Monday, July 18, 2011

Chapter Nine, Part One

Chapter Nine

Rolling “thunder” and loud clashes mingled with the sizzling of meat, the beeping of the cash register and the wild rantings of a bunch of workmen at the counter. While the flannel-wearing men scarfed on burgers and fries, Kaye Rose was busy cooking, taking orders and running to and fro like a chicken with its butt cut off.

Bekah had stupidly volunteered to help (knowing the answer would be “no”), if only to pass the time and keep herself from puking all over her small section of the counter. Why the idea of Shields showing up here made her feel so on edge, she didn’t know. Besides, only a geek would insist on visiting Mommy at work, right? Right. He was every bit as much of a nerd and a boy scout as she’d suspected and he was about to prove it- any time now.

Yeah, any time- it was already going on six-thirty and she doubted her mother would be able to break away from the dinner rush any time soon…and after that, they’d most likely head home.

So, where was Shields?

Ugh, this was madness.

Bekah slipped off of her stool, dragging her chocolate shake with her. One sip, however, and she was sure she’d hark all over the black runner that led to main floor outside the cafe. She followed that runner like the yellow brick road, rolling her eyes when one of the workmen turned to ogle her.

Her curls had gone limp, but she still hadn’t washed off all the make-up, so she probably looked at least half-way “hot.”
Why hadn’t she washed off the make-up? Maybe it had worn off a little. Maybe she should run to the little girl’s room and make sure it all came off before Shields arrived here.

No sense looking nice for him, especially because he might get a screwy idea in his literature-crammed head. She hadn’t meant to entice him earlier, but that hadn’t stopped the flood of warmth when he’d gazed helplessly at her with his hand on the back of his neck. The red in his cheeks, the admiration in his eyes.

So, he hadn’t reacted like a moron. Good for him- but he’d still shown his attraction, so maybe that made him equally as bad as Towers.

Not fair and you know it.

She stopped beside the old Miss Pac-Man machine, which had been in the same spot outside the café since God only knew when, and glanced up and down the crowded concourse. Not long ago on a Friday night, this place would have been crammed with drinking, smoking jerks, but thanks to the passage of the smoking ban, only drinkers crowded these floors. Because everyone knew that drinking was so much better than smoking.

But this place wasn’t so bad. She’d spent many a peaceful afternoon, reading Stephen King novels and munching junk food while sitting comfortably in a corner booth. During the school year, good times like that were few and far between.

Two quarters rolled into the big, blue Miss Pac-Man machine and then Bekah gave the thing a kick- for good measure. How dare it eat more than one quarter, but heck, times were tough, right? Even for poor ghost-monsters.

The computerized music filled the space surrounding her, punctuated by the sound of balls clashing into innocent, white pins who’d never done anyone any harm.

Where the heck was Mr. GQ and why hadn’t he called her mother?

She glanced to her left, to her right.

And just like that, her first life had been lost. The little, yellow ball with the triangle mouth rolled over and died on the flashing screen in front of her.

Dang it. She never died that quickly! If not for stupid people like Brian and Shields, she wouldn’t have been acting like a fruitcake all day and she would at least have been able to beat the dumb game, as usual.

She kicked the big clunker once more.

“Just venting some steam?”

She froze with her hand on the joystick and peered to her left.

Bekah squinted up at a smiling face with dimples pressed into thin, cleanly shaven cheeks. With his hands shoved in the pockets of his brown jacket, the tall guy next to her winked.

Of course. He winked- the same guy who’d flirted with her in the school hall a couple of weeks ago.  What was he doing here?

“Remember me?” he asked with the wiggle of his brows.

She nodded. “How could I forget?  Who are you?”

“This-” A thick hand landed atop the young man’s shoulder and *poof*- Shields stepped into view. 

At least she thought the man in the black leather jacket and matching pants was Shields.

Only his chocolate eyes and his mussed, wavy hair confirmed his identity.  With the addition of a black t-shirt that clung to his pectorals, he no longer looked like Mr. GQ.  He looked like some tough, hot biker dude who would have slammed Brian Cruise against the school wall instead of marching him to the principal.  She could even picture the veins popping out in his neck as he snarled in the jock’s face.

Maybe what she’d been seeing at school was only one side of Mr. Shields.

Bekah’s legs began to feel weak and she cursed them. 

Shields, his mouth slightly ajar, looked to her as though waiting for her to speak. But her voice had gone bye-bye and she was still waiting for him to finish his statement. “This…” what?

“This is my brother,” he finally said. “His name’s Ryan, if you must know.”

Ryan? Ryan who?  She nibbled her lip and twisted her ankle. 

Ryan stuck out his hand. Bekah blinked. Looking up, she found the younger, taller man with his grin intact. 

“You’re supposed to shake,” he explained and heat engulfed Bekah’s face.

Right. Shake his hand, idiot. She did as bidden, surprised by the firmness of his grasp. His fingers seemed long, but not quite as thick as his brother’s. Earlier today, she’d noticed how Shields’ pen had nearly disappeared inside the curve of his massive paw. He may have been a little shorter than his brother, but his muscles made up for that.

Stop lingering on the muscles.  Since when do muscles impress you?

“So, I guess I’m supposed to stay out of the way,” Ryan began while Shields checked his watch. “But I don’t think Dan will care if we get acquainted while he tattles on you.”


“Ryan,” Shields sounded and looked threatening, wearing his teacher glare. “That’s not the equivalent of staying out of the way.”

“Close enough. You came to talk to her mom, right?”

Shields- or had she heard Ryan call him “Dan?”- slid his focus to Bekah.

Bekah swallowed. OK, this was just crazy.

