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This is a work of fiction.

All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either
products of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously.

Another Piece of my Heart. 2012 by Jane Green Warburg. All rights reserved. Printed in the United
States of America. For information, address St. Martins Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

www.stmartins.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in- Publication Data

Green, Jane, 1968


Another piece of my heart / Jane Green.1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-312-59182-3 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4299-6273-5 (e-book)
1. StepmothersFiction.
Fiction.

2. StepdaughtersFiction.

4. JealousyFiction.

3. Fathers and daughters

5. ChildlessnessFiction.

7. San Francisco (Calif.)Fiction.

8. Domestic fiction.

6. Marital confl ictFiction.


I. Title.

PR6057.R3443A56 2012
823'.914dc22
2011041347

First Edition: March 2012

10

One

he sheets are drenched. Again. Andi takes a long time to


wake up, drifting in and out, aware she is hot, then freezing, then finally, when she moves into a state of consciousness, wet.
Opening an eye, she looks at the clock 4:02 a.m. Its always four
in the morning, these nights when she awakes, when she cannot get
back to sleep. She turns her head to see Ethan, his back to her, his
body rising and falling in deep sleep.
Lucky.
In the bathroom, she pulls the wet T-shirt off, slides the PJ bottoms down, and pads naked into the closet, pulling a dry T-shirt and
boxer shorts off the shelf. But that leaves the sheets. Warm and wet.
The linen closet is in the hall, at the other end of the corridor,
where the girls bedrooms are. Andi knows she shouldnt open their
door, shouldnt check up, but she is being a mother, she tells herself.
This is what mothers do. A stepmother may not have the same rights,
but she is trying, has tried so hard to turn this into a proper family, and
that includes treating the girls as if they were her own.

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How she wishes she had children of her own. Still. Even though she
is in her early forties, on a good day she could surely pass for thirty-six.
Every month, she keeps her fi ngers crossed that this might be
the month, this might be the month a miracle happens. Every month,
she swallows her disappointment and hopes for the next time.
She pushes Sophias door open gently to see her, fast asleep, the
bald teddy bear that she cannot sleep without, now lying on its side,
on the floor next to her bed, Sophias hand curled out toward it, as if she
is waiting for the bear to jump back in. Andi stands in the doorway
and smiles, feeling a wave of love for her stepdaughter. Her daughter.
And Sophia is her daughter.
She was eight when Andi and Ethan met, and instantly fell in love
with Andi. Sophia now tells people she has two mothers, no differentiation in her head between Andi and her real mother.
That first family date, they had gone into the city, dim sum in Chinatown, then walked down to the ferry and taken it out to see the sea
lions around the bay. Sophia had grabbed Andis hand, skipped
alongside her, and when they sat down for ice cream, she climbed on
Andis lap and leaned into her, like a much younger child, as Andi
stroked her hair, thrilled.
Emily, on the other hand, at twelve, had sulked the entire day. She
had squinted evil eyes at Andi, and when Andi had attempted to engage
her, asking her questions about school, attempting to share some of her
own stories about going to school in New York, Emily had just grunted.
What is she? she had sneered at her father, at one point, with a
savage gesture toward Andi. Your girlfriend?
Shes my friend, Ethan had said. Thats all. Which wasnt true.
They had, by that time, been sleeping together for seven weeks.

n their first date, Ethan talked about his children nonstop, which
was, as far as Andi was concerned, an unexpected bonus.

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They met through Match.com, a continual embarrassment to Andi.


