It was cold, so Andrea huddled in her sleeping bag in the back seat of the car while her big brother Cameron was talking.
"It's not like it’s a real divorce," he said, "Mom and Dad still love each other. But if they're not married Mom isn't responsible for Dad's money problems." He stretched his arms and legs out cautiously in the front seat. "So, when Dad gives her money she can keep it."
It was still so early the street lights were still on. But Andrea's father had gone to work in the car that was road worthy while they stayed in the old station wagon they all slept in.
Cameron continued, "His deadbeat partners hung it all on him when the business failed but he's got that good job now and if we can hold on for a few months we can make a fresh start somewhere and get the family back together."
Andrea sighed, "I miss Mom and Gram," she admitted. "I even miss the brats." "I miss them too. And I miss hot showers and places to sleep that are long enough and things with drawers in them for my clothes—instead of paper bags. But there's no room for us in Gram's apartment. She could barely fit Mom and the brats in. We'll just have to tough it out. " He looked out the window, "We had better get to the gas station soon if we want to wash before school."
They were both going to school simply because hanging around with nothing to do made it a little too obvious that they were homeless.
"Pop tarts for breakfast?" Andrea offered, reaching into the bag that held their food for the day. It was Cameron's turn to sigh, "Do we have anything else?" "Bananas," Andrea told him. "OK, give me a banana and you can take my damned pop tart to school."
They were having their breakfast, Cameron munching on a banana and drinking from a carton of milk and Andrea eating her pop tart when the police arrived and dragged them out of the car. Cameron did not know they were cops, as they were dressed convincingly as homeless people and took a few good swings at some of them. He was a strong boy and managed to knock one of them down. But they had him handcuffed and on the tarmac in two minutes.
Andrea was still in her sleeping bag and could do nothing at all. "Leave my sister alone," Cameron was shouting, there was blood on his cheek. One of them pulled him upright with his hands cuffed behind his back. "Calm down kid," one of them said, "You're already in enough trouble. We're the law and you're resisting arrest." "What for?" Cameron demanded.
Andrea barely managed to snatch at her shoes and her sweater as a lady cop began to drag her away. "Vagrancy," the one in charge said, "Do you know what that is? Where's your father?" "Would I be living in a wrecked car with my sister if I knew where my father was?' Cameron shouted. "I guess we'll just have to get it out of your sister". "She doesn't talk much," Cameron told them.
Truthfully, as it turned out because when Andrea was taken to juvenile hall she did not talk at all. She was only fourteen and as far as they knew had done nothing wrong so after two silent days in a holding cell in juvenile hall she was placed in a foster home.
Cameron, her social worker told her, had been sent to a boys' school that would provide him with vocational training and anger management. " He is badly in need of both," the drab woman droned on, used to Andrea's silence.
"A home-schooled ignoramus. Shouting about his rights under the constitution. If he hadn't resisted arrest he wouldn't have been in such trouble." The car pulled up in front of a rather nice looking framed home behind an artificial velvety lawn. "Go in. They're waiting for you. A lovely family, better than you deserve. I'm not sure that you shouldn't be in an institution. Voluntary mutism indeed."
Andrea got out of the car. She had nothing but the clothes she stood up in and they were not even clean. The social worker was looking at her, expecting her perhaps to hesitate or even refuse to go to up the path.
"My brother thought he was protecting me," Andrea said, taking care to speak slowly and clearly." The cops were dressed like bums. If that's a crime, then you are the ones who are ignoramuses."
She turned and walked up the path to her foster home. The meeting with her foster parents was a little eerie. They had such bright forced smiles. They were exceedingly slim, expensively dressed and very clean. She was instructed to call her foster father Brad and her foster mother Helen.
"We hear you have some trouble speaking" Brad said. "So just nod or shake your head. You can read and write, can't you?" Andrea nodded. "Good," Helen said brightly. Turning aside she said to Brad, "You never know with home-schoolers," Helen added as if Andrea was supposedly deaf as well.
Andrea was escorted to a large room that she was to share with two other girls. There was a closet full of clothes she could pick some things for herself from and a drawer to keep them in when she found them. There was a comfortable looking bed that Andrea yearned for after all the weeks sleeping in the car (and two days in a bunk in a cell).
