11. Facing Gray
Having anticipated the worst, his first question took her by surprise.
"How come you’re not doing Advanced Placement?"
Everyone else had left the class now and it was just the two of them, facing one another in the empty classroom.
"I don’t know." Marcy did know, it was because she and Addy hadn’t wanted any extra pressure in their final year. French didn’t seem vital for her planned career and she was already doing AP English and Theatre Studies.
Gray was looking at her as though he was her teacher, nothing more. Which he was of course. Mr Grayson, she reminded herself.
"I saw your records. You easily have the ability."
Marcy said nothing. She had no idea what to say. There was an awkward pause.
"I’d also like to know why you lied to me?" Gray said. His eyes were a hard, dark green.
She wanted to sink through the floor. "I didn’t exactly lie."
"You led me to believe you were at college. An adult. God, Marcy, do you realise the position you’ve put me in?"
Marcy wished she could cover her face and make it all go away. But her arms were hugging her bag.
"I didn’t think it mattered. It wasn’t like it was illegal or anything. I had no idea you were going to be teaching at Springdale."
They hadn’t ever really discussed his job, which was odd when you thought about it. Or maybe not. Marcy had shifted out of the subject of college and careers as much as possible, to avoid revealing her own situation.
"Going into a bar was illegal. Buying alcohol for you was illegal. Taking you back to my place…"
"…was not illegal." She finished for him.
"That hardly matters now, does it? I could lose my job at the very least."
"I’m sorry." She really was. "I just liked being with you so much." I liked you, she thought. I still do.
Something softened in Gray’s eyes when she said this.
His voice was husky. "I liked being with you too." Then he became stern again. "But that’s it, Marcy, I’m your teacher now. Nothing more can happen. And no one can ever find out what did."
Good thing Addy was in New York then. "I understand." She did, though she didn’t want to. Every fibre of her being was pleading with him to just take her in his arms and kiss her. She looked at his lips and wished he would kiss her just one more time. A final, goodbye kiss that she could remember for always.
"I do want you in Advanced Placement though. You’re wasting your ability otherwise. Here’s a form, please get it signed and you can join the class later this week."
Marcy took the form. Her fingers momentarily brushed his hand and she wondered if he felt the same jolt she did. She looked up at him. She saw in his eyes that he was as unhappy as she was about the situation. He might still be shocked and angry, but behind the "Mr Grayson" that she had to get to accept as his new identity to her, she could still see Gray.
Her Gray. Or so she had thought.
"Don’t forget the form, Marcy. Or today’s assignment."
He didn’t say "have a good day" or anything trite like that because they both knew he wouldn’t. And nor would she.
Marcy thanked him and left, her thoughts whirling.
The burning question was whether he would have still been interested even if he wasn’t her teacher? If she had been upfront with him from the start about her age, would he still have ruled it out? Or if she had told him on their next date, and he was working in some job that wasn’t teaching, would he still have wanted to see her?
Marcy walked into lunch in a kind of daze. She wished she had brought a packed meal so she could go and hide somewhere by herself. Instead she collected a tray of pretty awful looking food and then faced the gauntlet of walking past the popular tables to find her place among the outcasts.
"He’s sooo hot!" she heard Brittanny drawling to her friends. "I just know that he wants me back, I can tell from the way he looked at me when he handed the assignments out."
"Don’t let Jayden hear you." Jayden was the captain of the Springdale football team and supposedly Brittanny’s boyfriend that semester. She was such a walking cliché, Marcy thought.
Brittanny made some dismissive response that Marcy didn’t fully catch because she had walked past.
Mr Grayson wasn’t going to be short of attention that year, that was certain. Still, at least if he had ruled Marcy out based on the student-teacher situation then Brittanny stood no chance. Not that this gave Marcy a lot of satisfaction.
It was Revel. Gratefully Marcy slid in the place opposite her. She appreciated how Revel didn’t probe, didn’t ask her how she was. She obviously noticed what had gone on, Brittanny was so prominent that her campaigns of bitchiness were hard to miss, but Revel didn’t make Marcy relive the ordeal.
"When do you get to see the photos from your shoot?" Marcy asked.
"Whenever. Nick has an exhibition soon, so…"
She didn’t specify what she meant by "so" and Marcy didn’t like to ask. Perhaps it was supposed to be obvious.
"You mentioned you sang jazz?" she said to Revel.
Revel was picking out raisins from some trail mix she’d brought with her. "Among other things."
"Do you take lessons?" Marcy asked. She was curious to know more about Revel.
"I used to." She didn’t mention why or when she had stopped. "If you want you can come down on Saturday night, I’m singing at the bar."
Marcy frowned. "I don’t have any ID…"
"You won’t need it. I’ll put your name on the door," Revel told her.
Marcy thanked her. It would be a change of scene at least. She’d have to fib to her parents about what she was doing, as they wouldn’t approve of her hanging out in an adult venue. Still, really it was no different than going to a concert. After all she probably wouldn’t drink there, she was only going to watch Revel perform.
Throughout classes that afternoon Marcy was dying to just go home, lie on her bed and close her eyes. To not think about Gray. Or truthfully, to phone Addy and talk about Gray for an hour. She couldn’t help remembering the expression in his eyes when he had admitted he had liked being with her.
Walking home later that day she wondered what Gray got up to in the evenings. He had said he did a lot of exercise and sports. Or maybe he would have to mark their assignments. And now she had all that extra French ahead of her if she enrolled in the Advanced Placement.
Doing so would of course result in her seeing him even more often. Had he realised this?
She tried to suppress it, but deep down a small hope flickered that maybe he wanted her in his other class for another reason.