Thursday, February 02, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 49

"What?"


"Nothing. I just like saying your name."

"I like having you say it."

He kissed her deeply as his hands deftly removed her panties. His boxers followed and they lay half on and half off the bed, with him between her legs. He lifted her knees to his shoulders, bending his head to kiss her belly.

"Do you want me?" he whispered hoarsely.

"Yes!"

"Who do you want?"

"Elam. Only Elam!"

He nipped her belly, flanks and thighs before lowering his head between her legs. She stiffened slightly. This was something Alec had never tried. She pushed at his head, but Elam took her wrists gently in one of his hands, holding them on her belly as he nudged her thighs apart with his chin. Her protests ceased the second his tongue touched her. Gasping, she writhed toward him. He let go of her hands and she grabbed his hair, moving his head so he could lave and suckle all the hard to reach places. Wild with desire, she reached for his firm, hot cock.

"I need this," she gasped. "Now!" She scooted up on the bed, dragging him with her. "Now!" she insisted.

"Condom," he mumbled, nipping her hip.

Blythe grabbed one from the drawer and helped him roll it on. Her hand tugged on him again, making it apparent exactly what she wanted.

Kissing her deeply, he slid into her slick canal. Blythe gasped as he drove in and up, meeting no resistance on the way. He repeated the movement, getting the same response. Blythe tried to speed him up, shoving her hips up to meet his as he glided in and out.

"Faster," she begged. "Please!"

"Relax," he whispered. "Enjoy it. We have only one first time. Let it last." He kept his strokes slow and smooth.

Soon, even he couldn't maintain the slow pace. Holding her hips still, he drove into her faster and deeper. Blythe struggled against him, needing to move. He let go, allowing her to set the pace. She lunged and bounced against him, her voice rising as her climax neared.

"Say my name," he commanded, holding her hips still once more.

"Elam," she moaned.

"Again!" His hips pumped quickly, bringing her closer still.

"Elam! Oh, God! Give it to me now!" she wailed, begging him for release.

Pleased with her response, he complied, his hips hammering against hers. Their bodies bounced against the mattress, moving as one.

A hot explosion built inside Blythe, so powerful, she couldn't hold it any longer. Gasping and moaning, she clung to his ass, taking him as deep as he could go.

"Yes! Oh, Elam! Yes!" She came in a white hot rush.

"Blythe!" he groaned as her muscles tightened on him.

Breathless, they laughed and gasped, flopping on the bed. Sticky with sweat, they cuddled in the middle of the bed.

"Was I right?" he asked quietly.

"About?"

His smug smile made her laugh.

"Yes, sex with you was absolutely fantastic."

"Ditto."

"Alec—"

"I don't really want to hear about the dead husband," he said tersely.

"Let me finish," she said, licking his nipple. "Alec never made me feel the way you just did—like I could fly."

"Really?"

"Really. We had good sex," she continued. "But I never had a climax like that, and I never wanted him again immediately after we finished. I loved him dearly, but I think I can love you even more."

Their kiss lasted a very long time. Soon, Elam felt the familiar, happy stirrings in his loins and knew he was ready for round two.

They made love again, languidly, experimentally, exploring one another's bodies. Afterward, they showered and had a late supper, heading immediately back to bed.

"You promised me something," she said as he suckled her breast.

"What?"

"Reverse cowgirl. You said you'd show me."

Elam laughed, nodding. "I did. Are you sure?"

"Yes."

He lay on his back, positioning her above him. With a thrust of his hips, he entered her from behind. Blythe gasped, riding him slowly, enjoying the new sensations the position afforded. It felt marvelous, exciting nerve clusters that had never had the proper attention before. It took far less time for her to near her orgasm this time. She lost momentum when her legs tired. Elam lifted her off him, enduring her protests stoically as he positioned her on her hands and knees.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 48


"I'll give her a call."

Lori kissed him on both cheeks. "I love this guy, Be-Be! Thank you, Elam!"

Twenty-two minutes later, Elam had made all the necessary plans with his mother. She was delighted to host the ceremony, promising that everything would be ready. All Lori had to do was put her in touch with her caterer and florist.

