Danielle Steel's 'Family Ties'

"Is he there?" Jane asked conspiratorially, and her younger sister laughed. Jane was a freelance illustrator of children's books and a proficient artist, but she had always been more interested in her husband and children than in her career. Bill was the publisher of a small but respected publishing house. They had spent the weekend in Martha's Vineyard, closing up their summer house, and enjoying a romantic weekend away from their three kids. "He just left," Annie answered.

"Why so early?" Jane sounded disappointed for her.

"I have to work. I have a big presentation tomorrow, to an important client, and I wanted to work on the plans."

"Good girl." Jane was infinitely proud of her little sister. She was a star in her eyes. "We'll be home in a couple of hours. We're just leaving now. Bill is pre-flighting the plane. It was gorgeous here this weekend. I hate to close the house." They loved the Vineyard, and so did their kids. They'd bought the house when their oldest, Lizzie, was born. She was twelve now, and the portrait of her mother. Ted was eight and looked just like Bill, with the same sweet nature and easygoing style. And Jane liked to say that her youngest, Katie, came from another planet. At five, she had opinions about everything, was incredibly bright, and was fearless. She was an old soul in a child's body, and she always said that she and her aunt Annie were best friends. "How's the weather in New York?" Jane asked her conversationally. It was hurricane season, but the weather at the Vineyard had been good.

"It's been hot and sunny all weekend, but they say there's a storm coming in tonight. It doesn't look like it to me," Annie answered.

"They're expecting a storm here too -- the wind picked up an hour ago, but it looks okay so far. Bill wants to get home before it starts." He was waving to her from the plane then, and Jane grabbed her styrofoam cup of coffee and walked toward him, as she wound up the conversation with Annie. "I'll call you when I get home. Don't work too hard. . . . I love you. Why don't you bring Seth out to dinner next weekend?"

"I'll try. I may have to work, depending on how the meeting goes tomorrow. I love you too. Call me later," Annie said comfortably as they hung up and she went back to work. She spread out the plans and studied them carefully. She could see a few adjustments she wanted to make, just subtle ones, but she was a perfectionist and wanted everything to be flawless the next day. She began slowly and meticulously making the changes she had thought about all weekend.

Jane got into the plane that was her husband's pride and joy. He had been a Navy pilot, and in love with planes all his life. This was the biggest one he'd had. It was a Cessna 414 Chancellor that seated eight. It was perfect for them, their three children, and their babysitter Magdalena when she came to the Vineyard with them, which left room for two friends, or the mountain of shopping bags and suitcases that Jane always dragged back and forth between Greenwich and the Vineyard. The plane was a luxury, but it meant more to Bill than their house and was his most beloved possession. Jane always felt totally safe when Bill was flying, more so than on any commercial flight. He kept his license current and was instrument rated.

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