"We should have called ahead," Dinah said, as Drake rang the doorbell of the Belmont house for the third time. The soft chimes could be clearly heard, despite the muffling sensation that came from the thickly falling snowflakes that seemed to wrap a white curtain around the world, beyond the pool of light from the front porch lantern.
"Do you know her cell phone?" he asked.
"I don't even know if she has one."
"What is wrong with you, Di?"
"Wrong with me?" She glared at him for a fierce three seconds, before turning and stomping down off the front porch steps and down the slate path to the sidewalk.
"I thought Stacy was your best friend."
"She is -- was -- we drifted apart, okay?" She stopped abruptly and turned, waiting for him to catch up to her. "And why should you care so much? If Stacy was so important to you, how come you didn't keep in contact with her?"
"I've asked myself that a few dozen times since I got in this morning." He hooked her arm with his and tugged her close, so their hips bumped a few times as they headed down the sidewalk, until they got their rhythm matched up. "The thing is, I was just used to hearing from you and Mom and Dad how Stacy was doing, what she was up to... I didn't even realize I needed to hear about her, until there was silence."
"Needed?" She bumped his hip deliberately. "Be careful, big brother. Somebody would think..." She sighed.
"Think what?" He wanted to hear it from her. It was easier than voicing something he wasn't quite sure about himself. Especially since he hadn't talked to Stacy in what seemed like years.
"If it wasn't for Troy, I could almost wish I had never moved to Virginia. Everything is so different, and I'm starting to think that Stacy not being here, my not knowing every part of her life is more than just a symptom."
"Yeah, well, never thought you'd be best buds with Gretchen, of all people. I mean, come on, Di, when did that Tammy Fae wannabe turn into a good friend?"
"She's not that bad." Dinah chuckled and leaned over a little to rest her head against his shoulder as they strolled through the snowy dark quiet. "Especially since she cut down the makeup by about ten pounds a week."
"Ouch. Don't let her hear you say that. She might start using a trowel again."
"Especially since you're home. If she hadn't been so silent on the topic of you in the last year, I'd think the only reason she's being so helpful is to get in good with you.""That twit could never get in good with me. Not even if she joined a convent and gave Mother Theresa a run for her money." Drake frowned, hearing a faint echo of the sour, sharp tone of his voice.