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This is a work of fiction.

Names, characters, places, and incidents either


are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is
entirely coincidental.

© 2020 Tiffany C. Carlton

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,


distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including
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of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other
noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
 
 
   

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


1
 
 
 
 

Chapter​ 1: A Normal Life 


Danica flipped back to page one of her twelve page exam
for the fifth time. She read through all the letter choices and each
question twice before she moved on to the next. Everyone next to
her racked their brains and scribbled on their exams.
The small egg timer on Ms. Sekibo’s desk rang, and
everyone else slammed down their pencils. One girl put her head
down and started crying. Ms. Sekibo stood and ​straightened out
her navy blue blazer. “Time’s up, students. Please hand in your
exams. You are all dismissed.”
Danica flipped through her exam pages one last time
before she followed everyone else.
“You​’re going to get an A. You always do.” Corey
scooted past her and down to Ms. Sekibo. He handed her his test
and left the classroom.
Danica was the last one out per the norm. She often
double, triple, and quadruple checked her work.
“Ms. Kroan.” Mrs. Sekibo straightened out the papers and
placed them on her desk before she took Danica’s. “Last again.”
“I needed to double-check my answers.”
Ms. Sekibo raised her brow. “I saw you going through the
exam more than just a second time, Ms. Kroan.”
“I don’t want to fail, that’s all.”
“You have never failed in my class, Ms. Kroan. I’m sure
you won’t this time.”
“That’s because I double, triple, and quadruple check my
work.”
Ms. Sekibo chuckled. “Whatever gets you through four
years of undergrad.” She glanced at Danica over the top of her
glasses and set her exam on the stack. “Have a wonderful spring
break. Relax.”
“Thank you. You too.” Danica dipped her head and left
the room, letting the door click behind her. With a triumphant

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smile, she meandered through the large hall of the Biological
Sciences building toward the exit. She stepped out of the large
double doors and into the mid-afternoon light—the sun warming
her skin. She checked her phone—one message from Ethan:
Good luck with your test. Not that you need it.
Danica’s heart fluttered, and a loving sigh escaped her
lips. Ethan had a knack for making her day. Perhaps today she
would confess her feelings to him. She tried multiple times over
the past year to talk to him about it, but she could never get the
words out.
She stopped in her tracks as Ethan walked out of the gym
with headphones in his ears and his eyes glued to his phone. Her
heart hammered against her chest, and time slowed as he wiped
the sweat from his forehead with a hand towel. He tossed it over
his broad shoulders. Today was not the day.
Danica hoisted her turquoise backpack up and ran over to
Ethan, snatching one of his earbuds from his ear. His brown eyes
widened, but he had a smile on his lips once he noticed who
interrupted his jam.
“Hey.” He took out his other earbud. “How was your
exam?” He dabbed the towel in his hair; it was blond and short,
spiky in the front, which made his cheeks look high. He tossed the
towel back over his shoulder.
She walked alongside Ethan, her hands fiddling with the
straps of her bag. “Good. I stayed for the entire class period to
finish it. Gotta make sure my answers are correct.”
Ethan smiled, slipping his phone into his shoulder bag.
“Headed to the football field to see Harper and Dion?”
“Yeah.” Danica checked her watch. “We agreed yesterday
to get frozen yogurt.”
“Danica! Hey, Danica!”
She turned around as her classmate, Corey, ran up to her.
His skin was a golden brown, his haircut clean, a brilliant smile,
and muscles bulging from the gray V-neck.
“Hey,” she said.
“Can I talk to you for a second? It’s about the exam.”
“I’m gonna go ahead to the field, okay? Catch up after
you’re done here.” Ethan put his hand on her shoulder and gave it
a tap.

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“Oh, okay.” Danica dropped her chin down and frowned
as Ethan walked away. She looked at Corey. What could they
have to talk about concerning the exam? It was over.
“I wanted to thank you for tutoring me.”
“You’re welcome. Is that all? I had something to do.”
“You’re headed to the football field, right? We can walk
and talk.” Corey started toward the field with her. “Anyway,
you’re close to Dion, right? Do you mind putting in a good word
for me? You can tell her about my dazzling good looks or my
sense of humor. You know I always have people cracking up in
bio class. Just make me sound appealing. I know you can. You’re
a smart girl.”
Danica kept her eyes focused on the sidewalk. “Have you tried
talking to her?”
“All the time. Sometimes I see her after practice, but she always
says no.”
“There’s your answer. Why do you think I can change her mind?”
“It would mean a lot coming from you. You’re her baby sister and
all. You can pull on her heartstrings in ways I can’t… just yet, anyway. A
date with her would make my whole year worth it.”
“Why isn’t getting a quality education enough?” Danica
mumbled.
“I’m sorry, what did you say? I didn’t hear you.”
“Nothing.” Danica forced a smile. “I’ll help you out. I’ll put in a
good word for you when I see her.”
“You’re the best, Danica.” ​Corey grabbed his phone from his
pocket and stared at the screen for a second. “I have to go. My mom is
calling. Oh! You can tell her I love my mom. Girls love that.” He
answered his phone and walked off in the opposite direction.
Danica rolled her eyes and crossed the street to the chain-link
fence of the football field where Ethan stood. She peered through down at
the entire dance squad practicing their routine.
“Everything okay?” Ethan asked. “What did that guy
want?”
“Nothing​ really​. He just wanted me to talk to Dion.”
“About what?”
“He likes her and really wants a date with her.”
Ethan gripped the gate and exhaled through his nose. “Oh,
that all?”

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“Yeah.” Danica bit her lip. “Ethan.” She turned around
and leaned on the fence. Her heart jumped into her throat. She
cleared her throat and picked at her cuticles. Her mind raced with
all the ways she could confess how she felt to him. “Ethan, I…”
“What is it?” Ethan asked.
Danica exhaled. She stood up straight and locked eyes
with Ethan. What if he didn’t feel the same way about her? What
if he laughed in her face?
“Dani?”
She turned back to the gate and watched the girls dance.
“How was your workout?” Danica asked. “Did you get to use the
weight machine you wanted?”
“That was a little unorthodox to ask me a question about
my workout.” He chuckled. “I did. No one was really there today.
I chalk it up to spring break and midterms. Crowds disrupt my
natural order,” Ethan said. “But check out my guns. Locked and
loaded.” He flexed his bicep, encouraging her to touch, which she
did.
“Rock hard.” She blushed. “It looks nice.”
“Thanks. I work for what I want, and right now, it’s biceps
and abs,” Ethan said. “And a great education.”
“Anything you want, you can have,” Danica said.
Including me, s​ he thought.
“My dad tells me that a lot.”
***
“Five, six, seven, eight!” Coach Barnes watched the
Westdon University Lionettes swing their hips and their hair on
the lush green grass just outside of the football field. “Keep your
form!” she yelled over her megaphone, pacing back and forth.
“Is she crazy? We have been at this since 11 am,” Dion
huffed to Harper. She checked her watch. “It’s been three and a
half hours.”
“Right! A sista just wanna eat.” Harper swung her hair,
keeping her eyes on Coach Barnes.
“Kroan! Rowan! Less talk, more hip rolling and hair
swinging!” Coach Barnes barked.
“She’s a perfectionist like someone else in this dance
group,” Harper said.
“I’m not that bad,” Dion said.

