Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chapter Seventeen- Revised (and possibly revised again)

Here's chapter seventeen back- having some people read it over, so it may be thoroughly edited again soon.  Thanks for reading.


The oven door slammed, the metal vibrating against the surrounding cabinets and the refrigerator as Dan slapped a hot pot onto the stove burner.  Casting his oven mitts aside, he leaned against the refrigerator, running his fingers through sweat-dampened hair.  A quick work out had vented some of his frustration and now he guessed a quick shower should follow- let everyone else eat without him because he needed to avoid Rose, anyway.

On his way to the living room staircase, Allie leaned forward on the couch, her chin resting against her fist and her elbow against her knee.  The pink dress he’d bought her today, along with the blush the beautician had smeared on her cheeks, invoked her former spirit.  Colorful complexion and happy, cheerful disposition.

Yet she’d found a new spot on her forearm, hence the reason for the allicin ointment.  She needed liquid allicin internally, but starvation had damaged her stomach too much for the spicy medicine, forcing him to search for another alternative to antibiotics.

“You ready to move to the table?” he asked breathily and rubbed his sweaty chin on his white t shirt.

Allie batted her lashes.  “Calm down, Dan. It’s not the end of the world.”

“What are you talking about?” He paused while holding the stair railing.  From here, he could hear Ryan laughing and the floor creaking overhead- a sign that he’d, at least temporarily, finally moved Rose out of the attic.  A huge relief, considering the oversized bed up there.

Ryan knew nothing of Rose’s display of affection, but Dan had been sickened by an absurd desire to tell him. 

This couldn’t possibly be happening. He hadn’t expected anything like this to hamper his first school year as a teacher.

“Do I have to spell it out for you?” Allie pointed at the ceiling.

Dan groaned. “Allie, you just worry about getting healthy and don’t think about all of this.”

“But I like to.  It keeps me from thinking about food all the time.”

“You’ve got plenty to think about, Woman, get back to your music.  We can build you back to tennis, too, if you’ll let us.”  Not to mention the Bible reading, but concerned he’d scare her away, he’d kept that conversation as light as possible.  For now, her nightly Bible studies would suffice.  God knew how to use His Word to speak to hearts.

“I’ll get back to my music.” She snagged a grape out of the bowl Dan had set on the coffee table and popped it in her mouth. Chewing slowly, she folded her arms over her lap and allowed her hair to fall into her face as she sang almost inaudibly, “Young Teacher, the subject of school girl fantasy-”

Dan grabbed a pillow off the loveseat and tossed it at her.  Funny, but not so funny and while he doubted a smile would be appropriate, he loved the sight of Allie’s- -wide and toothy, her eyes lighting up with the same spark of silliness that used to accompany her teasing. Thank God she was coming back to him and if she felt the need to make light of this situation, then so be it. He could handle the stress alone.  Allie didn’t need to.

God, just help her fight the MRSA off.  If she continued to eat and to strengthen her immune system, then progress seemed highly plausible, but in order to affect that, he’d need to rid the house of every ounce of sugary poison.  Ryan would hate him, but it had to be done.

Spinning around, he called up the stairs, “Ry, dinner’s ready!”  With that, he turned to the closet and yanked his black leather jacket out.

Allie stood slowly, hands on her narrow hips.  “Where are you going?”

“I can’t stay here.” He zipped the jacket and walked to the wooden stand where he normally left his keys. 

“Wait a minute, you’re not high-tailing it out of here, Dan Shields.”

“Want to stop me?”  If he wanted to keep his job, he’d no choice- this whole situation continued to spiral to a dark and uncertain end and Principal Hack would need some buttering up before any news reached his pudgy ears.

“What’s the matter?” Allie asked. “Did something happen, or what?”

He stomped toward the dining room table, finding no keys there and turning to search the shelves on either side of the TV. “I can’t find my keys.”

“Did you check your den?”

The thundering stairs announced Ryan’s arrival. Dan, breathless and straightening his hair with one hand, hurried toward the den but his brother cut him off on his way to the kitchen. Patting his shoulder, he announced, “Bekah and I are going to eat upstairs, if you don’t mind.”

