Interview with Sarina Chandler from the upcoming “Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2)”


Good day, WordPress bloggers and authors! Today we welcome a very special guest to the blog—Sarina Chandler, from the upcoming Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2). Sarina is the mother of Books 1 & 2 protagonist, Olivia Chandler.

SC: Excuse me?

FD: Yes, Mrs. Chandler?

SC: Well… technically, I was in book 1, too.

FD: Yes, ma’am you were. But only in a flashback or two, and you weren’t… um, yourself. I thought it best to not approach the subject.

SC: Oh, please! Now you sound like my daughter, not approaching the subject! I was crazy as a loon, out of my mind, off my rocker! It’s not as if I planned it or wanted to be committed to an institution and leave my daughter.

FD: Of course not, ma’am. I’m sorry.

SC: Please call me Sarina… and I’m the one who should be apologizing. I shouldn’t have been short with you. It’s just… I’ve missed most of Olivia’s life and a big part of my own. It angers me, I just have no one to be angry with.

FD: May I ask… when did your mind begin to clear?

SC: It’s been… about a year.

FD: What was the first thing you remembered, Sarina?

SC: *Looks down, fidgets with hands* The accident.

FD: Sarina, if this is too much for you…

SC: No, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ve been silent for a third of my life. I need to talk, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to share that story first with my daughter. I owe her that… she deserves that.

FD: Not a problem, Sarina. Glad to hear Olivia is coming to see you.

SC: Well…

FD: Sarina?

SC: I don’t know for a fact she is coming.

FD: Pardon?

SC: I talked with Willis a few weeks ago. Willis Benson, the administrator of my husband’s estate. He and Olivia are close. I asked him to see if my daughter would visit me. But… it’s… been a few weeks now, and nothing.

FD: I’m sorry.

SC: Ugh! Stop apologizing already! Olivia and I were separated twenty-eight-years ago! I can’t expect her to make a quick decision for something like this.

FD: Why do you feel it’s such a difficult decision for her?

SC: Felicia, you know the last time I saw my daughter she was a ten-year-old. We had no other family and when I voluntarily came here… Olivia spent time in foster care. I’m told she last visited me five years ago… and I didn’t know who she was. I’m sure she has some resentment issues with me… and I can’t blame her.

FD: Is there a specific reason you want to see your daughter, Olivia, other than simply a mother missing her child?

SC: *Sighs* I need to apologize to her… for leaving her. While it wasn’t intentional or could have been changed, I still left her. Even if she never forgives me or sees me as her mother, I have to say the words.

FD: Why is that so important to you, Sarina?

SC: I had… issues with my parents. Before Ben and I married, I hated them. Afterward, I reached out to them for a fresh start but was ignored. I gave up, but if my mom had softened just a little and acted like she cared about me, I would have been there for her. It never happened. I don’t want to hide behind the walls of this place and allow Olivia to believe I don’t love her. I must try.

FD: I’m sure you will, Sarina. I’m sure you will. I hope Olivia decides to see you.

SC: So do I, Felicia.

FD: Thank you for visiting with us today, Sarina. I know it wasn’t easy.

SC: It’s easier than accepting I’ll never see my child again. She just has to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Child-advocate attorney Olivia Chandler has made major progress in overcoming her childhood trauma and issues with abandonment. However, her refusal to see her mother is having a negative impact on her new romance with Bruce Bellamy and everyone Olivia is close to.

Olivia enters specialized counseling for adults who suffer from childhood trauma but hinders her own progress when a major loss sends her spiraling back into the emotional comfort of the shadows in her mind.

With her sanity at risk, Olivia Chandler needs answers to break free from the traumatic stress which holds her captive, but the answers lie with the one person Olivia refuses to see.

Sarina Chandler.

Olivia Chandler’s journey continues in Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2), coming soon.

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The Visit

River Ridge


Scene from the Upcoming Family Matters. Still struggling to overcome her issues of abandonment and salvage her personal life… and sanity, attorney Olivia Chandler attempts to visit the mother she hasn’t seen in five years and who’s been a resident at a private mental facility for almost thirty years.

“Olivia Chandler? I’m Sandra Riley, Sarina’s case manager.”

The tall woman grasped Olivia’s hand into both of her own, shaking briskly. “We’re so glad you’re here today. This is a big step forward for your mother.”

“Nice to meet you, Sandra, and honestly, it’s a big step for me too.”

“Oh, I’m sure, Olivia. Any questions for me before you visit with Sarina?”

Visit with Sarina. She made it sound so cute and homey, Olivia thought.

