Wednesday, September 28, 2016


COVER REVEAL

Boondocks


By Casey Peeler





A Habit You Can’t Quit!

Boondocks, new from Casey Peeler!



Releasing October 25th.



Add to your TBR at: http://bit.ly/2asel2f



Blurb
One twist of the lid changed everything…

The devil sat on my shoulder from my first breath, he watched my every move, and with the first strike of lightnin' I was pulled under.

Walking into Boondocks the voice of an angel called to me and I vowed to live a better life.  She kept me on the righteous path until Satan called one last time.

It was time to take him down or lose my angel forever.




About the Author

Casey Peeler grew up in North Carolina and still lives there with her husband and daughter.



Growing up Casey wasn't an avid reader or writer, but after reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston during her senior year of high school, and multiple Nicholas Sparks' novels, she found a hidden love and appreciation for reading.  That love ignited the passion for writing several years later, and her writing style combines real life scenarios with morals and values teenagers need in their daily lives.



When Casey isn't writing, you can find her near a body of water listening to country music with a cold beverage and a great book.



Connect with Casey




Instagram: @AuthorCasey

Snapchat: @authorcpeeler





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Book Title: Almost Me (Phoenix, #1) 
Author: K. Leigh Winters 
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance 
Release Date: October 7, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Claire is months away from becoming an adult and she has given up on her dreams of the 'Perfect Sitcom Life,' giving up on being a normal kid, and giving up on being loved.

Irish bartender, Liam, has watched the fiery auburn hair girl with the emerald green eyes, the ones that remind him so much of home. The wild carefree girl is growing up to be a beautiful woman, but hidden in her eyes is a pain so deep that she is drowning and Liam is more than willing to be her lifeline, if she would only let him.

Will Claire let anyone in before it's too late?

Can Liam survive depths of her darkness and bring her to the light before it's too late?

A Note From the Author



Dear Reader;

This book has been a long time in the making even though this will be my first completed and published work. As a child through my turbulent teenage years I always had something to write on. Journals, scrap papers, blank book pages, I had them all and they were hidden everywhere. I had so many journals and all only had a few pages and maybe some even made it to the halfway point. One theme was of a girl, my alter ego maybe, who lived a life like mine but her choices and environment took her to a different path than me.

A few years back I had a serious case of the ‘mean reds’ and finally found myself in a place that no one would ever want to be stuck in, no it wasn't jail although it felt close to it. I learned a lot about myself from that experience and realized maybe I should've gone many years sooner but life has a way of going exactly the way it needs to in order to make you who you are meant to be.

Once out I finally found a therapist that I could work with, basically she took no shit from me and called me out when ever I tried to manipulate her or anyone else for that matter. I never do assignments but I thought I’d indulge her, she wanted a journal, yuck. So I decided she needed to know me from the beginning not just who she saw in front of her. I put on some work clothes and climbed my not too happy ass up into the attic of my Florida home and after 3 hours, a ton of boxes, and nearly falling through the ceiling a few times I found almost all of them. My journals.

I spent days reading them, cutting out important stuff and filling up my KnockKnock journal. There were bits and pieces of Claire everywhere and she wanted her story told. She kept me awake for days on end and after two months I finished her and Liam’s story and learned a lot about myself in the process.

I was for sure this was going to be a one time thing but then Alex needed his story told then of course Tristan and Evony who played such huge roles in Claire and Liam’s story with little hints of a budding romance through ‘Almost Me.’ Thus the Phoenix Chronicles were created. I wanted to call it the ‘Almost books’ or something of the like until my close friend and self appointed editor said that each of the characters reminded her of a phoenix much the same way she thinks of me. A phoenix will ignite into a fiery display before being reborn again. Some legends describe the phoenix as a large raven. Never less it is a symbol for rebirth and healing. Shakespeare refers to the Phoenix in his play “Henry the VIII”

“Nor shall this peace sleep with her; but as when
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
Her ashes new create another heir
As great in admiration as herself;
So shall she leave her blessedness to one,
When heaven shall call her from this cloud of darkness,
Who from the sacred ashes of her honour
Shall star-like rise as great in fame as she was,
And so stand fix’d.”

Each of the books in this series is about rebirth in a sense, Claire has faced many trails and in a way she is set ablaze but rises anew with a grace and beauty greater than before. Yes her story ends in a cliffhanger but I promise it will be worth it! Alex’s story deals with his addiction, which we saw snippets of throughout Claire and Liam’s. I look forward to introducing you to everyone of them and encourage you to please sign up for the newsletter.

