When Tis Done – Part 23

When Tis Done coverThe ritual is a success, and Neil and Cynthia are inducted into the Circle. Once that’s done, the party begins.

Chase cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Auntie. Inappropriate subject matter for young ears.”

Cynthia laughed, swatting him. “I’ll be as inappropriate as I like.”

Jackie came up with a worried frown on her face. “Has anyone seen Dora? I can’t find her.”

Neil looked around quickly, checking the crowd for his sister. Suddenly, he had a sense of where she was and he relaxed. “She’s gone home. She needed to be by herself for a little while.”

“Oh, sure. I hadn’t thought of that. What she must be going through. It would be like losing him all over again.”

Soon, the party wound down. Brian and Jordan put the fire out, smothering the flames by taking the air from it. Neil was impressed to see that the wood hadn’t been consumed, except for the kindling. They all pitched in to clean up, leaving Neil and Cynthia together. They had already planned for him to stay over, so he had his car and his clothing for the weekend. Finding themselves alone, they both felt a little awkward. Cynthia made the rounds of the house, checking doors and windows. Neil joined her. They met up at the base of the stairs, staring at one another.

“I have something to say,” Neil began. “Since the ceremony, I’ve been thinking…. Well, honestly, it’s been on my mind since I saw you yesterday. Cynthia, I let you get away from me once before and I don’t intend to do that again. I’ve loved you most of my life and I need you like I need water and air. I know in the ceremony, we promised to be together as mates…. I wanted to make it formal.” He took her hands, kissing them. “Cynthia Finley, will you do me the immense honor of being my wife?”

Tears sprang to her eyes, but she smiled. “I would be honored to be your wife, Neil Braxton.”

“Cool.” He took the pine needle circle from his pocket. “I don’t have a ring yet. I want us to pick that together. But I made this a little while ago. I was going to put it in the fire, but I know, for some reason, I should give it to you.”

“Oh, Neil!” She laughed, taking the circle. “We used to make these as kids. They have some significance, but I can’t remember what.”

“Dora said it has power.”

“I’ll keep it safe.” She slipped it over her finger. It was too big, but she held out her hand, admiring it as if it were a ring. “Thank you. It’s the prettiest ring I ever had.”

“Even if we weren’t in the Circle, if I hadn’t promised for the ritual, I would be asking this question. I never dreamed you’d be here or that I’d see you again. But I know that I belong to you.”

“And I belong to you.”

Their hands glowed as they moved closer. Neil swept her into his arms, carrying her up to the bedroom.

“I asked Claude about this.” He indicated their inner glow.

“Oh, you didn’t!”

“He’s a doctor. I figured if anyone knew anything about it, it would be him. He had never heard of it happening. But he got a clear picture at the ceremony. We did it again!”

“That was weird.” She put the pine straw ring in the Bible near the bed, before taking Neil by the hand.

They made love, feeling the extra joy of their new bond. Exhausted, but happier than either of them had ever been, they cuddled up, talking quietly about the future. In the small hours of the morning, they fell asleep, holding one another close.

Cynthia woke early in the day, seeing the sun barely peeping through the trees outside her bedroom. Neil wasn’t in the bed, but only his boxers and jeans were missing, so she knew he hadn’t gone far. After a short search, she found him on the deck, a cup of coffee in front of him, shirtless, shoeless, watching the sun come up.

He turned to smile as he stood up. “Hey, babe.” He gave her a gentle kiss. “I’ve missed our Mississippi sunrise. Nothing smells like it.”

“After Cliff died, and everything that followed, the first thing I did was clear that yard. You can’t imagine the devastation. I had to put it right, for Cliff and for myself. This was always my favorite spot as a child. I used to come out here every morning and have a cup of cocoa as the sun rose. Funny to be the only early riser in the house. Cliff hated morning….”

“Only time I want to see the sunrise is if I’ve been up all night,” Neil quoted, sounding a lot like his friend.

