The Sexual Education Blues
Chapters: Cast | Prelude | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9-31 & Epilogue Available On
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Chapter Seven: Crystal and Woody
After Tiffany and Chuck left, followed by Roberta and Jeff, Crystal gave a sigh and turned to Woody.
"You wanted to talk to me. I guess you get your chance."
"Don't you think we ought to at least ask them?" commented Woody, gesturing in the direction of Jane and Roger, who were standing, and just looking at each other.
"No," said Jane. "It's OK."
"Well, then," said Woody, smiling brightly. "Do you want to stop by your room and get your book?"
"That wasn't necessary," said Crystal, frowning.
"I know, and I apologize," said Woody, his smile fading. "I really would like to talk to you."
"Come on," said Crystal, walking toward the door. Woody grinned wryly. As different as Crystal and Tiffany were, they both took charge, exhibiting that no-nonsense attitude that strong women have. It didn't bother him, really. Her defenses were up almost all the time. That much was obvious. She'd either let him in, or not. In one sense, it didn't matter to him. Mandy had taught him to take things slowly ... to get to know someone better, before accelerating the relationship. He knew he was "on the prowl", in the sense that he was looking for the right woman, but he also knew that pushing things could result in a bad outcome. He'd always been sure that, if he'd been more patient with Mandy, he'd have won her over.
When they got in the hallway, Crystal stopped.
"Where do we go?" she asked.
"Anywhere is fine with me," he said.
"You want to just walk?" she asked.
"Walking is good."
They went outside and she began striding along, her gait purposeful. It was obvious to Woody that, to keep up with her, he'd have to trot. Those long legs of hers covered a lot of distance quickly. While he liked to run, he wasn't willing to trot, just to keep up with her.
"Hey," he said.
She looked over her shoulder.
"I'm not going to run to keep up with you," he said.
"Oh," she said, frowning. "Sorry."
"We don't actually have to talk, if it's going to be difficult for you," he said. "We came to the wrong seminar, by mistake, and there's no requirement that we actually participate."
She looked confused, and then said "Why do you want to talk to me?"
"I like you," he said simply.
"You don't even know me," she said.
"OK ... so far, I like you." He grinned.
"Why?" she insisted.
"Come on," he said, throwing a hand up in the air. "I don't know whether all this stuff Bob is spouting is true or not, but you're interesting, and different from any other woman I've ever met - so far, anyway. What's the harm in just talking?"
"What you're saying is I'm tall," she said. "I'm different because I'm tall."
"Bullshit," he said. "You're the one hung up about your height. When I look at you I see a good looking woman, carrying around a lot of baggage. I've seen you smile once, since I met you, and you have a great smile. You should get rid of the baggage and smile a lot more."
"We're not a good match, physically," she said.
"In the first place," he said patiently, there is no 'we' yet. I don't know if there will ever be a 'we' or not, but I also know we'll never know if we don't get to know each other. In the second place, just because we're assigned to talk, and you got stuck with me, that doesn't mean there has to be a 'we' at all. In the third place, I am quite sure that, if the circumstances were right, it wouldn't matter that I'm shorter than you. I have the equipment, and you have the equipment, and I bet it fits."
"You're very direct," said Crystal, feeling a whole raft of emotions she couldn't quite identify.
"Didn't Bob say that honesty was important?"
"I didn't get 'stuck' with you," she said.
"Why didn't you pick one of the other men?" he asked.
"They were already taken. Anybody could see that," she complained.
"So I was all that was left ... but you don't feel that you got stuck with me?"
She stared at him for a long time before answering. "OK, I would have chosen you anyway. There. Are you happy now?"
"I always try to be happy," he said, grinning. "You just made it a lot easier, that's all."
"I don't understand," she said. "Why would you want to be with me?"
"I thought we already got past that," he said. "Are you fishing for compliments, or just trying to get me to admit I have the hots for you?"
