Thursday, April 29, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 19

"Are we heading right to the hospital?"

"No, visiting hours are later. We'll go by the house, it's closer to the hospital. You can hang out with me and Olivia for a few days."

"I'd like that, Toby. I don't really want to be by myself."

"It's not just Mom, is it?"

Mara couldn't look at him. Was it that obvious? Was she broadcasting to the entire world that she was falling in love? She didn't answer for a minute, but walked silently toward the elevator. How did she tell her brother that she'd met the most amazing man in the world, gone to bed with him at the first possible opportunity, and was falling hopelessly in love like a little kid?

"Mara?" Toby was standing by his car. She had walked past it, half way down the aisle before stopping.

"I'm sorry, Toby. I'm just tired. I didn't sleep much last night, and got up early. Then the flight, I'm exhausted."

"So. Who's the guy?" His gaze fixed her to the spot.

Mara couldn't help grinning, a blush rising in her cheeks. "I met him when his friend hit me with a volleyball. He works down there part of the year. He's fantastic, Toby! He's smart and funny and sexy!"

"Does this paragon have a name?"

"Cole," she said quietly. "His name is Cole."

"I take it this isn't just a vacation fling?"

"No, not for either of us. I am already falling in love, Toby. For the first time in my life. Is that crazy?"

Toby smiled patiently, shaking his head slowly. "No, baby sister, it's not."

They got in the car and Toby drove carefully out of the parking garage, down the ramps and out into city traffic. He merged onto the interstate and headed for his house. It was in a suburb just outside the city.

"They didn't take Mom to the hospital downtown?"

"That's where she went first. Then, when she was stable, her own doctor had her transferred to St. Mary's. It has the best cardiac unit in the city."

He pulled off the highway and headed for home. Glancing in his mirrors, he slowed for a turn and took a narrow, private road that led to his, and five other, houses.

"We were worried sick when they couldn't find you at the hotel, Mara."

"I spent the night with Cole, at his dad's. I guess Denny doesn't have a phone."

"We thought you'd been abducted. The police were looking for you everywhere. Why didn't you tell anyone where you were?"

"I didn't think I was answerable for my whereabouts." Her temper flared before she could control herself. Worry and fatigue were an ugly combination.

"No, not if there's no one to care! Mara, Mom collapsed in your home. If the neighbor hadn't found her, who knows what would have happened! So I have my mother sick, maybe dying, and my baby sister missing for nearly twenty-four hours! Answerable for your whereabouts? Hell yes, you are!"

"I'm sorry, Toby. I deserved that. I've been thinking of myself all this time. I didn't mean to scare anyone, it just happened. We spent the day at Denny's, and he invited us to spend the night. I wasn't thinking...."

"I can't lose you too, Mara." He whispered. "Dad's gone, Mom's sick.... I think I'd go crazy if I lost you, too. Everyone leaned on me when Dad died, and it took me months to get over his death—all by myself. I couldn't call anyone and talk about my feelings, because everyone was calling and crying on my shoulder. I can't do it alone anymore, not again. Not this time."

"You won't have to. I promise. We'll both be there for each other."

They pulled into the driveway of his home. Toby put the car in park and held out his arms to her. She hugged him tightly, holding him close.

The door to the house burst open and Olivia ran out, arms wide, crying and laughing simultaneously. She was very emotional, especially now that she was nearly nine months pregnant. Three dogs and Mara's two cats followed her out creating havoc until they were rounded up and corralled once more in the house.

Olivia grasped the door jamb dramatically, hauling herself over the threshold with difficulty. "Oh, my back!"

"My niece giving you trouble today?"

"You don't know the half of it! I keep telling Toby, this one's it! I'm not going through this again."

"I told her I want three more. She slapped me."

"He'll never touch me again, if he thinks I'm doing this anymore! I got the guest room all set up for you. Toby went and got the cats. They adapted well, I was surprised. The dogs don't even bother them."

"Thanks, Olivia. I appreciate it."

"I'll help you unpack. Toby says you're staying until Mom is better."

"I guess so. Thanks, I can manage."

"Nonsense. I'm helping."

There was no arguing with Olivia when she made up her mind. She wanted to talk to Mara privately, this was a good excuse. They got to the room and Olivia shut the door behind them.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 18

"I hate to say this, bro, but we still have work to do."

