Bianca hurriedly made her way to the Pages’ two-story house. Her long brown hair flew behind her as she practically ran all eight blocks to her destination. She thanked her lucky stars she didn’t have any classes for the afternoon. Her English teacher, Ms. Greene, had cancelled at the last minute as she was nursing a cold and feeling under the weather. Not that Bianca was glad Ms. Greene had the cold, of course. Ms. Greene happened to be Bianca’s favorite teacher. English was Bianca’s only class every Friday afternoon, and having no English class meant she didn’t have to bring her backpack with her in her babysitting job. Bianca, sweating and breathing heavily, having no backpack with her meant she could make it to the Pages more quickly.
“Hurry up, Bianca, hurry up,” Bianca told herself as she rounded the next corner and almost sprinted the last block to the Pages. She had been babysitting Jana Pages for more than two months now. The babysitting job was something Bianca thanked for every night. She was grateful to have found a job that not only had the most amazing people around but also paid very well. No surprise, considering Jack and Erin Pages, Kathleen’s parents, owned a string of businesses all over the state, with several branches starting to operate in other states as well. Successful as they may be, the Pages were one of the most humble and down-to-earth people Bianca knew. The family invited her to events and parties, and Bianca always had a great time in them.
The Pages had another child, specifically a son. His name was Ben Pages. Like Bianca, he was also in college, although they attended different schools. With Ben away for college, Bianca never got to see the boy in person. She knew what he looked like from pictures though. Bianca had to admit Ben Pages looked, well, quite good. From what she saw, Ben was tall, although not as tall as Mr. Pages who towered at six feet and four inches. Ben had a shock of jet-black hair, something he got from his father and which offered a stunning contradiction to his crystal-clear blue eyes, a feature he got from his mother this time. His complexion was clear, and his teeth were perfect. Ben Pages looked ready to break hearts, and Bianca didn’t doubt Ben had already broken several hearts.
Bianca shook her head to clear it. She couldn’t believe she was thinking of Ben Pages while she was running late for her babysitting stint. What on earth was she thinking? Besides, Ben was technically employer. Bianca had made it a personal rule to never get any strings tangled with her employers. She had been successful in staying true to her goal so far, and she was determined to keep it that way for as long as she lived.
She finally made it to the Pages. She stood on the porch for a minute, taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She ran her fingers through her hair, which had become a sticky mess. She adjusted her clothes, ran her fingers through her hair again, and took another deep breath. She was ready. It wouldn’t do to look sloppy in front of the Pages. Sure, they were far from snooty, but Bianca wanted to continue making an excellent impression on them. She really liked the family, so successful yet still so humble, and she wanted to let them know how much she valued her job by looking neat and sharp.
Bianca rang the bell. Two seconds later, the front door swung open. Bianca looked up and found herself staring at the most crystal-clear blue eyes she had ever seen.
It was Ben Pages.
Bianca’s eyes bulged out. Ben Pages? What was he doing here? Her thoughts took a frantic turn, and she started to sweat again. Wasn’t Ben away to college? It was still months before summer break, or any kind of break, for that matter. Bianca hadn’t known Ben would be home. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Pages hadn’t said anything to her about it. Neither had Kathleen, and she was very close to her much-older brother.
Get a grip, Bianca told herself. She forced a huge smile on her lips and opened her eyes a bit wider to make herself look more friendly and open. “Hi!” she chirped. “I’m Bianca Bates, the babysitter.” She paused, not sure with what to say next.
The man behind the door, Ben Pages, nodded. Bianca couldn’t stop herself from looking at him. He was even more gorgeous in the flesh than in the photos. Oh, he was so tall! And he had broad, broad shoulders that looked like the whole earth could rest on them. Bianca figured Ben must be some sports hero in the college he was attending. With a build such as his, how could he not be a football player? Ben’s white shirt clung snugly to his body, subtly showing off his firm, muscular figure. For Bianca, his chest looked like it was made of rocks. He screamed of muscles everywhere. Heck, even his arms reeked of pure muscle!
There was a moment of silence before Ben spoke up. “I’m Ben Pages,” he said. “Of course we haven’t met, me being off to college and stuff.” He opened the door wider and motioned for Bianca to enter. “Come on in.”
Bianca smiled and stepped inside the house, making for the living room, where she usually waited for Kathleen. As she walked past Ben, Bianca suddenly felt something brush across her buttocks.
She paused slightly. What on earth was that? It felt solid and firm yet light and fluttery. The sensation made her think of caresses, butterflies, and fingers. Fingers, Bianca realized. So it was a hand. But whose hand? There was no one else in the room with her, except for—
Bianca’s eyes grew wide. Did Ben Pages just run his hand across his buttocks? Impossible! Why would he do such a thing? But Bianca was positive she wasn’t imagining things. A hand had brushed across her behind, and that didn’t feel like an accident at all.
She turned and glanced at Ben, her brows furrowed. Ben stared back, but his face didn’t betray even an inch of emotion. Bianca figured it would look crazy if she hurled accusations at someone she had just met, so she decided to let it pass. For now.
Bianca went over to the large couch and sat down. Sitting primly, she was glad she had decided to wear jeans to school today. The thick cloth helped shield her butt from the hand-brushing thing. Also, she need not worry about having Ben accidentally look up her skirt or dress had she worn these instead.
I’m getting paranoid, Bianca realized. Stop it, Bianca.
Ben shut the door and went over to the couch as well, sitting right beside her. She stiffened instinctively. God, how she hated it when boys sat too close to her! She wasn’t a prude or anything, or so she liked to believe. But she didn’t like it when anybody, particularly members of the opposite sex, sat too close to her. It was too stifling. She felt she was being smothered.
Bianca couldn’t stand it anymore. She discreetly moved a few inches away. “Where’s Kathleen?” she asked Ben, hoping her question would distract him from noticing she had moved a few inches away.
“She’s at the next-door neighbor’s,” Ben answered. He was fiddling with the remote control. Bianca saw this and was relieved.
“Oh,” she answered. “Playing with Bess, I assume.” Bess was the next-door neighbor’s daughter, and she was the same age as Kathleen. Mrs. Pages had told Bianca the two often played together.
Ben nodded, his eyes on the TV screen. A movie was on, but Bianca didn’t know what it was about. “I guess,” he said after a moment. “I suppose you know you can just hang around here if Kat’s out?” He turned to look at Bianca quizzically.
“Yes, your mother told me it was okay to do so,” Bianca responded. “Hey, I think I’m going to fix a snack for Kat, in case she gets hungry when she comes home.” She started to get up from the couch, and that was when she felt a hand clamp tightly on her wrist.