Into the Wolf’s Den
The Wolf Den was the last place Harmony wanted to be Wednesday afternoon but for the sake of her sanity, it was where she had to be. The Sunday morning conversation with Laurent had seriously derailed her sleep schedule. Two words became the thorn in her psyche refusing her the comfort of turning her brain off, shutting her eyes, and getting some Z’s. Sperm Donor. Just two words, sperm donor; two words she hadn’t meant to say. Really, she hadn’t meant to utter anything to Laurent because she wasn’t expecting him to ambush her at work. Pop up like a freaking jack rabbit. And how did he know where she worked in the first place. It was probably the same way he found her address to mail the letter that sent her life in a tailspin.
Absentee, that’s the word that bounced around in her mind since her conversation with Laurent in his office. Laurent wasn’t present in her life for years. He took it upon himself not to show up, buy stock in her life. Yeah, he said it was an agreement with her parents and the best thing for her but all she heard was scapegoat. If he wanted to see her, if he wanted a relationship with her like he adamantly expressed then he would have. Laurent would have been in her living room cross-examining Peter Fenton before he took her out on their first date sophomore year. He would have helped her master the art of pitching for her P.E exam. He would’ve gone breathless at the silver mermaid dress she wore to prom and he would’ve been there when Peter Fenton broke her heart. All those moments she shared with the man she grew up believing was her father, Henry Monroe, was meant to be shared with Laurent O’Connor and as Laurent stood in her office trying to reprimand her like he was her father the words Sperm Donor spilled from her lips.
So, where was Laurent O’Connor when he was a none factor in her life? He was with her, Ariel O’Connor. Ariel O’Connor the redhead in the middle of Lolli and Dylan Kinkaid gyrating to Drezzy’s Body in the neon green booty shorts and blue oversized tee. Harmony didn’t want to loathe the girl that had pretty good dance moves but she couldn’t help it. Setting eyes on Ariel made Harmony’s mouth twist like a crooked letter and she blamed Facebook. How was Facebook to blame? Because after Harmony’s eyes wouldn’t close that Sunday night her fingers typed Laurent O’Connor’s name in the search bar.
Harmony learned a lot about the man that was Laurent O’Connor. His birthday was March 14th. He was born in Boston but raised in Orange County, California. He was a Patriots fan and an avid hiker. His wife, Cecilia, was a photographer at a studio that she newly renovated called A Thousand Words. They had two Vizslas named Hansel and Gretel. Cecilia took his profile pic, which was a black and white portrait of him throwing a football donning a cable sweater. Who caught the football? Her. The one Laurent was a father too. A damn good father too. Harmony grew greener and greener with every picture she scrolled passed of Laurent and Ariel; pictures of them fishing, cooking, in matching ugly Christmas sweaters, ice skating at the Pavilion, camping at Big Sur and surfing in Maui.
“She’s pretty good.” Lela whispered into Harmony’s ear.
Harmony nodded as Lela’s peppermint rich breath tickled her inner ear. “I know.” She clapped as the music stopped and the dancers as well.
Dylan Patterson with her sleek bob tucked behind the lime bandanna ended practice, and dismissed the sweat-drenched dancers.
“Lolli!” Lela shouted and waved the girl over to them.
Lolli quickly hugged Lewis then pranced over to them taking long sips from her orange water bottle that read, I woke up like this. She swallowed the long gulp then said, “You finally want me to fix that hair.” She reached for a strand of Harmony’s curled lock hanging over her shoulder.
Harmony steered Lolli’s hand away from her hair. “No, I’m good.”
“Damn!” Lela rested her hand on her hip. “Lolli, you can’t do everybody’s hair on campus.”
“Why the hell not?” Lolli’s rich New Orleans accent laced her words. “I need to put food on the table.”
“Food on the table!” Harmony smiled as she spoke the words.
“You live in Hargrove Hall.” Lela narrowed her eyes at the Lolli who was six inches taller than her without heels. “Who do you need to put food on the table for?”
“Me!” Lolli rubbed her six-pack abs under the sweat-soaked black tank top. “Hell, I’m hungry right now.” She stopped making the circular motions on her stomach. “If you don’t want my hair skills then why are you here. I know we’re good and all but performances don’t start until next week.”
