My dreams are filled with images of Conrad that night. Some are innocent, but mostly, they are images of him and me in his classroom. Sometimes, his guitar would make an appearance, but mostly it was just him, with his hair down, glasses on, tight jeans, and nothing else, and just as it’s getting really good, I wake up. Dang, it! This can’t be good. How am I supposed to get through his class with these images engrained into my brain?
I check the time on my alarm clock. It’s just after two in the morning, and I am now wide-awake. I reach for my cell phone and contemplate sending Conrad a message. I know it’s late, but I can’t help it. Before I chicken out, I type the message and press send.
*I’ve got it bad, got it bad, got it bad. I’m hot for teacher!
I giggle at myself for my cheesiness, but can’t help it. I set my phone down, expecting him to be asleep, but I am surprised when my phone buzzes, not even a minute later.
*You’re up late on a school night
*So are you
*I’m still going through yesterday’s assignment, but it’s proving difficult. You see I’ve got this problem
*Oh? Anything I can help you with…Mr. Riley?
I’m grinning like a fool at my phone screen, anticipating where this conversation could go.
*Well, that’s just it. My problem is wondering how I’m supposed to teach a class when all I can think about is kissing this girl. Then she sends me flirty texts in the middle of the night that make it so much harder not to hop on my bike and pick her up at two-thirty in the morning so I can kiss her goodnight.
Lord, help me now. This girl is going down. My fingers type faster than my brain can think.
*Maybe you should go ahead and do that. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind at all.
*Tempting, way too tempting. However, I wouldn’t want her to be tired at school tomorrow. What kind of teacher would I be if I let that happen?
*Now that you put the thought in her head, I don’t think she’s going to be able to sleep until she gets that goodnight kiss.
I wait an agonizing five minutes before he texts me back. Then it comes.
*Lucky for her, I’ve already crossed the line into inappropriate teacher behavior and have decided that I would not be able to sleep until I got that kiss as well. How good are you at sneaking out, because I’m outside.
Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! I jump out of my bed and immediately trip on my sheets and fall to the ground with a dull thud. I go still for a moment to make sure I haven’t woken up anyone else before getting to my feet and searching in the dark for my jeans. Don’t be such a spas’ Sydney; it’s only the sexiest guy you’ve ever known waiting outside to kiss you right now.
Never having snuck out before, I go through my options. Option one: Out my bedroom window? Nope, I’m on the second floor and am a total klutz. I would end up on my front lawn with a broken neck. Option two: go downstairs and out the front door as quietly as I can. It’ll be tricky but not impossible. It’s the safest option.
I grab a hoodie, slip on my shoes, and try to open my bedroom door with as much stealth as I can. I step out into the darkened hallway and close my door behind me. I can hear my dad snoring down the hall, and it’s so loud it may just be the cover I need to make it down the stairs undetected. I succeed with only a few minor squeaks of the old wooden steps and into the foyer. I can’t believe this is happening right now. Just as I’m about to open the front door, I see my sister's strawberry bubblegum sitting on the entryway table. I grab a piece and shove it in my mouth and chew furiously. I hadn’t even thought about my breath! I’m a bundle of nerves as I reach for the door handle and turn the lock. Almost there, Sydney, you can do this!
The door opens silently, thank god, and I slip outside into the cool night air. I take a few steps away from the house and scan the street, trying to spot Conrad. I finally catch a glimpse of him, about two or three house-lengths down the road, just out of reach of a bright streetlight, sitting on his bike. My legs are already moving; my whole body is eager to be near him. I see that he’s grinning at me in amusement as I approach him.
“You rebel you,” he teases.
“I’m a regular escape artist,” I say with a giggle.
“I shouldn’t be encouraging this type of behavior. Maybe I’m a bad influence.”
“My life has been short on excitement, you’re just expanding my horizons,” I say, stepping closer to him.
He just smiles in response and then pulls me against him. His hand wraps gently around the back of my neck before he pulls my face towards his. His lips meet mine, and it’s like instant fire throughout my body, so I have to restrain myself from attacking him.
