Sheryl could hear her phone ring through the door. Her lock was frozen, and she was having a hard time getting the door open. It was not turning out to be a good day. She of all people was now required to write a formal apology and an article on the good side of Laurel Kendrick. She knew it was going to be harder than it sounded. Laurel was too a good a friend for Sheryl to keep her personal bias under control.

"Hello?" Sheryl picked up the phone just in time to hear the outgoing message from her answering machine.


"Laurel?" She sat down on the arm of her couch. "Is that you?"

"Yeah. Were you expecting your fairy godmother?" She could hear the suppressed laughter in the other voice. It did not surprise her. Most of their conversations could be considered mild flirting.

"Well, you know how it is with them. They never call unless they want something, or you have a few extra rats laying around for them to play with."

"I’ll remember that if I ever meet one."

"You do that. So what’s up?" Sheryl willed her heart to slow. She could barely hear Laurel’s voice over the pounding in her ears. She cursed the universe’s sense of irony as well.

"I read a little story a few days ago that ran in your paper. Seems someone there, too cowardly to give a name, doesn’t like me much." The humor disappeared from Laurel’s tone.

"So why are you calling me about it?" Something about the bassist’s voiced sounded strange.

"Well, the love of my life no longer has a listed phone number, that sucks major dick by the way, and Danny does not seem to work at a paper." She could tell now. Laurel was drunk. The bassist let her thick southern accent through only under three conditions, one of which was if she were intoxicated.

"I didn’t have anything to do with the article. Neither did Nicole." Sheryl wanted to make that clear.

"Ah reckoned that much. What Ah wanna know is who the fuck did."

"Actually, it’s a good thing you called." She had to keep herself from imitating that accent. It was natural for her to pick one up when she heard it. That was the only reason she passed her foreign language classes.

"An why’s that?"

"There was a meeting today. The person who wrote the article has been canned, the person who let the article be printed has been demoted, and we’re issuing a full apology on Sunday." She thought it best to give details, but not all of them.

"That’s cool. Maybe Ah can start showin’ my face agin. Do ya know how hard it is to get from place to place with your head covered? Fortunately Ah don’t yet, but Ah was worried it was comin’ to that."

"How much have you had to drink?" Sheryl laughed. She was worried, but Laurel was a funny drunk, most of the time, anyway.

"A few beers and stuff." The answer was vague. "How’s Nicole?"

"She’s ok. She could be better, she could be worse. You know the drill." Sheryl was now in a quandary. She could either tell Laurel everything and hope the bassist came home, or she could act as if nothing were wrong and let them sort it out. Laurel’s intoxication sealed the decision. Sheryl had been around her enough to know that the bassist would not remember the conversation well in the morning. It was pointless to try to talk to her about anything serious.

"That’s good. It sucks, but it’s good." As always, Laurel saw things with her own brand of logic. "How’re you?"

"I’m good for the most part. You?"

"S’alright, Ah guess. It’s kinda interestin’ watchin’ the crowds at the concerts. Did get to see the Met and the top of the Empyre State Buildin’. That was cool." She started to sound tired.

"Are you having fun at least?" There were so many more questions Sheryl wanted to ask, but it was not her place to do so.

"Yep. Sometimes. Jenna’s drivin’ us all crazy. Harold’s turned into a decent guy though. Helped save my ass the other day."

"Who and how?"

"Huh?" There was a slight pause. "Oh, Harold’s our manager. Ah was accused of gafflin’ a blue gecko CD. Harold got ‘em fired." Laurel summed it up neatly.

"Gaffling?" Sheryl asked. She could only infer that the bassist meant stealing.

"Yep. Fuckers thought Ah was stealin’ my own CD. Like Ah didn’t learn the first time Ah got busted. S’ok though. Everythin’s cool now."

"Laurel, can I ask you something?"


"Do you do this often?"

"Do what?" The question seemed to confuse her.

"Get drunk and call people?"

"Nope. Ah went to a bar this evenin’ and then there was a party here at the hotel. Ah was gonna call you anyway, thought Ah should when it was there in my head."

"Ok." Sheryl’s curiosity was eating her alive, but she refused to ask the questions hammering inside her brain. "Ah was jes, err I was just curious."

"Didja get a copy of our CD? If not, wait an get one in another week. There’s a new one on there to Nicole."

"I already have one, but I can get the other one too. What song is it?"

