A Work in Progress, Chap. 1&2

Chapter 1

For the life of her, Rebecca Avery couldn’t understand it.  She had been with them twenty-four hours a day for all of five months, and still she had no clue how they did it.  Sitting in the student union building, tucked ever-so-carefully behind her new psychology book, she watched them—the beautiful people—milling about, talking, laughing, and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

To be sure she had been with them her whole life, first in her family, then in school, but never could she quite figure out the mystique that seemed to drape them in an aura that said, “Look at me.  I’m here.  Come, let’s have fun together.”

No, for as long as she could remember, she had been on the outside of that picture.  Always watching them, always studying them, but never quite learning how to be like them.

She pushed the strings of the dirt-colored blonde hair off her eyes and pushed up her thin, dark-rimmed glasses.  Her hair was up in a clip, but like everything else in her life, it had ways of slipping out of even the best holds.  In frustration, she looked down at her book.  Psychology class didn’t start until tomorrow night, but at least this way it looked like there was a reason she was alone.

Studying alone was cool—or at least acceptable.  Sitting alone staring at everyone else was not.  Absently she reached over to her cup; however, she misjudged the distance, and the cup tipped dangerously and then dropped back to the table at the last possible second.  In frustration she picked it up to take a drink, but she had already taken a long drink of air before she realized it was empty.  She looked down into the brown swirling trails at the bottom of the cup and frowned.  Figures.

With a sigh she dug into her pocket and pulled out enough crumpled dollars to buy another French vanilla hot chocolate—one more thing in her life that was less than glamorous.  No matter how many times she had tried it, she still hated coffee.  Even the smell of it turned her stomach, so she stuck to her hot chocolate and hoped no one noticed.  Leaving her book where it lay, she slid off the stool and strode to the counter.

“French vanilla hot chocolate, please.”  Her fingers counted out the dollars even as they smoothed them out and laid them on the counter.

In seconds a new cup was sitting in front of her.  She paid and reached for it as wisps of steam spiraled into the air. Carefully she picked it up, put it to her lips, and blew the steam away.  It was always too hot to drink for the first ten minutes, but greedily she inhaled the sweet odor anyway.  There was something about hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day that did wonders for her mood.

She let the cup drop from her mouth as she turned back for her table.  However, she’d only turned halfway around when she met up with what felt like the hard side of a rock coming the other direction.

The first splash of the liquid landed on her hand, and the shock from it burning its way through her skin tore through her. “Ahh!”  Without a thought she threw the cup away from her—right at the rock, and in the next breath the rock replicated her yell.

“Ahh!”  Reaching under his outer buttoned-down shirt that was opened all the way down, he pulled his now hot chocolate-covered white T-shirt away from his skin as he yelped in pain.  “H-h-ot!”

“Oh! Oh, no. Oh, my gosh. I’m sorry,” Rebecca said although the stinging pain in her own hand wouldn’t let her focus on him for more than a second. “I’m so sorry.”  Battling to forget her own pain, she grabbed as many napkins as she could from the counter and started mopping at his shirt, struggling to undo the last few seconds.  “I’m so, so sorry.  Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.”

A look of annoyed exasperation crossed his face as he took the napkins from her and started wiping his own shirt.  “I think you said that already.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said in apology for apologizing too much, and when he looked at her, she knew she had better add something vaguely intelligent.  “I didn’t see you there.”

Her feet carried her backward although her gaze never moved from his face or his frame.  If she had seen him before she hit him, she would probably have dropped the hot chocolate on his feet in wide-eyed astonishment instead of hitting him in the chest with it.

Golden hair that dropped from the top of his head down just past his ears in the front and over his collar in the back, kind green eyes, even his frown was gorgeous.  Couched on top of a smoke blue shirt unbuttoned to reveal a white T-shirt that now sported a giant light-brown stain, he was the most incredible thing she’d ever seen.

