#FlashbackFriday: Meet Margot Schultz

Office manager Margot Schultz is the closest thing  closed-off attorney, Olivia Chandler, has to a friend. Margot doesn’t know all the details of her boss’ painful childhood, but she knows enough to understand Olivia’s quirky behavior and stunted emotions.

Margot returns in Family Matters.  Her loyalty to Olivia will be tested when another devastating loss leads Olivia to refuse help and push everyone away.

business-924902_640

Dynamic and vivacious Margot Schultz never met an obstacle she couldn’t overcome… or knock down. Executive assistant and office manager to child-advocate attorney, Olivia Chandler, Margot always seems to know the right amount of charm, wit, and panache to use when dealing with anyone from grumpy judges to cagey Department of Children’s Service employees to Olivia’s peers – some of whom are less-than-ethical.

Early in her career, Margot worked for some of the less than-ethical-crowd. While they could be gods and magicians in the courtroom, pulling out wins from seemingly unwinnable cases, outside the courtroom was another matter. Margot could remember each and every personal errand she’d had to do, each gift she’d had to buy for multiple girlfriends and mistresses, and every lie she’d told to one of her bosses’ wives.

When Margot heard through the courthouse grapevine that the executive secretary of a successful young, female child advocate attorney was retiring for health reasons and had no replacement, she grabbed her resume, took an extended lunch and went in search of Olivia Chandler. Despite her unusual approach, Margot and Olivia clicked immediately.

The two women have worked side by side for over ten years. Olivia admired Margot’s work ethic. She encouraged Margot to continue her education when time allowed, and even paid for it, calling it a ‘sound investment.’ Margot would eventually advance from executive legal secretary to executive assistant and office manager.

Margot knows Olivia has no family and was a foster care kid. She doesn’t know the intimate details, but she does know Olivia’s adolescence was bad enough for Olivia to keep herself closed off to most people. Her boss seems to ‘live’ when focused and working on a case for their minor clients. The rest of the time, Olivia just seems to exist.

The divorced office manager is not one of those people who believe a woman needs a man in her life to be complete, but Bruce Bellamy has suddenly appeared in Olivia’s life, and Margot will do her part to keep him there.

Things are going to get interesting.

~~~

Margot Rose (Parker) Schultz

Age: She’s not telling – but probably mid to late 40s

Born: New York, New York

Marital Status: Divorced – has adult twin sons who are both Marines

Is two classes away from a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management

Loves to dance and can be found on a dance floor most Saturday nights

Collects souvenirs from the Roaring 20s – always says she would have made a great Flapper

Plays acoustic guitar, but rarely does as it reminds her of her musician ex-husband

Is somewhat estranged from her parents and siblings since she dropped out of college nearly 20 years ago to elope with her now ex-husband

~~~

Family Matters 3D cover

Goodreads button

Broken promises…

Writer Wednesday banner

Olivia falls back into old habits and defenses—a hard-line advocate for children during the day and a recluse by night, sequestered behind the large double oak doors of 4646 Beckwithe.

But it’s not as easy as she thought it would be… returning to the safety of the shadows. She’s seen as reckless and selfish, betraying those who have come to care about and trust her.

————————-

Snippet

Deciding a glass of Merlot would relax her, Olivia padded down the hallway from her office to the bar in the den.
Before she reached the den, the chimes of her front door bell stopped Olivia in her tracks.
Her thick eyebrows knitted together as she cast a frown toward the foyer.
I never get visitor’s so who’s at my front door?  She thought of  Bruce and for a brief moment her heart raced as the corners of her mouth tried to morph into a smile. But her brain stepped in, reminding Olivia she sent Bruce away.
With a reluctant change in direction Olivia headed for the front door.
The chimes sounded two more making Olivia believe the person on the other side had an urgent matter to discuss. However, she was still caught off guard when she opened the door.
“You are such a liar!”
The attorney recoiled at the bitter insult flung at her by Casey Bellamy.
“C-Casey -”
“I trusted you! I believed you! Your words and promise meant nothing… you’re just a liar.”
The young woman’s voice grew louder. Despite the wild look in her eyes, Olivia pulled her inside and closed the door.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Casey, please. I need you to -”
“I don’t care what you need, Olivia.”
“Please.” Olivia held her hands out to Casey Bellamy. “I’m not a liar. At least tell me what you think I’ve done.”
“Oh, my God! Save the clueless act, Olivia. It’s condescending.”
“Look, -”
She shoved an angry finger in Olivia’s face. “You said you would never hurt my dad. You promised me you wouldn’t, Olivia, you promised!”

