She thinks moving to a ranch will lead to the simple life she craves, but the countryside has other ideas…

After divorcing her unfaithful husband, Meg Taylor buys an alpaca ranch to finally do something on her own. Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets not one, but two, handsome—and baffling—men. She thinks choosing between the shy veterinarian and her charming securities co-worker is her biggest problem, until life and death on the ranch make her re-evaluate more than her love life. At least her new life is nothing like her old one.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Fuzzy Logic by Maren Anderson, Megan Taylor is recently divorced from her cheating scum of a husband. She finds her life and home in California too painful, after finding her husband in the shower with the housekeeper, and moves to an alpaca ranch in Oregon. No sooner does she arrive than she has not one but two gorgeous men fighting over her. My kind of love triangle. Meg knows that she can only have one, as she doesn’t want to hurt anyone as she has been hurt, but which one to choose? She’s afraid to commit to either, in case she picks the wrong one.

The story has a strong plot, with several subplots and a spicy romance, that heats up the pages. It also has some spine-tingling tension that has nothing to do with sex.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Fuzzy Logic by Maren Anderson is a cute clever romantic suspense. Our heroine, Megan Taylor, longs for the simple quiet life after her divorce from her husband, who she found taking a shower with their college-age housekeeper. And he wasn’t helping her clean the walls, either. So Megan quits her job as a securities advisor in the Bay Area in California and buys an alpaca ranch in Oregon. Now I’ve never seen an alpaca, but Anderson makes them sound adorable. The two men who vie for Megan’s attention are also adorable—if you can call hunks adorable. Evan is Megan’s co-worker at her new securities job. He’s charming, handsome, confident, and pursues Megan aggressively. Cody, on the hand, is a shy veterinarian, also a hunk, but backs away when he thinks she wants Evan. But Megan doesn’t know what she wants and she’s running out of time to find out.

Anderson has crafted an exciting and heartwarming tale that immerses one in the quiet country life of rural Oregon, which turns out not to be so quiet after all. A great read.


June, two years ago:

The rain rattled the tin porch roof at Nana’s farm as I stood and waited for her to open the door. I was clammy from wrestling my bag out of the trunk in the downpour and bone tired from everything else. Nana didn’t say anything when she saw me, just opened the screen door wider and stepped aside so I could drag in my suitcase.

Nana was just as good at not talking as she was at talking. She didn’t ask me a single question until I was dry and warmed up in her kitchen, breathing in the aroma of her coffee and the smell of her biscuits. Biting into one–warm and soft as love smeared with jam–instantly reminded me why I’d driven all this way to be with her.

“Boysenberry?” I asked, holding up the biscuit.

“Mixed with blackberry,” Nana said. “Won a blue at the fair last summer.”

We smiled at each other.

“Is everything okay?” she asked, knowing, of course, that I wouldn’t arrive unannounced if things were okay.

“I found Martin in the shower with the girl who cleans the house.”

“I see,” she said. “I take it he wasn’t helping her scrub.”

I laughed and cried at the same time. I felt Nana wrap me up in her arms and knead my knotted shoulders like bread. She kissed my head as if I were five.

Chapter 1

April, this year:

I sat at a crossroads with my blinker on while I poked at the GPS on my dashboard. The dulcet-toned voice murmured again, “Turn left onto Smith Road.”

Turn left? Left of me was a gravel road that disappeared under a canopy of fir trees. It did not look familiar at all.

The pickup behind me beeped politely, so I took a deep breath and turned down the road toward my new home.

“How could I have forgotten the way in a month?” I asked the GPS.

The pristine tires of my new SUV crunched on the unfamiliar surface. I crept along the road because someone once told me that driving on gravel was like driving on ice: your brakes were basically useless. Every time I turned the wheel, I imagined myself careening into a ditch or taking out someone’s mailbox.

“Proceed for one-point-four miles,” the lady on my dash purred.

One-point-four miles? This was going to take forever. I drummed my thumbs on the steering wheel, but I didn’t dare go any faster.

After what must have been many more than 1.4 miles, the GPS binged. “You have arrived at your destination.”

I took my foot off the gas and coasted to a stop. There was nothing in front of me but a long, blank gravel road. I stabbed the screen with my finger, succeeding not in making her explain herself, but only in knocking the device off of the dash and into the foot well. “You have arrived!” she called from the floor.

I eased the car forward another fifty feet, and I finally recognized the tiny sign hanging from a tree branch: Alpine Alpacas. I turned up the drive, giggling to myself.