It was close to dinner time when Lori finally left. She had some calls to make to let everyone know about the change of venue for the wedding. Elam and Blythe sat on the couch, stunned into silence. He put his arms around her, pulling her close.

"So, Auntie Blythe, huh?"

Her eyes teared up. "I wanted Alec's baby so much. I'm so happy for her, but I'm so jealous."

"Why?"

"Because if Alec had lived, this would be me. I'd be married already, maybe with a new baby. My life would have some direction. Right now, I hardly know where I'm going. I'm not sure of anything."

Elam held her hand, gazing deeply into her eyes. "There is one thing you can be completely sure of. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

"Really?" her voice squeaked like a little girl's.

"Really. I find myself falling desperately in love with you. I never knew I could fall so quickly."

"You had me at hello," she whispered, tears welling in her eyes.

Elam brushed the tears away tenderly. Kissing her cheeks, he tasted the salt from her tears. He leaned back, licking his lips. "Yum. You taste delicious."

"Better than popcorn?"

"Better than popcorn. Or candy, or the most decadent dessert you can imagine."

"Better than Sex Cake?"

"Dunno about that, nothing's quite as good as sex."

"You might have a point there."

"I do know one thing," he slid closer, putting her legs over his. "There's nothing as good for you, as sex with me."

"Oh, you think so, huh?"

"I know so."

"You're very confident of your manly charms, Mr. Armitage."

"I am, indeed, Ms. Donovan."

They kissed a long time, exploring each other with their hands and mouths. Elam wanted to move to the bedroom and enjoy the natural progression. He leaned his forehead against hers, closing his eyes.

"Are you ready, Blythe? Because if you're not—"

Her mouth covered his, her tongue diving in repeatedly. Her savagery was exciting and a bit intimidating. Elam did his best to slow things down, knowing that if she continued this fiercely, he could end up hurting her.

"Easy, babe. It's our first time together. Let's make it last."

Blythe nodded, kissing him deeply, the ferocity abated, but wasn't completely gone. Elam gauged his movements carefully, moving languidly. Eventually, it had the desired effect. Blythe slowed down, enjoying his kisses. Soon, his shirt was off, then hers, bra following quickly.

They lay on the couch, she propped on cushions, he between her legs, holding his weigh off her as best he could. Finally fed up with the position, Elam lifted Blythe, carrying her to the bed.

She shivered, arching her back so her breasts were within easy reach of his hungry mouth. She yanked at his pants with both hands, undoing his belt and fly.

This is it, Blythe thought happily. The moment I've waited for since I met him. She smiled.

Elam smiled back, his blue eyes soft with passion. A slight frown of worry clouded his face. "Are you okay with this—really?"

"Yes." She tried to kiss him, but he leaned away.

"I just—you do know who's going to be in bed with you, right?"

"Elam," she whispered. "Only Elam."

"No ghosts," he continued. "No spirits of old boyfriends, or guys in a coma—"

"Oh, no? But they're both here and want to watch us," she teased.

Elam's head popped up and he looked wildly around. It took a second to realize that she was laughing at him. Shirt off, face mere inches from her right breast, he blushed a deep crimson.

"That's so not funny," he growled, nipping at her. "You have no idea the performance anxiety you just caused me."

"Why?" Blythe's hand slid between them, fondling his erection. "Don't you know how to use that bad boy?"

"Yeah—fuck!" he gasped, biting his lip.

His kisses grew more impassioned as she pulled down his jeans. When it was her turn to be undressed, he did it slowly, tugging her zipper down a little at a time as he laved her breasts and belly. One last tug and her pants were open. He slid his hands in and she shrugged one hip, then the other, free. Now, only a whisper of material came between them and their desire.

"Elam," she murmured.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 47


"I—uh—wanted to ask you. Did you see Alec? Speak to him?"

"I did. He asked me to look after Blythe. And he said to tell you not to miss him too much. He said he wanted you to be happy."

Jason blinked back a tear, wiping furiously at his nose. "Jesus! Really?"

"Yes. Stop putting it off, and be happy. That's exactly what he said. And he said goodbye."

Jason broke down, sobbing. Elam took him by the arms and pulled him into a hug. Jason cried on his shoulder, finally pulling himself together.

