Time for Dessert #WritingChallenge


Dinner Table

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 40
Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. Olivia Chandler and Casey Bellamy have a quiet moment together while preparing dessert. REALLY trying to finish this WIP!

“I can’t tell you how surprised I am at Breck. We don’t get to see him so animated often.”

Casey passed a dessert dish to Olivia as they prepared plates in the kitchen.

“I don’t understand, Casey. What do you mean?”

“Well, you’ve seen how no one in this family has trouble speaking up. Except for my baby brother. He’s the shy one. The Introvert.”

Olivia smiled. “But he doesn’t miss much, does he?”

“Not a thing. Shaun thinks when Breck is quiet he’s writing screenplays in his head… about us.”

“Uh, oh.”

“I know, right? My family on the big screen? It would be slapstick for sure.”

Shaking her head and laughing, Olivia grabbed the serving tray and stacked three plates on it. When she turned for more, Casey wasn’t dishing up more plates. She was staring at Olivia.

“Is something wrong, Casey?”

“It’s because of you. You know that, right? Breck being comfortable enough with you to open up?”

“Oh, honey. I’m flattered, but I’ve only been here for an afternoon. Maybe Breck is just happy to have his family together.”

“I don’t think so, Olivia. We’re a busy lot, but we’re together at some point at least once a week. Breck is always quiet. It’s you.”

Olivia opened her mouth to respond, but Casey continued.

“You work with children, right? You’re a child-advocate attorney?”

“Yes, but-…”

“And the children you work with… they never have difficulty talking to you… opening up to you, do they?”

“Well, no, but-…”

“I didn’t think so. I’m sure you’ve had your share of worst-case scenarios, but for the most part, children can sense you’re genuine. Not trying to scam or trick them. I believe Breck senses that too.”

Children deserve to hear the truth, no matter how painful. Lies only build mistrust or worse… cause children to blame themselves.” Olivia turned away and squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out a memory.

Casey reached out, touching Olivia’s arm.

“Where did you go, Olivia? You okay?”

Returning her gaze to Casey, Olivia smiled. “I am. Thank you for-”

Olivia’s words faded as both women looked towards the kitchen door.

“Des-sert! Des-sert! Des-sert!”

Casey Bellamy giggled at Olivia’s wide-eyed expression then quickly filled the remaining plates.

“Seriously, Casey? Chanting? Are they in the dining room or cell-block D?”

Chuckling, Casey loaded the plates onto the tray and backed toward the door. Olivia lifted the tray and followed her.

“You should be honored, Olivia. They’re on their best behavior.” She pushed the door open for Olivia and stood to the side. “At least there hasn’t been a food fight.”

Olivia froze mid-step, a horrified look on her face.

Casey laughed harder.

©Felicia Denise 2017

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


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She was still two steps away from the large, ornate, mahogany door when it opened. Olivia slowed her steps, curious to see who already knew of her arrival.

Olivia’s eyes were focused on the area of the doorway where someone of average height might appear. She was almost in the doorway when she realized someone was standing in front of her.

The description of Marie Averest given to Olivia came to mind as she glanced down.

Impeccably dressed with flawless makeup and hair, Olivia felt like a giant standing before the woman. She stood nearly a foot taller than the diminutive senior citizen. Her height was not so much the surprise as was her weight. Marie Averest didn’t appear to weigh more than one hundred pounds. Still, while her appearance said affluence, her eyes told Olivia two things. First, while Duncan felt he and Rena shared the same grin, and she resembled Irene in every other way, it was Rena’s eyes staring back at Olivia from her grandmother’s face.

The second thing Olivia noticed was Marie had suffered. Trauma, depression, or grief, Olivia didn’t know. But she had seen that look too many times before in the faces of her young clients… and in her own mirror, not to recognize it.

As the passing seconds made the silence awkward, it was Olivia who spoke first. “Mrs. Averest?”

Marie nodded slightly.

“You have to be Ms. Chandler. Welcome to my home. Please, come in.”

Hearing the older woman’s voice, Olivia knew immediately what she saw in her eyes.

Fear.

Without her timid demeanor, Olivia would describe Marie as soft-spoken. But the shaky, near-whisper voice hinted that Marie was afraid of something…or someone.

Olivia stepped inside past Marie, looking around the foyer.

The top half of the hallway walls were covered in linen wallpaper which appeared to be an antique white.