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“I didn’t say you.”
“You are. It’s obvious.”
Coach Barnes stopped the music and rubbed her temples.
“Stop. Everyone take a seat.”
The girls collapsed on the ground, groaning and breathing
heavily.
“That’s enough practice for today. Please practice these
moves over the break. The Eastern Majorette dance competition is
in three weeks, and we want to make it to nationals. So, rest up
tonight and remember, I need you all to be in tip-top shape for
your return.” Coach Barnes walked off the field with her assistant
scurrying behind her.
“That woman is insane.” Harper pulled her hair into a high
ponytail.
Dion lay back in the grass and closed her eyes. “I’m not
sure I can move.”
“How else are we going to eat, Di?” Harper said.
“Whoever said eating a muffin for breakfast is enough, is a liar.”
“No one says that.”
“Bethany said she eats muffins for breakfast every day
before practice and it keeps her full until lunchtime. I wanted to
try it and save some money.”
“Bethany is a stick,” Dion said, opening her eyes.
Bethany danced across the field, swinging her bleach
blonde hair around, all the while kicking her legs and swinging
her arms. She looked like she was having a medical emergency,
but her friends applauded and cheered for her.
“I’m not sure why I listened to her.” Harper scrunched her
face. “And I really don’t know how she made the team, or why
Coach lets her stay.”
“You get everything when your family has money,” Dion
said. “Her mom is an alumna. She didn’t even audition.”
“Speaking of loaded parents, there’s Ethan and Dani.”
Harper waved as they made their way across the field.
“Hey. Coach Barnes worked you hard, huh?” Ethan
smirked and kicked Dion’s shoe as she lay sprawled out on the
grass.
“Ethan, if you think I won’t kill you, you are wrong.”
“I’m only messing with you, Di.”

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“You guys looked great.” Danica smiled.
“If only Coach Barnes thought the same,” Harper grunted
as she stood before she helped Dion up.
“Ready for frozen yogurt? On me?” Ethan said.
“I haven’t eaten a real meal since last night.” Harper laid
the back of her hand on her forehead dramatically​. “I’m
famished.”
Dion smacked the grass from her butt and dusted off her
hands. “I’m hungry too, and I ​need a​ burger from Charley’s.”
“Cool. To celebrate surviving our midterms, Charley’s on
me!” Ethan said.
“I’m not done yet. I still have one more, but sure, I’ll
claim it.” Harper shrugged
“I still have one too. It’s my Intro to Animal Science class,
so I should really look over my notes a few more times,” Danica
said.
Dion adjusted her ponytail and stretched her arms. “I’m
done, but if midterms were this hard, then finals will be murder.”
Ethan put his arm around Dion. “Then we will have fun
without you.”
Danica clutched the straps on her book bag. Harper put
her arm around her waist. “Dani and I will have our own fun,
passing our classes.” She stuck out her tongue and blew a
raspberry.
“Fun for everyone. Can we go eat now?” Dion walked off
the football field, her friends behind her.
“Yes, Master Dion.” Ethan chuckled.
***
The four of them sat outside at Charley’s, a quaint little
burger spot many of their peers enjoyed. They sat around the iron
patio table, enjoying the cool breeze of spring and the R&B music
that was pouring out of Charley’s open door. The waitress
dropped off two more waters at the table and moved back inside
through a small group exiting the restaurant.
Dion leaned back in her chair and exhaled loudly​. “This
burger is everything.”
“It makes me want to cry,” Harper said with a mouth full
of food.

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“I don’t think it’s tear-worthy.” Ethan dipped his fry in
ketchup, raising a skeptical brow.
Harper’s eyes narrowed. She wiped her mouth with her
napkin and planted her elbows on the table. “No one asked you,
Ethan.”
“I was just saying. That hibachi place we had last night
was tear-worthy according to you two.” He pushed his plate to the
side and pulled out his laptop.
“Whatever, Ethan. Here’s your problem: you don’t know
what’s good,” Harper scoffed.
“I know what’s best,” he said, signing into his laptop.
“Hunger is the best spice,” Danica giggled, eating a fry
and watching the people pass by their table.
“I’m just saying. It must be one hell of a spice. You two
give everything great reviews.” Ethan clicked around on his
laptop and looked up from his screen. “Anyone else interested in
checking their grades?”
Dion popped the final bite of her burger into her mouth
and leaned over towards Ethan. He stared at her from the side of
his eye and logged into Westdon U Gradelink. Danica’s heart
sank into her belly, swirling her fry in the pool of ketchup on her
plate, her teeth clenched, and her shoulders tensed. Harper
touched her arm and offered a gentle smile. Her stiff shoulders
loosened as she took a bite.
“The only grades posted are Intro to Law and Algebra. I
have an A in both,” Ethan said
“I’m proud of you.” Dion patted him on the back.
Ethan’s ears turned red, and he cleared his throat.
“Thanks. I work hard, and I play hard.”
Danica glanced between them. “I’m proud of you too.”
“Thank you.” Ethan gave Danica a smile and looked back
at Dion. Danica shrunk in her chair a little and bit the inside of
her lip.
“Mind if I check mine? My grade for stats class should be
there,” Dion asked.
Ethan logged out and turned the laptop to her. She swept
stray strands behind her ear. Her fingers glided across the
keyboard with her gaze fixed on the LCD screen. Her face fell,

