Archive by Author | dellanioakes

First Love – Part 55

First Love coverTheir dinner is delicious and the entertainment, provided by Gabe, Jose and Luis, is superb. The last dance of the night, the band sings Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. Clayton asks Maddie to dance, holding her close.

“I love you, Maddie,” he whispered.

She barely heard him over the music, but she knew what he’d said. She turned her head so her mouth was right by his ear. “I love you, too,” she murmured.

His fingers twined in her hair as he brought her mouth close. His kiss fully expressed his love for her. They stopped dancing, lost in their kiss.

A sharp, jarring note on the guitar made them pull apart. Gabe barely missed a beat, winking and tipping his hat. Fortunately, the chaperones were lost in their own little worlds as well. Craig and Polly had eyes only for one another. Even Caroline and Leslie were lost in one another’s gaze. Only their friends saw them and none of them would tell. In fact, several of the other teen couples were exchanging a furtive kiss or two.

All too soon, the music ended and the musicians took their instruments back inside. The youth group members were the last to leave, staying behind to talk to their New Mexico friends. With hugs and kisses all around, they finally got back in their cars and headed back to the church compound.

No one felt like sleeping. They were all too excited by their wonderful night and delicious meal. The teenagers sat up talking and laughing, long after the adults retired. They sat in the kitchen, eating leftovers and drinking sodas. Gradually, they headed for bed, leaving Clayton, Maddie, Daniel and Patti alone in the common room.

“Can you believe how well they played?” Maddie gushed. “And such great music! All my favorites.”

Patti giggled, nodding. “I think that was Gabe’s doing. Didn’t you notice how he kept asking you about your favorite songs?”

“I thought he was just making conversation.”

“Totally clueless,” Patti said.

They laughed a few minutes, falling into an awkward silence. It soon became apparent that the boys didn’t feel like talking anymore. They had something else on their minds. Perhaps it was a glance, or maybe that gentle pressure on the back of her neck. Maddie wasn’t sure, but she found herself in Clayton’s arms. Right before closing her eyes, she saw Patti moving closer to Daniel.

A few delicious minutes passed. Their bliss was interrupted by Patti slapping Daniel. She hopped off the couch, shoving him away. Totally flummoxed by her actions, Daniel squinted up at her, holding his cheek.

“I don’t know what you’ve been told about me, Daniel. But I don’t do that!”

“Do what? We were kissing.”

“Like you weren’t copping a feel!”

“I was? Maybe? Shit, Patti. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“Patti,” Clayton spoke sharply to get her attention. “He’s not that guy, okay? Daniel’s cool. One of the good guys.”

Patti burst into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She ran from the room.

Maddie followed, finding her in the bathroom.

 

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Marta and Steve

red river radio logoDellani and Christina welcome two stunning authors TODAY Wednesday, May 25 at 4 PM Eastern time on Blog Talk Radio. 

Steve SchwertleyNew to the show, Steve Schwertley author of Enemy in the Heartland and Revenge Unleashed.

marta moran bishopWe are also delighted to have returning guest, Marta Moran Bishop author of The Jewell in the Dark Series, The Void, Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal and many more

TO LISTEN LIVE OR CATCH THE PODCAST

 

First Love – Part 54

First Love coverThe group arrives at the Rancho for dinner. It is a beautiful and rustic place that makes them feel right at home.

Maddie sat between Clayton and Patti, enjoying the beauty of the place. She felt as if she’d been transported back in time.

They made their meal choices and sipped their iced tea. As they chatted, pointing out items of interest to one another, a band dressed in typical Spanish mariachi band outfits, complete with wide sombreros, walked into the courtyard. There were four of them, two guitars, a huge acoustic bass guitar and a trumpet. A sparkle of notes on the steel twelve string caught their attention. The familiar opening strains of Black Magic Woman made them all smile.

Maddie couldn’t keep still. She clapped and sang with the band. Their waitress, Shelly, leaned over, speaking to Clayton.

“Would you like to dance, Maddie? Shelly said it’s okay.”

She hopped up, taking his hand. Daniel asked Patti, Richard paired up with Beverly and Brad asked Claire. Boys from the New Mexico group invited Jane and Denise to join them. Even the chaperones got up to dance.

The singer’s voice was familiar. Maddie stared at him a moment and realized it was Luis. Next to him, the wide brim of his hat shading his face, was Gabe. On trumpet, they saw Ted and playing bass, a man they didn’t know by name. They recognized him as one of the men who had been guarding them. The song progressed to the drum solo and the men parted ranks. Jose stepped forward, a set of bongos strapped to his chest. They backed him as he did an fabulous drum solo, dancing to the beat. All too soon, the song ended. The entire restaurant rose to their feet, applauding and cheering loudly. Gabe stepped forward, sweeping off his hat.

