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Authors: Dianne Venetta,Jaxadora Design

Condemn Me Not

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CONDEMN ME NOT

A novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dianne Venetta

 

 

 

 

Condemn Me Not

Copyright 2012 by Dianne Venetta

ISBN: 978-0-9884871-0-9

Publisher: BloominThyme Press

Editor: Best Foot Forward

Cover Design: Jaxadora Design

 

This
book is a work of fiction.  Any references to historical events, real people,
or real locales are used fictitiously.  Other names, characters, places, and
incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to
actual events or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. This ebook is
licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. Without
limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission from
the copyright owner.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

This novel is not my own, not in
the sense that I could have written it without help.  Mothers share universal
ideals and dreams, yes, but how they go about achieving them varies greatly.  One
choice, countless options, it’s the reason the characters in this book were
created based on a compilation of experience, thoughts and feelings, gathered
from many sources, including some of my personal friends.  They sat for
interviews, shared their opinions over the course of our friendship—as we women
do—and although they are too numerous to list in total here, are all equally
valuable in their contribution to this book.  Liz, Joanie, Julie, Ashley,
Katharine, Lauri, Joanne, Allison, and Jody, just to name a few…  Thank you.

 

My gratitude also goes out to my
editors and beta readers, Grace, Stephanie, Tiffany and Skye.  Your expertise
and objectivity are invaluable to me.

 

 

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to
Elizabeth Cockrell.  Not only is she my best friend and one of the most
fabulous mothers I know, she paved the way for me when it came to raising my
children by setting the example, doling out the advice, and keeping me honest
and on track with regard to the well-being of my children.

 

Without her, I would not be the
mother I am today.

 

 

 

 

Condemn Me Not

 

Bound by friendship, two women
find themselves at common crossroads, struggling with choices both past and
present, career and home.

 

Simone Sheridan and Claire Atkins
have been friends since college.  Upon graduation, they took off in different
directions, forging separate paths through motherhood.  Neither planned to look
back on the road they traveled with regret—yet that’s exactly what’s at stake when
their daughters issue opposing proclamations with regard to college.

 

Both mothers battle the news, but
soon come to learn they must change course, or lose the sacred relationship
between mother and daughter.  But change is not an easy task when Simone and
Claire unexpectedly find themselves staring down their choices both past and
present, confronted by the same question: Where did I go wrong?

 

The words no
mother wants to say, and every mother yearns to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOTHERS
AND DAUGHTERS

 

Simone
Sheridan glared at her daughter, raw aggression whipping through her eyes like
a lioness about to pounce.  “
Excuse me
?”

“I’m
not going,” Mariah Sheridan repeated.  Wheat-blonde hair hung stick straight as
she stood erect, motionless, staring her mother down.

As
Claire Atkins watched mother and daughter face off in her kitchen, she could
almost feel Simone’s blood begin to boil. Anger cut cold lines across her
friend’s delicate features, contrasting sharply with the pastel pink of her
lipstick, the shimmery cream of her eye shadow.  Claire’s gaze dropped briefly
to the half-checked grocery list on the table.  This was supposed to be a
cheery day, filled with shopping and plans, but not anymore.  Simone’s fury was
palpable, mounting in its will to attack.  It was the same fury that would
stream hot through
her
veins if her own daughter, Rebecca, betrayed her
this way.

But
she hadn’t.  Although standing shoulder to shoulder with her friend Mariah on
the opposite side of the eat-in kitchen table, she was quiet, unprotesting.

“Yes,
you are.”  Simone locked arms over her chest, her long pink sleeves
disappearing into one another.  Natural blonde hair fell in waves down the
center of her back, styled to silky perfection, as usual, her attire more in
line with an afternoon lunch date than a trip to the grocery store.

“No,
I’m not.”  Mariah’s slender arms mirrored those of her mother as she swung her
weight from booted heel to booted heel, adding an obvious silent
and you can’t
make me
.

“And
to what do I attribute the wisdom of this choice?” Simone asked.

“Logan
and I are starting a business.”

“Over
my dead body,” her mother said flatly.

Mariah
stood her ground, cool green eyes reflecting her resolve.  She raised a defiant
brow, silently pushing her mother to take another swipe.

“Mariah
and Logan are opening a recycling business,” Rebecca cut in, suddenly unbridled
in her support of Mariah and her boyfriend.  “They’ve already obtained permits and
lined up businesses—”

Simone’s
temper flared toward Rebecca.  “Mariah can speak for herself, thank you.”

Claire’s
mother-bear instincts kicked in.  That was
her
daughter Simone was addressing. 
“Simone,” Claire said, reaching for her friend’s arm which was steely in its
resistance.  Claire allowed her hand to fall away.  With a cursory glance
between mother and daughter, Claire gave a quick shake of her head, directing
Rebecca to stay out of it.  There was nothing she could say.  Nothing either of
them could say.  This was between Simone and Mariah.

