It was a hot Monday afternoon in late June at the university library and it was six years since Jack had been back to the university. The basement of the old library was nice and cool and smelled exactly as he remembered. As Jack wandered through the building, the old smells and sounds were like an old familiar friend and he opened his mind to the flood of great memories. He had taken classes off and on at the local extension university while he was teaching, but this summer he returned to his alma mater where he hoped to complete his Masters degree. Being back on campus was a real trip of nostalgia. When Jack was an undergraduate, he found an area down in the bowels of the ancient building with a couple of old tables stuck in a back corner. This was where he'd hung out, studied, and done his research and as he wandered to the back of the building, he wondered if the tables were still there.
It was so cool down in the basement and the temperature was so much different from the outside he almost wished he was wearing a sweater. As Jack rounded the end of one of the stacks, he saw the two massive old tables still sitting exactly where they'd been when he'd used them six years ago. However ... there was one thing different today. Sitting at one of the tables was a young lady ... a young lady who was stunningly attractive. Long, honey blond hair; a powder blue V-necked sweater showing excellent cleavage and when she looked up at him, she revealed beautiful blue eyes. Her face was flawless and her perfume teased his nostrils with its scent. In the darken recesses of the library, Jack thought she looked like a vision.
Jack realized he must have stood staring for too long because finally she asked, "Is there something wrong?"
He was positive he blushed as he murmured, "I'm sorry ... I don't wish to be rude ... when I was an undergraduate, I used to hang out down here and study. I just didn't expect to find anybody here. And to find somebody here ... somebody as lovely as you ... well..."
The young lady's cheeks took on a flush of their own and she looked down. When she looked up, he was again struck with her loveliness. "Are you back here for more studies or..." her voice trailed off.
"I teach at Stewart High School over in Bedford Falls. I am here for the summer to finish my Masters. Are you a student here this summer?" After he asked her, he realized what a stupid question he'd asked; why would such a good-looking woman be sitting down here studying in the library on a day like this if she didn't have to?
"I have this quarter and I'm finished with my degrees." She told him.
"What's your major?"
"I have two..." She told him.
Jack interrupted, "Wow ... that's impressive. All I've got is a degree in US History and minor in psych." He hung his head in mock shame.
The young woman smiled for a moment and then replied, "Great ... I've always enjoyed history. Do you like teaching?"
Jack grinned at her, "Well, I am also the head football coach. I hate to admit it, but that's my true love. Teaching history got me in the door. I love history mind you, but getting the youth to see why it's interesting is a real challenge." She laughed at his comment and her laugh sounded like soft music. Jack stepped forward, stuck out his hand, "I'm Jack, Jack Frost." His name put a huge grin on her face. Jack held up his hand in front of his chest and replied sheepishly, "I know ... I know ... what can I say, my parents had a sense of humor. Let me tell you, junior high really sucks when your name's Jack Frost. But now, it isn't so bad. Coach Frost has a nice ring to it,"
She held out her hand, when he looked down he saw well manicured nails, lovely long tapered fingers and a most interesting ring on her middle finger. "Tara, Tara Howard." When he grinned back at her, she quickly continued, "My mother loved the movie 'Gone With the Wind'. I teased her one time she was probably watching the movie when I was conceived and she was a bit mad I'd say such a thing." Again, the musical laugh and Jack laughed with her. He looked down at his watch and noticed he needed to get going if he was to make his next class on time.
"Tara, I hate to end this, but if I don't leave now I'll be late for my next class." Jack was surprised by the look on her face; she seemed sad and looked almost like she was going to cry. He did want to see her again so he asked, "Do you come here often?"
"Yeah ... this is my hiding place too. I can study here without being bothered and..."
Jack interrupted before she finished, "Oh damn, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bother you..."
She quickly held up her hand, "No ... not you." She gave him a quick glimpse of her killer smile, "I've enjoyed our little talk. I like it down here so I'm here off and on."
"Would you like to meet for a cup of coffee after class?" Jack asked hopefully.
