Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 21

His abrupt habits used to annoy her, but it was Canon's way. He wasted no energy on the little things. He wasn't overly rude, he just didn't sugarcoat to save feelings.

"I need to go talk to my boss," she told CV. "I'll try to come by afterward, with an update on Don."

"Donnie's good people," he said softly, eyes drooping.

"I think so, too." She laid a hand on his.

Leaving quietly, she asked a nurse to keep her informed about CV and Don.

"Didn't think that cops would give a damn," the young, black woman said tersely.

"I'm not asking as a cop, but as a person who cares."

"Would you be as concerned about two men of color?" the woman snapped.

"Yes. I happen to believe life is important, regardless of the body it animates."

"Easy for you, Miss White Privilege," she sniffed disdainfully, tossing her head.

Eilene could have let it drop, but it struck a raw nerve. She'd met many people like this, who didn't look past the fact she wasn't black, jumping to the wrong conclusion. Already in a bad mood because of Oats, Eilene wasn't going to let this one go. Shifting her shoulders, she stood taller. It should have warned the young woman, but she wasn't very good at reading body language. Others around them, waited anxiously to see what would happen.

"You know why I became a cop? Because I grew up dirt poor. Holes in my shoes―when I had them. No coat in the winter. What food we had, we raised ourselves, or traded for. Some places in this country are more impoverished than the Hood. So, you wanna come at me with White Privilege? I'll trade you―anytime. Now, will you kindly update me about Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Winthrop, or should I ask someone more privileged?"

An older black woman overheard the conversation and came over. "You apologize, Maya. This young lady has been here half the night, watching over two strangers, from kindness."

"You think they're criminals!" Maya protested.

"I'll see you're called," the older woman said. "And you and me, Little Sister, are about to have a Come to Jesus."

"Thank you," Eilene smiled graciously.

"You're welcome. That old man has no one but that nice boy. Now he's hurt, too. We have to watch out for them both."

"Agreed. Here's my card. Thank you, again."

"I'm Nancine. If I don't call, I'll get one of the other girls to." She cut her dark eyes at Maya.

Nodding, Eilene headed to the elevator. She wasn't sure what time it was, only that suddenly, she was weary beyond belief. She met Canon in the lobby. They went outside for a coffee from the food truck, and settled at a table to talk. After she'd given her report, Canon looked her over carefully.

"You okay, Eilene?"

"Oh, peachy. Watched a man be assaulted, convulse, nearly die, and be resuscitated. And, I got accused of having White Privilege." She snorted a little at that insult.

"Hmm. Interesting, since you're full blood Cherokee, born on the Reservation."

"Didn't seem important to explain that to the angry, black nurse with an attitude. Not that little bitch's right to know."

"No." He paused a moment. "Shift ended hours ago. Go home and get some sleep. The paperwork is done. Now, I get to go nail Oats' sack to the wall, and watch him squirm." He rubbed his hands together with malicious glee.

"I wish I felt up to watching that."

"Want me to film it?"

Eilene chuckled. "I'm just tried enough to believe you would."

"If I thought I could get away with it...." He winked. "Need a ride?"

"Yeah, I came in the truck."

"I'll get you home. I don't trust you on the road."

"Me either. Thanks. My car!"

"That's a tomorrow worry. Ah, here's Newton. Right on time."

They walked over and were greeted by the new recruit. He and Eilene were the same age, but being a former Army Sergeant, he was newer to the police force. This was his third month with SWAT.

"Hop in, my friends!" He held the doors open for them.

Eilene was going to sit in back, but Canon insisted she take the front seat. Once settled, Newton took off. It took a moment for Eilene to notice that he wasn't driving a cruiser, but his own personal car. It was sleek and hard bodied, not too different from its driver.

"Stafford's place is further, so drop me first."

"Yes, sir." He took off briskly.

"I thought you were going in to roast Oats?" Eilene said.

"I'm tired. It'll keep. Let the sorry f**ker stew a few more hours."

Newton fed into traffic on the interstate, which was still busy at three in the morning. Trucks crowded him, but didn't bother Newton at all. Even when three cars ahead of him hit their brakes, suddenly, he merely swerved into the middle lane. He took a spot so tight, Eilene would never have used it.

"What was your job in the Army?" she asked after another abrupt lane change.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 20

"I can't tell you, I'm sorry. But I hope you're right."

"Sergeant, my dad was an abusive, drunken, drug addict. I got good at reading his moods. Believe me when I tell you, I'm an excellent judge of people. He's a not a bad guy, despite what y'all think he's done."

