy. Daisy was a Pekinese and the singularly most obnoxious little fuzz ball ever to walk the earth. She didn't like anyone, including family, except for Brad & Bart the twins. She was supposed to be their sister Jennifer's dog, but Daisy didn't like her either.
Whenever we went to Brad & Bart's house, we had to run the Daisy gauntlet. She took her job as self-appointed guard dog seriously. Whenever someone she didn't approve of walked in the door, she'd run at them, snapping wildly. (Oh, sorry, that's everyone, right?) We went by one day when I happened to be wearing stockings. This didn't happen often, but we'd been at some sort of function where I had to be dressed up. Daisy ran at me and tore holes in my stockings. After I got over the urge to stomp the little rodent into oblivion, I swore I'd get even.
Later that winter, I had to go to the twins' house again. This time I was ready. I wore my boots. These aren't some pansy, no-count boots, these babies are heavy calf hide boots with solid toes and dog stompin' heels. When she ran at me, I didn't kick her, I simply picked her up with the toe of my boot and tossed her across the room. She was so shocked, she forgot to bite anyone. It was bliss! I never had another problem with Daisy.
I told ya that story to tell you this one. When I moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, I kept those boots. I was glad I did. I used to ride my Schwinn to college and we had a nasty dog next door. I could have avoided him by going to the west, but the road was a busy one. Instead, I went the long way so I could avoid traffic. This mean I went right by his house.
I never learned the name of that rotten little rat catching Dachshund, but he made Daisy look like a real sweetie. He seemed to think that our yard was part of his territory. When he heard me leave the house, he'd dash off his porch, across our lawn and follow me down the driveway, snapping at my feet. He continued following me past his house to the end of the block three houses down.
Unlike Daisy, he didn't just snap, he tried to bite. Why his owners let him run rampant, I have no idea. Maybe they thought it was cute. I didn't share that opinion and I decided to do something about it.
Riding a bike in boots is awkward, but I did it. That nasty little beast was lying in wait for me one rainy morning. He lurked on the porch in the far corner, hunkering on his belly. I knew he was there and I was, for once, prepared. I got on my bike and took off, raincoat flapping at my legs.
Off the porch like he was launched by a trebuchet, he was in rare form. Snarling and growling, he made his final approach, determined to get me. I watched him coming, waiting. When he got close enough, I held up my boot, heel first, and kicked out. Again, I didn't try to connect, I merely scooped him up on my foot, tossing him unceremoniously into his yard. He landed with a confused 'yipe'.
Not one to give up, he started after me again. This time, he jumped, trying to bite me. He caught the edge of my coat in his teeth. Not willing to have my trench coat defaced by a set of canine teeth, I pushed at him with my foot. He didn't let go, so I stopped my bike.
The forward momentum slung him loose. He jumped at me again. I held up my foot and told him "No!" loudly and firmly. He was so shocked, he stopped running and did a face plant in the street. After that, he never followed me again. He'd run to the edge of his yard, barking wildly, growling and snapping, but like Daisy, he never came near me again.
You might think by these two tales that I don't like dogs. Untrue. I love dogs when they're friendly and well behaved. But I've got news for the nasty dogs of this town. I've still got my boots, and I know how to use them!
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Quite a Character is a series I published on another site. I thought I'd share it over here, for anyone who missed it, or anyone who would like to revisit it.
Chairman Aisulov, head of the Galactic Committee is an interesting guy. He's a member of the Vandaran race, one of the oldest cultures in the galaxy. The Vandaran people come from a beautiful, verdant, heavily forested planet and are greatly in tune with nature. Though they walk upright, the Vandarans resemble antlerless moose. They have hooves, but the ones on their arms are retractable and they have long, strong hands beneath them.
Aisulov is one of the three most powerful beings in the Galaxy. The other two are Emmelia Spenser, Chairman of the Board of the Galactic Mining Guild, and Chairman Shimmelfenig of the Navigation Guild. Heated arguments have carried on for decades as to which person is the most powerful, but the balance sways constantly in favor of one or the other.
Described as “A moose with issues”, Aisulov had his tempestuous moments. Some of his frustration can be attributed to the fact that a bizarre, interstellar incident destroyed his planet, killing his wife and children. Who wouldn't find that alarming? Though arrogant and obnoxious when we are first introduced, Aisulov finds balance once more and becomes the Vandaran male we can all know and love. I never intended him to take as much of a role in the stories as he has, but he's not a fellow who dwells in the background. At one point, his vice-chairman, Telorvech, has him declared dead. This is what happens at his funeral, during the euology.
