Archive by Author | dellanioakes

First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited

first meetingI am a big fan of first meetings, or the Meet Cute as they are called in romantic comedies. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Although they get off to a somewhat rough start, Malin Dimas and Carina Enriques-Deza find that they are mutually interested. Carina is an art student who loves photography. She’s so absorbed in her projects, she doesn’t always pay attention where she’s going, particularly if she’s in a rush.

Class ended, but Carina hardly noticed. She had another class, then she had to work. Her less than glamorous job was waiting tables at a small outdoor restaurant on Hypolita Street.

Rushing to her class, she neatly avoided running into anyone until she got to the staircase. Going from the bright sun to the sudden shade, she was still wearing her sunglasses. She ran headlong into a tall, broad shouldered body. Her bag went one way, her body the other, while the strong male hardly moved. He did grunt, her elbow having caught him inadvertently in the midsection.

Carina sprawled on the ground, cursing in Spanish and English as the man tried to help her up. Hardly looking at him, she was trying to find the things that had fallen out of her bag.

Her phone had landed in a shallow puddle. Her pens and lip gloss were nowhere to be found. A well calloused, long fingered hand helped her up, brushing her off as a pleasant tenor voice apologized for running her down.

“I’m so sorry. I got sun dazzled I guess,” he said quietly, handing her the lip gloss and pens. “I got in this dark and I couldn’t see a damn thing. Sorry about that.” His soft Southern accent was warm and welcoming.

Carina looked up at him. He had black hair and dark brown eyes. Her own jade green eyes locked with his for a moment and she smiled.

“It’s okay. I couldn’t see either. Environmental hazard living in Florida.”

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

“Well, it is the Sunshine State, right?”

“Yeah. Sorry, I really need to run. I’ve got class.”

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

“Missed the nuts,” he said with a grin.

Carina giggled as she trotted up the stairs. The young man walked with her, taking the steps two at a time.

“I bet your girlfriend will be grateful for that,” she said as he opened the stairwell door for her.

“Don’t have one, but I’m mighty happy you missed ’em. I’ve grown a bit attached to them over the years.”

With a sidelong glance, she eased past him as he held the door for her. He stood by it, leaning on the edge, gazing down at her. There was barely enough room to slip through, but she did because she was in a hurry. Waving to him, she dodged in her classroom as the instructor was about to close the door.

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

“Sorry. I fell,” she explained as she walked past him.

“You okay?” Those were the last words that made their way into the hallway.

Malin Dimas shouldered his backpack and walked downstairs. He would have used any excuse to walk that girl to her class. He didn’t have another class until eleven, so he headed to the nearest coffee shop, got a large double shot and wandered to the Plaza in front of Government House. Sitting on the steps of the Slave Market, he gazed out over the town.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw – Part 9

He Thought He Saw redHome once more, Brian helps his mother fix dinner. She reminds him that he missed his appointment with the parish priest, but is happy that he’s out with friends. Brian doesn’t dare tell her what is really going on.

They had fun over dinner. Brian hadn’t realized how subdued he’d been the last few weeks. He couldn’t say he was exactly depressed, but he was certainly stressed by the recent events. Having someone else to talk to about it, who understood and didn’t think he was crazy, had made a world of difference.

Brian went to bed early that night, determined to get a better night’s sleep than he had the night before. Fortunately, his rest wasn’t interrupted by nightmares or bears. He woke the next day feeling rested and ready for whatever the world handed him.

The sky was cloudy as he headed for the bus stop. It looked like it would rain again. The temperature had dropped during the night. He could see his breath in the early morning air. He was usually the only one at his bus stop, but today there was a new kid sitting on the bench under the awning.

Brian walked up warily. He didn’t know the person and wasn’t sure if he could trust them or not. Being so far out of town, they got tramps and transients. Just because the person sat at a school bus stop didn’t mean he or she was a student.

The person didn’t look up when Brian stepped under the awning. Instead the stranger fiddled with an iPod which apparently wasn’t working right. A few muttered curse words confirmed that assumption. The person smacked the iPod with a flattened palm, cursed again and shoved the device into a pocket.

A baggy, navy blue, hoodie concealed a short, slight frame. Straight, brown hair stuck out from under a multicolored beanie, concealing most of the face. Jeans and boots completed the anonymous outfit.

“Trouble?” Brian asked quietly.

The person gasped, looking up at him. “I think I managed to delete all my music,” the gruff voice complained. “Either that, or something else is wrong with the damn thing. It won’t work.”

“Man, that sucks. Mind if I sit?”

“Help yourself. Not my bench.”

“I’m Brian Casey.”

