Thursday, October 19, 2017
Kent Griswald is a high powered movie executive known for his micro-managing and aggressive supervision of a movie from beginning to end. He's not well liked professionally or personally, so when someone puts a knife in his chest, no one is terribly surprised. However, someone also took pot shots at his younger brother, Connor, who has no enemies. Detectives Walter Scott and Vanessa Weinstein are called in on the case, ready for action. Unfortunately, Detective Scott hadn't counted on the eye witness, Cadence Stuart. Pretty and personable, she's also terrified that the killer may come after her next. It's up to Scott to protect her from the tall, dark killer. Unfortunately, so far, the killer's identity and whereabouts are Undiscovered.
Detectives Walter Scott and Vanessa Weinstein have been called to the scene of a strange crime. Someone shot the younger brother of movie mogul, Kent Griswald. Connor Griswald wasn't killed, but when a man is shot on a public beach, while surrounded by celebrities, there's pressure on the police to produce a suspect quickly.
Fortunately, Scott and Vanessa have a witness, Cadence Stewart. She shows condos part time and works as a music teacher at a local college. After finishing up the stacks of paperwork, Scott and Vanessa decide to go out to dinner.
They drove back to the station together. They hit the door and headed to their desks to start the paperwork ball rolling. Long after their shift was supposed to be over, they finally finished. Meeting up at the Lieutenant's office, they decided to go to dinner. They met at the best restaurant on the beach. There was a live band and the place was packed, but Scott could always get in.
"My sister's the manager," he explained as the hostess led them to a table.
"Your usual drink, Scott?"
"Not tonight. I'll have iced tea."
"Not a rum runner or something more interesting?" The hostess probed.
"Thanks, no. Still gotta drive home." He flashed a winning smile.
The hostess sashayed off, swinging her hips. Scott watched her until Nessa nudged him, clearing her throat.
"Friend of yours?"
"Used to be. Okay, still on occasion. A beneficial friend," he clarified.
"Got that. My keen observation sense." She tapped the corner of her right eye.
"We gonna rehash that old dog?"
"Which old dog?"
"That argument where you tell me what a man slut I am? Cause that got old the first sixty times. I don't think I can sit through it again."
"You can do what you want."
"Why didn't you feel like that before?"
"We were dating then."
Walt frowned, pursing his lips. "Cheap shot, Ness."
"And what you're doing isn't?"
"When we were dating did I ever look at another woman? You'd love it if I'd been unfaithful, then you'd be able justify leaving me."
"Here we go," the waitress said cheerfully. "Dinner is served! Can I get you anything else?"
"We're good," Scott said. "Thanks."
She strutted off again and he made a point of watching her just to irk Vanessa.
"How'd you like it if I started ogling some guy while I'm with you?"
"When you can find one better built than me, go ahead."
"But you liked that arrogant prick, Ness. As I recall, you found it quite satisfying."
"I think we'd better drop this subject too."
"But we're finding out what we have in common, a messed up love life."
They changed the subject to anything but love and crime.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Brock Parnell owns a small pizza place in western Nebraska. It's not a fancy life, but it's a comfortable one—except for Tack Carmichael. “Tacky Carmichael” has been his nemesis since the 8th grade. With one thing and another, Tack has made Brock's life hell. When he hears that Tack's been murdered, he pours himself a drink and does a dance—only to be interrupted by the police knocking at his door. Someone thinks that Brock's the prime suspect for Tack's murder.
It wasn't Bartolli and Simpson who stood across from me now. It was a really sexy brunette with a curvaceous figure and short red dress. She looked like she'd been pulled in from a night out at the country club. She also looked totally pissed at having to be there.
I was probably a delightful sight by now. I can't prove it, but I suspect I had been drooling in my sleep. The table was a little damp under my hands.
Shit, great way to make a good impression on a lady.
Did I mention she was stunningly gorgeous? She must have been five foot nine in her heels, built like Sophia Loren back in her heyday, with beautiful blue eyes.
