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Authors: Jade C. Jamison

Substitute boyfriend

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Substitute Boyfriend

A Novella


Jade C. Jamison




Substitute Boyfriend


Elizabeth Slade, a college English instructor, has experienced success as a romance writer, but she has a dirty little secret: She can’t write sex scenes without a little help from Ridley, a gorgeous guy who plays her pretend boyfriend and makes a booty call whenever her imagination is flailing.


She’d like for Ridley to commit to be her permanent and real boyfriend, and she thinks that’s where they’re headed until she finds him getting way too cozy with another woman in a bar.


At that point, she enlists the help of her friend, fellow college instructor Roman Decker, who offers to temporarily take Ridley’s place while she sorts through her emotions. She grows confused when she realizes she’s also attracted to Roman. When Ridley comes back to her on bended knee, does she take the bad boy who broke her heart or try to convince her friend to make a real go of it?


“I guess I’ll just do what I did before Ridley was in the picture—I’ll write strictly from my imagination.”

Roman was containing another smile when he said, “So let me get this straight.  You would set up a scenario and then act it out, and whatever happened, you would just kind of transcribe?”

“Well, no, it wasn’t exactly like that.  I would plot out the whole book.  It was just the sex scenes…that we would act out.”  My cheeks flamed again.  “Sometimes it’s hard to imagine exactly how something feels or works until you try it.”

Oh, he was enjoying this way too much.  “Can you give me an example?”

I sneered.  “Not without another drink.”  I grabbed the bottle and snatched my shot glass back from him, pouring the amber liquid to the rim.  I drank it down fast.  That one made me shudder, because I’d been sobering up quite nicely.  Then I looked him square in the eyes.  I wanted him to wipe the amused look off his face, because it made it harder for me to talk about it.  “Okay, so,for example, I had been picturing this scene in my head where the hero and heroine are in the front seat of a car and he’s going to…”  I looked down at the table.  I really couldn’t look him in the eyes to tell him this.  “…go down on her, but they’re still in the front seat, right?  So I needed to work out if they could actually do it.  You know, if you slide the seat back all the way and then lean it back too and the woman leans against the dash.”


I couldn’t help myself.  I smiled.  “It can be done.”  Roman started chuckling.  “But I wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t tried it.  And I’d often wondered if a guy could fuck me while holding me—without a wall to support me.  You know, stuff like that.”  Damn, that alcohol wasn’t working.  I poured another shot.

But Roman touched my hand before I could drink more of the liquor.  That forced me to look at him.  “So your pretend boyfriend is gone.”  He cleared his throat.  “What if you had a substitute?  You know, like a stand in?”

I blinked several times.  Okay, maybe Ihadhad enough liquor, more than enough, in fact, because I was being pretty thick.  “You mean a substitute Ridley?”

“Yeah…a substitute boyfriend.”

“I guess that could work…but I don’t know if I’d be able to find another guy willing to do it.”

He laughed then, long and hard.  “I could find plenty of guys willing to help you out.”

“Really?  Name one.”

He moved his hand so that he could take mine in his.  I swallowed as the implications washed over me, but he didn’t say anything until my eyes locked with his.  “Me.”





Substitute Boyfriend

Finger Bang

Quickies:  Sexy Short Stories and Other Stuff

Old House

Then Kiss Me


Worst Mother

Fabric of Night

Stating His Case




1 Tangled Web:  A Steamy Heavy Metal Novella

2Everything But




1 Bullet:  An Epic Rock Star Novel

2 RockBottom


4 Fully Automatic




1 Got the Life

2 Dead

3 No Place to Hide

4 Right Now

5 One More Time

6 Lost

7 InnocentBystander

8 Blind

9 Fake




1 Be Careful What You Wish For





Copyright © 2014 by Jade C. Jamison


Image Copyright 2010 Anastasia Pelikh, iStock


All rights reserved.


The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously.  Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.  Characters and names of real persons who appear in the book are used fictitiously.



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Huge thank you to my extended Street Team, Jade’s Bullet Babes, who seem to be everywhere at once because I cannot be.





Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Also by Jade C. Jamison






Chapter One


“DUDE, JUST A second.”  Ridley whips his cell phone out of his back pocket.  Oh, yes, those faded blue jeans hug his ass, and it’s more apparent when he’s pulling something out of a pocket.  The ring tone that plays is either Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” or something super nasty like Mӧtley Crüe’s “Ten Seconds to Love.”  He brings the phone up to his ear after swiping the greenAnswerbutton on the screen and says, “Yeah, babe?”  His full lips almost touch the phone but not quite, almost as though the phone screen is her lips and he is teasing her.

“I need you. Now.”

The corner of his mouth turns up in half a smile.  God, he is cocky. “At your service.”  He blinks, the long dark lashes that frame his blue eyes almost touching the inside lens of the sunglasses.  He ends the call, sliding the phone back in his pocket, and saunters over to his Harley.  He turns back to his friend.  “Sorry, man, but duty calls.  The girlfriend needs me…bad.”  He smirks as he pulls a helmet over his dark blonde hair, pulling the strap snugly over his chin, avoiding the hair from his goatee that he’s growing out…just a bit.

* * *

I shook my head, trying to listen to what Ridleyreallysaid.  I’d always imagined that kind ofat your serviceresponse when I called, but, truthfully, I could sometimes hear the exasperation in his voice.  I was pretty sure that the words in his head werebad timing, bitch, but who could resist a no-strings-attached booty call?  Certainly not Ridley.

Still….I needed him and I needed him right this second.  “Look…can you come or not?”

I could hear the smile in his voice, damn him.  “Don’t get your panties in a twist, little Lizzie.”  Oh, God, I hated when he called me that.  But now was not the time to quibble.  “I’ll be there in a sec.  What are we doing this time?”

Oh…I suppose I should let you know what was going on. I was an English instructor at the local community college.  It wasn’t a bad gig, especially since I couldn’t get a tenured position at a university to save my soul.  I tried when I’d first earned my fancy MFA in Creative Writing.  I should have listened to my advisor in my undergrad days.  She’d told me the MFA was one of those dime-a-dozen degrees, and I’d be lucky to get a job teaching contemporary poetry at a soup kitchen in exchange for a slice of bread.  At the time, though, I’d been sure the coursework would make me a much better writer than I’d been when I’d started and that the degree would pay for itself.

Yeah.  And five years after getting said degree, I wasworking my ass off paying through the nose for student loans that seemed to never dwindle in size.  In all fairness, the community college was paying the bills and I had decent benefits, but I wanted more.  Much more.  That’s where the MFA really did come in handy.  See, after spending a good ten years—spanning part of high school, college, grad school, and life thereafter—trying to break into the world of fiction publishing, I found it damned near impossible.  Why?  Because it’s not how good you are, it’s who you know (or who you blow).  Sure, I’d had a modicum of success publishing poetry (but, sorry, a copy of the journal your poem appears in won’t pay the bills—hell, it won’t even buy a goddamned cup of coffee, but it’s nice to see your name in print) and also a few academic articles, but my heart wasn’t in either.

No…I had stories swirling in my head, stories that had to be told. Bigstories.

Oh, did I mention?  They were what mild-mannered audiences might considernaughty.

That’s whereRidley came into play, so to speak.  For some reason, I was compelled to write steamy scenes, but I often wondered how believable they were.  I was also afraid they’d start to sound the same—you know, limited by my imagination (or lack thereof, because I didn’t get out much).  I was lamenting my lack of sex life one night and had gone downtown and sat in a local bar…and there appeared Ridley.  The man was like manna from heaven…and he was actually hitting on me. Me.  Little ol’ me.  Well, not so little.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to sound like one of those women who bitches about her weight when there’s really nothing to complain about, but I’ve always been small breasted.  Well, small considering I carry an extra ten (okay, okay, ten-ish) pounds around as well.  I’m not heavy, but I’m self-conscious, and I’ve often imagined that my additional padding is unattractive.

It couldn’t be that Idon’t click with men because I seem standoffish.  Of course not.  Don’t be absurd.