Cynthia smiled. “Yep! Just like Daddy in that respect. I think that’s one reason Dad took night shifts. He could see the sunrise, but knew he was on his way home. Drove Mama to distraction, though. She hated being home alone at night. She never minded mornings, but she wasn’t a night owl either.”

“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.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 4


dellani photo dark redIf there’s one thing I’ve discovered, after interviewing dozens of authors, it’s that we don’t all write the same way. Our methods are as individual as we are. What works for me, won’t work for others. What this friend, or that, uses to organize, won’t mean anything to me. That’s okay. Take what works for you, and run with it.

That being said, allow me to list a few author types:

Those who type. As the name implies, these are the folks who sit down at the computer (or possibly the typewriter) and compose at the keyboard.

Those who write by hand. Some of us like the feel of pen (or pencil) and paper. Many use the typing process as an initial editing phase.

Those who narrate. I’ve tried the Digital Dragon software. While I liked it, it didn’t like me, much. I used names it didn’t understand, and apparently…

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When Tis Done – Part 22

When Tis Done coverThe Center Circle prepares for the ritual to induct Neil and Cynthia into it. Neil speaks to Dora, to make sure that she’s not unhappy about him taking her place.

“Why did Mom and Dad tell us? Make us anticipate? Didn’t they know how hard it would be not to be chosen?”

“How would they? I never understood your disappointment. I tried, but there was so much to absorb right after, I lost myself in that. And along the way, I lost you. Only Cliff and Heath clung to you, kept you close. Then we had kids, and I was so busy with them, and working…. I missed you so much. If we hadn’t had our dream chats, I think I would have lost my mind.”

“You and Cliff kept me sane. I felt it, too,” he admitted quietly. “I didn’t tell Cynthia, but I did. I was out on a training exercise and collapsed. The doctor thought it was heat exhaustion—I was vomiting, running a high fever, felt like my insides were boiling…. Was it—horrible?”

“He was tortured by Mr. D. or his minions. We aren’t sure. It wasn’t a quick death.”

“Oh, Jesus, Dora. I’m so sorry I asked!”

“No, you have a right to know what we’re asking of you. You can still back out.”

He shook his head. “If I did, I’d not only let you all down, I’d lose the woman I love. I’m not doing that again. This is something I’ve wanted my entire life. I just feel bad that you’re not going to be a part of this anymore.”

“I’ll still be here, I’ll help and I’ll train people, but I can’t do this without Cliff. It will be a relief.”

The Inner and Outer Circle members started to arrive. The food was put inside and everyone gathered around the bonfire pit. David walked with the help of Chase and Brian. They practically carried him, but he managed the last few steps on his own. He settled on a sturdy chair at the east end of the circle around the fire.

Chase and Marissa conjured flames and lit the bonfire. They took their places in front of David, on the inner circle. The grandparents gathered around, taking their assigned spots. Then the Center Circle, and finally the Inner Circle. There was a gap in the Center Circle, since Dora, Neil and Cynthia stood apart. There was a small stone altar set up with their ingredients of herbs, blessed salt, holy water and a variety of other things they needed for the ritual. As the moon peeped over the top of the trees, they began.

Stepping forward, Dora spoke. “I ask the Circle to release me. Since the death of my mate, I have found myself unable to fulfill my duties to this Circle, and to the rest. I ask that my brother, Neil, be accepted in my stead.”

Neil stepped forward. “I ask the Circle to accept me in my sister’s place. I swear to uphold the precepts of this Circle, and the rest, and I formally ask Cynthia to be my perspective mate.”

Cynthia joined them, taking his hand. “I ask the Circle to accept me in my brother’s place. I swear to uphold the precepts of this Circle, and the rest, and formally accept Neil as my perspective mate.”

The glow they had experienced the night before, returned, brighter. Burning all the colors of flames, they shone in the darkness like a beacon. No one knew exactly how to deal with it, because it was unprecedented. No one in the history of all three Circles had ever done that before. Everyone stared, hardly remembering what needed to happen next.

