“Toughen up because life’s tough.”


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“Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child Book 2)”

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Olivia Chandler’s day of reckoning fast approaches.  Start her journey from the beginning!

 

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“In The Best Interest of the Child Book 1”

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

#FREE August 1-3 through Amazon!


ITBIOTC Front Cover

Book Title: In the Best Interest of the Child
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Psychological
Release Date: September 30, 2016

Amazon US http://bit.ly/BestInt

Amazon UK http://bit.ly/BestIntUK

Amazon CA http://bit.ly/BestIntCA

Amazon AU http://bit.ly/BestIntAU

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Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, underserved child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.



MANY thanks to ALL who have downloaded a copy of In the Best Interest of the Child! 

 

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Writing has been a hobby of Felicia’s since grade school, but other than serving as editor and writing for her high school newspaper, she never publicly shared anything until the early 2000s when she began writing fan fiction. At the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published book, In the Best Interest of the Child. It was released in the fall of 2016.

Currently working on several projects, Felicia plans to release book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child – Family Matters, in summer 2017.

Links

Author Website – https://feliciadenise.com

Blog (Nesie’s Place) – https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Felicia-Denise/e/B01M03R54B/

Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/authorfeliciadenise

Bookbub Author Page – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/felicia-denise

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/FeliciaDenise

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/MsFelicia

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/fle_d/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/fdreevers/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/110467680823101573705

Monthly Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/cklOKL

 

Save

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

#FREE August 1-3 through Amazon!


ITBIOTC Front Cover

Book Title: In the Best Interest of the Child
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Psychological
Release Date: September 30, 2016

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 Button with Shadow


Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, underserved child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.



EXCERPT:

Making sure Rena was still sleeping, she exited her vehicle, following the sidewalk to the driveway where a flatbed tow truck came fully into view. A large, burly, dark haired man was winching a late model Mercedes up onto the flatbed. Nearby, a far shorter man stood with his arms folded across his broad chest, obviously not happy.

As she got closer, Olivia believed the shorter man to be near her age, even though a head full of curly black hair gave him a more youthful appearance.

Olivia smiled as she passed the tow truck driver, noticing how his eyes lingered on her hips.

The shorter man didn’t notice Olivia until she was right in front of him, and he started as though coming out of a trance.

“Hello. Can I help you?”

Olivia widened her smile.

“Hello. I’m looking for the Bellamy residence.”

He regarded her with a wary look.

“I’m Courtney Bellamy. What can I do for you?”

She stuck out her right hand.

“Mr. Bellamy, I’m Olivia Chandler, Rena’s court-appointed attorney. It’s nice to meet you.”

Courtney Bellamy visibly relaxed.

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Chandler. My wife, Marissa, mentioned you were meeting with Rena today. We can go inside and chat shortly, I just have to see when this guy will have my car up and running.”

He spoke the last part of the sentence in a raised voice, making sure the tow truck driver heard him. The driver pulled a face in his direction.

“C’mon, Court! I don’t even know what’s wrong with it. How can I tell you when it will be fixed?”

“There is way too much going on in this family for us to depend on one car, Bruce. There will be whining, tears and harsh words… and my wife will be upset too!”

Olivia and Bruce both laughed aloud at Courtney’s snarky comment.

“Let me get it back to the shop and find the problem. If it’s not a quick fix, I have a loaner vehicle you can use until yours is ready. Deal?”

Courtney pumped his fist in the air.

“This is why you’re my favorite mechanic! I love you, man!”

Bruce smirked.

“No. I’m your favorite mechanic because I’m your cousin and give you family discounts!”

“Well, there’s that too,” Courtney quipped. Reaching for the side door entrance, Courtney Bellamy addressed Olivia.

“Forgive me, Ms. Chandler. Would you like to have a seat inside while I wrap this up?”

“Please, it’s Olivia. And actually, I have a sleeping Rena in my car out front.”

“Oh! I thought the medical shuttle was bringing her home. And call me Courtney.”

“That was the initial plan, but she was getting tired, and I didn’t want her to have to sit and wait not knowing how long the shuttle would take to get to her. Bringing her myself was easier.”

“How kind of you. Let me grab her chair, and I’ll meet you out front.”

“Sounds good.”

Olivia turned and started back down the driveway.”

Courtney threw one last taunt at his cousin.

“Bruce, if you put one scratch on my baby, I’m calling your mother!”

“And if you call my mother, I will call YOUR mother and tell her who really broke the garage window when we were kids.”

Courtney gasped.

“You wouldn’t dare!” he countered.

“Stay away from my mother, and I’ll stay away from yours.”

He caught Olivia’s eye as she passed and winked.

She laughed at the easy banter of the cousins, and just for a second wondered what it was like to have someone in your life who had known you all your life.

Hearing her name being called just as she reached the sidewalk, Olivia turned to see Bruce jogging towards her. He stopped, only after he had more than invaded her personal space.

He was taller than she first thought. Her three-inch heels put her at an even five feet, ten inches, and she still had to take a step back and raise her head to fully see his face.