Also after the Playlist read the first 3 chapters of Almost Gone, Alex & Naomi’s story.

Follow me on social media; www.kleighwinters.com 
Facebook; @kleigh.winters 
Twitter; @K_Leigh_Winters 
Email; kleighwinters@gmail.com

excerpt

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Letting Him In
Liam


It’s just after sunrise and in her world this is late but being it’s the day after Thanksgiving and according to Claire the only other thing the “Skater Mom’s” love more is shopping so for Claire this means sleeping in an extra hour. I still can’t figure how she convinced the poor rink manager to come in on his day off to not only open the rink for her but he even ran the Zamboni to clean the ice mirror smooth just for her. I am standing up on the second floor staring down at the newly laid ice, the smooth white surface even to me looks inviting. I jam my hands in my jeans after pulling my jacket tighter. This is the first time she has ever invited me here and at this hour it is not just freezing but strangely very foggy and eerily quiet. I can understand her affinity for this particular time here.

“Hey, I’m Brian.” I turn and see a guy in jeans and a Detroit Red Wings jersey that’s practically swallowing him up, a baseball cap pulled down low shading his eyes. He seems hesitant to approach me, shuffling side to side on his feet, shoulders slumped. I decide to take the initiative and step towards the kid extending my hand; he shakes it then quickly steps back.

“I’m Liam, thank you for this.” I turn and motion towards the ice rink below like a game show host. At that moment Claire steps on the ice wearing solid black head to toe, the rink is a contrast of black and white with her bright auburn hair pulled tight on top of her head in a severe bun. She’s skating laps around the rink going forward and backwards with dizzying speed and smooth transition. I am no expert but to me she looks tiny and perfect out there all alone in an odd melancholic way that only Claire could pull off with such elegant beauty.

“She’s something else isn’t she?” All I could do is stand there with what I assume is a stupid look on my face, mouth open and eyes wide. My only response, all that I could muster see she is shocking me with some amazing flying jump split moves, again I am no expert but she looks like she is jumping from cloud to cloud. The only sound coming from the rink below is an odd groaning or more like a moan. It is all sensory overload. I wasn’t even aware that I moved but I am now leaning over the balcony hands braced on the cold unforgiving metal railing. I am totally drawn into her.

“That noise is the ice, her edges are so deep and precise it makes that sound. It’s louder here cause the rink is sand based so it echoes from below into the acoustics.” I turn and stare at the kid who appears to be just as enraptured by her, my sweet girl. “Not many skaters can do that and you can only hear it when it’s quiet” Brian points up to what looks like AC ducts, “And humid.” I look back down at him quizzically.

“You know I’m just a simple Irish guy.” Brian seems to relax with that comment he chuckles and starts walking and I can only assume he expects me to follow. As we walk he points to a large machine, “That’s the dehumidifier, the owner won’t let us run it at night. He’s cheap.” He shrugs his shoulders and keeps walking. “You know there are nicer and newer rinks and Claire could have her pick but she stays here. Much to her parents dismay.” He winks as we descend a set of stairs.

“Anyway the humidity makes the ice a little difficult but she likes it that way. That and she doesn’t like to be here around all the parents when they come in. I don’t think she minds the other skaters too much. They think she is snobby but she’s not, she just tries too hard to fit in. And well the adults I think she could care less for them.” We reach the landing and Brian moves over to a cabinet and opens it to reveal a kind of mini DJ booth. I hadn’t even heard her approach but she must have because there is now an iPod sitting on top of the rinks boards. Brian seemed to be completely in sync with her needs because he just moves without prompt just knowing the little device would be sitting there at that exact moment. He turns and docks it scrolling through till he finds what he is looking for; he looks back over to Claire and nods in confirmation and taps play. The rink fills with the sounds of a sultry guitar intro. I turn and look at Brian. “How did you know?”

“I saw where she was standing, this program is amazing! Very sexy” This is the most animated Brian has been since we stepped in here half an hour ago. I raise an eyebrow towards Brian and he blushes looking down on the dirty floor.

“Sorry, um so what’s the story? It’s just that she’s never really brought anyone here during this time.” Good question, I’m not sure what to tell him. I look back and watch as Claire is skating very seductively, flirting with her invisible audience she makes a move down the ice and sways her hips from side to side then bends forward pulling her hair free from its confines, her hair cascades in perfect red waves down to the middle of her back becoming apart of her performance she moves down the ice continuing to sway her hips to the seductive guitar rifts and the throaty female voice, “…and I’m the only one who’d walk across the fire for you…”

“We’re friends.” I state plainly hoping it would be the end of that conversation. But to my dismay he doesn’t seem to be satisfied. “Uh huh, sure. Well all I’m saying is she NEVER let’s people in at this time. She tore Alex a new one a few months ago when I let him in.”

