Conflict of Interest

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Luke wondered if Grace had gotten together for their regularly scheduled girls’ night. His own Thursday was a lot less wine-soaked with a little more football, he thought, deciding on another beer from the fridge. And, after a couple days of stony silence in the condo, thanks to his immature outburst, Luke decided he needed to make peace.

“You’re not moving out.”

Luke noted he must be in for another all-night working session, but he grinned when he got the reaction he was looking for when he opened the refrigerator door so it bumped Mave as he took a sip of his freshly brewed, hot coffee.

“Fuck you. I’m staying here forever.” Mave gargled his answer as he’d taken in too much of the hot drink and used his spare hand to catch the coffee that was dripping off his chin.

Luke jumped on the counter to settle in for something he’d never had an issue with. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong; and you should apologize. Mave seemed to know what was about to come. He turned his body to lean against the counter to face his friend.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.” Mave’s voice lost his sarcastic tone from the fridge-bump and grew serious, “So what’s going on? What’s your plan?”

Luke huffed out his irritation when he leaned his head back. He could have done about a million things differently. “I had a million chances to tell her,” Luke spoke more to himself than to Mave.

He knew she was dedicated. Obviously loved her job. Missed her dad. Had the utmost respect for him; and to that point, he had respect for the man he never met just by hearing her speak about him with such high regard and love. She would have done – would do – anything for him, in life and death.

Then there was that moment at Grandma’s. And the small fact that he pursued her, tried to meet her, meticulously studied her, then fell in love with her, and completely blindsided her.

“It’s my fault.” He admitted out loud for the first time. “We just connected on everything. Grace is fun, she doesn’t get angry, she’s serious when it counts, great professionally, wants the same family I do, she’s beautiful...” He paused for a moment and closed his eyes.

“She’s beautiful.” He said it again. Inside and out. This was it. Grace was the one person for him, and no other would ever come close.

Luke knew, or maybe decided at that moment, he wasn’t going to let her push him away. No matter how angry or upset she might be. Heck, there was a pretty good chance he’d make her angry or upset again throughout their lives together.

“Was there a plan in there anywhere?” Mave smirked.

Luke matched Mave’s smirk with his own and answered with a simple look that said, come on dude, you know me better than that – of course, there’s a plan.

Mave understood the unspoken words and watched as Luke hopped off the counter with his beer, and called after him as he walked away, “So you’re starting Monday then?”

“Monday is the day.” Luke put his pointer finger to the sky and declared, “Grace will be mine.”

“Poker, tomorrow?” Mave called out one last casual question.


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