Chapter 3…Friends & Lovers

Wednesday was a beautiful spring morning as Meg wheeled her mountain bike down to the road. A pair of magpies warbled back and forth in the flowering gums that lined her street. Meg had decided to ride her bike to work as part of a plan to do something for herself, something out of the ordinary, outside the usual Meg Nash box! Besides, she decided she liked getting to school before everyone else, to relax and gather her thoughts for the day. And if she was honest, to hopefully run into Luke, who also seemed to like an early start, to prepare for his classes.
Meg had finally decided not to fight her attraction to Luke. After giving it some practical consideration, and following her thoughts to a logical conclusion, she realized the school staffroom was probably the safest environment to enjoy a bit of harmless flirting. Nothing could possibly come of it, and besides, he would be finished his temporary placement in two weeks, and she would probably never see him again. (Although she tried to subdue how much that thought seemed to upset her). He was young and handsome, and passionate about life, his career, and the future. He made her feel alive, re-awakened her own ideals and goals, reminding her of a more innocent and optomistic time. In that half hour before the rest of the staff started filtering in for the day, they would talk about books, films, and travel, wonderful, diverse adult conversation, where her thoughts and feelings were considered and valued again. She had forgotten what it was like to be appreciated for herself, not for her job, or how she was coping with her lot! She had no history with Luke, he didn’t know her from before, and she could be whoever she wanted to be, or aspired to be. She felt she was finally getting back in touch with herself, apart from Sam. And after fourteen years, these tentative steps with a young handsome man listening so attentively, was a sense of liberation Meg couldn’t resist.
The following morning Luke even remembered how she took her coffee, and they sat in a strangely comfortable silence, Meg recognising a small seed of genuine contentment taking fragile root in her heart. Meg spoke first.
“What are your plans after this year? Any specific direction you’d like to go with your teaching?” she asked, knowing that wherever he went, Luke would undoubtedly leave an indelible mark, personally and professionally.
“I’m hoping to get into an alternative system of education…somewhere with a broader curriculum, a bit more experimental. From my limited experience, a lot of staffrooms are filled with many a ‘Leonard’,” he remarked, raising his eyebrows in question, a wry smile on his lips. Meg gave a quick laugh.
“I think you should,” she said. “Although our schools could do with a few more visionaries with the determination and patience to make things happen.”
“Talking about making things happen,” Luke said, rising to his feet. “Would you mind giving me a hand with some gym mats? The kids are using them in the first drama class.”
“Sure,” answered Meg, and they hurried off to the spare classroom/storage room at the end of the corridor.
“They’re kind of jammed in next to these vaulting horses. If we both gave a good tug it might be easier after the first one’s out,” Luke explained.
Meg felt the resistance give way suddenly, as she stood behind Luke pulling back as hard as she could. She had just enough balance to get out of the way and allow the mat to fall to the ground, before following suit flat on her back, square in the middle. She looked up in stunned disbelief, only to see Luke’s own wide-eyed horror at her demise. Stunned silence quickly turned to laughter when they both realized no harm was done. Luke stretched out his hand to help her up, but the dusty mat offered no traction, and Meg’s feet gave way yet again, only this time Luke came down with her. The initial shock at their innappropriately close proximity, soon gave way to laughter yet again. Only when the laughter died did Meg become acutely aware of Luke’s arm across her waist, and his face only inches from her own. There was just the slightest smile on Luke’s lips when he gently and deliberately, pushed the stray hair from her face, and tucked it behind her ear, the soft line his fingers took sending shafts of pleasure down Meg’s throat, to well in her breasts. She gave a soft gasp, unable to take her eyes from his face, on the verge of drowning in the deep green of his eyes. But they both jumped at the distant click of what sounded like a door closing. Noone was there, but it was enough to shock them back into reality. Luke offered her his hand again.
“No, I’m right thanks,” said Meg. “I don’t think we’ll try that again,” she added, brushing herself down, although she managed a grateful smile.
“Um, will you be right now?” she asked, trying to sound casual, although painfully aware that all the time she had been happily spending building a semblance of a friendship with Luke, had been decisively shown for what it truly was; a lie. What she felt in Luke’s company was something way beyond friendship.

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