Emmie dipped the tip of her brush into a glob of cerulean blue acrylic paint on the pallet resting next to her easel

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Emmie dipped the tip of her brush into a glob of cerulean blue acrylic paint on the pallet resting next to her easel. "I can't believe I'm doing this. It's been ages since I picked up a brush."

"Well then, you were overdue." Trisha studied the bowl of fruit on the table in front of her as she slid her own brush over her canvas. "I had a feeling when you first walked into the diner that you were an artist without her art. You need this in your life."

Emmie couldn't disagree. She had felt at home in Moon Beach Collective from the moment she'd set foot inside it just an hour ago. Trisha's friends, Shelly, Ava, and Melody, had greeted Emmie without judgment or scorn. Their careful avoidance of the "Yes Man" topic led Emmie to wonder if Trisha hadn't told them not to bring it up.

Trisha hadn't explained in detail quite what to expect at this get-together. She figured they'd discuss art, talk about what was currently hanging on the walls of the gallery, and eat a good cheese and wine pairing. All of this ended up to be true, in varying degrees, but the main objective seemed to be to get away from their everyday lives for a few hours. Putting paint to canvas was a bonus.

Emmie poured herself a glass of sparkling water and then refilled the rest of the group's glasses with a Pinot Noir from a local winery in the Tualatin Valley.

Shelly noted her drink of choice. "No wine for you?"

"Not when I have to work early the next morning." Quick thinking, there.

The older woman laughed. Shelly had twin fifteen year-old sons and was married to the town's mayor. She ran a consulting business and as Trisha had already noted, she was a bit of a shoe hoarder. "I have to be up early too, but as you can see..." She swirled the wine and took a sip. "I manage to indulge every now and then."

"More like every evening." Ava, a bubbly thirty-something with a tattoo of an ivy vine wrapped around her right arm, chided her friend. "But I understand. Twin teenage boys would drive me to drink heavily too. I can barely keep up with one seven year-old."

"Oh hun, it's not the twins, it's Mervin." Emmie gathered that was Shelly's husband. "Today he called me during a meeting to ask me where the frying pan was. It was literally hanging up right above his head and he couldn't find it. I don't know how he manages to run a whole town when he can't even keep track of where the kitchenware is. Husbands."

"At least yours cooks." Melody, the oldest of the group, set down her paintbrush so she could focus on her drink. "Mine's from that generation that went right from having their mother coddle them to having their wife wait on them hand and foot. Last spring I went to visit my sister in California for two weeks and I thought I might come home to find Albert's decaying corps siting in his Lazy Boy, cold dead hand still wrapped around the remote control."

Emmie smiled. "How did he survive?"

"Ate out twice a day and consumed Moon Beach's entire supply of tortilla chips."

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