Dan stopped, his jaws working as Ryan lunged into the kitchen. The kid swiped two plates from the cabinet, and just as Dan thought Rose had remained upstairs, he felt a small breeze, smelled her perfume and looked down just in time to see her peering shamefully up at him as she passed.  Her hair clipped back and make-up well done- as had become the norm recently-  she looked even prettier than she had a week ago.

Just like Grace had looked prettier with her hair pulled back.

Speaking of Grace…maybe she was free for dinner.  They still hadn’t been able to discuss Kelly because her help never arrived and he’d wound up leaving after a half an hour of waiting.

Definitely, he needed the distraction of an older woman.  Made no sense that he’d found himself so attracted to a troubled young woman like Rebekah Rose. 

But maybe he was just confused.  She was pretty, she was hurting. What guy could resist playing hero to the damsel in distress?

Rose’s ‘toughness,’ while certainly attractive and real to a point, seemed like a smoke screen to hide her true self-- a girl plagued by nightmares that drove her to call her teacher in the middle of the night.

He’d been right earlier- she was far softer than she normally let on and she’d demonstrated that fact by her admissions in the kitchen. 

“Are you going somewhere, Dan Man?” Ryan stood in front of the stove, his plate now heaped with chicken, potatoes and carrots.  He set his aside to help Rose dish up her meal.

Dan nodded. “I need some air.”

“Oooh, the pretty rainbows are back,” Allie said in a sing-songy voice and Rose peered around Dan to see what she was talking about.  Allie must have pointed into the dining room, because the younger woman leaned back to see the show. 

She faltered, her hand on the kitchen entrance frame, and then took a couple of steps back while peering into the room off the side of the kitchen.  Slowly a smile brightened her face and it occurred to him that he’d rarely seen her smile.  Had he seen her smile at all?  Genuinely, that is, and not in a skeptical manner?

Spreading her arms out, she wandered toward the dining room and out of his line of sight, with Ryan grinning after her. 

Dan knew he shouldn’t do it.  Better to feign ignorance of any problems and run back to Grace.  Instead of listening to his good sense, he backed up until he, too, could peer into the dining room and found Rose awash in the rainbow dots, most of them difficult to spot against the backdrop of her curve-hugging red blouse.

“This is too cool,” she exclaimed, her face flushed and arms still spread as though she intended to fly away.  Seconds ticked by while she watched the source of the dots-- the lead crystal in the window, reflecting the light of the setting sun.

She slowly lowered her arms and turned her gaze to him, her brow curled in a show of concern but her pursed lips damning up her words.  So much going on in that head of hers- so much more than she wanted to say and he sensed her thoughts mounting, perhaps to an overwhelming state.

God help him, he wanted to know what she was thinking and what those rainbows might have meant to her. But he’d already done too much today.  Simply by allowing his attraction to show, he’d done far too much damage.


Bekah wasn’t sure what had just happened.  She thought she’d felt a breeze but the window above the plant stand wasn’t opened and she couldn’t find any fans. 

Teacher- the poor guy she’d tempted not a half an hour ago- watched her closely, his hands in his jacket pockets and his mouth agape.  Apparently her attraction to his cool, little rainbows had drawn him to her again and she wished she could ask him why, but Ryan cut between them with their plates.

“We can eat here, if you’d like.” He smiled as he turned toward the kitchen again.  “I’ll get us some tea this time.  That’ll give Dan a break and you a chance to try something different.”


“Stevia,” Dan said.  “I use it in the tea.”

Not so different. Different had been those rainbows- but they were familiar at the same time.  As she’d stood here, bathed in all the pretty colors, something had flashed from the recesses of her mind.  The crystal, the dots…and a cat walking by.  A childhood memory, maybe, but where had she seen these before?

Allie limped up behind Dan and, the lucky girl, tucked the stubborn curl that often stuck out from behind his ear back into place.

“I’m going to get my own dinner for a change,” said his sister and then grinned at Bekah.  “Stevia’s an herb,” she explained. “Sweetens things pretty well and as you can tell- he’s big into natural stuff.”

“Yeah.” Bekah folded her arms. Was that all she could say was “yeah?”  Not long ago, she’d been pumped with the chance to help someone other than herself and now the same girl she’d wanted to help may as well have been another boring teacher- hear what you need from ‘em and then move on.

