#Excerpt “Malice & Forethought: Short Stories of Malice and Murder” by Felicia Denise

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“Cecil, you know those guys you were with? They’re not friendly guys like you, and they’re also not street punks. They run the streets for their local gangs, but it doesn’t end with them.”

Arrogant to the end, Cecil smirked. “You trying to make a point, Detective?”

Pat Sinclair leaned against the doorframe, crossing his ankles and folding his arms. “My point is we picked up two million dollars in cash, and coke with a street value of over six million. Your new friends? They deal in hundreds… maybe thousands, but millions? There’s someone bigger at the center of this. They didn’t get the drugs and we confiscated their money; someone will have to answer for that.”

Excerpt from “Burned


Malice and Forethought:
Short Stories of Malice and Murder

by Felicia Denise

What’s done in the dark always comes to the light.

99c / 99p



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©2020 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#writephoto #crescent “Moments in Time”


crescent moon writephoto


For visually challenged writers, the image shows the dark silhouette of a tree against a cloudy sky. The horizon is lit by the gold of dawn, while a crescent moon hangs above the tree.

writephoto logoWritten for the #WRITEPHOTO WEEKLY PROMPT hosted by SUE VINCENT

“Moments in Time”

Having a boss who yelled too much and coworkers who did too little, Gwen Foster closed her garage door, happy to be home and alone.

She walked through the mudroom, stepping over the food dishes and litter box.

Damn cat. Two-hundred-dollars for Morrie, his shots, food and toys, and one week after he became her new roommate, Gwen opened the front door to receive an Amazon delivery, and Morrie took off. A week of lost cat posts online and walking the neighborhood and she was still cat-less.

The Imperial March played on her cellphone as she entered her bedroom and Gwen tossed it on her dresser unanswered, refusing to go to the dark side. The last thing she needed right now was to hear her mother’s weekly lecture on how her biological clock was ticking. Maggie Foster knew if Gwen would simply call Charlie and apologize, he’d come back. What she refused to believe was Charles David Benson was a lying, cheating scumbag who only used a promise of a future together to get Gwen to help pay for his extravagant lifestyle. In Maggie’s mind, women did whatever was necessary to make their men shine.

Gwen knew you couldn’t polish a rock.

She stopped long enough to kick off her black heels. She wanted nothing more than to shower away the film of office politics, difficult clients, and incompetent management that clung to her like a second skin.

Her gray pencil skirt and red silk blouse joined the heels somewhere on the bedroom floor. Gwen’s steps quickened, almost racing to the shower as her cell rang again. She turned the water on full force to drown out her mother’s persistence.

Grabbing a towel from the shelf, she threw it over the shower door then headed for her clothes hamper while removing her bra.

Catching her reflection, Gwen froze. The corners of her mouth twitched toward a smile as she caressed the small tattoo on her left shoulder.

Turning to get a full view, the world fell away as Gwen recalled a random vacation and a collision with another hotel guest in front of the elevators.

She could never explain it to anyone—although she’d never tried—but there was an instant connection with the man with the dark brown eyes. And less than an hour later, they were sitting in the hotel bar. They exchanged enough personal information to know she was Gwen; he was Gordon; they were both born in 1983, and neither was married nor had children.

They spent a perfect week together windsurfing, paddle boating, bowling, and exploring San Diego. Seaport Village was a daily stop for an oversized, four-dip waffle cone, just as each evening ended with walks on the beach under a waning moon. There was no mention of family or jobs or anything that existed before they met. This was their time.

On their last evening together, the couple strolled back to their hotel hand-in-hand after sharing a fresh seafood dinner. A light melancholy existed between them for the first time since they met, knowing it was time to check back into reality.

Gwen and Gordon weren’t in love or destined to be together. They didn’t share addresses or phone numbers or even take vacation pictures. But that week belonged to them. No one could ever take those moments in time away.

But when they crossed the street and found themselves in front of a dimly lit tattoo parlor, they looked at each other and grinned. Gordon looked up into the night sky and Gwen followed his gaze. She squeezed his hand, and when he returned his eyes to her, she nodded.

