I was done with eating my breakfast when the instructor finally finished warming up with Vance andhe stepped to face Douglas on the mat. Suddenly, Iwished I hadn’t eaten at all as a case of the nervousbutterflies attacked my stomach.
Vance dropped his protective mask into place, lifted his foil and waited. Douglas stepped forward andbegan the attack, thrusting in a forward motion. Vancemoved backward in reaction, parrying against Douglas’sfoil at the appropriate times.
I found myself biting at my lower lip, and I could hear Fiona chuckle lightly beside me when Douglascontinued to force Vance farther backward down thelong mat. I began to wonder if Vance was toooverwhelmed to even remember what he was supposedto do. Suddenly Vance lunged forward, catchingDouglas off guard, landing the tip of his foil squarelyagainst Douglas’s chest, registering a point.
Douglas lifted his mask and looked down at his chest in complete shock, and I couldn’t help the grinthat spread across my face as I watched.
“Point to Mr. Mangum,” the instructor called out.
The two men walked back to the center of the mat and began once again. It soon became clear Vance wasallowing Douglas to beat him back while he studied hismoves when he landed another point in similar fashion.
Douglas didn’t remove his mask this time, but Icould tell he was not very happy by the way he strodeback to the center of the mat, abruptly lifting his foil as hewaited for Vance to join him.
This time, however, Vance was the one who attacked, and he successfully forced Douglas backward. Theirweapons clashed loudly together, sending the sound ofclinking metal throughout the room.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Fiona said, her eyes dancing as she watched with her hands clasped in delight.
“The boy is a natural.”
It was clear Vance’s extreme speed was giving him a definite advantage. Douglas fought desperately to keep upwith him, and in the end they both thrust at the same time,landing equal blows on each other’s chests.
They lifted their helmets, laughing together, and the instructor said it appeared that Douglas landed the pointfirst, barely.
Douglas clapped Vance on the back before pulling his mask off his sweat-drenched head. Vance followed suit, andthe two of them made their way over to the table while theinstructor gathered up the weapons.
“What do you think of our grandson this morning?”Douglas asked Fiona as he sat down at the table. Vancecame to kiss me on the cheek before he sat down as well.
“I think you’d better be careful or you may find yourself run through,” she replied with a laugh. “I’ve never seenanything like it.”
“Me either,” Douglas replied. “I was really sweating it out there!”
“So I can see,” Fiona replied wryly as she waved herhand back and forth in front of her face lightly, scrunchingher nose up slightly. “You’re a mess!”
“Blame it all on this one,” Douglas replied, reachingover to squeeze Vance’s shoulder.
Vance was beaming, thoroughly enjoying himself.
“You’re giving me too much credit,” he replied modestly with a slight shake of his head. “I’m just as sweaty asyou are, and you landed the last point.”
“True, but there were three points, remember? That means you’re the currently the victor,” Douglasreplied. “Now let’s enjoy some breakfast with ourlovely company, and then we’ll hit the mat again.”
“That sounds like a good plan,” Vance agreed with a grin, and he reached to fill his plate.
I watched him as he moved, thinking he looked like a gorgeous mess with his flushed face and sweaty hair,clothed in the white garment. If he worked out like thisevery day, he would certainly have me as a captiveaudience for every minute of it. My eyes practicallydevoured every inch of him.
“Portia,” his voice suddenly penetrated into the thoughts in my head. “You’ve got to quit staring at melike that. You’re making my grandmother blush.”
My eyes quickly flickered over toward Fiona who was indeed watching me with avid interest, and Iquickly cast my gaze down into my lap, feeling the flushcreep into my own skin.
Vance chuckled out loud at this, and I kicked him under the table, mortified at his reaction. He leanedover and kissed my cheek once more.
“Don’t worry, baby,” he whispered into my ear.
“It’s all good.” He winked as he pulled away from me, and I could tell he was totally enjoying my reaction tohim … again.