Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Much More Fun & Games with K & K

Friends, we are now into week THREE of Kelly's and my Round Robin writing experiment, and I don't mind telling you how much fun I'm having with this.  I hope you all are enjoying it just as much as I am (and I hope, Kelly is).  Okay. 

On with the show!!


Pretend like nothing happened. She could do that. She had to do that. It’s been a week, Harper told herself. You need to stop this shit. As Grace would say, ‘Suck it up, and keep on keeping on.’


In fact, she rolled out of bed the next morning determined to do just that. Throwing on her standard outfit of jeans and a t-shirt, followed by a heavy hoodie—hey, it was winter—she barreled down the stairs, screeching to a halt at the door to the kitchen.

Truman lifted a quizzical brow. “What’s got you up so early?”

She started to shrug but stopped herself. “Want to give me a ride?”

He set his coffee cup down and considered her for a long moment in which she fidgeted nervously under his close scrutiny. “Where to?” he finally asked.

“Grace’s.”

“Begging forgiveness already?” he smirked. “I thought I taught you better than that, Harpy. You need to make her think she’s never going to get you back. You know, this is why you don’t have a boyfriend. You haven’t mastered the fine art of playing hard to get.”

“Quit calling me that,” she snapped out, suddenly and irrationally irritated with him. “For your information, I’ve nothing to beg forgiveness for. I didn’t do anything wrong. And, pardon me if I’m not clamoring for relationship advice from you, Mr. Since-I’ve-gone-off-to-college-I-can’t-seem-to-keep-it-in-my-pants.”

“Ouch,” he winced, raising his hands as if to shield himself from physical attack. “That was kind of mean, Harper. I was just kidding.”

“Sorry,” she muttered, not sounding even remotely apologetic.

“So…you two aren’t fighting, then?” he asked, his soft green eyes burning with intense curiosity.

“No, we’re not. What would make you think that anyway?” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Honestly, Tru, I’ve barely seen you at all, and forget about Grace. Every second you’ve been here, she hasn’t—“

“I saw her last night,” he cut in quietly.

His words stopped her cold, ice water sluicing over her skin, frost bite nipping at her limbs. “W-Why? What did she say?”

He pushed away from the counter and in three bounding steps had her engulfed in his arms. “You know you can talk to me, right? About anything?”

“Truman, what did Grace tell you?” Rigid in his arms, she couldn’t quite bring herself to return her brother’s warm embrace. Remembrances of another set of strong male arms crashed through her, causing her to panic. It took all she had not to tear away from him…from her brother, the one person who’d rather cut off his own hand than harm a single hair on her head.

“Nothing,” he sighed in her ear before finally releasing her. “She wouldn’t talk to me, Harper. She said that it was a girl thing…whatever the hell that means. I swear that’s a cop-out if I ever heard one…something girls say just to scare us guys away from finding out the truth. And, it worked, too. Like a damned charm,” he grumbled, disgust with himself plainly stamped across his face.

She barked out a surprised laugh, the loudness of it cutting through the air and startling her a little. “It was nothing, Tru,” she told him, waving her hand dismissively. “Just a little misunderstanding. Now, how about that ride?”

Twenty minutes later, Harper climbed out of his battered pickup, two lattes and a bag of bagels in hand as she strode up the driveway. Mrs. Maguire had the door open before Harper even cleared the porch. Smiling brightly, she handed the housekeeper the bagels.

“Grace up yet?”

“No, but it’s well past time that she should be,” Mrs. M. spat out gruffly.

Harper nodded and bounded up the stairs, waltzing right into Grace’s room like she owned the place. The moment she stepped foot into the large, cavernous room, Harper was assailed by shocking, vibrant pink. No matter how long she knew Grace, she’d never be able to reconcile her friend’s love for the color. It was just too…too girly.

“Wake up, buttercup,” Harper sang her way over to the bed and then plopped down beside her friend, giving the mattress one more giant bounce for good measure.

Grace groaned in response.

“Come on, Gracious. Mrs. M says it’s time to get up, and we have a full day of pampering ahead of us.”

Grace threw back the covers and eyed her friend wearily. “You hate going to the spa with me.”

Harper held out a latte, which Grace pounced on like it was her only lifeline. “Well, maybe not pampering so much as giving the old black card a work out?”

“Really?” Grace wanted more than anything to go along for the ride, bask in this perky, upbeat Harper, but some small voice in the back of her head was crying out in warning, an alarm that was steadily growing louder and louder as she regarded her friend. “You’re not mad at me? About last night?”

Harper tipped the cup up to her lips, stalling, as she groped for a response that would send this topic down the deepest hole where she could bury it under ten thousand tons of concrete and never have to hear or speak of it again. “You were worried,” she began carefully. “I get that, Grace. I do. But, nothing happened at the party. It was all just a big misunderstanding. Can we just forget about this and move on? No hard feelings?”

“O-Okay,” she replied, uneasily.

Harper smiled, her face transforming in a split-second from the cracked fa├žade of overly-perky to tired, relieved, and grateful. Grace couldn’t stop herself. Setting her coffee on the nightstand, she launched herself at Harper, hooking her arms around her friend’s neck and squeezing tightly.

“Okay,” she said, pulling back and rubbing her hands together, a wicked gleam in her eyes. “It’ll only take me a minute to get dressed. Then, off to the mall. I’m going to buy you the hottest outfit, and you’re going to wear it, too. Jeans and t-shirts are so old, Harp. We need to update your look, and then…”

She continued a steady stream of conversation while she dressed and beautified herself for their excursion to the mall, and true to her word, they were walking out the door less than ten minutes later. Harper gave herself a mental pat on the back, all the while smiling and nodding at her friend. See? She could do this. It would be easy, and hopefully sooner rather than later, everything would be back to normal again. Just like old times…well, except for one tiny little difference: she was broken inside.

 
That's it for me this week, folks.  What will happen next?  Will Grace and Harper have a relaxing day at the mall?  Will something happen while they're getting themselves pampered?  I really have no idea.  Only time--and Kelly--will tell.  So, hop on over to her blog next Tuesday to find out all the dirty details ;)