Thursday, September 29, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 15


Blythe giggled. "Well, I'm sorry as hell I have this problem, but I'm glad it's interesting for someone."

Paul chuckled. "I fully expect this to be written up in a medical journal one day."

"Just as long as they don't use my name."

Grinning, he went out. Elam tapped on the door a few minutes later.

"Any luck?"

"Not yet. The nurse I needed to talk to is on surgical leave—ironic, since she's head nurse on the floor. They took a message and someone will contact her, but it could be a few days."

"Thanks for trying," Blythe said, sighing.

Elam took her hand, resting it on her shoulder. "We'll figure this out," he promised. "Somehow." He shifted positions, coming around to face her, rather than talking from behind. "I really want to help you, Blythe. I wish I could do more."

"You've done so much already. You barely know me, but you've been so kind—" Tears dropped on their joined hands.

Don cleared his throat. "I'm gonna go get a coffee. Can I get you kids anything?"

"No, sir. Thank you," Elam replied.

"Honey?"

"Something cold," Blythe replied.

"One something cold coming up," her father replied as he walked out the door.

Elam watched him close the door. "Your dad is pretty cool," he told Blythe. "He sure loves you a lot."

"He hasn't been giving you the Dad Treatment, has he?"

Elam chuckled. "Little bit. To be fair, he doesn't know me, and neither do you. I have only my dimples and sunny smile to recommend me."

"I dunno. You've got a few other things to recommend you."

Elam smirked, raising an eyebrow. "Do I wanna ask?"

Blythe rolled her eyes. "You have to know you're gorgeous."

"I do? Lucky me."

"And you're very sweet." She held up her hand as he protested. "I know, men don't want to be called sweet. Jason's told me that often enough, but it's true. And sweet is good. You're smart and funny—and going out of your way to help an almost total stranger with the weirdest problem ever."

"Actually, it's pretty cool."

"That's what Paul said. Am I a science experiment?" her tone turned petulant.

"Blythe, I thought you were great when you came in after your accident. Weirdness aside, I still think that. I want to get to know you better. I'd like to see where this goes. Wouldn't you?"

"My weirdness?" She frowned, pouting.

Elam took both her hands in his. His broad palmed, long fingered hands dwarfed hers. "I meant, something—between us. I'd like to find out where it goes. I like you, you're funny and smart and pretty—and have an incredibly bizarre problem."

Blythe burst out laughing. "I guess bizarre is in this season."

"Yeah, and it's sexy as hell," he replied. Elam leaned closer, holding her hand.

Blythe felt herself drawn toward him. Smiling, she gazed into his deep blue eyes. It had been far too long since a man took interest. And, to date, the only man to kiss her, other than family, had been Alec. His smiling face drifted before her, but she pushed the vision gently aside, waiting.

"I really wanna kiss you," Elam breathed.

"I really want you to," she replied.

His lips touched hers tentatively. They were full, soft and warm against hers. The light stubble of his beard rasped lightly against her cheek as she parted her lips. His tongue flickered into her mouth, for a brief moment, making hers tingle. A shiver went down her spine—a delightful, happy one. She couldn't remember the last time she'd felt like this. Had she ever? She kept wanting to compare him to Alec, the only other man she'd kissed. But Elam defied comparison. That was alright. Different was a good thing.

There was fumbling at the doorknob. Elam jumped back like he'd been shocked. Blythe pressed her lips together, remembering how his felt. Her father walked in with a tray of drinks and some cookies in a little paper bag. Blythe figured they probably looked disheveled and guilty, but she didn't care. Her father was far less likely to condemn her for moving on, than Jason or her mother, would be. If he noticed anything amiss, he said nothing. Instead, he handed out drinks and cookies.

"I know you said you didn't want anything, but I felt guilty not bringing something." He handed Elam a packet of cookies and a bottle of chocolate milk. The cookies were oatmeal raisin. "I hope that's okay. I wasn't sure what you'd like."

"It's perfect, Mr. Donovan. Happens to be my favorite."

Just like Alec. That was his after school snack all through school. In fact, whenever Blythe sent him care packages, she put in a tin of chocolate powder and made dozens of oatmeal cookies. Her expression must have changed with her train of thought. Elam took her hand, worry in his eyes.

"You okay?"

"Just remembering." Someone I used to love.

