“It’s July. Why is it so cold in here?”

Natalia moved from the kitchen counter to the table, fighting the urge to roll her eyes at Olivia yet again. “I already told you. I turned up the air conditioning because otherwise we’ll roast once I start baking.”

“I shouldn’t need long sleeves in July. And you’re wearing a sweater, for heaven’s sake.”

While Olivia’s grumbling could occasionally be endearing, this was not one of those occasions. Natalia could tell her partner was truly annoyed. She just didn’t know why.

She was almost positive it had nothing to do with the actual topic of conversation, since they’d discussed it the night before. She knew for certain that it had nothing to do with the preparations for the Bauer barbecue, since she’d already told Olivia she didn’t have to do any of the work. Leyla was back in Chicago for the holiday weekend to visit friends, so it had nothing to do with her. And Ava was on board with the idea of looking after Emma, Francesca, and Colin while Reva was visiting, so...

She leaned over the back of her partner’s chair. “Why did you invite Reva to come over if it’s making you testy?”

Olivia’s sigh seemed to echo. “It’s not spending time with Reva that’s the problem. I mean, hello, we just had ‘Road Trip 2010’ together and didn’t kill each other. It’s what she wants to talk about. She’s got a little over two months before she’s supposed to make the decision about whether or not to meet Josh at the lighthouse, and she doesn’t quite know how she feels about Jeffrey at this point, let alone what to do about Josh.”

Natalia shook her head. “Why is she trying to make this decision now? She’s still got time to mull it over – to figure out what to do.”

Looking down, she finally caught a glint of amusement in green eyes. “Yes, but that would be entirely too easy. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Reva can be a bit of a drama queen.”

Olivia paused for a moment and Natalia saw the hint of amusement fade entirely. Her partner’s tone was as thoughtful as her expression. “I don’t know if we’re friends, exactly, but we’re something, and I want to help her out. I just…my own history with Jeffrey and Josh doesn’t exactly make me the most impartial judge. And I don’t want to give her advice that might backfire and come back to bite me in the ass later.”

Natalia frowned a bit, feeling like there was something very obvious she was missing. After a moment of thought, she said tentatively, “Well, maybe she doesn’t really need you as a judge. Maybe she just needs someone to listen while she talks. You don’t have to offer any advice, just ask questions and make her come up with the answers.”

She didn’t think she’d said anything particularly profound, but the way Olivia’s face lightened at the words suggested otherwise. When her partner smiled at her, she couldn’t help but smile back. “What would I do without you, Natalia? Seriously, I hadn’t even thought about it that way.”

Blushing slightly at the praise, Natalia looked at her partner, even as she felt Olivia lean back in her chair, the dark blonde head coming to rest against her shoulder. It was a gesture that spoke of trust and comfort and, in contrast to the other woman’s grouchy mood all morning, she very much welcomed it. She reached up and placed her hand against Olivia’s shoulder, rubbing gently, basking in the peace and simplicity of the moment. Their lives had been so hectic lately, and while they’d had time together, moments like this seemed to be few and far between.

Even as she reveled in the sensation, she knew it wouldn’t last. Emma or Ava would come bounding in soon enough, or Francesca would start to cry, or Reva would show up. Then there was the matter of the baking she needed to do for tomorrow’s barbecue. Natalia glanced down at the table top, seeing all the recipes she’d spread out there and contemplating them, even while her partner continued to lean against her. She dropped her hand away from Olivia’s shoulder, bringing it down to rest against the woman’s forearm, still caressing gently. 

She felt a momentary flash of guilt for thinking about other things at that moment, instead of just being focused on the two of them, until Olivia said in an oddly dreamy tone, “I hope Emma has a good day tomorrow. Things have been so rough for her lately, and I just want her to have a good time and be a kid again for a day, without a care in the world.”

Natalia squeezed her partner’s arm. “We’ll do everything we can to make it a good day for her.”

She looked up from the table top then and met Olivia’s eyes. Just as she was about to lean in from the side and kiss her partner to seal the promise, the doorbell rang.

“That’s Reva; perfect timing as always.” Olivia’s eye roll said as much as her actual words.

Natalia chuckled as her partner got up from the chair, and then smiled as Olivia gave her a quick kiss on the forehead before heading out to the living room. Back to the merry-go-round that was their life. Shaking her head at the sounds of the ensuing snark-fest in the living room, she swept up the recipes from the table and moved herself over to the counter. It was time to focus on Rice Krispies treats and vanilla cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Maybe some peanut butter cookies too. And possibly banana bread.


Blake hummed under her breath as she changed her clothes, getting ready for her afternoon with Doris. She was determined that nothing, not even Frank’s confused indifference about her watching a softball game and then going out to dinner, would bring down her mood. It felt sometimes like all she did was work and then sit around hoping that her boyfriend wouldn’t have to work late or that something wouldn’t come up for him. She knew it was par for the course for any police officer. But she also knew a little something about how the Springfield PD operated, and the other cops all seemed to have plenty of downtime.

She understood that part of the problem was that Frank, as the chief of police, was trying to establish clear boundaries with his ex-wife, who was in charge of the crime scene investigators. In addition to hammering out their respective roles, they were also bickering over paperwork. Apparently he’d signed off on some things that Eleni was questioning, and so they had to sift through the details. He’d complained for hours on end about how difficult it was to work with his ex-wife, how uncomfortable he was with having to be around her, how upset Marina was with Doris for hiring her, and how annoyed he was with the mayor for going behind his back to bring her on board.

All Blake knew was that for all Frank’s protestations, he spent a lot of his non-work time thinking about and talking about the woman who supposedly drove him crazy.

She couldn’t even remember the last time she and Frank had just gone out and done something on the spur of the moment. At most, they’d order takeout from somewhere and watch a movie before spending the night together. They hadn’t had a real date in weeks.

He’d been distant lately, almost as if he was pulling back from her. She’d tried to talk to him about it, but he’d said that everything was fine. Then, a few times, he’d approached her and said he wanted to talk, but something else always seemed to come up. She didn’t think he was having an affair, and she was certain he was past his fear of being burned after what had happened with Natalia. She’d even asked him point blank if he was bothered that she was friends with Doris, his nemesis, and he’d laughed out loud at the idea.

If he wasn’t interested in dating her anymore, she didn’t know why he wouldn’t just come right out and say it. Their friendship was certainly strong enough to weather that, even though it would be sad. Although she’d grown more and more irritated with the way he seemed to take her for granted, she did care an awful lot about him. Besides, of all the men she knew in Springfield, he was the only one she had the slightest interest in who wasn’t already involved with someone.

She’d been lonely for a long time and it was nice to have an actual boyfriend. Maybe it wasn’t a love like Olivia and Natalia had, but it was enough for her.

Her cell phone rang, startling her, and she picked it up without looking at the display, assuming it was Doris calling to see if she was ready yet or still fiddling around with her fashion choices. Just as she was ready to follow her “Hello” with a sarcastic remark, she heard Frank’s voice. Swallowing the comment on the tip of her tongue, she listened to his babbled greeting, followed by his “I was just thinking…well…not just thinking…I’ve been thinking about it for a while…anyway, you get the idea…oh, wait, hang on a minute.”

In the background, she could hear his home phone ring and heard his crisp, professional tone. The words were garbled, but she had a hunch it was a work-related call; she’d gotten good at tuning those out in the past several months.

Indeed, when he came back on the line, he was apologetic. “I’m sorry, Blake. I wanted to talk to you for a bit, but duty calls. Anna’s trying to make out Mallet’s notes on some old files and his handwriting is apparently impossible to read. I need to go. But I’ll try again in a couple hours.”

Blake raised an eyebrow. “I’ll be at a softball game later, Frank. Remember? We just talked about this an hour ago.”

If she hadn’t known he was a grown man, she would have sworn he was pouting. “Oh, right. Guess you’re just too busy to have time for me today.”

Never mind the fact that he was the one who was always running off and coming home late and canceling their plans. Somehow, this was all her fault. Her patience running thin, Blake nevertheless managed to keep her tone mild. “We’ll be at the barbecue together tomorrow. We’ll have plenty of time for each other.”

Frank didn’t sound convinced, even though he agreed with what she’d said, and then he reminded her that he needed to get back to work. She stared at the phone in her hand for a long moment after the call disconnected, bewildered by his odd manner and abruptness. Before she could puzzle over it too long, she heard the doorbell. Shoving the phone into her pocket, she picked up her baseball cap and ran out to the living room to greet her friend.



Beth hummed under her breath as she walked into the library. While it wasn’t really her office, she was starting to think of it that way since she’d spent so much time there in recent months, studying. It seemed like all she’d done lately was hole up in the library and study.

For what purpose, she had no idea. Well, not entirely true, she mentally amended. She wanted to be a lawyer, to have a career that really meant something. That was the reason for all her hard work. But since she hadn’t heard anything after her first sitting for the bar, she just wasn’t sure her hard work was actually going to pay off. Sure, she’d heard all the stories about how many times people had to take the bar exam before they finally passed it. She just didn’t know if she could handle going through such a nerve-wracking process over and over again.

She froze momentarily when she got to the desk and saw a great big envelope from the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar. Swallowing hard, she reached out a hand to pick it up, and then froze again in mid-reach. One part of her wanted to snatch up the envelope and find out her fate. The other part just knew it was bad news and couldn’t stand the thought of her dreams being dashed. For a long moment, she just stood there, playing mental tug-of-war with herself.

Finally, she realized how ridiculous she was being. Not seeing the rejection wouldn’t make it any less real. And, melodramatic and soap-opera-divaish thoughts aside, it was far from being the end of the world. She could get Doris or Mel to help her study next time; she could get tips from them on how to remember all those arcane details.

She was proud of the fact that her hand only trembled a little when she finally picked up the envelope and slid her finger along the sealed edge to open it.

Unfolding the letter hastily, she scanned over it, looking for the confirmation that she’d failed. The wording was so formal that she had to read it twice to make sure she wasn’t imagining things. Dropping the paper as if it burned, she ran out of the library and made a mad dash up the stairs, heading toward her and Phillip’s master suite. 

She burst in the door and jumped on the bed, heedless of the fact that her husband had been, up until that precise moment, napping. Quite peacefully too, from the sound of his snoring. She pounced on him and laughed as he blinked rapidly, his words slow and sleepy. “What’s happening? Are you ok? Or have you suddenly gone insane?”

Leaning down, she kissed his cheek. “I’m better than ok. I passed, Phillip!” Seeing the confusion in his eyes, she elaborated, “The bar. I passed the bar!”

The smile she got in response looked like it would literally split his face in half. She was pretty sure hers was just as wide.



“I still can’t believe he did that to me. Honestly, I don’t know whether to kiss him or kill him.”

Olivia wanted to laugh at the exaggerated, whining note in Reva’s voice. The woman sitting across the kitchen table from her was in full-on melodrama mode today. While Reva had proven in the past that she could be quite practical and down-to-earth at times, the inner diva still liked to pop her head out now and again. Probably to keep everyone in town on their toes, she mused.

The only thing, frankly, that kept Olivia from laughing was the fact that she knew exactly how the other woman felt. She’d been there herself with Natalia – wondering how the woman she loved could just leave her without a word.

Ok, so their situations weren’t exactly the same. She’d at least known Natalia was alive, and if she’d really pressed, she could have coerced information out of either Father Eyebrows or blabbermouth Blake. Reva had truly thought that Jeffrey was dead and hadn’t had a clue about the magnitude of the secret her son was keeping from her. But still, even if the situations weren’t identical, she knew what it felt like to be left behind, to be left with more questions than answers, to have trust broken. She felt for the other woman.

Even so, she wasn’t about to let down her usual defenses quite that easily. “Maybe you could do both. Get in one last kiss and then strike him down.”

She didn’t have to glance over at Natalia to know her partner was glaring at her. But she ignored it, focusing instead on Reva, who merely raised an eyebrow before saying dryly, “That’s a thought. Without Mallet around to finally piece everything together, they’ll never figure out it was me. And I can always use an excuse to buy Colin a new stroller.”

Olivia nearly spit out a mouthful of coffee at that. As it was, she barely managed to swallow before bursting into laughter, Reva joining her. The memories of last year’s ridiculous – and, in retrospect, completely pointless – murder investigation flooded her mind. If it wasn’t so serious a situation now, with Edmund alive and on the loose somewhere, planning to wreak havoc on his perceived enemies, it would be funny. Seriously, how the Springfield PD had ever managed to solve any case at all still mystified her. She felt a sudden surge of sympathy for Anna Li; the woman was clearly competent and having to put up with the usual town clowns must be like fingernails on a chalkboard for her.

When Natalia moved closer to the table, Olivia half-expected a gentle rebuke of some kind for joking around when Jane was dead and their children’s lives were in danger. But her partner apparently sensed that they needed the comic outlet, because she simply set out a plate of warm cookies and refilled their coffee cups without a word.

She didn’t miss the sardonic quirk of Reva’s lips at the charming little domestic scene, and turned a patented Spencer glare on the older woman, just daring her to say something. But her occasional nemesis simply offered up a simpering smile and stayed quiet, instead reaching out for a cookie and concentrating harder than seemed necessary on chewing it. 

Olivia looked over at Natalia, who’d returned to the counter, her hands busy with a wooden spoon and a bowl. There were little dabs of flour on her cheeks and forehead; her dark hair was bound up in a messy ponytail with stray strands sticking up like they’d been gelled; her face was set in a frown as she bent over a recipe book. Olivia thought she was absolutely beautiful. Not because of how she looked, but because of how she was – the way she made this space warm and welcoming, even without being part of the conversation. Ava and the kids and the puppy were in the living room, so she and Reva had ended up in the kitchen by default. Even though Reva had fewer domestic tendencies than she did, she thought the older woman seemed as comfortable in the homey space as she was.

Her musings were interrupted when Reva spoke through a mouthful of cookie. “Seriously, though. For months, I hoped and prayed that there’d been some miracle and that Jeffrey was still alive, just stuck in some remote place where he couldn’t make contact. But now that I have Jeffrey back and know that he is alive and safe, all I feel is numb.”

Reva’s next words were quiet, but Olivia could hear the pain in them. “I still love him, but I can’t understand how he could just walk away like that. He says he did it to keep me safe, but Colin and I were in danger anyhow, we just didn’t know it. How do I move past that? Should I move past it?”

Olivia swallowed hard, suddenly all-too-aware of Natalia’s presence across the kitchen. But this was her truth to speak and so she leaned forward slightly. “Reva, I can’t tell you what to do about Jeffrey. It really comes down to two basic questions. One, whether the reason he left is one you can understand and accept; and two, whether you think you can trust him not to do the same thing again.”

She paused for a moment, watching Reva mull over her words, before getting to the heart of the dilemma. “Ultimately, only you can decide what level of uncertainty you can live with…and whether your love for him is stronger than the hurt you feel because of him.”

Sitting back in her chair, Olivia took a drink of coffee, not because she was thirsty, but to cover her discomfort with this turn in the conversation. Unable to help herself, she glanced over at Natalia, only relaxing when she saw the compassion in chocolate eyes and the slight nod that told her she had permission to say whatever she needed to say. Not that she needed permission from anyone else, since it was her life and her story. But it helped regardless. Not that she intended to go much deeper into detail with Reva; no matter how good a footing they were on now, she knew that could turn around on a dime.

Reva leaned forward, her elbows on the table, and Olivia was struck by the pensive look on her face. The older woman’s tone was sharp. “If Jeffrey had only been gone a few months, then that would be one thing. But he’s lived this lie for nearly a year and I only found out by accident. It’s not like he came back to town and said, ‘I know how this looks, honey, but I can explain.’”

Olivia chuckled at the phrasing, but nodded. She could definitely see that an intentional homecoming was a lot easier to understand than the “oops, I’ll confess all because I’m busted” approach.

“Given everything I’ve found out about him in the past few months, I feel like I don’t really even know the man I married.” Reva paused there, and Olivia swallowed hard at the intense anger blazing in blue eyes. “I had no idea what he did to you, Olivia. The thought that he was capable of raping you…it makes me sick.”

Olivia sat very still in her chair, tension flooding through her. After her disclosure at the Spaulding mansion, she’d braced herself for people prying into her past – whether showing friendly concern or looking for gossip fodder. Doris had alluded to it in one of their conversations, but Olivia had side-stepped it and her friend had let the subject drop. She knew better than to think that was the end of the matter – the mayor was almost as stubborn as any Spencer, after all. But no one else had said anything about it. She’d finally come to the conclusion that everyone there at the time had been too focused on the Edmund part of the story to register the other details. That piece of her life wasn’t something she really wanted to talk about anyway, so she’d been somewhat relieved by the lack of attention.

