Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chapter Twelve

Another shortie... I don't plan on showing the conversation with Kaye in "real time," because I feel it will just drag the story down and it needs to keep advancing. 

CHAPTER TWELVE

A cup of coffee warmed her hands, steam rising into her face and her head pounding.  Not only had her sleep been stolen but the vodka still weighed heavily on her mind and Mommy Dear wanted her to drink up the caffeine to clear it.

Teacher- wonderful, glorious Teacher, whom she’d so stupidly called in the middle of the night, sat diagonal from her right. Though she currently refused to look him in the eye, she could see his thick hands folded squarely between his leather-cloaked knees.  Still trying to look hot in the biker suit, huh?

She’d show him hot.  For involving her mother, she’d definitely show him hot.  She swirled the coffee in her mug as her mother’s peach-colored robe rippled past.  Mommy had been pacing for the past five minutes- quietly pacing and undoubtedly rehearsing in her mind how she intended to rip Bekah to shreds for intoxicating herself under her roof.

“Take a drink, Bekah,” her mother ordered from the opposite end of the coupon-covered coffee table. 

Bekah grimaced. How could she possibly drink black coffee?  No sugar, no milk, no chocolate of any kind added?  And drink it while Dan Shields sat there staring at her- probably with puppy dog eyes.

Her mother’s sigh could have popped a hole in the living room floor. “Rebekah….Honey…I’m going to change.  I hope by the time I get back, you’ll be ready to talk.”

She must have been talking to teacher when she added, “I shouldn’t be too long.  Help yourself to some coffee.”

Bye bye, Mommy Dearest. 

Bekah set her coffee down on the coupons and began rubbing her eyes. Why, oh why had this night turned into such a nightmare?  She smeared her hands on her jeans and hoped Dan would just leave her alone. Tomorrow, she’d probably be angry enough to tell him off. Right now, her heart and head felt too heavy to deal with him, not to mention the pounding in her temples.

“Rose?” He slid off of the couch and lifted her coffee as he planted himself on the table in front of her. Their knees nearly touched and his cologne still clung to his skin, mixed with what she believed to be perspiration.  After all, no young guy can run around in leather for hours and not sweat a bit, right?

But he’d removed his jacket, the show off. His forearms bulged as he set her cup on the floor next to her and then folded them across his lap.

Go away, Teacher. Just go away.  I never should have called you.

“Hey, look at me.” He nudged her chin with his index finger and quickly withdrew it. 

“Why should I?”

“Listen, I’m sorry if I humiliated you but short of calling a squad, I didn’t know what else to do.  For all I knew, you’d downed a bottle of pills and then lied about it.”

“Why would you think that?” She raised her head and glared into his searching, sad eyes.  “Have I ever struck you as suicidal?”

He shook his head. “Not exactly.  I’ve seen a lot of different things in you, but no, suicide isn’t one of them. But that doesn’t mean anything, does it?”

He seemed to be awaiting a reply, which she gave in the form of a minute shrug. 

“Eight years ago,” he went on, “no one would have guessed I was suicidal, but I came close more than once.”

“Why?” She had no idea why she’d allowed that question to slip.  Her heart urged her to shut up and never talk to the creep again, but something else seemed to be tugging on her.  Like…something deeper than the heart, urging her to listen.

What’s deeper than the heart?

He shifted so that she could no longer feel the heat of his knees across from hers.  Briefly he wiggled one leg and then shrugged. “I don’t think I should go into detail, but let’s say I’ve got some skeletons in my closet. God saved me from all of that.”

“God?”  Bekah frowned.  “What did He do, reach down and slap you upside the head or something?”

He stared evenly.  “Something like that.”

“So, now you’re going to preach to me about how I need God?  After pretending to be a friend and then coming over here to involve my mom in this whole-”

“Hey-“

“Do you have any idea what my mom’s been through already?  I mean, with the whole Towers thing and Dad leaving and now she’s going to think I’m…”

Dan leaned forward, brows raised in expectancy.  Apparently he’d been waiting for her to spill the beans about all the freaking drama she’d been through, but no dice.  No doubt he’d heard some things about Towers and no doubt he knew about Dad leaving.  But that’s all he needed to know.

“Go on,” he prodded.

“Why should I?  I’m just saying…Mom’s been through enough and I don’t want her getting the wrong idea.”

At first he didn’t move or respond.  But as she sat there, she began to recognize the probing look often given when people are awaiting a certain reaction.

“What?” she asked.

He leaned forward a little more. “Would it really be a wrong idea?”

She bristled as heat washed over her face.  What was he trying to accuse her of?  “Don’t even think it, Shields.”

“Think what?  That…” He peeked over his shoulder to the dim hallway and then turned back to her, lowering his voice. “The attraction’s been obvious, hasn’t it?  And not just one-sided.”

“What?” She rubbed her arms despite feeling plenty warm enough, thank you. Never in any of her wacked out dreams had she imagined sitting here with a teacher, discussing their attraction.  What happened with Towers was a completely different story.

“You know,” he said. “I don’t have to spell it out for you, but I do know one thing.”

Did she dare ask what?  Her heart began to hammer as she awaited the rest of his statement, though she guessed she’d be wiser to take a flying leap out of here.

She could hear him swallow and his voice sounded a little hoarse when he finally hit the nail:  “We need to keep our distance.” 

With that, he peeked down the hallway again and reseated himself on the couch as his fingers slid through his thick, needing-to-be-cut waves. While he puffed his breath out in a long, steady stream, the gravely, goosebump-inducing laughter of a certain, knife-fingered fiend began to rattle her brains.

