© Yael Mermelstein 2018. Lovingly handcrafted by Amrita.

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Caution: This book contains secrets. Secrets that may be dangerous to friendship. To shidduchim. And to lovely facades built with so much care.

A.J. and Devora have the perfect friendship, built on shared experiences, laughter, and just plain liking each other. And one more thing - years ago, A.J.'s husband saved the life of Devora's beloved son. If that doesn't make a bond, what does?

Now, as their children reach the age of shidduchim, those unbreakable bonds are beginning to fray — cut, thread by thread, by secrets and betrayals. And as a friendship unravels, the happiness, and, indeed, the fate of two generations hangs in the balance.

Readers love Yael Mermelstein's sensitive portrayals of today's observant women - their issues, their strengths, their challenges. Dual Secrets is Yael Mermelstein at her best - exquisitely written, combining an intriguing story, vivid characters, humor, pathos and a deep understanding of what makes us who we are.

Dual Secrets

Dual Secrets : An Excerpt

Chapter 1


A.J. plucked a robin’s feather from her skirt, wondering how this souvenir
from the outside had insinuated itself into her kitchen. She was usually so savvy
when it came to separating the outside from the inside.
She picked up the phone and dialed Dvora’s number.
“It’s getting to me,” A.J. said as soon as her best friend answered the phone.
“A.J.?”
“Who else?” She held the phone tight in the crease of her neck and opened
up a bottle of sweet and sour sauce, dousing her chicken in a rather melancholy
shade of pink.
“I don’t know if I can manage this shidduchim thing with Gayil anymore,” A.J.
said.
“Everyone manages this shidduchim thing A.J. Think of what the alternative
would mean. “
A.J. shoved chicken into the oven and slammed the door with her foot. The
feather fluttered from the counter down to the floor. Somehow she couldn’t bring
herself to throw it out.
“You felt like you made every mistake there is to make with Surie and that
she ended up happily married in spite of you and not because of you- so you can’t
really start proffering advice you know.”
“Excuse me? Didn’t my best friend just call me and ask me for advice or am I
out to lunch without my amplifier?”
A.J. scoured through the cabinets for a side dish. Potato chips were a starch
but they did not constitute a side dish. Barley sounded interesting though she only
knew how to make it in a cholent. She grabbed a bag of rice from the cabinet and
filled up a pot of water to boil. The phone slipped from her neck and fell directly into
the pot of water in the sink, sending rivulets of water over the side.
“Oh oh!” A.J. cried as she fished the phone out of the pot and banged it’s
back like a freshly fed baby. “Do you hear me Devo? The phone fell into my side
dish. Devo?”
A.J. heard a murmur through the phone like the sound of some peculiar
underwater creature, the kind that had numerous protrusions coming out of it so
that you could not differentiate between its body and its face, let alone its individual

features. She shook the phone and received a warm spray on her cheeks. Wait.
Hadn’t she heard a trick about reviving a waterlogged cordless phone the last time
she’d done something like this? Yes! She poured a cup of rice into a plastic bag and
submerged her phone in the rice. Then she sealed the bag, offered up a quick
tefillah and stuck the whole mess in the freezer.
She pulled out a box of tacos and lined up a bunch of them on a piece of
tinfoil. Chicken on the bone and tacos didn’t quite complement each other but there
was nothing offensive about it either. She’d lost her fancy for rice right now.
A.J. looked at those tacos lined up in their mustard colored splendor like little
Pac-mans, they were rough yet open and waiting to receive.
A.J. was not open to receiving anything right now.
Her cell phone rang and she knew it was Devora. She always called her cell
so that A.J. wouldn’t have to spend money on minutes.
“Did you drop your phone into a pot of water again my dear?” Devora said.
“How’d you know?
“Listen. I don’t know why you’re so worked up about Gayil. Shidduchim will
be a breeze for her. I’ve known her since she’s ten years old and the girl can do no
wrong in my eyes or in anyone’s eyes for that matter. She’s beautiful, bright,
kind...and if you keep up with that money thing…”
“It’s an issue Devo. Money is an issue. She wants a learner. A real one.”
“Last I heard hakadosh Baruch Hu was in charge of our bank accounts on all
levels A.J. Could you please stop getting so worked up?”
A.J. ground her teeth together. “Who’s worked up? And you know that her
being bright is an issue too. She’s too smart for nearly every boy out there. It seems
that none of them are up to her level.”
Devorah sighed. “There are many equally smart boys out there and just
because she hasn’t found the right one yet doesn’t mean anything. Unless there’s
some deep, dark secret that you’re hiding from me about Gayil, like she’s actually a
total fake, I’m telling you to relax and just keep the ball rolling.” Devorah laughed.
A.J. couldn’t speak.
Some deep dark secret.
“Hello?”

How deep and how dark could a secret actually be? If you could build a
mineshaft and clamber down into the bowels of the earth, if you could flick off every
light switch in your house and extinguish the streetlamps one by one and then drape
the moon in a hulking black cloak – was that how deep and dark a secret could be?
“Are you there? Was it the deep dark secret thing that did it? Because I
know you don’t have any secrets from me my dear.”
My goodness it was almost true.

 
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