Weird how most students treated teachers that way.  She supposed they were all chock-full of surprises, just like Shields but hot, young teachers normally jumped right on the road to popularity.  Plus, being a rich biker dude helped things, but she seemed to be the only student who’d been clued in on that tidbit.

Ryan popped back into the room with their drinks.  Like a gent, he swept her chair out and she lowered herself slowly to the soft padding.

Normally she would have protested what he’d just done, wouldn’t she?

She glanced back at the crystal hanging in the window and followed the trail of the rainbow dots along the table runner.  Some of them danced on her skin and the memory flashed again- only this time she’d been holding a jump-a-rope. At least she thought she had.  All of this could have been a bunch of random mumbo jumbo from God only knew where, but she couldn’t help feeling like she’d forgotten something important.

Long fingers raked gently through her hair and hasty whispers trickled from just outside the dining room, where Dan had been standing.

“Hey, cheer up,” Ryan said as he leaned in, his minty breath a signal that he’d intended to kiss her tonight.  Or at least impress her and he had. Still, as she’d sat in the attic with him, her palm still warm from the feel of Dan’s biceps and her heart occasionally skipping beats as she remembered the look in his eyes, it had been difficult to pay attention. 

Even with Ryan’s smooth voice and his breath tickling her neck as he attempted to show her how to use the telescope, most of his words had faded into oblivion.

At one point, he’d mentioned his parents and then grunted. “But never mind that,” he’d said.  “Best leave that BS alone.”

She hadn’t bothered to ask questions because she knew the annoyance of being probed about a parent one wished to forget.

Besides that, she’d glided right back into la-la land, thinking of how Dan had responded to her touch, and then one thought had struck her right in the center of her noggin- he hadn’t even come close to caving.  Towers had reached for her breast and tried to kiss her right away, but Dan had maintained himself, despite the racing pulse and the major hints of attraction.

And now, after what she’d done, he’d shown interest in her.  As a person.  He hadn’t been gawking at her figure as she’d wondered at the bows.  He’d appeared fascinated by her reaction to the color show.

He still cared.  Didn’t he?

No Cheap Rose chants would ever escape his lips, no disgusted leers or generally treating her like a slut.  Like Brian and Hack treated her.  Like that stupid prosecutor at the courthouse had treated her, assuming she was guilty and hammering her with question after question, barely listening to her reply to the first one. 

No interrogations with Shields.  And he still cared, even though she’d just made herself appear more suspect by coming onto him. 

“Rebekah, what’s wrong?”  Ryan’s voice sounded soft but loud enough that Dan and Allie could have heard him.  As a tear slipped loose, the creaking floor suggested one of his siblings had decided to move closer.

“Hey…” Ryan sounded very much like Dan as he pulled her fingers from her straying tears- damn those things.  This whole week had been one sob fest after the other.

What was happening to her?

“It’s OK,” whispered her date, his arm sliding around her shoulder.  His chest, though not as full as his brother’s, seemed like the perfect place to hide her face while her shoulders shook and the pain she’d felt for the past year poured all over his nice, black top. 

She was such an idiot.  But she wasn’t sure if she thought that because she’d broken down now or because she should have broken down sooner.

Maybe she was just an overemotional sap and tomorrow she’d awaken in horror just as she had after her last vodka binge.

“What’s wrong, Ryan?” Dan’s voice fell over them so softly that she envisioned drifting leaves and she ached to feel his arms around her.  But why the flip did she want him so badly?

Ryan seemed nice.  He was cute.  She’d begun to get in contact with her former self.  Why wouldn’t she want to lunge at a guy like him and leave Teacher in the smoky distance?  So Dan was hot and mysterious and most of all seemed to care, but he was off limits.  No sense in wasting another moment pining over him.

“I don’t know, Man,” Ryan returned as he swept his hand over Bekah’s arm.  She gasped for breath and blindly reached for one of the napkins she’d seen Ryan set on the table. 

“She just started crying out of nowhere.”

She found the napkins and began blotting her eyes and wishing she’d a permanent hiding place under the table. Ryan loosened his hold on her and leaned back to exchange a few whispers with Dan, at which point she thought she’d find her voice and tell them to stop yakking about her like she was a child.

But she was acting like a child and the lump in her throat kept her silent, anyway. 

