Monday, May 31, 2021

Room 203 – A Marice Houston Mystery by Dellani Oakes ~ Now in Audio - Narrated by Rose M. Williams

Having just moved in with her fiance, Kris, Marice isn't too happy to be given an out of town job. She has been sent to Daytona Beach, Florida. There's been a huge sting operation, and the local FBI is under scrutiny. The Marshals have been called in to oversee prisoner transfers.

Things get sticky when Marice and her team are ordered to transport the ringleader, China Finetti, from Daytona Beach to a federal prison in Kansas City. Someone sets a car bomb, injuring Marice and Butch—and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Everything seems to point to China Finetti pulling the strings from prison—if so, how do they prove it?

Excerpt from Room 203 ~ A Marice Houston Mystery Book 2 by Dellani Oakes

"Who are we picking up?" Butch asked the question I most wanted an answer to.

"A real honey," Teague said. "Her name is Wong Chi, head of the Talons. Her girlfriend, an FBI agent by the name of Olivia Perez, tried to bust her out a few days ago. Perez was arrested and she and Wong have been in protective custody at the men's prison here in Daytona. Didn't have anywhere else to take them and no way to get them there. Local leos don't want to transfer them. They tried, and nearly got killed. Since they're federal prisoners...."

"You need us to make it pretty." I nodded. "I'm slightly senior to Butch, so I'll take official custody. Do we know where we're going?"

"Yes, the Federal Correctional Institute in Mariana, Florida. It's about five hours one way, so we'll spend the night. I hope you've got a toothbrush in your gear," Teague said.

"Yeah. And clean panties, too."

"Good. I've got family up there, so we've got a place to stay that's better than Motel 6." Teague winked at the rear view mirror.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 27

"I have to take extra time off, Phoebe. Jack got rather snotty when I asked him for it. I want the rest of my vacation, but I'm not spending every waking minute here while my mom recovers."

"I hear ya." She smiled, bobbing her dark red curls. "Any way I can help, you let me know. You're my boss, not Jack Simpson and he can bite my tight ass if he thinks he can push either of us around."

"You said it! How about dinner on me after work? I have something to talk over with you."

"Cool! I'll be in shortly, I've got some more copies to run. Want me to hold your calls?"

"Nobody but the family knows I'm back. I doubt I'll get any."

"Okay, I'll be back in about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Deb's got your phone and the desk covered."

"Super. Thanks, hon."

Mara shut her door and sat in her office for a few minutes before she pulled the first file toward her. She'd done five by the time Phoebe came back in and dragged another file off the stack and sat on the other side of the desk. She'd brought in coffee and cookies on a tray. Mara smiled her thanks and went back to her files.

The phone beeped and Phoebe picked up. "Yes, Debbie?"

"There's a delivery for Miss Cross," she said excitedly. "She's supposed to sign for it personally."

"Okay, Deb. I'll tell her." She hung up and gave Mara the message.

Confused, Mara walked out to the main office. At the reception desk she saw a beleaguered delivery man. Stacked beside him were at least ten floral boxes, each of them large.

"What on earth?" Reaching for the clipboard, she signed for the flowers.

The delivery man looked tired, but smiled. "Now, there's something that goes with the flowers," he grinned, pulling a CD player out from behind the boxes.

Pressing the button, the opening chords of Linger began to play. As the song progressed, the man opened each box of flowers, presenting them to Mara with a flourish. In the last box was a note.

"Yours Now, Forever, Always. I Love You! Cole."

Mara was not the only woman in tears by the time the song ended. The delivery man gathered up his CD player and started toward the elevator.

"Wait!" Mara called after him. "Phoebe, get my purse. He deserves the best tip I can give him!"

"No need, Miss Cross. That's been seen to," he smiled. "You enjoy those flowers. I admit, it's the most unusual delivery I've made, but the most fun for sure. Take care now." Tipping his hat, he left with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

"They're gorgeous!" Phoebe and the others were sniffing the roses and other flowers.

"Where will I put them all? I know! Girls, grab what you want and we'll split them up. That one's mine," she pointed to the last box. It was full of dark red and white, long stemmed roses.

"Are you sure?" Phoebe was stunned.

"Yes, that way wherever I go in the office, I'm reminded of him." Taking her box of roses, she went back to her office.

"Him? Him who? Mara!" Phoebe grabbed an assortment of flowers and followed her back to the office.

"I'll tell you about it at dinner," she replied over her shoulder. "Let's finish this mess and get the hell out of here."

She and Phoebe had the files gone over and signed in record time. Taking their flowers, they locked up her office and left.

"Where are we going?" Phoebe asked as they were walking past the reception desk.

"Dinner at Sarducci's," Mara replied.

"Sarducci's? I'm not dressed for that!"

Sarducci's was the most exclusive Italian restaurant downtown. Mara could always get a table, because she had done the renovations on the restaurant a year ago.

"You look great. It's really rather casual. Come on, you don't want to pass up the best baked ziti in town do you? We'll have to take your car, Phoebe. My sister dropped me off."

"That's okay. You're paying for dinner. I can drive us there." She giggled. "So tell me about the flower guy!"

Mara grinned slyly. "Oh, Phoebe. He's so incredible!"

"Must be rich, if he can afford those flowers!"

"I don't even know. He could be dirt poor, and I wouldn't care."

"So.... How well did you get to know him?"

Mara blushed. "Well enough."

"Oh, my God!"

On the way to the restaurant, Mara told her all about meeting Cole and Red. Phoebe hung on every word. When she told her about dancing with Cole at the restaurant, Phoebe sighed.

"That's so romantic! So that's why the song with the flowers? Oh, how sweet!"

The restaurant looked like an old, Italian plaza done in rustic and very authentic decor. The two women were seated at a great table overlooking the fountain. It sparkled and glittered in the candlelight. They ordered their meals and sipped glasses of wine while they listened to the band play.

Mara was reminded of the guys who had played for her and Cole and felt herself tearing up. To distract herself, she turned to Phoebe with a grin.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Room 203 – A Marice Houston Mystery by Dellani Oakes

Having just moved in with her fiance, Kris, Marice isn't too happy to be given an out of town job. She has been sent to Daytona Beach, Florida. There's been a huge sting operation, and the local FBI is under scrutiny. The Marshals have been called in to oversee prisoner transfers.

Things get sticky when Marice and her team are ordered to transport the ringleader, China Finetti, from Daytona Beach to a federal prison in Kansas City. Someone sets a car bomb, injuring Marice and Butch—and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Everything seems to point to China Finetti pulling the strings from prison—if so, how do they prove it?

Now in Audio!

Narrated by Rose M. Williams!

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 26

"Cecilia, if you keep this up, I'll walk to the office! I don't treat you like a child unless you act like one. When are you going to realize that not everything is a crisis, and the world doesn't revolve around you?"

"At least I'm not sobbing over some guy I just met! My God, you didn't even know him three days and you jumped right into bed with him!"

"I'm not the one who's had my tits and ass fixed so the guys I date won't know how old I am! What's next, Cissy? A nose job? Why don't you date that plastic surgeon again?"

Cissy fell silent and Mara saw a tear run down her sister's cheek. She knew she'd said too much, but the jibe about Cole stung.

"That's harsh, Mara. Cruel and harsh. I didn't think you had that much spite in you."

"Cissy, this has been hard on all of us. Why do you have to make it your personal sacrifice or heartbreak? You were the same way when Dad died. It was as if no one else in the family lost anyone. We all had to weep for poor little Cissy. We all love Mom, so why is this your personal crisis again? Why must we all bend down and kiss your feet?"

"And why must we all be Miss Perfect like Mara? Perfect Mara never makes mistakes. Perfect Mara never dates men to get something from them. Perfect Mara has a career, she has a fancy apartment, and a fancy car, and what have I got?"

"A good job, a nice place and a reliable car. So what? I've worked for everything I've got!

"That's unfair."

"What's unfair is you deciding to jump my case now, about something you've apparently resented for years. I've never thrown anything in your face. I've always tried to accept whatever guy you happened to be dating, hoping that maybe you'd find a really nice man, and settle down. What you do and why you do it, that's your business, Cissy. I just think you have your priorities skewed."

"Oh, I should be just like you putting my career first? Have you ever had a steady man for more than a month?"

"I never wanted one before. I didn't have time."

"And now you do?"

"Now I'm willing to make time. Cole's special."

