Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.

I'm a Leo

“Can we just get on with this?” I asked, sighing and trying to forget the horrible complications that I had created for myself. “I would really like to talk about the school.”

Anne smiled at me and patted my shoulder thoughtfully, but that did little to console me considering the fact that Quince's devious smirk was still plastered to his damnably gorgeous face. I scoffed to myself, shaking my head furiously as I removed my eyes from him. This was a disaster!

Now, now, Elaine. He's hot. That's why we picked him for last night; he's eye candy. That's all.

I smiled. There, a nice little pep talk to clear my thoughts. Now I could focus on the task at hand!

“Very well.”

Quince's voice was soft, which caught me off guard enough to make my eyes dart to him. That seductive smirk was gone, and a soft hint of a smile remained in its wake... It was almost like he was a social chameleon, that he all but sensed that I needed this change. Unbelievable.

“What do you want to know?”

I stuttered for a moment, taken back by his sudden...pleasantness! He just smiled and waited patiently, effectively scrambling my thoughts again. My thoughts returned to me only when Anne nudged me in the side.

“Well... What do you do there?”

“Teach.” I scowled. “What? I teach! ...Economics.” He laughed for a moment, probably at my distaste. “What are you looking to teach exactly?”

“I noticed that there was an opening in the seventh grade staff. Life science. Definitely.”

He raised an eyebrow at me, but I let it slide. Quince thought that I was the crazy one? He taught economics! Blah. Me, childish? No way.

“Life science,” he laughed. “How did I know that was coming?” I tried to speak, but he hardly gave me the chance. “An old friend actually taught that class, but he retired. You know, the kids just love hearing about savannah animals—you know, gazelles and hyenas, etcetra. I think an entire semester is spent covering Africa and the big cats of the jungle. But I'm sure you'd love that?”

“Of course I would!” Then I cleared my throat from my outburst. “I mean... Of course I would!”

“You know, it's a great school: kids are great, staff are friendly, and the teacher's lounge is just shy of paradise.” I sighed loudly, and he laughed. “But I just can't feel good about endorsing someone whom I hardly know.”

My excitement started to fade.

“What do you mean?” I all but choked, watching him cautiously. “ birthday?”

He blinked. “Well, sure. “When's your birthday?”

“July 29...” I paused, and (for God knows why) I added, “I'm a Leo.”

They both started laughing uproariously, as if it was the funniest thing I had ever said. I smiled, trying to fathom why that was at all amusing.

“Really?” Anne asked, wiping her eye. “That's adorable!”

“Yeah, a real riot,” I muttered. “Can we get back on topic?”

“I suppose...” Quince cut his eyes to Anne, who had already slumped over the table after realizing we would resume with our boring conversation. “Anne, how would you describe Elaine?”

My friend perked up, and a huge grin plastered itself to her face. Good old Anne, watching out for me.

“I think it would be a crime to let such a catch run back to Illinois!”

Quince furrowed his brow, his gaze moving back to me. “You're going back to Illinois?”

“Well, yeah. If I don't get this job, I basically have a sure thing back in Illinois. I don't exactly have retirement funds just yet, mind you.” I glanced to Anne, who was frowning. “It's just an inescapable fact. But I'm sure I could come back to visit every now and then.”

“I just don't see'd even want to go back after being here,” Quince observed, almost sounding truly puzzled. “Illinois can't feel like home to you.”

“Why shouldn't it? I grew up there,” I muttered, hardly believing the words that had come from my own mouth.

What was it about this place? I tried to tell myself that it was the beautiful nature surrounding us, the simplicity; I tried to convince myself that it was the small-town feel, that is was a nice change of pace from the big city; I even tried to repeat a mantra about the charm of new friendship. But that didn't explain why I felt so at home here (save the fact that I stuck out like a sore thumb, though I didn't exactly fit at Illinois either), and it didn't explain why the sound of returning to Chicago was such a huge chore.

Regardless of the oddity, Quince shrugged. “Not that it matters. But you like it here, don't you?” I nodded. Of course I did. “Then, why can't you check out more jobs around here?”

I raised an eyebrow at him, ignoring the way Anne tried to peer at me while hiding her own curiosity. “Because I already have a sure thing at home.”

“Afraid that you might find something you weren't initially looking for, Elaine?”

The tone of his voice suggested that we were no longer speaking about jobs. My eyes narrowed at him, and I crossed my arms over my chest. His face remained blank, almost as if he refused to show me that we were talking about the confusion about our arrangement last night. Just when I had been so stupid to believe that he could be a decent guy, he slapped me across the face with my own naivety.

“You are unbelievable,” I hissed, standing quickly. “Anne, can we go?”

“What? But why?” she asked, sounding almost genuinely shocked. How could she be that oblivious!

“Because,” I spat, my eyes shooting to the creature in the room, “I guess I just hate the unexpected.”

“Elaine, please,” he murmured after me, having the gall to put his hand on my arm. “I just—”

I whirled around, trying to put more death in my eyes than had ever existed in the pits of Hell. With as much venom as I could muster, I hissed, “Goodbye, Quince.”

He didn't crack any joke about not being ready to hear that.

No words were exchanged between Anne and I throughout the entire walk back to the inn, and I was eternally grateful for that. I was fuming, absolutely livid! And over what? That ass who couldn't take directions!

“Elaine, help me understand what is going on,” she finally whispered, pestering me as I stormed down the hall and to my bedroom.

“Nothing is going on,” I told her with the sternest voice I had ever possessed.


“There's nothing to say,” I repeated, stepping around her as she tried to stop me.

“I know, but—” Again, she tried to step in front of me.

“Absolutely nothing.”

“Listen to me for just one damn minute!”

I whipped around, shocked as her words continued to bounce around the walls. She blushed, cleared her throat, and smoothed out the lines in her dress.

“I'm just trying to protect you,” she murmured quietly, which was a huge change in volume from her previous outburst. “Quince is a dear friend, but he is such a playboy. Sure, he's charming, smooth... But he's not settle-down material.”

“Believe me, I know, Anne. It's very sweet that you're looking out for me, but he was just a one-night thing. Nothing more. You won't see me with him ever again.”

“Oh...” Her brow furrowed. “Then... Oh.” Then she smiled. “But not all of the guys here are like that. I'll bet that your Mr. Right is just waiting around until the day he sees you.”

What else could I do but hug her?