"You must think I'm behaving like a little kid," he muttered, wiping his eyes with the heels of his hands.

"No. It's the release, knowing that he's gone to a better place. He was your best friend. You're entitled to grieve, Jason."

"I was trying to be strong for Blythe."

"Being strong doesn't mean you deny your own feelings. What little I know about him, Alec was a great man. I hope that eventually, you and I will be good friends."

"I'd be proud to call you a friend, just like I was proud of Alec." He shook Elam's hand before pulling him into a man hug.

"I thought I heard your voice," Lori said, walking up from the living room. "Are you okay, babe?"

"I'm great now," he replied, taking her in his arms. "I'm free for lunch, want to go grab a sandwich?"

"I've got plenty of stuff here," Blythe said. "I actually went shopping. I have all kinds of food." She opened the refrigerator to show them.

They put together a big salad and sandwiches. After they ate, Jason went back to work.

"That reminds me," Blythe said to Lori. "Why aren't you at work?"

"I took a personal day. Had some things to do."

She sounded so casual, Blythe knew she was hiding something.

"What things to do?" She frowned.

"Oh, this and that—and a doctor's appointment," she muttered.

"Doctor? Are you sick?"

"No. I'm fine. I'm super. I'm fantastic!" She squealed, bouncing on her toes.

"You're pregnant?"

Elam looked between the women. "It must be a girl thing." He walked out, shaking his head.

"Does Jason know?"

"Of course, he does. But you're the first friend I've told. Are you free the Saturday after Thanksgiving?"

"Yes, I don't have any plans. Why?"

"Because we've decided to have a November wedding instead of a June one."

"What? Really?"

"What would my wedding be without my bestie? And Elam?"

"Yeah?" he called from the kitchen.

"Can you get away on Friday to stand up for Jason? He wants you to be best man."

"Why didn't he just ask me himself—just now?" He pointed toward the door.

"I know my brother," Blythe said. "He figured you wouldn't tell Lori no."

"Why would I say no? I'd be honored. As a matter of fact, I have best man experience. Couple of my friends are married. Doesn't leave us much time for a party."

"We'd rather have a dinner party with you two, and a couple other friends, than anything else. Jason's not the strip club type."

Elam chuckled, turning red around the ears. "Lori, hate to tell you this, babe. But all men are the strip club type."

Blythe punched him in the arm. He backed up quickly, dodging a follow up from Lori.

"Okay! No strip club. But a private lap dance?"

Blythe smacked him again.

"No on that, too," he laughed, dashing down the hall when they threatened him with pillows.

"We're getting married on the beach. A guy he knows from work is a notary. He can perform the ceremony."

"Why the rush? I thought you wanted all the trimmings."

"Because June is when this little guy makes an appearance. Thanksgiving weekend is the only window of opportunity we've got. We can both get a couple extra days for a short honeymoon."

"Of course, I'll be there!"

"Actually, my mother is an ordained minister," Elam said, strolling back into the room. "She does a beautiful service. And for no extra cost, you get me and my brothers to sing."

"You sing?" Lori looked and sounded skeptical.

Elam struck a pose, clearing his throat. "Nessun dorma...." he sang in a clear, strong tenor. "We've got all the parts covered."

"Do you think your mother would do that for us?"

"I'm sure she would. She even has a beautiful pavilion set up in her yard, if you'd like to have it there. He can accommodate up to twenty people. If it's bigger than that, there's the clubhouse at the golf course."

"Really? Do you think we could make arrangements? We haven't got that many people coming, just family and a few friends. It's twenty, tops."

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 46

 


"So, he's gone?"

"Yes, but he's so much better off. I know he'll be waiting for me, when I die."

"Not anytime soon!"

"No, I promise." Her phone rang, it was Jessamine.

"I know this sounds totally crazy, but I need to go with you when you see Malachi tomorrow. Is the invitation still open?"

"Yes, of course! Shall we meet up somewhere?"

"I'll drive up, and meet you in the parking lot."

"Okay. I spoke to his mom yesterday. She's expecting us and the doctor, but not you. I won't tell her," she added quickly. "I don't want her upset before we arrive. I think it's very important that you be there."

