Episode 9.04 "War of the Words"
by Filo
with contributions from AdinaRJ


Author's Note: Thanks to all the fans for their support and to Robinpoppins and Jewels12 for their patience and valuable advice. A special thanks to the evil Pop Tart and Diet Coke for the extra encouragement, and to the 9 extra voices in my head for keeping it down so I could get some writing done.

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Luke finished updating Emily and Richard on how the diner was doing while Lorelai moved her croutons around in her salad bowl so that they made a smiley face.

"So even though it's been a slow summer, tourist-wise, we've been doing pretty well." Luke took a sip of water.

"Yes, even the Dragonfly has managed to keep up its occupancy rate, all things considered," Emily replied. "The spa has been full of activity these past few weeks."

"Yes," Richard agreed. "You've been spending a lot of time there."

"You have, Grandma?" Rory asked. "Maybe you should talk to your boss about a day off," she teased.

"Oh, I'm enjoying all the time there," Emily waved her off. "But that does remind me: Luke, Lorelai, are you busy this Wednesday?"

"Huh?" Lorelai looked up distractedly. Her smiley face now had a full head of lettuce hair, a cherry tomato nose, and a cucumber chin.

"Are you and Luke busy Wednesday afternoon?"

Lorelai glanced at Luke, pleading with her eyes for him to come up with something. Luke gave her a barely noticeable shrug, and then focused on his salad.

"Um, well..." Lorelai's panicked eyes darted across the table to Rory, but her daughter simply smiled back at her. Lorelai stabbed the tomato nose and mumbled, "I don't think we have any plans yet," before shoving the tomato in her mouth.

"Perfect, then you and Luke can join your father and me at the club for a game of tennis," Emily proclaimed with delight.

"Ah yes, that would be wonderful. The Masons canceled on us this afternoon and I hate to give up the court. They've been backed up for weeks," Richard said.

"I don't think Luke plays tennis, do you, hon?"


Emily cut him off. "Oh, have you never played tennis, Luke?"

"A little... back in high school."

"The basics are all you need to know," Richard replied.

"Uh, yeah, I'm sure they are." Luke's hand slid under the table and gripped Lorelai's thigh in a silent plea for help.

She jerked a bit at the unexpected pain, her hand coming down on top of his. His grip lessened slightly and Lorelai took a deep breath. "Come to think of it, I forgot about that thing with Rory on Wednesday."

Emily raised an eyebrow as she turned to look at her daughter. "What thing with Rory?"

"Yeah, Mom, what thing?"

"You know, that thing you wanted me to help you with."

"Oh, you mean helping me pick out those curtains?"

"Yes! That. We've had that planned for weeks."

"We have," Rory agreed. "But," she continued, giving her mother a 'you can't get off that easily' look, "It's not until next Wednesday."

"Are you sure?" Lorelai kicked her leg out trying to reach her daughter, but all she could catch was air.

"I'm positive." Rory smirked.

"Wonderful, then you and Luke can meet us at the club on Wednesday for some tennis doubles." Emily clapped her hands together and turned towards the kitchen. "Anita! Dinner usually implies more than one course!"

Lorelai and Luke faced each other, defeat apparent in their eyes. Emily turned to ask Rory a question, and Luke quickly scraped his croutons into Lorelai's salad bowl. She gave him a small smile and proceeded to turn her smiley face into a grimace.

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The afternoon sun streamed in through the open windows, making funny patterns on the pale carpet. A light breeze ruffled the blanket on the bed in the middle of the room. Rory sat at her desk, staring listlessly at her computer screen. She leaned her head on her hand and clicked a few times half-heartedly. "I don't even have any interesting spam," she said with a scowl at her computer.

Standing up, Rory walked down the narrow hallway. She yawned and stretched her arms over her head, twisting her back. "Ugh," she groaned as she linked her hands behind her back, arching forward as she stretched. She looked around her living room at the furniture that used to be in the lounge in her dorm and considered it with an unsure look on her face.

Rory picked up a notebook and pen from the coffee table shaped like books and then sat cross-legged on the floor, leaning against the wall. She opened the first page, labeled "Living Room," and studied it, looking out at the actual room and comparing it to the sketch. A large box in the middle of the wall was labeled "entertainment center." Rory looked up at the large piece of furniture which took up about two-thirds of the wall. She tilted her head to the side slightly, considering it. Rory jotted down "extra shelf for movies! Check IKEA" next to the entertainment center box. On the sketch, Rory had included the big picture window that was on the left wall, and a small table that she planned to put next to the front door on the right. About halfway down the room from the TV was a spot for "couch" and a smaller ones catty-corner on either side, each labeled "armchair" with a note above "RECOVER!" In between the couch and the chairs were small circles for the tables, and a large rectangle for the coffee table. She glanced up at that area and smiled at the framed pictures and gimmicky coasters that adorned the end tables, but regarded the coffee table warily. "New table, maybe," she muttered to herself, writing in that area on the paper. Behind where Rory had labeled the spot for the couch, she had a small area marked off for "dining room." On the edge of the drawing next to the dining room area was a small spot marked "kitchen door." The dining room area was currently empty, but Rory already had a list on the page of stores to shop for a dining room set.

She turned to the next page marked "kitchen." She'd sketched out where all the appliances and counters were (sink opposite the entrance, stove in the middle of the connecting wall on the left, and small appliances on the counter on the right), but other than that, there wasn't much there. On the top of the page were a few ideas, such as "knife block? phone on wall?" Rory frowned slightly at the bare ideas and flipped the page over. This was one was much more detailed, labeled "Bedroom." The large bed was in the middle of the room, with the windows opposite the door and her dresser from home underneath. Against the wall across from the foot of the bed was Rory's desk. On either side was a spot marked "closet" and one marked "bathroom." Her bookshelves lined the wall next to the door.

Satisfied with her larger decorating plans for now, she abandoned the notebook on the table again and stood up, giving the few boxes that remained a longing look. They were labeled "trinkets etc." and she couldn't unpack the rest of those until she had more shelves to put them on, so in the meantime they remained packed.

A slow smile spread across her face. "Hey, I wonder if..." she trailed off, not finishing her thought out loud. She stood in the corner of the room, arms raised and her front leg lifted. Aiming for the center of the room, Rory attempted a cartwheel, legs flailing in the air. She stood up with a grin and her face slightly flushed. "Not bad," she congratulated herself. She tried another from her landing point, slightly more successful this time.

Rory looked around the room from her vantage point and tried to gauge if she had room for another one. As she finished the last part of the cartwheel, she abruptly crashed into the wall. "Ow!" she cried, rubbing the side of her knee. "Okay, bad idea. Note to self: no more cartwheels. Ever."

