Minus One… finally

Marriage Cert

There’s always that one piece of unfinished writing which haunts a writer.

This is mine.

My 2014 NaNoWriMo project, Plus One.

It was my first time taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, and I got off to an amazing start. But as an uninformed pantser, I had no idea what I’d set myself up for.

Words flowed as my word count surpassed two-thousand daily. However, as I neared the 40K mark, I ran out of words. And ideas. And energy. All I had was the sound of crickets buzzing in my head. My total word count for the next eleven days was 547 words! I was so disgusted, after November ended, I couldn’t finish or revise it.

The experience taught me even a pantser can benefit from a bit of prep work, and I’ve had no problem finishing NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo ever since.

But there’s still this one. Sitting on my hard drive… mocking me.

I try to pull it out once a week and work on it. I went back to the beginning and created an outline, character sketches, and plot points. I will complete and publish it sooner than later. I have to. It’s a moral imperative. 😀


Perri Norton was exhausted.

Her joints throbbed with each step. Beads of sweat ran down her back as she approached the parking garage. She should never have come alone. She should have told someone, and asked them to come with her. Three blocks were a breeze for a healthy person, but for someone dealing with multiple chronic illnesses like her, they may as well have been a marathon.

It had been much easier making the short walk when she’d arrived three hours earlier. Now, not only was the sun high in the sky, Perri was certain Los Angeles would record a new high temperature for this mid-August day. Combined with the slight incline back to the parking garage, Perri knew she could trigger a flare-up which would leave her immobile for days. She said a silent prayer as she reached her Lexus LX SUV.

Giving her car remote a click, she opened the rear driver-side door. A blast of heat hit her in the face, taking her breath away. The car’s interior was stifling. Another quick click started the car, and Perri was grateful she remembered to leave the air conditioning settings on high.

Setting her bag on the back seat, Perri removed her linen blazer, grabbed her cell phone from the pocket and the manila folder from the side of the bag. She laid the blazer over the bag and closed the door to give the car time to cool off.

She turned and looked out at the Los Angeles skyline. Thick, brown smog hung over the city like a blanket. Perri could not wait to get back to the less oppressive environs of Brentwood. She loved the frenzied, cacophonous atmosphere of the shopping district, but it was humid, smoggy days like this that reminded her why she moved away.

Her lips curved into a faint smile as she glanced at the Los Angeles Court House. The few hours she had spent there, and the exhausting walk back to her car was a small price to pay for what the folder held inside. She opened the car door and stuck her head inside. Satisfied with the cooler temperature, Perri slid into the driver’s seat and closed the door. A sense of euphoria washed over her as she stared at the folder. She opened it, removed the formal document and read the bold heading.


It was over. Leaning back against the seat, Perri ran her fingers over the paper. No more pretending.

No more phony smiles or empty promises.

No more sad, pitiful looks from family and friends.

No more dreaming of the day when her farce of a marriage would end. Today was that day.

She knew she should feel remorse or regret, but Perri had to stop herself from laughing out loud. She was giddy… happy, and she wanted to celebrate.

Sobering, Perri realized again no one knew where she was. It was no secret she had filed for divorce. The week after Marlena’s eighteenth birthday party, Perri hosted another small dinner party and made her announcement during the first course. No one was surprised. Most were relieved and applauded her decision to dump Parker. Her children were ecstatic. There was no love lost between them and their father.

But no one knew today was the official end to the Norton marriage.

However, they all knew Parker well enough to know he would never just agree to a divorce, and he had not made it easy for her. But as Perri prevailed and walked away, she still had the hope of a reconciliation between Parker and their children… children who had long ago reconciled their feelings for the father who all but ignored them.

Had the twins, Daniel and Ethan, had their way, she would have sought a divorce seven years ago. The young men had the misfortune to witness firsthand their father’s adulterous ways and wanted their mother as far away from him as possible. Having grown up in a household ripped apart by the ugliness of divorce, Perri assured her two oldest children that evening she knew of their father’s after work “activities”, and she could handle it for the time being.

A few short months away from their twenty-first birthday, and less than a year away from their college graduation, Perri’s boys argued that she should at least start the proceedings and they would return after finishing school to help with their two younger siblings. She remembered the pride she’d felt seeing the seriousness in their faces. Perri wasn’t in the habit of explaining herself to anyone, but her children were the life’s blood that kept her going. It had taken most of the evening, but her boys understood and had promised not to confront their father. Ethan was even complimentary on her way of thinking, saying he almost felt sorry for anyone who was silly enough to underestimate her.


The word brought Margaret Gower Bradford front and center to Perri’s mind. The unsympathetic family matriarch was adamant Perri caused all her own problems. From her straying husband to her chronic health issues. If Perri had done enough, given enough, been enough… none of her problems would exist. Margaret didn’t even see them as problems, but more like Perri’s issues. She had cautioned Perri to not even consider divorce. Marriage was forever in the eyes of God. This sentiment from a woman who had been divorced for forty years, refused to remarry, and still found a reason to fight with Maynard Bradford anytime they were in the same zip code.