She paused so long he started to wonder if she had heard him. Finally, she frowned and replied, "That sounds wonderful, but I already have plans. Sorry."
Jack figured it was true, as her "Sorry." sounded sincere; he said goodbye and headed off to class. Over the next few days, he returned often to the back of the library, but she was never there. Their brief encounter had left an indelible imprint on Jack; he desperately wanted to see her again.
On Monday morning on his way to school, he remembered it was just last Monday when he met Tara at the library. Not a day passed since he'd seen her that he didn't think about her; her beauty seared into his memory. Jack wanted to get to know her better ... to be able to talk to her some more. After his class, he ran down the stairs to the basement and headed back to his old haunt. As he walked between the stacks, he wondered if she would be there today and his heart leaped when he saw her sitting at the big table in exactly the same place she was last time.
"Good afternoon Tara ... I was hoping you'd be here today."
"Hello Jack." A slight pause, and then, "Why were you hoping I'd be here today?
"Well..." Jack felt just like a schoolboy he was so embarrassed and tongue-tied. Finally, he just blurted it out, "I've thought about you every day since last Monday and I've checked down here several times to see if you were here. I just really wanted to see you again."
Her wonderful smile spread across her face, making Jack feel as if he had said the correct thing. "Well ... aren't you sweet. Why don't you sit down?"
Jack sat across from her and their conversation seemed to flow like a gentle stream right from the start. He was surprised to find that as beautiful as she was, there was no guile about her. She was completely down to earth with a delightful sense of humor. As they talked, Jack started to feel as if her good looks were almost a hindrance. Tara was just as attractive and lovely inside as she was to the eye. The time passed quickly and when he glanced at his watch, Jack realized he had missed his next class and his surprise must have shown on his face.
"What's the matter?"
"I got so caught up here, I missed my class."
"Is that bad?"
"Well, to be honest, I would rather be here." This comment brought out the musical laugh again. Jack continued, "Ah ... I have a question ... and I really don't know how to ask it any way except to just ask."
"And your question..."
"Are you like involved, or seeing anybody or engaged or..."
Tara held up her hand to stop his babbling. "No. I am none of the above. Are you ... how did you put it ... involved?"
"No ... I thought I found the person I wanted to marry, but at the last minute I realized she was not the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. One more question ... how come somebody as exquisite as you and as interesting as you hasn't been snapped up yet?"
Again the great laugh, "Just hasn't happened ... don't know what to tell you."
Jack really did have to get going and he did not want this meeting to end. Again, he asked her if they could meet for a cup of coffee and she politely declined. He asked her if there were any other times she was in the library. "I'm here usually on Thursdays. I have a late afternoon class and then come here. I am here after 5 ... why?
"Because next Monday is so far away..." She laughed. "I am sorry, I have to go." He stood and leaned over and picked up her hand and brought it to his lips. "Until Thursday?"
"We'll see..." One last killer smile and Jack left.
Over the years and all during school, Jack dated several women and had many girl friends; he always felt he was comfortable with women. Jack was a handsome man who played sports all through school and still moved with the grace and poise of a natural athlete. Being a coach allowed him to work out at the high school gym and he still possessed a lean, strong body.
Jack hadn't found the woman he wanted to settle down with, but if asked, he would just say he was picky. He felt he held some romantic notion one day he would meet the woman of his dreams. Right now, he had to admit, Tara was coming really close. However, the question was ... how could he get a chance to meet her away from the library?
Thursday seemed to take forever to arrive. All during his last class, he kept looking at the clock on the wall and the class seemed to drag on forever. Finally, the professor released the class and he quickly headed across campus to the library.
When he came to the end of the stacks, sitting at the table was Tara. Today she wore a cute top that again showed off an abundant amount of her cleavage. Her hair was up in a ponytail and Jack thought she looked cute the way she was dressed. She smiled up at him and motioned for him to sit. He pulled up a chair and their conversation started as if they hadn't been apart for four days. Finally, it was time for Jack to get going and he asked Tara once more if he could meet her for a cup of coffee. Once more, she politely declined. As he parted, he asked if she would be there on Monday and she said she would.