Dan still gave a flip.  Even after what she’d done in the kitchen and after all the antics she’d fallen into since his arrival at Westview, he still seemed genuinely interested and concerned for her life.  There would be no unabashed stomping away from her, no running off because she’d failed to be the perfect little girl. 

She was even willing to bet he’d forgive her screw-up with Towers.

Ryan sighed next to her, gave her shoulder a squeeze and said, “I’m going to let Dan talk at you a minute, OK?  He’s pretty good with this stuff, as much as I hate to admit it.  He’s had more practice than I have.”

The younger man’s eyes, wide and searching with the curiosity of a child, confirmed his point.  Yeah, dealing with weepy females wasn’t his forte.  And that was OK because she normally didn’t need any guy to do that for her, anyway.

“No…” she sniffled.  “I’m…I’m OK.” She was surprised she’d managed to speak at all and blew her nose into the napkin.

“Not so sure,” Ryan argued.  “Me and Allie will clear the room for a few and I’ll be right back, OK?”

No, no, don’t let him leave the room.  Get your act together. You don’t need another talk from Shields, you just need to go stick your head in a freaking bucket of water and forget any of this ever happened.

But as she sat there with a fresh napkin cupped over her nose and mouth, Ryan scooted away and soon Dan filled his space with a breeze of cologne mixed with perspiration.  He’d removed his jacket and leaned forward with his hands folded between his knees.

Noting the almost complete absence of anymore bows, she lowered the napkin and sniffled like a baby as she dared to meet his warm, probing gaze.  “I’m OK,” she muttered.

“I’m sure.”  His jaws bulged as he appeared to swallow. “And that explains why you’re crying, right?”

She shook her head profusely from side to side, feeling the steam rising from her potatoes. Glancing at him, reaching for her tea, breathing deeply only to feel her heart pump all the harder. Her thoughts swirled in her head as though they’d been thrown in a cement mixer and she nearly lost her breath all together when Dan squeezed her shoulder.  

She gulped some of the tea and set the glass down without bothering to note how the Stevia tasted.

“Relax, Woman, breathe.  It’s just me, not some axe-murderer off the street.”

She froze for a moment, his humor tickling her somewhere deep inside and extracting laughter so choppy and brief she wasn’t even sure it had come from her. 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said after a few more beats.  “I just…”

“Shh, just calm down a minute…clear your head and then maybe you can explain.”

Several seconds passed while the bows faded in and out and the warmth of Dan’s presence kept her hooked on the edge of sanity.  Something in her had cracked and how she’d fix it, she hadn’t a clue.  Heck, maybe what had cracked shouldn’t have been fixed.

Finally, she swallowed hard and hated the unevenness in her voice as she rambled, “I don’t know what to say.  I’m sorry…I really don’t.  I’ve been breaking down all week and I’m totally not sure…I mean, I don’t know why I can’t seem to control myself.”

When Dan remained silent, she once again mustered the courage to look him in the eyes.  Still searching her, he seemed to be waiting for her to continue but she wasn’t sure she could.  That spot under the table sounded good, at least until she could pull herself together again. It was bad enough that she’d been a crybaby in front of him and-…what she’d done in the kitchen was worse.  He’d been trying to keep his distance, unlike Towers and so hadn’t deserved to be tested. Not that testing him had been at the forefront of her mind- she’d genuinely wanted to touch him and feel his arms around her. 

“I’m sorry,” she rasped.  “I’m sorry about the kitchen.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Again the silence stretched until she felt like grabbing him by the shirt and shaking him.  Either tell me I’m a jerk and walk away or forgive me like I think you have.

She shook her head, knowing she’d seriously sunk when she cared so much what a guy thought of her.  She hadn’t felt this way in far too long and had forgotten the disgusting, aching throb in the chest that this craziness invoked.

“It’s OK,” Teacher said finally and her breath quietly hissed out in a steady stream.

“Listen,” he continued, “I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t encouraged it, and for that, I owe you an apology.”

She listened to the ticking of a clock from somewhere down the hall and turned her frown on him.  “What do you mean?  You didn’t do anything but set me straight.” A sniffle punctuated her protest, while her tears seemed to disappear into thin air.

