Tag Archive | Florida

First Meeting from Fly by Night by Dellani

first meetingIn Fly by Night, I honestly hadn’t intended Elam to take the male lead. I had intended the ghostly apparition of Malachi to be the one who swept her off her feet, but it simply didn’t happen that way. Blythe met Elam and that was that, she was hooked and so was he.

“Blythe Donovan?” An orderly stood next to her with a wheelchair. He was blond, blue eyed and had lovely dimples in both cheeks. “Hello. I’m Elam, your ride to radiology,” he said with a smile. “Have a seat and we’ll head out in style.” He winked at her, his mouth twitching as he tried to suppress a grin.

“We’ll be here when you get back,” her mother said, sobbing.

Blythe said nothing until the doors closed behind her. “You’d think I’d been half killed,” she muttered. “Which is why I didn’t want Jason to call them.”

“Is Jason your boyfriend? Fiancé?”

Blythe glanced at him over her shoulder. He was tall, broad shouldered and handsome. His short, blond hair was wavy and his eyes were a mysterious shade.

“My brother. Why?”

He chuckled. “Cause you’re very pretty and I’d hate to think you’re taken.”

“The engagement ring isn’t a give away?” She wiggled her finger at him.

“Which is why I asked. So, where is the guy who goes with the ring?”

“Arlington National Cemetery.”

“Wow, walked hard into that wall. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you.” She looked at the ring. “I suppose I should take the ring off. It’s been a year.”

“You take it off when you’re ready,” he said softly. “And I am sorry. Just, you’re the prettiest woman to roll into my ER.”

“Are you trying to ask me out?”

He chuckled, nodding. “Yeah, well—I’m a guy. Sue me.”

He swung the chair around a corner, slithered past an old man with a janitor’s cart, and guided the chair into the radiology department.

“I’ll be waiting when you’re done,” he said.

“I’d give you a tip, but I left my purse with my mother.”

He chuckled, touching his forehead as he gave a deferential bow. “I live but to serve, miss.”

“Elam, are you flirting with a patient?” the technician teased.

“You caught me. Take good care of this one,” he said with a grin.

“I’ll do my best. Scoot.”

He went into the hall, closing the door behind him.

The technician took a series of films for the doctor to examine. When she was done, she opened the door. True to his word, Elam was waiting for them. He helped Blythe settle in the wheelchair and took off at a brisk pace.

“I’d give you a tour, but I think your presence is required elsewhere.”

“Thank you. I’ve seen more of the hospital today than I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s like a rabbit warren. I know all the best places to hide from the nurses and catch a nap—”

“Or hook up with a hot nurse?”

“Don’t let Grey’s Anatomy fool you. Most of our doctors and nurses are too busy looking after the patients to hump in the on-call rooms. Believe it or not, people actually sleep there.” He gasped a little for effect, taking the last turn so quickly, the chair tipped. He never lost control, righting it safely.

Blythe gave out a little Eep of surprise. Giggling, she thanked him for the ride. He bowed again, handing her a piece of paper with his name and number neatly printed on it.

“For when you decide to take off the ring,” he murmured. “Take your time.” He kissed her hand once more, before going back through the double doors separating them from the rest of the hospital.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Crime Makes an Entrance by Dellani

first meetingDeacon Stewart has taken the job as technical director at a small, privately owned theatre in Florida. After a drug and alcohol induced episode, he needed a break from his high pressure job in Manhattan. When the owner of the theatre, Dino, invites him to drive down to the Orlando airport to pick up the lighting designer, he doesn’t know what to expect.

Dino chuckled, enjoying Deacon’s frustration too much. “I guess it’s fine to tell you now. I was able to get Hillary K. Du Champs.”

The name was not unknown to Deacon, he had heard it often enough in theater circles up north.

“Hillary Du Champs? Sounds like a little, old French lady with a bad accent.”

