Ice (Shooting Stars Series #2)

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Overview

Ice wishes she could just become invisible...

Ice hides from the world behind a shield of silence. And that is what her mother hates about her. All she wants is a normal daughter who wears makeup and sexy clothes to attract boys. But Ice gets her chance to shine when she reveals her beautiful singing voice. And her extraordinary gift may become her saving grace when tragedy and deception almost destroy her dreams...

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Ice (Shooting Stars Series #2)

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Overview

Ice wishes she could just become invisible...

Ice hides from the world behind a shield of silence. And that is what her mother hates about her. All she wants is a normal daughter who wears makeup and sexy clothes to attract boys. But Ice gets her chance to shine when she reveals her beautiful singing voice. And her extraordinary gift may become her saving grace when tragedy and deception almost destroy her dreams...

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671039943
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 7/31/2001
  • Series: Shooting Stars Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 4.22 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

V. C. Andrews
Cleo Virgina Andrews was born to William and Lillian Andrews on June 6, 1924 in Portsmouth, Virgina. She was the youngest of three children, and spent her childhood in Portsmouth and Rochester. She enjoyed ballet, classical music, chess, and astrology. She read all the time and excelled in art. At the age of fifteen, Andrews won a scholarship for a literary parody she had written.

In her late teens, Andrews fell down a flight of stairs and tore a membrane that led to bone spurs. That and botched orthopedic surgery would lead her to a dependence on a wheelchair. She finished high school in spite of the operations and went on to complete a four-year art course. After Andrews became disabled, her mother tried to hide her fromt the world. She would not accept the accident and told Andrews that she could not be a writer. This is why Andrews is sometimes referred to as a "closet writer".

Andrews' father died in the late 1960s and her and her family moved to Manchester, Missouri.

Andrews was living in Apache Junction, Arizona, when she began to devote all of her time to writing. She completed her first novel, The Gods of the Green Mountain, in 1972, but it was not published. Andrews managed to produce from thirty to forty pages a night in spite of her disability, but her only sales before 1979 was a small piece in a confession magazine.

Nine novels and twenty short stories were rejected, but Andrews kept on writing. A tenth novel, called The Obsession, was sent to a publishing company. The editors told Andrews that the story showed much promise, but it was too long. Andrews did much revising and shortened it to a ninety-eight page version she entitled Flowers in the Attic. She rewrote it a second time, dedicated the book to her mother, and sold it to Pocket Books for seventy-five thousand dollars.

It was not Andrews' decision to use her initials on her books. At first, she was told that it was an irreversible error by the printers, but later learned that it was an editorial decision. The editors wanted to prove to men that women didn't always write about so-called "girlish" things. They used her initials, instead of Virginia, so men would buy the books.

Flowers in the Attic was released in November 1979. It rocked to the best seller list two uneventful weeks after its release . It remained there for more that fourteen weeks.

Word spread that there would be a sequel to Andrews' popular novel. The demand was so great that the publisher moved the publishing date up by several months. Petals on the Wind was released in June 1980 and became an instant success. It rose to the number one position and remained on the New York Times best seller list for nineteen weeks. Its popularity was so great that it caused Flowers in the Attic to reappear on the list.

If There Be Thorns was the third book in the series. It was released in June 1981 and was also successful; it appeared on the best seller lists the second week after its release.

Shortly after Thorns, Andrews wrote a new novel entitled My Sweet Audrina which was released in April 1983. The fourth book of the Dollanganger series, Seeds of Yesterday, was published in March 1984. Andrews then started the Casteel series, publishing Heaven in October 1985 and Dark Angel in November 1986.

Andrews died of breast cancer on December 18, 1986. Her family had promised themselves to continue her novels. The fifth and last book of the Dollanganger series, Garden of Shadows was released in November 1987, less than a year after Andrews' death. The movie adaptation of Flowers in the Attic, in which Andrews had a cameo as a window-washing maid, was released to theatres in the fall of 1987 and made into video in the spring of 1988.

Andrews' family carefully selected a "ghostwriter" after her death to complete novels.

Biography

"The face of fear I display in my novels is not the pale specter from the sunken grave, nor is it the thing that goes bump in the night," V. C. Andrews once told Douglas E. Winter. "Mine are the deep-seated fears established when we are children, and they never quite go away: the fear of being helpless, the fear of being trapped, the fear of being out of control."

Andrews's novel Flowers in the Attic launched the popular genre sometimes dubbed "children in jeopardy" -- stories about young people abused, lied to, and preyed upon by their evil guardians. The author's own childhood was not nearly so lurid, though it did have an element of tragedy: As a teenager she had a bad fall, which resulted in the development of bone spurs. A botched surgery, combined with arthritis, forced her to use a wheelchair or crutches for the rest of her life.

Andrews lived with her mother and worked as a commercial artist until the 1970s, when she began to write in earnest. Most of her early stories and novels went unpublished (one exception was "I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night," which appeared in a pulp confession magazine). Finally, in 1979, Flowers in the Attic made it into print. The book soared to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was followed by two equally successful sequels, Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns. Critics weren't always kind -- a Washington Post reviewer wrote that Flowers in the Attic "may well be the worst book I have ever read" -- but that didn't matter to millions of Andrews's readers, who devoured her gruesome fairy tales as fast as she could pen them.

As E. D. Huntley points out in V. C. Andrews: A Critical Companion, Andrews's novels fit neatly into the "female Gothic" tradition, in which an innocent young woman is trapped in an isolated mansion and persecuted by a villain. Andrews's own contribution was to take some of the themes implicit in early Gothic novels -- incest, sexual jealousy, and obsession -- and make them sensationally explicit in her works.

As most of her fans know by now, V. C. Andrews died in 1986, but new V. C. Andrews books keep popping up on the bestseller lists. That's because the Andrews estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to continue writing books in the late author's style. Andrews's heirs have been cagey about just how much unfinished work she left behind when she died, but testimony during a 1993 tax case suggested that Andrews had only completed a portion of Garden of Shadows, the eighth book (out of more than 50) published under her name.

Still, even if the vast majority of "V. C. Andrews" books weren't actually written by V. C. Andrews, many of her fans are happy to have her tradition carried on. Neiderman has drawn on Andrews's novels, notebooks, and drawings for inspiration. "Don't make this sound weird," he once said in a Washington Post interview, "but sometimes I do feel possessed." To the original V. C. Andrews, who believed in precognition and reincarnation, it probably wouldn't sound weird at all.

Good To Know

Andrews wrote nine novels before Flowers in the Attic, including a science fantasy titled The Gods of the Green Mountain. Later, when she was a bestselling novelist, she wanted to try her hand at different kinds of fiction, but her publisher discouraged her. "I am supposed to stay in this niche, whatever it is, because there is so much money in it," she told Douglas Winter. "I mean, I have tapped a gold mine and they don't want to let go of it. I don't like that, because I want to branch out."

Though V. C. Andrews went by the name Virginia, her birth name was Cleo Virginia Andrews, not Virginia Cleo Andrews. She had planned to publish her books under the name Virginia Andrews, but her first publisher printed Flowers in the Atticas the work of "V. C. Andrews" in hopes that the gender-neutral name would make the book appealing to male readers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Cleo Virginia Andrews
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 6, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portsmouth, Virginia
    1. Date of Death:
      December 19, 1986
    2. Place of Death:
      Virginia Beach, Virginia

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

Mama's Plan

Whenever I was alone in our apartment, which was -quite often, and if I was very quiet, I could hear the sounds of other families below and around us. They traveled through the thin walls and in or over the pipes. I could move my ear from the wall on one side of the room to the other or take myself to another room, preferably the bathroom or kitchen, and press my ear to the walls there and hear different noises-what I thought of as the symphony of the Garden Apartments. It was almost like changing stations on a radio.

There were families who always seemed to be at war with each other, complaining, screaming, threatening in growls and shouts. There were those who spoke softly, enjoyed some laughter and even some singing. And there were often the sounds of crying, even sobbing, as if someone was walled in forever like in the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, I could hear television sets and hip-hop music. There were at least a half-dozen white families in our project, but their music wasn't very different, and I often heard as much shouting and crying from them as well. I didn't know any other person who paid as much attention to the symphony of the Garden Apartments as I did. They were too busy making their own noises to listen to anyone else's and rarely did an hour pass in their homes when silence wasn't broken. Silence, I learned early on, frightens people, or at least makes them feel very uncomfortable. The worst punishment imposed on my school friends seemed to be keeping them in detention, forcing them to be still and shutting them off from any communication. They squirmed, grimaced, put their heads down and waited as if spiders had been released inside them and were crawling up and down their stomachs and under their chests. When the bell that dismissed them finally rang, they would burst out like an explosion of confetti in every direction, each talking louder than the other, some even screaming so hard that veins strained and popped against the skin in their temples.

Mama wasn't any different. The moment she entered the apartment, she turned on the radio or clicked on the television set, crying, "Why is this place like a morgue?"

If she had done some drinking with a girlfriend, she would dance and laugh, calling to me to join her while she fixed dinner; if I didn't come or if I made a reluctant face, she would pounce on me and accuse me of being strange, which she blamed on my daddy and his side of the family.

"Never seen a name fit better than the name I gave you, girl;' she would declare. "The only time I ever see a smile on your face is when you're singing in that church. You going to be a nun or something? Wake up. Shake your booty. You got a nice figure, honey. You're lucky you don't take after your daddy in looks and be big boned like that Tama Gotchuck or somebody similar.

"You got my nose and mouth and you're getting my figure," she said with her hands on her hips, turning as if she were surrounded by mirrors.

Mama didn't need mirrors to look at herself though. She could spot her reflection in a glass on the table or a piece of silverware and suddenly fix her hair or touch her face and complain about aging too quickly. She wasn't. She was just anticipating it with such dread that the illusion of some tiny wrinkle forming or a single gray hair put hysteria into her eyes and panic in her voice.

'You wouldn't be so crazy nervous about yourself if we had another child," Daddy told her. "It would give you something more important to worry about."

He might as well have lit a firecracker in the middle of our living room, but for as long as I could remember, Daddy wanted to have more children. I know he wanted a son badly. However, Mama grin bled that giving birth to me had added a half-inch or so to her hips and another child would surely turn her into another one of those "walruses waddling around here with a trail of drippy nosed brats they couldn't afford to have. Not me. I'm still young enough to turn a head or two."

