As Amato and Jimmy made their plans, Cassandra was making hers. Desperate for cash, she knew she had to start liquidating her assets if she wanted to escape. Doing her best to stay one step ahead of the cops, she grabbed her spare phone, and started looking up the number to her local bank branch manager. With her fingers crossed, she called and explained that she needed to withdraw all of her money. “In cash?” the manager asked rather surprised.
“No, in puka shells,” she retorted, “Of course in cash!”
“Well Ms. Fenetti, we’ll need at least 24 hours.”
“We’re low in cash,” the manager explained.
“You’re a bank, how is that even possible?”
“Just bear with us Ms. Fenetti. We’ll have all of the funds tomorrow.”
“Urgh! Okay, I’ll be there at opening.”
“Alright, see you then.” He said in a sickening sweet tone.
Hanging up the phone the manager place a call to his supervisor, the Vice president of the branch, “Steve, it’s Marty, sorry to bother you but Fenetti called. She’s coming by tomorrow morning at opening.”
“Thanks Marty, I handle this one myself.” He said.
He wasn’t quite sure why the President of the bank would want to personally handle the closing of an account, but Marty, simply agreed to have his admin send the files to his boss’s computer. That was one less account he had to deal with, and since it was the end of the day, he grabbed his jacket along with his brief case and left for home.
In the meantime, Cassandra had to figure out where she was going once she had the cash. Placing a call to her favorite airline, she chartered a plane to the Cayman Islands. Once she got off the phone with them, she booked a hotel room at the Hilton. Nonetheless she still wasn’t done, Cassandra had to make sure no one would be able to track her, not the cops, and certainly not the killers. She already knew that the cops were checking phone records and looking at security footage. As if that weren’t enough, Cassandra would have to change her appearance as well as get a new identity. Placing a few calls to some of the best forgers in New York, she put in an order for a new driver’s license as well as a passport. The ones she had were old, and looked outdated. Sending him a recent photo of herself, she got the okay from the forger and they worked out a deal. She regretted not staying on top of these things, she knew better, being the daughter of a mobster and the fiancé of another. This life was unpredictable and deadly, Inpatient she mumbled to herself, “When will you ever learn?”.
This was only phase one of her plan, she still had to keep herself alive and evade police for the next 16 hours. Cassandra had to lay low, if she was going to survive the night. Starting the engine, she made a journey to her old hideout, a safe house of sorts. Making her way through Little Italy, she made it to an old pizzeria. Parking down the street, she took out a key and went to the back and climbed a set of rickety stairs to a tiny apartment. Cassandra figured she would be safe here since she and Stephano rented it under the table. There was no paper trail and they were careful to not tell anyone about it. Despite all that, she was still paranoid and took out her glock. Quietly she went from room to room to be absolutely sure she was alone. When she was able to let her guard down, Cassandra put the gun away and went straight to the closet to find the clothes she had purchased for a time like this. There was an array of outfits, some of them were shabby chic, while the others were high end luxury brands. There was no way she could dress as she always had. Too many people knew her style, and if her instincts were right, the cops were already creating a profile of her, if they hadn’t already. It was a hot day and she still wasn’t feeling well, so Cassandra decided to take a shower and call it a day.
Collapsing on the bed, she made herself comfortable and clutched a pillow. Fighting the urge to cry, she refused to think about what happened and focused instead on what needed to be done. Going over the plan in her head, she went over every possible scenario again and again like a mantra of sorts. After all, Cassandra needed something to believe in and her plan was that thing. She would succeed, she would pull herself out of this mess. Confident, she slowly drifted to sleep, safe for now.
“Hey, it’s Moe.” Moe was one of my friends from the first day of grade nine. She was also labeled untouchable by association with me and the others in our group, even though her folks weren’t welfare bums and had good jobs; she still didn’t mind slumming as she hated the snobbery around the school.
“Hey, yourself. What’s up?”
“Did you get it?”
“The invitation? Yeah, it came today.”
“Thinking about it.”
“Matter of fact, yes, but that’s beside the point.”
“They’re going to fillet you and serve you up for dinner.”
I have the optimistic hope that some of my former classmates may have grown up. “I am done running from them, Moe. They Don’t scare me. After years of therapy, I am finally comfortable in my own skin.”
“Well they still scare the shit out of me and I am forty-eight years old.”
“No reason for that, dear. You have a great life now, and if they are still calling us losers, it’s their problem, not ours. Suck it up and come with.”
Meanwhile, just a few blocks away in front of a laundromat, Cassandra was hunting for new clothes. In most people’s eyes, she was loaded but in reality, she was asset rich and cash poor. She couldn’t just walk into a store and pay with her jewelry, no matter how nice and expensive it was. So in essence she was broke, so Casssandra did what she always did when she was broke, she stole. First, she cased the joint for security guards but only found surveillance cameras on the outside of the building as well at the register. The rest of the place was free of interference. Relieved, she began looking for women who were about her size and observed their alertness. The last thing she needed was someone putting up a fight. However as she scanned the place, Cassandra noticed only one woman who fit the bill and she seemed to be a young woman with three small children. It didn’t feel right, so Cassandra decided to make it right. Sitting in one of the plastic neon orange chairs near her target, she began taking off her diamond earrings. She figured they were worth around $10,000, way more than anything this woman owned and slipped them into the woman’s purse. With the flick of the wrist, Cassandra slid the goods into the woman’s bag and began her scheme.
