They had to use their jackets to shield themselves from the rain as they ran to the car. It was pouring again.
“I’ve had enough of this rain,” Isabelle said.
“It’s been like this the entire week. Freaky weather.”
“At least I got some sunny days in Paris,” Isabelle sighed as she got in and closed the door.
“Did you go see the Luxembourg gardens?” Harper asked and started the car. Driving down the street, he typed a quick message to Missy, and Isabelle itched to give him a lecture on safety.
“I loved them,” she said instead. “I went there almost every day and watched the people. It was almost like a gallery, but the pictures were alive.”
“Did you see kids playing with the sail boats at the basin?”
“Yeah. It was such a nice, calm place. I can imagine going there to relax or cool off.”
“It’s the perfect spot. But then again, every spot in Paris is damn near perfect.”
“Is it my imagination or are you a hopeless romantic?”
He looked at her and smiled crookedly. “It’s an inspiring city, that’s all.”
“Did you visit it alone?” Isabelle asked, smiling.
“Hm. What happened to her?”
“Come on, tell me.” She only half teased him. She wanted to know more about the Harper she’d glimpsed last night when they talked about his family and earlier in Missy’s kitchen. He astounded her, made her curious.
“She ditched me over a physics student,” he said as if he were ashamed of it.
Harper turned to her.
“What? A physics student as opposed to a web designer that can cook? That’s a no brainer.”
“It certainly was a no brainer for her,” he said dryly.
“You cared about her?”
“I took her to Paris, didn’t I?”
They fell silent. Isabelle mulled over the things she had learnt about him. She’d only dated one boy before Jamie and it wasn’t very serious at all. Still, when he dumped her, her pride was hurt. Chloe went on a mission of returning her self-esteem by taking her on shopping trips where they spent most of their time assessing the boys they saw because neither of them could afford to buy anything. That was how Isabelle first noticed Jamie. He was in front of them in the line at the ice cream place at the mall and she remembered he chose vanilla and chocolate. The ice cream was why she noticed him. She had a habit of choosing the flavors with the wildest colors, so she rarely picked vanilla and chocolate. Jamie, as she learned later, always picked the same flavors.
“Did it hurt?” she now asked Harper.
“I got over it,” he said. But the way he said it answered her question better than the words. She could imagine his heartache and it made her sad. His entire life had been sad, Isabelle thought. She guessed that was one of the reasons for the distance that he created between himself and the people around him by being sarcastic and unkind. He deserved a break. He deserved someone to make him happy. Why was it that some people never got to be happy?
“What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” she asked, thinking of Jamie standing in line at the mall. When Jamie had turned and smiled at her, she thought he was cute. Decent and good.
“I don’t have one. I always pick a different flavor. Why?”
“Just curious,” she said, her smile tense. “And thanks. For a wonderful morning.”
“It wasn’t as bad as you expected, was it?”
“It wasn’t bad at all.”
“See? I told you that you could trust me.”
“I’m beginning to realize that sometimes it’s easier to trust others than myself.”
Glancing at her, he said, “What got you thinking that?”
“Life in general,” she shrugged. “It’s messier, less controllable than I’d like to think. I often misjudge situations. There’s plenty of confusing grey areas.”
“That it is,” he agreed. “Don’t let it get to you. Grey’s a cool color.”
“I don’t know.” Isabelle looked out of the window into all the rainy greyness. “If you don’t mind a Miss Pageant moment, I’d say that if I had the magic wand, I’d make everyone happy. That would make the world more pleasant and easier to live in.”
“You’d definitely win the pageant, but you could never make everyone happy. Not even with a magic wand.”
“Why not?” she said, frustrated.
He glanced at her, but when she met his eyes, he looked away. “For example, someone will want a sunny day, but their neighbor might like rain. Or to be less prosaic, say, two people are in love with the same person …”
Harper let the rest of the sentence hang in the air. Isabelle froze when his words amalgamated into a coherent sentence in her mind. She didn’t dare guess whom he was talking about. She didn’t respond.
“Yup,” Harper said off-handedly a moment later.