Frowning, Rory limped back to her bedroom and plopped down on the desk chair. "Fine," she huffed. "Someone better have sent me something interesting, or I might be forced to extreme measures." Then she realized what she just said. "And checking to see how many cartwheels I can do across the living room isn't extreme?" She rolled her eyes at herself. "How about talking to yourself? Where does that lie on the extreme scale?"

She turned her focus back to the computer, bringing up her Facebook page. On her feed, the topmost item was: Doyle McMaster posted a link: Test your color IQ. "Okay," Rory muttered and clicked on the link. It was like a puzzle. On the page was three bars, each with a gradual shift of color, to be put in order. Rory did the first one quickly, only going back to switch a few boxes here and there. Halfway through the second bar, she shook her head. "Pathetic," she chided herself. "I can't be that bored."

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"People, people," Taylor called out, "we have one more item on the agenda."

"Hurry it up, Taylor, some of us have a date with Jimmy Kimmel!" Gypsy cried out.

"The sooner you quiet down, the sooner you'll be free to go," Taylor replied. He waited until the crowd was silent and gave them all a patronizing smile. "I'm sure you're all aware that tourism here has slowed a bit the past month or so."

"Oh, not this again," Luke grumbled. "This is the third meeting in a row where he's mentioned the lower tourist numbers."

Lorelai patted his leg. "And I'm sure you yelling about that fact for the third meeting in a row isn't going to speed this along." She dropped a small bag of baby carrots into his lap. "Here, snack on those. We can still make the movie if he's done in the next ten minutes." Luke rolled his eyes as he reluctantly grabbed a carrot out of the bag and bit into it.

"Since the only thing that seems to motivate you business owners is some sort of reward, I've decided to sponsor a contest for the next month in the hopes of boosting tourism." He cleared his throat and Kirk jumped up to reveal a chart. "This is a chart of every business in town and their average sales over the past six months."

"Where'd you get those numbers from?" Patty asked.

"Yeah, Taylor. I know my monthly sales aren't public knowledge," Luke bellowed.

"As Town Selectman, I'm privy to information about all businesses in the Stars Hollow limits."

Luke stood up, the bag of carrots hitting the floor before Lorelai could react. "Taylor, there is no way you could have seen my sales numbers without looking in my ledger. So unless you have the combination to my safe, or somehow managed to take a look at my ledger without me knowing about it, there is no way you'd have the diner's information."

Kirk slid down in his seat as Taylor rolled his eyes. "Luke, where I got the data is not important." Luke sat back down, crossed his arms and glared as Taylor continued. "As I was saying, this chart shows the average sales for each business in town over the past six months. As you can see, the numbers over the past three months have taken quite a dive. So for the next month, we'll track the sales of each business, and the one that has the highest sales will win the prize."

Andrew narrowed his eyes at the graph. "What's the prize?"

"It's a surprise," Taylor responded.

"Is it that basket you were making in the market the other day?" Babette called out.

Taylor's face reddened as he took sudden interest in his gavel. "It's a surprise," he repeated.

"I sure as hell hope it isn't that basket." Babette turned to face the rest of the group. "All it had was a few coupons and a Stars Hollow t-shirt in it."

Gypsy stood up and studied a bar on the chart. "How come the Soda Shoppe and Doose's are included as one?"

"Because they have the same owner."

"So they count as one for the contest?" Gypsy asked.

"Well, yes. Any business owner with more than one business can combine their sales," Taylor explained.

"Look at the huge advantage that gives you!" Gypsy pointed to the top of Taylor's bar, which was well above every other business.

Lorelai's interest was suddenly peaked. "Hey, does that mean Luke and I can combine businesses?"

Taylor shook his head. "No, two different owners can't combine businesses."

"But we're married, so it's like we own both businesses," Lorelai argued.

"I don't want anything to do with this," Luke whispered angrily.

"Hush you," Lorelai stroked his arm as she turned her attention back to Taylor. "What did you say, Taylor?"

"I said that while you two are married, the businesses are not in both of your names. Therefore, they count as separate businesses."

"That's ridiculous, Taylor. You're slanting the contest in your favor," Gypsy accused him.

"Yeah!" Lorelai stood up and addressed the townspeople. "Does anyone here have a problem with Luke and me counting our sales as one?"

"I do," Luke mumbled. Lorelai slapped his arm. "Guess we're going to be late to the movies again." He stopped grumbling when he was met with Lorelai's angry glare.

"I've got a date, so let's wrap this up." Patty flung her shawl over her shoulder and rose from her chair. "All in favor of allowing married couples to combine their business sales as one?" There was a loud chorus of 'Aye'. "All opposed?" She didn't give anyone a chance to protest as she continued. "Good. The 'Ayes' have it. Anything else, Taylor?"

"I've got a detailed explanation of the contest rules that I'd like to go over." He caught the menacing looks from the townspeople. "Or I can have Kirk pass them out as you leave. Now folks—" The crowd began filing out before Taylor could finish his sentence.

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The next evening, Luke walked through the front door of the Crap Shack, each arm wrapped around a grocery bag. He kicked the door shut and paused, sniffing the air. "Lorelai?" His voice echoed throughout the house.

"Stay right there!" came Lorelai's muffled cry from upstairs. "Two seconds!"

"I'm just going to put these bags in the kitchen and get started on dinner," he yelled back.

"No! Don't you move a toned muscle, burger boy!" Lorelai shouted.

"Lorelai, these bags are heavy, and two seconds to you can range between a minute and a year."

"Luke, don't you dare move!" she commanded.

Luke grunted and adjusted the bags in his arm. Thirty seconds later he heard a cough at the top of the stairs and looked up. His eyes traveled from her perfectly curled hair, to the flannel that had the top three buttons undone, to her stiletto clad feet. "I take it we're staying in tonight?" he rasped, unconsciously gripping the bags tighter in his arms.

"If you don't mind." Lorelai slowly made her way down the stairs, each step down calculated to emphasize her bare legs.

"I don't mind." Luke gulped. "Can I put these in the kitchen now?" He held up the bags.

"Of course, follow me." Lorelai headed into the kitchen, her hips enticingly swaying back and forth. "How was the diner?"

"The same as everyday." Luke stepped into the kitchen and shook his head in amazement. "Well, this explains what I smelled when I came in." The table was draped in a tablecloth, their fancy matching dishes placed on top. In the center of the table was a meal that Luke assumed had been prepared by Sookie. His eyes scanned the rest of the kitchen, which was lit only by the dozen or so candles placed around the room. "Did I forget an anniversary or something?"

