When Tis Done – Part 27

When Tis Done coverBrian and Jordan help Neil and Cynthia center themselves, helping Neil relax.

Neil burst out laughing. “I knew some Nam vets who used to talk about hopping out of helicopters with their helmets over their nuts. They said they’d rather get shot in the head than lose their testicles. I’m here to tell you, ladies, I completely agree.”

“You’d rather be dead than lose your balls?” Cynthia said with frown.

“Yes. If I couldn’t make love to you, I’d feel like dying,” he replied, forgetting the teenagers.

Wisely, Jordan said nothing, though she was terribly embarrassed by the conversation. She knew instinctively that Brian felt the same way about it. Her heightened awareness of him also told her that he desired her more than ever. She wasn’t ready to give up that part of herself, though. She had plans and goals. Getting married right out of high school wasn’t included in those plans. Though she felt herself drawn to Brian in ways she couldn’t explain, she still put the brakes on when it came to making that commitment.

Brian’s phone rang. Frowning at it, he accepted the call. “Yeah, hi, Mom.” He listened intently, nodding and making non-verbal responses. “Okay. Yes. Will do.” He hung up. “I thought I’d turned that off. It’s weird, though. Even when my phone is off, if Mom calls, it’s on.” He shrugged, putting it in his pocket. “Mom said to tell you that dinner is at seven and you’re both expected. It’s just her, Dad and Jordan’s parents. Everyone else went home. I guess they finally realized that you needed some space. I think Jackie had a lot to do with that.” He smiled at Jordan. “We’re expected to dine with Chase and them. So, we’re gonna go….” He smiled at Neil and Cynthia. “There is one thing that helps the jangle,” he teased, raising an eyebrow. “But I expect you know that better than I do.” Winking, he picked up Lester, slung the bag over his shoulder and headed down the ladder.

Neil’s laugh followed them down. Jordan fussed and scolded all the way back to Brian’s car. He pushed her back against the door and loomed over her, one hand on either side of her head. Without a word, he captured her mouth with his, giving her a powerful, emphatic kiss that lasted several minutes. When he stopped, she held her breath for a few seconds before opening her eyes. Brian’s bright blue eyes met hers, pupils dilated. His breath came rapidly and she could see his pulse throbbing in his throat.

“Don’t make me wait forever, Jordan. I’m not kidding, this is misery. I don’t know if the other guys feel like I do…. Every minute I’m with you is divine torture.”

Jordan touched Brian’s cheek. He kissed her palm, rubbing his cheek against it. The slight rasp of his burgeoning beard tickled her skin.

“A little while longer. I promise, I won’t make you wait much more. Can we be eighteen first? Please?”

He sighed, not wanting to agree, but accepting her decision. She held all the cards. He couldn’t do anything but wait for her. It was awful not having power over this one aspect of his life. Based on what his father, Cliff and Heath had told him, that wasn’t unusual in any relationship. The woman was in control.

“I love you, Jordan. More than I ever thought possible. And I like to think that even if we didn’t have this whole Destiny thing going for us, that we would still be together.”

She patted his cheek. “Keep thinking that, Big Bri. You’re kind of a goof.”

He sighed, shaking his head. “Can you just take me seriously for one second?”

Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him gently. “I do take you seriously. I love you, too. But you are kind of a goof.”

Laughing, he opened the car door. He lifted her, setting her on the seat before closing the door for her. Brian leaned through the window, giving her another kiss. It wasn’t as powerful as the first one, but it was certainly compelling.

“Don’t forget that I’m your goof and you’re stuck with me until the end of time.”


“We’re going to Chase’s house for supper. Mom said.”

“Okay. I’m not arguing. What are we doing until then? It’s only four.”

“I can think of a thing or two.” He gave her a slow, seductive smile.


“I meant the archives. Sheesh, Jordan. Dirty mind! Chase asked if we could meet up and help him and Marissa organize things.”

“Isn’t that Cynthia’s job now?”

