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Venus feels history repeating itself, and she?s not loving it. She ended a relationship with Clint because he couldn?t commit, cut off her long, processed hair, and started on a new path with a new boyfriend. But she?s been with Airic for more than two years, and they still haven?t set a wedding date. When a temporary project takes her to Los Angeles, Venus welcomes the opportunity to ...
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Venus feels history repeating itself, and she’s not loving it. She ended a relationship with Clint because he couldn’t commit, cut off her long, processed hair, and started on a new path with a new boyfriend. But she’s been with Airic for more than two years, and they still haven’t set a wedding date. When a temporary project takes her to Los Angeles, Venus welcomes the opportunity to spend some time with her family in California and to see if a little absence makes Airic’s heart grow fonder. But in L.A., savvy, ambitious Venus runs head-on into a new complication—the equally savvy and ambitious Jake Parsons, a former rap star turned clothing designer. Jake’s as suave as he is successful, and ten years her junior. Venus’s job is to create a marketing campaign for his urban wear. Jake’s job, it seems, is to distract her from her long-distance romance with Airic.
When Venus’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, her entire world seems to crumble. Everything she thought would make her happy—her new look, her successful career, her fiancé—can’t fix the sadness and emptiness she feels. But before she throws in the towel, she’s offered one more chance, a chance for change, for growth, and maybe even for a new love. Will she take it? Or give in to the notion that her life will always be close but no cigar? Moving, romantic and inspiring, Would I Lie to You? is one woman’s happy, lighthearted story of giving in instead of giving up.
The light hum of the cello set the mood for the joyous day. A wedding. Venus Johnston, do you take this man as your awfully wedded husband? Lawful, not awful, as she'd always thought the preacher was saying during TV ceremonies when she was a little girl. Yes! Yes, finally she would get her chance. Lawfully wedded bliss. Clint smiled, but showed no teeth. His lips delicately turned up, a smirk. A grimace? No. He was truly in love and about to make Venus the happiest woman alive. Her man. Sexy. Successful. Fine. All three characteristics a girl could only fantasize about. But for Venus it was now a reality.
"If there is anyone who knows of a reason why this union should not take place, let them speak now . . ."
Venus hated this part. When the nightmare began. The most dreaded moment when the woman actually stands up and says, "I do. I know of a reason." Venus knows the voice. It's played in her head a thousand times. She turned around slowly to see the gorgeous actress, Vivica Fox, a picture of beauty in a stunning flowing wedding dress. A glorious shimmering diamond hung around her neck, almost blinding the guests.
Clint loved Vivica, that's what he always used to say. But she could never be a real threat because she was only in the pages of glossy magazines and in Hollywood movies. Yet, here she was, extending her elegantly gloved hand to Clint. "Come along, dear. You've played outside long enough. You know you need a real woman, someone who's going to love you and take care of you and put you first at all times. Tell her, sweetie. It's time for her to let you go. How many times must we go through this?" Vivica's voice echoed off the church walls.
"Please no . . . not again." Venus couldn't tell if she was thinking it or saying it out loud. Her panic was rising. Boy, it's getting hot in here. The music switched abruptly. She looked over where the cellist was replaced by a hip-hopper with a bandanna and a gold tooth. It's getting hot in here . . . so take off all your clothes. "Shut up, shut up." She felt Clint release her hand and start toward Vivica Fox.
"Wait, no!" Venus grabbed his sleeve. He shook her off and began walking again. "Somebody stop him!" Venus screamed. "Clint, she's no good for you. Can't you see through all that Maybelline . . . it's not real, can't you see that she's fake? She's not real."
Clint put up his hand, "It's too late," he said with ease. "You had your chance and you blew it." He turned and slipped his hand into Vivica's glove-covered one. They began to walk away, waving like the king and queen of the ball.
Venus hiked up her wedding gown and chased them outside.
"Clint!" she screamed. She turned and watched Vivica and Clint climb into a shiny white Range Rover with a bunch of cans tied to the back and the words Just Married! But Not to Venus spray-painted all over.
"NOOO, not again!" she tried to scream, but the words smothered her, making her struggle for air.
"Hey, you all right?"
She snapped out it and found herself staring into Airic's face, concern and panic written all over him. The rest of the wedding party stared at her with confusion. She was confused too, standing next to Airic with the scent of gardenias and star gazer lilies fragrant in the air, listening to the light hum of the cello. The sun was high above their heads and the breeze was gentle enough to keep a nervous bride cool.