In the past, Jack always felt weekends went by entirely too quickly ... but this weekend seemed to drag on forever. Monday's classes seemed to be just as bad and by the time he could head for the library, Jack was surprised by how badly he wanted to see Tara. As he headed across campus, he wondered if sharing some of his feelings he felt would help her understand why he wanted to see her away from the library.
As he rounded the stacks, Tara was sitting at one of the tables. A warm smile lit up her face and Jack felt she was truly pleased to see him. Her hair was down today and she was wearing a sweater that was almost the same color as her hair. Around her neck was a band of blue velvet the same color as her eyes. Jack felt if he wasn't already smitten by her, he shurely would have fallen for her today.
The time they shared together passed quickly and finally Jack realized how late it was. Decided he was going to take a chance and share his feelings about Tara, he tired to put them into words. "Tara..." he started, long pause, "Um ... I find I'm developing really strong feelings for you." Again, he paused, searching for the right words to convey his feelings. "I'd like for us to meet some place else besides here..." Jack motioned with his hand, indicating the basement of a library, "Um ... a date if you will ... Tara, I feel you like me, and I know I like you and..."
Tara hung her head and when she lifted it, Jack thought he saw a tear in her eyes. "Jack, I just can't. I can't tell you any more than that ... and I ask you ... I beg you ... if you really care for me ... you will not ask for any more information. Please..." her voice was soft and pleading.
"Tara, I don't understand. In one breath, you tell me you care for me ... and in the next ... you tell me you won't see me away from this library. Is it you don't trust me?"
"Jack ... please don't ask questions ... please..." and now there were tears brimming in her eyes. Jack stood up, looked down at her for a moment and told her he needed to get going.
As he turned to leave, she asked, "Will you be back on Thursday?" Her voice was so soft Jack barely heard her.
"Why?" His voice was much softer than the feelings he had inside.
"I understand if you won't ... maybe some day I can explain ... but I do enjoy our conversations and if you still want ... Thursday... ?" the last word was more of a question than a statement.
Jack knew he wanted to see her again. Somehow, he was going to find out why she wouldn't leave the basement of the library. He nodded, "Till Thursday ... good night Tara." Jack turned and left.
On Thursday, Jack had a mid-term test. The instructor told the class once they were through with the test they were free to leave. This was Jack's favorite class and he was well prepared for the test so he breezed right through it. As he left the classroom, he noticed he was going to be almost an hour earlier than usual to meet Tara. Since it was much earlier than normal, he wondered if she would be there when he arrived. He hoped so; it would give them more time together.
When Jack turned the corner to pass down the row between the last stack, he thought his heart had skipped a beat. He was pleased to see Tara standing in front of him at the far end of the stack, but facing the other way. Walking towards her, Jack noticed she was wearing a different sweater today along with a skirt of matching color. As she started to take a step, her body dipped slightly. Her actions caused Jack to stop and look down at her legs. He noticed her right leg was bent and disfigured; also that her right shoe was built up to help compensate for the difference with her left leg. Tara took another step, again with a noticeable limp. Jack came up behind her and when she became aware she was not alone, she whirled around. Jack wasn't prepared for what happened next.
Tara's face crumbled as she moaned, "It's you ... oh no!" Tara's hands went to her face as she bent her head and she started to cry. Jack instantly stepped forward to slip his arms around her and try to comfort her. She put one of her hands on his chest, pushing him back.
"No ... please go." She cried. "You don't have to stay; you don't have to be nice to the cripple." Tara continued to sob.
As Jack swept her hands from his chest and gathered her in his arms, he was stunned by her actions. He kissed the top of her head and whispered, "Hey ... please stop crying. What's this all about?" A thought suddenly came to mind and he asked, "Is this why you wouldn't meet me away from here? You didn't want me to see you had a limp ... see your leg?"