“Why did you let him in?” He doesn’t seem like the brave kind of guy to dare and risk her wrath that she is apparently infamous for; I am learning though that her tantrums are usually the result of frustration. A break in her routine, a change in plans, or her failure at getting her point across.

“I thought it would help her. She was just acting different. You know she used to come hang out with us? She’s actually kind of fun.” He pauses gauging my response, I nod indicating I’m listening.

“Well this is all speculation but you know most of us rink rats, uh kids that work and hang out here, well we’ve all watched her grow up here and you know a few years ago she really started to withdrawal and become, well not really stand offish just different.”

I look back to see Claire is now practicing a jump, she is doing the same thing over and over again, falling hard on her hips, back, and knees. I’m stuck in place for a moment watching her jump and fall, every now and then nailing it but there was no time to celebrate. She’d land on one leg in one fluid move and hold the speed just long enough before taking off again to try for another. Every time she hit the ice my stomach would drop and my heart would falter. I look at Brian horrified he isn’t doing anything; my feet move forward towards her when a hand shoots out across my chest, Brian shakes his head.

“I don’t know what you two are to each other but I can tell you she’d flip her shit if you interrupt her right now.” He nods at me and doesn’t release his grip until I nod in return, how strange this all is.

“Come on let’s put on a cup of coffee, from the looks of it your going to be here for a while.” I follow Brian back into the lobby and behind a snack bar counter where he gets to work on some coffee pulling out a bag of ground Starbucks I give him a pointed look and he simply shrugs with a lopsided grin. “Claire’s?” I ask.

“Yeah, I’ll not lie to you but I’ve had a crush on her for years but no matter how hard I try,” he looks through the window out to the rink watching her, “she’s never looked at me as anything more than a brotherly figure.” Seems to be a running theme with her. We sit in companionable silence at a booth in the lobby watching the morning news as she pounds away in the background with AWOLNATION blasting through the speakers.

Claire


I don’t know why I am hitting it so hard today but I have this strange feeling, this need, to punish myself and no amount of pain is ebbing these strange feelings that are clawing their way to the surface. I’m free gliding down center ice lost in thought, I don’t know what possessed me to invite Liam in, but I felt I needed to. I may not be able to open myself up fully in the emotional verbal sense but this is as intimate as I can be, here I am my most naked and vulnerable self and I wanted so desperately to let him in to see me as I am. Now that I have would it change things for us? For him, will he look at me differently? I’ve been pounding away and failing for almost an hour since I saw him and Brian move into the lobby to give me space no doubt. I can’t stop the constant dialogue running circles in my mind; will he think me weak and imperfect? What about my morning routine does it seem silly to him? Anticlimactic? My new show piece is very seductive and I only half assed the piece not sure how much to perform in front of him. Brian loves it but will Liam think it’s ridiculous? Slutty even? All this is running through my head and I have beaten myself up for some time now literally and figuratively it’s time to throw the proverbial towel in, which is something I never do until I am black and blue and practically crawling of the ice. I never relent when I am in one of these moods of self-punishment but for some reason today is different. I just don’t feel the need anymore.

I check on the boys again, I can see them through one of the windows into the lobby they are drinking coffee and watching the news. I trust Brian, despite his misstep a few months ago, to not spill all my secrets but I really am done and just want to be held by Liam. As I am watching him he turns his head around and catches my eyes it’s like he sensed me there that one move tugged at my heart a little but then he smiled. A simple facial expression but one that can be so easily faked but Liam never does, his whole heart is put into everything he does even in something as simple as a smile. My lips move of their own accord and slide up in a very contented smile and I feel my whole body relax in this one move. I wave then point towards my locker room indicating I am done.

I stand still in the shower letting the scalding water run over my sore body while resting my head on my arms against the wall. I’ve been in here for a while but I am processing so many feelings right now and I feel exhausted from it all. I am working hard on stilling the noise in my head when I hear the door open then close, “Oh, sorry babe I didn’t realize.”

“No, it’s OK I’m just done. Can you bring me a towel please?” I don’t think anything of being naked, I should, but I don’t. I’m use to the showbiz scene, being around people and having to change quickly. There is never any thought, I pull open the curtain while I wait for him but when Liam returns he nearly trips on the slippery tile floor and fumbles with the towel quickly opening it up for me. He’s looking up and away and mumbling apologies. I take the proffered towel and after wrapping my body I let a giggle out, “It’s OK Liam, I’m sorry I just don’t think of it really.” I shrug and his eyes bug out questioningly at me. I just shrug again to his now visible agitation, “Showbiz.” I state in a very matter of fact manner.

