A quick recap: I am currently working on a writing project with my twitter friend Karla Nellenbach. We each take a turn writing up a part of the story and passing the baton back and forth. Here is the my next installment. When we last left Harper and Grace, Harper had just showed up at Grace's with latte's and bagels and announced they were going shopping. Let's see how it went.
Once in the car and on their way, Grace tried keeping up a steady stream of conversation that she and Harper both seemed to need. She talked about the outfit she’d already had picked out for Harper in her head. She mused on stopping at the bookstore for the latest Karla Nellenbach novel. With forced enthusiasm, she tossed out the idea of lunch and maybe hitting the spa after for mani/pedi's all around.
It didn’t seem to matter how hard she tried, that big elephant was there with them, riding shotgun right along with Harper.
Once at the mall, Harper dove right into shopping by pulling Grace to the shoe department inside of Nordy’s. They oohed and ahed over designer shoes, one of Grace’s favorite past times. Harper insisted Grace model every shoe in her size and even selected a pair for herself without Grace once having to badger.
When they finally made it to the clothing section, Harper was like a dynamo, bulleting through the racks grabbing shirts and pants on her way to the dressing room. Again, they tried on what appeared to be every article of clothing in the store Once the marathon shopping session was over, they decided to fore go the spa and head out to lunch. Choosing a Mexican restaurant they both liked found them sitting down to chips and salsa within minutes.
With a chip in one hand, Grace looked Harper in the eye for the first time that day, and announced, “Truman was waiting for me when I got home last night.”
Scooping up salsa, Grace hesitantly asked, “Did he tell you what we talked about?”
Harper’s chip froze midway to her mouth. “No.”
Grace looked down at her hands and started shyly, “It was actually a pretty interesting conversation.” Or at least it had been once she convinced him there was nothing wrong between her and Harper. He had been like a dog with a bone regarding that one.
Harper leaned forward and grabbed Grace’s arm with a bracing grip. “What did you say to him, Grace? You didn’t say anything about…” But she couldn’t finish it, and before she even tried, she realized by the change in Grace’s features that she had been completely off base.
Sitting back in the booth to distance herself from Harper, Grace took in her friend’s expression. Harper was scared and breathing fast, and if she wasn’t mistaken, that damned elephant had just joined them at the table. Sliding her arm away from Harper’s grip, Grace tried to get them back to even ground. “Actually, he asked me out for tonight. “
The excitement she had felt last night, which had already been tempered by the situation with Harper, seemed to lose more of its sparkle. She wanted to be happy that Tru had finally asked her out, but was feeling guilty that she could feel this way when there was all of this shit going on with Harper. Not that Harp was copping to any of it. Nope, Harper was running herself ragged, acting very un-Harper like in order to convince Grace that everything was fine.
Harper smiled. “Grace, that’s great. Finally, right?”
Since it was now her turn to act normal Grace tried to summon a smile and answered, “Yeah, he took me by surprise with that one.”
“Where are you going?”
“A party, I think.” Grace didn’t miss the way Harper bowed up at the word party, and wanted to kick her own ass. As much as Harper might insist that nothing happened, it was becoming more and more clear something had.
“What time is he picking you up?” Harper forced the words out.
While she was saying all of the right things, Grace felt as if she and Harper were putting on a show for each other. Wanting to lean across the table and shake her friend, she sighed and answered, “Seven-thirty.”
The tension at the table was thick and rising. In a moment, Grace was sure they would both be choking on it. Before she could comment on it, the waitress was there with their lunch orders. Grace fell on her chicken verde, thankful for something else to focus her attention on.
They sat, pushing their food around before Harper said softly, “I'm really happy for you. Tru asking you out and all. I know how long you’ve wanted this.”
Grace looked up with a smile. “Yeah.”
“But I don’t want you to get hurt either, so just be careful. He’s my brother and I love him, but he is still a guy.”
Grace put her fork down and cocked her head. “Harper, I don’t think he’s going to declare his undying love for me or anything like that. But he did say he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about me since our trip to Lake Geneva.”
Harper snorted her disbelief. “Listen Grace…” But that was as far as she got as something caught her attention on the other side of the restaurant.
Turning, Grace saw Mr. Haas had just entered with a blond clinging to his arm. They were both windblown from the frigid temps outside and laughing with each other. In a casual move, he pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head and leaned in to nuzzle her.
In a move more reflex, Grace raised her hand to flag down the popular teacher before realizing the implication and cringing inside. Turning her attention back to her friend, she saw Harper frozen in place. Eyes full of remorse, Grace mumbled a quick apology before turning her attention back to the couple making their way to the table.
Smiling, he was halfway to their table before his eyes locked on Harper and Grace didn’t miss the hitch in his stride. Eyes wide and wild, Harper looked everywhere but at the music teacher.
Smoothly, Grace stood and shook hands with the blond who introduced herself as “Bambi.” They exchanged a few words, and Grace plastered a phony smile on her face while she made small talk. Nothing happened at the party, my ass.
Mr. Haas spoke to Harper directly as they were leaving, telling her to enjoy the rest of her winter break, and the rest of her lunch, but it was clear that he was no more comfortable around Harper than she was around him.
Calmly, Grace sat back down and picked up her fork. She was furious. Furious with Harper. Furious with Mr. Haas. Furious with this deception she was helping Harper perpetuate. Something had clearly happened between the two of them. But this was Harper’s game, so they were going to have to play it out. Looking her friend directly in the eye, she asked, “Bambi? Can you even believe that? Who names their kid Bambi? Do you think she’s a stripper or something?”
Okay tell us what you think. We can take it. And don't hold anything back. Come back Thursday, when Karla updates us on the next installment. Trust me, it is getting good!