#WritingChallenge #Week44


Sacrificial Daughter

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 44
NaNoWriMo lives! This unedited excerpt is from my 2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter.

Thirty minutes passed before Ana Sellers returned Jeff Russell’s call. Expecting a receptionist or machine, she was surprised when Jeff answered the phone.

“Russell and Peters, may I help you?”

“I’m returning a call to Jeff Russell.”

“Analeigh?”

Pulling the phone away from her ear, Ana stared at it, incredulous. He knew her? Sixteen years had passed since the day she left Corwin without looking back.

“You know me?”

You were a year ahead of me in school.”

The name still didn’t ring any bells so she would have to take his word for it.

“I see. And now you’re an attorney in Corwin.?”

“Yes, my cousin, Adam, and I took over the practice from our dads about seven years ago.”

“And… and why d-do you need to speak to me, Jeff? What is the urgency?”

Silence was his response.

“Jeff? Still there?”

“Yes, I’m here. I’ve been looking for you for over two weeks.”

“Please tell me what this is about and why you’ve been looking for me.”

She heard an exhale escape from him, gruff and harsh.

“Analeigh, Rosie Chastain passed away.”

Ana froze. Rosie? Gone? No. No way. She spoke to her dear friend… three weeks ago. Damn it. Rosie said she was coming down with a cold but was looking forward to flying to Georgia in July to see her good friend and surrogate daughter.

Ana pulled at her chest, trying to ease the pain gnawing at her heart.

“W-What happened?”

“Heart failure. She told everyone she had a cold, but it was pneumonia. Her heart wasn’t strong enough to handle it. Rosie had a heart attack and slipped into a coma. Three days later, she coded. There was nothing the doctors could do.”

Her dear friend was gone. Ana’s skin prickled with anxiety as she fought to keep grief from overwhelming her.

“Jeff, how did you find me? What made you even look for me?”

“Like I said, it took some time, Analeigh. Rosie didn’t get out much the last few years. The few people she did talk to said she was disgusted with the changes and direction of Corwin.”

Ana knew that was true.

She tried to avoid the subject of Corwin when she and Rosie talked. Ana didn’t need memories of the place flashing through her mind, and Rosie said it decayed into nothing more than a political cesspool. The town’s first families — the Burfords, Foleys, and Lakes held all the offices of power. They treated Corwin like it was their personal kingdom and speaking out against them killed social standing and sometimes worse.

“Rosie had no family, and at the beginning, we thought she had no will. After wading through the legalities, we were able to enter her home. We found her will, drawn up by an attorney over in Spradlin. We also found your name and number, but the number was disconnected.”

Damn it! After a mini-battle with her cell provider over dropped calls and shoddy service, Ana switched carriers… and got a new number… four days after she and Rosie last spoke.

Analeigh didn’t bother to wipe away her tears when she realized by the time she activated her new number… Rosie was already gone.

“Analeigh?”

“I’m here, Jeff. Just trying to take all this in.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you like this, Analeigh.”

“It’s alright. I do appreciate the call, Jeff… and thank you.”

“Wait, Analeigh. I didn’t hunt you done just to tell you Rosie was gone. In her will, she left everything to you. Her home and the store.”

The buzzing in Ana’s ears roared over Jeff’s voice. Analeigh Sellers sat there overwhelmed and in shock with a sense of dread taking over.

 

Image from ThinkStock
©Felicia Denise 2017

Giving Back #WritingChallenge


Medal of Honor

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 43
An excerpt from Heartburn (formerly For Worse), last year’s NaNoWriMo project, releasing early in 2018.

For almost forty years, the Chase-Holland Veteran’s Outreach Center warmly welcomed military veterans from all over the country.

Named for Graham Chase and Lawrence Holland—two twenty-one-year-old Army privates killed in action during the Vietnam War, the center never charged veterans for any services received, and they never turned anyone away.

As a twenty-two-year-old Army clerk, Richard Chase, who was ten when his older brother was killed, found out Graham and another soldier, Lawrence Holland, had sacrificed their lives by drawing fire away from a small group of women and children fleeing an attack on their village.

An unpopular war with much of the U.S. in the sixties, countless acts of courage and bravery were never acknowledged.

