She stood on the stage in the empty auditorium completely alone. It was well after hours for school and she knew that she shouldn’t even be in there but she also knew that she had to do well in this class. It wasn’t that she wanted to become an actress, nor did she really even have an interest in it, but she did need a lot of different credits to look good on her college applications. She had only just turned eighteen a month prior and that had startled her into realizing how close she was to graduation. It was only eight months away. Her roommate told her that she was going a bit overboard with her anxiety, but she didn’t agree. There was always time to do better, stand out, win more awards, and make herself look as perfect as possible for the ivy leagues back in the states.
Her parents had sent her to a boarding school in England in an attempt to keep her out of trouble as well as away from the media while they remained in the states. She was an heiress and with that sort of thing always came unwanted attention. As an only child, everyone was always interested in what she was going to do, where she attended school, what her hobbies were. Ever since she was a child this had been a topic of discussion amongst people who shouldn’t have even been that concerned about what a child might be doing. Her parents were lucky that she really hadn’t been the trouble making or partying type. From a young age she had seen the kind of spoiled and elitist behavior of her peers and it had always left a sour taste in her mouth. She’d decided that she wasn’t going to be like them. She would use her birthright and blessings to get the best education she could and a profession where she would be helping people, not leeching off of her parents and society.
This had led her to joining the drama club just as another achievement she could have on her applications. It was early fall and only two weeks into the first semester which meant that auditions for the play would be that weekend. She was trying to get the lead role only due to her desperation of standing out among everyone else when she applied for school. If she had a lead role here, several trophies from science, math, and debate teams, and other honors from other electives like shop and culinary arts then she would be the perfect all around candidate for any school. Maybe her parents actually had enough money to buy her into whatever university she chose but she felt that it would mean so much more if she earned it. Unfortunately, drama club was rife with girls who wanted to be famous actresses and get discovered. It didn’t help that the rumors surrounding the professor that oversaw it were that he had some famous connections to Hollywood and could make it happen if he liked what he saw. She believed all of that talk to be nonsense because she’d never seen any proof to back it up but the girls certainly thought it was true. That and Professor Patterson was just the hottest thing on two legs. She didn’t agree with that either.
The play they had chosen to do was Romeo and Juliet and she was trying out for the part of Juliet. Even if she didn’t believe herself to actually be talented enough for the lead she did think by comparison she might just be slightly better. She also could learn the lines faster than almost any of the other girls who basically just showed up and expected to be handed a leading role. She was convinced putting effort into this and showing a passion for it might set her above the rest and earn her favor with Professor Patterson. Taking a glance down at the script she skimmed a few lines and then tried her best to get into character.
“Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this; for saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.” She spoke, probably for the hundredth time in the past thirty minutes. It wasn’t that she didn’t know the line as much as she was trying to get the accent right. That was her biggest stumbling block. As an American in a British school trying to do a Shakesperian play she was really going to have to pull off an impressive audition to win. Luckily she was surrounded by this posh accent she was attempting to mimic day and night so it wasn’t that hard it just also never sounded right to her own ears. She cleared her throat and opened her mouth to try that again when she was interrupted.
“Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?” Professor Patterson’s voice was pretty unmistakable with how much time she’d had to spend with him after school before this, so she knew that it was him calling the next line from stage left. She turned to look at him as he came more into the light with a bit of a smirk on his face. She gasped, wondering how long he had been back there watching her. The only really lit area of the room was in the area she was standing. He could have been there the whole time and she wouldn’t have noticed. “You really aren’t supposed to be in here right now, Natalie.” She sighed.
“I know but I wanted to get this right. Never done a play before and I feel more inspired being on a stage to practice. If I did it in my room I’d just annoy my roommate.” She told him. He came closer and looked her over. Though he was still in the usual suit he would wear for teaching and directing the club, the blazer had been removed leaving him only in a waistcoat. His hair was far more disheveled than she was used to as well. As if he’d been running his fingers through it nervously or had stepped outside for a smoke on a windy day. This more casual look of his, with the sleeves of his cuffed shirt rolled up to his elbows gave her more of an idea of why the other girls got so giggly around him. Maybe he was a lot more attractive than she’d considered. Perhaps all it took was seeing him in the right light. He was the youngest professor on campus and at first that was why she thought they all loved him, because he was easy to relate to but now it was beginning to change.