“Does she know I planned to be here today?”

“Yes, she does. When Sarina asked about you a few weeks ago, she said she also knew you’d have little or no reason to want to see her, but she’d always hoped you come someday.””

Olivia stared at the woman blankly, not knowing how to respond to the comment.

“I’m sure this is confusing, Olivia, and now isn’t the time for me to explain all that Sarina has gone through, but please know she is fully cognizant of her aging, of you, her late husband”, Sandra paused only for a second, “she even remembers the accident. It’s everything between the accident and a few months ago that’s fuzzy for her. It’s as though a switch was flipped off in her brain that was recently turned back on.”

Olivia frowned but didn’t ask the question on the tip of her tongue.

“May I see her now?”

“Of course! Follow me.”

The case manager’s long legs covered the distance across the sitting area in no time at all, with Olivia almost scurrying to keep up with her. Margot and Randie were always teasing Olivia about her brisk walking pace, but she had nothing on Sandra Riley! Olivia would guess Sandra to be at least six feet tall… and light on her feet.

Reaching an unmarked door in the far corner, Sandra held it open for Olivia, who walked through and found herself standing in yet another sitting room, only this one resembled the average family room. Large, overstuffed chairs, throw rugs and even a flat screen television graced the area.

“Welcome to Honey Ridge East, Olivia.”

“Honey Ridge East? I don’t understand.”

Sandra pointed to a bulletin board on the wall near the door they’d just come through.

“The residents here are grouped by floor, the severity of mental disorder, and the amount of care and supervision needed. The healthiest, most independent residents reside here in Honey Ridge.”

“My mother is here…in this section?”

She nodded.

Olivia tried to digest the information. Her mother was healthy? Required little or no supervision? Trying to reconcile this new Sarina with the bedridden, incoherent woman she last saw five years ago was difficult for Olivia.

“How long has she lived here?”

Sandra pursed her lips, thinking. Then she nodded.

“I’m pretty sure Sarina was here for the group’s Valentine’s Day dinner dance, so that makes it eight months.” Sandra tried not to laugh at the horrified expression on Olivia’s face.

“Don’t be shocked. We also have Easter Egg hunts and 4th of July barbecues. Most of the residents have signed up for hayrides next week for Halloween, and…” she leaned in towards Olivia, “I heard Santa will visit on Christmas Eve.”

Shaking her head, Olivia was incredulous.

“What kind of mental hospital is this? I mean, um…I thought…”

The case manager guided Olivia past the sitting area while answering.

“River Ridge Meadows is a private care, private pay, voluntary commitment facility. We’re fully licensed by the state and the federal government. Insurance isn’t accepted here, and no resident is here against their will. We currently have one hundred and sixty-one residents ranging in age from seven to eighty-six. Most are from throughout the state, but there are a few from other parts of the country, and even four from Europe. River Ridge has two permanent, board certified psychiatrists, two permanent, board certified medical doctors, six psychologists, and a nursing staff of 40 that includes licensed physical therapists.

The residents here are used to a certain way of life, and we provide that here, within reason. That’s why we also have an event planner and a social activities director on staff.”

Sandra stopped at the top end of a short hallway. “But we have all the time in the world for me to tell you about River Ridge, and even give you a tour, if you like.” She nodded towards the end of the hall. “Your mother is expecting you.”

Olivia pressed her hand against her stomach, the tiny nervous tremors threatening to morph into a full-fledged earthquake. Heat enveloped her body as the familiar tang of bile crept up the back of her throat. Closing her eyes, the nervous woman tried to will the anxiety away.

You’ve come this far, Chandler, don’t you dare freak out now!

 

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

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Rena Averest – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile


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Olivia Chandler’s latest client is eleven-year-old Rena Averest.

Rena and her parents were involved in a weather-related, multi-car accident. Her mother was killed and her father was severely injured and comatose for several weeks and remains hospitalized indefinitely.

Rena suffered extensive injuries and was also hospitalized for several weeks. When she was well enough to be discharged, the hospital ran into major obstacles. Her mother’s only living relative was an older brother who lived two thousand miles away. Suffering from chronic cystic fibrosis, he was unable to care for Rena and had in fact, even missed his sister’s funeral. Rena has grandparents, and two aunts on her father’s side of the family…and they want absolutely nothing to do with her.

