Lilly was forced to defend Jean's integrity to her parents. The accusations of him being a gold digger were never forthright, but then again, her parents had always been diplomatic people. Lilly could never bring herself to say that he hadn't even been in the know of her wealth. Her parents would view that as a significant flaw and weakness between the two. Jean had been somewhat right in his assumption of her secrecy.
There wasn't enough trust in the relationship if she couldn't tell him.
She convinced herself her discretion stemmed more from fear than a lack of trust. It was ego crushing to males if their girlfriends or wives had more money. That line of thinking was macho and stupid, but that didn't change the fact that it was a mostly true theory.
Jean only felt threatened because he felt that if she isn't being completely honest with her own family background, he assumed that she was holding back on other aspects as well.
The stress of their relationship eventually became too much for either of them to bear. She had to remain loyal to her family's responsibilities, and he felt he couldn't be a part of it. He didn't want to make her choose him because he felt that family should always come first. Jean stepped aside to put her mind at ease.
They broke up merely weeks after Jean graduated from their university.
Ten years later…
She parked her Hybrid across the street from the school.
The year-round sun here on the coast never ceased to amaze her. Her reasons for missing her old home back east became murkier as the years passed. She checked her reflection and touched up her styled hair in the mirror before she exited and locked the vehicle. Her 20s were very nearly behind her, but she felt and looked as young and vivacious as ever.
Her feet were uncharacteristically comfortable for being strapped within 2-inch high heels. She was fortunate enough to discover they matched perfectly with his favorite summer dress on her. She knew she looked good, but she felt her best when he regarded her with those enamored, adoring eyes.
She strolled into the main office to sign in.
The young receptionist greeted her warmly. "Hi, Mrs. Sanford."
She grinned slyly. "That name should make me feel old."
"But it doesn't," she smiled knowingly. "You brighten every time I call you that."
"I've been getting a lot of sun lately."
The receptionist winked. "Sure."
A line of troublemakers was waiting outside the office to see the principle. One of the bold seniors addressed the visitor with a toothy smile.
"Mrs. Sanford, when are you gonna divorce Mr. Sanford and give me a chance?"
She played along, good-naturedly. "Just as soon as you graduate high school, Ryan. You don't think I'd trade down for someone without a diploma, do you?"
One of the younger kids snickered.
"I'm almost done," he said.
"Hmm. Every time I drop by, I see you waiting outside this door," she pointed to the Dean's office, "or that door."
That seemed to shake his confidence a little. Ryan shrugged. "A little summer school never hurt anyone."
Her light laugh softened the unruly teen's features.
The receptionist said: "Mrs. Sanford, your husband's final class of the day should be over in a few minutes. You could wait in the back of his classroom if you'd like."
"I will. Thank you." She breezed past Ryan and the others. "Let me know how summer school pans out. Then maybe we'll have something to talk about," she winked.
He straightened in his plastic chair to appear more formidable. The other boys followed his example and watched her breeze out of the office with youthful yearning.
The health and science department of the high school was the oldest building of the premises. Even the safety codes weren't up-to-date. The plumbing needed to be tinkered with once in a great while. So, it was no surprise that the heating and air conditioning conked out more often that not. Both doors to every classroom were held ajar so not to stifle the students and the faculty from the impressive spring heat.
She was able to sneak in through the back door so she wouldn't deter the students' attention when she entered the classroom in the middle of his lecture.
He'd been pacing in front of the first row of students. He liked to move a lot when he lectured, refusing to keep still. It helped to keep the teens a little more alert. Not that he needed any help keeping any of the girls' attention… Eager 10th grade girls filled the front desks, closest to the teacher's desk. Some were actually paying attention to what he was saying, the rest just stared admiringly. It wasn't often that a high school was fortunate enough to have a young and cute science teacher.
Lilly quietly took a seat in the back of the room.
Jean paused slightly in his speech to grin at her arrival. The acknowledgment at the arrival of his wife turned out to be a mistake.