Wasn't it perfect? What wedding isn't? Regardless of the amount of money spent, the blood, sweat, and tears, for the bride all that mattered was walking down the aisle seeing the light in her future husband's eyes. The small details, like her satin heels sinking into the grass, the cake arriving slanted, or the ice statue of cupid's bow melting into a dripping phallic symbol, or the mother of the bride chanting, "Thank you, Lord," were inconsequential on this monumental day. Getting to the altar, hearing that last "I do," and the crowd cheering as if a touch down had been scored . . . that's what it was all about. Venus, the maid of honor, and Airic, a groom's man by default, were the only ones not clapping or throwing rose petals when the minister announced, "You may kiss the bride."
They ignored the organ pressing out the cue for them to fall into procession with the rest of the wedding party. Instead, they remained standing opposite one another, Airic pulling at the black satin noose around his white starched collar; Venus twisting the engagement ring hidden underneath the small bridesmaid bouquet she held, unable to shake the nightmare that had haunted her like a black cloud for the last two years. Each and every time she went to some else's wedding, she felt cursed. And the conversation she and Airic had on the way to the ceremony hadn't helped matters.
Riding along the edge of the Occoquan River in the northern valley of Virginia, they'd traveled quietly most of the way. Swaying green grass surrounded the tall stretch of trees for miles along the highway. Venus kept her attention on the serene view, trying to remain calm. ". . . all I'm saying is that we're not getting any younger. By the time I finally get to walk down the aisle, I'm going to need a cane."
"Why is it my fault?" Airic responded without a pause. "How many times have I told you, name the time, name the place, I'm there. I think you're the one with cold feet." He steered with one hand while his slender fingers pushed relentlessly on the tuning, unable to get a radio station to come in clearly. He shut it off, giving her his complete attention. "Name the date," he said almost as a dare, cutting his eyes in Venus's direction. "What's wrong? Calendar a little tied up?"
Her frustration came out in a completely opposite form, putting her hand over her mouth to stifle the laughter.
Airic gripped the steering wheel until his pale knuckles lost color in his already fair skin. "I'm serious. Name the date."
"Sure, I'll name a date and then the week before the ceremony, you'll say, 'Oh, I thought you were talking about 2002. You meant April of this year.' " Venus deepened her voice to mock his. 'Can you reschedule, dear?' The sun beamed relentlessly on the passenger's side. She was hot. She was irritable, and not just from the dress pinching her in the back where the zipper stopped. Her hair was so tightly pulled back from her face to create a bun effect that her eyes hurt. One more of the bride's many requests, including the heavy layer of fake pearls that felt like a knotted rope around her neck. She tried to adjust the cheap necklace and snagged a wispy strand of hair that was too short to stay put. "Shit."
"Name the date, Venus!" Airic thought the expletive was directed toward him.
"No . . . it's--"
"Name the date," he demanded again, his graying temples creasing at the sides, the skin tightening around his eyes.
"Right, pencil me in for June first of 3003." Venus responded with as much sarcasm as possible, no longer just pissed at the uncomfortable dress, the snagged hair, or the necklace choking her.
Airic's foot pushed harder on the gas, speeding into the opposite lane to pass a small white Jetta. Venus always checked when she saw the small foreign car, looking for the personalized license plate that read, BABYDOC. Of course by now Clint would have moved up in the world, driving something a bit more sophisticated, but she always checked. Always.
"See what I'm saying? Happens every time I tell you to pick a date. This is what I get, silence."
"Right." It came out louder than planned. Venus gave the hair and metal clasp one last chance to part on friendly terms, then gave it a tug, unafraid of the consequences. "Sure, Airic . . . whatever."
She was tired of replaying the conversation in her head. Setting a date. Tired of picturing herself in another white gown like the one worn by the bride, with the splendid train that flowed effortlessly up the aisle. Tired of the whole business. How she'd managed to be standing witness to yet another ceremony was beyond her.
She'd only met the bride, Felicia Meadows, a year and a half ago when she'd been hired as her assistant. Felicia didn't talk much during their interview and only answered questions when she was asked. She'd kept her hands folded on her lap without one fidgeting episode, a sure sign of diligence and focus. At the time Felicia hadn't even a boyfriend, no prospects for the future. Simply moved to the northern Virginia area fresh out of college without a plan, without a strategy, determined to get away from her southern roots in Memphis. Now she was married to Joseph, a friendly financial analyst who insisted on coming all the way up to the tenth floor to pick her up for lunch instead of waiting downstairs in the no parking zone.