Jack felt her nodding her head against his chest as she continued to cry. Her words were difficult to make out as she spoke against his chest. "I wanted to see you some more ... I wanted to have a few more meetings before you found out. Because you didn't know it was easy to pretend you cared about me and ... and..." her tears came once more and she could no longer speak.
Jack pulled her tightly against his chest again. So many things made sense now, why she refused to see him away from the library. In the softest and most gentle voice possible, he whispered, "Tara ... for a person of your intellect, you are kinda stupid." She stopped sobbing and looked up at him, tears still brimming in her eyes.
"Excuse me ... I have never been called stupid!" Even though her lip was quivering, Jack was pleased to see she still stood up to his insult.
"Can't you tell?" Jack asked as Tara dropped her head. "Look at me ... don't you see I care about you ... the person inside? The package is cute ... and I don't care about the limp or your leg ... to me, those are not who or what you are. Listen to me ... I have feelings for you. Do you understand?"
Her bottom lip was still quivering and she hiccupped. "I didn't want to ... I tried so hard ... I wanted to be just a friend ... I didn't want to care for you the way I do. I just knew once you found out about ... well ... you know ... you could never be interested in a cripple ... and..."
"Tara ... all right ... now I know ... can WE get the hell out of this dungeon and go someplace together?" Jack had stressed the word, 'we'.
"You still want to be seen with me?" Her voice showed her surprise and her pleasure at his request.
Jack tipped her face up and gazed into her eyes. Slowly he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her gently on the lips. His lips parted slightly and he felt her tongue tentatively slip between them. As their tongues gently touched, she whimpered softly. When he pulled away, Tara was breathing deeply and her face was flushed. "Does that answer your question?" He asked.
Tara gathered her belongings and showed Jack to the elevator which she took from floor to floor to help her gain access around the library. He carried her stuff and she held onto his other arm. They walked into the student union and sat down at a corner table. She asked for a soda and he went off to get them both one.
When he returned, Jack found one of his classmates talking to Tara. His classmate turned and asked him how he felt Jack did on the test. Jack explained how much he liked the subject and why he felt he aced it. The classmate turned to look at Tara and asked, "Why is this beautiful lady wasting her time with you?"
Tara smiled as Jack made the introductions and as the classmate left, he looked at Tara and told her, "If you ever get tired of this oaf ... give me a call. You are stunning..."
Jack smiled at her. "See ... I don't think he even noticed your ... ah..."
"Say it ... my limp. If we are ever going to go anywhere together, you need to get over..."
Jack interrupted her, "Wow ... ain't this the kettle calling the pot black?"
Tara dropped her head for a moment, when she looked back at Jack; she had a warm smile on her face. "Thanks ... I was so afraid once you knew ... once you saw me ... Jack, all of my life I have been ... well ... ashamed."
"Would you please tell me what happened?"
Tara told him about the accident when she was 12 years old and how as she was riding her bike home at dusk, and about the drunk who struck her with his car. She continued to tell him about the massive settlement the court had awarded her due to his considerable wealth and his many prior convictions for drunk driving. "I really don't have to go to school if I don't want too. There is such a vulgar amount of money just sitting making more money." She smiled at him a little and then went on to tell him at one time the doctors thought she might loose her leg and then how they were finally able to save it.
Tara continue to explain how the doctors were very sorry nothing could be done, but the leg would be shorter, even though part of it could be compensated for with a built up shoe, there would still be a limp. "I have always been so self conscious about it. I have always felt that was all people see ... not see me, just my handicap. Mama always told me I was going to be a spinster ... she said nobody wants to be with a cripple ... handicapped people like me are supposed to live alone."
Jack smiled at her and told her, "The only handicap I see is you are so good looking, I find it hard to concentrate when we talk."
