Everyone was whispering about the new teacher.

Old Mrs. Rafferty had finally decided to R.I.P. Retire in peace. Get it? God, I was waiting for her to croak in the middle of another Hawthorne tangent.

I lean back in my seat; my legs stretched out and hands resting limply on my desk. I have enough room to swim in this damn chair because I'm so small. Ask your average five-foot tall girl (Average? Really?) about her height and her defenses will come up like the Great Wall of China.

A few girls in the back are whispering about how hot he is. I wrinkle my nose, and Rafe – the one closes to the door, whips his nerdy head around, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.

"He's coming!"

I can't help it; I sit up straighter, ready to scrutinize this new teacher.

"Oh, Jesus Christ." Matilda, the school's resident homosexual rolls her eyes. She resigned from her quest for a penis long ago and now searches for hot new rugs to munch.

When he stomps in, my mouth drops open and every single girl in the room turns to stone. The same expressions – saucer-wide eyes attempting to mentally strip the clothes of his body, lips slightly parted and we share the same small intake of breath, and bodies turned to jelly – are on the not-gay, not-blind females in the room. The guys look around confusedly, blinking at their female neighbors, feeling the echo of the tractor beam of hotness that just strode on delicious legs to the desk in the corner of the room.

I hear a curse come from next to me and I don't care.

He sets his black computer bag on the creaky seat and surveys the entire classroom. It is so quiet I can hear my dead skin cells becoming dust. I swallow and blink a few times and the girls begin to giggle nervously. There's a failure to start casual banter and it dies down under his ice-blue gaze.

"This," he says in a throaty, deep voice that made me grip the edge of my desk and moan inside my head, "is you last English class in the failed experiment called high school."

The entire class is enraptured.

xxxx

I float my way out of his class amazed that he made each and every person in the room sound like an intelligent human being, not a horny teenaged amoeba.

xxxx

We all have to admit it. He's a hardass: he makes the nerds think twice about their test answers and we can't complain because we are slaves to his presence. I took three pages of notes on Upton Sinclair. We create study groups specifically for his class. We can't stop staring.

At this point, this 'we' I speak of, has crumbled from the entire female population to the few girls that haven't fallen victim to his harsh grading, or have simply moved on.

From September to November, I was fine. I was an onlooker to this man who spoke about centuries old novels and words as if they were a single beating heart.

It changed with a question.

"What do the naked women in the irises represent?" He brandishes the book we are reading and we follow his movement. I don't realize there are words falling off my tongue until his I am pinned down by his gaze. I see a flicker of something dance before it vanishes. What was it?

"Its his lust for Daisy," I say, unable to stop myself.

"Lust." His expression is slightly curious.

"He sees her, and he lusts after her to love him. It's more that he's looking for her, it's like he needs – lusts – after her… and for her and he died dissatisfied on both accounts."

"I've never heard it put like that before. What makes you think so?"

"Well, when a man sees the woman he loves… uh… naked," Ohmygodshutuprightnow, "He is obviously going to feel lust for her –"

"You think?" Someone jokes and my face turns bright red, but my mouth doesn't stop.

" – So the naked women in the irises could be a… sign that apart from the fact that he still loves her, hence her face, he also lusts after her by seeing her naked – shit, I mean by the naked women."

What. The. Fuck.

But he's still staring at me, and I'm staring back. The entire class is giggling behind their traitorous hands.

"That… is very good. Different." He says it with a different tone. Before I can commit this holy moment to memory, he is off. He wants to know what the green mean. How about someone expand on the lust?

"I'd like to speak to you after class," he says.

xxxx

I'll tell you that 'lust' in a very dangerous word to be speaking about in a five by eight office to your teacher. Every time he, or I, said it, I'd fidget and blush and become more and more aware that his body was less than two feet away from mine.

Three guesses: what was I overcome with at the exact second he leaned forward to rest his chin on his big man-hands and stare thoughtfully at my face.

I told him about the study group we'd created.

He said he's going to start showing up to help us.

I smelled his cologne and unintentionally grinned when he was describing his thoughts of The Jungle.

xxxx

Okay, hold it. At this point, I was very much aware that this entire infatuation (bordering on magma-hot lust) was not exactly rule-adhering. He was my friggin' English teacher and I was his student. Yes, I was aware that passing by his classroom after school to see him pack up his Mac and lingering in the parking lot to see what kind of car he drove (silver Acura) was a little freakish.

