“It’s Just a Dance.”


Shoes at a Wedding

This is another unedited excerpt from my 2017 Camp NaNo project,  ‘Calla.’

“I cannot believe you said that!”
Calla grinned, shrugging one shoulder.
“She shouldn’t have dared me.”
Calla’s grin was replaced by a dramatic eye roll when staccato clapping sounded behind them.
Neeri.
“Okay, Taylor Bridal Party! Prepare to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, please.”
Cherri’s face fell. “Do we have to wear shoes?”
Neeri shot the young girl a withering look. “Of course, you do!”
“Then we’re not dancing.” Mavis leaned back in her chair, done with the conversation.
“Of course, you’re dancing! It’s tradition! Tena is counting on you!”
“We’re done with you playing the Tena-card, Neeri.” Donna motioned toward the dance floor. “Look at her. She doesn’t see anyone or anything except Lloyd.”
The rest of the group nodded in agreement.
“A lot of time and money have gone into this event. I know you ladies will not ruin it by doing something as common as,” she raised her hand to her chest, “dancing barefoot?”
Fuming, Mavis smacked the table. “Common? Excuse me? That’s it! I’m not dancing!”
Cherri, Donna, and Calla all crossed their arms, daring Neeri to argue. Before she could speak, Tanya did, taking a different approach.
“Gilda, look around you. This isn’t New York or even Chicago. It’s Reedsville, Missouri, home to farmers and factory workers. You’re one of us and know we’re not common… we’re just small-town folk.”
The wedding planner bristled at the use of her birth name, but she was also fighting panic. The song was nearing the mid-point. She had to get the bridal party on the floor.
Smiling sweetly for anyone who might be watching, Neeri responded through gritted teeth. “Fine! Just please get ready.”
More staccato hand claps summoned the groomsmen from the other end of the table, and with all the flourish of a symphony conductor, Neeri directed the group to the dance to surround Tena and Lloyd.
Before Calla had cleared her chair, Gibson grabbed her hand, dragging her behind him. Twirling Calla around twice, Gibson pulled her into his arms, holding her closer and tighter than Calla thought necessary.
“Ease up, Gibby. This isn’t our wedding dance.”
“It could be, pretty girl. Just say the word.”
Laughing, Calla gave him a wary look.
“Gibby, you just delivered a beautiful, moving best man’s speech about love and how it continues to elude you. Don’t you know it will until you get serious and stop falling into insta-love with every female who crosses your path?”
“Ouch, Calla! Every female? Am I that bad?”
She answered with a smirk.
“Okay, okay. I love women. Sue me.”
Calla grinned. Gibson twirled her twice again, dipped her low and pulled her even closer against his broad chest.
“What if you’re the one? What if you’re the woman my heart’s been waiting for to share forever with?”
Laughter erupted so deeply from his dance partner Gibson felt it vibrating against his chest.
The sadness in his eyes halted her laughter.
“What do you want from a man, Calla?”
Without missing a beat, Calla Barrett looked over at Tena and Lloyd, still dancing, lost in whispers and kisses.
“I want that.”
Gibson pulled back, frowning.
“No, I don’t mean their love… but that kind of love. Unwavering, unbreakable.”
Gibson looked at his younger brother, understanding.
“Life and family didn’t make it easy for them, but you’re right.” He returned his gaze to her. “What you said in your speech. Their hearts bonded and withstood everything thrown at them.”
Calla patted Gibson’s chest.
“And that, dear friend, is how I know we’re not a match. I will be enough for the man meant for me. You, on the other hand, will forget about me as soon as this dance ends.”
Gibson laughed in spite of himself.
The song ended and Calla started for their table but Gibson grabbed her hand, stopping her.
“I know you’re right, Cal… but I do wish things were different between us.”
“Who knows, Gibby? Maybe in another life.”
Backing away from her, Gibson Taylor winked, turned, and headed straight for the group of women watching him from the dance floor’s edge.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

The Toast (Calla)


Wedding Party Table

This is another unedited excerpt of Calla, my 2017 Camp Nano project.

Time for her speech and toast.

Standing and walking over to Gibson, Calla pulled a face at the good-natured comments from the wedding guests.

“It’s your turn, Calla!”

“Girl, you’re the last one!”

“Marry me, Calla!”

Her poker face grew into a wide, warm grin. She looked around the room, seeing people who’d known her for a lifetime, knowing they only wanted her to be happy.

When Calla raised the mic to speak, Gibson, who was still at her side, pulled the mic in his direction.

“Don’t worry, Reedsville fam, I have plans for Miss Calla.”

