Snowed – Part 1


snowed cover image for blogHAPPY HALLOWEEN! Or should I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You’ll find out why in a minute, just keep reading. Welcome to Cheyenne, Wyoming where it’s not unusual for it to snow as early as October. In fact, I had just started writing this story when a friend of mine (who lived in Cheyenne) gave me a call around Halloween. It was nearly 90 degrees here in Florida.

She started our conversation with, “Guess what, it’s snowing! They’re expecting a blizzard!” I started laughing and told her about Snowed. I even read a little bit of it to her. “Sounds about right,” she replied with a laugh. “Let me know how it ends up.”

Sadly, Charlotte died not long after I finished the book and never had the chance to read it in its entirety. I guess it’s just as well, because Big Mike’s antics might have offended her. However, I’d like to dedicate Snowed to her memory. I miss you, Charlotte. This one’s for you!

 

October 31, 2009

“It’s the worst snowstorm of the year!” The radio announced gleefully, waking me up.

What it fails to mention is that it’s the only snowstorm of the year. Like it’s some big thing, like we don’t know. We live in a city where it snows from October to April. For it to be the worst snowstorm, wouldn’t you expect for there to be something to compare it to? Maybe the guy meant to say, “It’s the first snowstorm of the year!” That would make some kind of sense.

Or maybe, and I’m betting on this one, the guy’s a moron. Soon, the phone calls, from other people like me who notice stupid stuff like that, will start up and they will have to amend what idiot boy said. I’m not calling in. I’m going back to sleep. I drive a school bus and school has been canceled by the worst (and first) snowstorm of the year.

Not that I’m complaining. Kids on a day like this, are impossible to control. You’d think they had never seen snow before. They’ve lived here since birth, still snow has this magical effect on them. Not a good one, just magical. It transforms even the brightest child into a complete buffoon. You can see their devious minds working, determined to figure out a way to mess up my bus, or fall under the wheels, or slide into traffic.

I was just snuggling down, going back to a blissful sleep, when the phone rang. Knowing it can’t be good news on a day like this, I hesitated to answer. I can’t stand a ringing phone, so I picked up, running my fingers through my shoulder length, brown hair.

“Mikey?” A shrill, nasal distinctly Brooklyn voice shouted in my ear.

“Ma?” Grumbling, I sat up. I never lie down to talk to my mother, it puts in me in a vulnerable position. “Why are you calling this early, Ma?”

“Happy Birthday to you. . . .” She has a horrible voice and sings off key. Imagine Edith Bunker, only less melodic.

“Yeah, thanks, Ma.”

She didn’t stop. She was starting with, “How old are you?”

“Ma, please. You know how the hell old I am. You gave me life. You were there.”

“Yes, at this time on October 31, I had my bouncing baby boy! Happy Birthday, Mikey.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

I love my mother, but this is why I moved over a thousand miles away to Cheyenne, Wyoming as soon as I had the money. I was on my way to Alaska, figuring putting the better part of two countries between us, but my car broke down in Cheyenne. I couldn’t afford to fix it and couldn’t afford to buy a new one at the time, so I got a job and an apartment and stayed. I’ve been here five years. It’s not so bad if you can handle wide open spaces. If you don’t mind seven different shades of gray in the winter, with no leaves on the few trees there are, with what feels like 90 mile an hour winds and a wind chill factor of 100 below, it’s okay. I’m getting used to it—sorta.

The fact that I am 1,743 miles away from Kings County, New York is a decided plus. My mother hates to fly and there is no way she’ll drive twenty-seven hours just to see me. She can’t stand the bus or the train either and no one in their right mind would travel with her anyway, so I’m safe. Except on my birthday and over the phone.

“So how’s my little Mikey-wikey like being twenty-seven?”

“It’s peachy, Ma.”

“Do you have a girlfriend yet?”

“Mother, please. Do we have to start on that?”

“Your younger brother is married with three kids.”

“I can’t help he can’t keep it in his pants, Ma. I haven’t found the right girl.”

“Are you sure you’re not gay?” The tone was teasing, but the old bitch meant it.

