Thursday, March 23, 2023

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

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today."

"Yeah, I heard he was puking his guts out. He's a guest here, as well. Hiya, Miss Whitley. What's wrong with your mom?"

When they were settled, he took off at a spirited pace.

"She had an emergency appendectomy last night."

"No kidding? She's okay, though."

"Yes. Just fine. She hates the food." She held up the bags.

Wrinkling his nose, Josiah nodded. "You can build a bigger hospital, but you can't make the food better. Go figure." He shrugged. "Hope your mom feels better real soon," he said as they stopped at the front door.

"Thank you. And thanks for the ride."

"You're welcome. I'll add her to my prayers. I say 'em while I drive." Saluting, he took off down the hill.

"He seems nice," Wynter commented as they walked in the front door.

"He is. Josiah's been a member of the parish way longer than I've been its priest. I grew up at St. Pete's. My folks raised money for the original building."

"Wow! Mama moved here about ten years ago. I stayed in New York. I wanted to be a professional dancer from the time I could walk."

"What type of dancing?"

"Jazz and modern. I can do ballet, but those girls have to starve themselves, to keep dance weight. I like my pasta."

"A woman looks better with a little contour," he said as they approached the information desk. "We have to check in to get you a name tag," he explained to Wynter, who was ready to walk by. "Just give him your license, and he'll check you in."

"Okay. Thanks." Grabbing her driver's license, she handed it to the security officer at the desk.

"Thank you, Ms. Whitley. New York, huh? What brings you here?"

"My mother is sick. She's in room 420. We brought lunch."

"Good idea. The food here ain't for sh—" He stopped suddenly, apparently remembering that Obi was a minister. "Isn't good," he amended.

Obi snorted. "Yeah. Something like that." He put a lanyard around his neck, which had his photo ID on it. It was blue, with CLERGY printed in white letters.

"You're all set," the guard said with a smile. He handed Wynter a stick-on name tag.

"Do I have to check out after I visit my mom?"

"No. It scans as you pass the desk. Please leave it on until you get to the doorway. There's a trash can inside each one, where you can drop it."

"Thank you. Where am I going?"

"I know my way," Obi interjected.

"You should. You're here enough," the guard said with a grin.

"Doing my job," Obi said. "Thanks!"

Obi knew his way around the innards of the hospital well. "When I was a teenager, my first job was orderly. I worked here before most of this existed. I know back ways and hideyholes all over the place."

"Did you run off with handy nurses, to catch a few moments of on-call room bliss?" she teased, nudging his arm.

"Now, Ms. Whitley, is that an appropriate question?" he chuckled.

"Probably not, but we started with blatant honesty, why stop now?"

"From time to time. Mostly, we were all too busy. Shows like Grey's Anatomy make it look like a common thing. Most of the staff uses those rooms to sleep."

"Good to know."

They arrived at her mother's room without incident. Wanda Whitley was all smiles when they entered.

"Father Randolph, how good to see you again!"

"You didn't tell me you knew each other," Wynter said as she unloaded the bags of food.

"Didn't come up."

"True. How are you feeling, Mama?"

"Much better, now that pesky appendix is gone."

"I'm so glad it didn't rupture," Obi said with a smile. "I have an uncle whose appendix ruptured. He was lucky that it didn't kill him."

They chatted as they ate. Since they knew many of the same people, Mrs. Whitley brought him up to date on all the parish gossip. After their meal, he and Wynter cleaned up.

"Did you have something in particular you needed to speak to me about? Wynter said you requested a priest?"

"I have a few things to discuss. If you wouldn't mind giving us some privacy?" Wanda appealed to her daughter.

"Sure. Call me when you're done. I'll see if I can find my way outside."

"Take elevator D to the third floor, then take the back stairs. That takes you to a nice park, with a Zen garden," Obi said with a smile. "When I call, I'll talk you back in."

"Thank you." She gave her mother a kiss on the cheek. "See you soon, Mama."

"Bye, darling."

They waited in silence until she was gone. Obi heard the elevator ding, and the door shut.

"I'm dying," Wanda said without preamble. "I'm all she has left, since her father passed. We were divorced fifteen years ago. Wynter decided to stay in New York, with her dad, when I moved here. She had her career to think about, and that's one of the best places to be." She shrugged, obviously upset about her daughter's decision.

