Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 10

He leaned over, kissing her swiftly on the cheek, his lips lingering near her ear. "You look fantastic," he breathed.

They walked outside where she expected him to hail another cab. Instead, he led her to a Jeep Sahara sitting by the curb. Her bag went in the backseat and she climbed up front. Cole made sure her belt was on, with the half door shut before he went around to the driver's side. He hopped in, put his belt on and pulled into traffic.

Cole was wearing another pair of low riding beach shorts, these were red and tan. He wore a sleeveless T-shirt with a surf shop logo across the front and a surfer on the back. The surfer's features were amazingly familiar.

"Is that a picture of you on the back?"

He glanced at her, looking sheepish. "Yeah. Not trying to brag, I didn't realize I'd grabbed that one. I was sponsored for awhile, they even brought out a line of boards for me to endorse."

"Why did you give it up?"

He shrugged casually, turning left up a narrow road. "I was a kid. It was cool for awhile, but I grew up, and found something I liked better."

"What do you do? You mentioned getting away from the office."

He chuckled, glancing at her again as he drove. "Well, I don't have an exact title. Red and I are consultants, more than anything. He also represents bands and organizes videos for them. I scout locations, stand around and look important. Occasionally, I do the choreography for them. I hand it over to a dance captain who actually teaches the dancers."

"Why don't you do that part of it? You're a fantastic dancer."

He chuckled, winking at her. "Because it's boring, and I have more interesting things to do with my time. Like taking a beautiful lady around the island, and giving her scuba lessons."

"You met my mom once," she blurted out without thinking.

"I did? Cool! What's her name?"

"Rosaline Cross."

"For real? I remember Rosie! Wonderful lady! Great dancer. She kept looking at my ass, though, when she thought I wasn't looking."

"Oh, my God," Mara said. "You didn't give her scuba lessons did you?"

"Me? No. She took from an older fellow named Denny."

"Is he as good looking as you?" She wanted to smack herself for being so bold.

"He and I could be brothers, except he's old enough to be my father." He chuckled. "Yup, Rosie sure enjoyed her lessons!"

He drove a few more moments in silence, scanning the horizon for something. Mara watched his profile, wondering what he was thinking. The scenery flashed by as they sped down the road. She hardly paid attention to the blue sea, white sand and green palm trees blowing in the gentle wind. All that was a background to what she most wanted to see, Cole's profile.

"Perfect day." He turned the car onto a dirt track. "You'll love it out here," he told her confidently. It's among my most favorite places on the entire island."

"I know I'll love it. I have full confidence in my tour guide."

The Jeep slowed to a stop. He put it in park under some overhanging trees. She started to climb out, but he held her hand. "We aren't quite there. I just wanted a quiet moment before we get down the the beach."

Leaning over, he placed a soft, caressing kiss on her lips. His right hand crept behind her head, his left touched her knee, sliding slowly up to the hem of her shorts. His fingers didn't stop at the edge of the material, but kept going to the curve of her thigh.

Cole's lips traveled from hers, brushing her ear, sending a shiver down her spine, and moved to her neck. Mara's breath caught in her throat as the hand behind her neck slid down, brushing her breast. Her lips fluttered against his neck as she drew him toward her, pressing her chest to his. She inhaled his scent, the fragrance spicy and tangy.

"Oh, Cole," she breathed. "Don't stop."

He let go of her gently, putting the car back in gear. "We've got a schedule to keep. And there's someone for you to meet."

They drove about another mile, right to the beach, where a comfortably sprawling house on stilts stood. Cole parked under the house and they climbed out.

"Hello!" he called loudly.

"Cole?" A man's deep voice boomed out. "Cole, my boy! Come on up! Who's that with you?"

A dark haired, broad shouldered man stepped onto the deck above them. He was grinning, a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He looked an awful lot like Cole.

"This is Mara, I told you about her."

"Of course! Come in, Mara! Welcome to my humble abode!"

Mara put her hand on Cole's arm. "Who's that?"

"My dad. He lives here year round now, since my mom passed. Come on up."

The house was rustic inside and seemed to be decorated rather randomly with beach flotsam. Driftwood was stacked by a fireplace that was lined with clam shells. A boat anchor stood in one corner, and in another was a figurehead from an old wreck.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 9

Mara woke with a feeling of expectation, knowing that she was going to be spending the day with Cole. She went through her suitcases, planning what she was going to wear. She chose a pair of white shorts and light pink tank top that was cropped just above the navel. She didn't like things that were too revealing, but she didn't mind showing a little discreet skin.

Packing her beach bag, she had a flutter of excitement with a modicum of fear. She wasn't afraid of Cole, she was scared of how intense her feelings were for him. She ordered breakfast from room service, then called her mother. Rosaline answered in the same breathy manner.

"Mara, how lovely! How was your first full day?"

"Fantastic, Mom. I visited Auria's shop and got the most darling dress!" She described it to her mother who made the appropriate sounds of delight. "And I've met someone." She hesitated, wondering how much to say.

Rosaline Cross was a very astute woman. She had watched her daughter climb the ladder of success, pushing aside every opportunity for a relationship as she went. It wasn't her way to pry into her daughter's business, but Mara's voice held something she wanted to identify.


Keeping it non-committal was the best way to get anything out of Mara. Lots of questions usually got a conversation broken off early, with the click of a phone to follow.

"Yes, he's very nice. His name's Cole Bayard."

"I think I may have met him once or twice," Rosaline answered casually. She knew Cole quite well, having taken one or two of his personalized tours, and liked him. She could see the appeal he held for her daughter.

"He's going to be taking me on a tour of the island the next few days. I'm going to take scuba lessons from him."

"Really, dear? That sounds lovely! Oh, you'll have a wonderful time with scuba diving. I enjoyed it so much, the last time I was there."

"You took scuba lessons?"

"Of course, Mara! A trip down there isn't complete without taking lessons from a handsome instructor with nice buns and clinging swim trunks!"

"Mom!" Mara didn't know whether to be shocked or laugh. "You're full of surprises!"

"I'm a window, Mara. I'm not dead! I still like to look at a tight ass from time to time."

"Mom!" This time the shock was uncontrollable. "Did you look at Cole's tight ass in wet trunks?"

"Me? Heavens no! He was dry the entire time. But now you mention it, he is rather nicely blessed."

"Oh, Mother!" Mara giggled. "He's gorgeous, we both know it. Charming, graceful, handsome. Mama, would it be horrible, just terrible and slutty of me if I.... If..."

"You enjoyed yourself? Mara, for an intelligent woman, you can be such a naive little girl. My advice is to enjoy yourself, relax and just be careful."


"I don't want you to come home in a cast. Enjoy what life offers, Mara. You've never done that before, it's time to start."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Have fun, Mara. No regrets allowed."

Mara hung up, stunned by the conversation she'd had with her mother. She had practically given her blessing to sleep with Cole. She sat on the bed staring out at the ocean. A knock at the door got her attention. It was room service.

She ate breakfast on the balcony overlooking the water. The food was probably delicious, but she hardly knew what she was eating. When she'd finished, she put the tray outside her door and sat on the end of the bed. A glance at the clock showed her it wasn't even nine thirty. An entire hour to wait.

The science fiction book was lying on the table by the bed. She flipped it open and tried to read, but found she couldn't concentrate and didn't really care what the hero was doing. Just as she was giving up in despair, her phone rang. Only two people were likely to be calling her, she hadn't told the office where she was going.


"Not the last time I looked." Cole's voice sounded like he was suppressing a chuckle.

"Cole! I thought you weren't going to be done until ten."

"I begged off early. Red has more to discuss than I do, so I did my thing and left. You ready?"

"Almost." She didn't want to appear too anxious.

"Cool, I'll be there in a few minutes. I'm in route as we speak."

"Shall I meet you in the lobby?"

"Sure! Probably best that way."

"Oh?" She didn't know whether to be offended or not.

"Yeah," he sighed heavily. "If I'm that close to you and a bed again, we might not make our trip. See you soon!"

She giggled happily. "Probably right! See you shortly."

Grabbing her things, she rushed out to the elevator waiting impatiently for it to arrive. Cole was just walking in the door when she exited the elevator. He waved at her from across the lobby. Keeping herself under control, she managed to walk to him, not run full tilt all the way like she wanted to.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 8

Mara knew she wasn't supposed to hear him, but she had better hearing than most people. He was talking himself into leaving, before he did something he'd be ashamed of later.

"The last honest man," she murmured, touching her tingling lips with a trembling hand.

Closing the door, Mara leaned against it, knees weak and heart pounding. She was never impulsive. She always had a plan of action, set goals and accomplished them. Now, she was in a tight spin, plummeting to earth like a meteor. There was nothing to stop her, no safety net.

It was then she realized that her goals and plans had always provided just that for her. She planned carefully so she couldn't fail, wouldn't fall. Each plan held contingencies and safety zones. If one track failed, she had another to follow. With that revelation, years of fears and inhibitions surfaced, revealing themselves for what they really were. Her careful organization, rigid time frames, set schedules, back up plans. Everything was carefully calculated.

"Only you can't do that with the human heart," she sighed, feeling tears form in her eyes. "No wonder I never had time for a man. You can't plan out a man's actions, how he'll react or when he'll do something—unexpected."

It was terrifying and empowering, this epiphany she was experiencing. Awash with unfamiliar emotions, she undressed in a daze and went to take another shower. She didn't try to think, just stood there letting the fears wash away. Suddenly tired, she shut the water off, dried her hair and put on the robe that hung on the wall. It was fluffy and comforting.

Her phone was ringing as she went back to her room. Picking it up, she glanced at the clock. Who would be calling at this hour?


"Mara," it was almost a sigh. "I had to hear your voice once more before I went to sleep. I want you on my mind while I dream."

"Cole...." She hardly knew how to respond. "Me too," she faltered, feeling like a teenager again.

"Sleep sweetly, Mara. Dream of wonderful things."

"I'll dream of you," she said without thinking. She felt her blush rise thinking how foolish that must sound.

"Me too," he said softly. "Goodnight."


They hung up simultaneously, each wishing they had said more. Cole was annoyed with himself. He was always so smooth, so confident with women. All through high school and college, even into his adult life, he'd been held in awe by other men because of his ability to sweet talk women. He got laid more times in college than any other guy he knew.

"But none of them mattered. This one is different." He shook his head trying to clear it.

Maybe that was why the words wouldn't come out and he got tongue tied. Perhaps that explained why he felt like a fool whenever she looked at him. Or fought himself for control so he wouldn't maul her like a rabid beast. He really liked her and saw himself settling down to something permanent with her. He teased Red about his relationship with Becky. But he had always wished he could find a woman who made him feel the way Becky made Red feel.

"Like I could move mountains, or stop the rising tide." He grinned, flopping back on his bed.

His phone rang, startling him out of his reverie. "Mara?"

"Not unless I got a whole lot prettier," Red's voice sounded crisp and abrupt in his ear. "I took a chance that you'd be home. I half expected you to spend the night with Mara. What happened?"

"I couldn't," Cole sighed, smacking himself in the head. "It wouldn't have been right."

"She got to you, didn't she? I knew she would!" He sounded delighted. "I saw it in your face when you went to get the ball."

"You did do that on purpose!"

"Me? No, bro, I'm just a clumsy oaf. Ask your sister. Good thing she likes clumsy, or I'd be out of luck. I just got off the phone with her. She sends her love—to me. You, she said be careful and think with what's between your ears, and not what's between your legs."

"Becky said that?"

"Not that way, but same implication."

"Did you just call to check up on me, see if I'm being a bad boy?"

"No, just making sure we're on the same page tomorrow. You ready on your end?"

"Yeah. They start filming when?"

"Not until Wednesday. Tomorrow is just a prelim with the director and his team. Location guy will be there too, so you can talk with him."

"Cool. I have to be done by ten. I've got a ten thirty with a client."

"Sleep well, bro."

"You too," Cole hung up.