"Nope, I just thought we could have a romantic night in." Lorelai took the bags from his hands and walked over and opened the fridge. She shoved both bags onto the center shelf and slammed the door shut. "There, groceries are all done."

Luke cringed. "Not all of that stuff goes in the fridge."

"We'll worry about it later. Let's eat."

Luke sat down at the table and looked at his plate. He glanced over to Lorelai's plate and was surprised to see the same thing. "This is vegetable lasagna."

"Yeah, I had Sookie make something I knew you'd like."

"You've got the same thing on your plate."

"Yes, I do."

"Okay, what's going on?"

"What do you mean?" Lorelai asked, taking a bite of the lasagna.

Luke picked up his fork and pointed it towards her. "You're up to something."

"The only thing I'm up to is trying to have a romantic evening with my husband." She took another bite of her food, her tongue seductively licking the sauce off the fork.

"You're up to something." Luke pushed his plate away from him. "I'm not eating until you tell me what it is."

"I'll tell you after dessert."

"I don't eat dessert."

"You'll like this dessert."

"How do you know I'll like it?"

"Because I know what you like."

"What's for dessert?"

"Finish your dinner first."

Luke crossed his arms. "What's for dessert?"

Lorelai sighed. "You're a stubborn guy, you know that?" Luke shrugged. "Fine, dessert is me."

"Now I know you're up to something. What do you want?"

Lorelai stood and walked over to Luke. She signaled for him to push his chair back. After he had moved back far enough, she sat down on his lap, took his cap off, and ran her fingers through his hair. "I want to share a romantic dinner with my husband." Her hands traveled down to his flannel and she began unbuttoning the buttons. "I want to show my husband some of the lingerie that I found in the lingerie suitcase that he didn't get to see on our honeymoon," she whispered. Her hands moved down to his hips. "And for my husband to pool his diner sales with his wife's inn," she mumbled quickly, her lips connecting to his after the last word.

Luke's arms wrapped around her tightly as he returned her kiss. His lips moved to her jaw as he murmured, "I think we can skip right to dessert." He dragged his hand up her calf. "I'd love to see what my wife found in the lingerie suitcase." His fingertips traced over her knee. "No way in hell I'm participating in Taylor's contest."

"Damn," Lorelai gasped, slipping his flannel off his shoulders. "At least the lingerie isn't gonna go to waste."

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Emily breezed through the front door and handed her jacket to the maid. "Thank you, Anita." She stepped through the foyer and into the sitting room where she saw Richard with a book in one hand, a drink in the other. "Richard, I'm terribly sorry for being late." She moved quickly to the bar and poured herself a martini. "I was just about to leave the spa when the shipment of nail files came in. I ordered these lovely files with dragonflies on them to use in the gift baskets and instead they sent over ladybugs. Ladybugs, can you imagine?" She took a sip of her martini as she sat down on the couch. "I had to call the supplier and of course it took forever to resolve the problem."

"Mmm hmm," Richard replied, closing his book. "I had Anita keep everything warm. Shall we?" He walked into the dining room, not waiting on a reply.

Emily looked at her watch. "Goodness, I didn't realize how late I was. You must be famished." She continued as she followed behind him. "I know I am. It was so busy today I never got to finish my lunch." Richard pulled out her chair and Emily sat down. "Thank you. How was your day?"

Richard took his seat at the other end of the table and placed his napkin on his lap. "Not as busy as yours, it sounds. I—"

"Anita, we're ready for the salads!" Emily called out, cutting Richard off. "There was a mix up with the linen supplier and they didn't send over the extra order of bathrobes for the spa. I was finally able to get some from the inn, but not without having to go over Michel's head and running it past Lorelai. I don't know how she has been able to tolerate that man for so long, he can be terribly annoying."

"Yes, well Lorelai has said he can be a handful." Richard picked up his fork when Anita placed a salad in front of him.

"He's more than a handful," Emily replied, rearranging her salad to inspect the vegetables. "Oh, these are lovely cucumbers!" She speared a cucumber on her fork and lifted it up to look at it more closely. "We've been ordering our cucumbers from Jackson, but his have been rather small lately. Maybe we should change suppliers."


"Sookie's husband. They taste wonderful, but they barely fit over one's eyes." Emily took a bite of salad and chewed quickly. "So you were saying you didn't have a busy day?"

"No, it was quite relaxing. I started—"

"Speaking of relaxing," Emily interjected, "we introduced a new spa package today." She continued on, not noticing that Richard had sighed and pushed his salad away.

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Rory checked to make sure her wallet was in her small purse and she slipped her cell phone in the outside pocket of her purse. She paused to lock her front door and grinned to herself as she walked lightly down the steps to the front of her apartment building. She tilted her head up to the sky, absorbing the sun and marveling at the beautiful day.

As she walked down the street, a familiar aroma filled the air. Rory looked around sharply and her eyes landed on a large sign that read "The Coffee Beanery." She walked inside tentatively. Two girls, a little younger than Rory, were chatting behind the counter. Behind them, the menu was handwritten on a chalkboard in bright colors and a large display of the different types of coffee they had to offer, each with a short description. On the counter next to the register, there were about twelve different types of tea. Around the main area there were a few tables set up and also several armchairs and sofas. Hanging on the brick walls were vintage coffee signs, some in different languages. Rory inhaled deeply. She grabbed her cell phone from her purse and added the place to her address book.

"Medium house blend to go, please," Rory ordered. When she got the coffee, she used the sniff test. Not as good as Luke's, but better than Yale's was the consensus. Rory glanced around at some of the other patrons. Toward the middle of the room, there was a couple talking quietly yet animatedly. In one of the armchairs over by the left wall, a man who looked to be in his thirties was casually typing on his laptop.

Rory continued down the main drag, pausing occasionally to sip the coffee. She passed a small farmer's market on the left, and entered the name into her cell phone so she wouldn't forget to come back. On the right, there was a cute card and gift shop. She peeked in the window and saw a few things that looked interesting—some throw pillows with fun sayings, and a set of memo-holders in the shape of old movie stars. She entered that into her phone as well; she'd have to come back when she had all her shelves set up and she knew exactly what she needed.

Out of the corner of her eye, Rory saw something that made her stop. Right there, between two unremarkable-looking storefronts, was a bookstore. She stopped, and stared at the windows, at the quirky "OPEN" sign on the door. A small, non-corporatey, bookstore. Knowles Books, which could possibly mean a family place. She quickly disposed of her empty coffee cup in the trash can outside, and walked in.