That night when I metRidley, though, I’d been feeling particularly sorry for myself and decided to give in to the pity party that had been brewing inside.  I was going to have a couple drinks, damn it, and no one was going to stop me.  I was on the second one when Ridley sat on the stool next to me.  Oh, my God.  I felt his eyes on me.  That was weird because guys just didn’t check me out as a rule.  Oh, sure, they’d steal a glance at my boobs, but that was it.  They stopped there.  I think it was because I valued my mind.  I was intimidating to most guys.

Not that night, though—not with a little liquor in me.  I’m afraid I was probably a little more forward than usual too.  So…Ridley sat next to me, and his arms were full of tattoos.  You should probably know right now—tattoos make me weak in the knees.  Holy crap.  And the more, the merrier.  I have no idea why, but human skin as a canvas really does it for me.  Seriously.

I didn’t know at the time that several of them were prison tats.

Okay…so I’m book smart.  Not always street smart.  But I can be trained.

So he hit on me, or I hit on him, or it was a combination—I’m not sure now.  But one thing led to another and he came to my place.

Let me prefacethis by saying I hadn’t been with a man in a long time…so we fucked all night long.  My God, was he good.  No, he hadn’t just gotten out of prison…although, I suppose, that would have explained his crazy libido.  No, we just had some weird chemistry that night.

Or maybe it was just the alcohol.

Yeah, it was the alcohol, because the next morning was awkward as hell.  But he saw my books, the ones that have me listed as Eliza Brennan…and maybe if that had been all he’d seen, I could have just pretended that she was my favorite author.  But no…I had a six-foot banner on the desk next to them, one I’d used at a book signing the week before and just hadn’t stuck back in the closet yet.  Oh, and all the bookmarks I’d signed so I could mail them off.  Those were a dead giveaway too.  So, while I was making us some breakfast (because, by then, the ice had not only been broken, it had shattered), he was skimming through some of my books.

He didn’t seem to be the type to read, but he was amused by the first F-bomb he found…and then he read a sex scene.  “Holy shit, woman.  Youwritethis stuff?”

Biting my lip,I turned around from the eggs I was cooking and met his eyes.  I felt a little abashed, but the look on his face was priceless.  He was impressed.

And he was also re-invigorated, shall we say. I wrote my books to warm up bored housewives, but apparently they had the same effect on men as well, and he just couldn’t wait.  We fucked up against the counter, and then he ate warm eggs over the stove.

The thing aboutRidley?  He made me feel desirable in a way I never had before, and that made my writing better than it had ever been.  I think Ridley loved the novelty of it all.  We probably never would have spent time together again, but I made a proposition to him before he finished the last piece of bacon.  I explained to him my dilemma, that of worrying if my sex scenes were fresh and interesting—or even believable at times…and he promised to help out.  Oh, it was exciting at first.  It was amazing.  Yeah, I’ll admit I called him once or twice with the excuse that I needed inspiration, when really all I’d needed was a good fucking.  And Ridley wasn’t too bad at it, not at first anyway, not to mention that he had a rock hard body.  He was nice to look at and awesome to curl up next to.

The shine wore off the apple after afew months.  I’m pretty sure it’s fair to say that was for both of us.  As I said earlier, sometimes it seemed like Ridley felt put out by my calls, but he always came through.  And I’ll also admit that, while I really liked the way Ridley made me feel, he was about as intellectually stimulating as the doorknob to my bedroom.  He wasn’t exactly a nice guy, either.  But we had an arrangement.

So I answered his question, the one about what we’d be doing this time.  He didn’t need a detailed plot nor, like an actor, did he need a sense of motivation.  All I needed to tell him was when, where, and how.  “Just get your ass over here and start fucking me the second you come in the door.  I need it hard and I need it fast.”

“Yes, ma’am.”  I heard him moving as though he were hustling over to my apartment on foot.  “Condom?”

I hated that stupid question.  I had nevernothad him wear a condom—he’d been in prison, after all, and I had no clue where his dick had been—but sometimes he would pretend he wasn’t wearing one, just to add to the fantasy.  I kept him well-stocked in prophylactics and anything else my writing fantasies required, and I also honored his request that we didn’t do any M/M/F threesomes—or any M/F/M ones, for that matter.  He did tell me, though, a sly grin on his face, that he’d be happy to take care of an additional woman any time I liked.

Uh, yeah…no.  Nice try, pal.

