Amanda Bitterson is a substitute teacher. In her early twenties, she sometimes finds it daunting to teach at the high school. Today made all her fears come true. She was challenged and groped by a large boy, but fortunately, someone intervened before it got serious. Derrick Butler is a guest teacher visiting from Australia. He helps Amanda by escorting the trouble maker to the office. Later, he invites her for coffee and after, dinner. They make a date for 6:00, but Amanda can't keep her mind on anything because she's thinking about Derrick.
Picking up the phone on an impulse, Amanda called Derrick.
"I had an idea," she said right after he answered. "Have you seen much of the sights?"
"Besides the beach? Not much, and very little of that. Too bloody cold to surf. Why?"
"If you aren't busy at the moment, would you like to sight see a bit before dinner?"
"You volunteering to be a tour guide, then?"
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes. Does that give you a chance to freshen up?"
"I'll be ready. Time me." She hung up the phone, trotting to her room.
Dressed and ready in thirteen and a half minutes, she waited for Derrick on the porch of her apartment building. He pulled up a moment later, glancing at his watch as he got out of the car.
"You're good. I'd have thought you'd still be at it. You look lovely, by the way." His lips brushed her cheek in a more than friendly manner, his hands lingering close to her.
"Thanks. You look good yourself. I like the Oxford tweed look."
"These are my intellectual duds," he explained as he opened her car door. "I wear these when I want to look studious and professorial."
"All you need is a pipe."
He pulled one out of the pocket, clamping it between his teeth. Amanda could hardly stop laughing.
"I think it would make a better impression if it wasn't a bubble pipe," she giggled.
"Best I could do on short notice. I don't smoke. Where to?"
"Silly of me. I could take my car."
"I take directions well. I'll follow you anywhere."
Amanda gave him directions to her favorite part of the beach, a national park at the end of the barrier island. It was windy, the beach nearly deserted except for them and a few late afternoon joggers. They took a walk along the beach until the chilly wind forced them to abandon the sand for the sanctity of the car.
"Brr! It's not supposed to be this cold here," Amanda shivered.
"I'm starving," Derrick countered. "Let's find something to eat."
"We'll hit early bird traffic."
"I don't care. I want warmth and food immediately."
She directed him to her favorite steakhouse on beach side. Pulling into a parking place, Derrick turned the car off, facing her across the car.
"In case I forget later, I had a great time at the beach."
"You won't forget later." She smiled shyly, ducking her eyes, not meeting his intense gaze.
"Why is it you do that? When someone looks directly at you, you duck your head?"
"Do I?" She looked up at him, puzzled. "No one ever pointed that out before."
"Maybe it's just me, then?"
"No," she smiled, forcing herself to meet his gaze. "Not just you. I guess I do it because it embarrasses me."
"Why? You've got so much to be proud of. You're bright and witty, you're beautiful."
"I wasn't always that pretty," she mumbled. "And everyone thought I was dumb."
He touched her cheek tenderly, brushing wind blown hair from her lips. "Then they were stupid wankers. You're amazing, Amanda."
She giggled, tossing her hair casually over her shoulder. "You make me sound like a super hero, The Amazing Amanda!"
"Sweet! You're smiling again. And you're my super hero." He grinned. "Let's get some dinner. I don't know about you, but the cold is making me hungry as hell. I hate being hungry."
"I do too."
He opened her door, helping her out of the car. His fingers lingered on hers, his other hand brushing the small of her back as he shut the door behind her. Guiding her to the restaurant, he let his arm slide around her waist, holding her close in a fond embrace. Amanda enjoyed the touch of his hands, finding herself at ease with him as if she'd known him for years.
© 2014 Dellani Oakes
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