"And now, I consign the remains of this once great man, Aisulov, to your care. May he dance in the afterlife and walk among the clouds." Raising her face toward the sky, Telorvech flung her head back, her arms out wide to her sides.
At that very moment, a bright beam of light shot through space, illuminating the stage beside her. The hazy, glittering outline of a very large, Vandaran male, scintillated beside her. It solidified, coalesced, cleared. Before her, in the undamaged flesh stood Aisulov. Falling to her knees, Telorvech took his proffered hand, kissing it and showing every sign of being delighted at his return.
"My Lord, we feared you dead!"
Aisulov stood to his full and impressive height, barely acknowledging her existence. "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." The Mark Twain quote had been Wil's idea.
There was nothing like making a surprise entrance at your own funeral. Aisulov hoped that Telorvech was stunned enough to make a mistake.
The shocked silence lasted 30 seconds. Then, far back and to one side of the chamber, hollow, echoing applause began. For a few moments only one set of hands, then two, several, many, the entire chamber erupted into resounding applause, cheers and cat calls. All manner of creatures who had no hands or paws, clicked pinchers, rasped legs and wings, clacked jaws or did whatever they could to create a positive noise in support of Aisulov.
Aisu, being the elder statesman to the core, allowed it to continue just long enough before raising his hands for quiet. Gradually, the noises died to complete silence, for all knew the Chairman would stand for nothing less.
"My friends," Aisulov's booming voice carried to the far walls even without the aid of any hidden microphones. "This show of grief honors me more than I can ever tell you. This out pouring of emotion for a poor, humble being such as myself." He looked neither poor, nor humble, but the point was made.
Having dressed simply for this occasion, he wore a plain suit of rich, deep green, the color of his clan. His earrings were simple golden hoops, no gems of any kind. The only things setting him apart, aside from his regal bearing, were the sash of office he wore, bearing the insignia of all the participating planets of the Committee, both living and dead, and a golden circlet on his brow which carried a dark green, pear shaped gem.
"I regret having put you all through this highly charged emotional time, but it couldn't be avoided. The same disaster which wrecked such havoc here in this part of the galaxy, also damaged all communication gear between here and the rim. Contact was impossible. I've returned as I said I would and in more timely a fashion than I anticipated." He paused, waiting for the precise moment to make his announcement.
"In my journeys, I've seen and done much and made many new friends. Today, I bring with me my newest friends and applicants to the Galactic Committee. May I present, The Kindred!"
With a dramatic, sweeping gesture, he presented with a flourish, indicating a barren portion of the stage. Instantly, the Elders and their entourage, the representatives of each of the clans, appeared.
A sharp intake of breath, a sigh, a chitter of delight, quiet applause, building again to a great crescendo of noise. Once more, Aisulov let the jubilation continue for just the right amount of time, playing the audience like a Stradivarius. Holding up one hand to still the crowd, he extended the other to The High Elder and he waited for silence.
A count of five after the last cheer, and he continued. The High Elder came forward, standing beside Aisulov. His diminutive size all the more impressive given his bearing, manner of dress and comparative size to Aisu. He looked breathtaking. His fur was brushed and conditioned to shine in even the slightest light. His bracelets glittered and tinkled as he moved, a musical accompaniment to his actions.
He was almost completely white, his eyes the cloudy blue of a blind man. His wooden ceremonial staff was taller than Aisulov and adorned with beads, and gems as befit his age and office. The body sash he wore was a resplendent metallic fabric swimming in the illumination like a rainbow trout, casting a spectrum of tiny lights from it.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Half a dozen people sat around a green, cloth covered table playing cards. Some were smoking, others drank light brown alcohol from short glasses tinkling with ice.
One of the women squinted past the smoke spiraling ceiling ward from the stub of a cigarette dangling from red painted lips.
"I'm thinking of killing her off," she tossed down a queen of hearts.
A bearded man picked it up, discarding a one eyed jack. "Why? Did she piss you off?"
The others chuckled lightly as the game progressed.
"No, it just has to happen for lives to move onward. She's an obstacle, a nuisance. Now one likes her."
They nodded agreement, six heads bobbing in unison.
"So, how did you figure to do it?" A well dressed, handsome man next to her said quietly.
"Stabbing," the woman replied, grinding the cigarette out. "With and antique Scottish Dubh."
"Stabbing's messy," a younger woman with long red hair wrinkled her nose. She sat opposite the cigarette smoking woman.
"She's right," the well dressed man agreed.
"Is it premeditated or a crime of passion?" The bearded man wanted to know.