"May I ask what's wrong?"

"It wasn't my appendix," she admitted quietly. "I had a serious obstruction of the bowel, and it caused necrosis."

Obi sat up straighter. "That sounds serious."

"It is. Very."

"What caused the obstruction?"

©Dellani Oakes 2023

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 4

"Says it all. He wanted all my attention, wanted to smother me with his fake affection, and was determined we were going to have sex."

"And you disagreed."

"Yeah! When did it become a sin to abstain?"

Obi chuckled. "I think you'll find that's pretty much the polar opposite of a sin. Says so in the Bible."

"As I thought. But you'd think Bardo was going to die, if he didn't get some nooky!"

She was starting to get rather shrill. The few customers and workers nearby, stared. Blushing, she ducked her head.

"Way to make a spectacle of myself."

"Most men would side with him."

"And where do you fall in that spectrum?" she bridled somewhat, crossing her arms defensively.

"Not really your business, is it?"

"Just curious."

"I'm a single, thirty-two year old man. I think you can pretty well do the math on that."

Their food arrived. Grabbing the bags, he headed toward the door, with Wynter in his wake.

"I'm being intrusive," she said as they settled in the car once more. "I can't seem to just make conversation, I have to know every detail. No, it's not my business. Just—with this being such a bone of contention with Bardo...."

"You wondered where a religious man, such as myself, sided."


Fastening his belt, he thought about that for a moment. "Cieran and I were—" he tried to think of a nice way to say it. "Intimate. Happy now?"

"You didn't have to tell me. But thank you."

"Are you a virgin?"

"Excuse me?" she bridled at his intrusive question.

"I thought we were being blatantly honest. Did I read it wrong? Or is it just my sex life that's called to question?" He couldn't keep the annoyance from his voice.

"No. Not a virgin. I had a few years, in college, where I was a party girl Then I got mono, and realized I had to turn my life around. I stopped the destructive behavior and put my life in order. One thing that made it possible, was to become a Born Again Virgin."

Obi was familiar with the practice. Many churches preached celibacy, offering those who had fallen away, to declare themselves Born Again. They practiced a sex-free lifestyle, abstaining from intercourse. He'd never gotten behind the idea, because he knew that, men in particular, had difficulty with abstinence. He thought it was far more important to inform young people of the dangers of underage, unprotected sex, than to make them strive for an unattainable goal.

"That's admirable," his voice lacked conviction.

"But you think it's stupid."

"I didn't say that."

"Your tone did."

Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly as he turned into the hospital parking lot. "It's been a bad twenty-four hours," he said as calmly as he could muster. "For me, it's not a viable option."

"Why not?" her tone was defensive.

"Are you determined to lay all my secrets bare? Is that your intention?" he wasn't quite yelling, but it was close.

Wynter's lip trembled. Tears spilled from her eyes.

Feeling horrible, Obi put his hand on her shoulder. Shaking his head, he fought his own tears. Cieran had said awful things to him, flaying his soul, baring his indiscretions and insecurities. She was no better than he, but she had a way of making him feel he was unworthy.

Scrabbling at the handle, Wynter tried to get out of the car. Sobbing loudly, she gave up, burying her face in her hands.

Feeling horrible, Obi parked the car. Leaving the engine running, he pressed his lips together.

"We met on our worst days," he murmured. "I'm not usually this big a jerk, and I apologize. If I'm honest, I'm hungover. And I'm recoiling from everything Cieran said to me last night. She was—" He didn't have words. She had eviscerated him, cutting deep. Everything from incompetence in his job, to inadequacies in his sexual performance, had been fuel for her diatribe. "Let's start over." He held out his hand to her. "Hello, I'm Father Obadiah Randolph. I'm very pleased to meet you, Ms. Whitley."

Laughing a little, she shook his hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Father Randolph."

"Let's go see your mother," he suggested.

"With a stop at the restroom, so I can put my face back together. If I come in looking like the Wrath of God, Mama will fuss."

Obi burst out laughing. "If you truly looked like the Wrath of God, I think I'd be cowering in fear. You're a bit pink, and decidedly damp, but still beautiful." He hadn't meant to say that, but it was true. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. "Grab the bags, I'll come get the door."

