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“Not till I’m finished.” Zoe cut Malory off as she dabbed on eye cream. “The lower floor has two wonderful bow windows. Perfect for displays. There’s a central hall, and on each side are those nice rooms. If someone was interested in opening a tasteful gallery for art and local crafts, she couldn’t find a better place. At the same time, on the other side of that hall there’s a wonderful set of parlors that would make a terrific bookstore, with room for a hip little bistro or tearoom.”

“I didn’t hear anything about a salon in there,” Dana pointed out, but she was listening.

“Upstairs. When someone comes in to get her hair or nails done, or enjoy any number of our wonderful treatments and services, she’ll have to pass by the gallery and the bookstore, coming and going. Perfect time to select that lovely gift for Aunt Mary, or pick up a book to read while she’s being combed out. Maybe even have a nice glass of wine or cup of tea before heading home. It’s all there, in one fabulous setting.”

“You really have been thinking,” Malory murmured.

“I sure have. I even have a name for it. ‘Indulgence.’ People need to indulge themselves from time to time. We could do packages and cross-promotions. I know it’s a big idea, especially when we haven’t known each other very long. But I think it could work. I think it could be great. Just look at it before you say no.”

“I’d like to see it,” Dana said. “I’m miserable at work. And what’s the point of being miserable?”

Malory could almost see the energy and enthusiasm for the idea pumping off Zoe in waves. There were a dozen rational comments she could make to point out why it wasn’t just a big idea but a messy one.

She didn’t have the heart to do that, but she felt obliged to ease carefully back. “I don’t want to muck things up, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be asked to come back to The Gallery. In fact, my old boss called this afternoon and asked if I’d come in and speak with him tomorrow.”

“Oh. Well. That’s great.” Zoe stepped behind Malory’s chair, began to run her fingers through Malory’s hair to get a feel for the weight and the lines. “I know you love working there.”

“It was like home.” Malory lifted a hand, covered one of Zoe’s. “I’m sorry. It did sound like a good idea. A fun one, but—”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Hey.” Dana waved a hand. “Remember me? I’m still interested. I can take a look at the place tomorrow. Maybe we can make it work between the two of us.”

“Great. Mal, let’s wet down your hair.”

She felt too guilty to argue, and with her hair dampened, she sat stoically while Zoe snipped.

“I’d better tell you both why I went by the newspaper this morning to see Flynn, to whom I’m no longer speaking.”

Zoe continued to snip as she told them about the painting in The Gallery and her belief that it was done by the same artist.

“You’ll never guess who bought it,” she continued. “Jordan Hawke.”

“Jordan Hawke?” Dana all but squeaked. “Goddamn it, now I want chocolate. You must have some.”

“Emergency supply, deli drawer of the fridge. What’s the problem?”

“We were semi-involved a million years ago. Damn it, damn it, damn it,” Dana repeated as she yanked open the drawer and found two bars of Godiva. “Godiva’s your emergency chocolate?”

“Why not have the best when you’re feeling your worst?”

“Good point.”

“You were involved with Jordan Hawke?” Zoe wanted to know. “Romantically?”

“It was years ago, when I was still young and stupid.” Dana unwrapped the bar, took a big bite. “Bad breakup, he took off. End of story. Bastard, creep, ass**le.” She took another bite. “Okay, I’m done.”

“I’m sorry, Dana. If I’d known . . . Well, I don’t know what I’d have done. I need to see the painting.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m over him. I’m so over him.” But she picked up the chocolate bar again, had another bite.

“I have to say something, and you might want the second emergency bar after I do. I can’t buy coincidence on this. I can’t rationalize it all. The three of us—and Flynn, your brother. Now Flynn’s two best friends. And one of those friends is a former lover of yours. That makes a very tight circle.”

Dana stared at her. “Just let me go on record as saying I really hate that part. Do you have another bottle of this wine?”

“I do. Rack above the fridge.”

“I’ll either walk home or call Flynn to pick me up. But I’m planning on being toasted by the time I leave.”

“I’ll drive you home,” Zoe offered. “Go ahead and get toasted—as long as you’re ready to leave by ten.”


“YOUR hair looks fabulous.” Swaying a little from trying to keep Dana company with wine consumption, Malory waved her fingers at Dana’s new hair.

The subtle blond highlights accented Dana’s dusky skin tone and dark eyes. And as a result of whatever else Zoe’s magic fingers had done, the long, straight sweep looked sleeker, glossier.

“I’ll have to take your word. I’m pretty blind.”

“Mine looks fabulous too. Zoe, you’re a genius.”

“Yes, I am.” Flushed with success, Zoe nodded at both of them. “Use that night cream sample I gave you for the next couple of days,” she told Malory. “Let me know what you think. Come on, Dana, let’s see if I can pour you into the car.”

“ ’kay. I really like you guys.” With a drunk and sentimental smile, Dana threw her arms around each of them. “I can’t think of anybody I’d rather be in the big mess with. And when it’s over, we should have hair and drinking nights once a month. Like a book club.”

“Good idea. ’Night, Mal.”

“You want some help with her?”

“Nope.” Zoe wrapped a supporting arm around Dana’s waist. “I’ve got her. I’m stronger than I look. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Me too! Did I tell you Jordan Hawke is a jerk?”

“Only about five hundred times.” Zoe guided Dana toward the car. “You can tell me again on the drive home.”

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