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At 10:00 p.m. the night before Laura was to leave, she phoned me to see if she could borrow my light Patagonia shell jacket.

"Do you realize how cold it is where you're going?" I pressed.

"There's no way that jacket is going to keep you warm enough."

Growing up in California, we always underestimate how severe temperatures can be elsewhere and inevitably underpack or bring inappropriate attire.

"Well, I can't find my black coat, so I don't have anything else," Laura replied.

"Baby, you can't be dealing with this at the last minute," I said.

"What time is your flight tomorrow?"

"The cab's picking me up at ten in the morning," she answered.

"Shit. Okay. I'll bring you my big brown parka," I said.

I woke up extra early the next morning to fight the stop-and-rarely-go 405 freeway traffic and make it from Santa Monica to Laura's house in the valley in time.

When I got there, my sister was scurrying around the house that she and Iain had been living in for less than four months. They had gotten married nearly five years ago, but they'd been together for twelve. They had been saving to buy their first home for a long time. Our parents have always been thrifty, so frugality was ingrained in us. Laura was stressed about having just ordered some custom-designed pillows that cost more than she knew she should spend. But Iain encouraged her to go for it; he wanted her to have whatever made her happy. In the midst of her frenzied packing, Laura sat down on the couch and looked at me with serious eyes.

"Li, Iain and I have just starting trying to have a baby," she confided.

Excerpted from Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura Ling & Lisa Ling. Copyright © 2010 by HarperCollins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.

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