Catcalls and whistles rose in the room again, with a noted deep growl from Birdy Ellison, the man who’d shouted, “Marry me, Calla” only moments before.

With a smile of pure innocence, Calla pulled the mic back to her mouth. “Don’t you have enough ex-wives, Gibby?”

Flinching, Gibson grabbed his chest, feigned a stumble and laughed all the way back to his seat as the crowd applauded Calla’s witty response.

Calla tried to control her own laughter as she raised her hands to quiet the room.

“I can’t remember a time in my life which didn’t include Tena Evers. We played with dolls together as little girls. When we got tired of the dolls, we forced the boys to let us play cowboys and Indians with them. We watched all the dance shows and practiced the latest steps. Once our moves were flawless, we’d go to the dances and make the boys dance with us.”

Peers yelled out in agreement. Members of older and younger generations nodded and commented on how nothing ever changes.

“Something happened in high school. Those same boys we’d bossed around as kids, we were now afraid to even speak to. But we would look. Oh, my lord, we would look. What I didn’t know at first was Tena was only looking at one boy we didn’t know well. She confessed to me after she and the boy met at their fathers’ company picnic.”

Calla turned to her best friend.

“That fall, we went to our school’s first football game. We bought programs like we always did, but could never find by the end of the game. Not this time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Tena never rolled or folded her program. A few weeks later during a sleepover at Tena’s, of course, the conversation turned to boys. I teased her about Ronnie Calvert following her around all the time.”

Seated at a far table, Ronnie Calvert laughed out loud only to be smacked on the arm by his wife, Pam, a large, sober-faced woman with no sense of humor.

“Tena laughed and shook her head. She walked over to her dresser, took something out and turned around.”

Calla looked at the crowd and smiled.

“It was the program from the football game, without a wrinkle or tear. She held it with near reverence as she returned to sit on the bed. Opening it, she turned past all the ads and team photos, stopping at the individual player headshots. Handing me the open program, she said, ‘Ronnie’s a nice guy, but I’m going to marry him.’”

Calla looked back to the newlyweds.

“I took the program, and I was staring down into the face of Reedsville High’s star wide receiver, Lloyd Taylor.”

Thunderous applause erupted as wedding guests took to their feet in approval.

Lloyd caressed his new wife’s cheek, lost in her eyes.

Calla held up her hand once again to quiet the crowd.

“Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, you know when you’ve met the love of your life and two hearts bond. It’s a bond time and distance and other people cannot break. It’s the bond Tena and Lloyd share and which has brought them to this day.”

Calla raised her glass, joined by the wedding guests.

“To Mr. And Mrs. Taylor!”

Calla winked at Tena, grinned mischievously and said, “And they lived happily ever after!”

Tena roared with laughter. She should have known her best friend would go through with the dare.

Lloyd looked between Tena and Calla, puzzled.

Calla smirked and sipped her champagne.

Before Lloyd could question his bride, Neeri appeared to rush them to the center of the room for their first dance as man and wife.

While all eyes watched the happy couple dance and sing along to “Spend My Life with You” by Eric Benet and Tamia, Calla settled into her chair, grateful to be off her still-aching feet.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

Inside “In The Best Interest of the Child”

In The Best Interest of the Child spans nearly thirty years in the life of Olivia ‘Livvie’ Chandler.

As a ten-year-old, Olivia has the perfect little girl’s life: a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

Little Livvie_blog

Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school. Determined to put her past behind her, Olivia Chandler forges ahead, burying her trauma in the deep recesses of her mind.

It will not stay there.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though, when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven-year-old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.


Best Interest full cover

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

A Strong Heart #52weeks52stories


Heart image

#52weeks52stories – Week #4
prompt: “I’m trying to erase you from my mind…you’re my religion and my belief…“

My body is heavy, weighted to the bed by a cocktail of painkillers, monitors, metal, and casts.

And lying here, even now, I wonder where you are.

Trapped tears pool and sting my eyes, unable to flow past the eyelids swollen shut. A broken wrist and dislocated shoulder keep me from wiping the tears away.

Tears I shouldn’t be crying for you. Tears you do not deserve.

I loved you. For seven years, you were my religion and my belief. Since the day we met rollerblading on the pier, I knew I’d found my soulmate.

To me, you were the smartest man in the world. It didn’t matter to me you failed the state bar exam and I passed. I didn’t blame you for taking your frustrations out on me. I was insensitive for wanting to celebrate my own success. I should have been more considerate of your feelings.

When you failed the exam two more times, I shouldn’t have chastised you for not trying hard enough. You carried the burden of repeated failures. I deserved the slaps for thinking only of myself.

