Carl had thought of little else but Juliet since getting back from Paris. He couldn’t deny his feelings any longer. If it was solely sexual attraction it would have been easy to deal with, or at least to make a decision about.
But it ran deeper that that. He found himself happy to be around her and looking forward to seeing her. He felt protective of her. When Cynthia or one of the other girls tried to goad Juliet, he had to restrain himself from jumping to her defence. That would really give the game away.
So what was he to do?
He couldn’t confide in anyone. After all, she was his student and any relationship between them was strictly illicit.
But he knew that he had to see her again.
“How was Paris?” Dan asked him when they met at church.
“Amazing. It went very well,” Carl said.
“Jenny’s always wanted to go. I don’t know how we’ll manage it once the baby arrives, we’ll probably have to wait a couple of years.”
Jenny joined them at that point, trying to escape Rebecca who had cornered her. Unfortunately Rebecca came along as well. After freezing Carl out over the past month or so she was now talking to him again. It was awkward and he found himself preferring the silence.
“Carl was just telling me about his Paris trip,” Dan said.
Rebecca pursed her lips. “I can’t imagine giving up vacation time to take a load of schoolchildren half way around the world. You really do go above and beyond the call of duty with your job, Carl.”
It was a criticism poorly disguised as a compliment.
“It’s a very beautiful city. It’s always worth seeing,” he said, trying to keep his tone neutral. He was relieved when it was time for the service to start and he could escape Rebecca. He sincerely hoped she didn’t have plans to try to rekindle their relationship. Breaking up with her had been like waking up from a suffocating dream.
It wasn’t that she was unattractive but her personality left him cold.
This was another issue with Juliet. Sure, she was beautiful, but there were several other very pretty girls at St Gillian’s who had tried to flirt with him in the most outrageous ways when he started teaching there. None of them did anything for him. Yet Juliet, even before she had started paying him attention, had caught his eye.
There was something about her and he couldn’t get over it.
Carl managed to avoid sitting anywhere near Rebecca by going and helping a couple of older congregation members to their seats: one elderly lady needed assistance getting up and down, and had to remain mostly seated for services.
He felt a twinge of guilt when the old lady thanked him as he was mainly glad of the opportunity to sit by her and nowhere near his ex-fiancée.
Afterwards he was approached by Agnes. “What happened to those two nice young women from your school who visited our church? They seemed like very bright and well-behaved girls.”
Carl suppressed a smile. There was nothing well behaved about Margot, given the slightest opportunity. He was fairly certain that her sudden illness in Paris had been a ruse. And Juliet broke plenty of rules too. Her aunt had no idea that she sang in a band.
“I don’t know if they’ll be back,” he said.
As he said it an idea came to him. A way that he could maybe see Juliet outside school without crossing any more lines. He would have to think and pray on it, but it might just work.
Juliet felt a weird mix of excitement and flatness coming back home from Paris. She would no longer get to see Mr Spencer all day every day, but he was now taking things seriously enough to make some kind of decision.
Being in limbo was better than nothing. Certainly better than continual rejection.
She had bought Aunt Mary some religious souvenirs from Notre-Dame. Aunt Mary clucked with disapproval at the suspected cost but Juliet could see that she was secretly delighted. Her aunt gave them all pride of place around her home.
To distract her there was an email from Drew.
We’ve been asked to play The Green Room again, but we’ll get a cut of ticket sales this time. It won’t be major bucks but it will cover expenses.
He didn’t specify a date so Juliet prayed it didn’t clash with a school event or something of Aunt Mary’s. How she had managed to conceal her participation for so long was something of a miracle.
That’s awesome! See you on Tuesday.
The band had temporarily been named Dover Six after the street they rehearsed in and the number of members. The idea was to pick a better name eventually but no one ever managed to come up with anything that everyone else liked.
So Dover Six it was. Juliet was secretly happy because she felt more included, being the sixth member. Although she was effectively the lead singer now she sometimes felt a bit out of things, as she was the only female and had joined ages after everyone else.
The biggest thrill had been when Jax set some of her lyrics to music. He managed to make Juliet’s verses into an actual song, it sounded far better than it had as a poem. She had been embarrassed to share them at first but Drew had persuaded her and now she was very glad that she had plucked up the courage.
They performed a couple of covers as well, as it helped to warm up a crowd. But most of the music was their own.
Juliet wondered how she would have felt if she had known that Mr Spencer was in the audience for the first gig. She might have frozen up.
Now that she felt more confident about it all she liked the idea of him being there. Maybe she should invite him to the next gig?
This the the man I want to be with.
It was all Juliet could think of when she saw Mr Spencer in their first Latin class of the new semester. He caught her eye and gave her a brief smile before turning his attention to the whole class.
