Death on a Silver Platter
to.” His mother looked at him hard, then cocked her head as if something had just occurred to her. “If you didn’t come home because of Tracy, why are you here?”
    “I needed a break from my book.” He lied with such ease he amazed himself. Had he always been such a good liar?
    “Is Ruth with you?”
    “No.”
    She seemed to brighten at that. “I’m planning a family dinner tonight. I think we need to be together. Seven o’clock. Alex will be here, too. And Roman. Alex has an announcement he wants to make. I told him that tonight might not be such a good time, but he insisted it couldn’t wait. I’m so happy you’re here, Daniel. Elaine and Tracy will be, too.” She seemed genuinely glad to see him. And that made his reason for coming all the more difficult. He hated fighting, hated the churning stomach that raw, angry words always caused, but this time, he would demand closure. He had to know where his mother stood.
    “I think I’ll get settled in my room,” he said, rising from his chair. “Maybe take a nap. It’s been a long day.”
    “Good idea. I asked Tracy to come see me when the therapist left.” She glanced at her watch. “She should be here anytime.”
    Danny moved over to the sofa and kissed her on the forehead. Her skin was paper thin. He was bewildered by how much her physical presence still tugged at him.
    She took his hand. “You can stay for a while, can’t you?”
    “I’m not sure how long I’ll be here. That’s something I need to talk to you about.”
    She studied his face.
    “We’ll talk later, okay?”
    “You’ll stay for a few days though, won’t you?”
    “Sure. A few days.”
    “Tracy’s suicide attempt has taught me something, Daniel. Whatever time we’ve got left on this earth, we have to make it count.”
    “Yes,” he said, gazing down at her. “My thoughts exactly.”

7
    Sophie sat on the window seat in her parents’ apartment, looking out at the Mississippi River. It was nearly seven in the evening and the sun had almost set. Only a few minutes earlier the city beyond the river had been bathed in a warm peach light. But that was all gone now, replaced by a velvety violet blue.
    Sophie still had the cell phone in her hand. After talking to Elaine and hearing what had happened to her daughter, she couldn’t seem to move. Just the thought of a loved one attempting suicide was like lead in her heart. It seemed pretty obvious that this wasn’t just a cry for help. Tracy truly meant to end her life. Apparently, in the hospital, she’d said it was all a mistake. She’d been drinking. She was depressed and couldn’t shake it off. She wouldn’t do it again. She promised, over and over. But how could you ever believe it? thought Sophie. How could you ever live another moment of your life without wondering where your daughter was, what she was doing, what she was feeling?
    Under the circumstances, Elaine seemed to be doing remarkably well. She believed her daughter, said she felt it was a onetime event and that it wouldn’t happen again. Tracy would be staying at Prairie Lodge with Elaine’s mother for a while, until she was stronger. Elaine was upbeat about her daughter’s mental health, and yet, in her voice, Sophie could hear the strain. She tried to back away from the request she’d made last night. Her father could easily get the specs on the log houses when he returned from the Far East. But Elaine wouldn’t hear of it. She invited Sophie out for lunch. Tomorrow. She said to come to the main house at noon. Tracy’s therapist gave orders that Tracy not be treated as if she were an invalid— or crazy. But how did you treat a young woman who’d just tried to kill herself? Surely some alteration in behavior was to be expected. Life might go on, but it would be anything but normal.
    Sophie glanced up at the sound of a knock on the door. Bram’s daughter, Margie, opened it a crack. “Can I come in?” she asked.
    Sophie saw that she was holding the

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