Willa wishes she wasn't a virgin.

“Price of being picky” Smart Willa reminds her as she unlocks the shop to start her night’s work.

Willa winces because she realizes this is true. Just last month she said no to Trudy, the second-grade teacher from the school down the road who wanted to take things to The Next Level.

Trudy’s nice enough. A regular, reliable person. Educated. Kind and gentle. Even brought Willa flowers once right before they went out on what they agreed was Not A Date. It was all right, the sort of time where you’re waiting for something to happen that, well, doesn’t happen. And you don’t know why. It just doesn’t.

The oil Willa’s heating snaps and pops, impatient for a batch of donut dough. She notices three pops, loud, one for each Almost Girlfriend, including Willa’s only true crush, the only time Willa ever pined for anyone.

“Don’t remind me” she tells the oil.

The crackling oil still has plenty to say, though. It reminds her that Crush Girl was never going to stick around, that a peck on the cheek isn’t the same as a real kiss. And she’s never, ever spent a night with someone who would touch her like, y'know, that. Plus her birthday’s coming soon and. . .

“Yeah, yeah” Willa grumbles. “I can count.”

Some people, Willa knows, jump into bed with nobody special just to get rid of their virginity. This makes Willa wonder if some people go in search of a nobody-special girlfriend just to get rid of being single.

“I won’t do that” Willa informs the churning oil. “I can’t.”

Maybe this makes Willa grumpier in the mornings when customers show up for breakfast and her donuts. Smart Willa seems to think so. Smart Willa pokes her and tells her to smile. “For decent tips if nothing else.”

But Willa feels like giving up, feels like what’s the point, anyway? She looks around at the customers, checks the clock. Almost done, almost time to go home and get some sleep.

And then a cop walks in. A lady cop with a solid, OK face who asks Willa if there’s any chocolate-covered donuts left. Officer Kowalski buys them all. She shows up again every day for two weeks, sometimes in uniform, sometimes in jeans and a snug top. She eats breakfast alone at the counter and then buys half a dozen donuts. "Best donuts evah!" she tells Willa.

Officer Kowalski always sits near where Willa’s working, even if she has to wait for the seat she wants. She eats her breakfast slowly, finds ways to talk to Willa without ever being pushy, and Willa hears something in her voice — a kind of cheeriness, like a light shining behind her words.

“Maybe we can be friends” Officer Kowalski says one morning. “Maybe you can call me Elspeth.”

Willa grins. She can feel how the creases in her face get stuck, how low down in her belly something tightens and trills, how the flush on her chest heats her neck, then her cheeks, and she doesn’t care if Officer Kowalski notices. “Wouldja like another cuppa coffee, Elspeth?”

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