Grace deeply regretted the kiss the next day. It had really messed with her equilibrium and completely ruined all her best intentions. Why did she lose all self control when she was around him? The compulsion to touch Sam Anderson was getting worse rather than better. She had to sleep with Greg, as soon as possible. But Greg was still in San Francisco with his screwed up sister. And now JD had broken his leg someone would have to go and see him to make sure he kept up with his school work, and as his home room teacher it should be her. Could she just do it through email? No, that would be mean and cowardly.
So after her last class she screwed up her courage and drove over to the Anderson house, repeating to herself the entire way, "he's no good, he's no good, he's no good."
The house was on the beach in a prime location, but it had clearly been there a long time. It was a wooden structure, painted a soft grey, weathered and slightly peeling in places. The verandah was bursting with lush green plants in terra-cotta pots. A wind chime jingled in the breeze.
Grace nervously walked up to the screen door which was open and called out, "Sam? JD?"
Sam appeared in the living room, dressed as usual in worn jeans and a T shirt. His feet were bare.
"Hi," he said, clearly surprised.
"I've brought JD some of his books and school work," she said quickly before he might think she was here for another reason.
"Cool, come in, he's in his room."
JD was lying in bed, his leg in a cast propped up on a pillow, watching TV.
"Hello Miss Gilbert," he said politely.
Grace put the small pile of books on the bedside table and told him to check his email for instructions. If he emailed his work to her at the end of every day, she would make sure it was passed on to his teachers.
"Am I in trouble for skipping school," he asked, suddenly looking very young.
"I think being bed bound is punishment enough," she said reasonably.
"I should be able to walk on it in a week or two."
"Don't rush it," Grace advised. "Make sure it heals."
Back in the living room, Sam was drinking a beer.
"Want one?" he asked.
"Stay a while, " Sam said. "I promise I won't jump your bones," he grinned. She believed him, even Sam wouldn't do that with his brother right next door.
He got a beer for her and she sat down on a wicker chair, looking around the cosy room. There was a bright rag rug on the floor and the room was lined with bookshelves heaving with books and mementoes.
"Nice place," she said.
"Yeh, this is still all my parent's stuff," he said. "Some day I'll sort it all out. I prefer a more minimalist look."
"Your surf shop is a cool place too." She blushed slightly as she remembered what had happened the time she had been there.
"That was my Dad's business. He was a pro surfer when he was young, a big wave rider." He got up and took a framed photo off the shelf behind him and handing it to Grace said, "He was quite a big name."
Grace looked at the photo. He was a handsome dark haired guy with the long hair that was fashionable in the late seventies, much broader than Sam but the resemblance was obvious, especially in the wide grin.
"You must miss him," she said.
"Yeh, he was a good guy. Growing up with my parents was a wild ride," he said, smiling sadly.
"What did your Mom do?"
"She was a yoga teacher. They were such hippies, didn't believe in rules and regulations, thought kids should roam free."
"Sounds like fun."
"Sometimes it was, but sometimes I wanted proper parents, you know? The kind that would make me do my homework and ground me occasionally."
Grace laughed. "I had those parents and I would have gladly swapped with you!"
"The grass is always greener," Sam laughed. "Do you know how I rebelled?"
Grace waited for the answer.
"I went to Columbia law school."
She was speechless. "You did what?"
"I have a law degree from Columbia."
"Columbia, New York? Not Columbia, the country?"
"Columbia, the Ivy League University," Sam confirmed.
Holy shit, as Lisa would say, she really hadn't been expecting that. No wonder he sometimes seemed so eloquent. She tried to rearrange the scrambled thoughts in her head.
"So you have a law degree that you've done nothing with?"
"Yup. I had this ridiculous notion that I wanted to be a lawyer. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was my favourite book, but I soon realised there weren't many lawyers like Atticus Finch, so I went travelling after graduating and never got back on the career track. Then my parents got stoned one night and crashed their car and here I am."
"But all that studying? How long did it take? 3 years?"
Sam shrugged. "Studying always came fairly easy to me."
Suddenly Grace wanted to meet the 18 year old Sam; clever, impossibly handsome and a free spirit.
"I got my brains off my Mom," he grinned. "JD takes after his father. A fun-loving daredevil!"
Grace had never seen JD as fun loving, not with the permanent scowl branded onto his young face.
Sam read her mind. "Well he was fun-loving before the accident," he said sadly, "Nowadays, he' s just reckless. I get scared sometimes about what he might do next."
She couldn't believe how much Sam was opening up tonight. Maybe it was because he was in his own home, surrounded by childhood memories. Her heart ached for him.
"Sam!" JD yelled from the bedroom. "I need to pee."
Grace had finished her beer. She looked at her watch. "I should go," she said.
"Thanks for bringing the school work," Sam said as he led her to the door, and for a moment she thought he was going to kiss her, but he seemed to check himself and step back into the room.
"Bye," Grace said quietly and walked away to her car, Sam watching her every step of the way.
Maybe they should have talked about what had happened yesterday, Sam thought as he closed the screen door. They couldn't carry on ignoring the obvious attraction they had for each other. Every time he looked at her he itched to touch her, and from yesterday's performance he guessed she felt the same way. But it was also clear that she was trying to control the attraction, and she was going to sleep with that lucky bastard Greg any day now, he could tell and there wasn't a damned thing that he could do about it.
"Sam!" JD shouted. "I still need to pee!" and he went to help his brother.