But where else did anyone go to meet people? she wondered.
She had done a series of evening classes with what she thought
was a masculine bent Fundamentals of Investing, Estate Planning
101, and Beginners Best Barbecue. (Which was a dud. What redblooded American man, she realized, as she sat in an empty classroom,
would admit to not being able to barbecue?)
None produced so much as a date. There were, admittedly, random times she would meet men, or be flirted with in a coffee shop, but
they never led to anything permanent.
At thirty- seven she realized, with a shock, she had to be proactive. Sitting back and assuming, as she always had, that she would
be married with a large group of smiling kids wasnt the natural
order of her life, and unless she took the bull by the horns, she was
possibly going to fi nd herself single, frighteningly, for the rest of
her life.
It wasnt as if her life wasnt full. Her twenties were spent working
in interior design, for a small store in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she
had grown up. As she approached thirty, her mother suggested she
get a real-estate license, and although Andi enjoyed selling houses,
it was what she had to suggest to the homeowners they do, in order
to sell their houses, that was her true passion.
Andi loved design. She saw how the addition of new rugs and
curtain panels, and moving furniture could transform a home. She
started offering her ser vices as a home-stagersomeone who
would come in and beautify the interiors, for minimum cost, in order
to sell. Soon she had a warehouse filled with furniture she would rent
out to her clients, and reams of fabrics from which she could have
curtains, or pillows, or bedspreads quickly made.
It wasnt long before it was her primary business.
Her mother got sick after that. Breast cancer. She fought hard, and
won a reprieve, for a while. She assured Andi that moving to California

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with Brent, the man Andi thought she would marry, was absolutely
the right thing to do.
Even when the cancer returned, spreading to her bones, then finally to her liver and lungs, she insisted that Andi stay in California.
She knew that Andi had found a peace on the West Coast she had
never found at home.
It was true that one week after landing in San Francisco, despite
having spent her entire life on the East Coast, Andi knew that at
heart she had always been a West Coast girl, through and through.
The sunshine! The warmth! How laid-back everyone was! San
Francisco! The Pacific Coast Highway! The redwood forests! The
wine country!
The list was endless.
Brent married someone else: in fact, the woman he had started
sleeping with almost as soon as he began his new job in San Francisco, and Andi stayed, staging homes all over the East Bay.
Match.com was fun for a while, then disheartening. She always prepared for a date, terrified he wouldnt like her, that somehow, although
she was blond, and green-eyed, and girl-next-doorish, they would be
disappointed.
All of them wanted to see her again, but she rarely wanted to see
them. Until Ethan. He seduced her with his open face, his wide smile,
his easy charm. They had met for drinks, which had become dinner,
and when he left to go to the bathroom, Andi had watched him walk
through the restaurant with a smile on her face. He has a great butt, she
found herself thinking, with shock.
He had been divorced three years. His little one, Sophia, was great,
he said, but Emily was harder. His eyes had welled up as he talked about
Emilyhow much he loved his firstborn, how difficult this had been
for her, and how he would do anything, anything, to bring her some
happiness.
I will help you, Andi had thought, her heart spilling over for this

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sensitive, kind, loving man. One date led to two, led to them sleeping
together, led to Andi realizing, very quickly, that for the first time in
years, she could see herself spending the rest of her life with a man.
With this man.
She could see herself building a life with him, having children
with him. He was clever, and creative, and hardworking.
Ethan was supposed to have been a banker, he told her soon after
they met. Or have run a large corporation. He was supposed to have
done something that would make his parents proud, not to have
started a landscaping business in school merely to pay off his
loana business that became so successful, so quickly, he had decided
to devote himself to growing it once he had left school.
Hed started mowing lawns himself, paying a cheap hourly rate to
Carlos and Jorge, who had recently made the arduous trek from Mexico.
I was a clean-cut college kid with good ideas. He dismissed Andi
when she said how talented he must have been. And I was willing to
work hard. That was all. Id show up with some men to mow a lawn
and start chatting with the homeowner, asking the wives if theyd
ever thought of planting a lavender bed next to the path, or the husbands if theyd ever considered a built-in barbecue, or fire pit.
I bet they always said yes. Andis eyes sparkled in amusement.
Ethan just grinned.
He took on a mason, and by the time he had graduated from
Berkeley, he had four full-time crews working for him.
When he met Andi, he had six. Now he has ten, plus a thriving
landscape-design business.
Andi couldnt have imagined a more perfect man for her had she
tried.

