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“Cookie dough is for heartbreak and sister trouble, why would you break out the cookie dough?” Tracy asked.

“Cookie dough has many functions. It isn’t just for heartbreak and sister trouble. It’s also for when you’re freaking out about your love life,” I replied.

“I’ll tell you this,” Elvira announced, fanning out little slices of French baton on the plate next to fanned out little slices of apple all surrounding a gleaming, clean bunch of succulent grapes in the middle, “Hawk put me on radar, watched my every move for a year and a half and activated the troops when I caught trouble, there’d be no cookie dough in sight. I’d be on my knees next to the bed prayin’ to the good Lord, thankin’ him ‘cause he heard my words. Then I’d put on my little teddy, the purple one, looks good against my skin, and I’d get in bed and count down the minutes until he got home.”

“I wear nightshirts to bed,” I informed her. “Though, I do have a sexy caftan.”

Elvira twisted her neck to look at me. “Saw that caftan, hon, in your laundry. It was pretty nice. But Hawk strikes me as a satin and lace man.”

Hmm. It appeared Elvira was thorough when she went through my stuff to pack my bags.

“Is he a satin and lace man?” Tracy asked.

“No, he’s a take it as it comes man,” I answered. Or, more accurately, take it off because it’s in the way man.

Elvira grinned huge. “Mm hmm.”

I looked at Cam. “Camille. Cosmo.”

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Cam lifted the stainless steel pitcher and started shaking.

“All right, I’m just gonna say things might have started out a bit slow,” Trace began with a screaming understatement, “but sometimes it takes men a little while, you know, to understand they want commitment.”

“Tell me about it,” Camille muttered, yanked off the top of the martini shaker and started pouring.

I bit the side of my lip and slid my eyes to Tracy.

Then I said, “Leo’s committed to you.”

“Unh-hunh,” Cam kept pouring.

“He totally loves you,” Tracy put in.

“Mm,” Cam mumbled, putting down the shaker and starting to hand glasses around.

“You got a man with commitment troubles, girl?” Elvira asked, plopping the wedge of pâté in the middle of some fanned out crackers.

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“Five years together, four in the same house,” Camille answered.

“Oh boy,” Elvira muttered, using the breadknife to attack the wrap on the brie.

“I see good things, I see them soon, I feel it in my bones,” I quickly announced, taking my cosmo. “He’s close, Cam, I know it.”

“I know it too!” Trace added but Elvira was looking at me.

Then she looked at Cam. “I read people,” she stated, lifting the breadknife to her face and circling the blade an inch away from her skin as I held my breath. “Faces. They tell no lies. Like that TV show. I got the gift. And your girl here, she tells no lies. I ain’t one to blow sunshine, seein’ as I’ve known my share of commitment-phobes, so many I could write the Denver Directory of Commitment-Phobes, but she sees good things, she feels it in her bones, she’s your girl, she’s tellin’ no lies which means,” she stuck the breadknife in Cam’s face, “you give this boy some time.”

After Elvira laid down the law and Cam was staring at the knifepoint two inches from her face, I reached out, wrapped my hand around Elvira’s wrist and pulled her hand and the knife down. When I did, her eyes swung to me.

“Hawk has a rule about proper usage of knives in his house,” I muttered.

“I bet he does,” Elvira replied. “He got a rule about the proper usage of ninja stars?”

“Probably,” I muttered because this was actually probably true.

“Can I have a cosmo?” Trace asked and Cam finished handing them out.

“Boards’re done,” Elvira announced, plonking the brie next to the grapes. “Let’s retire to the sittin’ room.”

The girls grabbed the big plates of food and I went to the shelves to get little plates and we all moseyed over to the seating area. Cam and Tracy took recliners. Elvira and I sat at opposite ends of the couch. The food sat on the coffee table in front of us and we all stared at it partially because no one wanted to touch anything without Elvira’s consent and partially because she was right, it was about presentation and she definitely had flair. The food looked great. Good enough to be photographed for a magazine.

“Well?” Elvira asked. “What you all waitin’ for? Dig in.”

We all fell on the food like vultures.

I was shoving a slice of French baton smothered in red onion marmalade, pâté and topped with gherkin slices into my mouth when Elvira observed, “I shoulda bought some of those little spreaders. With the fancy handles. Crate and Barrel had some good ones. You got brie and pâté and kickass stoneware, you need fancy-handled spreaders.”

Hawk’s cement, iron and brick warehouse lair could handle slim-stemmed, sleek martini glasses but I figured it would expel fancy-handled spreaders.

I didn’t tell Elvira this.

Instead, I asked the room (which meant Tracy and Camille since Elvira didn’t really know me), “Do you think I live in my head?”

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Tracy and Cam instantly looked across the coffee table at each other.

“That means yes,” Elvira translated through a mouth full of brie and apple wedge.

I looked at Trace then I looked at Cam. “You do?”

“Girl –” Cam started.

“It’s okay,” Tracy said quickly. “We all do what we need to do to protect ourselves and you need to live in your dream world.”

“I don’t live in a dream world,” I said but this wasn’t true. A lot of the time I did. It just wasn’t all of the time. “I live my life. I go out. I have fun. I put myself out there.”

“Leo calls you Queen Crash and Burn,” Cam announced and my eyes went to her.

“What?”

“Queen Crash and Burn. You get all dressed up, go out, smile, chat, flirt… then it’s all, ‘Hey! Great talking to you! Later!’ No number. No nothin’. They think you’re into them and they’re gonna get them some and off you trot and you don’t look back. Queen Crash and Burn.”

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