She was stalling going home. It was just that she’d come to count on Finn’s company so much. Too much. He made her smile. He made her ache. He made her want things, things she’d been afraid to want. He made her feel . . . way too much.
Thor hadn’t budged so she scooped him up and carried him out to the end of the long, curved pier. She watched the water and thought maybe this wasn’t so bad. Yes, she’d made a mistake. She’d been with Finn a few times.
Other people, normal people, slept with people all the time and she didn’t see anyone else angsting over it. For all she knew Finn hadn’t given it a second thought, and in fact would laugh off her worries.
But you’ve slept with him now, as in actually slept, snuggled in his arms all night long . . . And that was more intimate than anything else and it changed things for her. “Maybe I’m just being silly,” she said hopefully to Thor.
Thor, lazy but utterly loyal, licked her chin.
She hugged him close. “I always have you,” she murmured. “You’ll never leave me—”
But he was squirming to get down so desperately she did just that. “What’s gotten into you?” She stopped when he bounced over to a fellow dog a few feet away.
A small, dainty, perfectly groomed Shih Tzu. The dog stilled at Thor’s approach and allowed him to sniff her butt, and then returned the favor while Pru glanced apologetically at the dog’s owner.
The woman was in her thirties, wearing running tights and a tiny little running bra, the brand of which Pru couldn’t even afford to look through their catalogue.
“Baby,” the woman said. “What have I told you? You’re a purebred not a disgusting mutt.”
“Hey, he’s not disgusting, he’s just—” But Pru broke off when Thor lifted his leg and peed on Baby.
By the time Pru got to her building, Thor had fallen asleep in her arms, which were nearly dead. Seemed nothing stopped him from catching his beauty sleep, not snooty little dogs with snooty little owners, and certainly not the squealing of said snooty little dogs’ owners about the cost of dog grooming and how Pru had let her heathen ruin her “baby.”
A low-lying fog rolled in to join dusk as she entered through the courtyard, staying close to the back wall, not wanting to be seen by anyone.
The temps had dropped so she wasn’t surprised to see the wood fire pit lit. She was surprised to see Eddie manning the pit. He waved her over.
Halfway there she realized the entire courtyard smelled like skunk. When she got to Eddie, she pulled the uneaten half of her sushi lunch pack from her bag and gave it to him.
“Thanks, dudette.” Pocketing the sushi in his sweatshirt, he poked at the fire with a long stick.
“It’s going out,” she said.
“I know. I burned it hot on purpose, I had some stuff to get rid of.”
“Stuff? Stuff related to the skunk smell?”
He just smiled.
A few minutes went by and Pru realized she was still standing there, now with a wide grin on her face. “I’m starving.”
“Me too,” Willa said from right next to Pru.
Pru blinked. “When did you get here?”
“A while ago.” Willa looked into her face and grinned too. “You’re high as a kite.”
“What? Of course I’m not,” Pru said.
“It’s a contact high.” Willa looked at Eddie, who had the decency to look sheepish.
“I had some dead seedlings I had to get rid of,” Eddie said. “It’s fastest to just burn them.”
“You can’t just burn them out here!” Willa said. “Right, Pru?”
But Pru was feeling distracted. “I need food,” she said. “Chips, cookies, cakes, and pies.”
“And pizza,” Willa said. “And chips.”
“I already said chips.”
“Double the chips!” Willa yelled to the courtyard like she was placing an order with an invisible waitress.
Pru laughed at her. “I’m not high as a kite. You are.”
“No, you are.”
“No,” Pru said, poking Willa in the arm. “You are.”
“You both are.” This was from Archer, who’d appeared in front of them.
“Whoa,” Willa said. “The police are here. Run!”
Archer reached out and snagged her hand to keep her at his side. Frowning down at her, he then turned and eyeballed Pru.
She did her best to look innocent even though she felt very guilty. Why, she had no idea.