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college Jasper one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted absently that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board and hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” She was griping at him now, leaving Deacon off the hook for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

© 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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I Love Dialogue from Marice Houston Mystery

doodle banner I love dialogueMarice Houston Mystery (working title) is a sequel to Room 103. Marice is a Deputy Federal Marshal stationed in Kansas City, Missouri. However, since a major shakeup in the Florida FBI, she and several of her co-workers have been sent to Florida to help with prisoner transport. Briefly back in KC, she receives a strange phone call, only a series of clicks and buzzes, with a distinctive beat. The sound technician, Cruz, has been tasked with figuring it out.

I got something,” Cruz announced over the phone.

What?” I sent back, perplexed.

See me in my cubbie,” he said.

Sighing heavily, I wandered to his cubbie, which is what he calls his work space. It’s small and cramped, but well lit and he has every electronic tool and gadget known to mankind. His diagnostic equipment set the budget back a very pretty penny, but considering he’s an asset to the department, and one of the best in the nation, Alvin didn’t mind finding the funds for him. Cruz met me at the door.

I knew I recognized it.”

What is it? Morse code?”

No, not even. It was a drum beat.”

A—hm—what?” I tilted my head, not sure I understood what he meant.

Drum beat.”

A for real beat? Not just something that sounds like something?”

No, it’s an actual beat from an actual song.”

And did you figure out which song?”

Yeah—kinda. Working on that. But it’s very familiar, which means it’s something I’ve heard fairly often.”

Doesn’t narrow it down much. You listen to music all the time.”

I know, but instead of all the drum beats it could be, it’s isolated to something I regularly hear. So, instead of billions of possibilities, it’s hundreds.”

Good point. Ideas?”

I looped it. Listen.”

He played the beat. Though it was done with clicks and buzzes instead of sticks and drums, I felt recognition. It was that strange, questing feeling you get when you know you know it, but it’s not quite there. Like it’s on the edge of your consciousness, but you can’t touch it. It felt like something was tapping on my forehead, above my left eye.

The door popped open and Butch walked in, opening his mouth to speak. Instead, his head turned to Cruz and started to bob. “Jingo,” he said—pertinent of nothing, I thought.

Jin-what?” I asked.

Jingo, by Carlos Santana. That’s the opening bongo solo, but I don’t think I ever heard it like that.”

You know it. Just like that?” I was slightly incredulous.

Yeah? I’m a drummer. I know my beats. I’m also a huge Santana fan and it’s one of my favorite songs.”

Okay, we’ve identified it,” I said, raising a shoulder and eyebrow in Cruz’s general direction. “Now, why? Is there something significant about the song, title, artist or beat?”

No clue,” Cruz said, fiddling some more. He set the recording clicking and buzzing, adding Jingo in an overlay. It fit perfectly. “By damn.”

Told ya. Do I know my beats, or what?”

My man!” Cruz tapped his knuckles.

But—the question remains—why? If it’s supposed to convey a message, it isn’t telling me anything.”

You have to look beyond the music,” Cruz began.

Really? You’re going to chance walking there?” I turned to Butch. “Does he have a death wish?”

Oh, Jeesh, Houston! I’m not being philosophical, I’m being honest. Listen. There’s the Jingo beat. There’s a factory whistle.”

But what do they mean?”

No clue. I can’t solve all your problems for you.”

In about ten seconds, you’re going to die,” I cautioned him. “And you won’t be able to stop me. And neither will Butch, guaranteed. So, quit pissing me off and spill.”

I do think it’s sending a message, but I couldn’t tell you what. But if you listen, there is a pause before we very distinctly hear the whistle. That sort of whistle is rare. Some factories still use them, you might find them in small cities, a noon whistle, but it’s not noon….”

Do they sound them at end of shift?” Butch asked.

Yeah, I suppose.” Cruz checked his watch and the time stamp on the recording. “Not local time for end of shift, unless it’s some place that changes shift at four o’clock instead of three. Most places go seven to three, three to eleven and eleven to seven. But some spots, like the prison go from eight until four, four to twelve and twelve to eight.”

Do any of the local prisons use a steam whistle at change of shift?” I asked him.