"That's all that makes you happy, Lena," Daddy retorted. "Being the center of attention."

He didn't make it sound like any sort of accusation or even a criticism. It was just a mattes-of-fad statement. Even so, Mama would go off on one of her tirades about how he wanted her to be fat and ugly so other men wouldn't look longingly at her anymore.

"You used to be proud to have me hanging on your arm, Cameron Goodman. I could see how you would strut like a rooster, parading me in front of your friends, bragging with your eyes. I let you wear me like some piece of jewelry and I didn't bitch about it, did I7 So why are you complaining now?"

"I'm not complaining, Lena, but there's more to life now. We're settled down. We have a home, a child. We should be building on this family, too;" Daddy pleaded, his big hands out, palms up like someone begging fm a handout of affection and love. "I told you a hundred times if I told you once, Cameron. We can't have any more children on your salary;' she replied and turned away quickly to end the argument or to run from it.

That wasn't fair or even a good excuse. Daddy made a decent salary. He had always done well. Now he was the head of security for Cobbler's Market, a big department store on Ninth Street. He had been a military policeman in the army; after he came out, he started working different security positions until he was chosen to head up one and then another.

It wasn't just his size that recommended him for the job, even though he stood six feet four and weighed two hundred and twenty-five pounds. He was considered a clear-thinking, sensible man who could manage other men. I know for sure that his calm, patient demeanor helped him get along with Mama. It took a great deal more than it took most men to get him to lose his temper. He seemed to know that when he did, he would unleash so much fury and rage, he couldn't depend on his power to rein it in. He was truly someone who was afraid of himself, of what he could or would do. Amazingly, Mama never seemed afraid of him, never hesitated or stepped back even when it looked like she was treading on thin ice. I have seen her throw things at him, push him, even kick him. He was like a tree trunk, unmovable, untouched, steady and firm, which only seemed to get Mama angrier. Finally, frustrated with her inability to get the sort of reaction from him she wanted, she would retreat out of exhaustion.

"You're just like your father when it comes to your cold personality;" she accused, pointing her long, right forefinger at me like some prosecutorbecause to her way of thinking not to be outgoing and emotional was truly a crime. "There's where the ice comes into your veins. Certainly not from me, child. I'm full of heat," she bragged "A man looks into these eyes and he melts:'

She would wait for me to agree or smile or look like I was envious, but I didn't do any of that and that brought a sneer to her lips.

"What is with you, girl? You think you're better than everyone around here or something?"

I shook my head vigorously.

"Because I never did anything to make you be lieve that. I never pumped be-with compliments and such until you walked around with your head back, looking like you got flies in your nose or something, did I? Well, did I?"

I knew she would keep at me until I spoke.

'No, Mama:'

"No, Mama," she mimicked. "So?" she said, her hands still on her hips, "why are you home all the time, huh? Why don't you have girlfriends and boyfriends? When I was your age, my daddy put a double lock on the door to keep the boys out. Here you are seventeen," she said, "and you ain't been out on a real date yet. I don't hear the phone ringing either," she complained.

It nearly made me smile to hear her grievances. All the other girls my age were constantly moaning and groaning about how their parents came down on them for being on the phone too much or being out too late and hanging around with bad kids. "Are you ashamed of this place, ashamed of us? Is that why you hardly ever utter a word? Your family embarrass you? Huh?"

I shook my head again.

'Because the worst kind of girl is a snob girl," Mama declared. "She's worse than the other kind who teases and such. Are you a snob? Is that what your friends think, too? You think because you have a nice singing voice, you can't waste it on us ordinary folks? Is that it? Because if it is, that's a snob. Well? Answer me, damn it."

"I'm not a snob, Mama," I insisted. "I'm not ashamed of you or Daddy either." Tears tried to come into my eyes, but I slammed the door shut on them.

She raised her eyebrows, surprised she had gotten so strong a verbal reaction from me.

"No? Well, what are you then? What's your probIem, girl? Why do people talk about you being wage and mute? People here say good morning and You just nod or they ask you how you are and how Your family is and you smile instead of talk. I hear about it. Some of them like rubbing it into me like oil or something. Is that why you don't have a close girlfriend and no boyfriends? I bet it is," she said nodding. "I know boys don't want to waste their time on someone who acts deaf and dumb.

"You ain't ugly, far from that, child. You look too much like me. What is it then? You just shy? Is that it? Was that grade-school teacher right about you years ago? You're Miss Bashful?" She drew close enough to me that I could smell the whiskey on her breath. "Huh? You got no self-confidence?" She poked me in the shoulder. "You afraid they going to laugh at you?" She poked me again. "Well?"

I put my hand over my shoulder where it was getting sore, but I didn't cry or even grimace.

"What?" she screamed at me.

"No one interests me yet," I said calmly.

That stopped her. She thought about it a moment and then shook her head.

"Well, you don't have to think of every boy as your future husband, Ice. Don't you just want to go out and have a good time once in a while?"

I didn't answer.