Tara giggled and put her hand on Jack's arm. He placed his hand over hers and squeezed. "Thanks ... thanks for coming here with me..." As they sat talking and nursing their drinks, Jack found himself continuing to fall for this lovely lady sitting across from him ... more and more. Once he stopped mid-sentence and told her, "Do you have any idea what I think of you. I just can't believe you're sitting here with me. I can't believe how lucky I am."
Tara smiled at him and shook her head, "No ... I'm the lucky one. Look at you ... I'll even bet you were a jock all through school ... right?"
"Yeah ... but what has that got to do with anything." His face looking totally puzzled.
"I've always felt all the jocks looked down at me. In both junior and in high school I was the poor little cripple girl. Because I couldn't participate in PE class, I was teased. I didn't even start to develop," and she motioned towards her lovely breasts, "these until I was a junior in high school. I took a lot of teasing and when you told me you were a high school football coach, it just took me back to a time I have really tried to forget."
"Oh God ... I'm so sorry ... I didn't..." Tara put her finger against Jack's lips.
"Shhhh ... stop. I told you so you could understand a little more about me. I was always jealous of jocks. To me, jocks seemed to be so at ease in every situation. However, when you sat down that first day and we talked, it was like you were no longer a jock, you became a real person to me, with wants, desires, and feelings ... it was such a revelation. You hadn't seen my handicap and I was able to look beyond you being an athlete. I started to feel things about you I knew I couldn't do anything about..."
"Please ... Stop ... you are telling me you ... ah ... care about me ... that you have feelings for me? Too??"
Tara blushed and nodded. "Yes ... but I felt it was hopeless. Once you saw me standing, that would be the end. I wanted to try and keep your visits going as long as I could. Mama warned me about men and once you saw my handicap, you would either leave of use me and then leave."
"In a way ... I guess I am a bit hurt. You didn't even give me the chance to show you I might be different. But to be honest ... getting to know you as I did, all I could see was your beauty, your intellect and your cute sense of humor. I got to know you ... and your ... well, your handicap never got in my way of getting to know you. Now I don't care. It is part of you ... it is something that makes you unique ... special ... more mysterious..."
"You do know how to turn a girls head ... I never thought of my handicap as unique or special and never, ever mysterious." She laughed and Jack enjoyed the sound and the knowledge he was able to make her laugh.
"Will you let me take you to dinner?"
"Do you really want to..."
Jack interrupted, "Look, can we make a deal? If I ask you something, I mean it. I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to do whatever I am asking. So ... if I ask you to dinner ... I asked you because I want to take you. Because I ask, you may assume I want to ... now, will you let me take you to dinner?"
The way she answered almost broke his hear, "Yes Jack ... I would love to."
Jack took her to an old favorite restaurant of his. He hadn't been able to afford going there very often when he was in school, but he really liked the ambiance of the place. They were shown to a booth and Jack slid in first and asked Tara to sit next to him. He explained why he slid in first, "That way you don't have to move so far."
"You need to stop being so thoughtful ... I just might decide to keep you," She told him with a smile.
Dinner was delicious. There was a bottle of wine to go with the excellent Italian food and afterwards, they sat side by side and looked at each other. Jack leaned over and kissed her softly on the mouth. As he started to draw away, she reached behind his head and pulled him back so she could kiss him again. When they drew apart, she drew a heavy breath. "What was that for?" he asked.
"I need to tell you something ... and I don't really know how to go about it."
"How about you start at the beginning?"
"Well, I have been on very few dates. I only dated a couple of times in high school and those were a disaster. Mother was right, all they wanted was ... well you know?" Jack nodded his head. "I've had a few dates here at school too. There was a young man here I dated a couple of times ... well, no ... wait ... he was more of a boy ... anyway, we went on three dates and on the third one, he took me to his room and..." Jack could tell by the way she fidgeted this was a memory that still pained her.
"Did he rape you?"
"NO ... he told me I was lucky to be with him as most men didn't want to waste time with a cripple like me and then he started to paw me and when he tried to pull on my clothing, I was able to kick him in the ... well, you know ... down there." And she pointed to his lap.