No, Perri would not be calling her mother anytime soon.

She thought about her small, close group of friends — or the “old broads” as she liked to refer to them. They hated that label. Tory, Sara, Connie and Valerie were always the cause of Perri’s fits of hysterical laughter. None of the women had an OFF button. No subject was sacred and anyone with a pulse was fair game for their biting, caustic remarks. She picked up her phone and dialed Tory’s number, but hit End instead of Call. A celebration with the girls would involve a long evening with way too much alcohol. Better to save that party for the weekend. She’d call them all later and set it up.

Glancing down at the court documents again, Perri knew there was only one person she wanted to call. The only person who knew all she had gone through and understood. The only person who was always there giving her unconditional friendship and emotional support. Her fingers hovered over his name on her contact list. She hadn’t told him about this morning’s court date. He would be upset. He would have offered to come with her.

Perri dropped the phone on the seat. She would not tell him over the phone, but he would be the first one she told. After all the years he’d held her together when she thought she was at the end of her rope, she owed Grayson that much.

Easing the car into the flow of mid-day L.A. traffic, Perri focused on the task at hand… surviving the drive home. No one could maneuver the crush of downtown traffic or its many surrounding freeways unless they were a bit unbalanced, and she fit right in for sure today. Perri couldn’t name the light, bouncy, but apprehensive feelings that buzzed just under her skin. It didn’t matter. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

She felt reborn.

©2014 Copyright Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

After Work

Elevator photo

A scene from Heartburn which I am absolutely clueless about! 😀

Making her way to the elevator just after 6:30, Quinn was glad to see the end of the day. She spent the afternoon wheeling and dealing like a Wall Street broker securing new health plans to replace Martech after their premium rate hike. Quinn was successful so far, but at the expense of a migraine trying to form behind her eyes.

Pushing the down button, Quinn leaned her head against the cool, marble wall while she waited for the elevator.

“That kind of day, huh?

Quinn turned to find Fletcher Morgan… standing unusually close to her. She hadn’t even heard him approach.

“Unfortunately, yes. But it’s over… for now. It’s safe to make my escape.”

Fletcher nodded, knowingly. “Funny how a forty-hour work week so easily turns into sixty… or more. It seems like we’re always here. I’m sure your husband will be happy to see you walk through the door.”

Quinn quickly looked away and was saved from responding when the elevator doors opened.

Frowning, Fletcher followed her into the car. “Where are you parked?”

“Um… garage level four. Thanks.”

“I’m on four, too.” Pushing the button, Fletcher leaned against the lift wall. “Quinn, did I say something wrong?”

She stared at the descending floor numbers.


Smiling faintly with a half shrug, Quinn looked into Fletcher’s eyes for the first time. “I’m going through a divorce, Fletcher.”

The young man froze… momentarily speechless.

“Quinn, I-I… dammit! I feel like such an idiot! I had no idea. Please forgive me for speaking out of turn.”

“It’s okay, Fletcher. You didn’t know. Although, I’m pretty sure you’re probably one of the last few in the building who didn’t know.” She laughed easily.

Fletcher watched her… confused.

“Well… um, you seem to be dealing with it pretty well.”

“It didn’t just happen. It’s been a few months, and honestly — I waited far too long.” Before Fletcher could respond, the elevator doors opened. Quinn quickly exited the lift, heading for her car, pausing long enough for a quick goodbye. “Have a good eve-…”

“How are you really doing, Quinn? I know it’s stressful. My divorce two years ago had me drinking way too much.”

“That bad, huh?”

He nodded.

“It has been stressful. He keeps finding ways to stall, and while he’s stalling, he, along with our families gang up on me trying to make me change my mind.”

“He’s still in love with you?”

“Oscar is in love with Oscar… and the thought of marriage.”

“If he’s going through so much trouble to stall, maybe he’s learned his lesson and reconciliation is possible.”

Quinn smirked.

“It might be a possibility for him, but not for me. He should have thought about that before he cheated… several times.” She saw a flash of anger in his eyes, but it quickly disappeared.

“Are you kidding me? The man was married to you”, he pointed at her, “and he cheated? Is he a sighted man?”

The laugh escaped her lips before she could stop it.

“Seriously, Quinn Landon. You’re a beautiful woman. I don’t know you well personally, but I hear nothing but good things about you around the company. Forgive me for being so forward, but I think your husband — soon-to-be-ex-husband — is an idiot.”

Ducking her head as heat flooded her face, Quinn was grateful her mocha skin hid her blush.

“Thank you, Fletcher. That’s so kind of you to say.”

“You’re welcome. May I ask if you have a good attorney? Your assets being protected?”

“He’s a great attorney, and I’m not giving up a thing. What’s mine stays mine.”

“Good. My ex-wife came into the marriage with nothing, attempted to spend half of what I had while we were married, and tried to take the rest with her after I filed for divorce. This is a community property state, but no need to get carried away.”


He reached out and touched her arm. “It will get better, you know?”

Quinn nodded.

“I know. I’m just ready for the storm to pass. I need some sunshine in my life.”

