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Unedited snippet from Family Matters… coming soon!

***

“No, don’t do it.”
Olivia smirked as she removed the spiked heel black boots and white shoulder-length wig.
“Aw, you’ve ruined my fantasy.”
“Sorry, not sorry, Bellamy. But if you would like to wear them, feel free.”
Bruce laughed, holding out his hand to Olivia.
She took his hand and curled up next to him on the sofa. He kissed her forehead.
“You win… again. And besides, fantasy doesn’t compare to the reality I have in my arms.”
Olivia buried her head in his chest, embarrassed. Bruce raised her chin until he could see her eyes.
“Still can’t take a compliment, I see.”
“I can… on my work. On the things I do to keep children safe. I’m proud of that. But when the compliments get personal? I don’t know, Bruce. I guess I don’t feel…”
“Worthy?”
Olivia averted her eyes.
“I get it, sweetness. What’s all the fuss about, right? We’re all little worker-bees doing our part to make the hive better.”
He didn’t continue until she looked at him.
“Only we’re not, Olivia. Some people don’t give a damn about the greater good. As Rena’s case proved, some people are only out for self… at any cost.”
Bruce held her tighter and smiled. “Then, there are the people who give their all. They dive into the problem head first and failure isn’t an option, even if it costs them personally.”
Bruce kissed her hand.
“Rena’s case costs you, sweetness. It brought back pain you believed was hidden and took you to darkness you thought no one else could see. You were never less than professional, but those who cared about you could see the case was emotional and traumatic for you too.
That’s why two groups of people who didn’t know each other came together tonight. To honor the woman who put self aside. You saw a child with the deck stacked against her and you re-dealt the cards to make sure she won.”
Overcome with emotion, tears pooled in Olivia Chandler’s eyes. She longed for the day she could see herself as Bruce did. He was her constant cheerleader.She hadn’t been looking for Bruce but was grateful their paths crossed.
“Rena wasn’t the only winner.” She reached up and caressed his cheek. “I won too.”
Stretching his arms out across the back of the sofa, Bruce Bellamy crossed his legs.
“I am a prize, aren’t I?”
Olivia dissolved into a fit of laughter, falling onto her side. What was she going to do with this man?

***

FM Choice

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Inside “In The Best Interest of the Child”

In The Best Interest of the Child spans nearly thirty years in the life of Olivia ‘Livvie’ Chandler.

As a ten-year-old, Olivia has the perfect little girl’s life: a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

Little Livvie_blog

Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school. Determined to put her past behind her, Olivia Chandler forges ahead, burying her trauma in the deep recesses of her mind.

It will not stay there.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though, when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven-year-old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.


Best Interest full cover

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

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


Best Interest multi cover

“In the Best Interest of the Child”

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR


 

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


Best Interest multi cover

“In the Best Interest of the Child”

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

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.

Best Interest multi cover

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

 

©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


Best Interest full cover

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

“…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

Best Interest full cover

“In the Best Interest of the Child”

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

Goodreads  http://bit.ly/BestIntGR

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