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“I only keep the honey for you, so you’d better use it,” Harriet said in mock frustration.

“Not today. I’m in a sour mood.”

“Very well.”

Harriet took a lemon from a basket hanging over the sink, sliced it in two on the cutting board, and gave half to Natalie.

“Aren’t you going to sit down?” asked Natalie as she squeezed the lemon into her tea.

“You know I don’t like clutter in the kitchen,” said Harriet, placing the other half of the lemon into the old, metal-handed refrigerator and wiping off the cutting board. Natalie watched her old friend and new landlord for a moment, trying to hide a grin as Harriet stood with her hands on her hips, surveying the kitchen like a drill sergeant inspecting a barracks. Satisfied that nothing more could be done to clean the spotless surfaces, Harriet plopped into a chair, her flyaway gray hair bouncing with the movement.

“You should have some fun,” said Harriet, trying and failing to sound offhand.

“I am having fun. I like rooming with you.”

“Well, you’re the only person I know who enjoys drinking tea with saggy old women.”

“I’m going out to do today’s count. That’s always relaxing.”

“My no-good grandson is also around today, so watch out for straying eyes.”

“I hardly think he’d be interested in a… a divorced older woman.”

Harriet shrugged innocently. “I don’t think those are the first things on his mind.”

Natalie gulped the rest of her tea, holding the cup high to hide her flushed cheeks. “I have to go.”

“I know how those egrets hate to be kept waiting.”

Natalie stood and washed her cup at the sink, then hung it carefully in the rack to dry. “I’ll be back later.”

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