The soft buzz of voices and banging dishes created a buffer to the conversation going on at the table.
"Sarah, please tell me you didn't go home with him!" Julie's face was a mask of horror as she glanced at Harper and then accusingly back at Sarah.
"I'm not that sheltered Julie, I want to hear Sarah's story." Harper sat at the table watching her two best friends glare at each other. Sarah glaring at Julie for being anything other than 100% supportive in any and all endeavors, and Julie at Sarah for doing something scandalous and for talking about what she considered to be "too much" for Harper to hear about.
"Yeah Julie, Harper wants to hear, so shut it." Sarah was crass when she spoke but they loved her for it.
"But you know how embarrassed she gets."
Harper threw her napkin, almost knocking over Julie's drink, "How many times do I have to tell you that I'm shy but I am not a prude!" She tossed her auburn hair over her shoulder and glanced over at Sarah and smiled when she saw the excitement in her eyes, "Besides this is going to be a good one."
Sarah flipped her napkin in a grand style and let it flutter down onto her lap. Once she was done with her over the top antics she leaned forward and Harper and Julie mirrored her actions, "I went home with him." She whispered, as if she were telling the most important of secrets.
"I knew it." Julie whispered back, already getting caught up in the energy at the table, her earlier annoyance forgotten.
Harper watched them both, trying not to laugh. Julie with her beautiful golden hair and green eyes was practically lying across the table waiting for the next part. Sarah was messing with her raven black hair like it was no big deal, just to drive her friends crazy.
"Well come on, out with it!" They both jumped when Harper broke the tension. Harper was very reserved and at most times the quiet bystander. Sarah was her complete opposite and Julie was a mixture of the two and had a tendency to turn in to the mother hen.
"Okay, okay, but you have to promise not to tell anyone. It was so embarrassing." Sarah hid her face in her hands and moaned. Both girls immediately agreed and practically begged for her to get to the good part.
"We were dancing in his living room. There was wine, a fire, soft music, the whole nine yards for a romantic evening. Bit by bit ours clothes started to come off and once it was all bared let's just say I was not disappointed." She gave a knowing look at the cloth wrapped silverware and Harper couldn't help the blush that crept into her cheeks.
"We moved things into the bedroom and everything was going fantastic. He was doing all the right things, the chemistry was off the charts, and I was about to get my happy ending…" She paused for dramatic effect as was her way and both girls about fell out of their chairs waiting for the ending.
"Then his mother walked in!" Sarah collapse onto the table and hid her face in the circle of her arms.
"His mother?!" Sarah and Harper yelled in unison.
"Yes!" came a muffled reply.
"But aren't we a little old to be living with our parents…"Harper gently patted Sarah on the shoulder; grimacing at Julie who mirrored her look. Just the thought of something like that happening to her was enough to make her wish for a swift and fast death.
Sarah came up off the table as if new life had been shot into her, "Exactly! He's thirty years old! It didn't even cross my mind to ask him what his living arrangements might be and if I should have kept my screams to a minimum!" She shooed the waitress away in her upset and Harper smiled apologetically as the young girl gave her a wink. "It was the most embarrassing moment of my entire life."
"Oh surely you're exaggerating." Julie grabbed the bottle of wine on the table and topped off everyone's glasses, "What did his mother say when she walked in…what did he say?"
"She screamed just as loud as I did! then he jumped so hard he fell off the bed and about killed himself. Then of course that caused her to run inside the bedroom to see if he was okay; which means I'm naked, he's naked, and she's right in the middle of it!" People were starting to take notice of their conversation and Harper shushed at Sarah, wanting to hear the rest of it, but not wanting the attention.
"How did you get out of there?" Harper whispered hoping to bring them all back down to an inconspicuous level.
"I just snatched the sheet off the bed and grabbed my things as I ran out the front door. Thank God I didn't let him drive me to his house!" Sarah downed her glass of wine and grabbed the bottle to pour herself some more.
"What have I told you about sleeping with men you just met?" Mother hen had arrived.
"Oh stop it. At least I get to sleep with someone at all."
"Just because I don't jump on anything that has a penis doesn't mean I don't –"Julie paused and they both looked over at Harper.
She was trying to hide her smile, she really was, but she just couldn't help it. The laughter burst forth and almost everyone in the restaurant looked over at them. She was laughing so hard now she had to hold her stomach and both Julie and Sarah burst into a fit of giggles along with her.
"His mother caught you guys hooking up." Harper wheezed out between fits, "You still have his bed sheet don't you." She started laughing harder at that thought.
"No!" Sarah spit out. Julie was almost falling out of her chair. Everyone must think them insane by this point, "It's been sufficiently burned in my fireplace." That just made it worse and they all doubled over into more laughter.
Once they all had control of themselves and everyone in the restaurant had went back to ignoring them Harper felt her phone buzz.
Where the hell are you?
She slid it back into her purse as she felt the tension slide up her back and smiled apologetically at two of her most favorite people, "I'm sorry to cut this short guys but I promised Daren I'd be home in time for us to watch this movie that just came out."
"Oh forget Daren, he's a jerk, why haven't you dumped him anyways?" Sarah finished off the appetizer and waved at a group of men across the room. Embarrassed or not from the other night she was already planning her next attack.
Julie shot Sarah an exasperated look, "She's in love with him and whoever she's in love with we are in love with, got it?"
"Fine." Sarah grumbled, "But I don't like how bossy he is."
"Thank you both for being so caring in your own ways." Harper put some money on the table to cover their dinner to make up for bailing early. Her phone buzzed again and she knew she didn't even want to look at it this time. She ignored their plea not to pay and gave them both a hug and kiss.
Before she was able to step away Sarah grabbed her arm, "Do me a favor on your way out?" Harper glanced down as Sarah shoved a piece of paper with her name and number on it in her hand, "Give this to that mouthwatering blonde Adonis by the front." Harper glanced over and quickly away when the object of their conversation was staring straight back at her.
"No! Are you insane?" She couldn't ask for ketchup, much less approach a stranger with her friends hook up invitation.
"Please." Sarah grabbed onto her other arm and batted her pretty blue eyes at her.
Harper tried to keep the panicked feeling at bay, "You know I'm no good at that kind of stuff Sarah." She whispered and looked to Julie for help. Her only response was to shrug; she knew neither of them could reign in their free spirited friend.
"I know." Sarah admonished, "But if I do it he'll think I'm an outright whore. If you do it he'll think I'm just your friend who is super interested and isn't afraid to make the first move."
"You don't know that."
She finally released Harper and moved back in her chair, "I do. And if you do this for me I will owe you big time. Promise."
Harper stared at the look of absolute desperation on Sarah's face and gave into the wave of guilt flowing over her. If she couldn't buck up and pass a piece of paper to a stranger for one of her best friends then what was she good for? "Fine. I'll do it."
"Yay!" Sarah hugged her around her waist and stuck her tongue out at Julie as soon as she saw her look of disapproval.
"You guys be nice while I'm not here. Sarah, I will be claiming my favor from you eventually, don't forget." Harper waved bye and turned to make her way towards the door. She couldn't lift her eyes from the ground as she bypassed the exit and kept walking to the other side of the restaurant.
She felt herself break out in a cold sweat when she stopped in front of the table full of men and almost threw up when she heard the conversation come to a halt. There was no way she was going to be able to do this. She had considered throwing the piece of paper at them and just running out the door but that would just make things worse; and she would probably trip on her way out anyways.
After a solid thirty seconds of no one saying anything and Harper still having only made her gaze move up to the edge of the table, the man to her right cleared his throat, "Can we help you?"
This was a really bad idea, "Um…" Harper found enough courage to quickly glance up at the voice that had spoken and immediately regretted her decision; he was just as gorgeous as Sarah had made him out to be. She quickly dragged her gaze away and danced over the three other men with him and landed right back on the edge of the table when all of them were found to be just as handsome as the first. This was now a horrible idea. She was going to kill Sarah.
"Are you okay?" The object of Sarah's obsession was now standing next to her trying to figure out what was going on. She saw his hand coming to land on her shoulder and it was enough for her to snap out of it and step back and meet his gaze. Beautiful green eyes stared back at her.
"Um…this is for you." Harper put her arm out and shoved the piece of paper at him. She cringed when she saw the small smile on his face before he masked his expression and gently took the paper and glanced at what was written on it.
"And are you Sarah?" He was obviously trying to keep his amusement under wraps which only made Harper wish for a giant hole to open up beneath her feet.
"Oh God no! I mean...well…I'm Harper." She didn't dare glance at the others at the table, afraid they would all be laughing at her too.
"Should I be afraid of this Sarah?" He folded the paper and sat it on the table.
"Of course not, she's my friend; she wanted me to give that to you." Harper started twisting her purse strap when he just continued to stare at her. He really needed to direct his handsome gaze in a different direction, "She thinks you're a Greek God." Harper slammed her hand over her mouth. That last part wasn't supposed to come out.
He wasn't able to hold back his smile or his laughter this time and Harper really really wanted that hole to hurry up, "Oh no, I'm sorry, I wasn't…that wasn't…" She finally glanced at the other men at the table and saw a mixture of laughter and pity. Harper visibly shrank back from their stares and turned back to the man still chuckling, "Have a good night."
She turned around and was heading out the door when she realized her poor choice of words. Her face could not be any redder if it were one hundred degrees outside and not the brisk night that washed over her. Of course he would have a good night if he was tempted by Sarah's note. Who wouldn't?
"You idiot Harper. Have a good night…really?" She stopped at the curb and handed her ticket to the valet, "Why didn't you just say, have fun sleeping with my best friend. I hear she's great at it. Don't get caught though." She shook her head and watched as the young boy disappeared around the corner to the restaurants private parking lot.
"Why would we be caught?" Harper froze at the voice behind her. If God loved her at all he would make her disappear right this instant. When nothing happened she slowly turned around and there he was standing right where she really didn't want him to be.
He held up his hands, "Sorry, I didn't mean to make this worse for you. I just wanted to apologize for laughing earlier, and for my friends, they didn't make it any better." His face was sincere and he stepped back as if knowing she needed some space.
Harper felt her mouth hanging in an oh shape and quickly closed it, "Oh, um, that's okay, I didn't take it personally, I would have laughed too…I get a bit flustered sometimes." Understatement of the century.
He smiled and she didn't know how she was even standing still, that was a sucker punch to any woman's libido, "Are you sure? I felt really bad once I realized how embarrassed we had made you feel. It wasn't our intention."
Harper felt her phone buzz again and glanced towards where the valet had run off to hoping he would have her car back soon, "Absolutely. I'm sorry you thought that. I'm…awkward…when it comes to social interactions, especially with strangers. Please don't think anything of it." She stepped back wanting to be closer to the curb for when he car came and almost fell over.
He caught her flailing arm and pulled her into a steady position, "Is clumsy part of that too?" he said softly and pushed her purse strap onto her shoulder more securely.
Harper blushed, embarrassing herself once again, and shivered at the touch of his fingers against her shoulder, "Yes, the list can get rather long…"
"Care to share?" He put his hands in his pockets and glanced up as her car finally came around the corner.
God did love her in some small way, "Unfortunately, no. My rides here." She turned and grabbed her keys from the young man as he took up his valet station again, "I hope you enjoy the rest of your dinner Mr…"
Harper smiled, "Camden. It was nice to meet you."
As she was walking around to her door he spoke and she look up over the roof, "Just call me Liam, and the pleasure was all mine Harper." She watched as he turned and disappeared into the restaurant and found herself sighing when the door closed behind him.
She finally slid into her silver Ford Fusion and threw her purse into the seat next to her. She heard her phone buzz again and she put the car into drive and pulled onto the road. Her car immediately pulled the texts she hadn't read up onto the screen and she pressed the first one.
You better answer me Harper. Where are you?
Harper…you know I don't like when I don't know where you are.
Answer me dammit.
Her car's voice command asked her if she'd like to reply and she quickly shut it off. She wished she could tell it to not let her go home tonight.