"Here you go, sweetie." Her father handed her another chocolate milk, only her cookies had white chocolate chips.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 14


"I want my dad," Blythe said, trying hard not to whimper.

"Of course. Let's go in here," the doctor said nodding toward a conference room door. "Paul, please go get Mr. Donovan and bring him here."

"Yes, ma'am." Paul trotted off.

"Now," Dr. Waverly said in a matter of fact tone. "Tell me what you saw."

Blythe described her vision. She couldn't call it a dream, it was far too real. Her father came in as she concluded her recitation. "And then I found myself in the back of an ambulance, and the paramedic had the paddle thingies in his hands."

Elam and the doctor exchanged a worried look.

"What aren't you telling me?" Blythe demanded.

"We had a guy here," Elam said. "My team responded to the call. I drove while my partner resuscitated the man." He looked uncomfortable.

"When? When was this?"

"It's been quite awhile. Maybe a year?"

"What day, specifically?"

"November first," Elam replied. "A thing like that, you don't forget."

Blythe sobbed, hiding her face in her hands. Her father held her close.

"That's the day that Alec died," he answered for her.

Could it be a coincidence? It seemed unlikely.

"What happened to him? Is he alive?" Blythe asked.

"I don't know," Elam said. "Shortly after, he was taken to another hospital. His family wanted him closer to home, or something."

"Can we find out?"

"I don't know," the doctor said, hesitantly.

"Because I think he's haunting me," Blythe said. "Or maybe he's not dead. Maybe he's trying to tell me something else. Can we find out? Please?" Desperation tinged her voice.

"I'll see what I can do," Dr. Waverly said. "Meanwhile, I want a sleep study done. I think the results could tell us a lot."

"Whatever it takes to make her well," Don said. "I just want my baby to feel better."

"That's our goal too, Mr. Donovan," Dr. Waverly assured him. "Let's get you set to go home," she said to Blythe.

"I thought you wanted a sleep study," Blythe replied.

"It can be done at your home," she said with a smile. "The technician comes to you, sticks the leads on and can monitor by remote. Unless you'd rather go to the sleep study facility."

"Home would be better," Don said, before Blythe could reply. Since he voiced her opinion, she didn't mind.

"I'll get it set up. Elam?" She motioned with her head.

"I'll be back soon." He squeezed Blythe's hand before walking away with the doctor.

When they were out of hearing distance, Dr. Waverly spoke in low tones. "How well do you know this girl?"

"I just met her the other day when she came in after her accident. Why?"

"Something strange is going on. I want to pursue the inquiry into the whereabouts of that patient. That could be a lead to figure out what's happening to her. Do you remember his name or where he was transferred?"

"No, ma'am. That was a lot of patients ago. Once he was transferred, I didn't think about him again."

"He wasn't my patient. Do you know who operated on him?"

"No, but I might be able to find out."

"Do so. I'm going to order that sleep study and see what's what." She walked rapidly away, head down, hands in the pockets of her lab coat. "Fascinating," she muttered.

Elam grinned, watching her walk away. He liked her enthusiasm. If she found this case fascinating, she would do everything she could to help Blythe. He headed to the nurses' station in the surgical wing. If anyone remembered the guy with a tree branch in his chest, it would be the head nurse on night shift. She'd been on duty when they brought the man in.

Blythe and her father waited impatiently for Elam, or the doctor, to come back. Neither of them arrived, but Paul came to fetch them. He walked them back to the ER, but took them to a cubicle rather than back to the waiting room.

"Dr. Waverly said to let you know the sleep study has been ordered. She's scheduling it with the technician now."

"Where's Elam?" Blythe asked.

"No idea, I'm sorry. I can text him."

"Please. I don't have my phone."

Paul pulled out his phone and sent a message to Elam. His phone buzzed a moment later.

"He's on his way," he replied. "I'll let him know where you are."

"Thank you. Everyone has been so kind."

"No problem," Paul replied with a grin. "This is the coolest thing ever to walk through the door." He realized what he'd said and blushed. "I don't mean it the way it sounded. I meant we all want to find out what's wrong."

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 13


"Can you give him something?" the other man asked. "He's going to hurt himself if he keeps that up."

"I already gave him enough Demerol to knock out a horse."

"Thorazine?" the man asked.

"You a doctor?"