I turned away from him and walked back into my locker room it’s not pretty but in a way it’s mine, Brian found a couch, cabinet and mirror for me and the floor isn’t really that bad. I have a key so besides me only Brian can come in and I trust him enough not to do anything in here.

I walk over to the couch and snatch up the other towel then bend forward to dry my hair. Strong hands grip my hips and I can hear heavy breathing behind me and for once I am not scared, Liam seems to be the only person who can approach me from behind. I slowly straighten up and Liam does his best to keep his body, apart from his hands, from pressing into me. Silently he reaches around me and takes the towel from my head and starts to rub my hair in sections. When he stops I hear him walk away, I see the towel folded on the arm of the couch before I can turn to look for him he is back with my brush. Is he really going to brush my hair? My question is quickly answered when he starts to separate my hair in parts and begins to work on the first section. I sway a little from the intense relaxing feeling he is creating in me. Liam takes the cue and pulls us down to the couch without breaking from his task. Once I am complete Jell-O and my hair is tangle free Liam takes it all and sweeps it to one shoulder leaning in to lavish my other exposed shoulder in sweet slow kisses working his way up to my ear he nuzzles his nose into the skin behind my ear. “I have never felt like this before and don’t take this wrong,” he continues to work his mouth back down to my shoulder and takes my hand in his, “I don’t want anyone looking at this body but me.” Jealous Liam? Before I can really process it his other hand turns me to face him giving me hard and possessive kisses with such hot passion I have yet to experience from him.

“My sweet girl let’s get you home before something happens in here.” His eyes are actually twinkling. “I, unfortunately have school and work, but I promise you that we have much to discuss and the sooner the better.” I hope it’s a good discussion but I am terrified it won’t be. I push the uneasy feeling to the back of my mind and just for once live in the moment.

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meet the author
Born and raised in sunny Florida my feet rarely touch the sand.

I have no horse, no boat and no land to hunt.

I think it is beautiful when it is rainy, overcast and cold.

I am kind of partial to spending my time with the people I live with, but I definitely have no aversion to spending time with the voices in my head.

I draw inspiration from life and I am thankful for everyday I am given to live it.

I am an advocate for mental health awareness and eliminating stigmatism through education and open conversation.

I love it when people ask questions because if I don't know the answer it means I get to learn something new and that is one of my favorite things to do!

I have an amazing husband and two wonderful boys. All of whom brighten my every day.
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Book Title: In the Best Interest of the Child 
Author: Felicia Denise 
Genre: Women's Fiction/Psychological 
Release Date: September 30, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Ten-year-old Olivia Chandler has 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.

Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school.

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.

excerpt

Making sure Rena was still sleeping, Olivia 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 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 seem to notice her 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 warily.

"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 out loud 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 guffawed.

"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 of your life. She heard 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 foot, ten inches, and she still had to take a step back and raise her head to fully see his face. His 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 grey 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, a realization suddenly 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 the brightest shade of red as he blushed like a teenager.

"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 leaving and he can have the house, but she's taking the kid and the car. He nearly has a heart attack."

Olivia reached her car and noticed 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 laughed in spite of herself.

"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 everyday I meet a woman I'm so drawn to." 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 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. Her 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 alright?" 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 and started towards the front door.

"That's still good. Remember last week you could only do one? Progress, munchkin, progress." She 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 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. 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 the 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 that 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 lightly and quietly said, "He's a good guy." Her face heated up again, but she was rescued when she heard Marissa call out to her to follow her voice to get to Rena's room.

itbiotc-teaser_bruce

meet the author

An avid reader from a very early age, Felicia would re-write the stories she read, making the women a little bit tougher. Not to outdo the men, but raised by parents who taught their six daughters to always stand up for themselves, and to always “be a lady”, Felicia has very little patience with ‘crybabies’ – female or male. Introduced to creative writing in grade school, Felicia amused herself by creating stories, poems, and song lyrics…that she never showed to anyone.

Now embracing the concept of sharing, Felicia’s first published novel, In The Best Interest of the Child” debuts in September 2016.

Felicia left the harsh winters of Michigan and now resides in Arizona with her husband of more than thirty years, who’s always trying to read over her shoulder. Their three adult children are scattered around Arizona. She is looking forward to having grandchildren, but feels she may win the lottery first…or get struck by lightning. Though she enjoys a good rain storm, Felicia no longer goes outside when it rains. She’s not taking any chances.
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