In His Own Words – Daniel Emerson from Under the Western Sky

What is your name?

Daniel Emerson, JuniorUnder the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500, but you can call me Danny.

What do you do?

I’m a high school student. I play football and I work part time with my dad.

What is your biggest fear?

Honest to God, until recently, I wasn’t afraid of anything. Now, we’ve got all kinds of trouble and I’m scared to death. I can’t talk about it. They’ll kill me if I talk.

What would you give up everything to have?

I would give up everything I own for things to go back the way they were a week ago; working toward buying a car, a hot girlfriend who’s just about ready to give it up, the best friend in the world and a great family. I want that back!

What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and are you going to be able to rectify it?

Let’s get straight right now, the mistake wasn’t mine—or my dad’s. I don’t know whose, okay? But it’s the biggest one anyone can make and I don’t know how to get out of this mess. Normally, I’d ask Bobby…. But that’s part of the problem.

What food would you never eat?

I eat just about anything, but don’t try to give me chitlings.

You’ve dressed to impress. What are you wearing?

My best jeans, just tight enough to show everything off—faded just right so the ladies know what I’m packin’. My Led Zeppelin T-shirt, my new boots and my leather jacket. I’m set!

What one thing have you found unattainable thus far in your life?

Getting’ in Toni’s pants.

What is about to change for you?

Oh, yeah! If we can get out of this mess alive, I know she’ll be mine.

Where and when do you live?

I live in Western Nebraska. The year is 1976.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I see a boy waiting to become a man. If I live through this shit we’re in, I’ll be a man for sure. I don’t want to be a dead one.

Who do you hate and why?

I hate Hatred. I don’t know if that makes sense, but too many people hate others for no reason. He’s black or she’s Mexican. Why does the color of someone’s skin mean anything? We act like Mexicans are horrible people because they’re brown. But look at George Hamilton, okay? He’s as dark as a Mexican and no one wants to kill him for it!

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Under the Western Sky – Excerpt from Chapter 4

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500Their mothers are delighted to hear that they are dating. They’ve been waiting for months for them to realize that they are in love. However, with this realization comes the cold hard fact that eventually their relationship will progress.

Libby’s mother was sitting in the living room, something they hadn’t expected. Usually Grace was working or already asleep if Libby came in after nine.

“I wanted to talk to you kids and I knew I wouldn’t have another chance for a few days. Sit.” She patted the couch on either side of her.

They sat down and she took both their hands, clasping them in her lap.

“I know this isn’t something you want to talk about,” she said in her matter-of-fact tone.

This was the voice she used when she didn’t want them to argue. Libby had come to dread that voice because it always meant an uncomfortable conversation.

“I’m talking to you because I know Connie can’t. She’s not made the same way I am. It doesn’t bother me to be frank and open with you.”

They both knew that was true. When they had turned twelve, it was Grace who had told them both the facts of life. Bobby’s mother was too shy and prudish.

“I know right now you’re not fooling around. I can see it in your faces and the way you hold one another. And I’ll be just as able to tell when your relationship progresses.”

She gave them each a pointed look, green eyes penetrating. “Connie and I won’t be mad, so don’t think we will condemn you for what’s only natural when two kids love one another as much as you. Why it took you so long to see it, I can’t imagine. But now that it’s real, we need to face facts.”

“Mom, we know how it works, okay? We aren’t stupid.”

“I’m not talking about that,” her mother countered firmly. “There are some things you haven’t considered and I’m going to tell you about them right now.”

“Mom, please!” Libby tried to stand up, but Grace held her none too gently.

“Elizabeth Pearl, sit down. You, Roberto and I are going to talk about this, no matter how embarrassing. I will not have happen to you what happened to Chase and me.” For the first time, Grace blushed slightly.

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“Honey, I never told you exactly the truth about yourself. I told you that you were a little premature. The truth is, I was already pregnant when we got married.”

Libby sat heavily, turning bright red with shame at her mother’s confession. Bobby shifted uncomfortably on the couch.

“I loved your father more than my own life,” Grace said quietly. “And he was so damn handsome and sexy, you can’t even imagine! A Marine! He was the most dashing, gorgeous hunk of man as ever crossed three States, and I fell desperately in love with him the moment I met him. But my father wouldn’t let us get married. He said I was too young and put his foot down. Chase and I came up with a plan so we could be together forever. So I got pregnant. I was lucky Grandad didn’t kill your father and throw me out on my ear! We got married on the sly and that was that.”

“Mom, you don’t have to tell me this, really.”

“The point is, many girls have been caught up short because they let their hormones get the better of them. I don’t want to see that happen. So this week we go to see my doctor and we’re putting you on the pill. And Bobby, your mom said she’ll buy condoms.”

“Oh, my God, Grace. I didn’t even think you could embarrass me more, but you just did.” He wanted to melt through the floor.

“Mom, you and Connie are acting like all Bobby and I want to do is fool around! We haven’t even gotten that far. All he’s ever done is kiss me! We do have some self-control.”

“I know, honey. But you have to prepare for the times when you lose your head and can’t stop yourself. You’re a pretty girl and Bobby’s got a man’s needs. The combination is fire and oil. Sometimes, no matter what you know you’re supposed to do, you can’t help it. Believe me, I’ve been there. Even now, a good looking man gives me the eye, it’s enough to turn my head.”

“Mom!” Libby was horrified.

“I’m a widow; I’m not dead! I still go out from time to time. I just don’t say much about it because I don’t want you to get all upset. I’ve been alone a long time, Libby. I loved your father, but he’s dead and he’d want me happy.”

“Mom, this is too much for me right now. We just started dating!”

