Introducing The Music Behind the Story

Love Under the Sun

music-behind-the-story

I love music. It’s as much a part of me as the air I breathe. If I’m awake, I’m listening to music. Different songs set different moods and paint pictures with lyrics and melody. When I write, I listen to music. Usually, it’s a background sound that I don’t pay attention to. Once in a while, though, the song inspires me, changing what I write. Other times, the songs become a major thematic or plot element, winding strands of notes around it like a silky scarf.

I frequently share music videos on Facebook, since I listen to You Tube constantly throughout the day. I tend to share some of the same songs over and over, because they never fail to attract my notice. These songs touch me in some visceral way, and I must share the joy I feel with my friends. This is especially true when I find a…

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He Thought He Saw – Part 63

He Thought He Saw redThe teens and adults find themselves in a pitched battle with Deidrich and his familiars. He is able to call up creatures from nothing, using them as weapons against the others. Things take a turn when Deidrich turns himself into a huge, black buffalo.

The buffalo snorted, his focus switching to Jordan. Another evil smile twitched the snarling lips as he took her measure.

“I’m not afraid of you, Deidrich,” she yelled. Squaring her shoulders, she stared the beast down.

Brian crouched, ready for the charge he knew was coming. Jordan didn’t move. Her dark hair whipped around her head as the wind rose. Brian could see her speaking, her lips forming words he couldn’t hear. The wind whirled around her, growing stronger, moving determinedly toward Deidrich’s buffalo form.

The ground beneath the beast rumbled. Deidrich lost his footing as the earth undulated. The wind trapped him, bearing down on him as it spun and whirled. The earth rose, shackling his feet. Deidrich shuddered, snorting. The wind lessened and the earth receded. Jordan took a step closer. Brian joined her, taking one of her hands. His voice joined hers and the wind renewed its strength.

The birds and bats left off attacking the others, changing the focus of their attention to Jordan and Brian. A wall of fire sprung up between them and the pair of teenagers. It circled the birds, trapping them, squeezing in on them. The bats flew upward, scattering as the flames engulfed the birds.

From the woods behind them, a sparkling net ascended, trapping the bats in its glittering blue mesh. A hard tug brought them down as it tightened around them.

Brian saw his parents and Jordan’s rallying. The other teenagers joined hands in a line as the adults formed a circle. Andre took Maribelle’s hand and another wall of flames rose up and started moving toward the buffalo.

Other people joined the battle, surging out of the woods. Adults stepped into the circle, teenagers joined the line that now extended to Jordan and Brian. Boldly, Chase stepped forward, grabbing Jordan’s hand.

Deidrich’s eyes raked the clearing, taking in the details. His imps were crushed, his birds and bats gone. He was stuck in the buffalo form until the battle was determined. It would take too much time and energy to change. He had the choice to stand and fight or retreat.

The two impulses raged within him. They were strong and growing stronger by the second. His strength was diminished with the ending of his minions. With a snort, he lowered his head, drawing energy from the depths of the earth. The humans controlled elements, but so did he.

Stones shifted, earth rumbled, under their feet. Jordan lost her concentration when a hole opened in front of her. She lost her balance and fell several feet before Chase and Brian were able to pull her back up. With a thought, she sealed the hole beneath her, finding firmer footing.

“Earth elementals,” she cried. “Hear me! Don’t answer his call. Answer mine. He would use and destroy you. Look how his minions fared against us! Join me! Fight!”

Earth shifted slightly and Jordan felt energy from the ground swell inside her, filling her with the strength to do battle. Others around her felt the difference and she knew instinctively that the were also Earth Wielders.

Maribelle Casey struggled to her feet, calling on the water elementals. Jackie called to the wind. Brian’s voice rose above them all, calling fire to him. His body shook and he roared with pain as flames surged from inside him. They burst from his chest, blasting Deidrich like a furnace.

The water rose, forming another glittering blue mesh. It hovered above the glade. The earth rose around the demonic buffalo, trapping it as the fire did its work. Air whipped at the flames, feeding them to a blazing frenzy.

Brian’s hand slipped from Jordan’s. He walked closer to Deidrich, hands outstretched. He grabbed the horns of the buffalo, the fire still billowing from him.

Deidrich lunged. The ground beneath them opened as the water descended, hissing on the flames. The net fell apart before it reached Deidrich. The wind stilled, but the ground continued to rumble. With a groan, the earth shifted once more. Deidrich lunged, goring Brian with his horn. Together, beast and boy fell into the ground. The hole sealed itself, pulling Brian into the gloom.

