The New Student

Pamela Baker

Kelsey tapped her pencil on the large library table and gazed at the bookshelves. Her two o’clock appointment was late. She checked her schedule. Michael Baron, a new student. Freshman engineering major. Had he taken one look at her and decided she couldn’t be his tutor? Thomas, one of her regulars, had sat at the next table and waited for a guy to show up for their first session.

She sighed. Why was it so hard for males to take instruction from a female? Maybe it was just her. With her short stature and baby face, people often mistook her for a middle schooler instead of a college senior. The library door opened, drawing her attention. Her new student?

A tall man with close-cropped dark hair, wearing dark jeans and a polo shirt stepped up to the circulation desk. He looked at least five years older than the grad students. Not her freshman. She slumped.

At a second glance, she recognized him from yesterday afternoon in the quad. He’d sat on a bench eating a sandwich when three giggly girls accosted him. She’d watched him toss the remainder of his sandwich, smile and nod at the girls, then hurry off. He must be a visitor. Too bad. He was attractive and had been kind to those girls, though he obviously wasn’t interested in them. She’d only met a few guys here at school that she’d want to date, and they were all taken.

She exhaled and checked the clock. Five more minutes and then she’d head to a study carrel and do her own work. She glanced toward the circulation desk, but the interesting man wasn’t there.

He was striding toward her.

Her stomach knotted, and her pulse quickened.

He stood on the opposite side of her table. “Kelsey?” His voice had a pleasant deep tone.

She nodded and swallowed, mind racing, searching for words. Nothing.

“Sorry I’m late. Got stopped by a professor on the way.” He deposited his backpack onto the desk and stuck out his hand. “I’m Mike.”

She shook it. “Mike Baron?”

He grinned as he sat across from her. “Not who you were expecting, am I?”

She squinted. “You’re a freshman?” And why wasn’t he surprised to see her?

He nodded. “Spent six years in the Navy.”

That explained the age difference and why a professor might take an interest in him. She placed her palms on the table. “Okay. What class do you need help with?”

“Calc One.” He pulled a textbook out of his pack.

She smiled, her shoulders relaxing. “I get a lot of requests for help with that one. What exactly are you struggling with?”

He opened the book and gazed at her. His grey eyes with brown flecks were mesmerizing.

After a long pause, she blinked and cleared her throat. “Do you want me to work the problems as an example?” She pulled a sheet of paper from her notebook and slid his Calculus text toward her. “So, this first one—”

“Wait.” He exhaled. “Actually, I’m good with math.”

Her eyes narrowed. What was his game?

He showed her a sheepish grin. “I have trouble meeting women.”

Her face heated and her lips tightened into a straight line as she shoved his book at him.

He blinked. “May I start over?”

“Please do.” She leaned against the back of her wooden chair and crossed her arms over her chest. She’d bolt, but the contrite expression he now wore softened her resolve.

He took a deep breath. “I complained to my friend, Thomas, about the young, flighty girls in my class.”

Kelsey nodded. His polite reaction to the giggly girls from yesterday flashed through her mind.

“Thomas told me he knew a woman who was intelligent and motivated. He described you as strong but caring.” He leaned toward her. “I asked him to introduce us.”

She sat up straight. “So why didn’t he?”

Mike slid a business card toward her. “He handed me this. Told me having you tutor me would be the best way.”

She picked up her own card and tapped it on the table.

“I guess I messed that part up. But it felt like a lie.” He grimaced. “Also, I couldn’t let you waste your time.”

“Well, if you don’t need tutoring—”

He scooted his chair forward. “What I can use is advice, though. This place is foreign to me. Would you help me navigate, pick the right teachers, courses?” He peered at her, a glint in his beautiful eyes.

She glanced at the wall clock to give herself time to consider. He was cute, honest, didn’t wear a wedding ring, and most importantly, he hadn’t questioned why she was tutoring math.

He reached toward her. “I’ll pay you for your time.”

“You don’t need to do that.” She raised her palm, then dropped it onto his warm, dry one. One corner of her mouth quirked up. “But I will let you buy me a coffee.”

“Now?” His eyes widened.

She nodded. “Yes, now.”

“Sure.” He scrambled out of his chair, slid his textbook into his pack as he shouldered it, and helped with her backpack. Then he escorted her toward the door. “So, is this a date?”

She winked at his adorable face. “We’ll see how it goes.”

He grinned and clasped her hand.

A shiver ran down her spine. Her lips stretched into a cheesy smile. Was this man the one? She took a deep breath. One step at a time. First date, first.

Pamela Baker
Pamela Baker is a retired software engineer who writes Romantic Suspense and Speculative fiction from a Biblical worldview.

Contrary to popular belief, engineers do a fair amount of writing: test plans, reports, evaluations, and customer e-mails. Not the type of writing Pam prefers. In the nineties and early two-thousands, she wrote skits and one-act plays and performed them with her church drama team. Two of the skits were published in National Drama Service. Now she writes novels, short stories, and book reviews.

Pam also enjoys reading, performing in community theater, singing in her church choir, and traveling. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers.

You can find her online at her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.