Although forewarned, John was unprepared for his first meeting with the goddess. As he opened the door to Dr. Gates’ graduate student office, he was confronted with the back of a laughing woman reaching her hand out for the doorknob. She was exchanging some joke with Lisa Burnett and she nearly bumped into him. In a flash he absorbed a tall slim body, a little white T-shirt and denim skirt, beautiful feet in gold sandals. But the most salient features tickling his consciousness were those LEGS. Long, smooth, cinnamon legs, with slight dimples on the backs of the knees.
Even as his brain registered all this, she was turning, and, as if in slow motion, he beheld an utterly angelic brown face, framed by a mane of honey-brown hair, with twinkling deep pools for eyes. Orange brown eyes.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed, as her extended hand punched him somewhere between his chest and his solar plexus. Her arm recoiled, whip-like. “Sorry!” she smiled.
And then it seemed to John that her whole being changed. Her smiling face was replaced by a polite expression. And the twinkling eyes became shuttered.
He heard Lisa say, “Hi John, have you met Maddie?”
“No, I haven’t. How are you? I’m John Pitts.”
The goddess replied “Hi, I’m Maddie Hawkins. Pleased to meet you.” But the expression was still guarded, and those beautiful brown eyes were still shuttered. He wanted to make them smile again.
He forced his eyes to focus on Lisa, “Hey, Lisa, I’ve missed two weeks of Dr. Anderson’s Plant Genetics class. Any chance I could take a peek at your notes, hon?”
“Sure John, you can look at my scribbles. But Maddie’s are much better, I guarantee it. Why don’t you borrow hers?”
He looked at the creature. She had a look that said, “I know what’s expected of me.”
“You’re welcome to have them,” she shrugged.
“You sure you don’t mind?”
“Yes—I mean, no!” she corrected.
He smiled. “Thanks, I’ll stop by later, then.”
The girls proceeded out the door. Lisa’s head poked back in before she closed it. “You can shut your mouth now, John,” she whispered.
Had he been that obvious? Had she taken a dislike of him because he’d been foaming at the mouth?
But, goodness, he had reason. She was the most exquisite woman he’d ever set eyes on. While she smiled, the whole room had seemed lit up. And when that smile had vanished, he’d felt like a little boy who had dropped his ice cream on the pavement. After just one lick.
As she walked down the hall with Lisa, Maddie fought, with some irritation, to cool the fire in her cheeks. When she’d bumped into the tall frame, she felt as if she’d been stung. His tanned face and gold brown hair spoke of California beach volleyball, and his smooth voice resonated somewhere deep in her core. Blue eyes, intense, magnetic, mischievous. God! Her face had become hot. She felt a fascination against her will, an involuntary physical attraction. She had dropped her eyes and retreated behind a mask of politeness.
Now she rebelled. No man was going to make her lower her eyes. Have some pride girl! You can control your mind, can’t you?
Besides, she wasn’t supposed to be looking at men that way anyway.
“Who’s he working for?” she asked the small woman who over the last months had become a close friend. She and Lisa had hit it off the first day they’d met, despite the fact that she was only a Master’s student and Maddie was starting her Ph.D.
“He’s Dr. Pinkerton’s graduate student,” she said. “Actually, he practically runs his project. Dr. Pinkerton doesn’t keep a field technician like other professors, so his graduate students have to take on those responsibilities. John ends up doing most of it.”
“How come he called you honey?” Maddie asked.
“Oh that,” Lisa shrugged. “John’s like a big brother to me. When I was in my undergrad I worked for Dr. Pinkerton, watering plants, scrubbing down the greenhouse, washing glassware in the lab. John taught me the ropes.”
“Oh.” Maddie wasn’t sure why she’d wanted to know. Maybe the term “hon” had just sounded politically incorrect. But it appeared to be based on affection between friends.
She was still getting to know Lisa’s mannerisms. It seemed she was going to share something further about the guy and then her brown eyes sparkled and she jumped to another subject. It was almost as if she did it on purpose to distract Maddie.
“So how about those Badgers, huh? You going to the game on Saturday?”
“Me?” Maddie looked up in horror. “You wouldn’t catch me at one of those things if my life depended on it!”
“C’mon. You ought to try it. It’s one hell of a shindig. Everybody goes insane for the team. The beer, the brats.”
“Yeah, with guys puking all over the stands, yelling obscenities at the top of their lungs.”
“Hey. I’ll have you know it’s not just the guys who puke. We women can do a pretty good job of that too.”
Maddie did a double take. Was Lisa kidding or was she proud of that?
“When people drink, they forget all their inhibitions—” Maddie started.
“And their stress. It’s good to cut loose once in a while.”
“That might well be true. But not like that. People do all sorts of stupid, even dangerous things when they’re in that state. At MSU they used to grab girls and pass them up in the stands like a sack of potatoes.”
“Yeah. They do that here too. One time they passed a girl clear over the bleachers.”
“What?” Maddie stopped.
Lisa kind of lifted up her shoulders. “Hey, that’s what I heard. I wasn’t around when it happened. People probably exaggerate.”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t sound like something I want to be around for. You really dig football that much?”
“Oh, it’s Ernie,” she explained, referring to her boyfriend. “He loves to go. Comes down from Stevens Point just to see the Badgers lose. He paints his face red, sometimes his whole chest even. He’s crazy. I think since he didn’t go to school here, he went to UW-Stevens Point, he’s like, you know, obsessed. Badger mania.”
Somehow, the picture Maddie was getting of Ernie wasn’t very congruent with the woman standing in front of her. “So what’s he studying?”
“Oh, Ernie’s graduated already. He drives a pizza truck.”
I’LL POST SOME MORE OF “THE HARVEST OF REASON” TOMORROW. IF YOU CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN YOU CAN GO TO THE “BUY IT HERE” TAB ABOVE.
I’m really interested in your comments. So talk to me.
DISCUSSION QUESTION 3 Does “chemistry at first site” limit itself to same race people?
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