Never one to back down

The sun sent soft flickering light into the classroom. It really was too bad she was too distraught to enjoy it. The vile words leapt up at her from the blackboard, slurring both her integrity and position.

Teaching high school was a job suited to only the most battle-hardened of her profession, she decided, before sinking into her chair. The students were quiet behind her, awaiting a reaction from their young teacher. She was covering for their permanent teacher who had developed a severe case of the flu that had lasted the past two weeks. The cold fist in her belly tightened as the door opened once more.

'Truly sorry about being late miss.' Came the unrepentant drawl that had made her past two weeks teaching at St. James College a true trial. Turning slowly she beheld the young man as his easy walk slowed to a halt. He stared at the board behind her and his expression turned from bored amusement to an impassiveness that was deceiving to those that did not know him. His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened. Not him then. It was really too stupidly blunt to be him anyway.

Never one to back down when in a bad place, she drew a shaky breath into her chest and lifted her chin to address the class.

'I don't know which of you wrote this but I can tell you now it will be easy enough to find out. All I can say is, it is not true. I doubt any of you shall take anything in today and to be honest I feel decidedly ill so you are dismissed for an independent study session. Be sure to note that I will discover who is behind this, and action will be taken.' Having delivered her due in a steely enough tone she turned resolutely and attempted to rub off the offending words, only to find they were etched into the blackboard under the chalk; the offender had scratched them in using some kind of utensil, a screw perhaps. Cursing under her breath she turned to see the class still frozen.

'LEAVE!' she shouted, at her wits end, wincing as her voice echoed several decibels higher than normal. The shuffle of feet and bags signalled the hurried departure of her students. Turning once more as they filed out, she attempted once more to wipe the words from the board to no avail. Breath leaving her, she fell into her chair, covering her face.

'Miss White.' The voice was masculine and startling, as she had believed herself alone. She looked up to discover Aiden Garret, aforementioned bane of her teaching at the school.

'Aiden.' Was her voice really that resigned already? Two weeks and out? She thought she had more perseverance than that. Obviously she had not reckoned on the perseverance of the boys of St. James.

'Miss White.' Aiden's face was solemn as he offered her a white handkerchief. Impressive for a boy to be carrying one, she thought, and even more so for it to be clean. But then, he was a remarkable young man. The school's finest in fact. He was set to be valedictorian and all the other teachers loved him. They didn't understand how she was having so much trouble with him as he was a perfect angel to everyone else. Apparently he did not take to her as she could not share the sentiment. His arrogant comments had been bombarding her from day one.

Wondering why he was offering her the material she raised her hand to her cheeks, surprised to find them damp. Taking the handkerchief she buried her face in it. No lady like dabbing here, it seemed. She was just so tired. For a moment, the scent of the material she had ploughed her face into distracted her. It smelt quite wonderful she noted, a little dazedly, clean with a distinct edge of masculine musk.

Looking back up at him she was surprised to see him busy extracting the blackboard from its frame on the wall. Too startled to do more than stare, she watched the muscles move underneath his white school shirt as he hefted the board completely away before resting it on the floor. He turned back to her, tie loosened and hair mussed. Not knowing how to respond to his sudden change in attitude and too thoroughly exhausted, she merely observed him as he drew near and knelt on one knee at her side. Remaining silent he lifted her icy hand, which had been clenched white-knuckled on the arm rest and took it between both of his warm ones. Piercing grey eyes took hers hostage as he gently massaged her knuckles until the hand relaxed between his palms.

'I'm sorry you had to see that Sarah.' He murmured.

'You shouldn't call me that.' She whispered back, feeling the situation drift further away from any semblance of normality.

'Since when have I done what I should when it comes to you?' he asked dryly, mouth curling into an wry grin. His eyes really were the most amazing shade of silver, so clear and bold it was as if light shone from them. He stood, pulling her up with him and she found herself level with the smooth expanse of skin at the open vee of his shirt. It was bronze and smooth and she could feel the heat emanating from his body. Another condition for teachers, she thought, was to have at least an inch of height advantage over their students. Being more than a head shorter didn't help when giving an impression of authority. She looked up at him and found the silver eyes and teasing smile a lot closer than expected.

Dangerous. She thought, hurriedly stepping back and nearly falling over her chair. She ended up hovering over it, as his hands clasped her hips to steady her.

'Aiden.' She said breathlessly after a suspended moment, 'You can let go now.' She had to retain some semblance of control over the situation and the heat of his palms sinking though her blouse was not helping at all. Slowly, he let go, fingers dragging over her waist like a caress and she found her breath catching. No. No. She thought determinedly. She stepped away from him just as the classroom door opened to admit Principal Harry Lodgeman.

'Sarah.' He said, coming forward to take her hands gently, 'One of the boys told me what happened, how are you doing.' He was a fairly attractive man in his early 30's. Eight years older than her, but still a safer prospect than the young man she felt stiffening behind her. Safer, but apparently not what she wanted, she thought, dismayed, as she had no reaction to the caring clasp of his hands.

'I'm fine, really. It was just a bit of a shock. I will deal with it.' Her words definitely sounded brave. Maybe repeating them she would help her believe in them? It wasn't so much that the incident was insulting, more the fact that she found herself quickly tiring of what was supposed to be her dream occupation.