With forced steps, Venus moved closer to Airic. They were standing on the very spot where the Felicia and Joseph had just taken their vows underneath a flowered trellis with streams of ivy. "I'm sorry." Still holding on to the compact flower arrangement, Venus stretched to reach around his lean shoulders. The white ribbons cascaded down the back of his tuxedo. "Whenever you're ready. No rush." Her soft brown eyes smiled out of duty. Always her last words . . . no rush. She was only thirty-six. Considered an old maid at one time, but not now. Statistics showed she was right on schedule to give birth to her first child in her first marriage at nearly forty. Plenty of time, no rush.
"Let's get out of here." She kissed Airic on his narrow chin, inhaling his scent.
He kissed her back, whispering near her ear, "That's the best idea I've heard yet." He swayed her gently back and forth. "One day left to get all the good loving I can." His jaw line creased deeply with a smile.
It was true. By Monday morning there would be two thousand miles between them. Working in opposite corners of the country, she in Los Angeles and he in Washington, D.C. A few months earlier, when Ron Chadnum had invited her to lunch and placed the L.A. account on the table, she didn't think twice before grabbing it and declaring herself the winner. She rode home singing along with Mary J. Blige at the top of her lungs. "Like sweet morning dew . . . I took one look at you . . . you were my destiny." Only thing, she wasn't singing about Airic. Her destiny and sweet morning dew was the new account. Fashion had always been her first love and finally she'd be in the center of it with the JPWear clothing. She'd prepared a list of reasons why it was a good move, spending time with her parents in Los Angeles, enhancing her career, and opening the door for other opportunities. Turned out, none of the excuses were necessary.
Over dinner she'd told Airic of the offer--the offer, not the acceptance. "Will you take it? Sounds like an incredible opportunity," he'd said, a little too excited for her taste.
"It is, but what about us?" Venus had asked cautiously over microwaved lasagna that still had cold spots in the middle.
"Us is solid as a rock, two thousand miles can't put a dent in us." Airic had made it sound so simple. Part of her wanted him to throw drama, plead for her to stay, maybe even pout a little. What would it hurt to show that he cared, needed her? He didn't always have to be so understanding, so mature. But tomorrow was the big day. It came quick and painless. She was already packed, already had an apartment, and Airic was already used to the idea of her being gone.
She felt a warm surge of anticipation for the night to come. A send-off like no other. Going-away sex was the best kind. They'd have to go at least three rounds to hold them over until they saw each other again. Airic scooped her up effortlessly like she was being carried over the threshold. Venus called out to her best friend who was wearing the exact same shimmering silver brides maid's dress, making it look sexy and glamorous while Venus felt like a foil-wrapped chocolate bar.
"Wendy, catch!" She threw the small bouquet and blew a kiss.
Wendy caught the bouquet and now held two, shaking them in front of her like pompoms. Her rich brown skin gleamed against the shiny gown. "Call me when you get settled in L.A. I'll keep an eye on your man for you, don't worry."
Venus grinned revealing a set of just-whitened teeth, feeling light in Airic's arms. "This man doesn't need watching, he's in love." She kicked her leg out as she was being whisked out of the wedding garden past the idle crowd of well-wishers. For the moment, she felt like she was the bride. She blew kisses to no one in particular while Airic carted her off. She snuggled into the sweet, heavy scent of his cologne. No rush, she thought. Her day would come.
From the Hardcover edition.
1. The novel opens with Venus’ recurring nightmare: she is abandoned on her wedding day when Clint is lured away by a glamorous actress who tells him, “You know you need a real woman, someone who’s going to love you and take care of you and put you first at all times.” Is Venus afraid that she is truly incapable of putting someone first, or merely afraid that Clint thinks so? Why do you think this dream features Clint rather than Airic as the groom?
2. Venus does not hesitate to take the job in Los Angeles, and, in fact, is packed and ready to roll when she springs the news on Airic. However, she is irritated that Airic does not put up a fight. He is “a little too excited for her taste.…Part of her wanted him to throw drama, plead for her to stay, maybe even pout a little. What would it hurt to show that he cared, needed her? He didn’t always have to be so understanding, so mature.” What does this double standard tell you about Venus? Would she have cancelled her plans if Airic had begged her to?