He picked up the remote and clicked on the CD player. The quiet strands of Sparks by Coldplay started, making him think of Mara again. Sighing heavily, he pulled the bedspread over him, curling up on his side. The music washed over him and he slept.

Mara lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Thoughts of Cole on her mind. Closing her eyes, she could see his face floating before her. His emotions reflected in his eyes, showing her his thoughts as if he'd broadcast them. Twinkling his amusement, clouding in regret, or burning with his desire for her. With these thoughts, she fell into a deep sleep.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Monday, March 22, 2021

Once I started the story I - who am admittedly a "what's next" junkie - couldn't put it down. ~ Undiscovered by Dellani Oakes

Kent Griswald is a high powered movie executive known for his micro-managing and aggressive supervision of a movie from beginning to end. He's not well liked professionally or personally, so when someone puts a knife in his chest, no one is terribly surprised. However, someone also took pot shots at his younger brother, Connor, who has no enemies.

Detectives Walter Scott and Vanessa Weinstein are called in on the case, ready for action. Unfortunately, Detective Scott hadn't counted on the eyewitness, Cadence Stuart. Pretty and personable, she's also terrified that the killer may come after her next. It's up to Scott to protect her from the tall, dark killer. Unfortunately, so far, the killer's identity and whereabouts are Undiscovered.

Couldn't stop reading

Once I started the story I - who am admittedly a "what's next" junkie - couldn't put it down. Compared to my favorite "yearning love story" - James Clavell's classic "Shogun," it's both a quick read and a quick picture of falling in love. Nonetheless, very well written and I certainly enjoyed it. Looking forward to more from Ms. Oakes!

• • •

Discover Undiscovered

This Romance Suspense Novella hits both genres head on with suspense from page one and plenty of plot twists and steamy romance to keep you going. I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I devoured it, lol. It’s a fun and thrilling read you won’t want to miss. Dellani Oakes knows how to weave a good tale. I highly recommend! ~ Terri Berbatiotis

• • •

"Undiscovered" by Dellani Oakes is classic and raunchy erotic suspense set in the movie business . . . I found the characters very life-like, the romantic parts well done and the suspense strong. Fans of the genre won't be disappointed with this. ~ Christoph Fischer

• • •

An excellent murder mystery

This is a real page turner . . . This is an excellent murder mystery, well written with lots of suspense and the right amount of romantic sexual tension. Plus I love the humour throughout. Add to all that some great characters and you have a recipe for a very good book. ~ Ann Stanmore

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 7

"Why would he do that?"

"I've been lonely a long time. No steady woman in my life."

"Bad breakup?"

He shook his head. "No, she was killed in a boating accident."

"I'm so sorry!"

"I lied," he chuckled, his forehead against hers. "She's alive and well. Probably kicking and screaming at someone. An incredibly bad breakup."

"Oh, you!" She shoved him so hard he took a step back. "You had me believing you were a widower!"

"Never been married. Emma was just the latest in a long line of incredibly bad choices." He shrugged. "How about you? Anyone significant?"

Mara shrugged, shaking her head. "Not really. I've had some steady men, but no one lately. Too busy," she sighed. "Always too busy."

"You should never be too busy for love, Mara."

She shrugged again, the conversation becoming uncomfortable. Truth be told, she had never found a man who excited her enough to stay with him for long. Sure, she'd dated some good looking men, or intelligent men, but never both. Cole was the first man she'd ever met who was smart, funny, handsome and a good dancer.

"Why couldn't we have met somewhere else at some other time?"

"What's wrong with here and now?"

"Because I'll wonder if this is all there is. Will I see you again?"

"I don't know how to answer that, except that sometimes you have to take what life offers. You throw yourself into it, and don't ever look back!"

"I'm not like that, Cole. I plan, think things out. I have a strategy, goals."

"And are you happy with where you are?"

It was a very penetrating question, and one she wasn't comfortable answering. Clutching his jacket to her elbows, she turned from him.

"I don't know. If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have said yes. But now.... I don't know."

"What's different about now?" But he knew the answer, he was just waiting for her to say it.


