It took Josh a few minutes to realize that the curly-haired, long-legged
brunette in the blue suit calling his name was...Edith?! Knobby-kneed, plump,
freckled, wire-mouthed Edith had morphed into...well, someone he would be looking
at in a different way if she weren't his cousin. "Edith!"
She grinned as she stepped out of the airport terminal, setting her bag down
and giving him a huge hug. "Good God, Josh! How the hell long has it been?"
"Longer than I really care to think about, thank you." He held her at arm's
length and gave her a smirking once-over. "Edith Hepzebah Lyman, you look
"Well, Joshua Solomon, I can say the same of you."
He grimaced. "Okay, middle name truce?"
Edith's grin widened. "Deal. So how are you? You really do look good. How's
life in the White House? And when are we going to eat? I'm starving."
Josh laughed. "I'm fine, life in the White House is great, and it's three
o'clock in the morning, Edith. The only place open now is Eat 'N Park."
"We'll just have to cook at your place, then."
They'd been migrating towards the baggage claim. He stopped and looked at her.
"Can you cook?"
She bit her lip. "Eat? Yes. Cook? No. Can you?"
Josh arched an eyebrow at her.
"Point." Edith looked ready to admit defeat, then smiled mischievously.
'N Park it is, then."
"Oh, come on, Josh. Did you really think I'd let years of childhood torture
from you slide by that easily? I'm a Lyman. I'm trained to hold grudges."
pointed to a black suitcase. "That one's mine."
Josh delicately pulled the straw paper down to the tip of the straw, put the
other end to his lips, and then blew really hard. The paper landed smack in the
middle of Edith's forehead.
"Oh, very mature," she drawled, then scooped the cherry off the top of her
Chocolate Fudge Fantasy and flicked it at him. He ducked and it sailed over his
head to bump against the window, leaving a small wet mark on the glass before
gravity pulled it down into a fake plant pot.
"Right, and you've grown up so well, Edith." He broke off another piece of
smiley cookie and stuffed it into his mouth. "It's a good thing none of the
waitresses here are remotely interested in politics."
"I'm surprised we haven't run into any drunk college kids."
He snorted. "The Georgetown kids have too much money to waste any on Eat 'N
Park." Looking down at his "salad", he added "And I don't blame
"Whatever. I still have that picture of you in fourth grade."
"Oh, resorting to blackmail of your own family? D.C. really is getting to you
"Eat your damn ice cream."
Edith smiled and stuffed another spoonful of hot fudge into her mouth. "So,
tell me about Donna."
Josh blinked. "Huh?"
She smiled again, that mischievous twinkle back in her eye. As annoying as she
had been when they were children, he found that he'd really missed her. Well,
he missed talking to anyone who'd known him before his Harvard days, but Edith
wasn't really much like she used to be. Well, she was, but she was also a lot
A lot like Joanie.
"Huh?" he snapped back into the present.
Edith had a concerned look on her face, and her hand was on his arm. "Are you
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, I just remembered something I need to get done in the
morning, that's all." He took another sip of his coffee. "You were
"We should probably go back, now. You look tired."
He shrugged. "I'd be up anyway. I don't sleep well anymore."
Edith looked like she wanted to pursue that subject, but she thankfully let it
lie. "So, tell me about Donna," she said, catching him off guard again.
This time he just stared at her. "What the hell are you talking about? And
how do you know anything about Donna?"
She smiled. "I don't. But your mom mentioned something on the phone about a
woman named Donna."
Josh rolled his eyes. "You know my mother, Edith. She imagines things."
"So who's Donna?"
He laughed. "Donnatella Moss. She's my assistant."
Edith blinked. "'Donnatella'? I think that has Hepzebah and Solomon
"Yeah, well, the three of us are good examples of why you shouldn't let
medicated mothers and nervous fathers name their children in the delivery room."
"No kidding. So, what's she like?"
"Why this sudden interest in my assistant?"
Edith shrugged. "Your mom mentioned her on the phone."
"So your mom mentioned her on the phone."
"Was my mother born with a tag that read 'matchmaker'?" Josh shook his
"Donna's...well, she's Donna."
She snorted. "How very observant of you."
He frowned thoughtfully for a minute, studying his smiley cookie with
disinterest. What exactly was Donna like? "She's a good assistant. I mean,
she's the only one who didn't leave within a week of me hiring her...but that
could be because she was the one who came to me in the first place."
"Someone actually came to you to be hired?"
Josh waved a hand. "It was during the campaign, and she, well...she was looking
for a place to start over and I-"
"Took pity on her?"
He opened his mouth, then closed it again. "No. Y'know, I don't think it
ever pity. I don't really know why I hired her, except it just seemed right. I
did need an assistant, and she seemed as competent as any."
Edith was studying him. He shrugged again. "She's been a great assistant ever
since then. Probably the only one who's ever been able to make heads or tails
of the unorganized mass that is my schedule. Hell, I can't even understand my
own schedule. And she's always there. But then we all are. If there's one
constant about working in the West Wing it's that you don't have a personal
life. Donna was probably solely responsible for keeping my office from falling
into disaster this summer." He paused. "And she still was always there. In the
hospital, when I..."