"I know it is. I can't get him off my mind. It's like he's sitting on my shoulder, talking to me. He's trying to communicate, but I can't hear him."

"Don't get your hopes up, Jessamine. He may not come out of it tomorrow. But he will hear you. Having you back in his life—it could help."

"I hope so. I want him back. I need him so." There were tears in her voice.

"It will work out, somehow. I don't know how, but it will."

"Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow."

"We plan to be there around noon."

"Excellent. I'll see you then." They hung up.

"No progress with coma boy?" Lori asked.

"Not really. But we're hoping a visit tomorrow will help. We're bringing Dr. Waverly to see him."

"Oh, her office called while you were gone."

"Thanks, I'll call her back." But she didn't have to.

Elam walked into the room, phone to his ear. "Yes, she's right here." He handed the phone to Blythe. "Dr. Waverly."

"Thanks." She took the phone. "Hi, Dr. Waverly. What's up?"

"I got your test results. Very strange, but fascinating. You'll be happy to know there is nothing wrong with you physically or chemically. Your test results all come back in the peak of health."

"That's good to know. So, what's causing the dreams?"

There was a pause. "I don't know. However, the MRI and the sleep study showed me that you have some very unusual brain patterns when you're sleeping. We see the REM sleep, but after that, it's like part of your brain is awake, when your body is sleeping. I've never seen anything like it."

"Do you think it's going to stay like that?"

"I don't know, dear. I would like you to see a friend of mine, she specializes in sleep related disorders. Her name is Katherine...."

Blythe burst out laughing. "Oh, Dr. Waverly, that's so wonderful! I was just there today."

"Really? Why?"

"She's Elam's mother!" She related her experience with Alec. "I don't know if I'm cured, but I will keep you posted."

"Excellent. Let me talk to Elam again, please?"

"Yes, sure." She handed the phone back. "She'd like to speak to you."

He gave her a little kiss before speaking. "Yes, Boss?"

"You aren't being a bad boy, are you?"

"No, ma'am. Not yet, anyway. Please don't tell me I can't, because she's your patient."

"I suppose it might be considered problematic with some, but I haven't any issue with it. Technically speaking, she's my patient, not yours. Do be discrete around the hospital, that's all I ask."

"Absolutely. What else did you need?"

"Just making sure everything is set up."

"All squared. Blythe spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Garafolo yesterday. One thing, though."

"What?" There was suspicion in her voice.

"We know Malachi's fiancée. She wants to come with us."

"Why isn't she already there?"

"Family problems. Funny thing, she's the girl who helped Blythe after her accident."

"How truly amazing. The coincidences are astounding. It fascinates me how everything is interrelated."

"Me too. What are the chances?"

"Pretty slim, I imagine. It's when coincidences stack up like this, you know it's a force, outside ourselves, that's at work."

"I agree, Doc. We'll pick you up at nine tomorrow."

"Enjoy your day. Behave."

"Oh, right. That'll happen." Laughing, he hung up.

Knocking on the door got Elam's attention. He opened it to find Jason there.

"I wanted to make sure the coast was clear." He shrugged, looking somewhat sheepish.

"Yeah, it's cool. Lori's here. They're in the living room."

"So, how did the visit with your mom go?"

"Great! I'll let Blythe give you the news."

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 45


Blythe's eyes flew open, her hands reaching toward Alec, but he was gone. Strangely, so was the ache of his death. The sorrow, the deep abiding grief, had left her. Instead, she had a soft, warm, loving spot where the knot of coldness had been. Elam sat next to her, his hand touching hers. Blythe turned to him, smiling.

"He's gone," she whispered. "We sent him home."

"He can rest now," Katrinka said with a happy sigh.

"What about Malachi?" Blythe asked.

Katrinka frowned slightly. "I'm not sure. He's trapped too, in a different way. He was supposed to die that day, but he was given another chance. There is someone here who needs him."

"Jessamine," Blythe said. "It has to be Jessamine."

"Perhaps." Katrinka nodded, but she didn't sound convinced. "But Alec has found rest and whatever is to happen between you, can happen, free of doubt and guilt." She smiled, taking their hands in hers.

