When she got home, Grace sat down in the kitchen without even switching on the light and pulled off her high heeled shoes. She poured herself a large glass of white wine and sat in the dark. She had tried to forget that drunken kiss in Bakersfield. Danielle had taken a full 36 hours to repair her brain cells enough to remember what Grace had been doing when she'd burst out the back door of the bar. She had rung Grace, shrieking so loudly down the phone she'd had to hold it away from her ear.
"Oh my God Gracie! You were all over some hot guy!"
Grace had really hoped that Danielle had been too drunk to notice but clearly not.
"It was that totally hot barman," Danielle shrieked. "Gracie, you slut!"
"Please Danielle, don't tell anyone else," she had pleaded.
"But Gracie, you've never done anything like this before. I've got to tell the girls. They'll die!"
"Please don't tell them. I'm trying to forget it ever happened."
"Why would you want to forget THAT man candy? Was he as good as he looked?"
"Danielle!" Grace cried. She'd had enough of this conversation. She wasn't used to being the one being interrogated. She had had precisely one steady boyfriend when they had been at school, and precisely two since and she never discussed her sex life with anyone.
Of course Danielle told the others and Grace had to endure several weeks of relentless teasing before she could escape to her new job in Santa Cruz. She had never in a million years expected to come face-to-face with the hot barman there. And at a Parent Teacher Meeting too. How totally mortifying. She cringed at the memory of him lounging in that too small plastic chair opposite her with that look on his face, a look that clearly meant he remembered exactly who she was and what they had done. It had been her who had made the first move hadn't it? Oh God, and now she was teaching his brother, a kid with problems, probably not helped by his man-whore older brother. She finished off the glass of wine. She was going to have to avoid him from now on, or at the least be extremely stand-offish and professional. She didn't want him getting any ideas. She remembered that cocky grin again and groaned.
As she was heading upstairs to bed, it suddenly occurred to her, what the hell had he been doing working behind a dodgy bar in Bakersfield only four months ago?
She spent the next day at school avoiding Lisa and Briana. It appeared women had an irresistible urge to talk about this guy and she wanted none of it, especially in her place of work.
The Parent Teacher Meeting hadn't seemed to have made an impression on JD. He was his usual sulky self, and wearing the same clothes as he had worn yesterday, Grace noticed as she taking the morning role call. Did his brother do laundry? Probably not. She asked him to stay behind as the others left for classes.
He stood near her desk, head hanging down, hands in pockets. Life had sure knocked the stuffing out him.
"I've been thinking about how I can help you be more punctual to school," she said. "Any suggestions?"
"Any particular reason why you've been late so often?"
He continued to stare at his shoes.
"Does your brother make sure you get up in the morning?"
God, she hated having to bring him up.
"JD, you need to talk to me about this."
"Don't blame Sam," he suddenly said looking straight at her. His eyes were dark brown and his lashes were long and black. Like his brother's, she thought and then shook herself.
"I wasn't blaming him. I was just asking you a question. Does he make sure you get up in the morning?"
"Most days," he said quietly. "Some days he goes surfing at dawn and I'm supposed to get myself up and to school."
There was a sad tone to his voice and Grace bit her lip. He was only 13. He was still at that age when he needed looking after pretty much all the time.
"Well maybe you need to talk to him about that," she said. "Tell him you can't always manage it."
He shrugged again and was back to looking at his shoes.
As she dismissed him and he walked away, she caught the slight smell of stale cigarette smoke. Poor kid, it was no way for him to live.
Briana and Lisa eventually caught her in the staff lounge. She had gone in there well after the end of the school day thinking the coast was clear, but they were both sitting at one of the round tables sharing a huge piece of chocolate cake.
"Forrest's birthday," Briana said with her mouth full.
"So," said Lisa, "what did you think of Mr Sexy?"
"Were you blushing when you were talking to him?" Briana asked.
"No I was not!" Grace answered indignantly. "God you two, you might as well be in Grade 8."
"I think Sam Anderson has the hots for our Miss Gilbert," Briana said to Lisa, waving her spoon in the air and spraying crumbs everywhere.
"What makes you think that?" Lisa asked, clearly feeding her the line.
"His body language!" she announced with glee. "He was all..." and she gave a pretty good impression of the way he had been sitting on that chair, legs spread and crotch displayed. Lisa laughed so hard, chocolate cake shot out of her mouth onto the table.
"Gross!" Grace said and left them to their childish giggling.