Karen nearly panicked when the young man climbed out of his car and leaned back in to retrieve his gear. If her guess was right, he probably wasn't even old enough to drink yet. Oh no, no, no! Why didn't I ask to talk to who they were sending first! She glanced back over her shoulder at the gymnasium that would soon be filled with children — including her own son.
What had promised to be a triumph that would unseat Betty, the PTA queen of organization, now teetered in the balance, all hinging upon the young man walking toward her. She stopped just short of bringing a lock of her red hair to her lips, a habit she'd broken years ago — or so she thought.
"Hello," she said, and inwardly winced when some of her trepidation came through in her voice.
"You must be Ms. Hutton. Name's Leo. I'm all ready to go," he greeted her while offering his hand. She couldn't help but notice that he had a moderate Italian accent.
"Karen," she offered. "So how long have you been a firefighter?"
Leo laughed. "Yeah, I could see it in your eyes. I joined up volunteer when I turned eighteen. My pops has been on the force all my life, though. I may as well have been born with a helmet on and a hose in my hand. I know what I'm doing."
What he said might have sounded arrogant, except the tone of his voice completely belied any such consideration. His calm, self-assured manner actually served to settle Karen's nerves. "That's good to hear. The kids are really looking forward to seeing you. Hopefully they'll learn a little something about fire safety in the process."
"Sure would make my life a little easier — a little more boring — but easier. You wouldn't believe how many times we get called out 'cause of kids playing with matches, or screwing around — you know?"
"That's what you're here for," Karen said with a wide smile as she led him into the gym. Now that she'd spoken to him for a minute or two, she thought that he fit the mold perfectly, despite his age. All he needed was a nice, thick mustache to fully look the part. "I need to get things started. It'll be about a half hour. I'll come get you in time to put all your things on."
"I'll be right here," Leo said, and pulled up a chair in the equipment closet where she'd led him.
Everything went perfectly. Leo was animated, and certainly did know what he was talking about. He encouraged the children to interact, and they enthusiastically shouted out correct responses to his questions. As she filmed him, Karen even found that she was reconsidering some of her own plans in the event of a fire.
The blank, defeated look on Betty's face was just icing on the cake.
Leo pulled off his helmet when he returned to the equipment room. "So, did I do all right?"
"Perfect. I can't thank you enough for doing this."
"Hey, no problem," Leo said as he pulled off his coat. "You were taping it — right?"
Still holding her camera, Karen held it up and said, "Yes."
"Think you could make me a copy of that? I got this nephew in Minnesota wants to be a fireman, and I think he'd get a kick out of it. We're going out there tomorrow for his birthday."
Karen smiled and said, "That's the least I can do. I can go home and transfer it to the computer to make you a DVD. I just need a few minutes."
Leo smiled and said, "Thanks. I'll go ahead and put my stuff back in my car and wait out there."
"See you in a few minutes, then."
It occurred to Karen as she finished up a few things and talked to the principal that she didn't really have any idea how she was going to give Leo the DVD once she finished it. The solution was simple enough.
"Why don't you just follow me back to the house? That's probably the easiest way to give you your copy, since you need it tomorrow."
"I could have just mailed it to him, but that will work. Be nice to see him watch it."
"I'll be around in a minute, then," Karen said before walking to her car. She beeped her horn and slowed down as she passed him, giving him time to pull out behind her and follow. A few minutes later, he parked in the driveway behind her.
"Nice place," Leo remarked as he climbed out of his car.
Karen smiled and said, "Thank you. It's small, but it's home." She then unlocked the door and gestured for him to follow as she headed directly to the computer.
Once she sat down and plugged in the camera, Karen explained, "It will take a couple of minutes to download from the camera, and then a few more to burn the DVD."
Leo pulled off his jacket. "Glad you know what you're doing, 'cause I got no clue." He laughed and added, "Everybody keeps telling me I need to learn how to work one of those things, but I like to work with my hands. It just doesn't make any sense to me."