But the “daring look” definitely did Shields justice.  Though she’d detected some intimidating vibes from him before, now he’d morphed into a biker with an attitude.

Actually, with the lines at the bridge of his nose and his jaws working, he looked kind of ticked.

Maybe he was ticked?
“OK.” Bekah was startled by the sound of her own voice and looked up to find that Ryan’s grin had seemingly been swallowed into the black hole that surrounded them. “I…”

Shields glanced at her figure.  Folding his arms, his brows perked when he realized she’d turned her attention back to him.

A fan the size of Texas might have done her some good at that moment, but she couldn’t decide if, in the midst of her brainless admiration of a teacher, she detected a bit of anger brewing inside of her.

He’d peeked at her figure. She’d seen him, hadn’t she? Yeah, he was actually checking her out again!

Or maybe he was just noticing that you changed your clothes.

“Mom’s busy right now,” she blurted. “Not sure how long she’ll be.”

Ryan’s smirk returned as he watched her slide her hands into her pockets. Unlike his brother, he planned no quick-steal of the eye candy. His gaze lingered at her hips, but what could she expect from the dude who’d winked and whistled at her, not to mention called her “baby?”

Was he for real?

Was Shields?

“I can wait, Rebekah.” Shields’ voice barely carried above the drunken laughter behind them as he checked his watch again. Turning to Ryan, he asked, “Can you go see what’s taking Allie so long?”

“Allie?” Bekah asked, while at the same time, Ryan countered, “Why don’t you check?”

“Our sister,” Shields told Bekah with a nod before shaking Ryan gently by the arm. “Get lost, Ry.” He chuckled but his smile appeared forced as he prodded his brother in the direction of the restrooms.

“Little” brother stuck his hand to his chest and gaped in mock horror as he lurched forward.  “See what he’s like? If you guys think he’s a pain, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Bekah smirked. Not sure she liked Ryan, but she liked his smart-alec remarks. She imagined he enjoyed mentally toying with straight-laced “Dan.”

Or…not so straight-laced. She turned back to her leather-wearing teacher once Ryan disappeared around the corner.

The way her red sweater sleeves bunched around her folded arms made her feel like an old granny and she straightened them while Shields appeared to be analyzing her. Scanning over her face and baggy top, tilting his head as he often did when trying to decide what to say next.

She bristled, half expecting him to reignite his statement about her needing counseling. Right now, she couldn’t imagine that statement coming out of his mouth, but maybe that was why he wanted to talk to Mommy?

Just great.

“So, this is a new look for you, huh?” He gestured at her hair and face.

New look? He was one to talk!

Go back to being the nerdy teacher, already.

More heat enveloped her as she realized he hadn’t been thinking about counseling. He’d been admiring her again, maybe?

“I…don’t know.” She shrugged and wondered where her ability to speak rude retorts had fled to. Because he deserved one now, didn’t he? Yeah, she was sure of it, though she wasn’t entirely sure why. Making an observation didn’t mean he’d been lusting.

Who said anything about lusting? That doesn’t exactly equate with admiration, either.

Oh, shut up.

“My friend Alice wanted to give me a makeover,” she explained and found herself with her arms folded again.

Shields nodded slowly. “So this was a one-day kind of thing?”

She wished. “Not…exactly.”

“Oh?” He knit his brows.

Crap, how did she worm her way out of this one? Did she really want to? He looked so…The heat and the draw she’d felt toward him began to deflate as she recognized the concern in his eyes. Had he actually come all the way out here out of pure, boring concern for a student?

Sheesh, make up your mind what you want from him.

What did she want from him? Everything – all of her thoughts and feelings- just kept spinning round and round, but which one kept popping out the most?

Fear?  Or just caution?  No, there was fear, she decided and imagined slapping herself.  But in the midst of that vague, Nightmare on Elm Street feeling came a strange sort of calm.

Maybe she liked to make fun of Teacher’s nerdy side, but obviously there was more to him than that.  Maybe what she’d sensed earlier was the same thing that kept the other students in line- a feeling that one could trust Mr. Shields. One could confide in him and he’d do anything he could to help.

At least that’s what she’d drawn from his actions so far. He’d even tried to assign her a babysitter after Brian’s attack, someone to escort her through the halls, but she’d told him to stuff that idea where the sun doesn’t shine. Once she’d explained that Brian the Butthead only attacked when drunk and that she doubted he’d be getting blasted on school property again, he’d eased off. At least she thought he had, but maybe he’d something up his sleeve to present to Mommy tonight.

“Rose.” He reached as though ready to take her hands, and they both froze with the scent of his cologne hovering between him.  After gawking at the near-cataclysm, he cleared his throat and offered an apology.

Apology accepted, Captain Needa.  Either she should deck him or melt like a marshmallow over a campfire.  That leather, those eyes, that cologne- those pecs!

“Listen,” he went on, “my sister’s coming. She isn’t well, so try not to act shocked when you see her.”

Looking at his tormented expression, the brows twisted and the paleness of his complexion, she wondered what exactly was wrong with his sister. And why had he brought her here if she wasn’t well?

“Don’t worry.” Her voice quaked. “I won’t say anything.” And she hoped she could keep that promise.

Ch 9-2


  1. Love this chapter can't wait till the next.

  2. Ooooo... Ryan AND Dan! I'd like to be in that bowling alley... hahahahaha

    Thanks for updating so soon for poor, old and thermocuted (?) me... but... are you trying to kill me?

    Dan in leather?... Dan with tight clothes?... Dan with cologne?... Dan admiring Bekkah?...

    I didn't get to cool off! I got even more frustrated!!!! In a good way of course, but still... poor me, I say! :)))

    On to read part 2...