Elizabeth kind of danced as she stumbled. A drunken waltz of sorts.

“What are you doing?” I asked, grabbing her attention.

She waltzed my way, on her tiptoes, and placed her hands on my chest. “Hi, stormy eyes.”

“Hi, brown eyes.”

She laughed again, snorting this time. She was wasted. “Brown eyes. I like that.” She bopped my nose. “Do you know how to be funny? You always seem so un-funny, but I bet you can be funny. Say something funny.”

“Something funny.”

She laughed, loud. Almost annoyingly so. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t annoying at all. “I like you. And I have no clue why, Mr. Scrooge. When you kissed me, it reminded me of my husband. Which is stupid because you’re nothing like him. Steven was sweet, almost sickeningly so. He always took care of me, and held me, and loved me. And when he kissed me, he meant it. When he pulled away from kisses, he always moved in for another. And another, like he always wanted me against him. But you, stormy eyes… When you pulled away from the kiss, you looked at me as if I was disgusting. You made me want to cry. Because you’re mean.” She stumbled backward, almost falling to the ground until my arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her to a standing position. “Hmph. Well at least you caught me this time.” She smirked.

My gut twitched when I saw the bruise against her cheek and the cut from her fall earlier. “You’re drunk.”

“No. I’m happy. Can’t you tell that I’m happy? I’m displaying all of the happy signals. I’m smiling. I’m laughing. I’m drinking and dancing merrily. Th-th-that’s what happy people do, Tristan,” she said, poking me in the chest. “Happy people dance.”

“Is that so?”

“Yyyes. I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but I’ll try to explain.” She kept slurring her words. She stepped back, took a swig from the tequila, and started to dance again. “Because when you’re drunk and dancing, nothing else matters. You’re twirling, twirling, twirling, and the air gets lighter, the sadness gets quieter, and you forget what it feels like to feel for a while.”

“What happens when you stop?”

“Oh, see, that’s the one tiny problem with dancing. Because when you stop moving”—her feet froze and she released the glass bottle from her hand, sending it crashing to the ground—“everything shatters.”

“You’re not as happy as you say you are,” I said.

“That’s only because I stopped dancing.”

Tears fell from her eyes as she started lowering herself to the broken glass. I stepped in, stopping her. “I’ll get it.”

“Your feet are bleeding,” she said. “Did the bottle cut you?”

I looked down at my feet, bruised and battered from my run. “No.”

“Well then, you just have really unfortunate, ugly feet.” I almost smiled. She definitely frowned. “I’m not feeling too good, stormy eyes.”

“Yeah, well. You drank enough tequila for a small army. Come on, I’ll get you some water.” She nodded once before bending over and vomiting all over my feet. “Or you know, just throw up on me.”

She giggled as she wiped her hand against her mouth. “I think that’s karma for you being rude to me. Now we’re even.”

Well, that seemed fair enough.

I carried her back to my house right after the vomit incident. After I washed my feet in the hottest water known to mankind, I found her sitting on my living room couch, staring around at my place. Her eyes were still heavily drunk. “Your house is boring. And dirty. And dark.”

“I’m glad you like what I’ve done with the place.”

“You know, you could use my lawnmower for your yard,” she offered. “Unless you were going for the whole beast’s-palace-before-he-met-beauty thing.”

“I couldn’t give two shits about my yard looking a certain way.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because unlike some, I could care less what my neighbors think of me.”

She giggled. “That means you care what people think. What you meant was you couldn’t care less what they thought.”

“That’s what I said.”

She kept giggling. “That’s not what you said.”

God, you’re annoying. And beautiful. “Well, I couldn’t care less what people think of me.”

She huffed. “Liar.”

“That’s not a lie.”

“Yes, it is.” She nodded before biting her bottom lip. “Because everyone cares what others think. Everyone cares about the opinion of others. That’s why I haven’t even been able to tell my best friend that I find my neighbor highly attractive, even though he’s an asshole. Because widows aren’t supposed to feel any kind of feelings for anyone anymore—you’re just supposed to be sad all the time. But not too sad because that makes other people super uncomfortable. So the idea of kissing someone and feeling it between your thighs, and finding that the butterflies still exist…that’s a problem. Because people would judge me. And I don’t want to be judged, because I care what they think.”

I leaned in closer to her. “I say fuck it. If you think your neighbor Mr. Jenson is hot, so be it. I know he’s like one hundred years old, but I’ve seen him do yoga in his front yard before, so I totally get your attraction to him. I think I’ve even had a tingling in between my legs for the dude.”