Admissions #WritingChallenge


Dinner Table

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 41
Another snippet from the dinner scene in Family Matters which will be published one day… in this lifetime. SMH.

“You have two weddings coming up? Wow.”

He gestured holding up a finger. “Yes, but I only have to pay for one of them. Farren, Pat’s fiancé, is the daughter of two attorneys. I’m sure their wedding will be glorious.”

“Two attorneys? What’s Farren’s last name?”

“Foster.”

“Her parents are Collins and Catherine Foster?”

Pat and Bruce both nodded.

Olivia’s eyes widened. “That wedding will be more than glorious. It will make Hollywood A-listers jealous. The Fosters are the go-to investment attorneys in this part of the state. They have a waiting list… and they’re not cheap.”

“You know them, Olivia?” Bruce asked.

“Very well. I was a client a few years back.”

Bruce sat back in his chair, his mouth hanging open. His children all stared at Olivia with surprised expressions too.

“What’s wrong, Bellamy?”

“A successful law practice, that amazing house, and you’re a client of high-powered financial attorneys.” He leaned forward and smirked. “Who are you, Olivia Chandler?”

She grinned. “I’m merely a humble attorney who’s smart about managing her money.”

Bruce cast a doubtful look at her. “So you say.”

Before Bruce Bellamy could continue, Breck spoke up. “What made you decide to become an attorney, Olivia?”

Bruce’s jaw tightened, but Olivia smiled, regarding Breck warmly.

“My father was an attorney. Estate Planning and Management.”

Casey Bellamy frowned. “Really? What made you choose child advocacy instead of following in your dad’s footsteps?”

Bruce started, but Olivia reached out her hand in his direction. “It’s okay.” Clasping her hands together, Olivia regarded each of the young faces.

“When I was ten-years-old, my family was involved a very bad car accident.”

Pat returned to his seat and Shaun made no move to leave.

“M-my father was killed instantly. My mom and I suffered serious injuries. She was in a coma twice. We’d been taken to different hospitals, and I didn’t know how she was…or get to s-see her…”

Bruce had to stop her.

“Sweetness, may-…”

“It’s okay, Bruce. I’m okay.”

Casey looked from Olivia to her father, the term of endearment not lost on her.

Olivia took a deep breath to settle herself before continuing.

“When I was well enough to be discharged, my mother was still in a coma. We had no other family, so I was put into temporary foster care.”

Casey’s gasp was the only sound in the room. Pat glanced at his father, while Shaun slid down in his seat and Breck stared down at the table surface, his features marred by anguish.

“I can tell by your reactions, you know a little something about foster care. It’s not a death sentence, but it’s no walk in the park either. But I did get to go home a few months later. My mom was weak but her physical injuries were healing.” Olivia stared at her clasped hands. “Her mind was another story.”

“What happened, Olivia?” Casey question was soft and whisper-like.

“I didn’t understand it at the time, but my mother was losing touch with reality… a day at a time. Not to mention, her mental issues were hindering her full recovery from the injuries she suffered. Her doctors decided she needed care she couldn’t get at home and admitted her to a private mental facility.”

“And you went back to foster care.” It was a statement, not a question uttered by the youngest Bellamy.

Olivia nodded.

“But you went to college… and law school. You’re successful, right? Your mom got well and came back, right?”

Olivia Chandler’s jaws tightened for a fraction of a second before she raised her head and answered Casey.

“No. My mother is still in that facility.”

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

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Time for Dessert #WritingChallenge


Dinner Table

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 40
Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. Olivia Chandler and Casey Bellamy have a quiet moment together while preparing dessert. REALLY trying to finish this WIP!

“I can’t tell you how surprised I am at Breck. We don’t get to see him so animated often.”

Casey passed a dessert dish to Olivia as they prepared plates in the kitchen.

“I don’t understand, Casey. What do you mean?”

“Well, you’ve seen how no one in this family has trouble speaking up. Except for my baby brother. He’s the shy one. The Introvert.”

Olivia smiled. “But he doesn’t miss much, does he?”

“Not a thing. Shaun thinks when Breck is quiet he’s writing screenplays in his head… about us.”

“Uh, oh.”

“I know, right? My family on the big screen? It would be slapstick for sure.”

Shaking her head and laughing, Olivia grabbed the serving tray and stacked three plates on it. When she turned for more, Casey wasn’t dishing up more plates. She was staring at Olivia.

“Is something wrong, Casey?”

“It’s because of you. You know that, right? Breck being comfortable enough with you to open up?”