"When you were recovering."
"Yeah." He studied the cookie again. "She's-" He smiled,
words from the past weekend. "She's the closest thing I have to a best
"Sounds like she's a little more than just your assistant, Josh."
"She is. She's my friend."
Josh blinked. "'And'? There is no 'and'."
She licked hot fudge from her spoon. "I heard an 'and'."
"There is no 'and'."
"Sure. Fine. Whatever you say."
He sighed. "I got the tab."
"I told you I'd sleep on the couch."
Edith took the blanket Josh held out for her and made a face. "Don't be
ridiculous, Josh. You're the one who has to be up and at the White House in a
few hours. Plus, it's your apartment. I'm fine on the couch." She adjusted
her pajama pants. "I would've been fine in a hotel."
"You're not racking up hotel bills in D.C. when I have an apartment, Edith.
That's ridiculous. Do you know how expensive hotels here are?"
She laughed. "It's not like I've sat on my ass for the past twenty years,
"I know, I know, but lawyers don't always win every case, Edith. Not even the
ones with the last name Lyman." He sat down in a chair and folded his arms as
she spread the blanket over the couch.
Edith froze and looked at him oddly. "I'm not a lawyer, Josh."
He blinked and sat forward. "I thought-"
"No, Josh. Who told you I was a lawyer?" She sat down and frowned at him.
"Mom told me you were coming to work with the DA's office. I assumed that
meant you were a lawyer."
"Well, I am working with the DA's office."
"But you're not a lawyer."
"Then what are you?"
Edith looked at him steadily for a few moments before answering. "I'm a
A few minutes went by before Josh spoke. "Why did you come to DC?" he asked
"Not for what you're thinking, Josh. If I can help you, I will, but that's
what I came for. I specialize in Criminology." Her expression softened. "I
didn't come here because your mom phoned me and was worried. I was coming here
"But she did call you."
"Yes. She's your mother, Josh."
"Yeah." He stood and looked out the window, studiously avoiding having to look
at the newly replaced pane he'd broken a few months earlier.
Edith sighed and stood as well, coming to stand behind him. She placed a hand
on his back. "Listen, I'm not going to make you tell me your feelings or ask
you if you have nightmares or anything else. If you want to talk to me I can
listen. I'm just here as your cousin, Josh, not your personal therapist."
He turned around and ran a hand through his hair. "Right. I know that. It's
"Yeah." She said, and went back to constructing a makeshift bed on the couch.
"I'm sorry, Edith."
She smiled at him. "I know. Just as long as you remember that you're always
wrong and I'm always right, we'll get along just fine."
He laughed. "Whatever. So how'd you get into Criminology?"
This time she really did frown at him. "I've been with the Bureau for the past
ten years, Josh."
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation, idiot."
"You're an FBI agent!"
"Yes. I thought you would know that, you being in government and all."
"You're forgetting that five minutes ago I thought you were a lawyer."
"Oh, right." She plopped down on the couch, curling into a semi-ball and
tucking another blanket under her chin. "So how did you not know all this
"I don't know. I haven't seen you since you moved to Michigan twenty-three
years ago! And you didn't come to the funeral."
She was silent for a few minutes before she finally spoke in muted tones.
"Ever since Uncle Noah and Dad had that big fight, it was weird between them. I
don't know what happened, and I really don't want to know, but I think it was
something about my Mom. Uncle Noah still sent me a birthday card now and then,
but never anything to Dad. And after Dad passed away, even the birthday cards
stopped coming. And then Mom died, and I called. Aunt Sarah said she'd come if
it weren't for your father."
Most of the last had been spoken into her pillow. Josh sat down on the couch
beside her. It took him a moment to formulate speech. "Edith, I never knew any
of that was going on. I mean, I knew Dad and Uncle John had a fight, but then
you guys moved, and I never heard from you."
"Yeah, well, it was hard to adjust there, and I guess I just was trying to let
go of everything from home so it wouldn't hurt as much. You know the logic of a
"Yeah. I'm so sorry, Edith."
She looked at him. "It's okay, Josh. Not everything in the universe is your
fault. Well, not that anyway."
She smiled. "Even regardless, I would've come to the funeral. Sarah did call
me, which was very considerate of her. Your mom really is a wonderful person."
"Yeah, I know."
"I had a case, though. It was important."
She sat up at the sound of disappointment in his voice. Edith remembered how
much Josh had worshipped his father. She laid a hand on his arm. "A
twelve-year-old girl had been kidnapped. Her kidnapper was a middle-aged,
seemingly nice man. Your average Joe type of guy. Except for the fact that he
liked to kidnap young girls, lock them in his basement, and after repeated
molesting, kill them."
Josh stared at her. "I hope you got that bastard."
"The day of the funeral."
"Yeah." She pulled the blanket back up. "Go to bed, Josh."
"Or I have a feeling your assistant will not be pleased."
"Right. I'm going to bed, now." He stood and headed for his bedroom.
Shelter From the Storm - 4
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