1. I’d lost my St. Christopher
2. The planets must have been aligned just right
3. Putting your head on the chopping block


I’d lost my St. Christopher but I wasn’t really concerned. I only wore the damned thing because Kate gave it to me, and we’d split a couple of weeks ago anyway. I kind of wondered if she’d worry about me if she knew I’d been careless and somehow managed to deposit the medal in Graves Canyon.

I doubted that Kate was giving me much thought at all these days. Her interests were otherwise involved, according to the waitress at Big Ben’s who’d watched us go from strangers to friends to lovers. From there it was only a couple of missteps and we might as well have been strangers again.

Bella leaned over the counter as she handed me my Ben Burger and double chocolate shake.

“Ya know, I wouldn’t normally want to gossip, but I thought you should know. Kate’s really taken with this new guy. They’ve been in here, oh, four-five times in the last week.”

I already knew that. Kate hadn’t been shy at all about listing all of Jared Templeton’s good qualities, none of which she found in me any longer. Once she decided to dump me, it didn’t take long for her to resume the old routine. Off with the old and on with the new.

As for me, I’d managed to avoid going into Big Ben’s since the split. I figured I could do without that one habit at least until I could find a new best friend of my own to trot out.

“Sure, Bella, I know you never gossip. As it happens, I’ve been too busy with my new girlfriend to make it in here for a while.” I didn’t really think she’d believe me, but that was okay. I didn’t believe me, either.

I’d actually been spending my free time hiking up and down the old footpaths along Cutter Creek and climbing down into the Canyon. For two years, Kate and I had shared these things, but she’d suddenly decided she liked poetry readings and gourmet coffee dates better. So, I climbed and hiked alone, and surprisingly, felt very little pain in the solitude.

I handed Bella a few more juicy, if meretricious, tidbits to hold to her non-gossiping self until the next time Kate came in. A double tip on the counter assured that it would all be passed along.

As I pushed the café door open and stepped out into So Cal’s famous June gloom, I paused to consider my plans for the weekend.