Fletcher nodded in agreement, the firm set of his jaw instantly making Quinn think of John Wick. Damn that Priscilla! She bit the inside of her jaw to keep from smiling.

©2017 Felicia Denise, Al Rights Reserved


“Thinking It Through”

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.

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.

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.


©2017 Felicia Denise



Calla Lily

Calla, a romantic comedy, is a project began during July 2017 Camp NaNoWriMo.


Calla Barrett is a modern-day Cinderella.

Okay – not really.

She’s an accomplished RN and head of nursing at Montford Jones Rehabilitation Center. Calla is attractive, intelligent, respected, and well-liked.

She’s also thirty-four, single with no prospects… and she lives with her eccentric mother, Rose, who may or may not have a mild case of dementia.

Motivated by a close friend’s wedding and the bold heroines of her favorite novels, Calla sets a new course for herself and plans to escape the tiny farm town of Reedsville, Missouri.

No one wants Calla to leave—especially sisters Daisy, Iris, and Violet. If Calla moves away, they will have to take care of their mother. Wealthy sportsman, Birdy Ellison is determined to marry Calla… and teach her to skin a deer.

Calla Barrett’s first steps to a new life give her hope, but a newcomer’s temporary stay in Reedsville tests Calla’s determination… and her heart.

When family and friends butt in, chaos ensues, and Calla will have to pull out all the stops to get her happily-ever-after… and not skin any deer.


Tiny Possible-Snippet

Determined to kill the annoying fly, Rose raced around the room swatting in its general direction, overturning her iced tea and breaking a vase in the process. The fly flew through the doorway into the kitchen with Rose in hot pursuit.

“Look at her, Cal. How could you leave her? She needs you here.” Older sister, Daisy Barrett-Newman, was close to tears.

Sitting in the corner nursing a tumbler of gin, Violet Barrett raises her glass. “She’s right, Calla.”

“And what about Vi, Cal? You know she hasn’t been herself since,” Daisy leaned towards Calla, whispering, “you know…”

Giggling, Violet sets her glass down, pops off her prosthetic leg and waves it in the air.

“The accident, Daisy, the accident. Say it with me, “Since Violet lost a leg in a car accident!””

Rolling her eyes, Daisy glared at Calla as if to say, “See?”

“It’s my turn, Daisy. I missed out on moving away for college. I had to turn down a marriage proposal-”

“Oh, he wasn’t the man for you-”

“But that was my decision to make, not my family’s. I’ve lived my entire life in this house. I want out of it and Reedsville. I want to see the world… or some of it. I want to experience new things and meet new people. I want a life. I want to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I want to take photos at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I want to walk into a New York pizzeria and order a slice!”

Violet pointed her fake leg at her older sister. “She’s right, Daisy.”

Daisy waved them both off. “Now you’re just sounding like one of those broads in those crazy bodice rippers you always have your head buried in.”

“Way to date yourself, sis. They haven’t been called bodice rippers in a generation.”

“Then what are they called, Miss Well-Read?”

“For your information, they’re called historical romances, and they’re just one of the literary genres I enjoy reading.”

Calla smirked, a maniacal gleam in her eyes.

“I also enjoy psychological thrillers. The kind where the ever-put-upon, loving sister snaps, has a mental break, murders her entire family, then rides off into the night… laughing.”

Daisy takes a step backward, horrified.

Rose Gentry Barrett re-enters the room carrying a white bone china dessert plate… with the dead fly lying in the center.

“Told you I’d get him.” Sitting the plate next to the spilled iced tea, Rose grabs the remote and turns on the large, flat-screen television.

The sisters watch her in silence while Rose turns to her favorite station… The Weather Channel.

“Gonna rain in Topeka!”

Lowering her voice, Daisy continues her pleading. “Cal, be reasonable.”

Defiant, Calla crosses her arms across her ample chest.

“Snaps, Daisy. Murder.”

Emptying the gin bottle into her glass, Violet continues her giggling. “I don’t want to read that book. I want to see the movie!”

Anderson Bell and His Dead Lobsters


Anderson is my protagonist for a proposed full-length romance novel. This is not a story excerpt, but more character development.

How many seafood wholesalers does it take to sell five hundred dead lobsters? Just one. One slimy, sleazy, lying bag of garbage! Rage still coursed through Anderson Bell. Focusing on the road, he took deep breaths trying to calm down.

This was a rare feeling for the forty-seven-year-old restaurateur. Running an upscale restaurant with as many as one hundred employees during the summer months had its own unique stressors. Overbooked reservations, rude dinner guests, sick employees and late supply deliveries were weekly issues Anderson had long ago put in their proper place…deal with it and move on.

He’d learned this as a child from his father.

But the lobsters. The dead lobsters. The five hundred. Dead. Lobsters.

A sense of foreboding swept over Anderson when the delivery truck driver rang the exterior bell for entrance to the back lot.

He was six hours early.