Our night out with friends to celebrate your new position was one of our best times together… until we got home.

I was confused when you threw me into the wall and accused me of throwing myself at your friend, Marty.

You punched me in my side and said I embarrassed you by dancing like a slut, even though I only danced with you.

The next morning, fed up, I packed with one hand, determined to get away from you. Your tears and promises to change broke my heart and I stayed.

Only things didn’t change. I was still your punching bag when things didn’t go your way. When you missed out on a promotion, lost a case or even had car trouble, it was my fault for not being supportive enough; for being too consumed with my own career.

And still, I stayed, making excuses for black eyes and bruises no one believed. That’s when I knew I was as broken inside as you… and I had to save myself.

But I was foolish to believe you’d allow me to walk away.

Your silence made me believe you accepted my decision.

But I was wrong. Again.

I opened my door to you for old times’ sake, trying to be a friend. I didn’t see the first punch coming… or the second, but you swung your fists until I fell to the floor. Trading fists for feet, you kicked with wild abandon, not aiming or caring where your blows landed.

No longer feeling your kicks and punches, I knew I was in shock… and probably dying. But as I slipped into the darkness, I’m sure I heard you say, “You’ll always belong to me. You can never leave.”

I awake to the rhythmic beeps and low hums of medical devices standing watch over my body. My senses are dull, and my thoughts muddied with memories I don’t recognize. I am aware of pain only after I attempt to breathe deeply. The sharp stings ripple deep inside my chest and though still disoriented, I try to keep my breathing shallow.

My injuries are extensive and will take weeks to heal. As the doctor discussed the severity of my injuries and the violence it took to inflict them, I heard something akin to pride in his voice when he said, “Young lady, I’ve seen men succumb to less than what was done to you. Those broken ribs were a problem… we were afraid they would puncture a lung. But that didn’t happen. Your heartbeat was always strong. You were determined to live. You’re a survivor.”

A survivor.

You broke my heart and battered my body. But you couldn’t break my spirit.

 

###

 

The DA contacted me again.

He said you took the deal.

Your sentencing is in a couple of weeks and I’ll be allowed the opportunity to make a victim’s impact statement.

But I won’t.

Because I’m not your victim. I am your end.

I’ll attend your sentencing and smile as you’re taken from the courtroom in shackles.

And then I’ll walk away… with no fear, and not haunted by the way you brutalized me.

It’s said people pass through one’s life as a blessing or a lesson. I’ll remember this lesson… but not the man.

I’m already trying to erase you from my mind.

 

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “Neither One of Us” – Gladys Knight & the Pips


Song Lyric Sunday banner


Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati. For complete rules and to join in, go here.

Our theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “goodbye/farewell”.  

———

There are dozens of great ‘goodbye’ songs but none have been with me as long as 1973’s Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye) by the amazing Gladys Knight & the Pips. I was just entering my teens and of course, that meant I was ‘grown’, right?

Neither One of Us was the title cut of the last album the group would record for Motown before moving to Buddah Records in February of 1973. Lead singer Gladys Knight recalled on A&E’s Biography that she and the group were regarded as a second-string act and that “Diana (Ross) & The Supremes, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye were given all the hits, while we took the leftovers”.

Silly Motown.

On March 17, 1973, the song reached number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart, staying there for four consecutive weeks. Due to the song’s strong crossover appeal, it eventually peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, with Vicki Lawrence’s The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia blocking it from number one. However, it went number one on the U.S. Record World and Cashbox charts. It also crossed over to the adult contemporary chart, peaking at number 15. Worldwide, it was also successful, peaking at number 9 in France, number 11 in Canada and number 31 in the UK.

On March 2, 1974, at the Grammy Awards ceremony, Gladys Knight & The Pips won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for Neither One of Us. Previously that same night, they had won their first Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for Midnight Train to Georgia. [Wikipedia]

The Youtube video is of a live performance on The Midnight Special. I tend to be preoccupied (OBSESSED) with group dance moves, but for me, the Pips were second to none! (Sorry, Temptations! 😜)

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for Nesie’s Place.

