“Yes, I want to know, Mr. Smith. I mean, excuse me for coming around like this, but when Julias starts missing school because of supposed illness, having had the best attendance in the class … well, naturally, I was worried. But then I find out tonight, there ain’t nothing wrong with him?” I said, managing not to slur my words, while pulling my winter coat closer to hug my slender frame, ignoring the shrill-sound of me tryin’ to act all formal echoing in the hallway behind him.
I was holding it together by the slimmest of margins as I took in the man. His tall frame, all broad shoulders, smooth caramel toned-skin, hair in a low-buzzed fade with a perfectly matched beard. I was sure, his kind of package came with only ever one label, Male Perfection.
Catching me staring, I fidgeted nervously with the strap of my bag, determined to go through with this.
Truthfully, I had absolutely no idea why I’d taken the subway, then walked, traipsing through some freezing ankle-deep snow in unpractical shoes, after nine o’clock at night to the steps of this man’s brownstone. Perhaps it had to do with finally summoning-up enough courage to tell the truth, after having a few too many at the early school Christmas get-together down at the pricey bar on the corner of 42nd and 8th.
‘Cos, I did have one truth… just the one of the most persistent kind … Julias and his too-gorgeous-for-words father were on my damn mind, like all the time, and I couldn’t let this situation rest without getting what I had to tell him off my chest. Christmas or no Christmas.
I feared that Julias’ absences from school had something to do with me.
The last couple times we’d run into each other outside class, things between us were strained to say the least. We’d tried to keep our obvious chemistry under wraps but I was mortified to think that his son, Julias, had somehow caught wind of my past, had internalized a load of hurt feelings about it and was feeling a big kind of way. The outcome? My prized student no longer wanted to attend my class.
I couldn’t believe I’d landed my professional sorry ass right in the middle of the oldest cliché in the book-of-how-to-break-the-rules-of-teaching … teacher falls for hot-as-sin bachelor father. Uggh …
As if on cue, still feeling buzzed, my eyes dipped to the said father’s chest, pure solid muscle, the memory of which ….
You see, well before my current predicament, Noah Smith and I had shared a bit of history.
Well, ‘a bit‘ was definitely putting it mildly. Try a lot. Try hot and a lot. In fact, turbulent hot and a lot, were the only words that had always characterized our hook-ups, some summer young loving, initiated what seemed like a lifetime before that crisp late-summer morning a few months back when the new parents arrived for the first day of school, each with kid in hand to attend my first grade class.
Mr. Smith, a pretty ordinary name on the class list, became ‘the‘ Noah Smith, the guy, Mr. Incredible, who’d made me weep long hours of infatuation-frustration.
My first time heart-breaker.
My up and down re-connecting lover.
My home-for-the-summer-kinda sweetheart.
Why we never actually ended-up together was beyond me. When he married, I’d felt cheated, heartbroken, having already made a fantasy down-payment on being the mother of his children back in seventh grade.
“Jasmine?” he said sharply, his deep baritone disrupting my thoughts, my wayward gaze pulling back-up to his and holding, my breath hitching at what I saw buried in those beautiful eyes.
There was something smoldering in his dark sable irises, drawing me in, his stare now so intense, he left me feeling entirely exposed, like he was in the process of unwinding me like a loose thread, and I was helpless to prevent the inevitable mortifying swoon which was about to accompany his next move. Whatever the flip that was …
“Yes?” I perked up in response to his pull-up, eyelashes batting like a right flirt, or trying to be at least, to cool the sizzling sensation zipping every which way through my belly. All matters of school business were rapidly flying out the metaphorical window.
In my mind’s eye, I was struggling to come up with a plan. I was trying to come across all sexy, with a touch of the demure, but seeing I’d had a few at the bar the amused smirk cracking the corner of his mouth as I swayed tipsily on my high heeled boots was telling me otherwise.
I straightened up, swirling my long kinky main over one shoulder, trying to hide the slight off-center wobble. It wasn’t just the drinking I was unused to … it was also these damn killer shoes and this man’s proximity which had my stomach already in knots.
“Do you want to come in? I mean, it’s Christmas and I don’t particularly want a scene on my doorstep,” he said, reaching out and taking my cold hand in his large warm one.
My entire body heated on contact, as my appreciation of his beautiful Christmas tree towering next to an old original unused fireplace momentarily blurred. I must of lost some kind of signal to my brain after that, as a few moments passed in a heated daze.
Next thing I knew, I was inside, struggling with some serious sensory overload. Noah was standing at my back, so close it was tormenting me just keeping my hands off. Then there was the cozy warmth of his home, the smells of Christmas in the air and the soft jazz music wafting from the living room, making every pore in my body thrum. Too much.
He’d already relieved me of my bag, placing it on a chair near to the front-door. And now his strong arms had returned, and were guiding my thick coat down my back.
All the while, I was struggling to breathe, already trippin‘ down fantasy lane. The mesmerizing scent of his cologne, which was some kind of wonderful, certainly wasn’t helping.
“Jasmine, I’m really glad you came over,” he whispered into the shell of one ear. His voice so smooth and low, so sensual, it felt wicked as sin, rippling through me to the point of embarrassment. I felt like my body language was revealing way more than I should’ve been. Like I’d just succumbed to my chocolate sugar craving and gotten caught red-handed guzzling down the whole damn box. The multiple parts of me drawing to attention, everything heating to a slick groove. would also have had to agree. “So … in answer to your query … Julias has been skipping school, because I wanted him to. I’ve been having some trouble with his mom.”
As I turned to face him, the tiny moment of relief I had upon hearing the absences had nothing to do with me, evaporated the second he made reference to Raven, the most popular girl in our old High School, a right two-faced twisted (well, let’s try and keep this story clean now).
