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The knock on the door is loud, strong, assured. Sighing, you push yourself to your feet, leaving the comfy ruby couch behind you.
A tiny body zooms past you as soon as you pull open the door.
“Dorothy, stop!” Exasperation rests comfortably on the pretty face in front of you. Shaking her head, Evelyn meets your amused smile. “Don’t laugh. She’s yours this weekend.”
“I think I can handle an eight-year-old.” You step out of the way so your old friend can lug in a suitcase.
“I said the same thing when her birthday rolled around last weekend but,” she sets the suitcase on an armchair and sighs, “you’d be surprised.”
A shriek of laughter sounds from upstairs. You lift your eyebrows. “She must have found the dolls I bought her.”
Evelyn laughs once. “You didn’t have to buy her any toys. She has plenty.”
Shrugging, you step around her and return to the couch, falling onto it and patting the empty cushion next to you. “I didn’t know if she’d bring any of them. Besides, if I’m going to be the cool, unrelated aunt, I have to spoil her.”
Evelyn sits next to you, crossing her legs. “You know she already thinks you’re better than me. You have no clue how many times she’s asked if you could be her mother instead.”
You smile. “I’m sorry for stealing your child’s affections.”
“Oh please.” She waves her hand. “I know you don’t want them too badly. You’d have to be married to Charles.”
“Is he still spending late nights out?”
She nods twice, somber. “He comes back so late, sometimes I wonder…” she trails off, then looks up at you. “But this weekend trip should do some good, I hope.”
“I hope it does.” You nudge her foot with yours. “I’m always here to talk if you need me.”
She gives you a sad smile. “I know.” The room falls silent save for muffled shouts from Dorothy upstairs. “Hey,” Evelyn perks up, “how’s the marriage front looking for you? Meet any cute men in Bulgaria?”