Thursday, April 26, 2018
Quite uncharacteristically for them both, Oscar and Jasmine end up sleeping together. The next day, he's late for his book signing. Jasmine agrees to drop him off, and asks if she should pick him up later.
"Yes, please." Leaning across the seats, he kissed her deeply. "Thanks for the ride. And thank you very much for last night."
"You're welcome—and you're very welcome. Get out now, I'm holding up traffic. Your fans await."
"Come back before six, I'll give you a signed copy."
Oscar walked in the store with the biggest smile he could remember. Patrick was stunned at how happy he looked. Oscar smiled and chatted with everyone, giving them personalized inscriptions, selling more books than he ever had at one venue before.
"What's got you so happy?" Patrick asked him as they were closing for the evening.
"I met someone yesterday."
"Really? Do I get to meet her?"
"Yeah, she's picking me up soon. There's something really special about this woman, Pat."
"She the reason you were late this morning?"
Blushing, Oscar dug his toe into the carpet, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, she was. We had an extended date last night. More than that, I'll be damned if I tell a married man."
"You lucky bastard." Patrick chucked him in the shoulder. "And you aren't the least bit proud of yourself either."
Oscar chuckled nervously. "It's been a long time since a woman made me feel like this. Maybe this the one, Pat. I've been alone a long time. Barb's been gone for six years now." His wife, Barbara, died of cancer shortly after their sixteenth wedding anniversary.
"Just be careful," Patrick said with a frown of concern. "It's easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. Don't set yourself up for a fall, Oscar."
"If I fall, I fall. I've lived long enough in fear. Not again, not this time."
Afternoon sunshine glittered on the brass door fixtures as it opened. Jasmine stood there framed by the doorway, the golden light limned her body in an ethereal aura. Oscar's grin broadened and he waved at her from across the store.
"There she is," he told Patrick, already walking toward the door.
"Like I couldn't tell!" The older man called after him.
Oscar greeted Jasmine with a kiss. "Hi. I was just telling my publisher about you."
"Really? All good, I hope?"
"Only the best. Come meet him. Patrick's kind of intense sometimes, but he means well."
With her hand on his arm, he walked her over to where his friend stood. After polite introductions, Patrick warmed to Jasmine. Oscar could tell that he genuinely liked the woman and that made him feel good. The other authors gathered around for their chance at introductions. Jasmine was delighted to meet each of them, complimenting their work.
"I haven't had the chance to read all your books yet," she admitted with a slight blush. "However, I've read excellent reviews. The ones I have read are great. I've left reviews on several websites."
After thanking her, they drifted off. Patrick joined them, organizing their cleanup. Oscar and Jasmine were left alone in slightly awkward silence, neither knowing what to say next. Then Oscar remembered he'd promised her a book.
"Oh, I already signed it and set it aside for you. It's my most recent. Kind of a crime and romance combination. I hope you like it."
"I've enjoyed your other books very much," she admitted. "Only since you write under a different name, I didn't put it together. You don't look a lot like your photos."
Oscar blushed, hands deep in his pockets, shoulders slumped. "Well, they certainly do their best. Not like they've got a lot to work with."
"Actually, I think you look handsomer in person. The photos age you a good few years. I thought you'd be in your sixties."
"Really?" His face brightened. "I think you totally made my day."
"Good. You made mine. I brought my other books for you to sign. They're in the car."
"Oh, sweet! Let me tell the others goodbye and we can go."
Walking into the parking lot, Oscar was surprised to see a white Prius sitting in a prominent place near the store. Was it his imagination, or was there a sooty mark on the hood?
"You didn't drive the Prius here, did you?"
Oscar walked over to the car. "Does this look like my rental?"
Jasmine joined him, checking the car tag. "It's ours. I recognize the tag holder. Don had them specially made just for us."
"What's it doing here? I rode with you."
"I don't know. You really should drive it to the office. Don thought he'd have a car or two by this evening. He's still there."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
“I promised to take you out drinking and dancing,” Dechlan said. “It's Friday, we can cut loose.”
“I don't want to go out-out,” I said, confusing them all. “Downstairs to the lounge, so no one has to drive. We all going?”
Dechlan looked at the other men, nodding somewhat resignedly. “Yeah. Is that okay?”
“Yeah.” I smiled at him. “But don't think we're pulling a Lexi,” I said with a grin. “Just because I'm drinking doesn't mean I'm doing anything else.”
“Got it. Loud and clear,” Hugo said. “No dicks allowed, you two.”
“What about you?” Cole snapped.
“My dick has not been involved in this bizarre quadrangle yet. Though he awaits his turn anxiously.”
“Third person on the dick?” I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Men really do that?”
“To make a point,” Hugo said. “In this equation, my dick is a free radical.”
I started laughing. “I don't think that means what you think it means. Free radicals aren't mathematical.”
