Leah Gwaltney and Eric are best friends and have been since freshman year. Eric wants more than friendship but is willing to wait. Leah wants to love Eric. He is her best friend and she cares about him, but something is missing. There is no electricity between them.
Leah discovers what she has been missing when she meets David Leitner, the handsome graduate student who is old enough to be her father. Instantly and powerfully attracted to each other, they play a titillating game of cat and mouse while he does his best to do the right thing.
Eventually, Leah is forced to take things into her own hands and show him that not only does she know what she wants, but she knows how to get it. In a happy-for-now ending, they discover love does not have an age limit.
Leah Gwaltney grinned to herself as she bounced down the stairs of the registration building. The sky was the bright blue that was unique to a Midwestern fall day. The days were still warm, but the breeze reminded her that by evening she would need a sweater. At the bottom of the steps, Leah stepped up onto the stone newel to peer over the crowd of students.
Standing on her tiptoes, Leah craned her head searching for her friend. She was startled when a pair of bold eyes locked onto hers. For a moment, the crowd noise faded and she was captivated. Mr. Green Eyes raised his eyebrows with a mischievous grin that made her feel uncomfortably warm. Embarrassed, Leah looked away. When she dared to glance back up, the handsome stranger was gone.
“What classes did you get?” Eric shouted across the quadrangle. Leah looked around to see her best friend loping across the bricks. His shaggy brown hair flopped in his eyes as he fell into step next to her.
I got Advertising with Weinstein, Set Design, History of Television with Ronald, and Lighting Design with Dr. Sullivan,” he continued without allowing her to answer.
“Did you sign up for Ballroom Dancing like I said?” Leah asked.
“Yes, but I don’t know why you are making me do this.”
“Because you are my friend.” Leah smirked.
“Hmph, some friend you are,” he grumbled, but Leah could tell he was not really upset. She knew that Eric felt more than friendship for her. She was not sure what she felt for him. She had intentionally avoided examining how she felt too closely. What she knew for sure was that he was her best friend and that he would do anything for her.
Eric was six-two to her five-three. His straight brown hair fell over black-rimmed glasses. His big, soft, brown eyes were alight with humor and happiness. In the two years she had known Eric, she had never seen him without a goofy smile and joke. He was an eternal optimist. Leah Gwaltney bounced along beside him, taking two steps to his one. Her long waist-length, dark auburn hair sparkled with copper highlights in the sunlight. Eric’s joie de vivre always rubbed off on her, and she smiled happily up at him.
Of course, they were both young, juniors in college, on their own and having the time of their lives. They had no responsibilities except to keep their grades up. The college, or more accurately their parents’ tuition payments, fed and housed them. Despite being underage, there was plenty of alcohol around. Pot was easy enough to come by as well. There was always a party somewhere. They had nothing to do but go to classes and enjoy themselves. Why wouldn’t they be optimistic?
“So, what did you get?”
“Almost the same schedule, I didn’t get the history class though. It was already full. I got Audio Production, and of course…Ballroom Dancing.”
“That’s cool. At least we have most of the same classes.”
Leah’s eyes sparkled as she grinned up at him. “Hey, do you know what day it is?”
“And what do we do on Wednesdays?” She laughed.
Together they shouted, “BMW—Bloody Mary Wednesdays!”
The Bloody Mary Wednesday tradition had started early in their freshman year. In an attempt to avoid the lab science requirement, they had both signed up for a computer programming class. The class had been a disaster. The professor had been a dumpy little man with a bad blond comb-over and a closet full of plaid shirts. He clearly did not prepare for his class, or maybe he was just scatterbrained. His lessons were confusing and even, occasionally, wrong. He would write something on the chalkboard and just as students were scurrying to copy it down, he would mumble, “No, no, that’s not right,” and erase it.
The class was a weeding out course, meant to discourage students who were not committed to studying computer science. Eric and Leah were the exceptions in the room. Neither had any intention of pursuing computer science. Taking computer science was just a convenient loophole to avoid the onerous Biology or Chemistry 101 that every other freshman was required to take.
The class was held in a huge musty auditorium on the bottom floor of the sciences building. With over three hundred students in the class, asking questions was impossible. Leah had no tolerance for poor teaching. Valedictorian at her high school, Leah had always pushed herself academically. She spent her summers studying Latin, which was not offered at her high school, and reading voraciously. She suffered through the first two classes of Fortran hoping the professor would find his groove. During the third class, she noticed the cute but nerdy young man who had sat next to her in the front row every week.
Noticing her looking at him, he whispered, “This guy really sucks, doesn’t he?”
“No kidding. The TAs do a better job than he does.” TAs, or teaching assistants, were graduate students that supervised and taught the lab portion of the class. Freshmen quickly learned that the TAs were often better teachers than the professor, and far more accessible.
“You want to ditch?”
“You mean leave? In the middle of class? Won’t we get in trouble?”
“Nah, this is college. Nobody cares if you go to class, as long as you pass the tests.”
Before she could decide what to do, he reached down to grab her backpack and rose to leave. The professor droned on, oblivious to their departure as the two scurried up the aisle and out into the bright fall sunshine.
“Oh my God.” She giggled as they escaped the dark auditorium. “I’ve never ditched a class in my life.”
“They say college is a time to explore new things,” he said, smiling at her.
“Okay, now for another new experience. Have you tried Mother’s Pizza yet?”
“Uhm, no. But, I’ve heard it's amazing.”
Mother’s Pizza was a college institution. Stone-baked margherita pizza with fresh house-made mozzarella and basil from the garden behind the shop—Mother’s Pizza was legendary.
“Well, come on then. I’m going to bust your pizza cherry.”
Leah blushed and looked down at the off-color remark. When she glanced up though, she realized her new young friend was just as mortified as she was.
“Yeah, sorry about that. It sounded better in my head.”