Home > Not So Nice Guy

Not So Nice Guy
Author: R.S. Grey

1

S A M

This morning, we’re having sex inside the army barracks again. It’s hot and heavy. The enemy is advancing—we might not make it out alive. Explosions rumble in the sky and in my pants. I’m sweating. Ian started out wearing camo fatigues, but I ripped them off with my teeth. That’s how I know I’m dreaming—my mouth isn’t that skillful. In real life, I’d chip a tooth on his zipper.

My alarm clock fires another warning shot. My waking mind shouts, Get up or you’re going to be late! I burrow deeper under my covers and my subconscious wins out. Dream Ian tosses me over his shoulder like he’s trying to earn a Medal of Honor and then we crash against a metal bunkbed. Another indication that this is a dream is the fact that the fleshy part of my butt hits the corner of the bunk yet it doesn’t hurt. He grinds into me and the frame rattles. I scrape my fingers down his back.

“We’re going to get caught, soldier,” I moan.

His mouth covers mine and he reminds me, “This is a war zone—we can be as loud as we want.”

A staccato burst of machine-gun fire erupts just outside. Heavy boots begin stomping toward the locked door.

“Quick, we’ll have to barricade it!” I implore. “But how? There’s nothing useful in here, just that standard-issue leather whip and my knee-high combat boots!”

He hauls me up against the door and we lock eyes. The wordless solution suddenly becomes clear: we’ll have to use our own writhing bodies as a sexy blockade.

“Okay, every time they kick the door, I’m going to thrust, got it? On the count of three: one, two—”

Just as my dream gets to the good part, my phone starts blaring “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Cool 80s country pop serenades me at max volume. There are synthesizers. I groan and jerk my eyes open. Ian changed my ringtone again. He does it to me every few weeks. The song before was another silly throwback tune by two old kooks.

I reach out for my phone and bring it beneath the covers with me.

“Yeah yeah,” I answer. “I’m already showered and heading out the door.”

“You’re still in bed.”

Ian’s deep, husky voice saying the word “bed” does funny things to my stomach. Dream Ian is blending with Real Life Ian. One is a hunky lieutenant with arms of steel. The other is my best friend whose arms are made of a metal I’ve never had the pleasure of feeling.

“Dolly Parton this time? Really?” I ask.

“She’s an American treasure, just like you.”

“How do you even come up with these songs?”

“I keep a running list on my phone. Why are you breathing so hard? It sounds like you’re over there fogging up a mirror.”

Oh god. I sit up and shake off the remnants of my dream.

“I fell asleep to reruns of M*A*S*H again.”

“You know they’ve continued making television shows since then.”

“Yes, well, I’ve yet to find a man who titillates me like Hawkeye.”

“You know Alan Alda is in his 80s right?”

“He’s probably still got it.”

“Whatever you say, Hot Lips.”

I groan. Just like with Major Houlihan, that nickname annoys me…kind of.

I sweep the blankets aside and force my feet to the ground. “How long do I have?”

“First bell rings in thirty minutes.”

“Looks like I’ll have to skip that 10-mile morning run I was planning.”

He laughs. “Mhmm.”

I start rummaging through my closet, looking for a clean dress and cardigan. Our school’s employee wardrobe requirements force me to dress like the female version of Mr. Rogers. Today, my sundress is cherry red and my cardigan is pale pink, appropriate for the first day of February.

“Any chance you filled up an extra thermos with coffee before you left the house?” I ask, hopeful.

“I’ll leave it on your desk.”

My heart flutters with appreciation.

“You know what, I was wrong,” I tease, affecting a swoony lovesick tone. “There is a man who titillates me more than Hawkeye, and his name is Ian Flet—”

He groans and hangs up.

Oak Hill High School is a five-minute bike ride from my apartment. It’s also a five-minute bike ride from Ian’s house. We could make the morning commute together, but we have drastically different morning rituals. I like to roll the dice and push the limits on my alarm clock. It thrills me to sleep until the very last second. Ian likes to wake up with the milkman. He belongs to a gym and he uses that membership every morning. His body fat percentage hovers in the low teens. I belong to the same gym and my membership card is tucked behind a beloved Dunkin’ Donuts rewards card. It leers out at me each time I make a midday strawberry frosted run.

Those barbaric contraptions at the gym intimidate me. I once sprained my wrist trying to change the amount of weight resistance on a rowing machine, and have you seen all the different strap, rope, and handle attachments for the cable machine? Half of them look like sex toys for horses.

Instead of subjecting myself to the gym, I prefer my daily bike rides. Besides, there’s really no fighting my physiology at this point. I’m a twenty-seven-year-old woman still riding the wave of pretend fitness that comes naturally with youth and the food budget of a teacher. The only #gains in my life come from binge-watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper.

Ian says I’m too hard on myself, but in the mirror I see knobby knees and barely-filled B cups. On good days, I’m 5’3’’. I think I can shop at Baby Gap.

When I make it to school (ten minutes before the first bell), I find a granola bar next to the thermos of coffee on my desk. In my haste to make it to school on time, I forgot to grab something for breakfast. I’ve become predictable enough that Ian has stowed snacks in and around my desk. I can pull open any drawer and find something—nuts, seeds, peanut butter crackers. There’s even a Clif Bar duct-taped under my chair. My arsenal is more for his own good than mine. I’m the hangriest person you’ve ever met. When my blood sugar drops, I turn into the destructive Jean Grey.

I scarf down the granola bar and sip my coffee, firing off a quick text to thank him before students start filing into my classroom for first period.

SAM: TY for breakfast. Coffee is LIT.

IAN: It’s the new blend you bought last week. Are your students teaching you new words again?

SAM: I heard it during carpool duty yesterday. I’m not sure when to use it yet. Will report back.

“Good morning, Missus Abrams!” my first student sing-songs.

It’s Nicholas, the editor-in-chief for the Oak Hill Gazette. He’s the kind of kid who wears sweater vests to school. He takes my journalism class very seriously—even more seriously than he takes his crush on me, which is saying something.

I level him with a reproving look. “Nicholas, for the last time, it’s Miss Abrams. You know I’m not married.”

He grins extra wide and his braces twinkle in the light. He’s had them do the rubber band colors in alternating blue and black for school pride. “I know. I just like hearing you say it.” The kid is relentless. “And may I just say, the shade of your dress is very becoming. The red nearly matches your hair. With style like that, you’ll be a missus in no time.”

“No, you may not say that. Just sit down.”

Other students are starting to file into my class now. Nicholas takes his seat front and center, and I avoid eye contact with him as much as possible once I begin my lesson.

Ian and I have drastically different jobs at Oak Hill High.

He’s the AP Chem II teacher. He has a master’s degree and worked in industry after college. While in grad school, he helped develop a tongue strip that soothes burns from things like hot coffee and scalding pizza. Seems stupid—SNL even spoofed it—but it got a lot of interest in the science world, and his experience makes the students look up to him. He’s the cool teacher who rolls his shirtsleeves to his elbows and blows shit up in the name of science.

I’m just the journalism teacher and the staff coordinator for the Oak Hill Gazette, a weekly newspaper that is read by exactly five people: me, Ian, Nicholas, Nicholas’ mom, and our principal, Mr. Pruitt. Everyone assumes I fall into the “if you can’t do, teach” category, but I actually like my job. Teaching is fun, and I’m not cut out for the real world. Hard-hitting journalists don’t make very many friends. They jump into the action, push, prod, and expose important stories to the world. In college, my professors chastised me for only churning out “puff pieces”. I took it as a compliment. Who doesn’t like puffy things?

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