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es, Shana, it’s a mess. But no, you don’t have to come.”

Mimi rolled her eyes.

Shana made a noise through the phone line.

Mimi sighed. “I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you it’s all good. But it’s not, Bea’s gone. And guess what—” She paused, fought the urge to cover her ears. “So am I.”

Shana went silent.

“Hello, drama,” Levi murmured.

Mimi ignored him. Ahead, the Catskill Mountains unfolded like reams of white tulle in the morning fog. Poor Shana. Her sister was no doubt curled up on her battered living room couch; all she really wanted to hear was that her darling Zoberman’s was managing, things were looking up. An assurance that when she flew over for the next occasion, she’d find everything in its place, the way she remembered it: blue and mustard tiles and wood-paneled walls, Mommy and Bea in the kitchen, Daddy strolling around, dishing out pickles.

Shana was still quiet. Mimi was fine with that, it was better than a tantrum in her ear. She didn’t tell her, either, that she was heading up with Levi now to check out Daddy’s forgotten spot, scout for a restaurant all her own.

“Mimi, you’re a rat,” Shana said flatly.

“Excuse me?”

“You walked out just when you needed to make things happen!” she said, voice rising with each word. “What are you thinking? Zoberman’s is falling apart, do something!”

Her pulse throbbed in her ears. How dare she! How dare Shana judge and proclaim and offer her wonderful ideas, while cozied up on her couch thousands of miles away from Kaylie and Marcy and all the madness. What did she know?

Mimi closed her eyes and bit her lip hard. Fighting to save the business was good, but if that meant fighting family, where did you draw the line and give up?

“Any other comments or complaints?” Mimi said finally.

“Yes. I’m coming to see things for myself.”

“Good. Can’t wait to see you.” Mimi clicked off, too angry to care if Shana really meant it.

“You look rattled,” Levi said mildly.

Mimi sniffed, but then Levi rolled down the windows and the car was full of mountain air, sharp and clean. Levi drove down winding little country roads haloed with trees, solemn and beautiful in the spell of winter.

Then they were there. Levi backed up the old dirt road, Mimi hopped out and hugged her elbows. Everywhere was frozen grass, matted with ice crystals. It looked so different from what she’d remembered; rolling fields, warm and sweet-smelling, under a sky, pink with life.

Levi trailed up the hill toward the huge, lone dining room-cum-barn-cum-whatever it was. Mimi followed. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 600)