3. How much of Jake’s allure is due to the fact that he is a refreshing, baggage-free distraction from Venus’ family crisis? How does Thomas set up tension with her descriptions of Jake? Are you surprised to find him a trustworthy, loveable character by the end?
4. Venus is deeply conflicted about her career: “What was she doing here in Los Angeles? She’d asked herself that question numerous times. Her answer always straight from the pages of Essence, O, and New Woman…unleashing her career potential, setting goals and overcoming fears. She was, after all, the Millennium woman…Underneath it all, she simply wanted to be loved...A husband, a baby, a home with a cuddly little dog.” Is Thomas suggesting that some women are pressured by the media to strive for career success against their own gut instincts? To what extent do you think magazines like Essence and O affect women’s ideas, both positively and negatively, about what they should be doing with their lives?
5. How do you explain Venus’ fury at her mother’s doctor? Are her feelings directed at the illness itself? The medical field for being inadequate to the task? Her mother for being mortal, or possibly passing a flawed gene on to her? Is any of this emotion aimed at Clint?
6. Alienated from her parents and confused about her men, Venus ends up relying on the kindness of strangers. Who helps her in unexpected ways? What point do you think Thomas is making with these encounters?
7. What is the significance of Venus’ memory about her college boyfriend, Tony, and the tumultuous end of their relationship? What fears about herself does this memory dredge up?
8. When Jake turns on the charm during their first meeting, Venus acknowledges, “the fun was always in the chase.” When she feels overwhelmed by his ardor, she admits, “She was used to doing the chasing, being the one who wanted more than she would ever receive.” And when she is late to visit her mother at the hospital, she berates herself: “Always a step behind…a true sign that she was never going to catch whatever she was chasing.” Discuss Venus’ obsession with “the chase.” Is she able to let go of this cat-and-mouse mentality in the end?
9. Venus tells Jake, “I learned a long time ago not to blame others for my unhappiness, or happiness for that matter. Either way it’s my responsibility.” Has she internalized this lesson? Where do you see examples of her having achieved this clarity?
10. Henry and Wendy offer Venus clashing advice about her relationship. Henry insists that liking someone (Jake, for instance) takes precedence over loyalty or even love. He tells her that “life is full of risk and danger but living is much more fun,” and urges her to “start taking some chances or you gonna end up unhappy and alone.” Wendy urges her to stay loyal to Airic. “You’d give up a man you’ve known and loved for someone who just happened to be there to pick up the pieces when you were vulnerable?…[Airic] was there for you…Now you have to stick by him.” Both Henry and Wendy claim to be happily married. Whose advice do you agree with?
11. When Venus confronts Airic about his agonizing secret, she turns the conversation toward herself, rather than comfort him: “I wanted to finally be right, to finally be the person that someone could count on, through thick and thin. I wanted to be that person for you, Airic…Conviction, forgiveness, compassion, whatever it’s called. I thought you saw that in me. I thought you loved me the same way I loved you. I thought you trusted me.” Is Venus being fair? Is she honestly feeling injured here, or has this situation merely provided her with an easy “out” from the relationship?
12. After all her hard work on the JPWear account, Venus capitulates to “the dynamic duo” during their last meeting in LA, but not until she has a temper tantrum and balls out Legend. This is not her first loss of control in a professional setting. How do you feel about Venus abandoning her career ambitions so quickly, and in such a firestorm?
13. Discuss Airic’s assessment: “Most people saw what they wanted instead of what was really there. Venus was most people.”
14. Venus is delighted by the sabotage wedding that closes the novel. Is this what she has needed all along in order to make a decision—a forced, public accounting of her own feelings? How would the novel have been different if Venus had freely chosen the timing and circumstance of her wedding?
Posted May 8, 2006
I loved this book. Thomas wrote a great novel tying up the lose ends of the first book. I was glad that Venus got what she really wanted. Venus wanted to get married, have a couple of kids and live 'Nappily' ever after. Venus got what she wanted but not in that order. Sometimes 'Destiny' has a different plan than we have for ourselves. Trisha Thomas this was a grreat book. Only thing that had me perplexed was Airic. How could Airic just walk away from Venus and Mya? That was my understanding. That was kind of messed up.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2004