It's that time of the week again...Fun and Games with K&K
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Truman had stayed at Grace’s into the early morning but still found himself awake by eight. In anticipation of the first cup of brew, he showered and decided to hit the mall. He knew it would be a mad house, but he needed to get through his Christmas shopping. Grabbing his coat, he headed toward the stairs with a detour to Harper’s room.
Smacking the door with his fist, he pushed it open and walked in without waiting for an invitation. She was already dressed in her usual–jeans and hoodie– curled up on her window seat under an old flannel blanket, staring out at the grey, overcast landscape.
Moving her head in his direction, she smiled and asked, “How’d it go last night?”
Truman felt a hitch in his chest, and rubbing the spot, pictured Grace when he left. Curled up asleep on the couch, snoring like a trucker and out like a light. One corner of his mouth tipped, and he said, “Pretty great. We watched a movie and fell asleep on the couch. Mrs. M woke me about two and booted me out.”
Rising, Harper rearranged the blanket around her shoulders before facing him, “Wow, Tru. You actually spent the night with a girl–or part of one anyway– and all you did was sleep?”
“Hey,” he said on a half laugh, even as he picked up a stuffed bear from her bed and tossed it her way.
“Hey nothing,” she shot back, gracefully catching the toy and setting it back in place. “This is Grace we’re talking about. Not some slutty college girl. You better not mess this up, Truman. I mean it.”
“I think Grace is old enough to take care of herself,” he said as his back went a little straighter. “I know you love her, but what happens between us is none of your business.”
“Oh really,” she smirked parking her hands on her hips in a trademark Harper move that pushed the flannel blanket over her shoulders cape-like, reminding him of the super-hero cartoons they used to watch as kids. “Okay hot-shot. What happens when you go back to school and your slutty ways? Who do you think will be left to pick up those pieces?”
“Alright, I’ll make a deal with you,” he supplicated, holding up both hands. “You tell me what happened with Haas–and I mean the truth this time–and you can give me all the advice you want when it comes to Grace.”
Truman watched in stupefied fascination as the blood drained from her face even as she pulled the blanket tighter and tucked her arms across her chest. The defensive position only acted as more proof that something happened between Harper and the music teacher. By nature, he wasn’t a patient man, but after last night, he was positive this needed to be handled in a more delicate manner. And not the way he and Owen were going to go about it.
Biting off the words, Harper turned away from Truman and snarled, “Hopefully she won’t stay stupid too much longer. With any luck, she’ll see you for the man-whore you really are. Preferably sooner rather than later.”
“Man-whore huh,” he asked, trying to inject some levity back into the conversation, “Aw Harpy, I love you, too.”
“Listen.” Deciding a change of subject was a good idea, he asked, “Do you want to go with me to the mall. I need to finish my Christmas shopping, pick up a gift I ordered and–“
“Not today, you’re not.”
“I can’t believe you don’t remember. Dad has been going on about it, only all week.”
At the mention of Dill Simonson, Truman’s confusion vanished. “Shit, is that today?”
“Yep. Don’t worry; we can go after we get back.”
Hunting down the Simonson Christmas tree was an annual tradition that the whole family took part in. Their father spearheaded them all outside of town to a local tree farm where they spent family time searching for, arguing over–well Mom and Dad did–and cutting down the perfect tree.
He couldn’t believe he forgot about it. Patting the pockets of his jacket, he looked for his cell phone. He needed to send Grace a text and tell her they would have to meet later than their agreed upon time. A frown pleated his brow when he realized it wasn’t there.
Dill Simonson’s voice drifted up the stairs to them, “Come on kids. Get a move on it. We need to get going, or all the good trees will be gone.”
When the Simonsons pulled up into their drive five hours later, Grace was waiting on the porch. Truman’s heart took one quick jolt and then stuttered back into rhythm. She looked amazing in her winter weather gear. Pink bubble coat, white hats and mittens, along with dark denim jeans and her pink Uggs, she looked more than ready to go play in the snow.
Pushing away from the truck, he smiled and jogged up the steps. His breath came fast in a fine vapor cloud that danced on the wintery breeze. Stopping one step below, he grabbed her hand and said in a soft voice, “Hey, you.”
Truman watched her face, instantly noticing her refusal to meet his eyes. What the…? Where was the fun-loving girl from last night? He thought it went pretty well, but in the light of day she didn’t seem happy to see him.
“Hey.” Digging into her pocket, she pulled out Truman’s cell phone and held it out for him. “You left this at my house last night. I thought you might need it.”
In a quick dash around him, she made way for the street where her car was parked.
The everyday sounds of his family barely penetrated as he watched her mad rush across the yard. The garage door raising, his mom and dad calling out a greeting and an invitation for Grace to help with the tree, Harper hurrying to Grace’s side while her cell phone blasted Debussy.
Looking down at the phone in his hand, he noted the seven missed calls and the number they came from and cursed under his breath. Shit and shit.
He looked up just in time to see Harper stop Grace with a touch even as she placed the cell to her ear. He couldn’t hear the conversation, but saw the panic as it swept across her features. Jumping from the step he was on, he hurried to his sister and the girl he… The girl he what? Loved? Did he? Could he?
Grace looked up and met his gaze. Well it was obvious; whatever she was feeling for him at that moment, it most definitely wasn’t love. Sorrow, such as he’d never seen, swamped her features. Before he could explain about the phone calls, Harper caught both their attention with her announcement.