“Oh, honey. I’m flattered, but I’ve only been here for an afternoon. Maybe Breck is just happy to have his family together.”

“I don’t think so, Olivia. We’re a busy lot, but we’re together at some point at least once a week. Breck is always quiet. It’s you.”

Olivia opened her mouth to respond, but Casey continued.

“You work with children, right? You’re a child-advocate attorney?”

“Yes, but-…”

“And the children you work with… they never have difficulty talking to you… opening up to you, do they?”

“Well, no, but-…”

“I didn’t think so. I’m sure you’ve had your share of worst-case scenarios, but for the most part, children can sense you’re genuine. Not trying to scam or trick them. I believe Breck senses that too.”

Children deserve to hear the truth, no matter how painful. Lies only build mistrust or worse… cause children to blame themselves.” Olivia turned away and squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out a memory.

Casey reached out, touching Olivia’s arm.

“Where did you go, Olivia? You okay?”

Returning her gaze to Casey, Olivia smiled. “I am. Thank you for-”

Olivia’s words faded as both women looked towards the kitchen door.

“Des-sert! Des-sert! Des-sert!”

Casey Bellamy giggled at Olivia’s wide-eyed expression then quickly filled the remaining plates.

“Seriously, Casey? Chanting? Are they in the dining room or cell-block D?”

Chuckling, Casey loaded the plates onto the tray and backed toward the door. Olivia lifted the tray and followed her.

“You should be honored, Olivia. They’re on their best behavior.” She pushed the door open for Olivia and stood to the side. “At least there hasn’t been a food fight.”

Olivia froze mid-step, a horrified look on her face.

Casey laughed harder.

©Felicia Denise 2017

Meeting the Family #WritingChallenge


Dinner Table

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 39
This scene is from Family Matters. Protagonist Olivia Chandler is meeting the adult children of new love interest, Bruce Bellamy, for the first time.

Olivia was still smiling at the empty doorway when Bruce walked up behind her and pulled her back against him.

“And you were worried they wouldn’t like you. I think they like you more than me.”

She turned and pulled him into a deep kiss.

Bruce leaned into the kiss, allowing her to lead.

Olivia paused and whispered against his lips.

“Don’t worry, Bellamy. I’ll always like you best.”

Cupping her face in his hands, Bruce continued the kiss.

Leaning his forehead against hers, Bruce sighed.

“We’d better stop before I embarrass us in front of my kids.”

Olivia placed a quick kiss on his lips and backed away with a smirk.

“Can’t have your kids thinking I want you just for your body.”

Bruce considered her remark as Olivia backed away. He loved playful, flirty Olivia. She let her walls down and there was no sadness in her beautiful eyes. She looked at him like he mattered… like he was important to her. Bruce knew their relationship became serious faster than most, but since the day they met, Bruce knew Olivia was the one.

Bruce unbuttoned his jacket.

“Let me take your coat so I can put you to work setting the table. We’ll investigate your obsession with my body later.”

Olivia smirked as she unbuttoned her pea coat. Remembering the black tee underneath, she pulled the coat tighter around her.

“Bellamy… this shirt. Maybe it’s not such-…”

The rest of Olivia’s comment died in her throat as she watched Bruce remove his jacket. He struck a pose, and Olivia got the giggles all over again.

“It’ll be alright, sweetness.”

Olivia ripped off her pea coat and they stood there laughing at each other.

Hearing the laughter and not one to miss out on fun, Shaun Bellamy stuck his head out the kitchen door.

“What’s so funny-…”

Before he could finish, his father pulled Olivia to his side. They continued to laugh like teenagers.

Seeing their shirts, Shaun chuckled, shaking his head.

“I wondered what was up with your shirt, dad. I thought you were re-living the election. Now it makes sense.”

“Just emphasizing the point, son.”

Bruce gestured to his shirt which said, “I’m with HER!” as he slipped an arm around Olivia and grinned at her tee which read, “I’m with HIM!”

Shaun backed into the kitchen, and Bruce and Olivia could hear him say, “Guys, those two are going to be trouble!”

Bruce kissed Olivia’s forehead, then took their coats to the hall closet.

Olivia chided herself for dreading this dinner. Bruce’s children were warm and genuine. Being in Bruce’s home didn’t feel odd. It was comfortable and inviting.

It felt like home.

Olivia wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.

©Felicia Denise 2017

Dressed to Unimpress #WritingChallenge


New Balance Running Shoes

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 38
Snippet from current WIP — Family Matters. Attorney Olivia Chandler is stepping further out of her comfort zone for new love, Bruce Bellamy.

