I WAS puttering around the house, trying not to be too nervous about waiting for my sister Franzi to arrive. When I heard an SUV pull up in front of my house, I stopped straightening up the already clean family room and headed for the front door. When I opened it, the person standing there wasn’t the one I was expecting.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in confusion.

Tanya Williamson standing on my stoop was the last thing I expected for Christmas. Tanya was the manager/babysitter/fixer for my high-maintenance rock ’n’ roll younger sibling, Franzi. Franzi’s a veteran of the cutthroat music business at twenty-one, following the footsteps of our father, Franko, the infamous rock star. Franko had risen high, stayed there a long time, and died of a heart attack at the age of forty from a number of things. Franzi was ten; I was just past twenty.

“Let me in, Kobbi,” she snapped. “I’m freezing my tits off. I’ve been on the road for hours to this back-road town and I want to pee.”

I bit back the retort I wanted to make and stepped aside to let her into the entryway. She had to put up with Franzi a lot more than I did now. Franzi was a sweet kid, for the most part, but could go from zero to impossible in the blink of an eye.

“Where’s Franzi?” I asked. Keeping her on the stoop was rude and was also letting all the heat out of my house.

Tanya sighed, her anger flowing out of her as she walked in, removed her coat, and handed it to me. “She didn’t call you?”

“She’s not coming,” I said flatly as I closed the door behind her.

But that wouldn’t explain why she was here. Tanya was attached to Franzi at the hip, usually after she had acted out in public. But that still didn’t stop my heart plummeting to my toes with the feeling of disappointment that Franzi wasn’t going to be here.

 

“She’s being a brat,” Tanya growled. “Give me a cup of coffee after I hit the girl’s room, and I’ll explain everything to you. She’s a couple of minutes behind me, so she’s not blowing you off.”