Rubbing the back of his neck, he gave her a sheepish look.  “I…allowed my attraction to show and that encouraged you to do what you did.”

So, not only had he forgiven her brazenness- which could have been a lot worse- but he partially blamed himself?

She gaped, feeling like the room had floated into a fog.  Her brains weren’t working right, but that was to be expected after any sob session.  The words she heard spilling out of her mouth were entirely true, but she knew better than to admit them.  “I don’t know about that…because bold and flirty pretty much run in my past.”

She shook her head. “Sorry…I mean…I was a flirt and bits of that have been popping back up lately.  I don’t know why.  It’s like I was speeding along and I just hit this bump and…I don’t know.  I’ve been a mess all week.”

“That’s what happens when you come to terms with yourself.”  The floor shook as his leg wiggled between them.  “You’re facing where you’ve strayed to and realized what a screw-up you’ve been.”

“You telling me you think I’m a screw up?”

He blinked and his leg wiggling ceased.  “From the sounds of things, that’s what you think of yourself.”

She strained to remember all the babble that had fallen out of her mouth and guessed she probably had given him that impression.  In fact, she was an idiot. 

“But you’re not a screw up, Rose,” Dan said tenderly and gave her shoulder another small nudge.  “You’ve allowed yourself to be carried in the wrong direction because of some unfortunate things that have happened.  You’ve built up this wall and now it seems it seems to be falling down.  Why do you think that is?  What do you think is tearing it down?”

She opened her mouth.  What was tearing it down?  Was he serious? Did he even have to ask ?

His Adam’s Apple bobbed.  “Am I out of line by asking if it has something to do with me?

No.  Totally not.  He was right in line, in fact.  Not until she began to realize some things about him did her good senses begin to unravel. Funny that she no longer knew for sure that her good senses had been good.

“I don’t think I should admit anything,” she whispered. “Seems any time you show vulnerability to a guy, they walk all over you…or if they don’t walk all over you, they run.”  Not too many guys had walked all over her, but she’d seen Alice go the rounds with the jerks.  As for running- her father apparently excelled at that.

“Well…” Dan shifted forward a little more and knit his brows as he whispered, “I’m not going to walk all over you and I’m not going to run.”

She knew better than to read much into what he’d just said, but it had sounded like more than it should have. 

As though sensing her thoughts, he continued, “Obviously I’m not allowed to get too close, but I want to help you through this as much as I can.  I hope you’ll go to the counselor and I hope that you’ll at least consider some of my advice.”

She nibbled her lip.  “I always consider advice, whether I admit it or not.  Sometimes I don’t even admit it to myself.”

He nodded. “We’re good at deceiving ourselves, aren’t we?”

Laughter bubbled inside of her because he’d no clue how good she could be at tricking herself.  She’d convinced herself that she didn’t like him in the beginning. In her gut, she knew she had. Maybe his hot looks hadn’t immediately snagged her but she could tell a good guy when she spotted one.

“Hey,” he said.  “I’d like to know something, and you don’t have to go into a lot of detail. I just want to hear straight from you…what is it about me that seems to have affected you this way?”

Oh, crap, why’d he have to ask that?  Didn’t he know that under no normal conditions would she ever spew a sap reply to a question like that?

Still, seeing him on the edge of his chair, eagerly awaiting her answer…and feeling like she owed him for what she’d done in the kitchen, she thought it might not hurt to explain.  At least a little.

It might even ease some of the tension she’d felt building inside of her.  Just tell him already. Get it out there and then maybe she could more clearly deal with her feelings.  Maybe what she felt for him wasn’t romantic, after all.

But looking in those eyes and feeling his closeness, romance was a very hard thing to push from the mind.

She cleared her throat.  “I…don’t know, Dan.  Mostly it’s because…you seem to care nore than other teachers. No matter what I’ve done, I mean.”

His brows perked, his leg taking off in another short round of wiggles.  He must have been shocked at her willingness to reply at all.

She dried the underside of her eyes with another napkin and released a small string of breathy giggles. “I feel like a total sap. I can’t believe I’m saying all of this.  I just don’t talk to people this way.”

“I know you don’t. I know you don’t usually, but you started to last week when you called.”

“I was drunk.  It was easier then.”

