Character Quotes from Savage Heart

Savage Heart is the much anticipated (and demanded) sequel to my historical romance, Indian Summer. Set in the early summer of 1740, Gabriella and Manuel are now happily (or maybe not so happily) married.

savage heart cover“Señora Enriques is feeling a bit under the weather. I need to check on her.” Manuel moved toward the steps to the house quickly.

“She sounded a might put out to me,” Willem replied, spitting in the dirt as he led the horses away to the barn.

“Yes,” Manuel said softly. “Yes, she was.” He paused on the steps. “Willem, did you hear everything?”

“Entire country heard, I’ll warrant, sir.”

“And you think I’m wrong?”

“Not my business to judge right nor wrong on your decisions, sir. I can agree or not as I choose, makes no difference. But I will say this, that girl loves ye above her own life. If ye go ‘gainst her wishes, ye might not have a home to come back to. She’d as likely leave ye as mind ye.”

Manuel hung his head, laughing sardonically. “You’ve put your finger upon it, Willem. As usual, you point out my foibles.”

“We all work to our strengths, sir,” the old Irishman said with a smirk. “Give her a big kiss, love her hard and maybe she’ll forgive ye. But don’t niver lie to her, sir, or I guarantee—that she’ll not forgive.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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Savage Heart – Sequel to Indian Summer

savage heart coverIndian Summer was not only my first historical romance, it was my first published novel. After it was completed, I felt compelled to write another story for Sailfish. He was so incredibly lonely and needed a high spirited woman of his own. It took me awhile, but I finally finished Savage Heart. Below is an excerpt from this sweeping historical romance.

Sailfish is desperately in love with Gabriella Deza-Enriques, the daughter of the Spanish Governor and wife of his closest friend. Even though he knows she is married to another, he still loves her. Meli is a young woman he meets while on the road to visit St. Augustine for Gabriella’s birthday. She is injured and he saves her life. She’s not ungrateful, but she does have a way of getting under his skin.

Sailfish woke at noon the next day, to find Meli lying next to him. Her green eyes held humor as she gazed at him. He sat up slowly, wondering what she found so humorous.

“You snore,” she giggled. “And talk in your sleep. Who is Gabriella? Is she the one you love?”

“What does it matter? She’s married to another man.”

“Ah. Was she your woman first?” Her green eyes sparkled merrily.

“No.”

“So, did you try to steal her away from the other man?”

“No.”

“Tell me what happened and I’ll quit asking you,” she teased.

“And what fun would that be for you?”

Sailfish said no more, setting about breaking their primitive camp. He kicked dirt over the coals of their fire, pouring water from the river onto the dirt.

“I’m better today, thank you,” she said by way of making conversation.

Sailfish ignored her, going about his business with a singularity of focus unmatched by many.

“Why, that’s very good to hear, Meli.” She lowered her voice, pretending to be him. “Do you think you can walk all right on your own?” She kept her voice low, standing in a manly fashion with her hands on her hips. She captured his cadence and movements well, including the casual toss of his head.

“Why yes,” she turned her body, taking a more feminine stance. She batted her eyelashes. “I believe I can walk just fine today.”

Despite himself, Sailfish laughed at her, unconsciously tossing his head. “I hear insane people are very popular in towns. Perhaps they will pay to see you talk to yourself.”

© 2016 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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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

To Buy Under the Western Sky

To Buy Indian Summer

Scenery of St. Augustine

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The top of Castillo de San Marcos looking south toward the bell tower. This tower. We look north with the Mantanzas River to the right.

I recently came across some photographs I’d taken of St. Augustine, Florida. My family and I have taken several trips there, over the years. Not as many as I might wish, because it’s a truly beautiful place. I’m not talking about the commercialized sprawl of a big city, but the historic downtown. The city has done well keeping history alive, with many museums and historical sites.

On one trip, my husband and I visited The Fountain of Youth. I’d love to say that drinking the water made us younger, but it’s really just strong mineral water. It’s no wonder it was considered the Fountain of Youth. Drinking that water would give strength to the nutrient deprived Europeans. It probably kept the Native population healthier too.

 

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Re-enactors at The Fountain of Youth. The gentleman was very helpful with nailing down a date I’d been tracking. The woman was quite knowledgeable about daily life. They were fascinating.

 

 

At the Fountain of Youth, history comes alive. They have people there who talk about the time and share stories about St. Augustine. On the river’s edge, they have canons set up and a man in period clothing who talks about and fires them.

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The artillery man at The Fountain of Youth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The north approach to Fort Matanzas. The south has a well armed gun deck.

 

On the same trip, we drove down to Fort Matanzas on the Mantanzas river. This fort was added after the English siege of 1740. The Governor of St. Augustine decided they needed more defense to their south, something they hadn’t considered problematic before. It wasn’t large, but it was well armed. Anyone foolish enough to come up the river at that point, would be caught in a blaze of cannon fire.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Matanzas River looking south to show the many bends in the river, making this an ideal spot for a well armed fort.

 

The park ranger talked about living conditions at the fort. It was fascinating. It’s so tiny, you wonder how so many men lived in such close proximity without wanting to kill each other.

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Living quarters at Fort Matanzas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The re-enactor portraying the Spanish Governor. He was very kind and helpful finding me some information I needed.

On another trip, which I made with my children, we visited Fort Mose, just north of Castillo de San Marcos. This was the Black Militia stockade. The governor of St. Augustine had a brilliant idea. The English, who were encroaching from the north, had many Black slaves. The Governor told them if they wished to become Catholic, he would take them in and give them a home.

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Highlander Re-enactors. I didn’t have a chance to talk to them, but don’t they look bonnie in their kilts?

During the 1740 siege, led by General James Oglethorpe of the British Army, Fort Mose was evacuated in order to protect the residents. The British Army took it over. Understandably angry about that, the Black Militia, along with Spanish Army regulars, planned a dawn raid on the fort and captured it from the British. My children and I went up to see a re-enactment of that battle.

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The re-enactor portraying James Oglethorpe was kind enough to chat with me while I asked him questions. He was amazing.

I’m sure that the photos make clear why I set my first novel, Indian Summer, here. The history and beauty of this place spoke to me. I could almost hear Gabriella’s laughter echo in the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos. Though she isn’t based on a real person, who’s to say that someone with her spirit and cleverness didn’t exist? She will always be real to me. Indian Summer is an historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in the year 1739, a year before this siege took place. The sequel (coming eventually) Savage Heart, is set during this historic siege.

 

© 2014 Dellani Oakes including all photographs

To Buy Indian Summer