The Impact of You (Page 8)

The Impact of You(8)
Author: Kendall Ryan

But Madison doesn’t need to know about my dumpster diving adventures. I also fail to mention the nap I’d taken in his bed. That would send her over the edge. No, that little detail will need to remain between him and me, as would the fact that his pillow smelled like a mix of fabric softener and cologne and I could have easily taken it home to enjoy nightly. That detail definitely doesn’t need to be shared with anyone. Not Madison and certainly not too-hot-for-his-own-good Jase.

Chapter 5

Jase

I crank up the radio and settle back as the flat highway stretches before me. Having already missed my afternoon class yesterday because of my soiree with Avery, I take off for home, driving three hours just to check on my mom. I never used to bother going home much my first two years away at college. But a suicide attempt changes things. I won’t be able to relax or focus on class until I see her with my own eyes.

When I arrive, my dad is immediately in my face, provoking a fight that nearly leads to blows. He treats her like shit, and I’ve had it with him. But I try to focus on the fact that she seems to be doing better.

It’s a quick trip – I take her out to lunch and we just talk. Sometimes I worry she doesn’t eat enough, especially when my dad is out of town, which is often. With no one there to cook for, I have a feeling she just doesn’t eat. It’s more than just taking her out to lunch, though; I need to check on her, to make sure she’s okay. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for not realizing how close she’d been to checking out. It makes me realize I can’t take her for granted.

Settling into the drive home, I should make it back in time for my human sexuality class, the class I’ve most been looking forward to this semester. Professor Gibbs’ infamous lectures have generated plenty of buzz on campus over the years. It should be an easy A, and of course features my favorite topic – sex.

One hand rests on the wheel while the other tugs restlessly through my hair. I can’t stop thinking about Avery. Spending time with her yesterday was…unexpected. Her being comfortable enough to fall asleep in my bed? Shocking. And sexy.

I remember her skittish reaction when Stacia said she looked familiar. She looked like she wanted to dive for cover under my bed. Between hiding behind dumpsters to being terrified of my none-too-bright ex, Avery is a mystery. She’s like a scared little wisp of a girl I want to coax out of her shell.

Even I’m not sure of my own motivations since I doubt she’ll ever be one of my conquests. Which I both like – and don’t. She’s definitely tempting, with soft curves that fill out her jeans, long unruly hair, and especially her wide green eyes and soft mouth. Shit. I’m going to give myself a hard-on if I’m not careful.

I pull into the campus parking lot just as my class is starting. I’m going to be late. Finding the lecture hall a few minutes later, I pause at the doors to look for an empty seat. Professor Gibbs is tall, bald-headed and is pacing the front of the room. The room is full and silent, aside from him. He pauses just briefly as his gaze meets mine, then he returns to lecturing – making a point about society and self-image. I zero in on an empty seat in the back of the room when movement catches my attention. A flash of auburn hair streaks through my vision and makes my heart gallop. Avery.

She sits several rows up and her cheeks blossom when she meets my eyes. I can’t help but smile at the sight of her. I maneuver between the rows of seats, and a few nasty looks later, I’m in the chair next to her.

“Hey Whistle.”

She rolls her eyes before facing the front once again, but the little curve of her mouth tells me she’s happy to see me. That little curve shouldn’t make me feel so good.

I lean closer to whisper near her ear. Traces of floral shampoo greet me. “What’d I miss?”

“I didn’t even know you were in this class. You weren’t here last week.”

I like that she noticed that. “I was gone last week – had to check on my mom,” I whisper back.

Her eyebrows draw together and then she turns to the front of the room again. I can’t help but notice she already has a full page of notes scrawled neatly across her notebook and is nervously bouncing a chewed, tattered pen in her hand. Abandoning my inspection of Avery for the moment, I tune in to our lecture. Gibbs is a lively speaker, and it’s easy to lose yourself in his words. I pull out the syllabus I printed from online and follow along the second week’s lesson: You – A Sexual Case Study. Oh yeah, this class is going to be awesome. And Avery’s faint blush during the lecture makes it hard to focus.

Professor Gibbs’ pacing leads him to the side of the room where Avery and I are seated. He pauses in front of us, pondering his next thought. “I’ve structured this class to allow you to explore your sexuality after finding that many of my students received abstinence-only education in high school.” A few people in the room look at each other, wondering where he’s going with this lesson, when he continues. “Abstinence is often not the reality in college, or in high school for that matter. To remedy that, we’ll explore gender roles in society like it says on my syllabus, but we won’t just pontificate about these topics as obscure things unconnected to who we are. You’ll explore your own sexuality through a weekly journaling assignment.”

He passes out stacks of small black notebooks to everyone seated in the front row. The notebooks begin making their way around the room as everyone takes one.

“These are your journals. And to get you started, I’ll provide the topic for your first journaling assignment. Turn to the person next to you. Doesn’t matter if it’s a member of the same or opposite sex.”

I turn to face Avery. Her cheeks were rosy before, but now she’s blushing like crazy and he hasn’t even given us the assignment. It’s so damn cute.

“Open your journal. I want you to check out the person across from you.” A few soft laughs erupt in the room. “No talking,” Professor Gibbs reminds us.

I remain silent, slouched in my seat, and take in Avery’s stiff posture. If this is a study on the other person’s comfort level on sex, Avery will win for most uncomfortable. She looks like she’s about to flee the room. Why did she even sign up for this class? It’s a voluntary elective.

Professor Gibbs explains the journaling assignment. He’s looking to make a statement on positive self-image, self-love. Getting young women to see themselves more clearly, accepting, boosting self-confidence, both inside the bedroom and out; and getting young men to take note of more than what’s underneath their clothes. My eyes flick to Avery’s. She’s tuned in to his every word. Even I have to admit, it’s an interesting assignment.