"Yeah, it's okay, Red. Time and tide wait for no one. I know."

"And impatient directors don't wait for anyone, either. I called to let him know we'd be late. He's a little hungover since last night, so he was grumpy but amenable."


"You'll see her again, bro."

"I know, Red. But dammit I just found her!"

"I can't say I know how you feel. I don't. But I'm here."

"Thanks, man."

"I'll shut up now." Red grinned and punched Cole in the shoulder.

"I'd hit you back, but you're driving my car," he remarked. "I like my car."

Cole went through the rest of the day on automatic. He was funny, charming and did his job well. At the end of the day, he went home and opened a bottle of vodka, another of Kahlua, and drank Black Russians until he fell asleep.

Mara's flight was long and tedious. Even in first class, she felt cramped, claustrophobic and irritable. She cried softly, face to the window, until the flight attendant stopped beside her. The woman was probably in her mid-twenties, she had a kind face and long blonde hair pulled back in a bow.

"You want something to drink, Miss Cross?"

Mara started to say no, but her throat was a little dry, so she asked for a Coca-Cola. The young woman handed it to her and then sat down in the empty seat next to her.

"I know it's none of my business," she said quietly. "But I've been doing this flight for five years and I've seen people too drunk to stand, singing and throwing up, sleeping off a bender, but I've never seen anyone who came back in tears. Are you okay?"

Mara's lip started to tremble. Tears started to fall from her eyes again. The attendant handed her a clean cloth napkin.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Mara nodded. "My mom got sick while I was away. I don't know how she is." She started to sob quietly.

The flight attendant, whose name was Andi, put a comforting arm around her. "I'm so sorry. I know how scary that is. My mom got sick the first flight I took down here. I had to turn around and come right back. She's okay, and I'm sure your mom will be fine."

"I hope so."

"There's more, though, isn't there? You look so miserable, there has to be more."

"Yeah." Mara tried to hold her mouth still, but it kept falling into a pout.

"It's a man, huh?" Andi was remarkably perceptive for such a young woman.

Mara nodded. "He's fantastic. He's the best thing that ever happened to me, and I have to leave! And I just found him!"

"Oh, honey. It's okay." Andi hugged her again. "Once your mom gets better, just get back with him."

"It's not that simple," Mara said.

"Why not?"

"My job...his job.... Life!"

"It's only as complicated as we make it, that's what my mom says. She's always telling me, "Andrea Michelle, life's only as hard as you make it for yourself. If you build a mountain out of a molehill, you deserve to be stuck up top." She smiled sweetly. "I know it sounds kind of silly, but when you stop building that mountain, things have a way of working out."

"Thanks, Andi. I hope you're right."

"We're going to be landing in about fifteen minutes. Can I get you anything else?"

"I'm better now, thank you."

"Sure thing, Miss Cross." She walked up to the front of the cabin and made her announcement concerning the landing.

Mara obediently fastened her seat belt, put her seat in the upright position and locked her tray in place. The plane landed on time and her oldest brother, Toby, was waiting for her at the baggage pickup. He looked tired, worried and harassed.

His smile was warm and welcoming, his arms a comfort. He was always the one she turned to for strength. He was the one who pulled them all through after their father's death, and he was doing it again with their mother's illness. Mara promised herself he wouldn't do it alone, this time. She had to get a grip.

"Hey, baby sister. Good flight?"

"No, miserable. How's Mom?"

"Better. They're running more thorough tests, but she had a small heart attack. They think she might need a pace maker. She may need angioplasty for the blockages, but they aren't absolutely sure yet. We knew you would want to be here if she had surgery." He put his arm around her and led her from the airport.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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 Now in Audio!

