Okay, enough intro. Here's a draft of Chapter 1. Keep in mind it will change some. Do let me know what you think about it. I have no date, but I will post other snippets as I go along.
Brooke crossed her arms, mildly glaring at her most annoying pupil, who also happened to be the most promising one in this particular class. If only he didn’t grandstand so much, but she knew young Mr. Shinkel hadn’t figured out yet that it kept him from being taken seriously.
“Are you worried about a zombie eating your brain, Darren?”
With only two minutes left, Brooke became resigned to the class discussion ending on a joke. The other students laughed at her verbal volley back to him.
“Yes. If Descartes is right, I’d just as soon know about where the vat is and what kind of condition my brain is in currently.” Darren offered a wider grin when everybody else laughed.
“A zombie wouldn’t want your warped brain, Shinkel. Get over yourself.”
Brooke laughed as another student, a friend of Darren’s, took over the harassing, sparing her further rebuttal. Inside she was secretly sighing in relief, but hoped they couldn’t see. Darren had a habit of hanging back after class and it was starting to make her uncomfortable. It happened nearly every session now. She had been plotting about asking Shane to show up in a sleeveless shirt now and again just to create the impression that she was dating someone more intimidating than any of her students.
A far off bell ringing interrupted her. It wasn’t the right timing, but the students broke out the moment it sounded anyway.
“Quiz Thursday on Descartes. Finish the reading.” Brooke laughed as she yelled, hoping to be heard over the mad scramble happening at the back of the room. It was always crazy to watch twenty-two students try to push through the room door to exit at once.
Seconds after her yelled announcement, complete silence fell. All she could hear then was the rustle she was making as she gathered up her things. There was rarely a line wanting to extend class discussion even though college students were often natural philosophers.
Problem was they rarely could hold any one thought long enough to see it through to any logical conclusion. She was going to have to get creative in finding ways to teach them to extend their thinking on a single subject beyond their class time.
“I think I like the idea of being just a brain in a vat. It would be nice to think someone else was pulling the strings on the mess I call a life.”
Drake walked into the room, smiling at Brooke’s soft laugh. She was damn appealing, when she wasn’t furious at him.
“Hi.” Brooke smiled at Drake’s uniform of khakis and a polo. It was his teaching uniform, but his shirts did some pretty amazing things to those shoulders of his. She looked at her own slacks and sweater, shaking her head at the similarities. “Everything turn out alright for Brandon and his car?”
“Mostly. I’m just glad it broke down in Ohio instead of Pennsylvania. I know I could have just called the tow service, but I didn’t want to leave him stranded overnight by himself.”
Drake slipped his hands into his pockets, stunned once more to find them wanting badly to be on the young and beautiful Brooke Daniels instead.
“You are a lousy date Mr. Barrymore, but a good father.”
Brooke grinned nonchalantly at the nervous man while butterflies danced in her own stomach. Hopefully it was just because Drake was so damn good-looking. She’d hate to think it was that one kiss in her mother’s kitchen that had her so intrigued.
Maybe he was just growing on her because she wasn’t looking beyond him any more. Exclusivity had never worked out well for her. But after a couple seriously lousy dates, Drake leaving their dinner to rescue his son was still the best date she’d had in weeks.
“It was Brandon’s first time to the make the trip back from Harvard alone. I think he’s wishing he’d picked a closer college now.”
Brooke laughed. “And that’s why I picked Columbus. That seemed far enough away from mom without being too far to come home when I wanted.”
Drake nodded. “Sounds like a smart strategy for you.”
“It was self-preservation.”
Brooke laughed as she gathered her teaching materials into her arms.
“My mother was my best friend, but I still wanted the longest leash I could manage. I didn’t want to debate every decision of my college life with her. That independent woman thing is an act for the benefit of handsome men. My mother would have made a great prison guard.”
“Like I said—very smart.” Drake snorted and held the door open for Brooke to walk through. “I have to ask though—what could Jessica possibly disapprove of with a daughter more conventional than she is? Your mother walks to the beat of a drum I’m certain no one else ever hears but her. I have great admiration for Will.”
Brooke laughed at the dryness of Drake’s tone as well as at the truth of his words.
“Don’t let that cavalier artist persona fool you into thinking she’s not conventional in her habits. My mothers likes her daily rituals. And she requires a lot of quiet alone time to ponder her work. I disturb her space when I’m around, especially since I like to watch TV and listen to music. Mom and Will are quite well matched. I tell myself that all that dating she did finally paid off.”
“Ever found yourself ‘well-matched’ with anyone,” Drake asked, grinning when Brooke slowed her walk to turn an interested gaze to him. He fell into her amused eyes, unable to see anyone else around them. More amazing was that he had no reservations about it whatsoever this time.
Desire for her rolled over and through him. He decided he was really tired of fighting the feelings she stirred up. He just wanted to be with her.
“Me well-matched? Not so far.”
Brook made the remark casually, choosing to momentarily ignore the thorough inspection of Drake’s gaze running over her in a way too possessive manner.
“I think my luck has just gotten worse. The guy I’m currently interested in keeps standing me up. He makes these lame excuses about having to help his child who seems remarkably talented at having crisis after crisis. I’m kicking myself daily because his ‘concerned parent’ routine intrigues me, even when I end up alone at the damn end of the evening.”