e cooked her dinner at his house in Mill Valley; during the


appetizers she silently redesigned the whole place. She would

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remove the 1950s windows and replace them with French doors spilling out to a gravel terrace with olive trees and lavender.
The kitchen wall would come down, opening up into one great big
kitchen/family room, a place where kids would be happy, a giant island
with a host of kids lined up on stools, tucking into pancakes she would
be happily flipping as the children laughed.
They would be, she thought, a great combination of the two of
them. Would three children be too much to ask for? Five in total? She
shuddered at the thought and reduced it to two. A boy and a girl. The
boy dark, like Ethan, and the girl a towhead, much as she had been.
She tuned out Ethan for a while, so caught up in the fantasy, so
convinced this would be her future, she couldnt think of anything
other than how to create the house she had always wanted for the
family she would now have.
Coming back to earth, she noticed there were photographs all
over the house. Ethan and his girls, all of them laughing. Gorgeous
girls, dark-haired, dark-eyed, who clearly adored their father. Andi
had picked up one of the photos, Emily hanging around her fathers
neck with a huge grin, at around seven or eight years old.
Difficult? she thought, looking into the laughing eyes of the girl in
the picture. No. She just needs love. She needs the security of a loving
family, of brothers and sisters, of a stepmother who will love her.
Ethan didnt talk much about his ex-wife, which Andi liked, not being the sort of woman who needed to know everything. He had said
that his ex was damaged, and cold. That he realized he couldnt carry
on without affection, with the constant negative sniping, that he felt
he might die if he stayed.
How about the girls? Andi had asked. How is she with them?
Ethans eyes clouded over with sadness. Distant, he had said.
And disinterested, although she would never admit it. She prides
herself on not having a babysitter, on being there for her kids, but
when shes not at work shes out with her drinking buddies.

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She drinks?
Ethan had nodded.
You didnt go for sole custody?
I wanted to, he said. I tried. But she cleaned up her act for a
while, and I agreed to joint. The girls want to be with me all the
time, but she wont let them. Shell scream at them and guilt them
into staying, even if shes going out.
You cant do anything? Andi was horrified.
He shrugged. Im doing the best I can. Im trying to provide a loving, stable home for them, and they know they are welcome here all
the time. Theyre both reaching ages where Brooke wont be able to
control them, and if they want to stay here, she wont be able to stop
them.
They need love, Andi had thought. Love, and care, and a happy
family. And I will make them happy. I will create the home they have
always wanted. I will create the perfect family.

ven when Emily had been rude, and difficult, and squinty-eyed
that first meeting, Andi had known she could get through to her.
Children loved Andi. It helped that she looked vaguely like a fairytale princess, or at least, had the correct hair and eye color. She was fun,
and bubbly, and cool, and kids had always gravitated toward her.
But Andi loved children more. As a little girl, she couldnt wait to
be a mother. Couldnt wait to have a family of her own, wanted to fill
the house with children. Ethans already having two children of his
own was a bonus, and when he said, initially, he would have more
children, better still.
On their next family date, Ethan had made the mistake of quietly
taking Andis hand as they walked side by side, the girls walking in
front of them, Emily scuffing the pavement as she walked, hunched
over to hide the changes puberty was bringing her.

