Another Loss #WIP


Another snippet from the upcoming Family Matters. The loss of her longtime protector, mentor, and father-figure, Willis Benson, devastates Olivia Chandler.

An hour late, Olivia strode past Margot’s desk, her eyes focused on her office door.

Margot watched her pass, unhappy with what she was about to do. Setting her workstation to away status, she followed her boss into Olivia’s office.

Olivia appeared not notice Margot’s presence and fumbled around, pulling out her laptop and opening file folders.

Standing near the door, Margot folded her arms across her chest… and waited. She watched Olivia move folders around her desk several times before placing them in their original positions.

Lost in thought, the attorney remained standing at her desk, head bowed. When at last she looked up, Olivia was startled at seeing Margot.

“What’s wrong?”

“You tell me, Olivia. You’ve been in a fog since you got here… late. You’re never late.”

“We all have off days, Schultz.”

“You don’t. Not when it comes to your job.”

“Well, guess I’m due then, huh?”

“Maybe. Olivia, what’s-”

“How’s the day shaping up? Bowers custody hearing at one, right? Does Louis have the background check done for the Nealy case?”

“Yes, the background check is back… and on your desk,” she gestured at the mess Olivia had created, “somewhere. Mr. Bowers has asked for a thirty-day continuance and Mrs. Bowers isn’t arguing against it. Judge Whelan is ready to grant it as long as you don’t have a problem with the custody arrangement for the kids.”


“Okay, what?”

“I have no problem with the custody arrangement.”

Margot glared at her boss as her patience wore thin.

“I haven’t told you what the arrangements are yet, Olivia.”

A pained look marred Olivia’s features. She fell back into her chair… silent.

Margot turned and closed the office door. Her brow knitted with worry, she took a seat in front of Olivia’s desk.

“Talk to me. Olivia, what happened?”

“I’m fine, Margot. It’s an off day. It hap-”

“Stop it.”

Leaning forward, the office manager’s voice hardened. Her eyes bored into Olivia.

“You were late. In the ten years I’ve worked for you, Olivia, you’ve never been late. Not. Once. You didn’t take any of my calls or texts. You haven’t taken any of Bruce’s calls and the man is crazy with worry.  He drove by your house twice last night and wanted to call the police when you weren’t there. You don’t want to talk about it, fine. But we care about you, Olivia, and we don’t deserve to be treated like we don’t matter.”

Margot stood and walked toward the door, still talking. “Please let me know how you want to proceed after you read the Bowers’ custody arrangements.”

Olivia’s shoulders slumped, shame bearing down on her. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. As Margot reached for the doorknob, Olivia called out but for all her effort, her voice was low, soft and quavered.

“Margot, I’m sorry.”

The offended woman stopped, leaving the door closed but she also didn’t turn around.

“You’re right. I’m being unfair. I-I… don’t know why I have such a problem processing-”

Margot whirled around. “Olivia, dammit! What happened?”

Grief and anxiety won. Olivia wilted deeper into her chair as the first tear fell.

“Willis died last night.”


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Afghan

White afghan

This is another unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter.

She smiled standing in her friend’s room. It was one hundred percent Rosie Chastain, appearing light and delicate, but held up by a solid sturdy foundation.

The ninety-year-old high-back rocking chair still sat in the corner. Made from thick oak by Rosie’s Uncle Preston, with pale pink cushions hand-sewn by his wife, Delia, it was Rosie’s special place. Whenever she had to sit and think about something, pray over something or someone, or collect her thoughts after a bad day, Rosie sat in the rocker.

Ana ran her hand over the smooth, glossy wood.

Next to the rocker was a massive nine-drawer dresser. Ana wasn’t sure what tree the dresser’s wood came from, but she remembered hearing workmen swear at the dresser’s weight when Rosie bought new carpeting and it had to be moved.

She opened drawers, not surprised at the order and neatness. Ana walked into the closet and was overwhelmed with memories of Rosie. The scent of the light jasmine and amber cologne Rosie loved was still in the air. Nurse’s uniforms, surgical scrubs, and lab coats took up a full third of the closet. Ana looked through the dress clothes, smiling at her friend’s love of silk.

She walked out of the closet and stood next to the large four-poster bed. Like the dresser, the bed was made from real wood and took four men to move it.

Sitting on the side of the bed, Analeigh buried her face in her hands.

Rosie was gone and now she had to get rid of these precious things.


Jeff told her to leave anything she didn’t want in the house and the auction company would include it in their inventory and sale.

