Thursday, September 27, 2018
Miranda Karev works at a local live theatre, in the box office and occasionally on stage. She's recently gotten back with her former boyfriend, Jeffry Stanton. They're spending the weekend, trying to put their relationship back together, only to find themselves snowed in at her apartment building. There are power outages around town, though not at her building. A friend, and co-worker, Dave gives her a call to check on her. (The characters of Miranda and Jeff are featured in So Much It Hurts.)
"Sounds like you're having fun," I said, hearing party noises in the background.
"Yeah, not bad. Don't suppose you want to come over?" Dave said.
"We can't. That's a long way on foot and our parking lot is blocked by an eight foot wall of snow."
"Hadn't thought of that. Well, wanted to check on you."
"Thanks, Dave. Tell everyone I said hi. We're fine."
"We...." He said, sounding very disappointed. "So, working out with Jeff?"
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"Hey, that's life, right? Lost opportunities and broken chances. I guess I'm gonna polish off this bottle of Cuervo and head to bed—alone."
"Ew, Jose Cuervo is not my friend. Now, me and Jack Daniels, we're buddies."
"Bing drank the last of the Jack, and Bern snagged the Johnny Walker."
"No Jim Beam?"
"Colt's got that."
"How long have you guys been drinking?"
"What time is it?"
"Almost six o'clock."
"Yeah...." He paused so long, I thought he'd forgotten me. "I believe we started at noon, but I could be mistaken. There was food, then there was booze. Now I'm lying on Colt's floor staring at the ceiling clutching a half empty bottle and talking to you."
"I think you need to put the bottle down and pass out."
"I think that sounds like 'n accepta-bibble option." He hiccuped loudly. "Okay, that's it. Make the room stop spinning!"
I heard the phone clatter. Someone picked it up and spoke into it the wrong way around. Some fumbling and muttering followed, then I got a better response.
"Hi. Who's this?"
"Dave? I was talking to Dave."
"You can't be Dave, because he's lying here passed out and—cause," he burped loudly, "you're a girl."
"This is Miranda."
"Oh, hi, Randi. This is Bing—Bing Crosby. How're you?"
"Fine. You can hang up now, Bing. I need to go."
"Okay." He hung up.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Monday, September 24, 2018
Jak Foster just started dating a wonderful woman named Arden Templeton. They were having a lovely time, when his former boss, whose job he was just given, broke in and beat the tar out of him. Jak did a fair amount of damage to Evan, but his injuries have finally caught up to him, and he's gone to the hospital.
"You're a mess, Jak," she said after giving him a thorough going over. "Why didn't you go to the hospital last night?" Dr. Clayton crossed her arms, glaring up at him. She was a short woman, maybe five feet tall in her shoes with special lifts. She reminded him a lot of Dr. Bailey on Grey's Anatomy.
"Would you believe, I hurt too damn bad? I didn't want to have to sit in the cold waiting room for hours on end. I took a pain pill, that I had left over from my last beating, and went to bed."
"The good news is you don't have any broken ribs, but there are some bruised ones. We're going to wrap you up, anyway. I don't like how a couple of them look. You have to promise not to let yourself be a punching bag again."
"You were never a Scout," she said with a playful frown.
Jak held up his hand and gave her the Scout's pledge.
"Memorized that from a book," she said with a smirk as she left.
The nurse came in and did up his ribs. Jak winced as she wound the ace bandage around him.
"Jesus, that hurts more than I realized," he hissed as he put his shirt on with her help. "Thanks."
"Doctor says to take the rest of the week off."
"I have to get into the office this afternoon. I promise I won't overdo, just something I have to take care of."
She frowned. "Doctor won't like that."
"I know. I promise I'll only go in for thirty minutes."
The frown deepened.
He explained briefly what he was going in to do. "Fifteen?"
"Twelve and a half." She winked at him.
"You drive a hard bargain, Helen. Okay."
"And you're not to drive. Let your lovely girlfriend drive you over."
"If she can't, I'll have someone do it. I promise."
"Okay, I might be happy now."
