Geek Abroad

Free Geek Abroad by Piper Banks

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Authors: Piper Banks
door to the Wentworth home. It was a tall, graceful white town house that stretched four stories high.
    “Sadie! It’s so wonderful to see you!”Henry’s mom said. She beamed at us. Beatrice Wentworth was plump with brown curly hair, a warm smile, and the dark blue eyes that Henry had inherited from her. “Hello, Miranda, how are you? You look lovely.”
    “Thanks,”I said shyly. Since I hadn’t brought any dress-up clothes with me to London, Sadie had dragged me out the day before on a shopping expedition. Normally, I hate to shop, but I had to admit, it was fun trying on all the exquisite dresses for sale in the little jewel box of a shop Sadie had taken me to. As soon as I’d tried on the silk beaded slip dress I was now wearing, Sadie clapped her hands decisively and announced that I had to have it. The dress was a soft rose color, and shimmered in the candlelight as I slipped off my coat. “And thanks for inviting me,”I added.
    “We’re delighted to have you,”Beatrice said. She turned and called out, “Henry! Miranda’s here!”
    Henry must have heard her somehow, even though the party was already in full swing and the house was alive with the din of talk and laughter. He materialized out of the crowd, grinning down at me, his dimples appearing.
    “Henry, you look divine!”Sadie declared, causing the tip of Henry’s nose to turn pink.
    She was right: Henry looked very handsome in his blue blazer, white button-down shirt, and gray wool trousers.
    “I’m glad you’re here. My parents’daft friends keep cornering me. If one more person asks me where I’m set on going to university, I’ll go mental,”Henry told me.
    Beatrice rolled her eyes. “I hope that’s not what you told them,”she said, attempting to sound stern, although a smile was twitching at her lips.
    “Nah. I told them I was skipping college to embark on a career of petty crime. A few burglaries, maybe a bank job or two,”Henry teased.
    “Oh, you,”Beatrice said, playfully whacking her son in the arm. “Go on and get Miranda a Coke. Ah, here’s Giles. Giles, dear, will you get Sadie a drink?”
    As our parents headed off into the crowd of partygoers, Henry and I retreated to the big, cheerful kitchen at the back of the house. The caterers, all wearing long, starched white aprons, were gathered there, assembling trays of bite-sized food and goblets of champagne. Henry grabbed two Cokes and a handful of canapés from the fridge.
    “Come on, let’s go to my room,”he said, grimacing. “Before someone finds us and starts asking how school’s going. Or makes you calculate sums.”
    “Good idea,”I said, following him up the back staircase.
    Henry’s bedroom was on the top floor of the house, in a room with sloped ceilings and a round window on one wall. He had a plaid comforter on his oak bed, posters of soccer teams tacked up, and a big desk and bookshelf unit along one wall. The shelves were crammed with books and magazines, and a small television hooked up to play video games. It was a very masculine room, and I suddenly felt awkward being there, all dressed up in my pink sparkly gown. Henry looked a little uncomfortable, too. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his trousers and averted his gaze. For the first time since we’d met, neither one of us could think of anything to say.
    Then I spotted a familiar-looking box on the shelf.
    “Is that Grunge Aliens ?”I exclaimed, recognizing the ugly mustard yellow extraterrestrial cartoon on the video game box.
    Henry brightened and nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, it is.”
    “My friend Finn designed that game,”I said.
    Henry’s expression turned to awe. “Are you serious?”
    “Yep! That’s his best-seller, too.”
    “It’s a brilliant game,”Henry said reverentially. “I can’t believe you know the bloke who invented it. And he’s our age?”
    “Uh-huh. He goes to school with me. We’ve been friends for ages,”I said.
    “Wow. He must be a

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