By: Melanie Harlow

“Jeez, Coco, this isn’t the time! Let her breathe a minute.” Thank God for Mia. The voice of reason.

I flashed her a grateful look. “Thank you.”

“Plus he was kind of a jerk.” Mia scrunched up her pretty face. “Didn’t he steal your gerbil or something? Is that the guy I’m thinking of? How weird he’s a police officer now.”

“My hamster,” I clarified, taking a big gulp of wine. “Which he held for five dollars’ ransom. I was too scared to tattle on him so I had to sell my brother all my chocolate Halloween candy to get the five bucks.”

“What a dick,” Coco said.

“Totally. He hasn’t changed either.” But now I was thinking about his dick. Thanks, Coco. “He gave me all kinds of crap tonight about how unsafe this place is. Told me I should get a dog or a gun or an alarm because I’m a woman living alone. He kept emphasizing that. A woman living alone. He made me feel like a twenty-eight-year-old spinster!”

Mia harrumphed. “Asshole.”

“You’re not a spinster, so just forget that.” Coco waved a hand through the air, dismissing the notion. “For fuck’s sake, you could have anyone you wanted, you’re just too busy to weed out the bottom feeders right now. But I do think you should consider what he said. About getting an alarm, I mean. We have one. Actually, I think Nick has a gun, too.”

“So do we,” said Mia. “An alarm, not a gun.” She giggled. “Lucas is a lover, not a fighter.”

“You guys live in Detroit. It’s different.”

“Maybe. But we’ve never been broken into.” Coco shook her head. “No neighborhood is completely safe, Erin. Look, I grew up around here, and I know it’s safer than most places, but it’s not like it used to be. You should at least consider it. Wouldn’t you feel better?”

“I guess so.” I brought my hands to my face and rubbed my eyes. “God, I’m so tired. Although I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.”

“We’ll stay with you,” Mia said firmly. “We already decided.”

“You don’t have to do that. What about your husbands?”

“I don’t have a husband yet.” Coco stuck her chin out. “And if Nick doesn’t quit bugging me about the church thing, I never will.”

“Church weddings can be beautiful, Coco,” Mia pulled a pad of paper and pen out of her bag. “I don’t know why you’re so against it.”

“I’m against it because he and I are liable to burst into a ball of flames if we even go near a Catholic church. We’re divorced, remember? It’s a sin.”

“Yeah, but you’re only divorced from each other. Seems like you should get a free pass on that.” Mia set the pad in front of me. “Here. Write down everything they took.”

Coco sniffed. “I don’t think the Catholic Church gives a free pass to anyone. Unless you buy the archdiocese a new rec center or something.”

“Why does he want a church wedding?” I asked. “I thought you were going to get married in your backyard next summer.” Coco and Nick had recently purchased a beautiful old home in Indian Village and spent all their spare time working on its restoration.

“We were. But his Italian grandmother is giving him the Catholic Old Lady guilt trip. The All-I-want-is-to-see-one-of-my-grandchildren-get married-in-the-Church nonsense. Basically, we’re crushing an old lady’s dream.” She got off the stool, went to my snack cupboard and rummaged around. “Got barbecue?”

“No, sorry.”

She pulled out a bag of sweet potato chips instead. “And then there’s Nick, who decided he doesn’t want to wait until next year. He’s giving me no time whatsoever to plan this thing. And yet he won’t elope.” She sat and crunched angrily.

“No!” Mia’s hand shot out and flicked Coco’s ear. “No eloping. I will smother you with a pillow in your sleep if you get married again and I’m not there.”

“Me too,” I added. “No eloping.”

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