Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chapter Seven

This may get a bit of editing later, but it will still say basically the same thing. :)

Some of the trees on Dan's model train table had fallen over, so he lifted them one by one and responded to his rumbling stomach by taking a large gulp of Smart Water. Half bent over the tiny town that lined his basement wall, he traced his index finger along one of the roads. One flick and the plastic, brown-haired man who stood outside the ice cream shop collapsed. Right on his face.

“Serves you right,” he muttered.

Swirling the bottle in his hand, he created a whirlpool that at first reminded him of a tornado. But then of the galaxies, whirling and spinning, each particle affecting another. Any heavenly bodies that ventured from their orbits eventually deterred others in the vicinity- with grave consequences.

The lesson: don’t step out of line.

So many people thought they could get away with it, not even considering the ramifications on others’ lives. Even the most subtle of movements could produce enough drama to span for generations.

His father had proven that fact. In many ways.

Of course Allie hated herself, thanks to sly, little comments from the rich business tycoon. Of course Ryan had followed in his father’s womanizing ways. Of course Dan had learned to manipulate others.

He knew how to pull strings and push buttons and do so like a magician, distracting with one trick while presenting another.

After Dan’s eight birthday, Oliver Shields had begun the lessons in deception, intriguing his son with gold that turned out to be fake.  Too bad the control freak’s main priority was teaching his eldest son the art of manipulation.

And his mother? Her biggest mistake was allowing it all to happen, but Dan often wondered if fear held her back more than anything.

But had fear left her children in the hands of nannies?

He barely knew his mother, so the three, pleading messages she’d left him over the past three days only slightly tugged on his emotions.  Either his father had convinced her to beg Dan to come home or she’d actually begun to miss him. For once in her diamond-laden, high life, she actually missed him.

But he couldn’t return home. Not now, because of the advancements he’d made with Allie and his students. No, not just one student but several of them.  But that one seemed to pop into his mind more frequently than the others.
How the danger sinks and swells, By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells -
…In the clamor and the clanging of the bells.

Too much literature in my head.
He placed the brown-haired man on the train table back in front of the ice cream shop, even if he did deserve to lie in the street.
Lord, I don’t understand what’s going on with me. Maybe you’ve just placed Rebekah on my mind for prayer?

That didn’t explain…all of it, though.

Two weeks had passed since Rose’s run-in with Brian in the alley. Two weeks since he’d detected a spark of attraction. 
But nothing would happen, especially because more important issues begged his attention.

God, it’s not like I’m planning on…touching her like Towers did- if Towers did.

She’s not even my type.

She’d make a guy miserable, even if she was old enough to date.

He smirked and took another swig of water. Setting the bottle down, he removed his t-shirt and sat on the weight lifting bench, but no sooner had he wrapped his hands around the bar attached to the high pulley than the stairs creaked. He froze and from the shadows of the stairway emerged his sister. Rubbing her eyes, her long hair disheveled as she clutched her pink robe closed in front of her, Allie peeked at him.

“What in the heck are you doing?” she asked so breathlessly that he knew she belonged right back upstairs in bed.

“Allison Marie Shields, I should be asking you the same question. Come on, let’s get you back to bed.”

He launched himself off of the leather bench, only for Allie to hold up her hand in a “stop” motion.  She lowered herself to the steps and rested her face against her palms, the slow rise of her dainty shoulders seeming to indicate a deep and possibly difficult breath.

He should have whisked her up and carried her to bed immediately, but instead he slouched over and knelt with on knee against a step and the other on the cold, hard floor.

What he wouldn’t give to have the more energetic girl from only six months ago.  The girl who’d carried in the dining room décor with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. The girl who’d teased him with 80s songs about his upcoming teaching position.  The girl who could once whip Ryan at arm wrestling and Dan at tennis.
Now, it was tempting to check her for any more sores, but she’d understandably been protesting that.
“Allie,” he whispered and swallowed, running his hands into her dry hair. “What is it?”

She raised her head, one brown eye reflecting the ceiling light. “You,” she said. “You’ve been acting weird. Kind of distant…”

“I’m fine.”

