“So you’re looking forward to seeing it on the screen?” he asks. “We haven’t talked about this because it all happened so fast. I know some artists aren’t wild about the idea of an adaptation.”

“Are you kidding?” I ask. How can he be serious with that question? The only thing I love more than comics is movies based on comics. “It’s overwhelming but amazing.”

And then I remember that there is an email with seventeen scripts attached in my inbox, for me to read “as reference,” and a wave of nausea sweeps through my torso. “It’s a little like building a house, though,” I tell him. “I just want to be at the part where I can go live in it, and skip all the parts where I have to pick out fixtures and knobs.”

“Let’s just hope they don’t George Clooney your Batman,” he says.

I give him my best eyebrow wiggle. “They can George Clooney anything of mine they want, sir.”

Not-Joe, Oliver’s sole employee and a mohawked stoner we all feel a certain pet-owner level of fondness for, steps into view from behind some shelves. “Clooney is gay. You know that, right?”

Oliver and I both ignore this.

“In fact,” I add, “if George Clooney is ever accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, that activity is immediately getting added to my bucket list.”

“As in, ‘Have you ever been George Clooneyed?’ ” Oliver asks.

“Exactly. ‘We went for a walk, and then George Clooneyed until around two. Good night.’ ”

Oliver nods, putting some pens away in a drawer. “I’d probably have to add that to my bucket list, too.”

“See, this is why we’re friends,” I tell him. Being near him is like a dose of Xanax. I can’t help but be calmed. “You would get that George Clooney as a verb would be such a monumental thing that, gay or straight, you’d want a piece of it.”

Oliver makes a skeptical noise, finally looking over at him. “I don’t reckon he is, though. He got married.”

“Really?” Not-Joe asks, coming to rest his elbows on the counter. “But if he was, would you do him?”

“I wasn’t asking you,” Not-Joe says, waving me away.

“Who’s the front and who’s the back?” Oliver asks. “Like, am I getting George Clooneyed by George Clooney, or am I doing the Clooneying?”

“Oliver,” Not-Joe says. “He’s George Fucking Clooney. He doesn’t get Clooneyed!”

They both ignore me and Oliver finally shrugs. “Yeah, okay. Why not?”

Not-Joe pretends to grab a pair of hips and thrusts back and forth. “This. You’d let him?”

Shrugging defensively, Oliver says, “Joe, I get what we’re talking about here. I also get what the man-on-man sex would look like. What I’m saying is if I’m going to be with a guy, why not Bad Batman?”

I wave a hand in front of his face. “We should get back to the part where my comic is going to be a movie, though.”

Oliver turns to me and relaxes and his smile is so sweet, it makes everything inside me melt. “We absolutely should. That’s bloody brilliant, Lola.” He tilts his head, his blue eyes holding mine. “I’m really fucking proud for you right now.”

I smile, and then suck my bottom lip into my mouth because when Oliver looks at me like that, I can’t even be a little cool. But it would terrify him to see me swoon over him; it’s just not what we do.

“So how are you going to celebrate?” he asks.

I look around the store as if the answer is right in front of me. “Hang out here? I don’t know. Maybe I should do some work.”

“Nah, you’ve been traveling constantly, and even when you are home, you’re always working,” he says.

Snorting, I tell him, “Says the guy who is in his store every waking hour.”

Oliver considers me. “They’re making your movie, Lola Love.” And the nickname makes my heart spin in my chest. “You need to do something big tonight.”

“So, like, Fred’s?” I say. This is our usual routine. “Why pretend we’re fancy?”

Oliver shakes his head. “Let’s go somewhere downtown so you don’t have to worry about driving.”

“But then you have to drive back to Pacific Beach,” I argue.

Not-Joe pretends to play the violin behind us.

“I don’t mind,” Oliver says. “I don’t think Finn and Ansel are around, but I’ll round up the girls.” He scratches his stubbly jaw. “I do wish I could take you to dinner or something, but I—”

“Oh, God, don’t worry.” The idea of Oliver leaving his store to take me out to dinner makes me both giddy and totally panicky. It’s not like the building would catch fire if he left here before dark, but it doesn’t mean my body doesn’t feel that instinctive panic. “I’ll just head home and freak out alone in my room for a bit, and then get exceedingly drunk later.”

“I thought you had a date tonight,” Not-Joe says to Oliver, coming up behind him with a giant stack of books.