Monday, July 18, 2011

Chapter Nine, Part 2


Dan ran his hand through his hair and released his breath as Ryan wheeled Allie up behind Rose. He hadn’t meant to bring the entire family into the bowling alley, but Ryan had decided to take Allie for a drive and wound up following Dan. Mostly, it had been a joke- Ryan trying to mess with Dan’s mind as usual. He and Allie were snickering inside the car when he’d pulled up beside them in the parking lot, asking what the heck they were doing- he was here to visit and student and her mother.

He shouldn’t have indicated that the student was a “her,” because Ryan’s sensors began to go off and then Allie said she hadn’t bowled in years and had pleaded with him to come in.

She wasn’t in any physical shape for bowling, but how could he deny her? She needed a break from her house-bound routines and he hoped that watching others run up and down the lanes would further motivate her to eat.
He hadn’t thought until now what Rose’s reaction might be to Allie’s pasty complexion and skeletal features, but so far…she seemed to be handling it well.

She turned after Ryan tapped her on the shoulder to introduce their “Beautiful, wheelchair-bound sister.”
Allie rolled her eyes and extended her hand, and Rose smiled as she reached to shake. Because her hair partially blocked her profile, he couldn’t tell how real Rose’s smile might have appeared to Allie, but judging from Ryan’s lit expression, everything seemed to be in order.

“I’m not exactly wheelchair bound,” Allie told Rose. “Just a little weak right now, but I’m coming around.”

Dan smiled at his sister’s determination. So far, she hadn’t faltered from her nightly grilled chicken salads and he hoped that, starting tomorrow, she’d be able to down a decent lunch. Not just fruits and vegetables.

He’d already disconnected her phone service so that no one could interfere with her progress. At first, she’d accused him of pulling a “Dad trick,” but she’d soon settled and conceded that he was right. Better not to hear from mom right now.

Dan would handle everything while Allie healed.

He checked his watch for what must have been the fifth time since locating his rosey-cheeked student, who turned back to him with the same starry-eyed gaze he’d seen in her only moments ago.

Not what he needed. Definitely not what he needed.

Rose, so far, had been one of the few girls who’d mostly kept hints of admiration at bay. Apparently showing up in his bike gear had broken her down.

The old Dan would have made a move on her, student or not (as long as she was eighteen), and his father would have found a way to keep him out of jail.

But the new Dan despised the old Dan and wished like heck that Rose didn’t look so attractive in that red sweater. Baggy it may have been, but it still managed to draw attention to her hips and the color enhanced her complexion and hair.

Not only did her external beauty continue to draw him, but he could see different layers of her coming undone. Her lack of snotty remarks and the way she’d lingered in his presence suggested that she’d been softening toward him- perhaps she was on the verge of opening up. Maybe about Towers, who knew?

Regardless, keeping his distance from her seemed almost as important as keeping his mother away from Allie. Maybe Ryan could distract Rose while Dan spoke- alone- with Mrs. Rose. After that, he’d get the hell out of here. He should have known better than to show up in biker gear and had realized after arriving that he’d mirrored Rose’s antic- the black leather, the “new look.” They’d both caught one another off guard, although he hadn’t meant to do it.

Had she meant to?

Considering the incident with Towers…it was possible that she’d meant to throw him. To test him.
Dumb drama. He felt like a dark hero from a Charlotte Bronte novel.

“Dan? Earth to Dan.” Allie pushed out of her wheelchair to wave her hand in front of his face, while Ryan turned his attention to Rose. Over the roar of bowling balls and the clashing of pins, Dan could hear him asking for her phone number.

Dan grimaced, scratching the back of his neck and meeting the curious gaze of his younger sister. She was on to him, he realized, when she looked to Rose and then back at him, seeming to search him with x-ray vision.
Thankfully she stood with her back to the other two when she mouthed, “What’s going on?”

Leave it to Allie to always pick up on his mood changes and screw-ups. Nothing got by her, even when she could barely stand up.

Dan cleared his throat. “You want something to eat?”

Allie seemed to pale even further, if that were possible, as she pushed some hair behind her ear with shaky fingers. She gripped his hand and the icy feel of her skin nearly knocked the air out of him.

God, I thought she was improving. What’s going on here?

“I think we need to get you out of here,” he said, but she shook her head profusely.

“Knock it off, I’m fine, but I’m not sure about you.”

Though she’d spoken lowly, he peeked at the “kids” in front of the Miss Pac-Man machine. Rose still stood with her arms folded, nodding as Ryan ranted something about forgetting his wallet and hitting his head.

What was he talking about? Which drunken episode might that have been?

“Dan,” Allie rasped close to him. “You’re not…I mean…” She pursed her lips, staring wildly in her typical attempt to wordlessly communicate with him. “You know,” she whispered when he failed to show any signs that he understood her question.

“Allie…” He clamped his hands over her shoulders. “I wouldn’t do what you’re thinking. Don’t worry.”

Instead of relaxing as he’d hoped she would, she tightened her frown. “That didn’t sound too reassuring.”

“Everything’s under control, OK? Nothing’s going to happen.” Even as he spoke the words, his stomach clenched and he hated when he doubted himself. How could he doubt?

None of this made sense, anyway. So, Rose looked a little older than her peers and had graduated from “cute” to “hot” in a single day. He’d been in contact with tons of gorgeous women. He could handle this.

And finding a Christian woman closer to his age would help him handle it.

Bekah couldn’t believe it. She’d given Ryan her phone number, but she’d a sickening suspicion that she’d done it for one reason: staying in contact with Ryan meant staying in contact with Teacher. Possibly outside of school.