“Yeah, but he’ll take over from her eventually. Besides, it helps him feel closer to his dad.” Biting the inside of his cheek, his eyes watered. “I can only imagine how bad he feels. I mean, I thought my dad was dead for awhile, but a part of me knew he wasn’t. But knowing he’s gone and never coming back….”

“Would be horrible,” Jordan whispered. Her eyes filled with tears. “We face the real possibility of losing our parents, or each other.”

Brian nodded, biting his thumb. “That’s one reason—I know I sound like a total asshole, okay? But that’s one reason I feel so compelled….”

“To make love? Because you don’t want to die a virgin? Get a grip, Casey!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 6


dellani photo dark redAs was mentioned in Part 5, characters occasionally go on a rampage, or at least run wild. They don’t heel and they sure as hell aren’t going to apply their own brakes. The first time they do this (or the second, or the twentieth) it can be disconcerting, if not terrifying.

My historical romance, Indian Summer, is a prime example of this. I had, in my foolish naivete, expected the characters to do what I wanted. My intention, when I began the story, was to have Gabriella unhappily married to Manuel, who was to be a drunken gambler who beat her. She would run away, meet Sailfish, and live happily ever after.

Well. That didn’t happen. For starters, Gabriella refused to fall in love with anyone but Manuel. Although he was a bit of a bad boy, he reined himself in, stopped drinking, quit gambling, and became a model…

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When Tis Done – Part 26

When Tis Done coverThe other Circle members arrive, but it’s too much for Neil. He heads to the treehouse in the backyard, where Heath joins him. A short time later, Brian and Jordan arrive, sending the others away, while they help Neil relax.

“Apt way to put it. Yes, and yes.” He shrugged when Cynthia glared at him. “Babe, he’s right. I feel strange inside and out. My hair tingles and my teeth itch.”

Brian’s turn to nod. “Yeah. Not to mention the soles of your feet—pins and needles?”

“Yeah. You felt all that, too?”

“The stories I could tell. But that’s not the important thing. What helped, was Lester.” He pointed to the skull. “If I hadn’t had him, I think I would have gone out of my mind. I know that he’s not going to have the same effect on you, because he’s tuned to me, but he will help. When we get you calmed down a little, Jackie said she’ll help you find a skull of your own. She’s worked with me and Lester a lot the last couple of years. She’s the best teacher I know, next to—to Cliff.” He gulped, swatting tears away with the back of his hand. “I’m not as good a teacher as he was, but one thing I learned was to find the calmness within. That’s what you need, Neil. You need that circle of peace, because right now, there is a huge, gaping, jagged hole right there.” He pointed to Neil’s chest, just under his left pectoral muscle.

“I feel it,” Neil admitted. “That’s where Cliff used to be.”

“And we’re going to bring part of him back—to both of you. He’s still with us, we just can’t see him. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to feel him.”

“You can do that?” Jordan was stunned. “How did you learn that?”

“It came to me in a dream. We ready?” He grinned, nervous energy flowing from him.

Neil straightened his shoulders. “Strangely, I am.”

They joined hands once more, going through their relaxation and meditation routine. When he felt they were ready, Brian put their hands on the skull. A tingling started in their fingertips, running up their arms. It burst from them, meeting at the skull before twining together, spiralling upward. A dark green came from Neil, rosy pink from Jordan, amber yellow from Cynthia and a deep indigo from Brian. The strands wove together, creating a multicolored spectrum which built a cage-like lattice work that wove in with the wood of the tree house.

“This house is made of oak, ash and thorn,” Brian said. “The boards were soaked in rowan berry juice, giving it this distinctive color. It was built as a refuge, to protect and nurture us. This tree is an ancient oak, which has been alive for over three hundred years. It was a sapling when Luminous Cayce deeded this land to Henrietta and Aldus Finley after their battle with Opal.”

“How do you know this?” Neil asked.

“I remember reading it in some of Cliff’s documents. You wouldn’t believe the wealth of information in those archives. Even if I’m not archivist, I’m learning what I can. Everything we know will help us in the next battle.”

“So, you believe it’s coming soon?” Neil asked.