When the door was closed behind her she chose some clothes she could tolerate. The clothes were obviously used but clean. She found jeans, a few cotton blouses and some t-shirts. After some rummaging she found a sweatshirt, a jacket and a scarf. The socks and underwear she noticed with relief were new, still in packages. At the bottom of the closet she discovered a pair of scuffed but sturdy loafers that fit her.
The bathroom was tiled in white with pink trim. She took a long steamy shower using slathers of soap, shampoo and conditioner, got out and dried herself on a thick soft pink and white towel. She found a new comb, hairbrush and toothbrush on the sink in a little plastic zip bag labeled with her name. She brushed her teeth then spent an hour combing out and untangling her hair. Then she hung the zip bag on a hook behind the door next to two other, one labeled Casey and the other labeled Lovett. Her two roommates, she supposed.
Helen called her for lunch, claimed her dirty clothes and sneakers and hustled them off to the basement. Andrea sat at the kitchen table with Brad and waited until Helen came back.
"We eat healthily here," Helen said, "No junk food," she put out salad, bean sprouts, whole wheat pita and a dish of hummus out on the kitchen table as if she expected Andrea to complain. "We also do not speak at the table, as it is bad for digestion." After a few days of meals on trays with only the rice course edible Andrea had no trouble with the odd food, she was only sorry that there did not seem to be enough of it. An apple or banana for dessert might have been nice but there did not seem to be any fruit on the table.
Since she was supposedly a mute not speaking for the entire meal was not a problem. However, it was obvious that her foster parents were a bit strange. She wondered what else might be wrong with them.
Her roommates when they came home from school were quick to tell her. "It's the food mostly," Casey said. She had a kitten's face, big amber eyes and stringy blond hair. Lovette was a morose, big, strong looking black girl.
"We never get anything good to eat," Lovette said, "My grandma was living on Social Security before she died--and at least we got chicken wings or pig's feet. Brad and Helen have plenty of money but here its just this vegan stuff day after day. I would kill for a tuna fish sandwich."
"You aren't really mute, are you?" Casey said. Andrea raised her eyebrows. "You just don't want to talk," Lovett said. She swung herself up on the top bunk. "I'm cool with that. Damn. I don't want to talk either unless its about marshmallow cookies, hamburgers, potato chips." "I want a steak," Casey said forlornly. "My dad takes us out for steak dinners sometimes. I want a steak and home fries and piles and piles of onion rings."
Lovett punched up her pillow, "Don't think you're going to be getting anything good to eat at school either. They got a healthy menu at our school. They give us a tortilla wrap with a few pieces of roasted veg in it. Maybe we get an apple. Maybe low-fat milk. How come we don't get bread anymore is what I want to know. Breads cheap. Couldn't they put a few slices on the tray? I could stand the rest of this healthy bullshit if I just had some bread to fill up on."
"Kids are selling things out of their lockers, good stuff" Casey said, sitting down at the dressing table and brushing her hair vigorously. For a brief instant her hair crackled and shone gold. As soon as she stopped brushing, it drooped again into beige strings. "But Brad or Helen drive us to school and come and take us back. We don't ever have any money, so we can't buy anything."
"Two hours until dinner," Lovett said gloomily. "I'm going to take a nap." Casey brushed futilely at her hair which had a lovely color but absolutely no body. Andrea looked around the pink and white room. There were no books, no games, no TV. She wondered what she was supposed to do until dinner.
She had expected her roommates in a foster home to be tough, semi-delinquent and street smart. Casey was sad and scared and seemed young for her age. Lovett who was older bigger, and stronger, missed her sister terribly.
Neither girl talked about boys, or music or clothes. They occasionally complained about something in school. Mostly they talked about food, like people from the gulag, Andrea thought. At dinner she found out why.
No rice, no bread, no crackers. Nothing to fill a teen aged stomach. The first course was celery and carrot sticks. The second was some kind of sourish soup, brown with nothing in it. Then there was more toasted whole wheat pita and a blob of something that was at least filling in the mouth--even though there was not enough of it. They all drank green tea.
Wasn't that a lovely dinner?" Brad said bright eyed after the silent meal and Andrea found herself assigned to help Helen with the dishes. When she dried the few plates and cups she looked on the counters for a bowl of fruit or a package of cookies. Helen apparently never left food lying around. There were no leftovers, so she had no excuse to get a peek into the refrigerator.
