One More Round (Cocktail #4.6) by Alice Clayton

“This tale is dedicated to everyone who made it through 2020 with their laugh track intact, and everyone who is bringing some much needed peace into 2021.”

A great love story never truly ends. It evolves, it changes, it adapts and becomes something new. What was there from the beginning never really goes away, if the two are true. It deepens, it matures, and two individual stories become inexorably linked and overlap into a new story, one that is full and interesting and beautiful on its own.

Plus, if after years of throwing a leg around, the colors still blur and the thumps still occur, well, then you’ve stumbled into a love affair for the ages. And this is where we find our couple. Wrapped up, in love, settled but never settling…and in a canal? Well, next to a canal. Well, technically, next to a canal while arguing about a canal and—ah, love.

Once upon a time it ended—not with a whimper but with a bang. But what if it ended with, a cry?

Take a breath. Grab some popcorn. And zoom in… Let’s get to banging.

“They freeze, you know.”


“Freeze. In the winter. Solid.”

“I can’t believe that.”

“It’s true. It doesn’t happen that often—not anymore at least. But it does happen. And when it does, it’s a big deal.”

“I would imagine. Doesn’t that, I don’t know, cause a problem?”

“Nope, they just skate on it.”

“Oh, come on,” I said, rolling my eyes and pushing Simon away and towards the canal. “They skate on it?”

“They do! I swear!” He laughed, stepping lightly over the cobblestones, his sapphire eyes dancing. “Why would I make something like that up?”

“You’re telling me that the canals freeze and people skate on them,” I challenged once more as he picked up my hand, threading it through and placing it back onto his arm. My husband loved a promenade.

My husband. After all these years, Simon Parker being my husband still gave me a thrill when I thought about it like that. Husband. Husband. I looked up at him, a full moon and softly falling snow creating a perfect picture to frame my husband.

That same husband leaned in, kissed me swiftly on the cheek, and whispered, “They freeze. Why would I lie to you?”

“You told me everyone would be wearing wooden shoes,” I pointed out, and the corner of his mouth crinkled up.


“And you told me everyone ate raw herring for breakfast, along with a side of chocolate milk,” I replied, and the tilt turned into a wicked smile. “Which was a terrible combination, by the way.”

“Technically you ate the cooked herring, not raw.”

“That’s the sword you’re falling on? It was still awful.”

“That one’s on you, Nightie Girl. That one really shouldn’t have snuck by you.”

“So you can imagine why I might question anything you say right now,” I insisted, choosing to ignore his last comment. I really should have known better. I shuddered as I remembered the combination. What’s Dutch for gross?

“I didn’t lie to you about the poffertjes,” he reminded, pulling me closer into his side. “You loved those little pancakes.”

“True.” I nodded but still wasn’t sure whether he was feeding me a line of bullshit. I asked my tour guide, who was about ten feet ahead of us.

“Hey, tour guide! Do the canals really freeze in winter?”

She spun around on her heel, which should have been nearly impossible considering that we were on 300-year-old cobblestones and the heels she was wearing were insanely high—at least three inches, if not higher. But Jillian remained the epitome of grace and style, whether navigating the steep hills of San Francisco or moving effortlessly across an uneven walkway adjacent to a moonlit canal in her newly adopted home of Amsterdam.

“I’m so glad you asked about that, Caroline. I was going to discuss this exact bit of local trivia over dinner tonight. In fact, they do freeze—”

“Ha!” interjected Simon, as we caught up to Jillian and her husband, Benjamin.

“However,” Jillian continued smoothly, ignoring Simon and his ha, “it rarely occurs anymore. Global warming has affected this city just like everywhere else on the planet, and one way it’s manifested here in Amsterdam is the canals no longer freeze—”