APOLOGIES: This is not a "continuous story" blog, but today I must. I am following suggestions from the comments, and a continuation to my "H" post (here) was one of those suggestions. If you have not read that post, please do check it out before reading the rest of the story below.
Mara eyed the drink as understanding rose in her brain. Alice just said...
Seeing the look of surprise on her face, Hank pulled the drink back towards himself. "What's wrong? Isn't this your favorite? Or is it a problem with 'Juice-Juice'? I thought, since they're so close to you..."
Her mind made up, Mara grabbed the drink and smiled warmly. "It's perfect," she gushed, taking a sip. "How sweet of you to remember." She slipped an arm through his and guided their steps in the direction of the park. "I'm so lucky to be with such an attentive guy."
"Well, you're a pretty special girl. I think I'm the lucky one."
"Hm." Mara smiled, unlinking their elbows to hold her limeade in both hands. "How is it that you're still single?"
"I must've been waiting for you."
"Aww." She took a drink as they walked and peered at him from the corner of her eye. How many of these lines had he fed to Alice in a phony Irish accent? Or was Hank, the American, the put-on disguise? She had to find out. "I'm really excited to see the exhibit. Do you know the artist?"
"Only his name, and only because of this show."
"Well he's from - oh, I forget where - someplace exotic. It just makes me want to travel. Have you traveled?" ...Maybe to Ireland, or from Ireland - she finished the question in her head.
"I'm not exactly in my hometown, y'know."
Drat. Mara giggled and nudged his arm playfully. "You know. Outside the country, silly." Would he take the bait?
"Um... does Canada count?" Now it was his turn to look sideways at her. Maybe she'd overplayed that line of questioning.
She plowed ahead. "I'd love to travel, but heaven forbid I leave my roommates to fend for themselves." There! That was the key. Mara fell silent as they walked.
Hank watched her face before smiling and saying, "Another reason I'm glad I live alone."
"Good point." Mara slurped the last of her limeade up the straw. As they drew near a trash can he took her cup and his and stepped over to throw them away. Meanwhile Mara pulled out her phone and sent a quick text to her "ROOMIES" list: Meet at park in 25.
When they entered the park, he bought two tickets to the artist's exhibition and they entered the fenced off area. Mara oh'ed and ah'ed, and Hank took pictures of her, but none of himself. Mara realized she had no photos of him to share. She started intentionally trying to capture his face, but he moved every time, and the pictures all blurred.
As they approached the exit, Mara scoured the faces around her for Alice or Carissa. Finally she saw them standing near the ice-cream cart. "Oh! Ice-cream!" Mara said, and took Hank's hand to pull him that direction.
Hank laughed. "I thought we were heading to dinner next."
Mara's voice chilled and dropped in tone. "Dessert first," she said, as if it was a death sentence.
When he looked up and saw Alice, Hank's feet stopped moving. Mara yanked on his hand. "Time to face the music."
Alice caught his eye when they were steps away, and shrieked. "What are you doing with ..." her voice trailed off for just a beat as the penny dropped. "Glen?"
"Or is it Hank?" Mara added.
Hank tried to let go of Mara's hand but she wasn't letting him off easy. Instead she pushed him toward to Alice. He nearly collided with her and Carissa stepped aside, licking a dreamsicle and watching the drama unfold with glee sparkling in her eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Alice." Hank reached as if to caress her shoulder, but Alice pulled away, a deep hurt clouding her pretty face. Mara had never seen her look so sad.
With no warning, Alice smashed her mint-chip ice-cream cone into his face, turned on her heel and started to walk away. Carissa raised her eyebrows to Mara and followed Alice. Mara stepped up to Hank, said, "Never call me again, Loser," and followed her roommates out of the park.
Hank sighed, watching the trio walk off. He'd lost both Alice and Mara. He could only hope this didn't blow his chances with Carissa.
Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later.
Today's post was inspired by the prompt "Mara and Alice meet the guy", suggested by Liz A. (of Laws of Gravity), given in comments on my "H" post (here)