Under the Western Sky – Excerpt from Chapter One

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500Bobby has had a crush on Libby for a long time. He’s tried to show her how much he cares, but she has never given him any encouragement and won’t even let him kiss her. He would like to date her exclusively, but so far, no joy. He and Danny invite Toni and Libby to the movies and he’s determined to make it clear to her how he feels.

The girls were waiting on the porch as they pulled up to Toni’s house. Bobby hopped out, holding the door for Toni and Libby to climb in. Toni sat up front, scooting over next to Danny. Libby reluctantly got in back, moving to the far side of the car as Bobby climbed in. Looking disappointed, he sat on his side of the wide car, staring out the window.

Once they had their tickets and popcorn, they went into the theater and found a good spot. The boys liked to sit in the back because there was more leg room, but the girls liked the middle. To compromise, they sat somewhere between the two and let Danny have the aisle seat, since his legs were the longest. Toni snuggled next to him as he put his arm around her shoulders. Libby sat next to her, not really looking at Bobby, although they shared the popcorn.

“Are you mad at me, or something?” he asked her quietly, not wanting to bring their friends into it.

The others were so wrapped up in one another, they didn’t hear him. Libby scooted a little closer, lowering her voice as she took a bite of popcorn.

“No, I’m not mad, Bobby. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with this whole arrangement, that’s all.”

“We’re a couple friends going to a movie. You got a full social calendar I don’t know about?” He tried to make light of it, but his feelings were hurt.

Libby nudged him, nearly spilling the popcorn. “Don’t be a goof. Of course not.”

“I really like you, Libby. If you can’t see that, I’m sorry.”

“I thought maybe you were going out with me because of what Toni said to Danny. That she wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a date.”

“All this time you thought that’s what this was? A mercy date? Baby, I think you’re the greatest!”

“You do? For real?”

“Yeah, for real. Hey, would I make comments about your ass if I didn’t think you were cute?”

“I dunno, you’re a guy. I mean, Danny’s always drooling over my tits.”

“Danny’s a goober. He drools over any tits he can see. You have to admit, you’re killing us both with the no bra thing.”

She looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “I’ll remember you said that, Roberto.”

“What, are you my mom? You have to scold me into behaving? I want to date you, Libby. If I wanted just to jump your bones, I’d have done that already. You know, some women actually find me very attractive.”

She giggled, tossing her hair. “Yeah, I can see the appeal. You’ve got that whole Latin Lover thing going. The dark hair and bedroom eyes. You’re cute, for sure.”

“Then why won’t you let me kiss you?”

She looked at the screen as the movie started. By the set of her shoulders, he could see that she didn’t know how to respond. Taking a chance that he was right, he blundered on.

“Is it because all this time you thought I didn’t really like you? How could I not? You’re wonderful. I’ve had a thing for you like—forever,” he whispered, as the cartoon started.

Libby gave him a curious stare as the lights dimmed, her popcorn halfway to her mouth. She couldn’t believe his admission was real. He didn’t really want her, did he? He was just taking her out so Toni would go with his best friend. That’s what friends did for one another. Was he kidding? She was too inexperienced to tell.

Libby knew a lot of girls her age had already lost their virginity. She and Toni were among the few left in their graduating class who had never been with a guy. If Danny got his way, that was going to change and soon. He was so hot for Toni, he got a boner every time he talked to her. Bobby, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly mean it. Or did he?

Maybe she would let him kiss her. Hell, if she didn’t like it, she could always stop him and say no. There was no harm in a kiss, was there? She shifted a little closer and didn’t mind when his arm draped around her.

Bobby couldn’t believe his luck. Libby leaned against him, her head nearly on his shoulder as the movie started. Braving an arm across her shoulders, he played with a curl, wrapping it around his finger. One little flick of his thumb and she’d turn her head so he could kiss her.

© Dellani Oakes

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In His Own Words – Bobby Menendez

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500What is your name?

My name is Roberto Menendez, but I go by Bobby.

Where is your story told?

Some of my story is told in Under the Western Sky.

What do you want most?

I want to keep my friends and family safe. And I want to be with Libby forever.

Why is this so important to you?

What’s more important than love and family? My dad taught me that before he was killed. He died helping his friends.

What makes you happy or sad?

Libby makes me happy. Just having her smile makes me feel good. I get sad when I think that someone wants to hurt us for no reason.

How do you treat the people in your life?

I try to treat everyone well. I know that sometimes I’m a jerk, but I really try to be good to everyone. I read somewhere about Karma and I don’t want it to come back and bite me in the ass.

