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“How long?” She wouldn’t stop until he told her the truth.

Grant released a laborious sigh as if her relentlessness had broken him down. “Two years.”

“Two years!” she cried, consumed with rage. “Get out of this house.”

He nodded.

“Get out, and don’t come back.” In that moment she meant it. But not long afterward, she’d desperately wanted him home again. It embarrassed her now to remember how frantic she’d been to win back her husband’s affection. She’d been willing to do anything—see a counselor, beg, bribe, reason with him. At one point, just before the settlement hearing, she would’ve given up ten years of her life for Grant to return to his family.

But when Grant moved out of the house and in with Tiffany, he had no intention of returning. She’d nearly been destroyed by that. Eventually she’d had to accept it: Grant was never coming home. He didn’t love her anymore and nothing she said or did would change his mind.

Her marriage was dead, and burying it had virtually obliterated her self-esteem. If not for her children, Bethanne didn’t know what she would’ve done. Andrew and Annie needed her more than ever, and only for them did she continue.

When she’d finally made an appointment with an attorney, the man had been straightforward and helpful; what seemed like a fair financial arrangement had been settled upon. Grant refinanced the house for the third time and paid off their cars and their credit card bills with whatever equity he could extract, so they were both essentially debt-free. He was instructed to pay alimony for two years, plus child support until the children were out of high school. They would share college expenses. He hadn’t been late with a check yet, but then the state made sure of that. Bethanne would have to find a job soon, but for a dozen different reasons, she delayed.

It was now six months after the divorce had been finalized, and the fog was only starting to clear. She told herself she had to live one day at a time as she learned to deal with what her family and friends called her “new reality.” The problem was, she preferred her old reality….

Bethanne sipped her tea, which had begun to cool. She was startled from her thoughts when the door off the kitchen banged open and sixteen-year-old Annie came in, red-faced and sweating. Tendrils of wet hair pressed against the sides of her face. She wore a halter top and spandex shorts, and had apparently been out for a lengthy run. Because Annie had always felt close to her father, she’d taken the divorce particularly hard. Soon after Grant moved out, Annie had started running and would often go five and even ten miles a day. Unfortunately, that hadn’t been the only change in her daughter’s behavior. The new friends she’d acquired were a bigger concern.

Bethanne worried endlessly about Annie and the company she kept. The girl’s anger was focused on Tiffany, and Bethanne suspected that Annie’s new friends encouraged her more outrageous acts. While Bethanne was no fan of the other woman, whom she’d discovered to be fifteen years younger than her ex, she was afraid Annie might do something stupid in her zeal to retaliate against Tiffany, something that would involve the police.

Andrew had talked to Bethanne several times about various things he’d learned Annie had done. These included signing Tiffany up for magazine subscriptions, leaving her name and number with sales staff and scheduling appointments, all in Tiffany’s name. However, Annie remained scornfully silent whenever Bethanne tried to bring up the subject.

“You didn’t leave me a note,” Bethanne chastised mildly as Annie walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a cold bottle of water.

“Sorry,” the girl mumbled unapologetically. She twisted off the lid, leaned back her head and gulped down half the contents. “I figured you’d know. I run every day.”

Bethanne did know, but that was beside the point.

“How’d it go at the employment agency?” her daughter asked.

Bethanne sighed, wishing Annie hadn’t mentioned it. “Not good.” She’d known this job search would be difficult, but she’d had no idea how truly painful the process would be. “When I told the interviewer about my baking skills, he didn’t seem overly impressed.”

“You should work in a bakery.”

Bethanne had already considered that, but being around food for eight hours a day didn’t appeal to her.

“Andrew and I were the envy of all our friends.” Annie sounded almost nostalgic. “We had the best birthday parties and birthday cakes of anyone.”

“I used to organize great scavenger hunts too, but there’s little call for that these days.”

“Oh, Mom.” She rolled her eyes as she spoke.

“I’ll look seriously once the summer is over.”

“You keep putting it off,” Annie chided.

Her daughter was right, but after all these years outside the job market, Bethanne didn’t think she possessed any saleable skills. She was terrified that she’d end up at a grocery store asking people if they wanted paper or plastic for the rest of her life.

“I was thinking of selling cosmetics,” she said tentatively, glancing at Annie for a reaction. “I could set my own hours and—”

“Mom!” Her daughter glared at her. “That’s pathetic.”

“Lots of women make a very nice income from it, and—”

“Selling cosmetics is fine for someone else, but not you. You’re great at lots of things, but you’d make a terrible salesperson and we both know it. There’s got to be something you can do. Where’s your pride?”

