Mutually Exclusive


7 years later

Harper sat back stage, still in the same chair where she had her makeup done. She was playing absentmindedly with the collar of her blouse, just waiting for her queue to run out on set, when her phone buzzed at her.

Omg cant wait to c u later.
So much to tell u and i have big news!!!!

Harper grinned at the text message from her best friend. She was about to respond just a she heard her announcement from the stage.

“Our next guest is not only one of the hottest celebrities in Hollywood and a phenomenal actress both on and off screen, but she’s also one of my most favorite people, please welcome Harper Sanders!”

The studio audience went crazy as Harper walked out onto Ellen’s set, waving and smiling and concentrating on not falling off her stilettoes as she crossed the stage to hug one of her favorite talk show hosts.

“Wow, it’s so good to see you,” Ellen said as they took their seats, “you look great – doesn’t she guys?” The crowd cheered again and Harper just laughed and tugged the hem of her pencil skirt down. “See? You do – you look absolutely stunning.”

“Thank you—”

“Gosh, it’s been so long since we’ve had you here.”

“I know,” Harper agreed. “It’s been what, a year?”

“Longer than that because it was right after you won best supporting actress, wasn’t it?”

A picture showed up on the screen behind them of Harper in a long silver gown, her chocolaty hair framing her face, striking a silly pose with her best friend on the Oscar red carpet.

“Hahaha, wow,” Harper laughed with the audience at the photo.

“That’s Charlotte Ashworth with you, isn’t it? The Victoria’s Secret model?”

“Yeah that’s me and Charlie – we go way back.”

“I’ve heard that. You guys met when both of you were just starting out, right?”

“I met Charlie not long after I moved to New York, and she had just started modeling. We just really hit it off and as things started getting bigger for both of us we just kept in touch. And as you can see, we’re both just really big dorks when we’re around each other.”

“You guys always look like you have so much fun together, though. Anyway, we got sidetracked. So you haven’t been here since you won at the Oscars, and now that you’re back we have to talk about another award – you’ve been nominated for a Tony for your role – why don’t you tell us about it?”

“Well,” Harper took a deep breath, but she couldn’t suppress her grin, “the theatre company I’m associated with in New York decided to do a revival of Chicago, and then decided – because they have partners with Europe’s West End – decided we were going to take the show to Europe, too. So I’ve been over there the last six months, and about a week ago, I found out that I’d been nominated for best lead actress in a musical as Roxie.” The audience again started cheering for her. “Thanks; thank you.”

“Wow,” Ellen waited as the crowd died back down, “you must be so excited.”

“Oh trust me, I am. I started out on Broadway—it’s the whole reason I moved to New York, to become an actress—and after the success of the last few films I was in, I really just felt like going back to where I started, and it was such a great and rewarding experience. I am so glad that I did.”

“I bet. And six months in Europe? I’m sure that was just awful” –the audience laughed—“When did you get back?”

“I got home to New York last night.”

“Last night? And then you came all the way to L.A. today just for my show? Wow. The jetlag you must be feeling. Well, I have a few more questions for you, but we’ll have to get to them when we get back from this commercial.”


“Harper! Over here!”

Harper finally spotted her best friend once Charlie stood up and waved her over to the outdoor café table, though how she had ever missed the towering, platinum blonde supermodel was just a testament to her obliviousness. She quickly crossed the street and engulfed her best friend in a bone-crushing hug that the blonde returned just as intensely.

“I have missed you so much!” Charlie gushed. “You are never allowed to leave the country without me again.”

Harper laughed but couldn’t help but silently agree. The last six months had been great and enjoyable, but nowhere near as much as they could have been with Charlie around. They broke away and as they sat down Harper noticed that Charlie was literally bouncing in her seat.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this excited,” Harper noted. “What is going on? What do you have to tell me?”

Clearly this was the queue that Charlie had been waiting for and couldn’t contain herself any longer and she blurted, “I’m engaged!”