"I can't submit that in evidence."

"No, but you still needed to hear that."

Sgt. Stafford nodded. She agreed with Augie, but wasn't in a position to say so.

The radiologist returned, looking concerned. "I sent his X-rays and CT results to Dr. Smithers. He's going to need surgery. I've put in a request for a plastics consult. There's a break, as we suspected. It's putting pressure on his zygomatic and maxillary bones. That's the area at the crest of the cheek, under the eye," he explained when he saw Eilene's confused expression. "His ear is a mess and will need reconstruction. Whoever did this to him, should be locked up!"

"I need to report to my boss," Eilene said as calmly as she could muster. And I'll arrest that brutal son-of-a-bitch myself!

"We're going up to surgical," the radiologist said. "You coming?"

"I'll be up in a bit. My boss needs to hear this―in person."

"Dr. Smithers will tell him." He tipped his head at the elevator.

"May I see his friend? He needs to know what's happened."

"Yes, under the circumstances, I think you should. He's in post op on the surgical floor. When we get this fella squared, Augie can show you."

"Thank you." She smiled, squaring her shoulders as they entered the elevator. "I never saw anyone elicit such loyalty."

"It's our job to advocate for our patients," the doctor replied tartly.

"I know, I'm not denying that. But this is different."

"There's something about this guy," the doctor said. "He could barely talk, but after he thanked me for saving his life, he asked after his sick friend. He wouldn't agree to the CT until he knew his pal was all right. Who does that?" He shook his head, awed.

"This guy," Augie stated with a grin.

Once Anton was being prepped for surgery, Augie took Eilene to CV's room.

"How's my boy?"

He looked terrible, his face drawn and sunken with pain. Eyes full of concern, he tried to sit up. Eilene moved to keep him down, but Augie did it instead. Gently touching the old man's shoulder, he told him to stay still. Eilene stepped closer, keeping her face as calm as she could.

"He needs surgery. There was an accident, and he was injured."

"Way I heard it, he was assaulted by a cop."

Eilene didn't reply, but CV didn't seem to expect her to.

"You roast that cop's nuts, you hear me? f**king jackbooted―" Seeing Eilene's face, he stopped. "Sorry, ma'am. I'm an old Marine. We tend to use inappropriate language."

"I've heard, and said, most if it before. I'm worried about you. You get worked up like that, your blood pressure spikes."

CV chuckled, coughing and wincing. "I'd hate to undo Dr. Lister's good work." He read her face calmly. "But you don't disagree." Nodding, he seemed satisfied. "What will they be doing to my boy?"

Telling him what she knew of the procedure, Eilene sat with CV while Anton was in surgery. They talked of a variety of subjects, but kept coming back to Anton.

"Y'all can't take him to jail yet, can ya?"

"No, Mr. Carpenter. They don't have the facilities for a post op patient."

"Can you let me see him?"

"I'll check with the doctors, but from my end, yes."

"You're not like most cops."

"I hope that's a compliment," she laughed.

CV patted her hand. "Very much. Donnie's a good boy. Whatever y'all think he did, he's a real good kid. Been better to me than my own sons. They couldn't even bother to come when I went under the knife. I told the nurses not to give them any information―if they bother to call."

Eilene's phone buzzed with a call from Canon. "My boss," she said, swiping the screen. "I tried to call him earlier. Excuse me a minute." She rose and went to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

"What's going on?" Canon barked without a hello.

Eilene gave him an update. "Do you need help with the paperwork?"

"No. I got it. I do need your statement."

"Of course. Let me say goodbye to Mr. Carpenter first, and I'll be down."

"The old man okay?"

"Yes. Angry."

"No shit? Me too. Newton had to lock Oats up. The stupid turd got violent, tried to give the poor newbie a fat lip. But Newton's quick." He sounded proud of the new recruit.

"Yeah." She chuckled, nodding. "I'll be down shortly."

"See ya soon." He hung up.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 19

"I hope your boss throws the book at that jackboot," the orderly stated. "I do mixed marital arts. You don't attack a man who's surrendered peacefully."

"What's your name?" Stafford asked him.

"Augie, ma'am." He was huge. In his mid-twenties, he'd be a formidable opponent. Since he seemed to regard Anton as his to protect, Eilene stayed very low key.

"You know I can't comment, Augie."

"I understand. Had to stick up for my pal, Don."

"Have you been friends long?"

"Just met. He loaned me a smoke on my break."

