BY: VIVIAN RHODES
Megan Daniels was only three years old the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but flashes of that day begin to trigger other disturbing memories that have lain dormant within her. At first they are merely snippets, but, as they begin to appear more frequently Megan has difficulty separating what is real from what is imagined. In her attempt to learn more, she sets out to find her biological mother, but keeps hitting brick walls. No adoption papers exist, and all she has to go on is her possible birthday: November 22. In the small town of Meredith, California, Megan’s search takes on a dire, domino effect—one woman has already been murdered as a result of her inquiries. As she digs for the truth, Megan eventually unravels a sinister plot that began decades earlier, but in doing so she places her own life in jeopardy.in jeopardy.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In If You Should Read This, Mother by Vivian Rhodes, Megan Daniels is looking for her birth parents. But she doesn’t have much to go on. She wants to know where she comes from, but her adoptive father is dead, her adoptive mother suffers from dementia, there don’t seem to be any adoption papers, and she can’t find the attorney that handled the adoption. Desperate, Megan takes her search to television, appearing on a TV show asking for help from the audience. But the leads she gets, although promising, don’t seem to get her any closer to the truth, only closer to danger…
The story is well written, fast-paced, and intriguing—a mystery/thriller to keep you turning pages and biting your nails from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: If You Should Read This, Mother by Vivian Rhodes is the story of a young woman who wants to find her roots. She knows she is adopted and wants to know where she comes from. But it’s a lot more complicated than she thinks. Our heroine, Megan Daniels, is desperate to know who her real family is. She needs to know her medical history so she starts looking for her birth parents. But the harder she looks, the more dead ends she runs into. Then people start dying. Megan needs to find out what is going on and soon, before she becomes the next victim.
If You Should Read This, Mother is a compelling tale of dark secrets that someone will kill to keep from being exposed and a brave young woman determined to discover the truth, no matter what the cost. The story will catch and hold your interest from the first page to the last.
November 22, 1963:
Mandy lay on her mother’s bed, watching television and drinking warm milk from a bottle. Well-intentioned friends were always reminding Mandy’s mother that a child of three should no longer be drinking from a bottle.
Fortunately for Mandy, her mother would always smile, accept the advice good naturedly, then continue to indulge one of her daughter’s last remaining vestiges of infancy.
Black and white images flickered across the television screen. The same images had been appearing for the last forty minutes.
A nice looking man and a pretty lady getting off of a plane. The lady was carrying flowers. Soon they were in a big black car. The man was smiling and waving to all of the people. There were so many people.
Suddenly, everyone disappeared in a blur. The pretty lady. The smiling man. All of the people. In their places was a man with a mustache. He was saying words that Mandy didn’t understand, but she could see that he was sad. His eyes looked as though he’d been crying, just as her mother’s had looked a short while ago.
Mandy tossed a cascade of red curls and turned away from the images, which were starting to bore her by this time.
She was drowsy. Ready for her nap. What was keeping Mommy anyway? She had already given Mandy her milk and turned on the television when the doorbell rang. Kissing her on the forehead, she’d told her that Mommy would be right back.
That was a while ago. At least it seemed like a while ago. Mandy yawned.
What about her birthday cake? Mommy had promised her that after her nap she’d get to blow out the candles on a big cake with chocolate frosting. Mandy loved chocolate frosting.
As she pulled the soft pale green comforter up around her small body, she reached out for Waffles, her stuffed bunny. She held him close. It was a treat being allowed to nap in the big bed like this.
Her huge green eyes absorbed every feature of the room. The pink somewhat-tattered wallpaper bordered by bouquets of turquoise and rose. The pair of hurricane lamps which sat on her mother’s scratched cherry wood vanity.
Frequently, Mandy and her mother would watch as rays of sunshine reflected through the lamps’ hanging prisms, splashing a flood of brilliant color onto the ceiling.
“They’re rainbows, Mandy,” her mother would say. “Our very special rainbows.”
Had she been able to articulate her feelings, Mandy probably would have described these moments with her mother as being amongst her happiest.
On her mother’s nightstand, next to the clock, was a tarnished silver frame that held a photo of her mother and father standing in front of a car.
Mandy stared at the photo as she did every day, memorizing each minute detail of her father’s face. Her mother often said she looked a lot like her father. Hearing that always made Mandy feel good.
The man in the photograph was very handsome, though the photo didn’t do justice to his eyes, which were the same shade of jade green as his daughter’s. Mandy thought that her mother was equally as beautiful. In fact, her daughter thought her to be every bit as beautiful as the lady on television, the one holding the flowers.
In the photo, her mother’s hair had been long and flowing and she was smiling, a warm wonderful smile.
Mommy hasn’t smiled like that in a long time, Mandy thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Soon she was dreaming. She dreamed she was in a huge theater. It was a bigger theater than the one to which her mother had taken her to see Alice in Wonderland.
In her dream, it was Mandy who was on stage and she was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. She wore a red cape and her shiny Mary Jane shoes. In her hands, she carried a basket of fruit.
Looking down into the audience, Mandy could see many, many faces, most of which were unfamiliar to her. She could, however, recognize her mother, who was smiling that terrifically dazzling smile right at her. In her hands was an enormous birthday cake topped with chocolate frosting.
