Chapter 16

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"Um," I stalled, wishing I had any plausible excuse for saying no, "sure."

"Great, I'll be there in ten." Kelly hung up before I could protest. Or disagree. Or agree, even.

Lurching off the stool, I dashed into the bedroom to change into something moderately more presentable than candy hearts pajamas. I was just slipping my pantyhose-clad feet into a pair of pumps when the doorbell buzzed.

Two and a half minutes later, I opened the door, tasteful makeup hastily applied and hair twisted up into a messy bun to hide the fact that I couldn't find my brush.

"You look fabulous," Kelly exclaimed as she burst into my apartment like an overfilled balloon. "You'd never catch me looking so glam on a home day."

Ha, I snorted-unintentionally out loud-and earned a scowl from Kelly.

"No, really," she asserted. "It's sweats and slippers for me. Every day, if I could."

One glance at her head-to-toe designerwear and I knew this KY had never seen the pilly side of a sweatshirt. Since the day they started at Ferrero, all three KYs had dressed impeccably. The only exception was the night Kathryn showed up in emotional distress, but that was a definite once-an-eon occurrence.

"Yeah, I'm sure you snuggle up in your designer workout suit on chilly nights." My tone came out a lot snippier than I intended. Rather than apologize, I got to the point. "What's so urgent?"

She looked taken aback by my abrupt change of subject.

"I think you have the wrong idea about me, Lydia."

What idea was that? That she was a career- and social-climbing siren set on stealing my job and my fiancé?

Whoa! Fiancé? That came out of nowhere.

First of all, Gavin was no longer my fiancé. And second of all, what did I care if she stole him-not that someone can steal something that doesn't belong to you.

Deep breath, Lydia.

"Sorry. I'm a little wound up at the moment."

Leading the way into the living area, I headed for the buffet cabinet and plucked the lid off the antique soup tureen that had belonged to great-great-great-great-grandma Vanderwalk. A sea of gummy bears smiled up at me.

"Gummy bear?" I offered, ladling out a handful into my palm.

"No... thank you." Kelly looked a little frightened.

As I glanced down at my fistful, I was a little frightened, too. To prove I wasn't some insane candy freak, I poured half of the gummies back into the tureen. And slammed the lid down before I could retrieve them.

For a second, I thought I heard the tiny, high-pitched screams of a hundred little voices.

Was hallucination one of the signs of addiction?

I closed my eyes and tried to remember the addiction checklist from that recovery book Mom gave me last Christmas. One was denial, and then concealment. Oooh, yeah, personification was number seven.

Turning off my inner voices, I lifted the lid once more and dropped the rest of the bears back inside.

When I turned back around, Kelly was eying me like you eye the crazy person walking down the street talking to himself. A little wary and a lot concerned.

I crossed to the chofa and sat as if nothing bizarre had happened. Kelly snapped out of her deer-in-headlights stare and lowered herself onto the couch, perching on the edge of the cushion and clearly ready to get back to business.

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