Anderson immediately headed for the delivery bay. Falling into step behind Vance and Eric, two members of his stock crew, the three men silently approached the bay doors. Eric threw the release lever, and the doors began to rise. Anderson couldn’t wait. Just as the doors reached waist height, he bent over and went under them, walking out to the end of the dock.

The driver was already at the rear of the semi, releasing chains and keying in codes to get to his precious cargo. However, before he was finished Anderson could smell it. Spoiled food. Decay. Rot.

The driver smelled it too. He frowned as he caught hold of the door latch and swung the door open.

Simultaneously, the four men took several steps back and turned away. The odor was indescribable. During a special assignment, back in his Air Force days, Anderson’s unit had stumbled upon the decomposing bodies of murdered locals. The fumes coming from the truck were ten times worse.

Vance suddenly ran to the truck, slamming the door closed.

Eric fell to his knees and gagged.

Feeling a wave of nausea, Anderson took a few more steps away from the bay and tried to inhale fresh air in through his nose. Turning back to the truck, he saw Vance advancing on the driver.

“Man, what the hell is this? You got shit for brains or something? Those lobsters have been dead for days!”

“I-I…I didn’t know. I just picked the trailer up less than an hour ago!” He backed away as Vance approached, his hands raised in front of his face.

Returning to the edge of the bay, their words replayed in Anderson’s head. Dead for days. Picked up the trailer less than an hour ago. He didn’t like where this was leading.

Jumping off the dock, Anderson’s face didn’t reflect the pain that shot through his recently repaired ACL. Gesturing for Vance to stop, Anderson questioned the driver.

“What’s your name?”

“Dell. Dell Hanks.”

“Was this a scheduled run for you, Dell?”

“N-No, sir. I just got in this morning with a load of coffee from Georgia. I was ahead of schedule and my boss will get every damn second out of you he can. Anyone else would have let me go home to sleep. But Paul said he’d just got a call for a local run I had to do before my shift timed out. He gave me two addresses. I was to show up at the first one, and they would hook up the trailer, then take the load to the second one—here—and it would be unloaded.”

“Son of a bitch!”

Anderson glanced at Eric who had figured out what Anderson was already thinking.

He’d been scammed.

Anderson Galen Bell had been a mild-mannered, easy-going person all his life…much like his father. A successful and well-respected dentist, Arthur Bell believed life was far too short to spend it angry and vengeful. He and his wife, Sara, had taught their boys it wasn’t so much about turning the other cheek, as it was deciding their own path and who they allowed to control them. His line of thinking didn’t always work, but it had served Anderson well for most of his life.

Now was not one of those times.

“Eric. Vance. You guys get the protective gloves and masks out of storage. And bring some for Mr. Hanks, here.” The driver tried to protest, but Anderson cut him off. “This goes above and beyond anyone’s job description. You, as well as my men over there, will be well compensated for disposing of this nightmare.”

Dell’s eyes widened at the thought of making a few bucks.

“You’re not going to call my boss, are you?”

“As far as I’m concerned, Dell, you made your delivery and went on your way.”

The long-distance trucker relaxed.

“Now, do me a favor, and pull the rig around to the incinerator. It’s to your right over there, down a small incline. Eric and Vance will meet you over there and you can give these poor crustaceans a…proper cremation. Don’t dump the water. God only knows if it’s toxic or not. I’ll go call the water treatment plant.”

Trying not to visibly limp, Anderson returned to his office. Placing a call to the water treatment plant, he wrote down the instructions for getting rid of the tainted water. He then made out three checks, each for five hundred dollars and sealed them in individual envelopes. Turning to his computer monitor, Anderson scrolled through his recent invoices until he found what he was looking for, and made several notes.

Satisfied, Anderson attempted to stand. Pain shot through his knee, causing him to cry out and fall back into his chair.

Dammit! Dr. El-Kass had warned him about doing too much too soon. He had not been happy when Anderson cut his physical therapy short and returned to work. The doctor told him one wrong move could not only undo the repair but also do additional damage.

Anderson Bell had grown tired of sitting around at home with his leg up.

He had an efficient staff and good managers. Luminarias did good business whether he was there or not, and the customer feedback box was always full of compliments for food and staff. But the summer months were special to Anderson. As a child growing up just outside Detroit, Anderson’s family made several day trips to Bayview during the summer, and always spent the first two weeks of July there, without fail. Those trips were the best times of his life, and Anderson couldn’t miss out on another chance to try to recapture the simplicity and innocence of his youth.

Bayview was gearing up for the arrival of tourists and no less than ten festivals before the cool breezes of fall swept in off the water.

Anderson had to be a part of it. It was all he had to look forward to. The restaurant and the days of summer.

Not much of a life, but it was his.

He’d lost his dad to bone cancer six years ago. Sara Bell died less than a year after her husband from a heart attack. Anderson’s brother, Lawrence, lived in northern California. His parents each had one brother and neither had ever left Pennsylvania as his parents did. Anderson knew little or nothing about them or his cousins.

He was alone.

Taking a deep breath, Anderson slowly rose from his seat. The pain was subsiding, his knee almost numb. He knew that meant swelling.