A narrow entry table and two small Quaker-inspired chairs were the only items in the foyer, but all were made of a dark wood Olivia didn’t recognize and polished to a high gloss. The style said English and old, and perfectly matched the half-wall paneling.

Olivia frowned.

Paneling? Now there’s something you don’t see much of anymore.

Despite the light-colored wallpaper, the dark wood elements simply overwhelmed the entrance and gave it an eerie feel. Olivia felt any horror or paranormal movie could be filmed right where she was standing.

These people have a thing for darkness.

It also wasn’t lost on Olivia that even though the small area would never be part of a magazine layout of design tips, it was expensive… very expensive. Duncan’s comment came to mind.

“My father is not super wealthy, but he likes for people to believe he is.”

Moving the Brigg attaché from one hand to the other, Olivia was ready for Charles Averest. Still waiting for direction from Marie, Olivia found she was still standing near the front door.

Olivia smiled, but the tiny woman simply pointed past Olivia down a hallway. Glancing in the same direction, Olivia saw there was a door ajar at the end of the hallway. Turning back to thank Marie, Olivia only saw her back… as she scurried away through another door off the foyer.

Olivia frowned.

What is going on in this house?

Realizing it wasn’t her problem…and she really didn’t care, Olivia headed towards the open door. Just as she reached the doorway, the door was quickly pulled all the way open by Charles Averest. Olivia skillfully hid her surprise for as tiny and petite as Marie Averest was, her husband was the exact opposite. Well over six feet tall, he still looked pretty good for a man in his seventies. Broad shouldered and muscle-toned, Olivia might have called him handsome. With his thin, snow white hair and equally white, closely trimmed beard and sideburns, he could have passed for Colonel Sanders’ brother…if not for the ridiculous, honey blond toupee perched on top of his head.

“You must be Mr. Averest.” He glared down at her, not even trying to hide his contempt.

“I am not happy about this meeting or having you in my home, young lady! I’m only allowing this because you threatened me!”

Returning his glare, Olivia had to will away the sneer twitching in her top lip.

“I do not threaten people, Mr. Averest. I gave you options. This meeting could just have easily been held in my office or a judge’s chamber. YOU chose your home.”

Not even waiting for an invitation into the room, Olivia walked past Charles. “And my name is Olivia Chandler. You can call me Ms. Chandler.” When Olivia planned this meeting, she knew she would have to control her temper, but wasn’t prepared for it to flare so soon after her arrival.

The room appeared to be Charles Averest’s office… and another decorating nightmare.

Placing her attaché on a table near the center of the room, Olivia didn’t miss the movement to her far left, and casually said, “Hello, John. How are you?”

When she turned towards him, she caught the stunned expression on his face before he schooled his features.

“I’m good, Olivia. But forgive me if I’m a bit confused as to why you’re here. Don’t you have enough to do in kiddie-court?”

Olivia’s smile morphed into a smirk.

“I was wondering the same about you, John? I mean, why are you here? I thought martini lunches lasted until 3.”

She turned back to the attaché before he could answer and flipped the latches, but paused and gave him a side glance. “But then, I am an attorney, right? Even though my arena is… what did you call it? Kiddie-court? And you wouldn’t want me talking to your client without legal representation, would you, John?”

“Now see here, Ms. Chandler! Exactly what is this all about?”

Charles Averest walked towards her, trying to loom over Olivia and use his height to intimidate her. It had no effect. John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

John Campbell Brock rushed to his client’s side.

“Calm down, Charles. I’m sure Ms. Chandler won’t take up too much of your time, will you- “

“When did you learn of the car accident your son and his family were involved in, Mr. Averest?”

Olivia cut John off without so much as a glance.

“What does that-“

Olivia didn’t miss a beat.

“When did you learn of it? How did you find out?”

John exhaled loudly.

“I really must ask you to tell us what this is about or leave, Olivia. Mr. Averest is a prominent man in the community and my friends down at the courthouse will not be pleased with your treatment of him.”

Olivia folded her arms across her chest.

“My treatment of him?”

She looked at Charles. “My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“My treatment of you? Am I mistreating you, Mr. Averest? I feel I’ve been rather pleasant. And I’ve definitely treated you far better than you have your own granddaughter.” She relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Olivia relished the stunned looks on the two men’s faces before continuing. “Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

“Since you’re reluctant to give me any information, I’ll share some with you.” As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

As she half-turned to the attaché, she looked back at them, allowing her gaze to drift from their faces to their feet and back. “You’ll probably want to take a seat now.”

