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A Stupid, Defiant Dream

A Stupid, Defiant Dream

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A Stupid, Defiant Dream

207 pages
3 hours
Mar 31, 2019


For all of Whitney Davis' life, she's been a daddy's girl; more than content to have him dictate her choices; anything to stay in his good graces. He's picked her future career, has pushed her to have certain friends, and she doesn't doubt he's already decided who she'll marry and how many children she'll have. Up until eight months ago, Whitney didn't mind. It made life easy, if not just a bit boring.

Then, one late night studying, Whitney wanted a brownie break and, seeing her dorm had none, she donned an apron and made her own. The attempt was barely edible, and she didn't enjoy any that night. But she did the next time, and by her fourth attempt, Whitney's dorm-mates were begging for more.

As soon as she realized she could bake and people would line up to eat the goods, Whitney decided she wants control over her own life. She's twenty-four, damnit. It's about time.

But her father doesn't see it that way.

When Whitney approaches him with the new plan for her life (culinary school and then a bakery), he throws her out of the house. Abandoned, heartbroken, and penniless, Whitney travels to Derbinwood, Pennsylvania to live with a great aunt she hardly remembers. She vows she'll prove her father wrong, that his cruel treatment won't break her. That's easier said than done, especially when she meets the Kings, an electrifying couple that set Whitney's nerves on fire and changes her idea of what a relationship can be.
Will Whitney succeed and become master of her own life? Or will her stupid, defiant dream be her downfall, just like her father says it will?

Mar 31, 2019

About the author

Delcesca Newby dreams of one day conquering the world with her garden gnome army but building such an army takes time and a good chunk of change. So, to help her cause, she thought she’d put pen to paper and entertain people with stories. (And what better way to lull them into a false sense of security?) If she’s not writing or hunting down gnomes, she’s snuggling with her pets, binge watching cooking competitions, and losing horribly at board games.

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A Stupid, Defiant Dream - Delcesca Newby

Chapter One

I adjust my modest, borderline childish-looking sweater. I received it six years ago on my birthday and have worn it only twice: once the very day it was gifted to me and then on Christmas that year. Since then, the sweater has gathered dust in the far reaches of my closet. I cleared away the years of neglect, and it looks brand new, but every few moments I keep inspecting it in the floor-length mirror beside my dresser like I expect it to become disgusting and faded when my attention is elsewhere.

I must admit I look cute--like the ever-lasting little girl my father sees every time he glances at me. I also think I appear to be trying too hard to curry my father's favor. In no version of reality will he fall for my obvious intentions.

The debate that started early the night before rears its annoying head. Should I stick to invoking my father's nostalgia or present myself as an adult on equal footing with him? Which route will guarantee success?

A knock on my closed bedroom door draws me from my thoughts. I turn from the mirror. Yes?

The door opens and my mother sticks her head into my room. Darling, your father's meeting has finished.

My stomach somersaults. Okay.

I take the portfolio I've spent the past two months creating from its place on top of my dresser. The bulk of it comforts me. The amount of research I hold could rival one of my father's many notable papers. At the very least, my father will admire my hard work.

My mother edges her way into the room. As I watch, I fight the urge to demand she leave. Since it came out four months ago that my mother has been wasting thousands of dollars of my father's hard-earned money on frivolous items she hides in the basement or attic (most unused and still in their packaging), I can't stand being around my mother for more than a few seconds. Yes, my mother clearly has a problem that requires professional help, but it's been going on for fifteen years out of my parents' twenty-two-year marriage. She should have sought aid long before she got caught.

Maybe then my parents wouldn't be on the verge of divorce.

They haven't mentioned the idea, but, since my return home from college two weeks ago, they've fought every night. They call each other increasingly horrible names, and just last night my mother told my father she hated him. Once, I swear I heard something break, but I can't be sure which parent would have gone that far.

I know both my parents' behavior needs adjusting, yet I can't help but put all the blame on my mother. Why can't she control herself? Why doesn't she go to therapy like she keeps promising?

My mother's full lips turn up in a big smile, and the wrinkles around her grass-green eyes crinkle. For a second, she doesn't look as tired or old as she has for days. You look nice.

I glance away at my four-poster bed covered in the Slytherin comforter set Grandpop, my paternal grandfather, got me the Christmas of my junior year in high school. Thank you.

Darling...I really wish you'd reconsider my suggestion.

