The perfect match, p.12
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       The Perfect Match, p.12

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 12

  Author: Kristan Higgins

 

  CHAPTER FIVE

  “I DON’T KNOW if I’m the red-lipstick type,” Honor said two nights later. “I feel a little like Pennywise the Clown. ”

  “God, remember Jack made us watch that?” Faith exclaimed from where she was smooching Spike on the bed. “I practically wet myself, I was so scared. Not that you look like him, Honor,” she added. “Not even close. ”

  Colleen O’Rourke, self-proclaimed expert on all things male, squinted critically at Honor. “Yeah, okay,” she said. “A little like Pennywise. We had to try. But we’re on the right path, don’t worry. ” She plucked a pink-and-green hairband from the basket where they still resided. “And can I just say how glad I am to see that those hairbands have gone the way of the dinosaur?” She tossed it on the floor, where Spike immediately pounced and began gnawing. Blue, Faith’s gargantuan Golden retriever, whined from his hiding place under the bed, as he was a big baby where Spike the Ferocious was concerned.

  Honor frowned, then remembered not to (time for Botox?). She still wasn’t used to her hair, kept trying to swoop it off her shoulders, only to realize it was gone. That, combined with more makeup than she’d worn in the past twenty years, made her reflection quite unfamiliar.

  “You look great,” Faith, the bringer of all this stuff, said reassuringly. Until her sister had arrived a half hour ago, Honor’s dressing table had only contained a hairbrush and a jar of Oil of Olay moisturizer (the same brand Goggy used, Faith pointed out). Now, the table surface was awash in girlie stuff—blush, eye shadow, seven different types of moisturizer, brushes and wands and tubes and pots.

  Yes. Honor had agreed to a makeover. Things were feeling a little desperate. Could new eye shadow change her life? She was about to find out at the ripe old age of the years are precious, egg-wise.

  But doing things differently. . . that was the whole point, wasn’t it? Even if she did look slutty. Then again, slutty might be good.

  “I hear there’s a makeover,” came a voice, and Prudence banged into the room, clad in work boots and flannel and holding a glass of wine. “Why wasn’t I invited?”

  “You can be next,” Colleen said. “I’ve been dying to get my hands on you for years. ”

  “To tell you the truth, I have been wearing some makeup lately,” Pru said. “Carl and I did a little Avatar the other night, and I’m still washing blue off the sheets. ”

  “Thanks for sharing,” Faith said. “Another movie dead to me. ”

  “Why? What else have I ruined?”

  “Last of the Mohicans, Les Mis, Star Wars,” Faith began.

  “Don’t forget Lincoln,” Honor added.

  “And The Big Bang Theory,” Colleen said.

  “Hey, we didn’t know that wasn’t porn,” Pru said, grinning. “And go ahead, make fun of me. I’ve been happily married for almost twenty-five years. ” She took another sip of wine. “Honor, you look a little like Pennywise the Clown. Go easy on that foundation. ”

  Honor gave Colleen a significant look, and Coll sighed and handed her a tissue.

  “Is the mascara supposed to look this clumpy?” Honor said, leaning forward. “It’s getting hard to open my eyes. ”

  “Put on another coat. It’ll smooth out,” Colleen ordered.

  Blue whined again from under the bed. “Man-up, Blue,” Faith said. “Little Spike here only weighs four pounds. ”

  “She’s up to five. And she has the heart of a lion,” Honor said. Blue remained where he was.

  “So why were you meeting Tom Barlow the other night, Honor?” Colleen asked.

  Honor looked away from her reflection and pulled on her earlobe, then made herself stop. Cartilage started to break down when you were over thirty-five, she’d just read. Didn’t want droopy earlobes to match her AARP eggs. “He’s the nephew of a friend of Goggy’s or something. I was just being polite. ”

  “He’s cute, don’t you think?”

  “I did until he opened his mouth. ” She rubbed her lips with the tissue. Still more red. This stuff never came off, apparently.

  “Really? He seems nice enough. Single. Keeps to himself most of the time. Too bad he’s not older, or I’d totally go for him. It’s the accent. I practically come when he orders a beer. ”

  “You should hear Carl speak German,” Pru said. “Très sexy. ”

  Honor flinched at the image, and Colleen handed her another tube. “Here, try this shade. ”

  She obeyed as Faith and Colleen doled out tips. Press your lips together. Keep your lips apart. Blot. Rub. Dot. Smear. Who knew lipstick was so hard? Now on to blush and bronzer, both women chattering away like blackbirds. They were being awfully nice, Honor thought, helping her become more appealing to men.

  The only trouble was that men were hard to find in a town of seven hundred and fifteen.

  You know, it was funny. When Honor had seen Goggy’s friend’s nephew in the bar the other night, she. . . felt something. Her heart did this weird twist, and hope rose so quickly and so hard that she literally stopped in her tracks.

  Tom Barlow wasn’t middle-aged or odd-looking. He was. . . he was. . . well, not quite handsome. Straight brown hair cut very short. Normal enough features. But there was something about him—maybe it was just the surprise that he was actually age-appropriate and not a balding, big-toothed math teacher who smelled like mothballs—but no, even past that, Honor liked that face. It wasn’t a perfect, beautiful face, like Brogan’s, but she had the feeling she could look at that face for a long, long time and not get bored.