“Not at first.  Just have one on you.”  I didn’t want to get him all excited, but today’s fantasy might involve a little oral.  I hadn’t quite worked that out in my head yet, but I had a little time before he arrived to make my final decision.  So, after we hung up, I sat at my desk and continued writing the scene while waiting for my pretend boyfriend to arrive.





Chapter Two


ONE THING I’LL say about Ridley—he tried.  He really tried.  Well, he did at first, anyway.  I got the feeling that he’d been with women in the past who hadn’t been very demanding.  I guess, because he really was a treat to look at, that they didn’t care if he got them off, as long as he was pounding inside them.  Not me.  Once I’m going, anything will keep me there, but I need togetthere first, and nine times out of ten, that means one thing.

Direct clitoral stimulation.

Yeah.  When Ridley and I first started fucking around, I did a lot of his work for him.  But then I thought,No way.  No fair.  Granted, it was easier for me to make him come, especially if he was pumping his cock inside my pussy—really, what did I have to do other than bite his shoulder, talk dirty, and squeeze?  Well, yeah…I gave him plenty more than that, but it’s not like his dick was hard (pardon the pun) to find.  In all fairness, guys weren’t always taught about the clit and what playing with it can do for a woman.  So I educated the man, made him a better lover, and maybe that was the ultimate trade off for him.  He would be worth a lot more to another woman someday.

In the meantime, though, he was mine.  All mine.

I bit my lip as I stared at the computer screen.  That goddamned thin black bar on the blank white page was blinking at me.  Patiently.  And that was pissing me off.

I wantedRidleynow.  Needed him.


I had written the build up to the sex scene.  The couple was at last going to join for the first time.  They’d entered the heroine’s apartment and they’d foregone talking and drinks for some intimacy…and that was where I was stuck.  I couldn’t decide if she wanted to give him a blowjob first or if they would just tear each other’s clothes off in desperation.  I needed Ridley to help me play it out.

The problem?  Well…the problem was that, perhaps, the newness of Ridley and me had worn off.  I was sitting at my computer, and instead of thinking about my heroine’s horniness—or even mine, for God’s sake—I was wondering how to recapture that feeling of newness…and failing miserably.  I worried if I would be able to convey that feeling in writing if I couldn’t experience it in real life.

Before I could figure it out, he knocked on the door.  Oh, God, at least I hoped it wasRidley.  It could have been the postal carrier, for all I knew.  Maybe it was a package.  Itwasa Monday, after all.  It was the week before summer classes started, so I was enjoying what little time I had left.  I had already prepped for the two classes I was going to teach and some work-study student on campus was making copies of my syllabi and other papers I’d have to give my students, because, even though more and more things were being housed online, I still felt better giving students a hard copy of that stupid syllabus and course calendar on day one.  If they lost it, they could find it online, but I found the papers comforting somehow.

You’d find that strange, considering I sold thousands ofebooks a year and only a handful of paperbacks, but that’s beside the point.

I answered the door.  It wasRidley.  What a relief.  And he’d taken me seriously.

Sweet Jesus, he was yummy.  He was wearing a white wifebeater…and I had been right about the snug blue jeans, only the ones highlighting his fine ass were faded.  He was wearing hoop earrings and, yeah, those sunglasses that made him look a little mysterious.  So fuckin’ what that the newness was gone?  He was hot as hell and he was there for me to play my boyfriend whenever I asked.

And, just as I’d requested, he took me in his arms.  He didn’t say a word, instead pulling me close and kissing me hard and deep.  While his tongue assaulted me, he twirled me so that my back was against the wall, and then he began kissing my neck just the way he knew I liked it.  My breath was already coming in short gasps as I tried to hold myself together, but he was so hot, so virile that sometimes it was hard for me to contain myself.  My fingers dug into his shoulders as he wedged his knee in between my legs.

Okay, the blowjob could wait.  I was way too hot to be able to concentrate solely on his cock in my mouth.

Then again, that might make it even better…yeah. The anticipation.

No, I was talking aboutRidley.  He’d grown to be pretty attentive…as long as he hadn’t come.  And he’d gotten good at prolonging climax too, but I knew if I blew him first, I’d have to take care of myself, and that wouldn’t work for the scene I was writing.  Nope, we had to go with the flow.