Back for her college reunion, Deputy Marshal Marice Houston doesn't expect to hook up with an old boyfriend. Nor, does she expect to be a witness to a deadly assault, which was motivated by a decade old rape case. Orson Roberts is dead, killed by the owner of the motel where she's staying. Was it really self-defense or was it murder? Can Marice discover the truth of what happened that night in 
Room 103

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Room 103 is the first book in a beautiful new suspense-filled romance series by Dellani Oakes.
I love Ms. Oakes style of writing. She has such a flair for adding just the right amount of pulse throbbing romance into her suspense and murder filled tales.
In-Room 103, we meet Deputy Marshall Marice Houston, who has gone to her home town to have a fun and relaxing weekend at her College Reunion.
Little does she suspect that she will have to solve a murder, clear the name of a longtime suspect, and fall in love.
All of Ms. Oakes books are well written, wonderfully edited, and enticingly romantic and filled with suspense, even in those books that are not mysteries you will find enough romance and suspense to add to whatever the plot happens to be.
I loved Room 103 and fell in love with her new characters in this series. I can hardly wait to read Room 203.

5 star review by M M Bishop

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 24


"Talk to me. I want to hear your voice."

"What do you want me to say?"

"Anything... Tell me about the sunset."

Cole described the sunset in such vivid detail, she could see it. Then he proceeded to describe to her exactly how he was going to make love to her when she returned.

"Dammit," he cursed softly.


"I've gotten myself all hot and horny," he admittedly sullenly. "And you aren't here to help me out."

"I'll be back as soon as I can," she told him. "I promise. Just as soon as I can get away."

"Hurry home, Mara. I love you."

"I love you too, Cole," she replied almost automatically, but realized with a flutter that it was true.

They hung up reluctantly, neither of them wanting to break the link. The call was going to cost a fortune, but Mara didn't care. Every penny was worth it, as long as she could hear his voice.

There was a gentle tap on her door. Toby stuck his head around the edge of the door. "You okay?"

She nodded, placing the cordless phone back on the cradle.

"I'm sorry about the music earlier. That's just what song came up, it's randomized."

"No problem, bro, not like you knew." She held out her arms to him.

Toby came into the room and gave her a big hug, sitting by her on the bed. "Feeling any better?"

"No, but it was good to hear his voice."

"You remember a few years ago when Olivia dumped me?"

She nodded. How could she forget? It was a foolish spat that nearly ended in a split in the family. Half of them sided with Toby, the other half with Olivia. Mara had been stuck in the middle, hopelessly torn between her best friend and her favorite brother.

"I felt terrible the entire time. I wanted to see her so much, and it felt like we were a world apart. She was a ten minute drive away. I can't imagine what it's like to be separated by so much distance."

"It sucks," she told him, pounding her pillows.

"But think how much fun you'll have when you get back together!"

He tickled her ribs like he did when they were kids. He had her giggling and begging for mercy.

"Stop! Stop! You'll make me wake Olivia!"

"Too late!" she heard from down the hall. The door opened and Olivia looked around it much like Toby had. "We having a party in here I don't know about?"

"I invited Toby to my pity party, but he didn't like the company, so he tickled me. It's his fault." She pointed at her brother, who tried to look sheepish.

"It's always his fault, but that's one reason I love him so much. You know, I always used to say I thought he was a goof? Well, now I know he is, but damn if that isn't one of the things I love the most about him."

Toby put his hand on his wife's abdomen, grinning widely as the baby kicked him. "She's gonna have a goof for a daddy, a boss for a mommy and a tickle puss for an auntie."

"I'd rather be a tickle puss than a goof any day."

"I dunno," Toby looked maliciously at her. "The tickle puss is at the mercy of the goof!" He laughed loudly like a villain in a melodrama.

"Enough, Tobias! I'm sleepy and your daughter is finally giving me a few moments of peace, so I'm going back to bed. I suggest you follow me." She raised her eyebrows pointedly.

"I know my place." He hung his head sheepishly.

"I know your place, too, and you'd best put it to good use!"

Mara burst out laughing, watching Toby wander out the door after his wife like a puppy. Even with Mom sick and Cole miles away, it was good to be with her family. She hadn't been spending enough time with them lately. Every time the pace of her life slowed down, she'd filled it with more work so she wouldn't realize how empty it was. Now that she saw, she wanted to fill it with the important things; family, friends, and love.

Turning out the light, she lay down and curled up on her side. Closing her eyes, she pictured the sunrise with Cole by her side. Had it been only that morning? It didn't seem possible. With a contented smile on her lips, she fell asleep.