Feeling unnerved by Reva’s scrutiny, Olivia took a deep breath to calm herself, then turned her head slightly, her eyes drifting to the window. Her words were measured. “It was a long time ago. He’s not the same man now that he was then. And you heard what Anna said, that he felt guilty and showed remorse for what he’d done.”

“Don’t you think it’s time you stopped making excuses for him?”

Snapping her head back around, Olivia stared at Reva in shock, her mouth dropping open. If the same words had come from Natalia, she wouldn’t even have blinked. But to hear Reva say that about her own husband…

“Olivia, I’m only going to say this once, and if you – or Natalia – tell anyone that I said it, I’ll deny it. I’m sorry about what happened to you. No one deserves to be treated like that. You can forgive Jeffrey and be his friend all you want…just don’t make excuses for what he did. He still hurt you, no matter how much he had to drink or how sorry he felt afterwards.”

Olivia swallowed hard again, not at all comfortable having this conversation, but touched more than she’d expected by the words. When Reva began fidgeting, however, she knew she wasn’t the only one who was uncomfortable, and decided to put them both out of their misery.

“Thanks, Reva. Don’t worry, I won’t tell a soul what you said. It’s just…don’t judge him too harshly based on something that happened over twenty years ago.”

Olivia leaned back slightly in her chair, trying to relax her tensed shoulders, and saw Reva’s eyes narrow. There was no mistaking the hard edge in the other woman’s voice. “Oh, don’t worry. I’ve got plenty of other reasons to judge him harshly right now. It’s not just that he lied to me and left his family behind. He also put my son in danger without blinking an eye. Even though it was Jonathan’s choice to take on the assignment, you don’t mess with my children and expect me to be your friend.”

There was a deep scowl on Reva’s face and it was one Olivia understood all too well. She had her own Mama Bear tendencies. She took another sip of coffee, letting the woman finish thinking out loud.

“And I know this is all stuff I have to decide on my own. I get it. It’s just so damn complicated because there’s Josh to consider as well. I have to choose and I don’t know what to do. I’m tempted to clone myself on purpose so I can have one man and clone!Reva can have the other.”

Olivia heard Natalia’s surprised gasp, but was too busy spitting out coffee to pay much attention. She grabbed a stack of napkins, dabbing at her face and shirt. She didn’t know the details, but had heard bits and pieces from various people about Reva having a clone who’d caused all sorts of problems. As if anyone with the woman’s DNA could avoid being a troublemaker.

She didn’t know whether to be relieved or annoyed that Reva just sat there cackling like a hen while she tried to wipe up the coffee she’d splattered everywhere. Luckily, she’d managed to miss the plate of cookies. When she looked up and saw the amused smile on the woman’s face, she decided to be relieved. But she kept her tone gruff as she said, “The absolute last thing this town needs is two of you.”

Olivia smiled up at Natalia, who’d appeared with a wet dishtowel to help clean up the mess. It was clear her lover was confused, but had decided against asking. Which was fine; she’d fill her in later with what little she knew.

Reva drawled, “Oh c’mon, honey. Two of me would just keep this town lively since you’ve gotten soft and boring.”

Olivia narrowed her eyes, even knowing that the other woman was teasing. She was saved from having to come up with a suitable reply when Natalia said softly, “The last thing Springfield needs right now is more excitement, what with Edmund still being alive.”

That managed to sober Reva up more than any of Olivia’s snarky comebacks could have. She shot a grateful look at her lover, who patted her on the shoulder before heading back to the sink. Then, Olivia focused her attention on the woman across from her, noting the way the blonde seemed to have come to a sudden decision. The way Reva pushed her chair back and got to her feet only reinforced that idea.

“Natalia’s right. Instead of worrying about whether to take Jeffrey back or set my sights on Josh, I need to focus on keeping Colin, Sarah, and Jonathan safe until that psycho is caught. That’s way more important than my country-western-song love life. But thanks for listening to me think out loud…and for the coffee and cookies.” Reva’s voice practically dripped with syrup. “It was…quaint.”

Olivia raised an eyebrow as Reva promptly flounced out of the kitchen, presumably to grab Colin and head home. She looked over to see confusion and amusement warring on Natalia’s face as dark eyes trailed after their departing guest.

Pushing her own chair back, Olivia stood. She should go see the woman out, she supposed. But first, she walked over to her lover and gave her a kiss on the cheek, carefully avoiding the spots covered in flour. “Don’t worry; that’s just Reva. You’ll get used to her. Eventually.”



