Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The Man Who Wasn't There is the second book in my Miracle, Mississippi Series. He Thought He Saw (2012 NaNo) is book one.
Brian called 9-1-1, but the line was busy. Yelling at Romeo, he finally got the other boy's attention. "There are people trapped in here. They're hurt. Find help!"
Romeo dashed off. Some of the boys on the cheerleading squad ran over. Brian activated the flashlight app on his phone and led them into the dilapidated shed.
"We're in here," the girl called. "Please, help."
"Coming!" He turned to the boys. "Okay, the roof collapsed and the wall caved in. There are people trapped. Can you handle this?"
The boys shrugged, nodding.
"People need help," one of them replied. "I can handle anything."
Slowly, Brian opened the door. It swung toward him, sagging on the hinges, squawking like an angry goose. Brian shown his light in the entrance. He saw the wall with the boy holding it. He looked ready to fall down. A row of roofing nails were embedded in his thigh. Blood had pooled at his feet. It took longer to find the girl. She was partially buried under the wall. She was pale and afraid, but was alert.
"Better not to move her," Brian told the boys. "But let's shore up the wall and roof. What's your name?" he asked the young man.
"Noel and that's Trista."
"I'm Brian. That's Justin and Flynn." He pointed to the cheerleaders. "Anyone else here?"
"Just us. I'm hurt bad, Brian. I can't hold this much longer."
The other two boys were busily trying to move the book shelf, only to find it was attached to the wall. Brian spotted a line of file cabinets. He told the other boys to get that. Ripping off his shirt, he tore the cloth into strips and bound up the leg wound. Noel was in a bad way. The blood seeped slowly and he shook with the strain of holding the wall. Once that was done tying up the wound, Brian found a place to stand by the other boy and took the weight of the wall on his own back, pushing with his powers.
Justin and Flynn moved the file cabinets into place, taking the weight from Brian and Noel. They lifted Noel and set him aside. He screamed in pain as they moved his injured leg. Both of them apologized as the lowered him to the floor. Keeping the force going, Brian eased out from under the wall and went to sit by Trista. She was pale, clammy. He didn't dare move any of the rubble without help. Depending on her injuries, she might be alive only because the debris acted like a tourniquet.
"Help's coming, honey. Hang in there."
"Here, baby. I'm okay."
Justin had added strips of his shirt to Noel's leg. Moving him had started the bleeding again. He fashioned a tourniquet with that and a Bic pen. It wasn't ideal, but it would hold until help arrived. A pounding of feet outside heralded the arrival of the emergency team.
Romeo stood outside, panting. "Sorry it took so long. The courtyard is blocked. We had to go around."
"Thanks," Brian said. "Trista's in a bad way," he told the EMT. "I have no idea what's going on under there. I didn't try to move her. We had to get Noel out from under the wall. It was ready to collapse and so was he."
"You did good, kids. Thank you." He turned to Trista, smiling. "Hello there, young lady. My name is Darren. Let's see what's going on, okay?"
"Okay," she said faintly.
Brian knew she was in bad shape. He could sense that one lung was on the verge of collapse and she had internal injuries. She had a spinal fracture and a compound fracture of the left femur. The knowledge wasn't from his own mind. He could hear someone else's voice in his head telling him.
"I think she has a spinal injury," he said aloud. "And her lung is collapsing."
"He's right," the second EMT said. "She's sipping air. Anything else, kid?"
"Broken leg and some internal bleeding."
The emergency personnel stared at him.
"How do you know that?" Justin asked.
"Call it a hunch."
"We've got a couple stretchers outside. Think you boys can get our friend to one?" the first EMT asked.
"Yes, sir." Brian gestured to Justin and Flynn. He got the stretcher and the boys helped lift Noel onto it.
"I'll show you how to get around," Romeo said. He took one end of the stretcher.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Book One, He Thought He Saw, is currently being shared at my other blog every Sunday and Wednesday
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Rain fell in endless sheets, hammering against the windshield. Wiper blades on high couldn't keep up, clearing a patch here and there, only to fill immediately with droplets. Ironically, the morning forecast had called for sunshine and partly cloudy skies with a 20% chance of rain. That 20% was currently drowning the landscape. Wipers raced, water slashed against the bottom of the car as it sliced through puddles on the interstate. Drainage ditches couldn't keep up with the rainfall. Already, a foot of water stood at the sides of the road.
