Thursday, March 3, 2011

These GAMES Sure are FUN

I'm not going to bore you with a long intro this week people.  So, enjoy the snip :)

Harper swiveled around, eyes narrowing, as she looked at Grace again. No, everything was not alright. Damn Truman. “Owen,” she said, not taking her eyes off her best friend.


“Yeah?” He sprang forward, hands out like he was an inch away from pulling her into his arms, but at the last moment, he snatched his limbs back, his cheeks flashing an embarrassed red.

“I know I’ve asked a lot of you, but can I get one more favor?”

“Of course.” Like you even have to ask, he almost added on but was able to bite his tongue before the words fell from his lips.

The keys that she’d been gripping tightly leaped from her hand. Her toss, although not at all aimed, landed the ring perfectly in his palm. “Can you take the car back to your place? I’ll come by later to pick it up.”

“Uh…sure, but what about Truman?”

“What about him?” At last, she finally looked toward him, her eyes flashing angry green lasers, making him cringe slightly. “He’s got two feet. He can find his own way home.”

“We don’t mind picking him up for you,” Lucky put in helpfully.

She started to argue, to tell Lucky that Truman didn’t deserve any help after hurting Grace, but another glance back toward her friend deflated her raging tirade. “Do whatever you want, Lucky. Just try not to puke in the car. If you do, I’ll be the one cleaning it up.” Impulsively, she leaned forward, hooking her arms around Owen’s neck. “Thanks for this…well, for everything,” she whispered in his ear. “I’ll call you later.”

Before the shock of this unexpected display of affection wore off and he could once again move his limbs to return her embrace, she backed away, hurrying over to where Grace was slumped behind the wheel of her bug. Owen watched her for another moment before turning to Lucky. “I hope you know where Truman is because I don’t, and I really don’t feel like driving all over the place looking for him. I’ve already been through town three times tonight, tracking your drunk ass down.”

Lucky had the grace not to grin at that remark. Instead, he lifted a hand and pointed back toward the bonfire. Owen nodded, and both boys started off in search of Harper’s brother.

Harper glanced back over her shoulder just as she stepped up to Frenchy to see Owen and Lucky retreating toward the bonfire. Owen is just too nice, she thought. I would’ve left Truman’s lying, cheating ass here. Shaking her head, she rapped on the car’s window, startling Grace. When her friend started to roll down the window, she yanked open the door.

“Shove over,” she told Grace, her words firm but not unkind. “I’d like to live long enough to see Christmas, and you drive like a blind maniac with a death wish.”

Grace made a face but climbed over the console and arranged herself in the passenger seat. “I told you I was fine—“

“Problem is I don’t believe you,” she cut in as she fiddled with the seat, getting it into position to accommodate her shorter frame. “What happened, Grace? What did my butt-head brother do?”

Grace said nothing as Harper slid the car into gear and turned out of the parking lot. Instead, she kept staring straight ahead, watching as the streetlights paraded by, everything outside the car bathed in orange, coloring the world fake. The silence opened up and stretched out between them, and Grace’s eyes began to burn as a fresh assault from the tear brigade ambushed her. She swallowed hard, fighting with everything she had to keep those insurgents from taking over. It was a close call, but she won that battle…just barely.

“Nothing,” she finally replied in a small, weak voice. “I mean, nothing you hadn’t already warned me about.”

“Oh, Grace.” Harper reached out to lay a reassuring hand on her friend’s arm, but Grace jerked away from her touch.

“Go ahead. You can say it. You told me this would happen. Hell, you told me not to even waste my time on him, so I should’ve seen this coming, right? Well, I’m just a dumb blonde anyway. It’s not like—“

Harper swerved into the next parking lot she could find, slammed the car into park, and turned to face her friend. “Stop that,” she commanded, catching hold of Grace’s shoulders and shaking hard. “You stop that right now. Don’t you dare tell me it’s your fault that my brother treated you badly. You’re so much better than that, Grace. You’re so much better than him.”

“But—“

“But, nothing. Truman is my brother, and I love him dearly, but he doesn’t know how to treat a woman—“

“He’s good to you.” The glare Harper shot at her halted any further arguments Grace might have lobbed her way. Seriously, Harper could be scarier than all the Saw movies combined when she put her mind to it.

“I’m his sister. He has to be nice to me, but that’s beside the point. He hurt you, Grace, and I’m sorry for that, but it’s not your fault. He’s a man-whore who doesn’t know what a good thing he just lost, and that’s his problem. Not yours.” Her fingers dug into Grace’s shoulders again, emphasizing those last two words.

Grace started to open her mouth, but Harper continued on, clearly not done with her lecture.

“And if I ever hear you putting yourself down again, I’m going to put my boot so far up your ass it’ll take you a month to get it out. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah, I hear you.” Grace’s response was a blinding grin. That mean, ranting speech meant only one thing: the old Harper was back…even if only for a short time. “ And ow, Harper.” She shrugged out of her friend’s grasp, rubbing at her shoulder. “You’re like the Incredible Hulk sometimes, you know that?”

Harper just grinned. Then, she nodded toward the building she’d parked in front of. “What do you say, Gracie? Up for some hot chocolate and pie before we go home?”

Yep. The old Harper was indeed back. Now, Grace just had to figure out how to keep her that way.