They went inside and told the grizzled old owner what they wanted. Used to inking skulls, devils, and flames, the owner—whose name was Bucket—scoffed, but dug through stacks of drawings until he found one they agreed on, and Gwen and Gordon parted the next morning with smiles, kisses, and sore arms.

She thought of him over the years, always with a smile and no regrets. Caressing the golden crescent moon on her shoulder, Gwen chastised herself for forgetting life was made up of moments, not just work schedules and family squabbles, or lost pets and dead beat boyfriends. They had their moments too, but the ones that counted were the ones that made you smile… like she was smiling now.

©2020 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#writephoto “Coming Home”


For visually challenged writers, the image shows a landscape of green moorland and hills, with a pool of water near rocks in the foreground and a heavy bank of white cloud rolling in and masking the horizon.


Coming Home

She sat on the small, raised mound fisting handfuls of the dark rich soil.

Looking out over the clouded horizon of Camden, Lauren Hatcher’s memories came to life.

She saw the picnics with her grandparents, and closing her eyes, she could even smell Nana Meggie’s fresh-baked berry pies and fried chicken. She remembered the rides Pawpaw gave her on his thoroughbred, Preacher, and the glorious moment on her eleventh birthday when she rode the horse alone.

Looking over at the small brook, Lauren’s face heated remembering her first kiss from Dan Denton when they were catching tadpoles.

A loud crack of thunder brought her back to the present. Lauren stood and glanced over the meadow again, regretting the three decades she’d stayed away from this place.

She turned and headed back to the house she’d left in a near run the day she turned eighteen.

Ralph Prince spent all day working at the family livestock business and all night drinking and beating his wife, Louise. When he left for work before dawn the next morning, Louise would vent all her rage and frustration on Lauren, while treating her older sister, Karla, like a queen.

Things got worse when Pawpaw had a stroke the month after she turned eleven, and he and Nana had to move into the city for the constant care he needed.

Despite empty promises from her parents to visit, she never saw her grandparents again.

Ralph’s nightly drinking binges grew more intense as Lauren aged, and when she was thirteen, he punched her for the first time.

But it wasn’t the last.

Though they whispered behind her back, classmates and teachers never asked Lauren about the black eyes and bruises. No one ever asked if she needed help or wanted to talk.

Biology teacher, Patty Reedy knew Lauren’s story. She’d lived it.

Without discussing her home life, Patty encouraged Lauren to keep her grades up and look to the future.

In her junior year, the school passed out financial aid packets for college. Lauren returned to school without her packet and fresh bruises on her face. Frustrated, Patty scrambled for a back-up plan but knew she couldn’t actively interfere until Lauren turned eighteen. She prayed the child would live to see that birthday.

And she did. Five days after graduation, Patty boldly pulled her old Chevy into the Prince’s driveway and waited. Lauren rushed out the side door with a battered blue suitcase while her mother and sister yelled taunts and threats at her back.

Lauren spent the next year working in a small nursing home and saving her money.  Her apartment across the street from the facility was small even for being studio-size, but to Lauren, it was a mansion. Patty helped her find counseling and a support group, and Lauren Prince was reborn. Entering the university’s nursing program the following year, Lauren was on fire to excel and live life out loud.

Though she’d never lived farther than a hundred miles from Camden, she never returned. It wasn’t fear that kept her away, but anger.


The rain started as she reached her old dilapidated home. Her parents did no upkeep and the peeling wallpaper and faded paint proved that.

But the foundation was still rock solid.

Pawpaw built the three-bedroom home as a wedding gift for Nana right after they were married. Years later when Pawpaw built their second home, they used the first as a guest home for family, then gifted it to Louise when she married Ralph.

Anger burned in her chest as Lauren thought about the love that created the house and all the violence that it housed.

Not wanting the anger to consume her, she took deep breaths and exhaled in slow, metered fashioned. The coping therapies she’d learned so long ago still worked.

Walking through the house again, Lauren couldn’t keep the questions from forming in her mind even though the answers didn’t matter to her.

Had her family missed her? Were her parents sorry for how they treated her? Did they ever try to find her?

Shaking her head, she smirked, knowing the answer to all the questions was no.

And she was glad.