“Nooooooooooooo!” Jordan wailed. Falling to her knees, she clawed at the dirt. “Brian! Brian!” Screaming and babbling, she dug with her hands, but there was no sign of the hole that had swallowed her friend and Deidrich.

Weeping uncontrollably, Jordan gasped. She couldn’t continue. Her strength was gone. Jackie rushed over to her, taking her daughter in her arms. Maribelle Casey crawled to the spot where her only son had disappeared. Miles came after her, cradling his arm. Heath Barrett joined his wife and daughter.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 62

He Thought He Saw redThey discover that Brian’s house has been attacked and the police are there. Instead of sticking around, they look for clues leading to their parents. They pick up a trail and follow the adults to the woods.

Deidrich stood in the clearing, surrounded by a variety of black, unsightly creatures that ranged from evil looking birds to stumpy, imps with horns. Deidrich swung his arms, hurling blue balls of energy at the huddled people. Janus stood with them, attacking any imps that came near.

Jordan couldn’t see Brian in the circle of trees. Her parents and his fought Deidrich alone. Shocked, she almost jumped out into the clearing. A voice in her head told her to wait. She gazed across the clearing and saw Brain in the trees. He held a finger to his lips, motioning with his hands. Instructions filled her mind and she knew exactly what he wanted her to do. She gave mental instructions to the others. They all walked silently away, taking up positions at cardinal and ordinal directions of the compass. Brian was to the north. Jordan moved to her right, directly across from his position, taking the south. The others deployed themselves at east and west, as well as northwest and southeast.

With a jolt, Jordan realized they were two short. They needed Chase and Marissa, but there had been no time to call them. She could only hope that the same message Ginnifer had received, had been transmitted to the Finleys.

The group in the middle was suffering. Birds and imps, directed by Deidrich, got past their defenses, attacking relentlessly. Their spells and wards did very little good. They were otherwise unarmed. Their clothing was minimal. Not only were the creatures damaging them, but the cold was taking its toll. Maribelle Casey staggered, an imp dragging at her leg.

When their members were in position, Brian sent the message to attack. Quickly and silently, they moved into the clearing, weapons ready. With a roar, Brian attacked the imp that was attacking his mother, beating the creature with his bo. The imp howled, letting go of Maribelle. She scrambled closer to her husband. He helped her stand and kicked another imp away.

The one on Brian, snarled, lunging for him. Brian jabbed it, then raised the bo for an overhead strike. The imp took the opportunity to jump at him, but Andre was there, swinging a metal staff at it. The end of the staff clipped the imp in the chest, hurling it across the clearing. Ginnifer skewered it with a katana. The imp burst with a shower of black sparks, leaving a little pile of ash behind.

The clearing became a blur of black creatures, spinning weapons and spells. It looked as if the battle was turning in favor of their small band. Attacking with renewed vigor, the humans rallied. Suddenly, the woods around them exploded with even more creatures. Huge,black bats with red eyes and long talons, swooped in, diving and slashing.

Ginnifer and Louisa went down. Sweet and Andre ran to them, swinging and smashing the bats. Maribelle Casey sat on the ground, her strength nearly gone. Miles stood next to her, doing his best to protect her with his spells and body.

Brian worked his way to his parents swinging and kicking, clearing his way. He sensed Jordan doing the same from the other side of the circle. When he got to his father’s side, he handed him another set of tonfa that he’d carried. Miles smiled his thanks, face grim as he faced another bat. This one dove toward the ground, trying to claw Maribelle. Miles smashed into the mud, grinding its head under his boot. It exploded and turned to dust.

In the flurry of bats, Deidrich had disappeared. Brian cast about, looking for him, as he battled the imps, birds and bats in their relentless attacks.

From behind him, he heard the sound of something large crashing through the woods. By the noise it made, and the way the ground shook, Brian knew it was at least the size of an elephant. It burst through the trees, bellowing. Blazing red eyes searched the group, halting when they got to Brian. With measured intent, the beast moved toward him. It lumbered on all fours, its coat long, tangled and matted. Like a giant buffalo, it had a heavy head, a hump on its back and long, curved, lethal looking horns.

Brian shuddered. The beast smiled. There was cunning and intelligence in the glare of its red eyes.