Charles and John exchanged nervous glances before moving to chairs near the table.

She locked her eyes on Charles Averest.

“You received word of the car accident soon after it happened. Probably from someone who heard Duncan’s last name. Unfortunately, because of his injuries, Duncan was the last living victim to be removed from the scene. You arrived shortly after the medi-copter carrying your son. While he was being prepped for surgery, you learned your daughter-in-law was killed in the accident.”

Charles huffed at the term she used for Irene.

Arms still folded, Olivia walked over to Charles and stood in front of him, leaning her hip against the table.

“See? That right there? That sound you just made? That’s the crux of the problem, Mr. Averest… your indifference – your lack of compassion or concern for the two most important people in your son’s life.”

John leaped to his feet.

“Olivia! You’ve gone too far!”

She replied without taking her eyes off Rena’s grandfather.

“Sit down, John.”

The arrogant attorney bristled.

“Who the hell- “

Olivia’s calm voice didn’t match the flash of anger in her eyes.

“Watch yourself, Brock. You’re going to need a friend… soon.”


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“A thirty-minute conversation changed their lives…”


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“Free, a Novella” by Felicia Denise

#99cents #KindleUnlimited

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Snippet

Lennie leaned down, kissed his forehead and placed the napkin across her father’s lap. Just as she got it in place, Burt looked up at her.

Lenore was gutted.

More pieces of her already broken heart fell away.

His ashen skin, mottling and in different shades of brown and gray unsettled her. His slack jaw and visible body tremors made Lennie shudder. His eyes were her undoing. The mischievous gleam responsible for so much laughter, which had helped to comfort, console, and encourage her… was gone.

Father and daughter were still eye-to-eye, the reality of the situation holding Lennie in place when she felt his frail hand cover hers.

“Thank… you, baby girl.”

Lennie smiled and kissed his cheek, comforted with the knowledge she made her father happy. “You’re welcome, Daddy… always.”

Before Lennie could retrieve his dinner plate, Linda Kelimore was already cutting the meat into tiny portions.

“Lenore, take the other plate for yourself.”

“But that’s yours, mom.”

“It will be cold before I get to it. Go on, eat. I know you’ve been on your feet since the lunch rush.”

Just like that, Lennie was twelve years old again, doing as she was told.

Picking at her food, she tried not to stare at her parents. But Lennie couldn’t help but be mesmerized. Watching as her mother fussed and cooed in loving tones at Burt to take his time and chew each tiny bite of food. Linda caressed his cheek between bites. Burt rested his hand on her knee, never taking his eyes off Linda’s face.

Feeling like an intruder on a private moment, Lennie did force herself to look away.

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

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

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“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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Saying Goodbye


Olivia and Willis

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 33
This is part of a scene from the upcoming Family Matters, book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child. Olivia Chandler is at the bedside of Willis Benson, her lifelong protector, as he lay dying. Her fear of abandonment threatens to overwhelm her until Willis reminds her of one important detail.

“How long has he known?”

“Since July.”

“July?” Thoughts and images raced through Olivia’s mind. She’d spent time with Willis on five or six occasions in the last four months. And never suspected a thing.

“How long-”

“No one knows. Two weeks… two hours. Any answer would be a guess.”

“That’s unacceptable. His condition must tell them something. Who is this doctor? Maybe we should get a-”

“Olivia, stop.”

She frowned.

“Dad signed a DNR.”

Ian became a blur to Olivia. Dizziness and nausea gripped her, Heat enveloped her body as sudden fatigue caught hold and dragged her toward the floor.

Ian was the only reason Olivia didn’t fall. He held on and propped her against the wall.

Ian spoke to her but Olivia heard no words. Her jumbled thoughts were of Willis Benson, the man in the brown suit she met as a ten-year-old. The only constant in her life since that fateful day when everything changed.

Ben Chandler planned well for his daughter’s future. But it was Willis Benson who fought for Olivia… and her mother. He risked his own job future and status in the firm to carry out Ben’s wishes.

When Olivia turned eighteen and took partial control of her inheritance, Willis was at her side. He answered Olivia’s questions and gave mild guidance, but Willis insisted she make her own decisions.

Years later when Olivia refused to visit her mother ever again, Willis accepted it and continued to stand by her.

Now Olivia needed to accept the fact if… no, when Willis suffered another cardiac episode or seizure, no life-saving measures would be taken.

He would die… and leave her.

With a sense of urgency, Olivia attempted to break Ian’s hold on her.

