Mad Max: Unintended Consequences

Mad Max: Unintended Consequences

by Betsy Ashton


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938467400
Publisher: Koehler Books
Publication date: 01/05/2013
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Betsy Ashton has written about her experiences mentoring women throughout her professional consulting career. She used this experience in crafting the story about Mad Max Davies. She writes feature articles for Laker Weekly, part of The Roanoke Times. She is also active in many writers' groups and clubs and is the President of the Virginia Writers Club.

Read an Excerpt

Mad Max

Unintended Consequences
By Betsy Ashton

Koehler Books

Copyright © 2013 Betsy Ashton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781938467400

CHAPTER ONE Raney and Eleanor, two of my dearest friends, sat at a small table in Le Bistro in Soho when I pushed open the door. Piles of gossip about their grandchildren sat on the table between them. I tossed my ankle-length mink trench coat atop their coats and slid onto an empty chair. Henri placed a cup of coffee beside me, offered a short list of lunch specials and vanished into the back of the storefront restaurant.“Why do we call him ‘Henri’?” Raney asked. “His name’s Barney?”“Same reason my grandkids call me ‘Mad Max.’” I looked at the list of specials Henri placed in the center of the table. “It fits.”We scanned the menu we all knew by heart. Henri returned, took our orders and left. Talk returned to our grandchildren. Raney brought me up to date on what her darlings were doing: school dances, track meets, mid-year tests. All the usual activities.“My granddaughter’s pregnancy is not going as well as it should.” Eleanor’s perfect, slightly old-fashioned diction revealed her upper-class British upbringing. “I may go to Phoenix to help.”“Oh, dear,” said Raney. “I hope it’s not like her first one.”“We will not know for a month or two.”I felt a familiar itch of envy for the easy relationships Eleanor and Raney enjoyed with their daughters. So normal.“How are your grandkids, Max?” Raney asked.“Great. Alex can’t stop buzzing about his ice hockey team. They’re having their first winning season. He’s so psyched. Em texts about her next school break. She wants to visit.”I talked to or texted with Alex and Emilie every day since their father Whip gave them cell phones for Christmas. I had more fun with my grandkids than I’d had with my two children. Maybe it was because I had almost no responsibility except to love and spoil them. Maybe it was because I could send them back to their parents when I got tired.“What about Merry? When was the last time you talked to her?”“Last week. She complained about how cold January was.”“She should live in New York.” Raney shook her head and laughed.My daughter and I had an off again, on again relationship, which started after her father’s death when she was eleven. I wanted us to be more “on” than “off” and worked hard to pick my words so she wouldn’t take offense. It didn’t take much to set her off at times.“I was in Richmond over Christmas and spent all my time with the kids. They have their own phones now, so I call them directly. I limit my calls to Merry to once a week. I don’t want to meddle.”“Why do you let her get away with placing such restrictions on your relationship?” Eleanor asked.“She reminds me grandparents have privileges, not rights. I can’t lose contact, so I play by her rules.”Truth be told, I let Merry dictate the terms of our contact with each other, even though I knew I was taking the coward’s way out. I’d asked Merry more than once why she seemed distant so much of the time, but she refused to discuss it. I couldn’t force her to forgive me for whatever infractions I committed while raising her. All I could do was maintain as calm a demeanor as possible.“Hey, I scheduled my annual ski trip.” I wasn’t in the mood for a discussion on something so touchy.“Changing the subject?” Raney winked at me.“Sure as hell am.”Henri brought our salads and disappeared. We ate in near silence for a few minutes.“What do you think about this new artist? He’s supposed to be all the rage in Europe.”We always ate at Le Bistro when one of our favorite art galleries had an opening. Otherwise, Soho was way too far off our beaten path.“Did you see his catalog?” Raney asked.“I did. He is too avant-garde for me. I prefer more conventional art where I can actually recognize what the artist painted.” Eleanor pulled the catalog from her handbag and flipped it open to a couple of abstract pieces. “Take this one. I do not see ‘Forest and Trees’ in this swirl of orange, yellow and red.”“Maybe it’s a forest fire.” I didn’t like the painting because the colors were too vivid. I was, however, interested in a mid-sized portrait of two sisters in more muted colors. I pointed to the painting in the catalog. “I really want this one. So peaceful.”“Where would you hang it? You don’t have much wall space left.”Raney was right. I’d hung way too many prints and oils throughout my apartment.“Probably in my bedroom. I’ll move something.”We lingered over lunch and gossip until half an hour after the official opening of the gallery to avoid the crush of patrons pushing to enter. I milled around wall-to-wall people who sipped wine and talked about the new hot artist having his first New York showing at Primary Colors.The crowd churned and whirled, groups forming and reforming near the artist holding court in a rear corner. Servers danced around patrons and offered wine and hors d’oeuvres on silvery trays. Tiny napkins and toothpicks drifted to the floor in a rain of elegant litter. New guests brought welcome cold air into the room’s stuffy heat. It was nearly February. Had the opening been earlier in the winter, expensive perfume would have warred with mothball-protected coats. Mothballs would have won.Nancy Blair, owner of Primary Colors, worked her way through the crowd and gave me the requisite number of air kisses, two near each cheek. She did the same with Raney and Eleanor, who then moved off to look at the paintings and drawings hanging on matte-white walls. Nancy linked her arm through mine and led me toward the artist.“Wait till you meet him, Mrs. Davies. He’s positively the most amazing painter I’ve had in the gallery in years.” Nancy’s breathless delivery was all gush.As we struggled through the crowd, my cell phone buzzed. I didn’t recognize the number, frowned and flipped up the cover. I shrugged an apology at Nancy.“Hello.”“Maxine? Is that you?”“Yes.” I pressed a finger against my free ear to block the ambient din.“It’s Bette.”Bette? It took me a second. Right, Merry’s mother-in-law. She rarely called.“What’s wrong?”


Excerpted from Mad Max by Betsy Ashton Copyright © 2013 by Betsy Ashton. Excerpted by permission.
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Mad Max: Unintended Consequences 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Betsy Ashton can’t come out with the next “Mad Max” book soon enough to suit me. With Mad Max and her grandchildren Emma and Alex, Ms. Ashton has created characters to care about, characters you’ll want to follow for years. When Merry, Maxine’s daughter, is severely injured in an accident, Max takes this as an opportunity to mend not only Merry’s wounds, but also their broken relationship. In spite of Max’s best intentions, the situation deteriorates from bad to worse to deadly. As the story twists and turns, Mad Max grows closer her remarkable grandchildren in ways she never anticipated. Sometimes life hands you a “do over,” but you’d better be ready to tackle the big changes that result. Mad Max is definitely up to the challenge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago