Two years. God dammit.

The bells jingled when she pulled open the party store’s door, the breeze from the pressurized air mussing her already untamed mane of hair even further.

“So the lioness has returned once more,” a blonde smirked from behind the counter.

“Oh my gods, can I never outrun these horrendous nicknames? And I mean, at least for another couple of hours. I’m on a quest for a bottle of Jack...and Malibu apparently,” she pulled a face at the last title she threw out to the boy - no - man, standing in front of her.

“We don’t sell liquor here, ma’am,” he said, a small smile on his lips, eyes dancing as she looked at him, aghast.

“This is not a dry county Joshua James, and the good lord knows I need a drink.”

“Are we not celebrating?”

“Well, I suppose that depends; I’m very confused. Too confused for right now,” she sat her purse on the counter and looked down at it, not wanting to look him in the eyes.

This was her best friend since preschool; no matter how long it had been since they had last talked, it was as if no time had passed. It was like one of her books, and she really was grateful for that, but since she had gotten married, he had not known how to behave around her. She didn’t know how to explain that she was the same; she blamed the period of time she lived out of state, his reclusive attitude.

He tilted her chin up, brushing her newly dyed burgundy hair out of her eyes, “I can see that it’s been hard if you went and did this.” He twirled her hair for a minute, smiling. “Also, I know that booze isn’t for you, but I have some gin in the trunk of my car out back if you want it. Might help.”

She smiled brightly back, “Yeah, I. Uh. Thanks. I um. I dropped out.” Her smile fell and he led her around to the side of the counter and hugged her tight.

“The gin is in my car, don’t drink and drive, and you can get liquor at the gas station out by the freeway now. Come see me more, right?”

She nodded vigorously as she slipped out of his arms, “Right.”

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