I also knew that Googling his name and finding his old college's and high school's archives (with pictures) and staring at them for three hours was a little bit beyond freakish.

I still did them.

xxxx

I knew there was bound to be a day where I'd lose control and do something rash, something I would definitely not regret.

xxxx

On December 12th, I was furiously typing my essay in the small group-study rooms on his laptop. He let us use it when the library ran out of laptops to check out. I didn't realize it was five thirty, or that the room had gradually emptied until it was just he and I until I blinked, rubbed the ache of being two inches away from the screen and looked up.

He was smiling and his hand was on my shoulder, gently pushing me until I was a good distance away from the screen.

We froze when we realized that as he pushed, he also leaned forward until I could smell his breath (Spearmint fresh) and I could the little flecks of a deeper blue in his eyes.

I could see doubt was plain on his face and shock was in mine. I don't know where the guts came from but I leaned forward slightly, took in his slightly astonished expression and dove into the best worst thing I could have ever done.

The kiss lasted about a second in which both of us were unresponsive with our lips touching.

"Jesus." His voice against my lips was a feather brushing me.

Fear of rejection, fear of what he would say, fear of his disgust made me sit completely still as he sat back. Everything from before was wrecked now. The friendly banter about his love and my revulsion at George Lucas's directing was demolished by my actions. I took in the dumbfounded expression and begged to every god in the universe for… for what?

What could I possibly do in a situation like this?

He was fighting something, I could tell because he kept frowning and then his hands would twitch and then he'd frown again.

What could I say?

"The naked women in her eyes meant lust," my voice came floating out in a tone I'd never heard before and I have no idea why I said it, except it seemed to make him understand something. That delightful something made his fingertips brush down my arm, curl around my elbow, and with the gentleness of turning the page of a beloved book, he pulled me forward again and this time this kiss was something different.

Our lips moved in unfamiliar (to me at least since this is kiss #1) ways and like I always dreamed he would he took absolutely control. He tasted of man, and his tongue fought mine. Driven by something I couldn't recognize, my hands settled high on his strong thighs and I licked the roof of his mouth with the tip of my tongue, experimenting and brought shiver from his body. I couldn't claim my victory in getting such a reaction from him because then, he decided to assault my poor, inexperienced nerve endings.

Fingertips brushed across my waist, and settled on my hip while the other cradled the back of my neck.

"Air," I gasped, and he leaned back to let me draw a small gasp before his lips were on mine again.

This was too awkward: both of sitting across from each other, leaning forward and kissing, when I wanted to mold myself to him.

Then, we were sitting, breathing heavy and staring at each other. My hands were still on his thighs and they stayed there until six thirteen and the battery on his laptop died.

xxxx

I know the deal – no one can know, no one can see us.

Both of our lives were on the line but we couldn't help it.

I let him touch me and he let me experiment.

One day, fogging up the windows of his silver Acura, I learned there was a spot in his hips that with the slightest pressure, he'd jolt and his eyes would darken with something that made my body writhe and he'd attack me with the promise of something dangerous and I craved it.

xxxx

"I want you," he said.

"Prove it," I answered.

That day, he let me learn of every contour, line, and texture of his upper body.

That day, he also caressed my bare skin with his hands, lips and stubbly beard.

xxxx

On February 16th, I took the bus to a town not far from our school and walked up the steps to a townhouse, clutching the key he'd given me.

The first time was uncomfortable, as I'd expected, with only the slightest sensations of heat traveling from were our skin touched to the very core of my being were he invaded.

I was able to relish the slowness, and the way he slid every detestable scrap of clothing that kept us from touching each other. I savored the feel his thighs easing mine apart and the wonderful, rhythmic pressure of his hard body.

The sound of our bodies stroking each other in the act was languid. Slow slow slow, then fast fast fast.

It wasn't over for nearly three and a half hours were I grew used to being exposed. I grew accustomed to our hands roaming, never staying still not even when he was breathing into my shoulder like a sprinter and he said he couldn't do it again, but he somehow did.

The second time was different. This time, I responded to his every movement. When he inhaled, I exhaled, when he rose and I lifted.

I couldn't close my eyes or I'd miss the beauty of his face, the focus or the sight of his lean body sliding against mine in the soft sheets.

I let my legs wrap around his body and moved and dared to hope.