“I actually think you’ve given me more required reading than all of my pre health science classes put together!” Joan stood up and threw the text she’d been reading onto the coffee table. “I need a cup of tea” She sighed, stalking barefoot into the hotel room’s kitchenette. In the five days since she’d made her decision to learn from Jamie, Joan had been cooped up in the same hotel, leaving their rooms only to go down to breakfast and dinner. And even then she wasn’t free from study, as she would constantly be quizzed.
“That man is having an affair. How can I tell?”
“What does that woman do for a living?”
“How many children does that couple have?”
Not that it wasn’t helping. Joan could now usually distinguish between businesspeople and lawyers, people who hired a babysitter and people with teenagers (the latter checked their phone far less often), and people who were out with a spouse versus people out with a lover. If she was being honest, she’d probably even say she was having fun.
Jamie laughed at her, looking up from her own book, as Joan dramatically slammed a mug on the bench. “Make us one too, would you Joanie?” She’d been using the family nickname ever since Joan made the mistake of calling her mother on skype in the living room, and Joan swore she was testing how long it would take for her student to do something drastic about it. Joan would never admit that she kind of liked the way it dripped from Jamie’s lips like honey.
“Only if you don’t call me that.” She teased half heartedly, getting a cup down anyway. The last five days had been weirdly comfortable, reading, eating, chatting, and most importantly, avoiding talking about why Jamie had the knowledge she was teaching to Joan.
“Pinkie swear” Jamie held up one petite hand, little finger extended, and smiled smugly when a mug of warm tea was placed in the hand. As Joan settled back into the cushions of the couch opposite, she took a sip. “And as for why you’ve got so much reading to do, you have seven years to learn to be a doctor. You only have one summer for this. I have to make sure you are as proficient as possible in that time.”
Joan paused with her mug halfway to her lips, and pursed them. “That makes it sound like you plan on using me after you’ve taught me these skills.”
Moriarty’s catlike grin resurfaced, showing white teeth. “Of course not Joanie, I would just feel like a substandard teacher if I didn’t teach you all that could be taught in a summer.”
A wave of discomfort washed over Joan, but she ignored it, opting instead to snatch Jamie’s tea from her and take a long sip, walking away.
“Oi!” Jamie stood up and took a step or two towards Joan, who was now walking backwards, smiling.
“I told you, you don’t get any tea if you call me that.”
“I drank from that cup already!”
“And? I think we’re a bit past worrying about spit sharing.” The words exited Joan’s mouth without permission and she mentally kicked herself. The last few days had been so comfortable that she’d caught herself wondering if it would really be so bad to share her bed with a beautiful woman for a summer, especially if they were going to be together anyway, and especially if they were going to get along so well. But a lot of her still rebuked the idea, reminding her every time she thought about those small fingers on her thigh, on her hip, that those same hands would kill without hesitation. She immediately backtracked, or tried to at least. “Not that – shit. I actually have no way of recovering from that.” She tried not to watch Jamie as the blonde walked towards her and took her cup of tea back with a smile.
“Regretting turning me out of bed?”
“No” Joan replied, perhaps a little quickly, and the glint in Jamie’s eyes was hungry.
“There is very little point in lying to me Joan.”
Joan gulped. “I know.”
“Would you like to sleep with me again?”
There was a long silence, and the two women held each other’s gaze until Joan finally looked down and gave in. “I haven’t decided.” She admitted, and a sense of relief filled the room, like the hotel itself had been holding its breath but had finally exhaled with that admission. Jamie turned and walked back to the armchair she’d been perched in earlier, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she went.
“Well, when you reach a decision, let me know.” She returned to her book as though nothing had happened, leaving Joan feeling as dishevelled as if she’d just run a mile, even though she’d barely walked ten feet.
In fact, the more Joan thought about the idea of running, the more it seemed like a good idea. Maybe if she got out of the hotel, she could get Jamie out of her head. So after thirty minutes of scanning the same page about the various workplace pros and cons of loafers, she grabbed her trainers and headed out the door. Not wanting to make a fool of herself for the second time that day, she didn’t say a word to Jamie, who seemed engrossed in her own book, and instead let the clicking of the lock announce her departure.
Nothing had ever been more satisfying to Joan than the steady pounding of her heartbeat in her ears and her shoes on the pavement, so as she ran she allowed herself to forget everything but those two things. She ran block after block, crossing at walk signs and turning when they were red, never stopping for breath, never slowing for anything, and when she finally had to slow down and breathe deeply, she realised that she had no idea where she was.
“Shit.” She muttered to herself, looking at the street signs around her.
“Lost love?” A British man’s voice asked from behind her, and she turned to see a tall, stocky man leaning against a black van. Her instincts screamed at her to run, but she froze, somehow incapable of replying or leaving the situation. “Hop on in, I’ll give you a ride back to your hotel.”
Joan found her voice then, high and cracking. “No, I think I’ll be okay, I’ll walk.”
“I don’t think so darling.” He gestured, and Joan realised another man, lanky this time had snuck up behind her.
She barely managed to scream before the black bag was shoved over her head.