“Mmm, strawberry,” he chuckles against my lips before deepening the kiss even more.
I wrap my arms tightly around his neck, but with him still sitting on the bike and me next to it, I’m not getting the contact I want with him. As if he knows what I’m thinking, he pulls back suddenly and pats the seat in front of him. Carefully, and with more grace than I had hoped for, I climb up on the seat, so I’m on his bike too, facing him. He leans in and resumes kissing me, but this time his hands reach down and grab my thighs before tugging me even closer to him, then his hands travel even farther and grasp my butt with a firm squeeze. A surprised gasp escapes me.
“I’m sorry, is that okay?” he whispers.
“It’s more than okay, I was just surprised that’s all,” I tell him.
He chuckles softly.
“I may not be ready to steal your virtue, but if it’s okay with you, I’d like to cop a feel.”
I can’t help but burst out laughing at this.
“That has got to be the most polite but crude sentence I’ve ever heard,” I say between giggles.
“It’s all about balance.”
“Although when you touch me like that, it’s going to make it even harder for me to concentrate on your class, knowing what you are capable of.”
Conrad’s hands slowly slide away from my backside, and then he leans back to look at me then, his face is suddenly serious.
“This is going to be a real challenge for us, Sydney. Are you sure you’re able to handle this? I really fight with myself, wondering if I'm completely selfish and reckless here.”
“I know it’s going to be hard, Conrad. I’ve been fighting with myself too, but ultimately, the side that wants to be with you wins out every time. I know we’re not going to be able to be seen together and have a normal relationship, but I think it’s worth it,” I tell him.
I don’t know what it is about him that brings out the bravery in me, but he makes me feel like I can tell him anything and he won’t judge me. Knowing this, I’d be a fool to let him go.
“I think it’s worth it too, which is why I’m here. I was just curious about how you felt about this. In class is when we’ll have to be the most vigilant, so if it’s too hard…”
“I can handle it,” I assure him, and myself at the same time.
“So then, tomorrow in class, you can manage to treat me like any other teacher?”
“I think I could, although I’m regularly referred to by others as being a teacher’s pet.”
“Hmm, well, then to throw them off, maybe I should be a little harder on you?”
I can tell by the look on his face that he’s teasing.
“Well, not too hard, I hope.”
“Nah. I’ll treat you the same way I do everyone else, I promise. Just don’t give me shit for it afterward, okay?”
“I know it’s all a part of the ruse.”
“But on the same token, I am still your teacher, and I want you to receive a quality education, so maybe it’s not all a ruse.”
“This is going to be interesting,” I say with a smirk.
“Yeah. Speaking of interesting, I should let you get back to bed. Tomorrow is another school day, and you’ve got an essay coming your way,” he tells me.
“Afraid so. Have to set a precedent early that I’m not going to be easy on you kids, right? Plus, you gave me the idea,”
“Hey, don’t blame that one on me, you’re the one that came up with it.”
“Well, I had to think of something. We’ll have to be more careful when speaking to each other inside the school walls. If anyone were to overhear a conversation that they shouldn’t…”
“It would be all sorts of bad, I know.”
Reluctantly, I move away from him and get off the bike.
“So when can we spend some real-time together again?" I ask, “because I know we can’t do this middle of the night thing all the time, and we can’t even go out on a date, or go to your place anymore.”
“I’ll come up with something, but it might have to wait until the weekend,” he replies.
I nod my understanding and stare at him, taking him in one last time before I have to leave him. He sits there on his bike, looking too sexy with his thick wavy hair tousled about, and the scruff on his chin. The way his leather jacket clings to him, his long legs in those dark jeans.
“You know you should try and tone down the sexy when in class,” I say, not entirely meaning to say this out loud.
Conrad starts to laugh.
“Tone down the sexy?” he repeats, cocking an eyebrow at me.