He didn’t have time for this.

Anderson grabbed the bottle of anti-inflammatory pills and swallowed two without water.

Taking a few steps toward his office door, Anderson tried not to limp. He didn’t want to stress his knee or appear weak in front of his staff.

He also couldn’t appear weak during the errand he was about to run.

Clutching the envelopes in his hand Anderson Bell went in search of his day manager, Gayle Norman. He frowned finding her office empty. Passing the banquet rooms, Anderson heard Gayle’s deep throaty laugh. Following the sound, he found Gayle at the beverage counter instructing the newest member of his summer staff on the proper way to change the filters in the ice maker.

“Did I demote you?”

Gayle turned at the sound of Anderson’s voice, already laughing at his comment.

“Bennie’s wife went into labor, Nina had a flat tire on Old Highway 14, and Willie fell off his porch this morning. Broke his wrist. I am the wait staff now.” Laughing at her own words, Gayle gestured at the young woman next to her. “This is Donna, the new hire I told you about a couple of days ago. She wasn’t supposed to start until next week, but she has prior experience, which I need today. Donna, this is Anderson Bell, the owner.”

Anderson shook hands and exchanged greetings with the pretty African-American young woman, and turned back to Gayle.

“Vance and Eric are doing a disposal job at the incinerator. A delivery driver is helping them. When they’re done, give them each one of these.” He handed her the envelopes. “And give this to Vance—I have a quick errand to run.” Giving her the instructions to dispose of the near toxic water, Anderson was already thinking about his next stop.

Shaking her head, Gayle pointed at Anderson’s leg. “That knee says otherwise.”

“I’ll be fine, Gayle, and this won’t take long”, bowing as he backed away, “thank you, ma’am!”

Anderson almost believed he would be fine until he reached the doorway and turned. The jolt of pain caused him to freeze in his tracks. Checking over his shoulder, he saw the two women were back to work and hadn’t noticed his misstep.

Exiting his restaurant, Anderson quickly made his way to his late-model Chevy Tahoe. Taking one more look at the address he’d scribbled down, his anger easily reared its head again as he pulled out of the parking lot.


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved



A scene from an ongoing (never-ending!) WIP. Quinn Landon can’t get a break! Determined to divorce the adulterous Oscar Landon, she can find no respite from her family’s judgment and harassment. Quinn draws a line in the sand when older brother, Aaron Clark, shows up at her job.

Aaron held out his hands in front of him. “Quinn, be reasonable. Just because a man has a little fling or two on the side, it does not mean he doesn’t love his wife.”

She froze, willing herself to not throw the stapler on her desk at her brother.

“What does it mean, Aaron?”

Caught off his guard, Aaron scrubbed his hand down his face, “It just a guy-thing, Quinn. Not a big deal.”

Quinn dropped the stack of files she was holding and leaned across her desk.

“What about you, Aaron? Is it just a guy thing for you too?”

Aaron Clark folded his arms across his broad chest again and returned her glare. “This isn’t about me.”

In the span of seconds, Quinn saw the truth in his eyes.

She was crushed.

Quinn covered her gaping mouth with her hand, shaking her head. She stood and walked over to her office windows still reeling from her brother’s non-admission.

Tears formed in the corners of Quinn Landon’s eyes. No. She would not cry. Enough tears were already shed over a situation that didn’t deserve them. Quinn looked over her shoulder at Aaron.

“This isn’t about Oscar’s infidelity, is it? This isn’t about his betrayal of our marriage, or my… what did you call it? Inability to be reasonable?”

She turned and fully faced him.

“This is about male privilege. Guys just being guys, right? Who else, Aaron? Who else gives lip service to their marriage vows? Junior? Clinton? Daddy?”

“Now, sis. If you’d just calm down and think-”

“Oh, I’m calm, Aaron. Probably calmer than I’ve been in the last five years. I’m glad you came here today, Aaron. You’ve given me not only true clarity, but the resolve to follow my heart and my mind. Now, get out.”


“I said get out. And Aaron… never come here again. If you do, I’ll have you removed by security.”

“Quinn! Listen to what you’re saying! We’re family, for god’s sakes!”

“We’re siblings, Aaron. Something we had no say about. But family?”

Quinn returned to her desk and sat in her chair. With a small, bittersweet smile, she continued.

“Family is always there for you. They support you, lift you up and cheer you on. They love you unconditionally. My family doesn’t do that for me. When I think about it, the Clark family abandoned me and supported Oscar even before we were married.”

“But it all makes sense now. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. No one was shocked and appalled when I found out about Oscar’s first affair. It was me everyone told to calm down. It was me who was told to not do anything hasty… to think things through.”

The small smile faded from her lips.

“It was me who was shamed because I wanted to end my marriage. All because my family doesn’t see adultery as wrong… for men. They rant and rave about the sanctity of marriage and how it’s ordained by God, and is forever. But adultery… it’s just a little thing. A minor detail. Forget that it’s listed in the Bible as a reason for divorce, or on God’s top ten list. No… no. Men are entitled to a little tail on the side every now and then. God’s a guy, he understands, right?”

