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    Mercury in Retrograde—Chapter 2

    Completely out of context, Tina hadn’t recognized Bette, but there it was, that million dollar smile that got slightly under her skin for reasons she still couldn’t name. She sighed internally before smiling and moving to greet her new arrival.

    ”Tee, you remember Bette right,” Alice said.

    ”Of course. I’m so glad you made it to our little party.” Her eyes connected with those ridiculous luscious dark ones, and she resisted an eye roll at her own visceral reaction to them.  What in the world was wrong with her? She needed to get herself and her unleashed libido under control and direct it somewhere more appropriate.

    Bette stepped forward with a box in hand. ”I didn’t quite know what kind of party this was, but I brought you something small as a gesture of thanks for having me.”

    ”That’s very thoughtful of you. You didn’t have to do that.”

    Bette gestured at the box. ”It’s my favorite rum from this little distillery in the Caribbean. I’m not sure if you’ve been, but—”

    ”To the Caribbean?” Tina said. ”I’ve definitely been to the Caribbean.”

    ”Oh, that’s great,” Bette said, and Tina realized how pretentious the comment must have sounded. Why did she get pretentious when her guard was up? So reminiscent of her mother it was scary. In response, Alice shot her a ”behave” look, which Tina brushed off. Not her best moment, and apparently she wasn’t the only one who’d noticed.

    Attempting to rebound, she held up the box. ”I’ll give this to Marcus, see if he can’t set us up with some samples for the group.”

    ”That would be awesome,” she heard Bette say distantly, but she was already on her way into the house.

    ”Is that Bette from MERCURY out there?” Shane asked as she passed Tina in the kitchen.

    ”Believe it or not, it is. Alice invited her.”

    ”That’s awesome.”

    ”Yay,” Tina responded halfheartedly and raised both hands in weak celebration.

    Shane passed her a look.

    ”Be nice, Tee. She’s always been nice to you. More than that even. How many free drinks has she sent your way now?”

    Shane had a point and Tina chastised herself mentally. It had been a knee-jerk reaction, her less-than-polite conversation with the bartender. Bette, she amended mentally. She should call her by her name. Bette, which was actually kind of a nice name.

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