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~~ All characters in this book are 18 or over. ~~
== || || ==
“Alan, do you have a minute?”
Alan Glassman looked up from the pile of essays he was grading. It was one of his two free periods at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, and he was surprised to see Lavender Tipton, the school’s principal, standing in the doorway of his classroom.
“Sure, Mrs. Tipton. Come on in.”
“Call me Lavender, please.” A tall, graceful woman in her early fifties, she leaned against a wall and studied Alan as he rose. “Tell me, have you been by the faculty lounge this morning?”
Alan shook his head. “I’m trying to get ahead on my grading. I never imagined there would be so much gruntwork involved in being a teacher,” he said with a rueful smile. “I love doing the actual classwork, helping kids learn, but all this…” He waved his hand at the pile of papers on his desk.
Lavender laughed, shaking her head. “I know exactly how you feel. I started out in math, myself, before I moved to administration. At least grading was easier for me. There’s a right answer in math. And I didn’t have to worry about essays and term papers. Just midterms and final exams. Of course,” she continued, “you don’t have to check geometry and calculus proofs in civics.”
“Thank God for that,” Alan said with a crooked smile. “I gave up on math once the numbers started acting silly.”
“Anyway, the reason I’m up here,” Lavender said, “is because I wanted to talk to you about your duties here in the school.”
Alan frowned. “Have I been doing something wrong?” he asked nervously. “I know I’m new here, but-“
She waved an elegant, well-manicured hand. “No, no. Nothing like that. We’re very happy with how you’ve been filling in for Martha while she’s on maternity leave.”
Alan sighed in relief. After three years of failed interviews, he had been thrilled to score a position as a long-term substitute. He knew doing well could help him find a full-time position, if not at this school, at one of the others in town. And even if the Des Moines School District didn’t hire him, the experience would certainly look good on his resume.
“So what’s going on?” he asked, unable to think of a reason why Lavender would be in his classroom.
“You need to keep your ear to the ground, Alan,” she smiled. “Heck, the lounge is only a few steps down the hall. If you had dropped by, you’d know Jerry Walton’s wife won a ton of money on the lottery over the weekend. He’s in his office right now, packing up. He’s been burnt out for years, and the first thing he did when he got to school today was stop by my office and quit.” She grimaced. “If I wanted to, I could make a stink about it with the teacher’s union. But there’s no use trying to force someone to teach who doesn’t want to. I can find subs to handle his classes until I can find a long-term solution.”
“So where do I come in?” Alan asked. He felt he was running around three steps behind in the conversation.
“We need a new volleyball coach,” said Lavender. “Or at least someone who can pretend to be one for a few weeks. You were an athlete in college, right? I know you said you would be willing to coach. I just took a look at the application you sent us when you applied for the AP History position last year.”
“Well, yeah,” Alan stammered. “But that was track. I’ve never played a team sport. Not at a high level. Or coached. And I don’t know the first thing about volleyball.” His eyes widened. “Oh, God,” he said. “This is girls volleyball, right?”
“Relax, Alan,” Lavender said. “We don’t have a problem with male teachers coaching female athletes. If we did, Jerry would never have been the coach in the first place. And we’re not expecting you to be a real coach. Just someone who can stand on the sidelines and look like he is in charge. And don’t worry about coaching at a high level. The team has won only one match all year. It’s not like you can do much worse than Jerry did,” she sighed. “As soon as I can find someone who can teach Freshman English and coach the volleyball team, you’re off the hook. I know it’s a lot to ask, when you are just getting your feet wet here. If I had anyone else I could use, I would. But everyone on staff has their own after-school activity they are working on,” she grimaced. “Yearbook, Astronomy Club, Photography Club…I just don’t have anyone who is willing to help out right now.”
She took a step forward, her eyes intent, almost pleading. “If you do this for us, you’ll get an extra stipend in your check. And I’ll have a word with the superintendent. You’ll have right of first refusal on any positions in the social studies department that open up across the district.”
Alan leaned back, blinking. He was still up to his neck in student loans. Any additional income would be a godsend. And right of first refusal? Lavender was basically telling him he could have the next social studies Keçiören Escort position that opened up in the district. In a school district the size of Des Moines, that was practically a guarantee of employment next year.
He nodded. “I’ll do it.”
“Oh, thank Christ,” Lavender said gratefully, sinking back against the wall. “Otherwise I was going to have to.”