Division Bell by Pink Floyd, blared from the speakers. One reason Blythe Donovan had purchased the car, was the superior sound system. Okay, it was the main reason, but she told her friends it was because of the fantastic mileage. Wanting to hear Marooned again, Blythe tapped the button to take her back to the beginning. Her eyes left the road for less than 10 seconds. Movement and a flash of tail lights greeted her startled eyes. Ahead of her, the cars had slowed to a crawl. The sky chose that moment to open further, dumping gallons of water on the already sodden land.
"Oh, God! Help me!"
She watched the tail lights of the car ahead of her, get closer. Foot firmly on the brake, she panicked, trying to turn her car off the road. The steering wheel didn't respond as the car hydroplaned on the accumulated water. She saw a trailer hitch as she plowed into the rear end of a pickup. Time ran in slow motion. She saw the vehicles collide. There was a sickening crunch of metal, glass flew, air bags exploded from the console. The seat belt snapped into action, rubbing brutally across her collarbone. Smoke filled the car as she shuddered to an unsteady halt. Terrified by the smoke and noises, she struggled with her belt and car door.
The other vehicle rolled off the road, but her poor mangled car wasn't going anywhere. Cars surged around her as she fumbled with her telephone. She knew someone had probably already called in the accident, but that was what people did, right? The dispatcher answered and she burst into tears.
"I ran into someone. My car is broken."
"Calm down, miss. It's all right. We've already had a report. An officer is on the way. Try to stay calm. Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so."
"Can you move your vehicle?"
"Not by myself."
"Help is on the way. Stay out of the road."
The smoke thickened in the car. Blythe coughed, waving it away. Someone tapped on her passenger side window.
"Are you okay?" a young woman asked.
"I think so."
"You need to get out of there," a man said from the driver's side. "Let's get it moved off the road. Can you help push?"
"Put the car in neutral, miss. You steer."
She did as she was told, foolishly keeping her foot on the brake. The man glanced at her feet as he tried to push and the car wouldn't move.
"Need to take your foot off the brake," he teased, flashing a toothy, white grin.
"Sorry. I'm sorry."
"It's okay." His black hair was plastered to his head by the rain. He had a kind demeanor, with a nose that was a little too large for the rest of his face. "You need to get out of there," he said as the car rolled to a stop. "Make sure the engine is off."
"Can you stand? You're not pinned?"
"No. I'm okay."
He pulled the door open. It was bent and dented by the impact. It took a moment for him to get it wide enough for her to exit.
"You'd better get your things," the young woman suggested.
"You can come sit in my car when you're done," she offered.
"And get some pictures for your insurance agent."
Blythe fumbled a few seconds with her phone, trying to focus on the wreck. Her long, brown hair was plastered to her head by the rain. Her hands shook as she took her pictures. It made her sick to look at her car. An EMT in full rain gear, approached her.
"Is this your car?"
"Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so. Just shaken up." She stuttered, blushing. "I'm sorry," she babbled. "I don't know what happened."
"It's okay, miss. Everyone is shaken up at a time like this. Deep, slow breaths."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
TODAY from 4:00 – 6:00 PM EST on Blog Talk Radio
Dellani and Christina are delighted to welcome back two fantastic authors, and greet a new one. Please make note of the time slots so you won't miss your favorite author! Whit: 4:00 to 4:40, Brian: 4:40 to 5:20, Gary: 5:20 to 6:00
First up is our pal Whit McClendon, author of Mage's Burden and Gart's Road. Whit will be on from 4 to 4:40 to chat about his work.
Second is newcomer, Brian Briscoe, author of The Conflict Etiquette Handbook: The Art of Behaving Well in the Midst of Conflict and Juke: A Blues Novel. Brian will be on from 4:40 to 5:20.