"Oh, it will be very well planned ahead of time."
"Knives are for crimes of passion," the well dressed man interjected. "I'd use something neater."
"Shoot her," the redhead contributed.
"Then I have to dispose of the weapon. And the powder residue is a dead giveaway."
"Do you want it to look like a murder?" A pretty blonde next to the redhead had been silent until now, waiting for her turn to play.
"What do you mean?" The smoking woman lit another cigarette with a blue lighter, inhaling deeply.
"Well, some contract killers use drugs to make it look like a heart attack. Much less messy. No one knows the difference. It's the same drug they give you when they work on you at the hospital, so it doesn't show up on a tox screen."
"Clever! I like that. What's the drug?"
The blonde looked puzzled. "You know, I don't quite remember. You can spray it on, though. I saw that on TV."
"Hmm, have to research that."
"Set her house on fire," the bearded man said calmly, resuming game play.
"That doesn't look accidental."
"It does if she smokes in bed."
"She quit twenty years ago."
"Drunk driver killed in fatal crash," a dark haired man said enthusiastically, holding up his hands as if announcing a newspaper headline. Everyone groaned.
"Dammit, Barry! I just saw your hand," the bearded man complained.
They tossed in the cards. The redhead shuffled and dealt as the well dressed man refreshed their drinks.
"You never answered me," Barry reminded the smoker as she lit another from the stub off
the one dangling from her lips.
"Quit smoking and drinking when her dad died."
"Does she have any vices?" The redhead looked alarmed.
"The woman's a saint," the bearded man objected. "Why kill her off?"
"That's what bugs people. She's too damn nice!"
"An old lover returns, stabs her in the back for jilting him." Barry said, taking a sip from his drink.
"It's not a crime of passion."
"Well, yes and no. It's metaphorical. She stabbed him, so to speak, so he's returning the favor."
"No, I don't think that would work, but it's an idea."
"So," the well dressed man laid down his cards, ticking off points on his fingers. "We've ruled out stabbing, shooting, poisoning, fires and car wrecks. That leaves us strangling, bludgeoning, drowning and what? Fatal fall? Does she frequent tall buildings?"
The smoker shook her head, wrinkling her nose. "Afraid of heights."
"Earthquake, cave in?" Barry added, tossing down a card.
"Oh, you control Mother Nature now?" The blonde asked sarcastically.
"She told us last week the woman is a caver. You know, a spelunker thingy. Lots of unstable caves around. Lure her in, trap her in a landslide."
"What if it backfired, killing the killer?"
"Tragic irony," he shrugged, spreading his hands.
Everyone groaned again.
"Dammit, Barry!' The blonde fussed, tossing her cards at him.
"He always does that when he's losing," the bearded man grunted as he leaned across the table for cards.
Barry took the cards, shuffling rapidly. "I still like the cave in idea."
"Awfully hard to orchestrate," the smoker countered. "But I haven't ruled it out. I'm still liking the poison heart attack."
"Lots of research involved," the bearded man shook his head. "How soon did you want to do it?"
"Sometime this week. I've got to put an end to it. It's been keeping me up at night. Over three hundred pages and no resolution."
"Once she's dead, won't you have to solve it?"
"I hadn't thought of that."
"Tragic suicide," Barry said, nibbling a pretzel. "Nice, succinct, everyone knows she did it, leaves a pathetic note about how unhappy she's been. Coroner's inquest to determine cause of death. Badabing, wrapped up nice and neat."
The cigarette smoking woman stared at him in wonder. "You know, that just might work! She isn't happy and she has some tragedy in her life."
"Old lover returns and threatens blackmail," the redhead said excitedly.
"All her ugly secrets will be revealed. Maybe she has a child no one knows about!" The blonde's eyes sparkled.
"Oh, better yet, a secret child and a husband. Her marriage to this guy was a fake."
"A string of fake husbands, phony divorces and a secret child," the cigarette smoker giggled. "That's exactly what I need! Thanks, all of you! I knew I could count on you."
The table and people faded as the woman set down her drink. She was alone in her office, computer screen flickering gently in the half light. With renewed vigor, she hammered at the keys, putting her new ideas down while they were fresh. She finished the chapter with a smile, patting the screen fondly.
"Thank you," she said to her characters. Thanks to all of you."
With a smile, she shut down her computer and went to bed.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, July 05, 2018
Quite a Character is a series I published on another site. I thought I'd share it over here, for anyone who missed it, or anyone who would like to revisit it.
