Cover image for Choices
Reed, Abigail.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tom Doherty Associates Book, 1999.
Physical Description:
vi, 553 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Three very different pregant women--Dierdre, a young law student abandoned by her lover; Treva, facing dangerous health risks; and Pepper, pregnant by a man she does not love--confront difficult decisions as they cope with the dramatic changes in their lives.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Reed's debut novel centers around three women who must choose whether to carry an unexpected pregnancy to term. African-American Treva Connor, the emotional backbone of the plot, has been warned that her health, and that of her baby, could be in danger if she decides to remain pregnant. Deirdre Samms is an extremely focused young woman who finds herself pregnant as a result of a one-night stand just before she is to start law school. Pepper Nolan is an insecure owner of a lingerie boutique who fears that, as a single mother, men won't want her. The women come together in the abortion clinic where Treva works, and with each other, confront their problems. Reed presents a realistic and detailed picture of abortion in the 1990s, from those who face physical danger by providing abortions to those who go through the experience. Although the writing veers toward the melodramatic, the content is strong enough to make this a commendable read. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Choices By Abigail Reed Tom Doherty Associates, LLC ISBN: 9780812545289 Choices CONCEPTION DIEDRE P ARTY NOISES THROBBED IN THE HUMID JULY NIGHT. Yells of laughter and the pounding rhythms of Nine Inch Nails, the shriek of a girl being thrown into the lake, the buzzing of Jet Skis. Moist, water smells mingled with the smells of beer, wine, barbecue smoke, and cigarettes. Diedre Samms stood on the redwood deck that overlooked Orchard Lake, feeling at once high on wine and removed from the noisy life that reveled around her. She didn't really belong here. She was willowy and slim, with butterscotch-colored hair twisted into a French braid. That part was fine, but she was also twenty-three, several years older than most of these partying kids. And her feet ached. She had waitressed a full shift today at T.G.I. Friday's, wearing a T-shirt with BREW CREW emblazoned on the back and a set of red suspenders with a bunch of slogan buttons pinned to the elastic. Now here she was, in a blue and yellow flowered sundress with spaghetti straps, and blue, high-heeled sandals, stranded at this party. She didn't know the hostess, Amber somebody, whose father was a rich Bloomfield Hills builder who specialized in strip malls and shopping centers. Nor did Diedre know most of the guests, undergrads from the University of Michigan and Michigan State, who were celebrating the Fourth of July one day early. It was Danny Preskin who had invited her, and he was out front, lying on the beach in a chaise lounge, playing full frontal kissy face with an old girlfriend he'd run into. The girl in the lake had torn her bikini top off. She was still shrieking. Diedre took another gulp of wine from a clear plastic glass, wondering if her date was going to totally desert her,or if he'd remember to drive her home. Was she just supposed to stand around and wait for him? Apparently. Unless she wanted to get tossed in the lake, an option Diedre thought briefly about, then discarded. Besides, by the sound of it, about ten guys had jumped in after the topless, drunk girl, not exactly Diedre's idea of fun. Fun. Her sister, Pam, accused her of not having enough of it, and Diedre thought Pam was probably right. She wanted to let loose and play, but this year had been way too focused for that. She had been waitressing thirty-five hours a week, in addition to carrying a full load of classes at Wayne State and getting nearly straight A's. In what spare time she did have, Diedre filled out scholarship applications, trying to write dynamite "personal statements" and optional 250-word essays. If she got the scholarship she wanted--a very, very big if --it would be a full, free ride. The going rate at the U. of M. law school these days was twenty-eight thousand dollars per year for all expenses. And it took three years. Diedre had gone from praying to making bargains with God, and had even taken to wearing her lucky earrings, real sapphires that had belonged to her grandmother. She'd vowed not to take them off until she heard the news. More yelling and Jet Ski noise came from the lake, punctuated by screams as more girls jumped in the water. Diedre saw flashes of white skin. She upended her plastic glass, draining the remaining wine, and drifted toward the far end of the huge deck overlooking the lake, where several long redwood tables held two kegs of beer and three or four picnic coolers crammed with sodas and bottles of wine. Beer was puddled on the decking, emitting a sour reek, and had been tracked everywhere. Diedre felt it creeping up the soles of the high-heeled sandals she wore, wetting her bare toes. "You're not skinny-dipping