“I do have to admit I didn’t ever expect you to join drama club. Not with all the other things you’ve gotten yourself busy with.” He said, “Almost all of your other clubs are academic or athletic.”
“I realize that, sir,” She said, “Then I also realized that if I didn’t show at least some talent and appreciation for the arts I wouldn’t look good on a college application.” Even her advisor had said something about looking well rounded and the best way to do that was to add in more art appreciation, of which she had almost none. Her grades in English and literature were immaculate but that was still more academic than artistic. She couldn’t draw for shit or play an instrument. Acting was her best bet because she figured she had more of a chance of being able to learn it in a technical sense than other types of art.
“You aren’t doing that bad of a job you know but there are more important things in life than this.” He replied.
“What? Higher education?”
“Being perfect.” He laughed softly. She frowned, unsure how he knew that’s what she was really trying to do in the first place. Then again, it was probably obvious to all her teachers and anyone else around that she was a high level perfectionist who wouldn’t settle for anything less than that. “You’re already destined to be Valedictorian you know.”
“Not when I have to compete with Scott Harrington and Elizabeth Shu.” She replied, “Maybe everyone else here is an idiot but...sorry that came out wrong I didn’t mean-”
“You aren’t wrong, most of the kids here don’t try. I doubt most of them intend to go to college or take it seriously if they are. You’re one of the few who puts an effort into things. You’ll stand out more than you think you will.” He said, stopping so he was standing mere inches across from her looking down. He seemed to be a bit over six feet tall and even in her low heels she was barely over five feet. His lean, muscular frame towered over her and she could easily smell a scent of second hand smoke and whatever cologne he was wearing. It was a very enticing combination. She felt her face start to get hot.
“I would like to stand out as much as I can stand out so you can either help me with this or kick me out.” She told him after a moment. He laughed and shook his head, running a hand through his hair casually. It seemed like he was trying to fix it a bit but really all it did was make it more messy. A few strands hung down over his forehead making his appearance more shaggy, obscuring his beautiful blue eyes.
“Continue then, what’s the next line.” He encouraged.
“After what you just said?” She asked and looked down at the copy of the script that she was holding just as a reminder for her lines. She skimmed down to the part she had been rehearsing and then found the line that he had just said. It wasn’t too surprising that he may already know a lot of this play by heart. He was the drama coach after all.
“Yes, go on.” He nodded. She took a deep breath and found the line that was after his as he was supposed to be taking on the part of Romeo now, she guessed.
“Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.”
“O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do; they pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.” He replied, looking deep into her eyes, his voice sultry as he leaned in closer. He was either really getting into this part or getting into her. Maybe both. It was very hard not to get into him with how he was standing right there, speaking...looking over her body as if it were a piece of meat. She licked her lips slowly and took a deep breath.
“Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.”
“Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.” He breathed then grabbed her and pulled her into a kiss. It wasn’t something that she was expecting because she wasn’t even sure that the kiss was supposed to come after that line but she didn’t care either. He was an amazing kisser, though that also may have been because she didn’t have that much experience with it either. Was this allowed? She was technically an adult but he was still a teacher. Not really her teacher, though. He was a teacher and happened to also be the drama coach. His lips felt so good against hers, his body pressed tightly to her as his hand slipped to the small of her back to push her in even more. She could feel his arousal and she moaned softly, the sound muffled by his mouth. This seemed to trigger him back to reality and he let go of her pretty fast. He took a step back, leaving her standing there, breathless.
“You kiss by the book,” She muttered as that was close to what the next line should have been; they probably had skipped a few. He laughed and looked away from her, biting his bottom lip tightly as he did.