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Faydra and Kael are cousins, each home with the new love of their lives. Faydra is dating Quaid, a psychologist from Up North – enough to scandalize any dyed in the wool Southern Mama. Kael is dating Penny, from Florida. They are at a huge family gathering at Faydra's childhood home in Alabama. Quaid has had the unfortunate experience of meeting Aunt Shiff, Faydra and Kael's mean spirited great-aunt. Now, it's Penny's turn.
Kael handed me my crutches and helped me up. I made my way down the hall to the kitchen. Aunt Shiff sat in a ladder back chair in the far corner of the vast kitchen. There was a wide no man's land around her. If anyone got too close, she hooked them with her cane and laid into them. Acid tongued bitch! She truly was evil. She said horrible things. I saw her in action for five seconds and hated her. She was gonna just love the hell outta me.
"Who's that?" the pointed her cane at me, having spotted me in the doorway with Kael.
I swung over and stood in front of her. Kael brought up a chair and helped me sit. Everyone else left the kitchen as quickly as they could. I never saw a room empty out so fast.
"Auntie, this is my new girlfriend, Penny."
"Hmph. You look a hell of a lot like Annabeth. You sure you ain't kin?"
"Decidedly not," I replied. "We checked our lineage before we had sex."
"I figured you were romping. You Thorn men can't keep your dicks in your pants. Who knows how many young uns you've got running around."
That was really cruel, considering what had happened with Aura Lee. Kael's ears turned red and his jaw firmed. He wanted to say something, but he was being the polite Southern Gentleman.
"He's a good man," I spoke up, squaring my shoulders as I confronted the mean, old harpy. "He's too polite to tell you what he thinks, but I'm not. You use your position as the old hag of the family, to run roughshod over everyone. They're positively terrified of you, and you love it."
"I'm being honest."
"You're being mean."
"I won't lie to your face," the old woman continued. She had more to say, but I wouldn't let her say it.
"No, but I bet you lie like hell behind my back. I have a great-grandmother just like you. She says she's not gossiping, because she'll speak the truth to your face. Yeah, she does that, in spades. Rips into you, makes you cry, and then feels good about herself, because she Spoke the Truth!" I made air quotes. I never make air quotes, but that seemed appropriate to the situation.
"So, I'm gonna be truthful and honest with you, Auntie. What Kael and I do in private, isn't your business. In fact, anything that anyone in the family does—not your affair. You're old, bored and spiteful. I don't know what made you such a sharp tongued harpy, and I don't care. You can't pull your shit on me, because I know your kind. You don't scare me. Not even a little."
I stood up, excusing myself to Kael, if not the old lady. I was halfway to the door when her voice stopped me.
"That's the first smart thing anyone's done in thirty years. Sit down, Penny. You and I need to chat."
Her tone was less imperious, and warmer, than it had been when she greeted us. "You think you know it all, huh?" She crossed her arms across her wizened, wrinkled dugs.
"Nope, not even close. But I know bad manners when I see them."
"And I know sass."
"I'm that, and then some."
She actually laughed, more like cackled. "You're a smart one. Where'd you find her, Kael? She's not a local girl, she's too good for you."
"You're doing it again," I said, shaking my finger at her. "He's a good man, hard working, smart, clever, loving—and damn can the man dance! If you catch my drift." I winked, tilting my head at Kael.
Aunt Shiff cackled again, slapping her knee. "You're a snappy little minx, but I just might like you. Penny, is it? Why aren't you scared to death of me? Everyone else walks on eggshells around me."
"They grew up with you. My Granny Kimball is the same way, but I don't take her shit, either. My cousins are terrified of her, but I'm not. I think she scared me shitless when I was about five. But she was so kind, so loving when my dad was killed.... I like to hope that somewhere, under all those sharp spikes and rude words, you're a kind person."
"And if I'm not?"
"We wouldn't be having this conversation. You'd have thrown a skillet at me, and either killed me on the spot, or put a hex on me."