“Stay back, son,” Miles warned.

“No. You stay back. Take care of Mom,” Brian replied.

The bats continued to dive, but left Brian alone. As the rest of the humans fought the bats off, Brian moved closer to the buffalo. He circled so that if it charged him, it wouldn’t trample the others. Jordan saw what he was doing and ran after him. Brian sensed her coming and warned her off, but she ignored him.

“We’re stronger together,” she gasped as she got to his side.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 61

He Thought He Saw redWhen they come out of the dojo, they discover that their parents are missing and there are signs of a struggle. They call Andre of the Louisiana group, only to find out they are already on the way.

“No. The house is well built and the dojo is soundproofed. We didn’t hear a thing,” Jordan said, tears in her eyes. “How can they just be gone?”

“Go by my house first,” Brian said, giving directions. “That would be their first stop. Heath knew Dad was there.”

They knew something was wrong before they arrived. Police cars, lights flashing, lined the road. The house stood with all the doors and windows open, lights blazing. A smell of fire lingered in the air, but nothing was burning.

Brian leaped out of the truck before Andre came to a full stop. He ran up to the nearest police officer.

“I’m Brian Casey, I live here. What’s wrong?”

The officer directed him to the sergeant in charge, a woman with dark hair. She stood by the barricade, talking into her radio.

“Excuse me, Sarge, this kid says he lives here,” the officer said, by way of introduction.

“Thank God, we thought you were home when this happened.”

“When what happened? Are my folks okay? And the people with them?”

“We’re still piecing it together. Neighbors reported sounds of an altercation. When we got here a few minutes later, we found it like this.”

Brian didn’t wait for her to finish. He vaulted over the barricade and ran up to the house. Jordan and the others followed him, with the police in hot pursuit.

“You can’t go in there. It’s not safe!” The sergeant yelled after them.

Brian ran in the front door to find utter devastation. Shards of glass riddled the walls and floor. Burn marks led from the fireplace and kitchen. Nearly every piece of furniture was splintered and torn. It looked like a full scale war had been fought here. Strangely, there was no blood. Where were their parents? Why couldn’t they find evidence that they’d even been here?

Turning in a circle, Brian took in details rapidly before rushing to the study. This room was also trashed. All the books lay in shreds on the floor. The shelves had been ripped from the wall, the furniture smashed and overturned. He looked among the wreckage for the book that hid the key. He didn’t find it.

Next, he ran to the dining room. The room was pristine as if it had never been touched. Moving on, he ran through the kitchen, to the basement steps. A wave of nausea swept through him, making him gag. Grabbing the nearby garbage can, he heaved the contents of his stomach into it.

A horrible smell lingered in the air of the stairway. Forcing himself to breath through his mouth, Brian descended. He felt Jordan directly behind him, her tonfa at the ready. She hadn’t puked, why had he? The others joined them, moving slowly and quietly, wondering what they would find.

The basement reeked of sulfur and wet ashes. The entire room was gutted by fire, the floor and walls scorched. An inch of water pooled around their feet as they walked across the room to the backdoor. This hung at an odd angle, pieces of it scattered across the room and buried in the walls. The extra covering had been ripped from its hinges.

Without stopping to consider his actions, Brian raced up the steps with Zofia and Jordan right behind him. The others picked their way across the room more slowly, but they joined their friends as quickly as they could.

The vast expanse of swampy trees greeted them. Strangely, there was no snow back here. Footprints in the damp ground, led parallel to the line of trees, skirting the swamp. Four people had gone this way. And one big dog.

Zofia sniffed the footprints and whined. She started off after the tracks with confidence. Brian didn’t hesitate. He followed her quickly, running top speed. Jordan followed, her shorter legs having trouble keeping up with Brain’s stride.

Andre and the others ran with her, following Brian’s path. Brian disappeared between two trees. Jordan ran after him, her steps sure on the uneven, muddy ground. Here, her height was an advantage as the trees grew thick, their branches low to the ground. She saw a few broken limbs and knew that Brian and others had run this way. The ground was churned into muddy lumps, growing more treacherous as they moved deeper into the swamp.