Normally, such a question wouldn’t offend me. Because even if I’m not married with three kids like my brother, I’ve gotten more tail than he’ll ever get. Sweet, luscious, all kinds of sexy tail. . . . And I’m talking to my mother with my balls in a vice. Because even if I’ve gotten more than him, it’s not been so much lately.

“I got to get ready for work, Ma. I got a long day with the bus. Kids got a field trip.”

“I’d think you could give five minutes to your mother.” She sniffled, pulling the New York Guilt Trip on me. “The woman who loves you. The woman who gave you life!” She was really pouring it on, pulling out all the stops. “Who lives so far away, she can’t see her oldest son on his birthday! Her son who is almost thirty!”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Here’s Jasper!


conduct unbecoming front coverI first introduced Jasper Waters in a novel called New at Love (published in Fran Lewis’ MJ Magazine) He wasn’t the main hero, but he certainly was heroic. Jasper had more than a little crush on the female lead, Amanda. Even though it broke his heart, he stepped aside for Derrick.

He popped up again in Undiscovered (coming spring of 2015 from Tigearr Publishing). It’s a small part, but a helpful one. Jasper’s the kind of guy you can count on. He’s appeared in a few of my other unpublished books and I expect he will probably find his way into more. He’s a comfortable fit and the kind of guy who is very likable.

When I introduced him in Conduct Unbecoming, I had no idea he was going to take over and become the male lead. I thought he was going to be the helpful friend who takes Teague to the jetty, flirts with the new cornoner (she’s a hot redhead) and step aside. He didn’t do that. Instead, he jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running, willing to help Nadeya simply because she’s a friend of Teague’s. As Jasper tells her, “Teague knows every damn body, but there are only a few of us he calls friends. You’re one of them—”

Teague has always been a favorite of both me and my fans, but I have to admit that Jasper has also stolen my heart. I liked him in New at Love, now I adore him. He’s funny, smart, handsome, capable, unflappable and pretty much not scared of anything. Jasper will make you laugh, make you sigh and down right steal your heart.

Meet Jasper Waters. Read Conduct Unbecoming.

© 2014

Where It All Began The Ninja Tattoo 

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By the way, Aileen has been after me for book 3. I’m toying with two different names. Which do you like better? Rear View Murder or Rear View?

Conduct Unbecoming Excerpt from Chapter Eight


b477c-conduct2bunbecoming2bfront2bcoverTeague had intended to confront Quartermain and the others, but Nadeya encouraged him not to. She knew he could take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. Instead, they decide to go back home and let the bad guys come to them.

Their announcement was greeted less than enthusiastically. No one actually protested, but Teague could tell his friends didn’t like the idea.

“After all this running around, you’re just going to go home?” Jasper protested.

“Why not? They won’t expect it.”

“It’s either brilliant or stupid. I’m not sure which,” Jasper grumbled.

“Must they be mutually exclusive?”

Jasper exchanged a look with Aileen and Nadeya. “Apparently not. Okay. But you’ve got company.”

“Why not? Viv loves a crowd.”

They headed back to Teague’s house. The red Pinto was gone and Jasper’s Boss was parked beside the garage. Lights glittered cheerfully in the windows and the music played loudly—Carols Santana, Vivica’s favorite musician. Teague didn’t see Vivica in the kitchen, dining room or living room. The door was unlocked. Worried, he held up a hand, signaling to his friends.

Quietly, they moved to the door. Teague let them go in that way. He moved around to the hidden side door. It was locked, but he had his key. He opened the door slowly noting that the alarm didn’t beep. Deeply concerned, he proceeded down the hall. Vivica wasn’t in the bathroom or bedrooms. He even checked the hall closet—nothing.

There should have been dogs barking too. Where were they? Vivica’s three pets ranged from Rex, the gigantic Irish Wolfhound, Evita a medium sized Beagle mix and Pesky, a tiny Jack Russell. Pesky barked at everything. With two strangers in the house, she should have been going nuts.

Terribly worried, Teague rushed to the living room. His friends stood in a circle around the coffee table. There was a weird smell in the room—sickly sweet, chemical. Teague stopped moving.

“What?”