She laughed loudly. It wasn't the crackling cackle, but a real belly laugh. She shook her head and slapped her knee. "Boy, you found the one good woman in the whole damn world. You work your bedroom magic, and make her happy for the rest of her days, you hear me?"
"Yes, Auntie," he mumbled.
She put her hand up to her ear and leaned forward.
"Yes, Auntie," he said more loudly.
"Some Marine you are, can't speak any louder than a little kid."
Kael took a deep breath, leaning forward. "Oo-rah!" he bellowed.
Auntie laughed and clapped. "There's the Marine! Yes! I like this one," she pointed at me. "You feel free to marry her anytime."
His eyes cut over to meet mine. "Don't know if she'll have me."
"She'll have you. You just have to get the balls to ask. And for god's sake, try not to get her pregnant before the wedding. We've got enough premature babies around." She also made air quotes and cut her eyes at me.
I got up and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"You tell my secret, I'll put a hex on you, Missy," she teased, giving me a kiss and hug in return.
"Not on your life! Would I spoil your finely honed image as the Wicked Witch of the West?"
She chuckled. "Not if you're smart."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Faydra and Kael are cousins, each home with the new love of their lives. Faydra is dating Quaid, a psychologist from Up North – enough to scandalize any dyed in the wool Southern Mama. Kael is dating Penny, from Florida. They are at a huge family gathering at Faydra's childhood home in Alabama.
"Sorry I didn't get back right away. I had to toss Jerry out and claim the chair for you. He didn't want to cooperate," Kael said with a grin.
I saw a gangly teen rubbing his left ear. His face was red and he ducked away when I looked at him.
"I didn't believe him," he mumbled.
Faydra smacked him on the back of the head. "When has Kael ever lied to you?"
"All the time," Jerry whined.
Kael laughed, ruffling the boy's hair. "He has a point, Fay. Don't give him too hard a time."
"If you say so." She sniffed, shaking back her long, blonde hair.
"He was right here," she said, looking around. "Kael, search and rescue."
Nodding, he went one way, she went the other. Puzzled, I waited until they came back. In the meantime, Corle introduced me, and I started talking to Kael's younger cousins, all about the same age as Carrie and Caleb. They sat with me, supplying names and relationships, in a quiet counterpoint to the conversation. It was a little distracting, but I appreciated the effort, and soon learned to listen to both their dialogue, and the conversation. New skill set—score!
About twenty minutes later, Kael and Fadyra returned with Quaid. He looked slightly Shell Shocked.
"You okay?" I asked him.
Quaid couldn't talk, he just nodded. Kael handed him a glass of amber colored liquid, which he tossed back, gasping. Kael poured him another.
"Aunt Shiff had him," Faydra supplied quietly.
The entire room gasped, their expressions changing to one of deep concern.
"Who's that?" My question was innocent enough, but all eyes turned to me.
"You didn't warn her?" Caleb whispered harshly and he slapped Kael on the back of the head.
"I didn't think she'd be here."
"She's the Anti-Christ," Quaid whispered, his voice full of fear. "The Bride of Frankenstein, or maybe Satan. She's the most terrifying...the most—horrible.... Words—no—words." He gestured vaguely.
"He went looking for the bathroom," Faydra said, smoothing Quaid's hair. "And she got him on the way out."
"No—words," Quaid muttered. "No...."
"Dude, more bourbon," Jerry said, taking the bottle from Kael. He poured Quaid a double. "You sure you're all right?"
"He will be," Kael said, patting the other man on the knee. "She had him cornered almost fifteen minutes before we found him."
"Oh, Jesus, dude!" Jerry made the Sign of the Cross over Quaid.
"Who is she?" I demanded.
"Aunt Shiff, she's our great-grandmother's older sister. Nan's about eight-five, eighty-six?" Faydra said, shrugging. "Aunt Shiff is almost a hundred. First of sixteen," she explained.
"Meanest old woman to walk the face of the earth," Kael added.
Everyone in the room nodded, including Corle. I shuddered.
"What does she do that's so awful?"