My jaw dropped open and I stared hard at her. Blinking rapidly, I tried to decide if she was real. She walked around the table, glaring at me. She was real, all right. Something about me did not impress. I stood up, holding out my hand. I realized it was a little sweaty, or drooled on, so I wiped it on the seat of my jeans. Extending a drier hand, I smiled.
"How do you do? I'm Brock Parnell."
"I know who you are. I'm Adrianna Hasselhoff from the District Attorney's office. Do you know why you're here, Mr. Parnell?"
"Someone thinks I killed Tack Carmichael," I said with a shrug and sat down.
She hadn't taken my hand, so I folded my hands in my lap, leaning forward with my elbows on my knees.
"Exactly. You're a prime suspect, Mr. Parnell. Second only to his wife."
"What? You think Amy killed him?" I laughed, rather hysterically I'm afraid. I was tired as hell.
"You find your situation humorous?"
Her frown deepened as she made a note on the clipboard she carried. She hadn't taken a seat, just stood there looking fantastic. Her skirt was right about to her knees and she wore backless pumps with four inch heels. I'm a sucker for heels. They're sexy as hell and made her legs look great! I could picture the curve of her leg all the way up to her ass. The skirt was cut to cling and it did in all the right places.
I sat there, fixated, my mouth open. I snapped my lips shut and forced myself to look at her face. She hadn't missed my expression. I might still have been feeling the effects of that whiskey, but I swear she was smiling a little and her blue eyes flashed like twin sapphires. She repeated her question.
"Humorous? No. Not at all. Ludicrous, yeah. What's humorous is that you suspect Amy Carmichael. The woman can't even smash a bug in the bathroom. You think she could kill her husband? How was he killed?"
"He was shot six times."
"Ew! Hell of a way to go. And you seriously think Amy did that? Somebody's been smoking." I put an imaginary joint to my lips, inhaling loudly.
"Have you been smoking, Mr. Parnell?"
"Not for about fifteen years, Miss Hasselhoff."
"That's Ms. Hasselhoff."
"Ms. No, make that twenty years. I quit smoking when I met my ex-wife. I couldn't afford both."
I chuckled, tipping my chair slightly. Ms. Hasselhoff wasn't amused. She made another note on her clipboard. I yawned loudly. I couldn't help it. We were going on two o'clock and I really needed a hot shower and some sleep.
"Why am I still here? I don't know anything. Could you please let me get home and go to bed? I've been up twenty-two hours, Ms. Hasselhoff. I'm dog tired and I have to work tomorrow. Just because I'm the boss doesn't mean I can sleep in."
"I really can't do that, Mr. Parnell."
"Why not, Ms. Hasselhoff?"
Why did she have to have such a long name? Why couldn't it be something short like Smith?
"Because Tack Carmichael was shot with your gun."
"My what?" I stood up, knocking my chair over. "My gun? My gun? What the fuck?"
"There's no need for that kind of language, Mr. Parnell."
"I beg to differ, Ms. Hasselhoff. You just told me that some asshole was shot to death with my gun and you don't expect me to say fuck? Of course I'm going to say it. Wouldn't you say it? Anybody would under those circumstances. My own mother would if you told her that."
"Settle down, Mr. Parnell."
I was babbling and I knew it, but I was too tired and too upset to care. They wanted a reaction, they got one. Whether it was the one they expected, I don't know. But you can't send a beautiful woman in four inch pumps in to talk to a man who hasn't had sex in months that some dick head he's hated since the eighth grade got himself whacked with his (my) gun.
I wanted to throw something, but there was nothing to throw. I could have pitched my chair across the room at that mirror, but I decided against that. I didn't want to get arrested.
"Ms. Hasselhoff, I'm sorry that Tack Carmichael had the bad form to get himself shot with my gun. But if you check your records, you'll discover that my gun was reported stolen over a year ago. That weapon hasn't been in my possession for a very long time. I reported it myself to Sam Hart. Have you talked to Detective Sergeant Hart about that?"