  His eyes were dark, though she couldn’t exactly tell the color, and a scar cut through one eyebrow, and even though she realized she shouldn’t be aroused by the mark of some past injury, she kinda was. His mouth was full and—holy ChapStick, Batman, suddenly, she could see things happening between the two of them; she could feel a strong squeeze not just in her chest, but also from Down Under, the killer combination, and suddenly the eggs were primping in front of a mirror.

  In a flash, Honor had imagined laughing with Tom Barlow about their fix-up and strange circumstances, and he’d be so grateful she came to meet him, and heck, what was this? A spark. A connection. He’d walk her to her car, then lean in and kiss her, and she’d bet both thumbs and a forefinger it’d be fantastic.

  Tom Barlow had looked up. Smiled. His front tooth was just slightly crooked. For some reason, it made her knees go soft and weak, and those bridge-playing eggs of hers made a rush for the door.

  And then he spoke, and thus died the fantasy.

  Colleen leaned over her with what had to be the seventeenth makeup item.

  “Okay, no sparkles,” Honor said. “I think we’re good, don’t you? I feel like I could write my name in this. ”

  “You look gorgeous,” Faith said. “Years younger. ”

  Ouch.

  “Not that you need to, of course,” Faith added with a grimace. “Thirty-five is the new, uh, eighteen. ”

  “So a date, this is exciting,” Pru said, rubbing her hands together. “What’s his name again?”

  “Um, it’s Slavic. Droog. ”

  “Oh, dear,” Colleen said. “Can you imagine calling that out at the big moment? ‘Droog, Droog, don’t stop!’”

  Honor grimaced. “It’s something to overcome, I’ll admit. ”

  “What’s in a name, though?” Faith said. “If he’s cute, the name won’t matter. You’ll probably love it after ten minutes. ”

  “I hate dating,” Honor admitted. “I’m so bad with men. ”

  “Yeah, that’s true,” Prudence said thoughtfully at the same instant Faith said, “No, you’re not!”

  “Oh, sure I am,” she said. “But I’m really good at accounting. We all have our gifts. ”

  “Girls!” Dad bellowed up from downstairs. “Levi and Connor are here!”

  “John Holland!” yelled Mrs. J. “Stop
yelling like your daughters are a team of mules!”

  The bedroom door opened. “Ladies,” Levi said. His eyes stopped on Faith, and Honor suppressed the familiar envy. Her sister and Levi had known each other for ages, but only recently started getting along. As in, the air was thick with pheromones of the newlyweds.

  “Blick. Young love. I’m so over them, aren’t you?” Colleen asked Honor.

  “Nah. I like them. Hi, Connor. ”

  “Hello, Holland women, hello, twin sister,” Connor O’Rourke said. “Wow, your hair, Honor. I keep forgetting. ”

  “I found him wandering the streets,” Levi said. “Figured we’d come see what you girls were up to. ”

  “Go have a drink with my dad,” Faith said. “This is a girl thing. ”

  “No, you know what?” Colleen said. “This is great. Boys, what do you think? How hot is Honor? Not historically, but right here and now. ”

  “Please don’t answer,” Honor said.

  The two men exchanged a relieved glance.

  Hang on. Why wouldn’t they want to talk about how hot she was, huh? “Actually, do answer. How hot am I, guys?”

  “I’ll go see about that drink,” Levi said. “Connor?”

  “Don’t you move,” Honor ordered. “You owe me, Levi Cooper. Okay, I realize this is awkward, you being my brother-in-law and all, but Colleen’s right. I could use a male opinion. ”

  “Is invoking my right to the Fifth Amendment a good enough answer?” Levi asked.

  “No,” said Faith. “You have to answer. ”

  “No, I don’t. ”

  “Then I’m cutting you off,” she said.

  Levi gave her a sleepy look. “You’d climb me like a tree after one day. ”

  “I would, too,” Pru said. “You’re a good-looking guy, Levi. ”

  Honor turned away from the mirror and trapped both men with her gaze. because yeah, she was good at that. Authoritative. “Boys, you don’t want to be on my bad side, do you?”

  “I know I don’t,” Connor said.

  “Smart of you. Relax. I’m just looking for some insight. ” Hey, why not? She’d already lost all dignity with the catfight. Plus, these guys knew her. “Why don’t men think dirty thoughts about me?”

  “We do,” Connor said. “Not to worry. ”

  “No, you don’t. ”

  “No, we do. We’re guys. We automatically assess any woman for sex. Right, Levi?”

  Levi scowled in response.

  “Is that true?” Honor asked. Men were such aliens. “Really? You look at a woman, every woman, and imagine having sex with her?”

  “I don’t,” Levi said.

  “He’s lying,” Connor answered. “We’re guys. We think about sex with every woman. ”

  “Really. Every woman?” she asked. Connor nodded. “So someone like Lorena Creech,” she continued, naming the scariest woman she could think of. Lorena, age sixtysomething, fifty pounds overweight, a penchant for see-through animal-print clothing. “You’ve thought about having sex with her?”

  “Well, yeah, same as you think about being eaten by a shark or getting your testicles caught in a bear trap,” Connor said. “If you’re a guy and a woman walks past, you look at her, imagine sex, then you either shudder in horror or make a play. ”

  Honor pursed her lips. “So I got the shudder of horror?”

  Connor looked stricken.

  “Busted, jerk,” his twin said.

  “Um, no. I. . . You’re not horrifying, Honor. You’re quite. . . ”
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