Behind her, Andre and Sweet cursed as the low branches clipped their heads and grabbed at their broad shoulders. The girls moved ahead, slipping through the tight gaps easily. They caught up with Jordan, letting her lead. Not far ahead, they heard sounds of a fight. Loud voices, the barking of the dogs, weapons striking weapons. Jordan held up her hand, halting the others. She crept closer, crouching to see between the trees. She felt the others come up beside her, finding their own vantage points.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 60

He Thought He Saw redBrian and Jordan decide to spar in the Barrett’s dojo. When they come out, Zofia is waiting for them, clearly upset.

Brian walked behind and to her left, his own eyes trying to pick out details in the gloom. He felt the hairs on his neck rise and knew something was horribly wrong. Where were their parents? Why hadn’t they warned the children? Why hadn’t they asked them for their help?

The smell of sulfur assailed their nostrils when they got to the front rooms of the house. A fire burned in the living room fireplace, nearly down to coals. Furniture was knocked over, black singe marks marred the hardwood floor and area rugs. Grit crunched under their feet. Brian stooped to investigate as Jordan turned slowly, taking in details. Crystalline grit clung to his sweaty fingers. It had a familiar odor to it that he could detect, even with the sulfuric smell.

“Cumin,” he whispered. His tongue flicked out. “And salt. They were fighting something.”

“But what? And where are they? Why didn’t Zofia warn us?”

“I don’t know.”

They searched the downstairs thoroughly, but the living room was the only place that showed signs of violence. Jordan shivered.

“There must be a door or window open somewhere. Let’s look.”

They made the circuit again, this time finding a window in her father’s office open. Someone had used it. The screen was out, lying in a broken heap on the ground. The snow below was trampled as if hurrying feet had jumped out and run away.

“Where did they go?” Jordan’s voice squeaked like a little child’s.

“I don’t know, but your dad’s car is gone.”

“They left us?” Her voice rose to a near shriek. “All alone? They left us?”

“We aren’t alone. We’re together and we have Zofia. Maybe they figured we were safer where we were.” He closed the window, locking it. “And they were right. Misdirection, remember?”

Grabbing Jordan’s hand, he dragged her back through the house.

“Go upstairs and change into warm clothing. Boots, hat, gloves. We’ll need food and water. Do you have camping gear?”

“In the basement laundry room, on the shelves. The backpacks are already full of anything we’d need in an emergency. Dad’s pretty OCD about that.”

“Great. Change and meet me here in five minutes.”

“No. Get your stuff and come upstairs. I’m not going in that room alone.”

“Jordan, don’t be ridiculous. Take Zofia with you.”

“I don’t want to be alone up there. I’m scared.”

Brian took her elbows firmly in his hands. He gazed intently in her eyes, commanding her with his voice. “Jordan, you’re not a coward. Put on your big girl panties and do it.”

Her spine stiffened and he could tell he’d made her mad. Good, if she’s angry, she can’t be afraid.

“I’ll get you for this,” she muttered, storming past him.

“Sorry I don’t have a pillow handy,” he countered. “Must have left it in my other pants.” He dodged her jab with the end of the tonfa.

Brian changed quickly and went downstairs to get the backpacks. They were fully stocked as Jordan said they were. He grabbed a few more weapons from the dojo and scurried upstairs.

Jordan met him in the kitchen. She had a square of leather across her chest and she put several knives in slits.

“They aren’t just for cooking,” she remarked. “Steel, full length tang, oak grip, brass rivets.”

“Good. I got some things from the dojo. We’re as prepared as we can be.”

“I called Andre. He said they were already on the way. Ginnifer got a warning. They’ll be here soon.”

“We need more provisions.”

“They’re set. I asked.”

Andre’s truck pulled up outside. They bustled down the steps and dropped their packs in the truck bed before hopping in back seat with Sweet. Ginnifer and Louisa sat up front with Andre. Zofia hopped in the back with the packs and lay down between them.

“What’s wrong?” Ginnifer asked.

“Our parents disappeared. We were downstairs in the dojo and they were gone when we got upstairs.”

“Freaky, man,” Sweet said.

“You didn’t hear anything?” This from Louisa.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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He Thought He Saw – Part 59

He Thought He Saw redJordan and Brian find it a little intimidating knowing that they are destined to be married in the future.

“Even if it wasn’t written in the stars, or whatever, I would’ve wanted to meet you and get to know you. You’re smart and funny and you get my sense of humor—even if you do hit me with pillows when you’re mad.”

Jordan bopped him with a small pillow from the ratty basement couch.

“Dammit, do you have one in every room just so you can hit me?”