Can people count on you?

Absolutely. I am a man of my word.

What makes you angry?

Prejudice and hatred. Danny and me, we’re like brothers, but some lowlife wants to take that away from us. They want to drive a wedge between us because he’s white and I’m Mexican. Friendship doesn’t know color, though. My dad taught me that, too.

Do you stand up for your beliefs?

I do. A man backs up what he says. If he believes in a cause, sometimes he has to fight to protect it.

What excites you?

Would I sound like a jackass if I say that Libby excites the hell outta me? Just walking in the room, man….

What do you do for a living?

I’m in high school, but I work part time at the movie theatre downtown and I do yard work with my cousin.

What kind of books do you like?

Everything! I’m mostly into Robert Heinlin and Ray Bradbury. I’ve also read everything I can find by Richard Brautigan.

What kind of music do you enjoy?

Carlos Santana is the king! I like Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin—anything with great guitar playing.

If you could, what’s one thing you’d change about yourself?

I don’t want to change myself, I want to change the world, man. I want a place where I can love Libby and not worry about someone hating us for it.

© Dellani Oakes

Bobby’s story is told in Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes

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In Her Own Words – Libby Marshall

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500What is your name?

My name is Elizabeth Marshall, but I go by Libby.

Where is your story told?

My story is told, in part, in Under the Western Sky.

What do you want most?

I want to get out of this mess alive.

Why is this so important to you?

I don’t know anyone who likes running for her life, do you?

What makes you happy or sad?

Bobby makes me happy. Knowing that someone is trying to kill him doesn’t make me sad, it makes me furious! What’s wrong with some people?

How do you treat the people in your life?

I try really hard to live by the Golden Rule like they teach at church.

Can people count on you?

I like to think so. It’s not like I go through life trying to disappoint people.

What makes you angry?

The fact that someone wants Bobby dead, just because he’s Mexican, makes me so angry I can’t see straight. He’s a good person. If he wasn’t, I wouldn’t date him.

Do you stand up for your beliefs?

Always. I try hard to live a good life and back up what I believe. If you back down from what you believe, how are you any different from anyone else?

What excites you?

I’m kind of embarrassed to say that when Bobby kisses me, I get—you know—excited.

What do you do for a living?

I’m in high school. I work part time at the A&W drive-in.

What kind of books do you like?

I like everything, but most of all, the books by Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austin.

What kind of music do you enjoy?

I love Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. I’ve heard a little Led Zeppelin and it’s pretty good. Oh, and Pink Floyd, of course!

If you could, what’s one thing you’d change about yourself?

I’d change hatred and prejudice so everyone could fall in love with the person they choose.

© Dellani Oakes

Libby’s story is told in Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes

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Dellani Knows History!

dellani knows history bannerI’m not claiming to be an expert on anything. Let’s get that stated up front. However, in a couple very specific times, in limited settings, I know a minuscule amount of history.

That being said, I can give you a fairly clear idea of events leading up to, and including, the siege of St. Augustine, Florida in 1740. Don’t ask me names, I’d have to check my notes, but I know that something significant happened there. Do you know what happened? If not, you’ll have to read my novel, Savage Heart, when it comes out. Education with a little romance to make indian summerit more palatable.

Since it’s not finished yet, you can get an feel for the times by reading Indian Summer. If I may say so, it gives an enjoyable romp through history and it told from the perspective of fifteen year old, Gabriella Deza.

If a retro setting is more your style, why not try my novel, Under the Western Sky, set in Western Nebraska in 1976. It takes place shortly after the disastrous handling of events at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Set in a time of fear, it examines the relationships between people and their perspectives on interracial couples.

I really want to focus more on this book than the other, because I sometimes forget it’s out there. I know that’s awful, but Under the Western Sky is my quiet child. Unlike some of the others, this book isn’t a hot, spicy romantic suspense. Yes, the tension is there as Libby and Bobby fight for their lives, but this is the flush of first love.

In Under the Western Sky, I focus as much on the conflict they face, as on their relationship. I like that these young people work together against adversity. Their love transcends race and color. Instead, it’s about two young people who have grown up together and care deeply for one another. It’s about the power of friendship, not just between them, but with their two best friends, Danny and Toni.

I love this book and I have promised myself I am going to share more of it with my fans. If you haven’t read Under the Western Sky, I hope you’ll get your copy today while it’s only .99¢ 

Below is a short excerpt from Chapter 9 of Under the Western Sky:

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500Bobby and his best friend, Danny, are on opposite sides of the racial barrier. Danny is white and his father has been approached by a white supremacist group. His initiation was to injure, possibly kill, Bobby because he’s dating a white girl. They have a terrible fight and Bobby takes his friend down. The police have arrested Danny and he spent the night in jail.

