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When Laura goes out one night, she doesn't expect to meet a handsome eligible man. She definitely doesn't expect him to be interested in her or to ask her out on a date. Laura hits it off with Jack right from the beginning and there's an easy connection between them. But an experience on their remarkable first date pushes her to wonder if she can have something more with Jack.
Would he be a compatible partner in meeting her sexual desires? Laura decides she wants to push her own boundaries and explore the world of BDSM. Can Jack still be the man for her? She'll find out if he's up to take her challenge.
Laura sipped her cola; last call had just been announced on alcohol, but she'd decided to stay sober tonight. No going home with "Mr. Right" tonight. She watched as the crowd subtly changed from a younger crowd to the after hours crowd.
"Mind if I join you?" A man with the smoky good looks of a model stood beside Laura's table.
"Not at all. My name is Laura and you are?" She gestured toward the empty chair across the small black table holding her drink and purse. She took in the neatly trimmed beard that lent him a rugged look, his buzzed head that made her think dirty thoughts of her fingers moving over his head, the way his chest filled out his shirt.
"I'm Jack." He placed a nearly empty wine glass on the table, its reddish color seeming even darker in the gloom of the club.
"You must be new in town. I'm sure I'd have noticed you before tonight otherwise." Laura laughed nervously.
Jack took hold of Laura's hand where it rested beside her drink. "Just accepted a teaching position at the alternative high school."
"How fascinating! What do you teach?"
Jack finished his wine. "Short story writing and journaling." He grinned. "Thankfully being at the alternative school gives me a chance not to be just another English teacher." He brushed his fingers over hers, pausing to push his fingertips against her tapered red nails. "What do you do?"
"I'm a secretary at an IT company."
"Is that what you want to do?" His gaze followed her other hand as she brought her glass to her lips.
"I've always wanted to do something at a school, although not necessarily a teacher."
"You know, schools always need paraprofessionals. Heck, two years in college can get you into most districts."
She flipped a bunch of her dark brown curls over her shoulder. "I never realized that was possible."
He wrote a short URL on a dry napkin and handed it to her. "If you go to this website, you can read the minimum requirements for a para-pro at my school."
"Thanks." She smiled at his comfortably earnest expression. "Never too late to make a change for the better, huh?"
"You don't look old enough to be talking that way, at least not to me."
"Such a diplomatic way to avoid asking my age. You are right though; regardless of what our society thinks, thirty-five isn't old."
Jack started brushing his thumb over Laura's hand again. "If it makes you feel better, teaching is a second career for me. I spent far too long in a soul-sucking corporate job before I quit to go back to college to become a school teacher." He ruefully shook his head. "Of course 'forty-something bachelor guy teacher' is not a person as likely to be judged as a woman who does it."
She arched an eyebrow. "Forty-something?"
"Forty-five. Is a ten year age difference enough that I need to consider you 'just friends' material? I hope not because I think you are the most beautiful woman."
Laura laughed as a pleasant heat came into her cheeks; she hoped she didn't blush too much. "No, ten years is not too much a difference, as I'm enjoying your company."
"Might I get you another soda?" He gestured at her empty glass.
A hint of arm hair teased her at the neat cuff of his button down shirt. "Yes, please. A cola?"
Laura shook her head. "I'm a bit curvy and I've long known that I didn't want to be with a guy who wanted a toothpick."
He picked up their empty glasses. "Good because I like to spank an ass with some jiggle."
Before she could respond, he was gone at the bar.
She grabbed her phone and started a text conversation with her best friend. OMG! I just met the most gorgeous guy!
As if waiting for a text, her friend Amy texted right back, Details?
I'm still with him at a club. Talk later?
Sure. Meet for lunch?
Laura looked up to see Jack heading back to their table. She quickly texted, He's coming back. Lunch at noon. See you then. She slipped her phone back into her purse.
"Here you are." He placed a new glass of cola on her napkin.
"Thanks." She took a sip of her drink. "So what are your hobbies beside teaching?"
"You won't laugh?" He waved his hand as if to say she need not comment. "I enjoy going to art museums, although I can't pretend to be an art historian or anything like that."
"So no jokes about a painting being a Picasso or a Rembrandt?" she teased.
"I haven't found a sort of fun that I'd take that seriously." He shrugged. "I also volunteer at the animal shelter."
"Maybe you could take me the next time you go? I've longed for a dog, but my apartment doesn't allow them. I've thought of helping at the shelter."
"I'd love that." He grasped her left hand again. "So I hope this isn't uncomfortably forward, but I'd like to ask you on a date."
"I'd love that." Glancing at the table, she smiled with a hint of coyness.
"So what would be your perfect date?"
She traced her finger around her glass' rim. "I would want to share some good food with a warm, engaging man, who doesn't judge me for enjoying my food. Then after enjoying food and conversation, I would want him to take me on a walk on a lovely nature path."
"What sort of food would qualify as good food to you?"
She met his eyes, wanting to take in his expression as she answered this question. "I'm of two minds on that. Either a relaxed, homey diner or the fine dining restaurant where you won't really get a full meal because of the pretty, dainty dishes."
He chuckled. "I think you just named the two most extreme possibilities."
"Why don't you tell me which one you've found to take me to when you pick me up?"
"Won't that put you at a disadvantage in how to dress?"
