Sometimes we can get so caught up in the drama of our own lives we fail to see… or understand what’s going on around us—even with those we care most about.
Such is the case with Family Matters‘ Olivia Chandler.
After losing her parents and spending her formative years in the foster care system, Olivia’s mental and emotional trauma was very real. However, it’s twenty years later, and while Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, the pain of her childhood is never far away. Even though she enters into professional counseling, Olivia is obsessed with the totality of her own suffering and it leads her to push everyone away… even the man who wants to share her life.
Bruce Bellamy wasn’t a child when life knocked him down but that doesn’t mean it hurt any less.
He understands Olivia and will do what it takes to be with her, if only she’d let him. For the first time in fifteen years, Bruce is ready to risk his heart even though it didn’t end well the last time.
When Bruce became a top name and moneymaker at the state level of racing, Joanna Hill was his steady girlfriend. And when Bruce gained national sponsorship and a spot on a professional team, Joanna became Mrs. Bruce Bellamy.
They led a charmed life for the next eight years. Their family grew by three and Joanna had everything she wanted—a big, expensive home, expensive cars, jewelry, an elaborate, designer wardrobe, and money in the bank.
What she didn’t have was an interest in Bruce’s career… just the money he made.
Had Joanna been paying attention, she would have known her husband was not happy. Bruce enjoyed racing and was a dedicated team member, but his heart wasn’t in it.
He didn’t want to race cars, he wanted to fix them, enhance them and make them high-performing machines. Like his father and grandfather, being an auto mechanic was in his blood and something he couldn’t shake.
When Bruce’s contract was up for renewal, he thanked his manager and team members, but declined. He felt good about his decision until he told his wife.
Joanna was livid.
Racing gave her the lifestyle she craved. How would Bruce take care of her?
Taking note Joanna said her and not her and the kids or their family, Bruce explained his plans to go into business with his dad and expand his current shop.
She scoffed at his pipe dream.
Bruce now realized Joanna would have left him right then had she not been four months pregnant with Breck.
At the time, however, he’d been hopeful. They had a great financial cushion and he had five months to show his wife everything would work out.
But things never go as planned.
Joanna sulked for the rest of her pregnancy, She paid little attention to Bruce or their children and never attended another Bellamy family event. Even on the afternoon Breck was born, Joanna gave him a cursory glance and requested he be fed in the hospital nursery.
Their home life turned into a nightmare.
Beds went unmade, Patrick and Casey were always late for school and Bruce’s family saved them from living on take-out.
Each day brought a new temper tantrum from Joanna. She wanted to take her mom to Vegas. She wanted to take her best friend to Hawaii. She wanted a nanny. The requests were endless, as were Bruce’s refusals.
Her disregard for him was annoying, but Joanna’s neglect of their children was inexcusable. His mother and aunt were at his home caring for the children so much his father and uncle complained.
Grateful for the assistance from his family and not wanting to cause anymore upset, Bruce re-thought the idea of a nanny. He hated the thought of giving in to Joanna’s selfishness, but he’d do anything for his family.
Life… and Joanna had other plans.
Arriving home late one evening, Bruce found his mother sitting in the family room and his children asleep.
The pained expression on her face bothered him but before he could ask why she was there, Bettie Bellamy blurted out, “She’s gone.”
He didn’t flinch.
“Do the kids know?”
She shook her head. “Joanna waited until they were asleep.”
Not up for any discussion, Bruce sent his mother home. When the tail-lights of her car disappeared from sight, he raced upstairs to his children.
Six-year-old Casey slept soundly in her Care Bear-inspired room. She clutched a natty Winnie-the-Pooh bear she’d been dragging around since her toddler days. Bruce kissed her forehead and went to the boys’ room next door.
Three-year-old Shaun and seven-year-old Patrick were asleep in Patrick’s bed after what Bruce was certain was an attempt to look at picture books by flashlight.
In the adjacent room, baby Breck lay in his crib cooing, preoccupied with his hand.
Bruce gathered him up in his arms and sat in the rocking chair next to the window.
He rocked his son long into the night. Even after Breck fell asleep, Bruce rocked, unsure of what to do next.
©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved.
Will Bruce be able to make Olivia understand everyone has baggage?
Coming Soon! (Really!)
4 thoughts on “We all have “baggage”…”
Do not love – or even like – Joanna.
Bruce is ready to take a chance on love again – Olivia better be good enough! Just sayin’ 😉
Looking forward to this so much, Felicia. A late summer release – or early autumn? #nopressure
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ROFL! It’s…*looks over my shoulder*…almost HERE! 😁
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That is almost the right answer 😉
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