“Liar. I can tell when you’re perturbed....Daniel Isaac Shields."

“Of course. I’ve been worried about you.

She stared steadily enough to make him wish for a rock to crawl under.

“Listen,” he said. “I’ve got to workout and get ready for school and you need to go back to bed.”

“Did you sleep at all last night?”

Dan smiled. “Not sure.  I was too busy dreaming.”

“Smart alec…Just be honest with me, OK? Did Mom call you, too?”

What the…? Dan swallowed a curse but clenched his fists between his spread knees. His mother hadn’t a clue of Allie’s condition but still shouldn’t have been calling her. More complications in his little sister’s life were not welcome. Right now, she needed to stay focused on her promises- to learn more about the Lord and to keep on track with her eating.

He’d seen her reading her Bible at night but she still refused to discuss anything and it was all he could do not to nag her. However, she’d been eating grilled chicken salads each evening- that’s all she would allow for now, aside from some fruits and vegetables and tea sweetened with stevia.

He’d take what he could get but one, drama-packed conversation could send her into a relapse.

If disconnecting her phone service had ever been tempting, it was now.

Bekah slapped at the eyeliner Alice held in front of her right eye and emitted a long, drawn out moan. “I hate that stuff!”

“Get used to it, Bekah!” Alice plopped one hand on a dainty hip in her typical show of impatience. “If you want this to work, then you’ve got to look hot. Really hot, OK?”

“Hot? Me?” Bekah shook her head. “Look, Alice, I may have attracted a few idiots along the way, but I’m far from hot.”

“Get a life, you are hot when you really fix yourself up! I’ve seen you, now quit whining.”

Bekah mumbled about needing a good zombie apocalypse and collapsed on the wooden chair at the dining room table. A mirror framed with glowing lights sat in front of her. She felt a tap on her shoulder and looked up.

Batting her lashes, Alice produced one of her patronizing smiles, her head tilted so that her long hair reached below the edge of her black blouse. “Are you going to put this on yourself?” she asked. “Or turn around so I can do it?”

Ugh. She guessed she was a big girl, time to do it herself.

She snatched the eyeliner from her friend and blinked at her reflection in the square glass. Already, they’d applied a base that zapped away her paleness and her eyebrows had been tweezed- not that they’d really needed it, considering that they’d always reminded her of Barbie brows- barely noticeable and fake-looking. If ever they looked fake, it was now. Or it would be after she drew the dumb things back on.

Bringing the dark eyeliner tip toward her bottom lid, she grimaced. “Brian is so not going to buy this.”

Alice tsked. “Keep up the act and he will.”

Bekah’s stomach rolled.  Although she could practically taste the victory she’d been craving for the past two weeks, she could also picture everyone’s astonishment when she showed up, wearing tons of make-up and a leather skirt. She could imagine the Cheap Rose chants but heck- she could deal with that.

However, she wasn’t sure she could deal with any lusty-eyed stares, especially if they came from Kevin Murphy.

Brian needed to notice her, so she’d suck it up and let it happen. If he flung nasty insults at her, she’d ignore them (God, help her be patient). If he tried to attack her, she’d strike between the legs. If he came onto her, which wasn’t bound to happen right away, then she’d feign disgust for a little while and then see if she could woo him back and make him crack.

She’d never cooked up a scheme like this before and felt like a first-grader for doing it. The fact that Alice had been the main chef in this stupid, little recipe for disaster wasn’t much comfort.

As she traced her eye with the pencil, it struck her that some of the teachers’ heads might turn as she strutted down the hall in her borrowed, spiked boots. If that happened, then more bloody noses would be the freaking news of the day.

Especially if Mr. GQ’s tongue hit the floor. She’d been considering the possibility that maybe…just maybe he wasn’t so bad. If he let her down like every other male she’d ever considered to be “OK,” he’d be back on her Jerk-Wad List.

The school halls were quiet but the aroma of brewing coffee announced the presence of other teachers. Dan passed the lounge, intending to drop off his laptop bag and return for a caffeine booster before first period began. He’d need it for sure, after the night he’d had. Allie hadn’t a clue how distraught he’d been, pacing the floors and thinking until his brain literally began to throb.