“Yes. And it’s going to be a storm unlike any other. I’m glad we have you, Neil. You’re a warrior. You know how to think in battle strategy. We will need you more than you can possibly imagine. But you need to find your center. Much of what you’ve learned will come back to you when you find it. Right now, you’re in a flat spin.”

That was exactly how Neil felt. A flat spin, spiralling rapidly downward. Closing their eyes once more, the four of them concentrated on finding their spiritual centers. It was a worthy exercise for the others as well. Brian talked quietly and calmly, guiding them through the most basic of rituals. What seemed to be minor to the members of the center circle, something they did daily, was a behavior that Neil had never learned. When it was over, they opened their eyes. Neil smiled, his eyes meeting Cynthia’s across the circle.

“Better,” he whispered. “Thank you, Brian. That’s exactly what I needed.”

The young man grinned, nodding. “Lester is pretty freaking cool. He’s gotten me through some difficult times. How’s the itching, tingling and jangling?”

“Bearable. The tap dance is down to a soft shoe and the jangling’s more like a jingle. Still there, though.”

“Yeah, it comes and goes. If it’s any consolation, it does get better. Or maybe you get used to it.”

“Do you feel that?” Cynthia asked Jordan.

“Not what Brian’s describing. Except for the tap dance on the spine.”

“Girls wouldn’t get the ball thing,” Cynthia teased.

“Do not make fun,” Brian said seriously. “You have no idea how disconcerting it is.”

“Not having testicles, no,” Jordan said stiffly. “Can we change the subject. Talking about—those—is a bit weird and uncomfortable for me.”

Brian squeezed her fingers. “Sorry, babe. You have to realize that, for a man, that’s the most important thing. The protective cup was invented at least a decade before the football helmet, remember.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Slightly Sarcastic…. by Dellani

Cereal Authors

Sassy Sarcastic

Last month, Rachel Rueben shared a post which stated, in part, that children can understand sarcasm by age six. It also said that people with frontotemporal dementialack the ability to understand it. I wasn’t terribly surprised about the comment about children. My granddaughter, who turned 9 in September, is possibly the most sarcastic child on Earth. I can’t confirm this scientifically, because I don’t know every child on Earth. However, I do know my granddaughter, and she’s extremely sarcastic. (You see my line of reasoning, it’s sound—ish) Considering that she comes from a long line of sarcastic people: her parents, their parents and their parents, it’s really not surprising. It will be interesting to see how her little sister fares in this sarcastic environment. I lay bets that the younger one will be even more scathing and sarcastic than her older sister. But give her time, okay? She’s only…

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When Tis Done – Part 25

When Tis Done coverThe morning after the ritual, the other members of the Circle arrive after breakfast. Cynthia knew they were coming, but had forgotten to tell Neil. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to bother him as much.

Neil and Cynthia cleaned up their breakfast and Neil made another pot of coffee. They gathered in the family room, largely devoid of furniture, sitting on the floor like teenagers. All of them were casually, comfortably dressed and were barefoot. Jackie unwrapped a ten inch crystal, putting it in the center of their circle. She set it on a purple cloth and scattered flowers around the base. She gave each of them a small, crystal skull to hold. It seemed to be random, but Neil knew it was anything but that. The bits and pieces he remembered of their powers, and the properties of stones, he made the connections. Cynthia, who controlled earth and air like her brother, had one made of hematite. His own, as a wielder of fire and water, was made from fire agate. The others also had stones which were compatible with their elements.

Adele handed out bundles of wood chips and herbs tied in neat little bags. These were charms of some kind, though, in his ignorance, he couldn’t identify them. He had no idea how to use any of these things, so it hardly mattered what they were. He knew he’d be told soon enough. Jackie, who often lectured on such things, spent time going over the items with him. Neil did his best to concentrate, but it was difficult. She was going so fast, his head started to ache, his vision swimming before his eyes.

Standing suddenly, he swayed unsteadily. “Sorry. I’m—totally lost. This is—it’s too much. Twenty years is a long time to be away and you’re assuming that I remember anything. I’m sorry.” He dashed from the house, out the backdoor and gone.

