Once upon a time there was a girl named Eva who was told she needed to learn CPR.

She went to a place where volunteers who had real-world experience - firemen, EMTs, police, soldiers - would teach seminars on such as a public service, and enrolled in one of the classes. It was a daytime class, so there were only three students, including Eva. One was a pimply teenager who proudly declared that he was the manager of a local Mister Fries burger joint, and that this was the final step in his management certification. The other was a butch, elderly nurse at an assisted-living center not too far away. She eyed Eva's cute tight-fitting sweater with distaste and grunted disapprovingly.

The instructor, however. He was young - maybe twenty, twenty-two - and very, very handsome. Eva could not stop sneaking glances at him, even though she was supposed to be making sure she had all the class materials ready before the seminar began. When he introduced himself, saying that he was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that what they learned here could save a life, he had Eva's rapt attention. Not that she heard much of anything he said. No - but every movement of his lips, she saw, and every gesture, and every expression, and every time he wrote something on the chalkboard...

He explained how to administer CPR in straightforward terms, pointing out the steps on a big laminated poster on the wall. The nurse seemed to be falling asleep. The pimply burger-manager took diligent notes and kept asking stupid questions, which the lieutenant answered patiently. He tried to wake up the nurse by asking her a question, but she was dead asleep. Eva answered for her.

"That's right," said the young man, smiling. "At least someone is paying attention!"

Eva smiled back as winningly as her face could manage without bursting into flame.

There was a short break scheduled before they were to practice with the plastic CPR dummy that slouched grouchily at the back of the room. While the other two wandered out into the hall, Eva walked over to the instructor. "Have you taught many of these classes?" she asked sweetly, hoping to initiate some small talk and maybe find out more about the man. He looked a little sheepish.

"Actually, this is my first time. ...Usually I do my community service in more active ways, like trail maintenance and stuff, but this time I was late for the pick, so I, uh, kind of got stuck with this."

Eva laughed. "Yeah, I can see how you might prefer being outside planting trees to teaching old ladies and burger clerks to give the Heimlich maneuver."

She wanted to ask more. Like, "Have you seen combat yet?" "What do you do in the Corps? I've always been fascinated by engineering..." "Do you have a girlfriend?" ...That sort of thing. She was purposely sitting quite near to him, resting on a table and fooling with a strand of hair. He wasn't wearing a ring... She was about to say something else when the squeak of the door hinges warned her that the other students had returned. Dang, she thought.

"Okay, you guys, we're going to break off into pairs," the instructor announced, seeing the other students settle into their seats. ...And, Eva noted unhappily, walking away from her. She could see the old nurse frowning at her.

"There's an odd number of us," Eva spoke up, thinking quickly. "Who am I going to work with?" The old woman's frown morphed into a scowl.

The lieutenant looked surprised. "Oh... yeah. Ah... Well, I guess you can work with me."

The nurse's scowl scrunched up into a glower. Eva smiled smugly back.

After an awkward, uncertain moment the teacher went and brought the CPR dummy to the front of the room. He seemed a bit flustered; evidently the odd number of students had messed up his lesson plan, or at least provided enough of a wrinkle to jar his professorial confidence. Or, thought Eva slyly, maybe it's something else... She could only hope so. ...One way to find out, she thought.

The young instructor went away and came back, looking regretful, and said, "So, it turns out there's only one dummy available... so we'll all just have to share. I'll show you guys what to do first; then you take turns trying to do it yourself, okay?" The Mister Fries manager nodded emphatically. Eva smiled to herself. She kept catching the lieutenant glancing at her. His composure had gone the way of the morning's free coffee. More and more he was seeming like an amateur trying to teach, rather than an authority on the subject whose word was gospel truth. She surreptitiously inched her skirt's hem up her knee.

He put the dummy on its back on the ground and explained about chest compressions, about forming a good seal around the victim's mouth and checking to make sure the airway was clear. He made sure they all had their breathing shields so as to prevent the spread of disease. His back was to the table on which Eva sat, and the pimply teenager was front and center, taking notes on everything he said. The teacher was getting his confidence back, and it showed. He was sitting up straighter, speaking with more authority; the nurse was even half-listening.

"Okay, who wants to try first?"

The burger clerk volunteered. The young man counted off the steps while the boy performed them, timing the compressions for him and correcting when the boy did something wrong. Then he had the burger clerk do it again without any verbal cues. The kid did surprisingly well. Apparently his note-taking had paid off.

Eva let the nurse take the next try. For all her attitude, the nurse did passably well, though she had to be corrected more often than the kid. At one point when the instructor corrected her, the nurse said grumpily, "Well, that's how I was taught before."

"That may be so, but medical science evolves and techniques change. This way is safer. Try again."

Eva stifled a snicker. Serves her right, the judgemental old bat, she thought.

"Okay, now it's your turn," said the instructor.

Eva hopped delicately down off the table, then proceeded to flawlessly follow his instructions. She could see that he was pleased. "Excellent job, you guys," he said when she had finished, though he was smiling at Eva when he said it.

The remainder of the day proceeded like this. They practiced the Heimlich on the dummy, listened to some more lecture, and took a short test to prove they had learned the material. He signed their tests and told the students to give them to the receptionist before they left, and she would give them their CPR certification cards. "Thanks for listening, everyone. Go out and save a life!" Corniest line ever, Eva thought, unable to keep back a tiny giggle.

