Friday, December 30, 2011

Nine Questions for Wil

Recently, a friend of mine shared a list of nine questions to ask your character. I decided to delve a little deeper into the mind of the Lone Wolf. (It's a scary place!) His answers are below.

Dellani: How do you learn best?

Wil:I learn best by doing. I've always been a hands on learner. The things I learn quickest and remember best are things I learned that way.

Dellani: How open are you to new ideas and information?

Wil: In my line of work I can't survive without innovation and information. A good commander plans for every contingency. Without information, I can't do that. I use the tools best suited to the job. Without new ideas and equipment, I'm screwed before I get started.

Dellani: When you walk into a room, what do you notice first?

Wil: I process everything more or less simultaneously. However, most important – how many exits besides the way I came in? Next – number of people and level of threat each presents. After that, I usually plan how I'd take them down and prioritize the order I'd take them on. I rarely eat in a crowd. It's too easy for someone to slip you something. Unless I bring my own, I don't drink either. No such thing as being too paranoid.

Dellani: Is one sense more highly developed than another?

Wil: All my senses are highly developed. What I didn't have already, the Marine Corps doctors enhanced. One thing I've noticed though, I have a very sophisticated sense of smell. I can filter out extraneous scents and follow one specific one. Your perfume is intoxicating, by the way.

Dellani: Do you usually notice problems around you?

Wil: Baby, I'm usually the one causing the problems around me. If it's one not of my making, I analyze and deal with it quickly and efficiently. I abhor chaos.

Dellani: Would you say you are an optimist or a pessimist?
Wil: People will tell you I'm a pessimist. Piss on that! I'm a realist. After all the shit I've seen in my life, I'm probably willing to think the worst of everything and everyone. If that makes me a pessimist, so be it. That glass half full crap is bullshit.

Dellani: Are you more interested in the past, the future or living now?

Wil: Since the past and the now affect my future, I'm looking at all three. I'm one of those rare individuals who sees the long term big picture. I can assess the consequences of my actions as well as everyone elses'. I have to know what to expect and what my team can do. That means knowing what they've done in the past because that affects the now – and that affects the future of whether we live or die.

Dellani: How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Wil: I don't trust easily. It has to be earned over time. There are only a handful of people in this life that I trust and most of them earned it by walking through hell with me.

Dellani: Are you a deliberate, careful speaker, or do you talk without thinking first?

Wil: Depends on the circumstances. Mostly I think about what I'm going to say very carefully. Words carry weight and should be used sparingly. I used to be very impulsive and said what I thought. After nearly getting myself killed a few times, I learned.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Writer's Sanctuary: Frank Wharton's Merry Christmas

Writer's Sanctuary: Frank Wharton's Merry Christmas: I got this idea from talking to the young man who rings the bell for the Salvation Army outside our local Publix. He's so pleasant and frien...

Frank Wharton's Merry Christmas

I got this idea from talking to the young man who rings the bell for the Salvation Army outside our local Publix. He's so pleasant and friendly, we always speak to one another as I go in. No matter how little I give, he smiles and thanks me, wishing me a Merry Christmas.

This story is my way of saying thank you to all my friends and fans who read my books and blog. Thanks for a great year! I hope that you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas. ~ Dellani

Frank Wharton dashed under the portico out of the bone chilling drizzle of rain that was turning to snow. He stuffed $5.00 in the bell ringer's bucket before heading toward the coffee shop door.

"Thank you, sir. God Bless and Merry Christmas."

"Oh, I don't celebrate Christmas."

"Are you Jewish? Same God, sir."

"I don't really believe in God."

"Well, I'll pray for you anyway." The young man flashed a cold tinged smile. "If you aren't a believer, why do you give?" He asked, his cheeks cherry red, his lips blueberry.

"It's the right thing to do," Frank replied. "Say, you look mighty cold, kid. Don't you have a coat?"

The young man shook his head. Frank paused.

"Hold on a second. I was on my way to drop off some boxes.... Be right back." He walked back to his car, wondering what the hell he was doing.