Bruce’s light brown eyes had an amused glint to match the devilish smirk on his clean-shaven face. His collar length dark brown hair was curly, though not as much as Courtney’s, and had the beginnings of gray at the temples much like her own.

“Forgive me if I’m being forward, Ms. Chandler, but I wanted to give you my business card. I own Bellamy’s over on Mason. If you ever need anything… um, for your car… give me a call.”

She reached for the card.

“Anything…at all.”

The man was positively shameless. Olivia couldn’t help but grin.

“Call me Olivia, and thank you. That’s nice of you.”

Glancing at the card in her hand, realization dawned on her.

“Wait. You’re that Bellamy? Bellamy Motorsports of “We have twelve locations to serve you in Hennepin and Olmstead counties?”

His face took on a bright shade of red as he blushed uncontrollably.

“Guess you’ve seen our commercials, huh?”

She laughed as she backed towards her car. “Yes. A time or two… or twelve. The commercials never mentioned you were so… hands on.”

His eyes widened, but she pointed at the tow truck and continued before he could respond.

“The boss answering service calls?”

He slid his hands into his back pockets and cocked his head to the side.

“Okay, you got me. But Court won’t let anyone else touch his Precious. I was with him the day he bought her, but I’m not sure who owns whom? Marissa always teases him by telling him she’s leaving and he can have the house, but she’s taking the kid and the car. He nearly has a heart attack.”

She reached her car and saw Rena was still sleeping. There was no sign of Courtney at the front door yet. She heard movement behind her and noticed Bruce had taken a couple of steps in her direction.

“I didn’t see a ring. Are you married?”

“No.”

“Involved?”

“No.”

“Do you wanna be?”

Olivia tried without success not to laugh.

“You’re definitely not the shy type, are you Bruce?”

“Nope. But I’m usually not this forward either.” Suddenly serious, he continued. “It’s just not every day I meet a woman I’m so drawn to. Actually, this is the first time it’s ever happened.”

The sincerity in his voice caused her pulse to race.

“I’m flattered, Bruce.”

He started to say something else, but both their attention was drawn to the front door as Courtney backed the wheelchair down the one step entrance, then turned and headed towards Olivia’s car.

“Olivia?”

She glanced in Bruce’s direction, but looked away quickly, unable to hold his intense gaze.

“Olivia?”

Taking a deep breath, she met his gaze.

“Call me.”

She smiled and gave him a single nod. His attention made her feel light-headed, but she knew she’d never call him. She couldn’t. He definitely seemed like the type of man who wanted all or nothing … and nothing was all she had.

Courtney brought the wheelchair to a stop in front of her.

“Cinderella’s carriage has arrived. Shall we wake her?”

Olivia moved to the car door as she unlocked it with the remote. She reached in to unfasten Rena’s seatbelt but caught the banter between the cousins.

“Bruce, go fix my car.”

“Shut it, Court!”

“I’m nominating your house for Thanksgiving dinner this year!”

“And I’ll nominate yours for Christmas dinner! And I’ll insist great-aunt Mae bring her dogs … all four of them!”

“You’re an evil man, Bellamy.”

“We share DNA, Bellamy.”

If Olivia didn’t know they were grown men, she would have sworn they were seventh graders.

Rena began to stir and looked around, confused.

“Hey, angel. You’re home.”

Still disoriented, Rena tried to sit upright. She cried out in obvious pain and gripped Olivia’s arm.

“It’s okay, angel! It’s okay, I got you! Just breathe through it. C’mon, now. Breathe.”

Olivia took her own advice and took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself. She couldn’t comfort the child if she needed comfort herself.

“Olivia?”

She looked back at Courtney.

“She’s as light as a feather, but that cast adds weight. Step back and I’ll transfer her to the chair.”

Rena still held Olivia’s arm, but her grip was loosening.

“You okay, angel? Mr. Bellamy wants to transfer you to the chair. You’ll probably feel better once you can stretch out in your bed, okay?”

Rena nodded, and Olivia stepped back out of the way to give Courtney room to transfer her to the chair.

She could feel Bruce’s eyes on her but refused to look at him. Olivia’s face grew hot and she felt awkward and out of place. Her resolve was weakening and she was about to look in his direction when a green minivan pulled up behind her car.

Bruce clapped his hands together excitedly.

“Oh yeah! The fun is really about to start.”

Olivia could tell he was enjoying the moment and glanced back to the minivan not knowing what to expect.

A plump woman hurriedly exited the van and rushed towards them. She was short—maybe an even five feet in height—and African American, with a mass of hair worn in a long, natural, wavy style.

Though plump, her hourglass shape was more than obvious. She wore very little makeup, and she didn’t need too. Her full lips and smooth brown skin were enhanced by large, expressive eyes that right now were filled with worry.

“What happened? Is everything all right?”

Just as she reached Olivia’s car, Courtney raised Rena into his arms, pivoted, and placed her into the wheelchair.