At first, spindly fir trees flanked the driveway and blocked the view, but soon they thinned out, and the single-lane driveway straightened. I slammed on the brakes when I saw the house.

The picture I’d seen of the on the realty website must have been taken from that very spot. Before me spread ten acres of pasture, peppered with brown, black and white dots–my alpacas. Atop a little hill overlooking the grass was my house, white with green shutters and a long porch. Next to it sat a red barn.

I started my SUV–which the salesman had assured me would tackle any terrain I was likely to encounter–up the steepest part of the gravel drive and wondered exactly what terrain he had been thinking of. The car certainly had second thoughts about the gravel.

I parked on the concrete driveway pad next to the house and tried to calm the SUV’s nerves by stroking the dashboard and cooing, “It’s okay. I’m sure the road won’t be as steep or gravelly next time.” When I looked up, I caught a white-haired man grinning at me from outside my window. I’d only talked to Lew briefly when I visited the ranch, but I recognized his smile instantly. He was tall and wiry, barely filling out his overalls. A dirty ball cap sat far back on his head, and he was chewing on the end of a pipe. I don’t think anyone could look more country than Lew.

I opened my door and stuck out my hand. “Lew!”

“Glad you found the place on your own.” He shook my hand and then winked. “Your car okay?”

I waved indifferently at the car. “He’ll be fine, big baby.” I smacked the fender as if it were a lovable dumb animal.

Lew nodded. “This is Molly.”

She had been examining the new tires and unscathed paint of the SUV. I stuck out my hand and was rewarded with a shake as crushing as any man’s.

“Hi!” I squeaked in pain.

“Hello,” Molly said and pumped my hand exactly once.

Her ball cap was just as dirty as Lew’s and, though she was at least a decade younger and probably outweighed him by thirty pounds, they were obviously a team. She was as much a part of the ranch as he was. She wore her dirty-blonde hair in a long braid down her back, and she hated me.

She squinted into the distance over my shoulder and said, “Excuse me.” Then she stalked off to the barn.

I blinked after her. “Is she mad at me?”

Lew pushed his ball cap to the back of his head. He took so long to answer that I had time to notice his hat had a tractor on the front. “No,” he said finally. “She and the guy who owned this place were friends. The way his divorce played out really upset Molly. It’s not you.”

“Oh.” We watched Molly disappear into the barn. “I’m glad I don’t have to win you over,” I said.

“Well, we’ll have to see about that, won’t we?” Then he slapped me on the back. “Let me help you with your bags.”

The inside of the house was just as charming as I remembered, though now it was empty. We walked through the tiled mudroom where Lew kicked off his work boots.

“You don’t have to do that,” I said.

He chuckled. “Yes, I do. They don’t call these ‘shit kickers’ for nothing.”

The house echoed like a cavern. None of my furniture had arrived, and we walked through the living room with its stark hardwood, the kitchen with its cold granite, and the dining room with its bead-board wainscoting. The place seemed too big and too small all at once, without my stuff, or any stuff, in it. I peeked into the spare bedrooms, and they were chilly cubes of nothing. I realized I was chewing my thumbnail, so I shoved my hands in my pocket.

I opened the door to the master bedroom and sighed in relief. The new bed I had ordered had been delivered. I figured I deserved a new bed after everything, and I had picked the softest, most opulent mattress I could find. I had been fantasizing about sleeping, luxuriating, in my new bed in my new house in my new life ever since I signed the offer on the ranch. Now, Lew set my bags down in the bedroom next to the bed, which stood alone in the middle of the room, all set up with its sleigh-bed head and footboards, minus any sheets or pillows.

“Shit,” I said.


“I kind of forgot that when you buy a bed, it doesn’t come all made up.”

Lew looked like he was going to pop with mirth. “Funny thing.”

“Guess I’ll go shopping tonight.”

“I could lend you a sleeping bag, Miss.”

“Call me Meg.” I shook my head. “Thanks anyway. I’ve been on the road all day, and I really want to sleep in my new bed on some new sheets. After we look around outside, I’ll just hop in the car and go someplace nearby.”

“Okay.” There was his lopsided smile again. “Meg.”

We walked to the living room and stepped out through the sliding glass door onto the porch. I took a deep breath of springtime air.

The porch had a roof like Nana’s, and I wondered if it made the same sound in the rain.

“So, you like the house?” Lew asked.

