A/N: I'm so impressed by the generosity I encounter from my readers. Another wonderful fan has created some lovely covers for me. I cannot get over it! Please give a warm round of applause to supergirlness who made this cover below as well as another at the end of the update. How awesome are they? 

Ryker drained the contents of his pint glass and set it down on the plank table at Justin's Brew, a microbrewery founded by a local who'd been in Trisha's high school graduating class

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Ryker drained the contents of his pint glass and set it down on the plank table at Justin's Brew, a microbrewery founded by a local who'd been in Trisha's high school graduating class. It was an up and coming spot in a town where that wasn't exactly commonplace, and where ones that catered to a night crowd where even more of a rarity. He and Dan made it there two or three evenings a month to enjoy a couple of amber ales while basking in its hip pub for the Northwest outdoorsy type vibe. He had to admit he didn't mind the craft beer served in a mason jar ascetic or the reclaimed wood floors. What he did mind, however, was Dan's choice of conversation topic.

"No, no, and also... I'm going to have to go with another no."

Dan motioned for the server to bring them another round. "Come on, Ryker. Be reasonable."

What his friend meant by "reasonable" was that Ryker resume all his pre-Emmie break-up habits – go back to frequenting Iola's five times a week, do something besides living day in and day out at work, and also, go out to eat with the family to celebrate Rhys' eighth birthday. That last one in particular was what he and Dan were currently arguing over. Good thing they both were already one pint in.

"She's going to be there. After what happened on Christmas... I just don't think it's a good thing. It's not the right time."

"Not the right time! You've been broken up for almost two months. Man, you must have it bad for her."

"Shut the fuck up, Dan. I don't and have never had it bad for anyone."

"Liar."

"You can believe whatever you want. It's Emmie's wellbeing I'm thinking of. She's the one who took off crying, if you'll recall."

"I do recall. I also recall how you sulked the rest of the night and the rest of the next three weeks. So don't try to con me with your 'I'm invulnerable to any emotional state tied to a woman' bull shit. Because that's all it is, dumbass." He paused, taking his beer from the waiter, who gave them both an amused half smile. "I'm calling him a dumbass in the nicest possible way, I swear."

The server laughed and walked away.

"You're being mean to me. Trisha's really rubbing off on you."

"Don't tempt me into turning that last sentence into a perverted joke. Look, Ryker, It's your nephew's birthday. And it's only for two hours. You can't handle being near Emmie for two measly hours for poor, sweet Rhys' sake?"

"Hey, don't guilt trip me! I've been getting enough of that lately. You know how much I love Rhys. And you also know that I'm taking him to the Robotics Expo next weekend for his birthday. That's a big awesome trip that, frankly, earns me the title of coolest uncle ever. So don't make it seem like I'm skipping celebrating it or spending time with him. I would never do that. I already told him myself that I couldn't make it to dinner and he said as long as he got to see the robots on Saturday, he didn't care."

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