“But I don’t want to go, Kate!” Sadie’s voice rose to a pitch of whine that only dogs could hear.
Kate, her tall, brunette and freckled friend laughed as she laced her trainers. “We’re going. We have to go. Don’t you want to be able to defend yourself?”
“No,” Sadie pouted, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’ll find a big bad butch dyke to take care of me.”
“Ugh, Sadie,” Kate wrinkled her nose. Kate was straight. Kate was straight in the same way parallel lines were straight, but she took more pride in her straightness than they could ever do. “Well, it’s too late now, we’re here. Get changed for crying out loud, the class is supposed to start in a minute, I don’t want to be late.”
“Ugh, Kate!” Sadie mocked her friend with a gleam in her eye. “Fine. But I’m doing this for you, remember? She turned and stripped off her shirt and jeans and reluctantly slid into a pair of athletic short shorts and vest, and, as a final touch of athletic style, an 80’s style sweatband that made her short hair stick up over it, transforming her from a pretty girl to something out of a boy band producer’s worst nightmare.
“You’re not going to wear that, are you?” Kate sounded mildly horrified.
“Sure am,” Sadie grinned unrepentantly. She’d agreed to join Kate in this class for moral support, but she wasn’t going to take it seriously. She could defend herself already. That was why she had Milo, her 4 year old chocolate Labrador, who even now was probably sitting at home trying to work out what rug to chew on next.
With a sigh of suffering, Kate lead Sadie out of the changing rooms and onto the gymnasium floor, where, as she had predicted, class had already started. About twenty women stood around in pairs, looking vaguely befuddled as a couple of instructors demonstrated how to break a hold.
Kate did her best to sneak up to the back of the class without anyone noticing, but Sadie put on an unconcerned swagger and did her best to stomp her gym shoes as she walked. That was the secret to real self defense, letting everyone know who’s boss the moment you step into a room. Much to her amusement, she drew a few annoyed looks, though one of them was Kate’s.
“Remember everyone, sweep the arm and break the hold,” the instructor was saying. Sadie ignored her, letting her voice fade to a burble in the background as she stared out the high windows, wondering what people who hadn’t been roped into lame self defense classes were doing. “Okay, pair up and try it yourselves,” the instructor finally announced.
Were you paying attention?” Kate hissed.
“Sure, sure, let’s do this thing,” Sadie agreed, turning her attention to her friend. “You want I should choke you first?”
“Sadie that’s not what we’re doing!” Kate frowned. “Look, you grab my shoulders…”
“Why would I grab your shoulders? That’s a totally retarded way of trying to assault someone. Where have you ever seen anyone grab anyone’s shoulders before they attack them?” Sadie pointed out pragmatically.
“Sadie, just do…”
“Are we having trouble here?” A new voice broke into their conversation.
“Not yet,” Sadie replied in her best ‘bad girl here, don’t mess with me’ voice without so much as deigning to turn to look at the speaker.
“I’m sorry Instructor, we were a little late and we didn’t quite catch exactly what you were trying to demonstrate,” Kate said with simpering politeness.
“Yes, I saw you came in late, in future, try to be on time, it helps the class flow.”
“Oh yes, we will, I’m so sorry,” Kate replied.
The woman’s tone was calm, but distinctly authoritarian, which was enough to get Sadie’s goat. She whirled on her plastic sole to confront this arrogant would be time-lord. “Listen lady, we did our best, okay?” To emphasize her point, she jabbed her finger at the instructor’s chest, accidentally made contact with soft breast and snatched her hand back, blushing furiously.
The instructor said nothing for a moment. She seemed thoroughly taken aback, which gave Sadie time to size up the woman she’d just unintentionally assaulted. She was slightly taller than Sadie, slightly wider than her, and significantly more toned, no doubt as a result of working out all the time like a gymnastic energizer bunny. To top things off, her short hair was even spikier than Sadie’s, and her angular face was drawn in an expression of subdued disapproval as she gave Sadie a look of doom.
“Sadie!” Kate exclaimed in shock.
“Er, sorry,” Sadie said, putting her roving finger in her short’s pocket.
“Are you quite finished, Sadie?” The instructor asked.
Sadie blushed, getting the feeling she was being lectured like a child. “Yeah,” she muttered, casting her gaze downwards.
