That Forever Girl (c)2019
There is no way in hell she’s here.
My family isn’t that cruel. Right?
From my car, I try to gauge the number of bodies in my parents’ house through the windows. Ugh, I can’t see shit.
She can’t possibly be at family dinner. My family loves Harper, but they wouldn’t invite her, not after I called my mom the other day, telling her to put her matchmaking skills to rest. She just chuckled but reassured me she knew what she was doing. Whatever the hell that means.
I was very adamant about leaving Harper alone. The Knightlys can be too much at times, and I’m sure we’re the last thing she needs right when she’s trying to settle back into town.
Resigning myself to the inevitable, I retrieve my keys from the ignition and make my way to the front door. Hand on the doorknob, I take a deep breath and walk into the house I grew up in. The warm walls and carefully hung family pictures greet me first, followed by my family’s raucous laughter emanating from the back of the house.
I remove my shoes and hang my suit jacket on the coat hanger by the front door before cautiously making my way down the long hallway to the connected kitchen and large dining room. Ren, Griffin’s girlfriend, is the first to spot me. She gives me a small smile and a little wave. The rest of the family is scattered around the kitchen as usual, getting in my parents’ way as they try to finish up the dinner prep.
Griffin sees me next. “Ah, you finally decided to join us.” He checks his watch. “I think that was eight minutes in the car. Who had eight minutes?”
Reid raises his hand and hops off the counter, grabbing a bowl from the center of the table and pocketing the wad of cash inside. “I know him too well.” Reid pats me on the back and slips me a one-dollar bill. “Here, this is for you. Thanks for taking eight minutes to prepare yourself to come in the house. Daddy is going to buy a new pair of jeans.” He pats his pockets.
Ignoring everyone and their stupid bet, I pop the fridge door open and grab a water. Reid joins me, sticking his head in the fridge so I’m forced to look at him. “Aren’t you going to ask?”
“Ask what?” I grit out.
“If she’s here. I know that’s why you were hanging out in your car, debating if you should come in or not.”
My skin prickles, and I brace myself for the answer as I shut the fridge door. “Is she here?” I hiss.
Slowly, Reid smiles and nods. “Yup, she’s in the bathroom.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I angrily squeeze my water bottle, nearly popping the top off. “Why? Why is she here?”
Reid shrugs. “I don’t know, maybe because she wants to be here.”
“Who invited her? Was it Mom?” I don’t wait for an answer. Instead, I walk over to the culprit, who’s hovering over the stove, stirring a huge pot of chili.
“Oh, hey, sweetie. Cornbread is in the oven, honey is in the crock, and I also got tortilla chips because I know how much you like crumbling them in your chili.”
“Mom, why did you invite her? I told you to leave her alone, to leave usalone.”
“What are you talking about?” My mom looks me up and down and then goes back to the chili.
“Harper. I asked you not to invite Harper.”
The bathroom door opens, and Jen pops out, rubbing her hands together. “Did he come in yet?” Her eyes light up as she spots me. “What time was it?”
“Eight minutes. Reid won.”
Disappointed, she snaps her fingers. “Damn, I for sure thought I was going to win.”
Confused, I turn back to my mom. “Harper isn’t here?”
“No, of course not. I wouldn’t invite her so early. She needs time to settle. What made you think she was here?”
I whip around to find Reid leaning against the kitchen wall, arms crossed and with a giant grin on his face. I point at him. “You better run, because I’m going to fucking kill you.”
Like a bolt of lightning, he takes off, and I chase after him, nothing but pure murder on my mind.
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