There was a girl about Rory's age sitting behind the desk to the left of the door. She looked up through thick glasses, tucking her messy blonde hair behind her ears when the chimes sounded, and greeted Rory. Rory couldn't help but grin as she returned the "hi." As she looked around, she immediately felt at home. There seemed to be some sort of organization to the bookshelves, but it was just chaotic enough so you didn't feel intimidated. There were a few people settled in reading in the armchairs that were spread out among the bookshelves. Rory immediately wanted to go home, pack a bag, and move in.

She walked slowly around the place, running her hands almost reverently over the spines of the books. There were plenty of new books that could be found in any Borders or Barnes & Noble, but there were also relics from the past. Not just immaculate first-editions, like she'd seen in her grandfather's study, but more like cleaner versions of garage-sale books. It was absolutely perfect.

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Lorelai walked out of the diner, dragging Luke by the arm behind her. "This won't take long, I promise."

"Lorelai, when has shopping with you ever been a short experience?"

"I'll be quick. We need to have matching outfits."

"I'm not wearing a matching outfit."

"What are you going to wear, shorts and a t-shirt?" Lorelai rolled her eyes. She didn't notice he was headed in the opposite direction until she felt the tug on her arm. "Where are you going? The jeep is this way."

"I need some toothpaste. I'm going to the market."

"You can't buy stuff from there!" She gripped his hand tightly and unsuccessfully tried to pull him towards the jeep.

"Why not?"

"Luke, we are in a competition. Anything we buy from Doose's increases Taylor's sales. We can't help him make money. We can stop by Target and pick up whatever you need."

"The last time we went to Target we were there for hours."

"That's because we went with Rory and April."

"It's because you can't resist walking the whole store to check out each clearance section."

"Well, the clearance sections are spread throughout the store. I can't help that."

"They are scattered like that to lure people to go through the entire store. Which you fall for."

"Uh huh. No time for a rant, let's go get our tennis outfits and then head to the Tar-jay."

"I'm not going to Target. I'm going into the market and buying my toothpaste. You can either come with me, or wait in the jeep." Luke wiggled his arm from her grasp and walked across the street.

Lorelai blew out a breath of frustration and walked quickly to catch up with him. "Fine, we'll buy your toothpaste from the enemy. But that's all we're getting."

"Perfect." Luke held the market door open for her and followed her to the health and beauty aisle. "What's that smell?" he asked, picking up his brand of toothpaste, which sat next to a box of organic cereal.

"It smells like hot dogs... and nachos?" Lorelai sniffed her way to the scent, Luke close behind her. Up against the back wall was a row of machines. One held rotating hot dogs, another nachos. Next to them was a slushie maker. "Looks like Taylor is going after the trucker crowd again."

Luke picked up a piece of paper next to the hot dog warmer. "Fifty cents off one small scoop of ice cream with purchase of hot dog or nachos," he read.

"He's cross-promoting to increase sales at both places!" Lorelai pouted. "If the diner was competing, we could do cross-promotions with the inn."

"You can cross-promote things with the inn and the spa."

"Not the point, Luke."

Before Luke could reply, Taylor's voiced boomed from behind them. "I didn't think you were one for sweets, Luke."

"I'm not." Luke crumpled the coupon in his hand.

Taylor pointed his nose up in the air as he rocked back on his heels. "I'd prefer if you didn't mangle my promotional material, Luke."

"These are here for customers, right?"

"Well yes, but—"

"I'm a customer. If I want to take one and crumple it up, that's my right." Luke shoved the crumpled piece of paper in his jeans pocket. He turned towards the registers, Taylor right behind him.

"I don't see why you have to be so grumpy about a little competition," Taylor sniffed.

"What competition?" Luke barked, slamming the toothpaste on the counter. "I'm not participating in your stupid contest!"

"I don't understand why you're so upset." Taylor shook his head and shrugged towards the cashier.

"This isn't about increasing tourism, it's about increasing your profits. How is overheated junk food with a slushie chaser going to increase tourism? It's not! And how does that crap compete with what I serve at the diner? You're selling hot dogs, nachos, and slushies. You're competing against a little league baseball park, not the diner."

"Go Luke, rant Luke," Lorelai whispered, handing over a few bills to the cashier and taking the bag.

"There's nothing wrong with some healthy competition," Taylor countered.

Luke rolled his eyes "There's no competition, Taylor. I'm not getting wrapped up in your crazy ideas. Have you even really looked at your figures? Even with your combined businesses, you can't beat the Dragonfly."

"Please, my combined figures have been beating Lorelai's for the past six months," Taylor gloated.

"But those were pre-spa figures. The spa is booked solid for the next two months. You'd have to sell fifty overcooked hot dogs to even come close to the cost of one of those things where they put mud on a woman's face."

"Mud treatment," Lorelai corrected.

Luke rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that, Lorelai."

"About what, Taylor?" Lorelai asked skeptically.

"We are only counting sales from aspects of your business that were established before the first set of data was collected. That means any additions to your business in the last six months are omitted from the results."

"That's ridiculous!" Lorelai cried out.

"I'm sorry, those are the rules."

"Taylor you're a real piece of work." Luke pointed a finger menacingly in front of Taylor's face. "Lorelai read all five pages of your stupid rules out loud after the town meeting and I heard nothing about that."

Taylor took a step back. "It's in the copy of the amended rules. I can get you a copy if you'd like to see them."

"We don't need to see them; the spa counts." Luke slammed his hand down on the counter. "And the diner counts too." Luke spun around and met Lorelai's eye. "I'm in."

"Yes!" Lorelai pumped her fist in the air. "Taylor, you're going down!"

"I guess we'll see at the end of the month." Taylor turned and stomped off.

Luke headed towards the market doors. "Maybe Target wasn't such a bad idea," he growled.

"I'm so glad to hear you say that because we're stopping by there on the way home," Lorelai trilled as she caught up to his side and wrapped her arm around his waist.

"Aw, jeez."

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Richard sat behind his desk, rummaging through a stack of papers. The phone rang and without looking up, he picked up the receiver. "Richard Gilmore."

"Richard? It's Emily."

"Are you on your way home? The chancellor's dinner starts in two hours and you said you would pick up my suit at the cleaners." Richard straightened the stack of papers and placed them on the edge of the desk.

"That's why I'm calling."

Richard sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "I'm going to have to pick up my suit, aren't I?"

"Yes. You're also going to have to go to dinner without me."

"Emily, this dinner has been planned for weeks."

"I'm sorry, but things here are incredibly hectic. Lorelai insisted that we add more spa offerings in order to compete with that insufferable Selectman Taylor, and I've got to make sure all of the employees are aware of the changes."