Zofia and Janus hopped into the area around the fire, loping around until they got to Neil and Cynthia. Flopping on their bellies, their tongues lolling, they reminded everyone what needed to be done. Dora stepped back, bowing her head. Neil and Cynthia stepped forward, hand in hand. When they got to the gap in the Circle, they took hands with those on either side. The glow receded, flowing through the others in their Circle. It spread to the Inner and then Outer Circles, a warm, golden glimmer. Blue sparks burst from the fire, followed by dark green, purple and bright red. Every color of the spectrum glittered and glimmered in the flames, dancing happily around without consuming the wood.

Brian couldn’t help watching it warily for a few minutes, remembering the bonfire two years ago, which had spawned fire elementals that had attacked them. Brian’s quick thinking, and the help of Heath, Chase and Cliff, as well as Jordan’s gutsy counterattack, had kept them safe. When it became apparent that they had nothing to worry about from the fire, he relaxed and enjoyed the meal.

Everyone congratulated Neil and Cynthia on their entry into the Circle, as well as their engagement. It hadn’t been the way that Neil had intended to declare himself to Cynthia, but it was part of the ritual. They had all gone through it themselves, including the teenagers.

“So, I guess this means you’ll be my aunt and uncle by marriage as well as blood. I wonder how it works when you have kids. They aren’t needed in this Circle….”

“I’ve been wondering about that, too,” Cynthia said. “I’m not sure how to find out.”

“Let’s have a few before we worry about it,” Neil said.

“You just want sex,” Cynthia teased, forgetting their audience for a moment.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 21

When Tis Done coverAdele inadvertantly upsets Neil, but after he talks to Claude and Heath, he feels better and calms down. He tells Claude he has a migraine, and the other man heals it for him and realigns his aura.

“How you feeling?” Heath walked up.


“You look better. And your aura isn’t as funky-do as it was.”

“That’s a technical term? Funky-do?”

“It is at my house.”

They sat down and discussed various aspects of the ritual. Soon, the women came out with some of the supplies for the ritual, as well as a platter of sandwiches and stone tankards and a pitcher full of some golden, frothy liquid.

“We found Cliff’s mead stash,” Dora said. “He used to make it for Christmas gifts. We forgot this past Christmas….” She blinked hard, gulping. “But it seemed a proper way to say—goodbye.”

They each got a sandwich and a stone cup. Cynthia and Dora served everyone some mead and they toasted Cliff.

A song came to Neil, something he and Cliff used to sing together. Humming, he found the tune and the words again. He hadn’t thought of it in at least fifteen years. Closing his eyes, he let the music fill him as he thought of his friend. Soon the other voices joined with him. Some sang the words, others hummed, all of them adding to the moment.

His voice caressed the words to the old Lenoard Cohen song, Bird on a Wire. When he got to the first chorus, his friends split into harmony, singing with feeling. He could almost hear the music play as they sang. He could swear he heard guitars, drums and mixed strings and woodwinds. It wasn’t his imagination! There really was music playing, but he didn’t know how it was possible. Not questioning, he finished the song, feeling a great weight lift off his heart.

They stood in silence, even the noises of the woods were still for a snatch of breaths. Opening his eyes, he saw the others doing the same. He hadn’t realized, but they had joined hands as they sang. He stood between Cynthia and Dora. Squeezing their hands, he hung his head, inhaling deeply.

“That was his favorite song,” Dora said, sniffling.

“Mine too,” Neil replied. “We first heard it at a Willie Nelson concert when we were fourteen. We went with our dads. You remember, Dora? You didn’t want to go for some reason.”

“I didn’t feel well. Cramps,” she whispered.

“Glad I didn’t know that then.” He winked. “He was singing with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. Hell of a concert. They closed their first set with that song and it spoke to my soul.”