Eilene smiled. Bonding over cigarettes was not a new thing. Although she wasn't a smoker, she often carried them to share with her smoking colleagues, or the occasional nervous witness.

They arrived at radiology, and Anton was wheeled back. Augie came to sit with Eilene.

"Not allowed to stay without a badge."

Eilene understood that, but didn't like her detainee being out of sight. Augie seemed to sense that.

"Don't worry about Don. He's so loaded up with shit, he can barely find his own dick in a high wind."

Eilene laughed loudly, clamping her hand over her mouth. It wasn't how she'd have said it, but it was an accurate assessment.

The technician brought Anton back to the waiting room. He didn't look well. He held a dishpan on his lap and had a couple paper towels in his hand.

"I recommended a head CT to Dr. Smithers. He started vomiting halfway through. She said to wait until the tech is ready. Should be no more than ten minutes."

"Thanks," Eilene and Augie chorused.

"I need to let my boss know." She picked up her radio.

"That may not work here," the tech explained. "Lead shielding. Use the desk phone."

"Thanks." After a short update to Canon, she sat back down. "Don, you okay? Donald?"

His eyes were closed, the left one, on his damaged cheek, was swollen shut. He seemed to be having trouble breathing. The woman at the desk heard her and came out.

"Anaphylaxis," she told Augie.

He hit a button on the wall and the room filled with people.

"What pain med did he get?" a doctor asked.

"Morphine," Augie replied, keeping well away, beside Eilene.

"Don, can you hear me?" the doctor said loudly.

Anton tried to speak. He groaned.

"Are you allergic to morphine?" He worked quickly, giving Anton a shot.

Anton grunted. It could have meant anything.

"He told me he's never been in the hospital," Augie offered. "He may not know."

"Hell of a way to find out," the doctor said.

The epinephrine soon took effect, easing Anton's breathing.

"He's mine overnight," the doctor said to Sgt. Stafford.

"Not arguing, Doctor. Is he okay?"

"Yes, but we need to keep an eye on him. Some of the nausea may be the injury, some from the drug. Don, do you have a primary care doctor?"

"Don't get sick."

"You lucky bastard. Never?"

"Had a cold once, when I was ten."

"If everyone was as healthy as you, I'd be out of a job."

Anton tried to laugh, but it hurt.

"Healthy or not, you're deathly allergic to morphine. You ought to wear a bracelet or necklace."

"Some people get a tattoo," Augie said.

"No tats," Anton objected, pushing at them.

"No one is going to do that," Eilene assured him. "It's okay. Will you be taking him to the lock down?"

"He's not violent, and the shape he's in, he's not going anywhere."

"CV," Anton grabbed the doctor's sleeve. "Does CV know?"

"His friend," Augie supplied. "He had surgery. Don was waiting to see him, when shit went south." He flashed an unkind look at Eilene.

"It could have gone better," she admitted that, no more.

"Can't pay," Anton groaned. "No insurance."

"This one is on the City," Eilene Stafford replied. "If I can, I'll make that asshole, Oats, pay personally."

Anton couldn't reply. He lay on the floor, limp and listless.

"Let's get him that CT," the doctor said. "I can't attribute all this lassitude to the med."

They lifted Anton onto a gurney. The doctor and technician took him back.

"You think he's all right?" Eilene asked.

"I sure hope so. I don't know what he's supposed to have done, but he's good people," Augie replied.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Books & Entertainment Radio Presents What's Write for Me with Amanda, Dree and Rico!

It's been a couple months since we did a show, because I got COVID! Fun times – not really. Fortunately, my family and I didn't need hospitalization, and were over it fairly quickly. This is our first show back after that hiatus, and we've got some amazing guests here!

To listen to us live, tune in on Wednesday, September 22 from 4-6 PM EST on Blog Talk Radio!

Amanda Innis is an award-winning screenwriter, produced playwright, and published author. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College and a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film Communication from the University of Texas at Austin. M has interned on major Hollywood film sets and worked for Houghton Mifflin and Pearson before deciding to focus on her own writing. She lives in Livermore, California.

Dree Nicole is a poet, writer and author of the urban fiction novel The Other Woman Playbook: Rules of a Dangerous Game. A lover of books and a nature enthusiast, Dree writes with a vividity that gives her characters real depth and a palpable spark. She has been a lifelong writer, crafting other worlds and creating characters since the third grade. She lives and runs a small barbecue sauce business (De’Camari Road Sauces) from her home in Saint Charles County, Missouri. She spends her summers hiking nature trails and traveling with her husband and three children.