“Oh, yes. In Berkeley, we were all piled on top of each other. Even though we had our own house, we couldn’t get away from the neighbors.”


“We–my ex-husband and me,” I said. “There is no ‘we’ anymore. It’s just a habit.”

“Ah.” Lew looked out over the fields. “Do you want to meet the critters now?”

I smiled. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Lew led the way across the lawn to the fence, which was made of seven plain wires running along posts. He pointed to the top and the bottom two wires. “Those are hot,” he said. “Electrified. Just to keep the other critters out. Still, don’t touch them.” With that, he parted two of the middle wires and ducked his head under, swinging first one leg and then the other through.

I just stood there.

“You want me to climb through an electric fence?” I looked down at my Berkeley sweatshirt, crisp new jeans, and blue Vans sneakers. I remembered that I had considered wearing pumps today.

Lew’s face looked like it might split from grinning, but he held the wires apart for me. “Just put one leg through, then your head, then the other leg. You won’t get zapped. I promise.”

I followed his directions, hoping my clumsy gene didn’t make an appearance. Mercifully, I stood up to find myself in a verdant pasture with twenty pairs of eyes watching me. I followed Lew down the hill until we were a few feet from them.

Then he held up his hand. “Sit down.”

I looked down at the damp grass. “What?”

“On the ground, Miss–Meg,” he said. “They’ll get real curious if you sit down.”

To prove his point, Lew plonked down in the pasture. Instantly, three alpacas broke from the staring herd and walked up to him for a good sniff.

“Oh, right.”

I sat, after making sure I wasn’t putting my bottom on anything worse than wet grass. As soon as my ass started feeling damp, a little pod of alpacas–a brown, a white, and a black–broke from the herd and walked up the hill toward me, long necks low and stretched out, velvet noses twitching, little spear-ears pointed up and out of their fuzzy topknots. One of them hummed at me inquisitively. They stopped at arms’ length and regarded me. I stretched out a hand. They spun and ran three steps away. These creatures weren’t nearly as friendly as my pair of alpacas, which lived at Nana’s farm. For the first time since I saw the ranch online, a wave of doubt made me shudder. I looked at Lew.

“Just sit still now,” he said. “They’re not dogs or cats even. Eventually, they’ll trust you, but you’ve got to earn it.”

As if to mock me a little, one of the alpacas that had greeted Lew flopped down next to him on its belly and chewed cud as he rubbed its back.

I looked back at my welcoming committee, which had begun to creep back toward me while I wasn’t paying attention. I put my hands under my wet butt and smiled at them.

A black stepped forward and stretched its neck long and low. “Hmm?” it said.

Then it stepped closer, within reach, but I kept my hands where they were. Finally, a little black nose touched mine and blew gently. I blew back. The alpaca sneezed and threw up its head, but then it came back for another round.

“You’ve been granted an alpaca kiss!” cried Lew. “Congratulations! You’re now officially hooked.”

“I sure am,” I said quietly as the other two alpacas came up for their kisses, too.

The first pasture turned out to be the maternity ward.

“We like to keep the pregnant girls and babies close to the house,” Lew said.

“Makes sense.”

“Let’s go see the other critters.”

We climbed through more fences, meeting the open girls–“open” means unbred, I learned–and the young males who were wrestling in their pasture.

“Shriek like banshees when they fight,” Lew said. “And in the middle of the night. Don’t let it scare you.”

“Really?” I watched the boys rear up and shove each other around with their chests. Apart from a little grunting, I didn’t hear any noise. “I’ll take your word for it.”

The boys that weren’t fighting saw Lew and ran to him. They shoved their noses in his pockets, so he pulled out baby carrots and managed to give each animal only one.

“Spoiled, aren’t they?” he said. He rumpled the topknot on one white animal, and it butted him.

“Come on,” Lew said. “Let’s go see his majesty.”

The stud barn sat in a far pasture, trim and dainty compared to the larger barn by the house. A number of alpacas grazed in the pasture, five or six brown and gray and white animals. As soon as we stepped through the fence, a huge black shadow shot from the barn and bounded toward us.

“Hey, Basso!” Lew called as the alpaca slowed to a stop in front of him and started looking for carrots. “Mr. Ambassador must have his treats.”

“He’s huge!”

Mr. Ambassador could look me in the eye. While I’m not tall, the other alpacas I’d met only made it to my chin.

“Feel his fleece,” Lew said. He wrapped an arm around the beast’s neck and fed him a carrot.