For the last sixteen months it’d been swirling in the bottom of a toilet bowl. “I’d hate an office job,” Bethanne said. She wasn’t convinced she could ever adjust to a nine-to-five routine.

“You should do something just for you,” Annie insisted. “I’m not even talking about a job.”

Everyone Bethanne knew, including the counsellor she’d briefly seen, had told her the same thing. “When did you get so smart?” she teased.

“Isn’t there anything you’d like to do just for fun?”

Bethanne shrugged. “You’ll laugh and tell me it’s pathetic.”


She sighed, reluctant to say anything. “I saw a yarn store the other day and was thinking how much I’d like to knit again. It’s been years. I made you a baby blanket, remember?”

“Mom,” Annie cried, flinching as though Bethanne had embarrassed her. “Of course I remember it. I slept with that yellow blankie until I was ten.”

“I used to enjoy knitting, but that was years ago.”

The front door opened, then slammed shut. Andrew, coming home from his part-time job at the local Safeway. He entered the kitchen, shucking off his backpack, and without a word to either of them, opened the fridge and stared inside. Apparently nothing interested him more than a soda, which he removed. He closed the door, leaning against it, and frowned at them.

“What’s going on?” he asked, looking from Bethanne to his younger sister.

“Mom’s talking about wanting to knit again,” Annie said.

“It’s only something I’m thinking about,” Bethanne rushed to add.

“You can do it,” Annie told her firmly.

“Yeah,” Andrew agreed and popped the top of his soda.

But Bethanne wasn’t sure she could. It all seemed to require too much energy—finding a job, organizing her life, even knitting. “Maybe I will,” she murmured tentatively.

“You’re not putting this off the way you have everything else.” Annie opened the pantry door and pulled out the Yellow Pages. “Where was that yarn shop?”

Bethanne bit her lower lip. “Blossom Street.”

“Do you remember the name of it?” Andrew asked.

Annie flipped to the back of the massive directory.

“No, but listen—”

With her finger on the page, Annie looked up, eyes flashing with determination. “Found it.” She smiled triumphantly at her brother, scooped up the phone and punched out the number before Bethanne could protest. When she’d finished, Annie handed the receiver to her mother.

A woman answered. “A Good Yarn,” she said in a friendly voice. “How may I help you?”

“Ah, hello…my name is Bethanne Hamlin. I guess my name doesn’t matter, but, well, I was wondering if you still offer knitting classes.” She paused to take a breath. “I used to knit years ago,” she went on, “but it’s been a very long time. Perhaps it’d be better if I visited the store.” Bethanne’s gaze rose to meet her daughter’s.

“Give me the phone,” Annie demanded and without waiting for a response, grabbed it from her.

“Yes, that sounds great. Sign her up,” Annie ordered. She reached for a pad and paper and wrote down the details. “She’ll be there.” Half a minute later, Annie replaced the portable phone.

“You signed her up for a class?” Andrew asked.


“I, ah…” Bethanne suddenly felt panicked about spending the money. “Listen, this might not be such a good idea, after all, because—”

Her daughter cut her off. “You’ll be learning to knit socks.”

“Socks?” Bethanne cried, vigorously shaking her head. “That’s far too complicated for me.”

“Mom,” Andrew said, “you used to knit all the time, remember?”

“Socks aren’t difficult, according to the shop owner,” Annie continued. “Her name’s Lydia Hoffman and she said they’re actually quite simple.”

“Yeah, right,” Bethanne muttered.

“You’re going, Mom, and I won’t take no for an answer.”

“You’re going,” Andrew echoed.

Apparently their roles had reversed, although this was news to Bethanne. It must’ve happened while she wasn’t paying attention.



In Courtney’s opinion, this entire plan of her father’s was ridiculous and unfair. Okay, so she’d gotten into some minor trouble talking back to her teachers and letting her grades drop. It could’ve been a whole lot worse—like if the police ever found out who’d started that Dumpster fire four years ago. Who could blame her, though? Her mother had just died and Courtney was lost, angry, confused. She was doing better—not that she was over it. She’d never get “over it,” despite what her more clueless friends suggested. But in time she’d straightened herself out and worked hard to salvage her high-school years and now this. This!

Her senior year of high school would be spent with her Grandma Pulanski in Seattle. While the kids she’d grown up with all her life graduated together, she’d be stuck halfway across the country. Courtney loved her grandmother, but she couldn’t imagine living with her for an entire year.

There was no one else. No other place for Courtney to go while her father was in Brazil working as an engineer on a bridge-building project. Where he was going wasn’t safe for a teenage girl, or so he insisted.