The students noticed the brief break in his concentration, and looked back to see what had caught his attention. Like Ryan and the other boys back in the office, the sophomore boys in the classroom suddenly straightened in their chairs. Some of the girls rolled their eyes at her presence, while a few sighed in envy. Not only was the woman married to their adult crush, but she was gorgeous to boot. High school was so not fair…
The bell rang not a minute later. For a Friday, the kids should've eagerly burst out of the class. They lingered back for one lame reason or another, just to ogle either the teacher or his beautiful wife. One of the girls leaned against his desk, practically fawning over him, claiming to be fascinated with the current chapter that class was studying.
Jean smiled kindly, but didn't encourage the girl. After all year long, she hadn't let up on her flirtations in the slightest manner. She made a conscious decision to always ignore the wedding band on his left hand.
When the final students finally shuffled out of the classroom, Lilly laughed lightly in her chair on the opposite end of the room.
"Wow, you're like a rock star," she said.
Jean made a face from behind his desk. "I don't want to think about fifteen year olds as my groupies."
Lilly giggled. "Good point."
He started to erase the whiteboard behind him. "So, what's up? You're out of work early. Did something happen?"
"Mm, not quite." She walked across the room to sit comfortably on the edge of his desk.
"Not quite, huh? That sounds a little ambiguous."
"My Dad asked me to take the afternoon off. He wanted me and you to start our weekend a little early."
He wiped down the final corner of the board. "Oh yeah? What's the occasion?"
Lilly tugged on his hand, and he turned to face her. "I have some news."
Her bright green eyes were sportive.
Jean instinctively grinned back. "What is it?"
"I'm knocked up," she announced.
He was almost breathless and his eyes bugged out a little. "What?"
She laughed gaily. "I have a bun in the oven. We're expecting. I'm preggers. Can you make any sense out of those phrases?"
She hadn't seen him struggle for words like this in quite some time. He sputtered stupidly which made her laugh even more.
"If it helps, I'm 75% certain it's yours. There was that one drunken night with the produce guy from the market…"
He found his voice and smiled crookedly. "Very funny."
"Thank you. I thought so, too." Lilly pulled on his shirt to bring him closer to her. She brought a hand to his cheek and kissed him fully. He pulled away first.
Jean pressed his forehead to hers. "So…the produce guy, huh? Isn't he over sixty years old?"
She kissed him again and shrugged. "I blame it on the alcohol. Then again, he does have his charming moments."
He laughed and kissed her longer this time. It was easy to get lost in the kiss. Almost eight years of marriage, and the spark still hadn't faded between them. She could still drive him crazy with her playful teasing, and he could still make her melt with his tender, delicate touches.
They were separated for nearly two years before they saw each other again after their breakup. It took little to no effort to pick up where they had left off. Before another full year had passed, they were married. Her marriage to Jean really didn't hurt her relationship with her parents because they never had much of a familial bond to begin with. She was still tied to her family money, but she opted to work within their business instead of just inheriting a lofty sum like a lazy leech.
Equally dazed and blissful, Jean ended the kiss with a breathy chuckle.
"I told Vero the big news this morning when she called me," Lilly said.
"Do you really think that's fair? Veronica knows, your father knows, and now I know. How do you think the produce guy will feel?"
Lilly kept a secure lock around his neck with her arms. "Oh, I can't imagine he'd mind much," she began innocently. "Like I said, it was one drunken night. Since you and I are already married and everything, I think it would make everything simpler to just dump this kid on you."
"That sounds fair."
She kissed him chastely. "I knew you'd be easy to convince."
Jean smiled widely at his wife. He touched her still flat stomach with awe. "Come on," he took her small hand, "let's go home."
…and then there was a huge shootout, Mr. and Mrs. Smith style.
A/N: LOL. I'm kidding, obviously, but I had to write that. If you liked the way things ended let me know, and if you hated the ending, feel free to yell at me. I posted a couple new stories on the site. One is another romance cliché, and the other story is…well, quite frankly, I'm not sure what the heck it is.
Over the past two years, this story has received more than 20,000 hits and even received a SKOW nomination. It was fun writing this story, but I couldn't be more relieved that I'm finally done with it. Thanks everyone for reading. =D