“Wow.” Ryan rasped, his body crushing Natalie’s. “That was, wow.” He pulled himself out of her and flopped onto his back, panting heavily as he recovered from the mind-blowing sex they’d just had. “I mean that was, it’s always good, but that was, wow.”
Guilt sliced its way through Natalie’s gut as she transported herself back to five minutes ago, where she’d been riding Ryan like some crazed sexually deprived animal. She’d never been this wild, this hungry for sex. Not with Ryan anyway.
But this morning she’d woken up, fresh from a dream about Scott. The two of them had been in Pete and Eliza’s pool, wearing the swimsuits they’d been wearing during their moment in the butler’s pantry. He’d removed her bikini painstakingly slowly, his hands teasing her as he pulled the material away from her body. He’d made her hungry, desperate for him to lift her onto his hips and thrust into her, filling the ache between her legs and bringing her a kind of bliss she only ever wanted when he was around.
She’d woken up right before he could fill this need, and still desperate for the fix her dream had denied her she’d woken up Ryan, then pictured Scott’s face as the two of them went at it.
Ryan still panted beside her, and she nervously chewed at her fingernails, the guilt in her stomach only growing the longer Ryan praised her performance. If only he knew what had motivated her he might not be so happy right now.
God she was a terrible person. Ryan didn’t deserve this.
On the other hand wasn’t it better to sleep with Ryan while picturing Scott than to say, sleep with Scott while in a relationship with Ryan? Yeah, that would be a million times worse. At least this way she’d kind of screwed Scott out of her system without actually screwing Scott. That’s all it was after all. Pure and simple animal attraction. Nothing else. She didn’t still have leftover feelings for him. He was just a magnetic guy. He always had been. She just needed to take a beat, clear her head, maybe avoid Scott for a couple days. Then everything would be fine, peachy, fantastic.
Yeah, and right after that she’d jump into the ocean and grow a freaking tail. Okay, she needed to stop thinking like this. She needed to stop thinking all together. Or did she need to do more thinking and less, you know, acting on the little itch between her legs.
At least that itch had been satisfied. For now.
With a sigh she jumped out of the bed and headed to her closet. The old jeans she’d taken from her mom’s place the other day stared back at her, and without thinking much of it she slipped them on, paring them with a loose off-the-shoulder shirt. She looked cute, but still respectable enough to be a teacher.
She spent the rest of her morning getting ready and completely ignoring Ryan. He didn’t seem to notice much, still on a high from the orgasm she’d given him not half an hour ago. She didn’t know whether to be annoyed or relieved, relieved because she was getting away with picturing another man while she had sex with her boyfriend, or annoyed because he never reacted like this when they usually had sex.
Now was not the time to worry about that though. It was time to go to work. So with her head still swirling with thoughts she headed straight there. She needed to put this out of her mind and focus on the teaching. She could do this. She’d gone eight years without thinking about Scott, she could definitely go one day.
Her resolve lasted exactly one hour. She was fine right up until Jenny arrived, because walking beside her, bending awkwardly so he could hold her hand, was Scott.
What in the heck was he doing here?
“Miss Natalie look, I brought my Uncle Scott to help out today.” Jenny said, answering Natalie’s question.
“Great.” She replied, forcing a smile. “Why don’t you go on inside, I need to have a quick word with him.”
“Kay.” She said skipping into the classroom.
“What are you doing here?” Natalie asked the moment Jenny was out of earshot.
“Don’t you do some weird, ‘parent help out for a day,’ thing?”
“That’s not what it’s called, but yeah we do. So why are you here? Last time I checked you weren’t her parent.”
“There was some emergency on the orchard. Eliza and Pete sent me.”
“Well, then today’s your lucky day. I don’t need a helper anymore.” She replied, desperate for him to leave. He couldn’t be here right now, not after last night, not with the dream still at the forefront of her mind and Scott standing there wearing a shirt that was one size too small and smelling incredible.
“Huh?” He asked.
“You can go home, relax, watch something on Netflix. I don’t know, but I don’t need you. Thanks though.” She turned away from him, trying to make a quick exit.
“Wait, hold up.” He said, grabbing her hand to stop her. She felt like she’d been zapped, and she quickly snatched her hand away. She’d go mad if he kept touching her. Mainly because she wanted him to touch her, just not anywhere appropriate.
“Why are you freaking out?” He asked.
“I’m not freaking out.” She protested.
“Is this because of that teeny, tiny, almost kiss last night?”
“Almost kiss?” Was he insane? It may have been small but it was a kiss nonetheless. “That was a kiss.”
“Barely.” He said. “But I can show you what a real one is.” He took a step toward her, reaching out to touch her again but she saw it coming this time and quickly stepped out of his reach.
“You need to stop doing that.” She told him.
“Stop doing what?”