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and her body froze for a second before she slammed the laptop
shut.
“C! This isn’t fair!” Dion slammed her fist on the table.
The salt and pepper shakers stalled in the air for a moment then
clattered against the table.
“What was that?” Danica blinked, focused on the shakers.
“Did anyone see that?”
Harper stroked Dion’s arm. “See what?”
Danica picked up the salt and pepper shakers and
examined them for a moment before placing them upright on the
table.
“The salt and pepper.” Danica’s voice shrank, Harper and
Ethan focused on her sister. “Maybe it was nothing.” She rubbed
the skin between her thumb and index finger. “Nothing.” She
huffed and looked at her phone, sitting back.
“Di, it’s only midterm. You can always pull your grade up
to a B.” Ethan caressed her hand.
“All you need is a little tutoring,” Harper said.
“I just felt confident about this test, and I failed.” Dion
frowned.
“Look who it is. Everyone’s favorite Lionettes.” Corey
walked up to the table, wrapping his arms around Dion and
Harper. “Well, well, hello, ladies—Danica, Harper, this guy,
Dion.”
Dion wrinkled her nose, shrugging his arm off her
shoulder, and Harper swiped his hand off hers. “What do you
want? Can’t you see that we are trying to eat?” she said.
“You look done,” Corey said as he shook her empty
basket.
Ethan kept his eyes on Corey, his foot tapping the
pavement. Danica bit the inside of her lip, ripping her napkin into
pieces.
“I ask again. What do you want?” Dion sighed, resting her
head on her hand.
“I just want to ask you out on a date tonight, baby,” Corey
said.
“I don’t know why you think this time will be any
different from any other time, but the answer is still a resounding
no.” Dion huffed.

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Corey looked at Danica and raised his eyebrows. “You
didn’t talk to her? You said you would.”
Danica tucked her hair behind her ear avoiding everyone’s
stare. “I didn’t have time to… talk to her.”
“Are you trying to get my baby sister to put in a good
word for you?” Dion growled. “The answer is ​absolutely ​no now.
Leave my sister out of it.”
“You messed up now,” Harper said.
His mouth fell open, his tongue pushing forward.
“Dion—”
She put up a finger to stop him. “Look at me in my eyes.
I’m going to make this very clear to you. You and I will never go
out.”
“Are you sure?” He bent his neck forward, hands resting
on the table. “Do you know how many people say that and end up
getting married?”
“This is the stare of a woman who means it,” Harper said.
“So, just skedaddle with your remaining dignity.”
Corey opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
He looked over at Danica and stood up. “Whatever.” He slid his
chair back to the other table and left the patio.
Ethan leaned back in his chair, melting into his seat. He
exhaled through pouted lips, his eyes roaming heavenward as he
ran his fingers through his hair.
“Good riddance.” Harper grabbed her bag. “I have an
exam in like fifteen minutes. I’ll see you guys later.”
Danica stood and pushed in her chair. “Me too.”
“Good luck on your exams,” Dion said.
“Thanks.” Danica took one last sip of her soda and left
with Harper.
***
Ethan tossed two twenty-dollar bills on the table, then
tucked his wallet back into his pocket. “Want me to walk you to
your room?”
“Sure. Both of us need a shower, though.” Dion grabbed
Danica’s unfinished soda and stuck in her straw. “I smell like
grass and sweat.”
“What’s an extra ten minutes?” Ethan chuckled.

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“Suit yourself,” Dion said, standing and pulling her yoga
pants up on her hips.
He placed his hand on her arm, and her eyes looked up at
him. “You going to be okay?” His tone was gentle.
She watched the ice shift in the half-finished cup of soda,
her eyebrows knitted together. “I worked hard and I still failed.
How could I fail?”
“I heard he has it out for his students. That’s what happens
when you have tenure.” His thumb caressed her arm. “I’m always
here to help.”
“I’ll take you up on that once the break is over. If I don’t
pull this grade up, I won’t be able to be on the softball team or the
dance team.”
“We can study after our morning runs.” Ethan stammered.
“After lunch too?”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll take all the help I can get, and
thanks again for treating us to lunch.” She punched him in the
arm, a smirk on her face.
He offered her a soft smile. “Any time, Di.”
She went to grab her bag, but Ethan beat her to it.
“Yeah. Lemme get that for you. I’m sure you’re tired
since you were practicing so hard.”
“Thank you.”
“Anything to help a friend.”

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Chapter 2: Dreams of Her 
Rocks, fire, and debris hurled through the air. Danica
stood in a large brightly lit room full of debris. The floor beneath
her cracked, and several of the room’s pillars lay on the ground
around the room. Her skin tickled, and all she could hear was the
sound of her own slow, rasping inhales. In front of her stood a
figure, a blur of long red hair swinging just as wildly as her arms.
Dion? Her eyes darted back and forth, trying to make out
her location. This wasn’t a room with which she was familiar.
Aside from her sister, two blurry figures fought a distance behind
her. Danica’s eyes panned up to see the target of her sister’s rage.
The blur stood above them and deflected everything Dion hurled
in their direction.
What the heck is going on?
Danica squinted and focused best she could on her sister.
Dion held her chest and kneeled to the ground. Before she could
do anything, a pillar crushed her.
Dion!
“Danica! Hey! Did you drop those cookies?” a voice said.
She pressed her hands to her eyes as tears welled. She
stared in the distance at the sign on how to sanitize the dishes. She
wasn’t in a blurred room; she was standing in the kitchen at her
job. Her lip trembled as her eyes traveled from her shaking hands
to the cookie carnage in front of her.
“Way to go! I have customers waiting for our famous
cookies! Now everyone gets free coffee because you dropped the
ball.” Cassandra’s short black hair framed her plump, brown face.
“I’m sorry, Cassandra.” Danica’s voice shook as she dried
her tears with the sleeve of her uniform and crouched to pick up
her mess.
“Save it for someone who doesn’t have to give eight
people a free coffee,” Cassandra said, leaving through the
swinging door, grumbling obscenities to herself.
Cassandra’s words resonated in Danica’s mind, sending
disappointment coursing through her veins. She put another batch
in the oven and dragged herself to the sink to wash the dishes.