Third, our buddy Gary D. Henry, author of In the Manor of Heather Black, Falling Waters, Witchwoods, and more. Gary will come on from 5:20 to 6:00
We look forward to chatting with each of our authors. As always, dust off your speakers, kick back with your favorite beverage and enjoy the show!
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Wind whispered in the trees and dried leaves clattered in its wake. An owl hooted. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention. The full moon seemed to follow him as he walked down the road alone. The wind became voices. The leaves, the dry rattle of old bones. The sighing grew louder and Brian was able to pick out words. At least, he thought they were words, but in a language he couldn't understand.
Increasing his pace, he glanced over his shoulder. Wispy figures gathered in the tree line around the swamp road, moving slowly and steadily toward him. Brian tried to convince himself it was only his imagination, but it felt far too real.
One of the figures approached at a slow, loping run. Brian could hear the heavy, measured footfalls as it lumbered toward him. He completely lost his cool. Roaring loudly, he ran at the figure, dodging away when it grabbed at him. Chilling wind passed as the figure drifted away, dissipating as it headed to the woods on the other side of the road.
Brian ran along the center of the road, frightened by his encounter with the wraith. More of them gathered in the swampy woodland, but no others were bold enough to approach him. Hearing a twig snap to his left, Brian put on a burst of speed. With a cry of fear, he felt a shove at his back and tripped over his own feet. As he fell, he saw the wraiths grow bolder. They moved in unison, swooping toward him. Terrified, Brian lay on his belly, unsure how to combat them.
A solid form burst out of the bushes. A large dog stood over Brian, growling and barking. It took a moment for him to realize that the wraiths halted. Some tried to go a step or two further, but the dog renewed its attack. One by one the ghosts dispersed, melting into the fog once more.
Brian let his breath out slowly. The animal stood over him, but moved aside as he sat up. It was the biggest dog Brian had ever seen, broad through the chest with powerful legs and a ridge of hair down his spine. It looked silver in the moonlight.
Curious, Brian reached slowly toward it, hand out, palm up. The beast's tongue flicked out, licking his cheek. Her warm breath convinced the boy that the dog was alive and real. She slurped him again, butting his hand so he'd pet her. Laughing, he complied.
"Where did you come from, girl?" Predictably, he got no reply. "Never mind, I'm just glad you're here."
He got up, dusting himself off. Leaves stuck to his body, mud caked every inch of him. Twigs and more leaves adorned his closely cropped hair. Getting his bearings, he headed toward home once more. The dog walked with him, her head under his hand. Her tongue lolled and she looked as if she were laughing at his appearance.
"You take a header into a mud puddle and see how good you look."
The dog barked gleefully. She dashed ahead, sniffed and snorted, before trotting back to his side. She stayed with him until they reached his home. With a yip, she left him, drifting into the woods. The front door fell shut with a comforting bump behind him. Heaving a sigh of relief, Brian locked and bolted the door. He leaned against it, panting. His hands shook and he felt light headed. His heart thumped so hard in his chest, he could hear it in his ears.
He slowly made his way upstairs, wishing his mother were home. Being home alone had never bothered him before, but he felt vulnerable, isolated. Brian hadn't realized quite how dirty he was until he saw himself in the bathroom mirror. He stripped off his filthy clothing and dropped it on the bottom of the shower. He hoped he could get some of the trash off it before putting it in the laundry.
The water ran black as he washed himself and his clothing. He picked up twigs and leaves as he bathed. Afterward, he scooped up handfuls of debris, dropping it in the garbage. His clothing, he placed in the sink to drain as he dressed. As he lugged the basket of wet clothing downstairs to the basement, he saw what a mess he'd left when he'd come in. The white curtain over the front window was caked with dirt. A muddy trail led up his mother's clean, wooden steps.
He descended to the basement quickly and tried not to think about his experience in the woods. It still scared him, even though he was safe in his home. He'd never particularly liked the basement and his recent scare made it worse. He threw his clothing into the washer, added soap and took the stairs to the kitchen two at a time.
