Thursday, March 10, 2011

It Isn't FUN & GAMES Without Pie

Here's my slice for this fine Thursday, folks.  Enjoy!

“I thought we were having pie.” Wrapping her cold fingers around the steaming mug of hot chocolate, Harper eyed the mountain of ice cream sitting in front of Grace.


“You were the one who said pie,” Grace pointed out while shoveling a heaping spoonful of chocolate ice cream into her mouth.

Harper shivered and clutched the mug closer to her. “I’m going to get frostbite on my tongue just from watching you eat that.”

“Oh, don’t worry. If that happens, I’m sure Owen would offer to kiss your boo-boo and make it all better.”

Scarlet splashed across Harper’s cheeks, and she coughed loudly, spraying the hot chocolate she’d just sipped all over the placemat in front of her. Shooting a dark look at her friend, she snatched a handful of napkins from the dispenser on the table and began mopping up her mess. Just as she’d gotten most of it wiped up, the waitress dropped a plate of hot apple pie in front of her.

“Be careful, honey,” the older woman—Doris, according to her nametag—warned her. “That pie just came out of the oven.”

Harper nodded and thanked the waitress, but she’d already turned on her heel and scurried off toward another table. “So,” she began as she stabbed an apple slice and lifted it up to her mouth to blow on it. “Do you want to talk about? I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to…you know…since he is my brother and all.”

Sighing loudly, Grace let her spoon drop, the flatware clanging noisily into the half-full bowl. “It was just…you know. Truman being Truman.” When Harper didn’t cut in with any ‘I told you so’s, Grace elaborated. “He left his cell at my house last night, and he missed a bunch of calls. From his girlfriend.”

“Oh, Grace.” Setting her mug aside, she reached across the table and placed both her hands over Grace’s. “I’m so sorry, Grace. I didn’t know he had a girlfriend. You gotta believe that. If I’d known, you know I would’ve—“

“I know,” Grace cut in with a sniffle. A sniffle? She shook her head, giving herself a mental head slap. Truman Simonson did not deserve her tears. That was for damned sure. She swallowed loudly, cleared her throat, and then pasted a brilliant smile across her face. “I don’t even know why I expected better of him. I mean, he’s always been a player. It was stupid to think he’d have changed since I last saw him.” She lifted her shoulders in what she hoped was a careless shrug. “Whatever. It’s over and done with anyway. I wouldn’t take him back now if he begged me.”

“Good for you.”

Grace leaned back, sliding her hands out from beneath Harper’s and grabbed her own cup, only hers was filled to the brim with black coffee. “Now, it’s your turn.”

“My turn?”

She rolled her eyes. “Come on, Harper. I’m not stupid, and you’re not blind. Owen has it so bad for you, it’s a wonder that boy can even function. You can’t tell me you didn’t know that. I won’t believe it.”

Looking anywhere but at Grace, she sipped her hot chocolate, silently praying that Grace would just drop it.

“You like him, too.”

“Grace—“

“Harper,” she scooted forward in her seat, cocked her head to one side, and threw a challenging look at her friend. “You told me that nothing—“ her face screwed up into a disbelieving grimace over that word. “—happened the night of the party. All a big misunderstanding, you said.”

“It’s the truth.” The words were small, wavering, and barely audible, but the determination lighting up Harper’s eyes dared Grace to argue with her.

“Then, prove it. Don’t keep pushing him away. He wants you, Harper, and you want him. Let it happen. You keep sabotaging this relationship, and it’ll disappear.”

“Words of wisdom from Guru Grace.”

“You know you love me.”

Harper couldn’t help but grin at that. She opened her mouth to snap out some retort about Grace not being her type when her phone started ringing. A quick glance at the display and she slid out of the booth. “Sorry, Grace,” she apologized as her friend waved her off. “I have to take this.”

“Tell Owen I said hey.”

Harper nodded absently and hurried toward the front door as she put the phone to her ear. “H-H-Hello?”

“I thought we had an agreement, Harper.”

Ice cold air blasted her face when she pushed the door open. A surprised gasp tumbled out as she pulled the lapels of her coat in closer to her neck. “I-I haven’t told anyone.”

“I have two black eyes, a broken nose, and several broken ribs that tell me otherwise,” he said dryly. “I could’ve had your boyfriend put in jail, you know.”

“I didn’t tell him anything.” Her eyes stung with all the tears she’d been fighting to keep hidden for the last week. All the emotions she’d kept telling herself didn’t exist were right there, simmering just below the surface, ready to erupt and destroy her carefully constructed world at any moment. “There’s nothing to tell,” she pushed out the words, wet sludge clogging up her throat, making it difficult to breathe. “Nothing happened.”

“I hope for your sake that’s true. I’d hate to see someone as talented as you lose out on Julliard because of an unfortunate computer glitch. Especially since you’re on the short-list for that scholarship. A small error in the paperwork, and it could be gone, just like that. All that hard work…gone to waste—“

“Nothing happened,” she repeated firmly. “I promise. Nothing happened.”

He was quiet for so long, she began to wonder if he’d hung up on her. As she opened her mouth to ask if he was indeed still on the line, he spoke. “It was all just a big misunderstanding anyway.” His voice softened, became almost apologetic. “I didn’t mean for things to happen like that, Harper. I thought…well, I just thought—“

“Don’t,” she interrupted as one lone tear escaped, cutting a hot salty trail down her cheek. “Nothing happened.”

“Nothing happened,” he repeated. Then, without another word, he ended the call.

She stood there for a full minute after he hung up, just staring up at the stars, wishing for maybe the millionth time that she’d never taken the bastard up on his offer to use the master bathroom. Hell, she wished she’d never even gone to the party. Grace had wanted her to sleep-over that night, watch Sandra Bullock movies, and eat lasagna in honor of her cousin Abby’s trip to Italy—which was due to be over at New Year’s.

But she had gone, and everything had changed.

She shook herself, swiped a palm over her damp cheeks, and sucked in a lungful of frigid air. No. Nothing happened. She’d do well to remember that. Her whole future depended on those two words. Nothing happened.

Dragging in one more cleansing breath, she pushed away from the wall and stepped toward the diner’s entrance. Just as her fingers curled around the door handle, her phone rang again.

“Hey,” she greeted Owen in as cheery a voice as she could muster. “Grace says hi.”