Dora hugged him, laying her head on his shoulder. “Thank you. I needed that.”

The others came over, hugging him. They cleaned up after their meal and got things ready for the ritual. The Outer Circle members had a meal planned for after, to greet Neil and Cynthia as official members.

Neil was nervous. He had no idea what to expect from this ceremony. They had inducted each of the Center Circle members as they reached maturity, but he hadn’t felt like hanging around as he watched his sister take the position he’d hoped to occupy. Now, he was taking it away from her. He sought her out, finding her at the edge of the property in a small meditation circle Cliff had made for her.

“Heya, Baby Sis.”

Dora grinned, tears in her blue eyes. “Hey, yourself.”

“I know this can’t be easy for you. Are you sure this is what you want?”

“I can’t do this without Cliff. Not only that, the Circle needs you and Cynthia now. Even if I wanted to stay, I don’t want another mate and the Circle needs a man and a woman, not two women. Besides, the bond between you strengthens with a marriage bond. It gets stronger when you first make love—don’t have to worry about that one.” She winked at him.

“Does the entire Circle know?”

“Honey, it’s all over you both. I’m happy for you. You’ve been purely miserable for twenty years, both of you. I’ve seen Cynthia go from one man to another. Some stuck long enough for her to hope, but mostly they faded away before they got past the first two or three dates. And you! How many women have warmed your sheets?”

“Not as many as you might think. Mostly friends with benefits, a few that I hoped would fill the hole in my heart, but they weren’t Cynthia.” He picked up a piece of pine straw, braiding the strands before making a loop with it. He tossed it away, but Dora picked it up.

“That needs to go in the fire. Things like that hold power.”

“I’d forgotten.”

She handed it to him and he put it in his pocket.

“Lots to learn. You’re all twenty years ahead of me.”

“I’ll help you. We’ve all been working with Cynthia. She’s quick. You’ll be quicker. You had two of the best teachers in the world helping you prepare.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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This is the last installment of When Tis Done for 2017. I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for joining me on this literary journey as you follow my tales. I wish you Happy New Year and hope you will continue to follow me in 2018. On to greater things! May the New Year be blessed for us all!!

Chaos in a Teacup – Part 3


dellani photo dark redThis series of articles were inspired by several author friends who have expressed awe at my organization (rude snort) or have complained about blogging. Since I’m not one to tell the truth, when fabrication will do, I thought I would throw off the veil of misconception, and reveal my less than stellar organization methods, as well as give a few blogging tips.

One major complaint my author friends have is that blogging is tedious and they don’t have the time. Time is a factor, yes, but with a little imagination, you can work out those issues. You need not do it on the day it’s due. Blog Spot and Word Press allow you to post things well in advance. When you have a few minutes, instead of watching Netflix, or chatting on Facebook or Twitter, go to the blog and cut and paste a few quotes. If you have them…

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Excerpt from Minnie and Moe by Dellani

Cereal Authors

character-quotes-imageSince Sidetracked was so dark, I decided to write something light and silly. It started out well enough, but I must have been in a weird mood after my novel, and it took a turn. Not dark, exactly, but a bit murky. Anyway, this is the first couple of pages, before Minnie and Moe took a turn.

Assignment just came in over the wire, sir,” Miss Mona Penny announced.

Excellent! What’s the job?”

A hit on one Moe Chaufroid,” she said, setting a photo by his morning cuppa.

The man was tall, lanky, and singularly unattractive. He wore his limp, black hair slicked back from a too lean, angular face. “What’s the poor bastard done? He looks like an accountant!”

He is an accountant, but a very clever one. In his case, looks are deceiving. He’s been embezzling from a conglomerate – and its owners are…

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When Tis Done – Part 20

When Tis Done coverThe Center Circle takes their meeting to Cynthia’s house. Neil is still a little off balance, with the people he doesn’t know. Adele Beauchamps says something about how unsettling it was to lose Cliff, and Neil loses his temper.