Cleaning up his mess kept his mind off what had happened. Strange things had been happening to him for weeks, getting weirder and spookier by the minute. At first, he'd passed it off as stress. It was apparent that his stress level had very little to do with the events of the night He'd been coming home from a friend's house after a Halloween party.
Chase lived on the other side of the tiny, Mississippi town. The quickest way home was to cut through the woods that skirted the swamp. Brian had taken that route on foot or on his bike a million times with no problem. So why was tonight different? Because, tonight something had changed. He couldn't put a finger on it, would never have been able to explain it in words, but he knew it as surely as he knew his own name.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
He Thought He Saw is currently being shared on my other blog every Sunday and Wednesday
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Ralan stormed out of the house, slamming the solid wood door with a satisfying thunk. He left too precipitously, without his coat, and it was considerably colder outside than it had been earlier in the day. His long hair still damp, he got chilly before he got halfway down the long, sloping driveway. He wanted a walk, somewhere there were no other people. He was furious and needed a chance to calm down.
Footsteps slapping on the pavement behind him made him slow and turn around. Daphne was behind him with a jacket. She handed it to him almost shyly, biting her lower lip. He slipped it on, turning up the collar against the wind.
"Shit, it's cold out here!" She hunched into her coat, shivering.
Ralan put his arms around her, holding her close.
"Are you going to get into trouble over us?"
"Heard that, did you?"
"We all heard. That's a big, open house with great acoustics. Romy sounded furious."
"He's not my boss. Unless he rats me out...."
"What did he mean about me being a witness?"
Wondering how much he should say, he paused so long she thought he wasn't going to tell her. Slowly, editing considerably, he told her about his investigation. She listened carefully, waiting until he was finished to speak.
"You knew about me before Karen called you?"
Ralan froze. He'd forgotten to edit that little gem of information. Shit!
"You were following me? Stalking me?" She shoved away from him. "Like—a criminal?"
"No, Daphne. Not like that. I was worried about you. You have no idea what all's involved here."
"No, because you've chosen not to tell me. Did it ever occur to you or your primate buddy that I can help? I'm marginally intelligent. I've got more than just a great ass and nice tits to recommend me."
"I never said that, Daphne. I never trivialized you. I can actually have an intelligent conversation with you. Do you know how rare that is? Most of the women I know are either married, bimbos or trying like hell to kill me. I finally met a woman who's none of the above and you're pissed at me because I was trying to protect you."
"No, you were investigating me. Admit it. You wanted to know if I was legit before you deigned to have anything to do with me! So you wouldn't compromise your case because you fell for the villain. I hope you're satisfied."
"Daphne, it wasn't like that."
She took a step toward him, poking him hard in the chest. "It was exactly like that." She turned, stalking away. She'd gone a few steps when she spun around once more. "Did you do that on purpose?" she demanded.
"That whole sparing thing in the gym. Did you set me up just to fuck me?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. I invited you to workout."
"Like you didn't have it planned all along? Do I look that stupid?"
Ralan frowned, dark eyes blazing. "At the moment, yeah! It wasn't a setup, Daphne. It just happened. And it was great! Would I like to do it again? Yes! And I think you would too."
She couldn't admit that her body burned for him again. She wanted him more than she'd ever wanted any man in her life. Having him once wasn't enough. She needed him over and over before she could possibly be satisfied.
"Don't flatter yourself," she sneered. She continued her angry journey toward the house.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Connor met Shel Petry, his assistant, Henrietta Carter and the leading man and woman, the ever popular power couple, Joshua Cohen and Amanda Pennant.
They arrived with an entourage of photographers and bodyguards. Fortunately, the condo catered to high profile clients and the riffraff were soon sorted out and disposed of. However, that still meant two photographers and the assistants for Cohen and Pennant. In other words, way more people than Connor felt up to dealing with.
Determined to make a good impression, he led the group through the condo to the beach outside. The beach front was beautiful. The waves crashed nicely against the shore, the sand was white and clean looking, the expanse of beach wider than some. Once Petry saw it, he realized that Kent had the right idea. They were busily discussing the action of the scene, experimenting with angles and taking all kinds of publicity photos when Connor grabbed at his chest, gasping. They vaguely registered a cracking sound as he fell.