“Jordan Barrett.” The name and voice did nothing to clarify the gender issue.

“You must be new around here. I’ve never seen you before.”

“My folks wanted a quieter, simpler life. So, instead of living in the suburbs, they picked his tiny town in BFE. I can’t even get cell service unless I’m standing in the center of town. So much for keeping up with my friends back home.”

“Guess you’ll have to make some new ones,” Brian said quietly. He wasn’t sure what to think of the mouthy, disgruntled teen. He dearly wished that either the name or the clothing was different so he’d have a clue if he was speaking to a boy or girl. He still couldn’t tell and he didn’t think it was polite to ask.

“Yeah. Not like I had so many, ya know? Not one to be popular.”

“Me either. Gotta work too hard to be popular. Besides, I prefer being anonymous.”

“Whatever works, right? Of course, my parents are upset that I’m a social pariah. They were head cheerleader and captain of the football team. They went Greek in college and belong to the alumni association of their high school and college. Mom was also Miss Teen Spirit when she was in high school. I told her I wasn’t interested in being named after a deodorant—or a song. She so didn’t get it.”

Brian chuckled, nodding. “I’m lucky. My mom couldn’t care less if I’m popular. She wants good grades. Can do that standing on my head.”

“You any good at math?”

“Yeah, pretty good. Why?”

“Because I suck ten kinds of suckage at math. I need someone to help me. Dad said he would, but he’s about as patient as a wet cat. Mom’s blonde.” Jordan said that as if it meant something special.

Brian, who was also blond, looked confused.

“Dumb blonde?” Jordan snickered. “I guess it’s contagious.”

“I may be blond, but at least I’m good at math.” He tried not to sound offended, but didn’t conceal it well.

“Oh, touchy! If you can help my math grade, I forgive you for being blond and promote you to honorary brunette.”

Brian chuckled. “Mighty kind of you.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents Mark David, Maria and Dan

Wednesday, August 24 What’s Write for Me

 

Wednesday, August 24 at 4:00 PM EDT (3 CDT, 2 MDT, 1 PDT), Dellani and Christina welcome back two guests and greet a new one.

Distinguished as being one of Dellani’s first guests, we are pleased to have Mark David Gerson on the show again. He is the author of Sara’s Year, Moonquest Series, Acts of Surrender, Birthing Your Book and many more. Mark will join us from 4:00 – 5:00

Also returning is Maria DeVivo , author of Coal Elf and The Rise of Sturd. Maria will join us 5:00 – 6:00

New to the show is Dan O’Brien, author of Sixth Prime, Lauren Westlake Mystery series, Society of Dawn series and many more. Dan will talk with us and the others from 4:00 – 6:00.

Join us in chatting with these three amazing guests LIVE or via PODCAST at your convenience.

He Thought He Saw – Part 8

He Thought He Saw redFinding a young man in Louisiana, who has reported experiences like his, Brian feels compelled to write him an e-mail asking Andre to call him. He does, and they make plans to meet.

“What I want to know, is what’s going on,” Sweet said. “I mean, it was freaky enough when it was me—then Andre. After that, we found the girls and now you.”

“I saw a website for a girl in Washington state who had experienced similar things,” Brian contributed. There were more, but when I saw Andre’s site, I decided to contact him cause y’all are so close.”

“How much more?” Ginnifer asked, her green eyes wide and circled with kohl.

“I don’t know. But I brought my laptop with me.” Brian unslung the bag he carried. He booted up his system and waited for the internet hookup. Tapping in the commands, he showed them the sites he’d seen. The list went on for 30 pages.

“This is crazy! It’s all over the country!” Sweet said.

“There’s one form Peru and another from Australia,” Louisa pointed out. “This is world wide.”

“I’m freaking out here,” Ginnifer said, hugging herself. “It’s like the whole world is going crazy!”

“But you notice, the people seeing and reporting this stuff are all between fifteen and nineteen? There’s no one over twenty on any of these pages,” Andre commented, opening one window after another. “And we all start out almost the exact same way, My name is…. and I’m X years old. Almost like a template. The things we describe, really similar and we use the same words—wraiths, ghost in the fog, swamp creatures…. It’s freaky. How likely is it that we’d all write the same way?”

“Not very,” Brian admitted. “I was calling them wraiths in my head, and I barely know what that means.”

“We should contact more of these people,” Ginnifer said in a matter of fact tone. “We need to find out everything we can.”

They went into the main part of the library and each of the others signed up for a computer. Andre set up a Yahoo e-mail account for them to use as a contact and they wrote out a basic e-mail and divided up the sites. Each of them cut and pasted the message to the site owners asking for them to reply via the e-mail address.