The woman glanced from face to face waiting for an answer. She threw a quick wave in Bruce’s direction, and he returned it.

Olivia smiled at her while Courtney leaned over Rena’s chair and kissed the woman on the cheek.

“Hi, Honey. This is Rena’s attorney, Olivia Chandler, and she just brought the munchkin home. Olivia, this is my wife, Marissa.”

She took Olivia’s outstretched hand in both of hers and squeezed.

“Oh yes. We spoke on the phone. So nice to meet you. And thank you for seeing her home.”

She lightly patted Rena’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head.

“Hey Munchkin. Did you hit all your markers in therapy today?”

Rena nodded slightly.

“All except the steps. I could only do two.”

Marissa stepped behind her chair, gave Olivia one nod towards the house, and started towards the front door.

“That’s still good. Remember last week you could only do one? Progress, munchkin, progress.”

Marissa stopped suddenly and turned around.

“Courtney, what are you doing here?”

He folded his arms across his chest defiantly.

“I live here.”

Bruce, Rena, and Olivia all snickered.

Marissa pursed her lips.

“It’s the middle of the day, Courtney.”

He started.

“Oh! Geeze, yes. So much happening at once. The high school called me. Brian has a low-grade fever and an upset stomach. He’s up in his room. The school nurse said she called you first, but didn’t get an answer. I figured you were still with your mom at the dialysis center.”

“They were short staffed today for some reason, so Mom got a late start on her treatment.”

She glanced up at the house. I told that boy to go easy on the chili con carne last night. He never listens and this always happens.”

She nodded her head in Bruce’s direction.

“And why is Bigfoot here?”

The laugh escaped Olivia’s mouth before she could suppress it. These people were nuts… and she loved it.

Bruce shot a glance at her and mouthed the word “traitor.”

“After I got Bri settled inside, I was going to return to the office, and my car wouldn’t start. I called Bruce to come over and diagnose the problem, but… she’s really sick. He has to take her in.”

Courtney Bellamy looked as though tears might be a real possibility.

Marissa turned her head and covered her mouth to hide the grin. She looked back and addressed Olivia.

“Please excuse our family, Olivia. We’re not usually this scatterbrained and dysfunctional. And we usually care more about our sick children than our sick cars.”

Before Olivia could tell her they were all just fine, Bruce chimed in.

“Look up ‘dysfunctional’ in Webster’s and you’ll find our family portrait.”

Marissa popped a clenched fist on one hip and shot back.

“Don’t you have little children to scare or people to annoy?”

“Yes, and here I am!”

“Problem child!”

“Diva!”

“Yeti!”

“Smurfette!”

Olivia heard someone join her in the laughter, but when she glanced at Courtney, his eyes were full of love and fixed on his wife.

Olivia stepped around Marissa and looked down at Rena, who had dissolved into a fit of laughter. She clutched her bag of snacks with one hand and her stomach with the other.

Olivia’s heart melted at the sight. She then noticed Courtney had stepped behind his wife, sliding his hand around her waist.

Rena was still laughing when he softly said, “Once they get started, they won’t stop until Rena laughs.”

He kissed his wife behind the ear while giving a thumbs up to his cousin.

Olivia was taken aback. Most of what she’d just witnessed was a performance purely for Rena’s benefit. She was so glad she had not prejudged these people and admonished herself for any negative thoughts she may have had about them.

These were good, loving people who were just living life. Parents and kids get sick and cars break down, but it didn’t distract them enough they didn’t have time for a little girl who was… at least temporarily… an orphan.

Although Olivia was sure the Bellamys and Averests must have had a pretty strong friendship for Courtney and Marissa to take Rena in, she felt this family would probably help any child in need.

Olivia followed as Marissa pushed Rena into the house, but something made her stop and look over in Bruce’s direction.

He was still standing there, hands in pockets, focused on her.

Shaking her head, she smiled at him, which caused him to throw a big toothy grin back at her.

Marissa had cleared the doorway and Courtney held the door for Olivia.

When she walked past him, he touched her arm. “He’s a good guy.”

Her face heated up again, but she was rescued when she heard Marissa call out for her to follow her voice to get to Rena’s room.

 

itbiotc-teaser_bruce


Writing has been a hobby of Felicia’s since grade school, but other than serving as editor and writing for her high school newspaper, she never publicly shared anything until the early 2000s when she began writing fan fiction. At the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published book, In the Best Interest of the Child. It was released in the fall of 2016.

Currently working on several projects, Felicia plans to release book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child – Family Matters, in summer 2017.

Links

Author Website – https://feliciadenise.com

Blog (Nesie’s Place) – https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Felicia-Denise/e/B01M03R54B/

Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/authorfeliciadenise

Bookbub Author Page – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/felicia-denise

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/FeliciaDenise

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/MsFelicia

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/fle_d/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/fdreevers/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/110467680823101573705

Monthly Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/cklOKL

 

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“In the Best Interest of the Child” #WriterWednesday

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In this short excerpt from In the Best Interest of the Child, Olivia Chandler is meeting Bruce Bellamy for lunch. There is a definite attraction between the two, but both are holding back – though Bruce…not as much! Enjoy!