Aileen Griffin is an interesting character. She was suggested to me by my friend, Aileen Aroma. She loved The Ninja Tattoo and Teague, the hero, so much, she asked to be a character in the second book Conduct Unbecoming. How could I say no? I created Aileen and she jumped into the story, hit the ground at a dead run, and carried events away like a house on fire.
Since her arrival in Conduct Unbecoming, she's been in at least five more of my books (not yet published). She continues to amaze me with what she does and says. She's one of the most formidable, capable women who's ever walked onto my pages.
Aileen Griffin got off the plane, sunglasses on her head. She walked to the car rental, then to the baggage pickup. Settled in her white Dodge Dart, she turned left onto International Speedway Boulevard, heading to the interstate. Taking the south bound exit, she drove to Edgewater. Hitting the city limits, she called Teague.
"Yes, your majesty?" he answered without saying hello.
"Funny man. You should be on stage."
"What do you want, Aileen?"
Heaving a sigh, Teague told her what he'd discovered, also mentioning the man on the beach. He didn't tell her where Nadeya was, but she didn't even ask if he'd found her yet.
"Please call me with any updates."
"No problem." He hung up.
Aileen smiled and pressed a few buttons on her phone. A special GPS program had initiated with her call. She knew exactly where he was. Setting the phone in the hands free holder on the dash, she drove confidently to Teague's location.
The dogs started barking shortly after the four of them sat down to breakfast. Han ran to the door. Leah went to the window. Standing on her hind legs, she examined the outdoors, growling. Han's hackles rose and he stalked in front of the door uneasily.
A white Dodge Dart pulled up next to Teague's truck. A trim, well built woman with light brown hair, got out of the car. She scanned the terrain like a soldier, her hands on shapely hips.
Nadeya took Vivica to the office. Jasper and Teague flanked the door, watching the woman's progress through the narrow windows beside the door. Putting his head in his hand, Teague groaned. Even in jeans and a crop top, he recognized her. He told Jasper to holster his weapon and lock up the dogs.
"It's Aileen," he said.
"The ex?" Jasper struggled a moment with Han. Leah came quietly. He put them in the guest room.
"Yeah." Teague opened the door and went down the front steps. "Let me guess. GPS program on your phone."
"Handy dandy device, McMurtry. You should try it." She held her phone up proudly, waving it in front of him.
"I don't spy on people anymore, Aileen." He frowned, hands in his pockets. "Why are you here?"
"I took time off to help. Can I come in? I need to pee."
"Gotta ask the owner. Yo, Jasper!" he called loudly.
His friend came out, dressed in jeans and a tight Black Sabbath T-shirt. He looked fierce.
"The lady needs to pee," Teague said. "May she come in?"
"You know her well, bro?"
"Dude, I used to sleep with her."
Jasper nodded. They followed him inside.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, July 03, 2018
Dear Sir or Ma'am:
I bought this thingummy a fortnight ago and the dumb thing don't work right! You're s'posed to put the whatsit into the doomaflachy thingy but it ain't going. I wiggled and jiggled it some, but that's a no go. Mum kicked it and still nuffin.
I wants me money back pronto! How dare ya sell crap which don't work right? Buggers—all of ya.
Dear Mr. Simmons,
We're very sorry that you had problems with our product. Could you, perhaps, be more specific as to which product gave you refer? This would greatly expedite our refund to you.
Wot kind of name is Neville anyway? Don't know how much more specific I can be. It's that thingummy wot was on sale last week downtown. It sits on your desk and you're s'posed to be able to access that intranet whatchacallit wiff it. I want a proper thingy as will work right.
Do you mean a computer? Have you hooked it up properly? Perhaps you need to read the user's manual or take it to the shop where you purchased it and get instructions.
Whot you talking about, Neville?
Afraid I don't understand your last communication. I'm talking about the computer you bought at one of our stores last week. I was able to access your purchase information. You also purchased the extended warranty, so any service you require will be covered. Please take your computer back to the store where you bought it and they will be happy to help you out.
I done wot you said. I took the computer to the shop and they laughed at me. Bunch of nerdy looking types in blue shirts told me I'm computer illiterate. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it's and insult, be sure of that. I just want me money back, but Mum dented it when she kicked it, so they say they can't give me a full refund.
I've sent it back to you lot, part and parcel. Take the bloody thing and to hell with you and it! Pox on you, the ruddy machine and the horse you both rode in on! And you never answered my question—wot kind of wimpy, dorky name is Neville anyhow?
