14. Caged

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Wynter burst into tears.

"It's just Harry being Harry," Jesse said, like it didn't even matter.

"Aren't you upset?"

"Yes. I'm also used to it." He set off for home. "Anyway, it went to a good cause."

Wynter sniffed and swallowed her sobs. How did you get used to horrible disappointments? Wynter had hoped for nothing for most of her childhood, keeping her safe from disappointments. Now she hoped all the time, and was far happier for it. Except when things went wrong.

Hands trembling, she put in her earbuds and listened to her French immersion lesson. All the way home, with unshed tears in her eyes, she repeated French phrases in a croaky monotone.

Jesse whipped up fried rice from leftover veggies and served her a bowl at the breakfast bar. Indio emerged from his wing, still in PJs, plopped down beside her, and helped himself to her food because she was too deep into conjugating reflexive verbs to pay attention.

"Dude, you gotta do better than this," Jesse said. "It's 2:15."

"I got soundcheck at 4:00, so I would say my timing's perfect."

Wynter removed her earbuds and wrapped the wire neatly around her phone. She fetched another bowl, served herself rice at the stove, sat down again.

"Did I miss today's disaster?" Indio said, noticing her glum mood.

"Harry changed his mind about the piano," Jesse said.

Indio's reaction was a bitter chuckle. Nothing else. Fresh tears squeezed out of Wynter's eyes and he rubbed her arm briefly.

"Oh, and I got a carload of his crap to sort through."

"Just trash it," Indio said.

"I was going to, but I think there's some books in there, and some old Nat Geo magazines. And, uh, Mom's stuff."

Indio wrinkled his nose like the food tasted bad, which it didn't.

"To top it all off," Jesse said, "the girl of my dreams is Harry's neighbor at Lock't Self-Storage."

"You have a dream girl?" Wynter said, to take her mind off the piano.

"I have a few. This was one of them. But now she's accidentally met my sire, she's gonna run a million miles. God, she plays the harp. What kind of little girl makes the decision to learn something as majestic as the harp?"

"I don't know. What kind?"

"The kind who grows up to bethe woman I want to marry! I want a harp in my tower room."

"Is that higher on the list than the confessional box?"

He thought about it. "I guess it's second on the list. Can men play the harp?"

"If they have fingers," Indio said.

"How come men don't play the harp? Cherubs play the harp."

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" Wynter said.

"Let me guess, that's French for I'll buy you a harp." Jesse grinned and Wynter's mood lightened another notch. "Cherubs are fat little boys with wings and teeny tiny golden instruments. The Almighty is partial to them, for some reason. They seriously give me the willies."

Indio coughed and sputtered through a mouthful of food. "Dude... not when I'm eating."

"We're doing an extra long rehearsal tomorrow for MOC," Wynter told Jesse. "Eight days left before our first gig. Eliza told me there's a sound system at the venue, so we need a sound guy."

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