Chapter Thirteen.

The flight back to Portland was the most awkward experience of Harper’s life, worse than the time she dropped an f-bomb during the school play. True to character Lois tried her best to spark conversation between them, but Will moved to an empty seat on the other side of the plane and Harper wasn’t willing to supply more than one syllable responses.

As soon as the plane hit the tarmac Will sped through arrivals and was in a taxi before Harper’s and Lois’s bags had come through. Harper’s head was thumping like crazy, and she could barely remember most of what happened last night. Only two things stuck out, the phone call with her father and Will’s sketchbook.

She wasn’t sure how she was going to apologise, especially to someone like Will. But she knew that if she wanted to stay friends with him she was going to have to. Different ideas on how to phrase her apology swam around Harper’s head for the taxi journey home, and throughout the rest of the day.

Harper’s situation of guilt was made even worse when Freddie and Suzy ambushed Lois and Harper as they headed towards their dorm. The broad grins across their faces meant only one thing. They were successful in the first round of the fashion competition.

“It’s brilliant; we were the first to be chosen. The next heat is just after Christmas which gives a good month and a half to work on our three showcases,” Freddie told them, his voice echoing loudly on the corridor walls, doing nothing to help Harper’s headache, “And we need to work out how to get to LA for the competition!”

Lois was almost unbearable, she started to jump and spin in circles, making Harper feel nauseous. She hugged all three of them at the same time.

“Where’s Will?” Suzy asked through the madness, “We need to tell him the good news.”

Lois came to a comical dead halt. Neither Harper nor Lois said anything. Suzy and Freddie exchanged nervous looks, neither of them wanted to be the first one to ask what was wrong.  

“About that,” Lois said scratching the back of her head nervously, “Will’s gone into one of his moods.”

Suzy and Freddie looked back and forth between Harper and Lois waiting for some sort of explanation. Harper sighed and shouldered the backpack that she had taken to Texas with her. She smiled apologetically at her friends before heading towards her room. She was glad that nobody chose to follow her.

She almost made it to her door before an unpleasant and all too familiar voice called her name. She would take some aspirin for her hangover and then a nice shower followed by some sleep. Harper’s hand was on the door handle and she was just about to push it…

“Harper Caddel!” Mrs Neathway’s shrill voice called from the down the hall.  Harper rolled her eyes and muttered profanities under her breath.  She turned and plastered a cheesy grin on her face. Mrs Neathway strode towards her hand on her hip, she waited until she was directly in front of  Harper’s face, her foul breath streaming out, before she spoke.

“We received a phone call from your father’s office last night asking what you were doing in Texas this weekend. So I looked at our records and apparently you had his permission to leave school. But your father doesn’t remember signing any slip,” Mrs Neathway leant in and glared at Harper, “There can only be two explanations for this.” Mrs Neathway stuck a bony index finger up, “One your father has amnesia, or two…” She stuck a second finger up, “You didn’t actually have his permission to leave school…Which is it?”

Harper placed her hands over her heart and sniffed, “Oh didn’t you know Mrs Neathway? My father…” Harper wiped away an invisible tear, “…My father, has been suffering from amnesia for quite some time. It’s such a terrible thing.”

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