“But I’m going to need some help,” Alan continued. He drummed his fingers against the desk. “What time is practice?”
“Four o’clock. Your first game is on Friday against Ames West.”
“Four days. Okay. Can you ask all the seniors on the team to meet me here after school?”
Lavender grinned, the expression taking ten years off her face. “No problem.”
A few hours later, five young women made their way into Mr. Glassman’s classroom, faces curious. Although a few of them had him as a teacher for their senior United States History course, none of them knew why they had been asked to meet there.
“What do you think?” asked Jasmine Walters. A tall African-American girl, she was the best player on the team, and had been a starter for three years.
“It has to be about Mr. Walton,” said Tabitha Harrington. She fiddled with her long, red hair. “My little brother told me he wasn’t at school today.”
“Well, if he’s sick and practice is canceled, why didn’t they just announce it? Or send us a text or e-mail? Why are we here?” asked Rachel Adams impatiently.
At that moment, Mr. Glassman entered the room, and all eyes were drawn to him. He shut the door and waved towards the desks. “Have a seat, ladies. Or stand, whatever you prefer.”
Stacie Reynolds stared at Mr. Glassman avidly. He was her favorite teacher, and not only because he was an enthusiastic and engaging lecturer, unlike some of the old warhorses who had been around since schools met in log cabins. He was also an absolute hottie! Even dressed in off-the-rack slacks and a shapeless, rumpled polo, she could see his long, strong legs and toned arms. His hair fell over his forehead in brown waves she longed to brush back with her hands, and his eyes were a light, cheerful blue.
Automatically, her eyes dropped to his crotch, wondering, as always, what sort of package he had.
I bet it’s a good one, she thought. I bet he could stuff me fuller than a Christmas turkey. Her lips felt hot and swollen, and she could feel the pulse beat in the junction of her thighs, in time with her racing heart.
She jumped and crossed the room to sit beside Tabby, thankful her best friend had bailed her out. If Mr. Glassman caught her making moon-eyes at him, she would just die!
Mr. Glassman cleared his throat. “So here’s the situation. Mr. Walton won’t be coaching volleyball anymore. Or teaching, for that matter,” he smiled. “His wife won a bunch of money in the lottery and he quit this morning. So as of about eleven o’clock, I’m the new volleyball coach.”
Several of the girls murmured in surprise, and Stacie had to shut her lips tightly to keep her happy squeak quiet. Mr. Glassman as their coach? Awesome!
“So here’s the thing, ladies. I was an athlete in high school and college. I ran track. Eight hundred and sixteen hundred meters. But I don’t know the first thing about volleyball. Oh, I’ve watched it on TV during the Olympics, but I don’t know plays, or strategy, or anything else. So I’m going to depend on you to keep me from making a fool of myself.”
He spread his arms, the open, expansive gesture asking for their help. “I’ll let you decide what plays to use. I’m not going to pretend I know the sport better than you do. But I will need some way of working with you girls on the court. So the first thing I want the five of you to figure out is some sort of signal you can flash to me on the bench, so I know when to take someone out. If you or one of the other players needs to rest, or if you think someone would do better.”
“Oh, that’s easy, Mr. Glassman,” said Tabitha. “We’ll just have Jasmine use hand signals. We know how to do that.”
He looked at Jasmine for confirmation. She nodded. “I’ll use our uniform numbers. So if Stacie needs to come out, I’ll signal one-five,” her fingers flickered. “Then I’ll say who should go in, like April, who is twenty-three.”
Mr. Glassman nodded. “That sounds good. You’re going to be my eyes on the floor, Jazz,” he said, as she flushed with pleasure, her dusky skin darkening. “The next thing has to do with communication. I know your year hasn’t been very successful so far…”
“That’s putting it mildly,” grumbled Rachel.
“…So if you think of anything we can do to improve, let me know. It can’t get any worse, right?” He grinned winningly.
“Tabitha should be starting. Not Heather Clark. Tabby’s the best setter on the team. She may not have much of a spike, but she can put the Etimesgut Escort ball right where you need it for a kill. I told Coach Walton that for a year and a half, but he wouldn’t listen. We would have won at least two other matches this year if we had her setting us up. Coach Walton said it was because she was too short, but we all know the real reason.”