"She sees right through you," Quaid said, shuddering. "She knew things about me that my own mother doesn't know! She knew about—us!" He pointed between himself and Fay. "Read me like a book, trashed my psyche, nailed my manhood to a rugged cross. She—eviscerated me with her tongue. I may never recover. Jesus, that's an evil old woman!"
"Why is she here?" Kael asked. "She hates to go out."
"It's your fault," Quaid said to him. "And yours," he pointed to Fay. "When she heard you were coming back with a new boyfriend and girlfriend, she made it a point. She lives an hour and a half away, but she insisted."
"I'm so sorry. Honey, I'm so—" Faydra tried to touch him, but Quaid jerked away.
"She'll know.... She knows everything!" His tone was funereal. "And she wants to meet you," he told me. "Then you'll see."
"I'll go with you," Kael said. "I'm sorry, man. I had no idea or I'd have run point for you. I'm so sorry."
Quaid held out his glass. "I never drink. I don't believe in using alcohol to solve your problems. Hit me," he said to Jerry, who still held the bottle. "To the top."
"Honey, that's Papaw's special brew. That's gonna knock you on your ass," Fay said.
"I don't care." He motioned to Jerry once more.
Faydra put her hand out, holding the bottle away. "Nope, no more, or you won't be worth a damn later."
Quaid turned horrified eyes on her. "No, I can't touch you again. She'll know!"
I was really worried and wanted to do something, but Kael wouldn't let me.
"It's okay. It passes, I promise. We've all endured it at one time or another."
"But we knew going in, it would be bad," Faydra told her cousin.
"He's a grown man. He'll survive," Kael said. "Quaid," he spoke harshly. "Remember what you told me earlier?"
There was a vague expression of realization. "Yes."
Kael nodded sharply. Quaid nodded slowly and a change came over him. He relaxed and lost the haunted, tortured look.
"Let's get this over with," I said. "If she's gonna rip into me, I'd rather have it on an empty stomach."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Kathleen Bonaparte, fondly known as Katie B, is an actress at a live theatre downtown. She recently broke up with her long time boyfriend, and started dating Yung Li. Li comes from a large family, with nearly a dozen sisters. He has taken Katie to an art gallery opening that his mother organized. When they get to the car afterward, his youngest sister, Ling, is waiting for him.
Some Language Might Be Objectionable to Some Readers. If this describes you, don't read it.
Ling was waiting by Li's car.
"Daddy said I could ride with you. I think he wants you to have a chaperon."
"Well, shucks, Babe," he said to me as he opened the door. "We can't have a hot time in the back seat."
"As if you'd get Katie back there in the first place," Ling replied, climbing in back.
"She has a point. I don't do back seat sex for anyone, sorry, Babe."
"Neither do I," he admitted. "Now the hood...."
Ling smacked the back of his head.
"No hitting the driver once we're moving. I mean it!"
"Honestly, bro, as if I would."
"I may be the only boy, and viscously outnumbered, but I'm still your older brother. And I'm the one in charge, here. Are we clear?"
"Good. I've never hit a woman in anger. Don't make me start."
"Ever hit one not in anger?" I asked, raising a curious eyebrow.
"Only consensually. I believe there were handcuffs and safe words involved."
"Yung Li!" His little sister screeched, following with something very shrill in Korean.
Li laughed, correcting her pronunciation or grammar.
"Whatever, you know what I'm saying."
"Yes, but if you want to say it correctly," he nodded, indicating that she should listen.
"Yes, Sensei," she drawled. "You're so mean."
"I'm your big brother, I'm supposed to be. So, what happened with that guy?"
"The one who wanted to get laid."
She rolled her eyes. "Doesn't that describe every man on Earth?"
"The dude with the purple hair hair and the piercings. Fang boy."
"Oh, him! Well, obviously he got nowhere. I just did that to piss you off."
Li's turn to roll his eyes. "He had some interesting ink. But how he walked through a metal detector without it exploding, I don't know. Everything," he explained. "Eyebrows, lips, nose, cock."
"Oh, he didn't!"
"Did you see it?"
She didn't reply, merely folded her arms across her chest.
