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Only my dad and mom were present as I was wheeled out. No balloons or smiling faces. There really wasn’t anything to celebrate, and I wasn’t going home. I guessed it was a good thing I hadn’t gotten a pet.

Getting into the backseat was harder than I thought since my tummy was still sore. On the seat beside me was my suitcase. Mom had packed for me. We wouldn’t even be stopping at my apartment.

The ride to the treatment center was quiet, and I was okay with that. I didn’t want to make small talk, to pretend that everything was okay. And I don’t think my parents wanted to pretend either.

The center was outside the city, near Frederick, and in the middle of a long stretch of nothing. We took an exit I’d never even paid attention to before in any of my travels, and it took a good twenty minutes before the car hung a right. We passed a large sign with the words THE BROOK inscribed in the stone.

My first impression of the treatment center when we crested a hill was that my dad got the place wrong. This didn’t look like a rehab. Oh hell no. With the rolling, manicured hills surrounding a massive, rancher-style complex, the visible tennis court, and what appeared to be a pool the size of a house, it screamed country club and not rock bottom.

Dad followed the road up and under a large awning. The entry reminded me of a hotel. Taking a deep breath, I glanced at my dad. His gaze met mine in the rearview mirror. He nodded, and I suddenly wanted to cry—wanted to throw myself on the seat and not move. But Mom climbed out of the car and opened the back door. There would be no throwing myself on the seat.

I eased out of the car, my wide eyes focused on the glass doors. My heart was pounding. Mom reached between us, threading her fingers through mine. I shuffled forward, my steps slow as my father joined us, my suitcase in his hand.

Cool air greeted us as we stepped inside a large atrium. Up ahead was a reception desk, again reminding me of a hotel. My father walked forward, stopping to speak with the woman.

“It’s going to be okay,” my mom whispered.


I dragged in a deep breath and dull pain flared across my bruised ribs. A tremor rolled through me, and my knees shook as Dad wheeled around. His eyes met mine. To the left of the reception area, a door opened and a man stepped out.

He looked like he was in his mid-thirties, and he was rocking a mad pair of hipster, black-rimmed glasses that were as dark as his hair. He wasn’t dressed like someone who worked here, not with his khaki shorts and sandaled feet.

“Andrea Walters?” He smiled at me in a pleasant way.

I jerked and glanced at my dad, then my mom. “Yeah.” I cleared my throat. “Yes.”

“My name is Dave Proby. Please follow me.” He glanced at my parents. “You may also come.”

My fingers were numb and tingly as we followed him into a small room beyond the door. There was another exit on the other side, the window glazed over. We weren’t alone.

A nurse was waiting. In her hands was a blood pressure cuff.

Holy crap, this was like an episode of Intervention.

“Sit.” Dave gestured at the green upholstered chair next to the desk.

Nervous, I did as he requested. My parents remained just inside the room. The nurse approached me, smiling gently. “I just need to take your blood pressure, hon.”

I had no idea if that was normal or not, but I stuck out my arm as she asked, “Do you take any medication?”

Mouth dry, I nodded as Mom spoke up. “I brought her purse. She has sleeping pills and anxiety medication.” She opened the purse and rummaged around until she found the three bottles. The nurse took them while I sat there, feeling like…well, a thousand different things. “And there are the meds the hospital has her on.”

I felt incredibly small as the nurse looked over the bottles. My skin was uncomfortable and itchy as she placed them on the desk, stacking them up like a three-person red-bottled army. I wanted to shoot out of my chair and grab the bottles, throwing them through the little window, even the antibiotics.

Dave didn’t speak until the nurse scribbled down my results and then handed them over to him. He sat in a small desk chair and picked up a pen. Twirling it between his fingers, he glanced over a file. “Do you have a cellphone with you?”


Without looking at me, he extended his arm and wiggled his fingers. “Hand it over.”

I stared at his hand for a moment.

He wiggled his fingers again. “Sorry. For the first two weeks, you will have absolutely no contact with the outside world—no internet, no phone.”

My eyes widened. I was going to go stir crazy. “It’s…it’s in my purse.”

A second later, Mom had it and dropped it in Dave’s hand. I glanced up at her, seeing lines around her eyes I’d never noticed before. Dave put my phone next to the bottles. Then he swiveled his chair toward me. “Do you know why you’re here, Andrea?” he asked finally.

I thought that was a pointless question. “I…” I closed my eyes briefly. My cheeks stung. “I have…a drinking problem.”

He inclined his head. “Is that the only problem you have?”

Pressing my lips together, I shook my head no.

“Do you know why you drink?”

Mute, I shook my head again, but it felt like a lie.

Dave looked at me and then turned a pointed stare on the bottles lined up on the desk. “I think you do, Andrea, but you’re not ready to say those words. That’s okay. My job is to get you to not only say them, but to understand and accept them.” He leaned forward, resting his hands on his knees. “Are you ready to do this? To accept help?”