Danielle Steel's 'Family Ties'

"I'll call you back," Annie said, and hung up on her. She finally got a police emergency number in New London, that referred her to another number. A voice asked her who she was, and after she told them, there was an interminable silence on the other end of the phone.

"Are you nearby?" the voice wanted to know.

"No, I'm not nearby," Annie said, torn between a sob and an urge to shout at this unknown woman. Something terrible had happened. She was praying they were only hurt. "I'm in New York," she explained. "What happened to the plane?" She gave them the call numbers of Bill's plane, and a different voice came on the phone. He said he was a captain, and he told her what she didn't want to know and never wanted to hear. He said the plane had exploded on impact and there were no survivors. He asked her if she knew who was on the plane.

"My sister and her husband," Annie whispered, as she stared blindly into space. This hadn't happened. It wasn't possible. This couldn't happen to them. But it had. She had no idea what to say next so she thanked the captain and hung up. She told him he could contact her at her sister's home in Greenwich and gave him the number. And then she grabbed her purse and walked out of the apartment without even turning out the lights.

Later, she could not remember getting into her car or traveling to Greenwich in a driving rain. She had no memory of it whatsoever. The promised storm had hit New York. She left her car in the driveway in Greenwich and was drenched when she got to the house. Magdalena was crying in the kitchen. The kids were upstairs watching a movie, waiting for their parents to come home. And when they heard the door slam as Annie walked in, they came running to see their mom and dad, and what they saw instead was her, standing dripping in the living room, her hair plastered to her head, the tears running down her face like rain.

"Where are Mom and Dad?" Ted asked, looking confused, and Lizzie stared at her with wide eyes. The moment she saw Annie standing there, she knew, and her hand flew to her mouth.

"Mom and Dad . . . ," Lizzie said with a look of horror, and Annie nodded as she ran halfway up the stairs to them and put her arms around all three. They clung to her like a life raft in a stormy sea, as the realization hit Annie with the force of a wrecking ball. Now all three of them were hers.

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