Chapter 4 ~ Love In Between

I rummaged through my closet, trying to find the black skirt that I wanted to wear tomorrow. I couldn’t believe I was going to be teaching fourth grade for an entire year. The teacher that I’m replacing took a year off to take care of her terminally ill husband. I unpacked the last of the boxes and found my black skirt. I looked at the clock, and it was midnight. I needed to take a shower because I felt dirty from unpacking. As I walked to the bathroom, I undressed, and turned the shower on. As I reached up to adjust the shower head, the pipe broke, and water started pouring everywhere. I screamed then quickly reached down and turned the water off. I stood there in a fit of rage. It was late, I was dirty, and now, what the hell was I going to do? I had no choice; I had to ask Sam if I could use his shower. I knew he was up because I could hear the loud music through the paper-thin walls. I threw on a tank top and a pair of yoga pants then went next door. After several knocks, Sam finally opened the door.
“Lily, what’s up? Is everything ok?”
“No, the shower head pipe in my shower just broke, and I start my new job in about seven hours. Can I use your shower real quick?” I asked.
“Sure, come in. The bathroom’s right down the hall.” He smiled.
I walked into his apartment and quickly scanned for Luke. He was the last person I wanted to see right now. All I saw was some other guy and two half-naked girls. I looked at Sam and raised one eyebrow.
“Sorry, but we’re playing strip poker,” he said.
“None of my business, Sam,” I said as I held up my hand.
Suddenly, standing before me, was the guy that was sitting at the table.
“Sammy, who’s your friend?” Lucky asked.
“This is Lily. She just moved in next door.”
Hello, beautiful.” He smiled as he softly kissed my hand. “I’m Lucky, and it’s my pleasure to meet such a gorgeous woman.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Lucky,” I said with a fake smile. I know his kind, and I wasn’t about to fall for it.
I excused myself and headed down the hall. I opened the door—to which I thought was the bathroom—and gasped when I saw Luke standing there, getting a blow job. I instantly shut the door and left the apartment. Sam came after me and asked what was wrong. I told him that I’d changed my mind. I went back into my apartment, shut the door, and slid down until I was on the ground. I cupped my face in my hands and sat there. I was startled when there was a knock at the door. I got up and looked out the peephole; it was Luke. I opened the door, and he was standing there in his jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a tool box in his hand. I couldn’t even look at him after what I saw; I was so embarrassed.
“Sam said the pipe in your shower broke.”
“Yeah, it did. What are you, the handyman?” I asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am. I’m the maintenance guy, and I need to take a look so that I can get whatever parts I need and come back tomorrow to fix it.”
“Fine, come in,” I snarled as I stepped aside.
I couldn’t stop staring at his ass as he walked down the hall. What the hell’s the matter with me? I don’t want to look at him or any part of his body. I followed him into the bathroom as he set his tool box on the toilet.
“So, what the hell did you do to this?” he asked.
“I didn’t do anything. I just went to adjust it, and it broke off.”
“These things just don’t break off that easily. You must’ve really grabbed it and yank it hard.”
He was making me angry with his attitude, and I was thinking about something on him that I was going to grab and yank really hard. I rolled my eyes as I stood there, leaning up against the sink.
“You know what, Mr. Handyman? You’re right; it must be my superhuman strength that broke it.”
He turned his head and looked at me. The corners of his mouth turned up into a small smile that grabbed my attention. I couldn’t look at him anymore. I was getting turned on, and that’s something that hasn’t happened to me in a very long time. I was starting to get annoyed with the way my body was reacting just at the mere sight of him, and the worst part is I couldn’t get what I just saw out of my head.
“I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me,” I said as I walked out of the bathroom.
I looked at the clock on the stove, and it was 2:00 a.m. I was practically in tears because I had to be in my classroom at 7:00 a.m., but I still needed to clean myself up. Luke came walking out of the bathroom with his tool box.
“I’ll get the parts that I need tomorrow, and I’ll come back to fix it. Will you be home?” he asked as he looked at me. “Lily, what’s wrong?”
I turned towards the refrigerator and acted like I was getting a bottle of water so that he couldn’t see the tears that were about to fall.