"No, a drug rep."

The paramedic chuckled. "I've got something. Let's get him out of this ditch first."

Blythe felt herself lifted on a gurney and carried from the wreckage. She felt a warm trickle in her vein as the paramedic gave her an injection through the IV tube. Her body convulsed, the branch jerking wildly.

"What's happening?" The drug rep said.

"I don't know," the paramedic replied. "I don't know. Hang in there, fella! Give me a hand here!"

Once again, Blythe felt the tug on her psyche and she flew into the sky. This time, she didn't stop and hover. Instead, she continued flying high, into the clouds, up and up until the sun filled her vision. With a contented sigh, she looked down at herself.

The body was decidedly male, wearing faded gray jeans, black skater shoes and a red and black plaid flannel shirt over a black T-shirt. There was no branch protruding from the chest. With no weight to hold her, she swooped and swirled through the air, until an unmistakable tug pulled her down again. She tried to control her descent, but it was too fast. The landing was harder this time. When she came down, she was in the ambulance. The paramedic held the paddles in his hands.

"I've got a pulse. Hang in there, fella. We're almost home."

Light in her eyes woke Blythe from a sound sleep. The technicians hovered over her, trying not to show their worry.

"You feel okay?" her buddy said.

Blythe tried to focus on her name tag. Sandy, was etched in white on a royal blue background.

"It happened again."

"What happened?" Sandy helped her sit up.

"Another dream."

"Is that what it was?" Sandy's eyes held panic. "I never saw anything like it. All of a sudden, it went wild. Different colors flashing across the screen. We thought we'd broken the machine."

"What's happening to me?"

"Nothing I ever saw before," Sandy replied. "The doctor will go over these shortly. She may want more tests."

"She's gonna want more tests," the other tech said. "I guarantee."

Paul was waiting for her when she came out to the hall. Elam stood next to him, hands in his pockets, worried expression on his handsome face. Unable to contain his concern, he helped her sit in the wheelchair.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. I think. Where's my dad?"

"In the waiting room. I told him I'd come down and check on you. You've been here over an hour. Usually, this is thirty minutes or less. You had us freaked, babe."

Blythe smiled at him. She hardly knew him, but she liked his warm, protective streak. That, and the fact he called her babe, made her think of Alec. They weren't a bit alike in looks. Alec had russet hair and hazel eyes. Elam was blond and blue eyed. But they both had a similar, athletic, broad shouldered build.

"Swimmer's shoulders," she mused.

Elam frowned, brow furrowed. "Huh?"

"You're a swimmer," she said, feeling his muscular arm.

"Yeah. Um—"

"Sorry. For a minute you reminded me of someone else." She turned her head away, blinking back tears.

"You mean Alec? Your fiancé?"

"How do you know his name?" She wasn't angry, merely curious.

"Your dad told me. We've been talking a lot. He's a great guy. Very concerned about you."

"So are you." She reached up to touch his cheek.

Elam squatted by the chair. He brushed her hair from her face, his ocean blue eyes meeting her coffee brown ones. Blythe saw so much there. He did care, deeply. It was strange to have someone she barely knew, worry about her.

"I will follow you into the dark," she whispered.

"Death Cab for Cutie? You're quoting song lyrics?" He looked around helplessly.

"It was our song, mine and Alec's." She buried her face in her hands. "I'm losing it. I'm going crazy, aren't I? I keep getting things mixed up in my mind."

"You're not going crazy," Elam assured her. "We'll figure this out. Dr. Waverly is really good. She's the best neurologist in the state."

"I've probably got a tumor or a brain injury, or something."

"You don't have either of those things," Dr. Waverly said from behind her. "Something strange is going on, but your films are clear. I think it's more likely that you're experiencing something far different."

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 12


Blythe waved as she was taken back to a cubicle. Her father joined her a few minutes later, smelling of outdoors and cigarette smoke.

"Nice young man," he said, pointing over his shoulder toward the waiting room. "Seems genuinely concerned about you."

"Yes, he's very nice. If I ever get past all this, we're going out."

"You'll be fine, honey. It's just stress."

"I hope so, Dad. It all seems so real." Her voice drifted off and she dozed.

"Can you hear me?" A man's voice cut through the dark. "Is someone in there? Can you hear me?"