"So ... what are you telling me here ... that you haven't' dated much? I don't care."
"No Jack ... I'm trying to tell you I'm a virgin. I've read men don't like to have to teach a woman how to ... well ... you know ... do those kinds of things."
Jack couldn't help himself as he smiled, "Well ... I haven't read any books on the subject. In addition, I'm sure there a lot of men who are much better at 'those kinds of things' as you call it than I am. If and when it comes time, just promise me you won't worry. OK?"
Tara laughed, "If and when huh? So you think there might be an 'if' or 'a when'?"
Now it was Jack's turn to blush. Tara enjoyed watching him squirm seeing how uncomfortable he was right now. She leaned close to him and whispered into his ear. "I hope some day there is an 'if or when'."
The evening sped by and soon it was time to take Tara home. As they sat in the car in front of her house, he asked her, "Where do we go from here? I want to see you again ... tomorrow?" They compared schedules and agreed to meet after their classes.
The next few days flew by as Jack and Tara had dinner with each other every evening. Jack wanted to take the relationship to a different level, but he also didn't want to frighten Tara. When she had told him about the attempted rape, she didn't seem to upset by it, but he wanted to make sure the time was right when they finally made love.
Finally, Jack decided he wanted to take Tara out to some place special. For the few days they had been together, Tara was pleased with the way Jack treated her, but she still had the doubts ... doubts planted by her parents over so many years. Tara could still hear her mother's words ringing in her ears, "Honey, remember you are handicapped. Men don't want to live with a handicapped person. Men will just take advantage of you and after they get what they want, they will leave you. To them, women like you are just to be used. Men know women like you will be desperate. Remember, men don't marry cripples." Years and years of hearing those words took their toll and Tara couldn't help but wonder when Jack was going to leave her. Desperately she wanted to believe her mother was wrong, but her mother's words kept coming back to haunt her and the years of negative programming had done their deeds to her beliefs.
Jack decided he was going to take Tara to a very special dinner. Since \the semester would be over in a couple of weeks, Jack wanted to make their relationship a bit more permanent. He dreamed of getting her to move to Bedford Falls and live with him. Jack picked a restaurant, which featured a large massive deck across the front of the place with a commanding view of the bay and the mountains in the distance. He checked to see what time sun down was and made reservations for a front table, making sure they would be seated just in time to catch the sunset.
When Jack picked her up, he was pleased with Tara's outfit. Her hair was down, the blue velvet band around her neck and a dress which showed off her cleavage to its best advantage. When she opened the door, Jack just stood and gaped at her. "What? You don't like the outfit?"
"Like? No dear ... I don't like it ... I love it! You are beautiful." Her smile warmed his heart and he leaned forward to kiss her. As they pulled apart he whispered, "And you smell divine..."
"And you look most handsome too ... and you don't smell so bad yourself." She pulled his face down and kissed him again.
When they arrived at the restaurant, the valet took his car and they entered the restaurant arm in arm. The table was perfect. There was nothing to obstruct their view of the setting sun or the passing ships in the distance. As the sun finally slipped behind the distant mountains, Tara leaned close and kissed Jack's cheek. "Do it again daddy ... that was beautiful."
"If I could make it happen ... I would do it over and over for you if that is what you wanted."
"Jack ... the past few days have been like a dream for me. I have never been so happy ... so at peace with things. For the first time in my life, I don't curse my leg or the person who did this to me. For the first time ... I don't care. You gave me that ... you have helped me ... and I adore you for it." Tara wanted to add how she didn't expect their relationship to last very long, but she kept it to herself. Her mother's words continued to dampen her hope for any kind of long-term relationship with Jack.
"I have a question to ask..." Jacks words chilled Tara's heart. She feared his next words. "I understand if you don't want to do this ... or if this is too soon ... but in a couple of weeks, the semester is ending and I will be going back to Bedford Falls." Tara looked at Jack with trepidation in he eyes. She knew the season was drawing to an end and she wondered what was going to happen to the two of them. Tara had feared Jack would leave at the end of the end of the term and she had resisted her desires to take their relationship to the next level. She was positive from what her mother had told her, eventually he was going to leave her, but she had really enjoyed the time she had shared with Jack.
