reason you chose to enter publishing,"
    Daniel remarked. "You wanted to be an editor. You were good at it. So good that you've worked your way up through the ranks until now your responsibilities have evolved away from that first love. I think it would be stimulating and fun for you to return to it."
    "I think so too, but let's not jump the gun," she said wryly. "I don't know if _Envy is worth my attention or not. The book hasn't even been written yet. My gut
    #instinct--was ##########################85
    "Which I trust implicitly."
    ?--tells me that it's going to be good. It's got texture, which could be fleshed out even more.
    It's heavy on the southern overtones, which you know I love."
    "Like _The _Vanquished."
    Suddenly her balloon of enthusiasm burst.
    After a beat or two, Daniel asked, "How is Noah?"
    As a reader, as well as his wife, she'd been massively disappointed that Noah hadn't followed his first novel with a second. Daniel knew that, so mentioning the title of Noah's single book was a natural segue into an inquiry about him.
    "You know how he is, Dad. You talk to him several times a day."
    "I was asking as a father-in-law, not as a colleague."
    To avoid her father's incisive gaze, her eyes strayed to the building directly behind them.
    The ivy-covered brick wall enclosing
    Daniel's patio blocked her view of the neighboring building's ground floor, but she watched a tabby cat in a second-story window stretch and rub himself against the safety bars.
    Maxine poked her head outside. "Can I get either of you anything?"
    Daniel answered for both of them. "No, thank you. We're fine."
    "Let me know."
    She disappeared back inside. Maris remained quiet for a time, tracing the pattern of her linen place mat with the pad of her index finger. When she raised her head, her father had assumed the listening posture he always did when he knew there was something on her mind. His chin was cupped in his hand, his index finger lay along his cheek, pointing toward his wiry white eyebrow.
    He never pried, never pressured her
    into talking, but always patiently waited her out.
    When she was ready to open up, she would, and not a moment before. It was a trait she had inherited from him.
    "Noah came home very late last night,"
    she began. Without going into detail, she gave him the gist of their argument. "We ended up lovers and friends, but I'm still upset about it."
    ###Hesitantly Daniel asked, #######87
    "Did you overreact?"
    "Do you think I did?"
    "I wasn't there. But it sounds to me as though Noah had a logical explanation."
    "I suppose."
    He frowned thoughtfully. "Are you thinking that Noah has reverted to the habits he had while living a bachelor's life?"
    Knowing the admiration and respect her father had for Noah, she was reluctant to recite a litany of complaints against him, which, when spoken aloud, would probably sound like whining at best and paranoia at worst. She could also appreciate that using her father as a sounding board placed him in an awkward position. He wasn't only Noah's
    father-in-law, he was his employer.
    Daniel had brought Noah into their publishing house three years ago because he had proved himself to be the smartest, shrewdest publisher in New York, save Daniel himself. When Maris and Noah's relationship became more social than professional, Daniel had expressed some reservations and cautioned her against an office romance. But he had given his approval when Noah, after being with Matherly Press for one year, confided in Daniel his plans to marry his daughter. He had even offered to resign in exchange for Maris's hand. Daniel wouldn't hear of it and had embraced Noah as his son-in-law with the same level of enthusiasm as he had hired him as vice president and business manager of his publishing house.
    For almost two years, they had successfully managed to keep their professional and personal roles separate. Airing her wifely
    grievances could jeopardize the balance. Daniel wouldn't want to say too

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