Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
two sizes too big,while River’s clothes hung perfectly on both halves of his body, as if they’d been made just for him. Which maybe they had. 
    “Man, my muscles are sore,” Luke said, stroking his pecs with both hands, as if to prove my point. “I did some really hard lifting this morning.” 
    “You know what, Luke?”I said.“Your muscles are boring.And don’t think I didn’t notice you changing the subject. If you want to distract me, I suggest you talk about something other than weight-lifting.” 
    Luke grinned, happy he’d managed to annoy me. “Maddy doesn’t think my muscles are boring. Maddy doesn’t think my muscles are boring at all . Speaking of Maddy, her shift is over in half an hour, and if me and my muscles aren’t there waiting for her,like a big-eyed puppy, I won’t be getting to second base. River, it’s been great. Glad to have you on board the Citizen. Are you going to the movie tonight?” 
    “Movie?” River asked. He shifted his hips and leaned against the kitchen counter.“What movie is this?” 
    “They play outdoor movies in the park during the summer,” I said, before Luke could answer. “Tonight they’re showing Casablanca at dusk. I usually make up a picnic. And we like to go early and get a good spot close to the screen.” 
    “Don’t you need to attend to Sunshine or something?” Luke shifted his hips and leaned against the counter, in an exact imitation of River. “I was planning to steal some vodka from Maddy’s house and drink it at the movie. Which sounds a hell of a lot better than a stupid picnic. What do you think, River? Shouldn’t Violet stay home and let the men play tonight?” 
    River ran his hands through his dark hair and smiled. “Violet, why don’t we join Luke on his walk back into town and try to actually make it to the grocery store this time. No stopping at tunnels and whatnot. Then we can buy some things for a picnic.And Luke,I’ve got a bottle of cognac in the back of my car, if you want it. I don’t drink. Or rarely, at least. I was saving it for a special occasion, but you can have it.” 
    Luke shook his head. He was mad at River for refusing to mock me and my sweet little picnic idea. And for saying he didn’t drink.All real men drank,as far as Luke was concerned. 
    “Nah,” he said. “That’s all right. You keep the bottle. I don’t drink that much, either. I just wanted to tonight, because they always show old black-and-white movies, and those things are so damn slow. If I don’t drink, I’ll fall asleep.” 
    “ Casablanca is one of my favorite films, actually.”River caught my eye,and the corner of his mouth flickered.“I’ve seen it a dozen times, dead sober, and never once fallen asleep.” 
    Luke groaned, and I grinned. Hell, I shimmered. River was taking my side against Luke. Sunshine never did that. 
    Having River around was already a lot better than talking and praying to Freddie. Because Freddie was dead. And River was alive and kicking and standing up to Luke and about to go grocery-shopping with me, and I felt like a million bucks all of a sudden. 
    ≈≈≈  
    Ten minutes later, tote bags back in hand, River and I followed a silent Luke down the path to town. This time when we got to the tunnel,we didn’t stop.The boys walked on like the tunnel meant nothing to them, but I shuddered as we went by in the way that old phrase says you do when someone walks over your grave. And I kept my eyes focused on the path, afraid if I looked up, I’d see a dirty man grinning at me from the opening, brown, furry teeth snapping and gnashing like a wild dog’s. 
    Our town had one café, and it was a good one. Right in the center, on the corner of two streets that outlined half the green-grassed, oak-treed town square. If you stood in the middle and spun around, you could see the library, the pizza joint,the café,the Dandelion Co-op,the flower store, Jimmy the Popcorn Man in his popcorn stand,the antique

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