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12
Something about the sound of clanging dishes and swishing warm
water in the large metal sink put her mind at ease.
“Danica, do you have those cookies? Customers are
complaining, and one guy is getting belligerent.”
Ethan entered the kitchen, adjusting his apron. She
hastened to turn back to the task at hand and hoped he didn’t see
her face. He didn’t need to see her ugly cry face. Not that he
hadn’t seen it before, but she would rather not today.
“Everything all right in here?”
“She didn’t tell you what happened?” Danica said, her
voice low as she washed the pan she dropped.
“No? She’s so angry. I didn’t bother to say anything to
her.” Ethan said.
“I dropped the cookies.”
“We all make mistakes. She needs to understand that. You
got some new ones in, right?”
“I just put them in.”
“Good. See? Everything will be fine.” Ethan peered at the
cookies through the glass of the giant walk-in oven.
Her cheeks grew pink, and a smile spread across her face
as she grabbed a paper towel. She turned around, and Ethan stood
a few steps before her.
“Is something on your mind? You seem distracted.” Ethan
dipped his head to get a better look at her—his hands resting on
her shoulders.
Her stomach tensed, and Danica tilted her head to the side,
her eyes rolling upward, weighing the options. Against her
judgment, she spoke, her long lashes lowered. Perhaps talking it
out would make it seem less real. She massaged the skin between
her thumb and index finger and nibbled the inside of her lip.
“To be honest, yes.” Danica sighed, unsure what to say or
where to start as her brain searched for the words. She drew in a
deep breath and bit the inside of her cheek. “I had this weird
dream,” she began, trying her best to swallow what little saliva
her mouth could produce. “I saw Dion throw rocks and boulders
in this room I never been in.”
“Wait. Wait.” Ethan’s brow rose an inch in suspicion.
“Dion throwing rocks and boulders?” Ethan chuckled. “Are you
sure?”

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13
“I’m sure. She was there; I know it.” Her gaze was
intense, screaming for him to believe her.
Ethan pursed his lips and folded his arms. “And then what
happened?”
Danica shut her eyes, replaying her dream over again,
careful to search for details. “This person… I couldn’t make out
their faces, but Di was attacking this person with all her strength.
She was so angry… Then, she held her chest and fell down,” she
paused, swallowing hard. “Then…” she rubbed the skin between
her thumb and index finger. Her skin became red and irritated, but
she could not stop. She tried to shake her sister’s painful shriek
from her mind. Her chest tightened as she kept her head down.
Ethan let his hands rest on her shoulders. “Then what?”
A tear rolled down her cheek, and her shoulders quaked as
she continued. “Then a pillar fell on her and killed her… Right in
front of me.” Her chin trembled. “The scream she let out, Ethan, I
can still hear it.”
“Hey. Hey. Hey.” He spoke to her in a hushed voice. “It’s
just a nightmare. Dion isn’t going anywhere.”
Danica wiped her tears. “I just want to forget it
happened.”
“You said yourself that it was a dream. It won’t happen. It
wasn’t real.”
Their mini boss burst through the door—one hand holding
the door open and the other on her hip—nostrils flared. “I
appreciate all the help the both of you gave me during the rush.”
Ethan sighed. “Is it a crime to check on my friend?”
Cassandra complained about work a lot, and Danica
assumed she liked to be unhappy.
“Check on her? Her limbs are functioning, and she is
breathing! I think she’s fine.”
He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Can you learn to chill
this one time? I’m sure this amount of anger isn’t good for one
person.”
“Our boss will rip me to shreds for giving the product
away like I did today because your little girlfriend dropped the
ball.” Cassandra fumed.
“She just needs some time to collect herself, so as
assistant manager, I am sending her on break.”

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“To hell with a break! I need my cookies!”
“I’m handling them,” Ethan said, his tone resolute.
“Danica… Please go take a break.”
Danica wanted to stand up against her pint-size boss, but
what could she say? With no doubt in her mind, Cassandra’s gaze
would cause her to either turn to stone or burst into flames. She
was certain she messed up big time with no chance of redemption.
She scooted past Cassandra out the door. Their arguing
bellowed all the way to the bathroom, but Ethan never lost his
cool. Even Dion would get angry at him and yell, and all he’d do
is smile and attempt to calm her down.
She locked herself in the one stall bathroom and parked
herself in front of the sink, turning on the water, letting it run in
her cupped hands until it became warm.
What is going on with you? It’s a dream, right? A detailed
dream, but a dream. She splashed water on her face and patted
her face dry with a paper towel. The bathroom melted away into
burgundy and cream-colored ash.
“What’s going on?” She rushed to the door, and as she
reached out for the handle, it too faded away. ​Not again! W ​ ith
shaking hands, Danica grabbed the roots of her hair.
“Help!” Her voice echoed into the cavernous darkness
around her. She took a few steps and hit an invisible wall, the
wall lighting up with every touch. “Hello! Anyone! Can anyone
help me! Please!”
Complete silence, a silence that would drive any person
mad if left for long periods of time. The blur of a brown door
materialized before her—a strong vanilla scent drifted in the air,
and the muffled sound of music played in the background.
“Where am I?”
Danica reached for the doorknob and the invisible wall
stopped her yet again. She drew in several deep breaths and
turned around. Her heart sank into the pit of her stomach. The air
became suffocating as she saw Ethan and Dion on the bed.
“Ethan, I can’t…” Her sister’s voice was breathless.
She flinched at the sound of Dion’s voice. She fought
back the desire to puke all over this version of her sister’s room.
“Dion… I—I love you.”
He moved closer to her and kissed her.

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15
A coldness hit her at the core, and she blinked to keep her
tears at bay. She took one step, but the barrier kept her in place. A
knot formed in her throat, and her stomach churned—the scene
deteriorated.
“Hey, are you okay?” Cassandra asked from the other side
of the door as she knocked.
Danica stood face to face with her reflection—her mouth
opening. She drew in a deep breath. “I’m coming! Sorry!” With
the back of her hand, Danica wiped the tears from her eyes,
adjusted her polo on her shoulders, and unlocked the door.
Cassandra stood with her hands on her hips, and a woman
and her daughter stood beside her—the young girl wiggling from
left to right, cupping herself.
“These nice customers would like to use the restroom if
you don’t mind.”
“I’m sorry,” Danica said, swinging the door open.
“Thank you. Come on, Shana,” the girl’s mom said,
guiding her daughter into the restroom.
“Thanks, lady,” Shana said.
Danica focused on the door as it shut in her face, still
trying to make sense of what happened. What reason did she have
to think Ethan ever loved her?
Cassandra snapped her fingers. “Hey, Kroan. Earth to
Danica.”
“Sorry.”
“Ethan and I talked about it, and he thinks you should go
home to rest.”
“I promise I can get it together and finish my shift.”
“Uh-huh. Right. It’s sweet of you to want to get back into
the game during the final quarter, but I already called Wesley to
come in early. Consider it an early start to your vacation. It’s not
every day I’m this nice, so take the opportunity.”
Danica opened her mouth to retort and stopped. “Okay.
Thank you, and I’m sorry about today.” She pulled her hairnet off
and combed her hair back with her fingers.
Cassandra cleared her throat. “You know, Danica, I’m…”
A flush crept across her cheeks, her voice soft and vulnerable.
“Sorry for yelling at you. I have a lot on my mind, and it’s not fair
to you.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


