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‘Can we leave the car till the morning?’ Tina asked Bette.
‘No, it’s gonna freeze.’
Tina sighed and opened her door just as Sasha exclaimed, ‘I’m stuck!’
Bette looked back and saw her tugging on her seatbelt. ‘Get that for her,’ Bette told Ben.
‘I need the bathroom,’ Ben replied.
‘It’ll take you one second.’
The boy let out an exasperated sigh that was swallowed up by Sasha’s impatient whining as Bette and Tina both got out and looked at each other across the roof of the car as they shrugged into their jackets.
‘Hot water bottles and bed.’
‘Tee, it’s almost midnight.’
‘I know, but . . .’
Tina pouted theatrically. Bette tilted her head, a steely look in her eye. It was the kind of silent conversation they’d been having for the last decade and a half, ever since Angie was old enough to detect dissent between them. On this occasion Bette had driven for five hours and just wanted to get to bed. But hot chocolate, all cuddled up together under blankets, was a night-before-Thanksgiving family thing.
‘Okay,’ she said, and waved her hand in defeat. ‘I’ll get the car unloaded.’
Tina beamed happily, then called out, ‘Angie, do you wanna take—’
‘On it,’ Angie replied, walking past Tina hunched inside her puffer, staring at the bright rectangle of her phone, with Solly at her heel.
‘Moms,’ Ben said pointedly, hopping on the spot.
‘Coming,’ Tina said, heading for the stairs up to the front door.
‘Can you hurry up?’
Tina moved faster. Then Sasha let out a massive wail. Everyone froze and stared at the car.
‘What’s the matter?’ Bette said, bending down to see inside.
‘Carry me,’ Sasha implored, holding out her arms.
‘Are you kidding? Don’t yell like that.’
Bette was tempted to dig in and say no, but she knew regression when she saw it, and truth be told if she could have gotten away with being babied right now, she’d have done the same. So she gave her hand to Sasha and pulled her out and let her climb up into her arms, straining at the weight but also aware that this was one of the last times she’d ever do this with one of her children.