Olivia argued with herself the entire drive to Bruce’s home.

The New Balance running shoes felt foreign on her feet.

Purchased over a year ago, Olivia wore the shoes two to three times a week when she worked out in her home gym.

But she’d never worn them outside of her home, much like any athletic apparel…or the jeans she wore today.

She adopted a habit of wearing tailored business suits and heels before leaving law school. The only things which varied were the style of the suit and height of her heels.

Olivia slowed and stopped at a traffic light rubbing her hand down the leg of her jeans.

Margot was right. Olivia was wound too tight… and boring.

Her idea of casual dress leaned toward a light, spring dress accompanied by a blazer, and ballerina flats… but only on non-court days.

The light turned green and Olivia accelerated through the intersection.

Get over yourself, Chandler! People dress casually every day, stop trying to have an anxiety attack. This is for Bellamy, so suck it up!

Warmth enveloped her body as thoughts of the man she was falling in love with filled Olivia’s head. Anxiety over clothing vanished. The corners of Olivia’s mouth twitched as she remembered his admonishment.

“Under no circumstances are you to show up in your lawyer clothes, counselor.”

He chuckled at the horrified expression on her face.

“Please, Olivia? Do this for me. I want the kids to see the real you, not the Olivia-mask the world sees every day.”

Olivia sobered at his words and promised to dress casually.

Bruce pulled her into his arms. “Besides, my specialty dish is considered comfort food and best enjoyed… while you’re comfortable.” He’d claimed her lips before she could respond, kissing Olivia deeply. He pulled away and pushed a small shopping bag into Olivia’s hands. Bruce backed toward the front door.

“Whatever you decide to wear,” he motioned to the bag, “you have to wear that with it.”

Olivia didn’t miss the mischievous gleam in Bruce’s eyes as he all but ran out the door to his truck. He winked as he slid into the driver’s seat and blew her a kiss as he sped away.

She stood in her doorway shaking her head. Remembering the Halloween costumes Bruce chose for them, inklings of dread caused her to shudder. Olivia stepped back inside her foyer, closing the door. She held the bag out at arm’s length and smirked.

“Now what have you gotten me into, Bellamy?”

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

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Mona Lisa Smile #WritingChallenge


Rainy Day

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 37
Flash Fiction: Word prompt – Mona Lisa smile

His chair was empty and cold just like the coffee he hadn’t drunk.

She stared at the cup of coffee, unblinking and unmoved, the Mona Lisa smile still gracing her face.

She tried to remember the words he’d said. Something about ‘not working’, ‘better as friends’, and ‘he’d met someone.’

He had said more, but she wasn’t listening.

She was remembering.

When he said he loved her.

When he said she was the one.

When he asked her to marry him and slipped the ring on her finger.

She looked down at her hand, the ring still in place, heavy and laborious.

He told her to keep it and remember the good times.

Good times?

Instead, she remembered when he said he had to work late and turned off his phone.

She remembered him canceling their weekend trip to Vegas because the ‘big project’ at work was past due… and he turned off his phone.

Lastly, she remembered how he canceled their dinner… on her birthday… because of work.

And he turned off his phone.

She’d told all her friends she was spending her birthday with him and refused to sit home alone.

She went out to dinner and saw him… with her.

She didn’t know if it was a casual fling or a new beginning.

It didn’t matter.

It was over.

She went home and waited.

Waited for him to tell her.

Two days.

Five days.

A week.

She emotionally removed herself from the relationship.

She pulled away from his hugs and turned away from his kisses.

She knew she should walk away but she wouldn’t let him off that easy.

He had to say the words.

One day, he looked into her eyes and he saw it.

She knew.

He left quickly… because of work.

Three days later, he called and asked to meet her for coffee.

And he told her… at last.

She never spoke but just sat there before him cloaked in serenity, Mona Lisa smile in place.

He stood to leave, leaning in to kiss her cheek.

She turned away… and he left.

Looking at the two-karat emerald-cut ring on her finger, a wave of sadness passed over her.

Not for herself but for the woman she replaced… and the woman who replaced her.

They were all members of a club by default. There would be no meetings, only dues paid in full. His new woman would pay hers soon enough.

Gathering her things, she stood and placed a ten-dollar-bill on the table for the coffee no one drank.

As an afterthought, she removed the ring and left it on top of the cash.

Heading for the door, she noticed new customers arriving with wet umbrellas and damp jackets.