16
“I accept your apology.”
“As you should, because I don’t do this often.” Cassandra
huffed and turned around, walking away. “Just get your stuff,
Kroan, and I’ll see you after spring break.”
After grabbing her stuff from her locker, Danica made her
way to the front exit. Ethan stood in the front between her and the
door. She didn’t dare speak the words that ran across her mind.
“I can’t believe you weren’t even going to say goodbye.”
Looking at him made her stomach turn and her chest
tighten, his words to Dion on a loop like a bad record. She wished
she could gather up the courage to ask him about his feelings for
her, though it became more obvious each passing day he liked
Dion, a truth she didn’t want to face.
Ethan put his hand on her shoulder and cocked his head to
the side. “You going to be okay?”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and stabilized her
breathing. “Yeah… I’ll be fine. I’ll take a nap before I finish
packing.” She forced a smile as best she could, hoping he’d fall
for it.
Ethan flashed a smile. “I’ll be getting off in thirty
minutes,” He glanced down at his watch. “Want me to come by
later? Maybe help you pack?”
“No, we’ve been here all morning. Besides, you need to
rest before we go back tomorrow.” she said, looking at her shoes.
He ruffled her hair, an endearing smile on his face. “Okay.
I’ll call you. And if you need anything between now and when
I’m off, you can shoot me a text.”
Danica pouted and smoothed out her hair, leaving the
shop—feeling his eyes on her back.
The bell above the door sounded as she left and stepped
into the late afternoon sun. She inhaled the warm spring air,
standing under the awning of the coffee shop. She loosened her
muscles and stretched her neck, happy to take full breaths.
I don’t even know why I’m mad at him. It was only a
dream… It wasn’t real… It can’t be. Even if it was real, why
would I see it? Why do I care? He isn’t my boyfriend.
She hummed as the smell of cookies and baked bread
wafted on the wind that lightly swept her hair. Jazz music echoed
from the park across the street, and people danced in the grass.

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


17
She smiled when she heard the cheers. She plugged headphones
into her phone and turned on her music. Ten minutes between her
dorm and her job—ten minutes she would savor to forget about
her last few moments of work.
People of all ages littered the sidewalk—mothers and
daughters, fathers and sons, and a plethora of college-aged
students—all talking and joking as they passed.
Downtown Westdon boomed with life at all times of the
day with its many boutiques, eateries, parks, and theaters. She
loved coming down to the park for yoga and dance with Dion and
Harper. They spent a lot of their weekends downtown going to the
movies and partying at the college nightclub—a scene that didn’t
fit her personality at all, but they thought she needed to take
breaks from her long study nights.
Danica approached the intersection and waited with a
crowd for the light to change—hands in her back pockets as she
studied her surroundings, and her body teetered back and forth to
the beat of the song.
She grabbed her phone and opened her messages. Her
fingertips hovered over Dion’s name. She poked out her lip and
sent a text:
Hey, Dion. Don’t forget to go to the mail center.
Danica stared at it for a moment, hoping Dion would reply
soon, but the ellipses didn’t pop up. She shrugged and put it in her
pocket. She must be busy hanging out with her other friends.
As the light turned in favor of the pedestrians, an arm
wrapped around her shoulder. Danica’s heart leaped from her
chest, and she ripped her headphones out her ears.
“Corey! What the heck?”
“Sorry to scare you. I tried calling your name.”
Danica stared straight ahead, trying to calm her heart.
“You almost gave me a heart attack.”
“Sorry. Sorry,” he said. “I just wanted to talk to you about
how you made me look like a fool yesterday. You said you’d put
in a good word for me.”
“Anything I said wouldn’t have changed her mind.”
“You’re her sister. Everything you do should influence
her.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


18
“It doesn’t.” Danica’s voice was deadpan. She clenched
her fist, her stomach pulling as she tried to draw in a breath. She
hoped her twitching eye went unnoticed.
“Can you at least give it another try?”
Danica kept her eyes focused on the sidewalk, turning and
maneuvering through the people. Her phone vibrated—Dion’s
message across her screen:
Not yet. Lol. Going now. I was hanging with Marley & Chase​.
“Danica.”
“Okay. I’ll see her at dinner tonight, and I’ll talk to her.”
“You are the best. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. This is my dorm building, so I’m going
inside.” Danica smiled, swiped her keycard, and walked inside.
The smile wiped clean off her reddened face after her back was to
Corey. Her phone vibrated.
Dion:​ Aren’t you at work anyway?? No texting on the job.
Danica: ​Cassandra let me go home early. Wasn’t feeling well. I’ll be okay.
Dion: ​Oh no! What happened?????
Danica: ​Nothing happened. I just need rest.
Dion: Rest. ​❤​ Talk later?
Danica: Yeah.
Dion: ​Love you, sissy​.
Her fingers hovered over the keyboard. ​I love you too… I
just wonder sometimes why, compared to you, I’m invisible.

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


19
Chapter 3: Dormant Power 
Dion made it back to her room after hanging out with her friends
and checking the mail. Marley and Chase wanted to give her an early
birthday gift before they left campus. She pulled her dorm card from her
back pocket and slid it across the black box over the handle. With a beep,
Dion entered her room, dropping her gift bag on the floor.
She sucked her teeth, forgetting how she and Harper let their
room go to crap. Two unmade beds were on either side of the room, and
their shared desk was littered with papers, takeout menus, and she could
only guess what else. Random articles of clothing were thrown about the
room—both clean and dirty. Candy wrappers and at least a twelve-pack
of empty lemon-lime soda occupied the desk and space around it.
Dion wrinkled her nose in disgust at the mountain of glass coffee
drink bottles—all of which were empty—and the odd, yet expected,
stench combination of coconut oil and sweat.
She pinched her nose. “The semester goggles are off. We can’t
keep making excuses.”
Dion stepped through the wasteland of trash and clothing to her
laptop. She ripped off the yellow sticky note on the screen and read it:
My sweet dearest Dion. We should get this mess under control. Consider the semester goggles
off.
P.S. Love you! - Love Always, Harper​ ​❤
You read my mind.
Dion leaned over the desk to draw back the sheer tan curtains.
The window allowed a light breeze to enter the room.
She cleared the papers from the keyboard of her laptop, waking it,
smiling at her wallpaper—a picture of her family at the Winter Biology
Awards ceremony where Danica won ‘Best Freshman Tutor’. She turned
on her music and opened a trash bag, sifting through the stuff on the
floor.
I’m not sure how we live in this.
Several trash bags and one candle later, Dion stood triumphant,
admiring the room. “When is the last time we’ve seen the floor?” She
turned to the desk to deal with the mountains of papers.
“I’m hungry.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