He was already sitting down to the keyboard. His face fell when he read the screen. “Aw shit.”

The prison where we just put China Finetti,” I stated without even looking.

Yeah. Shit. Fuck.”

I couldn’t state it more succinctly if I tried.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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Cover by Suzette Vaughn

Cover by Suzette Vaughn

I Love Dialogue from Call Me

doodle banner I love dialogueMoira Crane is an English teacher at the high school. Shortly after her phone is stolen, she finds herself embroiled in a nightmarish reality. She’s been accused of murdering her five close friends, other teachers with whom she worked. Unfortunately, the detective in charge of the case has been dating Moira.

His boss, Lieutenant Ritchie joined Rhys in the hallway. “My office.”

Rhys followed his lieutenant to the large, glassed in room. Ritchie closed the vertical blinds before rounding on his detective.

“You’ll recuse yourself immediately, Detective Fletcher.”

“I can do this, sir. This is my case.”

“Now it’s someone else’s. If you’re in charge, the DA can kiss it goodbye. Chain of evidence is tainted. You don’t want me to remove you. That would get ugly.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You’re shtupping the prime suspect in this case.”

“We’re not having sex, sir. And when I asked her out, she was a victim, not a suspect. Her only crime was getting involved with Nestor Montoya. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s behind all this.”

“Why?”

“To get back at Moira for leaving him.”

“You really think he’s that petty?”

“Have you read the jacket on Montoya? He’s fucking crazy. I don’t mean amusingly eccentric like my Great Uncle Boyd who thinks he’s Santa Claus. I’m talking bat-shit crazy—violently so. I have to stay on this, Lieutenant.”

“Make me a good case, Rhys.”

“To protect Moira from Nestor Montoya.”

“Other people work in this department, son,” Ritchie said gently.

“They don’t have my unique background, sir.”

There was a long pause. Rhys stood quietly, waiting. He watched the lieutenant’s face go through emotional jumping jacks.

“A defense lawyer could rip you to shreds based on the kiss and the dancing alone. Any evidence would have to be irrefutable so a judge can’t throw it out.”

“Then we’d better get irrefutable evidence, sir.”

“I’ll let the interview continue. But I withhold the right to jerk a knot in your ass at any time.”

“Yes, sir. I respectfully request that additional security be added to the station.”

“Why?” Ritchie’s eyes narrowed.

“Because I think Montoya is crazy, arrogant and stupid enough to come at us. At least here we can see him coming.”

The lieutenant leaned over the over the desk as he eyed his detective. “Are you telling me what I think you are?”

Fletcher’s chin came up his face guarded. “Depends on what you think—sir.”

“You arrested that girl to protect her. You don’t think she’s guilty, you think Montoya’s after her. Why didn’t you just put her under our protection?”

“I think further interrogation will reveal that, sir.”

“Son, you’re crazier than Mazie. Fine, you talk to her. But if you haven’t noticed, boy, that girl hates your guts.”

“Better that than dead,” Rhys mumbled.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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Sexy Without the Sex from Driving Blind

sexy without the sex bannerZenobia Vlachos works as a computer tech at a big electronics store in Daytona. She meets Ax Kazan, a police officer, when he pulls her over in traffic. There is an immediate connection between them, but Zenobia isn’t about to rush to bed with him. Ax makes the excuse that he needs computer work done, to see her at work, and takes her to lunch.

After eating, Zenobia still had some time before going back to work. They took a short walk around the plaza before dropping by his car. It wasn’t so much that Ax wanted to put his computer away, though that was his excuse. He really wanted to get her somewhere more private so he could kiss her.

Keeping his distance with most of his body, he brushed her ear and neck with his nose and lips. His lips tingled, wanting to kiss her, but this was an exercise in control for him—and a way to make himself irresistible.

Ax’s hot breath on her skin made Zenobia shiver with desire. Her nipples stiffened and she felt uncomfortably warm in places she shouldn’t be thinking about in public. Ax continued his seductive journey and she continued to shiver delightfully.

