Kat drove the route to the university on autopilot. She was only vaguely focussing on the road and the other traffic. Her mind was not clear right now. So many confusing thought crowded her brain. Try as she might she could not keep the image of Mario out of her mind. Her heart pulsed a little quicker the more she thought of him and with a start she realised her hands were clammy on the steering wheel.
“What is wrong with me?” she thought to her self.
She tried to focus on the road ahead of her but instead of clearing her mind she found that she was wondering if Mario was a good driver.
“Stop it now” she actually spoke out loud this time. “I will not fall in love. I do not need a boyfriend. I am going to finish my degree.” She intoned this mantra for the next few kilometres before she had to focus on getting through an intersection and once again thoughts of Mario spilled unbidden into her mind.
”This is ridiculous,” she told herself.
Finally pulling into the crowded student carpark she forgot about Mario as she located a park and reversed her car into it.
Kat was a good driver. Her father had ensured that she had had competent lessons and then before he helped her purchase her car he had arranged a series of advanced driving courses for her. Chris had been promised the same deal, but as he was refusing to cooperate and had not studied for his driving test, there were no driving lessons and no car. Chris appeared not to care, but Kat thought that secretly he might have been upset at the lack of independence that having a car would solve. On the surface his defiance of his parents was not rocked by the threat of losing the chance to be given a car, but Kat could see that that he envied her ability to come and go as she pleased. Sure he did the same, but it was on foot or skateboard with his mates, none of whom had cars.
Kat locked the car and headed to the lab where the tutorial was to be held. On the way she stopped at the small kiosk and purchased a packet of chewing gum. She didn’t usually eat the stuff but she reasoned to her self that she wanted to have fresh breath for Mario.
“Arrghh! There I go again,” she cried.
Arriving at the lab building Kat used her access card to gain entry and went to her lab slowly. She hoped Mario wasn’t there and at the same time she hoped he was. She was confused. Opening the door she peered nervously in and then came all the way in as she saw her friend Robin. Mario wasn’t in evidence and she was able to make small chat with Robin while they started getting ready for the experiment they were going to run today. Kat was studying human sciences and this experiment was to develop a test that they could run on campus to gauge reactions to hypothetical disaster scenarios. Today’s session was about designing the audio visual presentation that they could use in a sealed booth while the participant was wired to various physical receptors designed to assess his or her level of stress as a result of being required to make choices between two bad scenarios.
Kat and Robin continued to chat for the few minutes it took the rest of the class to dribble in. Robin’s partner arrived and they headed off to the audiovisual equipment to continue editing the sound score they were going to use. Kat and Mario had been assigned to the job of locating the receptors on the participant for the best possible analysis of physical responses to the scenarios and decisions. As she watched Robin head off a voice behind her with a cultured accent spoke.
“Good morning Princess Katarina.”
She spun around awkwardly, losing her balance as she turned too quickly and saw Mario standing there. He reached out a hand to steady her and the touch of his hand on her skin sent electric shocks charging through her. Already embarrassed at being caught unawares by the honey tongued Italian, she felt a crimson blush rush through her fair ski toward her face, and his brief touch ignited that into full fledged embarrassment. Knowing that she was giving away her emotions so openly only served to further embarrass the girl. Jerking her arm away she brusquely replied in a haughty tone.
“Morning. Shall we get started then?”
Mario looked amused and a mocking grin swept over his classic Italian features. He emulated her haughtiness by lifting his chin a little and peering down his long roman nose.
“Your wish is my command Princess Katarina.”
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” She responded. The more she reacted to him the more annoyed with herself she got. She knew that this was his intention and she felt flustered to be the centre of his attention.
The remainder of the session was a blur. Mario’s constant touch as they attached, disconnected and reattached the sensors to each other and recorded the signal level strengths kept her body on fire and her brain was overwhelmed with the physical input. They finished recording the last set of data and put the equipment away in silence. All through the work Mario had kept the conversation to the barest minimum, but the looks he gave her were ravishing. She knew that he was watching her from under his long black eyelashes as she worked. This flustered her so much that her focussing on neat writing became her mechanism for controlling the emotions coursing through her.
Finally the session was over and she was able to say goodbye to Mario and rejoin Robin and 2 other girls Kim and Lara. The 3 girls immediately crowded around her and their voices dropped to conspiratorial whispers.
“Did he ask you out?”
“I saw you touching him, what does his skin feel like?”
“I would love to get my hands on him, you lucky girl”
Kat dismissed the questions with a wave of her hand and tried to pass it off,
“Oh it’s nothing much, I don’t really like him you know.”
The other girls were having none of that.
“Come on lets go get some lunch and you can tell us all.”
The 4 of them shouldered their bags and headed off to the cafeteria. Kat felt as if she was heading for the inquisition as her previous endorphin overload from being around Mario faded away.
As they walked Robin nudged Kat and they fell behind the others a pace or two.
“We still going to the beach today?” she asked quietly so the other two girls wouldn’t hear.
Robin didn’t have a car but she did have a boyfriend. He was a lifeguard at the local beach. She wanted to go so she could see him. Kat didn’t mind taking her because they got the use of the surf club facilities and that included an air-conditioned bar.
“Sure” she said, and lifted her t-shirt to show her bikini to her friend, “I am already dressed for it.”
Wolf whistles from two passing lads made her blush with embarrassment as she quickly dropped the t-shirt back down and ignored them.
Robin laughed and as they turned into the cafeteria entrance the other two girls, Kim and Lara, who had turned round at the sound of the whistles, said in unison, “Mario will be jealous” and all 4 girls burst out laughing!
Kat felt she was finally relaxing after the stressful morning of keeping her emotions in check.