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Excerpt
Sabrina burst through her sister's apartment door. She bit back the urge to reprimand the college freshman for leaving the entrance unlocked. Again. She needed to find her sister. The text said it was urgent. Scanning the small living area, she spied only empty paper plates and cups on end tables. Mismatched shoes and various textbooks on the floor. "Mallory, where are you? What did you need to tell me that couldn't wait till morning?"

Pulling off the light brown jacket that did little to ward off Greenfield, Tennessee's cool, mid-October temperature, she tossed it on the couch. She wanted to slip out of her heels. It had been almost eight o'clock before she'd been able to leave the coffee shop then she'd headed to the gym for a quick workout then the store, where she'd received the disconcerting text message from Mallory.

She looked at her watch. Where were her sister's roommates? It seemed odd they wouldn't be home at well past eleven on a Thursday night. She sighed when she remembered the nickname for the evening when she'd been in college. Thirsty Thursday—club night. Most likely the girls wouldn't be home for several hours.

The faint sound of sniffles drifted from the hallway. Sabrina furrowed her brow. Her sister was known for embellishing stories, making things bigger than they really were. But she rarely cried.

Sabrina's heartbeat sped up. Surely nothing bad had happened. She squeezed her eyes shut as she thought of the many close calls she'd had in college. Times she'd drunk too much and found herself in situations that could have landed her in harm's way or jail. One particular time raced through her mind, and she sucked in a breath and swallowed. Don't go there. No need to think about that.

She pushed forward toward the soft cries. "Mallory?"

"I'm in here."

Her sister's voice trembled, and Sabrina bit her bottom lip. Stop freaking out. It's probably nothing. Most likely, it's something silly. Maybe the girls didn't invite her to go with them.

A smile spread her lips, and she bit back a chuckle. That was probably it. Nothing as bad as Sabrina feared. But then, Mallory had complained on several occasions that her roommates' lifestyle didn't mesh with hers and that she'd decided to find new ones for the next semester. Sabrina huffed. She liked the other girls. They'd all gotten along just fine until Mallory decided to go all churchy on them.

Shoving the thoughts away, Sabrina lifted her shoulders and pushed open the bathroom door. Her sister, eleven years her junior, sat on the top of the toilet seat. Her long dark tresses flowed past both slumped shoulders. Red splotches surrounded deep brown eyes. Most of their family and friends felt she and Mallory favored one another, which suited Sabrina just fine since Mallory had won more beauty pageants than she had fingers to count them. But then Sabrina had won a few herself more than a decade ago.

She moved to the tub and sat down on the edge. Wrapping her arm around Mallory's shoulder, she cooed, "Honey, what is it?" With her free hand, she pulled some toilet paper off the roll and dabbed at her sister's cheeks. "It can't be as bad as all this."

Mallory sucked in a trembling breath. She didn't say anything, simply pointed to the sink. Sabrina's heart skipped when she saw the white stick. Oh no. Please no!

Closing her eyes, she released her sister and forced herself to stand. She swallowed the knot in her throat. This couldn't be happening. Not to Mallory. She was too young. She had too much potential.

Sabrina opened her eyes. Two bright pink lines stared up at her. She shook her head and looked back at Mallory. "Maybe it's wrong. It happens all the time."

Mallory crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I'm late."

"How late?"

"Four weeks."

Sabrina stared down at her sister. "How can that be? Surely, you'd notice if you missed a whole period."

Mallory's chest heaved and tears streamed down her cheeks. "I did notice. I just couldn't believe it was possible. It was just one night."

Just one night. The three words wrapped around Sabrina until she felt she would choke. Reminding herself to continue to breathe, she pressed her hand against the doorjamb and leaned against the sink. "What are you going to do?"

Mallory hopped off the commode seat and jerked her hand through the air. "Looks like I'm going to have a baby."

Sabrina swallowed again as she wrapped her fingers around the edge of the sink. More than a decade ago she would have suggested her sister consider abortion. Her stomach churned, and bile rose in the back of her throat. But now she wouldn't. Couldn't.

Sabrina's mind raced with what needed to happen now. How they would handle this. She cringed when she thought of their parents. She knew how they would react. "Well, you'll need to tell Randy—"

"Randy isn't the father." Mallory covered her face with her hands. "I can't believe this is happening. It was so stupid. I was so stupid."

Surprise filled Sabrina. She knew her sister and her high school boyfriend broke up at the beginning of the semester, but Sabrina just assumed…her sister hadn't acted interested in anyone else. During the last month every discussion she'd had with Mallory involved her begging Sabrina to go to some big church with her.

Mallory lowered herself onto the bathtub's edge. Sabrina watched as her sister rubbed her hands together; her expression filled with angst. "It was the first week of September. When I moved in here. We had a party." She shook her head and peered up at the ceiling. "I got totally wasted and ended up with a guy and—"

"Who?"

Mallory looked at her, tears brimming her eyes. Sa-brina's heart broke, and she wished she could wipe away her sister's pain. "I don't even know his name. How awful is that?"

Sabrina couldn't take it any longer. She pushed away from the sink and wrapped her arms around Mallory. Her sister cried while Sabrina ran her fingers through long locks of hair. "It's going to be okay. I'm here for you."

As the words slipped from Sabrina's lips, dread filled her heart. It would be torture. Every day. Somehow she would get past the memories. She wouldn't turn her back on Mallory.

"This is why God tells us to stay pure till marriage. If only I'd known Him before."

 
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