He stumbled into Petry and Carter, knocking Josh Cohen aside as he fell. Henrietta took one look at the crimson stain spreading over his pristine white chest and let out a piercing scream. A second cracking sound and the sand at Joshua's feet exploded.
Chaos ensued. Everyone on the beach ran in a different direction. Shel Petry had enough wherewithal to call the police. Henrietta Carter pressed her scarf against Connor's wound. The leading man, Cohen, added his shirt, holding the exit wound on Connor's back.
Amanda Pennant screamed hysterically until she realized no one was paying any attention to her, so she fainted. It might have played better if she hadn't rearranged her legs so they weren't sprawled open after she fell.
Beach Patrol arrived, followed by the ambulance. Two paramedics ran across the sand and did whatever they could to stabilize Connor for transport. They carried him to the ambulance and took him to the hospital, a semi-hysterical Henrietta with him. She refused to leave his side.
An EMT administered smelling salts to Amanda. The police arrived a few minutes later and started rounding up witnesses, but it was an impossible task. The beach was full of vacationers and residents, many of whom didn't wish to get involved. The only ones they got a clear, coherent statement from were a couple from Sweden who were standing nearby hoping to get an autograph from the actors.
Detective Vanessa Weinstein came on the scene ten minutes after the shooting. Aggressive and competitive, she was an up and comer. She knew how to play the game and used her femininity to her advantage. Dressed in a black power suit and a very white shirt, she stood out clearly on the beach. Somehow, in some mysterious way that Walter Scott couldn't explain, the woman didn't sweat. Her black hair was sleek, unmoving in the wind off the ocean. Her skin was perfectly dry, not even a bead of perspiration on her full lips.
"The rest of Daytona's in hell in this late season heat wave and you stand there looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy," Scott complained, wiping his face with a handkerchief.
"Don't drip in my crime scene," she said in a bored tone. "What's going on upstairs?"
"Got two perps, one actual shooter, one decoy. Second guy left his weapon. Your guy left a shell casing. Looks like both had the same kind of gun. No serial numbers on mine."
"Why would they make it easy? You didn't find my gun, huh?"
"Nope. But the shell's a 5.56mm, so we're figuring they both had identical weapons. MSSR."
She nodded, taking a sip of hot coffee from an insulated mug. Scott slurped water from a rapidly warming bottle and wiped his brow on his fist.
"Jeez, can we at least get outta the sun? I'm gonna fry."
"You should try getting a tan, Walt."
"I'm Scottish and Scandinavian, Ness, I don't tan. You could put me out here all day, I'd burn red as a beet."
"They're purple." She moved into the shade of a cabana bar where they'd set up their command center.
"You don't look like you'd burn. Got that brown hair and eyes."
"Dad's a redheaded Highlander, I got his complexion. Tell me something I need to know, Ness."
"We've got a bullet."
"Buried in the sand. I heard."
"And the victim wasn't supposed to be here."
"His brother was the one with the appointment, not him. Ever heard of Kent Griswald?"
"Who hasn't? Man's either a genius or Satan himself—take your pick."
"The vic is his younger brother, Connor. He took the meeting for Kent—who had something else to do."
"You're thinking his brother set him up?"
"Wouldn't be the first time. Younger brother, hungry for power, steps on the wrong toes?"
Scott nodded, thinking. The bartender handed him a glass of ice for his water. Scott thanked him with a silent nod.
"Doesn't feel right," he said.
Vanessa Weinstein shrugged. "Working theory."
"Meaning you do like and it's what you're going after. Bad way to work, Ness."
"You aren't the only one who can be right about something, Walter." She turned from him, heading out to the beach.
Walter Scott caught her hand. Tugging on her, he brought her back. "Look, you're a hell of a cop, Nessa. All I'm saying is don't limit your options. I've seen you do this. You get so focused on one thing, you miss details. This is a big deal, Nessa. Careers are made or broken over cases like this."