“You know what. Now if you can behave, you can stay, otherwise you need to leave.”
“Yes Miss Natalie.” He said, dropping his voice to that low pitch she liked so much. He gave her a wink before walking into the classroom, making her wonder how on earth she was going to make it through the day with him this close.
If you can behave you can stay, otherwise you need to leave. Scott should have left, because the longer he was in this classroom with her, the more he wanted to misbehave. She was wearing her jeans. Her jeans from back when she was 16. They looked even better on her now than they had back then. And damn she’d looked good back then. That kiss didn’t help. That teeny, tiny, almost kiss. Only their lips had touched, and only for second, but it had been enough to send his whole body ablaze.
He wanted to go over to her now, rest his hand on the small of her back, then maybe slide it down until…Damn he needed to stop. His imagination was getting the best of him. He couldn’t do this now, not with kids around. He’d have to wait until he was alone, then he could let his imagination run wild, close his eyes and imagined just how good Natalie could feel and all the sexy sounds she’d make as he made her scream his name over and over again.
“Ahhhhhhhh.” Wailed one of the kids, breaking Scott from his daydream. He was glad too, he’d been seconds away from losing it there.
He turned his attention to the noise and saw a blonde kid, clutching his arm as if he’d broken it or something. Scott quickly scanned the room for Natalie, but somewhere during his fantasy she’d disappeared. Crap, he was alone. Alone and he had no bloody idea what to do.
He sprung to his feet and in two long strides was at the kid’s side, trying to look at his arm and find what was wrong.
“What happened?” He asked.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” The kid screamed.
“Okay let’s chill. Your arm looks fine.” Scott tried.
“Ahhhhhhh.” The kid continued to scream.
What the hell was wrong with his arm? Had he broken it? Scott gave it another look, but the kid twisted and turned, moving too much for Scott to grab him and take a look. From the quick glances he was getting though it seemed okay.
“Look kid, you need to tell me what happened.”
“Shut up.” Scott yelled, his words ringing through the room, shutting up not only the hysterical blonde kid, but also every other child inside.
“You said shut up.” The blonde kid said, horrified at Scott’s c-level profanity. “I’m telling.”
Obviously his arm wasn’t too badly hurt if he would hurl threats Scott’s way.
“One crisis at a time kid. Now what happened?” Scott asked.
“Patrick licked me.” He replied.
“Everyone calls me Rick.” The other kid, Patrick, or Rick, or whatever he wanted to call himself, said with a roll of his eyes.
“I was building my finger puppet and you licked me.” He said, pointing his finger at Rick.
“I didn’t lick you Chad.”
Of course it was fucking Chad. It made total sense now. The dramatic screaming, the snitching, crying like a diva because he got some spit on his arm. Only a Chad would be so unpleasant.
“Yes you did.” Chad insisted.
Scott should have left when Natalie had given him the opportunity. He could have been at the manor right now, sleeping in or whatever. Instead he was here, settling the great ‘who licked who’ debate. Why hadn’t he just left?
Right. Because Natalie was here.
“Okay, Chad is it?”
“He licked you, wipe it off.”
“Wipe it off.” Scott repeated, slowly this time. “Its spit, it’s not gonna kill you. And Patrick,”
“Whatever.” Scott said brushing him off. “Stop licking people, it’s weird.”
“I’m not weird.”
“You are if you lick someone.”
Both boys stared up at him blankly, neither one happy with how it had turned out, Chad disappointed Rick hadn’t been yelled at more and Rick upset he’d been called weird. Scott took it as a win. There was no more screaming, no more licking, and they’d just gone back to silently working on their finger puppets. It really couldn’t have gone any better.
It was at this moment Natalie reentered the classroom. Scott instantly perked up, ready to trail his eyes over her body again. He stopped when he saw her face, her eyebrows were creased, her eyes furious and she angrily chewed on her lip.
One of her students tugged at her leg, and she quickly plastered a fake smile onto her lips before dropping into a crouch to talk to the girl who’d approached her.
“Oh no.” A boy beside Scott said. “She looks upset. Do you think she broke up with Ryan?”
“Why would you say that?” Scott asked. Did this kid know something he didn’t?
“I don’t know.” The kid said shrugging. “I just always hope it’s that.”
“What’s your name?”
“Hmm, I like you Parker.”
“Thanks. I like you too Mr. Scott.” Parker said. “You make good finger puppets.”
Yeah, it didn’t take much to impress a four year old. If only it were this easy with a certain teacher wearing incredibly form fitting jeans right now.
The rest of the day passed by excruciatingly slowly. Scott felt every minute of it tick by, checking the time constantly. He was eager to get Natalie alone and figure out what was wrong. She put on a brave face for the kids, but that crease in her brows never really went away. She was worried about something, a little angry, and Scott had to know what it was.