She tried to be all cool, but that caught her by surprise. No one had mentioned that fact to her. She seemed a little flustered and shot a look at the mirror.
Like I thought, there's someone back there.
"The gun disappeared about the same time my ex-wife left me. I always kind of figured she'd taken it with her for spite. It was a family heirloom. My great-great-grandfather was a lawman in Cheyenne. That was his gun and it was worth a lot of money, not to mention the sentimental value. I'd sure like to have it back."
"It's a murder weapon now, Mr. Parnell. It's being held in evidence."
I shrugged and nodded, sitting down again. By this time I was too tired to stand. I'd had a rush of adrenaline when she told me Tack had the poor taste to get slaughtered with my great-great-granddaddy's peacemaker, but now I was paying for it. I yawned again, long and loud, looking right at the mirror. I hoped they were all yawning like hell too. It would be satisfying to know that I'd spread it around.
"If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could I go home? I'm really exhausted. I'm hungry and I want a hot shower. Would you either charge me or send me home? Either way, I'll get some sleep."
Ms. Hasselhoff didn't know how to proceed. She glanced at the mirror again and walked out, excusing herself. I put my head back down on the table and closed my eyes.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Full Measure is one of those stories which has more than one villain. Each of them is nasty, though some more than others, and each is strongly motivated to get exactly what they want. This particular villain is a drug representative named Beatrice, who has an ax to grind with several people, mostly Daphne. She manages to drug the people in the office and kidnaps Daphne.
Suddenly through all the garbled chatter, he heard Daphne's voice.
"Shut up!" he bellowed. "I hear her. Trace that!"
"What do you want, Beatrice? I don't know anything."
"Don't act all innocent. I know who you are. You locked me out, you bitch!"
"Locked you out of what? I don't understand."
Daphne grunted and Ralan knew she'd been hit.
The silver car ahead of them swerved around a slow car, speeding down the street. Ralan held his breath until Beatrice got it under control again.
"Why are you stealing from the doctors?"
"I'm not, you stupid bitch!"
There was no more talk for some time. Daphne couldn't or wouldn't speak. Beatrice seemed to be concentrating on her driving rather than talking to her prisoner.
"Do you have a trace on the piece?"
"Yes," Givens assured Ralan.
"Good. Drop back a little, give her some space."
"What?" Ann yelled.
"If we back off, she'll slow down," Ralan said. "Annie, please! She's got Daphne...."
The desperation in his voice convinced her. Beatrice wasn't a professional driver. The speed she was going, she could easily lose control and kill them both. Ann slowed, pulling back. Keeping the Taurus in view, she continued to follow.
"Daphne, if you can hear me, baby, we're coming. You're gonna be okay. See if you can keep her talking." Not caring that others were listening, he added, "I love you."
"Why are you stealing the money?" Daphne asked, her voice sounding more brave than she felt.
"It's my fucking money," Beatrice snapped. "And you're going to show me how to get it back. You've got the only codes."
"What makes you think that?"
"Because I can't get in. No one can."
"You're an idiot," Daphne said. "Obviously someone can. The deposits went in as scheduled."
"That's different. That's automated. I'm not a complete fool."
"I dunno," Daphne said with a wry chuckle. "You look pretty stupid from where I'm sitting."
Another smack and the car swerved again. Ralan gripped the dashboard, cursing.
"Don't provoke her so much, baby. She'll get you both killed."
"Where's the money coming from?"
"You're really dumb, aren't you? You haven't figured that out yet?"
"Enlighten me. I just figured out about the deposits. I saw the withdrawals right away. You've been sloppy."
"That wasn't me. That was that bitch, Amy. Stupid cow! She found out about the money and has been taking it out as fast as she can get it. The only good thing about you closing it out was that you kept her out. She was taking my money!"
"Why's it your money?"
"Why should I explain this to you? All I need is for you to let me back in."
"And if I don't? You're probably going to kill me anyway. Why should I cooperate?"