“And he’s already had his hands all over you,” Grace said, her lips forming a tight line. “Don’t think your mother missed that, Roberto. She saw. So did one of the neighbors. From now on, you say your goodbyes inside, with the door closed. That does not give you permission to fool around in my house, however. I put my foot firmly down about that.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Under the Western Sky – The Story Behind the Story

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500As an author, I think it’s fun to explore where inspiration comes from. Sometimes, it’s a very clear cut source, other times, it’s vague and kind of hazy. Words pop into your mind and off you go.

Under the Western Sky was one of these. I heard a song by KC and the Sunshine Band that I used to listen to as a teenager, and all of a sudden, the first lines were in my head, demanding to be written down. I did so. What followed was a story I’d never anticipated, and I love it.

I grew up in Western Nebraska, though I wasn’t born there. I lived there the formative years of my life, from the time I was nine until I graduated from high school. The places in this story are real, though the events are not based on any true events. The character of Libby is, very loosely, based on me. I never had anything very exciting happen to me, but honestly, I’m not sure I’d want this much excitement in my life!

The first scene, in Toni’s basement, was also loosely based on something that happened when I was playing pool with a good friend of mine. A couple of our guy friends dropped by and they were openly admiring us. That was back in the days of hot pants and no bras—something every teenage boy enjoyed.

While this scene didn’t happen this way in real life, I did have to scold one of the guys for not only staring at my ass while I took my shot, but goosing me with the pool cue. He’s lucky I didn’t jab him in the nuts.

Under the Western Sky

Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she lined up her shot.

Bobby Menendez stood behind her, enjoying the view; his hands tingling to touch her.

“Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez.”

“Man! How did you know?”

She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, nearly nailing him in the balls with her pool cue when her arm drew back.

“Shouldn’t stand so close,” Danny said, across the table from her.

“Oh, man, the view!”

Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well-tanned face.

“View’s damn good over here, and safer,” Danny grinned.

He’d been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no-bra look was great! And Libby had such perky tits. Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.

“Boys, behave,” Toni’s father said from his office behind them.

Funny thing how Toni’s old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his workroom fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn’t mind them coming over, but they weren’t going to be unchaperoned either.

“Yes, sir,” they chorused.

They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. He’d been fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.

© Dellani Oakes

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Under the Western Sky – Excerpt from Chapter One (part 2)

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500Bobby has just told Libby that he likes her. She’s not sure what to do. She has zero experience with guys and all this time, she thought he was only going out because of Toni and Danny. Her friend told his that she wouldn’t date him unless Libby had a date. No wonder Bobby couldn’t make any progress. Now, he’s broken the ice. It’s time for him to make his move.

Libby watched the movie, giggling every so often. Danny and Toni weren’t paying any attention at all. As soon as the lights went down, they were necking, their popcorn forgotten on the floor. Bobby was still holding theirs, taking a bite every now and then, pretending to act casual, but she could feel the tense set of his shoulders. She glanced at him, his handsome face cast into highlights and deep shadows by the movie.

Feeling her eyes on him, he turned to face her, a half-smile greeting her curious gaze. Setting the popcorn on the floor, he leaned toward her, lips slightly parted. His kiss caught her by surprise, although she knew he was going to do it. She hadn’t expected it to be so nice.

To her, Bobby was like a fixture, something that was always there. They had known one another since their dads went into the Marines, doing recon in hostile territory. Their deaths had forged a bond between her family and his, making them virtually inseparable.

His kiss felt good, warm, sexy; more than just friendly. She had thought it would be like kissing a brother, but it was anything but that. Smiling to herself, she took a breath and opened her mouth slightly, letting him kiss her more deeply. No guy had ever kissed her like that. His lips left hers as he leaned against her forehead, sighing contentedly.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it? I mean, you’re not like throwing up or anything over there, are you?”

“That was nice,” she admitted. “It was more than nice, it was lovely.”

Bobby chuckled, kissing her playfully on the nose. “Yeah, it was. Now do you think I’m doing this just to make Toni and Danny happy?”

“No.”

“Good, cause I don’t give a shit about either of them. I like you a lot, Libby.”

“I like you too, Bobby.”

They didn’t watch much of the rest of the movie, but kissed and talked quietly while the theater went crazy around them. They were in their own little world.

When the houselights came back up, Toni and Danny resurfaced slowly. Bobby and Libby were already getting their things and standing up when their friends looked around bleary-eyed and blinking.

“Que pasa, Danno?”

“Nada, asshole. Dammit, I have a cramp.” He stood, shaking one leg to release the muscle. “Next time, can we please sit in the back? I about have to fold in half to fit.” He was nearly six foot three.

“That’s what you get for eating your Wheaties every single morning,” Bobby chuckled. “Me, I skipped a few mornings and I’m not freakishly tall.” He was just past six feet.

“I want a DQ,” Toni held onto Danny, as they walked up the aisle. “Libby, you want DQ?”

“Sure. I don’t mind.”

Bobby took her hand, then put his arm around her waist, kissing her cheek.

“I need a bathroom break, baby,” Toni told Danny when they got to the lobby. “Come with me, Libby.”

She grabbed her friend and dragged her to the ladies’ restroom. Once they were inside with the door closed, she rounded on Libby.

“So, did you enjoy kissing Bobby?”

Libby blushed, looking evasive. “Yeah, a little.”

“A little? Your hair is a mess and it was only a little? He’s wearing your lipstick! It looks like you ate his face!” She went into the stall, banging the door.

“You and Danny didn’t even resurface. How did you know I was kissing Bobby?”

“I could feel it. Your energy radiated off you like some sort of super sex bomb.”

© Dellani Oakes

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