“Quinn, you’re-”

“How would you feel if Vanessa had an affair? Or two? Three? How many have you had, Aaron?”

“Vanessa would never-”


“I take care good care of my wife. I’ve given her everything she’s ever wan-”

Quinn bolted from her seat.

“Except honesty and fidelity!”

“I’ve always been honest with Vanessa.”

“Oh! Well, that’s different. If you tell her up front you’re a lying, cheating asshole, it’s okay.”


“I believe you were leaving.”


“Goodbye… brother.”

“This isn’t over, Quinn Avery.”

“Yes, Aaron. For me, it is.”

He held her gaze as he backed toward the door.

“No, it isn’t. If you go through with this divorce, you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.” Aaron left, leaving her office door open.

Stunned, Quinn stood there, her mind replaying her brother’s words.

“… you’ll pay a steep price you’ll never recover from.”

What the hell?


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Good Morning, Mother

Breakfast Tray

A scene from an ongoing WIP. Much to the horror of her family, Quinn Landon has filed for divorce from her adulterous husband. Her family doesn’t miss an opportunity to bully and berate her for ending a “sacred” union, and the number one bully is her mother.

Rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep, Quinn danced around the kitchen to her favorite playlist while making herself a quick breakfast.

Today was the end of the work-week for Phero’s staff since Friday was a company holiday—the founder’s birthday.

Ronan Gaetan decided if countries could celebrate long-dead presidents, document signings, and wars, why couldn’t the company he started from the ground up celebrate his birthday as a paid holiday? For twenty-four years, Phero’s four sites in the U.S., Italy, and France honored their founder by not working on the date of his birth.

Quinn knew it was a concept American corporations would never embrace.

She planned to spend her day off at the Veteran’s Outreach Center. Quinn found volunteering there for the past five years personally rewarding, and it had given Quinn perspective.

Her current situation was not ideal, but helping others get back into the mainstream of living made Quinn realize how fortunate she was. Work kept her from volunteering for several weeks, and now she was anxious to reconnect with the men and women whose trust she’d earned.

Pouring her first cup of coffee, Quinn headed to her breakfast nook to go over her calendar for the day when her phone rang. Swearing under her breath, she reached for the cell, knowing only one person on the planet would call her before six in the morning.

“Good morning, mother.” She could hear Katherine Clark scoff over the phone.

“You sound awfully pleasant this morning. I’m at a loss at why you’re so chipper when you’re breaking your husband’s heart.”

And there it was… again.

“I’m doing great, mom… thanks for asking. How are you and daddy doing?”

“Don’t be flippant with me, young lady!”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, mom. Give me a blindfold and a cigarette at dawn if I’m ever flippant.”

“Where did I go wrong with you? Honestly, I believe you’re being stubborn just to defy me.”

Quinn inhaled slowly… her anger building.

“Yes, mother. This is all about you. I’m divorcing my lying, cheating, low-down snake of a husband just to spite you.”

“Quinn Avery! Do not speak to me in that manner.”

“What do you want, mother? I mean, besides for me to stop the divorce proceedings, which is never going to happen. What do you want?”

“I want you to be reasonable, dear, and think this through. No good can come of a divorce. It will only leave you both bitter and disillusioned.”

“Too late, mom. I got over the bitterness after Oscar’s THIRD affair… you know… FOUR affairs back? But the disillusionment? That’s still hanging around. Mostly because I cannot understand why MY family paints me as the villain when it was Oscar who mocked his wedding vows and disrespected our marriage. You should be standing behind me, not giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

“You’re still young dear, and learning about the little indiscretions of men.”

Quinn had enough.

“I’ll let you get away with saying one affair is an indiscretion, mom, but seven? That’s just an unfaithful, disrespectful jerk. And I’m three years away from forty, mom, hardly a child. While some women may feel it’s okay for men to stray, I’m not in that club. I hold everyone to the same standards — honesty, fidelity, trust. I no longer have any of those with Oscar and haven’t had them for quite a while. Way past time to end our farce of marriage.”

“Marriage is for a lifetime, dear… and ordained by God.”

Ding, ding, ding! Katherine Clark was hitting all the markers today.

“The union of marriage is ordained by God, mother, but if God didn’t bring two people together, why is He used to keep them together? And, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t adultery the only acceptable reason for divorce in the Bible? And isn’t it listed in the Big Ten?”

Katherine Clark was silent.

“Oscar has been to church only a handful of times since we were married—you don’t get to play the God-card with me, mom. He’s never been a part of this marriage.”

“People in our family do not get divorced, Quinn. You know this.”

Quinn chuckled.

“Yes, I do know, mom. I’ve seen the photos of long dead relatives who would rather have had their tongues cut out than divorce.”


“I watch my brothers and their wives, barely able to be in the same room with each other, but too afraid of upsetting you, so they languish in marriages that should never have been. I do not intend to spend my life that way. I’m not stopping the divorce.”

“Your brothers are all happily married!”