tonight?" said a voice beside her. Diedre turned to see a guy she'd noticed earlier when everyone was scarfing down the barbecued chicken and baby back ribs. He was tall, with a shock of glossy, darkhair, and wore a blue chambray shirt open at the throat, khaki shorts, and a pair of Top-Siders. "Didn't bring my skinnies," she joked, laughing a little too loudly. "Hey, it's really noisy here. I think the neighbors called the police, but everyone is yelling so loud nobody noticed. Did you see a flashing blue light in the driveway?" "Oh, that's what it was. I thought it was the party decoration." They both bent over, laughing hilariously as if she'd said something amazingly funny. Man , Diedre thought. She was getting a little hammered here. Diedre sneaked another look at the guy--his name was Mitchell, something like that. No, Mitch. There was a white scar on his smooth-shaven chin about a half inch long, marring his looks just enough to make him interesting. He'd probably gotten it white-water rafting or snowboarding, she decided, some cool sport that girls like her, counting every penny, couldn't indulge in, at least not often. Diedre pulled a bottle of Sebastiani out of one of the coolers, watery ice chips dripping from it. "Ooops," she said, slurring her words slightly. "This one has a cork." "Hey, I'm an Olympic cork remover," he said, grabbing a corkscrew from the tabletop, the sophisticated kind with two winglike stainless steel handles. At home, Diedre's mother used a twisty attached to a can opener, or she jabbed with the point of a kitchen knife. The wine always had brown bits and pieces of cork floating in it. Mitch inserted the point of the corkscrew and in two deft motions had extracted the cork. With a flourish he refilled Diedre's glass. He poured another glass for himself, then lifted it in her direction. "Cheers," he said, raising his voice to be heard over the tumult of party noise. "Are you a friend of Amber's?" "I don't even know her." "Good." He grinned at her. His teeth were white and straight, the kind that had gotten that way with braces, and his eyes were that pale blue that looks transparent. "Amber's life's ambition is to be a publicity director for Northwestso she can get free plane flights. What's your life's ambition?" Diedre smiled. "I'm still waiting to hear about mine. Either I get a big scholarship, and I achieve it, or I end up, oh, maybe taking a job as assistant manager at Friday's. You know, hiring bussers, firing bussers, ordering napkins and swizzle sticks, a really exciting career." Actually she had planned to lower her sights and go to Wayne's less prestigious law school, burdening herself with thousands of dollars in debt that it would take her years to repay, but for some reason she didn't feel like telling Mitch this now. It revealed too much about her. "Oh, by the way," he said, "I'm Mitchell--but people call me Mitch." She pretended she hadn't already heard his name. "Glad to meet you, Mitch. I'm Diedre. My friends call me Deeds." They each drank another eight-ounce tumbler of wine. His smile was as sweet and dazzling as Donny Osmond's had been, back when Diedre was a child. Once, she'd been half in love with Donny Osmond. Mitch told her he'd just graduated from the University of Chicago and was living at home with his parents, working as a fill-in security guard at Chrysler Corporation in Highland Park while he decided what he wanted to do. "A security guard?" She giggled. "Uniform and all. I do important stuff like stand by the gate so the hourly workers can't leave early. Let's see, are you one of those women who go for guys in uniforms, I hope?" She flirted with him a little. "Maybe, if you were wearing one." "I can always drive home and get it." They bantered for a while, laughing, leaning closer to each other. Diedre found herself wondering, did the sundress she was wearing look sexy enough? Was the hem too long? Did her skin look too pale? She'd hardly been in the sun all summer. He already had a great tan. "Did you come with anyone?" Mitch asked her. "Not really," she said, thinking it would be too complicated to explain that her date was now lying in a beach chair rubbing up to a former girlfriend named Alyssa. "Then let's go. I've got my dad's Le Baron convertible, and it's incredible with the top down and the wind blowing through your hair. And I know a good beach on the other side of the lake--one that will be quiet and not full of all this noise." Oh, she should have known this would happen. Should she go? But of course she was going to. In the first place, Danny wasn't driving her home, that was clear, and she would be reduced to begging for a ride from strangers, or a girlfriend, or even her mother. In the second place ... well, there was something about Mitch. He made her skin feel hot, he made her want to lean over and touch him. Diedre walked into the house to fetch her shoulder bag from the big, curved leather living room couch where she'd dropped it. The room was crowded with expensive furniture, a group of people sitting on the floor. No one even looked at her. When she went back to Mitch he took her hand easily, as