☆✮ Excerpt ✮☆
I took a few steps forward. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
His eyes shot down to my feet, and I followed his gaze, remembering that I’d forgotten to put my heels back on.
“Always losing your shoes,” he commented, a smile curling his mouth.
I pursed my lips and turned around, snatching my heels off the seat and slipping them back onto my feet. Grabbing the back of the chair, I pulled it behind me and entered my classroom, knowing he’d follow.
“You came to my workplace unannounced,” he stated behind me. “I thought I would return the favor.”
I replaced my chair behind my desk and looked up, seeing that he had closed the door behind him.
“And?” I prompted.
“And I came to apologize,” he admitted, stopping a few feet in front of my desk. “I’ve been unfair, and I’m sorry. Christian has his phone back, so we’ll see how this goes.”
I stilled, my heart galloping in my chest, and I almost smiled.
I opened my mouth but had to swallow the lump before I could speak. “Well, that’s great,” I said, surprised. “Thank you.”
I guess I got through to him at his office.
He slid one of his hands into a pocket and narrowed his eyes on me, looking a little surprised.
“You seem very knowledgeable and determined.” His voice sounded genuine. “You’re an impressive woman, Ms. Bradbury, and I should’ve taken the time to understand your methods.”
I kept my shoulders squared, but my eyes dropped, embarrassment warming my cheeks.
“Thank you,” I mumbled, turning around to grab a dry-erase marker to start writing the schedule on the board for when then kids came back on Thursday.
“Christian talks about your class,” he said behind me. “I can tell your teaching interests him, even if he would never admit it.”
I uncapped the marker and rested my hand on the board but didn’t write anything.
“He really can’t stand me, can he?”
I dropped my hand to my side and spun around slowly, surprised by his question.
And feeling terrible all over again. I should never have said that.
No matter how much I thought I knew about him, they were nothing more than assumptions. Who was I to insinuate his son didn’t care for him or vice versa? And what gave me the right to say anything at all in the first place?
He breathed deeply, and for the first time since I’d met him, he looked unsure of himself.
“I was twenty when he was born,” he told me. “That’s no excuse, but it’s the only one I have.”
I was twenty-three, and I couldn’t imagine having a child right now.
I watched him and waited, not wanting to say anything or interrupt because I found I kind of liked it when he talked.
“I know what you think of me.” He looked me dead in the eye and then dropped his gaze, speaking in a voice close to a whisper. “And what he thinks of me.”
And then he let out a bitter laugh, shaking his head. “I don’t know why I even care what you think. You don’t give a shit about me, but I guess that’s what’s so intriguing.” He moved forward, his soft eyes turning to steel. “You’re so cold and distant,” he charged. “I guess I wouldn’t think anything of it if I hadn’t seen you so different at one time.”
I inhaled a shaky breath, looking down at his right hand. The same one that had held my waist while we danced.
I licked my lips, barely noticing him advance.
“You were flirty and fun.” His voice turned husky, and I looked up, seeing him round my desk slowly. “And you keep pissing me off, but it feels good,” he whispered, playing with me, drawing me in.
I knew that look in his eyes. I may not know much about him, but I knew that look.
And we were in my classroom.
His son’s classroom.
I may have had little shame, but he had none.
He cut me off. “Why won’t you ever say my name?”
I shook my head, confused. “Why do you care what I think?”
“I don’t,” he maintained. “I care that you don’t think of me at all.”
I narrowed my eyes on him, clenching my teeth. “That’s not . . .” I trailed off, plastering my back against the whiteboard as he hovered over me.
“That’s not what?” he pressed, his voice sounding strained.
He stood so close that I had only to lift a hand and I could touch him.
“That’s not true,” I finished.
He leaned in. “You look at me like I don’t matter.” His eyes searched mine. “And I don’t like it.”
☆✮ About the Author ✮☆
Penelope Douglas is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Fall Away series.
She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and believes there is too much blood in her Coca Cola stream. Or too much Coca Cola in her blood stream. Or...
You know what? It doesn't matter. She loves Coke. Now you know.
She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter.