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This guy gave Courtney the creeps, but he and Annie obviously had some kind of relationship.

“You got the stuff?” Annie asked.

He nodded.

“Then what are we waiting for?” she said with a saucy laugh.

From the way the two of them acted, whispering and laughing together, Courtney assumed they were about to take off without her. They were both inside the vehicle when Chris leaned over the backseat and opened the rear passenger door.

“Get in,” he said. “If Annie says you’re cool, you’re cool.”

Courtney reluctantly clambered into the backseat; the moment she’d gotten into the vehicle, Chris roared out of the parking lot. “Where are we going?” she asked, searching for a seat belt. There didn’t seem to be one.

“It’s better if you don’t know,” Annie told her.

They drove for a while, taking various back streets, and went up and down several others. Although she tried to keep track, Courtney got too confused. She did figure out that they must be somewhere near the waterfront because she saw warehouses and heard a blast from an incoming ferry. By now it was after eight.

Chris parked and Annie slid out of the front seat. “Come on,” she shouted to Courtney.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“A rave.”


“You don’t know what a rave is?” Annie sounded incredulous.

“Sure I do,” Courtney said, but she’d never been to one. They were illegal in Chicago and probably Seattle, too.

“You ever done ecstasy?” Chris asked, looping his arm around Annie’s neck.

Courtney stood back and shook her head.

“Don’t worry about it,” Annie assured her. “I’ll get you some.”

“No, thanks…I, uh, think I’ll just watch the first time.”

Annie glanced at Chris, who shrugged. “No problem.”

The warehouse was dark and the music so loud it was actually painful. After a few minutes, Courtney’s eyes adjusted and she strained to see what was happening around her. Couples were dancing, some frenetically. Other people were on the side, guzzling drinks—bottles of water, it looked like, and beer. They seemed oblivious to what was going on around them. A fog of smoke hung over the room, and Courtney recognized the pungent scent of marijuana.

Almost immediately Annie and Chris were on the dance floor. Courtney kept an eye on her. She knew Annie was angry and probably depressed; she’d seen it the night of the baseball game. She’d gone through a difficult time herself after her mother died. Her grades fell and she’d started hanging around with the wrong crowd, getting into minor kinds of trouble. Only she’d been younger, so boys hadn’t been as much of an issue. And she’d smartened up before things could escalate—to raves and drugs. Still, she’d done some pretty stupid stuff that she regretted now and she didn’t want Annie to go through what she had.

Moving as far back as she could, while still watching Annie, Courtney nearly stumbled over a man squatting in the corner. Her eyes widened as she saw him insert a needle into his arm. After injecting the drug—heroin? She didn’t know—he leaned his head back, then slumped to the ground.

Annie staggered off the floor. “Dance!” she demanded of Courtney. “Don’t be such a drag.”

“Okay.” Courtney moved closer to the dancers and lifted her arms up and down like a monkey. She felt stupid, awkward and out of place. Julianna would have her head on a platter if she ever learned about this. Forget her dad; Courtney’s big sister would be furious. But Courtney was stuck now and had no idea where she was or how she’d ever find her way home.

Annie was acting weird, weirder than before. She and Chris were deeply absorbed in each other. The music was loud and the entire place seemed to reverberate with it. Despite the darkened room, Courtney saw Annie’s purse slip from her shoulder to the floor and ran over to grab it. Neither Annie nor Chris appeared to notice.

The more she watched the other girl, the more concerned she became. Annie was high. Out of control. She was flinging herself around the dance floor, clutching at Chris, sweating profusely. Nearly desperate, Courtney dug around in Annie’s large purse, past the discarded clothes, until she found a cell phone. Annie needed help. She might not appreciate the interference, but Courtney felt she had to do something and fast. Scrolling down the address book, she paused at the second name. She had to phone either Bethanne or Andrew. Annie was more likely to forgive her for contacting her brother. She hit the key and pressed the phone to her ear, struggling to hear above the din of the music.

It rang four times before Andrew answered. “What?” he demanded irritably.

“Andrew, it’s Courtney.”

“Why are you calling me from my sister’s cell?”

“Annie’s in trouble and I don’t know what to do.” She didn’t want to overstate the problem, nor did she feel she should downplay it.

“Where are you?”

“I don’t know,” she shouted, struggling to be heard. “We’re somewhere on the waterfront, in a warehouse. It’s a rave. Oh, no!”


Courtney hurried back to the dance door. “Annie’s topless,” she said in horror. “She’s doing drugs. Ecstasy, I think.” She walked toward the doors, where it was marginally quieter.

“Is she with Chris?”

“Yes.” Courtney had left the building now and was surprised to see that it was completely dark out.