“I have to see him, Ian! Please let me see him! Let me… say goodbye.”

With a simple nod, Ian took Olivia by the hand and returned to his father’s room.

Malcolm Benson had his chair pulled close to the bed as he clasped one of Willis’ big hands between his own. Not as tall as Ian or their father, Malcolm had more brawn. He rose from his seat and pulled Olivia into a one-arm hug while still holding his father’s hand.

“Hey, pretty lady. He’s been asking for you.”

“I’m sorry. I was in court… it ran long… delays…-”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.”

Olivia smiled and stepped past Malcolm to greet her lifelong protector and surrogate father and was shocked by Willis’ appearance.

She and Willis spoke at least once every week by phone, and several times by text, but six weeks had passed since their last face-face meeting. It was hard for Olivia to reconcile the lively, robust Willis Benson from late summer with the pale, gaunt figure before her. He was twenty-five pounds lighter… at least. Drawn skin over his neck and jawline gave the older attorney a skeletal look.

Olivia’s jaws ached to hold onto the smile which masked her breaking heart. However, when she looked into the dying man’s eyes, her soul calmed. Life was leaving his body, but the piercing blue eyes of Willis Benson reflected all the wisdom and wit Olivia admired and loved for so many years.

“Livvie-”

She stopped him with a gentle touch to his lips.

“Don’t try to speak, Willie-B. I just want to be here with you.”

He placed his hand over hers and squeezed.

“When have I ever passed up a chance to talk? You do know I’m an attorney, right?”

Olivia laughed even as her tears flowed down her face.

“Why, Willie-B? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“For the same reason I didn’t tell the boys. You all would have put your lives on hold, waiting on me hand and foot, trying to make my last days good ones. My dear, I haven’t had a good day since I lost my Sarah.”

He winced, new pain breaking through, defying the powerful IV drug cocktail started only moments before.

“It’s my time, Livvie. But I go knowing you and the boys will be okay. I’m proud of the men my sons have become. And I’m proud of you… just as proud as your father would be.”

“But there had to be times when-”

Willis cut her off.

“Yes, honey. There were days I was sure I’d be dead before sundown. But with rest and medication, I went on. It wasn’t my time yet. But it is now.”

“Why didn’t you choose to fight it? The Mayo Clinic is a short car ride away, or we could have gone anyplace in the world to help you fight for your life.”

Willis closed his eyes but continued to speak.

“It was not a rash decision, my dear. I gave the matter serious thought.”

He opened his eyes and regarded Olivia warmly.

“I’m… not a young man. My cancer is one of… the most aggressive. In the end, my dear, I may have gotten what? An extra two? Three years? And the treatments would have taken their toll making me an invalid needing constant care.”

Olivia clutched the dying man’s frail hand.

“Don’t be afraid, Livvie. I’m not. It hasn’t been easy… these last few months, but for me, it was the best decision. To go on my own terms… not surrendering. Pain has been the worst part of this journey. But, I knew that’s how it would end for me. Please… try not to judge me too harshly.”

Olivia shook her head, almost in a frantic state. “No, Willie-B. I would never do that. You’re the last person on the planet I would judge.”

She tried to calm herself. Reaching out, she caressed his sunken cheek, his skin cool to the touch. “Just rest now. Save your strength. We can talk more in a little while.”

With effort, Willis raised his hand and covered hers.

“This is our time to talk, Livvie. This… is what my strength is for.”

Willis went on before Olivia could speak.

“You must make a decision about… your mother, Livvie.”

©Felicia Denise

Available now in Print!


Free, a Novella print copy

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Lenore Porter’s life had not gone as she planned. The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed. The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her. But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares, severe family dysfunction, and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness. With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

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

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

 


 

No More Excuses


No More Excuses

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 32
Another snippet from Quinn Landon’s journey to free herself from her judgmental family and adulterous husband.

Though she went to bed fatigued and stressed over the late-afternoon argument with her brother, Quinn Landon woke refreshed. She was anxious to get to the veteran’s outreach center and focus on something other than her problems.

Several months had passed since Quinn last volunteered. Increased job duties and her failing marriage consumed her time and energy. Renewing her commitment to community service was important to Quinn.  It was her way of giving back for all the support and encouragement center director Vince Saxton, and his incredible staff had given her brother, Clinton.

After over a decade in the Army, Clinton Clark returned home six years ago with PTSD, night tremors, and considerable anger.  It was a shock to the Clark family to see what service to his country had done to Clinton. Eddie and Katherine Clark soon overcame their initial shock, however.