"You're shy;" she decided, nodding firmly. "You're just too much like your daddy. He was so shy, I had to kiss him that first time. How's that? It surprise you to know that big, strong, bull of a man was afraid to kiss a girl? That's right. He was shaking in his shoes so bad, I could have pushed him over with one finger;' she said, smiling. "I have that effect on most men. And you could, too, if you'd just listen to me. You don't even put on lipstick unless I hound you, and you still ain't trimmed those eyebrows the way I taught you:'

Mama had spent six months in a beauty school when she was seventeen. It was her one real attempt at any sort of career for herself, but she lacked the sense of responsibility and the discipline to follow through. If she woke up tired, she just didn't go in, and soon they asked her to leave. However, she had learned a great deal.

"You need the arch," she pursued, running her forefinger over my left brow. "You put the high point directly above the middle of your iris. Brows are the frames of your eyes, Ice. Don't be afraid to tweeze them! Why should you be afraid of something like that anyway?"

"I'm not afraid, Mama:' I said stepping back.

"Well then, why don't you do it? You can make Your eyes look bigger. Remember what I told you: tweeze the hairs from underneath, not from above. Best time is after a shower. It's less painful, but a lit de Pain can go a big way"

I looked down, hoping she would get bored as usual and start on some other pet peeve of hers, like how small our apartment was or how she couldn't buy the new dress she wanted because it was too expensive Usually, she ended up threatening to go get a job, but she had yet to apply for work anywhere. Most of her day was spent looking after her hair and her skin, doing her beauty exercises or meeting her friends for lunch, which usually ran most of the afternoon. She always had too much to drink at those lunches and always reeked of smoke.

I once asked her why she smoked and drank if she cared so much about her looks and she responded by throwing a water glass across the room and accusing me of being too religious. She threatened to keep me from attending the church choir or make me quit the school chorus.

"It's the only time I ever see you show any interest in anything. What kind of a young life is that? Even birds do more than just sing:' Actually, both our school chorus and the church choir were award winning and were often asked to sing at government and charity events, "but what did Mama know about that? She rarely came to hear me sing.

"You'll end up mealymouthed and fat, worrying about your everlasting soul day in and day out instead of having any fun," she rattled on. Now that she was on a roll, she seemed driven by her own momentum like some car that had lost its brakes going downhill.

"My mama was like that and that's why I was glad to get out of that house when your daddy came along and made me pregnant," she said without the slightest shame.

Other mothers would hide the fact that you were an accident, but not mine. Depending on her mood when she talked about it, she was either seduced by Daddy or clever enough to get herself pregnant and married as a means of escaping imprisonment at home. Whatever the reasons, however, my birth had been a blow to her youth and beauty. She never stopped reminding me about that added inch on her hips besides the strain it was on her to care for a baby.

"If you looked after yourself more, you'd have boys asking you out, lee. As it is, they won't give you a second look unless you become one of them easy conquests:' Her eyes widened with her own imaginings: me on a street corner or in the back of some parked car.

"You do that and I'll throw you out on the street," she threatened. 'I'm not having people talk dirt about a daughter of mine:' I stared at her as if she was really talking nonsense now.

"Don't look at me like that, girl. It doesn't take much to turn a nice girl into a street tramp these days. I see it going on all around us. That Edith Merton might as well put a sign on her door out there;' she declared, pumping her finger at our front door. 'That whole family oughta be evicted:'

The Mertons lived at the end of the hall. Edith's father was a city bus driver. She had a ten-year-old brother and her mother worked in a dry-cleaning and laundry shop. Edith's double trouble was to have developed a heavy bosom at age thirteen and to have parents who were so busy working to keep a roof over their heads and food in their mouths that she was left on her own too much....

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Table of Contents

Prologue ..... 1
Chapter 1: Mama's Plan ..... 15
Chapter 2: The Makeover ..... 36
Chapter 3: The Kit-Kat Club ..... 54
Chapter 4: Allies ..... 78
Chapter 5: A Song of My Own ..... 99
Chapter 6: Out of Time ..... 119
Chapter 7: Sweet Harmony ..... 139
Chapter 8: Wounded ..... 161
Epilogue ..... 181
Rose Excerpt ..... 187
Flowers in the Attic Excerpt..... 197
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

Mama's Plan

Whenever I was alone in our apartment, which was quite often, and if I was very quiet, I could hear the sounds of other families below and around us. They traveled through the thin walls and in or over the pipes. I could move my ear from the wall on one side of the room to the other or take myself to another room, preferably the bathroom or kitchen, and press my ear to the walls there and hear different noises — what I thought of as the symphony of the Garden Apartments. It was almost like changing stations on a radio.

There were families who always seemed to be at war with each other, complaining, screaming, threatening in growls and shouts. There were those who spoke softly, enjoyed some laughter and even some singing. And there were often the sounds of someone crying, even sobbing, as if someone was walled in forever like in the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, I could hear television sets and hip-hop music. There were at least a half-dozen white families in our project, but their music wasn't very different, and I often heard as much shouting and crying from them as well.

I didn't know any other person who paid as much attention to the symphony of the Garden Apartments as I did. They were too busy making their own noises to listen to anyone else's and rarely did an hour pass in their homes when silence wasn't broken. Silence, I learned early on, frightens people, or at least makes them feel very uncomfortable. The worst punishment imposed on my school friends seemed to be keeping them in detention, forcing them to be still and shutting them off from any communication. They squirmed, grimaced, put their heads down and waited as if spiders had been released inside them and were crawling up and down their stomachs and under their chests. When the bell that dismissed them finally rang, they would burst out like an explosion of confetti in every direction, each talking louder than the other, some even screaming so hard that veins strained and popped against the skin in their temples.