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m just really tired; I start my new job in a few hours, and I feel disgusting from unpacking boxes all day. And to answer your question, no, I won’t be home tomorrow; at least not until after 3:00 p.m.”
I heard him take a few steps closer to me from behind. “Hey, grab your things and take a quick shower at my place. By the way, I’m sorry for what you saw earlier.”
I put my hand up to stop him. “Please, don’t apologize. You did nothing wrong. It was my fault for walking in on you and your girlfriend.”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” he said unexpectedly. “Come on. Time’s ticking away, and you need a shower.”
I turned around and looked at him. “Thank you, Luke. Let me grab my things.”
He waited for me, and we walked to his apartment. He opened the door, and as I stepped inside, the only thing I saw were two completely naked girls sitting at the table while Sam and Lucky were fully dressed. Luke sighed and walked over to the table. He gathered up the girl’s clothing and threw it at them.
“Girls, it’s been fun, but it’s time to leave now.”
“Hey, man, what the hell are you doing?” Lucky said as he stood up.
“Lily, the bathroom’s on the left,” he said.
I started to walk to the bathroom, and I heard Luke tell Lucky the party’s over and that he needed to leave as well. Lucky wasn’t happy about it, but he did what Luke said. I shut and locked the door. I stepped into the shower and stood under the hot water and relaxed. As I was shampooing my hair, I heard the door open.
“It’s just me; don’t freak out,” Luke said.
I froze. “What the hell, Luke? Get out!” I yelled.
 “You’re not the only one who has to get up early. I just need to brush my teeth real quick,” he said.
“You can’t wait until I’m out of the shower and back in my apartment?”
“No, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed. Besides, you women take long showers.”
I heard him start brushing his teeth. I couldn’t believe the nerve of him. “The door was locked; how did you get in?” I asked.
“The lock’s broke, so it wasn’t locked.”
I heard him turn the water off. “I’m going to bed. I’ll be by your place to fix your shower tomorrow after you get home. Night,” he said.
The door shut, and he was gone. “Good night, Luke,” I whispered.
I stepped out of the shower, dried off, threw my clothes on, grabbed my things, and headed towards the door. Sam was cleaning up the mess that was left in the kitchen.
“Lily, before you go,” he said as he walked towards me. “I’m sorry for tonight, and for the things you saw.”
“Don’t be sorry, Sam. What you and Luke do is your business, not mine. You have nothing to apologize for.” I smiled.
He leaned over and kissed the top of my head. “Sleep tight. I’m going to give Gretchen a call tomorrow. Could you please not mention what you saw here tonight?” he said with a twisted face.
“Don’t worry; I won’t tell her a thing.” I smiled and walked out the door.
I jolted out of bed at the sound of my alarm buzzing. I quickly turned off the irritating sound and looked at the time. It was 5:30 a.m. I didn’t fall asleep until 3:30 a.m., and I was exhausted. I made my way to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face to try and wake myself up. I stumbled into the kitchen, and made a pot of coffee. As the coffee brewed, I put on my makeup, straightened my blonde hair, and put on my clothes. I poured some coffee in my travel mug, grabbed my purse and school bag, and opened the door to leave. As I was locking my door, Luke’s door opened, and he came walking out. Our eyes met.
“Morning,” he said.
“Good morning,” I replied. “You’re up early.”
“I told you last night that you weren’t the only one who had to be up,” he said as he locked his door.
“Have a good day!” I smiled.
“Yeah, you too,” Luke said as he walked up the stairs.
On the way to the school, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was up so early, and why he was going upstairs. He said he didn’t have a girlfriend. Well, he said she wasn’t his girlfriend. I shook my head. He’s no different than every other guy out there, except he was the hottest looking man that I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop thinking about the scar I saw on him, and I wondered where it came from. Why was I thinking about Luke so much? I can’t do this. I’m starting over, and I can’t have any distractions. I pulled into the school parking lot and headed to my classroom. I walked through the door and stared around the room. This was going to be my second home for the next ten months. I smiled at that thought, and I set my things on my desk. My main focus has to be my students, not Luke.
