Henry was a little more cheerful as he left AJ Sun. He'd managed to go the entire day without being summoned downstairs or having an Edward attack. Before heading home, he decided to stop at a nearby liquor store. He purchased a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and some Johnnie Walker Red. He then drove home and entered the house with the brown paper bag. The family German Shepherd licked his hand, wagging her tail happily. Henry breathed a sigh of relief; that meant he was still himself. Now he just had to get to the kitchen and sneak the booze into the fridge without Angie spotting him.

'Damn,' he thought, noticing she was in the kitchen.

Then he realized she was cooking and talking on the phone. Therefore, it seemed unlikely she'd see what he was putting in the fridge. Henry had just crossed the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door when he heard Angie say, "I have to go. I love you too. Bye." She hung up the phone, walked up to her husband, and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind.

"How was your day?" she asked.

Henry shrugged. "Ah, same old, same old."

He managed to slide the bottle of Smirnoff into the fridge unnoticed. But then Angie stepped around to Henry's side and saw him put away the Johnnie Walker.

"Honey, are you sure work's okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, honey." Henry shut the refrigerator.

"And nothing else is bothering you?" Angie wanted to know.

"No. Why?"

"Well," she bit her lip, "I'm not exactly sure how to say this, Henry. But...you never used to drink...drink anything that strong, anyway. I know you have a lot going on right now, but there's no need to fall into a bottle. If you're upset, just talk to me, please."

Henry knew he couldn't explain the real reason behind the expensive liquor, so he just nodded and said, "Okay, honey."

As was often the case with her, Angie's mood lightened instantly. "Henry, I've got something important to tell you and the kids."

'Dear God,' Henry thought. 'Please don't tell me Edward got her pregnant!'

The couple heard the front door close as their kids came back home, Ruthie from a friend's house and Jack from his martial arts class. They walked into the kitchen, Jack making a beeline for the refrigerator.

"What've we got to eat? I'm starving," said the seventeen-year-old.

"Jack," Angie said in a warning tone.


"I've already taken care of dinner. It'll be ready in a little while." said Angie.

"Mom, can I go to the mall with Cheryl this weekend?" asked Ruthie. "She's getting her ears pierced and she wants me to help her pick out the earrings."

"We'll see," said Angie shortly. "Kids, there's something I want to tell you. I just got off the phone with your aunt Andrea." Off Henry's confused look, she added, "You know, my younger sister. Anyway, she wants us to come to Nevada and spend Thanksgiving break with her and her boyfriend. His name's Aries." Angie ignored Henry's smirk and her son's smothered snort of laughter. "He's some type of executive at one of those Indian casinos in Reno."

"We're staying at a casino?" asked Jack enthusiastically.

"You're not old enough to gamble, so don't get too excited." said Henry.

"As a matter of fact, we are. Andrea and Aries booked us a high-roller suite." said Angie. "Wasn't that nice of them?"

"What's that gonna set us back?" asked Henry.

"That's just it, nothing," Angie said happily. "They're comping the whole trip. Andrea seems so happy. She thinks Aries is going to propose soon."

Henry mulled this over. He liked his sister-in-law well enough, but she'd never seemed the marrying type...a little venomous at times... Henry's vision began to blur; he suddenly felt dizzy.

'Oh no,' he thought. 'Not now.'

"Hold on. Let me see if I've got this straight." He was now speaking in Edward's clipped tones. "We're going on vacation to Reno to see your man-eating sister and the boyfriend she'll probably break up with while we're there?" He shook his head. "I need a drink."

He opened a cabinet for a glass, and grabbed the bottle of Scotch from the fridge. He removed the cap and poured himself about three fingers' worth. Edward tossed his head back, draining the glass as quickly as possible. The Spivey children exchanged troubled looks; they'd never seen their father behave in such a fashion. Angie looked slightly worried.

"Henry, what's the matter with you?" she asked.

"I think I just made that pretty clear," said Edward, his throat a bit tight from the alcohol. "But, hell, at least we'll be getting the VIP treatment before she dumps this guy."

"You know that's just cruel. My little sister is in love." Angie's voice rose.

Edward poured himself a second glass of scotch. "Excuse me for a minute," he said.

He walked around to a back room of the house, where he knew he wouldn't be overheard. He took out his cell phone, set it to video camera mode, pointed it at himself, and recorded a message for Henry.

"Hey, thanks for the booze; I really need it to take the edge off the boredom of your suburban existence. Sorry your wife thinks you're an alcoholic. Listen, Henry, I know you're broken and all, but could you try to stay unbroken for Thanksgiving? I love casinos and VIP treatment as much as the next guy, but I can't take family drama...especially female drama. Ugh, women crying gives me a migraine. On second thought, maybe I should show up. I mean, if your sister-in-law's as hot as your wife and ends up needing a shoulder to cry on, I guess I'd be up for that. Think she'd like The Hummingbird?"