"There’s two of ‘em. One’s the after break up shit, and the other’s a surprise. It’s a live recordin’ to combat the MP3 floatin’ around." Laurel paused again. "Big man’s here, so Ah need to get off the phone. Get my email from Jessie."

"Jessie has your email?" It was news to Sheryl.

"Yep. Drop me a letter. Ah’d tell ya to kiss ole blue eyes for me, but then Ah’d hafta kill ya." Her tone was serious. Sheryl gulped. She did not want to think what would happen if Laurel found out about Jenny. Then again, she reasoned that it could be the alcohol talking. Laurel usually did not get upset without thinking things over first.

"I won’t. Take care."

"Aight. Night." She heard the click.

"Great. Why am I always the one in the middle?" She wondered aloud.

Now she had to think of an excuse to use for her tardiness. They were having one last cook out at Nicole’s before following the truck to New Orleans. She was already running later than usual, and Laurel’s phone call did not help matters. She could not wait to talk to Danny about it. However, she wondered if she should mention it to Nicole. Somehow, she did not think that would be a good idea yet. There was still something keeping them apart, and the critic needed more information first.


"Well, it seems as if the paper that ran the original story has made a graceful detraction. Listen to this." Harold cleared his throat. "We as a whole have made a grave error in judgment. This is a quality newspaper and we do not run articles written as personal vendettas. Nor do we condone it when an overly zealous journalist neglects to verify sources and material before writing a news article. It is our wish that Miss Laurel A. Kendrick and those in her band, blue gecko, receive our most sincere apologies. While we know that nothing we say can heal any pain this newspaper may have caused, we wish Miss Kendrick well. We also apologize to her friends and family. A grave error has been made, and we are doing our best to rectify it." Harold looked out at them from behind the paper. "It’s signed by Max Pinket, the publisher. How was this managed?"

"I have no idea." Laurel answered honestly. "I vaguely remember calling a friend who works at the paper last Wednesday night, but I don’t think anything I said made that happen. If my memory of the call is right, she said they had a meeting and it was being taken care of already."

"Well, regardless, you have been vindicated. There’s a full article here about you and how well you’re doing. The author claims to be a friend of yours." Harold handed her the paper.

"Must have been that other one your ex-girlfriend hangs out with." Jenna commented.

"How do you figure that?" Laurel looked. The by line was Sheryl’s.

"Nicole no longer works at the paper." Jenna answered.

"How did you know that?" She was getting suspicious. The unnamed source was only listed as someone close to the band. That meant it could be close to her now. How much closer could one be to the band than the guitarist?

"Robbie works in the press room. He told me when I talked to him."

"When did you start keeping up with Robbie?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, you never liked him." BJ added. "If I remember correctly, you said he was lower than a bullfrog’s buttocks."

"Well, that was a long time ago." Jenna evaded.

"That was in May!" Steve yelled.

"Admit it Jenna. You gave them the information didn’t you?" Laurel turned around and looked at the guitarist. "Why?"

"I did not do anything."

"BJ. Call Robbie, now. Ask him when the last time he talked to Jenna was." Laurel was not a happy bassist. "Steve, block the door. Harold, don’t watch if you don’t want to."

"Wait a minute, Lakky, what are you going to do?" Harold stepped between her and the now frightened guitarist.

"Find out the truth." She answered simply. "Now, Jenna, darling, why don’t you tell us what happened before I beat the shit out of you?"

"Alright. I told them some stuff, but nothing bad. What do you think I wanted to do? Kill us?"

"No, I think you’re madder than hell that Lakky here’s the real leader of this band." BJ placed the phone’s receiver back on its cradle.

"Let’s get one thing straight. This is not over. This is not going to be over until I say so. That may not be until after all of this has calmed down and it may be longer than that. That was MY reputation you were trying to ruin. I’ve worked really hard the last few years to live down everyone’s perception of me and the mistakes I made. I did not need them splashed all over every magazine and newspaper in the country." She paused for a moment to clear her head. "That was why Nicole quit wasn’t it? Your buddy Jeff wanted her to do the story. That would have been great irony wouldn’t it? My ex-girlfriend writes a story about how fucked up I am and everyone with a computer picks it up. Well, that just goes to show you. Nicole is not stupid. She’s not about to put herself in that type of situation."

"I only answered a few questions." Jenna tried once again to clear her name. No one believed her.

