Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are We Having FUN with These GAMES Yet?

So, here we are with week 19--or is it 20?--of these here FUN AND GAMES WITH K & K and still the question remains: What really happened between Harper and Mr. Haas that night at the party?  Well, I suppose either Kelly or should tell you soon, right?  Or else there might be a mutiny on our hands.

Who knows?  Maybe, you'll get some sort of answer today...

“Turn left up here.”


Owen slanted a questioning look at Harper—huddled into a particularly tight ball in the passenger seat—but said nothing as he made the turn, even though it took them in the opposite direction of her house. A Dead End sign loomed up ahead, the metallic yellow glowing an alien shade under the skim of the car’s headlights. Lifting his foot off the gas and easing it onto the brake, he pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder and turned around, pinning Lucky with a commanding look.

“Beat it, kid. Time for the grown-ups to talk.”

“You’d make your own brother walk home? In the middle of the night? With no coat?” Lucky pretended shock and hurt, but really he was digging his heels in for a fight. No way was he leaving this car without some answers first.

Owen shrugged out of his coat to toss it and his cell phone into the backseat at his twin. “Call one of your friends to come pick you up if you want to, but do it away from here.”

The brothers traded glares, eyes like lasers drilling extra deep holes into each other’s skulls. If Lucky was in a joking mood, he’d make some comment designed to have them both cracking grins. Instead, he heaved out a frustrated growl, crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned back, making a big show of getting comfortable, his expression daring Owen to forcibly remove him from the vehicle.

“Lucas Riley Lan—“ Owen’s snarl lashed out, flaying the skin off Lucky’s bones. Any other time, he would have launched himself as fast and as far away from his brother as his legs could take him, but not tonight.

“Dude,” he snorted out, all false-bravado. “You are so not middle-naming me. Mom.” Another loud guffaw punched through the air between them to slam into Owen’s face, already red with irritation. “I’m staying. Right. Here.”

“Goddammit, Lucky—“

“Hey!” Harper’s hand shot out, landing on Owen’s bicep and fingers curling in to squeeze. He tensed instantly, his gaze swinging around to meet hers, and in that moment, it was just the two of them.

There was no Lucky, sitting in the backseat. No Truman or Grace, waiting at home for answers to questions they all had voiced at one time or another. There wasn’t even room for everything that might or might not have happened with the music teacher. It was just the two of them, sharing the same space, breathing the same air…listening to the sounds of secrets climbing up to the surface about to be laid bare for all to judge.

One finger at a time, she loosened her grip on his arm and then swallowed visibly. “It’s okay, Owen. He can stay.”

“But—“

“It’s fine.” Shoulders lifting into a half-shrug, her lips twisted to form a small smile. “I mean, he’s kind of in the middle of it all now, considering he’s wanted for assault.” She tossed a glance back at Lucky. “Right?”

He grinned, bright and blinding. “You got that right, sweetheart.” He made a face at Owen, who was yet again glaring daggers at him. “Don’t mind him,” he whispered, conspiratorially. “He’s just jealous. You should remember that. You know. For future reference and all.”

“I’ll do that,” she chuckled.

They dropped off into silence after that, everyone waiting for someone else to begin this conversation, but no one gathering up the necessary courage to do so. After a minute or two, Owen’s cell lit up in Lucky’s hand. A quick glance down at the display pulled a groan out of him. At O’s frown, he tossed the phone toward the front of the car.

“Sir Lancelot,” he explained. “Probably wondering why we’re not where we said we’d be…which begs the question: Why are we here instead of there?

Harper snatched up the phone before Owen could get to it and turned it off. “I don’t want to talk to Truman. Not about this.”

“Clearly,” he agreed, evenly.

“Or Grace.”

“I know.”

They shared a silent look, one that had Lucky feeling decidedly left out in the cold. “Why not Grace?” He wanted to know. “I thought you two were best friends…you know…joined at the hip and shit.”

“I thought so, too,” she said, her voice cracked and bleeding out all the sorrow she’d been feeling since the day of the party when she’d been getting ready over at Grace’s house and found the infamous letter, the one that Grace had been keeping from her for who knew how long.