A benevolent judge, taking into account all that Rena is currently dealing with, allows her to be placed temporarily with Courtney and Marissa Bellamy, friends of her parents since college, and Rena’s godparents. Not knowing how her father’s medical situation will resolve itself, the judge feels Rena needs the stability and familiarity of the Bellamy home. The Department of Children’s Services disagrees and take legal action to remove Rena from the Bellamy home and place her in foster care. The presiding judge spurred on by the irony of DCS wanting to remove Rena Averest from a non-relative home only to place her in a non-relative home, stays the case and appoints a child advocate attorney to research the case and protect Rena’s interest.

And that’s exactly what Olivia intends to do.

Rena Irene Averest

Age: 11

DOB: May 6, 2003

Parents: Duncan and Irene (Deceased) Averest

Siblings: None

Favorite color: Yellow

Favorite music: Todrick Hall and all songs Disney-related

Favorite Book: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Pets: A turtle named Brutus

BFF: Margie Macy

Wants to be a surgical nurse when she grows up


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“In the Best Interest of the Child”

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Margot Schultz – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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Dynamic and vivacious Margot Schultz never met an obstacle she couldn’t overcome… or knock down. Executive assistant/office manager to 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 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 30 years ago to elope with her now ex-husband


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“In the Best Interest of the Child”

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Martin ‘Marty’ Knight – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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After their initial visit to the hospital where Rena has daily physical therapy, she and Olivia meet hospital volunteer, Martin ‘Marty’ Knight as they leave. Marty is concerned about the sadness in Rena’s eyes and tries to cheer her up as he helps her into the car. He is shocked to find out that Rena’s injuries and the death of her mother were caused by the same weather-related, multi-vehicle accident that claimed the life of his best friend, Victor Roddy.

During Marty and Rena’s conversation, Olivia finds herself staring at the man, convinced they have met before. She just cannot remember where. Marty also cast several glances in Olivia’s direction trying to figure out why she looks so familiar. His memory fails him.

As the story unfolds, Marty Knight will not only become a good friend and ‘grandfather’ to Rena, he will play a pivotal role in Olivia Chandler sorting out her past…and navigating her future.

  • Martin Eugene Knight
  • Age: 71
  • Retiree, Veteran, and Hospital Volunteer
  • DOB: October 31, 1943
  • Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Marital Status: Widower. Wife, Sarah, passed away three years ago after a difficult battle with liver cancer.
  • Sarah died two weeks after their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Has five children and eleven grandchildren.
  • A veteran of the Vietnam War. Entered the war near its beginning and served four years.
  • Received a Purple Heart and Medal Honor.
  • Enjoys building miniatures, fly fishing, and watching westerns.
  • Carries a keychain with a picture of his wife on one side, and a picture of his dog on the other. His dog passed away two months after his wife, at the age of 16. Sarah named the dog Dwight because she was convinced he looked like Dwight D Eisenhower.

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©2016 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Courtney and Marissa Bellamy – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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As best friends to Duncan Averest and his late wife, Irene, Courtney and Marissa Bellamy knew they would stand by Duncan. Whatever it took to help him through the loss of his wife and the serious injuries sustained by him and daughter, Rena, the Bellamys would do. And, as Rena’s godparents, of course she would live with them until her father was well enough to take care of her. They took their vows as godparents very seriously. But someone is trying to stop them. Someone is trying to keep them away from Duncan and make sure Rena gets sent into the foster care system.

Court-appointed child advocate attorney Olivia Chandler is the answer to their prayers. They’re moved by her genuineness and promise to “do right by Rena.” There is an immediate bond between the attorney and her young client, and Marissa cannot help but wonder if it has more to do with the flashes of sadness she sees in Olivia’s eyes than with simple job commitment.

The instant interest in Olivia by his cousin, Bruce, hasn’t been lost on Courtney. Abandoned by his ex-wife when their children were mere toddlers, Bruce hasn’t shown little more than a passing, casual interest in any woman since. Olivia will be spending quite a bit of time with the Bellamy family in the near future, and Courtney thinks it’s just enough time to do a bit of matchmaking. And, where you find Courtney…you find Marissa.

Let the games begin!

Courtney Ardan and Marissa Anne (Monroe) Bellamy

Met in Botany 101 during their freshman year of college

Married November 30, 1996

Two sons – Bishop, 18 and Brian, 16

Courtney works in IT/Computer Systems for the local school district, Marissa is head of Library Sciences for Hennepin County Public Libraries

Courtney (Caucasian) and Marissa (African-American) are an Interracial couple who haven’t suffered much of the disdain shown to interracial couples by some of society due to their steadfast commitment to each other and the love and total support of their families.