Beatrice said nothing.
"My family's not around here. I don't have any friends. You have no threat over me except my own life and I'm not afraid to die. So I don't give a damn if you get your fucking money. But if you have a good reason for wanting it, maybe I'll cooperate."
"Good girl," Ralan encouraged. "We're coming, darlin'."
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Quinn Hamilton is a park ranger, newly assigned to a national park in Florida. It's her first day working solo and she's sent out on a call. What she doesn't realize, is that she's in for quite a shock.
Seeing nothing untoward when I got there, I walked to the stout metal pipe barring the way. It was locked in place and I realized I had no key. I stood there trying to figure out what to do when someone spoke. It was then I noticed I wasn't alone. A man about my age stood partially hidden in the bushes, shirtless. He was the best built man I'd ever seen up close. He had the physique of a male model.
"Hi," he said, shuffling his feet shyly.
"Hi. I'm...." For a moment I forgot my own name.
I've seen shirtless men before. This shouldn't have taken me so much by surprise, but I was shocked speechless.
"Quinn—Hamilton.... Park Ranger...."
"I thought all the rangers were men?" He shifted uneasily, ducking his head shyly as he combed his fingers through his walnut brown hair.
"I'm new, just started Monday. How can I help you?" I stepped forward expectantly.
The young man retreated further into the brush, wincing. "Uh.... could you get one of the men?"
"I assure you, I'm fully trained to handle any situation." I made to duck under the barricade.
"No! Don't!" he bellowed.
I stopped halfway under, puzzled. "Why not? Oh, I guess I should wait for you to unlock this." I stepped back, but he didn't move. "Well?"
"I'm naked," he blurted.
"What?" I shrieked. "Naked? Oh, my God!"
"This is a nudist colony. Didn't they tell you?"
I backed rapidly away, tripping over something behind me. Screaming, I fell in a heap, landing on my ass.
The young man leaped over the barricade and I saw he was indeed naked. And how! His entire body was a golden brown, his blond body hair catching the sun like burnished bronze. He landed beside me, strong hands checking to make sure I wasn't injured. Suddenly, he stopped, one hand on my left breast, the other on my ass.
"Oh, shit," he muttered. "Oh, shit!"
He scurried away, ducking under the barricade. The last I saw of him, he was a blur running through the brush in the opposite direction.
* * *
When we got back to the mule, the young man was waiting there, fully clothed in T-shirt, board shorts and flipflops. Paul hopped in and took the raccoon back to the station. I lingered, feeling I needed to apologize. He spoke first.
"Sorry about all that." He made vague gestures toward the gate.
I know I blushed. I could still feel the touch of his hands on my body. It tingled invitingly.
"The guys set us up," I explained. "Don't know which of us it embarrassed more."
He closed one eye, biting his lower lip, hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. "Well, I was naked...."
"Good point. I'm Quinn Hamilton." I stepped forward, hand extended.
"Nice to meet you, now that I'm dressed. Dmitri Kolchesky-Bazan."
"That's quite a mouthful." I nearly choked on my words. The innuendoes and double entendres that conjured up didn't bear thinking about. My turn to be horribly embarrassed.
Dmitri laughed. "Yes, well. I usually use only Bazan. Does that help?"
"Could have said that ten seconds ago."
"I could have," he admitted with a smirk. "I'd better get back. I just wanted you to know I'm not some kind of pervert and I do own clothing."
"I knew you weren't," I admitted. "You were even more upset by that episode than I was. It was mean of the guys to do that."
He shrugged. "On some level, I probably deserved it. I've done my share of practical jokes."
"Cool! Then you can help me plot my revenge."
"Over dinner? In a restaurant—fully clothed." He held out a hand, invitingly gesturing between us.
"I'd like that."
"Where and when?"
"How about the Cantina. Seven? I can meet you there."
"Sure. See you."