if it belonged to him. They walked through the party roar and out the front door of the house to the street side. The night was hot, still eighty-five degrees, and it swam with a hundred summer odors. Barbecue smoke, grass clippings, the seaweed smell of lake, a tang of gasoline. Cars and vans were parked everywhere, lined bumper to bumper in the circular drive, pulled up on the lawn, double-parked on the street. A couple leaned against the fender of an Aerostar van, the guy's hand exploring underneath the girl's white halter top. "Where's this great Le Baron?" Diedre demanded. "Would you believe parked down the street about a mile away? I got here late and had to hike it." Party sounds followed them. There was a halo of shimmering light around everything, and all the cars, trucks, and vans had tiny dewdrops of moisture on them. The sight of those shimmering dewdrops caught Diedre like a hit in the stomach. Life was so beautiful, and wherehad she been the last four years? Studying until her eyes ached, agonizing over tests and exams, waitressing every spare minute--sometimes thirty hours a week in addition to her classes. It seemed as if she had recklessly squandered her days and now she had to catch up. "Wait--wait," cried Diedre, grabbing Mitch's arm. "There's something caught in my shoe. A stone." "Then take it off," said Mitch. So she did. She stepped out of her strappy sandals that smelled of beer, and carried them by their heels, walking barefoot. When they reached his Le Baron, a chromed and sexy black car with the top left rolled back, Diedre saw the little droplets of dew all over the luxurious leather seats. Mitch pressed her against the side of the car and slid his arms around her. He deposited soft, butterfly kisses on her cheeks and eyes. "You're different than the others," he murmured. "None of that silly screaming. I like you." The kisses grew deeper, mouths open, hungry tongues exploring. Diedre's skin burned and her breathing was shallow. For a moment she wondered if he wasn't carrying a hammer in his pocket, and then she stifled a nervous giggle: it was his. erection. Several cars drove past them, a horn beeping while Mitch scooped Diedre so close that she felt the living heat of him. She'd only had two boyfriends, and a half-fighting sex experience with one other guy in high school, making a total of three lovers. There was no man currently in her life, and she wasn't carrying a condom, hadn't even thought of bringing one. Oh, she had to stop this right now; it was already getting unsafe. How had this happened so fast? Her genitals felt heavy, moisture seeping onto her panties. She started to move away, but then he kissed her again and helplessly Diedre melted against him, stifling a small moan. "Let's go," he said suddenly. "What?" Wrenched out of the piercing sexual desire she felt, Diedre could only stare at him. "That beach I told you about." In the moonlight Mitch's face was outlined in silver, his cheekbones sculpted by shadow. Much better than Donny Osmond, he looked like a fantasy, some guy from a rock video, all surface, all sex. "I can't," she whispered. "Why not?" "Because--I don't do things like this. Really. I don't." "Neither do I." Mitch grinned, his straight teeth flashing white in the darkness. His beautiful, pale eyes locked on hers. "That's why I want to do it. Will you, Diedre?" She started to say no, heard the word blow out of her lips like a small gust of wind, but somehow Mitch didn't hear it or maybe she hadn't really said it aloud. Sensing her ambivalence, Mitch pressed himself against her, rocking his pelvis into hers. Diedre uttered a shuddering sigh. "Just--just for a while. I can't go all the way," she whispered. "I won't ask you to." "Guys lie." "Not me, not about this, not unless you consent, Diedre. I'm not promiscuous, I'm not a stud." Diedre had a few seconds of sanity when she recalled the heavy-breathing high school encounter, the boy struggling to pin her down. She hadn't even known it was called date rape. But then she felt Mitch's fingers splayed along the curve of her buttock, slowly, slowly pulling her dress up. "Oh, please," she begged thickly. " Not all the way." "I'll take care of you," he promised. It was past all controlling now, roller-coastering like the rides at Cedar Point; she could no more have stopped matters than she could stop from screaming at the top of a 150-foot drop. They drove to the "beach" he'd found, really a public-access site for boat launching, only about fifty feet wide andflanked on either side by expensive homes. A corrugated cement ramp sloped down to the water, which was glassy-flat, a swath of silver spilled across it. Mitch drove the Le Baron down to the water's edge and doused the headlights. Across the lake drifted shrieks and music from the party they had just left, punctuated by the revving, aggressive motors of the Jet Skis. Diedre'd had no idea that sounds carried that clearly across water. "Let's get in the backseat," Mitch suggested, hugging her. "There's more room back there." Oh , Diedre thought. Oh . They both got out of the car, Diedre half stumbling again, Mitch steadying her