"And you determined this after knowing him what, a day? Oh, let's not forget the night of wild orgies! I'm sure you got to know all about him then."

Mara chose not to address her night with Cole. It wasn't any of Cissy's business. Having her bring it up cheapened something beautiful, making her even angrier.

"What is with you, Cissy? Why do you resent me so much? What have I ever done to you?"

"Done to me? In the eleventh grade, I had Mr. Summers for English. You had him the year before in the ninth. All year long, he called me Mara. And Mrs. Jessup used to say to me, Why can't you be more like your sister? Mara is an A student!"

"Mrs. Jessup was like a hundred years old, and practically senile! She wasn't even our teacher, she lived across the street."

"But she belittled me, because of you!"

"You want to know what she said to me? Cecilia's the pretty one, she told me at every conceivable opportunity. You'll never be as pretty as your sister. She's the one with personality plus! How do you suppose that made me feel? But I let it go and moved on. Your problem is, you can't move on. You latch onto a hurt, and just keep letting it hurt you. That old woman's been dead for twenty years!"

"You don't understand, Mara. All my life I've lived in your shadow. You always got everything you wanted. You had Mom and Dad and the rest of the family all wrapped around your finger! Now Mom's sick, and does she care about the rest of us being there? No! She wants to see precious Mara and talk about your vacation!"

"She knows the people I met. I was just sending their regards. I was being polite."

"And that Auria woman made a dress just for you? She never made one just for me!"

"Mom's brought you and Olivia dresses the same as me, every year. How do you know Auria didn't have one waiting for you, too? I just got there before Mom did."

Cissy couldn't dispute the truth. She wanted to, she was dying to find a hole in the argument, but couldn't. They pulled up to Mara's office. Mara gave her sister a hug and thanked her for the ride. She didn't mention their argument again, but suspected that Cissy would call the boys and give her own version of it. Let her. That would have bothered her a week ago, now it didn't seem important at all.

Walking into the office was like going into a different world. Fisk Brothers, Simpson and Kirsch was the most prestigious architectural firm in the city. Established in 1894, they catered to Old Money clients, but were branching out to historical restorations, due largely to Mara.

Olivia had been telling Mara for ages that Jack Simpson was riding her skirts to fame and fortune, and it was true. He was trying to be the poster boy for historical landmarks, but the press had latched onto Mara and kept bringing her to the forefront. Clients bragged about Mara Cross, not Jack Simpson. It wasn't until she met Cole that she realized she could make her own way in the world, without the security or stress of Fisk Brothers, Simpson and Kirsch. She'd made up her mind, if Jack gave her a hard time, she'd walk and there was nothing he could do about it.

Phoebe met her as she walked to her office. "I've got it all laid out from most urgent to least. It could have waited until you came home. It doesn't have to be now."

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 25

"But, Mara," he started to get a whiny quality to his voice that had always annoyed her. "You're the historical expert. They really need your approval."

"Fine. My mom is scheduled for surgery this morning. I'll come in for a couple hours after that and look it over. You have everything on my desk and brief Phoebe completely so she can prioritize them for me."

"When did you get to be so bossy?" He sounded affronted.

"Since it occurred to me recently that you need me a hell of a lot more than I need you," she told him. "I'll see you later."

She hung up with a click, shocked and pleased at how she'd spoken to Jack. A couple years ago, he could have broken her career, now he couldn't even dent it. She was the golden girl of the firm, historically speaking, and he was right when he said he needed her approval on the paperwork. More than once she'd caught mistakes that would have cost them a bundle to fix later.

"If I quit, I could start my own firm. I don't need Jack Simpson or anyone! Except Cole."

Rosaline's surgery was set for nine o'clock. The family assembled in the waiting room, nervous and out of sorts. Cissy was, predictably, a basket case until Jeff took her in hand.

"This isn't about you, Cecilia," he told her firmly. "This is about Mom. Get a grip or get lost, your choice."

A long, petulant silence followed, but Cissy settled down.

Toby took Paul and went to get coffee for everyone. He also brought back a tray laden with slices of pie. He'd remembered the favorites of everyone, which was amazing, because Mara never could. They ate their pie and drank their coffee huddled in a corner of the waiting room.

Doctor Chambers came into the waiting room shortly after the surgery was over. He looked happy. They crowded around him, hungry for news.

