Kelly and Alice had returned from the "community-garden-harvesting" outing that Alice had cleverly and spontaneously engineered in order to give Bill and Regina some privacy, and Kelly was watching the Cooking Channel.
Alice was cleaning the kitchen, and took the opportunity to say to Bill, "Hey, I know you're helping Derek with his new house--could you please come look at a place with me?"
"Sure," Bill agreed, and went to talk to Regina.
"Well, either I could start loudly hammering on another bathtub and disturb your writing, or I could go with Alice to look at some house she's considering," he teased.
"Oh, PLEASE go with Alice!" Regina begged.
Alice had heard from her bartender friend, Robin, that there were a couple of inexpensive places available in Oasis Springs.
"Okay," she chirped happily to Bill, "here's the first one--it's only $22,500! And look--there's even some outdoor space!"
"Umm," Bill asked, "would you be keeping the garden gnomes and the pink plastic flamingo???"
The two went inside.
"See?" Alice said excitedly, "it's even already furnished, and there's a small kitchen!"
Bill regarded the dingy little kitchen.
"I don't know, Alice--you're a really accomplished cook at this point. Do you think this kitchen will be enough for you?" Bill asked, not unreasonably.
"Oh!--Kelly told me that we'll be working at our restaurants ALL the time, but that we'll always have leftovers to bring home. So I almost don't even NEED a kitchen! Come on and see the bedroom!"
"Nice view, right?" Alice asked.
"So, you said you had a second house to look at?" Bill asked.
"Ummm," Alice said sheepishly, "I DID, but I would need a roommate to afford it. I THOUGHT I was going to find a place with Regina. But after seeing you and Regina this morning, I kinda doubt she's going to be MY roommate...."
Bill went directly back to the Utopia House, though Alice said she had to stop by the Solar Flare Lounge to thank Robin for the real estate leads.
"How'd it go?" Regina asked Bill. "Was the place any good?"
"The trouble is," he continued, "she's SO excited about getting her own place, and I don't want to burst her bubble."
"But even worse than that would be if--without any supervision--she started drinking again," Regina worried.
"I really think the only reason she's stayed sober these two weeks is that she's had the constant distraction of all of us," she added. "She doesn't get bored, so she doesn't feel the need to drink."
"So, what do you want to do," Bill asked, with a mock pained expression on his face.