"Thank you." Doing as he suggested, she waited until he opened her door and helped her out.

The hospital sat on a rise, overlooking the massive parking lot. What had started as a small, Catholic hospital in the Sixties, St. Mary's – Metro Hospital was the second largest in the city. It was now a Class 4, in one of the busiest parts of town. Only minutes from the interstate, and the roughest part of the hood, their emergency department was generally crowded. It wasn't unusual to have accident victims being treated side by side with gang bangers caught in drive bys. They had the best trauma surgeons in the state, top in the nation, who were also world renowned.

They were fairly far from the door, so Obi waved down the driver with the golf cart. Josiah was a man Obi knew well. A long time parishioner, he also hung out at Obi's favorite pub – owned by another parishioner.

"Hey there, Father. Good to see ya! Who's your friend?"

©Dellani Oakes 2023

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 3

       "What does Bardo do?"

"Sucks off whatever woman he's hooked up with."

"Sounds like a bum. You're better off without him."

"Yes, true. But you get stuck in something, don't really see the flaws."

"Not until it's crashed and burned right in front of you. I mean, she knew I was a priest before we started dating!" Seeing her surprised expression, he snapped his lips shut. "Bit of a sore spot."

"I can see that. Bardo didn't like my convictions."

"Specifically what?" He pulled into the parking lot of the Thai restaurant, stopping in a carryout spot.

"No sex until we're married."

"Yeah, that wouldn't make many men happy."

"You aren't like that, are you? I mean, you're a priest!"

"Unlike Catholic priests, Episcopalians are allowed to marry."

"But premarital sex? Doesn't the Church frown on that?"

"I've had my bad boy moments." He hopped out of the SUV, walking around to open hers.

"I'm sorry, I've offended you. I don't always shut up when I should."

"I'm afraid you laid my soul rather bare, with that question." He he opened the door to the restaurant and headed to the carryout order area a few feet to their left.

"Were you and your girlfriend—" she made vague gestures with her hands, all of which were mildly obscene.

Obi pushed her hands down, before she did something really crude. "Not really your business, is it?"

"It's just—you're very handsome—for a priest."

"Oh, so not handsome for some guy on the street?" he couldn't keep the irritation from his voice He hadn't meant to snap, but he was tired of apologizing.

"That isn't what I meant, and you know it," she barked.

Glaring at each other, they paused. He wasn't angry with her, nor she with him. They just happened to be thrown together on one of the worst days possible.

"You make me nervous," she said, after a lengthy interval.

"How?" he wasn't quite ready to lose his irritation. He was doing her a favor, and she seemed determined to annoy him. No, that wasn't it. He was in a terrible emotional state.

"You're a priest! And you're—hot."

He chuckled. "You must watch Fleabag."

"Never heard of it. What is it?"

They took a step closer to the window, as a person ahead of them headed for the door.

"It's this weird show on Amazon. There's a character on there that's referred to as the Hot Priest."

"Is he hot?" She smirked at him.

"No idea. He's not deformed, or anything. I'd be far more interested a hot priestess."

"Gotcha. I didn't mean it that way," she said, stopping him with a hand on his arm. "You're very handsome, and that's what makes me nervous."

"Whatever for?"

He glanced at his reflection in the front window of the restaurant. What he saw made him hesitate. His dark brown hair was messy, standing up in weird spikes as if he'd forgotten to brush it. Perhaps he had. He couldn't remember. His blue eyes, rimmed with dark lashes, showed his emotional pain. He hadn't shaved that morning. Considering that he'd been drinking heavily the night before, he looked rather like an unmade bed. Combing his hair with his fingers, he tried to tame it, but only succeeded in messing it up more.

"Can I take your order?" the girl at the register asked.

"Yes, sure. What would your mother like?"

Grabbing the list again, Wynter read off her mother's choices.

"Did you get something for yourself?" he asked.

"Yes. Mama won't eat all that, so I'll have what she doesn't eat."

"Add a Number 7, extra hot," he said, reaching for his wallet.

Wynter was ahead of him. Her wallet out, she insisted on paying. "It's the least I can do for my own personal Sir Galahad." Grinning, she stuffed some bills into the tip box on the counter.

"It will be about fifteen minutes," the woman at the register said. "You should call in, you pick right up."

