"Why aren't we already on the road to St. Louis?" she asked.
"Because I haven't been able to get ahold of anybody there yet," I said. "Quit worrying. It's relaxing here."
"For you, it's relaxing. You've been eating Chinese and reading. I'm the one who has been getting groped and then ditched."
I went to the kitchen and began putting away the omelette fixings that I'd been instructed to gather at the store. "Hey, you're the one who lets her do it, you know. You could have stopped her at any time."
"But I thought this time she was going to go ahead with it! She had my shirt off, dammit. Naked in her bed, and then she calls the whole thing off!"
"Woman's got a right to change her mind, Muse."
"Not with me, she doesn't!"
I closed the refrigerator door and went to sit on the sofa. "Where is she, anyway?"
The Muse flitted her hand about. "The shower. I'm sure it's a cold one, too. I know I need one, anyway."
"You're going to have to chill, Muse. I can't take you on the rest of the trip like this. You're going to have to ride in the trunk."
"I'll hurt you," she said.
"Look, just use the shower when Miranda's done, and explore the many uses of a hand-held shower massager. I'm sure it's not the first time."
"It's not," she said, "and that's not the point. The point is that I am losing my mind with all of this teasing."
"Welcome to the world," I said. "Enjoy your stay."
"And you're no help. I was expecting a bit of sympathy from you."
"Ha! That's the last thing you're going to get from me on this issue. You've brought this upon yourself, Muse. It's karmic payback."
She folded her arms over her chest. "Stupid Buddhist."
"Don't kill the messenger. It's your karma."
The door to the bathroom opened, and Miranda came out in her bathrobe, her hair wrapped in a white towel. "Shower's all yours, Muse. I don't think I left you any hot water, though. Sorry."
The Muse looked at me, and said to Miranda without looking at her, "That's fine. I'm thinking a cold shower is exactly what I'm needing this morning." She headed toward the bathroom, but Miranda stopped her. She took the towel off her head and handed it to the Muse.
"You'll need this," Miranda said. "I don't have enough towels for all three of us."
"Thanks," the Muse said. "You're much too kind." She slung the towel over her shoulder and continued on to the bathroom, shutting the door hard behind her.
Miranda came over and sat next to me on the sofa. "I think she's about to break," I said. "That little vein in her forehead is throbbing."
"This," she said, patting me on the knee, "is the most fun I've had in weeks. It's way, way more fun than actually putting out for her, you know? Sex is transitory. Teasing is forever."
"You're a mean, mean woman, Miranda," I said. "I think I'm in love."
She leaned to me and put a kiss on my cheek. "It's a skill." She got up and went to the kitchen sink, where she turned the hot water tap on, then came back and sat beside me again.
"You're letting all the hot water out," I said.
"Muse is in the shower."
She nodded again.
"You really are the devil."
She put her hands to her head and made horns with her index fingers. "You're so in love with me right now."
I sighed and smiled. "You have absolutely no idea."