Contemporary Romance // Episode Two: The Lady – January 6, 2014
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Graham brought his hand up to knock but instantly thought better of it. A knock was a request for invitation. It was an opportunity for her to say no. Instead, he mustered up enough courage to pull the door open and walk in like he owned the place.
It took him maybe two seconds to realize that he did not, in fact, own the place at all. He entered the room and all the air drained out behind him, taking with it any shred of confidence he had possessed. The survivalist side of him had hoped that she was asleep at her desk – or in her lair, as it were. The sight of her petite frame within feet of the door, briskly writing on the green chalkboard that consumed the classroom’s front wall, threw him for a loop. In the epic battle of fight versus flight, the latter was starting to take over. He swallowed roughly, noting that her writing stalled the moment the door closed behind him. The next thing he noticed was how the corner of her mouth lifted in time with the narrowing of her eyes. After that, the way she drew her shoulders back.
“Mr. Miller,” she said bitingly, resuming her work.
Graham had taken ice baths that felt more warm and inviting. “Genevieve.”
“It’s Mrs. O’Dwyer.” She corrected him without even bothering to look in his direction.
Always with the formalities, he thought, his hand aching with want to strike his forehead. “Right.”
“Surely you haven’t come to stare at me all afternoon, Mr. Miller,” Genevieve added wryly. She took a step back to admire her work and brushed her hands off on her skirt. “Not only can I think of more productive ways to spend your time, but targets more worthy of your attention.”
If not for the way her lips twisted as she drawled out that last word, he’d take that as a compliment. “Yeah, no, I, ah-”
“My lesson plan is on the desk.”
“Right, so I’ll just-”
“Thank you so much.”
To be honest, Graham had thought she’d make small talk or attempt a real conversation. He was dreadful at that. The wrong words always came out and he had a tendency to stumble over them. Just seconds after the first stammer, insult and injury would combine via her widening smile and pithy gaze.
And then he’d be really screwed.
See, she’d have him exactly where she wanted him. He wasn’t blind to the fact that the viper seemed to like her prey stammering and stupefied. Weighing his options, Graham realized that he needed to grab the plan and get the heck out of dodge.
With a nod, he slipped past her and snatched up the brown leather-clad binder, tucking it under his arm. “Have a good one,” he said as he gave her a quick nod and headed back for the door.
“One thing,” she said quickly. “Before you go, Mr. Miller?”
His lips pursed together as he came to a halt. One slow turn later and her eyes locked on his. With her arms folded over her chest and her weight resting on one leg, hip jutting out, she paused only long enough to give him a good, evaluative look-over. “You’ve been here, what, almost one semester?” she asked.
“Almost,” he replied curiously. He hadn’t realized she kept track, what with the time she spent locked away in her classroom, hoarding treasure and eating students.
“Ah,” she breathed. “Then that explains why you haven’t had the time to realize how very thin our doors are.” One blood-red painted fingertip pointed at the door behind him–the one he wished to escape through–where he had hidden just minutes before. Sarcasm dripped from every word as if she were Midas and bitter words were her gold. “I can see how you would assume that these rooms are completely sound proof, since it’s not like we need to be aware of what’s going on outside of our classrooms, yes?”
No, she was Medusa. Worse than her curly red locks attacking her prey, she relied on words to do the damage. Realization ran through him like an enemy sword. Surely she couldn’t have heard me, he thought, my luck can’t be that pathetically bad. The look on her face was enough to confirm his fears. His mouth fell open and every ounce of blood in his body pooled at his feet.
Words. Words in return would be great, but he simply had none.
“I do hope your torticollis clears up quickly.”
He resigned to nod stupidly, mouth moving wordlessly in the air like a fish out of water. It was useless. The hole he dug already had a walk-in closet, master bath, and real estate taxes.
Genevieve motioned to the door with the nod of her head and offered him a sardonic smile. “Good day, Mr. Miller.”
The war was lost and he hurried out, tail tucked between his legs. The hallway was empty. He was abandoned by his friends and left with nothing but her words to chew on.
It was going to be a very long semester.
to be continued…