“What does that mean?”

Owen shot his brother a look that clearly asked, Could you be any more of an insensitive jackass? but Lucky ignored him. Sometimes, getting answers required being a little on the callous side, something that O knew absolutely nothing about.

She swallowed, shook her head, and reached out to string her fingers through Owen’s. “It just means that we’ve been growing apart for a long time. I didn’t realize it until recently, but we are. Really, if you think about it, it’s not surprising. I mean, we have almost nothing in common. She’s all about science and math and sports and the great outdoors, and I’m…well…I’m none of those things. I’m just me.” She turned to face Lucky fully and smiled a little too brightly. “Did you know that she’s going to Oxford in the fall? Some kind of archeology or anthropology program where they get to play in the dirt all day and find ancient pottery and stuff. It’s right up Grace’s alley, and guess who she told the minute she found out about it. Go ahead. Guess.”

The bitterness dripping off her every word told both boys who it wasn’t. Neither of them responded, unsure as to what words could be thrown out there to make Harper feel better about any of this.

“That’s right. It wasn’t me. Because, apparently, I’m not her best friend. But you don’t care about that, do you? You just want to know what went down with Mr. Haas—“

“Harper—“ Owen began quietly, reaching his free hand out to fold over their clasped palms.

“But, when I tell you the truth—that nothing happened—you don’t believe me.”

“See, O? I told you!” Lucky crowed.

“That doesn’t mean anything, you idiot. Be quiet.”

“What?” Harper looked to Owen first for an answer, but when she found nothing but sullen silence in the seat next to her, she turned to Lucky. “What am I missing here, fellas?”

“You didn’t know?” Lucky tried to keep the smug smile from his face but failed miserably. He couldn’t help it. Very rarely did he ever find something out that the whole world didn’t know about first. It was a heady feeling, being the one in the know. “I told Owen and your brother already, but they didn’t believe me. Now, though, they kind of have to.”

“Believe you about what?”

“Nothing,” Owen cut in. “Lucky’s just being Lucky. Don’t pay him any attention. It just feeds his ego.”

Harper rolled her eyes at his surly tone, before trapping Lucky with an expectant look. “So, are you going to tell me or am I going to have to guess? Truman would make me guess.”

“Well, I’d like to think I have a little more class than him.”

“Think all you want,” Owen grumbled. “You’re still wrong and a dumbass.”

“I love you, too, bro.”

“Lucky,” Harper snapped, all her patience apparently at an end. “Tell me.”

“Well, Harps, I found out some interesting news this morning. Your music teacher, Haas…” he trailed off in an effort at building tension which only earned him a glare from both Harper and Owen. “Well, he’s gay.”

A moment of stunned silence passed which was quickly shattered by Harper’s laughter, high-pitched and semi-hysterical. The two boys just stared at her, Lucky confused and Owen concerned.

“Harper, what is it?”

“Nothing,” she said as she scrubbed at her eyes. “It’s just that I used to think the same thing…especially after what happened with Mrs. Haas over the summer.”

A frown wrinkling his brow, Lucky asked, “What happened over the summer?”

“Used to?” Owen demanded at the same time. He cut a glare at his twin. “I don’t give a good god damn about what happened over the summer, not when—“ he dropped off, color draining from his face as he took in not only Harper’s continued shrieks of hysterical laughter, but the look of horror on her face as she realized what she’d just said…what she’d just admitted to. Deep breath and Owen, concentrating on using a much gentler tone, started again. “Harper, what happened to change your mind about that? And, don’t tell me nothing. I won’t accept anything less than the truth this time.”

She stared at him for a weighted second, measuring the determination behind his words. “No, I suppose you won’t.” And then, she began a story that was much different—though no less truthful—from the one she’d told Grace in the mall parking lot…

 
...but then again, maybe you'll just have to wait a touch longer. *evil laughter*  So, what's the verdict, minions? When will the uprising commence?  But, before you gather your lynch mob just yet, maybe you should wait for Kelly's post on Tuesday...it's a good one ;)   I know so, because I've already read it.  Aren't you all jealous?