“So now you're a math genius? Contradicting the Asian dude? Everyone knows that Asians are superior in every way. Bigger intellects, bigger swords... ”
“Smaller dicks,” Cole said with finality.
“Just because you're Black doesn't mean you have me beat in that department,” Hugo sounded offended. “Black men don't hold a monopoly on penis size. They just want everyone to think that. They perpetuate the myth to make the rest of us feel inferior.”
Cole held up his hand, grabbing Hugo's wrist. He splayed their hands out palm to palm. His fingers were nearly an inch longer than Hugo's. Riveting the shorter Asian man with his bottomless black eyes, he tipped his head toward their hands.
“You know how they say things are proportional?”
Hugo's eyes grew large.
“You do the math. Genius.”
We pulled up at the condo and Cole hopped out of the car, heading up to his room without the rest of us. We thanked the driver and slipped him a tip.
“I love driving you guys around,” he said as Dechlan handed him the money. “You have the most interesting conversations of any of my clients. See you Monday!” He tipped his hat and left.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Things are getting freakier with the car. Not only does it drive him out of town, it speaks to him, shaming and threatening him. Completely freaked out, he decides to take the car back to the rental company, even if it means buying a new car for transportation. On a whim, he invites Jasmine Bond to dinner. After a little too much to drink, they decide to go dancing.
"I love to dance! Where can we go?"
"The hotel has a lounge with dancing, sir," the waitress told them in a quiet voice. "They're open until three."
"Shank of the evening!" Oscar said more loudly than he meant to.
Handing the waitress a generous tip, he walked unsteadily to the lounge with Jasmine. They danced and drank until the lounge closed. Uncertain that she could get home, Jasmine hesitated at the doorway.
"Come upstairs. I'll make coffee. Then you can call a cab."
"Okay," she agreed. "I like coffee."
Between the two of them, they got his door open. It took nearly five minutes of giggling and shushing to get the card to work. They collapsed together on the king sized bed, laughing giddily.
"You know what, Bond, Jasmine Bond?"
"I'd really like to kiss you," Oscar said, suddenly feeling less light headed.
"I'd really like that," she replied, grabbing his coat collar.
Totally out of character, Oscar found himself not only kissing Jasmine Bond, but doing things on a first date he'd never done before. In a turn of events that caught them both by surprise, they were naked. Somehow, making love seemed like the right thing to do, so they did. Following an even more logical sequence of events, they tried it again just to make sure they had done it right the first time, only to find that they had.
It wasn't until the phone rang at 9:00 the next morning that they woke in the middle of the bed, spooning. Oscar didn't know which of them was more embarrassed, but rather suspected it was he. Even as a teenager, he'd never bedded a woman he'd known less than a day. Sure, he'd fooled around a lot in high school and college, but always with girls he'd known for awhile. As an adult, the only women he'd gone to bed with were ones he'd known for months or years, never a casual acquaintance.
Feeling wretched about his behavior, he finally realized that the phone was ringing. As Jasmine stumbled to the bathroom, he answered.
"Oscar, where are you?"
"Huh? Who is this?"
"Patrick. It's Patrick!"
"Oh, hey, Patrick. Sorry, I didn't recognize your voice."
"Have you been drinking?"
"Last night, some.... I lost track."
"You're late. You were supposed to be here thirty minutes ago."
"Oh, crap!" Oscar sat up in bed, dropping the phone.
Scrambling around, he picked it up again. Patrick was in full voice, yelling angrily.
"Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, Pat. Sorry. I overslept. I had a little bit to drink last night."
"Get your ass over here now!"
"Coming. I'm coming. I need a shower. I'll be there." He hung up.
Jasmine stood in the bathroom doorway clutching her clothing. "I'm so embarrassed. I never did anything like this before. I'm mortified."
"I'm so sorry," Oscar began. "Me either. It was just so...."
"..... Right," she finished.
"Yeah. I have a huge favor to ask."
"Can you drive me to today's venue? I don't trust that car. It gave me fits yesterday."
"Sure. I need a shower."
"Me too. Let's share."
Raising an eyebrow, she gave him a dubious look.
"I promise. No peeking. I'll bathe with my eyes closed."
Giggling, she tugged his hand. "You've seen me naked already."
"Which is why I'll bathe with my eyes closed. Otherwise, both of us are gonna be real late getting anywhere."
They bathed and dressed quickly, heading to the parking lot together. His car was parked right where he'd left it, looking innocent in the morning sunshine. Walking to another area of the lot, they got in her car and headed to the Barnes & Noble where the day long event was taking place. Huge banners in the windows proclaimed his presence at the store.
"Thanks," Oscar said as she pulled up in front of the store. "Jasmine, about last night...."
"Forget about it," she smiled.
