Home > Harvest Moon (Riverbend #3)(6)

Harvest Moon (Riverbend #3)(6)
Author: Denise Hunter

Great. Now it was all up to her. Heart in her throat, she shuffled toward Mr. Foster, who was wiping the dry-erase board clean.

“No, Ms. Jenkins, you may not switch partners.”

Laurel blinked. He hadn’t even turned around. “But what if—?”

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”

He was always quoting someone. Laurel barely stopped an eyeroll—he’d probably see that too.

“Do you know who said that, Ms. Jenkins?” he asked as he continued erasing.

“No, sir.”

“Randy Pausch, a notable educator who died of pancreatic cancer. If he managed the cards he was dealt, I think you can manage yours. He authored a book entitled The Last Lecture. You should avail yourself of it. I think you’d find it most inspiring.”

“Yes, sir.” He definitely wasn’t going to let her out of this. As she left the room Laurel’s hopes deflated like an old balloon.

Maybe she could talk Gavin into asking him. But no way could she let Gavin know just how much this matchup bothered her. No, she was stuck with him.

Two days passed. Then three. Then it was Friday. The project proposal was due Monday, and they hadn’t even spoken about it. In fact they hadn’t spoken in three weeks, since he found her blocking the path to his locker. “Outta my way, Short Stuff.”

She squirmed through English class. In two hours school would be over. Why hadn’t he approached her yet? She couldn’t call him—she didn’t even have his number. And besides, just the thought of calling Gavin Robinson made her itchy all over. If he didn’t come see her after class, she would have to approach him, an idea that ranked somewhere between water torture and death by firing squad.

But of course when the bell rang, he gathered his things and made a beeline for the door with his baseball buddies.

Drat! Why hadn’t he approached her? She knew he cared about his grades. He was probably just trying to get under her skin—and it was working!

Laurel quickly gathered her things and caught up with his group just outside the door. “Gavin.”

The whole group turned, staring down at her as if they’d never seen her before. (Who are you? Do you even go here?)

Gavin faced her, disinterest lining those cold blue eyes.

Her cheeks flamed. “I—we haven’t discussed our project yet.”

“So?”

“So, the proposal is due Monday.”

He stared at her until she was sure her face was crimson. Finally, without tearing his gaze from her, he said, “See you guys after school.”

The rest of the group melded into the crowd, flowing down the hallway, leaving the two of them in the open space between the door and wall of lockers.

He cocked a brow, giving her his supreme look of boredom. “Mr. Foster wouldn’t let you switch partners, huh?”

She pressed her lips together. “When would you like to meet up and discuss the project? I have some ideas.”

“I’m sure you do.”

She blinked up at him, unable to think of a good retort. Why was she so tongue-tied around him? How tall was he anyway? And when had his shoulders gotten so broad? “How about Saturday night at the library?”

“I have plans.”

Stupid. Now he knows how lame your life is. Why not just go ahead and tell him she stayed home and watched rom-coms on weekend nights? Her cheeks were probably nuclear by now. “Fine, what works for you?”

“Sunday night at eight.”

That was pushing it. The form was due Monday, and what if they couldn’t agree? A distinct possibility. “The, uh, library isn’t open on Sundays.”

He shrugged. “So come to my house. Come at seven—you can grab a meal with us first. See you then.”

She definitely didn’t want to face him on his turf. And grab a meal? But he was already walking away and anyway, what would she say? The coffee shop was closed on Sunday evenings, and she sure wasn’t inviting him to her pathetic house on the poor side of town. “Here, have a seat on our secondhand sofa. Don’t mind the ripped cushion.”

She sweated it out all weekend. Finally Sunday night rolled around, and she changed outfits three times, cursing herself with each swap for caring one whit what Gavin thought of her.

The Robinsons lived in a charming white clapboard farmhouse on a beautiful property. When the door swept open, Lisa Robinson, a pretty blonde, welcomed her inside, and before Laurel could blink, she was seated beside Gavin at the table. She met his dad, and his younger brother and sister. They were all so nice—and talkative. They included her without putting her on the spot. There wasn’t a moment’s silence during the meal.

It was a drastic change from her own family suppers, which was often just her. And when her mother was there, they usually talked quietly about what had happened that day, then ran out of things to say.

Even Gavin seemed pleasant enough as he joked with his siblings, giving as good as he got. It was over an hour later when his brother and sister rushed off. Laurel offered to help Lisa and Jeff with the dishes, but the woman shooed her from the kitchen. “Oh, honey, you and Gavin should get started on your assignment.”

Gavin ushered her out back to a picnic table sitting on a curved patio beneath twinkle lights. The sun had already dropped behind the mountains, ushering in twilight. She set down her folder and purse and took a seat.

Gavin lowered himself beside her. His body seemed to take up half the bench.

She’d sat in the middle, expecting him to sit across from her. She inched her thigh away from his as she opened her folder, then pulled out her notes. “Okay, I’ve been working on some ideas. The one I like best focuses on the play’s use of symbols. I can write an essay and you could give a presentation. I’m particularly intrigued by the use of weather in the—”

“Or . . . we could do something a little more original.”

She blinked. “Okay . . .” She scanned her list for a more creative idea. “We could focus on Macbeth’s evolving character. There’s a lot to work with there.”

“What else ya got?”

She pursed her lips. “You’re being awfully difficult for someone without any ideas at all.”

“Keep them coming. I’m sure you can do better.”

She glared at him before dropping her gaze once again to her notes. “We could translate the play into modern vernacular. I guess we could do the translation together, then act out a scene for the class.”

“Everybody’s going to act out a scene. We should do something different.”

She snapped her folder shut. “Fine. Let’s hear all your great ideas.”

He leaned his elbows onto the table, his shoulder brushing hers. “I could build a model of the Globe Theatre.”

She opened her mouth, then shut it again. Okay, not bad. “That sounds like a big commitment. We only have a month and all our other finals to worry about, not to mention extracurriculars.”

“No problem. I’m good at building stuff. It won’t take me long.”

“And what would I do?”

“The Globe has an interesting history. Did you know Shakespeare was part owner? That they hung daily flags to represent what genre they were performing that day? Or that it burned down after some cannons were fired during a performance of Henry the Eighth?”

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