“How can you not understand what just happened?”

Blake stared at Doris, whose eyes were still fixed on the baseball field, watching, well, whatever was going on in this softball game. Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, an urge the mayor brought out in her all too often, she shrugged and answered, “Because I’ve had better things to do with my time than learn all the ridiculous rules of various sports.”

She leaned forward on the bleachers, an elbow propped against her knee, cradling her chin in her hand, and looked out on to the field, trying to figure out what was going on. Not that she cared all that much, honestly, but because it seemed appropriate.

Expecting another sarcastic response, she was surprised by the patience in Doris’s tone. “The batter had two strikes against her and hit a foul ball, so that makes it an out. That was the third out for that team in this inning, so now it’s time for the teams to switch places.”


Blake knew she probably should have said more than that, but “thank you” seemed a little weird and she wasn’t about to ask for more information when she really didn’t care all that much. She felt the weight of Doris’s gaze on her and turned her head slightly, to find blue eyes studying her carefully.

“Why did you agree to come to the game with me when you don’t really like sports?”

There was no hint of mockery in the mayor’s voice, just honest confusion, and Blake smiled softly. Frank had asked her a similar question earlier, when she’d told him about her plans for the afternoon. Her answer to him had been fairly pointed, along the lines of how Doris, at least, was interested in spending time with her. Sadly, he’d seemed to entirely miss her irritation with him and his lack of attention, only rolling his eyes and saying women’s softball couldn’t begin to compare to baseball.

“Because I know you like sports and you’re my friend, Doris.” Blake didn’t miss the hint of a blush that graced the woman’s features, and took pity on the I-hate-sentimentality mayor. “Besides, you’re buying me dinner afterwards. That’s reason enough to sit through a game.”

She chuckled when Doris rolled her eyes and looked away, but knew the woman well enough to not be at all offended by the pretense of irritation. Turning her head again, Blake stared out at the field, watching the pitcher lob softballs over the plate and the batter not bothering to swing at them. She was sure there was some strategy to it all that she didn’t understand, but she didn’t bother trying at that point, just took it in visually while her mind was busy elsewhere.

Blake reveled in the feel of the summer sun against her bare arms and legs. She took in the blue of the cloudless sky and the green of the grassy field. She listened to the cheers of the crowd when their players did something they liked and to the murmurs of conversation around her. She glanced over at Doris, seeing the other woman relaxed and smiling in a way that had been all-too-infrequent in recent months after what had happened with Anna.

Taking stock of herself, Blake realized how content she was in that moment, and how happy she was just hanging out with Doris.

Too bad she didn’t feel this comfortable when she spent time with Frank.

The sudden awareness made her frown. He had been so charming when they first started dating, and they’d known each other for years, so it had been easy. But in recent months, she’d started feeling like more of a prop than a girlfriend. He was a good man, but clueless.

She sighed softly as she realized just how much he took things for granted – assumed that she’d want what he wanted, assumed that her work schedule and her activities were less important than his own. And she couldn’t even blame him for it; she’d noticed the same thing when he dated Natalia. He’d grown passive in recent years, and she’d known that before she started dating him. He needed a different kind of woman than either of them was – someone who would alternately challenge him and comfort him, who would bring out his feisty side, who knew when to take him down a notch and when to soothe his ego.

Blake could do some of that, had been doing it for nearly a year, but it was starting to feel like a game – one that she didn’t really want to keep playing. She wanted to be able to be herself, not fit into whatever role he needed on a given day.

“Penny for your thoughts.”

She started slightly at the unexpected sound of Doris’s voice, and then chuckled. “Trust me – my thoughts aren’t all that interesting.”

Feeling a hand on her arm, Blake looked over at Doris and saw the concern in blue eyes. She covered the woman’s hand with her own and shook her head. “It’s nothing to worry about, honestly. But I appreciate the concern.”

She could tell the other woman didn’t entirely believe her, but apparently was satisfied enough with her answer not to push. Blake wanted to talk to her about all her confused feelings where Frank was concerned. But not here. Not now. Not when Doris was still broken-hearted over the loss of Anna. She couldn’t do that to her friend.

Instead, she refocused on the immediate moment. “So why did that runner have to go off the field?”

She didn’t miss the slight exasperation as Doris started in on an explanation.

The familiarity of it made her smile.