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved.

———————–

Family Matters 3D cover

Coming Soon! (Really!)

Goodreads button

~~~

We all have “baggage”…

sneak peek banner

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the drama of our own lives we fail to see… or understand what’s going on around us—even with those we care most about.

Such is the case with Family Matters‘ Olivia Chandler.

After losing her parents and spending her formative years in the foster care system, Olivia’s mental and emotional trauma was very real. However, it’s twenty years later, and while Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, the pain of her childhood is never far away. Even though she enters into professional counseling, Olivia is obsessed with the totality of her own suffering and it leads her to push everyone away… even the man who wants to share her life.

Bruce Bellamy wasn’t a child when life knocked him down but that doesn’t mean it hurt any less.

He understands Olivia and will do what it takes to be with her, if only she’d let him. For the first time in fifteen years, Bruce is ready to risk his heart even though it didn’t end well the last time.

————————-

EXCERPT

When Bruce became a top name and moneymaker at the state level of racing, Joanna Hill was his steady girlfriend. And when Bruce gained national sponsorship and a spot on a professional team, Joanna became Mrs. Bruce Bellamy.
They led a charmed life for the next eight years. Their family grew by three and Joanna had everything she wanted—a big, expensive home, expensive cars, jewelry, an elaborate, designer wardrobe, and money in the bank.
What she didn’t have was an interest in Bruce’s career… just the money he made.
Had Joanna been paying attention, she would have known her husband was not happy. Bruce enjoyed racing and was a dedicated team member, but his heart wasn’t in it.
He didn’t want to race cars, he wanted to fix them, enhance them and make them high-performing machines. Like his father and grandfather, being an auto mechanic was in his blood and something he couldn’t shake.
When Bruce’s contract was up for renewal, he thanked his manager and team members, but declined. He felt good about his decision until he told his wife.
Joanna was livid.
Racing gave her the lifestyle she craved. How would Bruce take care of her?
Taking note Joanna said her and not her and the kids or their family, Bruce explained his plans to go into business with his dad and expand his current shop.
She scoffed at his pipe dream.
Bruce now realized Joanna would have left him right then had she not been four months pregnant with Breck.
At the time, however, he’d been hopeful. They had a great financial cushion and he had five months to show his wife everything would work out.
But things never go as planned.
Joanna sulked for the rest of her pregnancy, She paid little attention to Bruce or their children and never attended another Bellamy family event. Even on the afternoon Breck was born, Joanna gave him a cursory glance and requested he be fed in the hospital nursery.
Their home life turned into a nightmare.
Beds went unmade, Patrick and Casey were always late for school and Bruce’s family saved them from living on take-out.
Each day brought a new temper tantrum from Joanna. She wanted to take her mom to Vegas. She wanted to take her best friend to Hawaii. She wanted a nanny. The requests were endless, as were Bruce’s refusals.
Her disregard for him was annoying, but Joanna’s neglect of their children was inexcusable. His mother and aunt were at his home caring for the children so much his father and uncle complained.
Grateful for the assistance from his family and not wanting to cause anymore upset, Bruce re-thought the idea of a nanny. He hated the thought of giving in to Joanna’s selfishness, but he’d do anything for his family.
Life… and Joanna had other plans.
Arriving home late one evening, Bruce found his mother sitting in the family room and his children asleep.
The pained expression on her face bothered him but before he could ask why she was there, Bettie Bellamy blurted out, “She’s gone.”
He didn’t flinch.
“Do the kids know?”
She shook her head. “Joanna waited until they were asleep.”
Not up for any discussion, Bruce sent his mother home. When the tail-lights of her car disappeared from sight, he raced upstairs to his children.
Six-year-old Casey slept soundly in her Care Bear-inspired room. She clutched a natty Winnie-the-Pooh bear she’d been dragging around since her toddler days. Bruce kissed her forehead and went to the boys’ room next door.
Three-year-old Shaun and seven-year-old Patrick were asleep in Patrick’s bed after what Bruce was certain was an attempt to look at picture books by flashlight.
In the adjacent room, baby Breck lay in his crib cooing, preoccupied with his hand.
Bruce gathered him up in his arms and sat in the rocking chair next to the window.
He rocked his son long into the night. Even after Breck fell asleep, Bruce rocked, unsure of what to do next.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved.

———————–

Will Bruce be able to make Olivia understand everyone has baggage?