"Whatever." Laurel turned away. Her heart was almost signing. Nicole left a job the photographer loved for her. Could she do the same with a job she was starting to like? She wondered if it were that simple, and if they had a chance now. With no word and a conversation she could barely remember, she did not know. Then again, there was a chance it was only an ethical problem. All she could do was wait for Jessie’s signal.

"I hate to bring this up, but the label does want someone to issue a statement on this turn of events, and members of the press have been calling all day." Harold showed her the list.

"I’ll talk to those two." She pointed out two names. One was a major entertainment news magazine. The other was more for a clique market magazine. Danny read that magazine. It was a perfect way to indirectly say thanks, regardless of the reasoning behind Nicole’s departure from the paper.

"Are you sure?" The manager asked.


"Want us to come with you?" Steve asked. He was still eyeing Jenna as if the guitarist were scum.

"Nope. Tell them I’ll talk to their reporters at the venue. We’ll do the interviews on the stage." She turned back to her band mates as Harold used his cellular phone. "I guess we won round one. We’re still here."

"No thanks to someone." BJ snarled.

"Calm down, big man." Laurel took a seat on the bed near Jenna. "Now, can we all cooperate, or do we need to call Beth?" She kept her tone soft as she threatened the guitarist with being replaced.

"I’ll cooperate." The submissive answer was reluctantly given.

"Good, cause if you fuck up like this again, or if you decide to really get creative, Beth will be back in the band and you’ll be home before you can say oops." She felt the reiteration necessary. It seemed to finally sink in to Jenna’s brain. "Now, I need to go get ready for an interview. Goddess, I never thought I’d be glad to say that."

"It’s ok. Just be honest, but not too honest." Harold cautioned. "They’ll be there in a few. You can just walk over. I called security too and told them to expect everyone."

"Thanks. Wish me luck." She called out before heading back to her room. She did not wait for an answer.

Since she was not the type to dress up for anything, Laurel chose the outfit she had planned to wear for the concert that evening, light jeans and a sleeveless black shirt. It got too hot on stage to wear anything heavier. She changed quickly. She had missed the day’s run, so she did not need another shower. In seconds, she was ready to go meet the press. She was almost out the door before returning to get Muggster. While she knew the puppy’s presence might blow her cultivated image to pieces, she thought the dog should get her share of the attention. She was cute.

Muggster enjoyed the walk to the arena. The small dog was walked regularly, but never for long distances. She was intended to be Laurel’s running companion, but the puppy did not show potential for it. The one time the bassist tried to take the dog farther than around the parking lot, Muggster had been panting and ready to quit before the hotel was out of sight. Now the puppy was not required to walk more than she wanted. The arena was in easy range. She seemed to enjoy the new smells and sounds.

"Ya’ll must be the reporters." Laurel would have noticed them anywhere. The photographer was a dead give away. The man was wearing a tour shirt from a band that broke up long before the bassist was born. "We’re going to do these one at a time." She pointed to the reporter from the smaller magazine. "You get to go first. Boys, if you’ll excuse us please."

"Sure. We’ll hang out back there." The other reporter pointed to the seats at the far end of the arena’s floor.

"Thanks guys." She left the one chair on stage for the reporter and took a seat on the drum platform. "Ok, you know who I am, but manners dictate me introducing myself. I’m Laurel Kendrick, also known as Lakky."

"Moira McNeil." The slightly overweight brunette sat down. "I’m surprised you granted me an interview."

"I like to be unpredictable. The label requested that I talk to someone, but they didn’t specify who." Laurel laughed. "So, what do you want to know?"

"Well, I think we only need the basic questions covered. Our magazine really isn’t interested in your past, and the retraction we received over the wire made that point moot anyway. The first thing is can you explain your nickname?"

"Sure. My brother Jon gave it to me a long time ago. It’s a play on the word lackey. I was his fetch and carry as a child. The name kinda stuck after that."

"He died in a robbery, is that correct?" Moira checked her notes.

"Yes. He was a senior in college. He stopped for gas, went inside to pay and surprised the person robbing the store. He panicked and Jon was shot." It was easier to relate after time had passed. She could almost look on it as if it were from a lifetime ago.

"How old were you at the time that happened?"

"Seventeen. I skipped a year, so I was a senior. I was about to graduate high school when it happened." Laurel answered easily.

"Then he was four years older?"

"Five." She corrected.

"I only ask because we have a quote from you saying your brother was the reason you play. Is that true?"

