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What He Loves About Her
by Rebecca Roland

Candice dropped her purse on the mahogany table as she slid into the booth. Laurie pushed a martini towards her, and Candice downed half of it before settling back. The hum of dozens of happy hour conversations washed over Candice and, combined with the martini warmth spreading through her, eased some of the tension in her shoulders.

Laurie sat forward, arms resting on the table, dark hair pulled back in a careless look that had probably taken her an hour to achieve. "Rough day?"

"Rough date last night."

"You met Internet Guy!  Finally." Laurie frowned. "But everything seemed perfect the last couple of months. What happened?" She sat back. "He's not married, is he?"

A girl at the bar let out a baying laugh. Candice jumped at the sound, causing the liquid to slosh in her glass. She forced herself to take a few deep breaths.

Words of explanation caught in her throat. She managed to shake her head in response to Laurie's question. Candice washed down the tight ball with the rest of her martini then raised a finger towards the waitress for another.

"Does he still live with his mother?"

Candice drummed her fingertips on the table. "How long does it take to get a drink around here?"  She ignored the glares nearby patrons threw her way.

The waitress hurried to set a new drink in front of Candice. "We're short-handed for the next hour."

"Sorry," Candice mumbled. "Oh, and I'll need another one in a minute."

The waitress pursed her lips but merely nodded. Candice considered the speared olives, grimaced, then set them on a napkin. She took a long sip. "He's got his own place."

Laurie scooted closer. "He had a belated epiphany and just realized he's gay."

Candice let out a snort of mirthless laughter. "No.  I wish it were that easy."

Laurie shook her head. "I don't get it. He seemed nice. He was funny. He even told you that he was falling in love with you for your mind!"

"He loved me for my mind, all right." Candice emptied the glass. "He's a zombie."