Ana didn’t think she could part with the bedroom furniture. She had no space for it in her modest two-bedroom condo back in Columbus, but these were the pieces Rosie loved and cherished most and they were important to Ana too. She would find premium movers and storage until she made decisions about her future.

Ana reached for her notepad and realized it was on the kitchen counter.

Headed for the kitchen, Ana stopped when she saw something behind the bedroom door. She closed the door to find a dark leather ottoman. It was large and square… and Ana had never seen it before.

Rosie must have bought it after Ana left Corwin.

She knelt for a closer look and saw the tiny brass hinges. Ana raised the ottoman’s lid and clutched her chest with a raspy gasp.

Her eyes filled with tears as she reached into the ottoman to retrieve the treasure.

Sitting on the floor, Ana hugged the one hundred percent Merino wool afghan. She rubbed her chin and cheek against it, incredulous it was still as baby soft as the day she and Rosie completed it.

 ~ ~ ~
Ana made a few bracelets and necklaces, but she never had the patience for jewelry making and working with crystal the way Rosie did. She had no passion for it. When a friend told Rosie about loop knitting and arm knitting, she thought they might be something Ana would enjoy, and it was a creative endeavor.

She was right.

Ana was thrilled when Rosie presented her with the bulky snow-white yarn. She watched the accompanying video four times over two days before she would even consider beginning her project.

On the third day, Rosie laughed as a giddy Ana dumped the first bag of yarn on the dining room table.

A small piece of paper clung to one of the skeins. Ana picked it up and read it. Her mouth gaped open as she backed away from the table.

“What’s wrong, Analeigh?”

Shaking her head, Ana opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come.

“Analeigh? What’s wrong, honey? You okay?”

Rosie took a step towards her, but Ana threw up her hands, the slip of paper clutched in her fist.

“You spent almost five-hundred dollars on yarn? For me? Rosie that’s crazy. You have to take it back.”

“Is that what has you so upset? The cost of the yarn?” Rosie waved her off. “The cost is not important, sweetie. The look in your eyes and the smile on your face is what matters. The sense of accomplishment you’ll have at trying something new… being creative, that’s how we grow. Accepting challenges. Now, calm down and let’s get-”

“No, Rosie. You have to take it back.”

“Stop talking nonsense, child. I’ll do no such thing. And haven’t I taught you it is rude to refuse a gift?”

Ana walked over to Rosie, lifted one of her hands and placed the receipt in it.

“Yes, you did, Rosie, but this is too much. I’m not worth it.”

Rage erupted in Rosie and her tawny brown skin glowed as heat suffused her body. She crumpled the receipt in her hand and stalked around the table. Her arms flailed, and her gaze darted around the room.

Analeigh Sellers took a step back, afraid Rosie would send her away and not be her friend anymore.

“I’m sorry, Rosie.”

The wiry old woman rushed to Ana, grabbing and clutching her to her chest.

The teen didn’t understand, but held on, not wanting to be sent away. When Rosie pulled back, Ana saw her face was wet with tears.

“What’s wrong, Rosie?”

She smoothed Ana’s hair down and cupped her cheeks in her hands.

“Some folks think the worst way to hurt a child is physically… beat on them, smack them around. But, sweetie, what’s been done to you is just as bad… worse in some ways.”

“I don’t understand.”

Rosie Chastain tilted her head toward the table.

“Child, if I spent ten-thousand-dollars on that yarn it was worth it to me to see you smile because you are worth it. You are important to me. You matter.”

Ana opened her mouth to argue, but Rosie stopped her.

“You can’t put a price on people, Analeigh, everyone has value. Everyone matters because they are here… alive. There isn’t one of us who is better or more worthy than anyone else. I know that to be true. I’ve seen a lot in almost seventy years on this earth, but I’ve never come across a person who was better than anyone else.”

Pain mixed with the confusion on Ana’s face and she looked away.

Rosie gently turned her head back to see her eyes.

“Child, I could tell you how special and worthy you are all day long, but it don’t mean nothing if you don’t believe it yourself.”

~ ~ ~

Ana wiped her eyes remembering that day. It took a little more time, but she soon learned to walk with her head held high. Because of Rosie Chastain.

~ ~ ~
For the next three weeks, Ana stopped by after school every afternoon, and she and Rosie worked on the afghan together. Methodically matching loops and rows.

On the last day, Ana locked the final stitch and the women complimented each other as they admired their handiwork.

“We’re pretty good, huh?”

“Child, you could sell this for twice what the yarn cost.”

“No way. I’ll never sell it.”

“Does my old heart good to hear that.”

