Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fun & Games, Evening Edition

Sorry about the lateness of this snip, folks, but hey, it's still Thursday, right?  Exactly.  So, really I'm right on time. ;)

Enjoy (I hope...cuz I know you're getting a wee bit irritated with us...well, really, me. not so much Kelly. *shrugs* I'll take the blame.)

“Enough of this shit,” Truman growled as he snatched up his keys and cell phone from where he’d dropped them on the couch next to Grace. “I’m going to go find their asses and bring them back, and if they’re not lying dead in a ditch somewhere, I swear to god I’ll…” With a small, unconscious shake of the head, he let the rest of his words drift off into the nothing. The vague threat of violence was always somehow more potent than going into explicit detail.


“You’re leaving?” Scrambling to her feet, Grace started to follow him, but he whirled on her.

“I don’t need a damned babysitter to go look for my sister, Grace. I can find her myself.” Seeing her recoil from his hastily snarled words, his shoulders drooped under the oppressive weight of guilt. What had he been thinking, going back for Grace? There was a reason Harper hadn’t wanted her friend there. He’d seen the truth of it in his sister’s eyes even as she’d agreed with him. But why? He gave himself a mental head slap. Now, was not the time to go digging into Harper’s every word in search of some kind of deeper meaning. They needed to cut straight to chase, and that couldn’t be done with so many distractions piling up around him.

“Considering your frame of mind at the moment,” Grace gritted out through clenched teeth. “You need a whole team of them.” She reached out, laid a hand on his arm. Nervous energy rolled off him in huge, crashing waves, lapping at her skin and infecting her with his worry over Harper. “You need to calm yourself down before you do anything, Truman. You can’t help your sister if you’re so tied in knots, you can’t get free. You know that.”

Yeah, he did, but he couldn’t admit that to himself, much less Grace. Taking a step back allowed him to put some much needed space not only between the two of them but between him all the shit he was now facing…which was more than a lot. Christ, how had that happened? Not two weeks ago, the only things he had to juggle was school and girls.

A rueful smile curved his lips. Harper always said he juggled more balls than any sane person, and just like the damned fool that he was, he’d only added to tonight’s load by picking up Grace. But still, he wondered what had happened between the two girls that had Harper keeping her best friend at arm’s length.

“Grace?” He cocked his head, preparing to get the first of many—he hoped—answers tonight. “Why doesn’t—“

“Honey, I’m home,” Lucky’s unmistakable baritone rang through the house, followed by the sound of the front door slamming shut and a parade of shuffling footsteps inching toward the family room. “Miss me, sweetheart?” He grinned wide at Truman when he appeared in the doorway.

“Like a sore on my dick.”

“Ew,” Harper and Grace wrinkled their noses simultaneously. “Can you be anymore disgusting, Tru?” Harper demanded.

“I’m sure I could give it a shot,” he replied with a shrug, cool and easy, but no one missed the tightly clenched fists at his sides, a clear indication that his anger was being held taut on an already frayed leash.

“Let’s save the disgusting for later, shall we?” Lucky muttered dryly. “I’m sure we have better things to do with our time now that we’re all together.”

In near perfect synchronization, all eyes swung to Harper. She shrank back a little under their combined scrutiny. With a deep breath, she lifted her head, squared her shoulders, and prepared for war. “So, I guess that’s my cue to start story time, huh?” A nervous laugh flitted out of her, and she gestured toward the furniture. “Well, settle down, children, and get comfortable. This isn’t a short story.”

Grace and Lucky were the first to collapse onto the couch, all the drama of the night’s activities filling their limbs with lead and etching weary lines into their faces. He shot her a small, secret grin as their knees knocked together which only grew wider when he caught Truman’s glower.

Owen hovered close to Harper, only taking a seat on the floor after she’d perched on the edge of her father’s favorite recliner. Predictably, Truman dropped down onto the couch on Grace’s other side. One of Harper’s brows winged up in question, and he shrugged.

“You don’t need to worry about me, Harps,” he assured her. “I’ll behave myself. No blood will stain Mom’s rug tonight.”

“I guess I should just take what I can get, right?”

“No more deflecting, little sister. Tell us this story. All of it.”

Deep breath in, a nod, and a long, painful exhale. “Okay, well, you all know what I told Grace, right? Well, about ten minutes after that—“

“What?” Truman jerked to the right, pinning Grace with a disbelieving glare. “You said you didn’t know what happened that night.”

“That’s what you two were talking about in the mall parking lot?” Lucky whistled softly. “What a place to have a conversation like that.”

“Lucky, do us all a favor,” Owen snapped. “And, shut the hell up, for once in your miserable life.”

“You didn’t tell them?” Harper’s eyes rounded, conveying just how stunned she was to learn that Grace hadn’t betrayed her confidence. Which made her feel like an even bigger assclown for her reaction to finding that damned letter. Not for the first time, she wished she hadn’t found it. Then, maybe none of this would’ve happened. No. She had to stop thinking like that. There was no changing what happened. She just needed to get past it, and having it all out in the open would help her in doing that…right? She cleared her throat and nodded at Grace. “Go ahead. Tell them.”

“I kind of think this needs to come from you, Harper,” Owen said as his hand closed over both of hers.

“Because she doesn’t believe me, right?” Her eyes sparked hot, daring him to argue with her. “Well, what I told her was the truth, and if you don’t believe that, then there’s no point in telling you the rest.” She bit down on her lower lip, a vicious attempt at quelling the tremble that had begun there. She pulled her hands out from beneath his and stood up, her gaze darting back over to Grace. “I need something to drink…hot chocolate or something. Tell them what I told you, what you don’t believe, and when I come back, maybe just maybe I’ll tell you the rest.”

“Harper, it’s not that I didn’t believe you,” Grace rushed to assure her friend even as she, too, jumped to her feet. “It’s just that—“

“Save it. I probably wouldn’t have believed me, either, but that part doesn’t matter. Not really.” She sighed, long and loud. “That’s not why I’ve been all tied up in knots this past week…well, not entirely why.” With that cryptic comment, she edged around Owen and barreled out of the room.

 
That's it for me this snip.  Check in with Kelly on Tuesday!