28: Help and Home

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Help and Home


                  IF LOUIS WAS one of those people who found winter charming or cozy or, or...however those people find it – and to be clear, he's not – he might say that today would be a particularly strong example, or evidence. London winters really do have a little something, he supposed.

                  But since he wasn't one of those people who were so easily endeared by a fool's season, he ignored the design on Lottie's black coat made by snowflakes unable to melt thanks to the obscenely low temperatures. He ignored the frosted edges of the wall of windows along Gibson's storefront, and he ignored the light layer of that glittery white fluff dusting every possible surface not disturbed by human feet or curious hands.

                  If he was one of those people, he might say that it was all quite pretty.

                  He beckoned Lottie inside, tired of seeing his breath every time he sighed or exhaled sharply. The familiar bell that rang above them caught Molly's attention immediately, and she greeted Louis with a bright grin, in the middle of wiping the counter down.

                  "Hi guys," she chirped. "Beautiful day, i'n it? Wish I wasn't cooped up in here. What'll it be, then?"

                  Louis was already pulling out his wallet, grateful Molly knew well enough not to make him respond to her first comment. "My usual and then whatever she's having," he said, nodding toward his sister.

                  "What does Harry usually get?" Lottie asked. "He raves about it constantly. I just want to try it."

                  "Peppermint hot cocoa it is. These are on me," Molly said, refusing Louis' payment. "I'm feeling generous. They'll be right up."

                  Louis offered Molly an appropriate smile and nod, but then he tossed Lot a sideward glance. "I wasn't aware I was on a date with my boyfriend."

                  She rolled her eyes, examining the muffins and cake pops in the display case beside her. "Buzz off, Lou. Sue me for wanting to relate to my future brother-in-law in some way."

                  He had nothing in his mouth yet, but he began coughing, shooting her another look that wiped the smirk off her face. Her lips transformed into a guilty pout instantly. "Sorry. So, where should we sit?"

                  Shaking off her comment to the best of his ability, Louis turned toward his black sofa like clockwork. But instead, he jerked his chin toward the booth right near the entrance – one with a perfect view of the black sofa. Lottie went to sit while he waited for their drinks, and when Molly had them ready, he tipped her double what he usually does.

                  "You know, there's no point to me paying for your drinks when you do this."

                   Louis winked. "Oh. Then give that back, I'll use it on my refill."

                  "Where's your better half? I miss him. He's much nicer to me, and he brings me cookies."

                  "He's busy spreading Christmas cheer, singing loud for all to hear, and all that."

                  Molly raised her brows. "Wow. Quoting a Christmas movie. I'm impressed. Does that mean you've changed your mind about – "

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