“It’s really pouring out there,” an older man said as she walked past him.

Her Mona Lisa smile grew. She loved the rain.

She reached to push the door open and felt a tug on her other arm. Turning, her waitress stood next to her, holding out the ring.

“Is this your ring, ma’am?”

She shook her head once and said, “Not anymore,” and stepped out into the cleansing rain.

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New Hire #WritingChallenge


Glasses of Wine

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 36
An excerpt from current WIP, “Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child Book 2).” Even while attempting to organize her life and move forward, Olivia Chandler manages to help someone else.

Olivia Chandler was exhausted. She had too many open cases for one attorney with little backup. The Chandler Group attorneys were all carrying multiple cases. Olivia was grateful business was good because it meant children weren’t being shut out of the conversation on their care. But it also meant families were splintered and bickering… and sometimes it had nothing to do with the minor child involved.

She needed help.

Olivia had witnessed Glendon Kane in the courtroom firsthand and found him to be an adept litigator and brilliant legal strategist.

And too good for Borst & Peckham.

On impulse… and one hundred percent out of character, Olivia called Glendon and invited him to an early dinner to discuss a business matter.

“Thank you for accepting my dinner invitation, Glendon.”

She could see the fatigue lining a brow far too young for such things.

He gave Olivia a genuine smile.

“As if I’d say no to you, Olivia. Beautiful women don’t ask me out every day.”

“Oh, Mr. Kane. That is not the story I heard.”

The attorneys shared a laughed. Glendon raised his hands in defeat.

“Okay, Okay, Women do ask me out. But I never saw myself sharing a meal with the great Olivia Chandler.”

She smirked and waved him off.

“Don’t even try it. My office manager doesn’t miss much of the courthouse grapevine. I think she may even be responsible for half the info making the rounds, and she says you’re pretty popular with the ladies.”

“Ah, the magnificent Margot.”

“She’ll love that you called her magnificent.”

“She is. But tell her most of my dates never get further that one or two dates. And a third date is unheard of.”

Olivia sobered, not wanting to ask why but curiosity… and empathy showed in her eyes.

Glendon laughed and shook his head.

“Fortunately, it’s not what you think, Olivia. The problem is women find out I work for B&P and they see dollar signs. But when they find out I’m a low-paid associate, their interest fizzles.” He pointed to his face. “Not even these amazing good looks can keep them around.”

Olivia slid her wine glass aside and folded her hands on the table.

“I heard about the Getner lawsuit… and the blame being laid at your feet, Glendon.”

His smile caught Olivia off guard. She frowned.

“Yeah, the last couple of days weren’t the best. This was not a difficult case, but dumb and mega-dumb kept sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong. Paulina Getner did file a lawsuit. And I can’t say that I blame her, but she and I talked… again, and I’ve negotiated a good settlement. Now all I have to do is get Tanner to issue a public apology.”

Olivia shook her head in disbelief.

“Why do you do it, Kane? You’ve more than put in your time. Why do you stay? Your record is exemplary. Any firm would be lucky to get you.”

“B&P have just enough money to keep me invisible in this state. The larger firms are owned by their friends and the smaller firms are bullied into ignoring me. My meager savings are not enough to start my own practice… so I remain the whipping boy.”

“There are forty-nine other states.”

“But my dad is here. It’s just been he and I for the last twelve years. He’ll never leave the home he shared with my mom… and I’ll never leave him.”

He sipped his wine.

“So, B&P’s money keeps me locked in even though they only toss pennies my way.”

Unable to keep the smug look from her face, Olivia Chandler leaned back, her head tilted to the side.

“Maynard and Samuel’s millions… and their connections don’t scare me.”

Glendon Kane’s face brightened.

“Olivia? Are you offering me a job?”

“Yes.”

Incredulous, Kane scrubbed his hand down his face. Returning his gaze to Olivia, he searched for the words.

“The Chandler Group… wow. Your reputation is flawless and you guys do some awesome work.”

Glendon abruptly held his hands up.

“You realize Maynard and Samuel won’t just let me walk away?”

“Are you in the middle of a contract with them?”

“No. My last contract ended over five months ago. They’ve been slow to write up another because they don’t want to make me a partner… or increase my pay. I’m still working under the terms of the contract we signed two years ago.”

Olivia leaned forward.

“You let me worry about those two. I need help, Glendon. I love my job, but my current caseload is out of control.  I don’t have the time to train or hold anyone’s hand. You’re amazing in the courtroom… a force to be reckoned with. Your concern for your clients is genuine and you’ve won some near-impossible cases because you weren’t afraid to buck the system. I’m sure your billable hours are more than those four doorstops combined.”

