I was going to post this Thanksgiving week, but I didn't... it's a good thing I didn't promise anything!

Lots of dialogue here, but I think it's conversational enough to not be too bad. I hope you like it and I would really appreciate to know what you think!


In Which They Play the Lying Game…

"You're lying."

"I'm not lying, Jason," insisted an irate Emma.

"Yes, you are." Jason refused to budge. "I have proof." He followed her around the kitchen island. "You know, there are several ways to tell when someone is lying. There's the blinking and stuff that amateurs do, but you're no amateur, are you, Emma?"

Emma sighed and turned to face him. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared. "What are you talking about?"

"Well!" Jason clapped his hands together and donned the countenance of a professor. "For advanced liars such as you, there are several stages of lying."

She raised her eyebrows incredulously. "You have got to be kidding me."

"I kid you not. This would be the 'you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about stage,'" he said with a salesman's charm.

"No," Emma denied. "This is the 'me-saying-you're-wrong stage'!"

Jason shrugged. "Same difference."

"Well I have no idea what you're talking about," Emma dismissed him and flounced away. Jason trailed behind her up the stairs.

"That is the denial stage," he continued, conversationally. "Really, Em. You really are quite predictable! Maybe that's another stage: the predictability stage!"

"I am not," the girl denied automatically. "And I think you're just making this up as you go along! By the way, do you know who's coming for dinner?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, are you changing the subject?"

"Augh!" Emma yelled, clutching her hair. As soon as her frustration was released, she quickly recomposed herself and snapped, "Shut up, Jason!"

"Sure thing, Emmy," Jason smirked. "As soon as you 'fess up!"

"Confess to what?" she growled. "You're such an ass!"

"And this is the anger stage," he said with sugary sweetness.

"Stop it!"

"Is this the exasperation stage?" Jason grinned mercilessly. "Are you ready to admit it now?"

"Fine," she said waspishly. "I admit that I… Did absolutely nothing wrong!"

"Hey now," Jason shielded himself ineffectually with his hands. "I never said you did something wrong. Does this have to do with the money?"

"Jason," Emma growled. "I swear…"

"Chill, Emma," Jason leaned away a little. "I already know you took the money."

"I didn't take the money!" she cried, her eyes beginning to tear up. "It was my money in the first place."

"Ah!" Jason laughed in triumph. "Now we're getting somewhere! This must be the guilt stage—works every time!"

"Jason," Emma fairly whimpered. "Please don't. Please don't tell my dad."

"And this, folks, would be the begging stage!" Jason gestured to Emma, facing an imaginary audience. He turned back to Emma and saw the tears that were beginning to spill over. "Hey," he said awkwardly. "I was just kidding, you know?"

She shook her head hysterically, commenced the crying in earnest.

"Hey," he said again, more softly this time. "It's alright, Emmy. I won't tell your dad. It was an anonymous donation after all. I think it was really cool of you."

Emma was still sobbing into her hands and Jason was beginning to get nervous. Any minute now, her dad or aunt or his father could walk in and see her crying and would blame him. What had started out as an innocent prank suddenly was spiraling out of control.

Jason looked at the crying girl before him and then up at the ceiling. Blowing out a heavy gust of air, he quickly climbed the stairs between them to gather her into his arms. Even on the step below her, he was a head taller than her.

"Em!" he said helplessly. His mouth twisted. He held on even as she tried to push him away. "Sweeheart...I'm sorry! I didn't mean to push you this far."

Emma finally managed to shove her way free. Once liberated, she turned quickly and sprinted off to her room. "Go away, Jason!" she managed to shout in a strangled voice before she slammed the door tightly shut.

In the safety of her room, Emma allowed herself a quiet victory crow. She immediately froze and checked to make sure Jason had not heard anything suspicious. The muffled slam of the front door reassured her; he was too far away to have heard her.

With a satisfied sigh, Emma plopped down in her beanbag chair with her laptop and began plotting her revenge.