Mama wasn't any different. The moment she entered the apartment, she turned on the radio or clicked on the television set, crying, "Why is this place like a morgue?"

If she had done some drinking with a girlfriend, she would dance and laugh, calling to me to join her while she fixed dinner; if I didn't come or if I made a reluctant face, she would pounce on me and accuse me of being strange, which she blamed on my daddy and his side of the family.

"Never seen a name fit better than the name I gave you, girl," she would declare. "The only time I ever see a smile on your face is when you're singing in that church. You going to be a nun or something? Wake up. Shake your booty. You got a nice figure, honey. You're lucky you don't take after your daddy in looks and be big boned like that Tania Gotchuck or somebody similar.

"You got my nose and mouth and you're getting my figure," she said with her hands on her hips, turning as if she were surrounded by mirrors.

Mama didn't need mirrors to look at herself though. She could spot her reflection in a glass on the table or a piece of silverware and suddenly fix her hair or touch her face and complain about aging too quickly. She wasn't. She was just anticipating it with such dread that the illusion of some tiny wrinkle forming or a single gray hair put hysteria into her eyes and panic in her voice.

"You wouldn't be so crazy nervous about yourself if we had another child," Daddy told her. "It would give you something more important to worry about."

He might as well have lit a firecracker in the middle of our living room, but for as long as I could remember, Daddy wanted to have more children. I know he wanted a son badly. However, Mama grumbled that giving birth to me had added a half-inch or so to her hips and another child would surely turn her into another one of those "walruses waddling around here with a trail of drippy-nosed brats they couldn't afford to have. Not me. I'm still young enough to turn a head or two."

"That's all that makes you happy, Lena," Daddy retorted. "Being the center of attention."

He didn't make it sound like any sort of accusation or even a criticism. It was just a matter-of-fact statement. Even so, Mama would go off on one of her tirades about how he wanted her to be fat and ugly so other men wouldn't look longingly at her anymore.

"You used to be proud to have me hanging on your arm, Cameron Goodman. I could see how you would strut like a rooster, parading me in front of your friends, bragging with your eyes. I let you wear me like some piece of jewelry and I didn't bitch about it, did I? So why are you complaining now?"

"I'm not complaining, Lena, but there's more to life now. We're settled down. We have a home, a child. We should be building on this family, too," Daddy pleaded, his big hands out, palms up like someone begging for a handout of affection and love.

"I told you a hundred times if I told you once, Cameron. We can't have any more children on your salary," she replied and turned away quickly to end the argument or to run from it.

That wasn't fair or even a good excuse. Daddy made a decent salary. He had always done well. Now he was the head of security for Cobbler's Market, a big department store on Ninth Street. He had been a military policeman in the army; after he came out, he started working different security positions until he was chosen to head up one and then another.

It wasn't just his size that recommended him for the job, even though he stood six feet four and weighed two hundred and twenty-five pounds. He was considered a clear-thinking, sensible man who could manage other men. I know for sure that his calm, patient demeanor helped him get along with Mama. It took a great deal more than it took most men to get him to lose his temper. He seemed to know that when he did, he would unleash so much fury and rage, he couldn't depend on his power to rein it in. He was truly someone who was afraid of himself, of what he could or would do.

Amazingly, Mama never seemed afraid of him, never hesitated or stepped back even when it looked like she was treading on thin ice. I have seen her throw things at him, push him, even kick him. He was like a tree trunk, unmovable, untouched, steady and firm, which only seemed to get Mama angrier. Finally, frustrated with her inability to get the sort of reaction from him she wanted, she would retreat out of exhaustion.

"You're just like your father when it comes to your cold personality," she accused, pointing her long, right forefinger at me like some prosecutor — because to her way of thinking not to be outgoing and emotional was truly a crime. "There's where the ice comes into your veins. Certainly not from me, child. I'm full of heat," she bragged. "A man looks into these eyes and he melts."

She would wait for me to agree or smile or look like I was envious, but I didn't do any of that and that brought a sneer to her lips.

"What is with you, girl? You think you're better than everyone around here or something?"

I shook my head vigorously.

"Because I never did anything to make you believe that. I never pumped you up with compliments and such until you walked around with your head back, looking like you got flies in your nose or something, did I? Well, did I?"

I knew she would keep at me until I spoke.

"No, Mama."

"No, Mama," she mimicked. "So?" she said, her hands still on her hips, "why are you home all the time, huh? Why don't you have girlfriends and boyfriends? When I was your age, my daddy put a double lock on the door to keep the boys out. Here you are seventeen," she said, "and you ain't been out on a real date yet. I don't hear the phone ringing either," she complained.

It nearly made me smile to hear her grievances. All the other girls my age were constantly moaning and groaning about how their parents came down on them for being on the phone too much or being out too late and hanging around with bad kids.

"Are you ashamed of this place, ashamed of us? Is that why you hardly ever utter a word? Your family embarrass you? Huh?"

I shook my head again.

"Because the worst kind of girl is a snob girl," Mama declared. "She's worse than the other kind who teases and such. Are you a snob? Is that what your friends think, too? You think because you have a nice singing voice, you can't waste it on us ordinary folks? Is that it? Because if it is, that's a snob. Well? Answer me, damn it."