Thank you for returning your computer to us. Unfortunately, as you've chopped it in a million pieces, we can't give you a refund. Also, I found the letter you included with it somewhat inflammatory and personally offensive. Neville is a fine, old fashioned family name. My grandfather's name was Neville. I thank you for keeping such comments to yourself.
On a less personal note, any further missives are to be directed to my supervisor, Cedric Hinkle.
Wot sort of a daft name is Cedric anyway?
Thursday, June 28, 2018
If I had it to do over, I suppose I'd have done it differently. At the time, it seemed okay, but upon reflection, I guess it wasn't my best decision. However, you know how they say hindsight is 20/20? Yeah. That'd be me.
Not that it's a bad thing—per se—not exactly.... But I could have done better. I suppose we all kick ourselves from time to time, ruminate on the whys and wherefores of a situation, but this one really doesn't bear thinking about.
I should probably start at the beginning. I was standing on Molly Henderson's porch painting her trim. I do odd jobs around the neighborhood to make some extra cash. Anyway, she invited me in for iced tea and I graciously accepted. It was well over 90° in the shade and humid. Kind of like standing in a sauna—no air moving. The cool air in the house bathed my boiling skin in a chilly layer of gooseflesh. I sipped my tea, feeling it glide down my throat, as I chatted with Molly.
After my break, I worked my way around the front of the porch. I was glad of the deep overhang and the fact the sun was now on the back side of the house, and dipped my brush in the glistening white paint. Moments later, a wasp started circling my paint can. I swatted it away with my hand, but it came back. Something about that paint really caught its attention. I took another swat, this time with the paint brush.
All I succeeded in doing was pissing it off. Ever been on top of a ten foot ladder with an angry wasp buzzing around your head? I got off the ladder, taking a break away, hoping the damn thing would leave. When I went back up, there were three wasps circling the paint can. Great. Just what I needed.
I hopped back down and got a rolled up newspaper from the recycling bin on the side of the house. Armed with my weapon of wasp destruction, I went back to my ladder. In my absence, three more wasps had joined the ever widening circle of my paint can. I now had six wasps weaving a wobbling flight path over my can. I couldn't even approach it for fear they'd sting me.
Maybe now's the time to tell you that I'm deathly afraid of being stung. I sat on a swing with a wasp's nest under it when I was a kid. Couldn't see it because of the tall grass around the swing set. Twenty-eight stings I got that day. So maybe you can understand why I'm a bit leery, huh?
I halfheartedly swung my paper around, hoping to discourage and scatter the critters, but they weren't about to comply. Molly came to the front door and watched me for a few minutes, hands on her hips.
“Skip Richards, I'm not paying you to play tag with that paint can. Get back up on the ladder and finish my trim!”
“I'd like to, Miss Molly, but there's wasps....”
“Don't make me call your mama!”
“Miss Molly, I'm 23 years old. You don't need to be calling my mama cause of some wasps.”
“Swat those things away. Big boy like you ought not to be afraid of a couple wasps!”
“There's eight of them now. I can't kill all eight at a time! Not with this!” I held up my paper.
Molly huffed angrily and went inside. She came back with a spray can and a broom. “Spray 'em with this and knock 'em aside with a broom.”
I took the proffered weapons with trepidation. What good was hairspray? I thought she'd bring me some wasp killer or, better yet, a blow torch—but no.... I've got me a broom and a can of AquaNet.
Taking careful aim, and making sure I was upwind, I sprayed that hairspray for all I was worth. I must've used half the can. One wasp after another wibbled and wobbled and fluttered away. All but one. It landed on the rim of the can.
I sprayed it again. Instead of flying away, it did a strafing run at my head! I swatted at it with my hands, but it kept coming. I took up the broom, flailing around me like some kind of straw armed Ninja.
All of a sudden, Miss Molly's screaming at me from the front porch. I couldn't understand what she was saying until it was too late. I thwacked that ladder and paint can. Ladder and all came down on me.
Covered in paint with a huge knot on my head from where the ladder hit me, I sat on Miss Molly's yard while she and the entire neighborhood had a good laugh at me.
Yup—wish I'd of done it differently....
The next morning, she woke around 10:00, stretching and smiling as she sat up. She felt rested and refreshed for the first time in yea...
"Successful night?" Claudette drew clear liquid into a hypodermic needle. "Very." Rafaela lay on the bed, thigh bar...
"Enough! Leave more for later." "Why?" he gasped. "You never—" "Merry Christmas, my love. I had no...
She held out her hand to him. Dirk took it, raising her hand to his lips. He drew her to him, kissing her deeply. Rafaela felt her knees ...