Appearing to be busy on her phone, Cassandra patiently waited for the woman to be distracted and it didn’t take long when her kids began fighting. Completely overwhelmed, the woman snatched one of the boys by the arm and began yelling. As she did, the baby next to her started crying. The woman sighed and commanded, “Come on!” as she headed off to the lady’s restroom. It was the diaper change sent from the gods, and without arousing any suspicion, Cassandra went over to the dryer and plucked out a damp t-shirt with a pair of jeans from the load. Then without saying a word, she left the laundromat before the woman could return. When she got to her car, she began putting on the lavender peasant top and cropped blue jeans. Now the look was complete, no one would ever think of looking for her driving a dirty SUV while dressed in Boxmart style clothes. Even though she wasn’t dressed like her normal attire, it was still way better than the sweaty and dirty evening gown that she was nearly murdered in. When Cassandra got to the nearest Mc Restaurant, she threw the gown in the dumpster. Smelling the food inside her stomach growled. It had been over 6 hours since she last ate and though it would kill her family to know that she was eating food cooked under a heat lamp, it was cheap and convenient.
None of that mattered because she still had no money, and the only thing Cassandra had left to give away was her engagement ring. There was no way she would ever part with that. So she had to find another way. Looking through her purse, she desperately looked for anything but all she had was makeup, tissues and gum. Then her phone vibrated. Looking at the screen, Cassandra noticed the call had a local area code with an unfamiliar number. She knew better than to answer. In fact, she knew what to do next, she had to pawn the phone. But before she did that, Cassandra deleted all the contact info as well as all the apps. She had another phone in her suitcase, she wasn’t going to miss this one. Before Cassandra left the restaurant, she looked around for a fencer. Usually, they hustled on corners or in parking lots. She knew there would be interest in her phone because it was brand new and had a brand named. Scouring the block for her new buyer, she noticed a man in front of a gas station. Checking him out, she noticed he was dressed in a newish football jersey and jeans so he wasn’t homeless. Cautiously, she scanned the block to make sure he wasn’t a cop. Cassandra couldn’t see any unusual cars parked on the street and decided to take the risk. Casually, she walked over to him and smiled then, asked for the time. Returning the smile he said, “Baby, I got all the time in the world.” It was the corniest thing she had ever heard, and couldn’t help but roll her eyes. Seeing the ice had been broken, she straight up asked him, “Hey, I’m looking to unload a phone, is there a pawn shop ‘round here?”
“Naw, baby girl, but lemme look.”
From a distance she held up the phone and his eyes bulged, “That’s the new Andromeda 10!” Hearing the excitement in his voice, Cassandra asked, “Yeah, you interested?” And before you knew it, she had closed the deal and scored an extra $40 in her pocket. It wasn’t a lot but enough for food and little bit of gas for her ride. With this Cassandra ordered her McSlop which she ate in the car because she was too embarrassed to eat inside. As she inhaled her food, Cassandra wondered about her next move. It was the first time in nearly 8 hours she had time to sit down and think. She could flee the country but she had to do it quickly before she was named a suspect or a person of interest by law enforcement. And since she stuck a gun in a cop’s face, they were more likely to just book her on that. Then there was Stephano’s killers, she would have to deal with them sooner or later. She needed to get her hands on Danny Marchesi, the man who ruined her life and took Stephano’s. Angry, all Cassandra could do was fantasize about what she would do with him and his crew once she got a hold of them. But for now, she was just some chick in a fast food parking lot and wasn’t riding with any crew. In fact, she had to assume that everyone had turned on her. It was the safest thing to do.
Feeling all alone, the tears streamed down her face but Cassandra decided to shut that part of her brain down in order to survive. She needed to survive this attack on her life, Casssandra needed to survive the police and their bullshit, and more importantly, she needed to survive for Stephano. She was the only one who could deliver justice for him now. With her mind already made up, she threw what was left of her lunch out of the window and started the car. It was reckoning time.
Thank you for following along with the Fedelta series, if you need to get caught up here are the first two posts:
Category romances are short, usually no more than 200 pages, or about 55,000 words.
To write a successful novel of this length, the “author must pare the story down to its essentials. Subplots and minor characters are eliminated or relegated to the backstory.
Single-titles novels are romance novels not published as part of a publisher’s category. They are longer than category romances, typically between 350 and 400 pages, or 100,000-110,000 words. Publishers may release the novels over a shorter period of time for sales and publicity reasons, but on average authors write 1.5 novels per year and have one each year published. Single-title novels remain on the booksellers’ shelves at the discretion of the store.
Despite their name, single-title novels are not always stand alone novels. Some authors prefer to write several interconnected books, ranging in number from trilogies to long-running series, so that they can revisit characters or worlds. Such sets of books often have similar titles, and may be labelled as “Number 1 in the XXX Series”, but they are not considered series romances because they are not part of a particular line.
