PETERSON AND C HUCK were having a fight, sort of. They werent yelling or throwing punches, nothing so uncivilized, but they were pissed at each other. It was there in the way they spoke to each other, the set of their body language, the way their eyes worked when they had to look at each other. The point of contention seemed to be something to do with us, or maybe Lisa. Trish had helped her out of the bathroom; she looked pale, but better. Shed even brushed her hair and put it back in a neat ponytail.

Ill take Lisa back to the party, Trish said.

Everyone agreed that was a good idea.

Lisa grabbed Jasons arm. You have to come to the partyshe looked at meboth of you. Please, most of my bridal party are girls from school. Theyll want to see you, Jason, and theyll want to meet your new girlfriend.

I soooo did not want to go to Lisas bachelorette party. But I was pretty sure what Jason was going to say, and he did not disappoint me. Wed need to get dressed first.

Of course, of course, Lisa said, and then she turned that fragile face to him, but youll come, right?

He nodded, and I did not like the look he gave her. It was way too intimate a look from a man to another mans fiance. Id wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the wedding plans, but not like this, no, this was a bad idea.

As if hed read my mind, Chuck said, This is a bad idea, Lisa.

She looked at him, and the one look told me two things. One, she didnt particularly like Chuck; two, there was more force of will inside her than Id seen yet. It blazed to life in those blue eyes, gave some color to her face that wasnt embarrassment.

I say who comes to my party, not you, not my future in-laws, me.

He took a breath as if hed argue.

Trish said, Lets not fight.

Chuck frowned at her.

Lisa said, Im not fighting; Chuck is an employee, you dont fight with employees. She said it cold and hard. Point for her, but the look on Chucks face made me want to touch my gun in its robe pocket. Chuck didnt like Lisa any better than she liked him. Interesting.

Fine, Trish said, fine, but lets get you back to your party. The other girls are going to wonder what happened to us. Her tone of voice alone said that shed been doing a lot of managing in the last few days. I wondered if Lisa had a drinking problem. That would be bad.

Lisa wouldnt let go of Jasons arm. She gave him all the eye contact she had in those blue eyes. You will come to my party, right? Promise me that you andAnita, right?promise me youll come. The other girls are going to flip.

Whos all there? he asked.

All the Jennifers, and she grinned. It wasnt quite his smile, but it was still close.

He grinned back. All of them? he asked.

All of them: Jen, Jenna, and J. J. She grabbed his arm with both hands. And Ashley, and Kris. Oh, theyll kill me if you dont at least come say hi.

He nodded, as Id feared he would. Well get dressed and Im sure someone here will be happy to take us to your bachelorette party. That last was almost mean for Jason, because he knew damned well that none of the men wanted him at that party. Hell, I didnt want him at that party, though not for the same reasons. I just didnt want to go.

She let go of his arm with one hand and grabbed my hand. Please, Anita, I know Ive been horrible. I guess its wedding nerves, but please let Jason come. Please, come with him. Give me a chance to prove to you that Im not some crazy woman, please.

I looked down into her face. She had to be under five feet tall. I didnt get to look down at many people. But it wasnt the height that made it hard to say no. It was the look in her eyes. But I could have withstood that, too. It was the look in Jasons eyes. He wanted to go. He wanted to talk to his old friends. Well, Id already met his family, what were a few old girlfriends compared to that? I tried to believe that as I agreed that wed get dressed and join them at the party.