Setting his bag on his desk, he wiped some dust off of the globe Ryan had given him for Christmas two years ago. The inscription on the golden base read, “To my square big brother. Thanks for your guidance.”

Nice to know Ryan appreciated the hours of lecturing and beating him over the head. In all, the kid wasn’t so bad. He cared for his family and he wasn’t a snob.

Not only was he not fazed by the run-down school building, but he hadn’t complained about the litter that lined the road or the rap music that had filled the parking lot after his visit two weeks ago.

Funny. Dan mostly despised his father’s influence upon himself and his siblings, yet Oliver’s constantly up-turned nose had probably knocked the snobbery out of all three of them. So much that Ryan would willingly date any hot girl he’d found cruising these school grounds.

If only the snobbery had been knocked out of Denise, Dan probably would have brought her to Ohio with him. But she preferred the high life and the pretty boys who chased her night and day, whether she’d been dating anyone or not.

Heck, they could keep her, attitude and all.
But his lack of a love life might have been doing screwy things to his mind.

How he’d find time to date someone, he didn’t know. His mother’s intrusion into their lives would require more time spent with Allie and the school work just kept on mounting.
Not only did the work keep mounting, he thought as he withdrew Lord of the Flies from the side pocket of his laptop bag…but it often involved some of his least favorite pieces of literature.  He allowed the paperback book to fall to the desktop and sighed.  Some stories, while offering great practice for analytical reading and writing, seemed more detrimental to the psyche than they were worth.  Great lessons to be learned or not, some kids would inherently be drawn to the negativity- kids like Brian Cruise and the many others who’d engaged in fights since the beginning of the school year.
“Hey, Shields, how’s it going?”
Dan started.  Jerking his head toward the entryway, he found Mr. Schmidt clutching the edge of  the door and peering in with a smile. “Too early in the morning for you, Son?”
Son.  Dan smiled flatly.  No one ever called him “son,” not even his own father and Dan wasn’t sure he liked it- not even coming from the salt-and-pepper-haired man wearing the blue pull-over who stood across the room.  The man’s grin began to fade as he gave the door a slight wiggle.

“Ready for some coffee?  There’s plenty made down in the lounge.”
Dan thanked him and said he’d be down soon, so Schmidt nodded, frowned softly, and retreated. Dan’s behavior this morning probably did strike the elder man as odd, but at the very least, he knew that a Christian brother had begun to look out for him. 
While drinking coffee the other morning, they’d both revealed their faith in Christ and Schmidt had invited him to church.  Dan hadn’t found a home and so had agreed to visit. Just as soon as he felt comfortable leaving Allie six mornings in a row.
Bekah stood in front of the full-length mirror inside of her disgusting, pepto-bismol pink bedroom, her palms glued to her closed eyelids.  Right now, she thought she’d give just about anything to wash up and dress in jeans and a t-shirt, but her friend gave her shoulders such a lovey-dovey shake.
“You look awesome!” Alice squealed in a far too cheerleader-like fashion. “Just wait until everyone sees you.”
“Yeah…just wait.” Bekah dropped her hands and glared at the shorter girl in the mirror.  “This is totally not a good idea.  Besides the fact that I never dress this way, Alice Dear, everyone’s just going to tease me all the more.”
“Not everyone.” Alice frowned.  “I think you’ll have guys begging you to homecoming.”
“Happy, happy, joy, joy.  Like I care about homecoming!” Bekah tugged the curve-hugging black blouse Alice had lent her. “I look like a slut!”
Alice slapped her thighs, her blue eyes blazing into their reflections.  “Are you saying I look like a slut when I dress like that?”
“No.” Bekah decided to deal with her friends’ wicked ways another day.  The fact remained that Alice slept around too much.  Which might have been a queue for serious counseling.
Now you sound like Shields.  “You need counseling.”
“Alice…you’re not as…fat as I am.”
“That’s not fat!” Alice gave Bekah’s hip a squeeze.  “That’s called curvy!”
“You know what I mean.”  Bekah groaned.  That’s not fat!  That’s just curvy.  Yeah.  Daddy-O had warned her about her curves when she was fourteen.  She’d stepped out of her bedroom, wearing an innocent pair of shorts but a blouse that clung to her like cling wrap.  Lowering his coffee mug as he leaned forward on the living room couch, Ted Rose had scowled. 
“Baby, that’s not going to work,” he’d said.  “Unless you want the whole block filled with howling boys.  You’re built like a girl twice your age.”
Yeah.  Daddy.  The bearer of such great wisdom.
But he wasn’t here now.  God only knew if he’d ever come back.  And sitting around moping about it didn’t help a freaking thing, she thought as she picked one of the long curls that now draped over her shoulder. 
If she’d dressed like this for Towers, then her joke might have been all the more provocative. Dressing like this for Brian seemed the crown of all stupidity.
Why couldn’t she just forget this craziness and go back to planning for self-defense classes?
Because, Idiot, you can’t afford ‘em.
So that was that.
She was stuck.  Unless she wanted Brian to start spewing everything he knew about her to the whole school. 
God, what now?  Framed inside the open doorway, Dan gripped his coffee cup and considered turning around and walking away.  The young woman perched atop his desk, wearing a red mini-dress with matching heels should certainly understand why a teacher like himself would run the other direction.  And yet he felt like a wimp for even considering it.  