"Can't you simply print out the new offerings and hand them out to all your employees?"

"Yes, Richard, I could do that if I were the manager of a fast food establishment. But I'm managing a high end spa, so information of this nature needs to be introduced at a meeting. And that meeting needs to be tonight in order for everyone to be up to speed by tomorrow."

"Of course," Richard said in a dejected voice. "I'll see you after I get home from the dinner?"

"Yes, I should be home by then." Richard went to hang up the phone but heard Emily speak once again. "Oh and Richard?"


"Make sure you don't wear that red bow tie that you always try to wear to these dinners. It makes your neck look... wide."

"Of course, dear."

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Kirk sat at the counter, the only customer present during the afternoon lull in the diner. His eyes darted between watching Luke refill the salt shakers, checking his watch, and looking into the Soda Shoppe through the diner and shoppe's shared window. "Don't you usually inventory the storeroom during the afternoon lull on Tuesdays?" he asked Luke.

"You spying on me?" Luke retorted back.

"No, it's just something I noticed."

"Uh huh."

Kirk's eyes darted to peek into the Soda Shoppe. "Uh, could I get something?"

Luke didn't look up from his task. "You want another grilled cheese?"

"No, Lulu says too much dairy is bad for my system. It makes me—"

"I don't want to know."

"Right." Kirk's eyes went to his watch. He turned to check the Soda Shoppe again.

Luke glanced up at Kirk without lifting his head. "Why do you keep looking over there?"

Kirk spun his head around. "What? I don't keep looking over there."

"You've been looking over there for the past ten minutes." Luke picked up a handful of salt shakers and began placing them on the tables.

"I thought you were going to get something for me."

Luke continued working. "You never told me what you wanted."

"Uh, I did. It's in the storeroom."

"What was it?"

Kirk shifted on his stool. "That thing way in the back on the top shelf."

Luke put the final shaker down on its table and wiped his hands on the side of his legs. "What thing?" he asked, growing impatient.

"I don't remember what you called it, but you said I could borrow it." Kirk wiped some sweat from his brow.

"What?" Luke turned to face him, but stopped when something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. He took a step closer to the dividing window. "What the hell are they doing over there?" Luke watched as Taylor handed out little trays of paint and paintbrushes to some small children. The children walked over to the window and began to paint on it. A minute later, Taylor wiped on a window cling that said, "Satisfy that sweet tooth with some ice cream and candies." Luke rushed to the window and banged on it loudly, startling all those on the other side. "Taylor!" he yelled, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Taylor's muffled voice came from the other side. "Just decorating my window for my customers."

"By advertising into my diner?" Luke voice was louder than before, and the children backed away from his angry form.

"Luke, you're scaring the children," Taylor replied.

Luke took a deep breath. He pressed his finger up against the glass. "This isn't going to work," he declared through gritted teeth.

"We'll see at the end of the month," Taylor taunted.

Luke spun back around and was met by Kirk's frightened eyes. "Did you know about this?"


"It's why you were trying to get me into the storeroom, right? You were trying to get me out of the way."



Kirk scrambled off his stool and ran out the diner door. Luke walked back behind the counter and started to wipe it down. He looked over to the window and saw Taylor painting a huge outline of a tooth on the window. He threw the rag down on the counter and stormed into the kitchen.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

"Don't hurt yourself playing tennis," Rory said into the phone. "Be careful." She cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder, neatly putting away her winter clothes from a box into a set of plastic drawers in her closet.

"I'll be fine," Lorelai assured her daughter. "Unless Emily goes ballistic and shoves a tennis ball down my throat or something. But Luke will be there, so I think we'll be okay."

Rory raised her eyebrows. "Good, then."

"So what's new with you, daughter-of-mine?"

"I have been very productive," Rory announced, smoothing out a sweater as she placed it in a drawer. "I got a lot of things set up."

"Ooh, do tell." Rory pictured her mother sitting cross-legged on the couch, settling back against the throw pillows.

"I organized my bookshelf. And with the new one, I actually have enough room for all my books.

"That is impressive!" Lorelai said. "Did you separate it by genre? Novel, short story, journal, biography..."

"Actually," Rory said, with a slight cringe, "and I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I mostly made it look pretty. I separated them a little by genre, but mostly by size. I couldn't have a mass-market paperback of Inherit the Wind next to my large hardcover of Pride & Prejudice because it would get lost. I know what each book looks like, so when I need to look for one, I look in the hardcovers, or the trade paperbacks, or whatever."

"You truly are my daughter," Lorelai said proudly. "Making things look pretty. Next thing, you'll be giving the scissors a pair of pants to wear when they're not being used."

"Well—" Rory began.

"I was kidding!" Lorelai said gleefully. "You didn't!"

"No, I didn't," Rory said defensively, closing the drawer a little harder than normal. "I did, however, set up a small area for crafts."

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "You have a crafts corner."

"Ye-es," Rory replied hesitantly. "It worked for Paris!" she added quickly.

"Oh, hon," Lorelai said. "Never use 'it worked for Paris' as a way to justify doing something. Soon you'll be telling me your new boyfriend is nearing 75!"

"It just seemed like fun," Rory said, choosing to ignore the crack about the old boyfriend. "Believe me; I'm not going to do everything Paris does."

"I may have to commit you to an asylum if you did," Lorelai promised. "Okay, moving on. You decided to follow in Paris's footsteps..."

"I set up new lights in my bedroom—I bought a string of Christmas lights at the dollar store, and strung them all around the border," Rory said. "When the main lights are off and those are on, it makes it really pretty."

"I always used the scarf-over-the-lampshade trick when I was younger," Lorelai remembered. "I could even switch the scarf if I wanted the light to be a different color."

"I thought of that, but I was afraid it'd be a fire hazard."

Lorelai chuckled. "I don't know where your cautious side comes from because it's not from me or your father."

"Speaking of things I didn't inherit from you, I also made a list of essentials I'll need for the kitchen. I'll have to hit a store soon." Rory rolled a pair of flannel pants and placed them against the back of the bottom drawer.

"Essentials for the kitchen?" Lorelai repeated. "Like ice cream and tater tots?"

"Like pots and pans," Rory corrected. "I'm going to cook."

Lorelai laughed. "Say that again."

"I'm going to cook," Rory reiterated. "I've done it before—and yes, more than just tater tots or reheating Chinese—and I think it might be a fun thing to do now that I have my own place."

"Are you going to start watching the Food channel 24/7 and trying to duplicate all the recipes?"

"No—" Rory started, but was cut off quickly.

