Thursday, March 29, 2018
Unfortunately for Oscar, the car company hasn't got another available car. He's stuck with the lemon of a Prius with the schitzy GPS.
Nervously, he swung the car around yet again, making a legal U-turn. A few seconds later, the voice spoke. "Calculating route."
"Oh, come on! Dammit!"
He pulled into a parking lot. Canceling the current route, he keyed in the address once more, choosing fastest time as his filter. He remembered that Jasmine had chosen shortest distance. The GPS spoke again, the voice sounded colder, more irritated. "Calculating route."
Oscar got back on the road, following the arrows when the voice spoke once more.
"At earliest opportunity, make a legal U-turn. Followed by a legal U-turn."
"What?" Oscar pounded on the dashboard. "Dammit to hell!" He pulled back into the gas station, stopping the car. "This isn't happening. I've stepped into a Twilight Zone episode."
Pulling out his phone, he called Jasmine. "I'm sorry to be a bother," he began. "But the I think the lightning damaged the GPS. It's sending me in circles."
"Got a piece of paper and a pen? I'll give you directions."
"Sure, thanks. Sorry to be...."
"It's no bother, Oscar." There was laughter in her voice. "I hate most electronic devises and I argue with the GPS all the time. Don't worry about it."
He copied the directions and got back on the road. Jasmine's instructions were clear and easy to follow. He got to his first venue with several minutes to spare. As he pulled into the parking lot, the GPS piped up, "You have arrived." Was it his imagination, or did the voice sound both haughty and smug?
Shaking his head, Oscar walked into the store, looking for his publisher and the other authors. He found them gathered in a comfortable area near the back of the store. There were several upholstered chairs and a coordinating loveseat arranged in a cozy manner. Most of the authors were sitting down sipping different teas. The store sold every imaginable tea as well as books. Oscar fell in love with the environment as soon as he walked in.
Patrick, his publisher, came forward with his hand extended. "Great you could make it, Oscar! Let me introduce the gang." He went around the group introducing the others proudly, a wide grin on his face. "So that's the rest of our little family."
The store opened a few minutes later and customers dribbled in at first, then more as the morning wore on. Several of them stayed as the authors read excerpts from their books. All of them were well received.
Oscar sold six books. Feeling elated, he talked several minutes to a pair of elderly ladies who were thinking of buying the books for their reading group.
A piercing, annoying whine filled the air. A customer who was just walking through the door, glanced at the parking lot over his shoulder. "Someone's car alarm," he pointed. "That white Prius."
Cursing rather more loudly than he intended, Oscar ran outside. The remote refused to work from the doorway. He had to walk over to the car and use it less than four feet away. Muttering darkly, he walked back inside to apologize, but the women had chosen another book instead. Giving him dubious glares, they left quickly.
"Oscar, what's wrong with you?" Patrick asked him, eyes concerned.
"That car will be the death of me!"
He told the whole sordid tale. By the end of it, he had quite an audience of customers and authors alike. Everyone listened with rapt attention.
"I feel like the dumb thing is out to get me," he finished lamely.
Patrick, who was a former counselor, put his arm around Oscar's shoulders. "You know that's delusional, right? This isn't one of your spine tinglers, Oscar. This is real life. In real life, cars don't have a personality and the GPS doesn't reprimand you for going the wrong way."
"I know that, Patrick. I can't help how it feels, can I?"
"I guess not. Have Jim brew you a cup of that relaxation tea. Have a seat and drink it. It will help you calm down. I'll lead you to the next venue."
"Thanks, Patrick. I'll do that."
He sipped the relaxing brew, letting his eyes drift shut. He didn't realize, until Patrick woke him, that he'd fallen asleep. It was time to leave for the next venue. Feeling somewhat better after his nap, he got in the car. He turned it on, not setting the GPS. Patrick pulled up and he followed him out of the parking lot.
"Calculating route," the GPS said in a chilly voice.
"I didn't set you. You're not supposed to be working."
Stopped at a light, he fiddled with the GPS, but the light changed before he made any progress. Trying to keep his eyes on Patrick in the heavy traffic, he ignored the GPS until the next light. Satisfied that it was off, he waited for the light to change. The car stalled. Cursing, he fought to restart it, but it was being stubborn. Honking accompanied his attempts and Patrick pulled away, oblivious to the fact that Oscar wasn't behind him.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
It's officially SPRING and our hopes turn to warmer weather and sunshine. Just in case that doesn't pan out for you, our three guests have plenty of books to read. Two are returning guests, and the other is brand new.