All the wanted was his morning coffee and to drop his father's clothing at the Salvation Army. But the kid looked like he was freezing. Dad's old Pea-coat, leather gloves and Adirondack cap would fit the boy well—perfectly, in fact. His father would want them to go to a good cause. Frank couldn't think of a better one than a young man chilled to the bone. Picking out the items, he put them in a grocery bag, adding warm socks, wool jacket & pants and an old scarf.

The scarf held memories. He'd given it to his father when he was 10. He hesitated a moment, wanting to keep it, but heard his father's voice in his head. "It kept me warm even in the coldest weather. Your love drove off the chill. He needs it more than we do, Son."

Adding it to the bag with tears in his eyes, Frank walked back to the door. Handing over the bag, he accepted the young man's thanks with a slightly sad smile.

"Dad wants you to have them."

"Is he here? May I thank him too?" He craned his neck expectantly, looking.

"In a manner of speaking," Frank replied. "Dad died a week ago. I'm giving his things away."

The young man grinned. "That makes it an even more special gift," he replied. "God Bless."

"I don't believe...."

"I know, but I do. Thank you."

They shook hands and Frank went in for his coffee. While there, he impulsively bought hot chocolate and a bagel for the boy outside. Handing it to him earned another "God Bless." Frank nodded, turned up his collar to the cold and headed to his car.

Before dropping the clothing at the Salvation Army, he went through the bags again. He found more clothing to fit the slender young man. In one pocket, he stuffed a $20.00 bill. "So he can have a good meal."

He set those things aside and took the rest to the clerk. She went through them all, smiling.

"So sorry to hear about your dad, Mr. Wharton. He was a good man. He used to volunteer in our soup kitchen."

"I know. I used to drive him down. I knew he'd want his things to come here where they can do some good."

"Here's your receipt! Merry Christmas!

"Thanks, you too."

The next morning, the young man was at the coffee shop door, this time wrapped in his warm clothes. He smiled and said, "God Bless. Merry Christmas," when Frank gave him another $5.00.

"I've got a few more things for you. When are you done here?"


"I'll bring them by then."

"That would be great. Thanks."

"You hungry?"

"A little."

"Bagel or muffins?"

"Surprise me."

Frank got him another bagel and a coffee. The parting "God Bless" left him smiling. Once he got home, he 
went through more of the closets, looking for things the young man could wear. He hated to see his father's clothing go to waste and he couldn't stand seeing a man suffer because he was obviously down on his luck.
When he went back to see the young man at 6:00, he had two bags of clothing, as well as a bag of non-perishable food from his father's pantry. Frank had enough food at home, he didn't need all this too. He pulled up and parked at the curb.

"Hi there. I've got those bags I promised." Seeing the young man struggle with his tripod and bucket, he paused. "Can I give you a lift? He asked conversationally.

"I need a ride to the office," the young man said. "Usually, someone comes to pick up, but today she's sick."

"Hop in. I'll take you there. Frank Wharton," he introduced himself, holding out his hand.

"Gabriel St. Peter," he replied, taking Frank's hand in a firm grip.

Frank dropped him and his bags at the Salvation Army office downtown. Gabriel wouldn't accept a ride home, but thanked Frank for his help.

"Not a problem. Here's my number. If you ever need a ride, you let me know."

"Thank you."

They parted with Gabriel's heart felt "God Bless" in the air between them.

Almost two weeks passed and Frank saw Gabriel nearly every day. From time to time he gave the younger man a ride and always bought him something to eat. One cold, blustery day, Gabriel wasn't a lone. A delicate young woman with fair hair and vivid blue eyes was with him. She sat in a battered camp chair. Her red, chapped cheeks stood out in her pale face. She wore the pea-coat, not buttoned quite all the way down, because of her very pregnant belly. She also wore the scarf and gloves. Gabriel wore the wool jacket and pants with the hat. Frank stopped to drop his $5.00 in the bucket and spoke to Gabriel.

"Who is this lovely young lady with you?"

"My wife, Marie. Honey, this is Frank. She's been wanting to meet you," he admitted shyly.

The pretty blonde stood awkwardly, holding out her arms to Frank. He accepted her hug with a grin.

"When is your baby due?"

"Christmas," she said, beaming.

"A Christmas baby! I was born on Christmas too. My father always made a big deal about it, making the day special I two ways."

