When Nick comes into the pub he sees Ethan sitting alone at the bar, staring morosely at the bubbles rising in his glass of beer. Sliding onto the next stool Nick pats him on the shoulder. “Hey Ethan.”

Without looking up Ethan nods. “Surprised to see you in here.” Billie the bartender glances over, and Nick points at Ethan’s glass and holds up two fingers.

“It happens. You solo tonight?”

“Yeah. Hope I’m not back to solo every night.”

“You don’t want to be?”

Ethan shakes his head as the bartender sets two new bottles on the bar and accepts a bill from Nick.

“Don’t see you in here very often,” she says, raising her eyebrows. “Where’s that pretty wife of yours?”

“Home home throwing a computer club night. Much quieter over here let me tell you.”

“Then send them along here next time, get the joint jumping.” Billie laughs, counting out the change onto the bar and heads off to serve a table of hockey shirted jocks.

“How are you holding up under the TA stint? Prof driving you insane yet?”

“No, she’s pretty good, hasn’t buried me in crap and she’s actually pretty fair with the students.”

“That’s great to hear. They’re not all like that.”

“I thought you enjoyed TAing.”

“Oh I do. But the first prof I worked for was a real asshole, let me tell you. Thank god he retired because if he hadn’t I don’t think I’d still be here. He was just too much, and the last straw for my buddy. ‘Course, not everyone takes to it.”

Ethan drains his original glass, then picks up the one Nick has bought him and raises his glass to clink. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. You sure looked like you needed another.”

Ethan smiles ruefully. “Probably not. Good I don’t have to drive, but the companionship is sure welcome.”

“Ah, you’ve been here a while then. So what’s her name?”


Nick thinks, then grins, “Not that incredibly cheerful Amazon?”

“That’s the one.”

Nick lets out a low wolf whistle. “You been out with her?”

“Yeah, and I thought it was going great but she got mad at me for wanting to walk her to class. She’s keeping me guessing, so I’m not sure if we’re dating or if she dumped me.”

Nick nods. “And you don’t want to be dumped.”

“Hell no. She says she doesn’t know if she wants to be in a relationship. I’m afraid she’s looking for excuses to dump me.”

“That’s tough.”


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