Cole couldn't sleep after talking to Mara. He had succeeded in making himself sexually frustrated, and had no solution. He tried a cold shower, but that just made him cold. He'd never been in a position where he wanted a particular woman and couldn't have her. He'd always been able to find a willing partner and probably still could, but he didn't want anyone but Mara. Being unfaithful to her wasn't an acceptable option. Impulsively, he grabbed the phone and called an airline. He made arrangements to leave the following day. The direct action felt good. At least he was doing something.

Mara called her boss, Jack Simpson, at home the following morning. He didn't know she'd returned, and was surprised to hear from her. After she explained her situation, he got very quiet.

"Gosh, Mara, I don't know if I can rearrange our schedule around sick leave and vacation. I mean, we have projects pending your final approval."

"Jack, don't jerk me around. You have six other people who could sign off on that paperwork. Besides, you weren't expecting me back for another ten days. How could they be so urgent?"

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 17

They drove in silence for a few minutes, pulling up to her hotel just as Frank was coming on duty. He walked briskly to the car, opening the door for her with a look of deep concern.

"What's wrong, Frank?" Cole asked him.

"Miss Cross, we've been trying to find you. When you didn't come back last night, we called the police. They have been looking for you everywhere."

"Why, Frank? I'm fine. I've been with Cole and his family."

"I tried to reach Mr. Bayard at home and at his office," he said crisply. "And your cell phone wasn't available.

"We were at my dad's, Frank. He doesn't have a phone. I left my phone in the car."

"Come inside, please, Miss Cross. The manager needs to talk to you."

"Is it about my bill? What's up?"

"Just please, Miss. I'm not supposed to say. I was told only to bring you to him when you arrived."

Puzzled and upset, Mara and Cole followed him to the manager's office. He gestured to two large, leather wing chairs.

"Please sit. The manager will be here shortly."

They sat obediently in silence. Mara was angry and frustrated. Cole looked worried. They both stood when the manager, Mr. Pickering, entered. His face held concern as he asked them to sit.

"Miss Cross, we have been very worried." His voice was full of the Island flavor and his dark face fell into deep lines. "I have contacted the police, they are no longer searching for you. You understand our concern, a single woman on vacation, suddenly disappears. It was most disturbing. However, that is not the reason we were looking for you initially. There's been news from your home."

Cole took Mara's hand, squeezing her fingers gently.

"What? What's wrong?"

"You mother has fallen quite ill," Pickering told her. "Your neighbor suspected something was wrong when the mail had not been picked up. Nor had she seen your mother going out, as she usually does, when she visits your home. She called your sister and brothers, one of them brought over a key. Your mother had collapsed." He held up his hand asking for her to let him finish. "She is in the hospital and your family asks you to come home."

"Is it serious? Is she dying?"

"This I do not know, Miss. Your things have been packed and are in our storage. A flight has been selected for you by your family. It leaves in a few hours." He handed her the flight information. "Truly, I am sorry to hear of her illness. Your mother is a fine lady and I enjoy her visits. I've taken the liberty of sending a plant to her from the hotel staff."

Mara's eyes were full of tears and she was shaking uncontrollably. "Cole, what am I going to do? I have to get home! Oh, God!"

Cole put his arms around her, holding her closely. Mr. Pickering left them alone and went to get her luggage.

"I can't lose her, Cole. I can't!"

"Shh, I know, love. I know. I'll drive you to the airport. It's going to be okay."

"But why would Cissy and my brothers insist I come home? If she's going to be all right, why would they do that? Does that mean she's dying? Oh, Cole!"

Her bags were packed into the Jeep. Red was waiting at the desk, credit card in hand.

"The hotel called me when they couldn't reach you. I got over here as soon as I could. I took care of the bill, Mara. I'm driving to the airport, that way Cole doesn't have to divide his attention."

"Thanks, bro," Cole told him.

Mara couldn't speak, she just hugged Red and kissed his cheek. That was thanks enough for him and he refused to let her pay him back. They climbed into the Jeep and Red pulled into traffic.

The drive to the airport was sullen and quiet. Mara didn't feel like talking, and the men hardly knew what to say. There were no words of hope they could offer, and very little comfort that wasn't best said with strong arms. Cole kept his around her the entire way, holding her gently as she wept on his shoulder. The men got her checked in and walked her up to the security gate. Red had her carry on bag ready for the conveyor, but Cole pulled them both out of line.

"I don't want to say goodbye," he told her softly. "Call me as soon as you can, okay?" He handed her a business card. "That has all my numbers on it. Call me anytime, no matter the time. Let us know how your mom is—how you are. I'll miss you."

"I don't want to go.... If it was for anyone else but my mom, I wouldn't leave you."

"I know."

Mara clung to him, tears falling hotly down her cheeks. His shirt was getting soaked, but he didn't mind. He pulled gently away from her.

"You're going to miss your flight, babe."

Snuffling, she wiped her nose on her sleeve and walked toward the metal detectors. "I love you," she whispered and blew him a kiss.

"I love you," he said quietly. "Take care, Mara."

It took every ounce of self control Cole possessed, not to run out of the airport like an emotional child. He watched until Mara made it through the next check point. She turned and waved. He waved back, blowing a kiss, then he and Red went back to the Jeep. Red slid once more behind the wheel and took off at top speed.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 16

"Sometimes I like to stop and watch the sun rise and set. I can't do that in the city. If I'm up at sunrise, it means either I've got an incredibly early appointment, or I've been up all night working. I don't have the time to enjoy it."

"I know what you mean," Mara told him. "I can't remember the last time I watched the sunrise with joy, instead of groaning. I didn't realize, until I came here, how much I was trapped in my life. I feel free for the first time!"

Cole kissed her again, pulling her close. "Come in and get something warm to drink, you're shivering."

They walked inside and he made her a cup of coffee. They sat at the small, rough hewn table, talking about their lives in the city. Before, it seemed such a forbidden subject, but it was all right to talk about it now. Mara realized she'd been guarding that part of herself, not opening up to Cole for whatever silly reason. Now she wanted him to know about her career.

Cole seemed to feel the same, for he told her all about his various jobs in the consultant firm he and Red owned. "Red and I are each jacks of all trades. We have many interests and know a lot of obscure stuff, that other people pay well to hear us talk about." He chuckled softly. "It's amazing how well they pay. It's a perfect job for me, because I enjoy listening to myself talk."

They laughed happily, holding hands across the table top.

"Well, if you ever need architectural advice, let me know. I specialize in restoring historic buildings."

"Interesting! How did you get involved in that?"

"By accident. I was a junior, junior member of another firm and we had a building that needed major renovations. It had been slated for destruction, but the historical society raised a hew and cry. Apparently someone of major importance did something of minor importance there once ages ago. To them it mattered, they got it declared historical and we had to comply. You wouldn't believe the red tape involved in a project like that. I got good at sweet talking the lawyers, historians and contractors. As a result of that project, I became the in house expert and moved up a little. My present firm heard about me and made an offer I couldn't refuse."

"Which was?"

"Partner in three years, doubled my salary, two weeks paid vacation and first chance to invest in any piece of property I worked on. I've just finished my second year with them."

"Wow! They must really have wanted you badly!"

Mara blushed slightly, not wanting to appear conceited. "I'm very good at what I do," she said modestly.

"I never doubted that for a moment. We need to get started," he told her suddenly. "We're playing host to part of the video crew today."

"We are?"

"Yup! The cinematographer and the locations guy. I scouted a few spots. Now they need to make the final choices."

"Can't they just pick one spot?"

"Apparently, since they have the band and the crew here, they're going to film more than one video. I don't argue, I just do what they pay me for."

"Do we have time to stop by my hotel and get me a change of clothing? I hate to keep borrowing your sister's things." She ran her tongue around her teeth. "And I seriously need my toothbrush."

Cole laughed heartily. "Of course! In fact, just pack an overnight case. I want you to see my place tonight."

"I'd like that, Cole. Very much."

He kissed her tenderly, wishing they had time for one another, but he couldn't afford to be late. He was on someone else's schedule, answerable to their time.

"That's a reminder of where we left off last night, and where I wish to continue as soon as possible," he told her.

"I won't forget," she promised.

They left the guest house and headed to his Jeep. "Should we say goodbye to your dad?"

"He won't be up yet. He's never been much of a morning person. If he's up by noon, I'll be shocked." He grinned. "I, on the other hand, love mornings! I especially love to start them by watching the sunrise with a beautiful woman."