Let’s just say who I’d become today bore little resemblance to the girl I once was.
The High School geek of years gone bye, had turned into a graceful swan, socially skilled, present circumstances excluded, even if … yes indeed … I was saying this about my own darn self. My mom was this life coach self-love-yoga kinda guru. How could you expect some of her mantra ‘not‘ to rub off? Mom’s stuff worked. I’d experienced so much growth, blossomed. And I was mega-thankful.
Toxic girls like Raven just didn’t get to me any more. We didn’t even cross paths. Their vibration and mine were no longer in sync or something like that, was how my mother would spin it.
“Raven? What did she do now?” This was one tired old record …
“She’s come back talking about ‘being sober’, ‘wanting to be a mom again’, ‘needing her son back’, ‘wanting to feel like a family’.” He sighed, rubbing a hand down his face in defeat.
“That’s real rich coming from her, after all she put you through?”
Raven’s perfect image and their marriage had begun to crack after she’d given birth to their son. I wasn’t entirely clear on all the details of their break-up. I was out of State studying at the time. But the old neighborhood grapevine still spilled that juice.
Postpartum depression had apparently given way to heavy drinking, to reckless hook-ups and abuse. Yep, that woman, by all accounts, had terrorized Noah, gone all kinds of crazy, to the point where he’d been forced to seek legal remedies, claimed custody of his son and cut her loose in search of a fresh start. Still, somethings were incapable of changing. Raven was Julias’s mother.
“I know it’s crazy, but she cleans-up pretty good. Been impressing the right channels, if you know what I mean. Got some rich boyfriend now paying for everything and giving me fresh hell, talking about taking Julias off my hands to go and live in Switzerland.”
“Switzerland? What the…?”
“I know, it ain’t happenin‘,” he said, running a soothing palm down my upper arm. My skin prickled under his touch. “Calm down, J. Don’t worry, I wasn’t about to let that happen without a fight.”
He called me ‘J’. The butterflies in my stomach were literally squealing, as I took it all in.
“But things have been going from bad to worse recently to the point where I’ve been fearing she’d kidnap Julias or some shit. That’s how strung out this thing got. I’ve been trying to shield my son from some serious strife.”
“I’m so sorry.” My hand flew to cup his cheek. Succumbing to instinct and the tug of my heart, I wasn’t even thinking about my professional conduct any more. It was Christmas and this was my first love talking. My only love. He may not have been aware of that fact. So many years, and a good share of ups and downs, had filled our in-between. But I sure as hell knew the score. My heart had beaten only for this man for far too long. So long, something had to give.
“I know,” he repeated, like they were the easiest words, the only words he was capable of offering an intensely screwed-up situation. “This was not the life I’d envisioned. Raven wasn’t the woman I thought she was. It was all a game with her in the beginning. She was so competitive, wanted the popular jock. Always had to win like that. It always freaked me out how much. Anyway,” he released an exhale, his shoulders relaxing as if a huge weight had been lifted, and dumped securely in the forever closed vault of history. “Listen … sorry to worry you, but Julias will be back in class come January. It seems Raven’s boyfriend couldn’t stick around too long. Him being called back to Zurich kinda took the pressure off.”
“Did she go with him?”
“It seems so. When my lawyer made contact a week ago, she claimed ‘she was over it’. Her words not mine.”
“That pitiful excuse for a …”
“I know,” he smirked, silencing the beginning of my rant with a finger to my lips, making me quiver. He was right to stop me before I got started. My mouth was about to shoot off big time. “But it still doesn’t settle the other problem.” He continued, his voice dipping to a husky hum, his hand still cradling my jaw.
My expression drew a blank. “What other problem?”
“Us,” he said, stroking over the flesh of my bottom lip with the pad of his thumb in a dreamy manner.
My breathing grew ragged, my chest heaving, my knees weak. “What …do ….you mean?” I stammered, not sure I heard correctly over the sound of my thumping heart. I knew full-well what I though he was referring to but was he really referring to what I thought he was? Our explosive hook-ups had never been given a status, never been properly talked through, our timing had always been simply off. But now?
“I mean, I wanted to give you the news personally. Julias will be going into Miss Reynolds’ class come January. I had to come clean with him about us, about how I feel about you. I ended up having a good old heart to heart with my son the other night, after I arranged everything at school. Told him all about how long I’d been crushing on his favorite teacher, since lemme see … way back in High School… He was cool with it. His current best friend is apparently in the parallel class, so…”
“You what? Hold up … you never even knew I existed back in High School?”
“Oh I definitely knew you existed. I just got distracted, made a bad choice. Got the wrong kinda deal as a result. Ended-up being dazzled by the gloss, getting locked-down by a woman who was all wrong for me.” he paused and his eyes flicked up. Mine followed, catching the glimpse of mistletoe above the door, as the sound of his chuckle gently percolated through me. “I’ve been wishing for the one woman, I’d always considered too good for me, to come back into my life. And a few months ago. On the first day of school. My wish came true.” My mouth fell open, but not a sound came out, not a peep, which was just as well. I was so overwhelmed, I probably would’ve rambled off some meaningless crap.
“I love you Jasmine Ward. In fact, I can’t remember not loving you,” he continued, his arms enveloping me and pulling me close to his heat. Totally mesmerized, I zeroed in on the only sight I cared about. the vision of his gorgeous mouth, those soft lips, lowering and sealing to mine. Yep, this was sure ramping up to be the best Christmas ever!
~ The End ~
Thanks so much for reading ❤ I hope you enjoyed it!
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, love, peace and blessings!!
© L.S. Bergman 2017