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 was pretty much bent on keeping whatever happened at the party a secret. Enjoy.
Grace’s fingers drummed furiously on Frenchy’s steering wheel to the beat of the Foo Fighters pouring out of the speakers, eyes glued to the door of Maestro’s Music. No way was he getting past her again. She tried unsuccessfully to catch Owen twice at school and both times she had the distinct impression he was dodging her.
It hadn’t been hard to find out who Owen Lancaster was. New guy and uber talented like Harper. Everyone who was associated with the music department seemed to know him. A few well-placed questions and she had his class schedule and home address. Since Grace didn’t have a shy bone in her body she had no problems marching up to his front door. Unfortunately he wasn’t home, but his cute -she assumed younger brother- told her where she could find him.
Now, it was almost nine, and according to store hours for Friday, closing time. She was more than happy to wait.
Owen didn’t miss the neon pink VW parked in front of the store. She was tenacious; he would give her that. In fact he wasn’t sure if he admired it or was a little afraid of it. Knowing Harper, she wouldn’t like him talking to Grace about what he had seen. With that in mind he decided to duck out the back.
Pulling his soft grey hoodie up with hopes of some semblance of disguise he turned the corner away from the store and came face to face with Grace Monroe leaning on his boss’ BMW. He was adding stealth to that list of things she seemed to be good at.
“Hey, Owen. How’s it going?” Like sitting in the dark on a stranger’s car waiting for someone she had never spoken to before today was normal? Oh yeah, they were definitely made of steel.
“Grace,” Owen acknowledged.
Cocking her head to the side, she remarked, “You don’t seem to be too surprised to see me?”
A preemptive strike was called for. “Listen Grace, I don’t know what Harper told you about the party, but I don’t think we should be discussing what might’ve happened. So, sorry. But you need to speak to her about it.”
Confused Grace asked, “Party? What party?” Searching her memory banks, she stumbled across the get- together that Mr. Haas, the schools musical director, hosted at his house every year. Just for band students. “You mean the band thing from Saturday night?”
Owen took a step back, and Grace was on the scent. Moving in on his personal space, Grace demanded, “What happened at the party Owen? Did you do something to Harper? “
Raising his hands in supplication, Owen sighed, “No. I didn’t do anything to Harper.”
“But something happened, right?”
Needing a moment, because Owen really hoped that what he caught sight of wasn’t really what it looked like, he turned and looked down the street praying for something to get him out of the interrogation she was currently subjecting him to.
When no high-speed car chases or lightning bolts appeared, Owen turned back and looked at Grace. “I get it. You guys are friends.”
“Best friends.” She interjected.
“Best friends.” He repeated. “Well, Harper is my friend, too. And I care about her-“
“If you care about her, tell me what is going on. She blew me off for lunch and the last time she did that was because Danny Jacobson told her boys don’t kiss girls who wear glasses when we were freshman. If someone hurt my friend, I want to know about it.”
“I’m sorry. You need to speak to Harper.” Owen started to move past her, but Grace was fast.
Grabbing his arm, she stopped him with, “Owen what do you think you saw?”
“You said ‘I don’t know what Harper told you about the party, but I don’t think we should be discussing what might have happened.’ What do you think happened?”
Suddenly glad to have someone to share what he saw with, even it meant risking Harper’s wrath, Owen said, “I think Mr. Haas did something to Harper.” He didn’t mention seeing Harper leaving the teacher’s bedroom or Mr. Haas following her down the hall all the while stuffing his polo shirt back into his khakis. Owen was still reeling from the implications of it.
Grace watched the emotions playing across Owen’s face and the first fissions of fear started to race. “Screw this. You know what? You’re right. I am going over to Harper’s right now. I am getting to the bottom of this.”
This time it was Owen grabbing Grace’s arm to stop her departure. “What are you going to do? I could be way off base, and maybe nothing happened. Besides it is late and…” Owen stopped himself and ran his hand down his face. She was right.
Yes, he was new to the school, but he and Harper had become fast friends. He enjoyed hanging out with her after seventh hour and talking about music. If he had been hoping for more from Harper, she need never know. Grace was right. They had to get to the bottom of it.
“You’re, right, let’s go.” Owen did an abrupt about face and headed toward the front of the store.
Surprise registered for only a second before she recovered. Once they were both in the car and on the way to Harper’s, Owen remembered to ask, “So what happened to Danny Jacobson?”
Distracted, Grace asked, “Hmm?”
“Danny Jacobson, ninth grade. Made fun of Harper’s glasses.” He prodded.
Smiling at the memory and finding it ironic that she could find anything to smile about she looked over and said, “He played the saxophone and had a tendency to leave it unattended in the band room during the day. Someone dusted itching powder around the mouth piece. Let’s just say he wasn’t kissing any girls for a while.”
Owen’s lips tipped at the thought before he and Grace both fell silent as they drove the ten minutes across town to Harper’s. If what he suspected was true, Harper was going to need them. The hard part was going to be getting Harper to admit it.
Be on the look out for the next installment from Karla on Wednesday over at her blog The Lastword.
Wait, don't go yet, tell me what you think.