Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chapter Five


Fiddling with the roll of Tums in his pocket and itching to call Allie, Dan stepped back to allow Rose out of Hack’s office. After brushing her long bangs away from her narrowed eyes, she glanced around the corner into the empty secretarial booth. Empty like his stomach, which gurgled despite the pain and worry. How he managed to maintain himself like this…God must have been keeping him steady.

“Letting me go already?” Rebekah’s sneer relieved him, after a day of dealing with starry-eyed girls who required that he watched his every step and word. However, he also noticed the way she squeezed her books against her chest: a very nervous, Allie-like move.

He understood Rebekah’s paleness and shakiness outside because any girl, no matter how strong, would fear being throttled by a man twice her size. But her silence with the principal and her current behavior suggested uncertainty from a girl who’d seemed far too sure of herself.

Of course, he’d only known her for two weeks and had learned just a handful of interesting facts about her.  Preoccupied with lessons, grading papers and dealing with Allie, he’d failed to delve into any of his students’ lives too deeply. Not that he needed to know their every habit and heartache. But gaining a more thorough understanding of their backgrounds and home lives would help- especially the tougher students, because he knew first hand how understanding could break down walls.

One brow furrowed, Rebekah began tapping her foot.

What had he missed? Why was she- oh, yeah.

He cleared his throat and wished the school could afford central air as he whisked some sweat from his forehead. “I thought I heard someone coming down the hall,” he explained. “Thought maybe your mother had arrived, but I guess not.”

Glancing at his watch, he reached for his phone in his side pouch. Couldn’t call home in front of a student, much less while in the school office. No one knew about Allie’s MRSA and he intended to keep it that way. People tended to panic at the very mention of a superbug’s name, which was understandable but not always logical. He and Ryan had been exposed to MRSA for weeks and still remained clear of any symptoms.

Of course, their well-fed immune systems superseded Allie’s.

Lord, please help her. Please guide her and heal her.

As he raised his head, he found Rebekah scrutinizing him while continuing to tap her foot. The way she’d tilted her head, curiosity brewing in her gaze, reminded him of how Denise used to probe him for honesty. Before he’d come to Christ, she’d good reason to question him. But now?

Every rose has its thorn.

He scratched the back of his neck. “Ok, let me have it,” he said as he dropped his hand back to his side. “What did I do now?”

She pursed her lips. “You get weirder by the day.”

Nice, he thought. Not only did he get no thanks for rescuing her from a drunken jock but he’d been rewarded with more insults. Insults, let-downs. Earlier, he’d followed Brian in order to present the OSU football tickets he’d earned for good behavior. No need to deliver that prize now- not after finding the punk squeezing the arm off of a girl half his size. And not just any girl, but one who’d suffered plenty with a student/teacher controversy, a father who’d refused to stay put and support her, and bullies who kept the drama alive with their constant ridicule. Not to mention a principal who seemed equally as condescending as her peers.

What exactly had transpired between her and Mr. Towers remained shrouded in mystery and Dan preferred to grab details from Rebekah before forming any opinions. Whatever the case, she clearly needed help.

Roses and thorns go hand in hand.

Did this Rose know of Christ’s thorns? The nails driven into His hands on her behalf? He would have loved to ask, but now was not the time nor the place. Hack would return any second and he’d seen students wandering the halls. Had Rose not been well hidden around the corner from the panoramic office window, fear of rumors might have consumed him.

Rebekah plastered him with her favorite “what are you doing?” look. With her pale face, void of any make-up, she looked like a tired, young woman trying to appear mean and tough. Mostly, she came off as a cute girl with an attitude and he completely understood why Kevin Murphy kept trying to strike up a conversation with her. But any guy who found himself in a relationship with her would probably regret it- quite often.

“Rebekah,” he said finally. “Have you ever read the Narnia books?”

Giving her head a slow shake from one side to the other, she tsked. “Not into fairy tales, Shields. At least not the kiddie kind.”

“Read it anyway…starting with The Magician’s Nephew.”


“Just trust me.” He winked and then cringed. He was too used to counseling Allie. Winks with her were acceptable, but with any school girl, especially Rebekah Rose…

Sighing, he awaited the verbal abuse. But instead she smiled. A barely noticeable smile, but it lacked the skepticism he usually read on her expressions. As a few seconds ticked by, he began to notice the shades of green that tinged her brown eyes.

“Whew, I’m sorry…” A woman came huffing into the office, clutching a purse the size of his briefcase and shoving long strands of blond and gray hair over her shoulder. She passed the secretarial booth, glancing this way and that before fastening her focus on Dan. “Hi, you must be Mr. Shields.” She peeked at Rebekah as she extended her hand. “I’m Kaye Rose.”

Bekah restrained an eye roll as her mother straightened her peach blouse over her plump hips. She always tried to hide the evidence of her late-night splurges on candy and chips. Somehow she’d managed to escape obesity but she treated herself like the fattest person on earth, and Bekah often berated her for standing in the mirror, pulling on shirts and looking at herself from every freaking angle. The poor woman had lost her husband and needed to stop with the self-torture. In every way.