"I'm not a snob, Mama," I insisted. "I'm not ashamed of you or Daddy either."

Tears tried to come into my eyes, but I slammed the door shut on them.

She raised her eyebrows, surprised she had gotten so strong a verbal reaction from me.

"No? Well, what are you then? What's your problem, girl? Why do people talk about you being strange and mute? People here say good morning and you just nod or they ask you how you are and how your family is and you smile instead of talk. I hear about it. Some of them like rubbing it into me like oil or something. Is that why you don't have a close girlfriend and no boyfriends? I bet it is," she said nodding. "I know boys don't want to waste their time on someone who acts deaf and dumb.

"You ain't ugly, far from that, child. You look too much like me. What is it then? You just shy? Is that it? Was that grade-school teacher right about you years ago? You're Miss Bashful?" She drew close enough to me that I could smell the whiskey on her breath. "Huh? You got no self-confidence?" She poked me in the shoulder. "You afraid they going to laugh at you?" She poked me again. "Well?"

I put my hand over my shoulder where it was getting sore, but I didn't cry or even grimace.

"What?" she screamed at me.

"No one interests me yet," I said calmly.

That stopped her. She thought about it a moment and then shook her head.

"Well, you don't have to think of every boy as your future husband, Ice. Don't you just want to go out and have a good time once in a while?"

I didn't answer.

"You're shy," she decided, nodding firmly. "You're just too much like your daddy. He was so shy, I had to kiss him that first time. How's that? It surprise you to know that big, strong, bull of a man was afraid to kiss a girl? That's right. He was shaking in his shoes so bad, I could have pushed him over with one finger," she said, smiling. "I have that effect on most men. And you could, too, if you'd just listen to me. You don't even put on lipstick unless I hound you, and you still ain't trimmed those eyebrows the way I taught you."

Mama had spent six months in a beauty school when she was seventeen. It was her one real attempt at any sort of career for herself, but she lacked the sense of responsibility and the discipline to follow through. If she woke up tired, she just didn't go in, and soon they asked her to leave. However, she had learned a great deal.

"You need the arch," she pursued, running her forefinger over my left brow. "You put the high point directly above the middle of your iris. Brows are the frames of your eyes, Ice. Don't be afraid to tweeze them! Why should you be afraid of something like that anyway?"

"I'm not afraid, Mama," I said stepping back.

"Well then, why don't you do it? You can make your eyes look bigger. Remember what I told you: tweeze the hairs from underneath, not from above. Best time is after a shower. It's less painful, but a little pain can go a big way."

I looked down, hoping she would get bored as usual and start on some other pet peeve of hers, like how small our apartment was or how she couldn't buy the new dress she wanted because it was too expensive. Usually, she ended up threatening to go get a job, but she had yet to apply for work anywhere. Most of her day was spent looking after her hair and her skin, doing her beauty exercises or meeting her friends for lunch, which usually ran most of the afternoon. She always had too much to drink at those lunches and always reeked of smoke.

I once asked her why she smoked and drank if she cared so much about her looks and she responded by throwing a water glass across the room and accusing me of being too religious. She threatened to keep me from attending the church choir or make me quit the school chorus.

"It's the only time I ever see you show any interest in anything. What kind of a young life is that? Even birds do more than just sing."

Actually, both our school chorus and the church choir were award winning and were often asked to sing at government and charity events, but what did Mama know about that? She rarely came to hear me sing.

"You'll end up mealymouthed and fat, worrying about your everlasting soul day in and day out instead of having any fun," she rattled on. Now that she was on a roll, she seemed driven by her own momentum like some car that had lost its brakes going downhill.

"My mama was like that and that's why I was glad to get out of that house when your daddy came along and made me pregnant," she said without the slightest shame.

Other mothers would hide the fact that you were an accident, but not mine. Depending on her mood when she talked about it, she was either seduced by Daddy or clever enough to get herself pregnant and married as a means of escaping imprisonment at home. Whatever the reasons, however, my birth had been a blow to her youth and beauty. She never stopped reminding me about that added inch on her hips besides the strain it was on her to care for a baby.

"If you looked after yourself more, you'd have boys asking you out, Ice. As it is, they won't give you a second look unless you become one of them easy conquests."

Her eyes widened with her own imaginings: me on a street corner or in the back of some parked car.

"You do that and I'll throw you out on the street," she threatened. "I'm not having people talk dirt about a daughter of mine."

I stared at her as if she was really talking nonsense now.

"Don't look at me like that, girl. It doesn't take much to turn a nice girl into a street tramp these days. I see it going on all around us. That Edith Merton might as well put a sign on her door out there," she declared, pumping her finger at our front door. "That whole family oughta be evicted."

The Mertons lived at the end of the hall. Edith's father was a city bus driver. She had a ten-year-old brother and her mother worked in a dry-cleaning and laundry shop. Edith's double trouble was to have developed a heavy bosom at age thirteen and to have parents who were so busy working to keep a roof over their heads and food in their mouths that she was left on her own too much.

Mama's obsession with herself and her youthful looks had one good result, I suppose. She was terrified of disease, especially anything that affected her complexion. I was prohibited from ever going into Edith's apartment, and I was never to invite her into ours. Mama saw her as walking contamination and pointed to every blotch on her face as evidence of some sexually transmitted disease.