Contemporary Romance is define as any romance taking place after WWII. There are several subgenres in this category.
Romantic suspense involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve. typically, however, the heroine is the victim of a crime or attempted crime, and works with a hero, who tends to be in a field where he would serve as a protector, such as a police officer, FBI agent, bodyguard, or Navy SEAL.By the end of the novel, the mystery is resolved and the interaction between the hero and heroine has evolved into a solid relationship.These novels primarily take place in contemporary times, but authors such as Amanda Quick have broadened the genre to also include historical time frames.
Like all romances, romantic suspense novels must place the development of a relationship between the protagonists at the heart of the story. The relationship “must impact each decision they make and increase the tension of the suspense as it propel the story. In turn, the events of suspense must also directly affect the relationship and move the story forward.” Romantic suspense novels tend to have more “clean” language, without the “emotional, intimate” descriptions often used in more traditional romances.Because the mystery is a crucial aspect of the plot, these novels are more plot-driven instead of character-driven.
This blend of the romance and mystery was perfected by Mary Stewart, who wrote ten romantic suspense novels between 1955 and 1967. Stewart was one of the first to seamlessly combine the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people. In her novels, the process of solving the mystery “helps to illuminate” the hero’s personality, helping the heroine to fall in love with him.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE AUTHORS IS AN INDIE AUTHOR DELLANI OAKES
THEY CONTAIN FANTASTIC PLOTS WHERE THE GOOD GUY ALWAYS WINS, THE BADASSES GET WHATS COMING TO THEM AND THEY ARE ARE FIREWORKS BETWEEN THE LEADS. THE WOMEN ARE STRONG CHARACTERS BUT DO NEED GUYS LIKE TEAGUE MCMURTRY, AN EX-MILITARY TO SWOOP IN AND LEND A HAND. THERE IS OFTEN STEAMY SEX IN THIS NOVELS AS WELL.
YOU CAN FIND DELLANIS ROMANCES AT AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A
This genre can be contemporary where their is a supernatural aspect like shape shifters, vampires, werewolves and fey oh my.
DEFINITION FROM WIKIPEDIA
Paranormal romance blends the real with the fantastic or science fictional. The fantastic elements may be woven into an alternate version of our own world in an urban fantasyinvolving vampires, demons, and/or werewolves, or they may be more “normal” manifestations of the paranormal—humans with psychic abilities, witches, or ghosts. Time travel, futuristic, and extraterrestrial romances also fall beneath the paranormal umbrella.These novels often blend elements of other subgenres—including suspense, mystery, or chick lit—with their fantastic themes.A few paranormals are set solely in the past and are structured much like any historical romance novel. Others are set in the future, sometimes on different worlds. Still others have a time-travel element with either the hero or the heroine traveling into the past or the future.Between 2002 and 2004, the number of paranormal romances published in the United States doubled to 170 per year. A popular title in the genre can sell over 500,000 copies.
Many paranormal romances rely on the blend of contemporary American life with the existence of supernatural or magically empowered beings, human or otherwise; sometimes the larger culture is aware of the magical in its midst, sometimes it is not. Some paranormal romances focus less on the specifics of their alternative worlds than do traditional science fiction or fantasy novels, keeping the attention strongly on the underlying romance.Others develop the alternate reality meticulously, combining well-planned magical systems and inhuman cultures with contemporary reality.
PARANORMAL ROMANCES I LOVE BOOKS BY DARLENE KUNCYTES
DARLENES PARANORMAL ROMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT AMAZON
Historical romance (also historical novel) is a broad category of fiction which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past, which Walter Scott helped popularize in the early 19th-century, with works such as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. Literary fiction historical romances continue to be published, and a notable recent example is Wolf Hall (2009), a multi-award-winning novel by English historical novelist Hilary Mantel. However, the focus here is on the mass-market genre.
This subgenre includes a wide variety of other subgenres, including Regency romance. Mass-market historical romance novels are rarely published in hardcover, with fewer than 15 receiving that status each year, less than one-fifth of the number of contemporary romance novels published in that format. Because historical romances are primarily published in mass-market format, their fortunes are tied to a certain extent to the mass-market trends. Booksellers and large merchandisers now sell fewer mass market paperbacks, preferring trade paperbacks or hardcovers, which prevents historical romances from being sold in some price clubs and other mass merchandise outlets.
In 2001, 778 mass-market historical romances were published, a 10-year high. By 2004, the annual number had dropped to 486, which was still 20% of all romance novels published. Kensington Books says they receive fewer submissions of historical novels, and their previously published authors have switched to contemporary.
I HAVE READ MY FAIR SHARE OF WHAT I LIKE TO CALL BODICE RIPPERS, A GOOD FRIEND REFERS TO THEM AS TRASHY NOVELS WHERE THE DAMSEL IS KIDNAPPED BY SOME KIND OF ROGUE LIKE A PIRATE AND OUR HERO A MUSCLE BOUND BARECHESTED MAN RESEMBLING FABIO OR SOME GREEK ADONIS SWEEPS IN TO SAVE THE LADIES VIRTUE ONLY TO RAVAGE HER LOVINGLY LATER IN THE STORY. THERE IS A HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND THE COUPLE IS WED AND MAKES LOADS OF BABIES.