"It is. Jon taught himself to play a guitar our father got him on year for his birthday. He came home one day and found me playing around with it. After that he bought me one for my birthday. We played together, wrote songs together, but he was better with the guitar than I am. I switched to bass a year or so later."

"You graduated at seventeen from high school, but you did not graduate college until you were twenty-two. Did you sit out a year?" Moira consulted her notes again.

"A semester really, but not because I wanted to. I had some problems. Jon’s death kinda fuck, err messed me up a bit. I was eighteen when I started college. I managed to graduate on time." She did not want to go into details.

"Now we get to the interesting parts." Moira smiled.

"Ok. Should I be nervous?" Laurel chuckled.

"Not at all. Obviously you’re out, correct?"

"Yep. I did that at the tender age of sixteen."

"You were really ahead of the pack weren’t you?" The reporter looked amazed.

"I knew what I wanted even then. I’ve always been like that." Laurel clarified.

"Determination. Our readers are going to love that." The reporter giggled. Laurel did not know people actually giggled. "Anyway, have you found that special someone?"

"Off the record, is this important?" She did not know it was going to be a romantic interview when she opted to sit for it.

"Let me explain something before we continue. Our readers are mostly gay and bisexual. You know that. What you may not realize is how isolated some of them feel. They need to be able to connect with someone like them, even if it is from a distance. We may be ten percent of the population, but that ten percent does not all live in San Francisco, New York, or New Orleans. Stories about people out and in the news give everyone a little hope. That’s why we ask these questions. It seems like mush, but they are important to our readers." Moira seemed earnest. Laurel was forced to believe her. "Of course we also do stories with political angles. It’s nice to do human stories though."

"Ok. The answer to your question is yes. I found her and I lost her. Maybe one day I’ll get her back."

"Have you thought about finding someone else?"

"Nope. Like I said earlier, I know what I want when I find it. We let it end for various reasons. That was a mistake, but it happened. I can accept that, but I can’t move on. I love her too much to give up the idea that we can work it out."

"This would be the person you wrote ‘Goddess of Desire’ for, correct?" Moira did not need to check her notes for that question. She seemed more interested in the interview now than she did at the start.

"Yes. I wrote that song for her. I wrote that one and one of the other ballads on the CD for her." Laurel had to think about which songs were on the CD. Since the band had redone their set, they no longer played the entire album. "’Come to me’ was written about a year before I met her, but it does fit our relationship. ‘Follow your heart’ was the other one."

"That’s some lucky girl." Moira commented. "What do you think about when you write songs?"

"Lately it’s been how rainy it is on tour, how tired I am, or how much the coffee at a truck stop sucks." Laurel laughed. "I have written a few post break up songs. They’re part of our set now."

"What about a social life? Do you have one on tour?"

"I hang out with the band, some of the guys from other bands, and my dog. Pretty much we try to stay out of the news. We go shopping and to the movies and stuff. It’s all pretty low profile." She answered honestly. "By the time we get off stage, nothing really is open except for a few coffee places."

"Well, the other questions on my list are all along the lines of what you look for in another person and all that. I think we can skip those. I must ask this one though. How did you know that she was the one for you?" Moira closed her notebook but left the tape running in the recorder on her lap.

"Have you ever met someone and felt you knew them? That they were tugging at your mind, your heart and your soul in some strange way? I’ve felt that before, but it was always a mind tug. When I met her, it was almost like her soul stepped into mine and said hi. There was just something so right about it that I couldn’t deny it for long. At first I thought it was lust. She’s absolutely gorgeous, but then I realized it was love. My palms would get sweaty, I couldn’t smoke enough, my insides would shake, and I would get this strange pain in my gut right below my naval, whenever I just thought about her. I looked into her eyes and I saw all the answers to all the questions I had never even been able to ask there."

"Wow. That is amazing. Love like that is so rare, I really hope it works out for you." Moira stood. "Now, I must go curl up with the woman that answers all my questions. Thank you for your time. Keep me posted if it does work out. Our readers would like to know, but this is also personal." She handed the bassist a card. "I do know how you feel. The love of my life is waiting for me at the hotel. I can’t be without her long enough to complete an assignment anymore." She grinned.

"I know the feeling. Thanks for the interview. Can you send a copy of the magazine to this address when it comes out?" Laurel handed her a card with Mandy’s address written on it. "We travel so much, and some places don’t carry it."

"That’s not a problem. Best of luck, Laurel."

