“She loves me,” I said.

“She loves coffee, too. And cats. How do you think you rank?” He didn’t mean to be condescending, but he couldn’t help himself. He hadn’t had anyone he could honestly call a partner for years, and I’d been with mine for coming on two decades.

“I’d like to think I’m somewhere above the coffee. I’d be okay with placing under the cats. Hell, I love the cats more than myself.” He arched an eyebrow at me. “Some days!” I clarified. “On some days.”

“What are you two doing for Valentine’s?” he asked. “This is, what, your twentieth together?”

“Nineteenth, but who’s counting? We’re probably gonna stay in, stream a cheesy zombie flick or something.”

“A true romantic.”

“It’s what she likes. That’s how romance works: you give the object of your affections what they like. Maybe you should try it sometime, might form a lasting bond or two.” It was a cheap shot, but we were friends, and he was used to it.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve been working on one, the one from the club? Been talking for a couple of weeks now. I think there’s real promise.”

“Anything in common?”

“He likes working out. And painting.”

“Sounds like a keeper.”

“Fingers crossed,” he said, did exactly that. I smiled.

2015.02.14 – 2023.09.10

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