"We've got the here and now, Mara. More than that I can't promise."

His kiss set a fire inside her that billowed and grew as his hands brought her back to him. He held her in a gentle, yet unyielding, embrace, demanding her full attention. Mara didn't try to pull away, she didn't want to. All she wanted was to have him hold her and kiss her forever. They took a cab back to her hotel, kissing and cuddling in the back of the cab. Frank opened the door for them, smiling happily in greeting, but they hardly noticed. Taking the elevator, they had to behave themselves. There were two elderly couples in there with them.

The door to her room closed with a click of finality. Mara was getting cold feet, but she was determined to enjoy what Cole offered, even without guarantees. She expected him to kiss her again, instead he stood behind the door

"I had a thought," he said softly, his voice full of unspoken emotions. "I don't want you to think I'm here for a one night fling. I'll earn your trust if it kills me." He smiled slightly, turning abruptly away from her. He gazed out the sliding glass doors at the ocean.

"Cole...." but she had no more words for him. Her finger brushed his sleeve.

"Too many dishonest bastards out there," he muttered. "The only honest one left gets the shaft." His full lips formed a smile. "I'll treat you to the Bayard Tours special. We'll see the most beautiful spots on the island. Lunch and dinner included in the package. Tomorrow we'll go down the point about ten miles from here. Ever been scuba diving?"

Mara shook her head. "Never had time."

"No problem, I'll give you lessons. Among other things, I'm a certified instructor. You'll get back to the city with amazing skills, and a fabulous suntan." He held out his hand to her. "Deal?"

She was confused by the abrupt change. A few minutes ago he'd been all over her, making her pulse race. She'd been thinking of throwing her inhibitions to the wind, jumping into bed with a total stranger. Suddenly, he was offering to show her around and teach her how to scuba dive.

Cole raised his eyebrows questioningly, holding his hand closer to her. She took it tentatively.


"Great! I really do have to get up early to do something with Red, but we'll be done by ten. Can I pick you up here at ten thirty? Dress casual, this time I mean it!" He pointed a finger at her playfully, drew her to him once more, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

Mara walked him to the door. Seeing him out, she was shutting the door when he turned back to her, taking her in his arms once more. This kiss was electrifying, making her tingle all over. Too soon, he released her with a deep sigh. Gasping breathlessly, she leaned against the frame of the door, too stunned to move.

"Ten thirty," he told her again before trotting to the elevator. "Come on, Cole," he muttered to himself. "Get a grip."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 6

The band started another song, also soft and easy to dance to. She hardly heard it, her attention focused on Cole. He led her around the dance floor with the same easy, casual grace he'd exhibited on the beach. Mara wasn't much of a dancer, but she felt so comfortable in his arms, she followed his strong lead as if born to it. Cole held her close, his arm firmly around her waist, bringing her into a series of tight spins worthy of Fred Astaire. The song ended and he dropped her into a magnificent dip.

Mara was panting, not from exertion, but from excitement. Never had she danced that way. Most of the men she dated were non-dancers. Cole took her breath away, moving sinuously as the song changed again to something with a syncopated Latin type beat. She felt lightheaded, as if her feet weren't touching the ground, dancing on a cloud.

Cole enjoyed the expressions on her face as he led her around the dance floor. She changed from surprised to delighted in a series of little gasps and pauses. He found himself dancing with her, better than he'd ever danced in his life.

The third song ended and he led her back to their table. It was then she realized they had been the only ones on the dance floor. As they made their way back to their table, the other diners clapped. Some cheered and several stood as they walked past.

Mara blushed a shade of pink that matched her dress. Cole stopped, bowed deeply, and worked the crowd for all it was worth. One exuberant woman tossed a five dollar bill at him, which he caught with a flourish and presented to Mara with a deep bow.

When they sat back down, Red yawned exaggeratedly. "You know what, buddy? I'm gonna call it a night. I think I'll call your sister, and talk dirty to her for an hour, before going to sleep."