“It might help, but probably not possible. Anyway, I bid you goodnight, Mr. Riley. I’ll see you tomorrow in class,” I say with a flirty smile as I start backing away from him.
“What? That’s it?” he asks, suddenly getting off his bike and taking a few steps towards me.
“What else is there?”
He takes two big strides and closes the gap between us, and lifts me. I wrap my legs around his waist as he kisses me once again, hard. I reach up and grab two handfuls of his hair, winding my fingers through his soft locks.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to resist Sydney,” he grunts between kisses.
“Don’t say that. It only makes it harder,” I sigh as Conrad's lips move down to my throat.
“You’re telling me.”
“Did I inadvertently make a pun?” I tease.
“Miss Chase, you naughty girl, you.”
“You bring it out of me, I guess.”
“Apparently, but I can live with that, I think.”
He kisses me again, gentler this time before carefully setting me back down on the ground.
“Okay, goodnight for real this time,” he says.
“Goodnight, Sydney. Until tomorrow then.”
He smiles broadly at me and walks back to his bike. I watch as he picks up his helmet. I stand there and wait, but he just stares back at me.
“I’m not going anywhere until I see you get safely back into your house,” he says, gesturing to my house down the street with his chin.
I smile and nod at him before turning and jogging back to my house. Just before I open the door, I turn and see him start his bike. He gives me a small wave before he takes off down the street. Slowly and quietly, I turn the doorknob and tiptoe back into the house, closing the door behind me. It doesn’t make a sound, and I let out a breath of relief as I lock it.
I turn to head towards the stairs, when I catch a figure in my peripheral vision, leaning against the doorframe of the living room. I almost scream but quickly clamp my mouth shut as I realize it’s my sister standing there.
“So, you sneak out now?” She whispers, not hiding the surprise in her voice.
“W-what are you doing up?” I stutter nervously.
“I was already up getting something to eat when I heard you come downstairs before, and then I watched as you crept outside, but not before stealing my gum.”
“I was curious, so I watched where you went through the window,” she continues, “and I became even more interested when I saw a mysterious figure outside waiting for you. I thought you would take off together, but no…”
“What did you see?” I choke, the panic rising inside me.
This could be very, very bad news.
“Oh, I saw everything. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see his face. Just that he was tall and rode a motorcycle.”
I start to let out a sigh of relief, but she halts me.
“Who is he? I may not have been able to see his face or anything, but I know that guy was not a high school student.”
I don’t even know what to say to her without raising her suspicion, which would only cause her to try and dig deeper.
“You don’t know him. I met him at a club that I went to with Des.”
There, hopefully, that will suffice. I’m grateful when Hailey smiles and claps her hands together silently.
“Oh, an older guy? How old is he?”
“Uh, twenty-one,” I lie.
“Nice work, sis. I didn’t take you for the type to like his type.”
“What type is that?” I ask a little defensively.
“You know, older, motorcycle riding… well, I guess that’s all I know. Does he have tattoos?”
“What does that matter?”
“I don’t know, I just always thought you’d get together with a goody-goody like yourself. Maybe Dane since he’s always followed you around like a puppy. Although I saw him today at school, and wow, he’s changed a lot this summer too.”
I roll my eyes and decide not to comment on what she just said because it would only make this conversation last longer than I want it to.
“I’m going to bed now, Hailey, but could you do me a favor and not tell anyone about this?”
“Why not?” she challenges, raising a suspicious eyebrow at me.
“Because I’m just not ready to tell people about this until I know what it means,” I offer, trying to remain vague.
“Okay, I guess I can keep this a secret, just between us sisters,” she agrees, smiling sweetly, “I’m just glad to see you coming out of your shell. Maybe we have more in common than I thought.”
“And what does that mean?”
“Just that you’re not as boring as I thought you were,” she replies with a snicker.
“Oh, thanks,” I say dryly, shaking my head, “goodnight Hailey.”
“Goodnight, Sydney,” she whispers as I head up the stairs to get away from her, but not before she adds, “Oh, and you owe me a new pack of gum.”