19. You'll Keep on Searching

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When you find it, just don't let go. - Steve Winwood

11:36 p.m. Friday, October 8, 2021

"Well that was unexpected," Harry comments as Michele watches the other couple giggling as they enter Tonya's townhouse.

"Absolutely," Michele agrees without hesitation. After all, she hadn't planned to climb Harry like a tree. It just happened, and she can't wait to do it again.

"I mean, there were signs, so maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise. I didn't anticipate it this quickly though."

"Wait. What?" Confused, Michele whips her head to look at Harry, sensing perhaps that he might not be talking about their makeout session.

"A little nudge or two. Some jealousy thrown in. Worked like a charm," He proudly proclaims.

"I don't think we're talking about the same thing," Michele chimes in.

"You were talking about Tonya and Mark, right?" Harry asks.

Michele hurries to cover her blunder. "Oh! Yeah. Of course I was! I'm glad they've found each other." Her last sentence is entirely sincere. Awkward silence descends, and Michele doesn't know where to put her hands or where her eyes should be focusing. Shouldn't they discuss.....things?

As she opens her mouth to speak, Harry chooses the exact same moment to share his thoughts.

"Well, it's getting late..." Harry begins.

"Yep. Yes it is," Michele adds, pulling on the door handle to open the car. Rising from the seat, she gulps in deep breaths of the fresh outside air. Her head is spinning, likely from the lack of oxygen in the car.

Harry exits the car as well, and Michele carefully watches his next actions to see where this leaves them. Does he plan to come in? Finish what they started? Are they simply going to ignore the situation? Closing her car door, she waits for the beep to indicate it's locked as she walks to the sidewalk outside the row of townhouses. Harry steps onto the sidewalk as well until they are standing a few feet apart.

"Yeah, um. Goodnight," Harry says.

She leans in for a quick kiss as he holds out his hand to shake hers, and she wishes the ground would open up and swallow her whole. Correcting her movements, she sticks out her hand while he purses his lips and moves towards her. She feels like a baseball player decked out in football gear as a play is being called. She doesn't know whether to kick him in the shins and stick out her tongue or drag him inside and explore exactly where all of his tattoos lead.

He steps forward, putting his arms around her, then pressing a quick kiss to the top of her head before backing away.

"Um, tomorrow?" he asks.

Tomorrow? Saturday? Yes. What about it? Her thoughts are churning.

"I'll meet you and the kids at Ballz around ten?"

"Oh. Of course! Yeah. We'll, uh, see you then." She wants to smack some sense into herself. How had she forgotten? Apparently they are going to ignore what happened in the car. Maybe this will fill her makeout quota for the next several months. Michele can still taste the combination of salt and peppermint from his tongue, and her insides quiver when she recalls the way he'd assaulted her defenses. But he wants to pretend it hadn't happened, so sure. She can do that. Really.

"Goodnight," she calls, waving as she approaches her front door. All she has to do to escape is get through to the other side of the wooden barrier where she can start to rebuild the fortress that has protected her to this point. Five steps. Four steps. Three steps. Two steps.

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