Cynthia intended to pursue him, but Heath stopped her. He didn’t run or rush, merely strolled out. He knew where Neil was going. There was a well built tree house on the edge of the backyard. It was a place where he and Cliff had spent a lot of time as teens. They smoked their first joint there, got their first sip of whiskey and each of them had had a woman up there from time to time, though not the women they eventually married.

As he expected, Heath found Neil crouching in the center of the tree house. It had weathered the years fairly well. Heath suspected that Cliff, or maybe Chase, had kept it up. He sat across from his friend, folding his hands in his lap.

“We make assumptions,” he said quietly. “We forget that you haven’t been around this for a long, long time. We think that because it’s easy to us, that it’s easy to you. What is common place and every day in our minds, is completely foreign to others—including you. Even Cynthia has been around it more than you have, these past two decades. For that, I apologize.”

“I put it aside,” Neil said so softly, Heath could barely hear. “I never thought it would be mine and it—hurt—so much. Jackie might as well have been speaking Farsi, it made about as much sense.”

“You’re fluent in Farsi.”

Neil made a face and flipped his friend off.

“But yes, I understand what you mean. And yes, I get it. What would work better? A group setting or just you and me and a bottle of single malt?”

“I don’t like people,” Neil replied. “I mean….”

“Crowds. There’s danger in crowds. I get it. I haven’t experienced anything that you have, but I’m still uncomfortable in a press of people. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through and I’m sorry that we’re asking you to put yourself in harm’s way again.”

“I went to serve my country because I was needed. I’m taking on this job because I’m needed here even more. But I can’t handle this approach. I need…. Hell, I don’t know what I need.”

Someone was climbing the ladder. Heath was a little surprised to see his daughter. She hadn’t come with them. Jordan smiled at Neil, nudging her father aside so she could sit down.

“I had a feeling that I was needed. Brian brought me over. He’s down there.” She nodded to the ground below them. “He said that he knows how to help. So do I. We’ll need Cynthia and everyone else needs to go,” she told her father.

He nodded, accepting the statement. Climbing down the ladder, he sent Brian up. Cynthia came out a few minutes later and the four of them sat on the floor while the others departed. Brian had a bag over his shoulder. Inside was a purple stone skull about the size of a softball. Its name was Lester and it was the first one he’d had contact with two years ago. Jackie had given it to him as a present for his sixteenth birthday. He set it out on a piece of white cotton cloth. He instructed them to sit at the four points of the compass, with Neil at north and Cynthia at south. He took east, leaving Jordan to the west. They sat close enough for their knees to touch and lightly clasped hands.

“You’re in full freak-out mode,” Brian explained. “We’ve all been there at one point or another. Unlike your folks, ours didn’t tell us anything about who we were or what to expect. I really wish mine had, because let me tell you, it was funky as shit when all these things started to happen.” Realizing that he was babbling about things Neil didn’t know, he stopped, taking a deep breath. “But you’re entitled to your freak out time. Our folks have forgotten what that was like. To them, this is as normal as breathing. To the rest of us, it’s a lot to take in. Your body feels like something’s doing a tap dance on your spine and dude, your balls are jangling, am I right?”

The women looked annoyed and uncomfortable, but Neil grinned.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 24

When Tis Done coverThe morning after the ritual, Neil and Cynthia are getting up for breakfast. Turns out, he’s a peppy morning person and she’s not.

“Dora’s a night person, I’m a morning person. I learned to keep odd hours when I was in the Marines. You have to learn to adapt or you can’t survive. But morning was always my favorite time, even after a long night. I got called Mary Sunshine in bootcamp. Sergeant Pepper gave me that name.”

“He was really named Pepper?”

“Yep. First name, Claude. Like the politician from Alabama.”

She nodded, knowing the name. “So, Sergeant Pepper called you Mary Sunshine….”

“Yeah. He told me later, after I’d made Sergeant myself, that he’d had high hopes for me. He was a Master Sergeant by that time. I really looked up to that man.”

“Is he still alive?”

Neil chuckled. “And kicking probie ass. He’s training for the government now. Last I talked to him, he was a weapons instructor at Quantico. He offered to get me a job there, but I turned it down.”

