Malky smiled at the babysitter. “There’s tons of nosh, look.” She opened the cabinet and waved, as if she were trying to make a sale. The girl looked at her oddly, and Malky was aware that nervousness was making her sound giddy. “I mean, whatever, maybe you like this stuff. The other girls do.”

The babysitter, whose name was Leah’le, was just home from seminary, and she really wanted a job in graphic design or teaching — she didn’t want to babysit at three o’clock in the afternoon. Her mother had insisted she take the job because it was in Summit, and she thought the women there were the type to go to shidduch meetings three times a week.

“Okay, great.” Leah’le had a book she wanted to read, and she wished the nervous mommy would leave already.

“One last thing, here’s my cell phone number, and I’ll be literally five minutes away.”

Malky pulled out of the driveway, worried about who would see her, as if they would read her thoughts and know where she was going. With the younger kids home from playgroup, some of Malky’s friends were already in the playground, so she drove the long way out of the development.

She had no joy in walking into Halb Properties’ offices. It didn’t give her the same shiver of excitement her siblings felt.

She remembered when her mother had gone to work at Halb (very part-time, helping with design for the senior residences in Connecticut). She’d been very proud of having her own email address and conducting serious discussions about traffic in the city. Malky had never felt that need; she’d been aware that her father was in real estate, but had never been fascinated by the models of projects that her father would bring home the way Chevy was.

On a Chol Hamoed trip to Philadelphia, they had passed Crystal Creek, the hot Halb development of the time. The other kids had been clamoring to go see it up close, and after hesitating, Benjy agreed. He parked on the street, avoiding the rear entrance, joining the tourists on the crowded sidewalk taking pictures of the rising condominium and shopping complex. While Dovi and Chevy tried to hide smiles as they asked passersby who was behind the project (Brooklyn money, that’s all I know, a thin man in a bowtie intoned gravely), Malky had hung back, bored, pulling her sweater tight and complaining that she was freezing.

The Lakewood office was nothing like the Halb offices in the city, but it had the same look of understated elegance. The secretary seemed to be expecting Malky, and she waved her around the circular table toward Aryeh’s office at the end of the cream-carpeted hallway.

“Hey.” He looked up from his desk as she came in. “Just give me a minute, Malk, and I’ll be right with you.”

He continued typing as she admired the latest pictures of his grandchildren on the bookcase and helped herself to a honey candy from a small silver dish. She was going to do this as sisterly as possible, she decided, all cheerfulness and good humor, no tension.

This way, she thought, it wasn’t like she was going behind Kivi’s back. This wasn’t a business decision, and she wasn’t coming to cry to her brother for help.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 751)