"I am pleased at how well the procedure went and your mom is now speeding her way to a full recovery. When they get her settled, I'll allow you back to see her in pairs. Only five minutes each, I can't have the whole clutch of you back there at one time bothering my patient."

"Who goes first?" Cissy asked him.

"It's up to you how you want to split up," he told her.

After he left, Cissy spent a long time trying to organize who went first and which sibling went with whom. She babbled for a good ten minutes before Mara raised her hand.

"I think the rest of us want some input, Cissy. I, for one, don't want to go in with you."

"Why not?" Her sister whined.

"Because you're driving me crazy. I'd rather go in with Paul, if he doesn't mind."

"Works for me," her second oldest brother said with a smile.

"Jeff, do you mind shepherding Cissy? I think you can handle her better than the rest of us can."

"Happy to," he said flexing his muscle. "I'll strong arm her." He and Cissy were not quite a year apart.

"Toby and Livi first, they are the least likely to upset her. Then Paul and I, then Jeff and Cissy last."

"Why me last?" Cissy was upset, thinking that Mara was picking on her for some reason.

"Because of all of us, you're the most likely to get worked up," Paul told her. "If you go last, we all get our visit. If you go first, you'll get us all banned from the recovery room."

"Well thank you so much, my loving family! I don't believe I'm getting treated like this! Maybe I'll just go!"

Her brothers and sister stared at her. Without a word, they all pointed to the door. Only Olivia spoke.

"There's the door, honey. Don't let it tap you in the ass on your way out."

Cissy sat in peevish silence until she and Jeff were called back for their five minutes.

"Doc wants to know if any of us are staying until they take her to a room," Jeff said when they came out. "I'll gladly stay."

"I can't," Mara sighed. "The only way I could get the rest of my vacation time off was to tell Jack I'd come in for the afternoon."

"What a jerk!" Olivia squared her shoulders. "You know what I've been telling you about that man. Riding to fortune on your skirt."

Mara nodded. "It's all right, Livi. I've got a plan." She smiled secretively.

"Well, I'd love to stay, but I'm worn out," Olivia said. "My back and feet are killing me. I have to go to bed."

"I'll stay," Paul said quietly. "Cissy?"

She shook her head, still smarting from what Mara and her brothers had said. "I'll be back later. I have to go downtown, Mara. Shall I drop you at the office?"


Hugs and kisses exchanged all around, they went their separate ways. Mara sensed that Cissy wanted to talk to her, and knew it was probably going to be a very long drive indeed. They hadn't even gotten out of the parking lot when her sister started in on her.

"That was plain mean, Mara! You're always doing that to me! You always make me feel small and dumb. Do you go out of your way to treat me like a child?"

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Monday, May 17, 2021

I'm So Excited!!! It Takes a Thief by Dellani Oakes is Now in Audio Book – Narrated by Nina Price!

Jason Banes is a thief, he readily admits that, but he's quick to deny that he's also a murderer. Accused of multiple homicides, and theft, he agrees to help a multi-national task force find the real killer. When he's assigned to an FBI team for protection, he meets Agent Taylor Driscole. It's a race to find Orchid before she kills again. Though she's reluctant to use Jason's skills, Agent Driscole realizes that sometimes, It Takes a Thief to catch a murderer.

To Buy It Takes a Thief Kindle Edition

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 23

"Well, because it's that kind of look that means the women have secrets, and are plotting to take over the world one man at a time," he said, backing away from her slightly.

"Baby, we could eat men like you three for breakfast, don't we girls? Snap you up quick as a lick!" She snapped her fingers under his nose. "But since we like you, we won't do that today."

Giggling, the three of them walked arm in arm out to the parking lot. Jeff walked up to Toby, thumping him on the shoulder.

"Pedro offers you his protection," he grinned.

"Thanks," Toby told him sullenly and followed his wife and sisters out to the car.
Despite the circumstances, dinner was a lively affair. When Mara and her siblings were together, they got very silly. There were few people they enjoyed being around as much as their own family, and it showed. Olivia was like one of them, she'd grown up in their midst, knew their ways and ran with it. Her own family was more sedate, so she had always liked visiting at the Cross residence.