New to the show is Dominic Carrillo, author of YA novels The UNusual Suspects, The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones, and To Be Frank Diego. Dominic will chat with us from 4:00 to 4:40.
Please welcome back Andy Peloquin, award winning, dark fantasy author of The Queen of Thieves Series. Andy will chat with us from 4:40 to 5:20.
Also returning is Joshua Robertson, dark fantasy author of The Blood of Dragons Series, Thrice Nine Legends Saga, The Hawkhurst Saga. Josh will chat with us from 5:20 to 6:00.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Solaris is a prequel to my Lone Wolf Series. Wil is on a mission to ask Mining Guild Chairman, Emmelia Spenser, for help. The planet that his friend has been sent to, is highly unstable, and they have families with them. The miners are worried about their safety. Unfortunately, certain key members of the Board of Directors of the Mining Guild are kicking up a fuss.
Doing some sophisticated time conversions, Wil decided to call Emmelia. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, Aolani time, so he should be able to contact her on a secure line in her office. He began the lengthy process of putting through a crystal call. Nearly an hour later, he made contact. Emmelia answered immediately. It was voice only. She sounded anxious.
"Are you all right?" she said, before even saying hello.
"I'm fine, Emme. How's everything?"
"Chaotic. The good news is that The Rotunda is on the way to Solaris. I'm worried though, I don't think it's going to get there in time. The repercussions from this will be catastrophic if it goes south. I shudder to think of the ramifications."
"Then don't. You know it's a cluster fuck. Deal with it when it happens."
"Emme, we both know it's a disaster waiting to happen. It's only a question of time."
She suppressed a sob, but Wil's sharp ears caught it.
"Didn't mean to upset you, Emmelia." His voice was uncharacteristically tender.
"It's not your fault. You did what needed doing. I only wish I'd had the courage to do it long ago. He was the Devil incarnate."
"Hell no, Ambrose would scare the Devil and make him run for the hills. How a man, as honorable as your father, and one as sick and twisted as Ambrose, could come from the same family—"
"I thought you didn't like my father."
"I didn't, but I respected the hell out him. He was a cold hearted bastard, there's no doubt. But the man had morals and convictions stronger than most. He was a able leader and a good man, in his own way. He might not have been much of a father, Emme, but he was a hell of a Chairman."
"Yes, he was." She sounded distant.
"But you know what? He's nothing in comparison to his daughter. I happen to think that the current Chairman Spenser is a hell of a gal."
"Thanks, Wil. Right now I don't feel like I am."
"But you need to know that you are. No matter what happens in the future, hold to the fact that you did the best you could. Promise me, Emmelia. You won't lose sight of that—no matter what happens."
"You make it sound so ominous. Is it really that bad?"
He didn't answer her. His silence told her everything she dreaded to hear.
"That's what I was afraid of."
"I'd better go," Wil said quietly.
"Have something pressing to do?" There was a laugh in her voice.
"No, but I'm sure you do. I just wanted to let you know I'm safe. If you need me, you know how to contact me."
"Yes. Do take care."
"I might say the same to you."
"Thank you, Wil."
"Anything for a friend, Emmelia."
The transmission ended leaving her empty, lost and alone. She took solace in his words. His opinion of her made her feel good. Wil was proud of her and that meant a lot. He didn't give out compliments lightly.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Early in the morning, the representative from the car rental company, arrives at the hotel. Her name is Jasmine Bond, and she agrees to have breakfast with Oscar.
They chatted politely for the duration of their meal. Oscar liked the snappy attitude of Jasmine Bond. She was smart and sassy, two traits he greatly admired in a woman.
"When you're ready, I'll lead you over to the office."
"That would be great. I have to run up to the room and grab my stuff. You're cool with about twenty minutes?"
"Not a problem, Mr. Friedman."
"Oscar," she repeated, blushing slightly. "I'll wait for you down here."
He headed up to his room and she made a call to her boss.
"What's the scoop with Friedman?" He asked her moments after saying hello.
"He's a nice guy, Don. Genuinely so. I can't imagine he's involved in anything weird. He's an author here on a tour. I'm bringing him by the office in a few minutes."
"Great," but the older man didn't sound enthusiastic at all. "Bring him by and we'll see what we can do. All I need is for some out-of-town author to give us a bad rep. Who knows who he'll tell! You try and sweet talk him when he's here."
"I'll do my best, Don. He's coming off the elevator now."