After leaving the Army two years later, Richard Chase enrolled in college full-time. While studying to become a history teacher, he began a campaign tell the story of his brother, Holland, and so many others who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Vietnam. A university professor who’d lost an older brother in the Korean War joined Richard’s campaign and steered his influential friends and university alumni to Richard. What started out as an idea for a book grew into a fund for a memorial.

When it was learned the growing homeless population included veterans, Richard knew what his ‘memorial’ would be… a center where vets could go anytime—day or night— and receive a meal, a place to rest, and assistance to end their homelessness.

Two wealthy brothers heard about the campaign and wanted to help. One made a sizable cash donation and the other donated a piece of property just outside of West Hollywood.

The Chase-Holland Veteran’s Outreach Center opened its doors in March of 1990 and served tens of thousands of veterans over the years by helping them find housing, apply for vet benefits, and get medical and psychological treatment.

Quinn Landon was relieved to find street parking in front of the center. More than a few car doors and fenders had received nicks, dents, and scratches in the tiny center parking lot located behind the building.

“Hey, Fred. Our girl is back.”

Grinning, Quinn didn’t have to turn around to know who was shouting from across the street–Noel Adams, Vietnam war vet, cancer survivor, dialysis patient and recently, diagnosed with diabetes.

A well-known figure at the center and in the community, seventy-year-old Noel sat in his wheelchair on the tiny porch of his bungalow across the street from Chase-Holland.

Fred Alizo waved to Quinn as she exited her car.

“Woman, if I could run I’d hightail it over there and kiss you.”

More reserved than his neighbor, Fred’s remark surprised both Quinn and Noel.

Shaking her head at her two favorite troublemakers, Quinn crossed the street to hug Fred. She crossed their short side street to hug Noel.

“We thought you’d forgotten about us, young’un.”

Fred spoke up before she could respond.

“What he said was you probably had a baby and mommy-duties.”

Noel flipped Fred off as Quinn looked back and forth between the two men.

The realization her pending divorce no doubt cost her a chance at being a mother flashed through Quinn’s mind. She pushed it aside and chuckled.

“Sorry, guys. Life got busy… Super busy. While I do love my job, I realized I missed doing other things I love too, like spending time with friends.”

The two men beamed.

Leaving Noel’s yard, she backed the few short steps to the corner, still talking to the vets.

“Let me get inside, get caught up and work for a few hours…” Quinn stopped at the corner. “And when I’m done,” she pointed at each man. “…and if you’ve managed to stay out of trouble, maybe I can catch up with you guys… over pastrami burgers.”

“Don’t worry, Quinn. I’ll keep Noel out of trouble.”

Giving Fred the ‘thumb’s up’ gesture, Quinn roared with laughter at the annoyed look on Noel’s face.

She was still laughing as she entered the center.

Another Loss #WritingChallenge


Sunset

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 42
Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. The loss of her longtime protector, mentor, and father-figure, Willis Benson, blindsides Olivia Chandler.

An hour late, Olivia strode past Margot’s desk, her eyes focused on her office door.

Margot watched her pass, unhappy with what she was about to do. Setting her workstation to away status, she followed her boss into Olivia’s office.

Olivia appeared not notice Margot’s presence and fumbled around, pulling out her laptop and opening file folders.

Standing near the door, Margot folded her arms across her chest… and waited. She watched Olivia move folders around her desk several times before placing them in their original positions.

Lost in thought, the attorney remained standing at her desk, head bowed. When at last she looked up, Olivia was startled at seeing Margot.

“What’s wrong?”

“You tell me, Olivia. You’ve been in a fog since you got here… late. You’re never late.”

“We all have off days, Schultz.”

“You don’t. Not when it comes to your job.”

“Well, guess I’m due then, huh?”

“Maybe. Olivia, what’s-”

“How’s the day shaping up? Bowers custody hearing at one, right? Does Louis have the background check done for the Nealy case?”

“Yes, the background check is back… and on your desk,” she gestured at the mess Olivia had created, “somewhere. Mr. Bowers has asked for a thirty-day continuance and Mrs. Bowers isn’t arguing against it. Judge Whelan is ready to grant it as long as you don’t have a problem with the custody arrangement for the kids.”

