My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Brenda Chapman

Book: My Sister's Keeper by Brenda Chapman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brenda Chapman
CHAPTER ONE
    I t was the middle of a steamy August night in Kermit, Texas, and my bedside phone was ringing. I’d worked the late shift in the Dude Bar below my hotel room, and was only just falling asleep. I felt around for the phone with my right hand, knocking an empty beer bottle onto the floor. I picked up the receiver.
    “Hello?”
    “You are one hard person to get a hold of,” my father yelled into my ear.
    “Dad? Is that you?”
    I propped myself up on an elbow. I’d been in Kermit a month and hadn’t gotten around to letting him know. I tried to shake off the sick feeling that came from working too many late nights.
    “Of course it’s me. Your sister’s had an accident. She’s in the hospital.” He spoke matter-of-factly, but I could hear worry underneath.
    “Cheri?”
    “That’s what I said. Your sister. Lucky she wasn’t killed.”
    “Is she okay?”
    “Yes, aside from a goose egg on her forehead and bad nerves.”
    I was sitting on the side of the bed now. I’d forgotten to close the curtains and the red neon sign from the parking lot flashed into my eyes.
    “What . . . happened?”
    “Brakes failed on her car yesterday on her way home from work. Cheri drove into a tree and got banged up good. She’s been asking for you.”
    Cheri had to be in really bad shape if she wanted to speak to me. “I could give her a ring tomorrow,” I said.
    “She’s waiting for your call now. Get a pen and paper.”
    He’d made the command with his drill sergeant voice. A voice trained by thirty-five years in the armed forces. He rattled off Cheri’s phone number at the hospital. I copied it onto a napkin like an army private in his command.
    Dad hung up before I could ask how he was doing. As usual, he hadn’t asked me either.
    *********
    Cheri picked up on the first ring, in her hospital room somewhere in Ottawa. She whispered into the phone. I could barely hear her.
    “Speak up, Cheri. It’s not like the FBI is listening in.”
    “I need to see you,” she said. Her voice was just slightly louder.
    My eyes travelled around my hotel room: stained red carpet, patched holes in the walls, particle board furniture. The smell of cooking grease and stale booze seeped up from the bar below. One month in this oil town felt like forever. I still wasn’t sure how I’d ended up here.
    “I have lots going on right now,” I said. “It’ll be hard to pull myself away.”
    Cheri didn’t say anything for about twenty seconds. This time when she spoke, I didn’t have to strain to hear her.
    “Anna, you’re the only one I can trust. You have to come home as soon as you can.” Her voice dropped. “Somebody is trying to kill me. Please, Anna, you have to get on the next plane to Ottawa. If not, I’ll be dead by Christmas.”

CHAPTER TWO
    D ad was waiting for me in the luggage claim area when I got off the plane. It was noon—just nine hours after my phone call to Cheri. I spotted him leaning against a wall, his eyes searching the crowd. His thick hair had gone completely white, but his sharp blue eyes hadn’t lost their brightness. I crossed to where he was standing and stopped in front of him—the man who’d driven me crazy my entire life.
    “How did you know what time I’d arrive?” I asked.
    “I got here early and watched a few flights come in. You had to be on one before long.”
    “Well, thanks for coming.”
    “I could say the same.”
    I picked up my bags and we started for the parking garage. Dad pointed to a shiny red Ford truck. “My new baby,” he said. His eyes sparkled. Some men loved women. My dad loved trucks.
    He glanced over at me as we walked. “So what’s so great in Kermit, Texas?” he asked.
    “It’s just a place. I liked the name.”
    He frowned. “You’re what, thirty-two now, Anna? You’re getting too old for this drifting around, slacking-off nonsense.”
    Welcome home.
    “I’ll have you know I’m gifted at serving beer. Plus I get to spend quality time in

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