Jack continued, "I have football practice I need to get started and to be honest, I should already be there working with the assistant coaches. But I need to do something about us." Tara thought to herself, "Here it comes ... the kiss-off!" Jack's next words caught her by surprise, "Tara ... will you move to Bedford Falls and live with me?"
Tara was stunned. She was convinced he was going to tell her he needed to get back to his coaching and he would call when he could ... and that would be the end. She was not ready for this. Just as she was ready to give him an answer, she heard her mother's words ringing in her head. Tara wanted to make sure she heard him correctly, "What did you just ask me?"
"Will you move to Bedford Falls and live with me?"
"Are you sure?"
"Hey ... remember what you promised ... if I ask, it means I want to do whatever I asked ... I wouldn't ask unless I wanted it to happen. Remember?"
"Jack ... I ... uh..." and at that moment, the waiter came to the table. As the waiter took their orders, Tara thought about his proposal. She knew in her heart she really would love to be with this wonderful man, but her mother had done a good job in installing fear Tara; she could not help but question how long would it last? She wondered how long it would be before he grew tired of the cripple. Even now, after living so long with her handicap, she still couldn't believe any man would want to live with her. She was sure it was just a matter of time and he would send her on her way ... he would break up with her ... and that would hurt even worse then ending it now. Again, she heard her mother's words, "Men will just use you and then dump you. No man wants to live with a cripple." By the time the waiter left, she knew what her answer would be ... what it had to be.
Jack reached out and took her hand, "Where were we ... oh yes ... will you come and live with me?"
The next words were difficult for Tara, but she knew it was best to end things now ... end things before she got hurt even more then she was feeling now. "Jack ... you are a dear ... and I do adore you. But, I think we're rushing things. I don't think it's such a great idea. Maybe, once the football season is over, you can come and visit me ... and we can see how we feel then..."
Jack had to look down at the table. He did not want her to see the sadness he was feeling. He wondered how he could have misread her so. He thought she cared for him. He lifted his face and looked at her, "Why? Why don't you want to come and live with me? I ... I ... well, I love you."
His words took her breath away. Tara was so tempted ... but there had been too many hurts, too many times she had been let down. She was not going to let him get the chance to hurt her. "No Jack ... I just don't think it's a good idea. Come see me after football is over."
Anybody watching the two of them sitting there eating dinner would wonder what was wrong with the two of them. Both of them just sat there, picking at the food before them, saying nothing to each other. When the bill arrived Jack picked it up, paid it and they walked out to his waiting car. Nothing was said between them all the way to her place. When they arrived, Jack got out of the car, walked around and opened her door, helped her out, walked her to the door and told her, "Good Night Tara." Without another word, he walked back to his car and drove away. Tara fled to her bedroom, slammed the door, threw herself on her bed and started to weep. She was positive she was doing the right thing ... she was positive it would hurt a lot less now then later when he grew tired of the cripple and broke up with her. Sobbing into her pillow, she fell asleep on the bed with her clothes still on and tear stains on her cheek.
A light pierced his eyes and Jack held up his hand to block the painful light. A gruff voice demanded, "What are you doing down here?"
Jack's brain tried to work. "I'm sorry ... I'll go..." he mumbled.
"How did you get down here?" the deep, gruff voice barked, the light still piercing into his brain.
Jack tried to remember where he was. He looked around and saw the old table in front of him. As he looked about the basement, it started to come back to him. He had slipped the back lock, just like in the old days, and had snuck down to his old hiding place with a bottle. He didn't remember much after a few drinks.
The stern voice again demanded, "How did you get down here ... and what are you doing?"