What did it matter?  He’d had enough confrontations with women to be able to handle this, and it did help that Kelly McBride’s brazenness reminded him of Denise- not that he needed that headache on top of 
everything else. 

Her long spirals resting over one shoulder, Kelly crossed one leg over the other and grinned as he approached, so he shifted his gaze to his desk top and opened his bag.  Hopefully the other students weren’t far behind.

“What can I do for you, Kelly?”

She stopped swinging her leg and tugged her skirt slightly toward her knee.  However, the material slid back up, forcing Dan to admire the orange-streaked leaves outside the window.  He checked his watch.  Rebekah should be here any minute, because, surprisingly, she was usually one of the first to arrive.  And Kevin…Kevin, the business kid who’d already proven to be a breath of fresh air in this class.  He answered questions with the precision of any high school nerd, which was something to be proud of. Yet he’d seen other kids snickering at him.  Not Rebekah, though.  She’d often rolled her eyes but mostly kept her comments or chuckles to herself.

“Well,” Kelly said, sliding a bag across the desk that read “Karla’s Cakery” in fancy, red script.  He recalled seeing the same thing written on her cup the first day of school.  “This is sort of a gift from my sister.  She owns this bakery, see, and-”

“Owns it?” Dan frowned into her green eyes. 

“Yeah.”  She smiled whimsically at the ceiling, reminding him even more of Denise with her air of elusiveness.  False front.

“Business isn’t so great,” Kelly continued. “Which is no surprise in this neighborhood, huh?  But anyways, she asked me to pass out some treats…you know, to draw more people to the bakery.”

Yeah.  Right.  Either Kelly’s sister was absolutely desperate for money or Kelly was using their lack of business to entice him.

Feeling the bit of stubble he’d failed to shave from his chin, he decided not to challenge her. Not yet, anyway.  Rebekah's snarkiness made her a fun challenge, but judging from her confrontation with Rose over a front row desk, Kelly seemed a bit more delicate.  Pale and hugging her books tightly, she’d demanded her seat with somewhat of a quivery voice.  

Something told him the other girls feared Rose but teased her because she'd yet to launch a full attack on any of them.  He doubted she'd maintain her coolness for long.  She reminded him of the lyrics from Total Eclipse of the Heart:  "living in a powder keg and giving off sparks."

There was a song for everything.

After lifting the bag Kelly had brought him, he spotted a chocolate-frosted doughnut inside and handed the treat back to the giver.  “Thanks, Kelly, but I’m not a big fan of junk food.”

Her smile faded.

He cleared his throat.  “You might ask someone else if they want it- say at lunch time?” He smiled flatly just as someone strolled through the door.

The clip-clop of the shoes drew his attention first.  A glance to the right unveiled black, spiked boots that gave way to smoothly shaven, shapely legs and a black leather skirt.  The skirt appeared to just barely meet school regulations.  But the blouse…the blouse should have been banned, it hugged the wearer’s curves so closely.