"What about your mother?" Marie asked.

"She died having me," Frank replied. "A rare disorder...."

"I'm so sorry. Any brothers and sisters?"

"Just me and – and Dad." He gulped, fighting tears in earnest.

"So you're alone? Honey, he can't be alone at Christmas," Marie appealed to her spouse.

"I was gonna serve at the Salvation Army kitchen," Frank replied.

"Us too," Marie said joyfully. "After, you can come for a visit. No one should be alone at Christmas."

"What if you've had your baby?"

"Then you celebrate with us at the hospital."

"Are you sure? You hardly know me."

Marie touched the scarf tenderly. "We know you very well. It would mean so much."

Frank allowed himself to be talked into it. Honestly, he didn't want to say no. It was the first Christmas in his 47 years that he'd be spending it alone. It had always been him and Dad. For awhile, there'd been Nancy, but she'd never understood why he and his father were so close. She had a huge family, she didn't know what it was like to be the only one the other person had. She'd left him after five years of marriage—alone, on Christmas.

Two nights later, it was Christmas Eve. Frank hadn't made it by the coffee shop that morning, having been tied up with his father's lawyer. He was now, officially, owner of everything his father had owned. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with his father's house. He had his townhouse, so close to work, he could walk. The house was in an old neighborhood. It wasn't rich, but it wasn't a ghetto. He had no idea if he could sell 
the house or if he should rent it out.

With much on his mind, he went to Christmas Eve mass at the nearby Catholic church. It wasn't that he was religious, but it was the thing to do. He and his father had always gone to the early mass on Christmas Eve.
Stopping in the corner bar on his way home, he had a drink of homemade eggnog and went home. He watched some TV, finding "It's a Wonderful Life" too much to take on such a sad occasion. He missed his father horribly and didn't know what to do with himself. He thought about a drink, but that would lead to many, and his father wouldn't have approved of him drowning his sorrow that way. He was sitting down to a microwave meal when his cellphone rang. It was Gabriel's number.


"It's Gabe. Frank, I'm worried about Marie. She's not feeling well. I think she's in labor, but I don't have a car. I can't get her to the hospital."

"I'll be right over. Keep her comfortable and warm. I'll be right there." He hung up and grabbed his coat and keys.

Driving over to the tiny one room apartment, Frank found himself muttering prayers. He wasn't a religious man, but he was worried about Marie. When he arrived at their door, he grew even more concerned. Marie's face was pale and pinched, her breathing shallow. Her hands trembled and she'd been vomiting. He and Gabriel bundled her in blankets and put her in the backseat of Frank's car. He drove as fast as he dared to the hospital emergency entrance. Parking the car, he ran in to get someone with a gurney.

When he got back, Marie was unconscious, bleeding profusely. The staff rushed her into the emergency room and did their best to stabilize her. All Frank could do was pace and try to calm down the horrified Gabriel.

"I should have called you earlier," he kept saying. "She's been bad all day. I didn't even go to work."

"You did just fine. She's okay. You have to have faith." Meanwhile, his mind did frightened flipflops. This was exactly how his mother died, bleeding to death as she gave birth. "She'll be fine."

Hours later, the doctor came out. He wasn't smiling, but he looked slightly hopeful. "Mr. St. Peter, your wife and son would like to see you now."

"Aw, Doc, I was supposed to be in there!"

"I know, son, but it was very tricky. We weren't sure.... We thought we might lose them. I couldn't have you see your wife and child die...."

"But they're alive?"

"Yes. Marie's weak, but she's stable. And your son has the finest set of lungs this side of the Mississippi."

"He's crying? Is he hurt?"

"No, he sounds like he's saying 'Da' over and over. Never heard a baby so young vocalize. You the grandfather?"

Gabriel answered in the affirmative before Frank could even open his mouth. The two men followed the doctor to Marie's room. She lay in bed, pale but smiling. She gave Gabriel a kiss and held out a hand to Frank. Gabriel kissed her and Frank held her hand.

Beside her in the clear plastic bassinet lay their son. He was red faced, blue eyed and had a shock of black hair that put Frank in mind of his own baby pictures.