"Sorry, didn't think about it," Obi said, forcing a smile.

There were benches nearby, with red vinyl cushions. He invited Wynter to sit. He sat a few feet away. She scooted closer, rubbing her bare arms.

"Wow, is it always this cold here?"

He leaned closer, a little chilly himself. "Yes. I think they do it so folks won't linger. We beat lunch rush. Usually, it's packed, but has a fast turnover. It's geared more to carryout."

"Is the food good?"

"Yes, if you like Thai."

"Do you?"

"Jury's still out." His turn to smirk. "What do you do, when not filling in as church secretary?"

"I'm a dancer."

"No kidding! Where?"

"I was with a professional company in New York. But since my ex-man child was the choreographer, I lost my job when we broke up."

"Yikes! Pardon my saying, he sounds like a real jerk."

"He is."

"What prompted the breakup?"

"You caught the man child reference?"

"Oh, yeah," he sincerely hoped that his ex didn't refer to him that same way. Since she'd called him far worse to his face, he was pretty sure she didn't.

©Dellani Oakes 2023

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 2

They hung up. Rubbing his brow, he wondered why he'd said yes. He hated going to the hospital, but had to do it fairly often. He wasn't a big fan of Thai food, either, but he couldn't make himself say no. Her request wasn't unreasonable, nor was he particularly busy. It wasn't her fault, or her mother's, that he was having a bad day. That was more the universe slapping him upside the head—a cosmic sick joke.

"I'm heading to St. Mary's to see a patient," he called to Mrs. Bannister.

"Okay! When will you be back?"

"Not sure. Call if you need me."

"Will do! Drive safe!"

"Will do!"

Trotting out to his car, he planned his drive. St. Blase wasn't far away. In fact, it was the sister parish to his, St. Peter the Fisherman Episcopalian Church, lovingly called St. Pete's by his congregation. Seated in his SUV, he made sure the air conditioner was on full and the music was loud.

It would probably have shocked his congregation to know that their spiritual leader was a metal head, and Metallica was his favorite band. In fact, before college and seminary took him in the polar opposite direction, he'd dreamed of being a rock star. Tapping the steering wheel along with Lars, he did a little head banging at the stop light. Growling out the lyrics to For Whom the Bell Tolls, he wended his way through traffic, grateful that it wasn't quite lunchtime, and the traffic was light.

He rolled up to St. Blase's in good time. A pretty blonde paced the sidewalk in front of the white stucco edifice. Seeing his SUV, she stopped walking. He parked, hopping out. Walking around the front, hand extended, he held out his driver's license for her to see. Squinting at it, she compared his face to the one in his wallet. Smiling, she held out her hand, taking his.

"Father Randolph?" Big brown eyes fixed on his blue ones.

"Yes. You can call me Obi."

"Wynter. What's Obi short for?"

"Obadiah." Opening the door, he helped her in.

"The name on your license isn't Obadiah."

"I go by my middle name. First name is Prescott." He showed her the license again.

"Oooh. I don't use my middle name. Coincidentally, it also begins with an O."


"No. Trust me, you won't guess it in a million years."

"That bad?" he frowned slightly as they buckled up.

"Terrible." She paused, tipping her head toward the speakers. "The Day That Never Comes?" She grinned. "Bold choice for clergy."

Snapping the music off, he blushed. "Can't always listen to church music."


"What does your mom like, in terms of Thai food? Traditional, or more Americanized?"

"Honestly, I have no idea. She gave me a list of foods." She dug in her pocket, handing him a crumpled, scribbled list.

Obi looked it over, nodding as he handed it back. "Got it. That's more American Thai. Not a problem. I know just the spot. It's on the way to the hospital."

"Thank you." Her voice faltered again. "I don't know what I'd have done...." Blinking hard, she turned her head, trembling hand to her lips. "I'm not usually this big a wreck."

They weren't out of the parking lot yet, so Obi stopped, putting the car in park. Leaning across her, he grabbed a packet of tissues from the glove compartment. Handing them to her, he smiled.

"It's all right. You're allowed to fall apart. Your mom is sick."

"That's not the only reason." Wiping her eyes, she blew her nose.


"Well, what?" her blue eyes were full of tears, her lips trembling.

"What else is wrong?"

"Oh, you don't want to hear about my troubles."

