Laurie stepped out of her car, looked around her and dashed to Jules's door. She unlocked the door and slipped in, shutting it softly below her and breathed a sigh of relief.
She walked to the kitchen and screamed.
Ellie screamed back.
"What are you doing here?" Laurie asked, hand to her chest. Ellie sat on the counter with a bottle of wine in front of her.
"What are you doing here?"
"I . . . forgot something here."
"Me too," Ellie said.
"Then why are you drinking wine?"
"I need fortification."
"Oooh, me too!" Laurie hopped next to Ellie and reached for the wine glass.
Ellie slapped her hand. "Get your own wine!"
"It's not your wine!"
"Jules is my best friend; What's hers is mine."
"She's my best friend, too!"
Laurie poured herself a glass of wine. "I miss Jules."
"She's been gone for six hours."
"That's, like, two Lord of the Rings movies."
"I don't see why they had to go on a honeymoon," Laurie said.
"Yeah," Ellie said. "They practically eloped. You're not allowed to go on a honeymoon if you elope."
"Did you and Andy go on a honeymoon?"
"A week alone with Andy begging for sex? No way."
Ellie rolled her eyes. "We went to Venice."
"That's so romantic!"
"So? It was still romantic, wasn't it?"
"That's what nannies are for!"
"Find your husband?"
"Would I want to do that?"
"You should get a job."
"And again, I ask . . ."
Laurie poured another glass of wine and held the bottle up to Ellie, who pushed her wine glass closer.
"Don't you have something else to do?" Ellie asked, as Laurie filled her wine glass.
"You know, Jelly Bean, you should really fill your days with more than stalking Jules."
"At least I'm not avoiding my husband and kid."
"At I have a husband and kid."
Laurie sighed and put her head down. "Wade left."
"Couldn't keep him around, huh?"
"He's helping people!"
"So being in a different country than you is just a bonus?"
"What if he never comes back?"
"Then you'll die alone."
"I miss Jules. Jules would say something nice."
"It'll all work out in the end? If it's meant to be, it'll happen?"
Laurie put her hand over heart. "You're totally right."
"Are you just ignoring my tone?"
"If we're meant to be, Wade and I will get through this year. If not, then there are plenty of other guys out there. Who wouldn't want to be with me?"
"Anyone with a brain?"
"I'm young, I'm sexy and I own my own business. I'm a catch!"
Ellie looked at her. "I'm a little jealous right now."
Laurie took a long sip of wine. "It's good to be me."
"What are you doing here?" Ellie asked, as Travis walked into the kitchen.
"I live here?"
"No, you don't!" Ellie said.
"I have more right to be here than you do!" He glanced at Laurie and then looked away. "You too."
"Just have some wine, Trav." Laurie poured a glass for him.
"You do know it's weird for you to be here when my mom's not, right?"
"So? It's weird for her to leave us all alone!" Ellie said.
"You have a family!" Travis said.
"That's what I've been saying!" Laurie said.
"Oh man," Bobby said. He looked at empty wine bottles on the table. "Did you guys drink all the wine?"
"Great, Dad's here," Travis said.
"Check the cupboard," Ellie said.
"Score!" Bobby said, and pulled down another two bottles. "Where's Andy?"
"Don't know. Don't care."
"Maybe he's at work," Travis said. "The rest of you ever hear of that?"
"I can't work with Jules out of the office," Laurie said.
"I'm a busy mother!" Ellie said.
"I have a job!" Bobby said.
"And yet here you all are. In my mom's kitchen. While she isn't here. Drinking her wine."
"Which is different from what you're doing how?" Ellie asked.
"I'm her son! I still live here sometimes!"
"Weak," Ellie said.
"Hi, Andy!" Laurie said.
"Go get us more wine!" Ellie said.
"You still have a bottle!" Andy said. He reached out to grab it, but Ellie moved it before he could touch it.
"Come on!" he said again.
"We need this!" Ellie said.
"You shouldn't even be here!" Andy wrestled the bottle from Ellie and poured a glass.
"Nobody should be here!" Travis said. "Except me."
Bobby stood in front of the open refrigerator. "Who goes on their honeymoon and leaves an empty fridge?"
"Everyone, Dad. Everyone."
"Maybe I'll order a pizza. Anyone got a $20?"
Andy threw his wallet at him.
"Now we're feeding him?" Ellie asked.
"Man needs to eat," Andy said.
"He's an adult! He can feed himself!"
"Not the strongest argument," Travis said.
"Don't worry," Bobby said. "I'll get enough for you."
"It's my money!" Ellie said.
"My money, actually," Andy said.
"You guys want in?" Bobby looked at Travis and Laurie.
"No!" Ellie said. "Stop spending our money."
"I'm a starving college student!" Travis said.
"On track to become a starving artist," Laurie said.
"Thanks for the reminder."
"Fine, but no pizza for Laurie!" Ellie said.
"We can't feed everyone but Laurie," Andy said.
"Sure we can! It would be fun!"
"It's okay," Laurie said. She stood and started to stretch. "I have lots of experience fighting for my food."
"I can take you down," Ellie said. She began to stretch, too.
"Mom would try to stop this, wouldn't she?"
"Yeah, she never lets us have any fun," Bobby said.
"We should probably stop them," Travis said.
Laurie and Ellie were circling each other now. Travis and Bobby stood again the counter and watched.
"Okay!" Andy stood in front of Ellie and put his arms out. "Please don't hurt my wife."
"You should be worried about her, not me!" Ellie tried to get around her husband, but Andy pushed her back.
"No fighting!" Andy said.
"We could take it outside?" Laure suggested.
"Let's do it!"
And they ran for the door, with the rest of the gang chasing them.