“Where the fuck are they?” Truman demanded while pacing, even as he tossed his phone on the couch next to Grace in fit of anger. They had been in the family room of the Simonson house for twenty minutes, waiting for Harper and Owen to join them after dropping Lucky off. So far, they were a no- show and each attempt at calling was a one-way ticket to voice mail.
Grace was sitting on the couch slumped forward, thumbing her phone. Truman’s anger-a potent mix of frustration and helplessness-was starting to penetrate the cone of silence she had erected since their arrival. She didn’t get it. What was up with all the freaking drama? Why not just tell them to mind their own business. Okay, yeah, they probably wouldn’t stop worrying about Harper, but at least it wouldn’t be leading them on a wild goose chase.
Not to mention Owen. He knew how much Grace cared about Harper. Why couldn’t he at least send a text message? Even if it only said cease and desist, at least they would know she was okay. Instead, Truman was wearing a rut the size of Lake Geneva in his mother’s Chinese silk rug, and Grace was clutching her phone like it were a life line.
“Last summer we spent a lot of time at Lake Geneva,” Harper’s words were low and slow. Severing her connection to Owen, she fisted her hands in her lap, avoiding eye contact with either boy she continued. “We were up there for the annual-“
“Wait a second,” Lucky said leaning forward and hooking his arm over the front seat closest to his brother. “I thought you were going to tell us what happened at the party?”
Smacking his brother on the back of the head, Owen snapped, “Shut up Lucky. Harper is telling us what happened last summer. How she knows Haas isn’t gay.”
Lucky sent his own snarl back at his brother, “Dude, I know what I saw, Haas is totally gay. That kid, the one that came rushing to his rescue, not only was he half naked, but they were close. Know what I mean?”
Leaning in, Owens anger clear in the bulge of his eyes and the vein that ran across his forehead, reminding Lucky of the Incredible Hulk reruns the twins used to watch as boys. “Shut up. We’re going to let Harper tell this her way. Got me?”
“Fine,” he replied, before rolling back to take up his original position behind his brother. Mainly to move out of the way of Owen’s flying punches.
Owen turned back to Harper, a gentle smile reappearing on his face, an obvious move to put her at ease. “Dumbass will not interrupt anymore. Promise.”
“Don’t forget to cross your heart,” was tossed out from the peanut gallery in the backseat in such a snarly way, Harper couldn’t help but laugh.
“Okay stop,” she begged, holding up one hand. “You two are too much.” Looking back at Lucky, “Cross your heart? Really? Now you sound just like my brother.”
Folding his arms across his chest, Lucky bounced against the back seat once and barked, “I am nothing like your brother.”
Seeing an opportunity to put off the discussion, Harper twisted so she was facing the backseat and said softly, “Oh I don’t know. You two have more in common than you think.” The smile that stole across her face made it clear she was complimenting Owen’s older brother-or at least she thought she was.
Lucky looked at Harper and pursing his lips, a clear sign he was up to something, tossed back, “You mean your bitchy ex-best-friend Grace? Because I can tell you, I am so over that. Any girl who would rather be with loser douche-man, I want no part of that. Besides, who does she think she is? You guys are supposed to be best friends, and she doesn’t tell you about her acceptance to–where was it–Oxnard? Who needs a friend like that?”
Harper, in true best friend/you-don’t-mess-with-my-brother mode leaned back as if Lucky had struck her. Owen was no help. Instead of rushing to her rescue, he eyed his brother before turning her way to see how she would respond. Later, Harper would realize that she was being set up, but at that moment, she just wanted to lash out.
“First off, don’t ever call my brother douche-man again. You don’t have that right. He doesn’t lie, and he would never intentionally hurt anyone. Besides, Truman is one of the best men I know.” As she said those words, her eyes lanced from Lucky to Owen and back again. “He has always been there for me. Always.”
Sensing Harper losing some of her steam, Lucky shrugged. And just like that, twin red flags raised up her cheeks putting Lucky back in the role of matador as Harper charged forward.
“And don’t you ever use bitchy and Grace in the same sentence again, do you understand me?” Pointing a finger at Lucky, she continued, “You would be beyond Lucky if my friend ever deemed you worthy enough. As for the acceptance letter, it’s Oxford, not Oxnard. What freaking rock do you live under?” Looking to Owen, she mowed on, “You’re right. He is a dumbass.” Swiveling her head so Lucky was once again in her sights, “I am sure if she didn’t tell me, she had a good reason. Grace is the nicest, kindest person I know, and she would never intentionally hurt me. Hell, she didn’t even tell me she had a thing for Truman at first because she was afraid it would affect our friendship.” Harper’s voice went soft, shadowing out on the last sentence, as she realized what she was saying.
Looking down, she swallowed. Then swallowed again, emotion ricocheting inside of her so fast she was sure she would splinter into a million pieces at any moment. Raising her head and looking at Lucky, twin puddles of misery shooting accusing daggers, “Unfair, Lucas Riley. Unfair.”
Wanting to ease her pain, Owen snagged her hand once again, lacing their fingers together tightly. Once he had her attention he confided, “Yeah, he really is a dumbass. But his heart is in the right place.”
Lucky preened in the back seat, batting his eyelashes at Harper.
On a laugh that was choked with unshed tears, she turned around in the front seat and decided, “I am sure Grace and Tru are getting worried. Maybe we should head back to the house. I only want to tell this story once. Okay?”
The twins agreed. Before putting the car in gear, Owen looked at his brother in the rear view mirror and asked, “Just out of curiosity, who was the kid you saw come to Haas’ rescue.”
“Your friend, Mickelson. Ben Mickelson.”
Owen felt Harper’s body grow rigid, even though two feet separated them, as he responded, “Sorry Luck, but you got that one wrong. Ben isn’t his lover. He’s his son.”