Really? Harper said, surprised. Isn’t that a good thing?
Her feelings for her Southern grandmother were like the waterway that raced behind Sea Breeze—deep, and swelling with happy memories. In the invitation Mamaw had referred to her Summer Girls. That was a term Harper hadn’t heard—had not even thought about—in over a decade. She hadn’t been but twelve years old when she spent her last summer at Sea Breeze. How many times had she seen Mamaw in all those years? It surprised Harper to realize it had been only three times.There had been so many invitations sent to her in those intervening years. So many regrets returned. Harper felt a twinge of shame as she pondered how she could have let so many years pass without paying Mamaw a visit.
Harper? Where are you? a voice called from the hall.Harper coughed on a crumb of dry toast.Ah, there you are, her mother said, walking into the kitchen.
Georgiana James never merely entered a room; she arrived. There was a rustle of fabric and an aura of sparks of energy radiating around her. Not to mention her perfume, which was like the blare of trumpets entering the room before her. As the executive editor of a major publishing house, Georgiana was always rushing—to meet a deadline, to meet someone for lunch or dinner, or to another in a string of endless meetings. When Georgiana wasn’t rushing off somewhere she was ensconced behind closed doors reading. In any case, Harper had seen little of her mother growing up. Now, at twenty-eight years of age, she worked as her mother’s private assistant. Though they lived together, Harper knew that she needed to make an appointment with her mother for a chat.I didn’t expect you to still be here, Georgiana said, pecking her cheek.
I was just leaving, Harper replied, catching the hint of censure in the tone. Georgiana’s pale blue tweed jacket and navy pencil skirt fitted her petite frame impeccably. Harper glanced down at her own sleek black pencil skirt and gray silk blouse, checking for any loose thread or missing button that her mother’s hawk eye would pick up. Then, in what she hoped was a nonchalant move, she casually reached for the invitation that she’d foolishly propped up against the glass vase of flowers.
What’s that? Georgiana asked, swooping down to grasp it. An invitation?We turned onto Arlington Street. The tall streetlights placed evenly between the trees, along with the headlights of the cars passing us, lit the street so brightly you’d have to look up at the dark sky to even realize it was evening. As the silence between us stretched out, uncertainty filled me, and I felt the chill of the spring evening rush around my bare legs and seep under my light coat, when it had barely touched me moments before.
I wasn’t lying, Caleb suddenly said, his tone sounding distant and faraway. I have an early morning. I should have put you in a cab back at the club. We’ll get you one at the hotel.He didn’t want me tonight?
Or maybe the jetlag and our late nights had finally caught up with him … but I suspected that wasn’t why he was rejecting my company. Had we crossed some invisible line Caleb had drawn between us and now he wanted nothing to do with me? Had something Patrice said about me turned him off?I felt a flare of pain in my chest that horrified me, and so with a carefully impassive expression, I said, I can walk. I’m just across the Common.