“Okay.”

“Okay, what?”

“I have no problem with the custody arrangement.”

Margot glared at her boss as her patience wore thin.

“I haven’t told you what the arrangements are yet, Olivia.”

A pained look marred Olivia’s features. She fell back into her chair… silent.

Margot turned and closed the office door. Her brow knitted with worry, she took a seat in front of Olivia’s desk.

“Talk to me. Olivia, what happened?”

“I’m fine, Margot. It’s an off day. It hap-”

“Stop it.”

Leaning forward, the office manager’s voice hardened. Her eyes bored into Olivia.

“You were late. You didn’t take any of my calls or texts. You haven’t taken any of Bruce’s calls and the man is crazy with worry.  He drove by your house twice last night and wanted to call the police when you weren’t there. You don’t want to talk about it, fine. But we care about you, Olivia, and we don’t deserve to be treated like we don’t matter.”

Margot stood and walked toward the door, still talking. “Please let me know how you want to proceed after you read the Bowers custody arrangements.”

Olivia’s shoulders slumped, shame bearing down on her. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. As Margot reached for the doorknob, Olivia called out but for all her effort, her voice was low, soft and quavered.

“Margot, I’m sorry.”

The offended woman stopped, leaving the door closed but she also didn’t turn around.

“You’re right. I’m being unfair. I-I… don’t know why I have such a problem processing-”

Margot whirled around. “Olivia, dammit! What happened?”

Grief and anxiety won. Olivia wilted deeper into her chair as the first tear fell.

“Willis died last night.”

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

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

#Excerpt “In the Best Interest of the Child” by Felicia Denise


Best Interest front cover


She was still two steps away from the large, ornate, mahogany door when it opened. Olivia slowed her steps, curious to see who already knew of her arrival.

Olivia’s eyes were focused on the area of the doorway where someone of average height might appear. She was almost in the doorway when she realized someone was standing in front of her.

The description of Marie Averest given to Olivia came to mind as she glanced down.

Impeccably dressed with flawless makeup and hair, Olivia felt like a giant standing before the woman. She stood nearly a foot taller than the diminutive senior citizen. Her height was not so much the surprise as was her weight. Marie Averest didn’t appear to weigh more than one hundred pounds. Still, while her appearance said affluence, her eyes told Olivia two things. First, while Duncan felt he and Rena shared the same grin, and she resembled Irene in every other way, it was Rena’s eyes staring back at Olivia from her grandmother’s face.

The second thing Olivia noticed was Marie had suffered. Trauma, depression, or grief, Olivia didn’t know. But she had seen that look too many times before in the faces of her young clients… and in her own mirror, not to recognize it.

As the passing seconds made the silence awkward, it was Olivia who spoke first. “Mrs. Averest?”

Marie nodded slightly.

“You have to be Ms. Chandler. Welcome to my home. Please, come in.”

Hearing the older woman’s voice, Olivia knew immediately what she saw in her eyes.

Fear.

Without her timid demeanor, Olivia would describe Marie as soft-spoken. But the shaky, near-whisper voice hinted that Marie was afraid of something…or someone.

Olivia stepped inside past Marie, looking around the foyer.

The top half of the hallway walls were covered in linen wallpaper which appeared to be an antique white.

A narrow entry table and two small Quaker-inspired chairs were the only items in the foyer, but all were made of a dark wood Olivia didn’t recognize and polished to a high gloss. The style said English and old, and perfectly matched the half-wall paneling.

Olivia frowned.

Paneling? Now there’s something you don’t see much of anymore.

Despite the light-colored wallpaper, the dark wood elements simply overwhelmed the entrance and gave it an eerie feel. Olivia felt any horror or paranormal movie could be filmed right where she was standing.

These people have a thing for darkness.

It also wasn’t lost on Olivia that even though the small area would never be part of a magazine layout of design tips, it was expensive… very expensive. Duncan’s comment came to mind.

“My father is not super wealthy, but he likes for people to believe he is.”

Moving the Brigg attaché from one hand to the other, Olivia was ready for Charles Averest. Still waiting for direction from Marie, Olivia found she was still standing near the front door.

