Deanna sighed and bent to pick up her robe. She left it draped neatly on her bedside chair because if Madison did indeed have the flu, this wouldn’t be the first time she woke, sick and upset. For an irritated moment, she wished that Perry, just once, would attend to the kids when they woke in the night, whether it was from illness or nightmares. But not once since Blaine’s birth had he shown any interest in shouldering the nighttime load, even when Deanna herself was ill.

She shoved aside a niggling sense of discontent. If it was sometimes frustrating, it was also somewhat fair. She didn’t work outside the home, and Perry was up at dawn, at the office or meeting clients by seven, and often home late. A crazy, mind-numbing schedule without a doubt, but also one that paid for this cavernous house and the costs of running it.

Deanna crawled into bed, careful not to nudge Perry so she didn’t wake him, and reached to turn out the lamp. The lamp his insane work hours had paid for.

The discontent faded – or at least went blissfully dormant.

“Why the hell is she crying now?”

“She’s ill, Perry. Give her a break; she’s barely two. She doesn’t understand why she feels so terrible.” Deanna cleared their coffee cups and Perry’s toast plate from the breakfast nook in the kitchen, suppressing her irritation that she had to do it. He had just walked past the sink; there was no reason he couldn’t have carried his own dishes there.

“Can’t you give her something for that?”

He waved his hand in the air as though that would make Madison’s illness disappear – or at least make it stop interfering with his day. He and Christian were carpooling today because they were going to a staff retreat. Currently Christian was upstairs with Blaine and Madison, Maddy’s wailing pulling him upstairs as though he was inextricably tethered to it. Deanna rather suspected Christian’s delay was eating into Perry’s time to schmooze the brass again.

“Sure. They have miraculous influenza cures down at the pharmacy. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t use them.”

Her sarcasm brought a narrow-eyed stare, but she was saved his cutting reply by Christian’s reappearance in the kitchen.

“Did you disinfect?” Perry asked immediately.

Christian gave no sign that Perry’s germophobia bothered him. “Yes. Are you ready to go?”

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