"Cock," he repeated. "Thought he was all that cause he's studied Ton Fuk Du or some shit. Thinks he's bad ass."
"Tae Kwon Do," Ling clarified.
"Yeah, that. I offered to bring him on my mat and teach him something and he refused—loudly—one might say vociferously."
"One might, if one had that word in ones vocabulary," Ling snapped. "And he didn't do that because he was scared of you. He did that because he was afraid he'd hurt you."
"Yeah, that'll happen."
"You're being mean," Ling said.
I didn't say anything, but I gave him a look that said I agreed with her.
"I'm being a big brother, the only one you have, I might add. I love you and I care about you and I know what guys are like. Especially ones who sport a lot of ink and more metal than a gold mine."
"Are you like that? You sport ink."
"I've done my share of cruising for –tang," he said, pulling into a parking spot. "Did I ever force anyone? No. Have I used every persuasive tool at my disposal to convince her? Yeah, when I was sixteen. Since then, I haven't had to." He got out of the car, obviously angry. He opened her door to help her out. "You remember one thing, Ling. A guy is ready to divest himself of his virginity as soon as he has his first erection. He doesn't care what vagina he uses for that purpose, understand? He wouldn't care if it was you, the Queen of England or Hillary Clinton, he just wants vag. Most of us grow beyond it, but some guys never lose that attitude. Look for a guy who is interested in you as a person, not just cause you're a hot Asian chick with the right equipment."
Ling jumped out of the car, running to catch up with Clementine and Rex.
"That was harsh, Li."
"She needs to know that some men are predators. That kid was one of the worst I've ever met. He likes virgins. For him, it's some sort of contest. How many can he have before he dies. Before some girl's brother kills him, more like."
© Dellani Oakes 2018
To Find All Dellani's Books
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
One of my most favorite characters came into a story as a minor character. I expected him to be the friendly, comforting police officer who walked in, did his thing and left. He didn't do that. Instead, Jasper Waters damn near took over the book! But that's because he's the kind of man who is somewhat larger than life, and has a full blown Sir Galahad Complex. (You'll find that many of my male characters do.) He takes his duty to Protect and Serve very seriously – particularly the protect part.
When things get hairy for the female lead, Amanda Bitterson, in New at Love, Jasper comes to the rescue once again. Unfortunately, he's got competition for Amanda's affections in the form of Derrick Butler. It doesn't stop Jasper from developing a little crush. (Don't worry, he gets his own woman in Conduct Unbecoming.)
Jasper is in at least 14 of my books, but I can't be 100% sure, because I don't always write his name on the cast list. Here's a scene from New at Love, which illustrates why I love Jasper so much. Amanda and Derrick have an argument, based on a complete misunderstanding. She gets angry, and he leaves abruptly. Jasper calls to check on her and finds her in tears. To help her calm down, he invites her to breakfast.
"So, what happened between you and Derrick?" Jasper asked casually, but there was more to the question than he was letting on.
"A silly argument. It's my fault for not understanding," Amanda replied.
"Don't blame yourself. There's always two sides to every conflict."
"On my side, there were a lot of misconceptions and assumptions. My interpretation of his actions was based on a variety of bad relationships. I thought he was acting like all those other guys, and he wasn't."
"Bummer," Jasper didn't sound nearly as upset as he was trying to. "And what were these misconceptions and assumptions? If you don't mind me asking."
"That he just wanted to get in my pants, and then leave me."
"That's happened to you?" He sounded shocked. "How could any guy do that to someone like you?"
"Not so much the getting in the pants part," she admitted with an embarrassed blush. "The leaving part. I'm a pro at that."
"So they don't love you and leave you? They just leave?"
"When I try to make it clear that they aren't getting into my pants, that's when they leave."
"Ooh...." He looked at her with a totally different expression. "So, Derrick tried to get more friendly than you wanted?"
"Not really, no. That's the assumption part. I read him totally wrong."
"So he didn't try to take advantage?"
"No. I'm not making any sense, am I?"
Jasper laughed, taking a sip of his coffee. "Not a lot, no."