Olivia smiled, but the tiny woman simply pointed past Olivia down a hallway. Glancing in the same direction, Olivia saw there was a door ajar at the end of the hallway. Turning back to thank Marie, Olivia only saw her back… as she scurried away through another door off the foyer.

Olivia frowned.

What is going on in this house?

Realizing it wasn’t her problem…and she really didn’t care, Olivia headed towards the open door. Just as she reached the doorway, the door was quickly pulled all the way open by Charles Averest. Olivia skillfully hid her surprise for as tiny and petite as Marie Averest was, her husband was the exact opposite. Well over six feet tall, he still looked pretty good for a man in his seventies. Broad shouldered and muscle-toned, Olivia might have called him handsome. With his thin, snow white hair and equally white, closely trimmed beard and sideburns, he could have passed for Colonel Sanders’ brother…if not for the ridiculous, honey blond toupee perched on top of his head.

“You must be Mr. Averest.” He glared down at her, not even trying to hide his contempt.

“I am not happy about this meeting or having you in my home, young lady! I’m only allowing this because you threatened me!”

Returning his glare, Olivia had to will away the sneer twitching in her top lip.

“I do not threaten people, Mr. Averest. I gave you options. This meeting could just have easily been held in my office or a judge’s chamber. YOU chose your home.”

Not even waiting for an invitation into the room, Olivia walked past Charles. “And my name is Olivia Chandler. You can call me Ms. Chandler.” When Olivia planned this meeting, she knew she would have to control her temper, but wasn’t prepared for it to flare so soon after her arrival.

The room appeared to be Charles Averest’s office… and another decorating nightmare.

Placing her attaché on a table near the center of the room, Olivia didn’t miss the movement to her far left, and casually said, “Hello, John. How are you?”

When she turned towards him, she caught the stunned expression on his face before he schooled his features.

“I’m good, Olivia. But forgive me if I’m a bit confused as to why you’re here. Don’t you have enough to do in kiddie-court?”

Olivia’s smile morphed into a smirk.

“I was wondering the same about you, John? I mean, why are you here? I thought martini lunches lasted until 3.”

She turned back to the attaché before he could answer and flipped the latches, but paused and gave him a side glance. “But then, I am an attorney, right? Even though my arena is… what did you call it? Kiddie-court? And you wouldn’t want me talking to your client without legal representation, would you, John?”

“Now see here, Ms. Chandler! Exactly what is this all about?”

Charles Averest walked towards her, trying to loom over Olivia and use his height to intimidate her. It had no effect. John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

“Calm down, Charles. I’m sure Ms. Chandler won’t take up too much of your time, will you- “

“When did you learn of the car accident your son and his family were involved in, Mr. Averest?”

Olivia cut John off without so much as a glance.

“What does that-“

Olivia didn’t miss a beat.

“When did you learn of it? How did you find out?”

John exhaled loudly.

“I really must ask you to tell us what this is about or leave, Olivia. Mr. Averest is a prominent man in the community and my friends down at the courthouse will not be pleased with your treatment of him.”

Olivia folded her arms across her chest.

“My treatment of him?”

She looked at Charles. “My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Olivia relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Charles and John exchanged nervous glances before moving to chairs near the table.

She locked her eyes on Charles Averest.

“You received word of the car accident soon after it happened. Probably from someone who heard Duncan’s last name. Unfortunately, because of his injuries, Duncan was the last living victim to be removed from the scene. You arrived shortly after the medi-copter carrying your son. While he was being prepped for surgery, you learned your daughter-in-law was killed in the accident.”

Charles huffed at the term she used for Irene.

Arms still folded, Olivia walked over to Charles and stood in front of him, leaning her hip against the table.

“See? That right there? That sound you just made? That’s the crux of the problem, Mr. Averest… your indifference – your lack of compassion or concern for the two most important people in your son’s life.”

John leaped to his feet.

“Olivia! You’ve gone too far!”

She replied without taking her eyes off Rena’s grandfather.

“Sit down, John.”

The arrogant attorney bristled.

“Who the hell- “

Olivia’s calm voice didn’t match the flash of anger in her eyes.

“Watch yourself, Brock. You’re going to need a friend… soon.”


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

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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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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