~~~

Family Matters 3D cover

Coming Soon! (Really!)

Goodreads button

~~~

“He was supposed to love us not treat us like we were nothing.”

Free, a Novella 3D cover

Synopsis

Lenore “Lennie” Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.

The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.

The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.

With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved on from.

Free, a Novella is a short, clean read recounting one woman’s determination to not be broken by life or lose her identity.

~~~

99¢

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Google Books   |   Kobo   |   Smashwords   |   iTunes

Writer Wednesday | “Family Matters”

Writer Wednesday banner

Even though loss shaped Olivia Chandler’s life, she never learned how to deal with it. Thrust into the foster care system as a child, little Livvie Chandler was told to ‘just forget’ and ‘be good.’ And for twenty-eight years, that’s what she did.

In this short snippet, Olivia finds out Willis Benson is terminally ill. The executor of her father’s will has been protector, mentor and surrogate father to the closed-off attorney.

Olivia moved on after her father’s death and her mother was sent away, but this could be the loss that sends her spiraling out of control.

***

“How long has he known?”
“Since July.”
“July?” Thoughts and images raced through Olivia’s mind. She spent time with Willis five or six times in the last four months. And never suspected a thing.
“How-”
“No one knows. Two weeks… two hours. Any answer would be a guess.”
“That’s unacceptable, Ian. His condition must tell them something. Who is this doctor? Maybe we should get a-”
“Olivia, stop.”
She frowned.
“Dad signed a DNR.”
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.

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

Family Matters 3D cover

Goodreads ButtonPreOrder Coming soon!

Sunday Snippet | “Family Matters”

Sunday Snippet banner

Near the end of In the Best Interest of the Child, heroine Olivia Chandler admitted she needed help to overcome her emotional demons and made the giant step forward to enter counseling. But the savvy child advocate attorney is too smart for her own good sometimes and nothing is ever easy with her.

This small snippet is from one of Olivia’s counseling sessions. Psychologist Diane Payton is as tough as her client and doesn’t give Olivia any slack.

***

Without a word, Diane went to her desk and retrieved the lone file from her In basket and returned to her seat.

“You have the right to review your file at anytime, Olivia, so just pretend you made a request and read the highlighted section for me please.” She passed a document to Olivia. “Aloud, please.”

Confused, Olivia found the section and began to read.

“Client is agitated and fidgets. Doesn’t maintain eye contact. Hands/palms appear to be sweaty. Voice tone is raised and speech is rapid. Almost childlike. Client is reliving the experience.”

Olivia read the passage again in silence. She frowned and looked to Diane for explanation.

“That was you as spoke of some of your former foster homes, the physical abuse you suffered, and life without your parents.”

Olivia Chandler couldn’t help but think of how horrible a childhood she had.

“Now read this one.”

Taking the document from her therapist, Olivia did as she was told.

“Client is the most relaxed I’ve seen her to date. Sitting in upright chair, legs crossed, hands clasped around knee. Her speech is animated and eyes are bright. Client appears content. (Happy?)”

“Diane, when was-”

“When you talked about Bruce.”

Olivia shook her head.