She got very quiet, moving closer. "This could buck me to Sergeant."
"Or bury you. I know you want to advance. Hey, I'd love a promotion. But take it slow, look at details. Don't miss something that's right in front of you because it doesn't fit your puzzle."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Welcome fall! Ready for cooler weather Dellani and Christina are also welcoming two wonderful authors to chat about their work Monday, November 14 from 4 - 6 PM EASTERN.
First is newcomer, Cheryl Kerr author of See Ya and Photofinish.
Second is Canadian writer, CW Lovatt author of And Then it Rained Adventures of Charlie Smithers, Josiah Stubb & Wild Wolf's Twisted Tales
Both authors will discuss their work, inspiration, their writing style and anything else that occurs to the host. As always, expect silliness, hilarity and just plain fun. Join us live from 4 - 6 EASTERN time.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
So, you want to write. There are a few things you need to know and the greatest of these is grammar. I'm not saying that you must know how to parse a noun or diagram a sentence, but as a writer, you do need to know what's correct and what isn't. Bad grammar isn't something you can pass off as your writing style. That isn't style, that's laziness.
Bad grammar is rampant, even in big name authors' books. The main error I've spotted is LAY, LAID, LIE. I've mentioned this before, because it's a biggie and it bugs the ever loving crap out of me. It is so common place, most people don't even know they are wrong. What's sad, however, if that their editors don't seem to know either. That's a sorry commentary on editing. You don't have to know why something is wrong, in fact, the explanation would confuse us both. Instead, I'm giving some examples below.
She LAY down on the bed.
He LAY on the floor.
The book LAY on the backseat.
She LAID the book on the bed.
He LAID his head down on the floor.
We LAID new carpet.
Go LIE on the bed.
Don't just LIE there.
I'm going to LIE down.
There is a trend toward over correcting, as well as avoiding LAID because of the sexual connotations. If the verb bothers you on some deep, emotional level, don't use it. If you do use it, use it correctly. If you aren't certain, ask someone. Ask several someones. Chances are, they don't know either, so keep asking until someone tells you it's wrong—they are probably right.
Along these same lines, a few tips to help you remember the correct use of a few simple words:
There's – A contraction meaning There Is. There's a fly in my soup!
Theirs – A pronoun showing ownership. The fly in your soup is theirs.
You're – A contraction meaning You Are. You're sure it's their fly?
Your – A pronoun showing ownership. Do you want it to be your fly?
They're – A contraction meaning They Are. They're going to ask for their fly back.
There – A location. Fine, then set it over there.
That being said, let us continue. Not every word ending in S requires an apostrophe. For example:
THEIRS (again) not Their's
HERS not Her's
These pronouns show ownership, but they are not the same as adding an apostrophe S to a noun in order to show ownership (A possessive noun)
The cat's pajamas.
Grapes, pickles, cards, pigeons, antelopes, buffoons – these are all plural words (plural meaning more than one) They don't require an apostrophe UNLESS you are going to show possession with them:
The PIGEONS' birdseed went bad and I had to buy more.
The ANTELOPES' territory is getting smaller.
(And in this case, the apostrophe goes AFTER the S because it is possessed by more than one.)
Have I totally confused you all by now? Probably. To me, these things are as common as breathing, but I was raised by an English professor and a teacher, so I learned from birth how to say things correctly. I also used to teach high school A.P. English and have been writing and editing most of my life. This isn't hard. Really, it's not. People want to make it hard and forget what's right and what's wrong, mostly because it isn't important enough to them to remember. Meanwhile, in the muddle of mistakes, your message is lost.
It's the little mistakes that make an author look stupid. What if your book become a best seller? The Grammar Gurus get hold of it and ridicule you publicly for being too stupid to get your grammar right. Don't let that happen to you. Ask questions, read books, take classes. Learn the tools of your craft. Whether you like it or not, that includes grammar.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Lying in bed, Teague got a sudden case of the creeps. He made another circuit of the house, peeping out the edge of the drapes in the living room. With the room dark behind him, the moon reflecting off the water, he thought he saw a person lurking in the shadow of the dock. As he watched, a lighter flared, barely illuminating the figure. It was a man with a shaved head. Teague couldn't see details from his room. He had the impression that the man was solidly built.