"Are you going to be like Emeril and 'bam!'? Are you going to add 'EVOO' to everything? Are you going to—"

"I'm just going to make simple stuff!" Rory interrupted. "I just want to have the option to not do takeout every night."

"Hon, if you burn the place down, you'll have to go live with Grandma and Grandpa in the pool house," Lorelai warned.

"Anyway, I made the list because I can't cook until I have things to cook in and with," Rory said. "And then I was on the computer doing some research for my next article—"

"How's that coming?" Lorelai asked.

"It's good," Rory said. "I'm just waiting for the editor to email me back. I can't proceed until I have some confirmation from him.

"While I was on the computer," Rory continued, "I got distracted by Wikipedia. I think I spent at least an hour clicking from one article to the next, going from colds to calculators."

Lorelai giggled. "Like that comic! The one you showed me."

"What comic?"

"You know, the one with the stick figures. They did a comic on Wikipedia, somehow combining William Howard Taft and wet t-shirts."

"XKCD!" Rory giggled. "The best one was where the guy was spoofing Say Anything with 'Under Pressure'. That reminds me of Kirk. I can't believe there's no video evidence of his proposal!"

"The best things in life are spontaneous, and all we're left with are memories," Lorelai said profoundly.

"Fortune cookie?" Rory asked.

"Quote of the day," Lorelai responded. "Anyway, I think Gypsy might have a copy."

"Ooh, I'll have to talk to her," Rory said, walking over to her desk and jotting down a note to herself on a post-it.

"So, you've been productive," Lorelai prompted.

"Yep, and you won't believe what I did the other day." Rory grabbed the last pieces of clothing, a scarf and hat set, from the box and laid it down on top of the set of drawers.


"I did a cartwheel in the living room." Rory broke down the box and flattened it, slipping it behind the drawers against the wall in the closet.

"You're kidding! Did it work? Is there a Rory-shaped dent in the wall now?"


♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Richard, Emily, and Luke stretched their legs on a bench as Lorelai sat and watched them. "They're wearing matching outfits," Lorelai whispered, poking Luke in his side when he bent over.

"And you want to be like them?" Luke shifted away from her, stretching out his arms.

"Point taken." Lorelai stood when everyone appeared finished. "You all stretched out?"

"Are you sure you don't want to stretch?" Richard asked. "You don't want to pull a muscle."

"Don't worry about me, Dad, I'll be fine. Let's play some tennis!"

"Who serves first?" Emily held up a tennis ball.

"You can," Luke replied, adjusting his ball cap.

Richard and Emily walked to one side of the court, Luke and Lorelai to the other. Luke stopped to face Lorelai. "You want the front or the back?"

"Dirty," she giggled. Luke rolled his eyes. "I'll take the front." Luke nodded and walked back towards the serving line.

"You ready?" Richard bellowed, bouncing the ball a few times. Luke and Lorelai nodded, and Richard served. The ball sailed over the net and bounced a foot in front of Lorelai. She squealed and darted away from the ball.

Luke dropped his head and picked up the ball that had dribbled back to him. "15 —love," he proclaimed, tossing the ball back over to Richard.

"The point is to return the ball, Lorelai, not run from it." Emily shook her head at her daughter.

"Mom, that ball was coming really fast. Have you ever been hit by a ball? It hurts."

"Yes, it hurts if you let it hit you. The point is to return it over the net." Emily sighed. "Just serve again, Richard."

Richard served and the ball once again headed towards Lorelai. This time, as Lorelai ran away from it, Luke lurched forward and returned it over the net. Emily hit it back over, and Luke sprinted to the back court, slamming the ball with a hard backhand. Emily and Richard both missed the ball, and Lorelai hollered in victory.

"Good shot, Luke. You've got a backhand like Jimmy Conners," Richard complimented.

"The former president played tennis?" Lorelai asked, straightening her tennis skirt.

"Conners, not Carter," Emily corrected.

"Oh right, him." Lorelai glanced over at Luke.

"He was a tennis player," Luke said in a low voice.

"Ah," Lorelai said. "Serve it up, Dad!"

They continued to play, Lorelai running away from the ball, leaving Luke to return each volley. After three sets, Luke and Lorelai were up by two. As they switched sides, Lorelai took in Luke's sweaty appearance. Feeling a little guilty for not having hit one ball, she tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention. "Babe, I can try to hit a few, if you want."

"Nah, it's okay."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, it's actually kinda fun."

"Fun? How is playing tennis with your in-laws fun?"

Luke removed some lint from Lorelai's shoulder. "For one, I get to watch my wife run around in a really cute tennis outfit."

"And two?"

"I'm imagining that the ball is Taylor's head." Luke winked as he stepped behind the service line. He waited for Lorelai to get in position, then he fired a serve over the net. Emily barely got her racket out in time, and the ball lobbed back over the net. Lorelai ran off the court, and Luke slammed the ball again, hitting the back corner of the court.

Emily let out a frustrated breath. "That was a good shot, Luke, but you should have used your backhand instead."

"Yes, the backhand would have been the way to go," Richard agreed.

Lorelai rolled her eyes as she walked back onto the court. She moved close to Luke and whispered, "How about imagining the ball is my parents' heads for this serve?" Luke laughed and nodded in agreement.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

It was after midnight when Lorelai pulled into the alley behind the diner. After they had finished playing tennis, Luke had complained the whole drive back about how Taylor had decorated the dividing window in an effort to lure away his customers. She wanted to stop by the diner to see the window, but Luke was tired and sore from the game, so Lorelai relented and they went home. She had waited until Luke had fallen asleep, then lifted his keys and tiptoed out of the house.

She unlocked the back door and walked into the dark diner. She peered in front of her and made sure the blinds were closed, and then flipped on the light. "Oh my God!" she murmured. She walked up to the window and traced over what looked like an abstract version of an ice cream sundae. "Wow, Taylor isn't much of an artist," she thought aloud. "He should have hired someone to paint this stuff for him." She shrugged and opened her purse, pulling out various make-up compacts and tubes. She laid them out on the table. "I know you may not understand this right now," she touched a compact affectionately, "but it's for a greater good. Taylor is not going to win this contest with wannabe Dali art."

She picked up some eyeliner and stood in front of the window. "Okay Toothy, tonight we make you and your friends anatomically correct." She opened the eyeliner and began to draw on the giant tooth.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory looked around her apartment and tried to talk herself out of going back to Knowles Books. She brought up her credit card statement online and kept it open to remind herself that she really couldn't afford going back there. The boxes around the room were significantly fewer than there had been a few days ago. "Ugh," she groaned. "I hate being bored."