She shook her head. "I want to be dressed beautifully for you wherever you take me."
He lifted her hand to kiss her knuckles. "That's nice as you don't need to do anything to be lovely." He gifted her with a second kiss. "Does six thirty work for you?"
"Yes." She retrieved a scrap of paper from her purse before writing her info for him.
"Laura DeAngelo? Italian?"
"You caught me. Yes, and I hear about the travesty of my being unmarried at my age at least a dozen times a week."
"Well hopefully a date will slow down the rate of their lectures awhile."
"I hope so." She laughed.
"So where might you take me on our first date, gorgeous man?" Laura studied the photo on Jack's teacher page. She tucked an errant chocolate curl behind her ear before heading to the Asian place in the food court.
Tami, the sweet little old Japanese lady, smiled at Laura. "It looks like you've received some very good news."
"I'm going on a date tonight!" Laura grinned at the enthusiasm that surprised even her.
"I hope you have a lovely time and he behaves himself."
Laura giggled. "Jack is so well mannered it's like he's from another time or country." She grabbed a bottle of sweetened ice tea. "I'd like this and the orange chicken please."
"You're not going to eat so much?" Tami blinked in concern.
"He seemed relieved when I said I wasn't drinking diet soda. I think I'm okay eating how I normally do." Laura moved to the end of the counter as Tami served up first the chicken and then its normal side dishes. She quickly paid the bill and then looked around for Amy or an open table.
A mall employee wiped a table near the large windows looking out on the parking lot.
Laura walked as quickly as she could without running to get to the freshly cleaned table. She settled the rust brown tray on the table before placing her purse beside it.
“So good to be away from the office!” Laura eased her heels off under the table. She smiled to see her co-worker and best friend Amy heading toward her.
Amy sat down across the food court table from Laura with her matching tray. "So dish!"
Laura smiled at Amy's enthusiasm. "I couldn't believe when he approached me. Last call had just been hollered. He's such a gentleman and he's taller than me."
"Well that's always a plus," Amy quipped before taking a bite of her rice.
"In addition to that, he's dark haired, looks like a fancy business man, but he's an English teacher at one of the alternative high schools."
"Does he spout poetry? Or does he make you wanna earn a detention?"
Laura smirked. "No lame attempts at flattery with Shakespeare, but he's just a bit aggressive in a sexy way." She sighed happily. "He's picking me up tonight for our first date."
Amy squealed. "You have to call me when he drops you home!"
Laura sipped her tea. "No matter how late the date goes?"
"Are you planning to have sex on the first date?" Amy bounced in her seat.
"No. I'm looking forward to a second date, not a booty call."
"He's that good-looking and also a decent guy?"
Laura shrugged. "Definitely hot, but I'm wondering why at forty-five, he's still single."
"Maybe a widow?"
"Well he did say he spent too long in corporate before going back to college to become a teacher. High school, of all things."
Amy nodded. "That must take some idealism and stamina. I bet he's great in bed."
Laura tapped the table. "You are rotten!"
"Tell me that you didn't think that too."
"Yeah. He did fill out his pants nicely." She swiped right to bring up her phone's home screen. "So I have a serious thought that I need to look into."
"Oh?" Amy asked when Laura paused to take a bite of her orange chicken.
"I mentioned I've always wanted to work in a school and Jack wrote the URL of the requirements for para-pros in his district."
"How sweet that could be if you worked together."
"Let's get through the first date before you start picking your bridesmaid dress."
"I haven't jumped that far ahead, but are you seriously talking about a career change?"
Laura stirred her food with her white plastic fork. "He's right. I'm not too old to be thinking about a career change. Whatever sort of school we're talking about, they all need more people and I've always wanted to work in a school."
"What sort of alternative school is it that he works at? What kinds of students go there?"
Laura opened her internet browser; she smiled when it opened to Jack's school's homepage. "It seems like anyone for whom mainstream school doesn't work is welcome. Everyone from dropouts to those looking to chart a very different path to adulthood."
"You speak like you've caught a bit of his idealism."
"I'm excited. I can't lie." She savored a bite of broccoli. "I'm already finding things that make me think both dating him and a job change are doable. Look at this." She swiped her way to another website she'd looked at last night and passed her phone to Amy.
"Daycare assistant?" Amy looked up from Laura's phone.
"They have a teen parents' program and need people to stay with infants through preschool age children while their parents take academic classes."
"You should get him to come to the office thing on Wednesday."
"What if I find he's totally boring and I don't want to go on a second date with him?"
Amy rolled her eyes. "I hardly expect that will happen."
"So what should I wear?"
"Do you have a 'classically beautiful dress', maybe something in a similar blue to your eyes? That would be lovely."
Laura tapped on her bottom lip with one finger. "I got it!" She giggled. "I wonder if he'd find that gesture as teasing as so many alpha males do in our books."
Amy grinned. "You should test him!"
Laura threw back her head with immoderately loud laughter. After a moment, she collected herself and said, "At least he doesn't seem to want a submissive, little flower, but I do indeed have a plan for tonight."
"Not blue, but the cream off-the-shoulder dress with the sweetheart neckline and my blue pendant earrings."
Amy took a last bite of her food. "That sounds perfect. He'll be mesmerized."
"I hope so." Laura turned off her phone and focused on her meal.