Rico was born and raised in Southwestern Idaho, is the oldest of five boys. He grew up in an area that was ripe for adventures for him and his younger brothers and numerous cousins. His love of storytelling is infectious and his bitter sweet stories will have you howling with laughter, grieving from tragedy and leaving you on the edge. Rico’s love of reading, exploring and traveling allured him to many parts of the globe including Lithuania where he taught English and capitalism, the United Kingdom where he studied global marketing, Mexico to learn Spanish and drink tequila, Cuba to dance with senoritas and fish the open sea. Rico has undergraduate degrees from Boise State University, Grand Canyon University, Staffordshire University, a Master’s Degree from Thunderbird, School of Global Management, a Doctorate Degree in Tequila and will be launching his own private brand of tequila – BAJARRIBA at year end in 2021. He and his artistic wife Connie have lived in Scottsdale, AZ area for 30 years.

Wednesday, September 22, 4-6 PM on Blog Talk Radio!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 18


"They're under arrest."

"Then you can watch while I check them for injuries. And cuff his hands in front. I can't examine him like that."

"He's dangerous."

"He's been here for hours with his sick father, and hasn't hurt anyone. You're not going to hurt me, are you, Don?"

"No, ma'am," he mumbled, his face flashing pain. He could barely move his jaw.

"Who are you to give that order?" the cop bridled.

"Charge Nurse of the Emergency Department. You assaulted him in front of dozens of witnesses. You give me shit, sonny, I'll have your badge."

Someone came over with a wheelchair for Anton. As much as he didn't want to show weakness, he couldn't stand. He was groggy and his ears rang. Nausea gripped his stomach. He clutched the orderly's shirt.

"Gotta hurl," he gagged.

The young man expertly dodged as Anton vomited over the side. The cop, who was a little too close, got his jackboots baptized.

"You prick, you did that on purpose!" He raised his hand to strike.

"Officer Oats, you move away from the prisoner. Get your gear. You're relieved of duty. Report to the desk sergeant. Newton!" the commanding officer's voice barked the order.

Another officer trotted up.

"I need you to take Oats to the precinct. Can you handle that?"

"Yes, Lieutenant. My pleasure." He grabbed the other officer by the elbow, perp walking him to a vehicle.

Oats yelled the entire time, still in full voice when the door closed.

"You must not like Newton much," Susie said in an aside as they walked to the ER.

"Newbie," the lieutenant flashed a smile.

The lieutenant and a female sergeant, handed their weapons to other officers before following.

"Maintain a perimeter," the lieutenant commanded.

"Sir," Anton said, his jaw stabbing with pain as he spoke. "I'm not going anywhere. For one, I hurt too damn bad. For another, there's an old man in there, who needs me. And needs the doctor, too."

The lieutenant sighed. "Doing my job, son."

"I understand. Just don't wanna put you folks out."

He was wheeled away by the orderly, so missed the lieutenant's surprised expression. "I never had a perp apologize for inconveniencing me," he mused to his sergeant.

Lieutenant Lewis Canon, nicknamed Loose, had a reputation as a hard leader, but a fair man. His calm, level head and accurate read of people, had saved a lot of volatile situations. He didn't see violent criminal on Donald Winthrop. He could believe that the younger man was a thief, that wouldn't surprise him. But he was calm, even docile and resigned, when he was arrested.

"Then Oats had to f**k it up!" he fumed and muttered.

The woman with him, Sergeant Eilene Stafford, looked up at him.

"You okay, sir?"

"Totaling the hours of paperwork due to Oats' stunt."

"Make Newton do it," she suggested with a sly grin.

"Tempting, but I don't wish it on my granny's dog. If I could make Oats do it himself, I would."

"I'll help," she offered.

He looked surprised. "You never volunteer for that."

"If it gets Oats off our team, I'll do it solo. He's a liability."

Canon nodded. "You know I had little choice."

"Even with his connections, that stunt was too much."

They stood in the ER doorway, looking for a spot to wait.

"Over there," Susie directed. "We'll be in Treatment One."

The officers stood in the corner, wall to their backs, where they could see the whole room. The blinds on the window to Treatment 1 were open. They could see the medical team examining Donald Winthrop. An orderly collected him in a wheelchair once more.

"Radiology," the young man announced. "Susie said one of you can come."

"You go," Canon said. "I'll get the laptop and start the write up."

"Yes, sir." She followed the orderly, who waited a few feet away.

