identical twins, but Tess was enveloped in jeans and a baggy Stars sweatshirt, while Julie wore black capris and a pink sweater. Both were athletic but Julie loved ballet, and Tess triumphed at team sports. Their sunny, optimistic natures made the Calebow twins popular with their classmates but a trial to their parents, since it never occurred to either girl to turn down a challenge.

The twins screeched to a stop. Whatever they'd been about to tell Molly vanished as they stared at her hair.

'Omigod, it's red!'

'Really red!'

'That's so cool! Why didn't you tell us?'

'It was sort of an impulse,' Molly replied.

'I'm gonna dye my hair just like it!' Julie announced.

'Not your best idea,' Molly said quickly. 'Now, what were you going to tell me?'

'Dad is like so mad,' Tess declared, eyes wide.

Julie's eyes grew even larger. 'Him and Uncle Ron have been fighting with Kevin again.'

Molly's ears perked up, even though she'd turned her back forever on unrequited love. 'What did he do? Other than nearly run me over.'

'He did?'

'Never mind. Tell me.'

Julie took a gulp of air. 'He went skydiving in Denver the day before the Broncos game.'

'Oh, boy…' Molly's heart sank.

'Dad just found out about it, and he fined him ten thousand dollars!'

'Wow.' As far as Molly knew, this was the first time Kevin had ever been fined.

The quarterback's uncharacteristic recklessness had started just before training camp in July, when an amateur motorcycle dirt track racing event had left him with a sprained wrist. It was unlike him to do anything that could jeopardize his performance on the field, so everyone had been sympathetic, especially Dan, who considered Kevin the consummate professional.

Dan's attitude had begun to shift, however, after word reached him that during the regular season Kevin had gone paragliding in Monument Valley. Not long after, the quarterback bought the high-performance Ferrari Spider that had knocked Molly over in the parking lot. Then last month the Sun-Times reported that Kevin had left Chicago after the Monday postgame meetings to fly out to Idaho for a day of heli-skiing in a secluded back bowl at Sun Valley. Since Kevin hadn't been injured, Dan had only given him a warning. But the recent skydiving incident had obviously pushed her brother-in-law over the edge.

'Dad yells all the time, but I never heard him yell at Kevin until today,' Tess reported. 'And Kevin yelled back. He said he knew what he was doing and he wasn't hurt and Dad should stay out of his private business.'

Molly winced. 'I'll bet your dad didn't like that.'

'He really yelled then,' Julie said. 'Uncle Ron tried to calm them down, but Coach came in, and then he started yelling, too.'

Molly knew that her sister Phoebe had an aversion to yelling. 'What did your mom do?'

'She went to her office and turned up Alanis Morissette.'

Probably a good thing.

They were interrupted by the pounding of sneakers as her five-year-old nephew, Andrew, came flying around the corner, much like Kevin's Ferrari. 'Aunt Molly! Guess what?' He hurled himself against her knees. 'Everybody yelled, and my ears hurt.'

Since Andrew was blessed with not only his father's good looks but also Dan Calebow's booming voice, Molly sincerely doubted that. Still, she stroked his head. 'I'm sorry.'

He looked up at her with stricken eyes. 'And Kevin was soooo mad at Daddy and Uncle Ron and Coach that he said the F word.'

'He shouldn't have done that.'


'Oh, dear.' Molly resisted a smile. Spending so much time inside the headquarters of a National Football League team office made it inevitable that the Calebow children heard more than their share of obscenities, but the family rules were clear. Inappropriate language in the Calebow household meant heavy fines, although not as heavy as Kevin's ten thousand dollars.

She couldn't understand it. One of the things she most hated about her crush-her ex-crush-on Kevin was the fact that her crush was on Kevin, the shallowest man on earth. Football was all that mattered to him. Football and an endless parade of blank-faced international models. Where did he find them?

'Hi, Aunt Molly.'

Unlike her siblings, eight-year-old Hannah walked toward Molly instead of running. Although Molly loved all four children equally, her heart held a special place for this vulnerable middle child who didn't share either her siblings' athletic prowess or their bottomless self-confidence. Instead, she was a dreamy romantic, a too-sensitive, overly imaginative bookworm with a talent for drawing, just like her aunt.

'I like your hair.'

'Thank you.'

Her perceptive gray eyes spotted what her sisters had missed, the grime on Molly's pants.

'What happened?'

'I slipped in the parking lot. Nothing serious.'

Hannah took a nibble from her bottom lip. 'Did they tell you about the fight Kevin and Dad had?'

She looked upset, and Molly had a pretty good idea why. Kevin showed up at the Calebow house from time to time, and like her foolish aunt, the eight-year-old had a crush on him. But unlike Molly, Hannah's love was pure.

Since Andrew was still wrapped around her knees, Molly held her arm out toward Hannah, who cuddled against her. 'People have to take the consequences of their actions, sweetheart, and that includes Kevin.'

'What do you think he'll do?' Hannah whispered.

Molly was fairly certain he'd console himself with another model who had a minimal mastery of the English language but maximum mastery of the erotic arts. 'I'm sure he'll be fine once he gets over being angry.'

'I'm afraid he'll do something foolish.'

Molly brushed back a lock of Hannah's light brown hair. 'Like skydiving the day before the Broncos game?'

'He prob'ly wasn't thinking.'

She doubted that Kevin's small brain had the capacity to think about anything except football, but she didn't share that observation with Hannah. 'I need to talk to your mom for a few minutes, and then you and I can leave.'

'It's my turn after Hannah,' Andrew reminded her as he finally released her legs.

'I haven't forgotten.' The children took turns having overnights at her tiny North Shore condo. Usually they stayed with her on weekends instead of a Tuesday night, but the teachers had an in-service education day tomorrow, and Molly thought Hannah needed a little extra attention.

'Get your backpack. I won't be long.'

She left them behind and headed down a corridor lined with photographs that marked the history of the Chicago Stars. Her father's portrait came first, and she saw that her sister had freshened up the black horns she'd long ago painted on his head. Bert Somerville, the founder of the Chicago Stars, had been dead for years, but his cruelties lived on in both his daughters' memories.

A formal portrait of Phoebe Somerville Calebow, the Stars' current owner, followed, and then a photograph of her husband, Dan Calebow, from the days when he'd been the Stars' head coach instead of the team's president. Molly regarded her temperamental brother-in-law with a fond smile. Dan and Phoebe had raised her from the time she was fifteen, and both of them had been better parents on their worst day than Bert Somerville on his best.

There was also a photo of Ron McDermitt, the Stars' longtime general manager and Uncle Ron to the kids. Phoebe, Dan, and Ron had worked hard to balance the all-consuming job of running an NFL team with family life. Over the years it had involved several reorganizations, one of which had brought Dan back to the Stars after being away for a while.

Вы читаете This Heart Of Mine
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