“Why on Earth? That sounds like a great job!”

“Cause I had the most beautiful woman in Miracle, Mississippi, waiting for me. No job is worth more to me than you are. Our roots are here, Cindy Lou. Our friends, families. And eventually, in the very near future, I want to start our family here, too.”

His kiss set her on fire inside. She couldn’t see if they were glowing, here in the light of dawn, but she suspected they were. How long that would continue, she didn’t know. As long as the love remained, she didn’t care. Neil held her spellbound, he’d always had that effect on her. He swept her into his arms, carrying her into the house. They made love as the morning sun peeped over the horizon.

“Do you think the Circle knew about this time? Could the Powers That Be have known in advance, that we’d be needed to step in?” she asked as they took a shower.

“I don’t know what the Powers That Be are capable of. I hardly know the term, except in the general use of it.”

After a quick shower, they decided to have breakfast. Together, they prepared a meal and Neil brewed a pot of his almost lethal coffee. Cynthia sipped it, shivering as she smiled.

“Wow, that’ll put hair on your chest.”

He grabbed the top of her shirt, peering down. “Whew! No, thank God! I love you, Cindy Lou, but I don’t think I want you hairy on the chest. That’s my job.”

She ran her fingers up under his shirt, feeling the thick patch of hair on his broad chest. “You must drink a lot of this coffee.”

“I had that much hair when I was seventeen. You just don’t remember.”

“I do, too. We used to go to the lake every summer, or hang out a Heath’s pool. I remember every inch of you, Neil Braxton.”

“I didn’t show you every inch of me, Cynthia Finley. Or our mamas would have had a fit.”

“I saw enough to know. Those swimming trunks you wore left very little to the imagination. And what imagination was needed, I happily supplied.” She teased his belly with her hand. “I have to admit, I didn’t attribute quite what I should have to some of the dimensions.” Her fingers played with his fly. “But then, I was an innocent, tender, sweet, young thing. I knew boys were different from girls, but not how different they were from one another.”

“I hope you’ve been pleasantly surprised.” He kissed her, his fingers brushing her arm.

Someone knocked at the door. They sprang apart, looking and feeling guilty. They were both dressed, but frowzy, having pawed one another more than they’d realized. Combing fingers through their hair, they went to the door. Neil peered out the peephole and smiled.

“Come on in!” He flung the door open, greeting the other members of their circle. They brought covered dishes and other mysterious packages into the foyer.

“I know this is an imposition,” Maribelle said, blushing a little. “But with us all here, we knew we needed to take advantage of the time. We talked about this last night, but I guess you didn’t get the memo.”

“My fault,” Cynthia said. “I know, but I lost track of time.”

Their friends laughed, completely understanding without being told.

“Claude can still make time stand still,” Adele assured Cynthia, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “I have no doubt that Neil is as magical as he.” She touched his face, smiling, before kissing his cheek as well. Her full, berry red lips left a blush of color behind.

Everyone gave hugs and kisses, which was almost overwhelming for Neil. He wasn’t used to such shows of affection, but found that he liked it. It had been a part of his youth, but not in later years. He and his battle buddies had maintained a professional distance, in the hope it would make losing a comrade easier. It hadn’t. It felt good to hold people close. A warmth filled him that he hadn’t even realized was missing.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents the First Dellani’s Tea Time of 2018 with Christina and Dellani

It’s the New Year! Time to make (and break) your resolutions! As we’ve done for several years, the first show of the year, Christina and Dellani chat with one another. There’s no telling where the conversation will go, because these ladies have a lot to say!

Christina writes under the name Rachel Rueben. She has one published YA novel, Hag. She’s also written a variety of author self-help articles and books. Check out her work at Amazon, and her website, Writing By the Seat of My Pants.

Dellani has a wide variety of novels available. Mostly an author of romantic suspense, she also has historical romances, sci-fi, erotic romances, and an adult coloring book. Check out her work at Amazon, and her blog on Word Press.

Both authors post monthly on Cereal Authors blog on Word Press.