Her face softened.

“Come to work for me… after the appropriate notice to Borst, of course. I’ll have something drawn up in the morning, but it will include a significant pay increase, an expense account, full medical… and no weekends.”

“Olivia, you had me at “Come to work for me.””

Olivia Chandler laughed. “Seriously though, Glendon. Email or call Margot in the morning with your particulars. We can meet for a late lunch or another early dinner to go over the contract. You can give Borst notice by the end of the week.”

Kane reached out and grabbed Olivia’s hand, firmly shaking it.

“At this point, Olivia, the wording of a contract is not an issue. You’re respected and held in high regard in the state’s family law system and internationally in the public interest community. I appreciate the opportunity… and honestly, I think you’re saving my life.”

She gripped his hand, returning his handshake.

“Glendon, we’re saving each other and I look forward to working with you. Now, let’s order a couple of those thirty-two-ounce Big Texan steaks and see how much we can eat before we get sick.”

“You’re on!”

The attorneys chatted and joked amiably. Olivia relaxed, proud of herself for following her first thought and offering the harried Glendon Kane a position.

Maynard Borst and Samuel Peckham would be furious. They would be full of piss and vinegar and issue empty threats, but Glendon would come to work for her… that she was sure of.

Her workload would lighten and she would have free time. Something she’d never wanted before, but there was no Bruce Bellamy before. Olivia looked forward to spending more time with Bruce and his huge, loving family. She felt like she was a part of something important and she liked it.

Glendon was laughing and telling a story from his law school days as Olivia said a silent prayer for her future with Bruce… and that she didn’t do anything to ruin it.

©Felicia Denise 2017

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Mediation #WritingChallenge


Marriage Cert

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 35
Reworking parts of ‘Heartburn’ and this is a deleted scene… for now. Who knows where it will end up?

“Quinn, you can’t! My parents are still well thought of in the school community even though they both retired years ago. Having this come out would kill my mother.”

“I don’t give three twisting bitches about what may or may not kill your mother!”

“Quinn!”

“For our entire marriage, she’s smiled in my face; stuck her nose where it didn’t belong and tried to talk me into quitting my job just to be a full-time wife to you — a man who can’t keep his pants zipped! Then when you commit the ultimate betrayal, she helps you hide it. Honestly, Oscar — she can kiss my ass!”

“Quinn!”

“Shut up! Stop yelling my name and sign the damn papers! I’m done with this… and you!”

“Quinn, baby — don’t do this! We can work this out. I’m serious about the marriage counseling. It’s not too late. We can fix our marriage, baby”

“The marriage wasn’t the problem, Oscar — you were. Sign.”

“Baby, please. Let’s take a vacation… spend some time together, and talk this out. Just the two of us.”

“Sign… or my next stop is your boss’ office.”

Oscar reached out towards Quinn, and she leaned away from the table. “Quinn…please…?

She stared at him, her jaws set.

Defeated, Oscar nodded to his attorney and retook his seat.

Opening the ominous file folder that always laid in the center of the table during each meeting, the attorney glanced at Morris and Quinn, then addressed Oscar.

“Are you sure about this, Oscar?”

Oscar looked at his wife and for the first time, she saw real emotion.

Quinn almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

Nodding, Oscar took the document and signed in the three marked places then slid it back to his attorney who also signed before sliding it back to the center of the table.

Morris pulled it in front of Quinn, who signed quickly with a flourish.

Morris Dabney added his signature.

“I’ll file these with the court before the end of business today and make sure your office gets copies”, he directed to the other side of the table. He turned to Quinn. “The court will set a formal hearing date, and without any more objections”,

Morris looked pointedly at Oscar, “the marriage dissolution will be final in a few short months. Neither of you will have to appear at the formal hearing since the documents are signed.”

“Thank you, Morris.”

Quinn reached for her bag and headed for the door. She had to leave this room while she could keep her anger in check. She had so much more she wanted to say to her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Things she should have said. But, she knew it would all fall on deaf ears as Oscar felt his infidelities were mere lapses in judgments… mistakes.

Quinn reached for the doorknob when Oscar called out to her. She turned to face him.

“I’ve made some mistakes, but I do love you. My heart will always belong to you.”

Quinn left the conference, stalking towards the elevator, her jaws clenched so tightly, a dull ache radiated down to her neck.