And, right now,Ridley was doing a great job.  I was so glad I’d thought to change into a sundress.  The heroine in my book had worn a dress for the date, so I figured I should also wear a dress to make my descriptions later more authentic.  I wouldn’t have to imagine what Ridley would have done if I’d been wearing a dress. I could instead describe it.

He knew how I liked it, though, so there wasn’tany of the bumbling that might really occur with a real date-leading-to-first-night-together, and I assured myself that was okay, because I wrote fantasy books, right?  I mean seriously.  Not all men have huge cocks and are awesome in bed or are great kissers with killer looks.

Not every guy on the planet is perfect.

Even Ridley.  Yeah, he washotter than hell.  I would be lying if I said otherwise.  Sweet Jesus, was he nice to stare at.  I got wet just looking at him.  Seriously.  The guy was unbelievably gorgeous.  He was attractive and had a beautiful body, and I wouldn’t complain about his cock.  It was on the large side.

And, with training, he’d become a good lover. Almost excellent.  He was definitely not as selfish in bed as he’d started out.

Oh, yeah.  Yeah, he’d certainly improved in the lover department.  Yanking my panties halfway down my thighs, he eased his finger between my legs.  He slid between my folds and found me, throbbing and needy.  I could feel his breath on my neck as he chuckled.  He was amused at how turned on I got by him, but I failed to see how funny that was.  I was in serious need of an orgasm, and he was snickering at me.

Oh, my God.  I was crazy close, closer than I should have been and likely closer than a woman on a first date would be. Or maybe not.  Hell if I knew.  All I did know was that I couldn’t pretend to be my generic romantic heroine anymore.  I was again Elizabeth Slade, college instructor and semi-successful romance writer, and I was being brought to orgasm by my sexy pretend boyfriend Ridley—first by his finger and then by his enormous cock.  And we did it up against the front door of my second-story apartment.

Even though I couldn’t be in the head of my heroine at the moment, I’d still be able to translate what happened in my book later.  Sometimes I’d even steal lines from Ridley, making them words the hero said.  It worked really well when I was writing about a cocksure alpha male…not so well if the guy was supposed to be sensitiveand caring.

So he was stroking my clit and I gaspedwhen he got it right the first time.  I let out a low moan against his chest.  “I love how wet you get for me.”  That was a testament to how much the guy turned me on—even though I found his amusement at my obvious state of arousal annoying, I still managed to fall over that precipice.  I moaned again, louder this time, my pussy clenching against his fingers and he kept up the pressure until I begged him to stop.

He pulled his wallet out of his pocket, a chain hanging from the leather square, and he slid a condom out.  Heunwrapped it quickly, with the ease and motion of an expert, and rolled it over his thick, throbbing cock.  Suddenly, I was ready for him again, and the way he held me up against the wall while he slammed into me added to the heightened, frenzied feeling building up inside me once more.  He felt fantastic, and before I knew it, my thighs were clamping around his hips as I groaned, my mouth open against his salty neck.  He shuddered as he came inside me and I let out a long breath, feeling fully satisfied.

Hot damn.  What a life.

* * *

We did wind up in bed…eventually.  I don’t think Ridley ever got used to the snuggling part, but he did like to spend the night once in a while when I’d exhausted him more than usual.  He was dozing off a little, but it was mid-afternoon, so I knew he’d leave in a while.  He wasn’t complaining, because he knew I knew he was in between jobs.  He usually did things like landscaping or construction work, like hanging drywall, but he was starting a new job roofing on Wednesday.  I knew he wasn’t too irritated that I called him when he wasn’t working; otherwise, why would he bother telling me his work schedule?

Still…I knew he didn’t like thathecouldn’t demandmewhenever he liked.

Or at least that was what I had always thought, but for somereason, that thought had been nagging at me—the thought that maybe he just didn’t give a shit.

And here was stupid little me, falling more head over heels withRidley every day, especially when he continued to become a more attentive lover.