"Hello?" she called, her voice rasping in her throat. Only it wasn't her voice. A decidedly masculine voice formed the words she spoke. "I'm in here. It's dark."

"Buddy, hang on. Maybe I can get this door open. Holy Mother!" he gasped. "Um, on second thought, I'm gonna leave the door shut and wait for the EMTs. They should be here pretty soon. You hang in there, fella. We'll get you out."

"Thanks," Blythe said, sounding like a man again.

"What's your name, buddy?"

Blythe couldn't reply. It was as if the voice simply stopped working. She felt a tug on her head. Suddenly, she saw the scene from above. A car lay in the ditch beside a back country road. It had wrapped around a tree. One branch had penetrated the window, piercing the chest of a tall, black haired man. Another man pounded on the window, yelling.

"Hey, man! You with me? Hang in there, buddy!" the voice sounded distant, growing fainter.

Blythe started awake, "Buddy!"

Fortunately, no one was in the room with her. She could hear her father's voice outside. He talked in low tones to a woman. She couldn't hear their words, just the rise and fall of their voices. There was a light tapping on the door.

"Hi," the woman said. "I'm Dr. Waverly. I hear you've got yourself a migraine?" She pulled out a penlight, flashing it in Blythe's eyes.

Eyes watering, she endured the check up stoically. "I have a headache, but that's not the only reason I'm here."

"Your father said you've been having bad dreams?"

"I think I'm hallucinating. I mean, it's like dreams, but more real. I can see and smell things in the dreams."

"Tell me about the dreams," the doctor said. She sat on the rolling stool, waiting.

Blythe described what she'd seen, leaving nothing out.

"And you just experienced another one of these hallucinations while you've been waiting?"

"Yes. This time, I wasn't a woman. I was a man. I was in a car on a back country road. My car hit a tree, and I got stabbed by a branch that came through the window."

The doctor froze. "Describe the man."

"About six foot two, broad shoulders, black hair. He was dressed in a red flannel shirt."

Eyes wide, the doctor's hand flew unheeded to her mouth as her lips formed an O.

"What? Tell me."

"Did you know the man?"

"Never seen him before." But she had. It was the man from her accident site.

Dr. Waverly didn't explain why Blythe's description elicited such a response. Instead, she ordered an MRI immediately. Paul came back, taking Blythe to radiology. The same tech was on duty.

"You again? Did you miss me?"

"Terribly," Blythe laughed. "I just can't seem to get enough of this place."

"It's the antiseptic," Sandy, the tech said. "It's irresistible."

She joked as she got Blythe ready for her MRI. She gave her a designer hospital gown. Another tech came in to start an IV for contrast. That accomplished, Blythe went with them to the MRI room. It was a big, metal tube. The room was large and airy, well lit and welcoming. Once she was settled, they went to their booth.

"It's going to be loud," Sandy warned. "But try to lie as still as you can. Some people even fall asleep in there."

Blythe forced a chuckle, but falling asleep was the last thing she wanted. What if she woke up screaming? Unfortunately, lying still in the relative silence, aside from the clunks and thumps of the machine, she drifted off.

She hovered over the accident, watching as the emergency team cut the tree branch and pulled the man from the wreckage.

"Is he breathing? Can you get a pulse?"

Everything happened so fast, she couldn't follow it. The EMTs did their jobs well. With a gurgling gasp, the man spasmed on the gurney. Blythe felt herself falling. Instead of landing with a bone breaking thud, she felt as if she had landed on a cloud. The world went dark soon after.

"I can't see," her man's voice said. "I can't see!"

"It's okay, buddy," the familiar voice said. "You've got some blood in your eyes. We're going to get you to the hospital. It's okay."

"I can't see!" Blythe persisted. "What's going on? What's happening to me?"

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 11


".... a car hit an armadillo in the dark, spinning out of control as the tires blew. Forty-three year old Brian Rogers and his wife Rose, flipped three times before landing in this stand of trees, well hidden from the road. Passing motorists spotted the car and stopped, calling the police. Rose Rogers is in Jess Parrish Medical Center, listed in critical condition. Her husband was pronounced dead on the scene, his body cut in half when he was thrown from the car."