Having arrived fifteen minutes early, Olivia took a few minutes to visit the ladies’ room to check her hair and makeup, and wash her hands. She was glad no one else was around because every time she glanced at her reflection in the mirror, she couldn’t stop herself from grinning.

“Get a hold of yourself, Olivia Louise! It’s just lunch with a man. You’ve done this more times than you can count.”

Exhaling slowly, Olivia hung her head. Yes, lunch with a man who seems to like me. Lunch with a man I actually like even though I just met him.

Olivia groaned and leaned against the sink. She should never have agreed to this. Bruce seemed like a decent man. He didn’t need to be getting involved in the dark pit which was her life. But even if she walked out the restaurant right now, Bruce would not disappear. Courtney and Marissa were his were his family, and he was very much involved in Rena’s life.

The silly grin returned to her face. Honestly, she didn’t want him to disappear. They may never do more than have lunch, but Olivia wanted it in the worst way. She wanted to be normal and have a life without her past hanging over her like the Sword of Damocles.

Steadying herself with a couple of deep breaths, Olivia decided to stop hiding in the ladies’ room and talking to herself like a crazy person. She grabbed her handbag and went in search of her lunch date.

As Olivia approached the hostess stand, the young woman working there smiled. “Good afternoon, I’m Connie.”

Olivia returned her smile and gave her Bruce’s name.

“Yes, Ma’am. He’s already here.” Laughing, Olivia shook her head slowly.

“That man. Of course, he is.”

The hostess smiled but looked confused, not understanding the joke.

Olivia waved her hand. “It’s nothing. Lead the way.”

Olivia tried to spot Bruce as they approached the main dining room, but was caught off guard when the young hostess turned right and proceeded down a short hallway. No stranger to the Black Dragon, Olivia knew there were formal banquet rooms in the opposite direction, but she’d never been down this hallway. The hostess stopped in front of a small elevator.

“I never realized the restaurant had an elevator. I thought it was a single story building.”

Connie nodded.

“You’re right, it is.”

“Then where does this lead? You have a basement?”

Covering her mouth to hide her giggles, Connie nodded.

“We do, but trust me, you do not want to go down there. This elevator goes up to the mezzanine.” The elevator doors opened as she finished speaking, and both women stepped inside.

“Well, I didn’t know you had one of those either!”

“Few people do. The owners don’t advertise it much. It’s usually for special guests or customers who request a more… intimate setting.”

Olivia’s eyes quickly widened.

Connie gave her a knowing grin.

Intimate setting? She had no time to process the hostess’ comment. The doors opened. Connie took a step outside the elevator and motioned to the left.

“Your date is right over there.”

“Date? But this isn’t a da-…”

Connie quickly stepped back into the elevator, leaving Olivia with a wink as the doors closed.

“What am I going to do with this man?”

She only had to take three steps before she spotted Bruce. Olivia froze as her mouth gaped open.

Rising from the table, Bruce walked towards her.

Olivia still hadn’t moved, too in shock at his appearance. Gone were the weather-beaten jeans and worn Henley shirt. The thick heavy work boots? Gone too. The Bruce Bellamy standing before her was elegantly attired in a charcoal gray, two-piece Brooks Brothers suit and gray Sardegna Loafers. And he’d had a haircut. He leaned in and kissed her cheek.

“Good to see you again, Olivia.” He glanced at his watch. “And right on time. Why am I not surprised?”

Olivia still stared at him, wide-eyed.

Bruce frowned. “Olivia? Is something wrong?”

Taking a deep breath, she finally found her voice.

“Who are you? And what’s all”, she motioned up and down his body, “…this?”

His big boyish grin returned as he took her hand and led her to their table.

“I’m a successful businessman having lunch with a gorgeous, successful attorney in one of the city’s finer restaurants. I couldn’t very well show up in jeans and boots, could I?”

“Well, no…but- “

“And besides, I had to show you I could dress myself and behave appropriately in public.”

Olivia threw her hands up, laughing.

“There you are, Bruce! How nice to see you again!”

Filling their wine glasses, Bruce stopped mid-pour to keep from spilling it the laughter hit him so hard.

Laughing along with him, Olivia visibly relaxed and placed her hand on his arm.

“And just so we’re clear, Mr. Bellamy, I like you in jeans and work boots too.”

The smile he gave her nearly took her breath away. Suddenly self-conscious, Olivia placed her hands in her lap.

Bruce didn’t miss the gesture but continued pouring the wine while changing the subject.

“Would you like to look at the menu, or do you already know what you want?

“No menu needed! I definitely know what I’m having!”

He chuckled as he handed her a glass of wine, then signaled for the waiter.

“I had a feeling.”

Olivia smirked.

“Think you have me figured out already, Bellamy?”

“Not even close, beautiful one. But I do look forward to the adventure.”

