For Susan Davis, ideal reader and treasured friend, with love
If I hadn't been alone in the house; if it hadn't been early morning, with that specific kind of fuzzy, early morning quiet and a sky the color of moonstones and raspberry jam outside my kitchen window; if I had gotten further than two sips into my bowl-sized mug of coffee; if he himself hadn't called but had sent the message via one of his usual minions; if his voice had been his voice and not a dried-up flimsy paring off the big golden apple of his baritone; if he hadn't said "please," if it had been a different hour in a different day entirely, maybe—just maybe— I would have turned him down.
To love and to cherish, yes. Like a tiger. A hurricane. A family. Relentlessly.