"No surprises, right? I mean, you've all ready seen me naked." Laughing, he vaulted over the gate leaving me alone once more.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Sunday, October 08, 2017
It's already October and, in some parts of the world, it's getting chilly and the leaves are turning. Not here in Florida, but somewhere! We're ready to sit by the fire and crack open a book. (Or, like here in Florida, it's still so hot, we don't want to go outside) In any case, we want to read. Today's guests are ready to entertain us and entice us with their stories. So, hot or cold, inside or out, fall or spring, have a listen!
Our first guest is no stranger to the show. In fact, I think this is his fourth time visiting with us. Gary D. Henry is the author of In the Manor of Heather Black, Witchwoods, Groundsmen of Sleepy Hollow and many more. Welcome Back, Gary!
Our second guest was supposed to be on a few weeks ago, but wasn't able to make it. We're delighted to welcome Eden Walker, author of One Night in Venice coming soon from Tirgearr Publishing. Hello, Eden!
Our third guest is also new to the show and we're so glad she could join us. Alisha Knaff author of School of Sight and the Four Windows Serialized stories of ghosts, fairies, revolutionaries, vampires, and magical artifacts in Seattle. Hiya, Alisha!
Be sure to tune in while we chat with these three amazing authors!
Thursday, October 05, 2017
Under the Western Sky is my retro-romantic suspense. Also from Tirgearr Publishing, Under the Western Sky takes readers back to 1976. This retro romance is full of faced paced suspense as well as the story of young love in bloom.
Libby Marshall and Bobby Menendez are happy in their new found relationship. Friends for years, they finally realize their feelings are much deeper than mere friendship. They are just beginning to explore this new relationship when Bobby's cousin, Ramon, is beaten by white boys because he dared to date a white girl.
Racial tension is high in the small, Midwestern town as the police strive to find the guilty parties. Bobby and Libby wonder if he will be the next target as events unfold and the true evil is revealed – Under the Western Sky.
Excerpt from Under the Western Sky
Having worked summer stock out here several times, Bobby knew they kept a fully stocked tool shop. Tools made handy weapons. The shed would be locked, but he hoped to get in without too much trouble. Provided they hadn’t changed the combination on the padlock, he still remembered it.
Taking a deep breath, he scooted across the open stretch of land between the stage and the scene shop. This was where he was most vulnerable. A dim bulb lit the front of the shed and he would be visible until he got the door open. Saying a silent prayer, he dashed across, flattening himself against the side of the concrete brick wall. His hand found the lock as he slowly rolled to face the door. His fingers moved quickly, but his shaking hands made him start over twice before the lock gave a distinctive snick, falling open in his palm.
He eased the door open and a dim string of lights flickered on when he touched the switch. Moving with confidence, he found what he was looking for. Grabbing a tool belt, he filled it quickly with screwdrivers, hammers and chisels. He stuffed a bag of nails into his pocket; a razor knife went into another.
"I swear, I thought I saw something down here," a man said, outside the shop.
Bobby flicked off the lights, grateful that they wouldn't show outside. He slipped quietly into a corner between the router and the table saw, sliding silently down the wall.
"What's in there?" He heard Tex ask someone.
Danny answered slowly, his words somewhat garbled. Bobby was sure his lips were swollen from the beating he'd taken.
"That's where they keep stuff for the plays. Old scenery, paint."
Bobby wished he'd put the lock back on the door, but it was too late to worry about it now.
"Open it," Tex commanded.
"It's probably locked, boss."
"Open the goddamn door, moron. Here, I'll do it myself!"
Wood creaked and shattered as Tex kicked it down. Bobby had to suppress a laugh. He'd have gotten through a lot quicker if he'd simply tried the doorknob.
"Keep him out here," Tex said to his companion.
Tex entered the shop immediately running into a stack of lumber just inside the door. It was a dumb place for it, but as it was always there, Bobby had known to avoid it. Cursing loudly, the man tried to find a light switch but they were hard to find in the dark. Whoever had built the shop had wired it wrong, putting the switch on the opposite side of the shop. The only switch operated the string of Christmas bulbs Bobby had used to find his way around.
