"Can't sleep," the voice on the other end of the line said.
"Eliot? Is that you?"
"I left my Harry Potter in the car," she said, "and I don't want to go back out and get it. Now I can't sleep."
"Well, I'd read it to you, but I don't have a copy. I could read Little, Big to you. Hell, I think I've been reading it all night to everyone else already."
"I'm already reading that one, but I don't want to read it tonight. I'm savoring it, because I know I'm going to cry when it's finished. It's too beautiful to end."
I nodded, remembered she couldn't see me over the phone and said, "Yeah, I'm with you. It's one of those books that makes me think I should stop writing now, since obviously I'll never be able to achieve something so beautiful."
"Yoooooooou," she said, "will most certainly do that. Yooooooooooou write about love better than anyone I know."
"Are you telling me that I should write the next Bridges of Madison County?"
She made a retching noise. "If you do, I'll kill you myself."
"I'm going to hold you to that," I said.
"Hey," Eliot said. "Is the Muse there tonight?"
"She sent me an email a couple of days ago and threatened to make out with me while I was putting you two up during your trip."
"Sounds like the Muse, alright."
"Yes, well, could you talk to her about that for me? I would feel rather awkward having your fake girlfriend making out with me while you're sleeping in the next room."
"Um," I said. "You realize that the operative word there is fake, right? It's no skin off my pig if you want to mack on the Muse a while. I certainly think all of our various friendships will survive."
"Actually," Eliot said, "the thing is that I don't really want to make out with her at all. She's a little... well, she's a little scary, you know?"
I chuckled. "Oh, El, do I ever know what you're talking about. Sometimes I think she's this close to boiling rabbits in a pot, if you know what I'm saying. There are nights when I go to bed alone and wake up with her in bed next to me."
"Your relationship is a little bit... unconventional."
"It's a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, and a hell of a lot of weird. Gotta love her, though."
"So do you think I should lock my door while you two are here?"
"Wouldn't do any good," I said. "The Muse knows how to pick locks."
Eliot sighed. "You're not really helping me go to sleep here, you know. I was hoping for a bedtime story, and not a Grimm's fairy tale."
"Hey, the Muse won't eat you, you know." I thought a moment. "Actually, scratch that. It's a distinct possibility."
"I think I'm going to hang up on you now. You've done nothing much more than creep me out."
"Not my fault! I can't control her, you know. She's got a mind of her own."
"Well, maybe we can tie her up, put some handcuffs on her or something."
"Again, Eliot dear, remember who we are talking about."
"Good point. Maybe I'll just give you two my apartment and sleep in a hotel myself that night."
"You know, the Muse does behave from time to time, and she does take no for an answer, providing you really mean it. Don't spread that info around, or she'll kick me."
"She comes across as an awfully unstoppable force."
"She's stoppable, I assure you. Treat her like a bad puppy. Hit her on the nose with a paper if you have to."
"She's your fake girlfriend, buddy," Eliot said. "If anyone is going to hit her with a paper, it's going to be you."
"Eliot," I said.
"Yes?" she replied.
"Go to sleep. Quit worrying about the Muse. I will make sure that she is on her best behavior. Scout's honor."
"You were never a scout."
"Sleep. Go. I'll keep you up on the travel plans."
"What about a straight jacket?" she asked.
"Goodnight, Eliot," I said.
"Scary, scary fake girlfriend," she said, and hung up the phone.