She tried very hard to focus on her Latin but she was distracted, burning to speak with him. Would he kiss her again when everyone had left? Close the classroom door, put his arms around her, pin her against the whiteboard and press his lips to hers…
Juliet realised she had completely lost her place in the passage they were going through but fortunately Mr Spencer did not call on her to translate the next line. She glanced at Margot’s book to try and catch up, and saw that they had long turned the page while she had been daydreaming. Vergil really deserved better attention than this.
“Line two hundred,” Margot hissed at her and Juliet managed to find the right place. It was lucky she did, because she was soon called to translate something about sea serpents. Fortunately she had prepared it reasonably well.
“And they lick their hissing mouths with vibrating tongues,” Juliet said.
Cynthia snickered and muttered something about “vibrators” to the girl next to her, who smirked on hearing it. Juliet knew it was targeted at her in some way and normally wouldn’t have cared, except she was paranoid that Mr Spencer would hear and wonder about it. She felt her face growing scarlet.
“If we could have quiet, please. Any questions then raise your hand,” Mr Spencer told them. His glance passed fleetingly over Cynthia, not giving her any extra attention but signalling that he knew that she was the source of the disruption.
Cynthia scowled and gave Juliet a hostile glare, her eyes narrowed. Juliet ignored her as best she could, hoping Margot wouldn’t rise to the bait. Fortunately she didn’t.
“He’s got her number,” Margot whispered. “And she knows it. Let her dig her own grave.”
At the end of class Mr Spencer asked Juliet and two other girls to remain behind. It made his speaking to her alone more subtle. It was lunch break time so there wasn’t a risk of anyone being late for the next class.
One of the girls had failed to do her homework, the other was struggling with grammar. Mr Spencer dealt with them in turn, firmly but kindly, and dismissed them.
Then it was just the two of them. Him and Juliet. She stood by his desk, waiting.
Mr Spencer seemed to be hesitating so Juliet made it easier for him by breaking the silence. “I can’t stop thinking about Paris.”
The tension in his face relaxed and she saw in his eyes that he felt the same. “Me too. I’ve been thinking a lot about everything since then. Although we can’t cross any lines again while I’m your teacher, I would like to see you.”
“You mean outside class?”
“Yes. What do you usually do on Sundays?” he asked.
“Mass with my aunt, and then homework, not much else really,” Juliet said. Not in winter anyway, with the weather so cold and the nighttime so early.
“My church has an early evening service on Sundays,” Mr Spencer said. “I was wondering if you would like to attend with me?”
Juliet was surprised. As dates went, it wasn’t exactly the movies or a restaurant. “This weekend?”
“I mean every weekend. So every week we could spend some time together outside of school, in an appropriate place, and see how it goes.”
This made Juliet’s stomach flip. Every weekend. She could see how serious the expression in his eyes was. This clearly meant a huge amount to him, even if it was the most he could offer her right now.
Although she longed for him to hold her and kiss her again and so much more, she understood. Small steps.
“So would this be like a date? Could we hang out afterwards?” she asked him.
“We’ll see. I’d like to be able to take you to dinner, but under the circumstances…”
The circumstances were other people from school ending up in the same restaurant or diner. It would be disastrous.
“We could get pizza at your place.”
Juliet could see that Mr Spencer was conflicted by her suggestion. “Let’s see how it goes on Sunday. I want this to be right.” He meant right in the eyes of God but he didn’t say it.
If she managed to persuade him to invite him back to his place… Juliet knew she shouldn’t push things, but the thought of being alone with him, in private…
“I guess I’ll see you Sunday then. I can meet you at your church.”
“I can pick you up if you like,” he offered.
“Thanks but it’s really not far. I’ll be fine walking.” If he picked her up it would cause a world of complication with Aunt Mary. Quite apart from the fact he was her teacher, Juliet wasn’t sure how happy Aunt Mary would be for Juliet to regularly attend a non Catholic church.
“If you’re sure.” Mr Spencer hesitated. “I’d really like to see you there.” His voice was softer.
Juliet was moved. “I’d really like to be there.” She remembered the band invitation. “I was also wondering, the band I’m in is playing again in a couple of weeks, would you like to come along?” She bit her lip, anticipating that he might make some excuse.
To her relief he smiled. “I’d love to.”
“There are tickets but you don’t have to pay, I’ll get you one, or put you on the list.” She wasn’t exactly sure how it would work.
“That’s fine. I’m happy to get my own ticket, either way.”
They were both silent for a moment. Juliet wished they could just go somewhere and spent time together without all this caution and the fear of discovery. This patience thing was not easy.
“Great, I’ll let you know the exact details when I have them,” she told him. Now she was going to have to make sure she looked her absolute best. She would have sung her best anyway, for the sake of the band and because she loved performing with them, but she needed to wear something that would get Mr Spencer even more worked up than before. Fhemie was good with clothes and sewing, maybe she could help.