Through its files, her brain scrambled, searching for something to say.  ‘Sorry’ came to mind, but that was the only real word she’d said so far.  Just as the fight to get her mind to think of something better reached the boil-over point, another guy walked up.  Spiked and blonde-tipped hair, a black muscle shirt, and a tan so deep he could very well have just stepped off a beach, he was the epitome of the beautiful people.

“What happened to you?” spike-haired guy asked, surveying his friend with a smirk.

“Chocolate smelling third degree burn,” smoke-shirted guy said, still wiping at the stain.

Muscle shirt guy shook his head. “You’ve really got to be more careful.”

Golden haired guy looked over at Rebecca in annoyance, which caused her heart to thump against her chest.  “Yeah, tell me about it.”

“I’m sorry,” she said as she held her own burned hand next to her chest protectively.

He wiped his shirt once more and then gave up.  “Don’t worry about it.”  Stepping over to the trashcan, he threw the napkins in and reached down to retrieve the cup from the floor.  “You want this?”

Rebecca’s head moved side-to-side with no help from her.

“I didn’t think so.”  He chunked it into the trashcan and looked down at his shirt in resignation.  Then he looked over at her, melting her with his gentle green eyes, which had softened considerably in the previous seconds.  “You okay?”

“F-fine.”  Her voice drifted out as she fell into his gaze.

“Good.”  He smiled, then looked at his friend.  “Well, I think I’ve had enough to drink for one day.  You ready?”

“Yeah.”

Her feet never moved as she watched them depart, and it wasn’t until he’d disappeared through the double glass paned doors across the room that the pain seared through her again.  Tears blinded out even the vacant door as she looked down at her hand.  Red, blistered, and throbbing with the heat, it threatened to take her knees right out from underneath her.

She wondered if the skin under his shirt hurt as badly as her hand did, but then the pain pushed even that thought out of her head.  “Man, Rebecca, if you could get anymore clumsy, I would really hate to see how.”

***

By the time Eric Barnett made it to the computer lab for work, he had resorted to buttoning up his top shirt.  Everybody noticed the stain, and everybody asked.  It was annoying, especially when it wasn’t even him that had caused the accident.  Okay, so most of the time it was him, but this time it wasn’t.  And he was getting more than a little aggravated by the implications of the questions.

He stomped through the door, wishing his whole miserable life would just go away and leave him alone.

“Eric, it’s nice to have you back,” Mr. Templeton said as Eric strode into the large room humming with the electronic world he had gotten so used to hearing in the last two and a half years.

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t washing dishes either.  Best of all, it paid a few bills and managed to give him something to do besides studying, which was always a good thing.

He took the screen cleaner and a rag from the back of the office. “Looks like things are pretty slow today.”

Mr. Templeton’s dark hair bobbed up and down over the dusky gray shirt and tie.  “First of the semester, wait a week or two. It’ll pick up.”

“I think I’ll just enjoy today.”

“I think that’s wise.”

With two strides, Eric walked back into the computer room and sat down at the first computer.  Time to check the computers got scarcer and scarcer as the semester wore on, so it was nice to have some time to just get one-on-one with each of them and run them through their paces.

This semester he was even more thankful for the time he spent with the computers.  His new apartment wasn’t exactly home.  He hated living by himself, but with his younger brother’s recent marriage, not to mention the new living arrangement in his former apartment, he was on his own—like it or not.

Until Jeremy and Gwen had gotten together, everything had seemed perfectly wonderful with their little group.  In fact, he had felt like one of the central participants, but the pairing of his two best friends had effectively eliminated his feelings of fitting in.  They all had somebody.

Ryan had Desiree, and their newlywed status made them the odds-on solid couple of the group.  Ransom and Zoë, although on again-off again were now on again, and, by the looks of things, weren’t headed for off-again any time soon.  And then there was Jeremy and Gwen.

The thought of Gwen brought his heart up with a jerk.  Fighting to get his mind to think of something other than her long legs, slim body, and fabulous red hair, his hands worked faster over the keyboard. After another minute, he snapped that one off and moved over to the next one.  But getting her out of his mind for more than seconds at a time was completely useless.

