Chapter 26: Food Isn't the Only Thing Interesting About Dinner

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Harmony's choice of seat at the oak dining room table was abruptly taken from her when Ariel ushered Sinclair to the chair next to her. Harmony settled into the plush-tufted taupe chair offering a tight smile to Cairo as he bit down in a buttery crescent roll.

"You're supposed to wait until everyone's at the table..." Harmony chided as she tried to cross her legs under the table without knocking her knee against the wood but the soft skin of her thighs—were attached to each other. "To eat." She decided to cross her ankles instead.

Cairo swallowed, "Not bread." He held up the roll. "This isn't part of the meal."

"Kai." Harmony called while side-eyeing Ariel on the other side of the table whispering something into Sinclair's ear. "Shut up."

"Oh...this is that opposite thing, right." He slung his arm over the corner of her chair. "What you actually mean is talk more." He grinned as his spearmint and butter breath warmed her diamond-stud clad earlobe.

Harmony twisted in her seat as her dermis rose above 98.6 degrees. "Nah, I literally mean shut up." Her eyes caught his smirk and she couldn't help the uptick of her lips. "Zip it, Barden."

"Who's ready to eat?" Laurent boomed the rhetorical question as he entered in the dining room with two platters in hand.

Harmony's mouth watered at the sight and smell of the spinach and chickpea pilaf and grilled asparagus, which was out of the norm. She wasn't big on veggies only scarfing down the salad here and there so she wouldn't get scurvy.

Cecilia pranced in with her lime apron dress swaying with the gust of wind blowing in, "I didn't have enough time to roast two whole chickens so I opted for thighs, instead." Her fruity voice beckoned the college kids attention as she sat the platter of delectable chicken on the table in the middle of the sides.

"It's fine with me." Cairo nodded as Cecilia lowered in the chair at the end, "I like dark meat."

Ariel guffawed throwing her head back, her ponytail danced from the movement.

"Grow up," Harmony bit out she draped the napkin over her lap.

Ariel's tsked then lifted the empty wine glass in the middle of the table and gestured it towards dad as he popped the cork out a bottle of pinot noir. "Here, Dad." She handed Sinclair the glass, "Hand this to him."

"Sure." Sinclair retrieved the glass from Ariel.

"Give it back," Laurent ordered tipping the bottle over his wife's glass letting the red liquid pour. "Twenty-year-olds don't drink in my house." He moved his hand to Harmony's glass.

Harmony stopped him, "I'm driving."

"I'm not." Cairo uttered holding up his glass.

Harmony reached for the swearing cup of water, melting ice cubes floating at the top. "This all looks beautiful, Mrs. O'Connor." She took a sip of the water then licked the moisture from her lips.

"I've told me Cece." Mrs. O'Connor reminded scooting her chair closer to the table.

"Cece..." Harmony corrected with a small smile. "This all looks good. I don't know you whipped this up after going to work."

Cecilia shook her head, "No, sweetheart. I don't work on Sundays...this is why we have family dinners on this day."

"Oh." Harmony said retrieving the platter of pilaf from Laurent. "I didn't know."

"So...Ariel." Laurent rested his back against the chair looking over his well-balanced plate and straight at Sinclair. "How long has this been going on?"

Ariel quickly dabbed at the corner of her mouth with the napkin, "Dad, not now."

"If a gentleman wishes to date my daughter and eat my food...he can answer my questions." He nodded at Sinclair. "Don't you think so?"

"Uh...y-yes sir." Sinclair croaked as he pulled the spoon away from his hungry mouth. "Y-You can ask me questions."

Ariel swatted Sinclair's arm, "Chill, he's just a mere mortal."

"With an army of lawyers as friends." Harmony joked slicing into her tender roasted thigh.

"Don't you golf with the DA?" Cecilia added.

"Mom, stop." Ariel barked. "Don't egg him on."

Sinclair took a big gulp of water, "'s okay."

"It's not." Ariel pushed the food around her plate. "He scares off all my boyfriends." She peeked over at Harmony. "Don't laugh...he'll do the same to you. Just give him time."

Laurent pointed his finger at Ariel with humor on his lips, "I object to the statement. I don't run boyfriends off. I just insist that my daughters date a good man." He nodded at Cairo—a gesture that Harmony caught but ignored.

"So, that's why you finally broke-up with Wes." Cairo chimed in while stabbing his fork into an asparagus spear.

"Um..." Harmony started them pushed a spoonful of pilaf in her mouth. "Mmm hmm." She sounded while chewing.

Ariel grinned with mischief playing in her jade eyes, "Dad not liking him was partially the reason but there was another reason right, Harmony." She held out her hand urging Harmony to fill in the blank.

"Nope." Harmony darted her eyes to her plate and she was amiss that she had almost cleared it, probably because all the plant food Safiya's been shoveling them with. "He was clingy and possessive. All good reasons to end things."

"But you didn't love him, either." Ariel sat her hands on her chest. "He didn't hold your heart because it's..."

"It's full." Harmony yanked the napkin off her lap. "I mean...I'm full." She yawned moving her eyes to the darkness that claimed the windows. "I should probably...we should..." She gestured to Cairo then shook her head. "I should go."

"It is getting late." Cecilia glanced over her shoulder peering at the night sky over the backyard. "You want to take some food."

Harmony nodded, "Yeah." She hastily pulled her vibrating phone out her dress pocket.

"No cell phones at the table," Ariel announced.

Harmony ignored her and showed her phone to Cairo, "We got to go." She quickly pushed her chair back.

"Arrested," Cairo spoke the word with worry blanketing his face.

"Who's been arrested?" Laurent eagerly looked up at Harmony.

Harmony flipped the cell in her balmy hand, "My friend." She let out a shaky breath. "Something about assault."

"I'll drive," Laurent affirmed rising from his chair. 

Why do you think Laurent offered to drive?

Is Ariel being too involved with Harmony's love life? 

Should Laurent question Sinclair?

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