THATS THE ABCS OF ROMANCE THERE ARE OTHER SUB GENRES OF ROMANCE THAT ARE DEFINED IN WIKIPEDIA
Meanwhile across town, Detective Amato was back in his cubicle with the other detectives in the financial crimes unit. It was his own personal nightmare, a desk job he had to do from a shoe box but at least he had a job. In the last year, he went from fugitive, to being welcomed back into the fold and it was all a complete mystery to him. Well not really, he knew that someone called in a favor and he was let back into the force through the cat flap. Amato managed to keep his nose to the grind and keep out of trouble but it was secretly killing him. He wanted more and Amato wasn’t even sure if this is how he wanted to live his life. Looking at spreadsheets and nitpicking over ledgers was not what he dedicated himself to at the academy. It was pathetic, he didn’t even have a gun anymore. The last time he discharged his firearm was when he was taking the marksmanship test. He felt like a dog that had been neutered, a ball-less wonder. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the gun that was bothering him so much. Maybe it was the fact that he knew that the only reason why he was back on the force was because of Cassandra Fenetti. The woman who he owed his newly resurrected career to and the woman he wanted dead for betraying him.
With blurry eyes, he did his best to read the rows and columns of financial data that graced the screen. His job was to flag any inconsistencies and send the documents off to his supervisor. Rinse and repeat, all the day long. It was soul crushing for a man who was used of being out in the field taking risks and chasing bad guys. He didn’t know how long he could take this, in fact, he had already started looking for another job in another town. There had to be someone, somewhere, who needed a cop? As his mind wondered off, his boss, Agent Nicholson, yelled from his office, “Amato, get in here.” Startled, he nearly tripped over his own feet trying to exit his work station, God he couldn’t wait until this day was over.
Once in the office, he noticed Supervisory Special Agent Cohen from the Organized Crime Unit was sitting across from his boss’ desk. “Shut the door,” Nicholson ordered. Doing as he was told, Amato shut the door and approached the desk. Pointing to a folding chair, his boss commanded, “Take a seat.” Once seated, Cohen addressed Amato, “There was a hit this morning on Columbus Avenue and 96th Street. Double homicide, both males.” On the desk was a folder which he reached into and pulled out several photos of two men in a vehicle, shot multiple times. Handing them over to Amato, he asked, “Recognize, the vics?”
Stunned, Amato answered, “Yes, the male behind the wheel is Lucus Hobbs, driver for Stephano Rimaldi, the very dead gentleman in the backseat.”
“Right,” Cohen said as he pulled out a tablet and handed it to Amato, “Press play.” Doing as instructed, a grainy surveillance video played the final moments of the unlucky occupants in the car. “This is overkill” Amato remarked as he saw four men shooting at the vehicle. He watched as the assassins fled the scene and the patrolman approached the vehicle. Pressing stop, Cohen corrected him saying, “No, keep going.” Not certain as to what he meant, Amato pressed play again and watched as Cassie appeared in camera range. “Recognize the female?” Cohen asked.
Hesitantly, Amato answered, “Yes, it’s Fenetti, Cassandra Fenetti. She’s the fiancé of Rimaldi.”
“Interesting,” Cohen said staring at Amato. “Those of us in homicide would appreciate any assistance you can offer in our little investigation.”
“Of course,” Amato replied.
“We’re looking for the female suspect,”
“She couldn’t have done this.”
“No, we don’t believe she’s the mastermind of the hit, but she did threaten an officer with a weapon and we would like to talk to her.”
Chuckling, Amato answered, “Good luck finding her, let alone getting her to talk.”
“Yeah about that,” Cohen said sitting back in his chair, “We want you to lead the fugitive task force.”
“Wait, what?” Amato exclaimed, “This is the wrong way to approach the case.”
Smirking, Cohen looked at Amato, “It’s not your call.”
“I’ll provide intel but I’m not leading any task force. It’s a waste of time.”
“Why?” Cohen asked.
“Because she’s probably halfway to Timbuktu already.”
“Are you saying you can’t do it?”
“I’m saying she’s one of the richest women in this town and it will be a million times harder to trace than she was before.”
Questioning his loyalty Cohen asked, “Why should we believe you? Word is you had a relationship with Fenetti during your excursion away from the force.”
A rush of heat hit Amato’s face from the insinuation that he was protecting some girlfriend. Nonetheless, he took a deep breath and as calmly as he could, Amato responded, “I stepped in to protect a witness when our agency was unable. There was never any inappropriate relationship between myself and Miss. Fenetti.” He kept referring to her by her last name to keep his distance emotionally but also to show that he was not on friendly terms with her which, at that point, he wasn’t.
“If you don’t trust me, then find another agent to do the job. Problem solved,” Amato said, calling Cohen’s bluff.
“I don’t like your attitude, no wonder they put you in the shitter.”