"You can walk up here, Officer," Anton said. "I don't bite."

The orderly snorted. Anton chuckled.

"Well, been known to from time to time, but in a completely fun, consensual, way." He sighed. "Sorry, ma'am. Susie shot me up with the good shit."

Stafford laughed, moving up so she walked by the chair. Anton tried to look up at her, but winced. His cheek was a mess of torn flesh and bruises, his ear a bloody tatter. A particularly livid patch was at the crest of his cheekbone. Stafford couldn't help thinking what a handsome man he was. Even with half his face damaged, he could take center stage, or strut a runway. His eyes were soft, but held pain―emotional, as well as physical.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 17

"Some might say that you are just as dangerous."

"They'd be wrong. Originally, he didn't want to use dart guns and sleeping potions. Poison and bullets are messy―and unnecessary. I've never killed on the job."

"And off it?"

"In self-defense. Twice. You were in the military. Did you kill anyone?"

Shaking back her hair, Tabitha didn't reply. Anton saw something deep in her dark eyes.

"That's a yes."

"You're far too perceptive, Mr. Winthrop."

"Call me Don. I've tied you up, and you're wearing my coat. I think we're past formalities. Don't you―Dr. Lister?" He grinned, gazing at her over the top of his cup.

"Tabitha. You could have cut the catch at the scene."

"Taking you was a mistake. But I don't regret meeting you. I do regret upsetting you. I wish we could have met under more comfortable conditions. The floor of the catering truck is no place for a lady."

She stared at him a long time. "I'm not used to men surprising me."

"You're lucky. Women shock the hell out of me on a regular basis." He tipped his head back, swallowing the dregs of his coffee.

Tabitha watched his Adam's apple bob up and down in his muscular, tanned throat. It was the sexist thing, to date, any man had done in her presence. Anton offered to take her empty cup from her lax fingers. She watched his long legs and tight ass as he walked to the trash a few feet away.

Her attention wasn't lost on Anton. He did his best not to strut and show off. This woman spent enough time with pretty-boy super models, whose job was to advertise sex appeal. His job was to take care of CV, and keep a low profile.

His phone beeped in his coat pocket. Trotting over, he fished it out. Standing less than a foot from Tabitha, he answered.


"Mr. Winthrop, your friend is awake and asking for you," the nurse said.

"Thank you. I'll be right up." He hung up. Standing so close to Tabitha, he desperately wanted to kiss her again. It took every ounce of self-control he possessed, not to do so. "CV's awake." He paused, casting his eyes to the ground. "He has no one else, Tabitha. His boys can't be bothered. They have their families and fancy jobs. No one has time for a tired, old warhorse."

"Except you."

His eyes met hers once more. In the half-light of the parking lot, they were mysterious, fathomless. "I have no one else, either."

She took a deep, shuddering breath. "Then it's good that you both have me." She stood, placing her palm on his chest.

Anton raised it to his lips, caressing it gently. His free hand pressed the small of her back as he lowered his head to kiss her. Her arms went around his neck, drawing him closer. They kissed several seconds before Anton remembered CV was waiting. He released Tabitha slowly.

A distinctive sound reached their ears―the clatter of half a dozen weapons being raised. Red dots scattered his chest.

"Back away from the lady," a deep voice commanded.

He did so, slowly, hands away from his sides.

"Hands on top of your head. On your knees," a different voice commanded.

Anton gazed up at Tabitha's startled face. "How could you?" he accused softly. "You know he needs me."

"It wasn't me! I didn't!" Whispering sharply, she knelt in front of him.

"Away from the criminal," the second voice stated.

"This is a mistake! Why are you doing this?" Tabitha protested.

No one answered her. Strong hands helped her rise, moving her away from Anton. Unresistant, he submitted to being cuffed. One of the officers kneed him in the back, knocking him down. Anton fell heavily onto the pavement, unable to break his fall with his arms. Turning his head, he saved his nose, but his ear and cheek took the full impact. The same officer dropped, his knee to Anton's back, before yanking him up by his cuffed hands. Bruised and bleeding, Anton said nothing.

"He's hurt! I demand he be given medical attention," Tabitha said loudly.

"Take her, too," the officer said. "She's a suspected accomplice."

"I'm a doctor. I have patients!" She was cuffed, but her hands were in front. "I demand a lawyer! And I demand that this man be given medical assistance!" Her voice got louder by the second.

"From you, pretty nurse?' the man holding her leered.

"I'm a surgeon, you fool. That fall could have broken something."