What the holy snot was she thinking? Could someone please tell her she hadn’t gone mushy over a pair of chocolate eyes and nicely rounded pecs?

No, it’s more than that.

She twiddled a strand of her hair between her fingers while Ryan typed her number into his iPhone. He really wasn’t bad looking. Actually, he looked like a slightly stretched version of his brother, but he seemed far less complicated than Teacher Dear.  As life had taught her, however, the gods only knew what weirdness lurked inside their heads.

Oh, Shields- or Dan - was just chockfull of mystery, and that’s what had begun to appeal to her. He wasn’t the cardboard cut-out she’d hoped he was.

Glancing to her right, her heart sank when she spotted him with his hands on his frail sister’s shoulders, speaking to her below the music and the rest of the noise.

Though curious as to what was wrong with Allie, she hadn’t yet asked. But she looked like Courtney Cox, with her bones sticking out. So…anorexia, maybe?

She suddenly felt bad for ever hassling Teacher.

But, heck, everyone was having a hard time.

Which is maybe a good reason to play nice?

“Great, got your number,” Ryan said and stuffed the iPhone into a pouch at his side. Grinning, he asked, “Hungry?”

“Hey, Ry…” Dan stepped over while Allie reseated herself, and gripped his little brother’s shoulder. “We’ve got to get Allie to a doctor.”

“What?” Bekah and Ryan asked in unison.

Shields seemed to do a slight double-take at Bekah, but then told Ryan, “She’s cold…really cold and I don’t like it.”

“She gets that way sometimes.” Ryan shrugged. “You heard the doctor-”

“I want her checked out,” Dan snapped (but not much to Bekah’s surprise). “I’m not playing games with this stuff.”

“OK, OK, fine.” Ryan raised his hands defensively. “You’re the commander-in-chief around here. Are you coming with us?”

One hand resting on his hip, Dan turned back to Bekah, lips pursed. “I’m sorry, Rose,” he said. “I’ll have to ask your mother for a rain check, but here,” he reached into his back pocket and produced a card with his name, phone number, and email on it. “Tell her I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reach her by phone, but she can call me any time. No matter how late.”

Bekah nodded and for some reason couldn’t muster the energy to even look at him. But lucky Allie…two strong guys who seemed to want to stick with her…through thick and thin.

Ryan tugged her hair gently, promising to call her and she smiled as he pulled away to cart his sister down the concourse.

Once Dan’s siblings strolled away, she managed to make eye contact. He still looked apologetic and maybe a little concerned. Oh, please, no more of the analytical, you need a counselor kind of stuff.

“I take it,” she began, “that you don’t want me to hear what you have to say to Mom?”

His silence as he studied her said enough and suddenly she felt like tossing the card back at him.

Instead, she grasped it tightly and took a deep breath. His sister was sick. She’d be nice.

“I’ve already discussed everything with you…except your grades,” he said.

“My grades?”

He nodded. “They’ve stayed around the C and D range and I happen to know you could do better.”

“Really? How do you know that, Teacher?” He was right, of course, but who gave a flip, as long as she was passing?

“You’re sharp.” He shoved one hand into a pocket, but it didn’t seem to fit too well because of how closely his pants fit his narrow hips. “But you’ve just got a lot on your mind and-”

“Let me guess…I need counseling?” She smirked and he narrowed his eyes.

“Come on, Rose, don’t cop the attitude again. I was enjoying the break.”

“Oh, I don’t have an attitude. I’m just…I guess a little tired of adults talking about me like I’m a child who can’t make decisions for herself. I’m not that lost, you know?”

“Are you sure about that?”

She gritted her teeth and they played a little game of “stare the other person down,” Bekah undoubtedly resembling a witch and Dan looking like he’d just lost his puppy.

“Stop looking at me like that,” she said. “I’m not a project, OK?”

“Did I say you were?”

“You’re treating me like one. Don’t pity me.”

“Listen, you’re the one who asked the questions. I just answered honestly.”

“Fine, you did, now go ahead. Your sister needs you.” She hoped that last part hadn’t sounded snotty, because anyone with a sick loved one didn’t deserve that kind of punishment. She shook her head when his frown deepened and said, “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean-”

“It’s OK.” He wavered, raising his hand toward her, dropping it, and then rubbing his chin pensively. “I need to get going, but I’ll see you Monday. Try to dig into your reading a little more this weekend, OK?”

Yes, Master. She pocketed his card and felt like the biggest jerk on the planet. Why did her temper always get to her the way it did?

“I’m …” She swallowed. “I’m really sorry…I don’t mean to give you a hard time when your sister’s sick and all.”

His small smile knocked the sappiness from his eyes. “I appreciate that. You need anything, you’ve got my information.”

Immediately, his hand covered his mouth in an obvious show of regret.

Of course. Why would he want Cheap Rose hounding him?


  1. Writing a web novel sounds like a great idea, I am going to follow and find time to read it! I found you on a blog promoting site and figured i'd stop by. Please check out my nonsense as well... follow if you'd like! :)

  2. Is it me, or did Dan just call Bekah "cheap Rose"?

    He deserves whatever punishment she throws towards him... seriously...

    Still hot down here... still need to cool off... cough*blackmail*cough

    How's the pregnancy going?


  3. Hey, no, Dan didn't call her Cheap Rose. He's just worried because he offered for her to contact him if she needed anything and he's afraid that his attraction to her might become a huge problem.

    He'd never call her Cheap Rose. lol

    Pregnancy is going great. :) Baby's due within the next month and a half. Thanks for asking.