“Joe got sick. Looking back, I imagine my mother was frantic at the idea that she might lose somebody else she loved. She’s not big on emotional displays. She’s sort of contained and straightforward, but I can see it, hindsight-wise. And I can’t imagine what it was like for her. They had to move. He had a better chance of copping more time if they got out of this climate, and away from stress. So either I stayed, or the paper closed.”
“She expected you to stay.”
He remembered what he’d said about expectations. “Yeah. Do my duty. I was pissed off at her for a year, then irritated for another. Somewhere in year three I hit resigned. I don’t know exactly when that became . . . I guess you could say contentment. But around the time I bumped into contentment, I bought the house. Then I got Moe.”
“I’d say you’re off your mother’s plan and on your own.”
He let out a half laugh. “Son of a bitch. I guess I am.”
THERE was very little that Dana dragged herself out of bed for. Work, of course, was the primary incentive. But when she had the morning off, her main choice for entertainment was sleep.
Giving that up at Flynn’s request demonstrated, in her opinion, extreme sisterly affection. And should earn her major points, to be redeemed in any future necessity.
She knocked on Malory’s door at seven-thirty, wearing a Groucho Marx T-shirt, ripped jeans, and a pair of Oakleys.
Because he knew his sister, Flynn opened the door and shoved a steaming cup of coffee into her hands.
“You’re a peach. You’re a jewel. You are my personal treasure chest.”
“Stuff it.” She strode in, sat on the couch, and began to inhale the coffee. “Where’s Mal?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t look. I should’ve looked,” he said instantly. “I’m a selfish bastard, thinking only of myself.”
“Excuse me, but I’d have liked to say that.”
“Just saving you the time and energy. I’ve got to go. I need to be at the paper in . . . shit, twenty-six minutes,” he said when he looked at his watch.
“Just tell me why I’m in Malory’s apartment, drinking coffee and hoping there are bagels, when she’s asleep.”
“I don’t have time to get into it. She had a rough one, and I don’t want her to be alone. At all, Dana.”
“Jesus, Flynn, what? Did somebody beat her up?”
“You could say that. Emotionally speaking. And it wasn’t me,” he added as he headed for the door. “Just stick with her, will you? I’ll shake loose as soon as I can, but I’ve got a full slate today. Let her sleep, then, I don’t know, keep her busy. I’ll call.”
He was out the patio door and loping away while Dana scowled after him. “For a reporter, you’re sure stingy with the deets.” Deciding to make the best of it, she got up to raid Malory’s kitchen.
She was taking the first enthusiastic bite of a poppy-seed bagel when Malory came in.
Heavy-eyed, Dana noted. A little pale. Considerably rumpled. She imagined the rumpled part was on Flynn. “Hi. Want the other half?”
Obviously groggy, Malory just blinked. “Hi, yourself. Where’s Flynn?”
“He had to run. Go stand for journalism and all that. Want some coffee instead?”
“Yes.” She rubbed her eyes and tried to think. “What’re you doing here, Dana?”
“Don’t have a clue. Flynn called me, at the ungodly hour of about forty minutes ago, and asked me to come over. He was short on details but long on pleading, so I hauled my ass over here. What’s up?”
“I guess he’s worried about me.” She considered it, then decided she didn’t mind very much. “That’s sort of sweet.”