The friendly clasp moved to rub her shoulders.

'They can be perfectly horrid, I know. I'm sorry something like this happened to you.' His words were sincere and she offered him a wan smile.

'She's fine. She just needed a rest. I took down the board because whoever the bastard was scratched into it. I trust it will be replaced?' Aiden's appearance at her side and bold words to the principal took both teachers by surprise.

'Yes, of course it will be. Thank you for helping, Mr. Garrett. That will be all.' The clear dismissal went unheeded as the youth stared audaciously into his Principal's eyes.

'Miss White indicated she would want to go home and I thought I could assist with carrying her bag to her car for her.' Sarah found her thoughts wandering, feeling as though the obvious undercurrents to this conversation were quite beyond her at this point in time but the word 'home' suddenly seemed heaven-sent and she quickly agreed.

'Oh yes, I'm sure after a good rest today I'll feel a lot better. I would like to leave, Mr. Lodgeman, if that is okay with you? This was my last class for the day.' She peered up at him hopefully.

'Of course. And as I've said before, please call me Harry, Sarah, there's no need for any formality. I will help you to your car. You may go .' Harry Lodgeman didn't so much as glance away from Sarah's face as he spoke.

'Of course Mr. Lodgeman,' Aiden said easily and with a smile though with a glance Sarah could see his hands were fisted in his pockets. 'Though I only offered as I was aware you had to teach the senior's chemistry class around now.' The Principal glanced at the clock and cursed.

'Oh I couldn't keep you from your class Mr. Lodgem – Harry, Aiden doesn't have much to do now so it's no problem, really.' She knew it probably wasn't wise to have more time alone with the young man but she didn't want more people put askance over the events of the morning. The Principal dropped his hands from her shoulders, smile dropping briefly into a stony countenance.

'Very well. Do take care Sarah, take all the time you need. Mr. Garrett I want you to go straight back to private study after you are finished, understand me?'

'Yessir.' Aiden smirked, now slouching lazily against a desk.

'Thank you for your concern.' She smiled softly at the Principal. 'I will be back tomorrow morning.' Harry Lodgeman swallowed visibly and nodded, striding out of the room. She turned to Aiden, seeing his grim expression.

'What is it?' she asked, confused at his rapid changes in attitude. Was it associated with high intelligence, she wondered? She certainly couldn't keep up with his mental processes.

'Do you smile like that at every guy you talk to?' he asked coldly. She was startled.

'L-like what?' she stammered, genuinely confused.

'Never mind.' He walked over to her bag and slung it over his shoulder, picking up her box of books as well. 'Ready to go?' She nodded and followed him as he walked out of the building, taking long, slow strides.

The parking lot was behind the school between two buildings and at this time of day it was deserted. He reached her car and gave her the bag and her books which she placed on the passenger seat. Turning she found herself confronted again with a certain vee of skin. His hands were placed either side of her, trapping her between his hard body and the car. Her wide eyes met his half-lidded ones and she gasped as he slowly, deliberately settled his lean figure against her soft one. The burning heat of him and icy cool of the metal behind her made her shiver.

'Aiden.. stop.' She whispered, as her hands pressed against his shoulders.

'Why?' he asked, lowering his head so that his warm breath danced over her nose and lips.

'B-because, you're my student, you're too young and you d-don't even like me. You've bullied me ever since I started.' Her breath caught again as his thumb traced her trembling lips.

'You never gave into my bullying though did you? You met me every step of the way.' He laughed softly. 'Want to know the reason for it? It's rather juvenile I'm afraid. A case of playground affection, I teased you because I wanted your attention. On me, and me alone. As for the other reasons; I'm graduating in nine days and I'm eighteen.' He murmured, even as his long fingers traced over her cheeks and jaw. Although she knew there must be a flaw in the answer he presented her, she couldn't focus on what it was. His heat and gentle fingers were trapping her in a timeless window and she felt herself give in and lean her cheek into his hand. His lips were suddenly at her exposed neck and her hands flew to bury into his hair. The dark locks brushed against her cheek as a hot tongue soothed her skin after a little nip. The shift of his hips in a seductive roll brought a breathless moan to her lips and she clutched at his shoulders as her knees buckled. Surely this wasn't happening, surely she had more sense than this. Evidently not, she thought, as he pulled her knee up over his hip so that her hips created a cradle for him. They both gasped at the contact and his head dived down to capture her lips. Softly tasting her with a reserved hunger that made her breath catch and heat pool.

The sound of footsteps heading into the parking lot broke them apart. They stood apart gulping for air, a task made harder for her, she imagined, by the hungry look he was devouring her with. He had to have practised that, certainly, no man could have such a natural sensuality about him.

'When I graduate,' he spoke in a rough growl, sending shivers chasing over her, 'I will come for you. And nothing will stop me. So you better be ready for it, Sarah White, because I won't show you any mercy.' With the threat delivered he swung around and left the parking lot.

'Oh..God.' She whispered, lifting fingers to her swollen lips. Her body was warm and actually tingled, from his words as much as the memory of his hands. Somehow she felt a rising anticipation in her.

Sarah White never was one to back down.