After dinner the foster kids were supposed to do homework. Casey and Lovett got out their tablets and some text, but Andrea had nothing to do. She went to sleep early. At least the bed was nice.
In the morning after a breakfast of rice cakes, soy milk and orange juice they were all dropped off at school. Andrea was still hungry, and her semi liquid breakfast sloshed about in her middle.
"You should go to Special Ed," Casey said before she disappeared down the bright busy hall, "They treat all the Special Ed kids like idiots. So, you can do what you want to if you're quiet. Lucky you."
Andrea found Special Ed and sat until a teacher showed up, spoke to her as if she was indeed an idiot and parked her by a computer. Andrea quickly got out of the educational corral and emailed her father, then checked in with her favorite blogs.
After a while the teacher came back with a student body card, a lunch pass and a name tag that she was to wear in the school building. So, if she got lost she could presumably be escorted back to Special Ed by some kind soul. Wonderful.
She was given some printed lessons to do that would have challenged her when she was in the fourth grade. Maybe. But then she was let into a maze of pretty, clean rooms where children with various handicaps were at work or studying or reading. She found a place at a desk behind a screen of plants that no one seemed to be using and zipped through her lessons. Then she put her sweater over the back of her chair and left a pencil on the desk as if she had just gone out for a minute.
It was easy enough to get off the school grounds, there was a lot of landscaping at this upscale school and not much maximum-security fence. She just hoped it would be just as easy to get back in.
The library where she had arranged to meet her dad was eight blocks away. She covered the ground quickly, walked up the stairs and into the foyer and saw her father sitting at one of the computer stations just off the main entrance. He was wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. His hair formerly salt and pepper at the temples was now dark brown. The change made him look younger. Tired, she though, but younger.
She sat down at the next station. "Hello sweetheart," her father said. His eyes said he wanted to hug her, but they knew better than to do that in public." This is something else, huh? A library with no books, just computers."
Hi, dad," Andrea said longing to hug him too. It was such a relief to TALK to someone who loved her. But after the first glance she did not even look at her father. She looked at the computer screen instead.
"How's the foster home?" he said scrolling something as if he was interested. "Weird, "she told him," my roommates are Ok, but the foster parents feed us the most awful health food stuff. Miso soup and bean sprouts. Rice cakes for breakfast. It's only ten o'clock and I'm starving. And they say lunch at school isn't going to be any better. How's the rest of the family?"
"They're fine. Your Grandmother got in to see Cameron. He's cooperating with "anger management" and learning a trade. He'll get out this summer if he behaves himself."
"They gave him six months?" Andrea said angrily, "They never said they were cops or showed us a badge. He thought he was protecting me. How was he supposed to know he was resisting arrest?"
"Don't worry and keep your voice down," her father said quietly. "Your brother is a big smart boy and he's landed on his feet. The food is not bad, he says. No one is picking on him and he's going to come out of jail with a mechanic's certificate. He was worried about you." "I would be OK if I could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once in a while," Andrea said with a sigh.
Her father leaned forward as if studying something on the screen. "In a couple of weeks, we'll be making a fresh start." he said," a long way from California. There are some things we have to do to get ready. When we're there, Gram will help. Then we'll send for your mother and the brats. Keep in touch with me by email. I can get here if you need me in the mornings." He passed her a few bills." Here get yourself something to eat. It's OK. I can spare it. And neither of us can afford to get sick right now."
"Bye Daddy," Andrea said, she had a lump in her throat but managed to give him a smile. She walked quickly back to school in the bright sunshine and the crisp autumn air and slipped back into her place behind the plants. After a while a teacher's aide came and collected the assignments she had finished. "
"You're a good little worker," she said to Andrea. The work was dead easy. And the teacher's aide didn't know the half of it. Andrea gave her a Raggedy Anne smile.
When the aide went to look for some more busy work for her to do Andrea went into her G.E.D. account. Maybe she couldn't get a mechanic's certificate like Cameron but she was pretty sure she could graduate from high school.
The school lunch was both spare and unappetizing. Skim milk. A green apple. A tortilla wrap filled with corn and some other goo that might be instant mashed potatoes and tasted nasty.
Most of the kids took whatever was slapped on their trays, dumped what they did not like and ate the fraction of their healthy lunch that they could stomach.