“No, mother. YOU are happy they’re married. Myron and Aaron both never smile anymore. They bring their families for Sunday dinner to appease you and daddy, but always look like they’d rather be somewhere else.”

“You do not know everything, young lady. Aaron and Cecelia are talking about having another baby. They’re very much in love.”

“Oh mother, please! They’re talking about it because you suggested it. Cecelia is just as unhappy as Aaron and wants to be closer to her family back east.”

“Cecelia has loving family right here.”

“No, she has you and daddy, always butting in trying to run their marriage.”

“Quinn Avery! How dare you? I will not tolerate your disrespectful attitude!”

“Then we should end this call, mom, because I’m just being honest. I refuse to live in your fairy tale. Enjoy your day, mom.” Quinn ended the call, gripping the phone tightly. She took a couple of deeps breaths, then gently placed the cell on the counter.

Quinn emptied her now-cold coffee down the drain, and poured a fresh cup. A faint smile graced her lips. She’d endured one of her mother’s self-serving phone calls and was already mentally moving past it—all in less than twenty minutes.

Quinn remembered times when the same phone call would have thrown her off her game and ruined her entire day.

Not this time.

Things were definitely looking up.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


Not a Date #WritingChallenge

Not a Date- meatloaf

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 49
This is another excerpt of my WIP, Sacrificial Daughter, currently at 69K. Ana is having dinner with a sheriff’s deputy and former “schoolmate.”

Murphy’s Family Restaurant topped Corwin’s annual food listing of favorite places to eat.

It wasn’t gourmet fare, secret recipes, or old family recipes which brought the crowds in, but the folksy, down-to-earth atmosphere found there 6 am to 9 pm seven days a week.

Third generation owner, Joe Murphy, welcomed every patron who walked through the door, and if he wasn’t available, his wife, Silvia, did.

Joe, Silvia, and the wait staff would have rolling conversations and included patrons. Topics were light, easy and fun. It wasn’t unusual for calls to come in inquiring not about the daily special, but what was the current topic of the day.

Analeigh Sellers pulled into Murphy’s parking lot at five minutes to six. Exiting her rental, she grinned when she saw Walt Gaskins leaning against a signpost near the entrance.

“How many demerits did you get for being late before you arrived early to everything?”

Ana laughed aloud.

“Believe it or not, I’ve never received a demerit for anything… and I’ve never been late.”

Walt threw his hands up in the air.

“Oh, my god, you’re a drill sergeant’s dream come true. Poster girl for the military.”

They both laughed as Walt opened the door for Ana and they headed for the wait stand.

“I said I never received demerits, but I was far from a DS’s dream recruit.”

Before Ana could continue, a loud bellow came from the other side of the restaurant.

“Walt. Hey. It’s always good to see you in the place.”

Without an ounce of shame, the large man gave Ana an appraising once over and nodded in approval.

“Walt, my man, your taste has improved a thousand percent. Introduce me to your beautiful friend.”

Walt and Ana’s smirks matched.

“You don’t recognize her?”

“Like I could forget these eyes. I never for-” Resting a hand on his waist, the confused man raised the other to scratch his head. Tilting his head, he stared at Ana again. His eyes widened in recognition.


She looked from him to Walt and back.

“We’ve met?”

Walt explained.

“Analeigh, this is Joe Murphy, Jr. His family lived just outside the city limits and he didn’t go to our high school, but he spent a lot of time in town… working here and hanging out with the guys.”

“So, we never met.”

It was a statement, not a question.

“No, but I saw you around. I always thought you were so pretty. You left a big impression on me. I always hoped I’d see you whenever I came to town.”

“Thank you, Joe.”

“Dude, can we get a booth or are you going to keep drooling over my date?”

Joe, Jr. roared with laughter and gestured for the couple to follow him.

Ana wasn’t feeling the calm that showed on her face. Anxiety buzzed in her head while she tried to ignore Walt’s remark.

Date? He called her his date. Walt was over-the-top hot and gorgeous, but she only had room for one man in her head and her heart. She hoped Walt was simply using a figure of speech.

“How’s this?”

“Perfect, Joe. Thanks, man.”

“No problem. Wait staff will be right over. Enjoy.”

He looked at Ana again and walked away with a smile on his face.

Ana settled into the booth and admired the view from the large tempered window.

Acorn Fields, the city’s biggest park, stretched out for miles behind Murphy’s. Despite the evening hour, the vibrant colors of spring were still visible under the setting sun.

“Okay, remember I told you it’s meatloaf day, and it is amazing.”

“I had it a time or two when I came here with Rosie. Can’t remember if I liked it or not.”

Walt clutched his chest, feigning shock.

“That’s blasphemy. Everyone loves Murphy’s meatloaf. And order the mashed potatoes. They’re made fresh… no instant tater flakes here.”

Ana pushed her menu aside and folded her arms in front of her the table.

“Okay, but if I don’t like it, I’ll forever question your judgment.”

He mimicked her action with his arms.

“That’s fair.”

Walt’s smiled dimmed.

“How does it feel to be back, Analeigh?”

