Asher laid a molded latke on the sheet of wax paper on the counter, then checked his watch again. Shit. Maggie had been gone for over twenty-five minutes. Not only that, she’d been agitated when she left. She’d tried to put on a good front, but he could read through her, had seen the frown under her smile.
Ruth was frowning, too, forming a misshapen oval out of a clump of the mixture.
“Doesn’t have to be perfect, honey,” his mom said. She glanced at the microwave over the stovetop. “Unless there’s a packout at the deli, Maggie’s been gone a little long.”
“Do you think she’s okay?” Ruth asked in a worried voice.
He rinsed his hands in the sink before looking at his cell. No texts or frantic voicemails. “She’s probably just enjoying the fresh air.”
But after ten more minutes, all the latkes were formed, and still no Maggie.
He opened his “find your friends” app. The little Maggie dot was… inside the house?
A quick search, and he found her phone on top of the desk in the guest room they were sharing on the top floor of the brownstone. The room he and his twin brother David had shared when they were little, long ago converted into a den-with-a-murphy-bed arrangement. His gut twisted. Damn it. Had Maggie taken a wrong turn? Or mixed up Pierrepont Street with Pierrepont Terrace?
Yeah, she was a grown adult who searched for lost people in the woods on the regular as a search-and-rescue volunteer, but still, he didn’t like the idea of her wandering around at night, in the snow. He swore.
His mom poked her head in the bedroom door. “Everything okay?”
“She left her phone,” he said.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” his mom said. “Though she seemed upset when she left.”
“Uh, do you think so?” Maggie might not want him to admit her feelings to his mom.
“Ash. Honey. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s reading my kids, their partners included.”
“Yeah, I know.” Alex had loved Sarah for that, but Maggie was more guarded. “She’s embarrassed about the schmaltz overheating, I think.”
His mom came over and gave him a big hug. “I love you. So much. But she’s not upset about the latkes. It’s about fitting in. Didn’t you say she’s not close to her parents? It can be hard to trust this much love when you’ve never had it. Even Alex struggled at first.”
He thought back to Alex’s initial family gatherings. “He was definitely worried you wouldn’t approve of our age gap.”
“And there’s always a measure of wanting to impress your love’s parents. Which is something you haven’t had to do, given neither Alex or Maggie had a relationship with their mom and dad.”
“I felt the pressure with her brother and sister, though,” he grumbled.
“You’re not entirely without experience.” She winked.
He shot her a playful glare. “I should go look for her. Mind if I take your car? I won’t be fast enough if I’m on foot.”