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“Okay,” I say. Then I look up from my inspection of what’s going on down his shirt. “Wait.What? ” I think my heart has stopped doing the cha-cha and started doing something a bit more complicated. Like something that is going to require defibrillation. “Did you say—”

“Elope, I mean,” Cooper corrects himself. “I hate weddings. But I’ve always liked the Cape in October. Not as many tourists.”

“Elope?” I’m in serious need of a paper bag. I can barely breathe. I think I might be hyperventilating.

“Unless you don’t want to,” Cooper says quickly, apparently noting my stunned expression. “I mean, we can take it slow if you want. But considering the Tad factor, I figured I better—”

“Eloping is fine,” I say quickly. I can’t believe I haven’t misheard him. He meant it. He actually meant it. Our joint detective agency—the one I always fantasized about—Wells-Cartwright Investigations… not to mention our three kids—Jack, Emily, and baby Charlotte! — they might actually come to exist someday… someday soon!

Oh my God. I really am going to hyperventilate.

Wait. No, I’m not. I’m not because this is just so… so… perfect.

I can barely contain my smile. Then I realize I don’t have to.

“Eloping is a great idea!” I gush. “Can we invite my dad?”

“If you insist,” Cooper says grudgingly.

“And Frank and Patty?”

He rolls his eyes. “Why not? The more, the merrier.”

“And Tom and Steve? They’d be really hurt if we didn’t invite them. So would Sarah. And Sebastian, if she’s still seeing him. And Magda. And Pete, too. His daughters would make cute flower girls.”

“Heather. If we have that many people, it won’t be an elopement. It will be a wedding. And I hate weddings.”

“It’ll be okay,” I say. “As long as your parents and my mother aren’t there. We have to have witnesses anyway.”

“In that case,” Cooper says, “it’s a deal.”

“And I think we should keep the cat,” I say.

“What cat?” Then Cooper sighs. “Oh, that cat. Fine. Just so long as we don’t have to call him Garfield.”

“I know,” I say, grinning. “Let’s call him Owen.”

“After your boss?”

“Yeah. Since in a way, his death is what finally brought us together.”

“I can assure you,” Cooper says, “that that is categorically untrue.”

“Whatever you say. Can we kiss some more now?”

“That’s the best idea you’ve had all night,” he says.

After a while, still kissing, we move out into the hallway, where we knock over a lot of the picture frames Cooper’s grandfather left behind after he died. So then we move out into the front hallway, near the stairs leading to the second floor, where we run into real danger of falling over, especially since we’re both shirtless and some of us have lost our pants.

“No,” I say without elaborating why, when Cooper suggests that making love for the first time on the hallway runner wouldn’t be such a bad thing. “It really would.”

We make it upstairs to his room.

But barely.


You opened my eyes

Now I can finally see

What it is

You’ve always seen in me

“Happy Song”

Written by Heather Wells

I’m humming as I make my way to work the next morning.

I can’t help it. It’s a gorgeous spring morning. The sky overhead is achingly blue, the birds are singing, the weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, and the drug dealers are out in full force, happily toting their wares. Let’s face it, there’s a lot to hum about. I’m happy—actually genuinely, one hundred percent happy—for the first time in—well, forever.

And not because I’m full of a high-calorie confection from the nearby coffee shop, either. But because I’m full of love.

Cloyingly sweet? Disgustingly trite? I know. I can’t help it though.He loves me. He’s always loved me.

Well, okay, maybe not always. But he definitely started liking me back when Jordan and I were going out. It wasn’t entirely coincidental that Cooper showed up with his offer of a job and a place to stay exactly as I was being shown the curb by his brother.

He claims he extended the invitation merely as a chivalrous gesture to a woman whom he thought was being shabbily treated by a family member. The friendly feelings he’d felt for me at the time grew, over the course of the year we’d lived together, into romantic love.

But I know the truth: He had only the vaguest idea how hot he was for me until he saw me with another guy, and realized (however wrongly) that he was about to lose me. And not to some murdering psychopath this time, but to a nearsighted vegan math professor. Then, POW! It was all Heather, all the time.

However big a goober Tad may have turned out to be, I definitely owe him one (and I don’t mean for the passing grade, either).

Of course, in the end, who even cares how long Cooper’s loved me? He loves me now, and that’s all that matters. He put in a dog door just for me. Oh, and we’re getting married.

And we have a cat named Owen that last night crept into bed with us and slept on Cooper’s side, while Lucy curled up next to me. And they didn’t fight. Not once.

I’m so busy humming and being full of love that I don’t even see the woman jogging next to me until she sticks her face almost directly in front of mine and goes, “Hey, there, Heather! I’ve only said hi three times already! What’s the matter with you, anyway?”

It’s only then that I recognize Muffy.

Only she looks completely different than the last time I saw her, because her hair has been deflated. It’s tied back in a ponytail, and she’s in leggings and a tank top and running shoes, not high heels. This makes her about four inches shorter.

“Muffy,” I cry. “Hi! Wow. Sorry. You startled me.”

“I guess so,” she says with a laugh. “What are you so happy about this morning? You look positively glowin’.”

“Oh,” I say, restraining myself from throwing my arms around her with a smile. “Nothing. Just… it’s a beautiful day.”