"Okay, let me go over events and see if that clarifies it for you."
She told him what had happened that morning between her and Derrick. Jasper nodded, listening politely as she talked.
"So I drove him away. I've totally ruined a great relationship with a wonderful guy because I'm an idiot."
"Did you try apologizing? Just a suggestion." He held up his hands like she was holding a gun on him.
"I didn't have the chance. He drove away before I could get outside."
"Phone?" He held his thumb and finger up by his ear like a play phone. "I bet those two little words, I'm sorry, would go a long way right now."
"What if he's still angry? What if he won't forgive me?"
"My grandmother would say, what if doesn't pay the bills. Amanda, speaking from the perspective of a man who's been on the hard side of an argument, I think you should call him. I think you'll find him receptive to an apology."
"Why would he be?"
"Because if he's not, he's an idiot of the first order. He probably forgave you before he'd even driven away."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I would have." He attacked his food like it had threatened him with bodily harm. He didn't look at her for several minutes as he concentrated on his food. "Look." He set his fork down. "I'm not going to pretend that I'm not attracted to you. I see this from his perspective and I know why he left. He doesn't see any way to convince you that he's not what you think. He seems like a good guy, Amanda. Not every man would have stayed the night in the first place. Any guy who's only interested in bedding you, would have used your fear to his advantage. Derrick didn't do that."
"Why are you taking his side?"
"I have no idea. Really, I kind of hoped you two would break up, so I could ask you out."
Amanda was so shocked, her mouth fell open. "What? So this whole friendly breakfast thing was your attempt to get in my pants?"
He set his glass of orange juice down with a click. "Can I explain a few things about men, so you know where both of us stand? You've obviously been burned a few times by real dicks. Okay, I accept that. Please, don't judge all men by the dweeb squad standards, okay? Some of us are actually gentlemen who take more than five minutes to get to know a girl. Like for instance, if this was dinner instead of breakfast, I wouldn't take you home, and try to screw your brains out on the first date. Give me a few dates, yeah, I'm gonna try. By that time you'd have made up your mind how far you were going to let me go, and I'd have a pretty good idea of my limitations."
"So, what are you telling me?" She looked completely confused.
Jasper sighed a little, scratching his ear. "I'm telling you that Derrick and I are just a couple of red blooded, heterosexual males who see a gorgeous woman we'd like to get to know better. Believe me, if you weren't already involved with him, I'd try to kiss you myself."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
New at Love is published in Fran Lewis' MJ Magazine, Volume 1
For even more about Jasper, buy Conduct Unbecoming.
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Kali & Lisa Monday, September 10 from 4-6 PM EDT Join us LIVE or listen to the recording at your convenience.Dellani and Christina welcome two wonderful authors, both of whom are brand new to the show!
Thursday, September 06, 2018
That's an understatement. I have hundreds, probably thousands of characters. With 116 books finished, and 60 more pending.... many, many, many characters. In that morass of humanity, however, I have several (Okay, a lot – that being in excess of 100, and less than a 1,000) that are special to me. It's not always the protagonist, either. I have to say, I am very fond of my heroes, and heroines, but often it's a support character who really catches my fancy. Some of them, eventually, get their own books. Others keep popping up in others, and never get a book of their own. This isn't because I'm cruel, it's because they don't want them.
One such character is Cullen Fellowes, millionaire rock star. The fact he was a millionaire first, a rock star second, notwithstanding, he is both. Cullen is the younger brother to one of my heroes – Morgan, who stars in The Best Medicine (finished, unpublished). He makes his debut in that book, at the ripe old age of 24. He takes nothing seriously, not even his career. It's not like he needs the money.
He's a bit of a player, hits on anything with tits, is one way he's described, but you won't find a more genuine, kind, loving man (except for the heroes, of course). He's honest to a fault, fun loving, and and extremely talented vocalist. He is the front man for a band called Sardonic, who feature in many of my books. Because his sister, Molly, is so much older than he, (and had her children quite young) he has nephews in his band, who are several years older. Even so, he is the undisputed leader.
