Chapter 5 (Epilogue)

They fell asleep on the bed without getting undressed and in the morning - the first day of the New Year - they made love to celebrate Horace's birthday.

Was this goodbye? Both were checking out before noon to return home to face the New Year much the same way the previous several New Years had played out: a prospect that somehow seemed unfair now.

But that was the price they paid for Gaffy asking a stranger into her room on the eve of New Year's Eve and for Horace to have agreed to spend time with a woman he just met.

Had any of the pain gone away? Any of the loneliness?

"Do they have bakeries in Hillsboro?" Gaffy asked as they nestled under the covers.

"Do they have car dealerships in Jackman?" Horace wanted to know as he gave her a kiss.

"Maybe we should find a new place," Gaffy suggested. "A town that has a bakery and a car dealership."

"A town we could call our own?" Horace asked.

"In the new year," Gaffy said.

"Out with the old, in with the new?" Horace dared to ask.

"A new start," Gaffy said hopefully. "Together."

"Auld Lang Syne," Horace said quietly.