“Not as bad as I thought it would, but still a little unsettling. But I think it’s because Rosie’s gone.”

“You guys were close, huh?”

Ana shrugged a shoulder. “She made it bearable. I don’t know where I’d be today If I didn’t have Rosie in my life.”

Walt fidgeted in his seat.

“Analeigh… about when we were kids-”

“Thank you, Walt, but we need not rehash that. It won’t change the past.”

“I need you to understand. I never believed all those things I heard about you. Most kids didn’t. But it wasn’t just mean girls like Macy and Judy fueling the fire with rumors. Some of us had parents just as bad.”

“Walt, it wasn’t a fun time in my life, but it-”

“I’m sorry, Analeigh. I wanted to be your friend, but-”

The occasional glances cast her way from other customers since they entered were now outright stares. Swallowing her anxiety again, Ana touched Walt’s arm.

“It’s okay… honest. I’m fine. Let’s talk about something else.”

Walt ducked his head with a bashful grin.

“Thank you for being so gracious, Analeigh.”

Gracious? Was she being ‘gracious?’

Ana flashed a benign smile at Walt and ducked her head. She was glad Walt didn’t know this non-date was instead a trial-by-fire for her before the eyes of Corwin.


©Felicia Denise 2017

The Park #WritingChallenge


52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 48

NaNoWriMo is over, but the writing continues. This is another excerpt of my WIP, Sacrificial Daughter, currently at 62K. This is part of a memory Ana has which led to major changes in her life and changed its direction.

Analeigh exited Dot’s Five & Dime clutching the bag which held her new spiral notebooks and pencils. She headed for home, eager to get to the solitude of her bedroom and add to her story Sadia, the Beloved African Princess.

Excited, Ana planned the wedding scene between Sadia and mighty warrior, Manu Owon, in her mind. She didn’t hear the group of girls approaching her from behind until they surrounded her.

Macy Burford and Judy Lake each gripped one of Ana’s elbows, pulling her along at a brisk pace.

“What are you doing? Let go of me!” Ana pulled and tugged to break free, but stopped when she felt Macy’s nails dig into her skin through the thin jacket she wore.

“Aww, calm down, Analeigh. We only want to hang out with you,” Judy cooed.

“No, you don’t. We’re not friends. Let go!” Ana stopped, trying to wrench herself free, but a sharp jab to her left shoulder caught her off guard. She turned her head to find Angela Feltner glaring at her. Next to Angela stood Corinne Beeman, her eyes filled with sympathy and fear.

Macy jerked Ana forward. “C’mon. We don’t have much time.

“Where are we going? Macy, what do you want from me? Just let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”

The taller girl scoffed and responded through gritted teeth.

“I don’t give a damn who you tell. No one will believe the town whore’s bastard daughter.”

Ana accepted what her mother was long ago. She could do nothing to change it. But being reminded of her anonymous father stung.

“Macy, just let me go. Judy, please. I have to get home before dark.”

Angela giggled. “Why is that, Analeigh? Do you have to help your mama service her men? Is that it, Analeigh? You raising your dress and spreading your legs for a long line of men every night?”

“You’re disgusting!”

Angela clipped Ana’s shoulder with a balled fist.

“Don’t call me disgusting… that’s your mama, not mine-”

“And what she does has nothing to do with me.”

Despite the late afternoon’s cool breeze, perspiration trickled the length of Ana’s back, fueled not by fear but anger.

Where were they taking her? What did they want? What gave them the right to control her?

The group reached the corner and turned right on Mt. Pleasant Boulevard.

“Shut your mouth and keep moving.”

Jaywalking, they crossed the desolate side street.

Ana realized they were heading straight for the back entrance of Symphony Park.

“Why are we going to the park? C’mon, you guys, let me go. Please?”

“We want to spend time with our friend, pretty Analeigh Sellers. We want to know how you always have the answers and get all those A’s. You doing special favors for teachers after school, Analeigh?” Macy smirked, marring her plain features even more.

Once the group was through the gate, Macy shoved Ana to the ground.

Ana threw her hands out and caught herself, her mouth mere inches away from the dirty, cracked cement. Pain shot through her wrist and heightened her anger.

“What the hell do you want?”

Macy leaned toward her. “If I had my way, you’d die, Analeigh. You and your slut of a mother make me sick.”

The crazed look in Macy’s eyes confused Ana, but anger won out. She kicked her leg out, catching Macy in the shin. Ana rolled to the right, missing the hard stomp of Angela’s booted foot.

Ana jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain of her injured wrist.

“Why do you hate me? What did I do to you? None of you even know me.”

“Pretty Analeigh. Smart Analeigh,” Angela mimicked. “You’re a whore’s daughter, which makes you a whore. But the boys and teachers think you’re so wonderful.”

Ana shook her head, her eyes full of sadness.

“You’re wrong. No one thinks I’m wonderful.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Macy bellowed. “None of it matters.”

All eyes were on Macy as she pulled a large pair of silver-plated scissors from her bag.

“You need a haircut, Analeigh.”


©Felicia Denise 2017