Bobby woke the next morning to the delicious odors of coffee and bacon. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was well after nine. He couldn’t remember a time when he had slept that late on a Sunday. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time he’d slept that late in the last six years.

Bobby’s body ached from his encounter with Danny. When he examined himself in the mirror, he saw that his old friend had landed a few good punches on his ribs, leaving angry red welts on his back and chest. How could he have done that without Bobby noticing? He hurt all over and was glad he hadn’t spent the night on the lumpy old couch. His back hitched on him when he bent over to pull up his jeans.

Someone knocked on the door as he zipped his pants. Fumbling with his shirt, he invited them in. He was expecting his mother or maybe Maria, but it was Libby. She was dressed in Maria’s shorts, and a T-shirt with big pink rhinestone lips on the front. Her eyes widened when she saw the bruises on his chest.

“Your mom said to wake you for breakfast,” she said shyly, eyes downcast.

“Thanks.” He pulled her gently inside, closing the door. His lips connected with hers, leaving a spark in their wake. “I’m sorry about last night,” he sighed, holding her face in his hands. “I feel like such a bum.” His fingers traced the curve of her cheek and neck tenderly.

“No, it’s my fault. I should’ve known better.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I love you too much for that.”

They kissed a few more moments until Maria called to them from the hallway. “Rise and shine, Babu! Breakfast!” She tapped on the door, whispering. “Put it back in your pants and get out here before Mom has a piglet!”

Bobby jerked the door open in her face, leaning casually against the frame. “It’s where it belongs, Mia. Just getting a good morning kiss.” He smirked, pinching her cheek.

He still didn’t have his shirt on and Maria winced, sucking in a breath as he passed her.

“Did Danny do that?” She pressed her hand gently on his side.

“Yeah.” He flinched away from her fingers as they probed a particularly sensitive spot. “Fuck, Mia, don’t do that!” he said, more loudly than he intended.

“What’s that language I’m hearing in my house?” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Nothing, Mamá! It was a perfect stranger who said that,” Bobby called from the hallway.

“If he was perfect, he wouldn’t use that kind of…” His mother stood in the living room, a pancake turner in one hand, an oven mitt in the other. When she saw Bobby’s chest, she stopped talking. “Oh, Jesus, Maria!” She crossed herself as she approached him.

Babbling in Spanish, she examined him carefully before leading him back to the kitchen. “Jim, Toby, look! See what that brute did to my baby!”

Toby looked him over with a practiced eye. “I don’t think anything’s broken, but we better take you by the hospital to have x-rays.”

“I’m fine.” Bobby tried to pass off the pain. “Just bruised up.” Shrugging into his shirt, he winced as he pulled it down, gasping as the cloth rasped against his bruises.

“That settles it for me,” Toby said in a no-nonsense voice. “I’m taking you.”

“Can I at least eat first? I’m starving.”

Toby frowned, not wanting to agree, but not wanting the kid to be hungry.

“A man either needs food or sex after something like that,” Jim said, without thinking.

Bobby shot him an ugly look, which fortunately his mother missed. “Yeah, well, I’ll take that food now, Mom.”

Jim mouthed, “I’m sorry,” to him, winking at Maria as she stifled a giggle.

“Does it hurt as much as it looks?” Grace asked.

“Pretty much, yeah. Hurts to breathe deep. I don’t even remember him doing that to me. I didn’t feel anything at the time.”

“Yeah, you don’t,” Toby said calmly. “It’s an adrenaline thing. You get so pumped, you don’t realize you’re taking almost as much damage as you’re giving. Though in this case, I think you did more.” He winked at Bobby. “You’ll have to show me that trick. I know black belts who can’t do that.”

“I wish I could. I don’t have a clue. It was like I saw in my mind how it was done, but unless you pulled a gun on me, I don’t think I could repeat it.”

“We’ll figure it out.” Jim almost clapped him on the shoulder, but refrained. “Bruce Lee, ki ya!”

Bobby tried to laugh but it hurt. Instead, he held his ribs, groaning.

“That’s it,” Toby said, before they even sat down. “Link is on his way here. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

“I’ll take him, Toby,” Jim offered. “I think the ladies need you here more than me. As soon as Link arrives, we’ll go.”

© Dellani Oakes

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