Grace ground the gears for what seemed like miles before she pulled into the safety of her driveway and turned off the engine. While she was fired up, she had the ability to drive the truck just fine. Once the adrenaline rush wore off, she was suddenly crazy, klutz girl with a clutch.
Setting the emergency break, she picked up her phone and looked at the screen.
Under control. Headed home. See you soon.
Sighing, she grabbed her bag and headed up the walk. A glance at the clock told her it was riding up on ten, and her stomach growled in protest. Letting herself into the house, she made her way to Mrs. Maguire’s room to let her know she was home.
This was so not how she had pictured the night ending. She made quick work of removing her make-up and changing into a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and the long-sleeved Henley that belonged to Truman once upon a time. Pushing her feet into well-worn slippers, she grabbed her cell before heading back downstairs.
In the den her dad dubbed his man cave, she fiddled with the various remotes until she had the large TV up and ready for a DVD. Since she was in the mood for a chick-flick, she decided to go with While You Were Sleeping. It was her cousin Abby’s favorite movie. Holding up the DVD, she silently toasted her cousin who was currently traveling through Italy.
As the opening credits rolled, Grace made her way to the kitchen with a detour to the front door when the bell announced a visitor. Positive it was Owen coming to collect his truck, she didn’t bother to check.
Truman smiled when she opened the door. Holding out the bag in his arms, he said, “I come bearing gifts.”
Leaning into the door, she said, “So I see.”
Time seemed to stop as they stood on either side of the threshold studying the other. Clearing his throat, “I was glad to see you made it home okay.” Turning, he looked at Owen’s truck parked at the curb, “Do you think he’ll need it back tonight?”
Grace shrugged in response.
“So,” Truman started, “can I come in?”
Another shrug, and Grace stepped back in order to allow him to pass.
Truman made straight for the kitchen. He knew the layout of Grace’s home as well as his own. Setting the bag on the counter, he quickly pulled out the various cartons of food. “I know we never did get our dinner, and I figured you were probably starving right about now.”
“I was going to make a grilled cheese,” she replied as her stomach acknowledged his comment.
Truman made a face and responded, “It’s a good thing I got here when I did. Besides, I brought your favorite.”
Grace stood studying the young man in front of her. All six foot three of him. From the blaze in his green eyes all the way down to the soles of his feet. What was it about him that had her heart all aflutter? She couldn’t even remember when it changed. When he went from being a friend to the guy she was mooning over. Was it something he did? Something he said?
She wasn’t sure if it was a good idea for her and Truman to even flirt with the idea of dating now. She knew about the girls at school. Harper made a point of telling her about each and every one. Also, she’d worked hard and she didn’t want anything getting in the way of her plans to study in England next year. No one knew she received an early acceptance last week to study at Oxford. Not even Harper. She had wanted to soak it in a little, before telling everyone, and then the whole thing with Haas happened, and it just never seemed like the right time.
Becoming a forensic anthropologist was something she had wanted to do since she discovered an old arrowhead up at Lake Geneva during one of their trips when she was nine. The possibilities of who could have touched or even made that arrowhead seemed limitless and turned a nine year old girl into a dirt loving fiend that summer.
Harper had been appalled at the idea of crawling through the dirt, but Truman understood her fascination, encouraged it even. They spent endless hours combing the area around the lake for more ancient artifacts. Using a metal detector that Truman’s dad got for them, they discovered coins, bottles and various other novelties during their searches.
That had been the summer Truman became her friend as well. No longer just Harper’s annoying older brother, the two had bonded over long lazy days spent exploring and cataloging their finds.
Now, he stood before her, more man than boy, with a power over her he didn’t even know he wielded. Plus, there was the whole mess with Harper and what happened at that party. Did he know? Had she told him?
Truman stood still while Grace studied him and watched the play of emotions as they danced across her face. Forehead scrunched, she chewed on her bottom lip all the while keeping her eyes steadied on his. He’d always been fascinated with her thinking process. Or maybe if he were honest, he had just always been fascinated with her. For whatever reason, he’d deemed her off limits, deciding she was more Harper’s friend than his. Now, he wished he could turn back the clock and spend more time with her before he had to go back to school.
Crossing her arms over her chest, “Did she tell you what happened at the party?”
“No. She didn’t. Gave me some lame bullshit excuse that…” Truman did a double take when he realized the shirt she was wearing was his. And his favorite one, too. He thought he left it at the lake house last summer, “Is that my shirt?”
A lovely shade of red zoomed up her neck and attached to her cheeks. “Stop changing the subject. Did she tell you?”
Truman looked at Grace, “No. Do you know what happened? Has she said anything to you?”
Shaking her head, Grace moved toward the cupboard that held the plates, “Nope. Let me guess, she Jedi-mind tricked you again? Right?”
The comment brought Truman up short. “Damn it. That’s exactly what she did,” he sputtered while holding out a pair of chop sticks for Grace. “How does she do that? Every damned time?”
“Girl’s good,” Grace said as she helped herself to Moo Goo Gai Pan. “Speaking of, is Owen still with her?”
“Yeah, they were going to scarf down some food and catch a movie.”
“That’s what I was getting ready to do.”
“Let me guess, Singing in the Rain,” he asked, positive he was right.
“No smartass,” she sneered. “While You Were Sleeping.”
“Just kill me now,” he moaned even as he picked up his plate and followed her into the other room. “I bet Harper isn’t torturing Owen with a girly movie. That lucky bastard is probably watching an action pic, even as we speak.”
Looking over from where she had curled up at the end of the sofa with her plate balanced on her knees, Grace answered, “You could always go and join them instead.”
Truman stood in the doorway, watching her attack the food on her plate, taking in her freshly scrubbed appearance, and realized a chick-flick didn’t sound all that bad after all. In fact, there wasn’t anywhere else he would rather be and that included watching the latest Bruce Willis release with his kid sister. Go figure.