She grinned at the compliment and the comment.

“Oooo! I’m an adventure!”

Bruce couldn’t help but stare at her face. The way her eyes sparkled, the genuineness of her smile. She was the same woman he met in his cousin’s driveway, but there was no sign of the sadness he saw in her eyes that day. He had long ago made peace with his own issues of abandonment, but this woman was the first woman to actually make him want to risk his heart again. Bruce was getting lost in Olivia Chandler, and he had no problem with that. His cheeks reddened as heat rose into his face when he realized the waiter and Olivia were staring at him. “I’m sorry. What?

“Where did you go, Bellamy? Are you ready to order?”

He nodded.

“Of course, but ladies first.” Olivia clasped her hands together excitedly.

“I’d like Yum Nuah salad, Tom Yung Kung with shrimp, and with steamed rice, and Pad Thai with chicken…extra spicy, please.”

Bruce’s eye widened.

Olivia frowned. “Is that too much?”

“Not at all. It just sounds like my usual meal here. But my brother goes on and on about me not trying new dishes, so I promised to try a different entrée on my next visit.” He turned to the waiter. “I’ll have the same as the lady, but instead of Pad Thai, I’ll have Phad See-ew with beef.”

After the waiter left, Bruce folded his arms and leaned towards Olivia. “So…how long have you been into Thai food? The dish names usually confound most people, but you seem to have memorized the menu.”

Olivia laughed while shaking her head.

“Only my favorite dishes. And like you, it wouldn’t hurt me to try something new.” She folded her arms on the table and leaned in his direction. “I first had Thai food during my intern days. This place wasn’t open yet, but Siriwat’s was around the corner from the courthouse.”

“And your boss always had lunch delivered to keep you working, right?”

Olivia shook her head. “It was more the boss’ wife dropping in and reprimanding him for working me so hard, and dragging me out of the office to Siriwat’s. After one visit, I was hooked.”

“Wow! The boss’ WIFE? Sounds like you made an impression.”

“Miss Dee is good people. She and Judge Dennison have always been kind to me. He’s actually the judge who assigned Rena’s case to me.”

Bruce whistled.

“He must be really confident in your abilities. I knew you were a legal shark!”

“I am not a shark! The judge just taught me to pay attention to the details, and what is not said. I’ve never forgotten that, and it’s always seen me through, especially with the difficult cases. What about you? When did your love affair with Thai food begin?”

He refilled their wine glasses, while Olivia wondered when she’d emptied her glass.

Slow down, Chandler.

“That is yet another story in my life which involves Court.”

She smiled remembering their antics.

“You two are really close, aren’t you?”

“As brothers. He seemed to be at my side during all the important moments of my life. Including my introduction to Thai food.”

They shared a chuckle.

“It wasn’t too long after Joanna, my ex-wife had left. Mom and dad had taken the kids for the weekend. I’d planned to use the time working on cars, but Court shows up, says he’s hungry and orders me to get in his truck.”

Olivia grinned.

“HE ordered YOU?”

“Never underestimate Courtney Bellamy. He may not be a big man, but he’s all muscle and heart. He’s dropped me on my ass more than a couple of times.”

She laughed aloud and he scowled. “You laugh so easily at my pain.”

This made her laugh even harder. Olivia buried her face in her hands, embarrassed as Bruce continue to stare at her.

“I’m so sorry, Bruce. I don– “

“Don’t ever apologize for laughing, Olivia.” He reached over and pulled her hands from her face.

Olivia placed one on the table, but Bruce had not released the other. She didn’t pull away.

“Or for enjoying yourself. Makes me feel good to know you’re comfortable with me.”

Still holding his gaze, Olivia slowly flipped her hand over until they were palm to palm, and squeezed.

“I’m very comfortable with you, Bruce, and yes, I am enjoying myself.”

Bruce froze. The squeeze of her hand and the sexy timbre of her voice had gone straight to his crotch. She was flirting with him and he loved it! Bruce assumed from her demeanor, Olivia would be a tad more skittish. Perhaps she truly was comfortable with him…maybe even liked him a little. He deftly adjusted himself under the table.

“But you didn’t finish telling your story about you, Courtney and Thai food.”

“Oh yeah. Well, he gets me in his truck and we drive over to Blaine. I think we’re headed to Mike’s Dugout for meatloaf and mashed potatoes, right? He pulls up to this tiny little building near downtown. I have no idea where we are because the name is not written in English. I ask tons of questions before we even get out of the truck, and Court just said, “Trust me.” I follow him inside like a big goof, and the aromas hit me in the face. It smelled like every food dream I’d ever had.”

Olivia’s brows furrowed. “Food dream?”

“Yes, food dream. Women are not the only thing men dream about.”

“Good to know.” She smirked.

He pulled a face at her and continued. “Court had only been there a couple of times himself. Of course, introduced to it by the Mighty Marissa, so we asked the owner to bring us an order of whatever it was we smelled, and keep it coming.”

“Seriously?”