"Brian?" Horrified, Blythe turned off the TV. "I saw that accident. I was there!" Hands over her mouth, Blythe lay in bed, trying hard to come to grips with what she'd seen and heard. "I was there!" she whispered. "I'm losing my mind," she decided. "I need to go to the doctor tomorrow. I'm going crazy. I must have a brain injury."

She didn't want to wake her parents, but she didn't want to be alone. She reached for her phone, intent on calling the one person who wouldn't mind being woken from a deep sleep. Her hand hovered over the dial and she remembered. The phone fell from limp fingers, clattering to the floor. Blythe burst into tears. The one person she most wanted to call couldn't answer the phone, because he was dead. Sobbing, she curled up once more, trying to sleep.

Morning sun peeped in over the window sill, finding the tiny gap between the curtains. A finger of light pierced the twilight of her room, poking her in the eye. Muttering and grumbling, Blythe rolled over, surprised when she didn't cry out in pain from lying on her right side. She dozed a little while longer, but she really needed to pee. She was able to rise easily, though she walked stiffly to the bathroom.

The bruises on her neck were less vivid, but the bruising on her breast and chest looked worse than ever. Remembering her horrible dreams, she decided she needed to see the doctor. There was a walk-in clinic not far away. It was open on Sunday. Her father could take her over. Or maybe she should go to the hospital. If it was a brain injury, they would need an X-ray or an MRI. That would probably be the better choice.

At breakfast, she broached the subject with her parents. She didn't want to tell them about the dreams, but they might not understand why she thought she was hallucinating. How could she explain to them that she'd seen an accident soon after it happened? It made no sense. Instead, she complained of a headache, which was the truth. Having the sun wake her like that, had been painful. She was prone to migraines because of bright lights.

Her father agreed to take her, and they left soon after breakfast. Blythe rode to the hospital with her eyes closed, sunglasses on. It was a bright day, the sky cloudless, a light wind blowing. It was a welcome relief after all the rain over the last five days.

Not long after they arrived, Elam appeared in the waiting room. He wasn't dressed in his uniform. He wore jeans and a T-shirt. He sat next to Blythe, his arm around the back of her seat.

"Are you okay? The receptionist called me when you were back seeing the nurse." His hand went to her forehead, while he gazed into her eyes.

"I don't know," she said quietly.

Her father had gone outside for a smoke.

"I think maybe I hit my head after all. I keep seeing things, having really strange dreams."

"Marigold said you were complaining of a headache." He took her pulse.

Blythe giggled. "Are you Doctor Elam now?"

Elam smiled. "I'm also a paramedic. Your pupils seem okay, your pulse is steady, no fever."

"Thank you." She slapped at his hands. "I feel like I'm going crazy," she whispered. "I keep seeing things—horrible things. Accidents. Dreaming about them." She told him about the death of Brian Rogers, how she'd been there, seen the aftermath of the accident.

"Blythe, you were just in an accident. It's probably your mind playing tricks. Probably not medical at all."

"I know. I keep telling myself that. But I'm still hallucinating, right? How could I possibly have seen that accident last night? I don't know. I just don't know."

Elam leaned closer. "You're not going crazy. You had a traumatic experience. It's bound to make someone a little wonky."

"How do you explain the man I saw at the scene, the one who helped move the car?"

"You said that Jessamine told you there was no man."

"I saw him," she insisted. "I heard his voice. I smelled his cologne."

"It was probably the police officer."

"No, he got there afterward, and he didn't look like the other man. The first guy was about your age, tall, with black hair about to here." She touched his neck just below his ear. "It was wavy, thick. He had a goatee and dark brown eyes. And a really big nose. Like Roman statue big."

Elam chuckled. "You just described my uncle Nick. Only he's fifty. And he lives in Atlanta."

"I'm not kidding," Blythe persisted.

"I know you aren't. There has to be an explanation. Ah, here's your ride. I'll tell your dad where you are." He squeezed her hand. "Take good care of this one, Paul," he cautioned the orderly who wheeled her away.

"Only kind I take, Elam. See you in a few."

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 10


"Am I awful because I'm jealous?"

"No, baby. You're human." He patted her knee. "Come give them your blessing. They need it before they go see her parents." He rolled his eyes exaggeratedly.

Giggling, Blythe followed him back to the dining room. Lori jumped up, hugging her so enthusiastically, Blythe gasped with pain. The next ten minutes, her friend apologized for nearly breaking her ribs. The room was filled with laughter and apologies. Finally, Jason and Lori went next door, leaving Blythe and her parents together.