Jabbing the call button, Quinn was grateful when the lift doors opened and equally grateful no one else boarded.

Quinn pressed the button for the parking garage level, then leaned against the wall.

It was over.

She was closing the book on nine years of her life and moving on. Quinn knew it wouldn’t be easy. She may be rid of Oscar Landon, but her family wasn’t going anywhere. Oscar would waste no time in telling them Quinn had BLACKMAILED him into signing the divorce papers.

She supposed she’d done just. But Quinn felt no guilt or regret. The mental and emotional duress Oscar put her through, not to mention the risks to her health and life, left Quinn feeling justified in doing whatever it took to secure her freedom.

Quinn knew her family, descended from generations of pious, self-righteous folk who didn’t believe in divorce, wouldn’t see it her way. Quinn was glad she’d moved out of the home she’d shared with Oscar long ago and into her own home, miles away from both sides of the family.

She had won the war, but the battles were just beginning.

©Felicia Denise 2017

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“Thinking It Through”


52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 34
Excerpt from ongoing WIP. Title updated from For Worse to Heartburn. This scene occurs after No Excuses but before the scenes with Quinn’s mother and brother, Good Morning, Mother and Hypocrite. Everyone confused? Alright!

Knowing the outreach center was in west L.A., Quinn found it after only two searches.

Finally acknowledging a Clinton Clark did receive occasional treatment there, the kind, but resolute center director, Vince, would not give Quinn any more information as he walked her to the door.

“Please understand, miss. Most of our vets experienced trauma that has yet to end for them. Some are at the lowest points in their lives and vulnerable.  All sorts of folks come in pretending to be family or close friends… just to get a signature on divorce papers, land deeds, and bank accounts. One poor fella thought he was updating his son’s insurance, when in fact, he was signing away his parental rights.”

Quinn couldn’t hide her stunned expression.

Vince rested his hand on the door handle. “I know it sounds deplorable… because it is. But those kinds of situations happen more than the public is aware of. We have to do what we can to protect our vets.”

Quinn thanked the man as he held the door for her. She was glad Clinton had someone looking out for him, but Quinn was determined. She would see her brother.

She talked with Mike Matthews during her drive home. Giving him the short version of her evening, Mike didn’t give her a chance to ask for time off.

“Take all the time you need, Landon. You’ve always got my back. And besides, without you here putting out all the office fires, I get to see what the rest of this team knows… or doesn’t.”

They shared a chuckle before Quinn ended the call, grateful for a boss like Mike.

Quinn was grateful again when she pulled into her South Pasadena driveway, but for a different reason.

Oscar had not returned from her parents’ home yet. Entering the mud room from the garage, she hoped he would opt to go to his parents’ home instead of coming home at all.

Entering the mud room from the garage, she hoped he would opt to go to his parents’ home instead of coming home at all.

Or to see his newest side piece.

The revelation of his latest affair and his limp, unapologetic apology changed Quinn Landon.

It wasn’t Oscar’s first affair, but it was the first time blame was laid squarely on her shoulders by her parents.

They reasoned if Quinn quit her job and left the stresses of work behind, she’d get pregnant, and Oscar would be happy.

Like hell.

Finding an airline ticket stub and hotel receipts from San Diego were the swan song for the Landon marriage.

It was insult enough Quinn knew the trip was funded by money from their joint account… the money she worked for and saved… but it was the same weekend Oscar backed out of their planned trip to northern California for a jazz festival.

Oscar Landon had no intention of changing his adulterous ways.

She made a turkey sandwich, grabbed a bottle of Perrier and headed for her bedroom. Making sure the bedroom door was locked, Quinn wolfed down her sandwich and took a quick shower. She threw on her favorite Green Bay Packers jersey and placed a pair of jeans and a light sweater for tomorrow at her dressing table.

Making sure the bedroom door was locked, Quinn wolfed down her sandwich and took a quick shower. She threw on her favorite Green Bay Packers jersey and placed a pair of jeans and a light sweater for tomorrow at her dressing table.

Quinn spent the next two hours in her work email—responding to inquiries and clearing up pressing matters.

Her eyelids became heavy as fatigue washed over her.

Activating her out-of-office email response, Quinn placed her tablet on the nightstand and crawled into bed. She had almost drifted off when she heard the front door. Moments later, there was a soft tap on the bedroom door.

Ignoring her husband, Quinn turned over and let sleep take her.

 

Awaking before her alarm clock sounded five short hours later, Quinn laid in bed staring out her east-facing bedroom window as the sun began its ascent. The golden rays peeking through the trees energized Quinn and gave her strength.