“Yep. I’m sure I had at least three orders of Pad Thai and Tempura vegetables.”

“What appetites!”

“The food was great, but it wasn’t just that. It was the first time I’d allowed myself to admit how I felt about Joanna walking out on the kids and me. The family knew I was hurt and upset, but Olivia, I was pissed off… and it felt good to say it. Even if she didn’t want to be with me, what kind of woman walks away from her children? Breck wasn’t even six months old! And she just… leaves.”

Olivia tightened her grip on his hand. She understood all too well how it felt to be abandoned. But she couldn’t share that with him… could she? He made it look so easy to admit his feelings. He was open and honest. No. She couldn’t tell him her story. He’d see how thoroughly damaged she really was and walk away. Olivia knew she couldn’t have Bruce in her life forever, but she greedily wanted whatever time with him she could get. Just the chance to feel normal for a little while was better than not at all.

Bruce appeared lost in his thoughts too when she spoke.

“It must be wonderful for you and Courtney to have each other to lean on. And you mentioned a brother?”

He cleared his throat.

“Actually… I have–“

Bruce was interrupted when the waiter appeared with a huge tray of hot food, followed by a co-worker with still more food. Olivia gasped.

“Bruce! What did we order?”

“Oh no, no, no! Not ‘We’… YOU. I was just following your lead, Counselor.” Glancing at the food-covered trays, he added, “And I hope you have more than a thirty-minute lunch hour.”

“That’s your defense? Blame me?”

“Only if it’s working.”

One of the waiters turned away and covered his mouth to keep from laughing.

“Olivia, you’re disturbing these gentlemen while they’re trying to work.”

Her mouth flew open. Then, she didn’t even try to stop the laughter bubbling forth. Neither did the waiters.

The couple chatted amiably as they devoured the hot and spicy food. Bruce loved that Olivia wasn’t one of those women who wouldn’t eat in front of a man, choosing to munch on lettuce and sip water instead.

Olivia couldn’t remember a time when she’d had more fun, and was so relaxed. Bruce was easy to talk to and attentive. She reveled in his admiring glances, so different from the leering, lecherous looks she learned to ignore around the courthouse. He told her about building up his business until he had the current dozen auto shops—and plans to open two more—and Olivia suggested new advertising ideas to him because the guy doing his commercials always looked sleepy.

Learning the guy was actually a supervisor at one of Bruce’s shops, and that he had taken acting lessons at the local college especially for the commercials, caused Olivia to nearly choke on her food.

“You okay?”

Bruce stood behind her, patting her back and trying not to laugh.

“I’m glad… you… find… this amusing, Bellamy,” Olivia sputtered, the coughing only made worse by her laughter.

“Here, try this.” Sliding his large hands under her upper arms, Bruce raised them straight up into the air. Within seconds, her coughing stopped. Leaning her head backward, Olivia looked up at him, frowning.

“Where did you learn that, and why did it work?”

Bruce was momentarily speechless. Staring down into her eyes as she leaned back against him tested all his resolve. He knew Olivia was special. When he dared consider his future, he saw her by his side. Bruce didn’t know how or why, and he wasn’t about to second-guess himself. He hadn’t wanted to spend more than a few hours with any one woman since Joanna left. He’d known Olivia Chandler less than a week, and he couldn’t get enough of her. Bruce hadn’t even had the pleasure of kissing Olivia, but he would wait for that too. He would do what it took to make the vision of his future a reality, but it would never happen if he followed his carnal mind in this moment. Bruce quietly exhaled, grateful for the chair separating his hardening erection from Olivia’s back.

“Just something you pick up during the journey of raising kids.”

He slowly lowered her arms, then side stepped behind Olivia to adjust himself. Clearing his throat, Bruce returned to his seat.

“You know kids… little scamps. They can turn a quiet movie night into a high-speed car ride to the emergency room in a heartbeat. Happened to me more times than I care to remember. And boys are the worst. I took Casey, my daughter, to the ER one time in eighteen years, when she had the flu and spiked a high fever. But those boys?” He shook his head. “Science experiments gone wrong, superhero stunts, bike races…no matter what they were into, an accident could… and usually did happen.”

Olivia didn’t miss the faint smile playing on his lips.

“I’m glad everyone was okay… eventually. But, you look as though you enjoyed it.”

Bruce grinned. “Every last second!”

“Sounds like they are lucky to have a dad like you.”

“No, I’m blessed to have them. My life may not have gone the way I intended, but my children saved me. Without them, I would have been just some loser guy spending way too many evenings sitting in a bar. Having them made me see what was truly important.”

Olivia nodded slowly.

“Yes, they are definitely lucky to have a dad like you.”

The slight tilt to Bruce’s head let her know he didn’t understand.

“I have no problems believing you would do anything for your children.”

She glanced away unable to hold his gaze. “There are far too many people on this planet having children and then treating them as an afterthought, or even a burden. Some even believe their young children owe THEM something.”

“I didn’t miss the fact you did not refer to these people as parents.”