“Normally, I wouldn’t step foot in the…. Wolf Den.” Harmony’s eyes scanned the room absorbing its oak floor, mirrored walls, and dance bars.
“Heaven’s not here.” Lolli pulled the hair tie off her bun letting her long braids cascade down her back.
“Good to know.” Harmony scratched at her collarbone. She didn’t like thinking about the curly dark blonde that was Heaven Stephens. The girl had caused enough problems in her life. “But I’m not here for her. I’m her for…Ariel.” Harmony’s eyes drifted behind Lolli.
“Ariel.” Lolli looked back at the redheaded girl stretching her hamstrings. She turned back to them with a quizzical look plastered on her round face, “Why you want her for?”
Harmony gasped. She didn’t want any more people learning about her family issues. She clenched her teeth before opening her mouth, “She’s my—”
“Their sisters.” Lela spat out. Harmony shot her a long menacing stare. Lela shrugged unconcerned. She’d been seeing that stare since she introduced herself freshman year. “You were taking too long.”
Lolli held onto Lela’s arm as a smile burned onto her mocha face, “Stop lying! When did this happen?”
“About twenty years ago.” Lela choked out before she exploded in laughter.
Harmony stared at them with her mouth agape. “I’m glad you heifers find this funny.” She shoved Lela. “And you’re suppose to be my friend.”
“I’m your friend!” Lela proclaimed holding out her hand to stop Harmony from shoving her again. Lela tried her hardest to stop the smile from glowing on her face. “I’m your friend but come on.” She stomped her foot. “You gotta see the humor in this.”
“I’m…sorry…I…do…not.” Harmony declared drawing out her words as she raked her curls to one side of her head.
“Come on!” Lolli’s laughter died down and the other dancers stopped sneaking peeks at them. “We’ve been cool since…” She snapped to draw the corrected amount of time to the forefront of her mind. “Sophomore year! I was ole girl’s RA when she was a freshman. And the whole while I’ve been hanging out with ya’ll. Ya’ll been sisters!” She held her temples. “I mean this shit only happens on MGN or Facebook.”
Harmony deadpanned. “Riveting.” She rolled her eyes. “Can you call her over now?”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Lolli turned around. “Yo! Ariel, come here!” She waved the girl over.
Ariel trotted over to them and bounced next to Lolli. She stood with the posture of a ballerina. “ What’s up, Lolli?” She spoke with a pep of a varsity cheerleader. “More friends you want to introduce me too.” She smiled a smile that made Harmony’s nostril flare.
“Nah. Nah. Um.” Lolli looked at Harmony waiting for her to start talking but the girl kept quiet with her hand stuffed in the pockets of her jeans. “Yeah! These are my girls.” Harmony pointed to them. “Lela Emery and Harmony Monro—”
Before Lolli could finish Ariel erupting in a shriek so loud the soldiers that died in the Battle of Plum Creek turned in their graves. “OMG!” She enraptured Harmony in a bear hug. “Dad finally told you!” Ariel released Harmony. Harmony gritted her teeth trying to ignore the laughs of Lela and Lolli. Ariel gave Harmony a once over, “I didn’t know you were black but whatevs.” Ariel attacked Harmony into another hug. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Me either.” Harmony groaned as she pulled Ariel off her.
Ariel gasped as her emerald eyes begun to sparkle. “You know what?”
“What?” Harmony asked fixing her shirt that the girl almost pulled off her shoulder.
“You have to come to family dinner tonight.” Ariel nodded agreeing with her own suggestion.
A smile twisted on Harmony’s face. “I don’t think so.”
“Do it,” Lela said. “You wanted a way to get Laurent’s forgiveness.”
“About the sperm donor thing,” Ariel said.
Lolli mouthed to Lela, “Sperm donor them.”
“I’ll tell you later.” Lela insisted as she pulled her chiming phone from the pocket of the red basketball shorts. Trevor’s basketball shorts.
Harmony fiddled with her gavel necklace, “You know about that.”
Ariel’s smile vanished as she pulled down the waistband of her shorts showing even more of her pelvis, “Uh…He locked himself away in his office all night.”
Harmony gripped the necklace’s gold chain as she whispered, “How is he, now?”
“Come to dinner and find out.” Ariel winked. “I’ll text you the address.”