“We dedicate that song to our friends from Nebraska. Your friendship has meant so much to us, we wanted to see you smile.” His eyes lingered on Maddie. “We’re here for the next hour or so—basically, until they throw us out. I hope you enjoy the show.”

Their meals were served and the youth group members sat down to eat while the band played a variety of Spanish themed music. Their music ranged from Peter Green and Carlos Santana to Spanish flamenco and other folk music from Mexico and Spain.

Nearly two hours later, the restaurant neared closing. They announced their last number. Gabe stepped forward, his fingers dancing across the strings before he played the opening chords of a soft melody. His voice rose over the soft melody as the others gradually joined him singing the beautiful song by Van Morrison.

“…. Let your soul and spirit fly Into the Mystic….”

Clayton held out a hand to Maddie, asking her silently to dance. Nodding, she walked with him to the dance floor. He took her in his arms, holding her against his body. The others joined them and no one scolded them for dancing so close. Maddie rested her head on Clayton’s shoulder as they slow danced. She closed her eyes, feeling his arms around her, his hand pressing in the small of her back.

 

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First Love – Part 53

First Love coverGabe and Clayton have a chat and the New Mexico youth tells his Nebraska buddy that he’s going to back off with Maddie. He’s very attracted to her, but he can see how much the two of them care about each other. He asks what music Maddie likes, or doesn’t, and Clayton teases her, saying they will be there all night if she gets started.

Gabe and Luis nodded, waving. “Thanks, man!” They chorused.

“We’d better get going,” Gabe said suddenly. “I hate to split, but we’ve got something to do for my mom. See you at dinner.” He got up, heading to his truck with Luis.

Maddie was puzzled by Gabe’s sudden departure. He didn’t even say goodbye to her. Frowning, she picked up the remnants of her meal and helped with the cleanup. Clayton made sure he was by her side the entire time, talking and joking. She soon regained her smiles and happy mood. They spent another hour on the torreón before Jose called it a day. Tonight, they would dine at his wife’s restaurant. He was very proud of her business.

“Best food in the county,” he bragged. “Maybe the whole state.”

Once they were all bathed and ready, they piled into the cars. The girls were dressed in brightly colored sundresses. The boys all wore Izod shirts with khakis, almost as if it were a uniform. A party atmosphere enlivened them. Even Claire smiled and laughed with the rest. They arrived at dusk. The Rancho was an original adobe building, which had been in that spot since the Spanish missionaries arrived.

“This was originally a mission church,” Jose told them. “Then everyone was killed by Indians. A few years later, Maria’s ancestors fixed it up and moved in. They started a small farm, which grew and grew. Now, it’s over a hundred acres. The restaurant sits in the middle of it. They supply all their own vegetables and fruit. The milk and cheese comes from our dairy. We even supply our own meat.”

The building was low, squat and sprawling. The smooth adobe walls were painted a light fawn. The sidewalk leading to the front door was made of flagstones. The door was thick oak, trimmed with strips of ornately crafted cast iron. Inside, they found tile floors and beautifully decked tables, graced with candles in cut-tin lanterns. Jose led them through the restaurant to the courtyard beyond. More like a plaza, this was easily half the size of a football field. The main building flanked the west side. The second kitchen building, separate from the main restaurant, stood to the south. Also made of adobe, it was painted a stark and glittering white.

Smiling waiters and waitresses, many of whom were in the church youth group, waited for them by a series of white clothed, wrought iron tables. The chairs were heavy wood with brightly colored cushions. Waiters helped the women with their chairs as the waitresses handed out menus and took drink orders.

The courtyard was ringed with brightly colored paper lanterns, suspended on wires, that danced in the light evening breeze. The plaza sloped gradually to a wide expanse of garden. It was lavishly landscaped with native plants, dotted with sculptures by local artists. Everywhere they looked, their eyes met old world charm. The waitresses were dressed in ruffly flamenco style dresses, with silk flowers in their hair. The men were dressed in black pants with white shirts and cummerbunds.

 

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Amanda M. Thrasher, writer, publisher, renaissance woman!

karenwritesmurder

smallgreenleeping mischief ok and fairy match 13250525_1134320893257467_611006813_n whispering willow

Amanda M Thrasher is the founder of PROGRESSIVE RISING PHEONIX PRESS as well as being a sought after Children’s (MISCHIEF IN THE MUSHROOM PATCH) and young adult author (THE GREENLEE PROJECT).  I wanted to have her be a guest on KAREN WRITES MURDER as well as her recent appearance on WRITERS ROUND TABLE (Blogtalk radio) last week. On my radio show, you shared the origins of your fairy stories. Can you share that touching anecdote with my readers here?

Can you share what experiences you had in the publishing world that led to establishing PROGRESSIVE RISING PHOENIX PRESS?