A crowd had gathered, including some of the ER personnel. Among them, Anton spotted Susie. She worked her way forward.

"He needs X-rays, and the wound is full of debris," Susie stated with the authority of her position.

"Who are you, girly?" the man who had shoved him, asked rudely.

"I'm the girly who's going to have you up on brutality and assault charges! Bring them inside immediately. His wound needs attention. Now."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 16

"Mr. Winthrop, Dr. Lister."

"Yes, hi."

"We've retrieved the bone fragment, and are excising the scar tissue. It is quite extensive."

"Has it damaged the kidney?"

"Part of it. I believe we can salvage it. I will have to remove a portion of the organ. However, I believe we can salvage enough of it to keep it viable."

"Okay." He waited impatiently for the rest.

"It will be about another two hours, possibly three. Have you any questions?"

"No, ma'am."

"Have his sons arrived?"

"No," he said softly, sadly. "They aren't coming. It's just me."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Is he gonna be okay?" He could hardly suppress a sob. His voice caught and he swallowed hard.

"Yes, Mr. Winthrop," she said gently.

"Thank you for helping my friend."

"You're welcome." She sounded very subdued. "We'll talk afterward."

Anton hung up, his fingers suddenly numb. He wasn't sure what he'd heard in her voice. Maybe he was simply putting his own spin on it? She didn't sound angry. She sounded genuinely kind and concerned.

Suddenly hungry, he asked at the desk how to find the cafeteria. The young woman gave him clear directions, pointing to it on a map. Armed with his excellent sense of direction, he found his way there without incident. The food was far better than he'd anticipated, but he'd never been in a hospital cafeteria before. He'd heard stories, of course. Ridiculously healthy himself, and no family, he'd rarely ever been to a doctor. That made this experience all the more surreal.

Two hours and forty-two minutes later, Dr. Lister walked into the waiting room. She was smiling. Anton stood, feeling awkward.

"It went well?" he tried hard to control a tremor.

"It went very well."

Too happy to control himself, Anton kissed her on the mouth. When he realized what he'd done, he jumped back as if she'd shocked him. "Oh, God. I'm so sorry."

Tabitha looked surprised, but not displeased. "It's all right. It happens―Not quite like that," she murmured, touching her lips.

Anton's mouth tingled, longing for another kiss. At least she hadn't hit him.

"Really inappropriate of me. I'm just―please―how did it go? Could you save any of his kidney?"

"More than I'd thought. We removed a great deal of scar tissue. And here is the bone fragment." She held up a clear, plastic container with a screw top. "It's been sanitized. Some people like to keep them as a souvenir."

"CV isn't very sentimental, but I'll pass it along."

Their fingers touched when she handed it to him. Anton let his hand linger on hers for a moment, pulling slowly away.

"May I see him?"

"Soon. He's still asleep, but they'll call you when he's awake." She yawned, stretching side to side, her hands on the small of her back. "I could use a coffee. There's a food truck outside that has the best blend. Buy me a cup." It wasn't a request.

Anton wasn't sure what he saw in her eyes, but they were a little less warm than they'd been a minute ago.

"Yes, sure."

They went downstairs in total silence. Once outside, they ordered coffee and danish at the food truck. Taking it to a nearby bench, they sat to enjoy their snack. Tabitha shivered. The air was chilly for someone dressed only in scrubs. Anton set down his food and slipped off his coat, putting it around her shoulders. Slightly surprised by the gallant gesture, Tabitha didn't thank him right away. When she did, she stumbled over the words.

Anton smiled. "Well, you said I was a gentleman."

"I knew you recognized me." She frowned a little.

"As you did me. Is this going to be an issue, Doctor?"

"Do you want it to be?"

"What do you think?" He took a sip of his coffee. It wasn't his imagination that Tabitha watched his lips close over the rim.

A shiver traveled along her spine, that had nothing to do with the cold. He marked its passing.

"I think―I underestimated you, Mr. Winthrop."

"I hope in a good way, Dr. Lister. I'm very sorry if I hurt you. It was an impulsive decision on my part."

"Why the ruby? You could have left it." Her manner changed from relaxed to alert.

Anton didn't miss the change. He forced himself to stay calm, but watched her carefully. "That was the target."

"Why give it back?"

He shrugged casually. "We did the job, got paid, and got a very dangerous man off the street."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crash Into Me ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 21

His abrupt habits used to annoy her, but it was Canon's way. He wasted no energy on the little things. He wasn't overly rude, he jus...