"This sable is awful,” Daddy said with a snort. He spread cream cheese on his bagel, topped it with two fat slices of the white buttery fish. “L’kavod seudas Melaveh Malkah. Someone ought to let them know.”

Binyamin made a show of inspecting the spread: bagels and fish platters and quinoa with parmesan croutons and cheesecake. “Not bad for a business conference,” he said mildly, reaching for a bagel.

“Eat, Binyamin,” Mommy said, “we’ll talk business later.”

Binyamin sensed Kaylie tense up. This family Melaveh Malkah-cum-business conference was her idea. She’d gone ahead and done her own thing, even after he’d asked her not to get involved. He focused on his bagel, the old anger rattling in his chest. A sandwich was only as good as its form, the density of the tuna, the position of the lettuce and olives.

He swallowed. What could he do, anyway? Get all hot in the face and rail on about her not respecting his wishes? Better to look the other way and pretend they’d never had that conversation.

He turned to see Mimi eyeing his bagel. “Do you want me to make you one like this?”

“Please.” Mimi grinned. “But no olives. So Binyamin, what did you dream about last night?”

Binyamin grunted, concentrating on Mimi’s sandwich. Kaylie groaned.

“What?” Mimi murmured, raising her eyebrows, innocent.

“Well, if you’d ask me, I didn’t dream last night. Would you believe it?” Kaylie lifted a forkful of salad. “So? What is it? A bad omen?”

“You don’t do omens, dear,” Mimi said patiently. “Now if you were to tell me that Binyamin didn’t—”

“Not to worry, I did. I dreamed I was a tiger in a circus.” Binyamin gave Mimi’s sandwich a neat diagonal slice and presented it to her with a flourish.

Levi chortled, Mimi applauded, Kaylie groaned again.

“Kids,” Daddy said with a wave of his hand, “the sable is not as bad as I thought. Have some.”

“I’m full, thanks.” Kaylie paused to clear her throat. She almost sounded nervous. “So, can we talk about why we’re here tonight?”

Daddy grinned into his beard. “I’m here to eat my fish and sing some zemiros, but okay, you have the floor.”

Binyamin watched as Kaylie smiled, uncomfortable, glancing around to note her audience. He gave her an encouraging nod. “Go ahead, coach. We’re all set.” He looked around. “Actually we’re not. Let me go get Mommy.”

He found his mother in the kitchen, frying cheese blintzes. “Mommy, I wish you’d sit down already.”

His mother offered a wan smile. “Sure, sweetie. I’m just going to finish up here.”

Binyamin frowned. “Let me do the blintzes. You go sit down. Kaylie wants to talk about the new restaurant.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 581)