Dan clenched his teeth, refusing to tug his tie in a show of nervousness, and wondered if he shouldn’t get home to Allie before every girl in school showed up dressed like this. What was going on today?

The girl in the black slowed.  He finally found her long, brown spirals that rested in heaps over her shoulders.  Dark but thin make-up lined her narrowed eyes and her face looked like it belonged on the cover of a magazine.  In fact, she reminded him of a young Jacqueline Smith.

Dan wanted to ask if he could help her, but the books she clutched in her arms suggested she belonged in this room…and the way she was exchanging glares with Kelly piqued his curiosity.

“Rebekah?” Kelly asked and tsked.

Dan felt his blood drain from his face. Every last ounce of it, he was sure and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead.  God tell me it isn’t so.

“What are you doing, dressed like that?” the redhead asked the brunette.

Rose’s gaze trailed back to his and all he could do was stand there with his hand glued on the back of his neck.

“What are you doing, flirting with the teacher?” Rebekah retorted with her focus fastened back on Kelly.   
“Just can’t stand the lack of attention, huh?”

With that, she scuffed across the room toward her window seat. Dan forced his hand down at his side and swallowed hard as he opened his lap top bag- again. 

As if things hadn’t been weird enough…questionable enough…why the hell had she shown up looking like that?  It wasn’t her, anyway... and it wasn’t right. Something had to be wrong.

Leaving a sweet mist behind, Kelly slid off his desk and offered Rebekah the doughnut. Had Dan been able to find his voice, he would have reminded her to wait until lunch, but his choppy brain finally computed that Kelly wouldn’t offer Rebekah a doughnut out of niceness.

Dan glanced at Rebekah- at least, he tried to only glance.  Her smirk drew him right in, but she seemed oblivious to his presence, as usual. Even after the little spark outside Hack’s office, she’d been reserved…but that outfit, that make-up, that hair- that was anything but reserved and he guessed he’d do himself a huge favor not to look at her again for the rest of class time.

He checked his watch and peeked at the door and wondered what in the world was taking everyone so long to get here.  Time to get moving, get his mind going, forget-

“What kind of doughnut?  Jelly?” Rebekah finally asked but he refused to look at her again.  God knew he didn’t need this kind of pressure, especially not now.  Maybe she needed help and he’d like to ensure that she got it, but-

“Crème-filled,” Kelly replied.  “Your favorite.”

Dan did a double take as Kelly sat in her seat.  Did he just hear what he thought he’d heard and was the insinuation what he thought?  Maybe Kelly wasn’t so delicate after all and he needed to be tougher on her.

Again with his hand on the back of his neck, he watched Rebekah sneering at Kelly and Kelly pointing her nose toward the ceiling.  Still, Kelly’s hands shook as she adjusted her things and Rebekah left her chair. 

Oh, no.  Lord, I don’t need this.

With other kids trickling in, Dan flew around his desk to cut off Rose before Kelly wound up wearing the crème-filled donut in her pretty, long hair.

Rebekah rocked back on her heels, her chest puffing out as she inhaled and glared at him. 

“Don’t, Rose,” he whispered. “Just leave it be.”

“Look, Mr. GQ, if you don’t want to be wearing half of that doughnut-”

“That’s enough.” He gulped.  Even with that sneer on her face, she looked gorgeous. And older and he wished she’d just march herself back home- change clothes, for pete’s sake. Come back looking like that cute young woman from yesterday.

Behind him, low whistles began sounding and then came the whispers: “Is that Rebekah Rose?”  and “Holy- !”

Yeah, she looked like the stereotypical fox and not even he could deal with it, but he’d have to.

Thankfully, Rebekah’s gaze softened.  She searched the room briefly, looked up at him once more…and then returned to her seat.

Dan released his breath.  Definitely time to find a date.  This was nuts.

Ch 8 


  1. Awww... poor, poor Daniel! He never had a chance, did he? hahahahaha

    I'm curious as to what mommy dearest wants now.

    This is getting better and better! :))


  2. haha, nope, Dan got sideswiped. :) He's still pretty headstrong, but things will keep happening. :)