I knew her as the sultry voice blowing up my phone for late night chats about Proust and Hemingway interspersed between the best phone sex I never knew I could have.
We’d never met.
Until the day she walked into my office, her cherry lips wrapped around a candy apple sucker and an all too familiar voice that said, “They said you wanted to see me, Principal Hawthorne?”
Rounding the corner by the front office, I’m making a beeline for drinking fountain number six when the door swings open and out walks Kerouac.
Or rather, Principal Hawthorne.
We both stop so as not to bump into each other, though he’d be so lucky.
I saw the way he looked at me in his office this morning, the way his body responded to my voice. I knew the instant he started talking that it was him, though it took all the strength I had to ignore his chiseled jaw, dimpled chin, thick, dark hair, and hooded, honey-brown eyes.
Principals are supposed to be old with gray hair, glasses, and dad bods.
They’re not supposed to look like fucking supermodels.
Our eyes lock, and I smirk. To think, all those times I was talking to this.
This is what was on the other end. That stock photo doesn’t even hold a candle to the striking Adonis standing before me. No wonder he doesn’t want to commit. For a man like that, the world is one giant, all-you-can-eat buffet of beautiful women.
“Excuse me,” he says, stepping out of my way like a gentleman.
God, that voice. That gentle, low rasp of a voice. I about creamed my pants when he did the overhead announcements earlier. Almost had to excuse myself from class so I could finish the job in an empty bathroom stall.
It doesn’t help that all anyone can talk about lately is how fucking hot the new principal is. I overheard a group of senior girls earlier making a wager to see who could sleep with him before they went off to college. The winner was to get a thousand bucks.
Ha. Stupid girls.
If they only knew who they were dealing with.
But I’m no better than they are. I know the man that lies beyond the carefully crafted exterior, behind those dark, hooded eyes and that confident stride. The man on the inside is a million times sexier than any of them could begin to imagine.
“You’re excused.” I make my way to the fountain, press the button, and lower my mouth to the jet stream of fresh water. His stare is heavy, weighted, and I’d give anything to know what he thinks when he looks at me.
The halls are empty and quiet. It’s just the two of us.
Across the way a male teacher drones on about World War I and the Lusitania, and when I glance into the classroom, I spot Bree sitting in the front row, gnawing on the tip of her pen as her eyes wander in our direction.
I move out of her line of sight. Ford follows.
“I’d like to talk to you sometime,” he says. “About—”
I rise, turning to him. “About what? Nothing happened.”
He squints, studying me. He must think I’m planning to blackmail him, but he’d be mistaken. While his rejection stung at the time, I’m over it and I’ve got bigger fish to fry—specifically a bottom-feeder by the name of Bree.
“I tried to reach out to you after we last spoke,” he says, keeping his voice down. “I wanted to make sure you were okay. Couldn’t find you on the app.”
“I deleted it.”
His lips press, and he nods. All those long phone calls and messaging sessions this summer, and the man can’t find more than a handful of things to say to me now. He must still be in shock. I can’t say that I blame him. He’d have a hell of a lot more to lose than I would. The stakes are higher for him. I might be legal and an adult, but there isn’t a single red-blooded soul in this entire school district who’d be okay with a principal striking up a sexual relationship with one of his students.
On paper, it would seem atrocious. Scandalous. Disgusting.
But it doesn’t keep me from wishing we could’ve made it work, as insane as that is.
“You know, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other around here, so let’s do ourselves a favor and get the fuck over what happened,” I say, arms folded as I maintain my icy demeanor. My ego may be bruised, my heart may be longing for him, but I’ll be damned if I run away with my tail tucked like some rejected schoolgirl. “If you’re going to look at me like that every time you see me—”
“I’m sorry.” He won’t stop staring. “I just … I can’t believe it’s you.”
“Believe it.” I begin to walk backwards, distancing myself from him.
He may have closed the door a few weeks ago, but I’m the one who locked it.