I have, on several occasions. The edge in my voice makes my mother wince, and I want so badly to smirk but don't indulge my rude tendencies. Someone must act like an adult in the house.

What's so wrong with it?

Finally, I meet my mother's gaze. It reeks of cowardice.

But your father--He's not--Just wait 'til you graduate.


My mother sighs. Another year can't hurt, can it? By then my and your father's issues--Everything will be back to normal.

Can't tell that from your arguments, I say under my breath.


I shake my head. Nothing, Mom. I've got to go.

I race across the room and out the door before my mother utters another syllable. I don't slow as I reach the end of the long hallway and take the steep staircase to the first floor.

My father's study sits off the living room and offers him a great view of the peach orchard beyond the spacious backyard. The study was initially a simple patio, but it was remodeled shortly after my father got a job as a pediatric cardiologist at Duke University Hospital and moved his young family to Hillsborough. He had a professional come in and decorate the room, so it reeks of determined masculinity, but it doesn't distract from the important tasks he completes inside.

Besides my own room, I consider my father's study the best place in the house. The dark wood paneling softens the bright sunlight the garden window allows in without making the room seem like a vampire's lair. The lush beige carpet promises a soft, comforting experience not soon forgotten. Bookshelves cover three-fourths of the walls, all packed with books; mostly ones needed for my father's research, but the books I loved as a child take up their own section.

As I step into my father's study, I inhale the ever-lingering scent of the chocolate truffle coffee my father special orders from overseas. Though I dislike the taste of coffee, the familiar aroma soothes me. It reminds me of the rainy days I spent reading or drawing while my father worked. We didn't talk much, but we didn't need to. Unlike the rest of the household, my father and I find solace merely by being in the presence of the people we love. To chatter non-stop would ruin our joy.

The computer desk rests in the middle of the room. As always, my father sits on a massive black exercise ball; his fingers tap out a furious rhythm on his keyboard. As a child, I couldn't understand the ball and why my father liked looking silly. Now, I recognize its benefits but still think the distinguished man just shy of sixty looks a little funny at his desk.

My father works a few moments longer before raising his head. Despite the stress of his job and the issues with his wife, his square, proportioned features don't reveal any of it. In fact, my father appears ten years younger, closer to my mother's age.

He nods for me to fully enter the room. He waits until I'm settled on the loveseat across from his desk before he asks, What brings you here, Princess?

Daddy, I-- I catch herself. I can't speak to my father like I usually do, not if I want him to listen to me. We need to discuss my education. About where I'll continue it, I continue in the tone I use at college when I present projects.

My father's thin eyebrows (the same as mine) rise. Oh, is that so? He stands, clasps his delicate, hard-working hands behind his back, and paces. You've been doing so well at Harvard, though. Why do you want to leave? His eyes, the color of bitter chocolate, pierce me. Are you having problems?

I want to glance away from my father's penetrating gaze, but I know I can't back down, not if I hope for success. No. Everything's gone better than I could have ever hoped.

So, what is it?

I need a change of scenery.

I don't tell my father a lie, but my admittance only dips its toes into the pool of truth. I hate I must ease my father into the conversation instead of just laying it before him. My father favors the more direct approach when it comes to his work, but I learned years ago my father doesn't share the preference at home.

The suspicious glint doesn't leave my father's stare, but his jaw and shoulders relax. Just bored, eh? He scratches his clean-shaven chin. Well, you're young--I understand. My father smiles. I suppose a transfer to Stanford wouldn't be so horrible. Unless you have somewhere else in mind?

I stand, adjust my portfolio, and approach my father's desk. Yes, I do.

My father grimaces, though smiles to show me only kids. Let's have it, then.

I take two deep breaths before I say (not with the level of confidence I'd like), I want to go to The Institute of Culinary Education.

My father's good humor drains away and leaves behind a baffled expression. You...want to learn to cook?

My mouth open, but before I utter a sound, my father burst into laughter. My stomach sinks through the floor. It's not his usual heartwarming chuckle. No, the noise he makes is the same he made when my older sister told him she planned to move to California to pursue acting.

My father's laughing fit ceases, and he clutches his chest. Good one, Princess. But be careful. My poor heart can't handle many more jokes like that.

It's not a joke. I really want to go to culinary school. To get a pastry degree.

A wall slides over my father's features, make it impossible for me to gauge his thoughts. You want to be a pastry chef?