The drive back to Toby's house was punctuated with lots of laughter. Olivia and Mara had a lifetime of jokes to remember, bringing up the wild things they did when they were young.

"You just remember one thing, Auntie Mara, when this baby comes along, we no longer discuss our crazy youth. So far as she knows, we were model students who never did anything wrong."

"You're the boss," Mara saluted her.

"You better believe I am."

In the front seat, Toby cleared his throat pointedly.

"Don't you give me that, Tobias. I'm the boss and you'd just better get used to it."

"Yes, ma'am," he smirked.

"You'd better say that and mean it!"

They pulled up to the house and into the garage. Toby helped Olivia out of the car and into the house. With a remote, he turned on the CD player. Toby was a music freak and had a house wide speaker system put in.

The distinctive strains of Linger started, freezing Mara in her tracks. Before the song was over, she was helplessly in tears.

"Toby, turn it off," Olivia scolded. "It's okay, honey." She took Mara in her arms. "It's all right. What's wrong?"

"I'm just being sentimental. It's nothing. Can I use the phone? I'll pay you for the call when you get the bill. I have to call him."

"Sure honey, use the one up in your room."

"Thanks. Goodnight." She didn't even stop to hug them, but dashed up the stairs to the guest room, closing the door firmly behind her.

Digging through her luggage, she found Cole's card. A call to the operator got her the proper international code and she dialed praying he'd answer.

"Hi, you've reached Bayard and Gilroy Consultants. We're not in right now, but if you'll leave your name and number and a brief message, we'll get right back with you."
The machine beeped. Mara hardly heard it, starting her message. Before she'd said three words, the phone clicked.

"Mara?" It was Cole. He sounded groggy. "Sorry, I was asleep. How's your mom?"
"I'm so sorry, I didn't think about the time. Mom's all right, but needs surgery. She sends her love and said thanks for the plant. I miss you." Her voice caught in her throat.

"I miss you too," he sighed. "I was hoping for another romantic evening.... Oh well."
"Did the meeting go well today?"

"Yeah, the guys were happy as pigs in shit over the locations. I even had scouted out a few local girls to dance. Each of them exotic, talented and eager to get the work. I went up a few notches on the wonderful scale."

"You're already at the top of my wonderful scale, there's no place left to go."

"Then I'll teeter perilously at the top, waiting for you to come back to me. You are coming back, aren't you?"

"As soon as Mom's better. I'll ask for family illness leave and continue my vacation later."

"Will they do that?"

"If they want me to stay on there, they will. If Jack won't cooperate with me on this, I'll hand in my resignation. I don't need them as much as they need me." She was surprised at the vehemence of her statement and was startled to realize it was true.
"Don't quit your job over me, Mara."

"Nothing like that. Only now did it occur to me that I have leverage. It's a nice feeling. I could turn my back on that place in a heartbeat and find another job at a better firm by next week." Her laugh surprised them both. "A week ago I'd never have said that," she told him. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Making me find my confidence."

"You're the most confident woman I know," he told her honestly. "If you ever want a job as a consultant, let me know. I'll hook you up."

She could picture his grin, eyes twinkling. "I'll keep that in mind." She hesitated, unsure what else she wanted to say. "Cole?"

©2021 Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, May 11, 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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Are the incidents related, or simply a series of alarming coincidences? ~ Bad Fall by Dellani Oakes


Former Army Captain, Frank Atherton, has left the dangerous life of a soldier behind. Retired from the military, he now works in a large nursing home facility, as assistant director. Things are pretty quiet, until the annoying blister of a man, Ralph Penwarren arrives, doing his best to break into his mother's apartment. Soon after his arrival, Frank meets the lovely new psychiatrist on staff, Marka Ventimiglia, who takes his breath away. Their relationship seems to be moving swiftly ahead, until Ralph Penwarren is seriously injured by a bad fall. If that weren't enough, Frank's office is trashed, his car vandalized, and a dead man is found in the ravine behind his house. Are the incidents related, or simply a series of alarming coincidences?

Coming Soon in Audio!

Dellani Reads First Chapter of Bad Fall

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 21

Toby's eyes filled with wonder. "Who are you and what have you done with my sister? Mara, you're the last person to tell me that. You're so OCD about leaving on time, it's almost a fetish."

"Some things are more important than time, Toby."

"Like what, sis?"