The idea of calling the police flickered through his mind, but he dismissed it. Instead, he got dressed in dark jeans and a black T-shirt. He got his survival knife, attaching it to his gun belt. Next, he got his Glock 22 out of the locked cabinet. He had a license to carry a concealed weapon. That went in a holster opposite the knife. As prepared as he could be, he put on his military boots and left the house by the side door that opened off the utility room. It was concealed by an arched trellis covered in bougainvillea and nearly invisible from the street. Chances were, if someone was watching the front, they were also at the back and the door facing the side street. He doubted they knew that this other side door existed. He'd lived in the house nearly a week before noticing it himself. Leaving it unlocked, he eased through the trellis, the thorns on the bougainvillea grabbing at his clothing and uncovered skin.
Ignoring the stinging wounds, he moved like a shadow through the overgrown side yard down to the street. He knew he'd be exposed crossing the street, but the nearest light was almost a block away. There were deep shadows from the thick water oaks that surrounded his house and the one next door.
Becoming part of the night, he took a circuitous route to the dock next to his, coming at the man from the right rear. His knife was out and across the unprotected throat before the other man knew he was there. Left hand held the knife, right clasped his neck in an unyielding hold.
"Who the fuck are you and why are you watching my house?" His voice a menacing whisper.
The man didn't move, but Teague felt him tense. He was going to try to get away. The knife blade turned slightly, catching the glimmer of moonlight along the razor sharp edge. It was the only part of the knife that shone. The rest of the blade was a dark, matte finish. An assassin's knife and Teague knew how to use it.
"Give me a reason," Teague growled.
The man relaxed. "I've got friends," he murmured.
"I'm sure you do. But you'll be dead before they can take me out. Keep that firmly in mind. Now talk."
"Doing what I'm told," he grunted as Teague's grip on his neck tightened. "I don't know."
He hyperventilated as Teague's forearm put pressure on his windpipe.
"Swear ta God—I don't—know!" He gasped as he collapsed on the ground. He wasn't dead, just unconscious.
Teague went through his pockets looking for identification. He had a driver's license on him. Teague couldn't see it clearly in the half light, but caught part of the address. He wasn't a local. Memorizing the face and as much of the name and address as he could, he put it back. He wondered where the other men were. Had they seen him? Doubtful, or he'd be surrounded.
He took his concealed route back across the street, making his way to his neighbor's yard. He was up and over the high wooden fence in one smooth movement. Landing lightly on the soft turf behind his garage, he took another watcher by surprise. This one had the time to make a faint noise of alarm before Teague knocked him out.
He couldn't have seen the other man's ID in the murky darkness, but he searched him anyway. This one was armed. Teague emptied the magazine into his palm, ejecting the chambered round before tossing the gun on the man's chest. He pocketed the bullets.
The first man had mentioned friends. Teague assumed that meant at least one more. Since he had another door facing the side street, he figured the third man was probably watching it. There was heavy cover around it. That would play to his advantage as well. He thought of the place that would be the most obvious ambush spot and headed for it. He wasn't disappointed to find a third man standing by the birdbath under the oak tree, surrounded by a thick stand of ferns, hibiscus and other tropical plants.
It wasn't the place Teague would have chosen, there were too many mosquitoes and noseeums hiding in the undergrowth. He hoped the guy was getting eaten alive. A slow, feral grin spread across his face as the man swatted multiple times, grumbling loudly about getting bitten. The grousing lasted about 20 more seconds before Teague had his arm locked behind him, his face grinding into the bark of the oak tree.
"Who are you?" He snarled low in the man's ear. "I swear, I will end you and your buddies if you don't talk."
"This is your place?"
"Why the fuck would I be here if it wasn't? Talk!" He emphasized the importance by slamming his thigh against the man's knee from the rear. A grunt told him that it had connected with the tree. "And don't give me 'I don't know' like the guy by the docks."