“I assure you that all my child crises are solved for the moment. And I swear the man you’re dating is just as tired of waiting as you are.” Drake narrowed his eyes, pleased at Brooke’s flirty laugh. There was a time not so long ago that he thought Brooke would never be that relaxed with him. “Trust me, Ms. Daniels. I’m ready for a real date. One that ends a hell of a lot better than our last.”
Brooke spied an empty classroom near the end of the hallway they walked. She picked up Drake’s hand and dragged him inside the dimly lit room with her. When they were tucked along the side of the wall, she whispered ‘kiss me’, pleased when he did exactly that with no hesitation at all.
His mouth moved on hers with the same level of confidence she always heard in his voice. She put a hand on Drake’s chest to keep a bit of distance between them. Mostly because she didn’t trust herself not to escalate the kiss into a whole lot more.
When Drake finally removed his mouth from hers, they were both breathing hard. Brooke shook her head at the way her heart was trying to beat it’s way out of her chest. Sure Drake kissed well, but how did he reduce to her to a mass of quivering nerves every time? Her inquiring gaze met his focused, determined one, and a shiver honest to God traveled down her spine
“My God, I want to do that with you until I get my fill,” Drake said hoarsely, moving to her side to avoid the bulge of the armload she carried. “Come home with me. Brandon is staying with friends until tomorrow. I promise no crises other than ours this time.”
Brooke sighed at his offer and closed her eyes. If she had found a law student who had talked that way, she’d probably be married by now.
“You are definitely Descartes’ demon where I’m concerned, Dr. Barrymore. But you already know that, don’t you? You mostly irritate me and yet I still want to kiss you every time I see you. What secret power do you have over me?”
“Well. . .I do want to control you, but only your body,” Drake whispered, moving his mouth to her cheek, skimming it with his breath and then his lips. Brooke tasted better than all the fantasies he’d had about her. “How about I promise not to try to put your brain in a vat no matter what happens? And I swear I will step in front of you in case of a zombie attack.”
“Brandon would be so proud of you.” Brooke giggled as she watched Drake’s smiling mouth descending once more to hers.
A throat clearing in the room and a small “excuse me” had them pulling apart.
“Sorry,” Brook said, rising away from the wall. “Oh—hi, Arielle.”
“Hi Dr. Daniels. Class will be starting in here soon. Anyway. . .sorry to interrupt,” Arielle stammered out, her gaze jumping from the uber sexy art teacher everyone talked about to the new philosopher professor who was super nice, but hard. When Dr. Barrymore smiled knowingly at her, she completely understood why all her friends had declared him the sexiest teacher on campus. She’d have risked getting caught with him too.
“I liked your paper on Aristotle. Nice work,” Brooke said, smiling at the girl still staring in awe at Drake. She would have snorted at the girl’s awe of the older man, but given the circumstances, that would just have made her a hypocrite.
“Thank you,” Arielle said, swallowing as she pulled her gaze away from the man slipping a hand in pocket with grin.
“See you in class Thursday.” She and Drake slipped out the door, smiling as Arielle nodded.
Out in the hallway, Drake put a discreet distance between their bodies and sighed heavily. Brooke snickered at the guilty look on his face. “Some bad boy professor you turned out to be. You’re practically blushing.”
“Want me to tell you why I’m feeling guilty? My lustful thoughts about us would even make Jessica Daniels’s daughter blush.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t shock very easily, but you better save the explanation for dinner, just in case. What time should I come over?” Brooke hoisted her load higher as she turned in the direction of the faculty parking lot.
“Is seven okay?” Drake put both hands in his pockets to keep from touching her one last time.
“Seven works for me,” Brooke said, winking at him before she strode off.
At her car, she set everything on the trunk to dig her keys out of her book bag. When she felt eyes boring into her, she looked back to see Drake offer a wave before sauntering off. It gave her an odd feeling to realize the man had been looking out for her as she went to her car. She couldn’t recall ever having a man be openly solicitous of her safety.
In fact, Drake Barrymore was turning out to be a first for her in many ways, starting with his ability to turn her to giggling mush with his poetic words. Her lust was running so high at the moment, she couldn’t recall why she had practically hated him when they first met.
A sigh of longing escaped, defying even her well-developed sense of self-preservation. What she was feeling for Drake wasn’t logical. What could she possibly want with a older man who was still hung up on his dead wife? Obviously, the sooner she slept with Drake, the sooner she would get over this silly infatuation she had developed for him.
It was the way he kissed. And the way he’d flirted with her at the gallery opening. She couldn’t stop thinking about him—or wanting to kiss him again.
Her logical mind informed her daily that a forty-two year man was more suitable for a woman her mother’s age, than for her. Unfortunately, the rest of her body was refusing to listen to any solution that didn’t end with her getting naked with Drake.
She chalked up her obsession to her own raging hormones, since in her thirties she was allegedly hitting her peak—whatever that meant. As far as she could tell, her mother hadn’t peaked yet. Maybe her female gene pool was extraordinary.
“It’s okay Brooke,” she said to herself as she tossed her belongings in the backset. “No matter how old or young, men are all pretty much the same when the lights are out. Drake Barrymore is not ‘the one’. He’s just the one for now. A couple of weeks and you two will be nothing more than just good friends who slept together once.”
But the excited, hopeful gaze in the rear view mirror belonged to a smiling, illogical woman she didn't recognize.