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Blue(6)
Danielle Steel

They went to the party that night, with Chris in the back seat in a little red-velvet Christmas suit with a plaid bow tie. He was three, and couldn’t wait to get on Santa’s lap. While Ginny watched him, Mark had headed for the bar and had a glass of wine with some of the men. He’d had a long day, and Ginny had a glass of wine, too. Most of the parents had a glass in their hand and were in a festive holiday mood. None of them were drunk, and Mark seemed fine to Ginny when they left the party to get Chris home to bed. She had said it a thousand times afterward, that Mark appeared sober to her, as though that would make a difference and would change everything, but it never did. The autopsy showed that his blood alcohol level was over the limit, not shockingly so, but just enough to affect his reflexes and slow his reactions. He’d obviously had more than one glass, while she had been watching Chris and talking to the other mothers. And knowing how responsible Mark was, Ginny was sure Mark hadn’t felt as though he drank too much that night, or he would have asked her to drive or call a cab.

They took the freeway to get home, flipped over the divider when it started to rain, and had a head-on collision with a sixteen-wheeler, which crushed their car. Mark and Chris were killed instantly. Ginny had been in the hospital for a month with a broken vertebra in her neck and two broken arms. They had to use a Jaws of Life to pry her out of the car. Becky had gone to the hospital as soon as they called her, but they hadn’t told Ginny what had happened to Mark and Chris. Becky told her the next day. Three lives had ended in an instant, Ginny’s as well as theirs. She never went back to the house afterward, and had Becky get rid of everything, except the few things she packed up to save for her and later sent to New York.

Ginny had stayed with Becky while her neck healed, and she had been incredibly lucky. The break was high enough that it didn’t paralyze her, although she wore a neck brace for six months. She resigned from her job at the network, avoided all their friends, and couldn’t face anyone. She was convinced that her letting Mark drive home that night was what had killed them, and that it was her fault that he drove. She had assumed they’d each had a single glass of wine, since Mark rarely drank more than that, and she didn’t like driving on the freeway at night. It had never occurred to her to ask him how many glasses he’d had, since he looked sober to her. If she’d asked him, she told herself later, she could have driven, and maybe Mark and Chris would still be alive. Becky knew that her sister would never forgive herself no matter what anyone said to her. And nothing would change the fact that Ginny’s husband and three-year-old son were dead.

Ginny had moved to New York in April, without calling anyone to say goodbye, and spent a month looking for work with a human rights group. All she wanted to do was get as far away as she could from her old life. Becky never said it, but she was certain she had a death wish and was trying to get herself killed on the assignments she signed up for, at least for the first year. It broke Becky’s heart, knowing how she felt, and no one could help her. All she hoped for her sister was that time would ease her wounds and help her live with what had happened. She was no longer a wife or a mother, and had lost the two people she loved most in the world. And she had given up a career she had worked hard to build. Ginny had been a good reporter and done well at the network. She had been a happy, successful, totally fulfilled woman, and her life had turned into everyone’s worst nightmare overnight. Ginny never talked about it, but her sister knew and could sense how agonizing it all was for her. It was why Becky didn’t press her about their father. Ginny already had enough to deal with, with loss and tragedy. Becky didn’t have the heart to ask her to take on more, so she took care of their father, while Ginny risked her life around the world.

But one day she would have to stop and face it, no matter how hard she ran, or how far, the two people she had lost were gone and always would be. Becky just hoped she didn’t get herself killed before then, and she was always relieved to know that she was back in New York, even for a short time. At least she was safe when she was home. It was hard for either of them to believe they hadn’t seen each other in almost three years, but the time had flown. Becky was busy with her family, and Ginny was always in some remote, troubled country, risking her life and atoning for her sins.

Becky seemed sad when she hung up, as Alan bent down to kiss her. Becky was a pretty woman, but had never been as spectacular looking as her sister, particularly when Ginny was at the network getting her hair and makeup done every day. Even without it, Ginny had always been better-looking than Becky. Ginny was the showstopper, and Becky the girl next door.

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