As a result of what I learned people would call a bad neurosis, Mama wanted our home to be immaculate. If she did any real work, it was to keep our house and our clothing clean. Of course, I was the one who did a major part of all that, but I didn't complain. Except for my singing in the church choir and the school chorus and doing homework, I had little to compete for my time.

However, shortly after Mama and I had our most recent one-sided conversation about my anemic social life, Mama came to the conclusion that it was finally beginning to reflect poorly on her.

"I go out with my girlfriends," she complained, "and before long they're all talking about their kids in some new romance, bragging about the way they get all spruced up or how pretty they are and I got to sit there with my mouth as sewn tight as yours usually is, just listening and hoping no one's going to ask me about you. But I know what they're thinking when they look at me: 'poor Lena. She got that great burden to bear at home.' How do you think that makes me feel, huh?" she whined.

"I'll tell you," she said knowing I wasn't going to offer any answer. "It makes me feel like I got some kind of a retard at home, a girl who never gets her hair fixed in a beauty shop, never listens to me about her makeup, never asks for a new dress, never does nothing but read or listen to her music and go singing with some travel agents to heaven. You're an embarrassment!" she declared finally. "And I mean to do something about it once and for all."

I had no idea what she meant, but I did look at her with curiosity, which made her smile.

"You need a push, girl. That's all. Just a little head start. Even your daddy says so," she told me.

I doubted that. More than likely, she went into one of her tirades when he had just come home from work late and was tired and he couldn't offer much resistence. To shut her up, he probably nodded a lot, grunted and looked like he agreed, but my guess was he wouldn't even remember the topic of conversation the next day if he was asked about it.

At least, I hoped that was true. Daddy never lied to me or ever criticized me for being too quiet or too withdrawn. He liked the tranquility he and I enjoyed when Mama wasn't around to lecture us on one failing or another. More often than not, he and I would sit quietly, both of us reading or listening to his jazz records. We said more to each other in those silences than most people did talking for hours and hours.

"Listen to that trumpet," he would say and I would; he would nod and look at me and see that I understood why he loved jazz so much.

He had a valuable collection of old jazz albums that included Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey on drums, and female vocalists like Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. He loved how I could listen to Carmen McRae singing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and then imitate her. He said I did a wonderful job imitating Ella Fitzgerald's "Lullaby of Birdland." He would play it and I would sing along. I could see the deep pleasure in his face whenever I performed for him. If Mama was there, she would thumb through one of her beauty magazines and look up at me occasionally, torn between giving me a compliment and complaining about me being content at home with them or my disinterest in the music girls my age loved.

"You're turning her into some weird kid. She doesn't listen to hip-hop or any of the music kids her age listen to and it's because of you, Cameron," she would grumble.

"I'm just listening to real music," Daddy would reply. "And she enjoys it. What's wrong with that?"

"Real music," Mama muttered. "My idea of real music is going somewhere to hear it and dance and have a good time, not sitting in your living room tapping your fingers on the side of an armchair."

They did go out on weekends occasionally, but Mama was never happy about the places Daddy took her. The people there were either too old or too calm or out of touch with what was really happening.

"You're not out in the world like I am," she would tell him. "You just don't know."

Daddy didn't argue. He drew his music around him like a curtain of steel and sat contented, as contented as someone soaking in a warm bath. I listened, sang, learned about tempo and beat, phrasing and rhythm while Mama pouted or went into her bedroom to turn on the television set very loud. Those nights, we drove silence out the window.

Finally, Mama really decided to do something about me, to take control of my destiny, just as she had threatened. She was back to that idea that some girls just needed a little push. Well, she was going to give me more than a little push. She was going to give me a firm shove.

She returned one afternoon, stepped into my bedroom while I was sprawled on my bed doing my math homework, and made an astonishing announcement.

"Thank your lucky stars, girl. I got you a date with a handsome young man."

"What?" I asked, turning.

"I got you a date for Saturday night. We got to go out and buy you something decent to wear and then I have to help you get yourself togther, fix your hair, do your makeup. When you go out with someone, you represent me, too," she declared. "People gonna say that's Lena Goodman's daughter and by the time I'm finished fixing you up, people gonna say, 'I would have known anywhere that was Lena's girl, a girl that pretty has to be her daughter.'"

"What do you mean, a date?" I asked, my heart thudding like a fist on stone.

"I know you kids don't like to think of it as a date. Somehow the word became old-fashioned. You just what — 'hang out with someone' nowadays?" She smirked and shook her head. "Well, to me a date's a date. The man picks you up, takes you somewhere nice, and pays for everything. That's still a date in my book."

"What man?" I asked, sitting up.

"Louella Carter's younger brother Shawn. He's gonna be home from boot camp on leave this weekend, and we arranged for you two to be together Saturday night. He's a very good-looking boy and a boy in the army is gonna be well mannered, too. I spoke with him on the phone myself and he was all, 'Yes ma'am' and 'No ma'am' and 'Thank you, ma'am.'"

"I'm not going out with someone I never met, Mama," I protested.

"Of course you are. Didn't you ever hear of something called blind dates? You either got your nose in your schoolbooks or your father's old record albums, but you must've heard of that."

"I don't like blind dates," I said.

