You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.
Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
”Is she coming on a later flight?”
DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.
“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.
“Visiting her father?”
“Touring with Eva?”
“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”
“She’s in rehab.”
“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”
“For alcohol treatment.”
Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.
Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”
“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”
“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”
“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”
“I told you otherwise.”
“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”
“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”
Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”
“Isn’t that true with everything?”
“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”
“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”
“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”
“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”
“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”
“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”
DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.
“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”
“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”
“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”
Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.
“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.
“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.
And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.
“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”
“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”
Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”
“It’s the old you—only better.”
“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”
“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”
“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”
DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”
Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”
DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”
“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”
Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”
“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.
“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”
“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”
“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”
“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”
“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”
“Maybe she was missing her family.”
“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”
“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”
“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”
“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”
“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”
“It’s that California sun.”
“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.
“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”
“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”
“And cool,” said DJ.
“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”
“Maybe I will someday.”
“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”
“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”
“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”
“Well, I told him you’d call.”
Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”
“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”
“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.
“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.
“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.
“No, why would I?”
“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”
“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”
“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”
Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”
“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”
“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”
“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.
“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”
“What’d you say?”
“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”
“But nothing else?”
“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”
“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?
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