When the clock eventually ticked over and parents started to arrive he could have leapt for joy. Instead he sat down at one of the tiny tables with Jenny and helped her fix the finger puppets she’d accidentally glued together. Natalie spoke politely with parents, got hit on by almost every dad, and subtly rushed everyone out the door.
Before too long it was just the three of them. Jenny and Scott fixing finger puppets and Natalie, slumping into a chair and letting out the huge, frustrated breath she’d been holding all day.
“What’s up?” He asked.
“Why are you still here?” She shot back.
“We’re not done with these finger puppets.” He replied. “And we’re not leaving until we are. Isn’t that right Jenny?”
“I was the only one who didn’t finish today.” She replied. “I have to finish.”
“I want to go home.” Natalie whined.
“The time would go by quicker if you told us what has you so worked up.”
“If you say so.”
“You’re so infuriating.” She said.
“And you’re a terrible liar.”
“Fine.” She exploded. “You want to know what’s wrong?”
“Well I did ask.”
“Next week’s the Inter-Town Carnival and three parents have pulled out of chaperoning.” She exploded. “Now I don’t have enough people to watch the kids. Our town was in charge of chaperones. Summerville organises the food, Winter Valley does the events, Fall Creek sorts out the awards, we do the chaperones. And if I don’t find three replacements Winter Valley is going to give us hell. Just like they did last year when Sydney forgot to buy stopwatches for the events.”
“They’re still doing the Inter-Town Carnival?”
“Every year.” Natalie said.
Oh geez. The Inter-Town Carnival had always been a nightmare, the four towns coming together to compete and celebrate their heritage. No matter what you did you couldn’t avoid the carnival. They were completely overdone, treated as if they were the Olympics, and spread out across each of the four towns. Scott had always hated them, and he’d been one of the kids to spend the carnival days at Dawn Lake, the only safe haven, smoking and drinking with everyone else who’d gone there to escape it.
“This is just typical you know.” Natalie continued. “And it’s always the same parents. I mean come on, we live in Spring Fields, not New York, it’s not the end of the world if you take one day off from the bakery.” Scott chuckled at the joke, and Natalie took a breath before continuing on her rant. “I know I’m being snarky. None of the parents who pulled out actually work in a bakery. I mean Melody’s dad’s a lawyer who’s trying to stop a major highway from being built straight through Summerville. Blaine’s mom is running for mayor and if we want that sexist idiot Gabriel to finally retire she needs to focus on her campaign. And Rachel’s mom, well she decided to volunteer to help with the beauty pageant instead, so she’s a piece of sugar honey ice tea. Augh, I shouldn’t say that, I just have a tumultuous past with beauty pageants.”
“So you need three more people huh?” He asked.
“Yep, by Friday.” She said.
“Ryan, Eliza, Pete.” Scott replied. “There, solved.”
“Eliza and Pete are already helping. And I asked Ryan a while ago and he already said no. Although after this morning he might say yes.”
“What happened this morning?”
“Nothing.” She said quickly, her cheeks flushing.
“You asked your mom?”
“Oh hell no.” Natalie said. “That will be a very, very, last resort.”
“She’d say yes though.”
“Yeah, a little too enthusiastically.” She mumbled. “What about you?”
“What?” No, he wasn’t doing this. He wasn’t going anywhere near the Inter-Town Carnival. Screw that. “Jenny I think its time to go.”
“But I haven’t finished.” She complained.
“We’ll take these home.” He quickly jumped to his feet, shoving fabric, glue, decorations and half-finished finger puppets into Jenny’s small backpack. He was halfway out the door when a soft gentle hand grabbed his and firmly pulled him back, burning a path straight up his arm.
“Not so fast.” Natalie said, her breath catching for a moment. Did she feel this too? Did her body also rage with desire every time they touched, accidentally or otherwise? “Would you chaperone?”
“You gonna trust me with kids?”
“Why not? You’ve always been good with them. You were fine today.” She said it so matter of fact, like the idea of him chaperoning made all the sense in the world. Her words tugged at his chest, and a familiar feeling thumped from his heart. Where everyone else saw the worst in him she’d always seen the best. She’d always had complete faith in him. She’d always looked at him as if he hung the moon. Not even his own family had believed in him as fiercely as she had. His biggest regret was forcing her to walk away.
“So?” She prompted. “Wanna chaperone?”
“Yeah I guess.”
“Great.” She smiled then, one of her big, bright smiles, one of the real ones, making the ache in his chest thump harder against his rib cage. He tried to ignore it, shove the feeling away, but it thumped harder, making it impossible to ignore the thing he really didn’t want to admit to himself. He still loved her. He’d always love her. He doubted he’d ever be able to love anyone else because of her. He just needed another shot, another chance. He wouldn’t mess it up again.