Obi laughed loudly, pointing to his priest's collar. "If you haven't noticed, that's kind of my job. Spill. What's wrong?"

"Life?" she exhaled sharply. "Lost my job, my boyfriend, and my home all in one fell swoop."

"I'm so sorry to hear that. How can I help?"

"Got a job you need filled?"

"No. But I have a large parish, with lots of business people. I'm sure one of them has an opening. If not, I know a lot of the St. Blase parishioners. I was assistant pastor for five years, before moving to St. Pete's. Give me a copy of your resume, I can make a few calls, help you set up interviews. Next problem?"

"Well, I've moved in with Mama, so housing is covered. That leaves boyfriend."

The statement lingered between them. Even in her distressed state, she was beautiful. Blushing slightly, he turned away.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah...yes. Shall we go?"

"I didn't mean to imply that you should be my boyfriend."

"It's all right. My life blew up last night. I have my home and job, but my girlfriend.... Pfff!" he made an explosive gesture with his hands.

"Sounds like both our lives are kinda crap."

He chuckled, putting the SUV in gear. "Yep. But I'll make you a deal. I won't wallow, if you won't."


He'd stopped for a sign at the driveway. Holding out her hand, she waited for him to shake it. Grinning, he did.

"What was her name?"

He was distracted checking traffic. "Who?"

"The woman."


"Mine was Bardo."

"Stupid name."


©Dellani Oakes 2023

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Thursday, March 09, 2023

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 1

"....Lead us not into temptation...."

"Father! Father Randolph!" the shrill voice of the church secretary broke through his prayer.

Muttering the last few words, he rose from the kneeler bench, pushing it into its upright position.

"Father! Oh, there you are." Mrs. Bannister waved at him from the door to the narthex.

Moving somewhat stiffly, having been in prayer for the better part of an hour, he walked over to her. "Yes, Lorna?"

"Important call for you, Father." She handed him the cordless phone from her desk.

"Who is it?" he asked, his hand over the mouthpiece.

"Didn't say."

"You didn't ask?" this was not an uncommon occurrence, and annoyed him. Today, of all days, he didn't need her flightiness.

Mrs. Bannister blinked, looking like an owl behind her round, black glasses frames. Without another word, she returned to her office.

"Hello? Father Randolph here," he snapped more than he intended.

There was a hesitant pause. "Did I catch you at a bad time?" the woman's voice trembled.

Pulling himself together, he took a deep breath. "No. I'm sorry. Who is this, please?"

"You don't know me, I'm actually a member of St. Blase Church."

"Did you need something specific, Miss—" he waited for her to fill in the blank.


"How may I help you, Ms. Whitley?" the irritation was descending once more. Taking another deep breath, he headed to his office. Closing the door behind him, he opened a bottle of water, the phone awkwardly positioned between his ear and shoulder.

"It's a bit embarrassing, actually. I do apologize. I'm the acting secretary here, just filling in for the regular one, who's on emergency medical leave." Taking an audible breath, she paused. "I'm calling because we have a parishioner in the hospital, and Father Charlie has come down with the flu, himself."

"Is the parishioner sick with the flu, too?" He rubbed his nose with thumb and index finger. A headache threatened to break through, he tried to pray it away as he listened.

"Um.... no," she laughed nervously. "But I was told to call the area churches and ask if another priest could go visit."

"Which hospital?" He grabbed a pen and paper on his desk.

"You'll go?"

"Certainly. I'd be happy to."

"She's at.... Oh, bother."

There was a scrabbling sound, paper rustling, and the phone fell.

"Sorry!" he heard at a distance. "Okay. So sorry about that. I'm really bad at this job."

"How did you get it?"

"She's my mom," she replied, as if that explained it.

"The woman in the hospital? Or the secretary."


"I'm sorry.... Who am I going to see?"

"My mother is the one in the hospital. She's the secretary here. I got handed the job, when she went in for emergency surgery last night."

"Is she all right?"

"Yes. It was an appendectomy. They caught it before it ruptured—just."

"I'm glad to hear that. Which hospital?"

"St. Mary's – Metro?"

"Aren't you sure?"

"I'm from out of town. But that's the name. I wrote it down."

"Certainly. So she's in the surgical wing?"