His friends stepped away, showing him. The three dogs lay on the couch, love seat and coffee table. They were breathing, but unconscious. They’d been shaved with clippers, nearly to the skin.

On the table, next to Pesky, there were photographs. Some were distance shots of Vivica walking the dogs. Two were close ups of her face. Obviously unconscious, she lay sprawled on their bed. He could see the duvet behind her head.

With an outcry, Teague leaped forward. Joel stopped him before he could grab the pictures.

“I called it in,” Joel said.

“If they intended to kill her, she’d be here for us to find her,” Nadeya said. “There’s a note.”

She pointed to a paper attached to Rex’s collar. Without touching it, Teague read it. It was hand printed in black, block letters.

“If you want her back, you know what we want.”

“What do they want?” Teague yelled. Distant sirens grew louder as he fought his cousin to snatch at the note. “What can I give them?”

“Me,” Nadeya said calmly. “The bastards want me.”

The room exploded with sound. All three men yelled at once. Aileen stood quietly, hands in her pockets.

“No, Nay. You can’t,” Aileen stated.

“I have to. You don’t have what they’re capable of. Viv can’t handle it.”

“They won’t torture her. She doesn’t know anything,” Aileen tried to sound reassuring.

“They would do it for fun!” Nadeya cried.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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Conduct Unbecoming – Excerpt Chapter Seven


conduct unbecoming front coverNot everyone is a fan of Teague McMurtry. In fact, some people thoroughly detest him. One such is Major Victor Quartermain. Once a rival for Isobel’s hand, Teague maintains that the better man was the one who gave her up—himself. He and Quartermain hate one another, and not just because of Isobel. Victor has a secret that could not just ruin his career, it could get him killed. He will do anything it takes to protect himself.

Moonlight on the water didn’t make him feel romantic. He was too angry to feel anything else. I missed! At that close a range. Unforgivable! He sat on the deck of his boat, cradling his weapon. He broke it down to its component parts and dropped a piece overboard. The boat drifted a little and he dropped another piece. He continued the process until the last part hit the water and sank.

Turning the boat toward land, he muttered and grumbled to himself. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Goddammit, I hate that man!” He cut the motor, letting the boat drift in toward the dock. Jumping onto the deck, he tied it off.

A dark car sat nearby. He fished keys out of his jacket pocket, clicking the alarm button as he approached. The lights flashed as the door lock and alarm disengaged. Sliding behind the wheel, he took a deep breath. He held the steering wheel with both hands, a shuddering sigh breaking its way through his calm veneer.

What have I done? Dear God, what have I done?

Starting the car, he pulled out of the parking lot of the marina and headed home. The radio quietly played a haunting, blues tune. He turned it up, humming until it reached the chorus. “Not gonna let ‘em catch the Midnight Rider.” Greg Allman’s crooning voice filled the car as he turned off into the Spruce Creek Fly-In in Port Orange.

Turning into his driveway, he pulled into the garage. He shut the car off as the garage door closed. Hands on the wheel, he closed his eyes, muttering what might have been a prayer. He wasn’t entirely sure anymore. It might have been invective hurled at his Maker, it didn’t matter. The damage was done and Isobel was in the hospital. That was his fault too.

“Dammit!” He pounded the steering wheel before getting out of the car.

Entering the house, he stopped before flicking on the light. Something didn’t feel right. Or maybe it was the smell. There was something wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Trying to shake it off, he headed to the kitchen to get a beer from the fridge. Something still wasn’t right. Determined not to let it get to him, he pulled the door open.

There on his wife’s best silver platter were photos of the dead man from the beach. Something was in the vegetable drawer other than tomatoes and carrots. Cautiously, hands trembling, he reached for it. Thinking better of it, he straightened up. He recognized the smell now—propane. Lots of it. It grew harder to breathe. Clamping a dish towel over his mouth, he ran from the house, dialing 9-1-1. When he hit the send button on his phone, he heard a loud pop behind him.

The hair on the back of his neck tingled and he ran faster, dashing through the front yard as his kitchen exploded. Miraculously unhurt, though somewhat singed, he watched his house go up like a book of matches. The fire department, when they arrived a few minutes later, could do nothing but prevent the houses next door from catching fire.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Quartermain sat on the bumper of the ambulance, cursing Teague under his breath, as the paramedic checked him for injuries.