Karen glanced back at him and wondered how she'd possibly failed to notice his muscles straining against his t-shirt. In light of that, his comment about working with his hands conjured up an entirely different image in her head. She could feel her cheeks warming, and quickly turned back to the computer. "They get easier to use all the time. I never hurts to learn."
"Yeah, I know," he admitted with a little chuckle.
Still a little nervous about having noticed just how attractive the young fireman was, Karen kept talking, "My son was talking about this for days. You certainly didn't disappoint him."
"Thought it was just the older kids?"
"It was," Karen answered. "My son is in fifth grade."
"Get outta here," Leo incredulously responded.
Karen turned toward him and asked, with laughter in her voice, "What do you mean?"
"Well ... Uh..."
Karen's eyebrows twitched upward. "How old do you think I am?"
Leo held up his hands and waved them in a subtle warding gesture. "Oh no. My pop taught me better than that. Never guess a girl's age," he answered, and then chuckled.
"Now, come on. It sounds to me like I might like the answer," Karen responded, and realized, My god — I'm flirting with him. Behave, Karen.
"Not old enough to have a kid in fifth grade, unless you started pretty early."
Karen blushed from that suggestion, and could tell from Leo's expression that he'd spoken without thinking as well. "I'm thirty-seven," she answered her own question to break the tension and the silence. She then clicked on a folder and opened a picture. "That's David."
"Never would have guessed it. Wouldn't believe it if I wasn't seeing it with my own eyes."
"Thank you," Karen said, tingles running all through her.
"Can't be the first time you've heard it."
Is he flirting with me? He can't be. I'm twice his age. God, he's handsome. Karen had to fight to keep her eyes from popping out of her head when a beep from the computer caused her to look. As she turned her head, her eyes fell on the bulge in his jeans. And packing. Oh my.
"There we are. Now I just need to burn the DVD," Karen said, all the while trying to ignore her nipples stiffening against her bra and the growing tingle between her legs. She put a blank DVD in the drive and started the software. "It will take a couple of minutes. Would you like something to drink?"
"Sure, sounds good."
"Is Coke okay?"
When he nodded, she stood up and walked to the kitchen.
On the way across the living room, she glanced into a decorative mirror on the wall and realized, He's looking at my ass. In that brief look, she saw him bob his head while wearing a quite approving expression.
Safely out of sight in the kitchen, Karen leaned against the refrigerator and shivered. After catching that look, her nipples were stiff, aching points, and the chilly tingle of wetness gathering between her legs was almost maddening.
Get a hold of yourself, Karen. He's just looking. You're fooling yourself. Probably just imagined it.
Coke in hand, Karen returned to the front room and handed it to him. "I could teach you a little bit about how to use the computer while we're waiting."
"Bet you could teach me a lot," Leo responded, wearing a grin that had just a bit of mischief in it.
"Give it a try." Karen pointed to an icon on the screen. "Move the mouse until the arrow is on top of this, and then double-click it."
Leo chuckled and sat down in the chair. He grabbed the mouse and experimented with how to hold it for a minute or two, turning it over in his hand to look at the bottom.
"Put your thumb and pinky on either side, and then your pointer and index fingers on the buttons," Karen explained. "There you go," she said when he followed her instructions and moved the pointer toward the icon.
He didn't quite have the rhythm for a double-click down, so Karen put her hand over his and tapped his finger to show him the speed. Two tries later, the picture opened. "There you go. That's second nature once you've practiced it a bit."
"You've got soft hands," Leo remarked.
Karen's cheeks burned when she realized that her hand was still atop his. It also didn't seem to want to obey her when she ordered it to move.
"I ... I'm sorry," Karen said in a small voice, utterly ashamed for letting the daydreams in the back of her head get the better of her.
"Nothing to be sorry for," Leo said, his eyes darting down her body before locking with her eyes again. He leaned back in the chair, the bulge between his slightly parted legs like a magnet to Helen's eyes.
The tray of the DVD drive slid out, indicating that it had finished. Thankful for the distraction, Karen said, "There we are," and walked around the chair to remove it from the drive.
.... There is more of this story ...