"You know what I want from you?"
"Yes, Don. I'm on it." She hung up and waited with a smile while Oscar made his way to her across the lobby.
He was carrying a box of books under one arm and had a laptop on his shoulder. He had changed into tan brushed corduroy pants and jacket with a plaid shirt and coordinating tie. He looked more like an author in her eyes than he had before. His cheeks were smooth and he smelled like shaving cream.
"Yeah. I appreciate your help."
"Doing my job, Oscar." She walked him to his car, fanning herself in the humidity. "I'll pull around and wait for you. I'm parked over there." She pointed to the other side of the lot. By the time you get your stuff stowed, I'll be here."
Jasmine Bond led Oscar to the car rental place. Her boss, Don Hickman, came out the greet them.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Friedman?"
Oscar told him the problem with the car. The agent inspected the vehicle, but aside from the smudge on the hood, there was nothing to show what it had been through. By the time he had finished, they were on a first name basis.
"I'd really like a different car, Don. I don't think this hybrid is me."
"I don't have anything else available, Oscar. The other cars are all out for the weekend. I won't have anything coming in for at least three days."
"You mean I'm stuck with this hunk of junk?" Oscar wanted to beat the car until it begged for mercy.
"It's not junk, Oscar. It's a well crafted machine."
"It's crap, Don! I venture to say that the car is a lemon. Probably getting struck by lightning is the most fortuitous thing that could have happened to it. This car defines insanity. I don't need this in my life, Don. I really don't."
"Oscar, I'd like to help you, but I can't do it. I might have something come in this afternoon, but the client said he may need the car a couple more days. I make no promises."
"Meanwhile, I'm stuck. Are there any branch offices in town?"
"I already checked. They're booked solid. I even called our competition. You picked a busy weekend."
Oscar looked at the sooty white Prius with disgust. "Okay. I guess I'm stuck with you," he said to the car. "Be gentle with me."
Don gave him a funny look while Jasmine laughed behind her hand. Oscar appealed to her helplessly. "Help me feed the address into the GPS? That would be a big help."
"That I can do." She loaded the information for him. "Call me if you need anything. I'll be happy to do what I can."
"Thanks, Jasmine. You've been wonderful."
"Not that it helped much, but you're welcome. I'll call you later and check up on you, okay?"
"Thanks." He shook her hand, wanting to kiss her instead. Resisting the impulse, he got in the car and drove off.
The drive to his first venue didn't go well. Each time he thought he was going the right way, the GPS reset, giving him the verbal message "Calculating route." With each recalculation, it seemed the neutral, female voice held more of a reprimand.
"I turned where you told me," he said aloud. Feeling rather foolish, he found his way back to the road and tried again, making another wrong turn. "This can't be right. I just went that direction and you told me to get back on this road. What's going on?"
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Jet Barber shares a house with his sister, Alma. One evening, when he comes home from work, she's busily preparing a very nice meal. Instead of two spots at the table, three are set. She tells Jet she's expecting her boyfriend, Spense. She wants Jet to vet him before she allows the relationship to go to the next level. Since Jet is almost six and a half feet tall of seriously jacked man, he has a talent for scaring off all but the most interested suitors.
Spense was six feet tall, broad shouldered, with close cropped dark blond hair. His blue eyes were penetrating and held a glint of humor in them. He smiled when Jet opened the door, shifting both packages to one side. He held out his hand, grinning.
"You must be Jet. Spenser Thomas."
Jet shook his hand, squeezing a little. Spense squeezed back. The smile didn't fade, but a wariness came into his eyes.
"Alma's in the kitchen."
Spense lifted his chin, eyeing the taller man carefully. "But you want to talk to me first."
They moved into the living room and sat down. Spenser set his packages on the coffee table.
"Let me be totally up front, Jet. I like your sister. She's smart, funny, dead sexy and cooks like a pro. Do I want in her pants?" He spread his hands. "I'm a red blooded, heterosexual man."
Jet smirked. "There's a yes."
"But I'm not pushing. If I just wanted in her bed, I'd be there already. You know the drill."
Jet did. He'd used his charms to get what he wanted more than once. He never forced a woman to have sex, but he made it clear what he wanted and got it more often than not.
"She wants us to meet and I'm sure that's because she's got some deep seated worry that she'll never in a million years tell me about. So, ask me anything. I'm an open book."
"Got a job?" Jet fired the first volley.
"Yes. I work for Thomas and Sons. I'm one of the sons. It's an investment firm."