"I would love to see your parents again, Blythe. We must plan to have Thanksgiving together. Bring your brother and his beloved."

Blythe didn't ask how she knew about Jason and Lori. "Thank you. I'll have Mom call you."

"Please do. I would love for you to stay, but I have appointments soon."

"May I use your bathroom before we go?" Blythe asked, feeling the two cups of coffee pressing her bladder.

"Certainly. The first door on the right when you go down the hall."

Elam lingered. His mother turned her penetrating eyes on him. A small part of him still quelled from that knowing stare. Fortunately, she was smiling.

"I know what's on your mind. Yes, it's all right now. But don't push. When the time is right, all the pieces will fall in place. You'll know."

Throwing back his head, Elam laughed loudly. "God, how well you read me. Is it that obvious?"

"My boys all have a strong drive. I'm surprised we aren't already overwhelmed with your offspring. You must date women who are well prepared with birth control."

He chuckled, hugging his mother. "I guess so. Thank you. Do you think the dreams will stop now?"

"They will, with your help."

"My help? What can I do?"

"Do you remember when you were little, we found you a spirit guide? He helped when you had night terrors."

"Yeah. That was so long ago, I'd almost forgotten."

"When Blythe came to me, he passed from you to her—it was his choice. You didn't need him anymore and she did. But the trauma of Alec's death and her accident, she can't hear him anymore. She needs you now, not some shadowy spirit. Somehow, God in His wisdom, brought you and Blythe together. Perhaps your guide sensed your connection, and that's why he agreed to help her."

Elam nodded, smiling. "Is everyone's life decided before they are born? Is everything already planned out?"

"To a degree, yes. Who will be your soul mate is something only the Universe understands. How you find them is more or less up to you, with the hand of Fate. Some people never find that. We do have free will, the ability to choose or not choose. Sometimes, we get it wrong."

"Would it have been wrong for Blythe to end up with Alec?'

His mother shook her head, shrugging. "Who can say? She might have been very content, but not necessarily happy. It doesn't matter now."

Blythe arrived a moment later. Katrinka kissed them both on the forehead and sent them on their way.

"Your mother is amazing," Blythe said with a sigh.

"She sure is. I never realized, until today, just how special she is. I've seen her in action dozens of times, but never with anything so spectacular."

"Did you see him too?"

Elam touched her cheek, brushing hair from her lips. "I saw him, and he spoke to me. He asked me to watch out for you, and take care of you. I said I would do my best."

Blythe burst into tears. It was so like Alec to think of her. Even if it meant another man was in her life, he would want her taken care of.

"I know you will."

They drove back to her apartment to find Lori waiting. She jumped up, running toward Blythe expectantly.

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"How did it go?"

"How did what go?"

Lori stamped her foot with exasperation. "Your session with Katrinka."

"How do you even know about that?"

"She called your mom, who called Jason, who called me. Well?"

"I'll fix coffee," Elam said, his blue eyes twinkling.

Blythe kissed him before he moved to the kitchen. She and Lori sat on the couch, holding hands, knees touching. Blythe told her everything that had happened.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 44


The boys had more aunts, uncles and grandparents than they could easily count.

"The one thing I don't have, is a daughter. None of my boys have made up their minds about a soul mate, though I do think that Elam's gotten it right. I don't know if Ryan will ever settle down. Dylan and Liam I still have hope for. I've always known Elam would be the first."

They each got another cup of coffee, and gathered on the lanai. The pool lapped gently against the tile rim. A waterfall graced one end. The water cascaded over rocks and a metal sculpture, creating a musical background to their conversation. Blythe found it very relaxing.

"Aquarius, right?" Katrinka asked her.

"How did you know? Did my parents tell you?"

"They might have, but it's more your reaction to the water. It gives me great joy and peace listening to it. As if my troubles washed away with it."

"I feel so at ease here," Blythe said with a happy sigh. "Like nothing can harm me, as long as I'm here. I don't even feel that good at home."

"That's because it was meant to be a place for you and Alec," Elam said softly. "Without him in it, you feel that emptiness. Not even I can fill that spot for you." He hung his head dejectedly.