"Nearly nine pounds," she said. "Would you like to hold him?" She asked her husband.

Gabriel picked him up, holding him carefully. The baby gazed up at him and touched his father's chin. 
Gurgling, crosseyed, he smiled and cooed, "Da".

"He knows me! How can he know me already?"

"Some babies are exceptional," the doctor said. "I'll leave you alone now. You call if you need me."

"Thank you, Doctor," Gabriel said. "For saving them."

"Modern medicine's a wonderful thing. Fifty years ago, I'd have lost one or the other or both. Merry Christmas," he said.

Frank glanced the clock. It was 12:15 on Christmas morning.

"Want to hold him?" Gabriel asked.

"I'd love to, if you don't mind. I haven't held a baby in years."

Gabriel handed the child to him. It gazed up at him and smiled, but didn't speak.

"What's his name?"

"We wanted something old fashioned,"Gabriel said. "We named him Josiah."

Frank gasped, nearly bursting into tears. "That was my father's name," he replied. "I'm honored. Though you didn't know. I thank you."

"His middle name is Frank," Marie said.

"I never had a namesake before. But wouldn't you like to name him after your fathers instead?"

The young couple exchanged a look. Marie nodded at Gabriel.

"I was raised in foster care," Gabriel replied. "Marie's mother took me in. I think we loved each other as soon as we could walk. Marie never knew her father, he was nothing but a name on a birth certificate. Her mom divorced him without even telling the poor guy she was pregnant."

"All that time and he never knew?" Frank's tears fell and he nuzzled the baby's head. "I can't imagine growing up without my father. He was my best friend."

"And a child should know his grandfather, don't you think?" Marie asked expectantly.

"Absolutely. My grandfather was the greatest."

"We thought the same thing, Frank." Marie continued, bursting into tears. "So when we found you like that, just out of the clear blue, it seemed so perfect."

"What do you mean? I don't understand."

Gabriel took Josiah from him. "Marie's your daughter," he replied. "Her mother's name is Nancy."

Frank nearly fell down. "My daughter?" He burst into tears, hugging the beautiful young woman in the bed.
They clung to one another, crying until their chests ached.

"Why didn't she tell me?"

"I don't know," Marie said, wiping her eyes. "She never said. But why don't you ask her yourself? She should be here soon. She had to take a cab from the airport because Gabe couldn't go get her."

"Nancy? Is coming here?"

He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Over 20 years had passed since he'd last seen her smiling, pretty face. When he looked into Marie's eyes, she saw shades of her mother. Nancy's smile twitched her daughter's lips, the same little line creased her forehead when she was thinking.

"Does she know? About me?"

"She does now," Gabriel said with a smirk as he nodded at the door.

Frank turned to see an elegant, slightly older version of his ex-wife standing at the door, her hand to her throat. Her blue eyes brimmed with tears as she advanced into the room.

"Frank? Is it really you?"


They embraced, kissing as if two decades hadn't passed.

"I missed you so. Why did you leave me?"

"I didn't understand about you and your father. I always thought I was intruding."

"No, never! You were the other part of me! Life was never the same without you. Why didn't you ever tell me about Marie?"

"I was angry and hurt. We had that huge fight and I walked out. I didn't know at the time I was pregnant. When I found out, I was even angrier and couldn't bring myself to tell you. By the time she was born, I was so ashamed about keeping her from you, I couldn't say anything. It was wrong. I should never have kept her from you. After seeing other children and their fathers, I finally understood. But by then it was too late."

"It's not too late," Frank assured her. "It's never too late."

"Just think," Gabriel said. "If we hadn't met by accident that day, we wouldn't be here now."

"Yes," Marie said. "We would. Because God would have seen to it."

"You're right," Frank agreed, taking her hand. "I think He did."

"You said you weren't a believer," Gabriel said.

Frank touched the baby's head, smiling happily for the first time in years. "I'm a believer now."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Writer's Sanctuary: I've Got an After Christmas Treat!

Writer's Sanctuary: I've Got an After Christmas Treat!: Even if the paper's crumbled and the gifts are no longer under the tree, Dellani's got a gift for you! Three excellent authors will join Chr...

I've Got an After Christmas Treat!

