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Carefully, Lorna slipped the key into the lock, yawned hugely and tiptoed into the hall of her first-floor apartment trailing a chiffon scarf and a gold-spangled evening purse that seemed too monumentally heavy to lift at two in the morning.
"I thought I told you to stay out and have a good time."
Lorna jumped, her head pivoting around toward the scolding voice. Freda Noonan had a hand on one hip and was all wide-awake, foot-tapping impatience. Lorna shook her head, suppressing a tired smile. As a daunting image, her friend lacked something. Freda's red-gray hair was in curlers, and she was wearing a robe the Goodwill would have rejected a decade ago. "The sun's about to come up. I thought you wouldn't mind if I came home," Lorna said dryly.
"Don't tell me you were worried about Johnny."
"Of course I wasn't." Lorna hesitated. "But he was okay, wasn't he? This afternoon I thought he was coming down with a cold..."
"Between your Johnny and my Brian, the house was destroyed three times over. Mostly your monster's energies. Which is the point," Freda chided. "Potential father material. What was wrong this time?"
"Nothing," Lorna said mildly. "Hal has a lot of potential wrestler in him, but except for that he seemed fairly law-abiding. Why on earth did you wait up for me?"
"God knows. You're getting beyond help," Freda said disgustedly.
Lorna grinned and pushed back a dark mane of chestnut hair as she kicked off her sandals. "You want wine or coffeeas in, how long is this scold going to take? Keep in mind that both boys will be up at dawn."
"Wine, and for the rest of the night the boys are your problem. Why do you think I decided to babysit here tonight? And don't be sending my little angel next door any earlier than ten tomorrow morning."
Lorna chuckled, moving through the pale green living room that she knew had some claim to taste and even serenity...somewhere beneath the model airplanes and comic books. Switching on the overhead light in the kitchen, she wondered for a full second and a half if it was worth the effort to drag a chair over, to reach the wineglasses in the top cupboard. It wasn't. She poured the Pinot Noir into two Pac-Man mugs, aware that Freda had trailed after her.
"Honey, he was gorgeous. And don't try to tell me he wasn't interested."
"Oh, he was interested," Lorna agreed. "The so-called bash at his place had a massive guest list of four, and the other couple politely left at eleven."
"I thought you said..."
"I did. I thought it was going to be a big affair."
"All right. So what happened between eleven and two?" Freda demanded interestedly as she picked up her mug of wine.
"Nothing unusual. First we played sophisticated seduction. You know, how many times can he fill my glass while we talk. Then he shifted to poker, as in, let's see if I was really bluffing when I said no. Then we had to check out whether I was the kind who liked a man to be a little rough." Lorna's voice was full of dry humor, as she automatically cleaned up the children's glasses and took a swipe at the counter with a damp sponge.
"And then..." Freda prompted impatiently.