"Watching the sun come up over the ocean. Learning how to scuba dive. Eating roasted clams with your fingers...." Her eyes teared up.

Toby pulled her into a bear hug. "When this is over and Mom is better, I'll send you back myself. Watch if I don't."

"Oh, Toby. I miss him so much."

Olivia came back out of the bathroom, straightening her dress. "So, we ready?" She saw Mara in tears. "Aw, honey! It's gonna be okay!"

"I'm having my pity party. I'll be all right. Let's go! We don't want to hit traffic!" She wiped her eyes with her fingers, forcing herself to smile.

They piled into the car and took off for the hospital. Luckily, they missed the worst of the traffic. It was just starting to get heavy when they pulled in to park. Across the parking lot from them, they saw their sister and brothers pulling into another spot.

When Cissy saw them, she ran to Mara, throwing her arms around her neck. "Mara! Oh, thank God! We were so worried about you and Mom! How could you scare us like that, young lady?" Cissy was second to the youngest and only a thirteen months older.

"Cissy," Mara rabbit punched her sister. "Choking here!"

"Sorry, honey. I've been sick with worry, I could hardly eat!"

"It's a closed subject, sis," Toby told her. "Let's concentrate on Mom now."

Her other brothers, Jeff and Paul, came up and hugged her. More like their father, they were subdued and mild mannered.

"Good to have you home," Jeff said quietly.

"Let's go see Mom," Paul said. "Happy faces! Oh, Mara, Mom thinks you couldn't get a flight until today. We say nothing else around her, is that clear?"

"Yes, Daddy," Mara took his arm, putting her head on his shoulder. "This is the last time I'm saying it. I'm sorry I put you through so much. It won't happen again. This is about Mom, not me."

Silent agreement circulated in the group as they boarded the elevator. Holding hands, they all walked toward their mother's room. Mara forced herself to smile. She knew her mother was very ill, but she wasn't expecting her to look so pale and drawn. She was nearly the color of her sheets. Rosaline held out one hand to her youngest daughter. It shook slightly as Mara took it.

"Hi, Mama. How are you feeling?"

"About as bad as I look, I expect." Her voice held the same breathlessness as usual, but now she just sounded worn out. "How was your flight?"

"Not bad."

"Liar. You've been crying. I'm sick, Mara, not dying. I'll be fine. Stuart will have me patched up in no time."

It was only then that Mara and her siblings noticed that their mother's doctor, Stuart Chambers, was in the room. They all greeted him politely.

"So, what's the verdict?" Toby asked what they all wanted to know.

"Three blockages, one major, two minor ones. We'll operate to take care of the bad one and treat the other two with medication and diet."

"And the pacemaker?" Mara was determined not to make Toby take all the responsibility.

"At this time I'm not as worried about that. Down the line that's possible, but right now, no."

"Oh, thank God!" Cissy, the drama queen, sat heavily in a chair.

Stuart glanced at her, a slight grin on his face. He had known all the children their entire lives, and was familiar with Cissy's tendency toward the dramatic.

Mara glanced around the room and saw two beautiful tropical plants on a small table by her mother's bed. "Oh, who are those from, Mom?"

"One's from the hotel. Gunther Pickering is such a dear. The other I'm not sure. That just arrived. Why don't you bring the card to me, Mara?"

Mara took the card to her mother and perched on the side of the bed. A slow smile spread across her mother's face as she read. Grinning happily, she handed the card to Mara.

"To the best Mom in the world, much love from your future son-in-law, Cole."

"I didn't know it was that serious." Her mother winked at her. "He's a wonderful boy."

"Thanks, I think so too. Oh, Denny sends his love, and said to get better so you can come back down for more scuba lessons."

Her mother laughed weakly. "I'll have to be in good working order before I can do that. The condition it's in now, I'm not sure my heart could take seeing him in wet trunks."

She and Mara giggled happily for a moment, leaving the others looking at them in wonder.

"Who's Denny?" Toby looked affronted at their behavior.

"He's a scuba instructor among other things," their mother replied evasively. "He happens to look very nice in wet swimming trunks." A little flush of color lit her cheeks.

"Auria sends her love," Mara interjected before any other questions were asked about Denny. She had her own questions about him, but left them unasked. Another time would present itself.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

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