“Let me tell you something…”  He began fiddling with Ryan’s unused fork, casting intermittent glances at her as he spoke.  “A few years back, I didn’t care that much. I would have been far more concerned about…” He peeked down at her blouse. “…about the physical aspect of things.  You see, it’s only because of Jesus Christ that I care at all.  He gave me a reason to care, Rose, He saved me when I was a conniving, bad-mouthed, little punk and I hope…I hope I can influence you and the other kids toward Him but I have to be careful because of my position.”

Suddenly she felt deflated. She hadn’t expected this to turn into another God talk, but what could she expect from anyone who held firmly to his beliefs?

“That’s why you’re teaching at my school?  It’s some kind of a religious thing?”

Ryan’s fork received a small shove toward the center of the table as he leaned forward again.  “It’s religious and personal…Actually, no, it’s not religion, that’s the wrong word.  What I have with God, what I share with Jesus Christ, it’s not a religion. It’s a relationship and like I said…I hope my kids are able to experience the peace that I’ve found with Him.”

“Your kids?” She smiled a little, though his wording made her feel like a first grader.  Still, his concern for his students continued to become more evident.

“The personal aspect of it is…”  Dan scanned the living area behind him and turned back around. “Allison went through hell in high school and it really pissed me off…pardon my language.” He smirked. “Occasionally I still slip. But it really opened my eyes to how cruel kids can be to each other. I never had that problem in school, see- with other kids, I mean. I had plenty of friends and was never mean to anyone else unless I wanted something from them, but…even then I was very sneaky in my cruelty.  My dad taught me how to be that way and…that’s a whole other story.  I don’t want to get off on a bunny trail.

“What I’m trying to tell you is that I never went through what Allie went through, and when I saw how badly her peers treated her, I realized that kids in school need proper influence.”  Sitting back, he rested his left ankle over his right knee and laced his fingers behind his head.  As he continued his explanation, she wished she could turn off the rest of the world so he'd never stop talking. “A lot of teachers want to influence their students, but our main goal is academics.  With most subjects, you’re pumping kids full of facts and pushing them forward into the next chapter, next chapter…there’s not much room for anything else.”

His wise-guy smile flashed quickly, like sparks.  “But in English lit, there’s something different.  There are gobs of lessons to be drawn from, even from some of my least favorite books and you can often weave Biblical principals into the whole thing. Sometimes it’s unavoidable because of the beliefs expressed in different time periods.

“I think you’ve probably heard me hitting on things like that…”  His eyes darkened. “But then again, you tend to doze a lot in class.”

“I’m sorry.” Yeah.  Sorry for not listening to this guy more closely.  Even if she didn’t agree with all of his beliefs, he continued to prove himself more complicated than she’d thought.  “It’s nothing personal…”

“I know, but you need to pay attention, Rebekah. I don’t want to see you fail and I want you to learn what I’m trying to tell you. I want it all to soak in.”

She averted her eyes and slid her finger along the cold glass at the head of her plate.  More tea seemed to be in order.  Teacher had grown warm again.

“Anyway,” he said, “what I was trying to say with all of that –“

“I know what you were trying to say.  That you want to get the kids thinking…get them to stop being such jerks to each other.”

Sitting still must have been a challenge for him because he once again dropped his foot to the floor.  She guessed she’d seen hints of squirminess in class, with the way he kept tugging his ties and pacing as he gave his lectures.  But for some reason his restlessness became more obvious when he was seated.

“Unfortunately it’s not working out exactly as I’d hoped or planned.”  He cracked one set of knuckles inside the opposite large fist.  “Sometimes the stories seem to influence bad behavior and some of the kids are stubborn…like Brian. He’s lost in some world I don’t get.”

Great.  The guilt knocked on her chest again and she nodded choppily.  “Yeah..he is.  That’s why I kind of felt bad for hitting him.  I mean…it just doesn’t make sense.  He’s a popular jock and with all sorts of things to keep him busy- why spend any of his time harassing me?

Teacher formed a cute, little smile.  “You feel bad for decking him, huh?”

“Yeah…”  Thanks to you.  You’re the one who made me realize that I’m kind of a sinner.  And…I’m no better than Brian.

Studying her wounded hand, he reached out, his finger hovering above hers before lowering down to glide smoothly along the splint.  He raised his eyes to her without lifting her head, held her gaze and then retracted his paw.  "Does that hurt?”