Andrea drank her milk and put her apple in her backpack. The tortilla wrap ended up in the trash with dozens of others. Then she followed the crowd streaming off campus to look for something to eat even though it was against the rules.
She found the hotdog stand by following the smell into a rather messy little mall. The young man selling the hotdogs didn't know she was not supposed to be able to talk so she ordered four hotdogs, one with everything and a coke for now and three to go.
She found a place to sit at the edge of the food court and ate and drank with satisfaction and relief. It was the first decent thing she had to eat in days. Then she packed up the three hotdogs in a plastic bag and put the package in her backpack.
Her lunch gave her the strength and patience to endure a very boring afternoon. At three thirty she met Casey and Lovett outside of the school. Brad picked them up in his sleek hybrid and took them home. There was a healthy snack waiting for them of celery sticks and bean sprouts which they crunched down sullenly.
Then they were supposed to do their homework. There was no TV, no games to play and since Andrea had no homework to do she started to write a story in her school notebook. It was not a very interesting story but at least it passed the time.
Dinner was brown rice, steamed vegetables and green tea. No one talked except to pass the serving dishes. Andrea noticed there was no salt and no pepper on the table. She looked for what else was missing. No sugar, no ketchup, no mayo, no mustard.
She and her roommates would have to eat the hot dogs with the little packages of pickle relish she had rolled up in a napkin along with the hotdogs.
It was Lovett's turn to help Helen with the dishes. Andrea waited until her roommates were both showered and combed and getting ready for bed. Then she gave each of them a hot dog and kept one for herself. Lovett gave a happy little squeal and then shushed herself. Casey's eyes were wet, "where did you get it? It smells so good."
"You got someone on the outside to give you food, haven't you?" Lovett said as if they were all in jail. Andrea nodded. They ate the hot dogs slowly and reverently. Andrea collected the papers they had been wrapped in, folded them into the plastic bag and tucked them into her backpack. She would dispose of them discreetly in school.
She settled into a trying but bearable routine at school. She would go to Special Ed, do whatever simple minded assignment she was given and then work on line on her GED.
Once a week she would slip out and meet her father at the library. He would tell her about Cameron, her mother, Gram and the brats. Then he would slip her some money and she and the roommates would be able to eat for another week.
Her father could not spare enough for them to have hotdogs and hamburgers every day. She bought jars of peanut butter, jam and loaves of bread which she kept in her school locker. She made sandwiches when the rest of the students were in class and took them back to the foster home in her backpack. Sometimes she would smuggle pop top cans of tuna and crackers. Once when she was short on money she could only afford to bring back a bag of tortilla chips. Casey and Lovett crunched them down with giggly pleasure.
They were much better roommates now that they were not so unbearably hungry. They did not always talk about food. Andrea heard all about Lovett's family and her grandmother who the big black girl had looked up to the way other girls might idolize a celebrity.
Casey talked a lot about her father. Her mother was dead. Her family had broken up because of money troubles.
Just like mine, Andrea said to herself.
Casey's father did not seem to be as smart as Andrea's dad though. If he had a plan to get his kids back, he had not said anything to Casey about it. He did take Casey out on Saturday afternoons though and Casey usually brought back something she could share with them.
But her father never said anything about the future. That meant that Casey was looking at five years of foster care until she was old enough to get out of the system. Andrea shivered just thinking about it.
Her weekly meeting with her dad kept her going. He said they were going to make a new start and be together and she believed him. This was important as Andrea had stopped merely disliking Helen and was beginning to be afraid of her.
Brad was another story. He barely spoke but seemed pleasant enough when he did. He was as regular as a clock about picking them up and taking them to school. He never as Lovett said, "tried anything funny."
But Helen was spooky. She seemed to watch Andrea, though Andrea was careful to do everything she was told to do. She went on Saturdays to the holistic wellness center and did yoga and tai chi for hours. Since her Gram did yoga and she figured it couldn't be a bad thing to learn. Tai chi seemed a little pointless but was relaxing.
She ate the green tasting or crunchy or gritty things that Brad and Helen bought them as treats afterwards. She kept her bed made and her things tidy.
Five weeks into her stay, after she had helped Helen one night with dinner, Helen caught her by the wrist and brought her smooth, lightly tanned face up to Andrea's face and let her too bright eyes bore into Andrea's own. "You're eating meat and bread," she hissed, "I can smell it on you. And worse than that, you're giving it to Casey and Lovett. They were pure before you came. Now they stink again of animal proteins."