20
Dion grabbed her phone: W ​ ould you mind grabbing me a cookie before you leave
work? I need sugar power after cleaning my room. I deserve it.
Ethan:  ​YOU cleaned your room? I will bring you not one, but two, cookies for your
achievements. LOL.
Dion: H ​ aha hilarious. What time will you be over?
Ethan: ​Soon. Getting ready to leave.
Dion: I​ can already taste the chocolate! 
She tossed her phone on the bed and picked up another trash bag.
By the end, she threw out five trash bags and made the beds. She had just
finished making Harper’s bed when there was a knock.
“Hey, Di! I have your cookies.” Ethan yelled from the other side
of the door.
She squealed and scrambled to her laptop to lower the volume of
her music. She dashed to the door and cracked it, allowing just enough
space for her face to fit.
“You say you have the goods?”
Ethan held up a small cookie bag—stained from the inside with
chocolate. The pleasant, familiar aroma of cookies danced under Dion’s
nose, her mouth salivating. “And they’re fresh.”
She snatched the bag and opened the door. “Fresh cookies today?
Thanks. I was expecting something that had been sitting in a case most of
the day.”
“You said you cleaned your room, so I had to do something
special for ya.” Ethan took a seat on her bed and looked around. “Looks
great. I can’t tell either of you stay here anymore. What room am I in?”
“You think you’re so funny, don’t you?” She licked her fingers
and set down the bag of cookies on the now clean desk.
“I’ll try better next time, Di.” He smirked. “How are you feeling
today? Yesterday was hard for you with your grades.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. Harper and I sang karaoke to get me to
stop sulking last night.”
“Can’t believe I missed it. I had to work at the last minute, and I
apologize for not telling you guys. I’m sure no one noticed.”
“Why didn’t you text anyone?”
“My phone didn’t want to send messages.”
Dion grabbed her gift bag from the floor and placed it on the
bookshelf. “That sucks. How was work today?”
“Same old. Same old. Business as usual,” he said. “What you got
there? A gift?”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


21
Dion took the bag over to her desk and leaned on it. “Some socks,
lotion, and lip gloss from Marley and Chase, an early birthday gift.” She
emptied the bag of its contents, smelling the cucumber melon lotion
again. “And since it’s almost our birthday, that means you’d better be
getting me and Dani something nice.”
“Don’t worry. It will be better than lotion and socks. Believe me.
This year will be even better than last year.” Ethan chuckled.
She smiled. “I can’t wait for you to blow my mind.”
Ethan took her hand as the two of them locked eye contact.
She wiped the corners of her mouth. “Do I have chocolate on my
face?”
“No. I wanted to talk to you.” He tugged at her hand, pulling her
to sit beside him.
“We are talking.”
“I mean about something important.”
Dion sat with her eyebrows scrunched together and her hands in
her lap. Ethan’s presence changed at that moment. His voice softened,
and his eyes opened wide. She bit the inside of her cheek.
“How was your day?”
“How is my talking about my day important?”
“It is to me, Di.”
Dion’s heart beat against her chest. She tried ​desperately ​to
swallow past the lump that formed in her throat. ​What is he getting at?
“Di.” He spoke, catching her attention. “There is something I
want to tell you…” Ethan’s eyes ran across her face. “Yesterday,
watching Corey ask you out, made me uneasy. The thought of you and
him...” he scoffed. “I can’t bear it. So, I have to take a chance.”
“A chance?” she asked as her breath stood caught in her lungs,
watching him marvel at her.
“A chance on you… With you.” His eyes half-lidded, Ethan
guided her chin towards him. Her body tensed as her heart pounded. He
closed his eyes and leaned in. Kissing her and parting her lips with his
tongue, he grabbed a handful of her hair.
Dion broke the kiss. Her body temperature increased, and she bit
the inside of her lip.
“Ethan, I can’t…” Her brows furrowed and her hand pressed
against his chest.
“Dion… I—I love you.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


22
He moved closer to her, between her legs, and kissed her again.
This time, his hand grabbed her breast. Papers, laundry and various other
items in the room floated in midair. The door opened and Harper stood in
the frame, mouth open.
Dion pushed Ethan to the side, and the items fell to the floor. She
wiped her lips as her eyes met Harper’s wide brown ones.
Harper’s cheeks flushed red, and she laughed as she blinked
excessively​. “Whoa, I’m sorry… I… I didn’t… I mean—”
Dion scurried to her feet, pushing her hair back and pulling up her
shirt. “Harp, wait before you say anything. I can explain.”
“Whatever’s going on, I don’t want it. I’m going to Dani’s room.
Text me when it’s safe.”
“Harper, wait—”
The door clicked shut, and Dion stood defeated, wishing to
explain herself.
“That was super embarrassing.” She rubbed her forehead and
looked around her room with a raised brow.
“Dion?”
She stood with her back to him, her eyes fixed on one spot on the
floor for a moment before looking at the ceiling, her hands resting on her
hips. “Danica… she likes you. She might even be the one who loves
you.”
“She isn’t the one I want. It’s you. It’s always been you.”
Dion exhaled and rubbed her forehead. “Can I have some time to
myself? I need to think.”
“Di, I—”
“Please. I need to be alone right now.”
He walked to the door with his head hanging between his
shoulders. He stopped at the door, his hand on the knob. She crossed her
arms and kept her gaze on the wall clock. How could she face him?
“Okay… I guess we will talk later.”
“Yeah,” Dion said.
The door shut with a soft click, and Dion exhaled. She laid down
on her bed and covered her face with a pillow, screaming into it. With an
aggravated groan, she tossed the pillow over to Harper’s bed and stared at
the ceiling.
Why did he have to kiss her? Why did he have to touch her the
way he did? Her heart quickened as she thought about Danica. Sitting up,
she noticed a few papers and pieces of laundry standing in mid-air.