I plunged my hands into six inches of the softest, silkiest fleece I’d ever felt. I pulled the fleece open like a book and saw little ladders of wave marching down to his skin.

“Gorgeous crimp, huh?” Lew said.

“I can’t believe the color!”

Mr. Ambassador was inky, light-swallowing black all the way down to his skin. I thought of how awesome it would feel to knit it into a luscious scarf or sweater.

“Yeah. He’s a special guy,” Lew said. “I call him ‘Basso.’ Seems to fit him. He was born here, you know.”

“Was he shown?”

“He won everything there was to win,” Lew said. He pointed to the other alpacas in the field. “These are all his dates–the girls who are here waiting to be bred to him.”

“Oh. I can see why.” I slid my hand down his back in the dense fleece and let my fingers trail off his tail. That’s when he kicked me in the shin so hard I fell.

“Meg!” Lew was at my side and Basso was running back to his harem.

“Just a bruise,” I said. “I’m okay.”

He pulled me to my feet. “Damn. I forgot to warn you about his tail. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” I stood and pressed the heel of my hand into my tender shin. “He kicks high.”

“Alpacas are like cows. They can kick in any direction,” he said. “I’ve been kicked by cows, horses, sheep, all sorts of hard-footed critters. I’ll take the soft feet of an alpaca any day.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” I said. “I was kicked by a horse when I was seventeen. Missed my prom because I was in traction.”

“Ow.” Lew looked at Basso and shook his head. “That one is just all hormones and no brains.” He squinted at the barn. “You okay?” he asked. “I think I see a gate open.”

“I’m fine.”

When he was out of earshot, I sat down and took some deep breaths. I couldn’t hold it together anymore.

The horse that broke my leg had been trying to kill me. No one had told me that the newly rescued horse had been beaten with a rake by his abusive owner. When I stepped into his stall to clean it as I had done hundreds of times before with other horses, he kicked me so hard I was flung against the wall and knocked unconscious. My friends were able to get me out of there, but they thought I was dead. I woke up in the hospital.

Basso had kicked me in the same leg, and it ached to the bone. What the hell are you doing here? I asked myself. What made you think you could do this alone?

I choked down my doubt and smiled when Lew came back.

“How’re you doing?” he asked, helping me up again.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Like you said, Basso isn’t a horse.”

“Then let’s go see the girls.”

Lew took me up to the “ladies’ barn,” where the dams were housed. It was a huge building by Berkeley standards, but compared to even Nana and Poppy’s barn, it was petite. It was only one story for starters, and it could be configured for eight stalls, but it was only set up to divide the girls into their four pastures. It smelled exactly the way a barn should: hay, manure, animals. The scents triggered memories–the way that smells do–of sitting in Nana and Poppy’s barn, enjoying the cool shade and watching Poppy fiddle with some piece of antiquated equipment.

It was his purpose in life to resurrect broken machines of all kinds, and seeing him coax life back into a radio or combine harvester while I chewed on a sun-hot apple or piece of hay was as calming as a day at the spa. I know. I’ve tried both.

This barn also had storage across the aisle from the stalls, and that was where we found Molly attaching a wagon to the tractor.

“Molly’s going out to scoop poop,” Lew said. “The alpacas all use communal dung piles, and we just go clean up after them a couple times a week.”

“Communal dung piles?”

“They all poop in the same spot,” Molly said, slamming a pin into a bolt on the trailer. “Geesh. How much do you know about alpacas, anyway?”

I felt myself blush, and was instantly angry with myself for it. I didn’t have to explain to this bitter woman that I had noticed my own alpacas pooping in the same spot and wondered about it. Despite being angry, I said, “I don’t know as much as you, Molly, but I am here to learn.”

“Oh?” Molly said, raising an eyebrow. I had always wanted to be able to cock a brow like that. “Wanna come poop scoopin’? You can ride there.” She pointed to a tiny ledge behind the seat and wheels.

“I–I can’t today, Molly,” I stammered. “I need to buy sheets before the stores close.”

“Suit yourself.” Molly started the tractor. Its roaring clatter effectively ended the conversation.

Lew clenched the pipe in his teeth and put a hand on my shoulder. “Molly will come around,” he said when she drove away.

“I hope so.”

Then Lew smiled and turned to the door of the barn. “Here’s some sunshine,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

He cupped a hand to his ear. “Listen.”

I did the same and frowned when I didn’t hear anything. Lew shushed me before I could complain, so I listened more. Then I heard the crunch of tires on gravel.