"You're a broker?"
"No. I'm the janitor." He laughed, shaking his head. "My actual title is investment counselor. I tell people what's a good investment and what isn't. I make good money."
"I have a couple beers a week, a Scotch once in awhile. I get flat assed drunk on my birthday—it's the only time."
Jet smiled. "Yeah."
"Me too. I was tested less than six months ago. I play clean, but you know nothing's fool proof."
"History of violence against women? Jail time?"
"Adamant no and I spent the night in jail once when I was seventeen. Old man wanted to teach me a lesson."
"Planning on fucking my sister and dumping her?"
"Never in a million years. I like her too much."
Jet nodded, considering that answer. It sounded sincere, just as the rest had. His bullshit monitor wasn't going off. There wasn't even the hint of a ping.
"I really like your sister, Jet. I want to see if this can go somewhere. I'm sick of being alone." He cleared his throat somewhat self-consciously. "Anything else you want to ask me?"
Jet cleared his throat, too. This guy was on the level. "Yeah. You want a beer?"
"I brought wine to have with dinner."
"Let's get the cork screw."
Jet led Spense into the kitchen. Spense walked over to Alma and handed her the parcels. One was the bottle of wine, the other was a box of her favorite chocolates.
"I would have brought flowers, but I know they make you sneeze."
Alma put her arms around his neck and kissed him. Spense, wisely, kept it chaste in front of her brother. Jet did his best to be small and invisible, nearly impossible for a man his size. He put the white wine in the refrigerator before walking into the living room. He felt decidedly like a third wheel. That didn't bother him as much as the idea that Spense was probably going to get lucky tonight and he hadn't a snowball's chance of getting laid himself.
Alma giggled and Jet knew for a fact that she and Spense were going to get busy later. He hoped they would go to his place. Or maybe hell would freeze over or the Earth would blow up so he wouldn't have to hear it. He'd opt for a hurricane or even a squall.
"Dinner!" Alma called.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Oscar makes the offhand comment that he wishes the damn car would get struck my lightning. Little does he know that later that night, it will. No one believes the car is unscathed.
They stood around nodding agreement as Oscar checked his rented car. Aside from a little soot on the hood, there seemed to be nothing wrong. Sighing heavily, he went back to his room determined to sleep more, but his rest refused to come. Instead, he lay awake with visions of the car's demise playing in his head over and over. He finally fell asleep around four in the morning. He woke to a phone call from the hotel manager at around 8:00.
"Mr. Friedman, so sorry to wake you, sir."
"Yeah?" Oscar sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"We took the liberty of contacting the rental company for you. The representative is here at the moment and would like to speak to you."
"Thanks. Give me a couple minutes to wake up. I'll be down."
"The representative is on the way up and should be there any minute."
Cursing, he hung up and dressed quickly. He was just starting the coffee pot when there was a knock on his door. Oscar answered, anticipating a fat, balding man. Instead, an attractive woman in her early forties stood there in a navy blue suit. Her skirt was flared and just above knees, revealing a shapely lower leg. Strawberry blonde hair curled below her ears, brushing the top of her collar. Knowing blue eyes held his for a moment before she spoke.
"May I come in, Mr. Friedman?"
"Sure. Knock yourself out." He held the door for her to walk through.
He finished setting up the coffee and waited for her to speak. Barefoot, standing with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his faded blue jeans, he looked rather lost and alone. The woman gave him a thorough examination before speaking. Her voice was sultry and low.
"Mr. Friedman, the company sent me over as a courtesy to you, sir. Although I'm not overly sure what they expect me to do."
"Neither do I, Miss...?"
"Bond. Jasmine Bond."
Oscar laughed somewhat derisively. When the woman didn't join him, he stopped abruptly. "I'm sorry, Ms. Bond. I thought you were kidding. I apologize. I imagine you get that a lot."
"Unfortunately, my parents were way too creative with their naming. Be that as it may, I'm curious as to what you want from the company."
"Obviously, I want a different car. That one has been problematic since I got it. The GPS seems to be faulty as well as the alarm. I figured I'd go talk to the agency today and ask for a different car. I'm going to be here all week, I need a reliable vehicle."
"What brings you to town?"
"Business. I'm an author. I'm here for a book signing tour. I've got three venues in four days, rotating with other authors under the same publisher. Would you like to see our itinerary?"
He dug through his bag, handing her a crumpled sheet listing his appointed times per venue. Some were scratched through and changed.