For the first time, Bobby noticed the sawdust on the floor. Although there were other prints in it, his were distinct and fresh. They didn't escape Tex's notice.
"Someone's been in here," he called over his shoulder.
While his head was turned, Bobby jumped up, pushing the table saw toward the big man. With a roar, the older man jumped out of the way as the heavy power tool fell on the floor.
"You little shit! I'll get you for that!"
Bobby hurled a handful of nails at him, grabbing a 2 x 4 off another stack of lumber. Screaming, Tex flung his arms up to fend off the nails. Staggering, he stooped, grabbing another piece of wood for himself.
The two pieces of lumber cracked together, sounding like a gun shot. Grunting and cursing, Tex wailed away with his piece of wood. He was strong and his blows hammered mercilessly at Bobby. A lucky shot got in under Bobby's guard, glancing off his elbow. Pain and numbness shot up his arm as the end of the wood connected with his funny bone.
He dropped his 2 x 4, fingers numb, arm throbbing. Tex advanced, taunting him with the wood. Bobby knew his left arm was useless, hoping the blow hadn't broken it. Easing a hammer out of his tool belt, he held it low, waiting for Tex to move.
Tex grinned, laughing harshly. It was a cold, hollow sound in the cement shop.
"Not so feisty now, eh, muchacho?" He moved closer to get a better shot at Bobby.
Bobby countered his movement with his own, getting a better grip on the hammer. As Tex swung back, he hurled the hammer at him, catching the man on the side of the head. It was a glancing blow, but knocked him back a step. Roaring in pain, Tex rushed him, board cast aside and forgotten.
Bobby dropped into his fighting stance, ready for him. In one fluid motion, he grabbed Tex by his outstretched arm, locking it to his side. Putting one leg between Tex's, he trapped the bigger man. Even with his left arm dangling limp at his side, Bobby yanked hard on Tex's arm. With a satisfying crack and a yelp, he knew he'd dislocated his elbow.
He threw Tex to the floor, flipping him on his face, nose in a pile of sawdust. He yanked the injured arm straight up behind him, pinning him in place with a foot on his neck.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, October 03, 2017
It's my birthday! Happy Birthday to me! (No, I'm not telling you how old I am) It's my day, I don't have to share details. Anyway, to celebrate this notable day, I thought I'd share a few memorable moments from history. A lot of nasty things happened on my birthday – way before it was my birthday – If you'd like to read about it, click here.
Granted, those events tend to be bloody battles, but this one has somewhat less horrific events chronicled. It appears that October 3 has been quite a day of note in history. Who knew? Certainly not I.
Lots of famous people chose this auspicious day to be born (or to die) It's a long list. I find it interesting that 19 of these names are listed, at least in part, as authors. Pretty nifty. 37 of them are actors/ actresses, and theatre was my first major in college. In fact, it's quite the day for artists and singers as well. Overall, it's an artistically oriented birthday.
Then, of course, most importantly to me and my family, I was born. I was actually a couple of weeks early, so I should have been born on or around October 17. Instead, I decided to make an early appearance. You can't tell now, but I was tiny when I was born – only 4 pounds and 5 ounces, so if I ever brag I can eat my birth weight in chocolate or something, it's not a huge feat. My #1 son, who was very small at birth, actually outweighed me by 9 ounces.
With all this amazing artistry in my background, how could I be anything else but an author, artist, musician or actress? It was inevitable and I'm not sorry that I chose this vocation. I do wish it paid better.... I find it interesting that several of the people of note, are also educators or talk show hosts. Am I just a living, breathing combination of all my birth data? Who can say?
According to the astrological calendar, I am a Libra – the only non-living astrological sign. I've always wondered why they did that. They have a fish, a scorpion, a virgin, twins – and scales. Really? Either it's really important, OR, and I'm just spit balling here, they got near the end of the calendar and shrugged their shoulders.
“We need something here, Bob,” one astrologist said to the other. “We've used up the good stuff. What do you think?”
