My roommate sent me a curious look as I followed her out of the Visual and Performing Arts Center after our Tuesday morning free period.
“Since when do you walk me to class? You usually spend your free period in the VAPAC.”
I shrugged, pointing to the science center across the lawn. “I’m going to the fishbowl lounge. Pat’s got a few minutes between his science classes.”
She smirked. “Don’t forget to come up for air.”
She ran up the hill to the language building as I made my way to the glass-lined room. My friend Andy was sitting in one of the comfortable chairs. He smiled as I sat across from him.
“Hey, Melinda. How goes it?”
I shrugged. “Not bad. In the middle of a triple free period.”
“Sweet. I’m still adjusting to my new schedule. I’ve got Spanish third.”
I nodded my head towards the language building out the window. “That’s now.”
He shot out of his chair, swearing as he grabbed his bag. “Later.”
As he raced out the door, I watched him through the glass window that looked into the hallway. He nearly crashed into someone coming towards the lounge.
I watched the lean guy with ginger hair round the corner and enter the room. He flashed me the smile that had made Patrick McGregor a household name. A moment later, he was perched on the arm of my chair, his fingers playing with my hair.
I smiled at the nickname. It was a reminder of my initial hesitation to being in a relationship with my best friend’s older brother.
I ran my hand along his knee. “How’s your morning going so far?”
“Better now that you’re here.”
He slid into the chair, kissing me gently. As soon as our lips touched, I was filled with a warmth that radiated to my fingers and toes. My heart stopped beating, and I forgot about the rest of the world.
We probably could have stayed like that forever. Except we weren’t alone. A cough in the doorway had us both sitting up. Larry smirked as he settled himself in the chair across from us.
“Now, now. Save that for after classes.”
Pat sent Larry a rude hand gesture as I got out of the chair. Pat raised his eyebrows as I settled myself on the floor.
“Did I do something wrong?”
I giggled. “No. I want to work on the table.”
Larry groaned. “You’re not seriously starting homework before lunch.” He looked at Pat. “Your girlfriend has a serious problem.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not doing my homework. I’m just writing it into my assignment book for the semester.”
Pat pointed at me. “How does that work with your whole extra homework thing?”
I sighed. “I’ve already explained this to you. It’s not extra homework. For your information, I write in the assignments as they’re on my syllabus. Then, I just do them a day or two in advance. But”
I stared at my assignment pad. I had a scheduling conflict tomorrow afternoon. With a sigh, I grabbed my phone and searched for the phone number of the athletic department.
Pat sent me a look of concern. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing.” I went to the campus phone in the corner of the room, dialing the athletic department. “I just have a scheduling problem tomorrow.”
“Athletic office. This is Mrs. Carson speaking. How may I help you?”
“Hi. Um, my name’s Melinda. Um, I’m in the third form. I plan on doing dance as my sport, but the organizational meeting is tomorrow. And, well, I have a class at that time.”
“The meeting’s not until four.”
“I know. You see, I have this class I take at a church in town.”
“I see. Which church?”
“Saint Mary’s.” I could hear a keyboard clacking as I spoke.
“I see. And what’s the class for?”
“It’s a confirmation class.”
“Oh, how nice. I was confirmed back in 1987.”
I had no idea what I was supposed to say. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. After a moment, Mrs. Carson continued.
“Okay. I’m going to email the instructor. Have you taken dance with us before? You said third form? What was your sport last term?”
“I did dance last term. I did tap and ballet, although I joined Mr. Pablo’s class halfway through.”
“Oh! Melinda Luzzelli! Yes, I handled that paperwork last term. Hang on. I thought I saw an email floating about with your name on it . . . Yes, here it is. Hmm . . . Okay. Well, let me ask you, which classes did you wish to select this term?”
“Um, I wanted to do tap and ballet again, if I could.”
“Excellent. I’ll make a note of that. I would like to share your email with Ms . . . Oh, I can’t pronounce her last name. What do you students call your instructor?”
“Which one? Madame Odette?”
“Yes. That’s fine. I would like to share your email with her so she can contact you directly. Is that okay?”
“Fantastic. Enjoy your class, sweetie.”
Rolling my eyes, I put the phone back on the receiver before returning to my table.
As I headed to the library that afternoon, I received an email from my dean. She was forwarding a message from Madame Odette inviting me to attend classes at her studio instead of the ones offered at my school. I could continue working with the advanced tap class and I would be able to take introduction to pointe. It was an amazing opportunity.
When I first read the email, I was overjoyed. But the more I considered the offer, the more hesitant I became.
I entered the side entrance of the library, heading straight upstairs to my regular study room. It had a study table for four near a window that looked across the street towards my dorm. It also had two extremely comfortable brown leather wing-backed chairs, one of which was currently occupied by Pat.
After quietly placing my bag on the table, I sat on the arm of his chair.
He looked up, his bright blue eyes smiling mischievously at me as he pulled me into the chair, kissing the top of my head. I snuggled myself against him, playing with a button on his cardigan.
“How was your run?”
Pat shrugged. “Lonely. I am definitely going to get up in time to join Walter tomorrow morning. How was your day? I haven’t seen you since lunch.”
