A Sister's Forgiveness
waning light he saw that her eyes had gone wide with shock. “She’s still here? She should be with Sadie.”
    The rage that swept over him in that split second made it hard to breathe. “Lars is there,” he managed.
    “She must be…” She pushed herself off the bed. “Emma said they kept Sadie for observation. Did they tell her? About Tessa?”
    He realized for the first time that Jeannie didn’t know what he knew—that it had been Sadie behind the wheel when the car struck Tessa. Now was not the time to tell her, he decided. She’d been through enough—too much—already.
    “I’m not sure what Sadie’s been told, but that’s up to Emma and Lars. They’ll do what they think best, Jeannie.”
    Jeannie flicked on a lamp, and Geoff blinked in the sudden brightness. She studied the various outfits for a moment and then took one down from the curtain rod. “This one,” she muttered to herself and headed for the door.
    “Where are you going?” Geoff asked.
    “Sadie needs her mother. And we need to get Tessa’s clothes to… to…” She stopped moving and stared into space, practically catatonic in the doorway. She shook her head, squared her shoulders, and forced herself forward. “To the funeral home,” she said, grinding out each word as she walked woodenly down the hall and paused only a fraction of a second before descending the stairs.
    Geoff could not help but admire her. Jeannie had always been a just-do-it kind of woman. It was one of the things that had attracted him to her from their first meeting. She was not big on protocol or rules, but with her sunny disposition and features that made her look younger than her thirty-some years, she won hearts and minds without even realizing what she was accomplishing.
    “The president should send Mom to the Middle East,” Tessa had said one time. “She’d get them all talking to each other in no time.”
    Geoff took one last look around his daughter’s room, taking the time to study the items on her dresser, the stuffed animals that shared shelf space with her books, and the fashion show of outfits that Jeannie had staged. Then he turned off the lamp and left the room, closing the door behind him. When he reached the top of the stairs, he saw his best friend, Zeke, standing at the front door, holding the shoes Jeannie had selected.
    Did Tessa even need shoes?
    “Jeannie wants to take these clothes over to the funeral home,” Zeke said when Geoff reached the bottom step. “I told her I would do it—or maybe Emma could or Hester—but…”
    “We’ll do it tomorrow. Right now I just want to make sure Jeannie eats something and gets some rest.” He saw in his friend’s eyes that they both knew that the chances of such a thing were slim to none. Zeke handed him the shoes.
    “Maybe a doctor could give her something to help her sleep?”
    “We’ll get through it one hour at a time,” Geoff said, not for one second believing they would ever survive this. “Thanks for being here—for both of us.”
    “No…” Zeke shook his head vigorously, and Geoff knew that he had caught himself about to deliver his signature, “No worries, man.”
    “See you tomorrow,” Geoff said, opening the front screen door for Zeke. Emma had done what he’d asked of her—most of the visitors had already left. The street was deserted now as the darkness of night settled over the neighborhood. Zeke headed for the bright orange van he used to deliver produce to markets for the co-op.
    Up and down the block, the houses were lit, the golden lamplight spilling out the windows and across the lawns. Those people were counting their blessings, Geoff thought. Those people with children were thanking God that this horrible day had not happened to them. They were holding those children a little tighter tonight. He felt his chest clench as if someone had attached a vise and tightened it until he was having trouble breathing.
    For one moment, he thought he might be having a

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