“Well, we haven't used the scales of justice yet. Let's squeeze it in here between the virgin and the scorpion. Badabing!”
And so Libra was created. I know that some of you will say, “It's Lady Justice, therefore a person.” Let me ask you something. Do you ever see Lady J on any of the jewelry, signs, banners or birthday cards? You do not.
In closing, I think it worthy of note that three members of my family are Libras: My #1 son was born September 24, my granddaughter on September 28, and me. We all love music, we're artistic, and we all argue very well. (That's a characteristic of Libras, in case you were wondering) We also love balance in life and love to bring joy to others. To that end, I decided to put my books on sale. I can't lower the price on all of them, because my publisher controls those prices, but I can on the ones I self-published. For a very short time, my e-books will all be on sale for only .99 cents, so be sure to pop over to Amazon and check them out!
While you're grabbing these books at an amazing discount, pre-order a copy of my newest book. It's on sale now for only .99 cents. The book goes live November 1, and the price goes up a week later, so get yours now!
There is no better way to wish an author, artist or musician happy birthday, than by purchasing their work. So please, make my mumble mumble birthday a really fantastic one, and buy my books!
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Room 103 is a romantic suspense book set in Pittsburg, Kansas. Why, you might ask? Because that's where I was when I thought of it.
Marice Houston is a Deputy Marshal stationed in Kansas City, Missouri. She's back in Pittsburg for her tenth college reunion. Staying at a small motel, she becomes friendly with the owner, a man who used to teach at the college, Todd Englund.
Events spin wildly out of control after Marice leaves her weapon and badge in the motel safe for security purposes. Todd is accosted by Orson Roberts, who believes that Todd killed his daughter. Using her weapon, Todd kills Roberts in self-defense. Or did he? Marice dives right in to investigate, determined to find out what happened in Room 103.
Excerpt from Room 103
"I don't want the money!" the loud male voice boomed out from the motel owner's apartment.
Eavesdropping shamelessly, I waited to see if it turned ugly, hand on my phone in case I needed to call someone. There was a lot of anger radiating from that room.
"I just want a letter of apology, acknowledgment of what they did to me."
"Come on, Englund, he wants you to have the money for pain and suffering. A public apology...."
"Would simply open old wounds—mine. I do all right here. I make a decent living. If it's all over the papers, it makes it fresh. Regardless of the apology, people are stupid and superstitious. I'll be ruined—again. Only I won't bounce back a second time."
"At least take the money."
"It feels like blood money."
"It is. Yours. It took a lot of convincing to get old man Roberts to open his tight fist and give you this. I had hoped for more, would have settled for less. Please." The other man's voice was calm, conciliatory. "Please. You deserved a better shake, Todd. I couldn't get it for you then, but you have it now."
There was a quiet rustle as if an envelope were being opened. A sharp gasp followed.
"It's still not enough. I tried to convince him that your salary would have increased over the years, but he determined a flat rate, based on your pay at the time. He's not the most astute businessman in the state for nothing. Your salary, times ten. But I did get a bump to an even six."
"Even with this money, I can't afford to pay you, Regan."
"The judge made Roberts pay me. I earned nearly as much as you, but I refused to take even a penny over. You're the victim, you deserve the most. Oh, by the way, Roberts wants you to sign a letter of receipt."
"Not on your life. Not until I get my apology."
"Exactly what I said. To that end, he wants to meet at his office tomorrow."
"Not on his turf. I don't want the officious bastard to sneak in cameras for a photo op."
"Also what I told him. So, he agreed to meet here, tomorrow at ten a.m."
"That's checkout time. Everyone will see him and I'll be busy. Tell him either six a.m., or ten p.m. His choice. We're making this easy for me, not him. And he can hand me the check personally, along with my letter."
The paper rustled again.
"As you wish. I'll call with the time."
Their voices sounded closer. I rushed to the inner lobby door and opened it as if I'd just come in. Two men walked out of the back room, looking grim and determined. One was about six foot one, dressed in jeans and a Bob Marley T-shirt. His hair was black and carefully mussed to look casual. Or maybe he simply didn't care how it looked. The other man was slightly shorter, broad shouldered, blond, clean cut, wearing an expensive suit. Both appeared surprised when they saw me, especially when their eyes took in details and noticed I was sporting a gun. It was clearly visible with my jacket open and my hand on the doorknob. Stopping in their tracks, they each took a step back. T-shirt guy started to raise his hands, his blue eyes riveted on my shoulder holster.
"I'm Marice Houston. I have a reservation. Sorry I'm late. Traffic from Kansas City was a bear."
T-shirt guy relaxed, smiling. He moved easily to the computer on the counter. "Of course, Ms. Houston. Your room is all set. No feather pillows or duvet and no pets, as well as non-smoking."
"The chairs are vinyl in this room. The blankets are washed weekly and the pillows are fluffed in the drier after every guest. I hope you'll be comfortable." He flashed a dazzling smile, his bright blue eyes twinkling behind black framed glasses.
I handed over my driver's license and credit card. Tall-Dark-and-Blue-Eyes talked easily as he worked, his long, lean fingers stroking the keyboard as he typed. He was breathtakingly handsome and I wondered if he was aware of his own appeal.
The other man stood still, in the relative safety afforded by the counter. His hazelnut brown eyes watched every move I made. I nicknamed him Slick in my mind. He was also good looking and completely aware of it. He dressed for success and that probably carried over to the bedroom. I got the distinct impression that people never said No to this man—especially not women.
Blue-Eyes handed over my license and credit card, flashing another blinding smile. "You're in room one forty-seven, in the next building down. Third room from this end." He pulled over a laminated map of the small complex. "You're here." He pointed to my room. "The ice machine and laundry are here." He pointed to the front end of the building. "If it's out of ice, there's also a machine here." He pointed to another area of the map.
I wasn't looking at the map, but at his hands. He had long, strong fingers, broad palms with a scattering of black hair on the back, and a dash on the lower knuckle. His nails were short and clean—not so much manicured as neatly clipped and filed. I looked up from the map to see him eyeing me questioningly.
"Have we met? You look really familiar. I have this feeling of déjà-vu, like I knew you long ago."
I cleared my throat, shaking back my hair. I could hardly breathe when those blue eyes focused fully on me. "I—uh—I was in school here. Seems like ages ago."
"Yes. Go Rillas!" I giggled, sounding like a little girl. Suddenly, I'd reverted to the breathless, silly co-ed of nearly 15 years ago.
He chuckled. "I know I've seen you before. A face like yours... I couldn't forget."
My fingers fluttered to my burning cheeks. His scrutiny was too much for a woman like me. I never did well with male attention. Even though I carry a gun and badge, a handsome, confident man can still make me revert to the shrinking violet.
"I hope that's a good thing."
He handed me my key card with a gentle smile, his blue eyes caressing my face. "It's a very good thing. It will come to me. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Houston."
The other man cleared his throat. "You got a license for the weapon, Miss?"
Slick struck a nerve. Glaring keenly, his square jaw jutted forward. He was ridiculously handsome, but cold. Not like Blue-Eyes, not at all. This was a man of authority who wielded it like a knife.
"I have something better." I flipped open my jacket, showing the opposite side of my belt. A marshal's badge glittered in the fluorescent lights of the office. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I want a shower and a meal."
Blue-Eyes, slightly taken aback by the badge, rallied quickly, handing me a menu. "If you want to order in, the places with a gold star give our guests discounts. Everything from pizza to Thai."
"Thank you." I gave him a tight smile, glared at the other man and turned on my heel, marching to the door.
"Did you have to do that, Regan?" I heard Blue-Eyes say as the door closed.
Todd, I reminded myself. Todd Englund. The name resonated in my memory for some reason. Vaguely, faintly, but with an abiding assurance that it wasn't in a good way.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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