Grace loved starting a new school year. What it must be like to do a job that had no beginning or end she couldn't imagine. This year was a little more stressful because it was a brand new school in a brand new town, but that also made it exciting. After all, she thrived on challenge. She loved the order and newness of starting afresh. She loved having a brand new pencil case full of brand new pens ready to grade brand new, enthusiastic papers. She stood in front of her brand new home room class, 24 thirteen year olds, scrubbed and eager. Well most of them were scrubbed and eager. One individual stood out. He was slumped in his chair and sported baby dreadlocks. He had painted a cannabis leaf on his ring binder. Oh dear, a mini pseudo anarchist. She had taught plenty of his sort. She would bet her life that he had a skateboard.
"John Davis Anderson," she read from the list for the second time. She looked at the mini anarchist steadily.
"Everyone calls me JD," he said slowly.
She looked at him for slightly longer than necessary and then continued down the list.
"What's with the JD kid?" she asked in the teacher's lounge later. She was sitting with Briana Amato, a bubbly blonde who rather incongruously taught Science and Lisa Ford, a sardonic and slightly scary Math teacher.
"Never call him John," Briana said. "He'll go on strike if you do."
"What's wrong with John? It's got to be the least offensive name going."
"His father was called John," Lisa interjected. "His parents died in a car wreck 8 months ago."
"Christ, poor kid."
Lisa snorted. "You won't be saying that for much longer. Not after you've dealt with some of his antics."
"Isn't a bit of acting out to be expected?"
"Yes," said Briana, "but not easy to tolerate day in day out."
"It's all to get attention of course," said Lisa emphatically. "His brother tries his best but he's not exactly parent material."
"Yes, Mr Sexy himself," and Lisa and Briana suddenly started laughing, Briana with girlish giggles and Lisa with a full blooded filthy guffaw.
"Mr Sexy?" Grace repeated way too loudly. Several heads on the other side of the lounge swivelled round.
"JD's brother," Lisa shouted and the heads seemed placated.
"Why do you call him Mr Sexy?" Grace whispered.
"You wait until the Parent Teacher meeting. You'll see."
"If he turns up," added Briana.
The Parent Teacher meeting Lisa had referred to was the following week. It was meant to allow the home room teachers to introduce themselves to parents. This school was keen on keeping parents informed and connected. A lot of the teachers were resentful about losing an evening so early in the year, but Grace didn't mind. She liked the proactive atmosphere of this school and was willing to work hard if it was for a good reason.
All the teachers were in the school gymnasium, each with their own table and a pair of chairs. The school liked unity and community too; it was their motto.Grace sat behind her desk, with a straight back. She wore a black and cream spotted shirt with a pussy bow and a black pencil skirt; fashionable and flattering but demure. As usual her hair was twisted into a perfect chignon. Her lipstick was subtle. Her previous appointments had gone well, the parents had been pleasant and respectful and clearly impressed with the professional demeanour of the new teacher. She was now waiting for JD's famous brother who was her last appointment and 15 minutes late. It clearly ran in the family, JD had been late three times in the first two weeks of school and had won the honour of being the first kid to earn a detention that year.
She looked up from her laptop and saw JD approaching, dressed in his usual attire of baggy jeans and a faded T-shirt. His dreads hung over his face which bore its customary sullen scowl. A man was by his side. He was tall and dressed in faded jeans, a T shirt and what looked like a second hand dinner jacket. He moved with far more ease than his brother. Grace focussed on his face and she froze in horror. He came nearer. He had brown eyes, a straight nose, sun-tanned skin, stubble. Oh shit.
He stood in front of her and coolly looked at the sign propped up on her desk. He read it out slowly with a knowing smirk on his face. "Ms Gilbert." He looked her straight in the eye, "Nice to meet you. I'm Sam Anderson," and held out his hand. She just stared at the hand as if it was dangerous. He withdrew it still grinning and sat down. JD slumped down next to him.
She could feel the heat in her cheeks, and was terrified the whole gym was looking at them. They must be looking at him at least. Who wouldn't. Mr Sexy indeed. Then she was terrified she'd said it out loud because he laughed.
"JD's told me all about you," he said. JD gave a horrified snort from under his hair.
"I bet he has," Grace muttered.
Sam Anderson lent back in his chair and fixed her with his dimpled grin. He was a cocky bastard and enjoying himself. She cleared her throat. It was time to get the upper hand.
Sam watched her talking about JD's 'obstructive behaviour' and hardly heard a word. He was transfixed by how different she looked. Different but just as sexy. That blouse was obviously meant to be demure but it fit in all the right places and just made him think about what was underneath. And the way her hair was done, it was just begging to be undone and spread on a pillow. His pillow preferably. Jesus, he had to get a grip. He was here to meet his brother's home room teacher. The problem was, his brother's home room teacher was a walking wet dream. One that wouldn't stop talking.
Grace couldn't stop talking even though she could tell Sam Anderson wasn't listening. He was looking at her as if he wanted to eat her up which was just inappropriate considering he was sitting next to his 13 year old brother. HER student. She decided to draw his attention to that fact by addressing JD directly.
"So what do you think JD? Do you think you've made a good start to the year?'
JD just shrugged. Sam seemed to come out of his trance.
"Come on bro', you've got to have something to say."
"I guess I'm doing OK," he muttered.
"You guess you're doing OK," Grace repeated. "So being late three times already, getting a detention in the first week is doing OK?"
"Yes," JD said defiantly, suddenly assertive.
Sam leaned forward, "We're not going to get anything out of him when he's in this mood," and he turned back to JD. "Hey bro', go and grab a Coke or something. I'll meet you outside in 10." JD shuffled off obediently for once.
"Do you think you're being too easy on him?" Grace asked.
Suddenly Sam wasn't smiling. "Do I think I'm being too easy on him?" he repeated, using her own technique. "Our parents died less than a year ago. One minute they were alive and doing just fine, the next minute they were gone and JD was left with me, a commitment shy surfer 15 years older than him who he hardly knew. No, I don't think I'm being too easy on him, Ms Gilbert."
"My name's Grace," she said and his expression softened slightly.
"It suits you." Then he seemed to shake himself and, standing up, said, "looks like everyone else has gone, so I'd better be going too. Thanks for your concern about JD, but we are doing just fine," and he was gone, walking across the empty gym, broad shoulders filling his suit jacket. He was very eloquent for a slacker surfer, she thought. God, she was in trouble.
Grace looked around and realised the gym was completely empty except for Briana grinning at her from the doorway.