as he helped her into the backseat. The fine-smelling leather, covered with a fine slick of night dew, creaked under their bodies as they sat down. What was she doing? She didn't even know Mitch. They came together again, pelvis to pelvis. The creaking of the seats became gradually more rhythmic, taking on, perhaps, the rhythm of the blood beating inside them. Diedre wanted to giggle at the sound, but she couldn't, because Mitch's mouth was pressed on hers. The full moon floated above them, striated with craters and valleys. Far out on the lake a boat motor chugged, and the party noise came in on the lapping waves. Mitch began stroking her flanks, his heated fingers running up and down her body. Finally he had the dress at her waist, and hooked his fingers in the elastic of her bikini panties. Her heart thudded. Please, I really can't. The protest was born inside her throat and died there as Mitch slowly pulled down her panties, his hand cupping, caressing, her pubic mound. His finger caught in a wiry curl and Diedre almost cried out ... or maybe she did cry out. Suddenly she felt fierce, frantic with her need. She brought her knee up, wrapped it around him. She felt wild, she wanted to tear away her clothes, climb on him, lower herself on him, feel the slick, juicy slide of flesh ... Mitch pulled away. "Diedre," he whispered. "This is as far as I can go without having to go all the way. I'll stop now--if you want me to. But I do have a condom in my wallet. It'll be safe, and we both want this." She nodded, unable to speak. Of course they had to have a condom, but the rubber seemed too real, a reality that interfered with the sweet, tumultuous feelings she was having. Mitch took a Ramses package out of his billfold, trying to unwrap it in the dark, laughing a little, his breathing raw. Finally he managed to get it open. Immediately the familiar odor of rubber and lubricant filled the car. Diedre winced, trying to hold on to the romance. Did rubbers have to smell so horrible? They took away the sweetness and put sex on the level of a bodily function. "Put it on me," ordered Mitch hoarsely, guiding her hand. "Quick." Diedre hurried, unrolling the condom as far as she could, sliding it up Mitch's average-sized but rock-hard organ. Then his hands were on her again, all over her. She urged and eased and positioned herself to give him access, and then she just gave up and clutched him, moaning low in her throat like a small jungle animal. "Sorry--car's kind of cramped--" Mitch breathed. The leather creaked, and the car shook back and forth. He moved her on top of him so that she straddled him, impaling herself. She gripped him so fiercely with her fingers that he would probably have black and blue marks the next day. She whimpered as the pleasure rippled up from her vagina, ecstasy that kept flowing until her mind emptied and she cried out something--she didn't even hear what. "Ah ... ah, God," he cried out, and he kept thrusting, coming, too, and overhead the moonlight bathed them like the finest sheen of perspiration. Afterward they struggled back into their clothes and wiped the moisture off each other's faces, and Diedre found a comb in her purse and they both used it. It felt so warm,both using the same comb; it was the most intimate thing she had ever done. She had hardly seen much of his body; now she wanted to touch him all over, explore him. But it was too late because they were already dressed. "I should keep this comb," Mitch said. "Just because it's been in your hair. Unless you have cooties." "Only a few," she said. She wasn't hammered anymore, she'd passed beyond that, and now she just felt soft, gentle. "I want your phone number." She rummaged in her purse again and found an old T.G.I. Friday's pay envelope, tearing off a piece of it to scribble down her number. She tried hard to write legibly, not to reverse any of the digits. If she made even one little mistake, he'd probably never find her again. "Diedre Samms," she said. She spelled out the last name. "Two m's. Don't call after eleven," she told Mitch. "My mom goes to bed at eleven and the phone wakes her." He tucked the scrap of paper into his shirt pocket. "I'll call." Diedre looked at him. Some clouds had blown over the moon, and the shadows on Mitch's face were in deeper relief now. The curve of his mouth seemed tender and sweet. He started the engine and Diedre began giving him directions to the apartment house in unfashionable Madison Heights, near John R. and Eleven Mile, where she lived with her mother. "Wait, wait," protested Mitch, laughing. "I'm not that quick, especially at four in the morning. You just tell me left, right, north, south, and we'll get there." He would call, she told herself as Mitch drove the Le Baron out of the boat-launch site onto the two-lane blacktop, heading toward West Long Lake Road. Of course he would call. Copyright © 1999 by Abigail Reed Excerpted from Choices by Abigail Reed All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Excerpted from Choices by Abigail Reed All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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