He came from behind me that evening, wrapping his arms around my waist. His touch surprised me. Our faces were close, I could feel his breath against my ear; his chest against my back.
"Hi," I said with a shaky laugh.
"Is that what you would say to your attacker?"
I wanted to tell him that his arms didn't feel like an attackers. I glanced in the mirrors of the dojo studio. The rest of the students were stretching and warming up. I knew we were attracting their glances.
"I don't see you making any moves."
I passed through all the steps that would disable my attacker without really thinking about them. I mocked stepping on his foot, shifting my hips to hit his groin with my fist and then twisting around to hit the side of his head with my elbow.
"Thanks," I said and immediately blushed as he removed his arms. I ran my fingers through my bangs and tucked them in my ponytail. "I tried to practice my stuff but no one in my family wants to attack me." I laughed. "I think they're afraid."
He smiled and put his hands on his hips. "Not even your boyfriend? Is he afraid too?"
"I don't have a boyfriend," I told him. I said it as cooly as I could, but it came out in a shaky voice.
He nodded in obvious approval. I saw it, could anyone else? I didn't bother to let my gaze drift to the mirrors that surrounded the dojo. "Let me know when I can help," he commented. "It's been awhile since i've gone through the green belt attacks. . . but I'm sure it's all there."
I saw how he set himself up for a compliment. For some reason, I helped him along and finished it for him. I smiled. "Well of course it's been awhile, you're a black belt."
"Third degree," he corrected.
"Third degree," I corrected myself.