The Secret Diamond Sisters

By: Michelle Madow

chapter 1:



“You’re definitely coming to the movies with us tonight, right?” Savannah’s best friend, Evie, asked as Savannah got out of the car. “And sleeping over again?”

“Of course.” Savannah shared a conspiratorial smile with Evie, knowing that “movies” was code for pretending to walk into the theater while Evie’s mom was watching, then having Evie’s current boy toy pick them up and drive them to the unsupervised party five minutes away. They could only stay at the party for three hours, but it was better than not going.

“Thanks for driving me home from volleyball, Mrs. Brown,” she said, waving to Evie’s mom. She was always glad Mrs. Brown didn’t mind dropping her off, because Evie was the only friend of hers who had seen where she lived. If the other girls on the volleyball team saw the ramshackle apartment building where she lived with her mom and two older sisters that looked more like a run-down motel than a home, they would probably laugh about it behind her back.

“It’s no problem, Savannah,” Mrs. Brown said from the driver’s seat. She had the same strawberry-blond hair as her daughter, and the two could almost pass as sisters. “Are you sure you don’t want me to pick you up tonight?”

“I’ll get one of my sisters to drop me off.” She didn’t want to make Mrs. Brown come out of her way twice in one day. It was already more than enough that Evie’s mom drove her home every day after practice during volleyball season, and that she didn’t mind when Savannah stayed the night for two or three days at a time over the summer.

Anyway, her sisters owed her after making her come home now, when she was supposed to have stayed the rest of the day at Evie’s before they went out for the night. Life would be so much easier once she got her license. Of course, she would have to figure out how to borrow Peyton’s car. Convincing her sister would be difficult, because Peyton had saved up for years for that beat-up piece of crap whose engine sounded like it could die any day, but the possibility was better than nothing.

“See you soon, S!” Evie called as her mom pulled away from the curb.

“Bye, E,” Savannah replied, and they both made the sign-language letter for C with their hands. Savannah and Evie called themselves S.E.C., which stood for the “Savannah/Evie Club,” and the letter C was their special symbol. “See you tonight!”

She walked down the sidewalk to the door with the peeling blue paint, wondering what was up. Her sisters never made her come home when she had plans, but Courtney’s voice on the phone had sounded so strained that Savannah knew something was wrong.

She let herself inside and found Peyton and Courtney standing around the stained kitchen table, their grandma and a man Savannah didn’t recognize sitting in the two chairs. He wore a fancy brown suit that probably cost more than everything in Savannah’s wardrobe combined, and his expression was so solemn that he looked like he was at a funeral. Her grandma and sisters looked equally upset.

“What’s going on?” Savannah dropped her sleepover bag on the cracked linoleum floor. She hadn’t been home since yesterday morning, and had an awful feeling this had to do with the one person who wasn’t here—her mom.

“Hi, sweetie.” Grandma always looked younger than her seventy-so years, but her eyes were so sad right now that her age shined through. “Sorry for making you come home early. I wouldn’t have asked unless it was serious.”

“Where’s Mom?” Savannah swallowed and leaned against the arm of the living room couch, expecting the worst. Her mom had always drunk a lot, but after she’d lost her job as a secretary last year, she had spiraled out of control. Her sisters tried to shield Savannah from seeing what went on, but Savannah wasn’t stupid. She knew her mom was drinking all day, so much that she got physically sick at night and in the morning, and that she couldn’t hold on to a hostess or waitress job for longer than two months. They could barely keep enough food in the house anymore, since Mom blew all the grocery money on alcohol.

“That’s what we needed you here to discuss,” the man cut in. He looked like he would fit in better in a fancy office building than their crappy apartment in Fairfield, California.

“Who’s he?” Savannah asked Grandma.

“This is Mr. Webster,” Grandma said. “He’s a lawyer who works for your father.”

“What?” Savannah’s heart pounded. That couldn’t be true. Savannah had always been warned that her father was dangerous, that he didn’t want anything to do with her and her sisters. She hated that he felt that way, but it was how her life had always been, so she’d accepted it and moved on. “Am I missing something?”

“We all are.” Peyton’s eyes blazed. “We’ve been lied to for our entire lives.”

That was becoming clear to Savannah, but it was Courtney who caught her up on what had happened while she had been having a sleepover at Evie’s.

“Last night, Mom was pulled over for drunk driving on her way to work,” Courtney said, somehow managing to stay calm as she relayed the story. “They brought her to the station, and she lost her license and job.” Was that the fifth or sixth job she’d lost in the past year? Savannah had lost count. “I called Grandma to get Mom out of the station, and then...” Courtney shrugged and looked at Grandma, as if she wanted her to continue.

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