There was another pause. "I guess? I wasn't here when she went in. I was on my way to the city, when I got the call. Instead of going to the hospital, I went home. Mom called this morning and asked me to step in, to find someone to cover for her, and to get a priest. I'm not usually this disorganized, Father." She laughed a little.

"You're lucky. I find myself foundering a good half the time. Yes, I'd be delighted to go see her. What is her name?"

"Wanda Whitley. She's in room....420," she laughed a little. "Insert Marijuana joke here. Oh, gosh! I shouldn't have said that to a priest!"

He chuckled. "It might surprise you to know that I've had my bad boy days."

"Whew! Thank you so much. I'm heading up there shortly. Mama wants me to bring her lunch. She says that the hospital food doesn't pass muster, so I've got instructions to pick up Thai food. Where do I get Thai food?" her voice broke and she sniffled.

"Ms. Whitley, are you all right?"

"I'm just—this is a lot, you know? I have no idea what I'm doing, where I'm going...."

"Why don't I stop and pick up something for all of us? I'll head over and meet you at the front door. We can go in together. I'm there a lot."

"That would be—just great!" she gasped. "Thank you. Mama's very demanding.... This is—it's—"

"It's always difficult when someone has emergency surgery. At least you're here. My parents are six hours away. I can't imagine what I'd do if either of them got sick."

"It's terrifying. I'm at the church office, but I'm taking a cab to the hospital."

"Why don't I come get you? I don't mind, and it's on my way. We can pick up the food together, and head over. That way, you aren't trying to get there on your own."

"Oh, could you? That would be—that would—" she sobbed.

"I'm on my way. I'm about fifteen minutes away. I drive a red Ford Explorer."

"Okay. Thanks. I'm going to go wash my face, and try to look respectable."

"I'm sure you look fine. I'll be there shortly."

"Thank you so much! Thanks."

"You're welcome. See you soon. Goodbye."


©Dellani Oakes 2023

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Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Fly by Night is over


I hope you enjoyed it. When I wrote this story, it went directions I didn't expect. I originally planned for the guy who helped her to be the one she fell for, maybe he was a ghost? I don't know.

I was going to tell you the inspiration for this tale, but looking back, I realize I did that already. Hmmm.... I guess I'll have to write a bit about the next story I plan to share. However, right this minute, as I type this, I have absolutely no idea what that is going to be. Since I want to get this post ready to go up shortly, I'll have to leave you in suspense – which you know I write – so we'll see where this goes. I have a variety of interesting tales to choose from. I have to ascertain which ones I've already shared, and which are begging to be read. I have so many finished novels, I doubt I'll get them all published in my lifetime, so I enjoy sharing them here.

Please check this space on Tuesday, March 9, 2023, to find out what I'm going to share! Until then, happy reading!

~ Dellani

Okay, I figured it out! I decided on my one and only attempt at a Christian Romance. It isn't exactly, but it hasn't got any sex scenes, and very little cursing. The characters endeared themselves to me, and I hope to use them in other tales yet to come. Please join me next time, when I introduce you to Old Time Religion.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Fly by Night ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 57

They dropped Dr. Waverly at the hospital. Elam drove Blythe to her parents' house so she could borrow a car and do some errands.

"I'll be done around five," he said.

"Great. Come straight home," she said. "I have a surprise."

"Oh, really?" He raised a curious eyebrow. "Sounds like fun." He kissed her before getting back in the car.

After a short chat with her mother, Blythe drove to the nearest hardware store. She got copies of her keys made for Elam. A quick call to his mother assured her she was free for a visit. When Blythe arrived, Katrinka greeted her with hugs and kisses.

"Let me look at you," the spiritist said. She gazed deeply into Blythe's eyes. "My son is good for you."

"He's wonderful. I'm so lucky to have found him."

"Are the nightmares better?"

"Yes." She related the two dreams and how Elam had brought her back. She also told Katrinka of the experience with Malachi. "Do you think I'll continue to dream now?"

"I think so, but you mustn't worry. I can train you to handle what you see. Do I think you'll keep dreaming of car accidents and death? I don't know. But with Elam there, you'll be all right. He's far stronger than he likes to admit. We all have unique skills, which I would love to explore with you, if you'll let me."

"I would be delighted and honored. There's so much in the human mind that can't be explained. I'd like to look into it."

