"What's wrong, sweetheart?" asked Elspeth.
Inna shook her head. "It is all right. I am fine." She handed Deirdre back to Zoya.
"She's tired from the long drive," Daniel told his in-laws.
"Why don't you two stay the night?" Elspeth suggested. "You know we have plenty of room."
"I did not bring my medication," said Inna.
"I did not know you took medication," said Yuri. "What is wrong with you?"
Inna sighed. "I did not want to say anything, but I have been taking fertility pills for several months. Daniel and I, we tried for over a year to have a baby. The doctor said the pills might help."
"Oh!" Elspeth understood. "Meeting Deirdre makes you want your own baby even more."
"She is my niece, and I love her very much," said Inna. "But I do so want a baby of my own!"
"It does not seem fair," said Zoya. "I got pregnant when I did not plan to, but Inna wants to get pregnant, and she cannot."
"Please do not feel guilty, Zoya," said Inna. "It is not your fault at all."
Daniel put a caring hand on his wife's arm. "Perhaps we should spend the night with your parents, sweetheart. I don't think it'll matter that much if you miss just one pill."
"No," Inna insisted. "I must take the pill for today, or my whole cycle will be out of balance."
Daniel sighed. "All right."
They stayed about another half hour or so, and when visiting hours ended, Yuri and Elspeth went home, too. They were getting ready to go to bed when the telephone rang. Elspeth lifted the receiver to her ear. When she said hello, she heard Inna babbling excitedly in Russian and handed the receiver to Yuri. She watched closely as his face showed first shock, then worry, then calm.
"They were in an accident on the way home," he told his wife as he hung up. "Neither of them was injured, but the car was completely destroyed, and they will have to buy another one. Daniel said it was 'totaled.'"
"He was probably too tired to drive," said Elspeth. "How I wish they'd agreed to spend the night with us! Well, at least they're all right."
"That is the only important thing," Yuri agreed.
"I want to go as Jasmine," said Daisy. She and her parents were in WalMart, looking at Halloween costumes. "Ryan said he's going as Aladdin."
"We'll have to see if there's a Jasmine costume in your size." Alison riffled through the selection. "Here's a 7-10. That should work."
She and Alexei bought the costume and took it home.
On Halloween night, Daisy put on the pants to find they were a bit too long.
"Hm, perhaps we should have bought the 4-6 instead," said Alison. "Lucky thing there's elastic at the bottom." She pushed the elastic up, but it still tended to sag down over Daisy's shoes, until she used safety pins to hold the pants in place.
"How do I look, Daddy?" Daisy twirled around and then grinned up at her father.
"Like the most beautiful princess in the world," Alexei told her, and she beamed.
It was twilight when they set out. Several other families were trick-or-treating at the same time. They went up and down their own street, then circled around the block. Then they got in the car and drove to the Rozanov's block.
"Well, hello there, pretty little princess," said Elspeth as she dropped several pieces of candy into Daisy's jack-o-lantern. "Ryan was here a few minutes ago, dressed as the boy from that movie."
"Aladdin!" said Daisy.
Elspeth nodded. "Right, Aladdin."
It was after dark when the Kolchins returned home. Daisy dumped her jack-o-lantern out onto the table, then watched as Alison went through and took out all the partially-unwrapped candies, the cookies, and the apple.
"But apples are good for you!" Daisy protested.
"I know, but sometimes bad people put things into them that hurt children," Alison explained. "You know you can have one of the apples we bought at the store anytime you want."
"OK, Mommy." Daisy unwrapped a miniature candy bar and popped it into her mouth. Alison scooped the candy up and returned it to the jack-o-lantern.
"Remember what I said," she told her daughter. "You can eat five more pieces of candy tonight, but we'll have to save the rest for later so you won't get a tummy ache."
Daisy looked at Alexei.
"Listen to your mother," he told her. "She is smart."
Daisy chose the pieces of candy she wanted to eat that night, and Alison sat the jack-o-lantern on a high shelf. She trusted her daughter but knew how easy it was to give in to temptation.