"Done that often, have you?" She was teasing, but wondered if she'd struck a nerve.

"I used to all the time," he said quietly. Mara thought she saw the hint of a tear in his eyes. "When my mom was alive, we started each day watching the sun come up."

"How long ago did she die?"

"Right after I graduated from high school. She was killed in an accident. A drunk driver hit her when she was out walking."

"How awful! I'm so sorry, Cole." She placed her hand on his knee. "I lost my dad when I was in college. He died of cancer when I was nineteen."

"I know, your mom told me. She's a fantastic lady, Mara. Enjoy the hell out of the time you have with her. She's the most amazing lady ever! Just as terrific as my mom."

"Yeah, she's very special. Your dad is cool, too. Thank you for introducing us, it meant a lot to me."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 15

Mara moaned. Nothing in her life had ever felt so good. If she'd known sex could be so wonderful, she'd have tried it more often. Most of her boyfriends had been selfish, concerned only with their own satisfaction. Cole delighted in making her happy. Each time she moaned, he did his best to repeat the action that had given her such pleasure.

Cole took his time, doing his best to satisfy, but it was difficult to hold himself back. He'd wanted her from the moment he'd first laid eyes on her. His desire for her had grown each moment they spent together. Now he had her and he couldn't get enough. He wanted their lovemaking to last forever, but at the same time, he wanted to satisfy his appetite quickly.

As they reached their climax, he took her deeply, feeling her thrust her hips against him hungrily as she clung to his back.

The first orgasm hit her like a tingling, warm wave that undulated from her pelvis to the small of her back. The next took her breath away. Mara held his hips with both hands, pushing him deeply inside her as wave after wave cascaded through her body like liquid light, energizing, electrifying and exciting every nerve ending from her scalp to her toes. Never having had an orgasm before, she didn't know what to expect and thought she was done, until Cole wiggled around, moving his hips against hers again.

"Oh, God!"

Cole chuckled, grinning down happily at her. "Did we get them all?"

Mara nodded. "I think so," she gasped.

"Nooo, I'm not convinced," he concentrated a moment and then moved a very particular way setting off one last wave. "Now we got them all." He rolled them to their sides, facing one another, hips still connected, legs entwined.

His kiss was tender, warm and sweet. Mara couldn't talk, she could hardly breathe, but she smiled at him.

"Guess what"


"I wasn't disappointed."

"Me...either! Wow! Fantastic!"

"I agree. Wow! Fantastic! And I'll add thank you. You were amazing."

"Really?" Her eyes sparkled delightedly.

"Really." He kissed her, wishing like hell he could make love to her again right away.

"Promise me something, Cole."

"What's that?"

"That every time we make love, it will always be like that."

"I'll try," he promised solemnly.

"Is it always that good for you?"

He shrugged one shoulder. "Sometimes, I guess. Why? Hasn't it ever been that good for you?"

Looking slightly ashamed, she wouldn't meet his gaze. She shook her head sadly. "That was the first time I've ever had an orgasm. It was—delicious, addictive...."

"You just haven't been with a man who gave a damn, that's all. There are a lot of selfish pricks out there."

She laughed, tears in her eyes.

"When you care about someone enough to take the time, it is a beautiful and incredible thing. If you're just looking to get laid, it's fun while it lasts, then it's done."

"I want you over and over and over," she said, a blush of embarrassment rising in her cheeks. "I want to make love to you forever, and not ever stop, not for anything! I want you Cole, like I've never wanted any man. I'm so glad Red hit me with that volleyball."


"Because it brought me you." She smiled up into his face. "And what you just gave me is the most precious gift anyone's ever given me."

He clung to her, never wanting to let her go. "Love me, Mara. Even if it's just for today, please love me."

They made love again with an air of desperation, each trying to convince themselves the other was real. The super charged union was even more satisfying than the first.

Later, snuggling close to her, Cole put his arms around her, his cheek on her hair, the fragrance of her perfume lingered in his nostrils.

"Love me," he whispered.

Cole woke Mara early, rising before the sun. He was holding a warm robe that he placed around her shoulders.

"Come outside," he said softly. "I want you to see something wonderful."