It was nearly 6:00 when they finished. Brian had to get home to help his mother with dinner. Andre gave him a ride. On the way, they stopped and picked up his bike from the ditch where he’d dropped it.

Before they left, the five of them exchanged phone numbers with the assurance that the next time something freaky happened, they would call as soon as possible.

“Stay safe,” Ginnifer said, hugging Brian. “You should ask around town and see if anyone you know has been having stuff happen.”

Brian shook his head adamantly. “Nope, not gonna happen. They’ll think I’m stone cold crazy.”

She pouted prettily. “Just a suggestion.”

Louisa didn’t hug Brian, but she did shake his hand, followed by a knuckle bump. “Cajones of pure steel,” she said with a grin. “Be careful.”

They made plans to get together weekly to report on incidents and connect. Brian watched them drive away, feeling suddenly alone. He walked in the door, closing it quietly behind him.

“That you?”

“No, it’s a perfect stranger.”

“Okay. Well, come introduce yourself and help me with this blasted jar.”

Laughing, Brian walked in the kitchen. His mother handed him a jar of spaghetti sauce and another of minced garlic. He opened both. She gave him a kiss.

“Wash up. You’re just in time to check the meat and drain it for me.”

“You got it, Chef!”

“You missed your appointment with Father Ramsey.”

“Oh, crap!” He slapped his forehead. “I’m sorry. I forgot.”

“It’s all right. I’m glad you were out with friends. You spend too much time with me,” she commented quietly. “You need to be around young people.”

“I like being here, Mom. Most of the kids here aren’t that interesting. I mean, we get along okay….”

She stopped him, putting her hand on his cheek. “I know, honey. I understand that probably better than most parents. I was always the outsider, the loner. It’s not easy. But at least you learn how to be strong and rely on yourself.”

Brian smiled and nodded. His mother patted his cheek.

“Can’t hear a smile, kiddo.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from On the Fairway

first meetingHeath Otts works at a local, very posh and exclusive, golf course as a greens keeper. After work one afternoon, his boss asks him to drop off some bags of pink gravel, which were delivered to them by mistake. He takes them up to the club house as instructed, and looks for someone to give them to.

There was a flurry of activity in one of the private dining rooms. He wandered over, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched, trying not to look as big and dirty as he was. It wasn’t easy making a man his size inconspicuous. At six foot four, he was broad shouldered, narrow hipped and handsome. Even with a day’s worth of dirt on him, he was eye catching. His wavy brown hair came to the collar of his shirt. His brilliant blue eyes surveyed the room looking for someone in charge.

A tall, well built brunette with shoulder length hair and killer legs stood a few feet away. She wore a bright blue dress that clung invitingly to her tasty curves. Heath watched her ass for several seconds before clearing his throat.

“Excuse me, miss?”

She spun around, her smile faltering when she saw his shabby attire.

“I’ve got the gravel y’all ordered.”

“Oh, of course. Thank you!”

“Where would you like me to stow it?”

She cast about for a moment, then motioned to a table near the door. “Right there is perfect. That will save you a few steps.”

“You got it!” He turned away.

“What’s your name?” she called after him.

“Heath Otts.”

“Essa Jaymes. Nice to meet you. I’m the events planner here.”

“I work greens maintenance. Pardon my stank. I just got off work.”

She reached out the shake his hand. He started to take her hand, realized he was still dirty, even after washing, and jerked it away instead.

“Sorry. I’m real dirty, Miss Jaymes. Nice to meet you, though.”

She grabbed his hand anyway, shaking firmly. “I can always wash. Nice to meet you, Heath.”

“You too. Lemme get that gravel in for ya.” He walked backward, pointing over his shoulder at the back door.

“Sure. Great. Thank you.” She looked baffled by his behavior, but smiled anyway.

So damn outta her league. . . .I’m not even in the same galaxy as her league. Fuck, I’m not even in her universe. God damn that’s a pretty woman!

His unloading went quickly. He had to carry everything in by hand, but he was strong and able to lift two bags at a time. Soon, all ten bags were stacked neatly on the table. He’d been given a paper for someone to sign, so he went looking for Miss Jaymes again. He found her on the far side of the room counting place settings.

“Just need your John Hancock,” he said, handing her a clipboard.

“Thanks again,” she said, scribbling her name. She handed it back to him. Next to it, she’d written her number. Her smile flashed. “Do they let you accept tips?”

“Ma’am?”

“Your boss. Are you allowed to take a tip?”

“I dunno. Only been working two months and no one tried to tip me before.”