“No. Bringing life into the world does not make one a parent.”

“I guess you see a lot of ugliness in your line of work.”

Olivia was still looking away, focused on a spot in her mind she couldn’t clearly see when she heard him.

“Excuse me, what?”

Looking concerned, Bruce grazed his fingers across the back of her hand.

“Where did you go?”

Embarrassed, Olivia tried to slide her hand away from his, but Bruce caught her hand in a firm, gentle grip and held on.

“I meant what I said the other day, Olivia. I’m a good listener. Anytime you want to talk, I’m available. No sermons, no judgments, not even any advice. I’ll just listen.”

He watched her slowly raise her head to look at him, and squeezed her hand as the pain he saw hit him like a punch in the gut. What haunted this beautiful, intelligent woman? She was engaging, witty and funny. She spoke with purpose and authority. But, something triggered a memory. An event? A person? Bruce wasn’t sure, but whatever it was caused Olivia’s walls to rise swift and high.

“Thank you, Bruce, I just may take you up on that.”

He smiled as he felt Olivia squeeze his hand in return. It gave him hope.

“I hope you do, Olivia. I’ll take any opportunity I can get to look into those beautiful eyes of yours.”

Before Olivia could respond, Bruce raised her hand to his lips while his eyes were still lost in hers, and kissed it gently. He didn’t miss the slight tremble in her hand nor her barely audible gasp. He was not in this alone. Olivia was affected too. Neither spoke for several seconds, both of their minds… and pulses racing.

Olivia leaned towards Bruce about to speak when the Imperial Death March from The Empire Strikes Back began to play. Bruce’s eyes widened, then he smirked. Olivia had already buried her face in her free hand, totally embarrassed.

“Guess you’re a really big Star Wars fan, huh Olivia?”

Raising her head, Olivia tried to avoid glancing in Bruce’s direction as she slipped her hand down into her bag to retrieve the offending cell phone.

He leaned in trying to glance at the screen. “Who merits such an ominous ringtone?”

Olivia’s lips twitched as she tried to decipher the text. She figured it out on the third try and her mouth fell open.

“I’m going to kill her!”

Bruce watched Olivia, amused and curious. She finally met his gaze, smiling sheepishly.

“My office manager, Margot. She can be a bit of a… pain.”

Frowning, Bruce asked, “Has she fouled up a case or upset a client?”

“Oh, no. Nothing like that. Margot’s a jewel. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

“And yet, you want to kill her? What am I missing?” He leaned in again, still trying to see the cell screen.

“As an executive assistant and office manager, she’s the best. As a friend, Margot can be over-the-top pushy.”

Recognition dawned in his eyes.

“Was that text about me?”

Olivia dragged her hand over her face. “Just kill me now.”

Bruce pumped his fist in the air.

“I’m trending with the women!”

Olivia roared with laughter. “There’s only two of us, Bellamy. I hardly call that trending.”


What readers are saying…

“I can’t wait to read the next installment, and I highly recommend this book to everyone. I don’t care what your preferred genre is, read it.”

“I wanted to read the whole book in one sitting but had to pace myself because I wanted to savor the wonderful words that Felicia has written.”

“LOVED IT!! In The Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise is a powerhouse novel, overflowing with emotion and real life messages that quite frankly NEED to be said...My heart strings were pulled from cover to cover!”

“Fantastic debut for Felicia Denise. Incredible character study.”


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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 August 2017.

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“Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2)” by Felicia Denise #CoverReveal


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“Family Matters”

Series: In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2

Author: Felicia Denise

Cover Design: Jenn Cunningham

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 2017

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Synopsis:

Olivia Chandler’s journey to wholeness continues as she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of Olivia’s forgiveness?

A Halloween party brings together a surprising group of people, and Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. Another Bellamy has a second chance at love – if he can put his old-fashioned ways aside.

The death of someone close to Olivia has her re-thinking the value of emotional connections. She withdraws from everyone, falling back into her old habit of burying herself in work. A surprise confrontation pushes Olivia to her limits and puts her heart on the line.

Her continued avoidance of confronting Sarina Chandler pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce Bellamy. Olivia must make a decision. Save them… or surrender to her emotional demons.

Excerpt:

“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 teased 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, comfy 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. The residents got a big kick out of the Halloween hay rides.” Sandra leaned in towards Olivia, “ And I hear 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 which 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!

 

~ Author Bio and Links ~

A wife, mother, daughter, sister, blogger and indie author, Felicia loves all things book-related and coffee-related. A southern girl by birth, the fifty-something, voracious reader now resides in Arizona (via Michigan and California) with her husband of thirty-three years. Their three adult children also reside in Arizona – with their dogs. Felicia frequently reminds them she is the only one of her parents’ nine children who isn’t a grandparent.

Writing has been a hobby of Felicia’s since grade school, but other than serving as editor and writing for her high school newspaper, she never publicly shared anything until the early 2000s when she began writing fan fiction. At the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published book, In the Best Interest of the Child, released in the fall of 2016. Her latest book, Free, a Novella, released May 30, 2017.

