Featured Author: Angela Ruth Strong
“A meet cute is the scene where the hero and heroine meet for the very first time.” I sigh dreamily and clutch Pride and Prejudice to my chest.
Sardonic laughter yanks me from the regency era with lords and ladies back into my classroom’s circle of desks. The closest thing my students get to a ball is the upcoming homecoming dance.
“That stuff is made up for the movies,” Brock the Jock scoffs. Like Mr. Darcy, he’s going to need some feminine training to soften him.
“Oh, Brock,” I lament. “How do you meet girls?”
He shrugs. “Snapchat.”
Maybe that’s why I haven’t met any men interested in my mind. Snapchat isn’t the place to wow readers with artful prose.
“You’re missing out, my young friend.” I place a hand on my hip. “Let me tell you a tale.”
The class groans collectively, and I know it’s because they are required to as teenagers.
“There I was, duct taped to a chair.”
The room hushes.
“I was researching how to escape capture for my latest screenplay.”
Brock smirks. “Of course you were.”
I ignore him, set down my novel, and pull out the wooden chair from behind my desk to use for reenacting the story. “I twisted and thrashed and growled…”
Long blond strands of hair flip into my face. I blow them away to find Brock filming me from his cell phone. I’ll be on TikTok before the day ends. TikTok is his love language.
I pause dramatically. “Little did I know that my neighbors saw me through the window and called the police.”
Their eyes bulge.
“Wait.” Brock shakes his head. “The man you met was a cop?”
“Yes.” I melt into my seat a little. I don’t mean to, but my imagination is a tangible thing. “He looked like Hawkeye from The Avengers. They have the same brooding blue eyes and widow’s peak.”
Taylor and Samantha glance at each other. The girls must know the actor I’m referring to. They also pull out their phones, but I’m too lost in my story to care.
“When my roommate opened the front door, the officer charged in to rescue me.”
Brock’s chin drops. “That’s how you met your boyfriend?”
I laugh and wave my hand. “No, we’re not dating.”
Though it’s not like I didn’t try. I even signed up for citizen’s police academy, using my screenplay writing as an excuse. Unfortunately that backfired when I volunteered for the background check demonstration. How was I supposed to know I had an arrest warrant out from that time I was filming a robbery scene at Stumptown Coffee Roasters and some passerby thought it was real and called 911?
“He didn’t ask you out?” Samantha sounds shocked. The young often assume physical appearances are everything.
“He did not.” I gaze out the window past the bright red and gold trees toward the football stadium. I decide to set my next screenplay in autumn. I may not get to attend games and share caramel apple cider with Officer Karson Zelner, but my heroine can.
“Why not?” Taylor asks.
I blink and find my students waiting for the explanation as to why my meet cute didn’t come with a happily ever after. “I suspect he’s got a backstory that wounded him…”
As I speak, the door squeaks open. Hawkeye stands there. “You wounded me, Gemma Bennet,” he says gruffly. “Knee to my groin during the self-defense lesson of citizen’s police academy.”
Wow. My imagination has never been so vivid.
“Sorry, Miss Bennet,” Samantha giggles. “I texted our new resource officer because I thought you might want to meet him, you know, if you haven’t already.”
He’s real? Of all the English classes in all the world…
Karson crosses his solid forearms. “So, there’s no emergency?”
“Actually.” Brock raises his hand. “There’s a shortage of chaperones for the homecoming dance Saturday. You should help Miss Bennet.”
Ah, I knew this kid could be taught!
Karson’s gaze is cooler than I’ve ever been. “I’m already required to attend all football games and dances.”
I didn’t think I’d ever see my love interest again, and now he’s going to be at every dance I chaperone.
Brock hoots. “Sound like a date.”
Okay, now the kid is taking it too far.
“Excuse us.” I rise and usher our new resource officer into the hall, away from our audience. He smells mossy like the woods, and I envision all the fairytales set there. “Karson, I didn’t plan this. I honestly didn’t know you were working here now.”
“I believe you.”
“You do?” I wrap my arms around my waist to hug away the goosebumps. And also to keep from doing anything dumb that might possibly ruin this moment. “After citizen’s police academy, I thought you assumed the worst of me.”
I bite my lip. So much for not ruining our moment.
He gives me a cute half smile, though his direct eye contact still radiates intensity. “It wasn’t until I learned you’re a teacher that I realized you aren’t chasing fame and fortune in Hollywood the way I’d thought.”
Oh… I guess our meet cute might have given the wrong impression. “How’d you find out I’m a teacher?”
“I saw your name on the staff list when the position of resource officer opened.” His dimple flashes. “I figured the school would need me over here to keep you out of trouble.”
My lips part. I may have a wild imagination, but I couldn’t have written this scene any better. Karson isn’t avoiding me anymore. He took this job because of me. I am going to get my romance after all.
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