“Owe me?”

She turned around, sniffling, and allowed the tears to keep falling down her cheeks. “You bet me that my relationship would be over in a month tops, and you win. So, how much do I owe you? You win.”

“Lucille…” I started, but she shook her head.

“He, um, he said New York is the place for artists. He said it’s the place for him to grow his craft, and there are opportunities there that he wouldn’t have in the Midwest.” She sniffled some more and wiped her nose on her sleeve. “He said his friend offered him a couch in his apartment, so he’s going to stay there for a while. Then he said a long-distance relationship wasn’t something he was really interested in having, so my stupid heart tightened, thinking he was inviting me out there to be with him. I know what you’re thinking, too.” She giggled nervously then shrugged and shook her head. “Silly, immature, na?ve Lucille, believing love would be enough, thinking she was worthy of being someone’s forever.”

“That’s…not what I was thinking.”

“So, how much?” she asked, standing up. “How much do I owe you? I have some money in my purse. Let me go grab it.”

“Lucille, stop.”

She walked in my direction and put on a fake smile. “No, it’s fine. A bet is a bet and you won, so let me go get the money.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

“You’re good at reading people, you know. That’s probably what makes you a fantastic author. You can look at someone for five minutes and know their entire story. It’s a gift really. You saw Richard for a moment and knew he’d end up breaking me. So what’s my story, huh? I hate spoilers, but I’d love to know. What’s going to happen to me?” she asked, her body shaking as the tears kept rolling down her cheeks. “Am I always going to be the girl who feels too much and ends up alone? Because, I…I…” Her words became a blurred mess as her emotions began to overpower her. She covered her face with her hands and broke down right in the middle of the sunroom.

I didn’t know what to do.

I wasn’t made for these kinds of moments.

I wasn’t one to give comfort.

That was true, but when her knees started to tremble and her legs began to look as if they were going to collapse, I did the only thing I could think to do.

I wrapped her in my arms, giving her something to hold on to, giving her something to hold her up before gravity forced her down to the solid ground. She wrapped her fingers in my shirt and cried into me, soaking my shoulder as my hands rested against her back.

She didn’t let go, and I figured I shouldn’t ask her to pull her emotions together.

It was all right that she and I handled things in a different fashion. She wore her heart on her sleeve, and I kept my heart wrapped in steel chains deep within my soul.

Without thought, I held her closer as her body continued to shake. The woman who felt everything leaned in closer to the man who felt nothing at all.

For a split second in time, I felt a little of her pain while she encountered my coldness, and neither one of us seemed to mind.

“You can’t go home,” I told her, glancing at my watch, seeing that it was almost midnight. “It’s pouring rain, and you rode your bike to my house.”

“It’s fine. I’ll be okay,” she told me, trying to grab her jacket from the front closet.

“It’s not safe. I’ll drive you.”

“No way,” she argued. “Talon has a cold. She shouldn’t be leaving the house, especially in the pouring rain. Plus, you’re a bit sick yourself,” she told me.

“I can handle a cold,” I stated.

“Yes, but your daughter cannot. I’ll be okay. Plus, there’s whisky back home,” she joked, her eyes still swollen from her emotional breakdown over Dick.

I slightly shook my head, disagreeing. “Stay here for a moment.” I hurried into my office, picked up three of the five whisky bottles that sat on my desk, and took them back to the foyer where Lucy stood. “Yours for the choosing. You can have all the whisky you want, and one of the spare rooms for the night.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You’re not going to let me ride my bike home tonight, are you?”

“No, definitely not.”

She bit her bottom lip and narrowed her eyes. “Fine, but you cannot judge me for the intense romance Johnnie and I are about to have,” she said, taking the bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky from my hand.

“Deal. If you need anything, you can knock on my office door. I’ll be up and can assist you.”

“Thank you, Graham.”

“For what?”

“Catching me before I hit the ground.”

Knock, knock, knock.

I glanced over at my closed office door and raised an eyebrow as I typed the final few sentences in chapter twenty of my manuscript. My desk was covered in tissues, and a half bottle of cough syrup sat beside me. My eyes burned a bit from exhaustion, but I knew I still needed another five thousand words before I could call it a night. Plus, Talon would be awake in a few hours for a bottle, therefore it seemed pointless to even consider going to bed.

Knock, knock, knock.

Standing up, I stretched a bit before opening the door. Lucy stood there with a glass of whisky in her hand and a remarkably wide smile on her lips.

“Hi, Graham Cracker,” she said, stumbling a bit as she swayed back and forth.

“Do you need something?” I asked, completely aware and alert. “Are you all right?”

“Are you a psychic?” she asked, placing her glass to her lips and taking a sip. “Or a wizard?”

I cocked an eyebrow. “I beg your pardon?”

“I mean, it has to be one of those,” she said, dancing down the hallway, back and forth, swirling, twirling, humming. “Because how did you know that Richard—er, Dick would break up with me? I’ve been thinking about that repeatedly with Johnnie tonight, and I’ve concluded that the only way you could’ve known is if you are a psychic.” She came closer to me and tapped my nose once with her pointer finger. “Or a wizard.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m happy.”

“No, you’re drunk. You’re simply covering your sadness with a blanket of whisky.”

“Que sera, sera.” She giggled before trying to peer into my office. “So, is that where the magic happens?” She giggled again then covered her mouth for a second before leaning in closer and whispering, “I mean, magic as in your stories, not your sex life.”

“Yes, I figured, Lucille.” I closed my office door, leaving us standing in the hallway. “Would you like some water?”

“Yes, please, the kind that tastes like wine.”

We walked past the living room, and I told her to wait on the couch for me to grab the drink.

“Hey, Graham Cracker,” she called. “What’s your greatest hope?”

“I already told you,” I yelled back. “I don’t hope.”

When I walked back, she was sitting straight up on the couch with a smile on her face.