Imagine Clint’s an award winning architect/period property renovations expert who has everything, except his GED & someone to share his life; Phil is a well-renowned history professor who volunteers his time at the local community college, and happens to be single. When Clint decides to get his certificate and finds Phil is teaching his course he really hopes he’ll get both.
“Excuse me, but that’s wrong.” a slightly gruff voice from the back of the room spoke up interrupting the lecture.
“What do you mean ‘it’s wrong’?” the guest lecturer barked.
“Well, that’s not an Antebellum home.” The man in the back of the room sat up a little straighter, obviously ready to argue his point.
Phil, the usual history teacher for the college’s GED program looked up recognizing the voice of the man as Barton, not that Phil could pick his voice out of a crowd of people. He didn’t sit on the edge of his desk every class hoping to hear that gruff bark like sandpaper that rubbed him in all the right places, that would be unprofessional. Barton was usually quiet in class, much to Phil’s disappointment. Getting good grades, but not really participating. He was in his early 40’s and Phil had wondered why it had taken the construction worker so long to get his GED. Phil assumed he’d been passed over for a promotion one too many times, prompting him finally.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” John Garrett’s voice went from an attempt at culture to a downright menacing. “Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina is the epitome of an Antebellum estate.”
“You’re right,” Barton replied.
Garrett blinked his eyes in surprise at the easy capitulation. “Damn right I’m right,” he said, turning his back to Barton to continue his lecture.
“The estate is Antebellum, but the house isn’t. It’s a Colonial Revival,” Clint replied. Phil could detect the humor in his voice as he baited Garrett.
And it worked. Garrett swiveled angrily. “What the hell would you know? You’re just some ignorant hick who doesn’t even have his GED yet. Do you know who I am? I’ve got three degrees in history and architecture and my firm is consistently one of the finalists in the American Institute of Architects gold medal awards and have been up for the Restoration Industry Association Phoenix award twice in the past five years.”
Phil stood sharply. “John!” Absolutely mortified at how is associate just treated not just Barton, but a whole room full of people trying hard to better themselves.
Before he could say anything, Clint just chuckled and nodded. “I know who you are, besides the fact that you did all that bragging when you introduced yourself. Still doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got your slides mislabeled. The original house was rebuilt in 1936 in the Colonial Revival design.”
Garrett was red in the face as he blustered, “How could you possible know that?”
“Um… Professor Coulson?” another voice in the classroom spoke up.
Phil, glad to try and take back the class from Garrett. “Yes Miss Monroe?”
“Clint’s right. I just did a quick Google search and came up with the same answer; Colonial Restoration.”
Phil turned to Garrett with a smile, hoping to defuse the volatile man. “See, just a mislabeling. Clint works construction so he’s probably read up on restoration.” Phil turned his eyes to Clint for confirmation.
Clint smiled back at Phil and wow were those eyes gorgeous. “Yeah, you could say that.”
Phil nodded and stammered a bit under Clint’s full smile. “Good, uh, good. See John.” Phil’s tone became pleading, hoping that this wouldn’t become more out of hand.
But Garrett wasn’t having any of it. “Well if he’s so smart, why doesn’t he teach the rest of the class? I’m leaving.” John threw his things back into his briefcase and tried to storm out of the classroom.
“Wait! There’s more!” exclaimed Oro Monroe from behind her laptop screen. “It says here that Boone Hall is about to undergo restoration of their Gin Mill which had been set up as a restaurant and guest house in the 50’s, but was badly damaged in Hurricane Hugo.”
“I know that!” John shouted. “My firm was up for the project, but we got underbid again by that damned crook of a woman at Hawkeye Restoration. Everybody knows she’s got some sort of Russian mafia ties.”
Phil heard a distinct growl coming from Clint and was bewildered by his reaction.
Oro looked puzzled. “But it says here that Hawkeye Restoration is owned by Clinton F. Barton. Isn’t that you Clint?”
The entire room swiveled to Clint, who was slightly flushed with embarrassment now and Phil couldn’t help but find the man even more attractive.
Clint scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. “Yeah, Clinton… that name didn’t do me any favors at the orphanage.”
Garrett looked like he was going to explode. “That’s impossible! That Russian owns it! She may be a crook, but she’s got the degrees to back up the business. Not some idiot without an education.”
“Enough!” Phil didn’t shout, but he’d used his best angry ‘Professor’ tone and even John settled down. “That’s twice you disparaged not only Clint but every one of my students with remarks like that. No matter what their circumstances that caused them not to graduate high school or those who are foreign students like Miss Monroe, they are here now and they are intelligent people who will get their GEDs and go on to bigger and better things. Evidently even outbidding you.”
Clint’s mouth was hanging open from when he’d started to rebuke the idiot Garrett and it stayed open in shock as the quiet, sexy history professor jumped to his and the other’s defense. Clint had sat in the back of the class because he’d been afraid after the first five minutes of meeting Professor Coulson that he’d see the raging erection he carried every time they met.
Phil flushed, embarrassed by his outburst. “It’s true. But if you’re the owner of such a prestigious firm, why are you here?”
Clint shrugged. “Started working construction when I was 16. Well, really it was an apprenticeship with a master woodworker, but I learned everything from the studs up. The orphanage didn’t really notice when I stopped going to classes. From there, I just worked hard. When I was in my late twenties, I bought the business out from the master craftsman. My friend Natasha,” Clint glared at Garrett, “who has a business degree from Wharton and was tired of making money for other people came in with me and she handled all the contracts and bids. She’s smart and well put together. Better her be the face of the company than me.” Clint looked straight at Phil. “I just work well with my hands.”
Phil had to swallow hard. “I bet you do.”
“Well now that I know all the details, I’ll be sure to discredit you in the community. Trying to pull a fast one on the rest of us who went to school.” John tried to loom over Clint as he sat in his chair.
Clint just smiled. “You’re just sore I won those awards that you didn’t get.”
“Illegally! You cheated.”
“Don’t say anywhere that I have to have a degree, just our architect and he does. Sam’s got two or three of them. He draws up the plans and I execute them. Natasha handles the front end and everybody is happy. Sides’ least I know what the difference between Antebellum and Colonial Restoration is. Even if I am uneducated.” Clint smirked at John.
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyers,” John growled as he stormed out of the lecture hall.
Clint shrugged and turned his attention to Phil.
Phil blinked a few times, still trying to process everything. “Well class, that seems to leave us without a lecturer.”
“What about Clint?” Oro suggested.
Phil turned to Clint, “How about it, Mr. Barton? Can a small time college manage a speaking fee from the owner of one of the country’s best restoration firms?”
Clint smiled and made his way to the front of the class, pausing to whisper in Phil’s ear, “On one condition, my speaking fee is getting to take you out to dinner.”
Phil blushed slightly, his glasses slipping down his nose as he turned to quietly answer, “I think I can afford that. In fact, I’m really looking forward to seeing how well you work with your hands.”