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"Didn't Starbucks begin like this?" I wondered out loud.

"I'd hate to see this place turn into the next Starbucks," Joshua mumbled quietly, but loud enough to cause Rainbow to pause and slowly turn her head toward him. Her dreadlock slipped off of her shoulder, returning to its natural resting place at the back of her neck.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, if this coffee shop spit out a bunch of clones, wouldn't it be the next Starbucks? Wouldn't it be the same thing? That would just suck."

Regret poured over Joshua's reddening face when Rainbow shot him a glare cold enough to stop global warming. Joshua held his cup of coffee close to his face the way a child might cradle his favorite blanket.

"Yeah. Anyway," said Rainbow, jerking her head until the dreadlock reappeared on her shoulder. She gave Joshua a dismissive, colorful wave and looked me purposefully in the eye. "So, Barb. What. Is. Up? Where have you been hiding? What are you doing?" With no promise of getting back to my novel any time soon, I sighed, closed my book, and tried to think of an acceptable answer.

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