Patty Reedy risked her job to help a student at risk, and Lauren never forgot her kindness. The bubbly teacher was now retired, raising Corgis with her husband and doting on their twelve grandchildren. They always included Lauren in the Reedy family gatherings, and it gave her the love and wholeness she’d felt back in the meadow with Pawpaw and Nana.

Something she’d never get from her family.

Ralph Prince died thirteen years ago from emphysema. Her sister, Karla, drank herself to death before she was forty, leaving three ex-husbands and five children. Her mom died in September from complications with diabetes and a bad heart. It took the state six months to find Louise’s estranged brother, Dale, who lived across the country, and another two to find Lauren, who lived just eighty-seven miles from the front porch she now stood on.

Though her grandparents “gifted” the house to her newlywed parents, the deed wasn’t turned over until several years later.

And Ralph Prince’s name wasn’t on it.

To ensure the house stayed in the family, Pawpaw and Nana signed over the house to Louise Hart Prince, Karla Beth Prince, and Lauren Holly Prince.

She wondered if that was the cause of her father’s rage—living in a home that wasn’t his. Did he see his in-law’s actions as disapproval and disrespect and take it out on their daughter and granddaughter? He had no say-so over the property and her grandparents included the caveat the house couldn’t be sold until she and Karla reached adulthood and could sign for themselves. They could only use power of attorney or probate documents in the event of one of their deaths.

Now they were all gone and the house belonged to her.

Lauren crossed the porch to the ledge, watching the rain cover her mother’s overgrown garden in sheets.

They were gone and she felt nothing. No pain, sadness, or loss. The unbearable ennui over what could have been no longer clouded her mind. Before today, the only regret Lauren felt was for the things she and husband, Gale, had put off for “the right time.”

That time never came.

Gale blamed his love of spicy foods for his stomach pain.  Three days later, as the pain intensified, he blamed a stomach bug picked up from a patient at work. One week after the pains began, the chief radiologist lay on a table in the department he ran for nine years, and five weeks later, he was gone, his body ravaged by inoperable pancreatic cancer.

Memories of her gentle giant and their eighteen years together made Lauren smile even as her chest tightened. Though he’d been gone seven years, her husband’s counsel still filled her mind. She was grateful for all the therapists who helped her on her journey to self-love, but Gale Hatcher was her rock. He was protective without smothering and never missed an opportunity to admire her strength.

Gale also never missed a chance to gently suggest Lauren return to Camden.

“The place didn’t hurt you, Honeybun, the people did, and that will never happen again.”

His faith in her was stronger than her own, and she always found a reason to not make the trip.

Lauren’s face heated with shame even as an abrupt giggle escaped her lips. She could see herself telling Gale he was right, and him, splaying his enormous hands out in front of him, saying, “You doubted me?”

She walked over to the door and made sure it was locked then stood at the top step.

She wouldn’t tell the boys about Camden right away. Kevin and Glenna’s wedding day was two weeks away, and his big brother, Riley, was a part-time paramedic, taking classes and trying to be there for Kevin. She wouldn’t overwhelm them with her drama. A month from now when the kids were back from their honeymoon and everyone had time to exhale, she’d bring them all to Camden and finally share the parts of her childhood she’d kept secret for so long. In the meantime, Lauren could finish sorting things out with the probate court and reach out to the uncle she hadn’t seen in forty years.

A large crack of thunder appeared to split the heavens as rain poured from the sky.

Descending the steps, Lauren strolled to the center of the yard as though it was a bright sunny morning. Stopping at the spot where Nana’s prize yellow rose bush sat so many years ago, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back, her arms outstretched at her sides, welcoming the assault of the downpour. It plastered her dark curls to her head, soaked her clothes… and hid her tears.

Lauren exhaled as the last vestiges of the weight burdening her soul melted away.

She smiled, glad to be home.

©Felicia Denise 2020


#Teaser “Malice and Forethought: Short Stories of Malice and Murder” by Felicia Denise

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From The Watcher:

He blamed Monica Montgomery for his predilection.

Four years his senior, the nineteen-year-old had lured him to her bedroom and introduced him to sex… and erotic asphyxiation.

