"Not tonight, Tul. I’m exhausted."
Tully was worried about Kate and Marah. For most of the past week, she’d tried to figure out how to fix things between them, but nothing had come to her. Now she was at her desk, looking over her script notes for today.
Her phone rang. It was her assistant. "Tully. The McAdamses are here. From the rehab show."
"Send them in."
The couple that walked through her door on that icy November morning bore only the most surface resemblance to the people who’d been on her first live show. Mr. McAdams had lost at least twenty pounds and no longer walked hunched over, with his head pulled down into his shoulders. Mrs. McAdams had cut her hair, put on makeup, and was smiling. "Wow," Tully said, "you two look great. Please, sit down."
Mr. McAdams held his wife’s hand. Together they sat down on the expensive black leather sofa that faced the windows. "We’re sorry to bother you. We know how busy you are."
"I’m never too busy for friends," Tully said, giving them her PR smile. Hitching one leg over the end of her desk, she looked down at them.
"We just wanted to say thank you," Mrs. McAdams said. "I don’t know if you know anyone with a drug or alcohol problem . . ."
Tully’s smile faded. "I do, actually."
"We can be mean and selfish and angry and resistant. I wanted to change. Lord knows, I wanted to quit every day, but I didn’t. Until you put the spotlight on me and I actually saw my life."
"You can’t imagine how you’ve helped us," Mr. McAdams said. "We just wanted to say thank you."
Tully was so moved by their words it took her a moment to respond. "That’s what I wanted to do with the live show: change someone’s life. It means a lot to me that it worked."
Her phone rang.
"Excuse me." She answered it. "What is it?"
"John is on line one, Tully."
"Thanks. Put him through." When he came on the line, she said, "Too lazy to walk fifty feet to my office? You must be getting old, Johnny."
"I need to talk to you, and not over the phone. Can I buy you a beer?"
"Where and when?"
She laughed. "God, I haven’t been there in years."
"Liar. Come to my office at three-thirty."
She hung up the phone and turned her attention back to the McAdamses, who were standing now.
"Well," Mr. McAdams said, "we’ve said what we came to. I hope you can help other folks like you’ve done for us."
She went to them, shook their hands. "Thank you. If you don’t mind, can I schedule a follow-up show for next year? To show America your progress."
She walked them to the door, said goodbye, and went back to her desk. For the next few hours, while she made notes for tomorrow’s show, she found herself smiling.
She’d done some good with her show. She’d changed the McAdamses’ lives.
At three-thirty, she closed up the folder, grabbed her coat, and went to Johnny’s office. Together, talking about ideas for the upcoming shows, they walked up the block toward the Public Market and turned into the dank, smoky bar on the corner.
He led her to the back wall, took a seat at one of the small wooden tables by the window. Before she even sat down, he flagged down a waitress, ordered a Corona for himself and a dirty martini for her. She waited until the drinks were delivered before she said, "Okay, what’s wrong?"
"Have you talked to Kate lately?"
"No. I think she’s pissed at me over the concert. Or maybe it’s still the modeling thing. Why?"
He ran a hand through his unruly hair. "I can’t believe I’m going to say this about my own daughter, but Marah’s being a first-rate bitch. Slamming doors, yelling at her brothers, ignoring her curfew, refusing to do her chores. She and Kate battle all day, every day. It’s wearing Kate out. She’s lost weight. Isn’t sleeping."
"Have you thought about boarding school?"
"Kate would never go." He smiled tiredly at his own joke. "Honest to God, Tully. I’m worried about her. Will you talk to her?"
"Of course, but it sounds like she needs more than a friendly talk. Should she see someone?"
"Like a shrink? I don’t know."
"Depression is common in at-home moms. Remember that show we did on it?"
"That’s what worries me. I need you to find out if it’s something I should worry about or not. You know her so well."
Tully reached for her drink. "You can count on me."
He smiled, but it looked tired. "I know that."
On Saturday, Tully called Johnny first thing in the morning. "I’ve got it," she said when he answered.
"What are you going to do?"
"Take her to the Salish Lodge. Get her relaxed and massaged. That sort of thing. And we’ll talk."
"She’ll tell you she’s busy and blow you off."
"Then I’ll kidnap her."
"You think you can make it work?"
"Have you ever seen me fail?"
"Okay. I’ll pack a bag and leave it by the door, then I’ll take the kids out so she’ll have no excuses." He paused. "Thanks, Tully. She’s lucky to have a friend like you."
Tully ended that call and immediately made another one, and then another.
By nine A.M., she had everything set up. Packing quickly, she threw what she needed in her car and drove to a store on Capitol Hill for a few supplies, then continued to the ferry. The wait on shore and then the crossing seemed to take forever, but eventually she drove into Kate’s driveway.