Well, no. I want to open my own bakery. I place the portfolio on the computer desk and open it. I point at the top page, which breaks down the expense of my changing career paths. I have it all worked out. If I knew how to bake, I could just skip school. Shame fills me. But I can't.

Not an entirely accurate statement. I can make simple things, like sugar cookies and one-note brownies, but I didn't learn how until this past October. Up until then, I've been content with a private cook providing my meals.

When I discovered my passion for baking, I realized I should've taken Margrett Snow's, the cook who's been with my family for years, multiple teaching offers she made in my youth. But neither of my parents pressed the need for the valuable skill. What did it matter? Anything they can't do for themselves they can hire someone to do for them.

My father smirks. A bakery? He shakes his head. Do you know how absurd you sound?

It may seem a bit nutty, but I honestly think I can succeed. I gesture to the portfolio again. It's all in here. Just look. Please.

Who put this stupid idea in your head? His eyes flick to the study's open door.

No one! And it's not stupid.

My father snorts. Throwing away a promising career as a cardiologist to make doughnuts for a living is what a child would suggest doing.

My throat burns and my eyes sting, but I refuse to cry. I won't act like the kid he just accused me of being. I must remain firm, to not give him an inch. If I stick to my guns, my father's initial shock will diminish, and my maturity will win him over.

Dad, I'm only asking you to examine my research right now.

No. I'm not going to entertain this a second longer. You're not going culinary school. You're going to stay at Harvard, graduate, and follow our plan--the sensible plan.

Anger gripes me, and before I consider the consequences, I say, Your plan. I don't want to be a cardiologist. I never have.

The fact has always been in the back of my mind, but my need to please my father, to hold my place as his favorite daughter, has kept it at bay. But as I baked more and more, I evaluated my life, and the following conclusion left me queasy for weeks: for as long as I can remember, I have let my father steer all my major life decisions. Somehow, I grew complacent to my father treating me like an extension of himself.

Now, at twenty-four, I can't march forward like my father wants me to anymore. I need to step outside of his shadow, to show the world I'm more than my father's daughter. Baking promises the freedom I crave.

My revelation drains the glow from my father's face. So, you've wasted the past six years of your life, my money, and the time of many people? Is that what you're telling me?

I just want to chase a dream. Why is that such a bad thing?

Your sister thought the same thing, and now look at what she's become.

I jerk as if my father struck me. I am not Nicole. I won't end up like her.

My father waves away my statement, and his gaze hardens. If you're truly set on this, I want you out of the house. I won't support you destroying your life.

But--But where will I go?

Why not join your sister?

My father's cruel tone shakes my core. The look he pegs me with is no better. I've fallen from grace and now exist alongside the dregs of society. From experience with Nicole, I know nothing will change his mind.

Yet, still, I try.

I pick up my portfolio and close the distance between me and my father. I shove the papers at him. I forget about remaining an unmovable force and bawl. Look! Please, look. It's all in here. Please, Daddy. Please.

My father turns from me and focuses on the window. I cry louder. When he continues to ignore me, I scream at him. For my efforts, I only get a sore throat.

My hysterical pleading lasts for a solid ten minutes. Then all my fight abandons me. I drop the portfolio at my father's feet and flee. Tears stream down my face as I thunder upstairs to my bedroom. I intend to fling myself on my bed but stop short.

In my absence, the comforter set has been removed. I gaze around my room and spot that my drawers are open and emptied. Many of the clothes from my closet have disappeared. My crying ceases in surprise, and fury mingles with my sadness.

This must be my mother's work. How could she do this? Though we don't share many traits or interests, and I made it clear years ago which parent I prefer, my mother has always treated me the same Nicole. Has it all been an act? Can this be my mother's form of revenge? Or is this my mother's attempt to please her husband?

Regardless, the sight of my partially cleared-out room pushes me to my limit. I drop to my knees in the middle of my bedroom and bury my face in my hands. Violent sobs shake me, and a hollow, eerie moan claws from my throat.

Oh, darling!

My mother's voice startles me, but I don't drop my hands. Instead, I curl into a tighter ball. My bawling now resembles a banshee's.

My mother's thin, strong arms wrap around me. Though I resist, my mother has little trouble pulling me into her lap. She rocks me and murmurs reassurances.

Her soft words once more spark my rage. I draw my head from my hands and shove at my mother until she lets me go. You bitch!


"Couldn't wait to get rid of me,

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