I lifted my headoff the pillow and looked at his face.  I realized that he didn’t want a serious relationship…and with his past, I wasn’t sure that I wanted that either, even though the stupid part of my brain thought I did.  Not only did he have a criminal and prison background, but I knew he had an ex-wife.  He might have had children too, but I didn’t want to ask.  He might’ve told me if I questioned him, and I really didn’t want to know.

That didn’t mean I didn’t want him around more. “Ridley, baby?”

His eyes stayed closed. “Yeah?”

“Um…I’m having a hard time writing the whole scene.  You know, like the stuff that happens before the sex.  Like in the scene I was writing now.  I had to struggle with writing their date.”

He didn’t open those pretty blues…but at least he answered.  “And?”  I rested my head on his chest.

“Well, I’m thinking maybe it might be easier for me to capture that sexual tension if we play it out more.”

He snorted and moved out from underneath my head, sitting on the edge of the bed and then standing up.  “Darlin’, you want me to start play acting in the middle of a restaurant while all kinds of people listen in?”

Well, when he put it that way, it sounded kind of stupid.  “I don’t know.  I guess I could cook something and we could do it in my kitchen or—”

He walked out of the bedroom.  My God, what a beautiful ass that man had—perfectly shaped, smooth, lovely.  I heard him walk into the bathroom.  He didn’t close the door and I heard him taking a leak—a loud leak.  I was grateful, though, that I heard him put the lid back down after he flushed.  It had taken a while to train—er, sweet talk him into that kind of behavior.

He came back in the bedroom and then I got a view of his gorgeous cock.  He had his clothes in his hands, though, so I knew he was getting ready to bail on me.  He was pulling hisunderwear on when he said, “Whatever you like, honey.  Just say the word.  You know I like to make you happy.”

Yeah, I knew he did.  I just wished he didn’t feel so distant most times.  I crawled to the end of the bed, smiling at him.  “Yes.”

“You need anything else from me before I go?”

I considered asking him for another orgasm before realizing that I didn’t have a scene in mind for it…and I needed to be more judicious about being the woman who cried horny.  I’d have to save his magic touch for next time—which meant I needed to get back to writing that damned book.





Chapter Three


MY PRETEND BOYFRIENDmight not have wanted to dine with me, but my best buddy Roman Decker would.  We met for lunch the next day, just like we often did.  During a regular semester, we’d go out to eat at least once a week (usually three or four), often at some place on campus.  Today, though, we had no obligations, and we met at arealrestaurant, a little deli with tasty homemade soups and salad dressings.

We were waiting for our main courses when I asked, “Ready for next week?”

He grinned.  Roman and I had been solid friends for the past three years since he’d been hired by the school.  He and I just clicked from day one, and I knew it was because our political views were almost identical.  We also had the same sense of humor.  We found ourselves hanging in the halls chatting for hours at a time and started spending time together outside of work.  We went to movies and concerts together and shared book suggestions. We met for coffee.  We talked about students we had in common and gave each other tips for surviving certain personalities in the classroom.  We even worked out together on rare occasion.

Oh—one thing.  Roman didnotknow about the Eliza part of my personality—you know, the published writer side of me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him. That wasn’t the case at all.  It had just never come up.  There had never been a reason to tell him, and the time had never been right.  After a while, I began to think it would sound like I was bragging or something.  So I just never told him…but I’d always planned to—someday.

Ah, yes, the elusivesomedaythat never comes.

“I’m ready in the sense that I’m prepared.  But I’d rather have another two or three weeks off.  Then I’d be really ready for classes.”  His dimples stood out when he smiled, his brown eyes flashing.  That was one thing I’d say about Roman—he was a good-looking guy.  I was surprised he didn’t have female students flocking to him constantly for “help” with his classes.  He had hair that was longer than most of the male faculty—past his chin—but no one had ever said a word about it, because he was one of the most professional academics you’d ever meet.  I could tell from his ears too that once upon a time they’d been pierced—multiple times.  I knew from the occasional concert we went to that two of the holes hadn’t closed up, but I got the feeling the jewelry wasn’t a priority anymore.  And he was tall, taller than most of the other instructors on campus.  He was in great shape too, but I was never able to tell much, because he wore plenty of clothing.  Even the time or two that we’d jogged together, he wore sweats and a long-sleeved shirt.  And then I realized it was because the times we’d jogged together were a drizzly fall morning one time and another time it was deep into winter.  It had been a nice day but notthatnice.  Oh, and that voice of his…a low baritone.  I could imagine the girls in his classes closing their eyes, locking his voice in their memories for when they wanted to hear it in their heads later.