How he had ever thought he had a shot with her was beyond him.  As completely unbelievable as it was, however, he had thought exactly that.  Right up until he walked in on her and Jeremy kissing.  It was an image he knew that would be with him forever.  His heart sank just thinking about it.

He wanted to scream at both of them, to tell them he hated them, and there were times he really did hate them.  However, getting mad would do nothing other than destroy all he had left—their friendship.  Only problem was that being around them, being around all of them was slowing killing him.  Never would he tell any of them that, but it was the truth just the same.

With a snap he turned that computer off and scooted to the next one.  Just don’t think, he told himself.  Just keep moving, don’t think, and then it won’t hurt.  But the truth was he could never move fast enough to outrun the ache, and he was beginning to think it would be a part of him forever.

***

Even cold, clear water hadn’t helped the throbbing in Rebecca’s hand.  Two small blisters had formed in the center of it, and she was glad for the moment she at least didn’t have any major papers due anytime soon.  Writing tomorrow in class was not something she was looking forward to; typing would probably be the end of her.

As she sat on her bed with a book open on her lap that she wasn’t really reading, the lock on the door clicked.  She looked over to watch her newest roommate, Holly Jacobs, slide into the room.  Bundled in a hat, coat, gloves, and a scarf, no one could’ve guessed how stunning she was, but the second she started unwrapping herself, Rebecca was again reminded.

“Man, it is like ten below out there!”  One layer came off and landed on the bed.  “They should’ve mentioned that in the little brochures they sent about how wonderful Boston Central is.”  Another layer came off.  “Sure the fall pictures are gorgeous, but winter?  I feel like I just stepped into a freezer somebody’s turned all the way down.”

The final layer fell away, and Holly ran her hazy pink-polished fingernails down her corn silk locks.  She went to the mirror and brushed her hair several times for good measure although fixed to its finest Rebecca’s hair had never come close to how Holly’s looked when it came out of that hat.

“How was your day?” Holly asked, glancing at Rebecca in the mirror.  It was then she saw the red, blistered hand that Rebecca still had pressed to her chest.  Instantly Holly spun around and slammed the brush to the sink, hair forgotten. “What did you do?” At Rebecca’s bed, she sat carefully as though moving her roommate’s body might cause her further pain.  Gently she took the hand in hers to examine it.

“I had a little mishap at the Student Union.  I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“Did you put anything on it?”

“Water, but that hurt so bad, I decided against trying anything else.”

Holly’s eyes narrowed as she stared at the burn.  “Just a second.”

Rebecca’s gaze followed her roommate across the room and into her closet.  The burn really did hurt.  In fact, the second Holly left it had relocated back to her chest, but she had convinced herself there was nothing more to be done for it.  Holly emerged and strode to the bed carrying a small brown case.

“What’s that?”

“Emergency kit.  My mom’s a nurse.  She never lets me out of the house without it.”  Gently Holly took Rebecca’s hand and laid it on the bed.  “Tell me how you did this again.”

“Oh, it was stupid.  I had some hot…I mean coffee, and I kind of bumped into this guy.”  Just retelling it made her heart skip.  “It spilled on my hand.”

“Does it still burn?”

“It hurts.”

“No, burn.  Is it still hot?”

“Yeah.”  Rebecca had been trying not to think about that, but the second Holly mentioned it, her eyes stung as badly as the burn did.  She watched as Holly pulled out a small bottle of vanilla extract.  “Hey, we’re not making brownies here.”

Holly shook her head as she dabbed the extract on the burn.  “It kills the fire, so you’re not in so much pain while it heals.”

Remarkably she was right.  It took only seconds for the intense burning sensation to dissipate.  It was strange how a whole body could be tense from pain.  It wasn’t until the burning cooled that Rebecca realized her head was pounding.