Homing
in on Mariah, Simone stated, “You are going to college, young lady.  I didn’t
spend the last two years touring campuses, filling out application after
application to have you up and throw it all away.  We’ve put away the money for
your tuition.  You’re going to use it—as planned.”

“Logan
and I have been planning this since Christmas and—”


Christmas
?” 
Simone smacked a wooden chair with such force, Mariah flinched, revealing herself
for the child she was, sensitive to her parent’s rebuke.

Claire
thought her the spitting image of her mother in both build and temperament, but
Mariah was only eighteen.  Of course she was vulnerable to her mother’s
condemnation.

“Oh,
well, forgive my ignorance,” Simone sniped, curling her fingers around the
arched chair back in a white-knuckled grip.  “You gave it a whole four months
of thought.  My apologies, I should be thrilled.”

“It
only takes an idea,” Mariah defended, jutting her chin out in true rebellious
fashion.  “Some of the most successful businesses were started with a simple
idea.”

“Name
one.”

“Apple.”

“Apple
was started with an idea, backed up by computer know-how and hours upon hours
of hard work and dedication.  It wasn’t a matter of
months
from
conception to inception.  It took years of sacrifice—long, hard-fought years of
perseverance and determination before they saw the first glimmer of results.”

“So.” 
Mariah lifted a shoulder and scoffed, “We’re in the beginning—the conception stage.”

“Next
comes the money stage.  May I ask where you plan on getting the money to fund
this venture of yours?”

Mariah’s
bravado visibly slipped.  “I have some money saved up.  And since I’m not using
my college fund for college—”

“Stop
right there.”  Simone hardened her gaze.  “That money isn’t yours.  It’s mine.”

Mariah
blanched.  “What?”  She whipped her head from woman to woman.  “But you and Dad
said that whatever money I didn’t use for my education I could have to start a
business!”

“Due
to your procurement of scholarships and part-time jobs,” Simone corrected, “we
said you could use any money you had left over after you finished college.” 
She pointed a hard finger toward Mariah.  “
After
being the key word.”

Mariah’s
cheeks flushed, her tough exterior dissolving before Claire’s very eyes.  “That
wasn’t the deal and you know it.  I’m going to ask Dad—he’ll tell you.”

“Go
ahead.”  Hostility underscored Simone’s reply as she added, “See how far it
will get you.”

Mariah
flung a look of naked desperation to Rebecca who met her with an ominous look
of her own. 
Let it go for now
.

At
the desertion of Mariah’s number one advocate, Claire noted the child’s backbone
melted.  Her brave façade was caving, primitive instinct for survival propelling
Mariah into flight mode.

“Well,
I for one think we’ve had all the earth-shattering news we can handle for one
day,” Claire said, her heart going out to the girl.  Mariah was like one of her
own, and she’d always admired her spunk and vivacity, her sheer will when it
came to overcoming obstacles.  To see her crumble beneath her mother’s
withering opposition was dispiriting.  Cool heads needed to prevail, despite
the waves of emotion coursing through the room.  She rose from the table and
prompted, “How about we all take to our corners and talk about this later?”

Mariah
lightly jabbed Rebecca with her elbow.

Simone
picked up on the silent communiqué and demanded, “What’s going on?”

Rebecca’s
eyes clouded with ambivalence.  At the hesitation in her daughter’s reaction,
Claire’s heart caught.

“Tell
her,” Mariah urged.  “Like we planned.”

“Um,”
Rebecca mumbled evasively, sucking her bottom lip into her mouth as she
blatantly avoided her mother.  She rolled her gaze around the kitchen, appeared
on the verge of running.

“Rebecca?”
Claire prodded, fear creeping into her chest.

“I’m
not going to Rhode Island School of Design,” she blurted, courage unraveling
into a mess of hamstrung timidity.  “I’m going to Paris.”

It
was a swift punch to the gut.  Claire clutched the thick back of her dining
chair, blankets of dizziness engulfing her skull.  Appliances and cabinets
fused into a blur of steel and brown as she stared at Rebecca, the breath
trapped in her chest.  Confusion ballooning in her mind, she was almost unable
to mouth the question.  “Paris?”

“Yes,”
Rebecca replied, although Claire could see an odd concern in her eyes.

She
couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move.  She could only stare. 
Rebecca wasn’t
going to college

She was going to Paris?

“Are
you okay, Mom?”  Rebecca stepped forward, her expression steeped in concern.

Was
she okay

No, she wasn’t okay—not if this were true!  How could she be?  “I don’t
understand,” she uttered weakly, as she realized her predicament was as bad as
Simone’s.

“Mom,
you need to sit down.”  Rebecca came toward her.  “You don’t look good.”

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