"Thanks. Next." She called out when Moira had climbed off the stage. As she watched the reporter and photographer approach, she knew this was going to be a completely different interview. This time she made them sit on the floor and she took the chair. It was only fair.


"I can’t believe we got everything down here in one trip." Nicole commented as she surveyed the now redecorated apartment in the Warehouse.

"You didn’t have much." Danny commented.

"Well, not compared to you." Aaron teased his lover.

"Really, Cowboy. You are the king of knickknacks." Sheryl told him as she flung herself back on the couch. "I’m glad you decided to keep this couch instead of the other one. I’m sure whoever moves in next will appreciate it."

"I think the couch goes with the house. It was there when I moved in." Nicole told them. She did not want to think about what might have been done on that couch before she owned it.

"Well, are you going to move in here?" Danny asked. "I mean all your stuff is here now. We didn’t move a single thing into the house except your clothes, mail and camera equipment."

"No. I’m going to stick it out at the house. It was just easier to move all this stuff here instead of finding room for it there." She forced Sheryl to sit up on the couch. "Thanks for your help."

"Anytime. You did promise us dinner though." Aaron rubbed his stomach. "Lunch was a long time ago."

"There you go again. Always thinking with your stomach." Danny teased. "The first time he met my mother he was nice and polite for about five minutes. Then he asked what was for dinner."

"That was not my fault." Aaron protested as the others laughed. "We walked in as she was cooking. It smelled too good not to ask. I was just making conversation."

"Stan should be here in a moment with the pizza, so we won’t let you starve." Nicole assured him.

"So much for steak." Aaron mock grumbled. "Oh well. I’ll guess I’ll have to settle."

"Are we going out tonight?" Sheryl asked eagerly.

"I don’t see any reason why we can’t." Nicole did not have to think about it for long. "We haven’t gone out in a while."

"Good. I was hoping you’d say that. I’m in a mood to get a little funky." Danny commented in his radio voice.

"You know, we all regret the day when an oldies station bought ya’ll out." Sheryl told him. "You were a lot easier to take when you were introducing sugar coated pop rock."

"What? You have something against the funky free stylings of seventies drug induced rock?" Danny pretended to be hurt.

"Yes." All three of them said it in unison.

"Ok, I do too, but it’s a job. We do carry that syndicated program on new artists and what’s coming next now."

"Really?" Nicole asked in a disinterested tone. She really was not paying attention to him.

"Yeah. The buzz on the blue gecko CD is really good. Matter of fact." He pulled his duffle bag over. "I managed to sweet talk the manager of our sister station out of these." He pulled out a few CD’s and t-shirts. "It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but she eventually fell victim to my charm. Although now I have to take her five year old to see that new children’s movie."

"Ugh. That was a big sacrifice for these." Sheryl made a face as she claimed a CD and a t-shirt. "One for you." She handed them to Nicole before claiming another set for her. "Is this the re-released one?"

"I think so. It seems to have two more songs on it." Danny examined the back. "I really just wanted the t-shirt. I already have a copy of the demo and then the official CD."

"I think we all do." Aaron examined a t-shirt. "These are nice. I like the logo." A small blue gecko was on the left hand side, near the heart. The shirt was a forest green and the back simply proclaimed the band’s name.

"What about you, Hotshot? Like the goodies?" Danny asked. He put the remaining three shirts and the last CD aside.

"I guess. It’s almost a validation though, isn’t it?" Nicole asked quietly.

"Validation of what?" Sheryl asked.

"I was right."

"No you were not." Danny said in a forceful tone. "We all know she wasn’t going to go."

"Had I not made her you mean?" Nicole looked at him. "Here’s the proof right here." She held up the CD. It was her first copy not counting the demo.

"Nicole, that’s not proof. All it shows is Laurel did what she was contracted to do. She did nothing more carry out her responsibilities to the band." Aaron pointed out.

"How do you know she’s not sitting somewhere right now waiting for you to call her home?" Danny asked.

"How do I know she’s not out with a different girl every night and thanking her goddess that she’s not here?" Nicole retorted.

"Honey, you slept with someone else. That doesn’t mean Laurel has, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t either." Sheryl attempted to put it gently. "I doubt she’s grateful she’s on tour."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because she didn’t want to go. It’s hard to like something enough to enjoy it when you didn’t want to do it in the first place." Sheryl answered.

