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He took a surreptitious look around. Except for the two drunks arguing in a corner booth and a cook cleaning the grill in the kitchen, he and the waitress were the only two people in the twenty-four-hour coffee shop.

Beneath the overly long bangs, her dark eyes gleamed, giving him the impression of laughter. “Yes, I am talking to you.”

“I’ll have hot chocolate,” he said, adhering to the unwritten script.

With a flip of her wrist, she brushed the hair off her face. Her skirt flounced as she whirled away from the table, and Bob noticed that she had nicely muscled thighs. Good calves, too. Not wanting her to catch him staring, he picked up a newspaper someone had left behind and leafed through it.

The waitress returned with his beverage. “What would you do if you were a girl who just found out her boyfriend is embezzling from himself?”

Bob stirred his hot chocolate, trying to think of the right response, but nothing came to mind.

“Men!” she said, hurrying off to answer the ringing telephone.

Later, after the drunks had stumbled out into the night, she came back to Bob’s table carrying a cup of coffee for her and another cup of hot chocolate for him.

He raised his palms. “I didn’t order this.”

She sat across from him. “Let’s not quibble over details.” She sipped her coffee, eyes laughing at him over the rim of the cup, then set the empty cup aside.

Folding her arms on the table, she leaned forward and stared into his face. “What do you have to say for yourself? And who are you? You’ve been coming in here every night, real late, and you never talk except to order hot chocolate.”

She leaned back. “I bet you can’t sleep. That’s why you come, isn’t it? What’s the problem? Bad dreams?”

Bob felt a shudder go through him. He came here to get away from the nightmares, not remember them. He took a gulp of chocolate, grateful for the warmth sliding down his throat.

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