“Hey!” Nicholson interrupted, “I run this shitter and right now I’m flushing you right back to OC (Organized Crime).”
Without a word, Cohen stood up and gathered his tablet as well as his folder and walked out of the office.
“God, I hate those guys.” Nicholson said with disgust.
‘Yeah, me too.”
“You’re dying to get back in OC ain’t ya?”
“Yep,” Amato said as he stood up.
“So what was all that, I’m not the guy for the job shtick?”
“I’m gonna make them beg.”
Rolling his eyes, Agent Nicholson said, “Get the hell out my office.”
Stephano quickly returned with her shawl and his jacket which he draped over his arm. Fortunately for them, the gala was held on the first floor of the hotel so Cassandra didn’t have to endure the elevator. God only knows what would happened there. As they got to the front door, their Bentley Bentayaga was already waiting for them. While Stephano opened the door, she noticed a man who looked out of place, he was wearing faded jeans and a white t-shirt. With a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, Cassandra figured he was just of the hotel employees, a poorly dressed one at that. Nothing to look at here she thought to herself until, he gave them the side eye. Okay, so he was a badly dressed hotel employee with an attitude problem. However, Cassandra’s gut told her there was something more to this perceived slight but she wasn’t feeling well and figured she wasn’t thinking straight. Maybe it was the wine?
As the driver opened the passenger door, Cassandra happily got in while Stephano followed. Once they pulled away from the curb Cassandra started to relax knowing they were only ten minutes from their apartment. When they pulled up to a red light, Stephano remarked about the lack of traffic and just as he made that statement, the car behind them turned up their high beems, blinding the driver. Cassandra’s heart stopped as she realized what was going on. Looking at Stephano, she grabbed his arm but before anything came out of her mouth, several men approached the car from the front as well as the side. Two of them pulled out guns, and started shooting, “Oh God!” she gasped as a hail of bullets started showering the car. In an act of utter selflessness, Stephano pulled her down to the floor and covered her with his body. Though it only lasted seconds, it felt like an eternity for the shooting to stop. Shaking to her core, Cassandra said not one word as she heard footsteps approaching the car. Hearing the driver’s door open, she heard a raspy voice announce, “Yeah, they’re dead.” Listening as the others approach, Cassandra had to fight the urge to shake. Closing her eyes, she controlled her breathing and lied as still as she could. “Good job fellas,” said one of the men. This voice she recognized, it was Danny Marchesi, Stephano’s best friend.
“Dump the car and the bodies in the river,” Danny instructed one of the henchmen. However before they could follow through, Danny groaned “Aw shit!” Listening closely, Cassandra heard several footsteps running in the opposite direction of the car. As she remained motionless, she heard a car slowly pulling up and to her relief it was an elderly couple who stopped when they saw the driver slump over the wheel. Thinking he was having a heart attack, they called 9-1-1 and within minutes, a patrol car arrived. When the officer assessed the scene he knew immediately he was not dealing with a motorist in distress, this was a shooting. Cautiously, he approached the car, and as he inched closer, he drew his weapon just in case the perpetrators were nearby. Observing the driver, he nudged him with his hand and asked, “Sir, are you alright?” After two attempts to communicate with the driver, he stepped back and noticed a black heap of clothing in the back seat area. With his weapon still in hand, he opened the back door and realized it was yet another male. Again, he repeated the proper procedure and tried to make contact with the male. When he nudged Stephano, Cassandra popped out from under him. Pulling back in fear, the officer nearly fell backwards into the street. Drawing his weapon on her, he demanded, “Hands in the air.” However, instead of complying, Cassandra pulled out her Glock 26 and yelled, “Fuck off!”
As the officer took cover behind his car, Cassandra got out of the passenger door and without taking her eyes off the guy, she retreated to a nearby alley. Calling for backup, the officer could only watch as Cassandra disappeared from his range of vision and when assistance finally arrived, it was already too late, she was long gone.
“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”
My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing. By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.
I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance. Not the same as Derek’s at all.
Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days. Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he sat in the same spot he had claimed the first day mom brought him home. What little sunlight that floated through the window draperies caught in the cloud of clove smoke and was prevented from intruding further.
“Did you hear your mother, Victoria?”
I dropped my backpack to the floor, my hand on the handle to my bedroom. So close. I almost went five seconds without Derek parenting me.
“Yes, Derek. I heard her. Can’t I just put my stuff up first?”
“You don’t have to backtalk.”
My eyes rolled out of sheer habit. Tossing my pack to my bed, I moved into the kitchen to see my mother, her walker against the counter, trying her best to reach up into a top cupboard. A stack of groceries covered the counter-top, the bags littering the floor, and the back door was standing open.
“Why doesn’t Derek help you with the groceries?” I asked for the millionth time as I lowered her off her tiptoes and placed the soup cans onto the shelf with ease. Perhaps I was born for the simple task of reaching high areas for my tiny, middle-aged mater. Seems as likely as any reason.
“He doesn’t come over to do chores, Tori. He works hard. Let him relax,” she mewed.
