“Wow, that’s crazy,” Desiree says to me with a sympathetic look on her face.
She came over to my house after school so we could hang out, and she could get caught up on everything that’s been going on. I have just finished telling her about the Dane drama.
“I don’t know what to do about it now, Des. I can’t tell him I have a boyfriend, because what if he put the pieces together?”
“How would he do that? You said Dane never got a good look at Conrad at the concert; otherwise, he would have already. You should have just told him you were still with the musician.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. Conrad’s band is becoming pretty popular around here. I’m sure that eventually, it’s going to come to light who Mr. Riley is.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Des agrees with a small shrug, “I’m actually kind of surprised that nobody has noticed yet.”
“Exactly. It’s only a matter of time, which is why I did what I did. What if Dane had wanted to get a closer look into who this guy I was dating is? All sorts of bad news right there.”
“Well…crap. I don’t know what to tell you then, Syd. So how are you and Conrad going to manage this situation between you guys? Having to be so secretive can be sexy as hell, but it’s also got to be pretty frustrating too. Where are you supposed to hang out now?”
“We’re still figuring that part out.”
“Maybe you guys can go away for a weekend or something, get out of town?”
“Yeah, and tell my parents what exactly? I may be eighteen, but I still live under their roof. They will want to know where I’m going, what I’m doing…”
“Tell them you’re staying with me.”
“It’s not quite that simple, Des.”
Desiree taps on her chin like she’s thinking hard, and I wait to see if she comes up with anything else because I sure don’t have any better ideas either. After a few more hours, and no better ideas, Des and I actually manage to do some homework, despite my rampant thoughts. How I so wish that I could see Conrad right now. How I wish that he wasn’t my teacher and that he was a little closer to my age, how I wish everything were just a little bit simpler.
A few torturous long weeks pass by, and Conrad and I have yet to be able to spend any real quality time together. A few late-night sneak outs and stolen kisses, but that’s about it. Un-Classic Heroes have had a few gigs around town that I went to with Desiree, but Violet had also been at every one of them a well. It irritates me that Conrad and I have to keep our relationship from her because she’s so damn unpredictable, especially because she has a thing for Conrad, even though she won’t admit to it. I’m not so sure she would do anything, though, just because she wouldn’t want to upset Conrad, but who knows. We don’t risk it anyway.
It’s Saturday night, and Desiree and I are at one of these said gigs at The Wrecker. I’m excited because Conrad said that Violet wouldn’t be here tonight. However, we still have to be cautious because there could always be other students here. Desiree and I are most definitely not the only ones here with fake ID’s. The band just finished their set and is leaving the stage, and Desiree has just stepped away to grab another round. Soon, I see Conrad coming towards me, followed by Harrison, Jake, and Kevin.
“Hey,” Conrad says with a smile.
“Hey,” I say back, smiling coyly.
Suddenly a big tattooed arm drapes itself around my shoulders and squeezes me against the body it’s attached to. I turn my head to see Kevin smiling down at me.
“Hey,” he grins, "how’s our little teacher’s pet?”
“Umm…” I stutter.
Kevin and the rest of the guys all laugh, except for Conrad, who just shakes his head. Kevin pays him no attention and continues.
“When Conrad told us about your little situation, we couldn’t believe the luck. I didn’t take you for the naughty schoolgirl type, Sydney,” he teases.
“Has Conrad been giving you some extracurricular lessons?” Jake chimes in.
“I’ll bet detention will never be the same,” Harrison says with a sly smirk.
“I’ve never actually had detention,” I shoot back, “as you said, teacher's pet, right?”
“Come on, guys, cut it out,” Conrad mutters, looking a bit annoyed by their teasing.
Harrison puts his arm around Conrad.
“Oh, Mr. Riley, what do I have to do for some extra credit?” Harrison says in a singsong voice.
Conrad shoves Harrison away from him.
“It’s not like that, and you know it,” Conrad says stiffly.
“We know that. Relax bud, you knew this was going to happen,” Kevin chortles, shaking me playfully.
“It’s okay,” I say.
Conrad steps toward me and pulls me gently away from Kevin, wrapping his arms around me protectively.
“If you assholes don’t mind, I’m going to take my girl for a dance,” he tells them.
Before I can respond, Conrad leads me away from the group and onto the crowded dance floor. But we don’t dance. In the mass of bodies, where nobody appears to be paying attention to anybody else, Conrad leans down, takes my face between his palms, and kisses me. My hands grasp his forearms, and I lean into him as he kisses me. We sway slightly to the mellow rock song, letting everything else fall away.
“I’ve been waiting to do that all night,” Conrad murmurs against my lips.
“I’m sorry we haven’t been able to spend much time together lately. With the band's growing popularity, we’ve been getting more gigs, and when we’re not doing that, I’m busy with work.”
“I know, I understand. I just wish we could find some time to be together for more than just an hour or two at a time,” I tell him.
“You have no idea how badly I want that too, Syd. I promise, it’ll happen soon,” Conrad pulls me against him even harder.
The smell of his cologne on his shirt fills my nostrils and floods my body with a very frustrating feeling that I haven’t been able to kick.
“How about tonight?” I blurt.
“Tonight?” he repeats.
“Yeah. My parents think I’m staying with Des, and well, since your band knows everything, it wouldn’t shock them for me to come over.”
I look up at his face and see him considering the idea. The resulting smile on his face tells me that I’ve convinced him. He leans down again and kisses me hard, this time with more enthusiasm. Anticipation runs through me at the thought of what’s in store for tonight. It’s all I’ve been able to think about. The fantasies can be really distracting at school, with Conrad standing in front of me every day, pretending that I’m no more than just another student when we know the truth. The lingering gazes and secret smiles, it’s all I can do not to combust right there in my desk chair.