Even if the paper's crumbled and the gifts are no longer under the tree, Dellani's got a gift for you! Three excellent authors will join Christina and me on Wednesday, December 28th at 1:00 PM Eastern for a fun & informative chat. Be sure to tune in when I talk to J. Conrad Guest, MJ Goodnow and Stephanie Osborn.

J. Conrad Guest is the author of the January trilogy, composed of January’s Paradigm, One Hot January and January’s Thaw. One Hot January is available from Second Wind Publishing and the latter is forthcoming in early 2012. Current Entertainment Monthly in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote of January’s Paradigm, “(readers) will not be able to put it down.”

In 2008 he completed Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, which is also available from Second Wind Publishing, as well as from Amazon in both book and Kindle formats and Barnes and Noble (book and Nook).

In the novella Chaotic Theory (available from Amazon), J. Conrad explores the conjecture of how the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil might result in a tornado in Texas.

In April 2010, he completed his fifth novel, The Cobb Legacy, a murder mystery that spans two centuries written around baseball legend, Ty Cobb, and the shooting death of his father by his mother.

Death is considered a universal ideal in fiction writing, so you’ll want to check out his last project, A Retrospect in Death, which is now being considered for publication.

J. Conrad is nearing completion of his current project, 500 Miles to Go. Set during the golden era of motor racing (the 1960s), the story revolves around protagonist Alex Król and his efforts to find love while making his dream to win the Indy 500 come true.

MJ Goodnow was born in New London, Connecticut March 26, 1975 as Michael James Scaniffe. In 1978 he was adopted by his godmother Rose Christina Goodnow and her husband Wallace E. Goodnow. MJ grew up in a wonderful, fun and heart filled family who supported his dreams.

During his school aged years, MJ became a victim of bullying. He began writing to escape and help him overcome. Now as an adult MJ gives back to his community in Monticello and surrounding areas. Speaking to adolescents about the effects of bullying and how it can devastate a person.

MJ was inspired by the Spirit and led into ministry, studying to become a Jesuit Priest. He worked for a while as a security guard and expanded his writing skills as a singer and songwriter for the bands Dark Autumn and Monster Zero.

Music soothed the soul as he wrote the rock opera Knights and Sorcerers soon to be recorded and preformed by the band Fingerbone.

MJ was destined for authorship as he found healing in writing and penned his first book Evolution of the Fallen. Evolution of the Fallen is about four young patients in a mental care facility overcoming their stigma.

When asked about the inspiration of this tale MJ said, “As a young adult counselor at an agency in Connecticut, I saw the horrors of mental illness and trauma. I too suffer from PTSD, which in-fact, is the reason I write. To let go, get it out, and to find recovery through my writing and hopefully inspiring others.”

Finding inspiration and encouragement by teacher Wally Lamb, and other inspirations to name a few, George Lucas, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Ann Rice and Anna Crispin, MJ has taken the calling of author.

He co-authored the first book of the Red Storm Regime, book one of the Regime Guard series, with Maria Pacha. In this Young Adult novel eight pre-teen children hold the fate of the world in their hands.

With his faith as an ordained minister and the life experiences God gifted him MJ Goodnow hopes to inspire others to greater heights. When asked what he would like his readers to gleam from his prose MJ said, “There is always pain and suffering, but we always must rise against it, to defeat it.”

There is much more to come from this author’s heart and pen in the near future.

Stephanie Osborn is a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. She has worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Of those astronauts she trained, one was Kalpana Chawla, a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.

She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences:
Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. She obtained her various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Stephanie is currently retired from space work. She now happily “passes it forward, ” teaching math and science via numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on her knowledge, experience, and travels.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping It Real - Writing Fight Scenes

As an author, it's important to feed your imagination. What do I mean? I mean that you need to read and watch what others have written. This sparks your own ideas and helps you in your own writing.

I write a lot of fight scenes. What can I say? I like fights! Some are hand to hand, some with swords, some with guns. I've even written battles between spaceships. It's fun, but it can be a challenge, especially for someone like me. I don't take martial arts. I don't know how to shoot a gun and I've never used a sword except with a Halloween costume.