“This doesn’t prove anything.”

Her therapist smirked.

“You’re right, it doesn’t.” She leaned toward Olivia. “Or… it does.”

“She scoffed. “Now, you’re being facetious.”

“And you’re in denial.”

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

Family Matters 3D cover

Goodreads ButtonPreOrder Coming soon!

Now Available at All Major Online Bookstores!

Free, a Novella 3D cover

Synopsis

Lenore “Lennie” Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.

The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.

The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.

With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved on from.

Free, a Novella is a short, clean read recounting one woman’s determination to not be broken by life or lose her identity.

~~~

Excerpt

Anyone who knew Burt and Linda Kelimore knew they were devoted to each other.  More than half a century had passed since the day they each ran into a mechanic’s shop in need of quick repairs. Though they were both on their way to meet other people, a thirty-minute conversation changed their plans for the evening and the rest of their lives.

With their time together dwindling away, the couple did what they had always done… shared each other’s company.

Linda set Burt’s plate aside, and Lennie gathered up the dishes and excused herself.

While putting the food away and loading the dishwasher, Lennie was surprised to see her mother enter the kitchen.

“Everything okay, mo-”

“Yes, yes, sweetie. Leave all this. I’ll get to it later. You can head on home now.”

“Mom, no way do I leave a mess for you to clean up.”

Lennie reached for another dish but Linda caught her hand and held on.

“It’s okay, Lenore. You can go now.”

“But…dad…-”

Linda pulled her daughter into a tight embrace, speaking into her ear barely above a whisper.

“I know. His hospice nurse was here earlier and is returning soon. I talked to your sisters before you got here… and they each spoke to your father.” She pulled back, a pleading look in her eyes.

“I’ve never asked you for anything, honey and I know this is no small thing I’m asking of you now. But… I need this time with him alone. Right now, I’m no one’s mother or grandmother. Lennie, right now, I’m just a wife who has to say goodbye to her husband. Please don’t be angry with me or hate me, but I need to do it alone.”

Hugging her mother close, Lenore allowed the weight of her words to sink in. She did not want to leave. Her father was dying, how could she walk away?

Seeing the pain in Linda’s eyes, Lenore knew she would deny her nothing.

With a simple nod, Lennie returned to the den to say goodbye to her father… just as she did every night.

After a quick kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of his hand, Lennie told Burt she’d see him tomorrow, and turned to leave before she broke down. But her father held on to her hand with a strength Lennie didn’t think he still possessed. Lennie looked from their joined hands to her father’s face when he spoke.

“Very proud… of you, Lenore. Always… have… been. You help everyone… always.”

The weakness of his voice and the shortness of his breath caused Lennie to cringe. She wanted her father to stop talking, to save his strength. But, her own voice was lost to her, blocked by a lump in her throat which refused to move.

“I love you… baby girl.” He kissed her hand and slumped back in his chair, his energy depleted.

“I love you too, daddy.”

Lennie squeezed his hand one last time and rested it across his lap. With one simple nod to her mother, Lennie left the room, her calm belying the anguish ripping her apart inside. She wanted to scream, cry… stop the clock… make him stay.

With her bags in hand, Lenore Porter stood at the front door. Dizziness and nausea rejoined the inner turmoil threatening to break her. She had to leave… knowing she would never see her father alive again.

Instead of reaching for the door knob, Lennie took several steps backward until she could see inside the den.

Linda Kelimore had reclined her husband’s chair and climbed in next to him, cuddled into his side with her hand resting on his chest.

This is what her parents wanted… what they had planned. To spend their remaining time together… together as the couple they had been for fifty years.

With more determination than she felt, Lennie left the house, closing the door quietly behind her.

~~~

99¢

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Google Books   |   Kobo   |   Smashwords   |   iTunes

Another Loss #WIP


Sunset

Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. The loss of her longtime protector, mentor, and father-figure, Willis Benson, devastates 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. In the ten years I’ve worked for you, Olivia, you’ve never been late. Not. Once. 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.”

 

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved