I run into a guilty looking Harrison as I come out of the bakery later than usual one afternoon. It's been a busy day and I'm tired but I try to put on a pleasant smile as he greets me.
"Working late today Ellie?" He seems surprised to see me but I only have the energy to lift one shoulder and smile. "You're a sight for sore eyes." I know he's lying because I look dreadful. My auburn hair is limp, my skin is pale, and dark circles have staked claim underneath my eyes, plus I've lost weight that I couldn't really afford to be without. I try to hide myself as much as possible behind my bundle of goodies from Felix.
"You're a spectacular liar Harrison! How have you been? Get into any scuffles lately?" He looks surprised by my biting comment, maybe even a little confused, but then his eyes brighten as he remembers.
"Oh! You mean with Jonah?" How could he forget the scene with Jonah at Marcus' welcome party?
"Harrison," I fix him with a stern look. "Jonah is like family to me, you both are. You two are who I depend on. You are all I have. The idea of two people I love fighting tears me apart. Please put an end to things for my sake?" He seems empathetic and pulls me close to him with one arm as a small smile quivers in the corner of his mouth.
"Don't worry yourself over it Ellie. Everything between us is fine. I promise." I don't know if I should believe his placating words but he's said more than Jonah has on the topic so I have no choice but to trust him.
"Are you going to tell me what the fight was all about?" I pry, still curious to find out what happened between the two of them and Amelia Akenbrand.
"What has Jonah said?" Harrison asks as he stares behind me at the bakery.
"Nothing. He won't speak to me about it." Sadly, it's true. I've been pestering Jonah for weeks about the altercation but he manages to avoid answering any direct questions about it. The last time I tried he almost bit my head off. A temper, something rare for Jonah, seems to be growing in him. This is a side to him that I didn't see my first time around.
"Then let's follow his lead," Harrison suggests, plastering a triumphant look onto his face. I groan, frustrated with being kept in the dark by my so-called friends, but if they want to deal with their problems by themselves, let them. Frankly, I don't need anyone else to worry about at the moment.
My mind wanders over to Jackson and Marcus and how much more confusing things are this time around. Is my heart really that fickle? Or am I only thinking of Marcus Hart right now because of Jackson's rejection? I try focusing back on Harrison, who's telling me something about Catherine and her Latin tutor, but I haven't been following the conversation so I just nod and smile, hoping that I'm giving the appropriate reaction.
"Well I better head off. I still have lots of work to do." Jackson walks around the corner just as Harrison takes my hand to kiss. I yank myself free of him and look down at the dusty ground to avoid meeting Jackson's eye. "Jackson! Nice to see you again. I trust everything is well over at the Nelson's?"
"Things are well, thank you Harrison." I peek up at him as his eyes stray over to me and then back to Harrison. "I see you too have the pleasure of knowing Ms. Blackwell." I can hear the jealousy in his voice and he's doing little to cover it. I stick out my bottom lip and try to think of some clever retort to put Jackson in his place. I know what he's implying with his subtle comment but thankfully it goes over Harrison's head.
"Oh Ellie and I go way back." Harrison looks adoringly at me. I wish he would cut it out. My cheeks are burning from both the wind and the agonizing discomfort I find myself in.
"I've only just had the pleasure of getting to know her." Jackson voice drips with sarcasm. "And how are you this afternoon Ellie?" He sounds extraordinarily polite but strip back the layers and I can hear his condemnation. I glare up at him, thinking about how indecisive he's been.