"So you’re saying she’s only out there because of me?"

"What we’re saying is that she left because you didn’t give her a choice. She stayed because like it or not she is a member of the band. The band was contracted to record a CD and do a national tour. You weren’t there any longer, so I don’t think she saw a reason to come home." Aaron explained.

"And how you would know?" The tone was harsher than she intended.

"Because I would have done the same thing if I were in her position." He answered.

"You would have left Danny instead of staying to talk things out?" The idea struck her as being too incredible to believe.

"Honestly, if he did to me what you did to her. Yes I would. Nicole, I’ve been really good at biting my tongue and letting you get away with being a hermit and the queen of self-pity, but I can’t do it anymore. I haven’t known you as long or as well as the other two, but I have had enough. You wrote her a note asking her to leave. You would not answer the phone when she called from New York, except that once. In that conversation you again told her to leave. If she had done that to you, what would you have done?" He managed to keep his voice even. Danny and Sheryl were staring at him in shock.

"I don’t know. What does it matter anyway?" Nicole stood. She had not been expecting the assault. It left her off balance. The only way she felt she could cope with it was to move. She walked over to the window, cracked it open and lit a cigarette. "She’s gone. There’s not much I can do about it, is there?"

"Yes there is. You can call right now and tell her to come home. Apologize to her and see what happens then." He made it sound as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

"I fucked up. I know that. I tried to call her before she left, but she didn’t want to talk to me. I tried to call her on tour, but I wasn’t on the list of accepted people. I sent an email posed as fan mail to BJ asking him to watch over her, but while I didn’t exactly say to keep it a secret, I didn’t actually ask him to tell her anything. I guess I overestimated or underestimated his sense of confidence. I’ve even had Danny try to find her." Nicole sat down on the window ledge. "From my perspective, it does not appear as if she wants to be found."

"Maybe you didn’t try hard enough." Aaron said softly.

"What was I supposed to do? Over night myself to their hotel?" The fight was draining out of her. She never had been able to maintain anger for long. "It won’t work. As much as I want to, need to apologize, I can’t seem to find a way."

"One will open you know. Somehow it will happen." Aaron walked over and stood before her. "Love does triumph, even over death."

"No it doesn’t." She replied. "It just never dies."

"That, my friend, was my point."

"How was that your point?" Nicole was understandably confused. She had meant the pain of losing love never dies, but it did not come out the way she intended.

"Look at this. Tell me what it is?" He pulled something from his back pocket. She could see Danny and Sheryl silently watching the exchange. She wondered for a moment if they had drawn straws for this conversation. "Well?"

"It’s a chewed up pencil."

"Partially. It’s a wooden pencil. Once it was a tree, now it’s a pencil."


"So, look at it this way. You can take a tree, which is made of wood, cut it down and make a house, boat, box, pencil or whatever. It’s not a tree anymore, but it is still wood isn’t it?"

"Yeah." She felt rather stupid at the moment. She was not quite able to grasp his analogy.

"Your love was a tree. It may be cut down, but it’s still there. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it. You could call her back, plant another tree and build a house out of the fallen one, or you could choose to leave it there, dying. Make a pencil out of it and take it out every once in a while so you can look at it and chew on it until your gums bleed from splinters. Otherwise, it’ll just stay there, rotting. What good is rotting wood?"

"That is without a doubt the strangest analogy I’ve ever heard." She looked at him closely. For a moment she suspected drug use, then the true meaning behind the confusion sunk into her mind. "For some odd reason, it actually makes sense though."

"Hey, would I purposely try to upset and confuse you if I didn’t have a moral to teach?" He gave her a hug.

"Wow. Why am I always the one left out when drama starts?" Stan complained. She turned to see her cousin standing near the elevator with three large pizzas.

"Why did you get three pizzas?" She asked. The absurdity of it returned her to the present.

"I paid for two. It’s a special. Buy two and get one free." He explained. "I think I got everyone’s favorite."

"Who care’s what’s on it. It’s pizza. That’s all that matters." Aaron dropped his serious demeanor and ran to help Stan with the food.

She knew she should thank him, but she would do it later. Now she understood his point. He made her upset just so she would calm down and see what he wanted her to see. He wanted her to see hope. It was still alive. However, the pizza did smell good and pushed the more depressing thoughts from her head. After all, she was in her favorite place with four of her favorite people, and they were all about to eat pizza. Her deep thinking could be delayed under those circumstances.


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