"I don't know about the two of you," Charlotte said. "But I need a drink and a game of Triominoes. Who's with me?"

"Make mine scotch," her father said, walking to the bar in the dining room. He poured a measure for himself, then added more. He mixed a rum and Coke for Charlotte. "Little bit, name your poison."

"Better not have any, Dad. I'm on pain meds."

"You driving anywhere?"

"No," she replied, puzzled.

"And you haven't had a pill for hours. You're okay. What'll it be?"

"I'll have what Mom's having."

He mixed another rum and Coke for her. Carrying the drinks to the table on a tray, he set them down and got out the Triominoes box.

They played several games, until Blythe couldn't keep her eyes open. Since she was the definitive loser, they decided to stop for the night. She brushed her teeth and crawled into bed, falling asleep with the lamp on. Her mother came in later, turning it off. She stood in the dark for some time, watching her daughter sleep. Eventually, she went out, closing the door softly behind her.

Blythe slept heavily, her dreams wild and silly, not disturbing and full of death. Around three, she woke, needing a bathroom. Once she was back in bed, she couldn't sleep right away. Lying on her side, she stared out the window.

The guestroom had a view of the back garden. Her mother kept roses, and other beautiful flowering plants, carefully trimmed back and maintained. It was in this garden that she and Alec would have married. She could visualize the graceful arbor her father had lovingly constructed for their wedding. He had trained Don Juan roses up the lattice work for months. The day Alec died, he took it down and dug up the roses, planting one in their yard, beneath Blythe's window. The other, he planted in Alec's yard, under his.

Ghostly shapes moved about the yard, making her shiver. Blythe got up to close the drapes. It was probably just fog from the river, but it looked like specters dancing. She saw her face reflected in the glass window pane as she closed the drapes. Her eyes were wide with fear, dark circles around them. Shivering, she turned on the lamp and huddled under the covers until fatigue finally took her.

Blood. Everything was covered with it. Her soul seemed to hover over her body as she sat in the car. This time, she was the passenger, not the driver. There was a hole in the windshield as if something had crashed through from the inside. Where was the driver? Where, for that matter, was she?

"Hello?" Her voice sounded small and lost in the darkness. "Hello?"

No one answered. She heard the night sounds of crickets and cicadas in the trees. Somewhere nearby, frogs croaked. At a distance, she thought she heard the whoosh of cars passing.

What was that? The sound of car doors. Of someone calling. Lights flashed, like the beam of half a dozen flashlights.

"Hello?" she called again, but it was a faint sound. "Hello? Help! Help me!"

"Did you hear something?" A man's voice, deep and resonant. "Hello?"

"Help!" she put as much energy into as she could, bellowing with all her strength. Gasping, she waited.

"There!" The same voice said. "I knew I saw something." A face appeared at the window. "You're going to be all right," he assured her, smiling. "We're here. You're safe."

"My—husband...."

"We'll look when we get some more light down here. You stay still, ma'am. Help is on the way. Can we get some light over here?" he called over his shoulder.

Car headlights blazed. Her companion gasped, something making him go pale. The hand holding the flashlight shook and he stepped away from the car. She heard sounds of retching. He didn't come back for several minutes. When he did, he was pale and sad. She could smell vomit on his breath.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. Your husband is dead. It looks like he was thrown from the car."

"Oh, my God! No! No!" She tried to get out of the car, but her body wouldn't move.

"Stay still, ma'am. Help is on the way."

"Brian? Brian? No, God no! Brian?"

Blythe woke up screaming a man's name. She felt her lips form it, though her mind couldn't remember putting the word there.

Who's Brian? Why was I calling for him? Did he say husband? I'm not married—though I was, to Alec.

"What's going on?" she asked herself. "What's up with these dreams?"

Trauma brought on by the car accident, she told herself. That was all. Nothing more. Maybe the strange dreams were brought on by the pain pills? They made some people hallucinate, right? Or maybe the doctor was wrong. Maybe she had hit her head. Something wasn't right. How could she keep dreaming about car accidents that weren't hers? Unable to sleep and feeling alone, she turned on the TV. An all night news channel had footage from a horrible accident on I-95 south, between Edgewater and Titusville.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, September 08, 2022

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 9


Lori and Jason exchanged a look. His fingers crept over to her lap, twining with hers.