Great question! Publishing, none. Author, several years. What separated or separates us from other presses our size is the advice that we sought out, follow and now receive from experienced individuals that consult us on a daily basis.

Is this a one woman show or do you have…

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First Love – Part 52

First Love coverGabe, realizing that Clayton is upset about Maddie’s interest, goes to talk to him. He confesses that he’s jealous of Clayton because all Maddie has talked about—is him.

“Yeah. You’ve got an amazing girl. If I were a real prick, I’d beat your ass and carry her away. But since I’m a gentleman, I’m stepping off. I can see how much she cares about you. I might want her for myself, but I can’t. You helped find Claire, a girl you clearly can’t stand. I think that’s the most honorable thing I ever saw anyone do.” He held out his hand to Clayton. “So, go sit by your lady before one of the others notices I’m gone and moves in on her.”

Clayton laughed, shaking Gabe’s hand. “Thank you. I didn’t want to lose her, but—crazy as it seems, if she went with anyone…. You’re a good man, too.”

They walked back to the trees and relaxed in the shade. Clayton took a seat near Maddie and Gabe dropped under a tree, on the other side of the circle.

“Clayton, what was that song you were telling me about? That one—with the thing….”

“What song with what thing?”

“That wa-wa voice thingy. You know! The guy with all the hair.” Her hand gestures were typically vague and totally Maddie.

Clayton hid a smirk. He knew who and what she meant, he simply loved to torment her. “Oh, that clears it right up, babe. What color hair?”

“Blond. I think. Curly. Skinny, British, almost as cute as you.”

“Peter Frampton?”

“Yes!” She kissed his cheek without thinking. “That song by Frampton—?” She waited for him to supply the name.

Do You Feel Like We Do.”

“Yes, thank you!” She paused. “Now I can’t remember what I was saying about it.”

“You like Frampton?” Luis asked.

“Do I!”

“What other musicians do you like?”

“Now, you’ve done it,” Clayton said. “Have you got an hour, maybe two?” He grinned, laughing when Maddie took a swing at him. Her knuckles connected with his upper arm and he yelped. “Ouch, Clayton Abuse!”

“You make me sound like some kind of freak.”

“On the contrary, extensive musical taste is cool. As long as it’s not disco,” he replied. “Cause that stuff sucks.”

Polly cleared her throat.

“Sorry. Stinks.”

“Okay, then. But he’s right. I could go on for the next four hours and not remember everyone.”

“Guess it’s easier to ask what you don’t like,” Luis replied with a smirk.

“Don’t get her started on that either,” Clayton suggested. “In fact, shy away from music entirely unless you want to be stuck here for the rest of the year.”

Maddie balled up her fist.

“I’m kidding! Sheesh!”

Les came to the porch. “Jose, Maria called. She said to remind the boys about tonight.”

 

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Presenting Room 103

Cover by Suzette Vaughn

Cover by Suzette Vaughn

Deputy Marshal Marice Houston is back in Kansas, attending her college reunion. Staying at a small motel in town, she gets friendly with the owner, Todd Englund. Something about his name resonates with her law enforcement mind. She remembers he was tied to a rape case about ten years ago. Unable to believe he could have committed such a horrible crime, she is even more shocked when he’s accused of murdering the girl’s father. However, when she’s the one who finds him standing over the dead body, weapon in hand, there’s not much doubt. What really happened in Room 103? Marice is determined to find out.

CHAPTER ONE

“I don’t want the money!” the loud male voice boomed out from the motel owner’s apartment.

Eavesdropping shamelessly, I waited to see if it turned ugly, hand on my phone in case I needed to call someone. There was a lot of anger radiating from that room.

“I just want a letter of apology, acknowledgment of what they did to me.”

“Come on, Englund, he wants you to have the money for pain and suffering. A public apology….”

“Would simply open old wounds—mine. I do all right here. I make a decent living. If it’s all over the papers, it makes it fresh. Regardless of the apology, people are stupid and superstitious. I’ll be ruined—again. Only I won’t bounce back a second time.”

“At least take the money.”

“It feels like blood money.”

“It is. Yours. It took a lot of convincing to get old man Roberts to open his tight fist and give you this. I had hoped for more, would have settled for less. Please.” The other man’s voice was calm, conciliatory. “Please. You deserved a better shake, Todd. I couldn’t get it for you then, but you have it now.”

There was a quiet rustle as if an envelope were being opened. A sharp gasp followed.

“This much?”

“It’s still not enough. I tried to convince him that your salary would have increased over the years, but he determined a flat rate, based on your pay at the time. He’s not the most astute businessman in the state for nothing. Your salary, times ten. But I did get a bump to an even six.”

“Even with this money, I can’t afford to pay you, Regan.”

“The judge made Roberts pay me. I earned nearly as much as you, but I refused to take even a penny over. You’re the victim, you deserve the most. Oh, by the way, Roberts wants you to sign a letter of receipt.”