Harper blinked once, then twice, and finally exclaimed, “Oh my God! Congratulations! Holy shit—” Charlie had raised her left hand for Harper to admire the small planet that adorned her ring finger. “That’s huge! What the hell? So who is he? How did this happen?”

Charlie beamed. “You are completely about to freak out. We met at this club and – you know how we used to make fun of those girls who were always talking about some spark or an instant connection? I am completely one of them now. Oh Harp, it was amazing; the last six months have been the most amazing time of my life—”

Harper couldn’t help but roll her eyes at her over exuberant friend. It wasn’t that she wasn’t happy for Charlie because she was completely ecstatic for her. She was just amused at how easily her friend had skipped over a very important detail in order to fill her in on everything else.

“Char,” she interrupted, “who is he?”

Charlie stopped mid-wind and laughed at herself. “Who is he? Haha this is where you’re going to flip out. He’s—” she broke off her sentence, and if it was possible her smile got even wider at the sight of something behind Harper. “There he is!”

Harper watched as Charlie jumped up and around the table to greet her fiancé.

And then her face blanked and her stomach dropped when she saw just who it was her best friend had her arms thrown around.


“Hello?” Brian called out as he entered the home of two of his best friends.

“In the kitchen!”

Brian made his way back to the kitchen where Matt was finishing putting up some dishes.

“Wow,” he joked, “just a few months of married life and she has you doing chores?”

Matt rolled his eyes as he walked over to the fridge. “Haha very funny. Beer?”

“Sure, man.”

Matt tossed Brian a can and grabbed one for himself. “You riding with us to L.A. later?”

Brian cracked open his beer and took a swig before answering. “Might as well. It’ll be more entertaining than making the drive alone.”

“Hey babe, come here,” Valary called from another room.

“Better see what she wants.” Matt led the way down the hall towards the den.

Val was just sitting on the couch watching television.

“What is it, babe?”

“Look,” she instructed and pointed at the screen, and both men dutifully obliged.

And Brian felt like he’d been punched in the gut. He couldn’t help that his first reaction was to her appearance. She looked absolutely stunning, even with all the bright studio lights. His eyes automatically followed the shape of her long crossed legs up until they were hidden by her short black skirt. Her blouse was a rich royal blue color that he had told once forever ago that she looked great in. She tossed her head back and laughed, causing her dark brown waves to cascade around her face and down her shoulders.

“So tell me,” Ellen said, “before you left for Europe, there were some photos floating around and some rumors about you and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Can you set our minds to rest? Were you guys a thing, are you still? What’s going on?”

“You know I feel like this is the only way we ever hear anything about your cousin anymore,” Val said before looking up. Her eyes went wide when they landed on Brian and she started scrambling for the remote to change the channel. “Oh shit, I didn’t hear you come in.”

Both his friends looked at each other and then at him, neither one quite sure what to say or do. No one really knew how to approach Brian when it came to stuff about Harper. At first, years ago, the mention of her would send him into a rage or a dark, depressing black hole. He had gotten over it though, mostly, by now, but everyone still would only talk about her in passing or not at all when he was around.

Val recovered quickly as she stood up and checked the time on her cellphone. “We should probably get going, since we’ll probably run into traffic on the way into L.A.”

“Why do you think Jimmy wants everyone to meet him in L.A. tonight?” Brian asked as he followed them through their house towards the exit.

“I don’t know; probably something to do with Charlie,” Matt answered


“The model he’s been seeing.”

“Oh, yeah.” Charlie, he grimaced internally. The girl The Rev just had to fall head over heels for also happened to know Harper. It was such a small fucking world.
♠ ♠ ♠

Things get more exciting in the next chapter, this one was just getting really long. Part of it's purpose though was to just give you some insight about who Harper has become since leaving Huntington,
FYI, the Tony Awards are kind of like the equivalent of the Oscars but for stage acting. Oh, and the Ellen show isn't live, so that's why the timeline of this chapter works: they recorded it in the morning, but it didn't get run on TV until later in the day.

Let me know what you think!