She would call Morris Dabney next week. This time, Quinn would go through with the divorce. No amount of badgering or guilt trips from the Clark and Landon families would stop her this time.

Quinn rose and made her bed as she organized her thoughts.

She couldn’t remember what it felt like to love her husband unconditionally. Oscar’s endless lies halted Quinn’s love from growing. His disrespect of her and their marriage vows broke her heart and soured the happiness Quinn once enjoyed.

But it was Oscar’s determination to play the victim and join their families in blaming Quinn for his many dalliances which turned Quinn’s once full heart to a hardened pebble, beating enough only to maintain her existence.

Slipping into her jeans and sweater, Quinn found her favorite dark brown hiking boots in the back of her closet.

Dressed, she stood in front of the window lost in thought.

She needed to put the house on the market. She didn’t want any memories of any time shared with Oscar Landon and he couldn’t afford the house on a school administrator’s salary.

The loud chime of We Are Family snapped Quinn from her reverie.

Not in the mood to talk with any of her family, she grabbed her keys, put her phone on silent and headed for the outreach center.

Nothing would stop Quinn from seeing her brother today.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

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Saying Goodbye


Olivia and Willis

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 33
This is part of a scene from the upcoming Family Matters, book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child. Olivia Chandler is at the bedside of Willis Benson, her lifelong protector, as he lay dying. Her fear of abandonment threatens to overwhelm her until Willis reminds her of one important detail.

“How long has he known?”

“Since July.”

“July?” Thoughts and images raced through Olivia’s mind. She’d spent time with Willis on five or six occasions in the last four months. And never suspected a thing.

“How long-”

“No one knows. Two weeks… two hours. Any answer would be a guess.”

“That’s unacceptable. His condition must tell them something. Who is this doctor? Maybe we should get a-”

“Olivia, stop.”

She frowned.

“Dad signed a DNR.”

Ian became a blur to Olivia. Dizziness and nausea gripped her, Heat enveloped her body as sudden fatigue caught hold and dragged her toward the floor.

Ian was the only reason Olivia didn’t fall. He held on and propped her against the wall.

Ian spoke to her but Olivia heard no words. Her jumbled thoughts were of Willis Benson, the man in the brown suit she met as a ten-year-old. The only constant in her life since that fateful day when everything changed.

Ben Chandler planned well for his daughter’s future. But it was Willis Benson who fought for Olivia… and her mother. He risked his own job future and status in the firm to carry out Ben’s wishes.

When Olivia turned eighteen and took partial control of her inheritance, Willis was at her side. He answered Olivia’s questions and gave mild guidance, but Willis insisted she make her own decisions.

Years later when Olivia refused to visit her mother ever again, Willis accepted it and continued to stand by her.

Now Olivia needed to accept the fact if… no, when Willis suffered another cardiac episode or seizure, no life-saving measures would be taken.

He would die… and leave her.

With a sense of urgency, Olivia attempted to break Ian’s hold on her.

“I have to see him, Ian! Please let me see him! Let me… say goodbye.”

With a simple nod, Ian took Olivia by the hand and returned to his father’s room.

Malcolm Benson had his chair pulled close to the bed as he clasped one of Willis’ big hands between his own. Not as tall as Ian or their father, Malcolm had more brawn. He rose from his seat and pulled Olivia into a one-arm hug while still holding his father’s hand.

“Hey, pretty lady. He’s been asking for you.”

“I’m sorry. I was in court… it ran long… delays…-”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.”

Olivia smiled and stepped past Malcolm to greet her lifelong protector and surrogate father and was shocked by Willis’ appearance.

She and Willis spoke at least once every week by phone, and several times by text, but six weeks had passed since their last face-face meeting. It was hard for Olivia to reconcile the lively, robust Willis Benson from late summer with the pale, gaunt figure before her. He was twenty-five pounds lighter… at least. Drawn skin over his neck and jawline gave the older attorney a skeletal look.

Olivia’s jaws ached to hold onto the smile which masked her breaking heart. However, when she looked into the dying man’s eyes, her soul calmed. Life was leaving his body, but the piercing blue eyes of Willis Benson reflected all the wisdom and wit Olivia admired and loved for so many years.

“Livvie-”

She stopped him with a gentle touch to his lips.

“Don’t try to speak, Willie-B. I just want to be here with you.”

He placed his hand over hers and squeezed.

“When have I ever passed up a chance to talk? You do know I’m an attorney, right?”

