For Writing Wednesday this week, I am sharing an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Brunch at Ruby’s. The book hits the digital shelves on 3.24.2015!
I’m packing up my office to leave for the day when he saunters in, unexpected but not unwelcome. My heart skips a beat and my belly quivers like I’m a teenager in love and not an adult in a forbidden relationship.
“Is that your equipment inventory? How are we looking?” I gesture to the stack of papers folded in his hand. He bypasses me, dropping the form into the IN basket on my desk. His scent is a mix of cologne and manly sweat and fresh cut grass from working on the football field most of the day.
“All there,” he says with a confident nod. “All good. We’re ready.”
I smile at him, my arms full of folders and a heavy bag hanging from my shoulder. School begins in a few weeks and as Principal at Morningside Middle School, I still have hours of work before my day is complete.
David Loren, my Athletics Director, moves across the office slowly, taking his time.
“So, I was just leaving,” I hint. “Was there anything you needed?”
Swift and smooth, like an eagle dipping to pluck its prey from the river, he moves in and drops his lips to mine. My heartbeat quickens with panic… then I relax. It’s the end of the day. The building is empty, the halls are quiet. I drop the armful of folders onto the nearest chair and let my bag slide from my shoulder. It lands at our feet with a thud.
I lean into him. Into the kiss. Into the moment.
A noise sounds above the quiet moans between us, ripping my lips from his. We leap apart, each taking a few steps back. At the faint sound of a door closing, we rush into the hallway in time to catch a fleeting figure dart past the window and down a darkened hall.
“Hey. HEY!” David takes off, bellowing into the shadows. Whoever it is, they move quickly enough to get away from a former football player. Too soon, he’s back in my office, leaning heavily on one leg more than the other, wrinkles of pain across his forehead.
“Could you see who it was?”
He shakes his head. “Moved too fast. I’m pretty sure it was a kid. It was dark…” He drops into a chair.
I can’t breathe, suddenly. My knees buckle. I collapse into the chair next to him.
“Don’t panic, Debra. Maybe they didn’t see anything.”
My glare is pointed and severe. “Maybe they didn’t see your tongue halfway down my throat? Are you serious?”
David pouts, shrugging a bulky shoulder. “Okay, but it’s our word against theirs. Who’s going to believe a kid that says they saw me and you kissing in your office? Sounds made up to me.”
“You mean no one would believe the young PE Teacher would be interested in the old married Principal?”
He sighs. “That’s not how I meant it, Debra.”
“You know what, never mind. It doesn’t even matter. The rumor is enough to make my life hell. I told you we needed to end this!”
“Don’t over think it. That’s how people make mistakes—”
“Mistakes? I think this is way bigger than a mistake right now. Do me a favor, David. Shut up. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I drop my face into my hands as my world swirls around me. The hallways of a middle school are lined with gasoline. Gossip spreads like wildfire around this place, especially during the first few weeks of the new school year. The thought of my fate being in someone else’s hands or someone having something to hold over me makes my stomach roll.
“This is a nightmare. I’m going to have to tell Willard. And maybe Bernice…”
“The Superintendent? Over a kiss that somebody says they saw? You don’t have to tell anybody anything. You didn’t tell them about it before—”
“No one else knew before!”
“No one else knows now! Stop and think, Debra! All we have to do is deny it. Maybe we just lay low and—”
“No.” I hop up from the chair, grabbing the handles of my bag and tossing it over my shoulder. “I can get another job and so can you, but I can’t risk my marriage anymore.”
I shake my head, my resolve becoming stronger every moment. “Willard cannot find out about this when whoever…” I point toward the window. “Whoever that was decides to play their hand.”
David stands and limps toward the door. The knee injury that destroyed his dreams of being drafted to a pro football team is flaring up. “At least wait before you tell anybody but him. Let’s see how things play out before you get us both fired.”