Jake mumbled, "Can you believe it ... she said no ... no ... she said no." Jack looked up at the uniformed man standing in front of him. "I asked her and she said no..." His words were slurred.
"Come on buddy ... let's go over to the station and have a little chat." Jack stood and allowed the officer to escort him between the stacks. When they were outside, the office led him to the patrol car, opened the door and helped Jack into the back seat. When they got to the station, they took Jack to the back and opened up a cell door. Pointing to a bed against the wall, the officer told him to go lie down and sleep it off.
When Jack woke up, he had a killer headache. It hurt to open his eyes and it hurt to keep his eyes closed. His hair hurt, his tongue hurt ... his whole body was in total pain ... it had been a long time since he felt this bad. Slowly he sat up and carefully put his feet on the floor. He tried to remember what happened the previous evening. As he sat there with his eyes closed, he heard somebody coming, opening and closing doors. Finally, he heard somebody stop in front of his cell. "Are you Jack Frost?"
"Let's go. Turns out the university is not going to press charges. You are free to go. However, you are supposed to report to the Dean of Men at 1:00 this afternoon. Do you agree?"
"Yes." Jack had never been so embarrassed in his whole life. What would team say if they found out what he had done ... or even worse, what would the school district say if they ever found out. He asked the desk sergeant to please call for a cab. The cab dropped him at his apartment and he let himself in. Jack went into his bedroom and lay down on the bed. As he lay there, the entire evening came back to him. Tara telling him she would not move in with him, getting the bottle of scotch, sneaking back into the library just like in the old days, then having the campus police wake him up and take him off to jail. He fell asleep for a while and when he woke, he saw there was just enough time to shower and get to campus for his meeting with the dean.
Sitting in front office, he was aware of the way the dean's secretary looked at him, total disgust written across her face. As he sat waiting to be escorted into the dean's office, Jack felt totally embarrassed. This felt just like the time he was caught back in junior high and was taken to the principal's office. That time he received several swats from the principal's paddle and then had been whipped soundly at home. Jack thought to himself at least this time he wasn't going to be whipped ... or at least he hoped not.
The secretary opened up the door to the dean's office and motioned for Jack to go in. "The dean will see you now." Her tone of her voice showed her disapproval of him.
The office was large with a big desk in the middle of the room. In all his time at the university, Jack had never even seen the Dean of Men, let alone met him in person. The man behind the large desk was small and Jack wondered if he was really that little or if it was the size of the desk which made him look so diminutive. The voice that came out of the petite man surprised Jack due to the deepness of its tone. The dean wasted no time on pleasantries, but instead came right to the point. "Mr. Frost. What were you doing in the library in the middle of the night?"
"Sir, I apologize. I ... ah ... received some bad news last night and I guess I took it hard. I realize it's not much of an excuse, but I got a bottle and snuck into the library and down to where I used to study when I was an undergraduate. I really am sorry if I caused any problem for anybody." Jack was so embarrassed, here he was in front of the dean of men and back in Bedford Falls he was a teacher, a coach and a respected member of the community.
The dean sat for a moment, considering what he wanted to say next. Finally, he asked, "Mr. Frost, aren't you a little old to be breaking into the library and getting drunk? What was the bad news that would make you do something like that?'
"Sir ... if I don't have to tell you ... I really would rather not." Jack felt so chagrinned and embarrassed.
The dean's voice took on an edge as he spoke, "Mr. Frost ... you almost have your masters degree ... are you aware I can just send you on home right now ... and all your efforts at the university are for naught? I also know you are a high school teacher, what would your school district say if they were to find out?" Jack shook his head. The dean continued in his brusque tone, "Why would you break into the library? Tell me Mr. Frost ... what was this bad news." As Jack started to explain about Tara, he found himself pouring out his heart ... telling the dean so much more then he had planned, telling the dean just how precious she was to him. Jack ended up telling the dean he now realized he was in love with Tara. "Have you told her you loved her?" The dean asked.
"Yes ... I did. I think she feels because she sees herself as handicapped, everybody else does."