Like a practiced nurse, Holly took out a small bottle of Vitamin E and smoothed some on the hand as Rebecca leaned back against the wall in exhausted relief.  In no time, Holly had the burn wrapped in gauze and back in Rebecca’s protective spot.

“Better?”

“Much.”

With a nod, Holly stood and started back for the closet.

“Hey, you got any aspirin in that bag?”

“Advil?”

“Anything.”

The bottle rattled as Holly handed it to her roommate.  “Here, I’ll get you some water.”

Seeing that even very small insignificant movements were going to be an effort, Rebecca finally managed to get the lid off with a hand and a half.  By the time she had it off, Holly was there with her water.

“Thanks.” Rebecca handed the bottle back.  She downed two pills and some water and then leaned back on the cool wall.  It felt so good.

“Have you eaten yet?” Holly asked as she put her winter outerwear away.

Slowly Rebecca shook her head, disturbing it as little as possible.

“Well, I’m not really hungry yet,” Holly said, “and we’ve still got an hour to be down there.  Why don’t you take a nap, and I’ll wake you so we can go together?”

A nap sounded very, very good at the moment.  Without protest, Rebecca slid down onto the pillows and drifted away on the smell of hot chocolate and the look of his gorgeous green eyes.

Chapter 2

With a backward kick, Eric sent his apartment door into its frame.  One hand held supper—a Big Mac, large fries and a Coke.  The other struggled to stay around the mountain of books he had purchased from Waterstone’s just before heading home.  He set the books on the tiny coffee table, praying the broken leg wouldn’t wobble out from under it even as he did so. He took his food to the kitchen counter where he pulled out the hamburger.

This was always so depressing.  Eating alone.  It just wasn’t how one was supposed to eat. Fighting to keep that thought away, he grabbed a plate out of the sink. It wasn’t clean, but it wasn’t molded either. Taking it and the food back to the living room, he sat down on the couch and grabbed the remote from the coffee table to turn on the tiny television.  Blessed voices filled the room.  Voices were so comforting—even if they weren’t real.  He had always liked people, liked being around people.  He hated being alone.

A laugh escaped him as he watched the tiny people on the screen.  Life on television always looked so much more appealing than real life.  There they didn’t have to worry about studying and school and work and parents and best friends who fell in love with each other.  They read the lines, and everything worked out in the end.  If only life could be so simple.

The hamburger and fries were gone before he realized he had eaten anything, and in annoyance, he crumpled the various papers and threw them into the bag.  He stood, carrying the bag with him, and walked over to the kitchen.  For the most part there was really no reason he needed a kitchen.  He didn’t cook, and besides a carton of milk in the refrigerator that was probably spoiled, anything resembling groceries or healthy food was non-existent.

He opened the only cabinet with something in it and pulled out a bag of Oreos.  It wasn’t a great way to spend the evening, but killing time was all he had left.  The lumpy couch caught him on the way down, and he pushed back into it, preparing for another dull night in the land of bachelorville.

***

“So how’s your schedule this year?” Holly asked as she and Rebecca sat over Chinese food in the dining hall.

“Ugh.  17 hours,” Rebecca said, overwhelmed just by the words.

“What do you have—a death wish?”

“Something like that.  No, one of those hours is ballroom dancing, so I figured how hard can that be?  And one of them is a Geology lab.”

“But that still leaves five classes.”

“Yeah, well, I got into a night Psyche class, so it’s not like I’ve got a ton every day.”

Holly raised her eyebrows.  “Sounds like a ton to me.”

Slowly Rebecca’s fork fell to the table.  “It’s a trade-off.  I take a full load, and my parents foot the bill.”

“Full or crazy?”

Although the ache in her heart throbbed, Rebecca smiled.  “Sometimes I wonder if there’s a difference.”

***

She was still wondering the next night as she sat in Psyche class, her right hand pressed securely against her ribcage.  It still hurt, but continuous doses of Advil, plus two more wraps by Holly had lessened the pain considerably.  In her normal second row, just off-center seat, she bent over her notebook trying to get her left hand to work the pen correctly.