She grinned, handing him a folded bill on the sly. “Shh,” she whispered. “Qviet!”

Heath took it from her furtively, turning his body so no one would see the bill exchange hands. “I feel like I’m doing a drug deal,” he murmured.

Essa laughed. “Nothing so sordid, I promise. I know the kitchen staff aren’t allowed to accept tips. It’s built into the bill. I really appreciate you doing that for me. I don’t suppose I could trouble you further? I don’t have scissors and I don’t think I can open those bags with my hands.”

“I’ll slit ’em for ya. Enough you can get your fingers in. Any more than a slit, you’ll be up to your ears in pink gravel.”

She giggled at his lame joke. “That would be super awesome! Thank you.” Essa beamed at him.

“Happy to help a lady in distress.” Heath flipped open his pocket knife and attacked the corner of each bag and stood them upright against the wall, so they wouldn’t spill.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw – Part 7

He Thought He Saw redOn his way home from the market, Brian is attacked once more by the swamp creatures and he wrecks his bike. The big, white dog appears again and helps him get away. Curious if anyone else has reported such strange happenings, he finds blog posts from all over the country, from young people who describe adventures just like his own.

Brian’s skin crawled when he read that. It was so similar to his own experience, he couldn’t disavow it. There was an e-mail address at the bottom of the page. Brian clicked it and started writing.

“I think maybe you understand what I’m going through,” he wrote. He described his experiences with the fog column and the fact that the dog had rescued him twice. He even talked about the bear, though he was unsure that the incidents were related.

He got a message a few minutes later. “Call me.” And a phone number followed.

Brian hesitated. He wasn’t sure whether it would go against his mother’s no calls to strangers policy or not. He finally decided that he didn’t care. He was afraid and needed someone else to assure him that he wasn’t crazy. He picked up his cellphone and dialed.

“Hiya,” the other boy answered. “My name is Andre and I seen shit that’d turn you white.”

Brian chuckled. “Yeah, me too.”

“I live about an hour away,” Andre said. “You got a car?”

“No. I can’t drive yet.”

“Then I’m coming to you. I got a few folks to pick up on the way. Where can we meet?”

Brian thought a moment. “Meet me at the library in town.”

“Where do you live?”

“I’m over in Mississippi—in Miracle. It’s not far from Natchez.”

“Gotcha. Meet us there in about two hours. I’ll call when we are close to town.”

“Okay. It’s about a ten minute walk for me. My bike’s in the ditch, remember?”

“Right. Don’t worry, we’ll give you plenty of time. Look forward to meeting you.” He hung up.

Brian hoped he hadn’t just done something really foolish. He knew his mother always told him not to give out personal information, but he sensed that Andre wasn’t going to hurt him. He felt confident talking to the older boy about his experiences. And now, he wasn’t alone.

Brian left his mother a note written in Braille, on the refrigerator, as they’d always done. She knew to look there if he wasn’t at home. He headed to the library when he got Andre’s call a couple hours later. A battered blue Ford pickup with Louisiana plates sat in front of the squat, brick building. Several teenagers sat in the bed, drinking sodas.

A tall, lean African American teenager stood up and hopped out of the truck. He smiled at Brian, his hand extended.

“You’re Brian. Hi. I’m Andre. That’s Sweet.” He pointed to a short, skinny blond boy who looked like a skater. “That’s Louisa.” He pointed to a lovely Latina who wore jeans and a sweater. “And that’s Ginnifer.” The last was an attractive blonde who dressed like something out of a Twilight novel. Her hair was done up in a lacy, black scarf and her clothing virtually yelled teen angst.

“Hi. I’m Brian. Come on in.”

They hopped out of the truck and followed him into the library. He led them to the desk and asked if they could use one of the meeting rooms.

“Sure, Brian. Nothing’s going on today until five. You’ll have to clear out by then.”

“No problem, Mrs. Tompkins. We’ll be done.”

They went to the small conference room down the hall from the lobby. Brian shut the door, not wanting the entire library to know their business. They found chairs and pulled them into a circle. The others looked at him expectantly. Brian gazed steadily at Andre.

“You start,” Ginnifer said. Her voice was a husky alto.

Brian nodded. He told them about his experiences. The four of them listened closely, nodding silently. When Brian had finished, Sweet exhaled slowly.

“All that on your own? Shit!” He ran fingers through his spiky blond hair. “At least when I had that much happen, I had Andre with me. And the girls were together when they got chased.”

“I wasn’t entirely alone. I had the dog.”

“She yours?” Andre asked.

“No. I don’t know where she came from. She doesn’t live in town. Place this size, we all know each other an the animals we own. I’m lucky she came along when she did.”

