Commitments
turned on the shower. She edged herself in a comer, slid down until she was sitting with her knees tucked to her chest and let the ,@,tepid spray course over her. Once out of the shower, she couldn't make it back to bed fast enough. She pulled the blankets to her neck because, though her skin burned, she had the chills. Her limbs ached. Her insides were raw. She felt miserable - but the more she concentrated on her misery, the less she had to think about the argument with Nick. So she concentrated on her misery. In time, other thoughts intruded, and when she'd stopped quaking quite so badly, she freed one arrn from the covers and reached back for the book she'd left on the headboard shelf. She opened to the place where 73 page 209
    met page 210, removed the plain white envelope she'd tucked there, then set the book aside.. For a time she just lay, tucked beneath layers of blankets, looking at the envelope. The average eye would find nothing distinctive about it, but Sabrina's was not the average eye. She saw that the envelope had no return address, and assumed that was by designit was metered, rather than stamped, which she assumed to be regulation, and the postmark, reading Parkersville, MA, was dated three weeks before, which was just about how long it had been since she'd received it. For what had to be the hundredth time, she removed a single sheet of paper from the envelope, unfolded it and read its -brief message. ' are fine. D.' Closing her eyes, she pressed the Page 25
    Barbara Delinsky - Commitments
    letter and its envelope to her breast. By the next day, she was feeling better. Doreen was staying on for another day, so slie napped. She took a leisurely bath, then napped some more. She was feeling lag more, composed than usual when, late* that afternoon, her mother phoned. Sabrina had never quite figured out whether her mother's otherworldliness had preceded her profession, or vice versa. Amanda Monroe was like a character from one of her books. Petite, almost waiflike, she was a sprite who'd reached her mid-fifties with few of the usual signs of life's wear and tear. Her skin was smooth and porcelain-like. Her hair was long and blond, There was a fluidity to her walk, a lyricism -to her talk. And when she smiled, she sparkled. She had an ethereal quality that made people stop, look once, then again, then approach her with caution lest they cause her harm. It was really quite ironic, 74 d as if she e the woman was strong. She looke splinter apart and disperse with the breeze, but fact was, she had an iron constitution and a will of . in her soft, shimmering way she was a controller. choreographed those around her; they danced to tune. very five years and ten books or so, she created a galaxy to explore. Her fans loved it. Her family d it. Her husband, who was nearly as eccentric as and had an ego the size of Texas, to boot, had long decided that no way was the Old West going to *vel in the shadow of the Vaspatian moons. He had eded the spacious San Francisco townuse to his wife, bought aranch in Nevada and moved lock, stock and barrel. He returned to the Coast periodically, the bounty hunter returning to his woman, but it was clear that he had no wish to wipe the range dust from his boots. Sabrina had grown up shuttling back and forth between her parents' homes, and at the time she'd thought nothing of it. Amanda and Gebhart loved each other. When they were together, they were openly and honestly affectionate. They simply couldn't live with each other full-time - or so they. explained to Sabrina when she began to wonder and ask - and she accepted that, too, for a time. in recent years, though, she'd had doubts. She'd come to see her parents as lonely people, people caught between creative needs and emotional ones. Each had achieved success, but at a price. For that reason, Sabrina no longer begrudged her parents the odd upbringing she'd had. And for that reason, she always tried to receive her mother's phone calls

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