"If you really want to, Red, I can't stop you. But you know...." He jerked his head toward the door. "If you feel like you need to go." He gestured with his thumb, tapping his foot under the table. "You know, by all means go. We'd love your company, bro." He pointed to the door again. "But we won't force you if you're tired."

"I think I'm being given the bum's rush," Red said, trying to look offended. "Seriously though, I am tired and I have to get up early. It was delightful meeting you, Mara. Don't keep the reprobate out late, he has to be up early, too."

"Thanks, Mom," Cole said to his friend, propelling him away from the table. "When I need your help getting rid of a lady, I'll tell you," he whispered.

Mara giggled, covering her mouth with her fingers. She wasn't sure she'd been meant to hear that. She liked Red, but was glad he was leaving. She found herself increasingly attracted to Cole and wanted his undivided attention.

Red paid the bill on his way out, waved the receipt at Cole and left to look for a cab.

"I thought he'd never leave," Cole said as he came back to the table. "Actually, he left at just the right time. That's why having the same best friend for thirty years, comes in handy. He knows when he's not wanted."

"I don't know," Mara joked. "I rather enjoyed his company. But if you really want to be alone, I'll gladly leave too." She stood and turned away from the table.

Cole grasped her gently by the hand. "I really want you to stay. That is, if you want to."

Mara sat, taking his hand in hers. "I want to stay very much. Actually, I want to leave, but in your company. I'd kind of like a walk on the beach under the stars."

"I'd like that too," Cole told her quietly.

He left Candy a big tip and they walked out the door and down to the beach strand. It was quiet here, only dimly lit. She could hear the sound of the ocean pounding against the shore. It reminded her of the pounding of her heart, that felt like it was about to jump right out of her chest.

They walked down near the water, and Cole stopped. Taking off his jacket, he put it around her shoulders. "It gets chilly down here at night." He smiled, the moon's reflection off the water lit his eyes.

"Thank you," Mara whispered.

Cole leaned in toward her, raising her face with a finger under her chin. His kiss was bold, tender, luxurious. Mara felt a tingle from her lips to her toes. Sighing, she leaned into his embrace. He held her firmly, but gently, pulling her close until their hips touched. His lips traveled down to her throat, brushing lightly like butterfly wings.

She was hot and flustered, hardly knowing how to proceed. He was obviously attracted to her, as she was to him, but she'd never had a vacation romance and didn't know how she felt about it. She turned her head away, breaking their embrace.

"I'm sorry," Cole whispered. "I've been wanting to do that since we met. You must think I'm an asshole."

"No," she said honestly. "I...well...."

"We just met, and you're asking yourself if I do this all the time. If I meet a woman, invite her out, lure her into a quiet place and proceed to have my way with her. That is what you're thinking, isn't it?" His intensity was a little intimidating, but he brought himself under tight control.

She nodded slightly. "Kind of."

"No," he answered simply. "I'm no saint, Mara, but I'm not out on the prowl either. I keep wondering if Red spiked that ball over to you on purpose. I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself that."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes


It's small town Nebraska in the late 1970's and life in the small Midwestern town is quiet and uneventful. That's what Libby Marshall and Bobby Menedez think until Bobby's cousin, Ramon is beaten by a group of white boys. Racial tension is high after the beating and it's soon revealed that something quite evil lies hidden Under the Western Sky.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5


"Will do, Cole."

She took the menus, flashed another toothy smile, strutting to the kitchen. Mara heard her placing the order before the door swung shut behind her. "Three Chef specials, the works. You've got a virgin."

Mara bridled slightly. She wasn't the most experienced woman in the world, but she was by no means a virgin. How dare Cole assume? She was about to protest when another piece of music started. Too loud for her to be heard, she sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. The music ended and the band left the stage to take a break. Mara's frown had deepened to the point where her brows almost met. Red glanced at her, then over at his friend. Cole was distracted ordering another round of drinks and didn't notice her growing anger.

Red tugged his sleeve. "Uh, bro? I think you offended the lady."

"I what?" Cole looked genuinely surprised. "I'm sorry. What did I do?"

"Virgin?" She tried to keep her voice from rising to a screech, not wanting to attract attention. "How dare you assume!"