"I don't want to. I know it sounds crazy, but I really don't want it to be a one night thing. I'd like to see you again. This time, I swear, I won't get you drunk and take advantage."
"I'd like that. Shall I pick you up at six?"
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
The band was taking a break and the singer came to sit with us at our table. He turned a chair around, straddling it.
"Hiya, Hal," he did some complicated handshake with him. "Who's the new lady?"
"My date for this evening, Reva Kelly."
"But you're not like engaged or anything?"
"No," Hal answered cautiously.
"Hi, Reva," the young man turned on the charm. "I'm Cullen Fellowes, front man for Sardonic." He held out his hand to me.
I took his hand somewhat timidly, unsure what to expect. If he was anything like his brother, he was a pro at doing something unanticipated. He held my hand like it was breakable, kissing my fingers gallantly. Inhaling deeply, he reluctantly gave me back my hand.
"God, Hal, she smells fantastic! Don't you just want to lick her all over?"
Hal dropped his head to the table. "I knew I shouldn't have brought you here for our first date," he groaned. "I'm sorry, Reva. Cullen has no manners."
"I do too," Cullen puffed out his chest proudly. "I have lots of manners, most of them bad. But you do smell really good. What's that cologne?"
I told him the name of my cologne and he practically drooled.
"I'm going to buy that for my girlfriend. That's great!"
"You don't have a girlfriend, Cullen," Hal teased. "You have groupies."
"Well, I'll buy a girlfriend and then buy her some of that cologne. Don't split hairs, Hal. I'm falling in love with your girlfriend. Can I steal her from you?"
"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't, Cullen. I really like her and I don't want to sacrifice her to the Roman God of Music."
"She's not your type, baby bro," Morgan interjected smoothly. "She has brains as well as a vagina."
"Subtle, dear," Tanya patted Morgan on the hand.
"Go sing," Hal ordered. "Just go sing."
"You have a great voice," I deftly leaped back into the conversation before he got away.
"You want my autograph? Or maybe you'd like to have my baby?"
"I only want to know if you sing for weddings."
He thought a moment, considering carefully. "Not usually, but for you I might."
Cullen dashed back to the stage as the band began to play. Sliding to the microphone, he grabbed it smoothly, not missing a beat.
"That kid," Morgan shook his head sadly. "I despair, truly I do."
"I think he's great," I assured him. "A little intense, but refreshing."
"Sort of like a monsoon," Hal added with a crooked grin. "Cullen is an acquired taste."
"I don't care how he acts as long as he sings like that," I said to Tanya. "And could he be any more adorable?"
Morgan and Hal drew themselves up, looking somewhat offended.
"We're pretty damn adorable too," Hal said in a hurt tone.
I looked at him carefully. He really was gorgeous. I had to admit that he was one of the most handsome men I had ever met. Morgan was handsome, too, and equally as charming. Tanya was a very lucky woman.
"Not adorable," Tanya said. "Adorable is for teddy bears and kids under twenty-five. You two are handsome, intelligent and ever so sexy."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Not only does the car stall several times, the GPS will not shut off, and starts talking to Oscar. To his horror, the car drives itself, taking him out of town, into the country. He's now late, and lost, at the mercy of the psychotic car.
"I don't know who you are and why you're possessing this car." Oscar backed away from it. "But I'll find out and I'll get rid of you. I'll have you exorcised!"
"Get in the car, Oscar. Jasmine would want you to get in the car." The voice took on the same quality and cadence as Jasmine's voice. "Please get in the car, Oscar. I'll be good. I promise."
"You're insane. Or I'm insane. I don't know which. But this isn't happening!"
"Get in the car or I'll run you over where you stand!" The engine revved.
Rather than arguing further, Oscar got back in the car. He couldn't escape the possessed vehicle on foot. It would run him down and no one would ever know or believe that it had murdered him. Not that anyone would believe him anyway.
"I'm totally lost," Oscar mumbled. "I've no clue where I am. Take me back to town."
"What's the magic word?"
"Please," he grumbled.
"Please take me back to town."
"Calculating route." The voice said in a chipper tone.
The car swung around, heading back the way he'd come. It allowed him to steer, but stalled if he tried to go off the route it had for him. He arrived at his next venue nearly two hours late. Patrick was angry, mostly because he was concerned.
"Sorry. The car isn't behaving," Oscar mumbled. "I'll get a new one tomorrow if I have to buy the damn thing."
"Do that. Tomorrow is our biggest venue. I really need you there, Oscar. Those people will eat that book up like candy."
"Yeah. Yeah, I know. Thanks, Patrick. Sorry to be such a pain."
"Head back to your hotel. Get a good meal and some sleep. Tomorrow will be better."
"Yeah. I'll do that. Meanwhile, I'm taking this car back to the lot."
Somehow, once he was out of the car, his phone worked perfectly. Oscar called Jasmine as he walked out to his car.
