Section 4

As he pulled onto the interstate headed out of Buda and towards Austin, Toby thought about Jennie’s frosty relationship with his wife. After eleven years, it still hadn’t thawed, and his sister was hardly reasonable on the subject. She complained tonight because Laura hadn’t come around enough, but if Laura started visiting more frequently, Toby knew she’d complain about Laura taking him away from Tabitha too often. He couldn’t win on the subject of Laura, but he also knew that he had to accept that. His life, and, more importantly, Tabitha’s life, was better with Jennie in it.

Soon after Toby had brought Tabitha home from the hospital, the surrogate having left with a handshake and a $30,000 check a few days earlier, he had been overwhelmed. His success as a writer had meant he could afford a fulltime nanny, but even so, parenting had turned out to be hard work. Great, but hard. After a few weeks of single-parenthood, Jennie had suggested that they buy a house together, and Toby had jumped at the opportunity. It wasn’t just because of the help Jennie could provide with Tabitha. They had lived together when she was in college, and later law school. He had missed that. Before Tabitha, they had been each other’s only family.

Their mother and father had been killed in a car wreck when he was six and Jennie was fifteen.

Well, my mother and father, Toby corrected himself. Jennie’s mother and step-father, but I think he thought of her as his own, although Toby had been so young that he wasn’t really sure.

Toby heard his phone chime. He glanced down at the text message:

Almost here yet?

“Send Text message to Laura,” he told his phone. “Almost.”

Thirty minutes later he pulled into the hotel’s parking lot, and rushed up to the fourteenth floor. Laura answered the door on his first knock, wearing an emerald-blue negligee with spaghetti straps.

“I thought we were going to dinner?” Toby said, as she slipped into his arms. They stepped inside the hotel room, and he began kissing her on the neck and shoulders.

“Let’s just order in…” his wife said as she shut the door behind him.