Cole laughed, throwing his head back unashamedly. "No, you misunderstood." He giggled. "It's the food order...." Shaking his head, he couldn't speak anymore.

Red was in no better shape. It wasn't until Candy brought the food out that she got an explanation. She looked back and forth between the two men who squirmed with ill concealed mirth. Rolling her eyes, Candy explained.

"The Chef Special," she said with a voice that was tinged with a strong Brooklyn accent, "is curry. We do it all, beef, chicken, seafood, fruit, you name it. Some folks aren't used to it, they've got to have sweet, not hot. So the joke is," she jabbed Cole sharply in the ribs, "to tell Chef that he's got a virgin. In other words, he makes one not so hot."

"Ooh!" Mara laughed as Candy served their meals.

"Okay," Candy stood proudly, pointing to the various foods. "This is curried chicken with white wine. That's curried beef with ginger. This here is Chef's seafood melange with shrimp, crab and lobster. That is to die for. In the middle of the table, there are toppings to enhance your curry experience." She pointed to bowls of fresh fruit, diced cooked apples, chopped nuts, raisins and more.

"Why's it called Cabana del Sol if it specializes in curry? Wouldn't it make more sense to have an Indian name?"

"Probably," Red told her. "But the place has changed hands a lot over the years. Each new owner hires a new chef, so the specialty changes. They have to keep the name though, it's in the contract with every sale. Besides, they're well known, and people who eat here like to experiment. Next month they may be doing Italian, if Chef Brady gets forced to fix meatloaf too many more times."

Mara surprised herself by eating most of the food she'd been served. Back home, she was notorious for taking the rest home. Patting her stomach contentedly, she leaned back in her chair.

"If I keep eating like that, I'll gain a hundred pounds!"

"A little weight looks good on a woman," Red told her. "Most of you big city ladies don't have enough meat. You buy into that whole Vogue and Cosmo thing of having to be Calvin Klein models."

Mara was proud of her trim figure, and worked hard at the gym to maintain it. She was healthy slim, not skeletal. "I beg your pardon? Not all of us big city women are anorexic!"

"Oops! My turn to offend the lady," Red said comfortably. "Open mouth, insert foot and chew. I'm used to the taste of shoe leather. I do that at least ten times a day."

Mara found herself laughing again. "It's impossible to stay angry with you two!"

"I wouldn't say that," Cole told her with a completely straight face. "My sister manages well to stay pissed at both of us, pretty much all of the time."

"She tells me that Cole's leading me down the road to perdition," Red contributed calmly. "She blames him, when she should really be blaming me."

"Yeah," Cole jerked his thumb at Red. "He's the instigator, I just mindlessly go along with him."

"How long have you two been friends?"

The men glanced at each other, unconsciously matching expressions. "Thirty years," they said in unison.

"Since kindergarten," Cole told her. "He was standing in the corner crying and I was lying on the floor looking up the girls' dresses. He stepped on me."

"Been great friends ever since!"

"Yeah, I taught him the finer points of looking up dresses. He stopped crying right away."

"We're opening the floor to requests again," the front man for the band said over the microphone. He looked right at Mara when he said it.

Flustered, she hardly knew what to say. "Do you know Linger by the Cranberries?"

"Yeah, we know it. I don't sound like Dolores O'Riordan, but we muddle through."

The soft melody wound up and around, tugging at Mara's heart. She loved the sad ballad. Cole stood, holding out his hand to her.

"Dance with me?"

Mara nodded, taking his hand. He swung her into a firm embrace, carrying her easily across the dance floor. His hips swayed, brushing against hers. She could feel his strong, muscular thighs through the thin fabric of her dress. He gazed into her eyes, and for the first time she noticed the astonishing color of them. They were jade green in the center, with a darker green around the edge. He smiled, slowing as the song faded away.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 4

"Doing grand, Mr. Gilroy. And yourself, sir?"

"I'm always great, Frank! Business is booming!"

Frank chuckled as if that was some sort of inside joke. Red shook his hand again and got in the cab with them.