The scrawls she had managed to make on her other notebooks throughout the day did not give her much hope for understanding anything the professors said when she started studying for the tests in a month.  She had considered purchasing a tape recorder, but the weather outside was so frigid she had decided to simply do her best until her hand got better.

But it was frustrating.  Her right hand kept saying, “If you’ll just give that pen here, I could do this without any problem.”  However, the three times she had tried that, listening to the lecture had ceded its hold to the pain so fast, she immediately switched back to her left.

Head bent, her complete concentration was zeroed in on her work just as her ears picked up something else.

“I’m telling you, Gwen says she’s really nice,” the voice said, and her attention snapped to it although she never moved.

“I don’t know,” the second voice said just as it passed Rebecca’s desk.  “I hate blind dates.  Besides what if she’s a real toad.”

“Gwen knows better than to set you up with a toad.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

Rebecca’s head pounded like a jackhammer on concrete.  It was them—it had to be.  It sounded exactly like the voice she had been hearing in her head for more than 24 hours now.  Hoping she didn’t look like she was straining to hear them, she leaned back in her seat.  However, she didn’t have to lean far as he was so close behind her she could feel his presence all the way down to her toes.

“Did you see Josie today?” spiked-tipped haired guy asked.

“Oh, yeah.  Man, is she hot or what?  Now, if Gwen could fix me up with her, I’d consider this whole blind date thing.”

“I don’t think Gwen even knows her.”

“Too bad because she is fine.”

“Tell me about it.”

The professor, a tall middle-aged man with jet black hair and nice, athletic shoulders stepped into the room, and although Rebecca’s gaze followed him to the lectern, her attention was still on the conversation behind her.

“How about if you meet her first,” gorgeous guy said, “then you give me a report on where she is—scale of 1 to 10.”

“Are you serious?”

“Do I look serious?”

All she wanted to do was turn around to see if he looked serious.  Her right hand pressed into her chest as the professor broke into their conversation. “If you’ll all get settled, we’ll go ahead and start.”

Settled.  Funny, with gorgeous guy sitting right behind her, Rebecca knew that getting her heart anywhere near that word was going to be a stretch.

***

When Professor Templeton wrapped up his lecture for the evening, students immediately started to leave.  However, Rebecca never moved.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want him to see her—it was that she didn’t trust herself if he did.  Her last performance had been so sweep him right off his feet brilliant, she was sure her second wouldn’t do much to eclipse the first.

“You going home?” gorgeous guy asked so close to Rebecca’s ear it made her jump.

“Yeah, I’m sure Gwen’s wondering where I am already.  You?”

Rebecca felt his leg brush by her back.

“I’ve got some reading to get done.”

And with that, she watched them walk down the aisle behind her and out the door.  For several seconds her gaze stayed on the door. Then she exhaled and looked down at the few notes she had been able to accumulate in the preceding three hours.  They amounted to little more than a page or so of scribbles.

She shook her head and stood.  With her hand in its present condition and him in the same class, she ought to get a lot out of Psych.  But the opportunity to spend every Tuesday night listening to his voice pushed away any notion of dropping the class right out of her head.

In fact, she couldn’t wait for Tuesday to come again.

***

Wednesday morning as Eric sat in sign language, he thought about the blind date.  All-in-all being fixed up wasn’t a completely awful idea, but being fixed up by Gwen wasn’t exactly his idea of romantic.  Neither was going on a double date with them. It was a sure bet he was going to regret when he said yes, which of course, he would. He always did.

Diana, a girl he knew from previous sign language classes, walked in, and he waved to her.  She, too, was a knockout—raven hair, full lips, a body hidden with exactly the right clothes.  She was striking, and so by association completely out of his league.

“Hey,” Diana said as she slid into the seat next to him.  “How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know.”  He bobbed his head from side-to-side.  “You?”

“Can’t complain.  Did you work on the assignment?”

