“Good luck, Elder Kenard.”
“Thank you, President,” Bryce mumbled. He was a missionary now, off to the Missionary Training Center in Provo. He’d been ordained and his father would be disappointed in him if he did something so worldly as calling him “Dad” instead of “President.”
Bryce was on the Lord’s time now and part of that time would be spent in airports waiting on planes. Like today.
He shook his father’s hand, firm, and looked him in the eye as he’d been taught. President Kenard’s shock of bright orange hair was losing its battle against the white and Bryce vaguely wondered if it’d be all white by the time he returned from his mission in eighteen months.
“Now, if you want, I’ll see about getting you an extension to two years, Elder,” his father said. “I don’t much care for these eighteen-month missions. When I went on my mission, it was almost three years.”
“William,” his mother said, tapping him on the arm. “Don’t scare the boy. Goodness, who wants to be out longer than they have to be?”
Thank you, Mom.
“I’ll think about it, Da— President.” He had no intention of staying out one minute past his five-hundred-and-fortieth day. He wouldn’t do this at all if he’d had his ’druthers, but he’d never had his ’druthers, so thinking about it was useless. He’d go, he’d do a good job, he’d come home and get on with his life—
—which would include finding a nice girl to marry in the temple, getting an education, having kids, finding a good job, and getting on the fast track to bishop, then stake president, like his dad.
Oh, yes, his whole life had been scripted, and long before he was born.
He caught sight of a woman, one he knew from San Diego Mesa where he’d gone for summer and fall semesters after graduating from high school, a teacher, actually. He hadn’t taken any of her classes, but he’d noticed her.
Oh, yes, he’d noticed her.
It was hard not to considering she’d twirled a ten-inch sacrificial knife in her fingers while strutting down the hall to her office in the anthropology department. Whistling.
Short skirt, double-breasted suit jacket, high heels.
Long straight black hair to her waist.
A scent that teased his nose and made him breathe deeply.
Half Japanese, half Chicana.
She’d sought him out a few days later and plopped herself down in a chair at the table in the library where he usually studied. She struck up a conversation with him, but it didn’t take very long before he knew he had to get away from her.
He suppressed a groan when she strutted toward him (she didn’t walk any other way), a mischievous smile on her face that his body responded to oh, so very inappropriately.
Please, no. Not this. Not now.
“How are you?” she enthused and took his hand in both of hers, caressing his palm with a fingertip. He managed not to suck in a sharp breath.
“I’m fine, Ms. Yoshida. You?”
“That’s Elder Kenard now, Miss,” his father interjected with a bland smile.
Not in the least bit slow, she cocked an eyebrow at Bryce’s father and said, “Ah, I see. Mormon missionary, very good. I get it. You must be Dad.”
“Yes, I am and we prefer the term Latter-day Saints,” said President Kenard with a trace of disapproval and laying his hand over the knot comprised of her two hands and Bryce’s one. The grip broke and Bryce felt the brush of cool air on his skin where hers had been and missed it.
“I know,” she returned. “I say tomato, you say tomahto.” She turned back to Bryce, dismissing Bryce’s father as if he were nothing more than a lazy student. Amazing. Bryce had never seen anyone simply dismiss him out of hand. “Whereya headed?”
“Scotland,” Bryce muttered.
Her eyebrows shot up. “Oh, really! I’d spend more time there but shit, it’s cold and wet, especially up there in the highlands. No place for a San Diegan—at least not without a naked body to snuggle up with at night. Can you request a reassignment?”
His father cleared his throat, which prompted her to glance back at him. The corner of her mouth tucked in and up when she saw the lowering of the bushy orange-and-white eyebrows. She looked back at Bryce, reached out and took him by the lapels, straightened them a bit.
“Don’t forget what we talked about, ’kay?”
Bryce gulped and she laughed before vanishing in a whirl of energy. He tracked her until she was out of sight.
“What did you talk about with her, Elder?”
“An English lit assignment,” he replied vaguely, feeling both his parents watch him carefully. Feeling guilty because he’d lied. And why.
President Kenard harrumphed his disbelief, but said nothing more about it, for which Bryce was eternally grateful. Finally his boarding time was called. His mother hugged him and his father shook his hand.
“Remember to call on Mother’s Day, Bryce,” she called after him.
“I will, Mom,” he called back, surprised at his sudden melancholy at leaving his mother, who never seemed to be disappointed in him at all. He’d never noticed that until right that moment.
Once he settled in his seat at the window, his brain began to whirl.
“Now, Son, don’t be upset, but your mother and I won’t be taking you to the MTC ourselves. We think it’s best you go alone and begin to lean on the Lord for your strength.”
“Oh, I think I’ll be all right, Dad.”
Yes, more than all right, thanks.
“Bryce, I saw the way you looked at me the other day. You’re not my student and you aren’t likely to be, so why don’t you and I have dinner together?”
“Ms. Yoshida, I really don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“You’re right and I agree. Let’s skip dinner and get straight to the fucking. Here’s my address and bring condoms. You’re twice as big as I am, Bryce, and you are a beautiful, beautiful man. I can only imagine what you could do to me in bed.”
Bryce couldn’t breathe. “I’m only eighteen.”
“Oh, even better! I’m thirty.”
“Ms. Yoshida, I’m LDS. I don’t—”
“Oh, a Mormon! Can I translate that to virgin? Please say yes.”
“Oh, hallelujah and glory be. Initiation of a virgin. Don’t tell me you’re saving yourself for some little twit who didn’t have the good sense to go get laid before saying I do—”
Bryce remained silent.
“Ah, okay. Huh. Interesting.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Yoshida.”
You have no idea how sorry.
“Is there nothing I can say to get you to my house tonight? Or any night? Or day? Or my office?”
He paused. “Erm, no.”
“I apologize. You don’t like cursing, do you?”
“Oooh, I just want to take you home and eat you up. Okay, Bryce. You win.”
He could smell her perfume when she arose from her chair, then swung one elegant hip around the corner of the table. Two steps and she was at his side, one hand on the back of his chair, one braced on the tabletop, her mouth brushing his ear.
“You’ve got a raging hard-on, Bryce,” she whispered. “You want to fuck me so badly you can feel it and I do mean fuck. Like, hard. Up against a wall. Rocking the bed. I hope your God can give you whatever it is you’re looking for and fast, so you can get on with what you were made to do. It’d be a damn shame for you to wake up one day and realize you’d spent your best years chasing a myth.”
He sucked in a deep breath, drowning in a strange combination of lust and guilt. She pushed away from him, chuckling, then strutted back out of the library.
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” he whispered halfheartedly as he watched the elegant sway of her hips.
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” he whispered wholeheartedly, willing himself to put it out of his mind with the same discipline he’d practiced since before he knew what that was.