She caught sight of her cell phone sitting on the desk next to her laptop and she snatched it up. Scrolling through the names on her list, she landed partway down and hit 'send.'

"Hello?" was the distracted-sounding voice on the other end.

"Hey, stranger," Rory greeted with a smile.

"Gilmore!" Patrick's voice sounded less distracted. "Stranger is right. What's up with you?"

"I finally get to have a real conversation with you!" Rory commented. "Sure beats a hurried email that reads less clear than 12-year-old's text messages. 'Busy, work good. Gotta run, take care'," she teased him.

"Oh, they're not that bad! Yours are just too long," Patrick retorted. "Mine are succinct and to the point."

"You're just lazy," Rory told him. "So, really, what's the story at the Times?"

"Clever," Patrick commented. "It's good. It's fast-paced and stressful and I go home every day and collapse, but I can't wait to do it all over again the next day."

"Patrick, that's fantastic," she said sincerely.

"What about you? I saw your name on Salon a few months ago. Anything more in the works?"

"Well—" Rory began.

Patrick cut her off, "Sorry, Gilmore, I gotta run. There's a meeting in five minutes, and I'm seven minutes away from the room, so I literally have to run. Email me!"

"I will, good luck! Take c—" She stopped abruptly, realizing he'd hung up.

Rory sighed and scrolled back through her phone. Chatting with Patrick—however briefly—had put her in the mood to reconnect with that group. She hit "send" when she reached the D names in her contact list.

"Hello?" Rory was met with yet another distracted voice.

"Darshana, hey, it's Rory."

"Hi, Rory!" Darshana greeted her cheerfully. "How are you?"

"I'm good, I'm really good," Rory said, and relaxed slightly. "How about you? Tim, and the kids?"

"Everyone's doing well," Darshana said. "No, sweetie, you have to wash your hands—with soap—before you sit at the table."

"Are you busy? Do you need me to let you go?" Rory asked worriedly.

"No, it's fine," Darshana replied. "I'm just giving the little one a snack. So, what are you working on now, are you doing features?"

"I'm freelancing," Rory explained. "I'm working on a project for Salon.com; an ongoing thing, and I have some other feelers out there."

"Rory, that's terrific. Sounds just like what you wanted."

"Yeah, I guess it is," Rory said, allowing some pride to creep into her voice. She hadn't made it yet, but she was doing something that made her happy, and that's all that mattered.

"Mommy!" came a shrill voice from Darshana's side of the line.

"Hold on, Rory, okay?" Darshana said, and Rory could hear footsteps. "What's the matter?"

"I need help," came a muffled whine.

"Sorry, Rory, I need to call you back later," was Darshana's distracted sign-off.

"Okay, then," Rory said to her dead phone. She glanced out the window, then shook her head to clear it. Glancing back at her phone, she hovered around the "Mom cell" entry briefly, then decided against it. Scrolling through the names, she pressed "send" before she changed her mind.

"Hello?" a familiar male voice answered.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Luke moved effortlessly from table to table, the slightest hint of a smile on his lips. The bells rang out as Lorelai came in, and Luke met her halfway to the counter and planted a kiss on her lips. "Hi," he said, moving to drop an order in front of Gypsy before turning to head behind the counter to fill up a mug of coffee for Lorelai.

"Somebody is in a good mood." Lorelai took a sip from her mug. "What brought on this attitude? You could hardly get out of bed this morning. You said your legs were still sore from all the running."

Luke nodded towards the painted window. "Should I be thanking you for that?"

Before Lorelai could answer, Taylor burst through the doors. "Luke Danes!"

"Hey!" Luke growled, coming around the counter to stand in front of Taylor. "What's your problem?"

"You know what my problem is. What did you do to my window?"

Luke bit back a chuckle. "I didn't do anything."

"So those... extra parts just appeared out of nowhere?" Taylor waved his hand towards the artwork.

"I think it adds character," Patty chimed in.

"Stay out of this, Patty," Taylor snapped. Patty smirked at him. "I can't believe you'd stoop this low, Lucas."

Luke's eyes narrowed. "I didn't do it. It was here when I came in."

"Why didn't you clean it off?" Luke shrugged. Taylor maneuvered his way to the window, peering in closely. "This isn't paint," he proclaimed.

Babette pushed him to the side as she ran her finger over the thick substance. "I think it's eyeliner," she said. She looked closely at the substance to the right. "And that looks like... lipstick?"

Taylor scanned the diner, catching a slight gleam in Lorelai's eye. "Lorelai! I expect something like this from Luke, but not from you."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Taylor," Lorelai choked out, covering her grin with her mug of coffee.

"Lorelai, those kids spent hours working on that window. I can't believe you'd defile their efforts."

Lorelai turned and met Luke with startled eyes. Luke quickly moved behind the counter. "Taylor, out," he commanded.

Taylor moved towards the door. "I expect that you'll have your window cleaned before school is out. I'd hate for some young impressionable child to see the kind of sick humor your wife has."

"I'll clean my window as soon as you clean yours," Luke barked, placing his hands on the counter and leaning forward.

The sound of the bells rang out upon Taylor's departure. The silent diner was quickly filled with its usual level of noise, the customers continuing conversations that had been interrupted by Taylor's disturbance. Luke turned his attention to a somewhat pale-faced Lorelai. "You okay?"

"Kids painted the window?" she asked in a low voice.


"You didn't say kids painted it."

Luke shrugged. "I didn't?" Lorelai shook her head. "Oh. Does it matter?"

"Yes, it matters, Luke! I made children's art dirty!"

"No, you made Taylor's lame attempt at advertising dirty." He refilled her mug, the smile from earlier playing back on his lips.

"Luke, this isn't funny."

"It kinda is."

"I may as well have gone into Sookie's house and added anatomy to some of Martha's or Davey's refrigerator art."

"We'll stop by after dinner." Luke patted her hand as he walked by. When she heard Luke's laugh trickle into the diner from the kitchen, she couldn't help but smile.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Rory twisted a strand of hair around her finger as she held the phone with the other hand. "Hey," Rory said into the phone, smiling slightly.

"Hey, cuz!" Jess responded, and Rory could hear the smirk in his voice.

"Oh, shut up," Rory said, immediately falling back into the comfortable teasing.

"How's the new place?"

"It's terrific," Rory began. "It's in this amazing artsy kinda district, and there's a lot of young people around—I know it's no Philly, but there's coffee shops—only four Dunkin' Donuts and two Starbucks—an awesome music shop, which kind of reminds me of that place in New York where I bought the Go-Gos album—did I tell you I left that on the bus that day? Anyway, the neighborhood is terrific, and the apartment itself is airy and has lots of space, but—"

"Hey," Jess cut her off. "Rory, what's up?"

