"Excellent class again, Camryn," a deep voice said, coming down to the platform I taught from as the students quickly exited the auditorium. I glanced up to see the department director, Paul Jones, and another Spanish teacher, Hank Tremachlan, approaching me. I blushed a bit, still not used to being complimented even though I'd received nothing but compliments about my teaching since I started over a year and a half ago.
"Th-thank you, Mr. Jones," I replied softly. Some habits were harder than others to break and my submissiveness when I was outside of class was one of them.
"You have some free time right now, don't you?" he asked and I nodded, a little uncomfortable with the serious expression on his face. "Come on, I know a quaint little restuarant just off campus that has excellent food." Again, I nodded and slung my messenger bag over my shoulder as I text Nate to let him know that I had a sudden lunch meeting with my immediate boss. I knew he would understand, as he knew that teaching had actually become important to me. Not as important as he was to me, but it was likely the thing I would do for the rest of my life.
The ride was filled with idle chatter between Professor Tremachlan and Director Jones. I remained mostly silent, only responding to direct questions as my nerves began to get the better of me. I hadn't had an issue with my nerves in a long time, but something seemed off about this situation. It left me wanting for the calm that Nate always gave me with nothing more than a simple touch. By the time we reached the little restaurant, I was having to grip my jeans tightly just to hide the way my hands were shaking.
We were seated at a booth in the back, Director Jones sitting next to me while Tremachlan took the seat across from us. It was a simple Mom&Pop type restaurant, with barstools at a long counter and red vinyl booths lined up all along the walls. I could see that there was a party room on one side in the back, but it was opposite of where we were. Our waitress was a college age girl, with loosely curled black hair and bright green eyes wearing what I could only describe as a horrendous bright red jumper dress and puffy sleeved white shirt. I almost felt sorry for her.
"What can I get you gentlemen this afternoon?" she asked, plastering a wide smile on her face. Tremachlan returned her smile as his eyes did a quick once over of her body and I knew from my time spent with my friends from Elm exactly what he was thinking. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from rolling my eyes at him.
"Tea and a B.L.T plate, please," I mumbled, still keeping my shaking hands out of sight. I listened as the other two men put in their orders, still waiting for whatever it was that Director Jones seemed to want to tell me. As Cassie, as her nametag informed us, walked away to put in the orders, Jones cleared his throat to bring my eyes up to his face.
"Camryn, I want to tell you first, that I've had nothing but rave reviews about your teaching skills," he started and I felt myself blush despite knowing that this was a blow softening conversation starter. "After your success last year and in the last two summers, many of our language teachers have adopted your style of material coverage. The students seem to take to it well, too. The grades in languages have vastly improved and even in studying the tests to verify that there isn't a curve, we've found that it's honestly that the students are doing very well."
"But?" I asked, unable to listen to anymore of this buttering up. I was already well aware of how the department was changing and how well the students were doing. Jack, my adoptive father and the school's dean, had told me as much on several occasions this past summer. Jones sighed and rubbed his head.
"Nothing escapes you, does it?" he asked rhetorically. "The thing is, Camryn, there are rumours running through the school. Normally, we don't care about a teacher's personal life as normally it never involves a student, but you are involved with a student." I frowned deeply. I really didn't like where this was going.
"Camryn, there are rumours of Nate receiving favourtism from teachers because of his relationship with, the son of the school's dean," Tremachlan cut in and my eyes went wide.
"That's not true!" I snapped immediately. I knew damn well just how hard Nate worked to keep his athletic scholarship. "Nate works hard for his grades! He won't even let me help him with his homework, though he knows I could!" Tremachlan and Jones both gave me an understanding and sympathetic smile, but I had a feeling what I said didn't mean anything. It dawned on me what was going to come next and I felt my chest tighten. "You're going to ask me to end my relationship with him, aren't you?" Again Jones sighed.