For my fight scene in Indian Summer, I was still inexperienced in writing such scenes. My boys were taking Aikido at the time, so I went to Sensei Tom for help. I told him what I wanted in the scene and using his son as an opponent, he acted the scene out for me in slow motion. I wasn't sure how to get my character out of particular hold, he gave me a suggestion which I used. His help was invaluable.

Not everyone has access to a martial arts expert. Unfortunately, my boys don't take lessons
anymore, so I've had to figure this out for myself.

With that being the case, how do I write convincing fight scenes? I watch a LOT of movies and action packed TV shows. Let me repeat that A LOT! I love shows like "Alias" and "Nikita". I love watching Jackie Chan and Wesley Snipes. I could sit here all night and tell you how many action movies or TV shows I've seen, provided I could remember them all.

Watching isn't enough. While you watch, you have to examine the moves, analyze them and figure out how to express those moves in words. As a visual medium, film can portray a fight scene eloquently, since one picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, an author doesn't have that advantage. We have to use those thousand words to express a clear picture of what's happening. So, we watch, analyze and express.

I've been told a time or two that I write good action scenes. Thank you. I try very hard to do so. It's not easy. A lot of action has to occur in a short space of time. Rapid exchanges of punches, ducks, feints and kicks have to have a rhythm and musicality to them. It's like a dance, only people are trying to kill one another. Unfortunately, not all punches are the same. There's a distinct difference between a front punch, hook, uppercut and elbow punch.

A martial artist will attack differently from a brawler. And depending upon the martial art will determine whether the person attacks, defends, grapples, tackles, kicks, punches or chops. Someone who is a black belt in Aikido is more likely to take a defensive stance than one who's skilled in Krav Maga. A bar brawler may break a bottle, use a chain or hit with a chair. Then we get to the super special guys like the assassins in "The Bourne Identity". They use a mixture of styles, disciplines and weapons. Their entire approach is to kill the other person before they can be killed. Another type character may be more likely to disable than kill.

Once the style has been decided, the environment enters into the picture. Are the characters outside? What kind of terrain is under foot? Are they inside? How big is the room? Are there obstacles? Is there cover?

Are the characters using weapons? If so, what kind? An exchange of gunfire moves differently from a martial arts fight. Sword fights are nothing like guns or hand to hand. The attacks and defenses aren't the same, nor to they sound alike.

Some authors go into great depth laying out a fight scene. With that, like everything else, I play it by ear. The scene unfolds before me like a movie. I see the movements and listen to the words in my head describing them.

Not everyone uses this method, but it works for me. I enjoy writing fight scenes to my stories. They add an interesting dimension to the novel. Experiment with them and find what works for you. In the meantime, I'm gonna go watch "Burn Notice".

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Aileen Stewart Is My Guest on Monday December 12!

Introducing Aileen

Although she holds a degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Sales/Marketing, Aileen Stewart chose to become a stay at home mom. It was during those early years while watching cartoons with her daughter Emily that she noticed most of what they watched was based on books. This was the spark that re-ignited her passion to write and led to her book Fern Valley – A Collection of Short Stories. Aileen loves to show her creative side in her many other endeavors like amateur photography, cooking, sewing, and the children’s display case which she is in charge of at her local library.

Fern Valley- A Collection of Short Stories

Fern Valley is home to a group of wonderful animals who have fun and face some of the same problems children everywhere do. Roberta and Mildred Cornstalk are creative chickens dealing with the loss of their beloved granny, and they’re looking for something to do to cheer them up. Want to know what adventures they find? Want to know what happens to Roberta and Mildred’s brother, Edward, when he goes fishing, what birthday surprise is in store for Betsy Woolrich, or what lesson Kimmy Curlytail learns when she keeps something that isn’t hers? Then follow this endearing cast of characters as they enjoy their time together and learn important lessons.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Yes, I Know It's Over!

I know NaNoWriMo is over, but it was such a HUGE part of my life for a month, I want to share another snippet of the story with you. You're probably tired of reading it, but here goes anyway. This scene is between Ralan Hendrix, the hero, and his friend & coworker, Romy Cross (who is featured in another novel of mine.) The dialog is fun and the exchange between the two men shows a lot about their personalities.