Olivia laughed even as her tears flowed down her face.

“Why, Willie-B? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“For the same reason I didn’t tell the boys. You all would have put your lives on hold, waiting on me hand and foot, trying to make my last days good ones. My dear, I haven’t had a good day since I lost my Sarah.”

He winced, new pain breaking through, defying the powerful IV drug cocktail started only moments before.

“It’s my time, Livvie. But I go knowing you and the boys will be okay. I’m proud of the men my sons have become. And I’m proud of you… just as proud as your father would be.”

“But there had to be times when-”

Willis cut her off.

“Yes, honey. There were days I was sure I’d be dead before sundown. But with rest and medication, I went on. It wasn’t my time yet. But it is now.”

“Why didn’t you choose to fight it? The Mayo Clinic is a short car ride away, or we could have gone anyplace in the world to help you fight for your life.”

Willis closed his eyes but continued to speak.

“It was not a rash decision, my dear. I gave the matter serious thought.”

He opened his eyes and regarded Olivia warmly.

“I’m… not a young man. My cancer is one of… the most aggressive. In the end, my dear, I may have gotten what? An extra two? Three years? And the treatments would have taken their toll making me an invalid needing constant care.”

Olivia clutched the dying man’s frail hand.

“Don’t be afraid, Livvie. I’m not. It hasn’t been easy… these last few months, but for me, it was the best decision. To go on my own terms… not surrendering. Pain has been the worst part of this journey. But, I knew that’s how it would end for me. Please… try not to judge me too harshly.”

Olivia shook her head, almost in a frantic state. “No, Willie-B. I would never do that. You’re the last person on the planet I would judge.”

She tried to calm herself. Reaching out, she caressed his sunken cheek, his skin cool to the touch. “Just rest now. Save your strength. We can talk more in a little while.”

With effort, Willis raised his hand and covered hers.

“This is our time to talk, Livvie. This… is what my strength is for.”

Willis went on before Olivia could speak.

“You must make a decision about… your mother, Livvie.”

©Felicia Denise

No More Excuses


No More Excuses

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 32
Another snippet from Quinn Landon’s journey to free herself from her judgmental family and adulterous husband.

Though she went to bed fatigued and stressed over the late-afternoon argument with her brother, Quinn Landon woke refreshed. She was anxious to get to the veteran’s outreach center and focus on something other than her problems.

Several months had passed since Quinn last volunteered. Increased job duties and her failing marriage consumed her time and energy. Renewing her commitment to community service was important to Quinn.  It was her way of giving back for all the support and encouragement center director Vince Saxton, and his incredible staff had given her brother, Clinton.

After over a decade in the Army, Clinton Clark returned home six years ago with PTSD, night tremors, and considerable anger.  It was a shock to the Clark family to see what service to his country had done to Clinton. Eddie and Katherine Clark soon overcame their initial shock, however.

Insisting Clinton needed time alone to sort out his thoughts while receiving treatment, his parents found a tiny apartment near the outreach center and moved their son right in. They never mentioned his name or visited him.

His siblings were confused at first but soon adopted the same mindset as their parents-out of sight, out of mind.

All except Quinn.

She was devastated by her brother’s mental and physical condition and angered at the ease their parents had at removing him from their lives.

Katherine Clark made the situation even worse when she refused to share Clinton’s address.

“Just leave him be, Quinn Avery. He’ll come back to us when he’s himself again.”

“And what if that never happens, mother? What if he’s never himself again, then what? Do we even know what happened to him?”

“Clinton will be just fine, I’m sure of it. And we were told there was some sort of ambush and quite a few members of his unit were killed. I don’t want to know any more than that.”

“That’s just awesome, mom! Your son’s living in his own personal hell and you don’t care why, nor do you intend to stand by him. Someone is sure to give us a Family-of-the-Year award!”

“Quinn! That’s no way to speak to your mother.”

Oscar slumped, his body shrinking in size from the cold gaze his wife pinned on him. He thought better of saying any more, sure Quinn wasn’t past her anger at finding out about his latest affair.

“Thank you, Oscar, but I’m more than used to my youngest child’s flair for drama.”

At first surprised at Katherine’s comment, Quinn’s features morphed into a smirk.

“I learned from the best.” Quinn turned to leave her parents’ home.

“Just where do you think you’re going, Quinn Avery?”

“To find my brother, mother. No more excuses.”

Quinn went out the front door, rage making her deaf to Katherine and Oscar’s cries for her to come back.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017