“You’re fine, sir,” the young man told him. “A few bruises, a scrape or two, but otherwise fit.”

“Thank you,” he muttered, watching his house burn to the ground.

The fire chief and arson inspector came over, standing opposite him, arms folded. Both were massively built men who looked like they could crack his head open with a flick of their fingers. He straightened up, clutching the blanket around him.

“Mr. Quartermain?” the chief began.

“M-Major Quartermain. N-not M-Mister.” His damn stutter returned. He’d been rid of it for 30 years.

“Major,” the chief corrected himself. “Are you all right, sir?”

“My g-goddamn house is b-burning down. How do you th-think I am?”

“I meant are you injured?” The man tightened up, frowning.

“I’m fine. Sorry. My house—” He gestured toward the blaze.

“I’m very sorry for your loss, Major. We’ve found evidence of an explosive device. Can you think of anyone who would want to blow up your home?”

“No,” Victor Quartermain shuddered, shaking his head. “No, no, no. . .n-n-nnn. . . .” The shaking intensified.

The paramedic rushed over. The other two men got out of his way, letting him do his job.

“I have to ship him, sir,” the young man said after a quick exam. “I think he’s having a stroke. Or maybe he sustained a blow to the head. I can’t tell here.”

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

Dellani’s Books Romance with an Edge

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In Her Own Words – Liz Tynon


b477c-conduct2bunbecoming2bfront2bcoverElizabeth Tynon is the confidential aid to Teague’s former CO. She’s here to talk about Conduct Unbecoming.

What is your name?

Elizabeth Tynon, also known as the Ice Princess.

Why do you have that nickname?

Because I’m a cold hearted bitch.

What do you want most?

I want to win.

Why is this so important to you?

Because then I don’t lose.

How do you treat the people in your life?

People are pawns to be used as I need them and disposed of when they are no longer useful.

Can people count on you?

Not if they’re smart.

What makes you angry?

Losing.

Do you stand up for your beliefs?

I believe in myself. I stand up for myself and what I want.

What excites you?

Winning.

What do you do for a living?

I’m confidential aid to General Arnold Shay, US Army.

What kind of books do you like?

I don’t have time to read.

What kind of music do you enjoy?

I don’t listen to music.

What’s the one thing you’d most like to do before you die?

To Win—Everything.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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In Her Own Words – Aileen Griffin


author dellani oakes banner with conduct unbecoming from Christina

Aileen is an old Army buddy of Teague’s. She was also one of his lovers. They broke up under difficult circumstances but still hold a mutual respect for one another. In her own words, here’s Aileen to talk about Conduct Unbecoming.

What is your name?

Aileen Griffin, Captain in the US Army.

What do you want most?

I want to get my best friend back safely. Nadeya is damaged. She needs my help.

Why is this so important to you?

She’s the best friend I’ve got—one of the few I have left. The war has taken the rest in one way or another.

How do you treat the people in your life?

I try to treat them well, but I’m sure I don’t always manage it.

Can people count on you?

Yes! I will do whatever I can to help my friends and family.

What makes you angry?

Injustice and senseless violence. I know that’s kind of ironic given what I do for a living. I guess there’s nothing like a war to make you realize how pointless it is.

Do you stand up for your beliefs?

Yes, with everything I’ve got.

What excites you?

Well, I sure didn’t expect to find a small town cop exciting, but wow! Joel took me completely by surprise. I find him fun and exciting—and all kinds of sexy.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a Captain in the United States Army. Until all this happened, I’d thought about making it my career for life. Now, I’m not so sure.

What kind of books do you like?

I love romance novels. I want to read about people falling in love. I guess, until I met Joel, I didn’t really expect that to be me.

What kind of music do you enjoy?

Blues and classic rock. Don’t give me any of that rapper crap. That noise makes me want to unload my service pistol into whatever is playing it.

What’s the one thing you’d most like to do before you die?

You’re going to think I’m really being girly here—I want to find the perfect man and get married. Until I met Joel, that wasn’t even a thought. Now, it’s what I want more than anything.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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