Juliet honestly wasn’t sure why she had agreed on this stupid bet. But now she had, she wasn’t backing out.
Mr Spencer was extremely sexy, and the purity thing gave it an extra edge, she thought. And after all, it wasn’t like he was a Roman Catholic priest who wasn’t allowed to marry, regardless of how he had appeared in her dream. She probably wouldn’t go to hell for this. Probably.
She started Mission: Seduce Spencer in the most obvious way: flirting outrageously with him in class. Or as outrageously as she could get away with. She wasn’t the only one fluttering her eyelashes and giving him suggestive smiles though. Half the class had crushes on the new Latin teacher.
Every day before his class she would slip to the bathroom and put on extra make-up, trying to get from there to his classroom without Miss Villiers or another teacher spotting her.
Margot couldn’t stop laughing at her. “You need a booth like Wonderwoman. He might actually notice if you showed up in a bikini.”
So far Juliet didn’t seem to be getting any reaction. But she was undeterred. She was certain that at least once she had caught his eye while they were supposed to be working on a translation, and he had quickly looked away.
It was just a flicker: but it was enough. Enough to encourage her to continue. It was more about proving a point to Margot really, than the money.
They had been discussing Vestal Virgins in class: Roman women appointed as priestesses who had to remain celibate until they retired. Margot thought it sounded awful. Juliet rather liked the idea of it as the women were considered very powerful.
“Well you couldn’t be one anyway,” Margot said.
“I could if I wanted to.”
“Too late for that, girl. But I know someone who can.” Margot shot a glance at Mr Spencer and the two girls dissolved into giggles which they had to suppress as coughs when the Latin teacher looked over at them.
“Anything you’d like to ask?” he asked them.
Margot grinned. “We were just discussing becoming Vestal Virgins, Sir.”
Mr Spencer went slightly red, which wasn’t helped by Cynthia chiming in.
“I think you’ll find they don’t take sluts,” she muttered, looking pointedly at Juliet.
“What was that, Cynthia?” Mr Spencer asked.
“Nothing,” Cynthia said.
“She was just talking to herself,” Margot told him. “She does that a lot.” When he had turned back to the whiteboard she turned to Cynthia and mouthed “slut” back at her.
It was very hard trying to flirt with Mr Spencer because he seemed to get all the more serious the more Juliet tried. He was so good looking, she loved the way his hair looked kind of tousled on top. His lips were firm and well moulded and he had a strong, beautifully sculpted bone structure.
“Where do you go to mass, Sir?” someone asked, trying to delay the return to their Latin study.
Mr Spencer looked awkward. “I don’t go to mass.”
“You don’t go to church?” This caused some shocked murmurs as usually all the teachers at St Gillian’s were really devout.
“I didn’t say that. I don’t go to mass, because I’m not a Catholic. I go to a baptist church,” he told them.
There was an even greater murmur of interest at this. “I thought you had to be Catholic to teach here,” Juliet said.
“Usually, perhaps. But there aren’t so many Latin teachers to go around, so they made an exception. Which is how I’m lucky enough to have become your teacher,” Mr Spencer said, giving them a broad smile.
He was devastating when he smiled, it made Juliet’s stomach flip. Like a sexy, macho angel. He caught Juliet’s eye and she wondered if he was teasing them.
She also wondered if she was falling for him. That wasn’t in her plan at all.
Margot came back to Juliet’s house after school, supposedly to do homework. The reality was that they just wanted to hang out but Juliet wasn’t supposed go to the mall or anywhere else after school. Her Aunt Mary, whom she lived with, was very strict.
She was actually a distant cousin of Juliet’s father but it had seemed weird to call her “Cousin Mary”, so “Aunt” had stuck.
“Where’s your aunt tonight?” Margot asked.
“Out at her bible study thing. She won’t be back until this evening.” Aunt Mary was very devout which was why she had insisted on Juliet going to Catholic school.
Margot yawned. “As soon as I finish at St Gillian’s I’m throwing every bible away.”
Juliet was shocked. “You can’t do that, they’re like sacred objects.”
“Not to me.” Margot bit into a cookie. “These are great, did you make these or did Aunt Marilla?” She had nicknamed Juliet’s aunt after Marilla in Anne of Green Gables.
“I did,” Juliet said. “You’ll end up calling her that name to her face one day if you’re not careful.”
“It fits so well. She’s just like her, taking on a poor orphan girl and being all strict and proper about everything,” Margot said.
Juliet really didn’t get Margot’s obsession with the book or the TV series, which Margot owned on DVD.
“We’re just like them,” Margot insisted. “I mean you haven’t got red hair and Diana wasn’t black I guess, but other that that the parallels are eerie.”
“We’re not even Canadian. So who does that make Fhemie?”
“Ruby, the hot flirtatious one, naturally,” Margot said.
“Doesn’t she die?”
Margot looked a little wistful. “Yeah, I love that scene. It’s so sad.”
Juliet had hated it. “It’s like she has to die because she’s flirty and fun loving. Ruby I mean, not Fhemie. Like the wages of sin are death or whatever.”
“You’re the good little Catholic girl, so you would know.”