Rory hesitated slightly. She could play the game and pretend to be confused, or she could just own up. "I was rambling," she stated.

"Yes, you were," he agreed. "So," he prompted again. "What's wrong?"

"It hasn't clicked yet," she confessed. "I'm glad—so glad—to be out of the Honeymoon House and to finally be on my own for real," her words came out in a rush, all tumbling over each other. "But I'm bored and restless, and I feel like I'm waiting for something." She paused to take a breath. "Mostly bored. And... I don't know. I miss having you around."

Jess chuckled lightly, but not unkindly. "What, no one else fakes a murder outside the grocery store?"

Rory leaned back in her desk chair and laughed. "I forgot all about that! Oh, that was priceless." She took a few deep breaths to calm down. "There's also no one to steal my books when I'm not looking."

"Hey, I always returned them!" Jess protested. "I never stole; I borrowed. There's a difference."

"Borrowed without permission," Rory countered. "Stealing with intent to return is still stealing."

"I was merely educating you on certain points of the books you may not have thought about previously," Jess stated. "And you never complained."

"I was shy?" Rory tried.

"Yeah, nice try."

The two of them were silent for a few seconds, then Jess cleared his throat. "I gotta get back to work."

"Yeah, I didn't mean to keep you," Rory said, still smiling.

"It's okay. I'm always here if you're bored," he told her in a serious tone.

"Thanks. I will take you up on that," she warned him.

Jess just chuckled. "Later."

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Emily walked quietly into the bedroom, holding her heels in one hand. She glanced over at Richard in the bed. He was sitting up against the headboard, an open book resting across his stomach and his reading glasses in his hand. She dropped her heels at the foot of the bed and stepped over to remove the glasses carefully from Richard's hand. His eyes opened slowly and Emily gave him a soft smile. "Hi," she whispered. "I'll be in bed in a minute." She turned to head to the bathroom.

"What time is it?" Richard asked, closing his book and placing it on the end table.

"A little after ten."

"Ah." Richard sat up. "Are you just getting home?"

"Yes. Those gift baskets took longer to complete than I thought they would." Emily stepped into the bathroom and removed her earrings.

"You've been working many late hours this week," Richard's voice drifted through the partially opened bathroom door.

"This competition that Lorelai has entered has been keeping everyone at the inn and spa very busy." She brushed her teeth and changed into her nightgown. She entered the bedroom and pulled the blankets down on her side of the bed. "Lorelai was still there when I left. She said something about preparing for Armageddon."

"What did she mean by that?"

Emily slid into bed and pulled the blankets over her. "I have no idea. You know how dramatic she can be."

"But you're off tomorrow, correct? I read in the paper today that there is a matinée showing of Easter Parade at the theater tomorrow." He brushed his hand lightly over her arm. "I thought I would take you."

"That is very sweet of you." Emily smiled and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek. "I was supposed to be off tomorrow, but I need to go in for a few hours."

"A few hours?" Richard's back stiffened. "What for?"

"I need to make sure that the masseurs are aware that we changed the massage oil."

"That's ridiculous! Won't they be able to tell that the oil is changed once they see the new product?" He pulled away from Emily's side of the bed.

Emily sighed as she sat up straighter. "Richard, I've explained this to you before. I need to make sure all the employees are properly trained."

"Don't you have an assistant that can do those things for you?"

"No," she scoffed, fiercely rearranging the sheets around her.

"Maybe you should." Richard huffed.

"What does that mean?"

Richard threw the covers off his body and got out of bed. "It means that I think you are working too much at the spa."

"It's my job," she explained emphatically.

"Yes, but you don't have to be working."

Emily yanked the blankets off and turned to face her husband. "I know I don't have to be working; I enjoy working."

"Well... maybe you should enjoy it a little less and pay more attention to the duties in your own household," Richard said pointedly.

Her jaw clenched and her hands curled into tight fists. "And what duties would those be?"

"Well, for one thing, are you aware that we've had the same maid for over a month?" Richard jerked his hands through his bathrobe and tied the knot angrily.

"I thought you'd be happy about that. You're always telling me that we should keep them around longer."

"Yes, but I meant a good one!"

Emily stepped out of bed and placed her hands on her hips. "Richard Gilmore, I will not quit the first thing that has given me pleasure in the past several years because you are incapable of making a household decision." She watched Richard's face fall and regretted her choice of words immediately. "Richard—"

"I'm perfectly capable of making a decision here, Emily, but the household is your job." He snatched up his book and stomped towards the door.

"Well, I have other responsibilities now, so you will need to help out with things here." She crossed her arms determinedly.

Richard took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I think my first household decision will be to sleep in the guest room tonight."

"I think that's a lovely decision," Emily called out. After Richard had slammed the door shut, she dropped to the edge of the bed and sighed.

♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫   ♫

Lorelai kicked her heels off as soon as she walked through the door. She hit the play button on the machine as she tossed her keys on the desk. Within seconds her mother's voice came through the speaker.

"Lorelai, it's your mother. The Hendersons just called and asked to switch tennis days with us, so we've got the court for Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday. You said Wednesday was the only afternoon you had prior plans for, correct? Rory's need for curtains aren't suddenly going to be so dire that you need to take care of them on Tuesday instead? Give us a call back. Maybe we can have dinner afterwards. Lord knows why you would be hungry since you don't even lift the racket, but the rest of us will be."

Lorelai's face fell into her hands as she sighed. She trudged her way to the stairs just as the front door flew open. She spun around and was met with Luke's angry glare. "You heard the message too?"

Luke ignored her question. "Have you seen this?" His arm waved wildly, a piece of paper crumpled in his grip.

Lorelai took Luke's hand and uncurled his fingers until she could pry the paper from his grasp. Her jaw dropped as she looked at a blown up picture of the graffitied window. She read the words below the picture aloud. "The owner of the Dragonfly did this. Do you really want your family staying there?" Her hand gripped the paper as tightly as Luke's hand originally had. "Where did you find this?"

"Kirk was handing them out outside of the diner."

Lorelai gritted her teeth. "Taylor."

"Yes, Taylor. He's insane! The point of the contest is to encourage tourism, not decrease it by making it look like the town is inhabited by crazy people!"

"Let's uproot his rose garden and plant the bushes in random places around town."

"Screw the roses. He wants a war? He's getting a war," Luke growled. "I'll show him where he can shove his slow pokes."





To be continued...




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