"One of the authors got sick at the last minute, so we're covering her times as well. So you see why I need transportation."
"Interesting choices. Who set this up?"
"Well, the most I can do for you is examine the car and take you to the office so you can see about a new one. I wouldn't hold my breath. Memorial Day is a busy weekend. I'm surprised we had one at all."
"I made the reservation several months ago. Even if it's a different kind of car, I don't care. I need something to go from point A to point B, and not get me lost in the meantime."
She smiled, tossing her hair with a laugh. "I understand. Well, when you're ready, we can go together and talk to Don. I'm sure he'll help all he can."
"Thanks. I'd like that. Um, have you had breakfast?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Breakfast. Coffee, Danish, scrambled eggs? My treat. I hear this hotel has a nice breakfast buffet."
Jasmine Bond was about to refuse when her stomach growled. She'd gotten the call to come by here on her way to work and hadn't had time to stop and get her breakfast. Sighing, she shrugged. "Sure, why not?"
The food was delicious. Oscar ate well, having skipped dinner the night before. Jasmine was reluctant to eat as much as she wanted, but he encouraged her to fill up.
"It amazes me to see a woman who won't eat until she's full for fear someone will comment on how much she eats. I like a woman with a healthy appetite and a little meat on her. Bony women...." He didn't finish, shaking his head in disgust.
"Don't like bony women?"
"I find them—uncomfortable."
"That's an odd word. What do you mean?"
"I bruise easy." He shrugged.
Ms. Bond laughed happily. "You're so silly. Do I dare ask where?"
Oscar chuckled, shaking his head. "Probably not."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Noel Gentry owns a bar in an aging, but still nice, neighborhood. When his neighbor, Mrs. Culpepper, falls ill, he accompanies her to the hospital, where me meets Dr. Ziva Bodie. He and the doctor hit it off, so he invites her to a Sardonic concert, complete with front row seats and back stage passes. She's delighted with the concert, and is even more excited after intermission, when surprise guests join Sardonic on stage.
This time, the band took the stage with the lights on. Two other men walked out, ones that Noel and Ziva hadn't seen backstage. One was very tall, with waist long black hair. The other was shorter, with shoulder length blond hair. Ziva recognized them immediately. Grabbing Noel's arm, she jumped up and down, squealing. The sound and movement caught Cullen's attention. He stopped, dropping to a crouch.
“I think one of my fans is deserting me for our special guests. Do you know who these guys are, babe?” he said into the microphone. He held it out to catch her voice.
“Yes!” she squeaked.
“Well, suppose you tell these nice folks, in case they don't recognize them. To my right?”
“That's Malin Dimas!” She hopped up and down like an excitable child.
“And to my left?”
“Johnny Caesar! Ohmigod!”
The audience went insane. Noel, who liked and recognized both musicians, couldn't help but laugh at Ziva's antics.
“Noel, man, I think your lady's about to abandon you for a rock star.”
“Nope, cause she knows they're both married. And she knows what I can do with my tongue.” He flickered it like Gene Simmons. Since the camera was focused on them, his antics made the big screen above the stage.
The audience went insane. The men on stage laughed loudly.
“Friend of yours?” Malin came over to stand by Cullen. Dropping down, he held out his hand to Ziva. “Hi there. What's your name, beautiful?”
Not to be outdone, Johnny joined them.
“This is Ziva. She's a doctor,” Cullen said. “And, unfortunately, she's dating my friend, Noel.”
“You know our songs, Ziva the Doctor?” Malin asked.
“What's your favorite?”
Put on the spot, she blanked out on all of Malin's titles. Since she couldn't remember the name, she sang a snatch of it.
“You wanna hear that right now?”
“Boys, Casa Nova!” Playing a wicked riff, he strolled away from the edge of the stage.
Cullen hopped up, followed by Johnny. Not to be outdone, he played his own riff, and the two had a head cutting duel before even starting the song. Trying to outdo one another, they played more intricate things. Johnny finally played something so bizarre, Malin couldn't seem to do it. Stopping for a second, with the band playing behind him, he put his hands on his hips in disgust.
“You aren't supposed to play my own song better than me, Caesar!”
Laughing, Johnny flipped him off and started to sing.
“Fucking sings it better than me, too!” Malin hollered. “You want my job?”
Johnny just laughed again, and kept singing. Cullen took over vocals and the other two sang harmony. When the song finished, the crowd went crazy.
“I swear to god, you both sing it better than me. That settles it, next album, you're both on it.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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