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Emily had turned around briefly, and had seen them holding hands.
Ethan dropped Andis hand like a hot stone, but Emily came whirling
back and literally, physically, shoved Andi aside and grabbed her
fathers hand.
Andi, shocked, waited for Ethan to say something, but he
merely looked adoringly at his daughter and gave a resigned smile
to Andi.
Other times there were tantrums. Many of them. Emily would
explode in anger, with a rage that left Andi shaking in fear and bewilderment.
I hate her, she would hear Emily scream. Shes ruined our
life. Why? Why, Daddy? Why, Daddy? Why, Daddy? Whhhhhhhhyyyyyy? Her voice would become a plaintive moan, rising to shrieks
and wails. If she stays, Im going, she would shout.
Ethan, bewildered and guilty at his childs pain, would sit and talk
her through as Andi sat alone in bed, quaking, wondering why no
one stood up to this child, no one stated that this behavior was unacceptable. And then she understood.
Ethan was as scared of the screaming as she was.
Emily had all the power.
And yet . . . and yet. Amidst the tantrums, the screaming, the slamming doors, and those first, tumultuous years, were moments of glory.
Moments when Emily would come and sit next to Andi on the sofa
and lean her head on Andis shoulder, when Andi would feel herself
overcome with love to the point of crying.
Moments when Emily knocked gently on the door of their bedroom and asked to snuggle. Ethan would be in the shower, and she
and Andi would watch funny animal videos on YouTube, and giggle
together, tucked up in bed.
Andi would take the girls shopping, and buy them anything they
wanted, within reason. She spoiled them: American Girl dolls for

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11

Sophia, and cool teenage clothes for Emily. All Andi wanted was for
them to be happy.
And to have children of her own.
They married two years ago and stopped using protection on
their wedding night. Ironically, that was the first night Andi woke
up drenched.
Her next period hadnt arrived, and she had never been late. Andi
had run out to the pharmacy and come back with a pregnancy test,
knowing the pink lines would indicate pregnancy. She peed on the
stick with a huge smile on her face, staring at the stick in disbelief
when it came back negative.
Twenty-four sticks later, all negative, her period came. She had
looked at the blood and burst into tears, at a clients house, in the small
half bathroom to one side of the mudroom. She hadnt wanted to come
out, and the client had eventually knocked on the door and asked if
everything was okay.
It wasnt.
They kept trying. Several months later, Andi, who hated going to
the doctor unless she thought she was truly dying, went to the doctor.
The night sweats, she had decided, after spending an afternoon on the
Internet on various medical websites, were cancer.
She wasnt sure which kind, but she was sure it was cancer. Ever
since her mothers diagnosis, every ailment, every mole, every headache was something more.
It was the fear that always hung over Andi. A headache was never
just a headache, it was a brain tumor. A stomachache was pancreatic
cancer, and so on. Except Andi never actually went to a doctor about
it, instead using the Internet as her unofficial diagnostician. She would
convince herself she had something terrible but would not goand see
adoctor, and after a few days, she would have forgotten about it entirely.

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But these night sweats were bad. Usually whatever symptom it was
she was worried about would go away, but this was happening more
and more often.
Will you just go to the doctor? Ethan had finally said. If nothing else, it will just put your mind at ease.
And so she had.

r. Kurrish had peered over her glasses at Andi and asked a series
of questions. Had her periods changed? Yes, Andi had admitted. They either came every two weeks, or sometimes not for six,
and when they did, they were shockingly heavy.
How were her moods? Dr. Kurrish had asked. Terrible, Andi had
said, but that was largely due to a stepdaughter who hated her most of
the time, who had started coming back drunk at fifteen (although she
didnt actually tell the doctor that part), and to a husband who refused
to do anything other than tell his daughter he understood her pain.
Any unusual changes in hair? Her hair had become thinner, she
said and, with embarrassment, admitted she had taken to plucking
out a few stray whiskers on her chin.
I think, Dr. Kurrish had said, you are going through perimenopause.
Menopause! Andi had exclaimed, louder than she intended. But
Im only forty- one. Im trying to have children. How am I going
through menopause?
Not menopause. Dr. Kurrish smiled. Perimenopause, the
period leading up to menopause, and it can happen to women even
in their thirties. It doesnt mean you cant get pregnant, she said
gently, although the expression on her face told a different story,
but its unlikely. Your ovulation is much more erratic, and it becomes harder . . .
She stopped at that point, as Andi started to sob.

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