Unfortunately, there would be no more vodka to shut him up- not tonight and or for a very long time- thanks to Teacher. The same teacher who now planned on shoving her away like a nibbled sandwich. 

He’d shown interest, gotten to know her a tad, and now he was pulling back.

Just like that.

What did it matter, anyway?  Pulling back was the mature, smart, responsible thing to do, but she doubted he’d ever felt too attached to begin with. Like most men, he’d just been lusting.

Bekah shoved out of her chair, cursing the tears that kept knocking at the corners of her eyes. Somehow she managed to swallow them as she entered the kitchen and began digging in the refrigerator for a can of Coke. 

Anything beat sitting in that living room, feeling like a castaway or a troubled child.

The floor creaked behind her as soon as she opened the can, and then Teacher stood next to her with his hand propped on the counter top.  Watching her wearily with a curl peeping out from behind his ear and the collar of his black t-shirt drooping as though he’d stretched it too many times.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he said.

“Who said I was hurt?” She took a long drink and the bubbles tickled her throat so much that she was forced to cough into her fist.  “I’m…” she coughed some more. “Fine.”

“There’s no sense in either one of us taking this to heart, Rebekah.”

Rebekah?  Not Rose anymore?

Figured.

Stupid men.

“Attraction is one of the laws of nature, but we have to be careful how far we let it go.  I’m your teacher and a friend…a distant friend, and it needs to stay that way.  We both know that.”

Bekah pulled at the pop can tab, unsure how to take his forwardness.  Either he was playing the good teacher in order to snow her or he was serious…or…he was lying to himself. He wanted more than what he’d admit to, maybe?

“Have you read Narnia yet?” he asked and she nearly choked on her drink.

Why the heck did he keep bringing Narnia up and why the heck would he do it at a time like now?

Setting her can down on the counter, she plopped her hand on her hip and hoped to set him ablaze with a single sneer.  He didn’t look surprised, however, as he began feeling a faint layer of whiskers on his cheek.  Too relaxed a move for her taste- he should have shown at least a touch of annoyance.

What was his problem, drawing her close, then shoving her away, then bringing up stupid kiddie books?

“What is your hang up with Narnia?”

“Get Magician’s Nephew. Read and maybe you’ll understand why I keep bringing it up.”

“Why would you bring that up right now? Only a big nerd would do that, so congratulations. I think you’ve proven yourself a certified nerd.”

“And you’ve proven yourself to have a very bad attitude.  The more I get to know you, the more I realize that you absolutely do need counseling.”

“So now I’m just a nutcase?”

“I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth.”


Her chest practically heaving as she considered throwing her Coke all over him, Bekah glanced toward the kitchen opening and hallway. She hadn’t heard her mother’s door, so she guessed she could squeeze in a few more snotty remarks.

“You never said it, but you’re thinking it, is that it?”


“No, that’s not it.” His frown countered hers and he finally dropped his hands to his hips. “I thought I was beginning to make myself clear in there.” He pointed to the living room. “But apparently you still don’t get it.”

“What? You mean your little confession?”

He nodded.

“Don’t give me any cheesy, ‘I’ve been there’ speeches, because I don’t need them. You haven’t been where I am and you never will be!”

“And vice versa, Rose, vice-versa.  You think my life has always been easy? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through with my parents, not to mention my sister?  I’ve practically grown an ulcer over her but you know what?”

Bekah pursed her lips, recalling how she’d scolded herself for giving him a hard time when Allie was sick.

“If it wasn’t for God in my life, I would have given up a long time ago.  When you’re in these situations, you need someone to hold onto, and if that someone is a mortal, you’re bound to be let down.  Do you get it?”

“It seems to me that…” She made quote marks with her fingers. “God’ is always letting people down. If He wasn’t, then explain all the misery in this wacked-out world.”

She thought she’d one-upped him, but his expression only became more solid as he leveled with her and said, “One word:  Sin.”

“Sin?  You’re saying I’ve sinned too much and so…” 

You have sinned- or whatever you want to call it.  You’re a liar and a drunk, among other things.

Besides, her problems hadn’t exactly been thrown at her.  She’d created them- or at least some of them.

She turned away to lean against the refrigerator.  She’d actually asked him about the rest of the world- not about herself. But she was beginning to see his point.  People screw up and create all sorts of problems, not just for themselves but for others. Just like she’d done to herself and to her mom.

She deserved the hell she’d been living in. Fully deserved it.

Suddenly the ticking of the clock on the dining room wall seemed louder than usual and her head began to pound even harder. Maybe more tears were coming or maybe the alcohol was now insisting that she lie down. Whatever.

She tucked her face against her palms, waiting for tears and wondering what Teacher was doing at that moment. Staring at her, frowning at her, reaching for her and pulling away?

It didn’t matter. 

It just didn’t flipping matter.

His warm hand covered her shoulder and she could hear his breathing as it slightly picked up.  “It’s OK, Rose,” he whispered.  “It’s going to be OK.  Just listen.”

She was listening, but unfortunately what she heard was her mother’s door opening down the hall.

3 comments:

  1. that was...

    unexpected to say the least.
    But i loved every second of it.
    update soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey, I know, Dan's never admitted any attraction this early. But he's only admitting to physical attraction...nothing else. The rest is yet to come. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oooo... I really wasn't expecting it either!
    I'm speachless and trust me, this doesn't happen often!
    Very well written! Expertly so! I think I start getting Dan's point in all this... I know, I'm slow... hahahahaha

    Suzie

    ReplyDelete