I sighed. It was the same line she used for my absent father who watched her body disintegrate until he had had enough of “taking care of a mooch” and decided to leave her.
“He could at least shut the door if your arms are full, couldn’t he? That wouldn’t take any of his precious energy.” I mumbled so she could not hear too much as I closed the wooden door.
“I’m perfectly capable of–”
“No, you’re not, Mom.” I heaved a sigh and grabbed the plastic handles of a floor-dwelling bag. “You have a freaking walker to deal with. You shouldn’t have to carry groceries from the car by yourself.”
“No, she shouldn’t.” Derek magically appeared at the arch to the dining room. It was like the click of the back door summoned him. His gravel choked voice continued to scold me as if I had been the one squatting in the other room listening to her struggles this whole time. “You should be more helpful for your mother.”
After the day I had just been dealt, something in me snapped. “You’re right, Derek. I should’ve known my mom was at the store and should’ve dashed home like The Flash to help her with the bags! Utterly brilliant!”
“Tori.” My mom admonished me with her tone. “Just put the things away for me, please? I need to lie down. Can you do that without yelling at anybody? Please?”
I wilted. “Sure, Mom.”
She shuffled to the arch where Derek ushered her to the hall with a waiting arm. He was such a freaking hero. I resumed sorting the items from the bags, muttering to myself. “I wasn’t yelling at just anybody. It was still a pretty stupid thing to say. How am I supposed to help when I’m not even home, Derek? Tell me that. Like you tell me everything else; you’re so smart and so wonderful. Why can’t you tell me that? Huh?”
Meaningless, pointless venting. Eventually my grumble petered off to silence and I was absorbed in organizing the shelves, the frig, and the small pantry closet near the back door.
An hour later, I realized Derek’s true genius. I had cleaned the kitchen without being asked. Pure evil, that’s what he was.
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire.
I may not be the tallest girl in my class, but I’m gangling enough to pass as a teenage boy if I wanted. All shoulders and elbows. Stupid pseudo-ectomorph body type. My breasts popped out in seventh grade, but quickly gave up the fight against gravity. Now they are just two medium ski slopes dangling above a small paunch of “baby fat” that refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups my coaches tell me to do. I don’t want a six-pack; I just want to be able to button my jeans without lying flat on my bed.
If having attention being called to my body’s disproportions during (not one, but two) gym classes each weekday and giggled about by my peers was not enough, I was sure to be reminded of my “budding womanhood” by my mom’s creepy-ass boyfriend when I get home.
Geez, why can’t we just be prepubescent one night and burst forth from a chrysalis two days later as a legal adult? Why must we suffer for eight to ten years like this?
I hate high school. So what? I’m sure everybody does. I’m not a whiner. It’s just that transitioning to a new school mid-semester because my old school burned to the ground puts me in unfamiliar territory. I’ve known some of these kids most of my life, we just went to different schools for a lot of that time. Now I’m in their world, uncertain and vulnerable. It takes every aspect of myself that I was comfortable with and sticks it under a new microscope to be poked and prodded by narrowed eyes that are less than impartial.
Gym is the worst and the best. The coaches push me to join after school athletics and I usually get picked right away for team sports. This is because of the way I look, not because of any proven skills. I’ve had to adapt over the years, so as to appear that I know what I’m doing. Example: I can hit a ball hard enough; I just don’t always know how to make it go in the right direction.
I would much prefer to be in an art class or computer lab. Thus, I suffer through my typical day.
Also, I’m the type of person to use the word ‘thus’. Enough said.
Many authors hold multiple positions in other areas of our lives. However, regardless of how busy we are, nor how many books we have written, it does not change the fact that each time we have a new release we feel the same as any other author exposing themselves to the world for the very first time. Feelings are often are the combination of joy, nervous anticipation, excitement, and a slight element of fear (at least for me). Dellani Oakes is no exception to the rule of a woman with multiple roles; she is a busy wife, mother, Blog Talk Radio host, publisher, and an author. She lives in Florida, grew up in Western Nebraska, has lived in multiple states, and being a people watcher by nature, this has given her the opportunity to gather information over the years for her work.
She’s written multiple novels, but now has a new romance, set to release November 1, 2017, from Tirgearr Publishing, titled – So Much It Hurts. I’m thrilled to say I had the opportunity to interview Dellani about her work and her new novel.
The main character, Pia Donovan, Pia has just moved to the City from a tiny town in Nebraska. Overwhelmed by the fast pace, and after a long day of getting lost in the worst part of the city possible, she finally arrives at her destination, a historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, practically falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.
1) You have written several novels. Is this your first romance?
Dellani: I have written other straight romances, but this is the first published romance. The others are either romantic suspense or sci-fi.
2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?
Dellani: She resembles me in several ways. First of all, she’s an academic brat. My father was a college professor. For Pia, it’s her mom. We both grew up in Nebraska, though she’s from the east and I grew up out west. It’s still the small town girl vibe. Also, her musical loves are mine – hands down, exactly like me.
3) Is the protagonist, Pia, a heroine, victim or neither?