Expertly his hands went into action as he said without words, “No, I watched TV all night.  Who needs studying when you’ve got TV?”

She laughed.  “Well, it looks like you didn’t forget everything from last semester.”

He smiled as his hands went into motion again.  “Only the important stuff.”

“I hear you there.”

The professor walked in down front, and their conversation ceased.  It was too bad Diana wouldn’t give him a second look.  They had so much in common—sign classes, their love of alternative rock. The one thing they didn’t have in common was her ability to make A’s on everything she touched. Getting a B on anything for him was more blessing than he could ask for. The truth was Diana was a class act through and through. A loser like him had no chance with her. It was too bad.

***

Going back to the dorms after history seemed silly as ballroom dancing was on this side of campus, and this side was in the polar opposite direction as the dorms.  To make the decision even easier to make, polar was what it felt like outside.  Bundled in her overcoat and clutching her books, Rebecca raced through the door of the Student Union, grateful she hadn’t frozen solid on the short walk there.

She went straight to the counter and purchased her lunch, foregoing the hot chocolate for water.  Hot chocolate and a ham sandwich didn’t sound very appealing.  Carefully she took her purchases over to a vacant table and slid up onto the stool.  Making sure to use her left hand as much as possible, she unwrapped her sandwich and took a bite.  Not gourmet, but still not bad.

When she caught sight of the white bandage, she smiled.  As bad as it was to have the most beautiful girl on campus living in her room, Holly seemed nice enough and not at all as haughty as the other beautiful people Rebecca had known in her lifetime.  For example, her last roommate—the one who’d done everything she could to make Rebecca’s life a living nightmare—on the outside gorgeous, on the inside, trash.

Rebecca couldn’t count the number of times she had sat outside the dorm room door, her books in her lap studying while Andrea and her boyfriend “occupied” the room.  It was disgusting, and although she knew it said something about her charity, she was grateful when Andrea announced she was moving out because she was pregnant.

And so Rebecca had rolled the dice again and won Holly, who she wasn’t terribly sure she was excited about until last night.  The fact that Holly had a heart at all in that voluptuous chest of hers did wonders for Rebecca’s sense that things might get back onto an even keel.

She had just opened her history book when she caught his voice again.  Her hand went to her chest protectively.

“I don’t know why you won’t come with us,” spike-haired guy said, walking past her table.  “It’s just one night.”

“Maybe I’m studying.”

“You?  Yeah, right.  Besides, it’s Friday night.  What could you possibly have to study?”

They walked over to the counter and ordered as Rebecca hunched further over her book—watching them but trying not to.  Sure she had hoped he would be here today, but hoping and it happening were two different things.

“Well, have you met her?” gorgeous guy asked.  “I mean have you actually seen her in the flesh?”

“Well, no . . .”

“Then no.”  He held up his hands.  “I don’t want any part of it.”

“Oh, come on, Eric.  There are worse things than being fixed up.”

Eric.  Eric.  Furtively Rebecca peeked out past her hair.  Yes, Eric fit him.  Eric and Rebecca.  Rebecca and Eric.  She could see that.

“Yeah, like getting hanged by your toe nails over the Grand Canyon,” Eric said with a breath laugh as he gathered his lunch.

“I’m sure she’s nice.”  Spiked-haired guy gathered his lunch as well, and together they walked right past Rebecca’s table never so much as glancing in her direction.

What she wouldn’t give to be the girl they were discussing.  Rebecca wondered who she was.  This girl who was lucky enough to get fixed up with him.  Him.  Eric.  Her mind went on an impromptu fantasy trip involving him and her in living color.  The movies.  That would be a good first date.  Or maybe dancing.  She wondered if he danced.

Danced?  Suddenly she looked at her watch and jumped from her seat.  With the condition the sidewalks were in she’d better make tracks because one thing was for sure, if he did dance, she wanted all the practice she could get.

***

“How are classes?” Mr. Templeton asked as Eric sat at the third to the last computer he had to check out.