Rosie ran her hand over the blanket.

“Just a month ago, this was piles of yarn, no shape or form, sitting on the store shelves waiting to be purchased. I bought the yarn and you, Analeigh, studied the process. You decided on a pattern and we worked together, keeping the blanket uniform…no loose ends. And now we have this beautiful creation.”

Ana admired her handiwork until she realized Rosie stopped speaking. She glanced in her direction only to find Rosie’s eyes locked on her.

“This blanket is you, Analeigh.”

Ana’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Your young life here… in this town, was just a pile of loose ends. No one tried to give you structure and guidance. They just grabbed a loose end and pulled. But you’re growing into a beautiful young woman and forging your own structure without anyone’s guidance. You’ve got the pattern, Analeigh, time to make your own creation.”

“If I did any of those things, Rosie, it’s because of you.”

“Oh, no, child. I was the shelter from the storm. We all need one sometimes, and we all act as one. You’ll be someone’s shelter one day too so they can have the opportunity to figure it all out. That’s all I did for you.”

“No, Rosie… it’s not. You gave me structure and guidance. And love. And Rosie you saved my life.”

Ana gathered the ends of the snow-white afghan and placed them in Rosie’s hands.

“That’s why I want you to have this.”

~ ~ ~
Ana closed the lid on the ottoman.
Rosie Chastain broke down in tears that day. Ana knew the spry senior citizen was fond of her, but she’d always felt Rosie acted more out of pity. A sense of dread stayed nestled close to her heart, fearing the day would come Rosie would no longer consider Analeigh worthy of her time.

The bond between the two friends was cemented that day. Ana knew she would leave Corwin and its suffocating judgment behind. Leaving Rosie Chastain wasn’t an option.


©2017 Felicia Denise
Image by jdurham

“Where is your joy, Lennie?”

Free_full cover

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!


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


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.


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Sacrificial Daughter | #WIP

Sacrificial Daughter

NaNoWriMo lives! This unedited excerpt is from my 2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter, currently in revisions.

Thirty minutes passed before Ana Sellers returned Jeff Russell’s call. Expecting a receptionist or machine, she was surprised when Jeff answered the phone.

“Russell and Peters, may I help you?”

“I’m returning a call to Jeff Russell.”


Pulling the phone away from her ear, Ana stared at it, incredulous. He knew her? Sixteen years had passed since the day she left Corwin without looking back.

“You know me?”

You were a year ahead of me in school.”

The name still didn’t ring any bells so she would have to take his word for it.

“I see. And now you’re an attorney in Corwin.?”

“Yes, my cousin, Adam, and I took over the practice from our dads about seven years ago.”

“And… and why d-do you need to speak to me, Jeff? What is the urgency?”

Silence was his response.

“Jeff? Still there?”

“Yes, I’m here. I’ve been looking for you for over two weeks.”

“Please tell me what this is about and why you’ve been looking for me.”

She heard an exhale escape from him, gruff and harsh.

“Analeigh, Rosie Chastain passed away.”

Ana froze. Rosie? Gone? No. No way. She spoke to her dear friend… three weeks ago. Damn it. Rosie said she was coming down with a cold but was looking forward to flying to Georgia in July to see her good friend and surrogate daughter.

Ana pulled at her chest, trying to ease the pain gnawing at her heart.

“W-What happened?”

“Heart failure. She told everyone she had a cold, but it was pneumonia. Her heart wasn’t strong enough to handle it. Rosie had a heart attack and slipped into a coma. Three days later, she coded. There was nothing the doctors could do.”

Her dear friend was gone. Ana’s skin prickled with anxiety as she fought to keep grief from overwhelming her.

“Jeff, how did you find me? What made you even look for me?”

“Like I said, it took some time, Analeigh. Rosie didn’t get out much the last few years. The few people she did talk to said she was disgusted with the changes and direction of Corwin.”

Ana knew that was true.

She tried to avoid the subject of Corwin when she and Rosie talked. Ana didn’t need memories of the place flashing through her mind, and Rosie said it decayed into nothing more than a political cesspool. The town’s first families — the Burfords, Foleys, and Lakes held all the offices of power. They treated Corwin like it was their personal kingdom and speaking out against them killed social standing and sometimes worse.

“Rosie had no family, and at the beginning, we thought she had no will. After wading through the legalities, we were able to enter her home. We found her will, drawn up by an attorney over in Spradlin. We also found your name and number, but the number was disconnected.”

Damn it! After a mini-battle with her cell provider over dropped calls and shoddy service, Ana switched carriers… and got a new number… four days after she and Rosie last spoke.