Dellani: She is certainly no victim, though she has some hurt in her life. She does suffer a little in the story, but she rises above. I wouldn’t call her a heroine, as there is no real villain. However, she is a strong female lead.
4) When I think of romance, I often think of love stories. Is this a typical love story?
Dellani: It is a love story, with a bit of a surprise. If you’re asking if this follows the standard romance formula, no. But it is a sweet story of loss, love and redemption.
5) I am sure some scenes maybe steamy. How would you rate them, R rated or X?
Dellani: This particular story is very mild. There are some heavy make-out scenes and certain acts are mentioned, but there is no graphic sex in the story. It’s more of an understood thing. Because there are some sensitive people out there, I would give it a light R. It would be appropriate for 17+
6) Being a visual writer (myself), do you have to visualize your scenes. If so, how fun 🙂 but on another note, is it emotionally draining at times being in someone else’s relationship?
Dellani: Yes and yes. I see the scenes play out in detail. I hear them talking in their individual voices, and try to capture their individual styles.
There are times when character’s don’t get along. That’s inevitable. It’s hard when the actions of one character adversely affect another. Sometimes, there’s reparation. Other times, there’s an irreparable split. Those are hard, especially if I really like both characters.
7) I know by nature you are an observer; the material is all around you, but writing romance, is it hard to find good relationships to mimic these days?
Dellani: I don’t really try to mimic any relationships. If anything, their couple dynamic is similar to my own marriage. We’ve been together 35 years and still have fun together. Our style is a little avaunt-garde but it works for us.
8) If you had to tell your audience/readers one thing about this book that you want them to know?
Dellani: Don’t pick it up expecting a “typical romance”. Anyone who knows my work already knows this, but new readers don’t. I have never followed the boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl makeup and live horribly ever after. I can’t even imagine people hating one another throughout a book, then realizing they are in love. I give it a year—maybe.
My couples meet, feel a spark and work together against conflict. They resolve their issues and work through them together.
9) Flynn sounds as if he is gorgeous and delightful, but is he a nice person? Don’t answer if it gives away your story 🙂
Dellani: Flynn is a great guy, but he has some baggage that even he doesn’t recognize. He’s learning and growing as a person. I love Flynn. (I love Yancy and Pia as well) 🙂
10) While writing romance is hard to put original spins on twists that are already out there and make them your own?
Dellani: Yes, it can be. People have certain expectations for romance, which I don’t give them. I do my best to find ways to bring my characters closer, not drive them apart. Not to say they don’t have problems, but at least they try. Finding a new spin isn’t easy, but I hope I still deliver a good story.
11) Greenlee honestly could have been any kid, in any town, anywhere in America. Could Pia be any woman, anywhere, in any small town or is she special?
Dellani: She’s very universal, in my eyes. Although she is a musician, she could be anyone, anywhere—a displaced small town girl in the big city. I love that she’s like that, but retains her individuality – just as Greenlee did. (I love her)
12) Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
Dellani: I love all my leads, but as far as favorite – I’m gonna have to go with Oz. He’s not a major character, but he is pivotal. Oz is special, a young man with Asperger’s, who lives down the hall from Pia. He is fiercely loyal, intuitive and sees into a person with a great clarity. He talks to Pia about seeing the pattern. At first, she’s not quite sure, but when she sings for a group of the residents, she sees it quite clearly. Glancing at Oz, she realizes that he knows what she’s seeing. It’s a cool moment.
13) What would you tell your fans excites you about this release?
Dellani: I love this book! I fell in love with the characters, I love the plot twists and I can’t wait for it to be out so that they can enjoy it too.
14) Did you learn anything about your self while writing this piece?
Dellani: Yes, I learned that I’m very sarcastic and have bizarre sense of humor. Oh wait, I knew that already. Let’s say that the dialogue made that abundantly clear.
15) I cannot go back and reread my pieces for a long time. I would change too many things (it is a personal author/writer thing). Now your new book is ready for release, is there a single thing you would have written differently and will you ever go back and rewrite it?
Dellani: Usually, I’m the same way. I read my books later and find things I’d change. This time, I can’t say that. I am really pleased with how this came out. Of course, five years from now, I might feel differently, but right now, no.
16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?
Dellani: I’m not sure about a sequel. It’s possible, but I think I tied up the loose threads successfully. However, I’m very likely to bring these characters into other books set in the same city. There are a few incidental characters that the three core characters encounter, who are featured in other of my books (which aren’t published yet).
17) Is there an element of mystery to this romance?
Dellani: For once, there is no real mystery involved. Since I mostly write romantic suspense, I thought it would be interesting to break away from that for once. I think I was successful.
18) How do you define success as an author?
Dellani: If I get positive feedback from readers, I feel I’ve been successful. I would love to be the writer making millions (who wouldn’t?) but I’m realistic. Those contracts are rare. If I make even one reader laugh, cry or sweat, I have done my job.
19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?
Dellani: My best makebelieve day would be to have a movie company call me up and tell me they want to turn one of my books into a movie and I can pick the leads.
20) If you could speak to a stadium full of Dellani Oakes fans about this book, what is the very first thing you would say after the initial introduction?