He laughed, taking the pillow from her, popping her on the head with it. They wrestled around, grabbing the pillow, giving one another playful blows with it.

“I have an idea,” Jordan said, breathless and laughing. “We have a sparring mat in the other room.”

“What other room?”

She beckoned to him, leading him passed the laundry room to an almost invisible door. Inside, Brian was surprised to find a small, well equipped dojo. He slipped off his shoes and socks, following Jordan on to the mat that took up most of the space.

“What do you study?” Jordan asked after bowing to him.

“Aikido, mostly. You?”

“Kick boxing. A smattering of American Martial Arts.” She started stretching.

“I just started Krav Maga a few months ago. The Sensei wouldn’t take me until I was fifteen. I wish I’d remembered some of it when I got attacked in the swamp.” He stretched too.

“Tell me about that again. And about the whirlwind.”

“Why? You know all about it already.”

“But when I heard it before, I didn’t know anything. I think we need to look at our experiences and see what we could do differently. Before, they were attacking us when we were weak and uniformed. We know something now.”

As they stretched on the mat, Brian told her again about his encounters with the fog creatures and the whirlwind. Jordan retold her experiences as well. Afterward, they sparred and discussed what they could have done differently. They pretended to attack one another and made suggestions on how they might fight off something in the future.

They spent over an hour working out. Brian showed Jordan ways to use the staff. She showed him some combinations of kicks. Both were hot, thirsty and sweating before they had finished. As they made their way up the basement stairs, Jordan’s fingers slid between Brian’s. She tugged on his arm, halting his ascent.

“Thank you,” she said quietly. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had with a guy.”

“Most fun I’ve ever had with a girl,” he replied, stepping closer. “Except for that kiss….”

Brian lifted Jordan, setting her on the step ahead of him, so her face was nearly on a level with his. He drew her close, lips barely touching. Zofia whined behind them, nudging Brian’s foot with her nose.

Ignoring her, he kissed Jordan lightly, then deeper when she parted her lips. It felt good and right to hold her in his arms. He never wanted to let her go. The idea that they were destined to be together no longer felt strange.

Zofia whined again, tugging his pants leg with her teeth. Brian looked down at her.

“What’s wrong, girl?”

He listened closely to the rest of the house. It seemed awfully quiet. He let go of Jordan, motioning her behind him. She protested mutely. Casting about for a weapon, Brian signaled that they should do downstairs. He led the way to the dojo, quietly shutting the door before he would speak.

“Something’s wrong. Get a weapon you’re comfortable with and we’ll investigate.”

Jordan picked up a pair of tonfa, wooden batons shaped like police nightsticks. Brian took a bo staff from the wall, swinging it for balance. The solidly crafted length of red oak made him feel better prepared.

As he walked to the door, Jordan stopped him. “Dad always says to use this on them if you need them for real,” she said. She picked up a small spray bottle. “It’s mugwort oil. It’s really supposed to be used on crystal balls or divining tools, but Dad likes it on his weapons. It’s good for protection.”

“God knows we can use that,” Brian said.

They sprayed the weapons quickly, spending more time than Brian liked, but he knew they were ill prepared for an encounter. Muttering every prayer he could think of, he led the way.

At the door, Zofia waited, the ridge on her back standing at attention. A low, thrumming growl rumbled in her chest. The air in the house was chilly as if a door or window had been left open. The house was fairly dark, the only illumination coming from scattered night lights. Jordan took the lead since she was more familiar with the space. Her dark eyes flickered around the rooms, watching, waiting.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes 

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Red River Radio Presents the Incognito Show with Lady Jane Sinclair and Cheryl Kerr

4755b-red2briver2bradio2blogoSometimes, a girl’s got to have her secrets and once in awhile that means writing under an assumed name. Today’s guests have chosen to write using a pseudonym. Why? We’ll find out today on Dellani’s Tea Time. Did you know that Dellani and Christina also use pseudonyms? Well, we’ll be talking about that too.

Tune in today for Dellani’s Tea Time at 4 PM Eastern time on Blog Talk Radio!

 

Lady Jane Sinclair is the author of Guilty Pleasures, On Loan for the Night, Nothing Lasts Forever and It’s All About the Money. I think I’m sensing a theme here, Lady Jane. We welcome her to the show in this alter ego.

Cheryl Kerr is the author of See Ya and Photo Finish. We’re pleased to welcome her back to the show.