Andrew swore. “I think I know where you are. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Relief washed over her.

“Stay with Annie,” he instructed her.

“I will.”

“And Courtney, listen.” He hesitated. “Thanks.” He clicked off, abruptly ending the conversation.

Courtney ran back inside and frantically searched the room until she found Annie. She had her legs wrapped around a man, her head thrown back and her arms flaying about to some earsplitting tempo. Chris was with another girl, a spike-haired brunette, and although Courtney couldn’t be sure, it looked as if they were in the middle of sex. Courtney turned away, unwilling to watch. She alternated between rushing outside to flag down Andrew and checking on Annie. An eternity passed before she saw Andrew pull up outside the warehouse in Bethanne’s car.

“Where is she?” he shouted, running toward Courtney. He carried a plaid blanket he’d obviously brought with him.

“Inside. She’s with some guy I’ve never seen before.” She didn’t want to say it, but she was terrified of what Andrew would find when he located his sister. In all likelihood, Annie would never forgive her. Still, Courtney was convinced that Annie didn’t know what she was doing, or with whom.

“Wait here,” he told her, his eyes hard.

Although it was difficult, she did what he asked. She feared Andrew might need help, that Annie would fight him and others might get involved. She conjured up such frightening scenarios that by the time he appeared, carrying his sister, Courtney was ready to phone the police.

“Is she all right?” Courtney asked anxiously. Annie seemed half-unconscious, her head lolling back. She was wrapped in the blanket, and Courtney admired Andrew’s thoughtfulness in bringing it.

His mouth in a tight line, Andrew nodded. “Help me get her in the car,” he ordered.

Working together, they got Annie into the backseat. Courtney reached into Annie’s purse, producing the blouse she’d worn earlier in the evening, and managed to push Annie’s arms through the sleeves. The girl offered no help and stared up at them, dazed and senseless. Once Courtney had buttoned it, Annie fell across the backseat. Andrew lifted his sister’s legs so that she was completely prone and draped her with the blanket.

“Did you have fun?” She raised her head enough to ask Courtney in a slurred voice.

“Oh, yeah,” Courtney muttered, and climbed into the front seat next to Andrew.

“Lie down and shut up,” Andrew told his sister.

She started to groan when they took off. Courtney thought she heard sirens in the distance; whether they had anything to do with the rave or not, she didn’t know.

“What’s wrong?” Courtney asked. She didn’t need to clarify her question. Andrew knew what she meant.

“Annie and my dad were close,” he said from between gritted teeth. “My sister hasn’t adjusted to the divorce, as you could no doubt tell on Monday night. It’s like she’s trying to make my parents regret what they did. The thing she doesn’t understand is how badly she’s hurting herself.”

“I don’t want her to get angry with me.”

“She won’t,” Andrew promised.

“How can you be so sure?” Courtney believed she understood his sister far better than Andrew would ever know. Annie felt as if she’d lost her father; Courtney knew what it was like to lose a parent. Her own life had changed irrevocably the minute her mother died. Nothing was or would ever be the same again. She wouldn’t walk into the house after school and hear her mother’s voice. There wouldn’t be any more of the special traditions Courtney treasured. The world had become a smaller place, a crueler place, without her mother. She didn’t criticize Annie for using drugs. Courtney had chosen another addiction to dull her pain—food. It’d taken her four years to find the resolve to break free of this self-imposed punishment.

Courtney turned toward him. “I want to talk to Annie later, all right?” she said.

Andrew looked away from the road long enough to make eye contact with her. “She needs professional help.”

“I know.” Courtney just hoped Annie got that help before it was too late.


“Most of us knit these garments for someone special. In doing so, we let our love and loving thoughts for one another grow, a single stitch at a time.”


Somehow I made it through the Fourth of July, thanks to my family. Matt and Margaret were so good to me, and Mom only asked about Brad once. I don’t know what Margaret said, but his name was conspicuously absent from our conversations for the rest of the day.

Mom seemed especially quiet and even a bit confused. I spent as much time with her as I could, talking to her about the garden, the yarn shop, a TV show we’d both seen. My thoughts were with Brad, though, and with Cody. I experienced my grief as physical pain, as an ache in my chest—I think that’s what people mean when they talk about a broken heart. I wanted to scream at the injustice of it: that Janice was with them and I wasn’t. I tried hard to remember that Cody needed his mother.

After our barbecued chicken, coleslaw and corn—an all-American feast—I brought out a box of assorted pastries from the French Café. I’d included some cream puffs and napoleons, which were Alix’s specialties. I hoped to see her on Friday at the shop. Once we’d finished dessert I took Mom home; she was too tired by then to wait for darkness to fall and the fireworks to begin.