Sometimes serious and always sarcastic, Felicia continues her literary search for the ultimate non-alpha, non-billionaire, non-bad-boy hero with a non-sassy, non-feisty, non-bad-decision-making heroine whose relationship exemplifies true romance. Recommendations are always welcome!

 

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“My daddy’s dead, my mom’s in a coma and I have no one.”


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“In the Best Interest of the Child”

Author: Felicia Denise

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: September 30, 2016


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What Readers Are Saying!

“Debut novelist Felicia Denise definitely knows how to capture her readers’ attention with the depths of the characters she presents along with the layers of subplots that support the main story line very well.”

“Ms. Denise has done a wonderful job on her first novel. I loved the ending; Looking forward to book 2!”

“LOVED IT!! In The Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise is a powerhouse novel, overflowing with emotion and real life messages…”

“Can’t wait for Book 2. This new author is incredibly talented. Suspense, romance and drama all in one book, you get it all.”

“Let me tell you, Bruce is pure charm. I have never read a male lead with more sincere charm than this man and Felicia wrote him so well…”

“Olivia Chandler is honestly the type of woman I aspire to be in life. She is strong and confident…”

 

Excerpt:

Rena Averest was holding in an incredible amount of emotions. Pain, loss, fear, and even anger were waging war inside her, and not knowing how to deal with them at the same time, she held them all in. Olivia had seen it too many times. She had lived it.

Livvie stared at the wall, willing her tears not to fall.

“Oh, sweetie. Please don’t be angry. It will only make you feel worse. Everyone was only thinking of what was best for you”, the nurse cooed. She reached out to touch Livvie’s arm, but stopped short and pulled her hand back.

The child met her gaze with a defiant glare.

 “You wait days to tell me my daddy’s dead, and now days later, you tell me they already had his funeral.”

 “Honey, you were so weak, and your social worker said it was best for everyone not to tell you at the time, and just let you get better.”

 “What social worker?”

 “Your social worker, Mrs. Jenkins.”

Livvie’s eyes widened.

 “That tall woman with the ugly hair and mean face is my social worker?”

 “Livvie! That’s not nice!”

 “I only remember seeing her once, and she never looked at me… not one time. I don’t want her to be my social worker!”

The nurse sighed heavily.

 “Certain decisions have to be made for you right now, Livvie, and since you’re not an adult, the state has to step in and help out.”

 “What about my mom?”

The nurse looked away and smoothed the bed covers.

“She’s still in a coma, isn’t she? And you weren’t going to tell me.”

Straightening her back and standing to her full height, the nurse’s voice took a firmer tone.

 “You have no idea what your body… and your mind have been through, Livvie. As a child, you’re not able to understand how serious this all is.”

Livvie pushed herself into a sitting position, wincing from the pain.

 “My daddy’s dead, my mom’s in a coma and I have no one. People who don’t even know me get to tell Little Livvieme what to do.” She continued before the nurse could speak. “We don’t have any more family. We only had each other. So strangers buried my daddy, and no one told me. I’m ten and a half, not stupid.”

She reached for the child, but Livvie pulled away, wincing again.

 “I didn’t even get to say goodbye. My daddy’s gone… and I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

 “Livvie, I’m so sorry-…”

Ignoring the pain, Livvie turned on her side with her back to the nurse and spoke in a hushed tone.

 “Go away. Just go… away.” Livvie exhaled when she heard the door open, then close. The tears she had fought so hard to hold on to, now wouldn’t come at all. She wanted to scream and cry.

 She wanted her daddy to run into the room and save her. Instead, she felt as if the lump in her throat would choke her. Livvie massaged her forehead slowly and closed her eyes.

“Why did you leave me, daddy? I’m so scared, daddy. I need you.”

Livvie felt her legs and back begin to throb and knew someone would come to give her medicine soon to stop the pain. The medicine would make her sleep and she wouldn’t have to talk. The thought made her smile slightly and remember another time when she couldn’t talk.

She’d had her tonsils removed two years ago, and despite being able to eat all the ice cream she wanted, she still cried because of the pain. Her daddy sat close to her on the bed and rubbed her back.

 “It’s okay to cry, Livvie-Lou, everyone cries. But I’m going to need you to work towards being strong for your dad. Too much crying is not good for your throat and I know you don’t want to go back the hospital. And you know how your mom feels about hospitals.”

Livvie opened her eyes suddenly.

She had no idea how her mother felt about hospitals.

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

Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2)

Coming August 2017

Cover Reveal June 29th!

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Good Morning, Mother

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52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 23

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.


Feeling 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 chuff 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’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. 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.”

“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.”

“Quinn-…”

“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.

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Need a Good Read for the Weekend?

Livvie in the hospital

“I’m ten and a half, not stupid.”

In the Best Interest of the Child

Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, underserved child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.

Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.

Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.

Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.

A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.

bit.ly/BestInt

Kindle Unlimited

#WomensFiction #Romance