Standing abruptly, Neil dashed into the woods. Voices rose behind him, but only one person followed. He had a sense of who it was before they caught up. Heath put his hand on Neil’s shoulder.

“Obviously, we haven’t all considered the impact of this on you. We threw Cynthia into the breach and now, we’re demanding it of you. You have the right to refuse. But I’m hoping you won’t. I want my friend—my brother—to join us. Not only do I need you here, like the air I breathe, I know your strength will help us all. We’re hanging on by a thread, Neil. It’s slender and frayed. Adele doesn’t mean to offend. She’s trying to express the inexpressible.”

“I guess I owe her an apology.”

“Not at all. It was pretty damn callous of her to say and she knows it. My advice is to put it behind us and move on. If we hold onto every accidental slight, we’ll never get to the place we need to be. We need to be strong to help the kids. There’s a storm coming and we’re not ready. Will you help us?”

“Of course. You know that without asking.”

“But it’s polite to ask. We made a hell of an assumption. You have the right to say no.”

“But if I do, I lose the two most important things in my life—the Circle, and Cynthia. I won’t let her slip through my fingers again. I did that once, and it was the stupidest thing I ever did.”

“Thank you.” Heath gave him a hug. “Let’s figure this shit out. It’s the second most complex ritual I ever saw. The only one worse was what we did last year to summon Luminous Cayce.”

The women were inside having a look at Dora’s herbal supplies, as well as figuring out a meal. The men had started gathering kindling for the fire. They stopped, dusting their hands on their pants.

“I apologize for Adele,” Claude began.

“No need. We got some kinks to work out,” Neil said, forcing a smile. “I haven’t slept well for over a week and I’ve got a migraine from hell.”

Claude washed his hands at an outdoor tap, shaking them until they were dry. “Sit.”

Neil eyed him dubiously. “Why?”

“I’m a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders. I’m also a Healer. So sit.” He pointed to a nearby bench.

Neil sat on it, waiting. Claude shook his hands, praying softly. Miles brought a bucket of water over and poured salt in it. Thanking him with a nod, Claude waved his hands around Neil, looking as if he were pulling things from him, casting whatever it was into the bucket. This continued for several minutes and Neil felt the pain lessen, then recede altogether. Claude finished, smiling. The others had wandered off, leaving them alone.


“Yeah. I feel great! What was that?”

“Pranic healing. It is very effective in realigning the aura. Yours was seriously out of whack—not surprising given what you’ve been through. I would suggest doing this several more times in the next few days. I hear that Marissa is getting very good at it, as is Cynthia.”

“Cynthia provides a different kind of healing,” Neil said quietly, not wanting to share with the entire group.

“We can tell, my friend. It was all over you both. Good. She’s felt at loose ends since taking Cliff’s place. I’m surprised the Circle didn’t call you sooner.”

“I just mustered out, Claude. I couldn’t get back for Cliff’s funeral, or I would have been here already. I signed my final papers a week ago, and the headaches started.”

“How long did you resist the pull to come?”

“I didn’t. I settled my affairs in upstate Washington and hit the road.”

“If it’s any consolation, had you waited, you’d feel a hell of a lot worse. Symptoms?”

“Like what?”

“Tremors? Shivers. Hot flashes. Unexpected rain. Winds coming up for no reason.”

“Those are symptoms?”

“They are for us.”

“All of the above. Hey….” Neil leaned closer. “Did you—glow—your first time with Adele?”

“Glow?” Claude’s brow furrowed. “I don’t think so. Why?”

“Cause we both lit up like luminaria last night.”

“No kidding? I never heard of such a thing, but we don’t usually discuss our private moments. Our wives would kill us.”

“I understand. Normally, I wouldn’t, but it was—everywhere.” He glanced down at his zipper.

“No shit!” Claude lost his professional aplomb for a moment. “I’d say that was a symptom, but I’m not sure what of. And don’t worry. Patient confidentiality.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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