I heard a soft knock on the door. As I turned to look, Chris Channing, Gretchen and Giselle’s aunt, and the principal of the school, was walking towards me.
“Lily, it’s been way too long. How are you?” she asked as she hugged me.
“I’m good, Chris. Thank you again for hiring me.”
“You’re welcome, and you were the perfect candidate. Not only have I known you for the past twenty years, but I know how much you love children. Gretchen told me about your situation, and I just want to tell you that I’m sorry.”
I looked away and started rearranging things on my desk. “Don’t be sorry, Chris. I’m moving on and starting over. Things worked out for the best.”
“They sure did,” she said as she hugged me again. “Your students will be here any minute. If you need anything at all, call me.”
“I will,” I smiled as the bell rang, and a flock of children entered the classroom.
I spent most of the day getting to know the children and having them get to know me. We all had lunch together in the classroom, which they thought was cool. I wanted them, not only to like me, but to trust me as well. I wanted them to feel safe every time they walked into the classroom. The end of the day approached, and the bell rang. In a matter of minutes, the classroom was empty again. I walked around the room and straightened the desks. I grabbed my things, turned off the light, and headed home. Once I arrived at the apartment building, I unlocked and opened the door, threw my bags onto the chair, and kicked off my heels. I sat down on the couch for a minute to relax when I heard a knock on the door. I got up, looked through the peephole, and saw Luke standing there. I opened it and motioned for him to come in.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hey,” he said without even looking at me and just walked down the hall.
I rolled my eyes. I was extremely tired, and I was in no mood for his attitude. I put the kettle on the stove for some tea. All I wanted right now was the comfort of my plush bed. As I was waiting for the water to heat up, I heard Luke yell from the bathroom.
“Shit!” he yelled.
It sounded like a yell of pain, so I walked to the bathroom to see what had happened. He stood there holding his hand.
“Are you alright? What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing, just go!” he spat.
“Excuse me, mister, but this is my fucking bathroom, and I’ll be in here if I want to be.”
He looked up at me. “Do you always use that kind of language?”
“Yes, I do. Now let me take a look at your hand,” I said as I lightly touched it.
He pulled away quickly. “No, it’s fine. I don’t need your help.”
“Maybe you do or maybe you don’t. You’re hurt, and I need to see how bad it is. Now sit your goddamn ass on that toilet so I can take a look.”
He looked at me with anger in his eyes. “You can come off as being really mean.”
“Good, I’m glad you noticed. Now, give me your hand.”
He held out his hand, and I removed the blood-soaked tissue. I grabbed a washcloth from under the sink and wrapped it around his hand. “Put pressure on that while I get the antiseptic and a Band-Aid. It doesn’t look like it needs stitches.”
I reached into the cabinet and got out the antiseptic and some cotton balls. I could see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye. I soaked the cotton ball with antiseptic and set it on the edge of the counter. I turned to him and took his hand. I didn’t want to look at him because he had the most amazing brown eyes.
“Where are you from?” he asked out of nowhere.
“Why do you care?” I replied.
“I don’t. I’m just trying to make small talk.”
“Is your family still there?”
“I don’t have any family. They’re dead.”
I removed the washcloth and took a cotton ball from the edge of the counter. “This is going to sting, but I know that you’re a big boy, and you can handle it.” I dabbed his cut on the side of his hand with the antiseptic soaked cotton ball.
“Fuck!” he screamed and tried to pull his hand away.
“Do you always use that kind of language?” I asked.
“Only when someone’s hurting me!” he exclaimed.
“Stop being a baby and man up.”
“Don’t tell me to man up!”

“Fine,” I said.
I put the Band-Aid on his hand. “There, all better. Now get back to fixing my shower.”
He looked at me and got up from the toilet. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I said as I walked out of the bathroom.
I took a teabag from the cupboard and made some tea. I took my cup and sat down at the table. About thirty minutes later, Luke emerged from the bathroom.
“You’re all set,” he said.
“Great. Thank you. Can I offer you a beer?” I asked, not sure why those words escaped my lips.
“No, I need to go. Enjoy the rest of your evening,” he said as he walked out of my apartment.
Copyright 2013 Sandi Lynn

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