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


23
“What the heck is going on!”
***
Danica lay on her bed staring at the stucco ceiling in her dorm
room. She turned over and picked up her phone as she cuddled her satin
pillow, her fingers hovered over the home button. A tear rolled down her
face as she replayed Ethan’s confession to Dion in her head. She wiped
her cheeks with the back of her hand and sat up. She slouched over, put
her phone on the desk, and stared at her roommate’s side of the room.
“It was only a dream, right? It wasn’t real.” Danica dragged her
hands down her face.
The room turned to ashes around her and sighed as she sat in the
darkness of another vision. She stood, and her bed disappeared behind
her. She put her hands up, and just like before, an invisible box
surrounded her like a mime.
“Please.” She stamped her feet into the ground and clenched her
fist. “Not again. I don’t want to see Dion and Ethan again.”
She went from standing in complete darkness to just outside her
door in Maddison Hall. The invisible barrier was still there. At the end of
the blue-carpeted hallway, the elevator dinged and out stepped Harper.
Danica sighed in relief as she walked right past her to the door of her
room.
Danica inhaled sharply as she came out of her vision​. She rushed
over to the door and yanked it open. On the other side of the navy blue
door stood Harper with her fist raised.
“Hey,” Harper said. “Were you about to leave?”
“I just felt something.” Danica walked back inside. “What are you
doing here? Don’t you have to pack?” She grabbed a stack of papers from
her desk and organized them.
“Yeah, but some stuff happened, and now, I can’t,” Harper said.
“Where is your roommate? Gone already?”
Danica looked at Amanda’s bed and her Paramore and Spice Girls
posters taped to the wall above her bed. “Her boyfriend came to get her
last night.”
“At least you can sleep tonight without her snoring.”
“Dion snores all the time,” Danica said.
“And I plug her nose at least three times a week.”
Danica covered her mouth to stifle her giggle. “You chose her as
your roommate.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


24
“Only because Dion and I are messy and loud. You deserve better
than that, Dani. If I wasn’t this person, I’d be your roomie, so I wouldn’t
have to leave your room at 3am after watching movies.”
She chuckled, sitting on her suitcase to zip it. “So, what stuff
brought you over?”
“I don’t think it’s something we should talk about. I just wanted a
safe place to be.”
Danica’s heart beat against her chest. She furrowed her brows.
“Safe place? Your room isn’t safe?”
Harper folded her arms, her nostrils flared. “Not when your
roommate is trying to smash.”
Nausea washed over Danica. “O-Oh. Who was she with?”
“Just someone.”
Danica gnawed on the inside of her lip. She swallowed hard.
“Was it Ethan?” Her phone vibrated against her desk. She grabbed
it—Ethan’s name displayed on the screen. She sent him to voicemail and
placed the phone beside her. “Please be honest with me.”
Harper’s lips trilled, and her eyes roamed upward to her bangs
before she lowered her eyes. “Yes. It was Ethan.”
Danica stared beyond Harper to the baby blue wall behind her.
Her heart sank into the bottom of her stomach, and she fought the urge to
throw up what little food she had ingested after she returned to her room.
She pressed her palms over her eyes and tried her best to breathe as
normally ​as she could muster. “Part of me had hope that Ethan would
choose me, and part of me didn’t think I stood a chance.” She let her
arms fall to her side as she slouched. “At work earlier, I had this dream.
Vision. I’m not sure what to call it, but there they were making out, and
he told her he loved her.”
“You daydreamed about this?”
Her phone rang, again and again. Ethan’s name was on the screen
each time, and each time, she sent him to voicemail.
“I associate daydreams with positive things. The same thing
happened before you knocked. I saw you walking to the door. When I got
up to answer it, just to see if it was true, you were…” Danica paused for a
moment, her whole body frozen. Another vision. She snapped out of her
daze and looked at Harper’s confused facial expression. Her eyes roamed
over the lush blue rug under her. She touched her face, her breathing
normalizing. “I uh… Your phone. It’s your grandma.”

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25
Harper’s phone rang and startled her, her favorite song muffled in
her backpack. “This. Is. Awesome!” She rummaged through her
backpack, grabbing her phone. “It’s my granny!” Taking a deep breath to
calm down, she answered. “Hey, grandma!”
Harper’s face lit up as she spoke to her grandma. Danica wished
she could have a carefree life. Harper did what she wanted when she
wanted, and she exuded confidence for which Danica longed. Danica
wiped her eyes again and smiled at Harper as she laughed on the phone.
After a few moments, she hung up. “First, Grannie says hello, and
she hopes you and Di come visit on the break. She wants to make you
both mini red velvet cakes. Second, did you just—”
“It’s just a coincidence,” Danica said.
“But what if it isn’t?” Harper stroked her chin, furrowing her
brows in deep thought. “We have to prove it. Can you tell the future
again?”
“It’s not something I can just do whenever I want. If it was, I
would use it for something useful… not watching my sister and Ethan
make out.” Danica rolled her eyes and stuck out her lip.
“You make a good point.” Harper frowned and slouched on the
bed. “Well, that sucks. We have to figure out a way to trigger it. Imagine
it. Becoming millionaires. Imagine knowing all the answers on a test or
all the sales!”
Danica chuckled. “You’ve thought about this a lot.”
Harper agreed. “Though it never involves you or Dion.”
“You’ll be the first to know when I figure it out.”
“I’ll be waiting.” She grinned.
“Thanks for the laugh, Harp.” Danica relaxed her shoulders. “Do
you mind if we keep this a secret? The whole thing? Dion will pry, and I
don’t enjoy being interrogated.”
Harper gestured to zip her lips. “Sure thing. I told that girl she
should be an FBI agent instead of a physical therapist, but she won’t
listen. We’ve only been best friends for five-ever. I think my opinion is
gold.” She shrugged.
“Thank you.” She swept some hair behind her ear, unsure how to
feel.
Harper moved to the floor, sitting on her knees. She placed her
hand on Danica’s shoulder. “You love him, and it hurts they were
together. Like when I loved Johnny Marshall in third grade, and he kissed
Winnie Dubond on the bus on the way to the circus. I get it. It sucks.”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