Louisa pursed her lips, shaking her head. “No. she was sent to protect you. We’ve all seen the dog—a dog. I don’t think it’s the same one.”

“The one Lou and I saw was a male” Ginnifer said. “But the guys had a female dog.”

“Well, we can guess she’s not crossing state lines to protect us. Question is, where do they come from?” Andre asked what they were all thinking.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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He Thought He Saw – Part 6

He Thought He Saw redWhile shopping, Brian foils two thieves intent upon robbing the store.

Mr. Wilkes gave him back the money he’d paid for the groceries. “You saved me a hell of a lot more than that. You’re my hero, son.”

Brian got on his bike and headed home. He was nearly there when the storm broke. Freezing rain fell in big, fat drops. They slashed in his eyes and trickled down the back of his neck. No matter how he wiped and blinked, it made no difference. He could barely see. Unfortunately there was no really good place to stop. Ditches on both sides of the road were deep and wide. Water ran high and fast in them both. The trees sat far back from the pavement, hunkering in the mud of the swamp.

As he passed, Brian remembered his experience the night before. He thought he saw more of the wraiths forming in the fog, but convinced himself it was his imagination, until the fog started moving toward him. He’d seen fog move before. That was nothing new. But it moved in a column, condensed and with a purpose.

Pedaling faster, he prayed he’d get home soon. Splashing through puddles, hitting bumps and sliding in mud, he continued. The column of fog was closer. He imagined he could see faces in the gray cloud, writhing with pain and fury. He sped up only to hit a giant pothole.

He flew over the handlebars of his bike, landing on the pavement in a heap. He didn’t have time to prepare for his fall and hit hard, taking the impact on his forearms. Gravel dug into his flesh and he lay on the ground, screaming in pain and fear. The column moved more quickly closing on his position. Brian curled in a ball, calling for help.

From out of the woods, a pale body ran. Thinking it was another wraith, Brian cried out when it came at him. At the last minute, he realized it was the dog from the night before. She stood near him, bravely facing down the column. Brian picked up a downed live oak branch from beside the road and held it in front of him like a staff. The column hesitated.

The dog growled low in her chest. It was like thunder rumbling. The hair on her back stood straight up and she lowered her head preparing to spring. With a loud growl, she launched herself at the column, jaws wide. Brian was sure she’d pass through the cloud, but she didn’t.

The cloud staggered back, the weight of the dog forcing it away. She ripped and tore with her teeth, tearing pieces from it. They drifted away like smoke, but the faces screamed as if they were wounded. The dog didn’t stop.

Brian joined her, whacking at the cloud with his stick. To his surprise, it met with resistance. He could see where he’d wounded the hazy substance. Large, black rents appeared and the column of fog continued to dwindle.

With a roar, Brian hammered at the cloud. The dog beside him continued, relentless. With a hissing bang, is disappeared, leaving a foul stench of swamp gas behind. Panting and gasping, Brian patted the dog on the head. She licked his palm, smiling up at him.

“Thank you again, girl. I couldn’t have done it without you.” He picked up his groceries, thankful that nothing was breakable. The plastic bags were muddy and wet, but he could manage.

His bike, on the other hand, was destroyed. The front wheel was bent and broken, the handlebars rested at an angle the manufacturer never intended. The chain was off and the seat askew. Knowing he’d never ride it again, he left it by the road and picked up the groceries.

The rain had dissipated slightly, but still the chill water wriggled down his neck and trickled into the top of his boxers. Squelching with each step, he made his slow way home. Going in through the back, he left his muddy shoes by the door. He couldn’t do anything about his jeans except roll them up and pray he didn’t make another mess on his mother’s floor.

She must be lying down. She wasn’t in the kitchen when he dripped his way to the laundry. Stripping off his clothing, he put them in the wash and got clean things out of the dryer. Dressed once more, he headed upstairs to the sanctity of his room.

Finally, settled with his laptop, he sat on his bed and started looking up things that he’d seen. He started with the dog and found that she was a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a line originally bred in South Africa to fight lions. From what he could determine, the female he’d seen was not only taller than the average Ridgeback, her color was out of the norm. She was a creamy white, while the majority of the breed were shades of brown.

Next, he searched for some of the strange phenomena he’d been experiencing. The fog column didn’t get any hits, but the wraiths emerging from the woods, did. He read page after page of blogs done by a girl in Washington state. He read more from a young man who lived in Louisiana.

“It was like the bayou came alive. Not only did I have fog creeping up on me, but these creatures of muddy water emerged from the swamp and followed me home. If it hadn’t been for this big dog, I think they would have got me.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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