Mr. Glassman frowned, looking the girls over. “She doesn’t seem too much shorter than anyone else. Heck, she’s taller than Rachel and Lindsey.” He cocked his head at Lindsey Miller, a small, scrawny girl, but a brilliant student, as he knew from having her in his AP World History class. “Lindsey, you’re not on the team, are you? Or am I crazy?”
“No, sir,” she blushed. “I’m the equipment manager. Mrs. Tipton thought that I could help you learn about the game.”
“Great. I’m going to need all the help I can get.” He turned back to Jasmine. “So if Tabitha is such a good setter, why isn’t she playing?” Carefully blank stares met his gaze. He smiled crookedly. He was used to silence when teenagers didn’t want to answer a question. “Or is this something that isn’t any of my business?”
Stacie glanced at her best friend. Tabitha looked back. “You should tell him,” Stacie urged quietly. “If he doesn’t hear it from you, someone else is going to make a remark about it sooner or later. Like Heather.”
Tabitha sighed and nodded. She raised her head bravely. “Coach Walton thought I was a lesbian., Mr. Glassman. He heard me talking to…to a friend about a girl I thought was pretty. He knew he couldn’t kick me off the team without my parents raising holy hell, so he decided not to play me. It was his way of saying he didn’t approve of my ‘lifestyle,'” she said bitterly.
“I came out to my parents over a year ago. And my friends and teammates,” she added, looking around the room. “But I’m not a lesbian. I’m bisexual. I like boys and girls,” she said defiantly, daring Mr. Glassman to question her.
He raised his hands, his face a flaming shade of red. “All right. That’s a little more than I expected. But I appreciate how much courage it must have taken to tell me that, Tabitha.” He smiled, and Stacie’s heart melted. She darted a glance at her friend. I knew he wouldn’t be a bigot.
“I’m not making any promises, but if I don’t see any reason not to, Tabitha will play on Friday.
“Which brings me to the last subject. Ladies, I’ve never set foot in a woman’s locker room. And I don’t want to walk in unannounced and get hit with a harassment lawsuit. How does that all work?”
The girls looked at each other, exchanging rolled eyeballs and giggles. “Don’t worry, Mr. G,” said Jasmine. “We’ll send Lindsey out to get you when we’re dressed and ready for the pregame talk.”
He sighed in relief. “Great. Well, that takes care of that.” He glanced at his watch. “It looks like we have our first practice in about fifteen minutes. I’ll see you all in the gym.”
Stacie and Tabby walked side by side towards the gym and the locker rooms.
“Day’s looking up for you, isn’t it?” teased Tabitha. “Mr. Glassman as our coach? You’ve been drooling over him for weeks. How wet are your panties right now?”
“No wetter than when I think about you,” the slender brunette retorted quietly. She glanced up and down the deserted hallway, then slipped her hand into the back pocket of Tabby’s jeans, giving her buns a loving squeeze. “I’m proud of you, though,” she said softly. “It took a lot of guts to tell him you were bi.”
“Thanks,” said the curvy redhead. Fighting the pleasure that Stacie’s touch always invoked, she pulled her hand out of her pocket and held it, for once able to show her true affection for her.
Born within three weeks of each other and living only a few blocks apart, Stacie and Tabitha had been best friends since they were six years old. Together they had gone through grade school, puberty, middle school, heartaches, happiness, grief, and high school, not necessarily in that order. Unable to conceive of going to college apart, the had both recently been accepted to Iowa State.
And not too long ago, they had become lovers.
Stacie, tall, slender, brown-haired and brown-eyed, had a gentle, open face that hid the fierce intelligence of her mind and her unswerving loyalty to Tabitha. While she considered herself bisexual, in reality the only woman she had ever wanted was the one who walked beside her now. She had experimented with men, and found their company very enjoyable, which was why she had spent half her senior year in a state of unrequited lust for her history teacher.
Tabitha was red-haired and with eyes the color of a winter sunset; dark, dark blue. She was shorter and curvier than her lover. Her face was as attractive as Stacie’s, but hers was a more sensual, wicked sexiness, ready to explode into passion at a moment’s notice. Her breasts thrust out proudly from Demetevler Escort her chest, larger but no less beautiful than Stacie’s smaller bust. Truly bisexual, she was attracted to people of both genders, and had dated boys in the past. But her truest happiness was whenever she was in Stacie’s arms.