Crystal felt her emotions notch up. She felt like going for a five mile run, but it wasn't good for her joints. He was so direct ... didn't beat around the bush. Was he actually just being truthful? She wasn't used to a man who said what was actually on his mind. She thought about his repeated attempts to talk to her on the plane, and how she'd assumed he was just stubbornly trying to wear her down ... to get what he could. Yet, just a moment ago, he'd been willing to let her go back to her room, or whatever, and not talk to him at all. She'd never met a man quite like him. He was different.
When she realized she had classified him as "different", exactly the same thing he had called her, the humor of the situation provided the emotional outlet she needed.
She laughed so hard she couldn't stop, and had to actually sit down on the ground to keep from getting faint. He stood there, watching her, a puzzled look on his face. He didn't say anything and, like most people do when someone is laughing, he began to smile with her, even though he didn't know what was funny.
Finally she wound down. She felt much better, even though she felt foolish, sitting on the ground. She started to get up, and he stuck out a hand.
"I'm heavier than I look," she said, smiling.
He held out both hands. "That's the smile I was talking about."
She grabbed them and was surprised at the strength in his arms as he lifted her. Her legs helped and her feet almost left the ground.
He didn't ask what had been so funny. For a man who liked to talk so much, he wasn't saying a lot.
"It's been a long time since I wanted to trust a man," she said finally. "You seem like the first man I've met in a long time who I could trust."
"Big mistake," he said, letting her hands go. "After all, I have the hots for you."
She arched an eyebrow. "You had the hots for Tiffany, in the hot tub, last night."
"Did not," he said firmly.
"Did so," she argued.
"You looked at her breasts, just like all the others," she insisted.
To her amazement, he leaned forward, putting his face inches from her chest.
"Yours are just as good," he said, like he was talking to her breasts. "Maybe even better. Your suit covered more of yours. I couldn't be sure unless I saw more of them."
"Fat chance," she said, smiling when he leaned back, and looked at her face. "I've seen you looking at me. You don't look at my breasts."
"Only because I'm trying to be polite," he said. "I know a woman doesn't like it when a man stares at her body."
"You're not being very polite now," she said lightly.
"I'm going for broke," he said, tossing a hand in the air. "I have the hots for you. You could dump me any minute."
"I thought there was no 'we'," she said, still smiling.
"The world changes constantly," he said. "And guys are ever hopeful."
"You're not REALLY interested in sex," she said, her smile fading. "Not with me, anyway."
"You couldn't be more wrong if you said the sun wasn't going to set tonight," he said, seriously. "But ... not until I get to know you a LOT better."
"You're a strange man, Woody Buckholtz."
He grinned brightly. "You remembered my last name!"
"Do you remember mine?" she asked slyly.
"Too easy," he scoffed. "Crystal Smith, seat 15-f, formerly, and inaccurately assumed to be a traveling professional basketball player. Divorced - and still in pain because of it - interesting, if a bit hostile, in good physical shape, with none of the typical problems a tall woman has. Reads romance novels, peeking ahead to see what happens. Teacher, who is embarrassed by her height, which is one of her major assets, and, a dancer, I hope."
"Dancer?" she smiled, amazed at his review of her.
"Ballroom dancing is my passion," he said, bowing. "May I have the next dance?"
"Your face would be in those breasts you seem to be so enamored with," she said, smiling.
"Why do you think ballroom dancing is my passion?" he asked, shrugging.
She looked at him thoughtfully. He really WAS different ... and interesting.
"Maybe we can talk after all," she said.
"Talk first ... dance later," he said nodding his head. "Good plan. Keeps the guy with the hots for you at a safe distance. Very astute of you."
"Can you be serious?" she asked.
His smile vanished. "I can be very serious," he said, his voice full of some emotion. "Sometimes I am too serious."
She heard something in his voice that alerted her to the fact that this needed to be investigated. She was serious about things too. She felt hope tug at her heart, ever so gently, at the thought that he might be serious about the same things she was. She'd given up that hope, a long time ago. It felt dangerous as it reappeared.
"Talk first," she agreed. "Dancing ... maybe."
"Hope springs eternal," he said, lifting his hand to lead the way.
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