I giggled. “Madame Odette wants me to dance at the studio.”
“While that sounds great, I’m a little confused. Why don’t you start at the beginning?”
“I was on my way here and Sally sent me this.”
I showed him the email from my dean. He played with my hair absently as he read it before returning the phone with a smile.
“That’s fantastic! I told you that you were an amazing dancer.”
“I’m not sure what to do. I mean, it’s an awesome experience. But it’ll take a lot of time out of my day. It’s what? At least half an hour each way to the studio. I would have to leave as soon as English is done. And, what about orchestra? By the time I got back on Monday and Thursday, I’d have just enough time for dinner before orchestra. That leaves me with absolutely no time to get any homework done. I might have to drop orchestra. I love orchestra.” I knew I was babbling, but I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t help it.
Pat ran his fingers gently along the small of my back. It helped settle me. “Well, it’s up to you, but you can always do both, and if it’s too hard, drop one.”
“Maybe.” I was far from convinced.
Pat gently nudged me out of the chair before taking my hand and guiding me to the study table. Really? I was upset, and he was ready to do homework? Before I could complain about his insensitivity, he pulled a notebook from his bag, turning to me as he ripped out a page.
“Let’s make a list of pros and cons. Reasons you should and shouldn’t accept this invitation.”
I nodded. That was a pretty good idea and would probably help ease my concerns. Maybe he was a fantastic boyfriend after all.
Within ten minutes, we had generated an extensive list. Although my cons outweighed my pros, Pat told me I should choose what was in my heart. I let that idea fester in the back of my mind as I pulled my books from my bag.
I started with my music history homework, since it was the only class I was taking that Walter wasn’t. Even though we had different teachers for some subjects, the homework for our Latin, geometry, English, and physics classes was usually identical and we enjoyed completing our assignments together.
I read the first two chapters of the book, highlighting notes the best I could. While the subject was interesting and I liked the class lecture, I was finding the book to be fairly dull. Thankfully, my teacher had already told us much of what I read in the first chapter. It gave me an idea of what he thought was important for us to know.
I rewrote my class notes, adding in what I had highlighted. Then, I moved on to the next chapter, writing out my notes while leaving room for my lecture notes.
When we had been studying for finals last month, Pat had insisted on hourly study breaks. Apparently, this rule applied to all studying, since I had barely taken out my physics book when Pat declared, “Break time!”
I checked the time. “Dining hall’s not open yet.”
“I didn’t say dinner time. Just break time.”
He took my hand, leading me back to the comfy chairs. “I need ten minutes of you time.” His voice was sober as he held me close.
I automatically ran my hands along the small of his back. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah. The book I’m reading for English is just really depressing.”
We squeezed into one of the chairs. “Wanna tell me about it?”
“I really don’t. I just want to forget about it for ten minutes.”
“Okay. Fine by me. Lemme see. What can we talk about?” Almost immediately, I remembered a conversation I had with my roommate after our math class. “Oh! So, Sarah and I were talking about you this afternoon—”
“You were talking about me?” Pat played with my hair as I snuggled closer. “I’m flattered.”
I gently hit his arm. “She was asking if you were studying with me this afternoon and—I forgot my point. Oh, yeah. She called you Patrick.”
“Okay? What does she usually call me?”
“Usually PatrickMcGregor, as if it were one word.”
Pat smiled. “Tell her only fans and directors get to call me Patrick.”
“And your mom.”
“Yeah, her too. My friends all call me Pat. And I want her to be my friend, not my fan.”
“I bet she’d like that.”
Pat leaned in for a kiss. My heart stopped beating and a warm feeling filled my belly, radiating towards my fingers and toes.
“Yeah, weird as this is,” said a voice from the doorway, “you’re still cute together.”
I jumped back so quickly, I probably would have fallen from the chair if Pat hadn’t been holding me.
I sent Walter a sheepish look. “Sorry.” I returned to the table as Pat’s slightly shorter, more muscular brother entered the room.
Pat winked. “I’m not.”
Walter smiled at the both of us. “I’m getting used to the idea. It’s less weird than it was when you two first got together. So, how much homework did you do without me? And where am I supposed to sit?”
Pat began collecting his books. “I’ll move. I’d rather sit next to Daphne than you.”
When Walter declared the dining hall was open, I sent him and Pat down to eat while I called my mother. Before I accepted Madam Cheri’s offer, I wanted to get her opinion. And her permission to leave campus every afternoon.
I had already made my decision, but I wanted to know if it was the right one.
My mother answered on the second ring.
“Hi, Baby Girl. How’s school going?”
“Fantastic. You’ll never guess what happened.”
I explained the offer and even read her my entire list of pros and cons.
“So, what do you think? Should I accept the offer?”
My mother sighed. “Well, what do you want to do?”
“I’ll tell you in a minute. I want your opinion first.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity and you should go.”
“Oh, good! I was thinking the same thing.”
My mom asked some questions about my classes, but I didn’t stay on the phone long. As I headed to dinner, I replied to Madam Cheri that I would like to accept the offer.
Pat’s story will return in Episode 73.
Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.