"You've never been on one! You've never been on any date, blind or otherwise, so how can you say you don't like it, Ice?"

"I just know I don't," I said.

"Well, this time you're gonna make an effort to like something I do for you. I didn't just go looking for a date for you, you know. I screened a lot of young men first. Louella's a girlfriend of mine and her brother's got to be a good boy who won't take advantage of an innocent girl such as yourself. I'm not saying he won't want to kiss you and such, but you know when to stop."

She thought a moment.

"Don't you?" she asked. "I mean, you learned all about that stuff in school, right?"

I nodded.

"Good. Then it's all set."

"Nothing's set," I said.

She glared at me a moment and then she stepped farther into my room, her eyes heating over, her jaw tightening, her hands folding into small fists pressed firmly into her thighs as she hovered over me.

"I said it's set. You're going to get all dressed up and have a good time whether you like it or not, and you're going to make me proud and give me something to brag about when I'm with my girlfriends, hear? This is one Saturday night you're not going to be shut up in your room singing to yourself or out there with your father and me listening to his antique records."

"But — "

"No buts, Ice. I want you to make a good effort toward having a good time. Do it for me if not for yourself," she added in a softer tone, practically begging. Her face looked pained with the effort.

I stared at her a moment and then looked down.

"Well?"

"Okay, Mama," I said.

"Good. Good. You're going to be thanking me afterward," she predicted. "You should be grateful that you have a mother who knows how to dress up and look good, too. Other girls depend on their friends or something they see in a magazine and usually look pretty stupid. I'm right here, at your side, giving you the knowledge I have from real experience.

"First thing we got to do is get your hair cut right."

"What? No, Mama. I don't want to cut my hair," I moaned.

"Of course you do. You don't know it right now, maybe, but once you're in the shop and my personal beautician Dawn starts working on your mop, you'll be very happy about it," she practically ordered. "You can't just keep your hair brushed down all the time. It looks drab."

She reached out and touched my hair

"And it doesn't have the body and silky satin feel it should. Men like to touch nice hair and see a woman whose face is framed right. You're not taking advantage of your good qualities, Ice. I've been after you for months to do something about this...this mess, well now we have a reason to do it and we will.

"After that, we'll go look for a dress. Maybe we'll take advantage of some of those discounts your father gets, discounts we don't use enough. You'll need some new shoes, too."

"I don't want to cut my hair, Mama."

"I already made your beauty parlor appointment. It's tomorrow at nine."

"Tomorrow at nine? But I'll be in school, Mama."

"Not tomorrow, you won't."

"But — "

"You don't ever miss a day, Ice. You can miss one and don't tell me you can't. I see some of the girls in your class hanging around here during the school day, pretending to be sick or something and having a good old time of it. No one comes around to check on them either. At least you have a good reason not to go."

"Getting your hair done is not a good reason to cut school, Mama."

"It is to me, especially when you don't ever go and get it done, and especially when you have an important occasion coming up," she insisted.

"Important occasion," I mumbled under my breath.

"Yes," she said wagging her head, "it is an important occasion. It's like what they call those debutante balls or something, a coming-out."

I started to smile and her face turned hard and cold.

"Are you laughing at me, Ice?"

"No, Mama."

"Don't you go showing your stuck-up face to me."

"I'm not being stuck-up. But Mama, this is not anything like a debutante ball."

"It is to me and it should and will be to you. Now that's it. You can thank me later," she added and left me stunned and anxious about what she had done.

It was almost like the old days when parents arranged the marriages their children would have. If any of my classmates found out what she had done, I would really be the object of ridicule, I thought. Knowing Mama's girlfriends, it wasn't hard to believe the gossip would fly.

"Ice's mother has to find her a date. She can't get one on her own," they would say. They'd tease me and ask if my mother could find them a date, too.

I've got to find a way to get myself out of this, I thought. I could go to Daddy, but if I went to him, it could become a big blowup between them and they had been having quite of few of those lately. The last thing I wanted to do was be the cause of another.

Maybe I could pretend to be sick, I thought.

No, she wouldn't go for that. She's so excited about this, she'd send me out with a temperature of a hundred and five and a face covered in measles.

Maybe Louella's brother wouldn't show up. Maybe he would change his mind. Maybe he wouldn't like being made to go out with a high-school girl on a blind date. Maybe...

Maybe you might just have a good time, another voice inside me said. Maybe you'll like him.

Just maybe, your mother might be right. Don't try to tell yourself you never dreamt of having a nice time with a really nice young man.

Yes, your mother might be right.

I'd soon know, I thought and settled back into the inevitability of what was to come like someone floating on a raft toward Niagara Falls.

Copyright © 2001 by V.C. Andrews

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    As Good as Ice

    I gave this book 3 star. While it is suspenseful, a lot of questions go unanswered. Where's part two to sum the story up. Even still, I LOVE VC ANDREWS!! Her books are great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2003

    Another one...

    It's another book...which just cements the stereotype of the more recent V.C. Andrews books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2002

    sweet

    this book is so sweet. v.c. andrews writes awsome miniseries as well as novels. a must read for andrews fans

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2001

    Second installment of the new miniseries!

    The second novel in a brand new miniseries by the popular New York Times bestselling author. Trapped in the inner city, Ice Goodman finds solace from her troubled home life by focusing on her vocal talents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews

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