26
She rubbed the skin between her thumb and index finger. “I can’t
say what I feel is lo—”
Harper bent her neck forward, lifting a single brow. “Are you
doing this right now? You have loved Ethan since middle school, at least.
Your denial is like me saying I’m not a voluptuous black queen.”
“It’s not.”
“Danica. Honey. You blush when he compliments you and laugh
at all his terrible jokes. The boy is not funny, and yet, you laugh at him
like he’s a stand-up comedian.” Harper stuck her tongue out, pretending
to throw up.
“I do that?”
“Like no one’s business,” she scoffed and sat back on her butt. “I
can’t tell you what to do but get this off your chest. Unrequited love is
suffocating. The way you looked at them yesterday, I thought you’d
crack all your teeth from clenching so hard. Tell him. This love triangle is
not what’s poppin’.”
“It’s not a love triangle because he loves Dion. It’s clear.” Danica
sighed. “Everyone does…” she mumbled.
Harper sighed. “I’m just tired of watching you ogle him and
swoon over him like a lovesick puppy.”
“Do you know if she likes him too? I mean, I guess she does
because they were about to… you know.”
“She’s said nothing to me about it.” Harper’s phone buzzed. “Oh!
Dion says I can pack up.” She stood and stretched before grabbing her
backpack. “Will you be okay? Do I need to stay longer? I just gotta throw
a few things in my suitcases.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m just going to take a nap. A nap will help me
forget,” Danica sighed. She stood and embraced Harper with a sad smile
on her face.
“I hate seeing you upset,” Harper said. “I’ll make sure I think of
something funny to tell you at dinner.”
Danica nodded. “You’re the best.”
“You said it, not me.” Harper winked. “I love you, Dani.”
“Love you too. Later.” Danica locked the door and climbed into
bed for a much-deserved nap.
***
Dion stared at her conversation thread with Ethan, rereading his
last message—the blinking cursor mocked her silence. Her head rested on
the pillowcase as she held the phone up. She kicked off her socks and

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


27
pulled her pink and orange blanket over her. The keycard reader on the
door beeped, and Harper peeked inside.
“Oh! Good to see it’s safe.”
Dion chuckled and rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t have invited you
back.”
“It might be some kind of sick fantasy you have about people
watching.” Harper pretended to puke. She tossed her book bag on the
floor beside her bed and kicked off her Vans.
“That’s disgusting.” Dion wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t know your life, D.K.”
“But you do. We have been best friends since pre-school.”
“And yet we haven’t come up with a code for ​Hey, I’m having sex
in here.​ ”
“No one was having sex in here!”
“So, how was it? Was he horrible? I imagine Ethan to be like one
of those guys who has to ask if he’s hurting you every five seconds.”
Harper sat on her bed, smoothing out the comforter beneath her.
Dion covered her face with her hands. The thought made her chest
tight. She cleared her throat and pushed back her hair. “Let the
conversation die right here. Nothing happened. I told him to leave after
you left.”
“Are you being shy about the details?”
Dion bit the inside of her lip. “There are no details. The whole
thing caught me off guard. He kissed me, touched me, I freaked out, and
everything floated! Didn’t you see it? You walked right in when
everything was falling.”
Harper took a moment to think. “I saw a little something.” She
shrugged. “I just assumed it was foreplay.”
“Oh, my god.” Dion rubbed her hand down her face. “He brought
me a cookie, and the next thing I know, he has a handful of me.”
Harper wiggled her eyebrows. “Would you have let it go farther if
I hadn’t walked in?”
“No! I want my first time to be with someone who I love. Like
really love. Plus, Dani likes Ethan. I’m supposed to care for my sister,
and being with the guy she likes isn’t caring for her.”
“Sisters before misters,” Harper said.
“After he left, I was thinking about the whole situation, my heart
pounded, and our stuff floated again.”

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28
Harper’s eyes widened, and she leaned in closer. “Can you prove
it? If you can, I have a list of pranks.”
Dion twisted her mouth, narrowing her eyes. She shook her head
and chuckled. “That wasn’t my first thought.” She stood and walked to
the middle of the room and loosened her shoulders, rolling up the sleeves
to her button-down shirt. Dion shut her eyes and concentrated, but when
she opened them, nothing happened. “Sorry… Let me try again.”
She cracked her neck from side to side. Her body swayed as she
wriggled her fingers.
“Nothing is happening.”
“Give me a second,” Dion snapped.
“Damn, Dion. Relax. I’m just saying nothing happened yet.”
Harper frowned, folding her arms.
“I am relaxed.”
“And I’m the Dean of Westdon U.”
“It was working fine, and now it looks like I’m lying.”
“No one accused you of lying, D.K.”
“Yeah, but it worked before.” Dion folded her arms.
“Di, look!”
Bobbing in the air behind her were the pillows on her bed. “See. I
told you.” They fell back to the bed, and Harper put her arm around
Dion’s neck.
“This is amazing! What are we going to do now? Dump a bucket
of chocolate on Corey’s head? Get the remote to the T. V? Clean up with
little to no effort.”
“We won’t do anything until I figure out how this works.”
Harper slouched. “That’s no fun.”
“We can have all the fun we want when I learn what is happening.
Like where did this come from? I just have a lot of questions and no one
to ask.”
“You can ask your mom. She might know something.”
“What would she know about it?”
“Just an idea, D.K.” Harper huffed, “So back to this whole Ethan
fiasco. Are you going to tell him you don’t like him and crush all hopes
he has of being your boyfriend?”
Dion pushed her hair back, puffing her cheeks out. “I think Ethan
is a nice guy, and he’s my friend, but he just came on too strong. And I
don’t want to risk hurting Danica.”

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29
“Are you planning on telling him this? I’m sure he is wondering
about your feelings.”
“I didn’t know you cared about his feelings.”
“Ethan and I are friends, somewhat, and I care about his rich boy
feelings. Sort of.”
“I ​usually ​have a lot of words to say, but for this… My fingers
just get stuck.” Dion looked at her phone. “How do I tackle this?”
Harper took her phone and lowered it to the bed. “You should tell
him in person. This isn’t something you say over text.”
“I’ll do it later… Maybe at dinner?”
“You’re not.”
“I’ll do it soon.”
“We have tonight. Tomorrow, we are driving back to Reppledon.
Do you want that four-hour car ride to be awkward? Maybe you do, but I
don’t.”
“It won’t be awkward. It’ll be fine.”
“Right. Sure it will. Tell him, Di. I’m serious.”
Dion lay down and cuddled her pillow. “Yes, mother.”
“And not through a text. Please. No room for
miscommunication.”
“Got it, mom. Geez. I’ll tell him in person.”
“Tonight!”
“Tonight. Fine. Sure.”
“Thank you. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to shower.”
Dion stared at the ceiling for a moment before watching Harper
leave the room with her shower bag. She twisted her mouth and looked at
her phone—at Ethan’s message.
“At some point…”

Road to Grimpaitra Tiffany C. Carlton


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