Terrified at first, he soon learned how the right amount of pressure on her carotid arteries enhanced her orgasms. Her heightened arousal and reaction were a turbo boost to his own and soon he couldn’t have sex without the strangulation hold.

When he arrived at Monica’s for one of their weekly visits, she stopped him at the doorway with a kiss on the forehead and informed him she was headed to Europe to continue her education.

His devastation only worsened when he learned days later, Monica Montgomery moved to Germany… with her fiancé.

Despite his good looks and wealth, high school girls weren’t throwing themselves at him and he was miserable until he got to college.

He found some college coeds were more adventurous and had no problem with his request, yet most girls found it a total turn-off and whispers of pervert and weirdo grew around him.

By his senior year, he was frustrated and humiliated. He stopped frequenting the local favored eateries and pubs of the college crowd and ventured into more adult hot spots, which is how he met the lusty Vanessa.

Encouraged by the older woman’s enthusiasm as she dragged him from the nightclub, he didn’t make his usual sexual request.

Which was a mistake.

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Malice and Forethought:

Short Stories of Malice and Murder

What’s done in the dark always comes to the light.

99c / 99p





Song Lyric Sunday | “Seasons of Love” – Stevie Wonder

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is A song with a harmonica.


Stevland Hardaway Morris né Judkins aka Stevie Wonder also provides my second selection for SLS this week.

Seasons of Love is a song from the 1996 Broadway musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson. The song is performed by the entire cast in the play and the 2005 movie by the same name. Along with the Original Cast Recording soundtrack is an alternative version of Seasons of Love featuring Wonder who sings (and improvises upon) the part usually sung by the soloists. Stevie also lends his harmonica skills to the song.


  • Larson actually intended for Seasons of Love to be performed symbolically as a song at Angel’s funeral.
  • The song is heard twice throughout the second act and as the finale.
  • Born six weeks premature, and with retinopathy of prematurity, leading to permanent blindness, Wonder was a music prodigy and had mastered several instruments, including the harmonica, before he reached his teens.
  • Signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11, Stevie’s first single, Fingertips, featuring him on the bongos and harmonica, was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart.

Take care, stay safe, and be well.

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on 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.

Seasons of Love

by Stevie Wonder

Songwriters: Jonathan D. Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died
It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that life is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure you life in love)

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com, and YouTube.

Song Lyric Sunday | “Safe in Your Arms” – Paula Cole

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is Acquire/Collect/Gather/Secure.


Took a bit of searching my playlists come up with a second song for SLS, but when I decided on a variation of one of the prompts – TA DA! 🙂

Secure can also mean safe, which is why I chose Paula Cole’s Safe in Your Arms from her 2007 album, Courage.

Cole is best known for Where Have All the Cowboys Gone, which reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997. The following year she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her song I Don’t Want to Wait was used as the theme song of the television show Dawson’s Creek.

Safe in Your Arms is a simple song with a folk-music feel where the singer equates her safe harbor with the one she loves.


  • Courage was Cole’s return to the music scene after nearly a decade-long hiatus.
  • Cole co-wrote Safe in Your Arms with Greg Phillinganes, a keyboardist, singer-songwriter, and musical director discovered by Stevie Wonder, and who worked with Michael Jackson and the Jackson for more than thirty years.
  • Paula attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied jazz singing and improvisation. She was offered a record deal by a jazz label, but decided to turn it down.
  • Since 2013, the 52-year-old Cole has been on the voice faculty at Berklee College of Music while continuing an active performing career.


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on 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.

Safe in Your Arms

by Paula Cole

Songwriters: Gregory Phillinganes / Paula Dorothy Cole

Somtimes I’m too bold for my own good
I go out swinging hard and fast
This world is beating me broken
I need a home to rest
Too quick in the first round
Too slow in the second
Now I’m here in the third
And I need your attention.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
Safe in our home.
Safe in our land.
Safe in our world.
Safe in your arms.
It don’t matter how strong I think I am.
I always need another heart.
To bind me in the moment.
To help me see myself.
Alive in the fourth round.
Collapsed in the fifth.
Now I’m here in the sixth
And I need your belief.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
I wanna be safe in your arms.
Safe in our home.
Safe in our land.
Safe in our world.
Safe in your arms.

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com, and YouTube.