“I uh...I shouldn’t have done that and I shouldn’t have come in here to begin with.” He said quickly and started to head off to the side of the stage into the darker area where he had appeared from. She stood there, staring stupidly for a moment before realizing she had to go after him. What had that meant? Why had he been there in the first place? Did he like her? Why else would he have followed her in there if not? She forced herself to run after him, grabbing his arm right before he would have hit the back door exit to the stage.
“Why were you here to begin with?” She asked.
“Look, sir...I uh...well I don’t know how to put this lightly. What I can say is I know how to keep a secret if you just tell me the truth.” She said after a moment. He looked her over then gently pulled his arm away. He leaned against the wall beside the door and looked down at her. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked back up at him. Maybe she hadn’t really ever thought he was sexy or juicy or whatever words those girls called him behind his back, before this moment but now that she was seeing it, she was really seeing it. She wanted more of it. What didn’t make sense was that he had been the one to initiate it.
“I just find you interesting, is all.” He said after a very pregnant pause. “You are eighteen right?”
“Yes, but if you-”
“This isn’t what it looks or sounds like which I know is going to seem like a lie and be very bad but I wasn’t just waiting for you to become legal so I could...it’s not like that. I didn’t really even know who you were until two weeks ago when you walked into my drama club.” He said, “I mean other than your family name, I was aware you went to this school but you never showed any interest in this stuff. We have barely spoken or even seen each other in the four years you’ve attended this school, right?”
“That is true…” She said. In the same way she knew of him and had maybe seen him around or gotten glimpses of photos because of the other girls, she didn’t know him. They hadn’t spoken to each other until she had decided to join the club. The past two weeks of the club had been discussions with each other, acting exercises, getting to know everyone...that sort of thing. It was a bunch of relationship and character building so they could be comfortable around each other and in that way the production would run more smoothly. At least in theory. Over that time period he definitely would have seen her a lot, gotten to know about her, even if she still knew very little about him as ultimately he was the coach and not another student. Even if he was very young for the job he had. “So in that time you...what? Fell in love?” She laughed softly.
“I most definitely would not say that,” He replied, “But I am intrigued by your passionate drive for perfection and meeting every challenge head on. Tackling the world as if you have to beat it. I’ve seen quite a few students come through these halls but none of them have ever been nearly as determined as you to conquer the world.”
“I don’t really think I’m trying to do that.” She chuckled, “It’s more that I figure that being a well rounded person is the best type of person to be. Variety is the spice of life you know. If you fit yourself into only one box you run the risk of also become stale. Boring. It’s not the kind of life I want.”
“That’s exactly it.” He said, “You have the right...stuff.”
“Right stuff for what?”
“For what I want to invite you into.” He said, his voice dropping to a low whisper as if this was suddenly far more of a secret than it already was. He reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a business card but it was too dark where they were standing for her to read what was on it entirely.
“Invite me into?”
“You have off campus privileges, yeah?”
“Yes…” She replied and he held the card out to her slowly between his index and middle fingers. She looked at him for a second then the card and slid it out slowly. Seeing as how she still couldn’t read it in that area she slipped it into the pocket of her uniform, not wanting to appear overly eager. That and if someone did happen to open the door and walk in on them she didn’t think it would be wise to give them any idea of what was going on here. Read the card before she could. “I don’t see what that has to do with-”
“Meet me there. Address on that card. Friday at eight o’clock. Not a minute earlier not a minute later. Wear a red dress and stilettos...something, sexy.” He said. She opened her mouth to ask him what the hell any of this was about when he took it upon himself to just slip out of the door and into the hallway. She blinked a few times but didn’t immediately follow him. Instead, she walked back out onto the stage where the light was better and removed the card from her pocket. On one side there was some sort of logo that depicted a snake coiled around a riding crop. On the other was an address. Just an address. She knew the area well enough that she had a general idea of where this was, but she hadn’t ever been there before either. She was guessing it was some kind of restaurant or club but what for, exactly, she didn’t know. Slipping the card back into her pocket she took in a deep breath and started to look over her lines again. Friday was only a few days away and she didn’t know how she was ever going to be able to think about anything else if she also didn’t entirely distract her mind and body from what had just happened.