“Tonight it is then. Let’s say we get going?” Conrad says, taking my hand.
“Right now?” I breathe.
“Is that a problem?” Conrad cocks an eyebrow at me.
“Nope!” I say, maybe a little too excitedly.
Conrad grins and starts pulling me off the dance floor.
“I just have to let Des know,” I tell him.
“I have to tell the guys not to hurry back,” Conrad adds.
I can see Desiree standing amongst the guys as we approach them. She spots me, and her eyes go wide. She makes a weird gesture with her hand that looks like a shooing motion. I frown, not understanding until Kevin and Jake move aside slightly, and I see Dane, standing next to her. Conrad sees him at the same time, and his feet stop moving immediately. Oh, sweet mother…
“Dane, what are you doing here?” I ask, my voice sound more shrill than I intended.
Danes's face remains neutral.
“My brother talked me into coming tonight. He likes your friend’s band here,” he tells me; I see his eyes scanning Conrad.
“I ran into him at the bar,” Des says, her face apologetic.
“Yeah, and I thought I’d come to say hi to you,” Dane finishes.
His eyes flash with some emotion that I can’t quite recognize, but it doesn’t look good. His eyes land on my hand, linked with Conrad’s.
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Sydney? Dane then asks me, “in private?”
“Please?” Dane presses.
I look to Conrad, feeling panicked. His face registers a bit of panic too, but mostly annoyance, and maybe anger?
“Okay,” I finally agree.
I’m curious to hear what he has to say. I let go of Conrad’s hand and step towards Dane. In a brave gesture, Dane places his hand on the small of my back and leads me away from the group. I glance over my shoulder back at Conrad. What’s going to happen now? Conrad looks pissed.
“You told me you broke up with the musician?” Dane accuses once we’re out of earshot.
“And don’t even try to lie to me and say you’re not with him. I saw you two making out on the dance floor,” he adds, cutting me off before I can say anything.
“And that’s not even the most interesting part,” Dane says with an eerie smile.
He grabs my upper arm and practically drags me back toward the group before I can protest. Conrad steps in front of us before we reach everyone else, and grabs Danes arm aggressively.
“Let go of her,” Conrad growls.
Dane smiles at Conrad and lets go of me.
“Sure thing, Mr. Riley,” Dane says.
Conrad releases Danes' arm and takes a step back.
“You know, I thought you looked familiar,” Dane adds with a cocky smile, “imagine my surprise.”
“Dane, please don’t say anything,” I plead.
“What do you expect me to do? This is all kinds of wrong!” Dane argues, loudly.
“I’m eighteen, Dane, so legally, I can date him,” I argue.
“You sure about that, Syd? I’m not so sure the school board would agree with that,” Dane counters before turning to Conrad.
“And you, dating a student? What, can’t find someone your own age?”
“We started dating before I knew she was a student,” Conrad says.
“Even so, the right thing would have been to end it when you found out,” Dane sneers.
“That is none of your business what he does, Dane!” I bark.
“It’s my business now,” Dane says, “I’m not so sure I can keep something like this to myself in good faith.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t even care if you didn’t have a thing for Sydney,” Conrad retorts.
Dane shoots Conrad a glare.
“Yeah, you think I’m blind?” Conrad continues, “You don’t think I have to keep myself from throttling you every time you touch her in front of me?”
Dane stands up straight and steps closer to Conrad, their faces almost level, though Conrad is still taller.
“Uh-huh, and you must hate that I can touch her in front of people, and you can’t,” Dane prods him.
“Technically, you can’t touch her either, Dane. Not unless she permits you, which I don’t think she has.”
“I’ve been friends with Sydney since we were kids, I doubt she minds.”
“Why don’t you ask her next time then, and see what she says?”
I just stand there, staring at this scene playing out, not knowing what to do. I just pray that nobody throws a punch. I think Conrad knows better than to do something like that, but Dane has become pretty unpredictable. He’s no longer the mousy boy he once was. Dane looks over at me then.
“It really bothers you when I touch you, Sydney?” he asks, with a hurt expression on his face.
“Well, sometimes you do get a little bit too personal, Dane,” I tell him.
“See? A good rule of thumb to remember Dane; Girls, don’t like it when you paw at them like a caveman,” Conrad says.
“This, coming from the guy who’s dating a student. I probably shouldn’t be taking an ethics lesson from you of all people,” Dane retorts.
“Maybe not, but what I say is true anyway,” Conrad shrugs.
“What are you going to do, Dane?” I ask, cutting into their back and forth.
Dane turns and looks back at me again.
“Please, please don’t tell anyone,” I plead again, “if you have any feelings for me at all, please don’t.”
“Really, Sydney, you’re going to use the fact that I like you against me here?”
Dane looks between me and then Conrad, then back at me again.
“Maybe I could keep my mouth shut…”
“And what do you want for your silence? Because I know that’s where this is going,” Conrad says, looking irritated.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out, Mr. Riley,” Dane replies, not denying what Conrad implies.
“So, you’re not going to say anything?” I confirm.
“I’ll think about it,” Dane says with a shrug, “Anyway, I guess I’ll take off. You two enjoy the rest of your night, who knows how long this thing will last, right?”
Before Conrad or I can respond to that, Dane strides away.
“Fuck!” Conrad growls, running both hands through his hair and tugging on it.
“This is bad,” I agree.
Conrad’s eyes meet mine, and I can see the concern in them. Whether the concern is for him, or me- or both, I don’t know. It’s not like I have anything to lose, besides him. He’s the one with a lot more to lose. His job, his reputation, and who knows what else. I need to talk to Dane and do some serious begging.