Aviva hung up the phone, and felt her hand — the one that was holding the carefully cut tzitzis-shaped fondant — quivering. “Zevi!” 

Her husband came rushing into the kitchen. “Everything okay?” 

Ever since their birthday conversation that Aviva had been pretending hadn’t happened, Zevi had been cautiously polite around her. 

She gestured to the phone. “Mommy just called.” 


“She wants to come for Shabbos.” Aviva closed her eyes. “This Shabbos.” 


The fondant was mushing itself into a ball in her hand and, irritated, she threw it on the counter. “Since they’re making the trip in for Naama’s upsheren, she and Tatty decided to make a long weekend of it and come here for Shabbos.” 

“Okay,” Zevi said cautiously. 

“I’m worried,” she said, as she rolled out the fondant ball and started recutting the tzitzis shape, “about how in the world I’m going to find the time in my life to get this house ready and cook for my parents.” 

Zevi didn’t say a word. She knew he wanted so badly to say that it didn’t matter, that her usual Shabbos menu was fabulous, that the house was always kept in a guest-worthy state. 

But they’d been married too many years for him not to understand what it meant that her mother was coming for Shabbos. 

Suri pushed open the door to the clinic and raced for the office. She’d planned on leaving 15 minutes earlier this morning, but Miri had wanted to discuss something with her, and if her teenage daughter wanted her advice, well, the rest of the world would have to wait. But now she had a client arriving any moment and she still had to— 

What in the world? She skidded to a stop. 

There were people in her office. Three girls, looking not much older than Miri. Who’d given them permission to just walk in? 

She put on her toughest professional voice. “Can I help you?” 

The girl who’d been sitting in Suri’s office chair quickly stood up. 

“Uh, yes, we’re, uh, here for the observation.” “Observation?” What was that supposed to mean? For a second, her heart started hammering. Were they being inspected by some state agency? Did the government overseers do that to businesses without advance notice? 

And even if they did, would they really send three frum teenage girls to do it? 

Suri, get a grip. She got a grip. 

“Observation?” she asked again. “I’m sorry, but I don’t—” She was interrupted by a whirlwind of Aviva, flying into the office. “Oh, good, you’re here.” Was she talking to Suri or to these mystery girls?