"I don't want to ask that of you, Camryn," he said, his tone sad and angered at the same time. "But the board has caught wind of it and while even they know that you're a special case, Nate isn't. It's just really hard to say he isn't getting special treatment when he's dating a professor and living with the dean." I closed my eyes, willing my emotions to die back down. I didn't want to let Tremachlan know that this hurt me. I had a sneaking suspicion that he had something to do with this 'rumour' in the first place.
"Excuse me, Cassie, can you make my order to go?" I said, catching the waitress as she passed. She gave me a curious look, but agreed nonetheless. "I'll take what you've said under advisement, Director Jones, Professor Tremachlan."
"I'm sorry, Camryn," Jones said laying his hand on my arm. I flinched away and my eyes went wide as did his. I hadn't been that bad for quite some time now, only really flinching if someone touched me from behind. "This is for the best. If the board thought it was becoming a problem, they could expel Nate and fire you. Think hard about this, Camryn." I nodded mutely and took my food, paying for it at the counter before leaving and walking back towards campus.
I couldn't believe that my relationship with Nate was suddenly becoming a problem. In the last year, he'd helped the school's football team go undefeated in our conference by averaging twenty yards per catch with at least ten catches a game. Not that I understood any of that, but I had known he'd played beautifully at the games I'd been able to watch. I knew he worked hard to achieve his grades on his own as well. None of this made any sense to me. We'd kept our relationship essentially to ourselves and behind the closed door of my bedroom, but still these rumours got out?
The language department had had a major overhaul because of me and the success of the students that I taught. This year, I had been asked to teach the basic courses for every language that the school offered. My Spanish, French and German classes, I had to have the microphone for as the were almost full auditorium classes with over a hundred students in each. Aside from them, I was teaching Russian, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Hebrew, Latin and Arabic for the religious studies majors. All in all, because I could teach so many different languages, all of the tenured language professors had a lighter schedule and students who retained more information in the upper levels of the courses.
I got to the library and wandered around the building until I reached the back side of it. It was always shaded on this side at this time of year and I preferred the shade to the bright sunlight. I slid my phone from my pocket staring at it for a long moment before I began to punch in the numbers to Nate's cell. I hated to do this. I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to lose him, but Director Jones had been right. If the board wanted to, they could fuck him over and I didn't want that to happen. I could survive three years until he graduated.
bWe need to break up./b I sighed after hitting the send button, resting my head against the cold brick wall of the library. I knew he'd be confused. It was only last night that we'd made love last and now I was ending things. He wouldn't understand.
bR u srs? Where r u?/b I almost hesitated in giving him a response. I wanted to say it was all a joke, that I could never leave him, but his future was at risk right now. I wouldn't do anything that could risk the future he might have, even if it meant that I lost him forever.
bI'm srs. Behind Lib./b
bDon't move/b he replied almost instantly. I sighed and buried my face in my knees. I wanted nothing more than to be held and comforted by Nate, but that wasn't possible anymore. I had to let him go for his sake.
"Camryn..." Nate breathed out only a couple of minutes later. He was panting a bit so I knew he had run all the way here. His eyes were watering already, even as he dropped to his knees in front of me. "What's going on? Why are you suddenly wanting to break up?"
"I have to... For you," I said softly, reaching up to brush a stray tear from his face. He grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the wall, crushing me against him in a tight embrace.
"If it's for me, I don't want it," he whispered into my shoulder. "All I want is you, Camryn." I closed my eyes. He was making this harder. So much harder.
"I have to, Nate," I mumbled, trying to keep my tears at bay. "The board is threatening your scholarship, your very ability to be a student here. I don't want to- I can't- let anything happen to you because of me. I'm sorry." I pushed against his chest, needing to extricate myself and get away from him before I changed my mind and took on the school's board of directors a second time.
"Camryn..." he whispered, his voice breaking and shattering my heart. "I love you..." He let me pull away and I got to my feet. I leaned down, giving him a soft kiss on the cheek.
"I never said I didn't love you, Nate," I whispered and quickly left before he could see the tears begin to fall. This was for the best. It had to be. This was the right course to take. So why the hell did it feel so wrong?!