Then they both laughed. Neither of them could be described as “good”, they were known at St Gillian’s for being hell raisers. In the past couple of years Juliet had tried to behave better but it got so boring.
Juliet decided to get bolder. She wore her skirt as short as possible to Latin, looked at Mr Spencer from lowered eyelashes, pouted and chewed her lip.
If she had tried this with Mr Bryan he would have probably had a heart attack. But she was getting nowhere with the new Latin teacher so far. If anything it felt like he was being more distant to her.
She put her hand up. “Sir, are you married?”
He wasn’t wearing a ring but you never knew. The rest of the class waited avidly for his answer as it was something that nearly everyone else wanted to know as well.
“I’m not, no.”
Before he could elaborate, Margot chimed in. “Why not?”
This took the wind out a few sails. Including Juliet’s, who figured the bet was now off.
Nonetheless there was a volley of questions. Everyone was curious about the new teacher.
“When are you getting married?”
“What does she do?”
“How did you meet?”
Mr Spencer gave a half-smile. “I think we’re getting diverted from Vergil. Cynthia, will you scan line twenty-seven please.”
Cynthia always made a big mess of this and Margot rolled her eyes in impatience waiting for her to struggle through it. Juliet also felt frustrated. The rhythm of the Latin verse came easily to her and it was horrible hearing it butchered by Cynthia.
At one point Cynthia managed to mispronounce a Latin word and made it sound obscene in English. Juliet and Margot couldn’t stop giggling and Mr Spencer noticed.
“Just a moment, Cynthia.” He looked at them. “Would you care to explain what is so amusing?”
Margot, expecting to disconcert him, explained the joke. But the Latin teacher was unruffled.
“Do you really think it’s appropriate to use such disgusting language?” he asked. “What would your parents think if they they could hear you?”
Juliet’s laughter dried up at this and her face clouded over. “My parents are dead,” she told him. She was surprised he didn’t know this as all her background was in her student file.
Mr Spencer now looked very disconcerted. “I’m sorry.” There was an awkward pause. “Let’s just get back to the text.”
The class continued and when the bell finally went for recess, Mr Spencer called Juliet to stay behind.
She approached his desk feeling oddly nervous, clutching her folders against her chest.
“About before,” he began. “I didn’t know about your parents, otherwise…”
“It’s okay.” She tried to reassure him. “It was a long time ago. Years ago.” Very long, very horrible years. She still missed them and felt panic from time to time that she was forgetting what memories she did have.
“Regardless, I wouldn’t have mentioned it if I had known. I’m sorry if it caused you pain.”
The look in his eyes was truly sincere and for the first time Juliet met his gaze, both of them serious. She had caught his eye many times with the flirting and the messing around in class, but in this moment everything had shifted.
“Truly, I’m fine.”
They were both silent for a moment. She looked at his strong shoulders and wondered what it would be like to have his arms around her. She wondered what he was thinking.
He broke the silence. “I’ll see you tomorrow in class then.”
Juliet went towards the door but before exiting she turned to ask him something. “Wasn’t it in my student file, about my family history?”
“I never read those,” he told her. “Not at the start anyway. I prefer to make my own conclusions.”
“I see. I hope the ones you made of me aren’t too bad.”
Mr Spencer smiled. “You have a lot of talent for Latin. It’s up to you whether you waste that or not.”
"So that’s that then,” Juliet said afterwards to Margot.
“The end of the bet. He has a fiancée.”
Margot gave her a wicked smile. “Oh not it’s not girl. Everything just got a whole lot more interesting. And easier, maybe. Every man wants a final fling, right? To make sure they’re choosing the right woman.”
Juliet wasn’t sure about this. It felt kind of wrong, trying to seduce someone in a relationship. Also Mr Spencer had been so kind and apologetic after class. “It doesn’t seem very nice to his fiancée.”
“I bet she’s not all that,” Margot said. “Did you see his face when he spoke of her? It didn’t exactly light up.”
“What would you expect? We were in class. He’s hardly going to start singing a love song.”
Margot shrugged. “It’s a feeling I have. Anyway, you’re going to have to change strategies. The full on flirting thing is getting nowhere.”
Juliet had to agree. “So what do I do?”
“We should track him down outside school. Find his church maybe, and start going there,” Margot suggested.
“But it’s a Baptist thing.” Juliet’s aunt expected her to attend Catholic mass on Sundays.
“I don’t mean Sunday. Those people, they go to church like every day. We’ll go one evening. Tell your aunt it’s a multi-faith prayer meeting or something.”
It might be interesting to see what it was like, if nothing else. “Maybe.” Juliet really wasn’t sure if her aunt would see it that way. She took religion seriously.
Satisfied that Juliet agreed, Margot changed the subject the weekend. “Can you stay over Friday? We can use our fake ID and go to a bar. My parents have a dinner date so they won’t know.”
Juliet and Fhemie only ever managed to stay out late if they were sleeping over at Margot’s place. “Sure, if my aunt doesn’t throw up some objection.”
If truth be told, Juliet didn’t want to give up on Mr Spencer just yet. She didn’t want to admit it but she was getting a genuine crush on the Latin teacher. Having erotic dreams about him had been really confusing.