(If you’re here for the first time check out excerpts 1-30 in earlier Blogs )
Maddie had been wondering for the past half hour what to do. She had lost track of time while getting her data analyzed. Now she had missed the last campus bus at ten thirty and had no idea how she would get to the Vet. Sci. parking lot to pick up her car. She knew she could not walk the five block distance alone. The lighting on that stretch was not very bright and though she had done it many times before, she seemed to have lost all her nerve since the attack. She was so seriously afraid that she thought about calling campus security and asking for an escort. She wasn’t sure they did that but she could at least give it a try. While she mulled over her options, trying to finish her data analysis, time kept ticking away. Now every noise in the building made her more jumpy. She knew the janitor was somewhere around but she wasn’t sure where.
Suddenly, she heard a door close across the hall and a few moments later a key started to turn in her own doorknob. Who could be in this late? It was nearly one o’clock in the morning. She tensed up, holding her breath, but when John opened the door Maddie felt a great surge of relief. Here was help! She didn’t care how helpless she came off, she would ask John to take her to her car. But she never got the words out because John barked at her.
“What the hell are you doing here this late?”
Her quick temper flared at his tone. She got up from her seat and huffed. “The same as you, I imagine. I was finishing up on some stuff.”
“Well, you’re done,” he said. “C’mon. I’ll walk you downstairs to your car.”
She faltered, torn between her indignation at his highhanded manner, her need for his escort, and her embarrassment at the fact that her car was still parked five blocks away in a very dimly lit parking lot.
“I…my car’s not here. It’s in… in the Vet. Sci. lot.” Her voice dropped down a few notches.
“It’s WHAT?” he asked. He inhaled deeply and proceeded very quietly, “You want to tell me why you didn’t go and get it while it was still light outside?”
He was talking to her as if she were a child. He was acting like he had a right to question her. At that moment any thought of explaining that she had planned on asking for a ride to her car, or of offering any excuse for her lapse, vanished. She became mulish and set her jaw in the manner her family had come to recognize as “Maddie’s stubborn look.” She simply crossed her arms, leaned back against the desk and stared straight at the wall. She tried hard to remain impassive but maintaining the anger was difficult, because her eyes were threatening to offer up some unwanted tears.
John tightened his lips. He was really quite angry. He couldn’t believe she would so recklessly place herself in danger after what had happened two months ago. He agonized about it; the fear he had that something could happen to her would sometimes keep him awake at night. And here she was, so flippantly putting herself in danger again.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asked.
Maddie simply shifted feet.
“Why the hell are you placing yourself in danger like this? Don’t you give a damn?”
She arched her head, impassive. It was almost like she was looking down her snooty little nose at him.
John was so carried away with the urgency of his appeal he never noticed the slightly flared nostrils, only the stubborn jaw. He was gonna make his point, no matter how.
“Do you have any idea what you look like, Maddie? Huh?” At her dumbness he uttered a strange little laugh. “Don’t you know that you’re a temptation for even the sanest guy?”
His voice lowered a notch. He reached out for her elbows. “Jeez, Maddie, it’s hard even for the good guys not to reach out and grab you.”
He found himself staring into teary brown eyes, looking up at him as if he were speaking a foreign language. Time stood still and any shred of self-control John had, teetered on the edge of a cliff. His eyes fixed on her mouth. It drew him and he slowly lowered his head to her lips. What he tasted there made him forget his cause. His mouth moved hungrily as he readjusted their bodies to better fit each other and drew her into the circle of his arms.
It was not a timid kiss; it was the kind of kiss a man would bestow on a woman he knew, very intimately.
And it was the slow consciousness of this fact that caused him to eventually release a thoroughly disoriented Maddie and set her at arm’s length. He was aware of having overstepped the boundaries. He had been preaching to Little Red Riding Hood about the dangers of the forest and had turned into the wolf.
He turned aside, silently cursing himself, and reached for her backpack, saying almost in a whisper: “C’mon, I’ll drive you to your car.”
Since she did not seem to respond he leaned down and saved the file on the computer and shut it off. He ushered her out of the office, down the stairs, out of the building, and into his car.
As he drove the few short blocks, John was struggling to find something suitable to say. He was sorry if it seemed like he had taken advantage of the situation but he’d be dammed if he’d apologize for the kiss. Let’s admit it, he’d wanted to kiss her ever since he’d first laid eyes on her. That doesn’t give you the right.
He took a peek at Maddie, sitting by his side. Damn! Maybe he’d frightened her, made her think about the rapist. His hands tightened on the wheel, he was cursing himself for an idiot.
There were only three cars left in the Vet. Sci. lot. As they pulled up to Maddie’s car he said, “Look Maddie, I’m sorry that I kiss—”
“Thanks for the ride,” she interrupted, as she got out and into her own car. Then the ignition was on and she was pulling away.
“That’s okay, I wasn’t sorry anyway,” he murmured, leaning his head back against the headrest and closing his eyes.
[i] Homozygous – Containing two copies of the resistance gene.
[ii] Heterozygous – Containing one copy of the gene for resistance and one copy of the gene for susceptibility. In this case both the heterozygous and homozygous line would show resistance because the resistance gene is dominant.
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DISCUSSION QUESTION 31: What in blazes happened to John?
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