The front yard had a wild, untended look about it, as if long ago a young mother had spent her spring months outside, planting bulbs and perennials, with her babies in blankets on the grass around her, and over the years, as those kids had grown up and chosen their own summer pursuits, the time for gardening had been lost. All those plants still thrived in the short, hot blast of a Northwest summer, though, returning year after year as reminders of an earlier time, growing up and out and into one another, just like the family that lived in the house. Now, in the midst of a cold, gray November’s day, every plant looked leggy and brown. Leaves lay strewn everywhere, multicolored splashes hung on dying roses.
Tully parked her Mercedes in front of the garage and got out. As she picked her way through the bikes and skateboards and action figures strewn across the gravel path, she couldn’t help admiring how homey this place was, even at this time of year. The shingled house, built in the twenties for a wealthy lumber baron’s weekends, wore a new, crisp coat of caramel-hued stain; bright glossy white trim outlined the mullioned windows, beneath which were flower boxes filled with the last blooming geraniums of the season.
On the front porch, she squeezed past a freestanding clown/punching bag and knocked on the door.
Kate answered, wearing a pair of worn black leggings and an oversized T-shirt. With her blond hair badly in need of both a cut and a color, she looked ragged. Worn out. "Oh," she said, tucking the hair behind her right ear. "What a nice surprise."
"I’m going to ask you once, nicely, to come with me."
"What do you mean, come with you? I’m right in the middle of something. The boys’ Little League team is having a quilting fundraiser. As soon as I finish—"
Tully pulled a bright yellow squirt gun out of her pocket and pointed it at Kate. "Don’t make me shoot you."
"You’re going to shoot me?"
"Look, I know how much you love drama, but I don’t have time for it today. I’ve got to quilt about fifty bits of fabric before—"
Tully pulled the trigger. A stream of cold water snaked through the air and hit Kate full in the chest. Moisture seeped through her cotton T-shirt, leaving a stain.
"This is a kidnapping. Don’t make me aim for your face, although you appear to need a shower, frankly."
"Are you trying to piss me off?"
She handed Kate a black blindfold. "I had to go into that creepy sex toys store on Capitol Hill for that, so I hope you appreciate it."
Kate looked utterly confused, as if she didn’t quite know if she should laugh or be pissed. "I can’t just leave. Johnny and the kids will be back in an hour, and I need to—"
"No, they won’t." Tully looked past her, into the cluttered living room. "There’s your suitcase."
Kate spun around. "How—"
"Johnny packed it this morning. He’s my accomplice. Or my alibi, if you give me trouble. Now get your suitcase."
"You expect me to go somewhere with only the things my husband thinks I need? I’ll open that suitcase and find sexy lingerie, a toothbrush, and clothes I outgrew two years ago."
Tully shook the blindfold. "Put it on or I’m going to shoot you again." She started to squeeze the trigger.
Finally Kate threw up her hands. "Fine. You win." She put on the blindfold, saying, "You know, of course, that intelligent criminals blindfold their victims before the crime. I think it has something to do with thwarting identification."
Tully bit back a smile and went into the living room, where she grabbed the suitcase and then gently guided Kate to the car.
"It’s not every kidnap victim that gets to ride in a Mercedes."
Tully popped a CD into the stereo. Within minutes they were rocketing across the Agate Pass Bridge, and winding their way through the reservation land, where the local tribes’ boarded-up fireworks stands lined the highway.
"Where are we going?" Kate asked.
"That’s my business, not yours." Tully turned up the volume on Madonna singing "Papa Don’t Preach." In no time at all they were singing along. They knew the words to one song after another, and every song took them back in time to when they were young. Madonna. Chicago. The Boss. The Eagles. Prince. Queen. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was their particular favorite sing-along. They tossed their heads in time with the music in a perfect imitation of Garth and Wayne.
It was just past two o’clock when Tully pulled into the driveway of their destination. "We’re here. The doorman is looking at you funny so you might want to remove the blindfold."
Kate whipped it off just as the doorman welcomed her to the Salish Lodge and opened her door. As if from everywhere at once, they could hear the distant roaring of Snoqualmie Falls, but from here they couldn’t actually see it. The ground vibrated with the force of the falling water. The air was heavy and moist.
Tully led the way to the front desk, checked in, and followed the bellman to their room, which was a corner suite with two bedrooms, a fireplace in the sitting room, and view of the rushing, whitecapped Snoqualmie River as it moved toward the falls.
The bellman gave her their spa schedule; she gave him a healthy tip, and then she and Kate were alone.
"First things first," Tully said. She’d been on television long enough to know when a script was needed. She’d devised a format and schedule for the entire duration of their stay. She opened her suitcase, pulled out two limes, a shaker of salt, and the most ridiculously overpriced tequila she’d ever seen. "Straight shots."
"You are insane," Kate said. "I haven’t had a straight shot since—"