“Good,” Eric said off-handedly.  “That paper in Psych looks tough though.”

“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Mr. Templeton said with the barest of smiles.

“Possibly when you typed out the syllabus?”

“You know that could be exactly when it was I heard.  So, what are you going to write about?”

Eric shrugged.  “I haven’t really thought about it much, and I’ve only got one lecture to go on.  You got any suggestions?”

“Learning,” Mr. Templeton said, crossing his hands in front of him.

“Learning?  Me?”  Eric laughed softly as his hand clicked through the machine.  “I think you have the wrong guy for that one.”

“Well, I think you might enjoy the topic.”

“We’ll see.”

Mr. Templeton stood and patted Eric on the back.  “You do that.”  He walked back to the office.

Slowly Eric shook his head.  Learning.  Unless someone could teach him how to learn, writing a paper on it seemed ludicrous at best.

“Hey, Eric,” Ryan said, striding through the door.  “I thought I might find you here.”

Eric didn’t even look up. “As usual.  What’s up?”

His younger brother leaned on the computer table next to the one Eric was working on. “We were thinking about having a little party Saturday, and Desiree said she hadn’t seen you to tell you.”

Eric’s attention clung to the screen. “So she sent you over here.”

“You haven’t even been over to the place yet.”

“Oh, yeah.  You know, I’ve been meaning to, but with school starting and everything.”

“Eric, we’ve been there for four months.”

The words washed over him as he fought them off.  “Yeah, well. I’ve been busy.”

“Well, you’re not busy Saturday night.”

“How do you know that?”

“I asked Jeremy.  He said you’re going on a double date with him and Gwen Friday, but you’re free Saturday.”

With a quick hand Eric clicked that computer off and moved to the next one.  “I just love how everyone wants to run my life for me.”

Ryan followed him down the aisle as his hands went to his hips. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.”  He waited as the computer booted up, and then he ran the mouse across the screen.  “I’ll see.”

“So, you’re coming then?”

“I said, ‘I’ll see.’”

“Look, Eric.  Desiree really wants to show you the place, and so do I.  So, will you be there?”

Trapped, like an animal crouched next to the cage wires, he sat, searching through his rapidly decreasing options.  “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

“Great.  Seven o’clock.  Okay?”

Eric put up his shoulders in mock happiness.  “Okay.”

For one more second Ryan stood behind his brother watching him.  “Well, I’d better go.  Desiree…”

“…is waiting,” Eric finished for him, nodding as he did so.  “Wouldn’t want to keep wifey waiting now, would we?”

“You sure you’re coming?”

In resignation, Eric nodded.  “I’ll be there.”

***

Waltzing, it was supposed to be graceful and fluid; however, in the ballroom dancing class it was anything but.

“No, feel the beat,” the lithe instructor called.  “One, two, three.  One, two, three.”

Rebecca looked at the girl she was dancing with and fought to keep her feet going simultaneously.  “One, two, three.  One, two, three,” she counted, but her feet were not cooperating.

“Stop.  Stop!” the teacher called as she waved in disgust and snapped off the music.

Instantly Rebecca and her partner ceased their movements and turned to the instructor along with the rest of the class, which was comprised of two-thirds girls and one third geeky guys.  The only good-looking guy in the bunch was conveniently attached to a girl sporting a shiny diamond on her left hand.  It was obvious by the way they were looking at each other that no one else in the room was going to have a chance with either of them.

“You should flow with the music.” The teacher glided across the floor like a ballerina.  “Feel the music.  Don’t fight it.  Your feet and the music should be as one.”

Rebecca would just be happy if her feet and her body were one.  The music started again, and reluctantly she turned to her partner and offered her hand.  It was going to be a long semester.

 

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2005

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About Staci Stallings

Staci Stallings shares her heart for God with her novels, articles, and conversations. She loves making new friends, writing, and playing piano and guitar.
This entry was posted in A Work In Progress, Novels and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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