To save money they went to a deli for a couple of sandwiches instead of to the restaurant in Chinatown. That Emma ordered a turkey club was the first sign that something was wrong with her. “What’s eating you, kid?” Becky asked while Emma stared at her sandwich without eating more than the pickle.
“You remember that story on the news this morning? About the pregnant woman who was shot?”
Becky thought about this for a moment. She vaguely remembered something about a murder on the news, but there was always a murder on the morning news. Becky supposed Emma would be more sensitive to this after what had happened with her parents. “What about it?” she asked.
“It was Ian’s—Dr. MacGregor’s—wife.”
“Jesus Christ.” Becky reached across the table to pat Emma’s arm. “I’m sorry, kid. Are you all right?”
“I’ll be fine. But the funeral is tomorrow.”
“That’s pretty quick,” Becky said, but Emma only shrugged. Her parents had waited on a slab in the morgue for nearly a week while the police investigated and Aunt Gladys arranged for taking custody of Emma before she could put her sister and brother-in-law in the ground.
“I should go, don’t you think?”
“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
“But I should go. Ian was so nice to me. I should be there for him.”
“There’s nothing you can really do for him, though. You know that.”
“Yes, but he might need some support.”
“You only knew him for a few days,” Becky said, playing devil’s advocate. She knew just by the hollowness in Emma’s voice and the way she stared at her plate that she didn’t really want to go to the funeral. Her damned nagging conscience wasn’t going to let her off the hook easily, though. “I’m sure he has a lot of other friends at the museum.”
“Maybe. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go to pay my respects.”
“Emma, come on. You don’t have to put yourself through that.”
Emma shook her head. “That was a long time ago. I’m a grownup now, aren’t I?”
“Yes,” Becky said, though she didn’t entirely believe this. While in age and certainly in knowledge Emma was an adult, in some ways she was still a child, especially when it came to her parents. Whenever she thought of them, Emma’s eyes retained that lost, hurt look as when they had died. Going to a funeral would only exacerbate the problem. “I wish I could go with you.”
“Lintner has us working Saturdays now. He says that he’s campaigning seven days a week so we can at least put in six days.”
“I’m sorry,” Emma said.
“It’s not your fault. He’s just a jerk.” When she found out, Becky and most of the office toyed with the idea of assassinating Lintner just to put an end to the insanity. Maybe they didn’t have to kill him outright, just put him in the hospital until after the election. Though if he didn’t die people would probably feel sorry for him. “I really wish I could go with you. A funeral would be more fun than working for him.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, though she really wasn’t. “You really don’t have to go. Stay home and get ready for that date—presentation—with Dr. Whatshisname.”
“Dreyfus,” Emma said. She picked up the turkey sandwich, taking a tiny bite from the corner of it. Once she’d chewed properly and swallowed, she said, “I can do it by myself. But thank you.”
“If that’s what you really want, kid,” Becky said. It wasn’t what Emma really wanted, just what she thought her conscience wanted from her. That conscience would always get the better of her. “You just be careful. And if you need anything, you find a phone and call me at the office, all right?”
“I will.” As they left the deli, Becky promised herself that if Emma did call, Becky would come running, Lintner’s campaign be damned.