Lew nodded. “You’ll get real good at hearing tires,” he said. “There’s no traffic, so any car coming is coming to see us.”

We stepped out of the barn to see a blue pickup racing up the driveway, kicking up a rooster tail of gravel and mud.

“Who’s that?”

“That’s the vet,” Lew said.

“Why’s he in such a hurry?”

“Hurry? That’s slow for him.”

The pickup slowed a bit for the turn to the barn, but I still stepped back as it skidded to a stop in front of us. Lew went up to the truck and leaned on the hood as the vet collected his things and threw the door open.

“Hi, Lew,” he said. “How’s things?”

The two men shook hands like old friends, but they were quite a contrast in manhood. Lew was white-haired and willowy, the vet jet-haired and broad-shouldered. They both looked like they belonged on a ranch. I felt out of place, like a new pair of shoes, fresh out of the box, that shouldn’t be dirty yet. I absently put my hand on my damp bottom.

“Who’s this?”

“Cody, meet Meg Taylor, new owner of Alpine Alpacas.”

“Hi,” I said.

“This is Dr. Cody Arden,” Lew said.

“Nice to meet you,” Dr. Arden said, shaking my hand.

He had a soft hand and gentle grip. Lew’s hand was hard and horny with calluses. I smiled.

“I’m just here to follow up on a couple things.” He smiled and his brown eyes crinkled. “Nothing to worry about.”

I didn’t realize I was holding the vet’s hand and grinning stupidly until Lew cleared his throat and said, “Meg was saying she needed to go buy some sheets.”

I snatched my hand away. “Oh, yeah. To sleep in.” Then I blushed like a twelve-year-old.

Dr. Cody Arden put his hands in his pockets. “Is that so? Well, you’d better get a move on. Things close early around here. Lew and I can take care of things.”

“Oh, okay,” I said. “Nice meeting you.” I walked off toward my car, wondering what had just happened to me. Blushing? I never blush, yet my face still felt hot.

Then it occurred to me that, as the owner of the animals the vet was here to see, I should at least inquire which ones he was going to check. Instead of walking back and asking, though, I stopped and watched Lew and Dr. Arden laugh about something. They knocked each other back and forth as they moseyed into the barn.

The hard-wired aversion to shame deep inside me said, There’s a chance they are laughing because your pants are wet. Stop gawking, get in your car, and go shopping.

So, I did.

I grabbed my purse from the counter in the mudroom and counted to ten so I could walk to my car with some poise, despite my wet butt. No one was watching, of course, but you never knew. Maybe I impressed the squirrel with my nonchalance. When I was safely in my car, I rubbed the tired out of my eyes. Then I started the engine and chanted, “Sheets, sheets, sheets,” to focus myself as I crept down the gravel road toward town.

I didn’t want to admit it to Lew, but after the tour, I was already overwhelmed. Lew said there were between twenty to thirty alpacas on the ranch at any one time, depending on how many were visiting Basso. The alpacas were wonderful, and I promised myself that I would sit in the pasture with them once a day for the rest of my life.

But the number of alpacas wasn’t the worrisome part. It was the business. Selling breedings and animals, advertising, buying hay, making something with the fleece–it was a full-time job running the ranch, and, I realized I’d eventually have to take it over. For now, Lew and Molly ran the place, and I was so grateful that they lived in the single-wide trailer behind the barn–it was the original dwelling on the property–and worked for their rent. Even though my new mantra was “I’ll do it by myself,” I wasn’t insane enough to try to learn how to run a ranch completely on my own.

At least the vet was friendly.

I sighed and turned on the seat warmers, hoping they would dry my pants. I searched my GPS for a menu labeled “shopping,” but it listed nothing when I tapped it. I tried it again. And again. Finally, I took it out of its holder and shook it, hollering, “I just want to go to Nordstrom and buy sheets!”

I hurled it into the passenger seat and headed back toward the last town I’d seen.

I hadn’t tried shopping in such a little town since I was a girl visiting Nana. I didn’t remember that they rolled up the sidewalks so soon. It was only five o’clock on a Thursday night, but any store that looked like it might sell bedding was closed or closing. I drove up and down the Allenville downtown twice and then drove in ever-widening circles until I found a strip mall with a supermarket in it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have anything like a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, so I had to pull out into the street again.

