By the time they reached the restaurant, Truman and Grace were both back to their normal banter. Only now, their relationship had expanded to include hand holding and kissing both of which Grace was enjoying immensely.
Truman was entertaining her with a story about a professor he found vastly amusing. “I swear, I think he has word of the day toilet paper or something, because every class, he has a new word that he uses over and over again. It always amazes me at the ways in which he works them into the lecture.”
“Which one was your favorite?”
Not missing a beat, he responded, “Defenestration. It was amusing watching how many ways he could put that into a sentence.” Truman dropped Grace’s hand long enough to usher her through the door before snagging it again as they made their way to the hostess station.
Grace couldn’t have stopped the giddy trail of happiness that streaked down her spine at his casual touch even if she wanted to. And she most definitely didn’t want to. Spending time with Truman like this had been a dream of hers for as long as she could remember.
While he asked for a table, Grace took a look around the restaurant and smiled. They had been to Dante’s together many times, but never alone. It was the perfect place for them to have their first date. Dante’s was a loud, bustling pizza/sub joint by day. But at night, they turned down the lights and piped in some music to give the illusion of a fancier restaurant. It was working for Grace.
“It sounds like you are really enjoying school.” She said, picking up their topic of conversation as they were led to a circular booth in the back.
“I am. Have you started applying yet?”
Grace was momentarily nonplussed as Truman slid into the booth right after her, forcing her to scoot over instead of entering from the other side. It pushed them right up against each other, and sent that giddy rush on another ride.
Sitting there enjoying the sensations that Truman seemed to inspire in all of her girly bits had Grace’s body doing a steady hum. Happiness spurted through her, like the Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone. It burst forth and while it took her by surprise, still had the ability to make her heart take flight and her blood do a little sizzle in her veins.
At that moment, all she wanted to do was close her eyes and focus on the moment. That one perfect instant in time, when nothing could dampen her enthusiasm for the evening that lay ahead, and all the possibilities it included. Breathing deep, she took in the aroma of tomatoes and garlic and basil and knew without a doubt, that she would never smell Italian food again and not remember this evening.
An older women stepped up to the table and introduced herself as Teresa, their waitress. After explaining the specials, she took their drink order and promised breadsticks with marinara sauce would be brought right out.
Truman leaned forward, and Grace found herself holding her breath, anticipating the next brush of lips.
But Truman didn’t kiss her. Instead, he whispered, “Can I tell you a secret?”
Grace, whose brain had turned to mush, croaked an agreement all the while fixated with, the way Truman’s eyes seemed to flare with merriment or maybe he was just enjoying her fluster.
Before the words could be spoken, Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ announced an incoming call on Grace’s cell and seemingly popped the bubble that had settled itself over the table, insulating them from the other diners in the restaurant. Pulling the phone from her bag, Grace looked at the screen with a frown, Owen’s picture was looking back at her. There could only be one reason he would be calling. Harper.
Ten minutes later, Grace was still apologizing for cutting their evening short. Truman was okay with that. What he wasn’t okay with was that she didn’t want him to go with her, and she didn’t want to tell him what was going on. Immediately, he had recognized the name Owen as the kid who had picked up his little sister tonight.
While she conversed in undertones, it didn’t take a genius to figure out something was wrong. The blood draining from her face would have been clue enough, but then the panic seared through, and Truman knew without a doubt, something had happened to Harper. No way was he not going.
Helping Grace into the car he had a momentary pang that the evening was cut short, but knew there would be others. Now, he needed to know what had happened to his sister and focus on that. “No matter what you say, I am going.”
Rubbing her eyes on a tired sigh Grace said, “Tru, listen. I don’t think Harper is going to be too happy that Owen called me, and I know she will be furious if I show up with you.”
“Too bad. Harper ‘s my sister, and if she’s in trouble, or if this guy Owen has done anything…”
Shaking her head, “No Tru, its nothing like that. I promise. Owen would never hurt Harper. I don’t think he could.” Seeing his disbelief, she added, “I swear.”
Distress rolled off Grace in waves, more reminiscent to the aftermath of a hurricane than a sunny day spent at the beach. Hoping to ease her concern, he tucked her hand into his and squeezed, trying to reassure her that everything would be alright. Shooting a grateful smile in his direction, Grace squeezed back and turned toward the window.
Graced could hear the panic ringing in Owen’s voice as she replayed the call in her head. “Harper needs you.” She wasn’t so sure about that, and she had no idea how Harper was going to feel once she realized that Owen had called her to the rescue. Plus, Truman knew absolutely nothing about what had happened with Mr. Haas, and here he was, escorting her over to Owen’s house right now.