Below is a scene from Ring Up the Curtain (finished, unpublished) Shaine Gregory, and her fiance, Brent Heinz, are at Molly's Steakhouse (Owned by Cullen's sister and her husband, Kenny). Sardonic often performs there, even though they are now quite famous. Seeing them there, Cullen comes over to say hello.
Cullen, the front man, grew up with Shaine. She'd been friends with him for ages and they had dated on and off in high school. He made a point of coming to their table on a break.
Turning his chair around, he flopped on it, snagging a fry from Shaine's plate. "Hey, baby. What's up? Brent, good to see you, man. Damn, you look good today, Shay." He called her by her childhood nickname. "What's your secret?"
Shaine tilted her head, smiling wickedly, but said nothing.
"I've kept her in bed most of the day," Brent said with a sly grin.
"For real? Damn! I'm totally jealous. We never went that long, did we, sweetie?" Cullen was not shy about their former relationship, a fact that often embarrassed the hell out of Shaine. "I demand a rematch!"
"You don't have the stamina," Shaine remarked, fluttering her eyelashes. "Brent can go all day, and all night. Until you can match that, I'm not interested."
"You're killing me! You're one lucky bastard, Brent."
"I know that," he replied, kissing Shaine's fingers.
"I had her first, though." Cullen jumped up from the table, pointing a finger excitedly at Shaine. "Before you, or anybody else. Gotta go!" He dashed to the stage, jumping the last couple of feet. He slid to the microphone and started to sing right on cue.
"Excitable fellow, your pal Cullen."
"Yes. Would you believe he's calmed down since grade school? He used to be hyper."
Brent laughed, tossing his head back. It was the most happy, carefree sound she'd heard him make in months. His eyes had lost the slightly haunted quality she'd seen there the last few weeks. He kissed her hand again, rubbing her palm with his thumb.
"Was he really your first?" His eyes sparkled as he watched Cullen work the crowd.
"Yeah. I was his too. It was pretty awful. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing. Then his older brother caught us. Humiliating!"
"I guess so. Lectured you, did he?"
"Yes, but not like you'd think. There we were, naked, frustrated cause it was not going well. In walks Morgan, who is ten years older and was studying to be a doctor. He flops down on the chair in Cullen's room and proceeds to give us a how to lesson. It was so embarrassing. Enlightening, but God, I couldn't look him in the face for weeks afterwards."
Believe it or not, this isn't the most embarrassing thing Cullen has said. He's known for being very frank and upfront even when talking to an audience. No one can ever accuse Cullen for being shy. He is also one to push the limits, as he does in The Best Medicine, when meeting Tanya (his brother, Morgan's, new girlfriend) for the first time.
"Morph, who is this amazing woman and why is she with you and not me?"
"Because I saw her first, baby bro. Besides, you're too young for her."
"Speak for yourself, I like older women! They have more class and you can have an educated conversation with them. I always thought Vanessa was damn hot...."
A look from Morgan quelled him.
"Excuse me," Tanya said irritably. "I am here, you know, and semi-involved in this conversation. I think you need to know we just met, and I'm not dating your brother. It's a friendly dinner between colleagues. As to my age, you've no idea how old I am, so could we drop that part of the conversation?"
The men looked at one another sheepishly. Morgan frowned, tight lipped at his younger brother. He shook his head slightly and went back to his meal.
"Morgan is reminding me to use my manners," Cullen replied sullenly. "He's always telling me I'll be the only rock star who never gets laid, because I keep putting my foot in my mouth."
Morgan cleared his throat pointedly. Cullen looked at him again and dropped his eyes to the table, his ears and neck reddening.
"I'm sorry, I did it again. Perhaps I should just go back on stage. I don't make quite so big an ass of myself there." He rose to leave.
"It's okay," Tanya said. "I've been feeling rather like the whole family is traipsing around like the Lord of the Dance and I'm the one person in the audience who doesn't know Michael Flatley."
For better or worse, Cullen is who he is, no pretense or lies. For that breathtaking honesty, I will always love him.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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