“Not on your life. Not until I get my apology.”

“Exactly what I said. To that end, he wants to meet at his office tomorrow.”

“Not on his turf. I don’t want the officious bastard to sneak in cameras for a photo op.”

“Also what I told him. So, he agreed to meet here, tomorrow at ten a.m.”

“That’s checkout time. Everyone will see him and I’ll be busy. Tell him either six a.m., or ten p.m. His choice. We’re making this easy for me, not him. And he can hand me the check personally, along with my letter.”

The paper rustled again.

“As you wish. I’ll call with the time.”

Their voices sounded closer. I rushed to the inner lobby door and opened it as if I’d just come in. Two men walked out of the back room, looking grim and determined. One was about six foot one, dressed in jeans and a Bob Marley T-shirt. His hair was black and carefully mussed to look casual. Or maybe he simply didn’t care how it looked. The other man was slightly shorter, broad shouldered, blond, clean cut, wearing an expensive suit. Both appeared surprised when they saw me, especially when their eyes took in details and noticed I was sporting a gun. It was clearly visible with my jacket open and my hand on the doorknob. Stopping in their tracks, they each took a step back. T-shirt guy started to raise his hands, his blue eyes riveted on my shoulder holster.

“I’m Marice Houston. I have a reservation. Sorry I’m late. Traffic from Kansas City was a bear.”

T-shirt guy relaxed, smiling. He moved easily to the computer on the counter. “Of course, Ms. Houston. Your room is all set. No feather pillows or duvet and no pets, as well as non-smoking.”

“Thank you.”

“The chairs are vinyl in this room. The blankets are washed weekly and the pillows are fluffed in the drier after every guest. I hope you’ll be comfortable.” He flashed a dazzling smile, his bright blue eyes twinkling behind black framed glasses.

I handed over my driver’s license and credit card. Tall-Dark-and-Blue-Eyes talked easily as he worked, his long, lean fingers stroking the keyboard as he typed. He was breathtakingly handsome and I wondered if he was aware of his own appeal.

The other man stood still, in the relative safety afforded by the counter. His hazelnut brown eyes watched every move I made. I nicknamed him Slick in my mind. He was also good looking and completely aware of it. He dressed for success and that probably carried over to the bedroom. I got the distinct impression that people never said No to this man—especially not women.

Blue-Eyes handed over my license and credit card, flashing another blinding smile. “You’re in room one forty-seven, in the next building down. Third room from this end.” He pulled over a laminated map of the small complex. “You’re here.” He pointed to my room. “The ice machine and laundry are here.” He pointed to the front end of the building. “If it’s out of ice, there’s also a machine here.” He pointed to another area of the map.

I wasn’t looking at the map, but at his hands. He had long, strong fingers, broad palms with a scattering of black hair on the back, and a dash on the lower knuckle. His nails were short and clean—not so much manicured as neatly clipped and filed. I looked up from the map to see him eyeing me questioningly.

“Have we met? You look really familiar. I have this feeling of déjà-vu, like I knew you long ago.”

I cleared my throat, shaking back my hair. I could hardly breathe when those blue eyes focused fully on me. “I—uh—I was in school here. Seems like ages ago.”

“College?”

“Yes. Go Rillas!” I giggled, sounding like a little girl. Suddenly, I’d reverted to the breathless, silly co-ed of nearly 15 years ago.

He chuckled. “I know I’ve seen you before. A face like yours… I couldn’t forget.”

My fingers fluttered to my burning cheeks. His scrutiny was too much for a woman like me. I never did well with male attention. Even though I carry a gun and badge, a handsome, confident man can still make me revert to the shrinking violet.

“I hope that’s a good thing.”

He handed me my key card with a gentle smile, his blue eyes caressing my face. “It’s a very good thing. It will come to me. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Houston.”

“Thank you.”

The other man cleared his throat. “You got a license for the weapon, Miss?”

Slick struck a nerve. Glaring keenly, his square jaw jutted forward. He was ridiculously handsome, but cold. Not like Blue-Eyes, not at all. This was a man of authority who wielded it like a knife.

“I have something better.” I flipped open my jacket, showing the opposite side of my belt. A marshal’s badge glittered in the fluorescent lights of the office. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want a shower and a meal.”

Blue-Eyes, slightly taken aback by the badge, rallied quickly, handing me a menu. “If you want to order in, the places with a gold star give our guests discounts. Everything from pizza to Thai.”

“Thank you.” I gave him a tight smile, glared at the other man and turned on my heel, marching to the door.

“Did you have to do that, Regan?” I heard Blue-Eyes say as the door closed.

Todd, I reminded myself. Todd Englund. The name resonated in my memory for some reason. Vaguely, faintly, but with an abiding assurance that it wasn’t in a good way.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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