Andrea just shook her head in stolid denial until Helen let her go. When she got back to her room Casey and Lovett were wide-eyed. "I heard that," Lovett snorted, "She is one crazy broad...talking about meat and bread as if it was crack cocaine. Someone should tell her the difference between pure and hungry."
"You're not going to stop bringing us something to eat, are you?" Casey said anxiously. "I don't think I could stand it if you did." Andrea shook her head but the mood was gloomy in the room that evening and they did not dare to eat their peanut butter sandwiches until midnight.
She bought little packages of cheese and crackers the next day and passed them to Lovett in the car. When Helen called Andrea aside and searched her backpack there was nothing in it but pens, pencils, her school notebook and a ridiculously easy book she had been assigned to read.
"I will catch you in the act," Helen said in a low tone. Andrea was taken aback by the sheer hate in her voice. She had felt that her foster parent did not like her but this seemed both crazy and uncanny. Andrea wondered what Helen and Brad would do if they did catch her with forbidden food in her backpack. Could they have her arrested? She thought not.
In the rest of the world peanut butter, tuna and hot dogs were not against the law she reminded herself. The next day she bought beef jerky and passed it to Casey to smuggle in. She had finished the peanut butter jam and bread in her locker at lunch, afraid that Helen would ask that her locker be searched.
The day after she met her father at the library. "How much longer do I have to stay here?" she asked her father. "I think Helen is nuts. She searches our room. Every day she looks in my backpack. Casey's best friend gave her some chocolate and when Helen found it she grabbed Casey and went on and on about the rain forest and how eating chocolate is destroying the planet. She made Casey cry."
"Stick it out another week," her father said, passing her a few bills. "I'll meet you here next Friday, as soon as you can come. Bring everything you want to take with you because we'll be out of the state by the time you're missed."
"Good," Andrea said. After Friday came the weekend and it would be at least that long until someone started looking for her. Not that Helen and Brad would miss her. But Lovett and Casey would.
She bought hot dogs again and slipped them to Lovett in the car. When Helen searched her backpack, she kept the money her father had given her up her sleeve.
That night the three roommates ate hotdogs again and Andrea solemnly presented Casey and Lovett each with a bill. "It's getting too hard to get anything past the wicked witch of the west, isn't it," Lovett said. "I get it. We had just better buy some good stuff and eat it at school."
"I'm going to miss having something to eat at night," Casey said sadly. "Buy a ding-dong and put it under your shirt," Lovett said.
Casey squeezed ketchup from a foil envelope on the hotdog. In the glow of the night light her eyes were huge in her kitten's face. "I want to go home," she said and began to sniffle.
Lovett's eyes filled unexpectedly. She was as big and strong as a grown woman and it was easy to forget that she was only fourteen." Me too. I want some pork chops like my grandma used to make us on Sunday. I want to go to church with my sister and sing with the choir and eat at MacDonald's afterwards. I want to watch TV. I want to stop hearing about how everything we do is destroying the planet. Living here is like being in some damned science fiction show where they shoot you if they think you don't think the right things."
Like most teenaged girls Casey and Lovett could cry and eat at the same time. Andrea watched, dry eyed. She wanted to go home too. But she knew she had no home. Her dad had mailed the keys to the bank. She walked carefully through the dreary days of the last week.
Helen apparently had found potato chip crumbs on the floor in their room. She had become very suspicious of all three girls and was constantly looking for signs that they were eating or smuggling food. She lectured them after dinner now, warning them about eating potatoes, eggs, milk and meat.
It was as she had become a sort of high priestess, Andrea thought, of a religion based on what people eat. Lovett thought Helen was getting crazier by the day.
"She sounds like a preacher. She says eating meat is a sin and the planet is warming and if I have a Coke it kills a polar bear. But its not like she lets us go to church. Or believes in God."
"I don't think there's anything wrong with chocolate," Casey said moodily," Or potatoes. I think she makes it all up." "Some very important people are down on potatoes, "Lovett said sadly, "Before they butted in we could have French fries for lunch at school".
There was something downright creepy about all the fuss about the right kinds of food and something even weirder in what they were told it was OK to eat. Andrea could hardly wait to leave.