What could Bekah do, though? Her father had most likely left because of the controversy with Towers and it surprised her that Mommy hadn’t once lashed out in her direction.

She hugged her books closer and watched as Shields extended his own hand.

Something was definitely different about this dude. After basically rescuing her- she wondered if she’d ever live that down- and then supposedly coming to her defense in front of Hack, he’d begun acting a bit mysteriously. His quip about “little words, big impact” intrigued her- she’d rather poke her eyes out than to admit that- but he’d seemed distracted ever since they’d stepped outside of Hack’s room. Looking at his watch, sweating, and then…
She bit her lip.  Had she imagined him holding her gaze? Not in the typical teacherly fashion, but in the way that Ralph Manchester had looked at her before asking her out on a date.

Gag, enough of that.

She clenched her teeth, cursing the warmth in her cheeks and peeked at the clock on the wall. Three-thirty.

God, where was that lightning bolt she needed? If Mommy and Teacher didn’t stop with their friendly howdy-do’s, she’d lose it. Time was wasting. Alice needed to crack into her piggy banks and Bekah needed to start searching online for affordable self-defense classes, because next time Brian messed with her, he’d unfortunately live to tell about it. In great agony, too, she decided. Of course, even if he didn’t bother her, she planned to bother him. Seriously. Time to spew everything he knew about her.

She swallowed hard and glanced around the corner, expecting to see students in the hall but none were currently visible. The only reason she’d stayed hidden from their prying eyes was because she knew what would happen. Standing here- alone- with Shields would spark more rumors.

Stupid people. They’d no clue what she’d just been through. She leaned against the wall, biting her inner cheek when chocolate eyes peered in her direction. Go away, Shields. Don’t need more complications in my life.

If he turned out to be another Towers-

“She looked pretty pale when I found her,” Teacher was saying. “She seems much better now, but a ride home couldn’t hurt.”

Mommy knit her brows, exaggerating the vague lines around her hazel eyes.

Oh, for pete’s sake. Now it was time to treat her like a little girl again?

I don’t think so.

“I’m OK, guys, I just want to go home,” she said gruffly and turned toward the exit. Great, now she was acting like a little girl, trying to run from the "grown-ups’" shows of concern.

She stopped with a sigh and rounded to find both of them watching her like they’d watch a baby trying to take her first step. Should they be prepared to catch her or should they stay back and let her do her thing?

“Mom, I’m fine,” she said with as even a tone as she could muster. “Please, can we just head home?”

Kaye Rose shook her head. “I don’t know, honey, I think you need to come to the bowling alley with me. Brian knows where you live.”

Bekah cocked her jaw while Shields cocked his head and folded his arms. He’d pushed his shirt sleeves up to show off the muscles and hair on his tanned forearms.


Never mind that, Idiot!

“Are you forgetting something?” She tore her gaze from Shields and plastered it on Kaye, who held her giant Mommy purse across her chest. One would think all of her possessions belonged in that luggage.

“I’m mean to the customers.” Bekah smirked. She despised it when men flirted with Mama and rude, impatient people berated her for not bringing their orders on time. It never ceased to irritate the snot out of Bekah and she wished her mom would just find another job already. One where the managers cared enough about the employees to hire extra help.

Kaye tossed Shields a little smile. “She cussed out one of my customers. She’s been banned to helping in the back, if at all.”

Shields cupped his hand over his mouth but the glow in his eyes betrayed his smile.

Bekah fought her own smile. Didn’t these people take her seriously at all?

What can you expect, when you go around acting snotty and cussing people out?

Calgon, take me away. Thanks to her mother’s addiction to nostalgia, she’d learned all sorts of corny, old phrases.

She spun on her heel. “I’ll be in the car, Mom.”

As she crossed into the hallway, Hack passed her but didn’t even grant her the slightest nod. Stupid principal was equally as stuck up as the in-crowd and she found herself hoping Shields would find a way to set him straight. The gods knew it would take a miracle.

She’d managed to march about ten feet toward the front entrance when she heard, “Hey, Baby.”

Jerking her head so quickly that her long strands temporarily blocked her view, she slowed, half expecting to see Brian leering at her and preparing to launch her books at the oaf.

Instead of finding the big jock, however, she spied a tall, thin dude with his back to the wall, next to the gawdy trophy showcase.

He winked.

Who was this jerk with a coif to match Mr. GQ’s and could he be any cornier? Saying, “hey baby” and winking? She rolled her eyes and started away.

He whistled.

What an idiot.

Chapter Six:


  1. I love the way he keeps mirroring Allie's reactions in Bekkah's!
    I'm really dying to know what exactly happened with Towers!
    Funny update! I loved it!


  2. Hey, Suzie, thanks for all of your comments. They are encouraging. :) The full explanation of what happened with Towers will be leached out bit by bit. ;) And I enjoyed the humor also. It felt like a nice break...I didn't realize until this chapter how serious I'd been, for the most part. LOL