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A Problem Like Maria

Prologue

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A Problem Like Maria
by Lar

 
     

Chapter Eight

"Thanks again, that was great." I say, as Hank takes the Styrofoam container the Chinese food was in and stands up.

"Youíre most welcome. Whatís a shared meal among friends?" He smiles, and starts to walk towards the door.

"Youíre not leaving, are you?" I ask, a bit of emotion coming in my voice. He whips back around and smiles at me.

"Not if you donít want me to."

"Well, I told the girls that Iíd be fine alone, but I really donít want to be alone. Maybe you could fill me in on whatís happened in Harmony? Iíll need to know some things if I have to stay around for a while." I say, a gilt of hope in my voice.

"No problem. Just let me though this away." He continued his walk out of the room, and I sit for a moment. Never pleased with silence, I grab the remote and start flipping through channels. My eyes land on a celebrity volleyball game, and a smile immediately appears on my face.

"Well, youíre smiling for some reason. Care to share why?" Hank asks as he reenters the room.

"I found a volleyball game on. The Harmony All-Stars playing the Boston Celtics. Harmonyís up, second match, 9-6." I inform him.

"You and volleyball." Hank snickers as he crosses the room and sits in his seat.

"Oh please, not this again. You tried it when I was in eighth grade, and I didnít by it then. Just because cheerleaders bounce up and down at basketball games doesnít make them superior to volleyball players." I sneer.

"I wasnít even going to say nothing bad about volleyball this time. I was just remarking on how youíd get all excited over a sport."

"Look at you and basketball. Donít even go there!" I shake my head in amusement at him. I turn my attention back to the game just in time to see a great spike by the front outside hitter. It snaps down over the net before the Celtics can get to it, awarding the All-Stars the ball.

"Thatís my niece who just made that kill." Hank remarks, and I whip my head at him in surprise. "Volleyball is all Jess talks about. Naturally I picked up the terminology."

"So Jess made the All-Star team. What else have I missed?"

"A lot and a little all rolled into one. Um, letís see. Sam got promoted to Police Chief. My sister-in-law Grace found her niece, Charity. Kayís got a scholarship to UCLA for writing, and Samís letting her go, believe it or not. And then thereís finding out my brother had a son with Ivy Crane. But you probably read that in the newspaper."

"It was on the cover of a magazine at the Book Cafe, which hasnít really changed much."

"No, it hasnít. Hmm, what else? Oh, Whitney Russell will be joining Wimbledon this summer. Everyoneís really excited about that." Hank pauses and clears his throat. His eyes wander around the room, and finally settle back on mine. Itís grow dark out since he came, I notice.

"What about the Lopez-Fitzgeralds. You can tell me about them." I prompt.

"Well, your mother is the same strong woman as always. She lights a candle every night for your brother and fatherís safe return. Miguel is seeing Graceís niece Charity. Theyíre in love, I guess." He breaks for a moment before continuing, "Theresa was about to marry Ethan, but now with all this paternity crap going on, itís being delayed. Luis was ecstatic when he found out that Ethan wasnít a Crane."

"He still holds them responsible for fatherís disappearance, doesnít he?" I nonchalantly ask.

"Now more than ever. But heís kinda put that aside because of his relationship with Sheridan."

"Sheridan?"

"Sheridan Crane. Theyíre in love too. It seems like everyoneís in love." Hank mumbles the last part.

"And what about you Hank Bennett? Youíve always been quite the charmer, so whoís got your fancy now?"

"Well, before Luis fell in love with her, I thought me and Sheridan had a chance, but-"

"But my brother had to go and steal her away from me." I comment.

"So heís your brother now?" Hank asks, raising his eyebrows.

"I donít know. Itís all so confusing. When he came to visit me, I donít know what I felt. At first it was resentment, then it got to sorrow, and finally, I donít know. Maybe it was acceptance that it happened. It was tense." I shrug.

"Well, you seem a little more relaxed now." He states, leaning in slightly towards me.

"Great company can do that to you." I smile back. Suddenly itís like my body takes control, and starts pushing me closer to him. My mind screams out Ďthis is Hank, Luisí best friend. You canít kiss him.í But for some reason, my body wonít listen.

Our lips meet, and passion sparks between us. Almost immediately my hands lace around his body and move towards his hair. I run my fingers through the silky mane and feel free. His tongue runs over my mouth, and I open it, allowing his access to inside.

I feel his hands around my back and waist, and slowly, gently, they pull me closer to him, until I realize that heís moved from his chair and is now sitting on my bed.

We break apart panting, and I look into his eyes. Fearing Iíd see regret, Iím relieved when he smiles cockily and remarks, "well, I guess youíre more than my best friendís cute little sister now."

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