"That Frank's a caution," he told Mara. "He's been doorman there for what, the last twenty years?"

"Hell, more like thirty, I'll bet," Cole answered him. "I remember him from when I was a kid. Dad knows him well."

"Is Belle his wife?" Mara asked.

Both men burst out laughing, throwing their heads back in a simultaneous expression of glee. "No," Cole sputtered. "She's his goat. She just gave birth to twins."

"Oh," Mara giggled. "So you literally meant kids. Oh, my!"

They pulled up to a restaurant that looked like it was covered in palm thatch. Mara's experienced eye could pick out the concrete structure beneath it, but it was very cleverly concealed to blend in. Discrete neon script to the left of the door told her they had just reached the Cabina del Sol.

A doorman opened the door and they were greeted with very unexpected music. Hard hammering guitar, bass and drums hit her like a tall, cold wave.

"Papa Roach?" She glanced around for the band.

"No, but a damn good imitation, wouldn't you say? They do their own stuff too. It's one of the bands I've been promoting," Red told her. "Not exactly typical dinner music, but this isn't the typical dinner crowd either."

They walked into the dining area. Small tables were scattered around a dance floor. The band played loudly, a mirror ball spinning above their heads. Several young couples danced in front of them, obviously enjoying the hard rock sound. They were mostly of the tattooed, pierced lip crowd. The song ended and another began without a break. This time it was more of an Eighties rock tune. It wasn't much to Mara's taste, but it had a good beat and the dancers enjoyed it.

"They take requests right now," Red told her. "Anything you want to hear?"

"Not at the moment. I'll think of something eventually," she smiled. "I see what you meant that business is booming." She giggled.

Cole bumped Red aside with his hip so he could help Mara with her chair. Red chuckled, settling across the table from her, allowing Cole the place of honor next to her.

A buxom waitress in a skimpy, black outfit walked over to their table, handing them menus with a smile. "Hi, guys. What can I get you and the lady?"

"Hi, Candy," Cole grinned in return. "The usual for us. Mara?"

"Oh. What do you recommend?" she asked Candy. "Do you have a house special?"

"Well, not really. We sell a lot of those drinks with the little pink umbrellas. But that's mostly the tourist crowd who like them. I've got just the thing." She grinned.

"Great! Surprise me!"

The band was now playing electronic dance music that Mara didn't recognize.

"What strikes your fancy, Mara? Do you like seafood?" Cole asked.

"I eat just about anything," she grinned. "As long as it's not kicking or bleeding, I'm willing to try it."

"Same thing apply to the men in your life?" Cole quipped, then looked a little embarrassed.

"Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Cole!" Red clapped him on the back. "That's his none too subtle way of asking if you're seeing anyone," Red translated. "As a man who is firmly in a committed relationship, I would never venture to ask. Cole, on the other hand, is a free agent." He winked at his friend's consternation.

"Thanks, Red. I'll remember to tell Becky that next time I talk to her."

"Go ahead, she knows how I feel about her. Why the woman won't marry me, I truly do not know."

"Have you asked her?" Mara couldn't help herself.

"Lately?" Red thought about that a minute. "Not for a few months. I'm due to ask again when I get home, I think. Maybe this time she'll come to her senses, and say yes."

"And maybe," Cole interjected, "she'll come to her senses, and move out."

"You'd know better than I would," Red was devoting his attention to the band, casually ignoring Cole. "She's your sister."

"No one ever said good sense ran in our family," Cole said, nudging his friend.

Candy came back with their drinks. "What can I get you for dinner?" She waited patiently for them to place their orders.

"What's the house special tonight?" Red asked.

"You don't want the special," she told them, wrinkling her nose. "Randy picked the special. I'm supposed to push it, but Chef Brady says if he gets too many orders, he's quitting."

"So what's the special?" he persisted.

"Meatloaf and all the fixings. You can get that at home, why eat out?"

"Forget that then. How about three of Chef's Specials?"

"With everything?"

"The works," Cole told her. "Tell Brady we've got a virgin out here for him. Have him knock himself out."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani's Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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...