Thursday, May 26, 2011

FUN & GAMES Does It Again

Here you are, folks.  Enjoy!

This was so not how things should have happened, and Harper couldn’t help but feel the blame for it pressing down on her shoulders. Owen’s tour of the police department, thanks to Lucky’s so-called help. Grace and Harper’s fight. The weird little love triangle being played out between her brother, Owen’s twin, and her best friend. And, now Grace was teetering on the edge of life.


All because of her selfishness.

Well, no more. This ends now, she thought. And then she’d figure out some way to make this all up to Grace…that is, if her friend was speaking to her. As her father’s hand clasped her elbow to lead her down the hall, she swiveled back toward Owen and snagged hold of his hand, stringing their fingers together.

“He deserves to know, too,” she explained at Dill’s confused frown. Owen’s fingers tightened around hers, a silent offering of support and thanks that she included him. Well, they’d see how long that gratitude lasted once he knew everything. She could already see him turning away from her in disgust when everything was out in the open. It was no less than she deserved.

As soon as the door clicked shut behind them, she launched into her story, afraid that if she waited even one more second the truth would stay forever locked inside her.

A shriek flew out of her mouth before she could rein it in. “Jesus, Ben,” she gasped, holding a hand to her chest to still her galloping heart. “You scared the shit out of me. What are you doing here?”

But, she knew the answer without his next words.


“Tell me it’s not true, Harper.”

Ice slid down her spine at his plaintive tone, but she drew herself up, straight and tall, looked him directly in the eye, and feigned ignorance. “Tell you what’s not true?”

“Don’t play games with me. I saw you and my dad. Kissing,” he sneered over the last word, clearly disgusted.

“You saw that?” Angry, she dropped the bike and stepped toward him, fists balled up at her sides. “And, you didn’t do anything? How could you—“

“Save the pretend outrage, Harper. I know what you’re up to.“

“Pretend outrage? There was no pretend—“

“You’re such a fucking tease.” His finger stabbed into her chest, driving his point home. “Everyone else may think you’re such a good girl, but I see right through you. You’ve been playing with my father for a month now. Always staying after school to ‘practice’ for your Julliard audition. Offering to ‘help’ some of the other students. Smiling and flirting with him—“

“Flirting?” Forget angry, Harper was now livid. “Flirting?” she repeated, her voice rising. “Ben, I don’t know what is wrong with your eyes, but you seriously need to get them checked. I have never flirted with your father. He’s my teacher!”

“And now, you’ve gotten what you wanted from him, haven’t you?” he barreled forward, ignoring her confused frown. “You played with him, led him on, and then the minute you’re invited to audition, you toss him aside. He can’t do anything more for you now, so why not ruin him, right? That was your plan all along, wasn’t it?”

“What? No, Ben, that’s not—“


His shoulders slumped, and even under the dim light of the street lamp, the tears flooding his eyes were clearly visible. “He’s all I have left, Harper! And you’re going to ruin everything. I’m not saying that him getting involved with you was right. It sure as shit wasn’t. You’re my age, for crying out loud, but if word gets out about you two, he won’t just lose his job. He’ll go to jail, and then what will happen to me?”


His agony ripped right through her, bringing with it flashes from the past month. Yes, she had spent extra time around the band room, much of it with Owen, but also all by herself. Of course, Mr. Haas had been there for all of those sessions. Had she really said something, done something to make him think that there was more to their relationship than that of a student and her teacher? No, this was not her fault. She gave herself a mental shake, shoving aside any feelings of guilt Ben was trying to evoke in her. There was only one person to blame here, and it sure as hell wasn’t her.


She squatted down to pick up the bike and turned to tell Ben exactly that. But, the words froze on her tongue as she took in his desperately beseeching expression. She couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t bring herself to be the one who destroyed his whole world, and over what? A kiss? What kind of terrible person would she be if she went forward with her plan to report this almost rape to the police?

Swallowing back the bitter your-father-can-rot-in-hell-for-all-I-care speech, she straightened and looked Ben directly in the eye. “Look Ben, I don’t know what you think you may have seen, but nothing happened between your father and me.”


He stared at her for an unending moment. “You mean that, Harper?” he asked in a small, incredulous tone.

She cleared her throat, forcing back all the screams and the tears roiling up from deep inside, the ones aching to shout out “Liar! You know it happened! Don’t let that asshole get away with this!” and nodded, a slow painful bob of her head. “It’s the truth. Nothing happened,” she said, hoping against hope that someday soon, those words would no longer be a lie.

“So, that’s it,” she laughed bitterly, her gaze slowly coming back into focus as she finished her story. “I didn’t mean for this to happen. Any of this…and all because I wanted Julliard so bad, and now look! Grace is still in surgery. We don’t know whether she’ll live or not, and it’s all my fault!”

The tears she’d been keeping a tight rein on, splashed forth, racing down her cheeks in a giant waterfall of guilt. Springing to her feet, she shot toward the door, dragging Owen—who’s hand was still clasped tightly around hers—along with her.

“Harper,” he said softly, trying to pull her into his arms. “None of this is your fault.”

“Yes, it is!” She jerked on her hand, working to pry his fingers from around hers.

“No, it isn’t. You did not push Grace in front of that bullet. You were not the one holding the gun, and you for damned sure didn’t know that Ben would show up on your doorstep today of all days hell bent on ending you.”

“Yes, I did.” The confession fell from her lips in a barely audible whisper.

“What?” His eyes rounded, stunned. There was no way he’d heard her right. “What did you just say?”

She swallowed visibly, drew in a deep breath, and announced. “I called the police station last night and made an anonymous tip. I figured he’d try something, but I just…” she trailed off on a sob. “I just didn’t expect anything like this to happen.”

 
So, what do we think? Do Kelly and I still have your attention? But, for how much longer, I wonder ;)  The end is near.