I—uuuhh….. I put—um—oh, fuck,” she whispered.

Ax laughed. “Now, now, such language from a lady,” he whispered.

You bastard, you’re doing that on purpose.”

Uh huh.” He tilted his head, concentrating on the nape of her neck. He breathed on her again, his mouth less than an inch from her skin.

Oh, God,” she squeaked softly. She felt a gush of moisture in her panties.

Eyes closed, she waited for him to continue. His prominent nose tickled the hairs on the back of her neck. His hot breath puffed across her skin like a warm, sultry breeze.

How could he be making her so hot without even touching her? Zenobia didn’t understand it. Usually, men couldn’t keep their hands off her and tried every way they could to excite her. Ax had her ready to cum and he’d done it with his breath. She pressed her lips together to rid them of the tingling his erotic ministrations had prompted. She had to distract him, or she’d embarrass herself by dragging him into the comfortable back seat of his Impala.

Over seven hundred items showed up on your computer,” she whispered at him.

It took Ax a moment to put the words together. He heard her, but he certainly wasn’t listening. “What does that mean?”

It means quit cruising porn sites.”

Ax chuckled, his breath caressing her throat in little puffs. “Well, now that I’ve got you, I will.”

Eyes narrowed as she turned to face him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

That means,” he murmured seductively, his voice dropping an octave, “that I don’t need porn when I can think about you.”

The blood rushed to her face and her jaw dropped. “Oh, my God!” she said in a shocked whisper.

Is it so hard to conceive?” he murmured against her neck, fingertips lightly touching her.

No man ever said he was going to—do that—by thinking of me.”

Why are you any less exciting than a porn star? You’re beautiful, Zenobia. You have great curves in all the right places. You should be flattered.”

Zenobia pressed her lips together, considering what he said. “Strangely, I am,” she admitted with a grin. “You would really—thinking about me?”

Ax leaned closer, his mouth right by her ear. “What makes you think I haven’t already?”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue from Call Me

doodle banner I love dialogueDistraught over its loss of her cellphone, (the case held sentimental value) Moira Crane goes to the police station to report the theft. Detective Rhys Fletcher ushers her into his office and it becomes more of a flirtatious conversation than a police interview.

“Sorry for the mess. They’re repairing my usual office. Had a waterpipe burst. So I’m stuck in the file room. They’re in the process of converting to paperless.” He held up a file, pulling a silly, sad-clown face.

Moira smiled. “I thought maybe you were just incredibly busy and awfully disorganized.”

“Me?” Fletcher tossed his hat on a rack near the desk. “Neat as a pin. Ask Sue.” He nodded to the woman outside.

“Don’t listen to him, he’s a slob. They’re all slobs,” the older woman laughed.

“Thanks. Make me look bad in front of the lady.” He invited Moira to take the only chair in the office. He perched on the edge of his desk, one well sculpted thigh slung over the corner.

In the small, windowless room, Moira could smell his cologne. It was dusky, spicy and tingled her nostrils. An uncomfortable warmth filled her. She shifted in the chair.

“I know it’s a little cozy in here. I’m sorry.” He shifted too.

Moira got the strong impression she had the same effect on him that he had on her.

“So, tell me what’s wrong, Miss Crane.”

Moira told him about what had happened in class and her actions afterward. Fletcher nodded, pressing his lips together.

“So, you don’t think any of your students could have done this?”

“Maybe, as a joke. None would do it seriously—at least I hope not.”

“Could it have been taken by mistake?”

Moira shook her head. “I doubt it. My phone case is very distinctive and childish. My ex-boyfriend’s daughter gave it to me for my birthday. She’s five.”

Moira gulped, her eyes watering again. She pulled out a crumpled tissue from the stack Sue had given her, smiling when Fletcher’s handkerchief appeared in front of her. Laughing, she took the handkerchief.

“I’m sorry, I got mascara on it.” She handed it back to him.