“I’m sorry Instructor, I didn’t catch your name, I’m Kate,” Kate interjected, evidently trying desperately to dispel a little of the tension that had suddenly sprung up in the little group.
“Rigel, Instructor Rigel. Pleased to make your acquaintance, now shall we do this hold?”
“Yes please,” Kate said politely. Sadie had fallen into a sullen silence.
“Tell you what,” Rigel said. “Sadie, why don’t you go sit on the bench over there for a bit whilst I show Kate this hold?”
Sadie’s head shot up. “What?”
“Just over there,” Rigel pointed to a solitary bench against the far wall.
Sadie’s mouth fell open a little as she stared at the instructor. If she didn’t know better, she could only have concluded that she was being put in time out by the woman.
“Go on,” Rigel encouraged.
“What…” Sadie began a retort, but Rigel fixed her with a look, a dire sort of look that implied that very, very bad things could happen if Sadie didn’t take herself over to the bench. Sadie found herself suddenly feeling a strange feeling she hadn’t felt in years. Was she in, trouble? With a puzzled expression, she turned and wandered off to the bench as the rest of the class resumed.
The bench was wooden and hard and uncomfortable, she soon discovered. Sitting on it hurt her backside. She put her head in her hands and pouted wildly as Rigel finished showing Kate the hold and then returned to the front of the gymnasium to demonstrate the next move.
For the next twenty minutes, Sadie seethed as Rigel ignored her and taught the class, paying special attention to Kate. “Joke’s on you, lady,” Sadie muttered to herself. “She’s straighter than a ruler.”
Eventually, Rigel left her instructor partner to practice with Kate and walked over to where Sadie sat on the bench. She stopped before she reached Sadie and crooked her finger at her, beckoning her over. With a flouncing sigh, Sadie bounced up off the bench, feeling her numb butt cheeks protest.
“Yeah?” She crossed her arms over her chest and stared defiantly at the Instructor’s neck. So she couldn’t quite bring herself to make eye contact? So what?
“Are you finished behaving like a little girl?”
The question jolted Sadie. She had not expected that. A lecture about timeliness, yes, a lecture about bad behavior, no.
She raised her eyes to meet Rigel’s and found that although her expression was still stern, there was a slight hint of humor about her eyes.
“Or am I going to have to keep treating you like one?”
Sadie’s insides spontaneously melted as Rigel took another step forward, closing the remaining distance between them. Up this close, Sadie could feel the woman’s energy radiating from her body.
“I… er…” there was no good response to that question. Saying no meant that she was going to continue to be bad. Saying yes was good as an admission that she’d been behaving like a little kid.
“Hm?” Rigel reached down and tipped Sadie’s head up towards her. Sadie could only manage a very soft whimper as Rigel’s eyes examined her and found her wanting. She didn’t know this woman from a milk carton, but in less than fifteen minutes Rigel had none the less been able to subdue her in a way that almost no-one else could. Usually people let Sadie have her way, or worst case scenario, just got rid of her. The feeling of being called out like this was an uncomfortable, prickly one.
“I.. uhm.. I have to go, I have uhm, an appointment,” Sadie stammered.
“Really?” Rigel smiled as she moved her fingers away.
“Uhm, no?” Sadie squeaked, cursing herself. She was tongue tied and silly, falling all over her words. Rigel must have thought she was an utter basket-case.
Rigel chuckled and shook her head. “Tell you what, little girl. Take your seat again and see me after class.”
Sadie gulped. “See… you after class? For what?”
Rigel regarded her steadily. “Dinner. That is, if you can go to a restaurant without yelling about how ‘retarded’ the food is.” She winked, turned and walked back to the class, leaving Sadie staring after her in disbelief.
“You strut through your life, giving everyone you meet attitude. Most people probably don’t even deserve it. And you know that, but you keep doing it. You’re waiting for someone who won’t take it. Every time you make a snarky remark or a smart ass comment, there’s part of you that wishes there was somebody around to put you firmly in your place. But there hasn’t been anyone, has there?”Sadie’s head spun as Rigel closed the final little bit of distance between them and lowered her voice. “Until now.”
When cocksure, laid-back drop-out Sadie meets the wickedly attractive, yet stern Rigel, sparks fly. Unimpressed with her layabout lifestyle and outright bratty attitude, Rigel sets about making things very difficult for her little Sadie.
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