A little farther down the road, I passed a sign for Wal-Mart and snorted. It would be a cold day in hell before Meg Taylor shopped at a Wal-Mart! Ever my mother’s child, even when I was just scraping by as a graduate student, I had shunned the likes of J.C. Penny’s for vintage shops.

It was her fault. She took me to the best children’s stores, even when I was too little to care about what I was wearing. She took me to Macy’s and turned her nose up at the likes of Sears and Mervyn’s.

Once, I went to the mall with my friends and brought home a cute top from a teen-themed store.

“You must be joking,” she said. She pinched the top and held it at arm’s length.

“It’s cute,” I said. “And it was on sale.”

“It’s cheap. It looks cheap. It feels cheap. It makes you look cheap.” She dropped the shirt back into the bag. “I didn’t work my ass off in school and move away from the farm just so you could wear cheap, tarty clothes. We’re taking it back.”

And we did. She ground retail quality into me whether I wanted to learn or not.

I drove to the edge of town and back, searching for a name-brand store, any brand. I made yet another wide loop and, seeing no other options, found myself back in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Feeling my dignity drop down between my ankles, I turned my new car into the lot and parked it away from the beat-up pickups and ten-year-old sedans. Then I screwed up my courage and walked into the store.

I was a city-dweller, used to boutique shops containing only one kind of thing. At least, I was used to stores that contained lots of clothes, or food, or garden supplies, not all of the above. Wal-Mart was what would happen if Safeway had a love-child with Mervyn’s. Wal-Mart was overwhelming.

Half of the building was tiled and shelved like a supermarket. Cool air wafted from the refrigerated sections and frozen food. Soft green light glowed from the produce aisle.

The other half was partially carpeted and signs overhead directed me to clothing, house wares, tools, and automotive. There was even a pharmacy. Wal-Mart was an entire town of shops under one roof.

I tried not to gawp like a hill person. I suppose I gawped like a city person instead.

I made my way to housewares by passing through the pharmacy and auto parts. I pulled down sheet sets and looked at thread counts and fiber content. It took a while before I found anything without any polyester, but the thread count was still just awful. I reminded myself that my own stuff would be arriving by truck soon and marched to the checkout.

I had to admit, things were cheap as hell. The sheets and pillows and comforter all together cost less than one fitted sheet from the set Martin and I had shared, which I burned in a trashcan in the backyard. By the way, make sure you burn things in a metal trashcan. Take my word for it.

I maneuvered my car through the empty streets of Allenville on my way home and marveled some more at how quiet it was. At 7:30 on a Thursday night, everything was open in Berkeley, not just bars and restaurants. I mean, I could buy a sweater, get a pedicure, and then have a late supper all after eight p.m. on a weeknight on Fourth Street.

The sidewalks in this town were vacant, and I found it weird that I could look into windows and not see people inside. Lights were off in the hardware store, the bookstore, the flower shop, the consignment shop. Even the cute little coffee shop was closed. I had a hard time imagining a place where coffee wasn’t in demand after dinner. How many late-night coffee dates had I been on last year?

The one place that was still open was a sports bar and grill. There were cars in the parking lot and a group of people standing in the front door talking. I was briefly tempted to go in, but I had already hit a drive-through for a salad, and I told myself that I wasn’t up for a night of being the new girl in town. But I did slow down a little as I passed to check it out.

The pod of people outside was backlit against the open door. They were laughing. It was an attractive bunch. The center of attention was a tall, sandy-haired man whose charisma captivated the group. He spoke, they laughed. For a moment, I was lonely enough to take my foot off of the gas and glance at the parking lot. But then a weary heaviness settled on me. I’d been there, done that. I was here to break the bar scene cycle, I told myself.

I drove away.

Once I was home, I made the bed, even though I hadn’t washed the sheets–I forgot to buy laundry detergent. I decided that I didn’t care about thread count as long as I had a warm place to lie down. Leaning against the kitchen counter, I ate my burger-chain salad out of its plastic clamshell. My TV was with the rest of my furniture on a truck somewhere south of here, so I flipped through a bodice-ripping romance novel. The heroine was flip-flopping between the rakishly handsome bad-boy and the steady, clean-shaven provider-type. I grew bored with her indecision and thought better about knitting without TV to occupy the other part of my brain. I decided that what I needed was a bath. I filled up the tub with hot water and some shampoo for bubble and was already naked and dipping my toes in when I realized that I should have bought some towels, too.

I ended up drying off with my dirty clothes before I slid gratefully between the new sheets on my new bed in my new life.

© 2015 by Maren Anderson