They walked out just as the sun was coming up over the waves. The entire horizon was golden white along the edge of the water. The sky blazed lavender, rose, gold and azure with wisps of white clouds scattered around. The underside of each cloud was a silvery gold. They watched for a few minutes until the sun was completely up over the rim of the world.

"Magnificent," Mara whispered. "I've seen sunrises before, but that was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing that with me."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 22

"Oh, how is she?"

"Doing very well. She made me the most beautiful dress! I'll show it to you soon. It's a magnificent shade of pink!" She went on to describe the dress in great detail.

Rosaline's eyes lit up as her daughter told her about the dress. "It sounds absolutely lovely! I can't wait to see it!"

"Well," Dr. Chambers cleared his throat pointedly. "I think that's about enough excitement for one evening. Rosie needs her rest, kids."

Each of the siblings kissed their mother and walked into the hall to talk further with the doctor. Rosaline held Mara's hand as she was leaving.

"Mara will join you in a moment," she told them pointedly. "Now sit, and tell me about Cole."

"He's so wonderful, Mom! I could fall hard for a man like him."

"So, did you sleep with him?"

"Mom! I can't believe you asked me that!" she whispered.

"Well, did you?"

Mara blushed deeply, hardly able to speak. She nodded, turning her face away shyly.

"I thought so. You don't seem quite so tense."

"You're not upset with me?"

"For enjoying yourself? No, you're a grown woman. What you do, when you're with a man, isn't my business. But I know what sweet boy Cole is. I've thought for a long time of getting you two together, but wasn't sure how to go about it."

"Red used a volleyball."

"Did he? Well, that was creative! Did he do it on purpose, or was it an accident?"

"Jury's still out on that one."

"When I'm back on my feet, you go back down there and snatch that boy up! Is that clear, young lady?"

"Yes, ma'am, you can count on it." She kissed her mother softly on the forehead. "You rest now. I'll be back to see you as soon as I can."

"Give him a call, Mara. You've seen me now, and I'm going to be all right. You call that young man so he won't worry. And give my love to Denny."

"Mom," Mara hesitated, not knowing how to proceed. "Is there anything.... I mean with you and Denny?"

"Mara, Dennis and I are dear friends, and have been for years. Anything that might happen between two adults is their own business, don't you think?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll see you tomorrow."

Mara joined her family in the hall. Dr. Chambers was giving them the final run down on the procedure for the next day. He was just finishing up when Mara walked out.

"She had a few things to ask about my vacation," she told them. "It was short but full."

Olivia smirked knowingly. The others looked puzzled but didn't say anything. They all shook hands with the doctor and left the hospital, chatting quietly.

"Let's all go to dinner," Toby suggested. "My treat!"

"Pregnant lady gets to pick," Olivia said as she moved toward the restroom. "As soon as I pee again, I want Chinese food."

"Right behind you," Cissy told her. "Mara, you coming?"

"Be right there, sis."

When they got in the ladies' room with the door closed, Cissy rounded on Mara with a huge grin on her face.

"So who is Cole? Is he wonderful? Is he gorgeous? How did you meet him? Is he sexy?"

Laughing, Mara walked into the stall and closed the door in Cissy's face. Cissy pounded on the outside with her fist.

"So tell me, already! How did you meet?"

"His friend hit me with a volleyball. He came over to apologize. He's gorgeous, he's sexy, he's smart, and wonderful. Before you ask, he's fantastic in bed. Did I cover all the bases?"

"Yes! My baby sister's got a boyfriend!"

"You make it sound like such an accomplishment."

"For you, Mara, it's like a miracle. You sit in that office all day, drawing pictures, and don't take any time for you. Hot damn!"

Cissy was what Mara referred to as a mercenary dater. If she needed her teeth worked on, she dated a dentist. Legal advice? Date a lawyer. Need a new car? Date a man who owns a dealership. She had a long list of ex-boyfriends, all of whom had given her fabulous gifts, not the least of which was the boob job she'd had done a few years ago.

The three women walked out of the restroom with broad, conspiratorial smiles on their faces. Toby took one look at them and blanched.

"I don't like that look," he said. "It makes me glad I'm married to one of you and related to the other two."

"Why's that?" Olivia strutted up to him, arms crossed in front of her ample chest and belly.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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

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