"I think that your friend, the doctor, will also be interested in our explorations. I see a book in our future," she said with a grin.

Blythe wasn't sure whether to believe her or not, but saw no reason not to. "I think that sounds wonderful."

They talked a little while longer, then Blythe headed back to her apartment. She started dinner, waiting for Elam. The keys were in a special box in the bedroom. Of course, the presentation would be made there.

He arrived by 5:30, happy and smiling. Sweeping Blythe up in his arms, he kicked the door shut as he kissed her, already carrying her to the bedroom. His clothing ended up in a heap, as did hers. Hungrily, he kissed her, enjoying her enthusiastic response. Their lovemaking was a celebration. Malachi was awake, she was well and they were together. Their romp was lively and satisfying. Afterward, Blythe rolled over to the bedside table.

"I told you I had a surprise."

"I thought we just had the surprise portion of the evening." Elam grinned, teasing her lips with the ends of her hair.

"Nope. Here." She handed him the box, waiting expectantly as he opened it.

Inside, there was a heart shaped keyring, with the keys to her apartment. "I want you to be able to come and go as you want. Sometime, when you're ready, I want you to move in. I know that's a big step," she rushed to say. "But you already mean so much to me. I feel like I've known you forever—"

Elam captured her mouth with his, kissing her deeply to thank her and to stop the babble.

"Thank you." He chuckled, grabbing his pants off the floor. He pulled out a small, paper bag. "I didn't have time to do this up all pretty, but open it."

She unfolded the flap and tipped the bag upright. A set of keys plopped into her hand.

"I stopped to get those made on the way home. I know you haven't even been to my place, but I want you to come and go as you want. And some day soon, I'd love to move in here, and make a home with you."

"Thank you."

They kissed a long time, only stopping when the kitchen timer went of. Laughing, Blythe ran to the kitchen to take dinner out of the oven.

After dinner, making love, and a shower, they sat on the couch munching on late night popcorn while they watched Dirty Dancing together. Blythe's phone rang, it was Jessamine.

"Hey there! How's everything?"

"Great. They're letting Malachi go home in a few days. Of course, they want lots of tests and therapy, but we can go home and be a real family."

"I'm so happy for you, Jessamine."

"And I have more news. We're getting married Christmas Eve. We want you, Elam and Dr. Waverly there. I'll send an invitation next week."

"Absolutely wonderful!"

"Great! Will you be maid of honor? With Elam as best man? Micah would have been—"

"I'm sure he'd be honored." She held the phone to her chest. "Would you be Malachi's best man?"

"Sure! I have experience," he quipped.

"He says yes. You can count on us."

"Excellent. Thank you again. Who knew that a little rainstorm would do so much?"

Blythe giggled. "Yeah, my car is toast, but I don't care. I woke a man from a coma, and found my soul mate. I'm gonna have to write a book."

"You should," Jessamine said. "Call it Dream Window."

"I just might do that. I'm really happy for you, Jessi."

"Me too—for you. Thank you again."

"You're welcome. Talk to you later."

They hung up.

"I can't remember a time I felt so good," Blythe said. "I'm so happy, I want to dance and sing."

"Go for it, babe. Can I watch?"

"No. I want you to dance and sing with me."

"I can do that," he said, turning up the TV.

It had just gotten to the last dance. Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley's voices blended in perfect harmony. Elam hopped up, holding out his hand. She stood, not sure what to expect. He swung her into a dance. His hips moved against hers, as they dirty danced together. Not only that, he sang along with Bill Medley, as he spun her around.

When the song was over, they collapsed, laughing, on the couch. Breathless, they gasped for air.

"I've had the time of my life," he sang softly. "And I owe it all to you."

"I never knew I could be so happy," she said, kissing him. "Alec—"

"Talking about the dead husband spoils the mood," he whispered.

"Just this once."

He nodded.

"Alec never made me so happy. He never did the things that you do. I'm so sorry he's dead, but I'm so glad I found you."

"Me too," he murmured.

She ran her hands over his body, exciting him more. Her mouth left his and she raked her teeth down his neck to his shoulder, licking the spot where she'd bitten him. "Yippie-ki-yay!"

Elam shivered, laughing. "Oh, you kinky darling."


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

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today." "Yeah, I h...