She knew herself well enough to say no to a place that shared a parking lot with a bar. She knew, scribbling the deposit check, that the yellow halogen mounted right there on its pole meant her bedroom would never be dark; that The Pirate, stoned and grinning neon above the bar’s front door, would lure her like a siren to a stool that swiveled and rum on the rocks, a splash of Coke, no lemon — just another night of bullshitting about the rain and a book she planned to write when she had enough time. Funny how people always find shelter talking about the weather. Her dash from the apartment door through the rain to the bar that first night gave her entrance a sheen of innocence — water dripping from her hair — she was a girl seeking refuge, not a woman slinking into a bar alone. It was a part she could play, and the men let her, one giving up his seat and his cozy jacket, another shouting, “Richie! Give this lady a drink.” “Richie,” she murmured, “the usual.” The men chortled. Richie winked. She was practically a regular already.