Dellani: I think I’d channel comedienne Minnie Pearl. I’d walk onto the stage in a big, flowered hat, wave my hand and say, “Howdy!” Once I had everyone laughing, then I’d start to talk.
“You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”
“We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.
The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.
“Today’s goal is campus.”
“As the lady wishes.” He swung her around to face the way they’d been going. “I should see if they’ll let me do a camo piece there. I could have fun with all the shiny objects. Matching things like metal and leather is tricky.”
“I imagine so. The textures and the way it catches the light. And suede versus tanned hide would be an additional challenge.”
“You must have taken painting classes.”
“A few. Mom thought we should all have a well-rounded education. Her granddad was an artist in Mexico. Quite well known. Maybe you know the name. Rafael Dominguez?”
Flynn stopped in his tracks. “No! Really? Shit!” His hand flew to his head, searching for a cap that wasn’t there. He grasped his hair instead. “I am the hugest fan of his work. My first copies were of his Santa Rosada Sitting. The colors are so hard to match, I couldn’t do it justice. It’s phenomenal.”
Pia’s eyes watered and she sniffled. “That was my great-grandmother. He painted that of her just before she died.”
“The play of light…the textures…his use of bold colors. It just leapt off the canvas. Incredible! Is it true he made his own paints?”
“Yes. Mom even has some containers of his original paints. Would you believe, they’re still good? We don’t use them, of course, but Mom has his recipes. Virtually unintelligible, though. We’re hoping someone will be able to read through them and figure them out. He used a very bizarre shorthand, since he couldn’t read or write.”
Flynn dug his hands into his pockets, biting his lower lip. “I need a project for my final semester. I chose the work of Rafael Dominguez. Do you have copies of the notes, or could you get them? Because I would be honored to try to translate them.”
“I do! Well, Mom does. We loaned the originals to a museum, along with some of his paintings, and sketches. They scanned them for us and put them in a display case. I can make that happen.”
Swept away by the moment, Flynn grabbed her face and kissed her. It was brash and impulsive, but he didn’t even think. As soon as he realized what he was doing, he considered stopping, but Pia took his face in her hands and kissed him back. From there, it took on a life of its own and he couldn’t stop. Sighing contentedly, Pia disengaged and smiled up at him.
“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”
“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”
“Don’t apologize unless I rack your balls.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers. “Does that mean I can hope for another?”
“We’ll see.” She cut her eyes at him, grinning. Swishing away, she walked down the street.
The juice box was definitely against me. Its resistance was punctuated by a taunting titter. My efforts to open it were futile, it mocked.
No, wait. The snickering was not the juice box. It came from down the lunch table. I didn’t even have to look their way. I knew who was laughing, and I didn’t want to see if it was me they were laughing at. In my heart, I knew it was.
I continued to stab at the little cellophane covered hole with the sadly beveled end of the hard plastic straw like Van Helsing at the climax of a bad B movie. The final strike bent my straw, but rewarded me with a squirt of lukewarm apple juice in the face. An arterial explosion worthy of the best special effects artist in the business.
The laughter from the perfectly coifed girls at the other end of the table could not be ignored this time. My life was not a bad horror movie; it was a comedy and I was the hapless victim of a situational schtick.
Staring down at the lunch tray, I watched the juice drown my stale, rectangular pizza slice. At least, I wasn’t hungry anymore anyway. My appetite was ruined by the whispered jokes about me destroying the little paper box with my brute strength.
I closed my eyes and swore that if I heard one more comment from those four makeup-slathered, social media celeb wannabes about me being a “she-male”, I’d flip this table on their heads.
Not that I hold any direct animosity for She-males, or what have you, but I do resent lies being spread about me. And, I resent those who start the lies. Namely, Brittany. My mom says I spend way too much time worrying about Brittany, her crew, and what they think or say about me.
Mom says it doesn’t matter what others think, only what I know about myself. Yeah, she’s full of inspirational poster stuff like that.
Sorry, Mom. But, it’s hard not to see myself reflected in the eyes and jeers of my fellow students. My peers. What a joke. I have so very little in common with them that I hesitate to call them peers of any sort. Alas, for the next year or so, I must.
Of course, using the word ‘alas’ in casual conversation is one of the things these girls would tease me about. Can I help it if my grandfather read Shakespeare to me for the last fifteen years of his life?
The siren-like bell blared from the hall to announce the next class would begin in five. I gathered my sloshing tray and stood, never glancing at Brittany once. Fifth period was next. Gym class, right after lunch. Brilliant scheduling.
I woke up the other day recounting my dream several times as I did to try and remember it. The sights, the feelings, the familiar trappings of high school. I often dream that I’m back in school, but never had I wanted to write them into a story. This one was fun. Well, to me, running for my life and fighting creatures while possessing an unnatural strength in a dream is fun. Others may call it a nightmare. Either way, it spawned this new character. This is a little beginning snippet from what I will call my first Urban Paranormal Young Adult story.
It is such an infant at the moment that it has no name. Heck, I just came up with the protagonist’s name this morning. I hope you enjoy!