Mandy looked around the theater and saw that the pretty lady from the television was there holding her flowers. The man sat beside the lady, waving at all the people from the big black car.
Then, her mother stopped smiling. She looked terrified. “How could it be?” she shouted. “How could this be happening?” Was she shouting at her up on the stage? Had Mandy said something or done something to make Mommy angry with her?
She looked behind her. The wolf was approaching! Only it looked more like a beast than a wolf! Help me, Mommy.
Mommy was shouting for her to run. Mandy wanted to run but, as much as she tried, she couldn’t move. The beast came closer and closer. Its fangs looked sharp and threatening.
It seemed as if it were going to gobble her up, yet all it did was lick her. No matter how much she cried, she couldn’t get him to stop licking her.
Suddenly, her daddy was there. Only it wasn’t really her daddy. It was the hunter. The hunter picked up a big gun. The kind of gun cowboys used. He aimed it directly at the beast and fired. The noise was loud. Like an explosion.
Then came the scream. It was her mother–or was it the lady holding the flowers?
“Oh my God! No! Jack!”
An instinct of self-preservation woke Mandy from her nightmare, and, when she finally fell back to sleep a short while later, the frightening visions had been replaced with more tranquil likenesses of mermaids and fairy princesses. She slept for a very long time.
It was the sound of a siren that jolted her out of her sleep once and for all. The siren sounded as though it was very close.
Mandy climbed off the bed and walled over to the window. Peeking through the heavy brocade curtains, she was startled by the intensity of the red cherry top spinning on the hood of the ambulance that was parked directly in front of the house. It was the only color on an otherwise snow-blanketed street.
What was the ambulance doing here anyway? Was somebody sick?
Three vehicles were parked behind the ambulance. One, the girl recognized to be a police car and another looked familiar but was almost completely covered in snow. The third was a blue van with writing on it, but Mandy couldn’t read.
She turned sharply when she heard someone calling her name. In the doorway stood a tall woman whose yellow hair stuck out from beneath a hat with purple feathers. Her nose was red, probably because it was so cold outside.
Having never seen the woman before, Mandy wondered what she was doing in her room and how she knew her name.
The woman spoke very softly so as not to scare the child, and when Mandy asked to see her mother, she explained that it wouldn’t be possible. It was then that Mandy began to cry. The woman stooped down and dried her eyes with an embroidered hanky.
Mandy heard a siren again, but this time it sounded as though it were leaving. She was about to go to the window, but the woman held her back, telling her it would be better this way. Mandy didn’t know what she meant by that, but she obeyed.
As the woman helped her put on her jacket and galoshes, she explained that Mandy was to come with her and that she would be taken somewhere where people loved little children and took good care of them.
Not knowing what else to do, Mandy placed her hand in the woman’s. For a minute, the woman stared at the television, which was repeating the same images that had been on all afternoon. She sighed heavily, sniffed, then turned it off.
The yellow-haired woman and Mandy had almost left the room when Mandy remembered her beloved bunny, Waffles. She ran back and grabbed the stuffed animal while the woman waited patiently.
As they walked through the small stretch of corridor past the kitchen, Mandy saw that her birthday cake had fallen from the table and onto the floor. Chocolate frosting had splattered everywhere.
Pink and white balloons were tied to one of the kitchen chairs. They’d been splattered too, not with frosting, but with something else. Something dark and red. Something sticky.
Maybe it was raspberry filling. Mandy loved raspberry filling.
Suddenly, she saw something gold glittering on the floor. It seemed to be words strung together. If only Mandy were able to read them. She stooped to pick up the shiny thing but was discouraged from doing so by the yellow-haired woman.
Careful of where they stepped, Mandy and the woman walked out of the house.
It was so cold that Mandy could blow smoke out of her mouth. She did this several times, temporarily blocking out what was happening to her.
By the time the woman helped Mandy into the blue van with words written on it, the police car and ambulance were gone.
Her mother was nowhere to be seen.
Mandy noticed that a drop or two of the raspberry filling had trickled upon the newly fallen snow.
Though she was curious as to how that had happened, Mandy didn’t feel comfortable enough with the woman to ask her.
As they drove away, the little girl with the red hair and jade green eyes sadly looked out the van’s rear window and watched as her house grew smaller in the distance.
Somehow, Mandy knew that she would never see the pink-and turquoise-flowered wallpaper again.
Then, for some strange reason, her thoughts turned to the lady. The lady she had seen on television and in her dream. The one holding the bouquet of flowers.
Had that lady been crying?
Mandy had no way of knowing that she and the woman in her dream shared something in common. For both of them, the day had been one of profound tragedy.
A Camelot lost.
© 2017 by Vivian Rhodes
“A suspenseful and compelling tale that every woman should read.” ~ Pepper O’Neal, author of the award-winning Black Ops Chronicles series
A multi-layered, complex book with compelling mysteries that held my interest…There’s a lot of story to navigate in this book, which makes for a gripping, intriguing read, and twists and turns frequently surprised me. There are some red herrings, but even these held my interest, in the main. I had expected, based on the synopsis, darkness and action in the book, and on this score the ending certainly – and chillingly – delivers. I think it will take me quite some time to get over that ending! ~ Charlie Wilson READ FULL REVIEW