Blythe leaned forward, placing her hands on his. "Don't you see? You can. But it's not filling his space, it's finding your own. I don't want his place filled. I want a totally new one carved out for you to fill."

Katrinka watched the exchange, quietly sipping her coffee. Something went on here than she'd foreseen. There was far more to this exquisite young woman than even she had anticipated. She watched the magic unfold, their auras glittering in the screen-filtered sun. Energy vibrated around them and she knew it was nearly time to do what needed to be done. She waited.

"You really mean that?" Elam's expression changed from haggard to expectant.

"Of course I do. I didn't know I could feel so much so fast. It took me years to love Alec as much as he loved me. I know that sounds terrible."

"It's like that with soul mates," Elam said, bringing her hand to his lips. "Paul was supposed to work the day you came in, but I knew I needed to trade with him. Chris was assigned to you, but I begged him to change with me."

"And he did that for you? How sweet."

Elam laughed. "Not really. I got stuck with the stupid drunk guy, who pretended to get hit by a car, and the crack head who kept lying on the floor. But I didn't care, because for that short time, I was with you."

Even the presence of his mother wasn't enough to stop him. He had to kiss her, seal the bond already forged between them. It took him some time to realize that his mother wasn't there anymore. He moved to the chaise where Blythe sat, touching her face, holding her as if she would break. Her soft lips met his with a spark, making them both jump, inhaling sharply before laughing. Lips stinging, they kissed. The pressure of one another's mouths eased the pain of the spark.

Blythe's heart leaped when he touched her. She found it hard to breathe until he kissed her. Then all the shattered pieces of her life fell into place. The ache caused by Alec's death, eased a little. She sighed happily, opening her mouth so Elam could deepen their kiss. She didn't care if his mother was around. She sensed Katrinka didn't care, so long as they kept their clothing on.

A soft tinkling of bells attracted her attention. She and Elam parted, looking around to locate the sound. Katrinka sat near the waterfall. She had added a set of chimes to the stones and metal pieces. The water ran over it, creating a bright counterpoint to the already musical flow.

"Come here, children."

They joined her by the pool. Soft mats circled the waterfall. They each took a spot, sitting close together, their crossed legs touching at the knee, hands joined, they waited.

"I'm not entirely sure what happened with Malachi," Katrinka said quietly. "But I know how to bring Alec peace. You have to tell him goodbye," she told Blythe. "His soul has stayed behind, because he was worried about you. He's ready to be released now, but you have to give him permission."

"I don't know if I can," Blythe said, a sob rising in her chest. "Does that mean I'll forget him?"

"Never," Katrinka said. "But the pain of his passing will fade, and you'll be left with your memories. Can you do that—for Alec?"

Blythe nodded. The three of them joined hands. Katrinka spoke rapidly in a language Blythe didn't understand, but had heard before. Her parents sometimes attended a charismatic Catholic church. During the service, the priests and congregation spoke in tongues, supposedly the language of Heaven. She, herself, had never experienced it. Instead, she'd been so frightened by it, she had never gone back. Now, peace settled deeply in her soul as she closed her eyes. A strange vibration started at the base of her spine, rising until it reached her stomach.

It rumbled around as if searching for something. Warm tendrils wrapped around the hard, cold sadness inside her—brought on by Alec's death. Tugging urgently, the tendrils wrapped tighter, pulling in earnest. Taking a deep breath, Blythe exhaled, relaxing as the warmth rose toward her throat. She opened her mouth, feeling it float free. With a short, sharp exhale, she expelled the mass. In her mind's eye, she saw Alec. He stood within the fountain. He reached for the bundle Blythe had expelled. Lifting it, he held it like a child. He leaned forward, his lips brushing her brow.

"I'm on my way, Be-Be. I love you and I'll always be with you." A swirl of gold and silver sparks circled his body, spiraling upward as they took his spirit to the sun.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 43


"You must get your skill from her, huh?"

Elam chuckled. "You could say that, I suppose. My dad is a surgeon."

Blythe giggled. "Well, from both parents then. What type of surgery does he do?"

"I don't really know him," he replied. "He left us when I was twelve."

"I'm so sorry."