She lingered, pretending to be packing her bag, while the others gathered up their stuff and left. She watched as the lieutenant carefully restored the dummy to its box and the box to a closet behind the chalkboard. Once he had put away all the course materials and erased the board, he seemed surprised to see Eva still there. "Hi," he said. "Did you have a question?"

She moved closer, leaving her bag on the table by the door. "Yeah. I was wondering if you could show me how to do the Heimlich maneuver again?"

"Well, you did it perfectly during the class," he stared to say, but she interrupted.

"I just want to be sure I have it down. Just in case I need to, y'know, save a life." She grinned, and he laughed and rolled his eyes.

"It wasn't my line," he said. "I got it out of the handbook. I couldn't think of a better way to end the class." Again he looked sheepish.

Eva's smile brightened. "I think you did wonderfully. It was a great class. You should teach more often."

"Oh, jeez, no," he said. "I suck at teaching. I just can't get interested in it. I know you don't want to hurt my feelings, but don't worry about it, because I really just wanted to get the class over with."

Eva made a face of mock hurt. "Really? There was nothing in the class you liked?"

"I didn't mean it that way," he said, looking a bit bashful now.

"I know you didn't," she said, and for an instant her eyes flashed sultry, momentarily predatory. He seemed to notice and looked unsure of what to say next. She'd thrown him off. Exactly her intention.

"Will you walk me out to my car?" she asked. "It's kind of a seedy neighborhood..."

"Sure, sure," he said. Hastily he picked up a very professional-looked briefcase with a monogrammed lock. "Don't forget to get you CPR card." He clicked off the lights, made sure the door was locked before he closed it. Eva could see he was looking suddenly a little flushed. He was a tiny bit shorter than her, but that shouldn't be a problem, she had decided during the class. Her efforts were having the desired effects; if the rest of her plan went as well, six hours from now they could very well be having sex in her humble apartment. Fingers crossed.

She examined him out the corner of her eye as they walked down the hall. Hmm. Six hours. Could she really wait that long...?

"So what do you do?"

"Hmm?" His question caught her off guard.

He glanced at her without slowing. "What do you do for a living? The other two said why they were taking the course; you didn't. Where do you work?"

She stared at him for a moment, smiling blankly like a Stepford wife. Of course she couldn't tell him what she really did. "I work for the government," she said. This was not a lie.

"Oh, really? Doing what?"

"Public health." This was most definitely a lie.

"Ah."

"How about you? Corps of Engineers? Do you build bridges?"

He shrugged. "Sometimes. We do all kinds of things. I'm not a civil engineer, actually - I'm a chemical and materials engineer. It can get... complex. I'm more on the research side of things, anyhow."

"I see." She'd known the answer before she asked the question, but she acted otherwise. They passed the front desk, and he reminded her again to turn in her certification form. He waited patiently by the door while Eva gave the receptionist a mailing address for the card to be sent to when it came in.

"Do you have any hobbies?" Eva asked, intentionally slowing her walk once they were outside. It was cloudy, but fortunately not raining.

"Oh, sure. Lots of outdoorsy-type things. I go hiking just about every weekend, I go mountain biking, I do downhill and nordic skiing, I snowboard, I ride horses..."

"Horses?" she said, looking intrigued. "Really? That's unusual. Have you been doing it for long?"

"Almost my whole life," he said. "I grew up in Montana; we had horses, dogs, chickens, goats, cows, everything. Dad was the local vet, so we-" He laughed suddenly. "Listen to me, talking your ear off about nonsense like a silly teenager. Sorry. I tend to get excited about animals. It's in my blood, I guess."

She grinned as genuinely as she could muster, which she knew from experience would fool any man and most women. "Oh, I can't blame you at all. I love animals. I grew up in the city, so I was limited to a turtle, a cockatiel and a bunch of goldfish. I used to dream about having a horse of my own..." She glanced at him, appearing suddenly excited. "You don't still have a horse, do you?"

"Not all mine, no. I lease a horse for a few hours every week at a boarding stable near Chelsea. I don't have the time or money to actually own," he added, clearly a little regretful about this.

"Well, maybe someday you'll- Oh! This is my car!" She paused awkwardly near the vehicle, a gold 1981 Ford Mustang, as though surprised at their having reached it so soon. "Well, um... thank you for walking me here..." She fingered the hair at the back of her head, glancing over at him shyly. "Um... are you doing anything tonight? You wanna go get a drink or something?"

She gave him the girlish innocence face with the smouldering sexpot eyes - the face no straight male on the planet could resist. The lieutenant stammered something about a research report due that Friday, and Eva shunted another five million kilovolts into her expression, into her posture. He fell silent, mouth just slightly ajar, his brain's bandwidth clearly maxed out on her appearance. "I- I- I guess I might be able to... spare a... a few hours..." he finally managed to drool, blinking at her.

She beamed. "Really? Oh, that's great! Do you want to go get your car and we can meet-"

"I took the bus," he said.

"Even better! Hop on in!"

Still halfway dazed, he wandered around her hood and got into the passenger side of the Mustang while she slipped into the driver's seat. "Nice car," he said.

"Thanks." She turned the key in the ignition, and the engine rumbled to life. "So, Lieutenant Stirling," she said as she pulled out into the street, looking over at him as she shifted into drive, "do I get to know your first name, or will we be discussing CPR methods at the bar?"

"Arthur," he said, as if still trying to comprehend what was happening. "It's Arthur."

"And I'm Eva Sauvage," she said. "Nice to meet you, Arthur."