Analeigh didn’t bother to wipe away her tears when she realized by the time she activated her new number… Rosie was already gone.


“I’m here, Jeff. Just trying to take all this in.”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you like this, Analeigh.”

“It’s alright. I do appreciate the call, Jeff… and thank you.”

“Wait, Analeigh. I didn’t hunt you done just to tell you Rosie was gone. In her will, she left everything to you. Her home and the store.”

The buzzing in Ana’s ears roared over Jeff’s voice. Analeigh Sellers sat there overwhelmed and in shock with a sense of dread taking over.


Image from ThinkStock
©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

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

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

SC: Excuse me?

FD: Yes, Mrs. Chandler?

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

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

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

FD: Of course not, ma’am. I’m sorry.

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

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

SC: It’s been… about a year.

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

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

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

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

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

SC: Well…

FD: Sarina?

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

FD: Pardon?

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

FD: I’m sorry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SC: So do I, Felicia.

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

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


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

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

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

Sarina Chandler.

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

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No More Excuses

No More Excuses

Another snippet from ‘Heartburn’ and 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 weeks 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 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, mom.” Quinn turned to leave her parents’ home.

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

“To find my brother. No more excuses.”

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


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved


moon river

‘Calla’ continues with another unedited excerpt.

Exiting the banquet hall Calla smiled, reinvigorated by the sweet scents of spring carried on the night air from nearby Golds Lake.

The clouds carrying the rain Tena feared would ruin her wedding day, at last, gathered in the late evening sky but even their dreary darkness couldn’t hide the brilliance of the full moon.

Gazing toward the lake stirred feelings of wanderlust in Calla.

Though small and not a true lake, the body of water was just one of many tributaries winding its way through the small towns of eastern Missouri to join with the mighty Mississippi River a couple of hours away.

Even the water was going places.

Shaking her head, Calla clicked the release button on her car remote, opening the back hatch of her Chevy Equinox.

She’d stayed far longer at the reception than planned. But after Tena and Lloyd made their departure for their hotel and Tanya had to get her fussy two-year-old home, Calla felt obligated to pack up Tena’s personal items used before the ceremony and help Neeri oversee the hall’s cleanup.

Her mood darkened as she deposited garment bags and overnight cases into the large compartment.

Slamming the hatch with more force than needed, Calla stalked to the driver’s door, flung it open and launched herself into the vehicle with all the grace of The Hulk.

Exasperated, Calla slid down in the seat, burying her face in her hands.

Why do I allow this to bother me?

Most people look forward to going home, but the thought of it is bringing on a migraine.

No longer avoiding the inevitable, Calla flipped open the center glove box, took out her cell phone and turned it on.

An array of musical tones and beeps played for a full minute while messages loaded. Swiping the screen, Calla knew the nine most recent texts were sent from Mavis’ phone, candid shots of the bridesmaids during the reception.

Ignoring the rest of her notifications, Calla opened the reception photos, her good mood returning with the first photo.

All five of the bridesmaids were grouped together around Lloyd with stern faces and clenched fists, as if to say, “Hurt Tena and we’re coming for you!” The goofy grin on Lloyd Taylor’s face proved the photo was in jest… especially since Tena photo-bombed the shot doubled over in laughter.

A photo of Calla and Tena tugged at Calla’s heart. Her lifelong friend had been there for Calla through everything, good and bad. The two women had never had a single argument. They each had a way of speaking truths the other didn’t always want to hear, without judgment or meanness.

Happy for her friend, Calla would miss their girl-time together. After a three-week honeymoon with stops in Vegas and Hawaii, the Taylors would return home and to work.

Tena promised a girls-night out the week she returned, but Calla knew better. Newlyweds only had time for each other, and that was the way it should be. Both thirty-four, Calla also knew her friends wouldn’t waste any time starting a family.

The joy in Tena’s face made her smile. She got her happily ever after.

Studying herself next to Tena, Calla wasn’t sure what she saw.

Large, dark ringlets left out of her formal up-do hung down the side of her full, cherubic face. Her maid of honor dress was the same pale straw shade of gold as the other bridesmaids, but Calla’s dress didn’t have an empire waist or sweetheart neckline. Instead, Calla’s dress hung from her shoulders and cinched to one side, showing off her full, hourglass figure while the color made her smooth honey brown skin glow.

She looked good.

Calla also looked happy, which she was… for Tena. But a closer, more thorough inspection would find the sadness in her eyes.

