He went into Krissa’s room first. Their daughter opened her eyes and smiled at him.
“Daddy, you’re back! How was the conference?”
He sat on the edge of her bed and smoothed her dark hair off her face. “More important, chipmunk, how are you? Mom said you got sick.”
“Uh-huh. Ben had a virus.”
“And he shared it with you? We’ll have to talk to him about that.”
She sat up to hug him. Lucky must have heard his voice because the yellow Lab came racing into the room, tail wagging. Sheba jumped off the bed and wanted her share of attention. Even the normally aloof feline Nala seemed relatively pleased to see Jordan. At least that was Daisy’s interpretation of her tail flick.
Jordan petted both dogs and spent a few minutes rubbing ears and accepting kisses, then he gathered Krissa in his arms and stood.
“Let’s go see your brother.”
Daisy started to tell him that Krissa should stay in bed, then reminded herself that doing so would cause father and daughter to give her that look they shared, the one that said she hated when they had fun. Which probably wasn’t what they were thinking at all, but was what always came to mind for her.
They all trooped into Ben’s room, the dogs leading the way. Ben, in bed, playing on his tablet, looked up and grinned when he saw Jordan.
“Dad! You’re back.”
Jordan put Krissa down and hugged Ben. “My man, how are you feeling?”
“Better. Krissa’s sick now.”
“That’s your fault,” Krissa told him, climbing onto the bed and slipping under the covers. Lucky climbed up next to her and Sheba settled on the foot, making the full-size bed suddenly a little small.
Daisy sat at the desk chair, figuring they would all talk for a bit, then she and Jordan would excuse themselves to discuss the next step, so she wasn’t prepared for Jordan to say, “I want you to know we love you both very much.”
She stood and stared at him. “What are you doing?”
He waved his hand in her direction without looking at her, as if brushing her off.
“You know how sometimes there’s too much going on and you need quiet time in your room?” he asked.
Both of their children stared at him, wide-eyed. Ben nodded slowly.
“Jordan,” Daisy said, walking toward him. “We need to talk first.”
“I’ve got this.” He smiled at the kids. “Sometimes parents need a time-out, too.”
She swore silently. “Jordan, they’re sick. This isn’t the time.”
Tears filled Krissa’s eyes. “What are you s-saying?” Her voice cracked. “Daddy, no!”
“It’s okay,” he told her.
Ben’s lower lip trembled and he glanced between them. “Mom?”
She moved close and offered what she hoped was a comforting smile. “It’s okay. You’re going to be fine. We love you, like your dad said. The thing is…”
She paused, mostly because she didn’t know what the thing was at all.
Krissa’s crying turned to sobs and Ben had to brush his eyes. Daisy thought longingly of being strong enough to cuff her husband on the back of his head—an immature and unhelpful wish, but one that was heartfelt.
She shooed Lucky and Sheba off the bed, then sat down and held open her arms. Both kids flung themselves at her.
sparkling sake (or a sparkling wine or champagne)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup limoncello
2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for dipping Champagne flutes
Lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon wedge
1 cup (about) chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
Place mint, limoncello, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon strips in blender; blend until mint is finely chopped (lemon peel will be coarsely chopped), 10 seconds. Strain into small cup; discard solids.
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