Both girls had toned legs and taut stomachs from volleyball practice, and Stacie was on the softball team in the spring. Their interests ran the gamut, from music to movies to astronomy (Tabitha) and mystery novels (Stacie).
“You know there’s going to be trouble, though,” Tabitha said quietly. “If I’m starting instead of Heather…”
“You’ve deserved to start for over a year,” her lover said fiercely. “If Coach Walton wasn’t such a bigoted old fart, Heather would have been the one on the bench.”
“That’s the point,” Tabby said. “We get a new coach, I’m in the starting lineup, Heather has to pick splinters out of that sweet, sexy ass of hers…you know she’s going to make a stink about it.”
“Stuck-up, hypocritical, repressed bitch,” Stacie said mildly. The days when the closed-minded attitudes of her classmates could drive her to a fury on Tabitha’s behalf were long gone. “Just because she and Walton overheard you telling me you thought Heather looked hot. How long are you supposed to pay for one mistake?”
“Forever,” Tabitha said shortly, opening up the door to the locker room. As soon as she did, a flurry of questions from their half-dressed teammates hit them both.
“So what do I do, Lindsey?” Alan said, looking down at his assistant coach.
“Well, if you were Coach Walton, you’d stand around looking grumpy. And every fifteen minutes or so you’d yell at the girls to start another drill,” grinned the equipment manager.
“Well, if I need to look sour, I’ll grab a lemon. But I think we should do some drills.”
The girls had finished warming up, young bodies moving through their exercises with the ease of youth. Luckily for Alan, he kept some spare workout clothes in his office, for when didn’t feel like going home before he went on his evening run. After the meeting with the seniors, he had quickly changed into sweat pants and a t-shirt and had hung a whistle around his neck.
He felt like a complete fraud.
With a sharp tweet, he brought the girls into a circle.
“All right, ladies,” he said. “I’m sure the seniors have broken the news to you. I’m going to be coaching the team for the next few weeks or so.
“I’m not going to give you any rah-rah speeches. I’m going to do my best for you, and I hope you’ll do your best for each other.
“So. First drill. I hear the goal of this game is to score points,” he grinned. “And from what I remember from watching Misty May play beach volleyball in the Olympics, you do that by hitting the ball really hard so the other team can’t play it. So let’s do some setting and spiking drills.
“Jasmine, set it up, please.”
The team captain split the girls into two groups. One line took it in turns to set the ball up for a spike for the second line. Each girl made five sets, then rotated. Alan sat on the bench, making notes, trying not to be distracted by the entrancing sight of healthy female flesh.
As Jasmine had said, Tabitha was superior to everyone on the team. The redhead placed the ball with almost frightening precision, right where the spiking player could hit it with the greatest force.
Heather Clark, on the other hand, was wildly inconsistent. A pretty, bubbly, blonde who wore her hair in a ponytail, the junior seemed to have no idea where the ball would go from one effort to the next.
After one errant pass, Alan sighed and turned to Lindsey. “I can understand what the girls were saying. Why was she starting?”
Lindsey shrugged. “She’s not much worse than anyone else, and she is pretty good at spiking the ball. But with Stacie and Jasmine, we don’t need that. We need someone who can get them the ball in a position to make the kill. Heather can’t.
“Honestly, Mr. Glassman, we’re not very good. It’s not Heather’s fault. Or even Mr. Walton’s. Aside from Jasmine and maybe Stacie, there just isn’t much talent out there.”
“So where are we weakest?”
“Well,” Alan brightened, “if we shore up the offense with Tabitha…”
“And defense,” Lindsey continued.
“Oh,” he said, deflated.” What’s the problem on defense?”
Lindsey gestured to the other side of the net, where a few girls were shagging balls as they came flying past. One off of Jasmine’s hands hit the floor with a whip-like crack, streaking towards the far wall.
“Offense is only half of the game. To be able to spike the ball for a kill, you have to have control. And you get that by fielding the ball when the other team tries to make a kill shot of their own. We’re not very good at that. Our back line is terrible, really.”
“Hmmmm.” Alan made a mental note to see what he could find out about defensive drills in the next few days. Maybe he could find something online which would help. “Can I ask you a question, Lindsey?”
He looked across the gym at Tabitha. She was standing in the spike line beside Stacie, laughing at something the taller girl said. “That thing Tabitha mentioned earlier this afternoon…”
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