She took the timed secure online test for her GED on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon. Luckily the student teachers in Special Ed were so frazzled after lunch that no one checked what she was doing or bothered her.
The results were emailed to her just before school let out and she printed her certificate out on the printer and closed her account just as the last bells rang.
She hid this away inside her backpack. She did not know if she could ever use it, but she had for all intents and purposes a high school education now and could prove it. After pretending to be mute and stupid for the last few months it felt very good.
Friday finally came. Andrea left her idiotic school materials in her bed and put a change of clothes and some socks and underwear in her backpack. She could not take more without making it too fat.
She could not say goodbye to Casey and Lovett of course. She had to make do with leaving all her remaining money in their shower bags. And she did not want to say goodbye to Brad and Helen. She hoped they would get into big trouble when they had to report her missing.
She did everything she was supposed to in Special Ed settled down at her desk, trying not to look at the clock every ten minutes. Then when she saw her opportunity she left the school grounds and hurried to meet her father.
He had a big old pickup truck in the library parking lot. The back was piled with tools and equipment as if her father was on his way to a job. She climbed into the high seat in the cab by the steering wheel.
"Buckle up," her father ordered. He eased out of the lot and drove down the street. Neither of them spoke until he turned the truck on to the highway. "Freedom ahead" Andrea sang, thinking about what Lovett had said about being trapped in a bad science fiction movie.
The wind from the truck's cracked side window was in her hair and the city was quickly being left behind. It was a wonderful feeling. Her father smiled with half his mouth. "I paid off the last of my part of the debt," he said. "They would love to stick me with what my so-called partners owe but I'm not staying around long enough for that to happen."
"Where are we going?" Andrea asked. "I'm buying a few acres down in Texas," her father said, his eyes on the road ahead. "That figures," Andrea said, "Isn't Texas where the outlaws go?" "I wish I thought that was funny," her father told her.
As her father had promised they crossed the state line into Nevada in late afternoon just about the time that Casey and Lovett would be choking down a healthy snack. Her father stopped at a roadside diner and Andrea ordered a chicken fried steak with baked potatoes, a large coke with ice and a piece of apple pie, all foods that she had been told were causing global warming and helping to ruin the planet. They tasted very, very good.
She said so to her father. He shook his head. "I never understood why the tofu worshippers believed that soybeans were OK and other crops were not. I used to grow them. They're heavy feeders just like corn and cotton…so why are they the good guys…" "and potatoes are killing the rain forest..."Andrea finished for him.
"Exactly, and why do they think that making fuel from corn is such a good thing? People ought to be eating that corn. It shouldn't end up in the tank of a hybrid car." "I don't know," Andrea said. "I just want to sit here and be grateful for my baked potatoes and my apple pie." "Amen," her father said
Her father, she knew could drive all night on a square meal but she was sleepy. She crawled into the back seat and when she woke up they were parked under the trees in a national forest, just over the state line in Arizona. He father was snoring softly in the front seat.
She got out quietly to stretch and find a place to pee. Just across the road was a crescent shaped paved area with signs, a trash can and some logs for cars to park against.
She read the sign which named the park they were in, one which gave the name of the mountain they were on and listed the elevation. The third asked her not to litter.
She went back to the truck. The air was cold and clear with a special feel to it that Andrea had only noticed in mountain areas, a sweetness or crispness very different from town. She got her sweater out of her backpack.
After a while her father woke up, yawned and stretched. He nodded to her, walked over to look at the signs and Andrea looked off into the forest to give him a little privacy.
"There's a town up ahead," he said, "what do you say we go find a nice clean restroom somewhere and then visit a pancake house?"
"Yea," Andrea said. In the next little town, they washed and combed themselves enough to not look like they had spent the night in an old pickup truck.
Then they ate a very large breakfast. "Well, there goes the planet," Andrea said eating the last of her bacon and the last bite of her pancake. "Finished it off, did you?" her father joked. He looked out the window. "No, I guess not, Planet Earth is still here. I'm sorry you got stuck with foster parents who had their heads full of nonsense."
"They weren't so bad," Andrea said, "Just kind of nuts. And really, they ate the most awful things and we had to eat them too. I feel sorry for my roommates" she said and told him about Lovett and Casey.
Her father's mouth was set in a grim line. " I wonder how many families are being ruined by what's going on with the economy." "I wondered that myself," Andrea said.