Fletcher tossed it aside. “That’s what I pay the maid for.” He smiled down at her. “I can’t guarantee we’ll get the phone back. If it was stolen, it’s probably been sold off by now. But you did the right thing by contacting the phone company.”

“It’s the pictures,” she wailed. “I don’t have copies of them. I know I should have saved them—”

“But you don’t think about that,” he said quietly. “Not with something as precious and spontaneous.”

He sounded so subdued, Moira stared at him. She never tried to read people she’d just met. Sometimes, their emotions were so obvious, she couldn’t help it. The pain radiating off him was intense. He’d lost someone he loved dearly—and the pain was recent. Moira’s fingers brushed his hand before she could stop it. She got a flash of a grave—no, two. One adult sized and one very small one.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “It must be quite awful to lose your family.”

Rhys Fletcher recoiled from her touch, jumping off the edge of the desk. He knocked his lamp to the floor in his attempt to get away. The bulb shattered on the tile floor.

“Who are you? Did he send you?”

“What are you doing in there, Rhys Fletcher?” Sue called from her desk. “If you break another lamp. . . .”

“Sorry. My fault,” Moira called.

Moira stooped to pick up the lamp. Her long, sable hair cascaded over her shoulder. Their eyes met when she stood up. Fletcher’s were dark, penetrating, glaring at her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to pry. It’s just—I sense things. I know it sounds all freakish, but when I touched you, I saw graves. Your wife and child?”

“Who are you, Miss Crane?”

“I’m an English teacher at the high school.”

Fletcher sighed, running his hands over his close cropped hair. “I’m sorry, Miss Crane.” He adjusted his shirt sleeves, tugging at the cuffs. “It wasn’t my wife and child. It was my sister and her daughter.” He set the lamp well out of his way and sat on the desk once more. “I apologize. I’m naturally suspicious.”

“You asked if he sent me. No one sent me, Detective Fletcher. I’m here about my phone.”

“Of course. If I haven’t completely blown any chance in hell I had of getting to know you better, would you like to go to dinner?”

Moira’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Dinner.” He eyed her calmly, smiling.

“Like a date?”

“Yes.” He folded his hands in his lap, waiting.

Moira crossed her legs, twitching hair behind her ear. She couldn’t read any deception in his face. He really wanted to ask her out. If the feelings she got from him early on were any indication, he was genuinely interested in her. In fact, she suspected this conversation was brought on less by him being a police officer and more about being a man.

“Are you married?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Sue, am I married?”

The older woman didn’t even look up from what she was typing. “Nope, more’s the pity.”

“Am I dating anyone?” He winked at Moira, knowing that would be her next question.

“There’s not a woman alive who would put up with you long enough.” She smiled up at him. “Is that young whelp asking you out?” she directed at Moira.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, he’s not completely untrainable, but you’ll have your hands full. He’s better than most and not as bad as some others. Go for it.” She waved at them. “With my blessing. Now, leave me be. I have work.”

“You have the Sue Seal of Approval,” Fletcher said. “What more can you ask for?”

Moira laughed. “I guess I can’t ask for anything more. Okay, I’d love to have dinner. I need to go home and fix my face.”

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“Don’t you need my address for that?”

He picked up her paperwork, grinning as he waved it at her. “I’ve got it right here. All your most intimate details.”

“If you weren’t a cop, that would be a really pervy thing to admit,” Moira said, her lips twitching as she tried to hide a smile.

“Moi?” He pointed to himself with both index fingers. “Not a perverted bone in my body,” he said as he walked her out.

“You’re a man, aren’t you?” Sue said, without looking up. “You’re all perverts.”

“Well. Put that way. . . . At seven?”

“Yes. And thank you, Detective Fletcher.”

He kissed her hand. “Rhys, please. I promise that dinner isn’t part of our usual customer service.”

Giggling, Moira walked out to her car. Fletcher accompanied her,closing her door when she was settled. She turned the key and opened the window.

“I’ll run over your foot if you keep standing there.”

Taking a couple steps back, he put his hands in his pockets, squinting against the sunshine. “See you at seven, Moira.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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