———

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.
“Neither One Of Us”

Written by James D. Weatherly

It’s sad to think, we’re not gonna make it
And it’s gotten to the point where we just can’t fake it (Ooo)
For some unGodly reason we just won’t let it die (let it die)
I guess neither one of us (neither one of us)
Wants to be the first to say good byeI keep on wondering (wondering)
What I’m gonna do with out ya (do without you)
And I guess you must be wondering that same thing too (Ooo)
So we go on, go on together living a lie (living our lie)
Because neither one of us (neither one of us)
Wants to be the first to say good bye
Oooooh ev’rytime I find the nerve
Everytime I find the nerve to say I’m leavin’ (leavin’)
Oh, memories, those old memories get in my way (my way my way)
Oh (Ooo) Lord knows it’s only me only knows it’s only me
That I’m deceiving
When it comes to saying good bye
That’s a simple word that I just cannot say
There can be no way, there can be no way
This can have a happy ending (happy ending)
So we just go on (we go on) hurting and pretending
And convincing ourselves to give it just one more try (one more try)
Because neither one of us (Neither one of us)
Wants to be the first to say
Neither one of us (neither one of us) Wants to be the first to say
Neither one of us (Neither one of us) wants to be the first to say
Farewell my love, goodbye (goodbye)

Calla


Calla Lily

Calla, a romantic comedy, is a project began during July 2017 Camp NaNoWriMo.

Synopsis

Calla Barrett is a modern-day Cinderella.

Okay – not really.

She’s an accomplished RN and head of nursing at Montford Jones Rehabilitation Center. Calla is attractive, intelligent, respected, and well-liked.

She’s also thirty-four, single with no prospects… and she lives with her eccentric mother, Rose, who may or may not have a mild case of dementia.

Motivated by a close friend’s wedding and the bold heroines of her favorite novels, Calla sets a new course for herself and plans to escape the tiny farm town of Reedsville, Missouri.

No one wants Calla to leave—especially sisters Daisy, Iris, and Violet. If Calla moves away, they will have to take care of their mother. Wealthy sportsman, Birdy Ellison is determined to marry Calla… and teach her to skin a deer.

Calla Barrett’s first steps to a new life give her hope, but a newcomer’s temporary stay in Reedsville tests Calla’s determination… and her heart.

When family and friends butt in, chaos ensues, and Calla will have to pull out all the stops to get her happily-ever-after… and not skin any deer.

 

Tiny Possible-Snippet

Determined to kill the annoying fly, Rose raced around the room swatting in its general direction, overturning her iced tea and breaking a vase in the process. The fly flew through the doorway into the kitchen with Rose in hot pursuit.

“Look at her, Cal. How could you leave her? She needs you here.” Older sister, Daisy Barrett-Newman, was close to tears.

Sitting in the corner nursing a tumbler of gin, Violet Barrett raises her glass. “She’s right, Calla.”

“And what about Vi, Cal? You know she hasn’t been herself since,” Daisy leaned towards Calla, whispering, “you know…”

Giggling, Violet sets her glass down, pops off her prosthetic leg and waves it in the air.

“The accident, Daisy, the accident. Say it with me, “Since Violet lost a leg in a car accident!””

Rolling her eyes, Daisy glared at Calla as if to say, “See?”

“It’s my turn, Daisy. I missed out on moving away for college. I had to turn down a marriage proposal-“

“Oh, he wasn’t the man for you-“

“But that was my decision to make, not my family’s. I’ve lived my entire life in this house. I want out of it and Reedsville. I want to see the world… or some of it. I want to experience new things and meet new people. I want a life. I want to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I want to take photos at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I want to walk into a New York pizzeria and order a slice!”

Violet pointed her fake leg at her older sister. “She’s right, Daisy.”

Daisy waved them both off. “Now you’re just sounding like one of those broads in those crazy bodice rippers you always have your head buried in.”

“Way to date yourself, sis. They haven’t been called bodice rippers in a generation.”

“Then what are they called, Miss Well-Read?”

“For your information, they’re called historical romances, and they’re just one of the literary genres I enjoy reading.”

Calla smirked, a maniacal gleam in her eyes.

“I also enjoy psychological thrillers. The kind where the ever-put-upon, loving sister snaps, has a mental break, murders her entire family, then rides off into the night… laughing.”

Daisy takes a step backward, horrified.

Rose Gentry Barrett re-enters the room carrying a white bone china dessert plate… with the dead fly lying in the center.

“Told you I’d get him.” Sitting the plate next to the spilled iced tea, Rose grabs the remote and turns on the large, flat-screen television.

The sisters watch her in silence while Rose turns to her favorite station… The Weather Channel.

“Gonna rain in Topeka!”

Lowering her voice, Daisy continues her pleading. “Cal, be reasonable.”

Defiant, Calla crosses her arms across her ample chest.

“Snaps, Daisy. Murder.”

Emptying the gin bottle into her glass, Violet continues her giggling. “I don’t want to read that book. I want to see the movie!”