A tall, lanky man sauntered into the office and flopped in a wingback chair. He wore an old fashioned, brown canvas duster. Damp leather boots with heavy heels, thunked on the counter of the faux mahogany desk. Heedless of the no smoking edict in the building, he drew a cigarette from a battered pack of Marlboro's.

"Thought you quit," the dark haired man growled.

"I did. Just like to fiddle with it. Helps me think." His broad Manchester accent made the words almost indistinguishable to the untrained ear. "So, tell me. Why are we following that bird?"

The dark haired man rose from his desk, swatting the boots off the edge so he could pass.


"Your sister? What about her?"

"Wants me to date her."

"We're following some chick your sister wants you to date? Are you completely mad?" He leaped up, standing toe to to with his friend, his face mere inches away. "You do know what Givens will do when he finds out? And he will. Temple's sure to blab. He's an idiot."

Ralan Hendrix shook his head. "There's more to it. She's involved in this case somehow."

"How do you begin to know that?"

Ralan slowly pushed his friend into his chair and sat on the desk, avoiding the damp corner. 

"Romy, you've known me forever. When have I been wrong about something like this?"

"One of your famous hunches, eh? On what do you base this? Himself will want a rationalization." He flicked a finger at t heir boss' office.

"Something Karen said. Daphne's at their office to do an efficiency study, but they had one done two years ago. And the information I got on this girl says nothing about that."

"So? Unqualified bird passing herself off as an expert?"

Ralan shook his head. Picking up a soft rubber ball, he bounced it against the dark wood wall. "Aslani's not a fool. He'd check out someone like that. No, best I can ascertain—she's an accountant."

"A bean counter?"

"Yup. Some experience in forensic accounting. Minimal, but still.... Her college professors speak highly of her. One said she was somewhat of a genius with numbers. Above average in every field, but she could spot number patterns quicker than anyone he'd ever met—including himself. He'd never had another student so adept at tracking an error."

"No kidding?" Romy said, in awe. His manner changed abruptly. "What did you tell the professors when you talked to them?"

"Background check for a federal job. Can you imagine her on the scent of a crooked CEO?" His dark eyes glittered and the ball fell forgotten to the floor.

"Well, shite," Romy said as he picked up the ball. "Don't tell me Ralan Hendrix, super spy, has fallen for some bird he's never met!"

"Not exactly!"

The ball hit him in the chest—hard.

"Yes, exactly! You're an idiot!"

"And who moped about for three years over some girl who was engaged to another man? A man, as it turned out, hooked up with her to watch you!"

"I got her in the end though, yeah? Shagged her good and proper too. And married her!" He grinned proudly.

Ralan punched him. "The point is, she has no idea what she's walked into."

"Do any of them? Your sister's in a pickle too. How did you cotton to all this muck?"

"Karen told me in passing they'd signed with a couple big companies to do their yearly psych evaluations. Coronado Enterprises and Toledo Exchange."

"Holy shite! Don't they know those are fronts for organized crime?"

"On the surface, both companies are legit. To the doctors, it was a good move. Guaranteed bank. Mob uses its employees to filter drug money through them. Clients pay cash up front. Everyone's happy. Until... someone in the office gets greedy and starts to make the money disappear."

"What?" Romy jumped up again, leaning close. "You're sure?"

Tossing the ball in the air, Ralan nodded. "Someone is stealing from the mob."

"Death wish, that. Think they know?"

Ralan shrugged. "But you see my interest now?"

"Oh, yeah. And the fact she's got a great arse and is fucking gorgeous don't enter in?"

The dark haired man chuckled. "Maybe a little."

"So, why didn't you meet her that night at the bar?"

Exhaling slowly, Ralan caught the ball. "Rom, you know Karen's track record fixing me up."

"Yeah, so?"

His friend sighed, shaking his head. "Dunno. Maybe I lost my nerve after Solange."

"Not just your nerve, mate. You almost lost your...."

The ball hit him in the chest and Ralan walked out of the room, slamming the door after him.


Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 25

Obi took a moment to compare the sisters. Frankie had dark brown hair, and blue eyes. Though their coloring was different, they clearly were...