"Hello?" Her voice sounded happy and breathless.
"Hi, Jasmine. Oscar Friedman."
"Hi, Oscar! I was just thinking about you. How's the car doing?"
"It's been a weird day. Can I take you to dinner? I'd really like to see you. I'll tell you about it when I see you."
"Sure. How about I meet you at the hotel restaurant? That will give you a chance to get back there and freshen up."
"That sounds good. Mind eating early? I'm beat."
"How about six thirty? That gives me time to go home and change."
"Excellent. See you then."
He walked outside to find the car where he'd parked it. It started up without problem, though the GPS gave him instructions on how to get back to his hotel without him keying in the address. To test it, he made a wrong turn on purpose, a block or so from the hotel.
"Calculating route," the voice sounded overly loud. "What are you doing, Oscar? Did you think I wouldn't be paying attention?"
"Nothing. I looked at the map wrong." He got back on the right road, nervous sweat coating his face.
He arrived at the hotel and parked as close to the doors as he could. He wanted it to be easier for the clerk if the alarm went off again. He left the keys at the desk with the same clerk who had been there the day before. Thanking her politely, he went to his room.
Jasmine Bond met Oscar in the hotel lobby at 6:25 and they went to dinner together. They shared a bottle of wine as they waited for their meal to arrive. Oscar was finally able to relax and unwind after his trying day. He had nearly made up his mind to tell Jasmine how the car had been behaving when their appetizers arrived. Instead, he ate his soup, chatting with Jasmine about her day at work and his book signing. The subject of the car's behavior didn't come up.
By dessert, Oscar felt as if he'd known Jasmine his entire life. Slightly buzzed, he gazed into her fabulous blue eyes, smiling rather foolishly. Jasmine, equally as inebriated, smiled back at him.
"You know, I think I'll have to call a cab to go home. I don't think I can drive in this condition."
"Me either," he chuckled. "You know what I want to do?" He raised his eyebrows like Grouch Marx.
Jasmine laughed, shaking her blonde curls. "No, what?"
"I wanna go dancing. You like to dance?"
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
I told the nurse at the station who I was there to see and she pointed me toward the waiting room. A few minutes later, she came in with a cup of coffee.
"Just made it fresh. I hope you take cream and sugar."
"Yes, thank you."
"Grace has talked about you non-stop for days," she said, taking a seat across from me. "My name is Tammy."
"Hi, Tammy. I'm Blake. So, anything good?" I took a sip of the coffee and complimented her. It was just right.
"All good. Though I take it it hasn't progressed."
"I just met the woman." Why does everyone expect me to be a womanizing man-whore? "Great kisser," I complimented Grace. Or, for all Tammy knew, I could have been talking about myself. "I have no intention of hurting your friend," I told her without being asked. "I like Grace, she's pretty fantastic."
"But you aren't from here."
"No, but I can be. I can do my job from anywhere. I know she didn't put you up to this."
Grace is too direct for that. If she wanted to know, she'd ask me. Or, I'd tell her without her asking. I have no secrets from her. That wasn't for Tammy to know. I'm not involved with her.
"But would you?"
"I don't see how it's your business. No offense, but I don't know you well enough to share that information."
She nodded, amazingly understanding and accepting that. "She and I have looked out for each other for awhile. She's my person."
I've seen Grey's Anatomy. I know that phrase. "I understand. It's good to have someone to look after, who looks after you. I get it." I have Dray as my person. Best friends and business partners for close to twenty years.
"Yes, it is."
We sat in awkward silence. She fiddled with her fingers in her lap. I sipped my coffee.
"May I be brutally honest?" I asked.
"I like Grace—a hell of a lot. Would I like things to progress? Well, duh! Will I push to get that result? No. Sex is no fun unless both people are totally into it, don't you find?"
Tammy blushed, nodding quickly.
"So don't worry about your friend. If she wants me, I'm here. If she decides she doesn't, I'll find a dark corner and play with myself."
Tammy burst out laughing. "That's one solution."
"Not my favorite, but it does the job." And it had been the extent of my sex life for the last few months. I didn't share that with Tammy.
She excused herself and went back to the desk. A few minutes later, Grace arrived, breathless, damp haired and smiling.
"Sorry it took so long. I had to drain an abscess and you don't want to know a thing about it."
"No, I surely don't." I pulled her close, kissing her deeply, letting her know how glad I was to see her. "Feels like I was gone a lifetime. A lot happened in a few days."
We walked to the elevator arm in arm and headed to my car. With her giving me directions, we went to Canal Street for lunch. There's a nice sandwich shop on a corner and we had a great meal. I told her about the crazy women in Key West.
"Must be something in the water," she said. "Or it's just the fact that you're hot as seven kinds of hell."
"Could be that, I reckon. Only one woman I want in my bed," I said very softly. "And I'm lookin' at her."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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