She swallowed.  “A little…but I’ll live.”

“You haven’t been eating too many of those pain pills, have you?”

She rolled her eyes, a smile intruding on the semi-romantic moment.  “I told you I’m not suicidal.”

“Good.  And don’t feel too bad about hitting Brian because I’d say he had it coming.  I would never admit this in the Teacher’s Lounge, but I was damn proud of you.”

She shot him a double-take and he grimaced. “Sorry…it appears I need to wash my mouth out, huh?”

“You’re OK,” she replied softly.  “I’m not about to complain about a few verbal slips when you’ve been so…”

Oh, geez, what are you doing?  Just shut up already.

“Go on,” he said.  “You’ve already begun to open up, why not keep up the good work?”

“Because…like I told you…”

“Shh.”  He leaned in and quickly flicked a stray hair out of her face.  Enough goosebumps erupted from his two touches to last the rest of the night and his suddenly husky voice didn't help in the slightest.  "Get on with it, Woman.  Life is short.”

Oh, God in Heaven, if He was there, what was she going to do with this guy?  This conversation had gone much further than she’d expected and when Ryan’s return became apparent by the creaking floor, she wished he’d just go away.  Who knew how far she and Dan might have gone if they hadn’t been interrupted?  She’d learned so much about him already, things she’d probably have questions about later and dang it, she didn’t want it to stop.  Slowly, this cool biker teacher was coming unraveled and maybe she’d been too sappy in his presence but this night just couldn’t end.  Not the time spent with him, anyway.

Dan frowned and turned to pull his jacket slowly off of the table.  Facing her again, he cocked his head. “You seem to be feeling I guess I should scat.” However, he appeared in no hurry to leave.  “Don’t forget to read Narnia.”

Chapter Eighteen: 

“Everything OK?” Ryan cupped his hands over a chair back.
She shrugged.  “I’ll live.”

Her date’s concerned expression deepened into one of puzzlement.

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly.  “I’m OK, Ryan.”

Chapter Eighteen:


  1. Gah I'm so sorry for not posting any comments recently but I would just like to say that I very much enjoyed this revised chapter I feel like Dan and Rebekah's kitchen scene needed more of a discussion between them before moving on to future moments. Can't wait to see what the new chapter 18 beholds!

  2. Hey, Michelle, thanks for commenting. Yeah, I like this chapter better, too, though I think it needs a *little* smoothing out. I noticed a few choppy spots.

  3. I am SO back! Sorry for disappearing... I had to deal with a family emergency...

    On to the good stuff! I really missed this story! I love your writing. :)

    I love the heartfelt conversations between Dan Bekah... although I can still feel both their agony and frustrations because of their obvious attraction, I really think that these conversations help both of them evolve in a much betetr way... personally and towards each other.

    Going to chapter 18! :)


    1. I'm enjoying this story quite a bit!

      (Unlike some people, the teacher/student relationship doesn't necessarily squick me by definition—in fact, the dynamics fascinate me. A good friend of mine is actually the product of a professor marrying one of his former students—and from how I understand it, they started dating while she was in his class.)

      Rebecca and Dan actually remind me a of a pair from one of my own stories, particularly in the girl being fairly mature for her age and the guy being drawn to her originally out of a desire to help. ^_^

      And, on a completely random side note, I'm allergic to stevia. Also, true oregano is a potent antibiotic. (There are a few different plants called oregano, so you have to find the right one.) In fact, most herbs have antibiotic properties. I've accidentally cured my own lung infections with tea made of licorice root and basil.

      And the best thing for the Shields to wash the house with would be tea tree oil, which is extremely potent antibiotic, anti-fungal—and I think anti-viral, as well. (Personally, I'm allergic to that, too, and it makes my skin blister and peel off; castor oil does the same to my mother.) So I use vinegar, which doesn't work quite as well. Both products smell nasty, but they dry odorless, and essential oils can be added to give a scent, like clove or ylang ylang.

      In fact, white vinegar can be used for everything from dish detergent to fabric softener—and when that doesn't work, baking soda or salt usually will. (Salt + vinegar cleans copper really well, for example.)

      …Okay, I'm gonna shut up, now. ^_^