"What?" His voice rose in volume and pitch.
"How many are there?"
"Three. I swear, just us three."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
"Ms. Kendrake, they're expecting you upstairs on the fifth floor, room fifty forty-two. There will be someone at the desk up there who can direct you to the correct room. You'll need a name tag. One second."
She printed out a name tag, handing it to Alyssa with a smile. Alyssa smiled in return, taking the name tag, attaching it to the lapel of her pale pink pantsuit. The desk on the fifth floor was unoccupied, so Alyssa waited until a tall swarthy skinned man walked by.
"Excuse me," she said quietly.
He turned to her with a smile. "May I help you?"
"Yes, I'm looking for the casting director of Deserted. I was told to go to room fifty forty-two, but I don't know where that is."
"I'd be happy to show you, Miss Kendrake. I'm going there myself. My name is Barry." He shook her hand politely.
"Thank you, Barry."
She followed him down the hall, admiring the view. She didn't usually allow herself to stare at a man, but he didn't seem to notice. He was incredibly well built and his clothing set off his physique well. He wore dark gray dress pants, a dove gray shirt and no suit coat. His tie was a blend of gray and blue, like damp watercolors swirled together. He looked more like a professional athlete than someone who worked in an office.
Barry chuckled to himself. It wasn't often a pretty woman came in the office and watched his ass as he walked down the hall. Strutting casually, he emphasized his swagger a little, to keep her looking. She thought he wasn't aware of her gaze, but he was. He didn't mind the lingering caress of her eyes. As a matter of fact, it was not only flattering, but a distinct thrill.
Alyssa watched the muscular man walk, thinking how long it had been since she'd had one of her own to admire up close. Blinking rapidly, she nearly ran into him when he stopped in front of room 5042. He held the door partially open, standing not quite far enough away for her to walk easily through. He leaned casually against it, one arm raised well above her head. Smiling down at her, he invited her into the room with a smile and a hand at the small of her back.
Alyssa had to turn slightly to face him, nearly brushing up against him. With a shy smile, she eased by his arm. Eyes demurely downcast, she glanced up at him like Lauren Bacall. Barry felt his pulse quicken as he closed the door behind them.
"Everyone, this is Alyssa Kendrake. She's here about Deserted. She's our next appointment."
"Welcome, Alyssa," a smiling, dark haired woman greeted her. "Please have a seat. I'm Kimberly Crimson, casting director. You've met Barry Sebring. Next to me is Mickey Stafford and to the left of him is Grace Bing. Why don't you begin by telling us a little about yourself."
Alyssa took the indicated chair. It was softer than it looked and she sank more deeply than she anticipated, nearly losing her balance. Righting herself with difficulty, she sat on the edge so she wouldn't have another mishap.
She looked quickly at the people in the room, sizing them up as best she could. Barry was tall, athletic, handsome. Kimberly wasn't much over five feet, slightly rounded, with soft dark hair and eyes. Grace was somewhat older than the others. Graying hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail. Her half moon glasses rested on her nose. Mickey, who couldn't have been much older than her high school students, was probably an intern.
"I'm Alyssa Kendrake. I'm thirty-two and a school teacher, or at least I was until all the budget cuts. To be specific, I am an out of work, high school, English teacher. I'm not really sure why I'm here. I'm not an actress."
"You filled out an application for a clerical position," Kimberly answered. "There was a picture with your application. I was going through the files and liked your look. It was my decision to ask you in."
"Oh, well that's great! I'm desperate to find something. The wolf is scratching at the door as we speak."
They smiled politely, shuffling papers in front of them. Barry stared openly, the others kept glancing at her, scribbling notes on their papers. No one said anything for quite awhile.
"What else can you tell us about yourself?" Barry asked suddenly. "Are you married? Seeing anyone?"
Alyssa got the impression that those were more than casual questions. She couldn't see what they had to do with anything, but turned to Barry with a friendly smile.
"I'm single, not for lack of trying. Why? Is this job contingent upon my being single?"
"No, I was just curious. Purely from a business point of view, of course," he added quickly, glancing at Kimberly.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
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