“Hey! There’s no smoking in my head!”

Bettina shrugs, puffing smoke into my face. “I’m harming no one but myself.”

“No harm?” I grab the cigarette from Bettina. A clump of ash lands on her fingers. She jumps back, shaking her hand against the burn.

“Bloody hell!”

I hide my smirk in my sleeve, then return to the keyboard. No harm, indeed. Except with each inhaled cigarette, Bettina’s smoke trails throughout my brain. It settles on each crevice. A cranial roadblock against creativity. Thoughts muddle. The plot twist developed last week disappears.

No worries. Focus on the avoided scene instead. I lean forward, elbows on the counter, fingers massaging my eyes.

Dani attends the rugby match, although she doesn’t understand the purpose of the sport. Ty and Orson sit next to her, cheering on their team, while she sits back in thought…

What are her thoughts? It made sense the other day! Crucial information to drive the plot a step further. A memory? Maybe. But where’s the connection to the game?


“Who cares?” Bettina says. Another cigarette now decorates her hand.

Her attitude makes me tremble. Grunts erupt from my lips and I stand up. The chair drops behind me with a clang. “No. Smoking. In. My. Head!”

Bettina holds out her hands, palms facing me. “Easy does it,” she says, but now she’s on edge. She tip-toes to the door, the burning cigarette in one hand and a full pack clutched in the other.

“I don’t care what you think!” She zips through the door without a glance back.. “I won’t quit!”

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