Marcy didn’t expect Gray - Mr Grayson, she reminded herself - to text her that evening. It would be way too compromising given what had already occurred. He had doubtless deleted her number from his phone by now anyway. She thought he might decide to treat her with cold formality, at a distance, but really she was just guessing.
She had no idea what to expect in such a circumstance. Who did?
As for her, she couldn’t bear to erase his number and messages. She wanted to keep them a while longer. She changed his name from "Gray" to "G" just to disguise it a bit in case anyone else found it.
Then she rang Addy.
So much had happened that day that she was feeling numbed to it all. Numb enough to talk about it with Addy without breaking down. She hoped, anyway.
Addy’s New York school hadn’t started back yet, so she didn’t have a lot of news to share there. Her first question, of course, was about Gray.
"So is he back yet? Did he call."
"He’s back. He didn’t call. He won’t be calling," Marcy said.
"What? Why?" Addy’s confusion was clear down the other end of the line.
"I found out what his job was."
"And it’s something you don’t approve of? He works in a abattoir? He’s a male stripper?" Addy threw out wild guesses while Marcy took a couple of deep breaths.
How to broach this? "You know how Miss Vansittart left last summer to have a baby? Well, we have a new French teacher. Mr Grayson."
"So? What’s Mr Grayson go to do with anything. Tell me what happened with Gray - " the penny started to drop "- wait, Mr Grayson - Gray - no way. No way, Marcy. No way no way no way!" She was yelling at Marcy down the phone, Marcy’s silence telling her all she needed to know.
"Oh my god. Marcy I’m so sorry. How did this happen. Didn’t he tell you what his job was? Surely he recognised the school you went to?" Addy asked.
"He didn’t think I was at school, remember. Not high school I mean. He thinks - he thought - I was at college." Marcy had never explicitly told him this, but she had deliberately failed to correct him.
"Oh. My. God." It was still sinking in. "So what will you do?"
Marcy had no idea. "Change schools. Ask my mom to home-school me." They both knew this wasn’t a realistic option. Marcy’s parents would never let her drop out, not in her final year. And her parents could never, ever know why she wanted to leave.
"Did he definitely recognise you?" Addy asked.
"Addy, I slept with him. I spent the night with him. He saw me with makeup, without. His face when he realised…" she tailed off. She could hardly bring herself to remember it.
"Was he sad?"
Sad? "No, Addy, he looked shocked and furious and then he hid it, and I ran out to the bathroom and never went back."
Addy swore. "I just can’t believe this!"
Thinking about it, Marcy had made the whole thing even harder. Now she had to face him again tomorrow, on top of the issue of running out of his classroom. That would normally warrant a detention, but she doubted he would want to hold her back after class.
The thing was she had really liked him. Really, really liked him. She had been so excited when he had said he wanted to see her again, and when he had texted her. And despite being paralysed with horror when he introduced himself as "Mr Grayson", she had noticed how incredibly hot he looked in a shirt and tie, his hair newly cut. He made such a contrast to the pathetic high school boys like Josh that it was almost sad.
"You still there, Marcy?" Addy was worried about her.
"Yes. I’m just wondering if military academy is an option."
"For him or you?"
Marcy grimaced, though Addy couldn’t see. She wanted to change the subject. She had imagined pouring out tales of hearts and flowers to Addy, while Addy reciprocated with stories of hot New York guys. Instead all she had to offer was "I slept with my teacher." It sounded like an episode of some slutty chat show.
Next day was slutty chat show time. Marcy had to face Gray - Mr Grayson - and sit through his class somehow. She couldn’t fail French and there was no other class she could transfer to.
Deep breaths. You can do this, Marcy, she thought.
French was in the morning that day, the last period before lunch. The rest of the morning passed in a kind of blur, with Marcy oblivious to any nasty looks or spiteful comments from Brittanny’s set. She had far bigger things on her mind.
She knew it almost certainly wouldn’t matter how she looked, but she checked her hair and make up in the restroom anyway. At least there was nothing to laugh at: no smudged mascara or anything like that.
Bracing herself, she joined a crowd of people entering the French classroom and found her way to a desk. All without managing to look at the teacher. She felt his eyes burning into her back, but that could have just been her imagination.
Keeping her head lowered, Marcy arranged the things she needed in front of her. It was time to face the worst.
Holding her face steady, wanting to bite her lip but not daring to show any emotion, she raised it to look at the front of the classroom.
Only to see Gray’s eyes directly meeting hers. He looked away again almost immediately, but he had clearly been watching her. Marcy hoped no one else had noticed.
What was the expression in them? She still thought she saw anger there, but there was something else she couldn’t quite figure out.
Mr Grayson studiously avoided looking directly at her during class or addressing any questions to her. Marcy wanted to roll her eyes when she saw how some of the other girls simpered at the merest word from him. They were practically all over him, playing with their hair and trying to seem cute and dumb. Well they were dumb, most of them.
If Addy had been there she would have been rolling her eyes and making secret vomiting gestures to Marcy. Marcy missed her so much.
At least Mr Grayson didn’t seem to be responding to them. He treated everyone in the same friendly but businesslike way.
Looking at him, she couldn’t really blame others for drooling all over him. He was TV star hot. In fact given that he’d mentioned he liked acting she found herself wondering why he hadn’t gone that career route. It had to be better paid than teaching.
"Anyone? Marcy… Winters, isn’t it?" he said, looking down at his register and feigning that he didn’t know. "What would your interpretation be?"
Oh God. Her face flushed bright red. One moment’s daydreaming and she had lost track of what he had been saying.
Keep calm, she thought. "Could you please repeat the question?"
There was a snicker behind her from one of the guys near Brittanny.
Mr Grayson raised his eyebrows. "What is Monsieur Martin asking the hotel concierge for?"
She hadn’t even read it. Fortunately Marcy found French relatively easy. She glanced down at the book. "Whether he has a non-smoking room."
He was silent for a brief moment. "Good." Then he looked away and addressed another question to someone else.
The lesson continued, an endless ordeal for Marcy. She had one eye on the clock, willing the hands to go round faster.
Finally they ticked over to noon. The lunch bell sounded. Marcy practically slumped with relief. Grabbing her things together quickly, she got up to make a rush for the door.
Only to be stopped by a command.
"Marcy Winters, would you stay behind please?"