His shrug was unconvincing. He cared deeply, but had learned to hide it. Blythe stopped him with a hand on his arm.

"He's the one missing out. Because he's got a really great son. Maybe one day he'll realize that. In the meantime, my dad thinks you're wonderful."

Elam smiled, kissing her lightly. "That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me. Thank you."

"I think you're wonderful too," she added.

His kiss was deeper, more passionate. The front door flew open.

"There you are!"

Katrinka was nearly as tall as her son. It was all her, because she was barefoot. She was built like a Viking woman, blond, strikingly pretty, muscular. She wore bright pink leggings and a full top that came to her knees, flowing around her in a purple puddle of cloth. Her hands and arms were covered with rings and bracelets with different metals and stones. Her hair was pulled back with a flowered scarf. It was like a wild, untamed golden cloud around her head and shoulders. Her makeup was minimal, just enough to enhance her beauty.

"Come in, come in! I hope you slept all right. Did Elam help?"

"Yes, ma'am. He did. He pulled me out of a nightmare." Blythe gulped, blinking back tears. "I was in the dream where Alec died, again. It was horrible. But Elam spoke to me, and I heard him."

"Good. I'm glad."

Katrinka led them to the kitchen. A square wooden table, covered in an orange cloth, took up the far end. Heavy wooden chairs surrounded it. Three places were set and a pot of coffee gurgled on the counter. Three mugs sat next to it, spoons and cream at the ready.

"I thought you told us not to eat," Elam said.

"I did. So you could have breakfast with me." Katrinka giggled at her son's consternation. She hugged him to her, kissing the top of his head. "Elam, will you get the casserole out? Blythe, you take your coffee light and sweet?"

"Yes—how did you know?"

"Mom knows things like that about people." Elam took two potholders in the shape of fish, and lifted a dish from the oven.

It smelled wonderful, full of spices and cheese. Blythe stopped talking, inhaling deeply.

"That smells delicious. Do I detect bacon? I thought for sure you'd be a vegetarian."

Katrinka laughed. "I know a lot of my compatriots are, but I couldn't give up my bacon—or sausage."

"Or steak or burgers," Elam supplied. "We tried to break her of such a disgusting habit, but nothing we said did any good. Mom, we'd say. Think of all the poor, helpless animals who are suffering so we can eat this delicious, succulent meat. But it did no good." He set the casserole dish on a trivet on the table.

His mother's musical laughter filled the house. "Believe it or not, he's not the most sarcastic of my offspring."

"How many children do you have?"

"Four boys. Elam is number three."

"Before you ask," Elam said. "My brothers are Dylan, Ryan and Liam."

Katrinka handed her a framed picture from a nearby shelf. She stood in the middle of four big, blond men. Elam and his brothers looked remarkably like one another. She could also see a strong resemblance to their mother. Most striking in their appearance, were the vivid blue eyes.

"What a handsome bunch," Blythe said, handing back the picture.

"Thank you. I think so too, but I'm a tad biased."

They sat at the table and took hands, bowing their heads.

"Bless us, oh Lord, and these they gifts which we're about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen." Katrinka led them in the familiar Catholic blessing.

"I thought you'd use something different," Blythe said as Elam served her plate.

"In some ways, I'm very traditional. I consider myself an expanded Catholic. In other words, I have my traditional beliefs, but I have a different way of approaching my faith."

Blythe nodded. "I understand. I feel kind of the same way. I think there's more to faith than what you get from organized religion. And there's not just one way to look at the world."

Katrinka smiled at her, patting her hand. "You did well, Son. This time, you picked the perfect woman. My boys haven't always had the best of luck in relationships."

Elam cleared his throat pointedly. Katrinka laughed again.

"All right, darling. I won't tell your secrets. I totally would," she confided to Blythe. "But since he's here, I'll pretend to behave."

They kept conversation light and fun during breakfast. Blythe felt comfortable and happy with Katrinka. She could tell where Elam got his loving, outgoing nature. His mother was so open and giving. When he said his mother would adopt the whole world, he wasn't far wrong. She had unofficially adopted the friends of all her boys, their girlfriends—even the ex's kept in touch with her.

©2022 Dellani Oakes

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