Rachel looked at the clock to see that it was nearing the time when he was supposed to be there. She prepared all the work he would need and crossed her fingers that he would like the idea she had come up with. He had turned his assignment and parental signed permission form back in to her during homeroom, slipping it on her desk as he came in the room without drawing too much attention to anyone.
When Derrick entered with a list of names of present prolific African-Americans, she smiled her wonderful brilliant smile just for him.
“I thought I would do some research early to get a lot of the work out the way,” he said bashfully, yet his voice was tight.
She immediately noticed he was still a bit damp from the quick shower he took after practice. “You didn’t go outside with your hair like that?” she asked seeing the damp hair that naturally curled and she wondered was it as silky as it looked.
“No, Mrs. Herlong,” he said as if he didn’t need another mother in his life. “I came through the school. The locker room has a back staircase that leads straight over pass the auditorium and up here to the third floor. They said this place used to be an old warehouse during prohibition and the football team knows all the secret entrances where they used to store the stuff.”
This was news to her and she felt silly acting like his mother and all. This was almost a grown man. “And you know them?”
“The guys like to skip a lot and even though I can’t go with them, I know where they are,” he admitted as if everyone knew this information, then bit his tongue cursing the fact that he shouldn’t have admitted that to her. Dammit, Derrick keep focus! This is a damn teacher! “But of course you’ll never tell,” he added wickedly.
Rachel sat on the desk near him, “I probably won’t until of course I have to blackmail you for something else.” She winked at him teasingly.
Instead of sitting at her desk, she suggested they work at her desk because she had her laptop plugged over there and they could type up the work as they went. He didn’t mind even though Rachel thought he would and she couldn’t believe how comfortable he went out of his way to make her feel. Was he really as dangerous and bad as all the other teachers said?
Fifteen minutes into their researching, he actually began to talk with her. Asking her questions about how he met Robert. What she had studied in college? Somehow they had even gotten on the subject of her growing up. This was the most she had heard him speak the entire time she had known him and even though she wasn’t in the business of discussing her private life with a student, she found herself to be easily able to talk with Derrick. His smooth deep voice seem to push past the barrier she usually kept up while she was at school and with him hardly talking, she found herself that she wanted to hear his voice more and more.
Unlike most men, maybe because of his age, he actually listened to when she spoke and responded to what she said. It was a very mentally stimulating conversation that she had not had with a decent man in a very long time despite the fact she was very aware that this was just her student. Still she took enjoyment speaking with him freely about her past.
“I’ve never had a mother and father,” she confessed. “I grew up in a lot of foster homes around Sawyer County, since I didn’t know my mother or father. Once someone mentioned my parents had been teenagers, who had singed their rights over to the state.”
“Did you ever think to look for them?”
She shook her head with hesitating. “No, because I thought it was best that I don’t. I’ve never really wondered all these years. I just made due for myself. Took responsibility for myself,” she said proudly.
“Do you work all the time?” he questioned.
“No, I do actually go home sometimes,” she teased.
His tinted dark goldenrod eyes flashed with slight amusement to his always-serious glare. “You know what meant.”
“I’m a mother, of course, I work all the time. I will admit the twins were not planned, but I take my job of mothering seriously because I love them,” she admitted honestly.
After about an hour and a half of working, he suggested they take a break because he wanted to go down to the vending machine and get something to drink.
“I have a Gatorade if you want it?” she said going over to her closet. Inside was a small lunch bag still full and untouched near where the drinks were.
“You should eat more than you drink,” he said with concern, taking one of the Gatorades, which were cool.
She shrugged a shoulder nonchalantly. “I should, but you’re too young to know about baby weight, Derrick.”
“And you are? How old are you?” he asked, taking a long swig of the drink with his usual serious look.
“Twenty-two in three days,” she said proudly.
Curiously, he asked, “And what does this birthday girl plan on doing?”
Her shoulders slumped in disappointment. “Come to work, go home, nothing special.”
“That’s a bummed out birthday, Mrs. Herlong. Why is it adults don’t seem to celebrate birthdays anymore?” he inquired.
Rachel moved away from the closet and back to the side of the desk to give them a little distance. Being so close to him, she didn’t like how she always because aware of her femaleness. She didn’t think about being a teacher to him. Yet, she was so aware that her chest seemed to swell and her insides felt warm.
Crooking her head to the side, she answered, “Maybe the fact that we’re celebrating getting old depresses us.”
“And Mr. Herlong doesn’t have anything planned?”
She turned her back to him and pretended to straighten up paper to busy herself. “Robert doesn’t really celebrate birthdays and holidays.”
“So when does he make you feel special?” Derrick had walked up behind her.
For some reason, without turning to face him, she could feel his eyes on the back of her neck and moving down her spine and then… Rachel faced him feeling all of a sudden, uncomfortable.
“We’re very busy people, Derrick. Like I said adults don’t take the holidays or birthdays very seriously. Their mostly for kids.”
“You’re avoiding my question,” he said.
“Then I’ll be honest and say that I don’t wish to answer your questions, because it’s none of your business.”
He changed the subject in a very thoughtful and natural manner. “That’s another thing, Mrs. Herlong. Is six weeks really enough time to take off from having twins? I think you would need more than that?”
“Bills don’t understand that,” she said evasively.
“What about your husgand? Couldn’t he hold the fort until you got some rest?”
“Derrick, that’s none of your business.” To give them more distance, she went behind her desk trying to not look as if she really wanted to get away from him.
He looked as if he was going to drop the subject – for now, but she had a feeling he was dying to ask her some questions. They worked some more until there was a knock on the door.
Both of their attentions were drawn to Laura who Rachel felt was Mr. Davish’s sidekick. It seemed that they both had something of a vendetta against Derrick.
Even though Laura was just as old as Rachel, they were two very different women. Laura couldn’t be more than a size eight, skinny with the body that reminded Rachel of a skeleton. Her hair made her head even bigger because it came down to her shoulders and was colored a very light brown. Rachel had never changed the color of her dull black hair, but she could say that due to her pregnancy her hair had grown past her shoulders and the natural oils in her hair made the strands look strong and healthy.
“Mr. Davish sent me to collect that file for that student,” Laura said evasively.
Rachel opened up a drawer near Derrick and pulled out a folder. Rachel noticed how Laura didn’t take her eyes off Derrick for one moment even as Rachel handed Laura the file.
“You are aware of school policy about keeping students late, aren’t you, Mrs. Herlong?” Laura asked finally looking at Rachel with an immense amount of jealousy in her eyes.
“Teachers or administrators aren’t allowed to provide transportation. It’s a school safety issue.”
Rachel looked back at Derrick with concern. “I’m sorry. I did forget to ask about that. You do have a ride home?”
He crossed his arms over his chest as if he hadn’t plan on answering, but then muttered, “Yeah.”
Laura smiled knowingly and walked out the room.
Derrick’s mood was rather dampened when they were alone again. He gathered his items and mumbled something about getting out of there as early as possible.
“Derrick, what’s wrong?” she asked.
“Everything,” he said and left out the room mumbling, “See you in two days.”
Rachel was deeply confused about his sudden change as she gathered her own items, including her coat, locked up her room and decided to make sure Laura did get that folder to Mr. Davish before leaving for the day. His office was located on the same floor as her classroom, but on the other side of the building.
His door was cracked and she hoped he was in there. Yet, before she even got a chance to look inside she heard the moaning coming from the office.
Teach Me To Love – Chapter 4 Part 1 (c) 2005 sylvia Hubbard