By: Melanie Harlow

His grin deepened. Damn it, he had dimples. “Do you live alone, Erin?”

I clenched my jaw. “Yes.”

“Do you have any pets?”


“Well, you might think about getting one. A dog would be good for a woman alone.”

“I don’t like dogs.”

“Are you serious? Who doesn’t like dogs?”

“Me. They’re hairy and slobbery.”

He shook his head, as if I were hopeless. “Do you own a firearm?”

I recoiled. “You mean like a gun? Of course not.”

“Don’t look so shocked. Grosse Pointe Park is a nice place and all, but you need to be smarter.”

“What’s so smart about a gun? That wouldn’t have helped me tonight anyway. He was gone by the time I got down here.”

“Tonight he was,” he emphasized. “What about next time? Wouldn’t you feel better as a woman alone knowing that you could defend yourself?”

“Look, will you stop with all the ‘woman alone’ stuff?” I made little air quotes with my fingers. “I live alone by choice.”

“I never said you didn’t.”

I pinned him with a stare. “You implied it. It was strongly implied.”

“You know, now that you mention it, I am kind of surprised the Homecoming Queen is still single.”

“I wasn’t the Homecoming Queen,” I said indignantly.

Confession: I was totally the Homecoming Queen.

“And how would you know, anyway?” I went on. “You moved away before high school.”

“Just a hunch.”

“And for your information, I’m not single,” I lied.

“Oh no? What’s his name? Or her—I don’t want to make assumptions.” Dimples again. Asshole.

“It’s a him. Why do you want his name?”

“Could be relevant. Where is he tonight?”

“He’s—working. He’s an actor. He’s shooting a film tonight.”

Charlie found that funny for some reason. “What’s his name, please?”

Desperate, I scrambled for a name and said the first one that popped into my head—my father’s name. “Tad.”

“Tad? Tad what?”

“Tad…Pitt.” Cringe. Cringe. Cringe.

Charlie cocked a brow. “Your boyfriend’s name is Tad Pitt?”

I lifted my chin. “Yeah.”

“And he’s an actor? Let me guess—adult films.”

“Wrong.” I tried to look offended. “He’s a… dramatic actor. Shakespearean, in fact.”

Charlie made a note on his pad, an infuriating chuckle shaking his shoulders. “I could show you how to shoot a gun, you know. I mean, if Tad’s too busy shooting King Lear or whatever.”

“No, thank you.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m anti-gun and I don’t think they belong in people’s houses. I’ve never even seen a gun in real life, except on a police officer.” Glancing at the one on Charlie’s hip, I shivered. “I could never shoot one.”

“Suit yourself. What about an alarm? Ever think of getting one installed?”


“Maybe you should.”

God, he was such a know-it-all! “Thank you. I’ll add that to my list of expenses for this month, right after I get a new cell phone and computer, pay my thousand dollar deductible, my twenty-five hundred dollar studio rent, and my mortgage.” Suddenly I was more angry than scared. I jumped out of my chair and stomped over to the pantry to grab the broom and dust pan. “You know what, this stinks! It really stinks!” I threw the pan to the floor and began sweeping up the pretzel crumbs with angry strokes, scattering them rather than collecting them. “I am a good person—maybe I was a little forgetful tonight, but I follow all the rules! I don’t litter. I come to a complete stop at stop signs. I don’t get in the express lane with more than fifteen items, I return my cart when I’m done with it, and I don’t try to board airplanes before my zone is called! Why did this happen to me?”

“Life doesn’t work that way, I guess. We’re not always rewarded for the good things we do or punished for the bad.” He shrugged. “People get away with things.”

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