Mercy had a bottle of Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve in hand and was complaining about the quality of American beer. Her junior year abroad had spoiled her for American beer forever.

"If you don't like it, don't drink it," Adam said, his arm draped over Lily's shoulders.

"What else am I supposed to drink?" Mercy asked.

"Perrier," Lily suggested, obviously comfortable in the crook of the arm. "It may not have either flavor or alcohol, but it does have class." She giggled.

"Oregon wine is good," Matt said.

"Oregon wine is expensive," Mercy replied.

"Irish whiskey," Myrine contributed. "At least it would fit. Going back to the roots and all that crap."

"Oh, I already drink too much of that," Mercy said flippantly. The rest of them looked at each other.

Sam was distracted from the discussion of gigs and recordings by the sound of Mercy's accent becoming more pronounced in the group next to them. Mercy was drinking fast and hard, and it showed in the reversion to her roots.

"What a welcome sound," she said, turning to Mercy.


"That 'y'all' you just let slip."

"Why don't you ever let one slip?" Mercy asked.

"I can't afford to," Sam replied. "My voice is my income. One of the reasons I went so far away from home was so I could learn decent Broadcaster's English. But that doesn't mean a slight drawl isn't music to my ears now and then."

"Is that what made you come out here to this swamp?" Mercy asked. "The way they talk?"

"Swamps certainly weren't the reason. I had enough of those back home." Sam took a sip from her glass of birthday champagne. "I guess I just wanted to get about as far away from Louisiana as possible."

"Same here. Except it was Texas."

"And now I get homesick. Oregon Decembers are the pits."

"Aren't they?" Mercy agreed.

"Have you ever thought about going back?"

"I'm kind of stuck here," Mercy complained. "My husband is from Portland, and he would never think of leaving."

"That doesn't mean you can't leave, Mercy," Myrine threw in suddenly, taking Mercy by surprise. Myrine had been listening in with half an ear while the other half was devoted to keeping track of a conversation on the new initiative to legalize home grown.

"George has threatened me with an unending court battle if I ever tried," Mercy said with a tipsy laugh, adjusting her stance to include Myrine in the conversation. "I made my decision long ago, and now I have to face the consequences."

Myrine folded her thin arms across her chest. "You know, I've heard it said that the marriages that work are the ones where the woman takes her husband's name." She looked at Mercy with eyebrows raised, and Mercy smiled and shrugged.

"So much for theories," Adam said.

"I thought theories were your specialty?" Myrine asked and Adam gave a hearty laugh.

Matt put a proprietary arm around Myrine's shoulders. "Where did you get so smart, Myrine?"

Myrine snorted. "I just didn't blow it all out through my nose in my youth."

"Look who's talking," Lily said, giggling.

"Everything is relative," Myrine said.

"That's my line," Adam objected.

Party on