"Because Mom and Dad are always teasing us about marrying each other, the whole boy and girl next door thing. And—well—"

"We've been dating on and off for ages."

"And you couldn't tell me?" Blythe fought to keep her voice down. "You couldn't tell your best friend—your sister?"

"Truth is, honey, Jason was my first—ever."

"You said it was that Bobby person you met in New York that summer."

"There was no Bobby."

"So you made that all up?"

"No. That all happened, only not with Bobby."

"Oh, my God! Him? I don't know whether to beat you both, or kiss you. I can't believe you've been able to keep this from me all this time."

"You were so tangled up with Alec, you didn't really notice," Lori said. "I dated other guys from time to time, Jason played the field."

"But it has always been Lori I love."

"We really want to get married in June," Lori added.

"We wanted to get married last year, but—" Jason's voice trailed off.

But Alec had died. Alec, his brother, his best friend, who would have been his best man.

"We were going to announce it after your wedding, and then get married at the six month mark, but we couldn't," Lori said. "We couldn't do that to you."

"But now, you've met someone you really like. You're thinking about dating. And I can't wait any longer to make Lori mine."

"I hope you're not upset, Be-Be."

"I'm only upset that you haven't told me—all this time. And that you thought I couldn't have handled you getting married—without Alec."

Her brother and friend sat quietly, holding hands. They were right. Blythe couldn't have coped. It would have sent her into a tailspin if they had married as they wanted to. She had no right to be angry, to feel cheated, but she did. They had everything, and she had nothing—including her damn car. She burst into tears.

Sobbing, she cradled her ribs as her body fought for air. Her parents ran into the room. Charlotte knelt next to her chair. Don put his arms around her shoulders, patting her gently on the back as she buried her face in his shirt.

"What on earth?" Charlotte said as she stroked her daughter's hair.

"We're getting married," Lori blurted.

"We've been engaged almost as long as Blythe and Alec," Jason admitted quickly.

"What?" Charlotte's voice quavered. "And you couldn't tell me? Your own mother? Does your mother know?" she demanded of Lori.

"No. It all started as a joke. Jason would tease that since Alec was dating Blythe, we should date. His best friend, her best friend—"

"And then we fell in love. But it was such a joke in both our families, we tried to deny it. We didn't want to be laughed at," Jason said softly.

"As if we'd tease you about being in love," Charlotte said, hugging them both. "Your mother and I have wanted this forever. Even when you were little, we thought you were perfect together."

"I think you need to tell your mom," Blythe said. "Then we have a wedding to plan."

"I'm totally kidding about the colors," Lori said, wiping her eyes. "But I'm dead serious about the cake."

They laughed loudly, hugging all around. Blythe felt somewhat let down. Was this how Lori had felt when she and Alec announced their engagement? Had she felt like someone had kicked out her insides? The difference was, they had kept their relationship quiet on purpose, denying themselves that bit of happiness. She'd had hers taken from her by an enemy bullet.

As the others chattered and laughed, Blythe quietly left the room. She went to the den, closing the door behind her, sitting in the recliner, curling into an unhappy ball. The sobs returned, harder than ever. Not having a tissue, she used her hands to wipe her tears. When that wasn't enough, she resorted to the hem of her shirt.

The door opened and closed. She didn't look up, expecting it to be her mother or Lori. She smelled her father's cologne and felt his strong, silent presence. She looked up.

"This isn't easy," he said, sitting on the floor beside her. "I'm happy for them, but I can't help thinking about everything you've lost." He patted her knee. "Alec loved you more than his own life. He wanted nothing else but to be happy with you, and make you happy. You had years of that. He was your true love. Do you know how many people go through life never finding that one, special person?"

Blythe nodded. She couldn't count the number of friends who had half a dozen mangled relationships in their pasts. Their parents were divorced, they were divorced—so many shattered lives. She and Alec hadn't been like that. From the moment they started dating, her sophomore year in high school, they had been faithful to one another. By the time she graduated, he'd been in college two years on the Army ROTC program. Once he graduated, he was transferred to active duty. Those years had been hard. Being apart so long, it was difficult to hold it together, but they had done it because the payoff was in sight. And then he was dead.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 15

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