She tossed the phone into the passenger seat and massaged her lower abdomen.

The slow burn she’d ignored for most of the evening was making itself known again, searing a feverish path across Calla’s stomach.

She had only herself to blame.

The peptic ulcer was all but gone after weeks of bland foods and Calla’s rock-solid determination to not allow things to upset her, but the champagne and rich foods of the wedding reception found their way to the weak, still open areas of the ulcer and went to work.

The pain wasn’t easing up and Calla had no antacid with her, so she started the car and headed home… to the cause of the ulcer.


©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

“It’s Just a Dance.”

Shoes at a Wedding

This is another unedited excerpt from my 2017 Camp NaNo project,  ‘Calla.’

“I cannot believe you said that!”
Calla grinned, shrugging one shoulder.
“She shouldn’t have dared me.”
Calla’s grin was replaced by a dramatic eye roll when staccato clapping sounded behind them.
“Okay, Taylor Bridal Party! Prepare to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, please.”
Cherri’s face fell. “Do we have to wear shoes?”
Neeri shot the young girl a withering look. “Of course, you do!”
“Then we’re not dancing.” Mavis leaned back in her chair, done with the conversation.
“Of course, you’re dancing! It’s tradition! Tena is counting on you!”
“We’re done with you playing the Tena-card, Neeri.” Donna motioned toward the dance floor. “Look at her. She doesn’t see anyone or anything except Lloyd.”
The rest of the group nodded in agreement.
“A lot of time and money have gone into this event. I know you ladies will not ruin it by doing something as common as,” she raised her hand to her chest, “dancing barefoot?”
Fuming, Mavis smacked the table. “Common? Excuse me? That’s it! I’m not dancing!”
Cherri, Donna, and Calla all crossed their arms, daring Neeri to argue. Before she could speak, Tanya did, taking a different approach.
“Gilda, look around you. This isn’t New York or even Chicago. It’s Reedsville, Missouri, home to farmers and factory workers. You’re one of us and know we’re not common… we’re just small-town folk.”
The wedding planner bristled at the use of her birth name, but she was also fighting panic. The song was nearing the mid-point. She had to get the bridal party on the floor.
Smiling sweetly for anyone who might be watching, Neeri responded through gritted teeth. “Fine! Just please get ready.”
More staccato hand claps summoned the groomsmen from the other end of the table, and with all the flourish of a symphony conductor, Neeri directed the group to the dance to surround Tena and Lloyd.
Before Calla had cleared her chair, Gibson grabbed her hand, dragging her behind him. Twirling Calla around twice, Gibson pulled her into his arms, holding her closer and tighter than Calla thought necessary.
“Ease up, Gibby. This isn’t our wedding dance.”
“It could be, pretty girl. Just say the word.”
Laughing, Calla gave him a wary look.
“Gibby, you just delivered a beautiful, moving best man’s speech about love and how it continues to elude you. Don’t you know it will until you get serious and stop falling into insta-love with every female who crosses your path?”
“Ouch, Calla! Every female? Am I that bad?”
She answered with a smirk.
“Okay, okay. I love women. Sue me.”
Calla grinned. Gibson twirled her twice again, dipped her low and pulled her even closer against his broad chest.
“What if you’re the one? What if you’re the woman my heart’s been waiting for to share forever with?”
Laughter erupted so deeply from his dance partner Gibson felt it vibrating against his chest.
The sadness in his eyes halted her laughter.
“What do you want from a man, Calla?”
Without missing a beat, Calla Barrett looked over at Tena and Lloyd, still dancing, lost in whispers and kisses.
“I want that.”
Gibson pulled back, frowning.
“No, I don’t mean their love… but that kind of love. Unwavering, unbreakable.”
Gibson looked at his younger brother, understanding.
“Life and family didn’t make it easy for them, but you’re right.” He returned his gaze to her. “What you said in your speech. Their hearts bonded and withstood everything thrown at them.”
Calla patted Gibson’s chest.
“And that, dear friend, is how I know we’re not a match. I will be enough for the man meant for me. You, on the other hand, will forget about me as soon as this dance ends.”
Gibson laughed in spite of himself.
The song ended and Calla started for their table but Gibson grabbed her hand, stopping her.
“I know you’re right, Cal… but I do wish things were different between us.”
“Who knows, Gibby? Maybe in another life.”
Backing away from her, Gibson Taylor winked, turned, and headed straight for the group of women watching him from the dance floor’s edge.


©Felicia Denise 2017

Inside “In The Best Interest of the Child”

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

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

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

It will not stay there.

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

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

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