Insisting Clinton needed time alone to sort out his thoughts while receiving treatment, his parents found a tiny apartment near the outreach center and moved their son right in. They never mentioned his name or visited him.

His siblings were confused at first but soon adopted the same mindset as their parents-out of sight, out of mind.

All except Quinn.

She was devastated by her brother’s mental and physical condition and angered at the ease their parents had at removing him from their lives.

Katherine Clark made the situation even worse when she refused to share Clinton’s address.

“Just leave him be, Quinn Avery. He’ll come back to us when he’s himself again.”

“And what if that never happens, mother? What if he’s never himself again, then what? Do we even know what happened to him?”

“Clinton will be just fine, I’m sure of it. And we were told there was some sort of ambush and quite a few members of his unit were killed. I don’t want to know any more than that.”

“That’s just awesome, mom! Your son’s living in his own personal hell and you don’t care why, nor do you intend to stand by him. Someone is sure to give us a Family-of-the-Year award!”

“Quinn! That’s no way to speak to your mother.”

Oscar slumped, his body shrinking in size from the cold gaze his wife pinned on him. He thought better of saying any more, sure Quinn wasn’t past her anger at finding out about his latest affair.

“Thank you, Oscar, but I’m more than used to my youngest child’s flair for drama.”

At first surprised at Katherine’s comment, Quinn’s features morphed into a smirk.

“I learned from the best.” Quinn turned to leave her parents’ home.

“Just where do you think you’re going, Quinn Avery?”

“To find my brother, mother. No more excuses.”

Quinn went out the front door, rage making her deaf to Katherine and Oscar’s cries for her to come back.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

“Free, a Novella” by Felicia Denise #ExcerptReveal


In this short excerpt, Lenore Porter is reading a letter from her beloved Aunt Diane who recently passed away.


In every area of your life, you always stood out. You never tried to be the center of attention or sought the limelight, but it found you! It always found you! Your beautiful inner light shone like a beacon drawing people to you. You were never a vain or prideful child, but your dignity and grace were evident long before you reached your adult years. Why are you allowing this man to dim your light?

And you are allowing it, Lennie. I don’t for one minute believe that Ranard controls or dominates you in any way. He’s more like an unruly child acting out and you’re the tolerant, long-suffering parent.

That’s not what marriage is about, Lennie.

I’ve watched you both when you weren’t looking. I’ve never seen him hold your hand, or kiss or caress your cheek. I’ve never heard him compliment you, or say anything positive about you. But I held out hope. You have a reason for everything you do, so I knew there was a reason you married that man. But was it love, Lennie?

As your third anniversary fast approaches, you’ve already been married longer than Conrad and me. But we had so much joy and laughter, Lennie. We were disappointed I didn’t get pregnant before he shipped out, but it didn’t dampen our happiness one bit.

Where is your joy, Lennie? What makes you happy? It has to be more than your children because they will grow up and leave for their own life journeys. I speak from experience even though I wasn’t blessed to be a mother. I shared my sister’s heartache and anxiety when you left.

I also shared my concerns about you with her after our vacation. I was both relieved and saddened to find out she understood and felt the same way. Relieved because I now had someone to talk to about it – I couldn’t talk to you, Lennie. I knew you’d be angry and I didn’t want to lose you – and I was also sad because if Linda saw the same problems, they were real and not the overactive imagination of a nosy old woman.

I’ve always known you would be my heir. I almost told you on a couple of occasions, but I knew you’d insist that I sell everything and donate the money to some organization saving whales, or hamsters, or gophers… or whatever is all the rage at the moment. But no, I want you to have what was mine. It gives me peace to know I can do this one last thing for you and the children.

However, I am not done. I’m sure you’re fit to be tied by now. Clutching this letter with both hands, beads of perspiration forming on your forehead as you think about digging up my body to tell me about my bossy self.

My sweet Lennie Penny.

I hope you are sitting down because if you are angry with me now, by the time you finish this letter, you WILL dig up my body!


Free_full cover

“Free, a Novella”

Author: Felicia Denise

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: May 30, 2017


Synopsis

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

The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.

The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

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

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

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

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

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

99¢!

Amazon US  http://bit.ly/LindenLane

Amazon UK  http://bit.ly/LindenLaneUK

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Amazon AU  http://bit.ly/LindenLaneAU

Goodreads   http://bit.ly/FreeANovella

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