Roman didn’t date much, or at least I didn’t know about it when he did.  From things he’d said, I got the feeling he’djust exited a long-term relationship before moving to our little burg of Winchester, and the break up had been excruciating.  He’d never said a word, but he was originally from Colorado Springs, and when he got the job at WCC, he moved to Winchester, and I’d always had the feeling it was to escape some painful memories.  It would have been easy enough for him to commute.  The Springs wasn’tthatfar away from Winchester.

Bad idea, the English teacher psychoanalyzing the psychologyprof.  Chances were he put out those vibes to deflect attention from his looks, because I seriously wondered why the girls didn’t swarm him like honeybees around a rose bush.

But why the hell did I care?  Roman was the best friend I had on campus.  It was pathetic when I thought about it, but he was likely mybestfriendever.  He didn’t know that, and I would never tell him, but I trusted him more than I had anyone else in my life.  He made me laugh and there was no drama with him.

In all fairness, he didn’t know much about my love life either.  He knew I was “seeing” someone, but he didn’t know about my arrangement withRidley.  Roman just knew that sometimes I was unavailable to do things…but that had only been during the last six or seven months that Ridley and I had been seeing each other.

Seeingwas not exactly accurate, I know. Fuckingwas much more precise.

But we weren’t talking about our relationships oranything like that.  No…we were lamenting that summer classes were getting ready to start.  I told him, “Yeah, me too.  I wouldn’t mind a sabbatical, frankly.”

He chuckled.  “Good luck.  Dowe even do sabbaticals here?”

I shrugged.  “I’ve only seen it twice,before your time, and that was with instructors who’d been hereforeverand were pretty much over it.  I think their chairs gave them sabbaticals just to keep them around longer.”

“And why?  If they were that burned out, they probably weren’t exactly inspiring their students anyway.”

“Yeah.”  I knew Roman was right.  He’d been teaching as long as I had, only Winchester Community College was his third school.  I’d been with WCC since I’d started teaching, and I had no intentions of going anywhere else.  But Roman had experience with larger schools, and he’d confirmed that all the institutions of higher ed that he’d worked in had a similar political structure…one that he and I both wanted to avoid at all costs.  Unlike a lot of the other bullshit that happened at our fine institution, he and I and a few other instructors actually wanted to teach students.  As strange as that seemed, that was our hope.

Unfortunately, there was so much political red tape that teaching was often the last thing on the minds of the folks in charge.

“Three classes this summer?”

“Yeah.”  I frowned.  Three boring freshman classes.  “Two sections of Comp One and Technical Writing.”  I would have almost rather sawed my wrist off with a table knife than teach technical writing, but the powers that be wanted me teaching those.  Summers were for serious students, they said, ones who wanted to get their degrees quickly and get out of school or transfer to a four-year university.  We didn’t want to waste their time with electives and classes that might be considered fun.  Save creative writing for fall.


But I didn’t have a choice.  I wanted to keep teaching, even though I was feeling a little blah about it, so I’d do what my chair told me to.  I asked Roman, “What about you?”

“Psychology One.”

“Of course.”

He grinned. “And Abnormal Psych.”

“What?”  Abnormal Psych was one of those more exotic classes, one students wanted to take but they had to go through Psych One first.  That and Abnormal Psych often seemed like a less than serious class, although if anyone regarded it as such, they’d never sat in Roman’s classroom.  He was tough—but that was part of his charm as an instructor.  “I can’t believe they gave you that over the summer.”  Afunclass…and he knew it.

He shrugged.  “What can I say?  I havepull with my chair.”

“Whatever.” I stuck my tongue out at him playfully, and then the waitress brought our food.  We continued discussing school and the semester.  When we were done eating, I was sad to leave—not because I had a little more to do to prep for classes but because Roman was one of the few people on the planet who never failed to make me laugh and smile…and I was going to miss him until next week.


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