Bruce Bellamy – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile


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A former amateur race car driver, and current owner of a successful chain of auto repair shops, Bruce Bellamy is a cousin to Rena Averest’s current caregivers. He and Olivia meet for the first time when she gives Rena a ride home from physical therapy, and he is there trying to diagnose the problem with his cousin’s car.

Bruce is instantly smitten with the attorney. Her voluptuous body pulls him right in, but it’s the guarded sadness in her eyes that propels him to get to know her. She has a beautiful smile, and he thinks she should use it more often.

The easy going business owner has been alone for nearly two decades, when his ex-wife walked away from him and their four children in search of a more affluent lifestyle. Her callous, mercenary heart caused him to close his off, and he’s not been in a relationship since, nor had any involvement with women worth mentioning, choosing instead to concentrate on raising his children and making his business successful. So when Olivia gets his attention, the entire Bellamy clan takes notice, and proceeds to help him win her over.

Having spent her adult life avoiding romantic entanglements, Olivia knows she’s walking a tight rope by allowing Bruce to get too close. Rena’s case has brought Olivia’s childhood back to the forefront of her mind, making her believe she has nothing to offer Bruce.

He seems to think otherwise.

Bruce Ambrose Bellamy
Age: 42
DOB: June 28, 1972
Place of Birth: Duluth, Minnesota
Divorced
Has four (adult) children
Owns a chain of successful auto repair shops
Loves ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Married with Children’ reruns
Has a BA and MA in Business earned while attending night, and online classes
Hates golfs and considers it pointless
Loves football and is a diehard Minnesota Vikings Fan


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“…waltz in off the street.” #Excerpt


The diminutive nurse seated before Olivia appeared to enjoy taking rudeness to new heights.

“This is the Critical Care Unit. We simply cannot have anyone off the street waltz in here and upset our patients. Mr. Averest is a very sick man and needs his rest.”

Olivia let the obvious insult pass, but was tiring of this chick’s attitude.

“I’ve told you who I am, showed you my identification, and told you why I’m here. If you cannot allow me in to see Mr. Averest, perhaps you can tell me who his physician of record is? I’ll speak with him or her and get written permission to see Mr. Averest. Will that satisfy you?”

The nurse smirked.

“I thought you said you’re a lawyer? Then you should know it’s against the law for me to give you patient information and – “

Olivia cut her off.

“It’s against the law for you give me medical information, and I haven’t asked you for any.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because Mr. Averest’s attorney left express instructions for staff not to speak with anyone about his condition or let anyone see him.” The irritating woman stood, adjusted her smock and walked to the other end of the counter.

Olivia frowned.

“His attorney?”

“Did I stutter?”

Rage gripped Olivia. She’d had enough of this self-important little twit.

“Did this attorney have Mr. Averest’s power of attorney, or legal documents appointing him as guardian?”

The nurse’s face fell.

“I don’t know, but- “

“So, you’re telling me you allowed someone to just waltz in here off the street and tell you what to do without knowing if they even had the legal right to?”

The nurse’s face went from pink to a deep shade of red.

“I-I…he said…” she reached for the phone. “I’ve had enough of you! I’m calling security!”

Olivia crossed her arms on the counter and smiled.

“Please do. And while I wait for them, let me tell what’s going to happen next.”

The woman stopped dialing and glared at Olivia.

“After I’m escorted from the building, I’m heading back to Spring Falls… and the judge who assigned me to this case. I will tell him how uncooperative you were, and how you refused to allow me to see Duncan Averest or even tell me who his physician is, making it impossible for me to do the job he appointed me to do. I’ll also tell him how you caused me public embarrassment by having me removed from the building. I know this judge. He hates people getting in his way. So, guess what? He’ll get on the phone and talk with this hospital’s administrators and warn them to get their legal department ready because I’ll be returning with a pile of injunctions and contempt of court citations. And one of them will have your name on it,” she glanced at the woman’s employee badge for the first time, “Katrina.”

Olivia grabbed her laptop bag and purse and headed for the elevators. “I’ll wait over here for security.”

“He’s in 3502.”

Olivia fought to keep the smile off her face. She turned and looked at the woman, then glanced down the hallway of patients’ rooms. Returning her gaze to the woman who had given her such a bad time, Olivia almost felt guilty for the fear she saw in her eyes. Almost. Without another word, she went in search of room 3502.

Attempting to shake off her encounter with Nurse Know-it-all, Olivia stopped abruptly when she entered 3502. Her anger returned with a vengeance when she realized she’d been deliberately given the wrong room number.

She was going to bury this hospital in contempt of court citations!

©Felicia Denise 2016

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“In the Best Interest of the Child”

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