The perfect match, p.43
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       The Perfect Match, p.43

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 43

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  “Sure! I bet I do! Hang on, let me check my closet. You know what? Why don’t you come over instead? I can help with your hair and stuff. ”

  And so it was that ten minutes later, she was standing in Faith and Levi’s bedroom, staring into her sister’s closet. “How many black dresses do you have, anyway?” Honor asked.

  “Um, six? No, seven. The problem is, half this stuff will be big on you, and a pox upon your house for that. ”

  Right. Faith was curvalicious. Honor was not.

  “This one? No. That’s even big on me. How about this one? Nope, never mind, it’s cotton. Not formal enough. This one? Um, nah. Too froofy for you. Oh, hang on! How about this one? I bought in a moment of self-delusion that, someday, I’d be a size smaller. ”

  “You’re perfect,” said Levi from the doorway.

  “Thanks, honey. You are definitely getting some tonight. ” Levi smiled, and Faith glanced at Honor. “Not that he’s deprived, mind you. ”

  “Glad to hear it,” Honor said. “I’m really not, you guys are welcome to keep that to yourselves, but you’re nothing compared to Prudence. ”

  “I know. Did she tell you about make-your-own-sundae night? Honestly, she’s ruined seven desserts for me. Okay. Levi, babe, get out. Honor, try this on. ”

  The dress was long and sleeveless, high-necked but with a keyhole opening in the front. The black silk fell to the floor in a liquid rush, brushing against her skin.

  “Perfection,” Faith said. “I’m so good at this! Do you have shoes? Never mind. You don’t. Here. Try these. ”

  She handed Honor a pair of strappy black heels adorned with a sparkly decoration. “And let me do your makeup, what do you say? Tom’s gonna die when he sees you. ”

  “I hope not. ”

  Faith dabbed foundation on Honor’s cheek and started blending with a little sponge. “So Dad said something, and I’m not supposed to tell you, but here I go. ”

  Honor frowned in the mirror. “What?”

  Faith dabbed some more. “He’s afraid you guys are rushing. He wants you to wait. ”

  “I’m sure he does,” Honor said, keeping her voice casual. “Maybe twenty years, like him and Mrs. J. ”

  “Yeah, he’d probably prefer that. ” Faith laughed, then opened a peachy-colored eye shadow, held it next to Honor’s left eye, then chose something else. “Don’t take it personally. He didn’t like Levi dating me, either. Close your eyes, hon. No, Dad just said that he wasn’t. . . convinced. ”

  Well, this sucked. Her family sensed the lie, apparently. “That’s just Dad,” she said weakly.

  Faith paused. “Like I said, I think you guys are good together. And I do believe that, sometimes, love comes out of nowhere and hits you fast. But. . . you know, Dad does have a point. You just met the guy. ”

  “I know,” Honor said, her voice sharp. “But the years are precious, okay? I mean, I’m thirty-five, Faith. ”

  “So?”

  “So I’m not you,” she snapped. “Men don’t fall over themselves for me. You know how many boyfriends I’ve had in the past five years? None, that’s how many. ”

  “I thought you were seeing someone last fall. ”

  Ah, yes. In October, she’d told Faith there was a special man in her life. That was when she thought things were moving forward with Brogan. Honestly, how had she so misread the signs? “Well, I wasn’t. So if Tom wants to marry me and if I’m gonna have a baby before I hit menopause, I have to get moving. ”

  You tell her, sister, the eggs said.

  “Easy, girl,” Faith said, lifting an eyebrow. “I know what you’re saying—”

  “No, you don’t, Faithie. ”

  “—but it doesn’t mean you have to settle. ”

  “Settle for what? Tom is great!” she barked. “He carried me, okay? He carried me from Ellises’ pond to your truck. He’s great. ”

  “He is,” Faith said, putting her hand on Honor’s. “And I really, really like him. But you don’t have—”

  “Look,” Honor interrupted. “We can’t all be like you and Levi. Tom and I are happy. We’re. . . content. Okay? Please back off. ”

  “Okay,” her sister said. “I just felt like I should say something. I love you, Honor. Don’t be mad at me. ”

  The little sister shtick worked every time. Probably because it was sincere. Honor deflated. “I’m sorry. I know you’re coming from a good place and all that. ”

  “Any time you want to talk, I’m here, okay? Now, it’s mascara time. This stuff is great. It takes days to get it off. ”

  “And that’s great?”

  “Trust me. Your lashes will be amazing. ”

  When Faith was done, Honor didn’t look like herself.

  She looked better. She looked kind of. . . gorgeous, really. Whatever Faith had in her magical basket of cosmetics gave Honor a luminous glow. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes smoky, lips with just a little shine.

  “You’re beautiful,” Faith said. “You look just like Mom. ” She hugged Honor. “Now get out, because I have to get ready, and I think Levi and I might have a quickie—”

  “What is wrong with my sisters?” Honor asked. “They don’t keep anything to themselves. ”

  “Hey, I was eavesdropping,” Levi said, appearing in the bedroom doorway with Honor’s coat and walking her to the door. “Sorry you have to go. See you at the party. ” He managed not to slam the door in her face.

  Walking carefully in Faith’s heels, Honor got into the car and drove home. It was time to get up to the Barn; she wanted to get there a little early to check on things, but not so early that Goggy and Pops, who’d doubtlessly been there since five, would pepper her with requests, such as Can I have a small glass of water? Not too big, because I won’t drink it all and don’t want to waste any, and Why aren’t you serving any raw herring?

  Tom and Charlie were waiting for her. “Hi,” Charlie grunted.

  “Hi, Charlie. You look very nice. ” He was wearing a navy blue sports coat—Tom’s, no doubt, as it was big on the teenager. He’d washed off his eyeliner, and changed into black jeans that didn’t look like they were meant for three people. His T-shirt showed a gravestone covered in thorns and a skeleton hand emerging from the soil.

  But he’d tried—maybe because Abby would be there tonight, maybe because Tom made him. Either way, her heart tugged.

  As for Tom, he looked. . . edible. He was checking his phone, so she had a moment of unadulterated ogling. Dark and dangerous and very European, in a black suit and black shirt open at the neck. No tie. He’d opted not to shave, and the two days’ worth of stubble somehow made him look more sophisticated.

  And he smelled so damn good, spicy and clean. Honor had a sudden, pulsating need to rub herself against him, like a cat.

  But the air was thick with tension—he and Charlie must’ve had words, because Charlie was staring at the floor, looking almost literally bored to death. Tom was bristling with energy, and not the good kind. He glanced at her, then did a double take, but his expression didn’t change. On the counter next to him was a glass of whiskey. His first (and last), she hoped. But no, he wouldn’t drink too much with Charlie here. She was almost certain.

  He picked up the florist box from the table. “For you, Miss Holland,” he said, holding out her wristlet. He flashed that perfunctory smile, his fingers brushing the skin of her arm, and her knees turned to pudding, despite his blank expression.

  “After you,” Tom said, holding the door for her.

 

 

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  THE BLACK AND White Ball was raking in money. That was the good part. The reason for its existence, after all. On top of the ticket sales and raffles, an anonymous donor had given ten grand, which would put them over the top for their goal.

  The rest of the night, however, was kind of sucky.

 
Honor’s feet ached in the slutty heels, but she gamely ignored the throbbing as best she could, pressing the flesh of Marian White, the mayor, and the various members of the Conservation Trust, the big donors. Dad and Mrs. Johnson were out in their first appearance as a couple, Honor thought, and Mrs. J. looked quite lovely in a white dress. Dad cleaned up nicely, too.

  The DJ was taking requests for twenty bucks a pop, all of which would go toward the cause. As a result, all sorts of romantic songs were rolling out as the DJ announced who’d dedicated which song to whom. “To Harley from Lana, ‘Still the One’. . . to Victor from Lorena, ‘Let’s Get It On’. . . to Prudence from Carl, ‘Love in an Elevator. ’”

  As for her own romantic state. . . who really knew?

  Tom was wound tightly tonight, for reasons Honor didn’t know. Every time she saw him, he seemed to be glaring at her, or watching Charlie, who was sitting at a table in the back, playing with his iPhone.

  “I’m so bored,” Abby said, taking a sip of her cranberry and seltzer.

  “No, you’re not,” Honor said. “You’re gorgeous, you’re young, you have a new dress. ”

  “I do look pretty incredible,” her niece admitted.

  “Abs, would you hang out with Charlie Kellogg?” she said. “He looks lonely. ”

  “Sure!” Abby said. “He’s a nice kid. Dork-tastic, know what I mean?”

  “I do,” Honor said, though her own experience with Charlie had been mostly silent. “Does he have friends at school?”

  “Yeah. I think so. I’ll go hang out with him. We can play Angry Birds. ”

  Abby left, and Honor started off for a table so she could sit down and take some weight off her beleaguered feet. How Faith managed these shoes was a great mystery. “To Meghan from Steve, ‘One More for Love,’” the DJ said. “Great song, guys. ”

  “Honor! You look so gorgeous!” Jeremy Lyon gave her a kiss on the cheek, crazy handsome in his tux.

  “Same to you,” Honor said. “Hi, Patrick. ” Jer’s significant other gave a small wave. He was adorably shy.

  “So you’re getting married,” Jeremy said. “Will I be invited? Please? Pretty please?”

  “Oh, sure,” Honor said. “Of course. ”

  Jeremy winked at her. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do, okay?”

  “Thanks, buddy. Now go dance, you two. Put these straight people to shame. ”

  They obeyed.

  “How you doing, boss?” Jessica asked.

  “Good, good,” Honor said.

  “Anything need doing?”

  “Nope. You look gorgeous, by the way. ”

  “Thanks. ” Jessica wore a short white turtleneck dress that would look boring on anyone else. As it was, she looked like a Norwegian supermodel. Black shoes. No makeup. Simple and stunning, making Honor feel like she was trying way too hard.

  “You’re off the clock, Jess,” Honor said. “Have fun, okay? Enjoy yourself, get a drink, eat. ”

  “Will do. Hey, and you, too, okay?”

  “Thanks. I will. ”

  Nice to have someone looking out for her. Jessica went off to talk to Levi, her old friend. The woman had a way with men, that was undeniable. Maybe Honor should fix Jack and Jessica up. Then again, what did she know?

  “Honor. You’re beautiful. ”

  Brogan. “Hey there,” Honor said.

  “To Paul from Liza, ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele!” the DJ boomed, and the song of perpetual misery and inability to move on wailed from the speakers.

  “Looks like the night is a big success,” Brogan said, an easy grin on his face.

  “Yes, yes. We had an anonymous donation for ten thousand dollars,” she said, glancing around for a sister. Nope. Never around when you needed one.
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