Teacher Emma Cowan gives great head. She tries to keep her sexual and professional lives separate, so why does the whole school suddenly know about her secret porn skills? She knew she shouldn't have done it with the sexy IT guy, Luke Hemley, but he was just too good to resist. Did he kiss and tell?
Luke Hemley has fallen hard for Emma and is trying to gain her trust, but an angry school community threatens to tear them apart. The principal is bitter; the PTA is up in arms. And something sinister is underlying all of it.
“Miss Cowan, the computers will be down tomorrow.”
Emma Cowan looked at Bridget’s face and gulped. For the first time since she was a teaching intern, the line of students’ faces staring at her looked scary, as if she were at a job interview and her fate were in the Cheetos-powder-stained hands of Generation Z.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Ever again! Emma willed the feeling of vulnerability to go away, but a glance around the class only strengthened it. Why were they staring like that? God, teenagers were like predators in the savannah. One sniff of blood, one moment of weakness, and they were on you, fangs to neck.
She should have known it was a bad idea to put a Shakespeare quiz on the PC. The depth of the bard was getting harder to convey by the year, as the kids sank further and further into an online realm. Actually, “sank further” was the wrong way to put it: online life was too shallow. The students didn’t care; they were happy to lie down in that kiddie pool and close their eyes. Twitter fights, listicles, eHow articles, “What porn subgenre describes your personality?” Facebook apps... They loved that stuff.
Emma bit her lip, tasting the strawberry gloss she’d applied before class. Bridget had loaned it to her, joking that Emma might need to take a bath in the stuff if her lessons stayed so dry. Emma had poked a gloss-stained tongue at her. It wasn’t her fault, or Shakespeare’s, that the kids didn’t get the subtle humor.
Now the girl was staring expectantly, wearing the same amused look she’d had when Emma had accidentally called Othello “a fellow,” a slip of the tongue she couldn’t seem to live down. If Emma heard one more person say, “You need a boyfriend, Miss Cowan,” she’d smear them in gloss and send them to the principal’s office. Freudian slip? No way. Emma was not on the lookout for a man, though there was one guy on staff she loved to... look at.
Bridget was giggling. “Shush, Bridge,” Emma said, her mind still racing. If she had been alone with her favorite student, she would have heaved a sigh and cursed that devil Luke Hemley on the spot.
He was sure to be involved in some way. Ever since he had arrived at Fulton High, the female staff and students were prone to forgetting to do their jobs. And their tests. And sometimes even to breathe. An IT contractor with the body of a Chippendale’s stripper was distracting, to say the least. It didn’t help that his shirt always crept out of his belt while he fixed a computer, revealing a triangle of taut, tanned stomach. Her colleagues had nicknamed it The Bermuda Triangle because of all the lost productivity.
Emma’s skin tingled and her nipples pricked up under the white blouse which was—thank god!—covered by a blazer today.
“The computers will be down, will they? Does anyone else know about this?” Emma was about to glance around the class for second opinions when something on Bridget’s skin caught her eye: doodles and words scrawled on her arm. Normally Emma would have sent her to the bathroom to wash them off, but she knew they may be hiding something else. The girl used to cut her own skin as a junior, finding ingenious ways to disguise the marks. Emma would have to have a private word with her.
She gulped, mentally scolding herself for getting hot about the IT guy when her students needed her. It hit a little too close to home, reminding her of the way her mom focused more on a rotating line of partners and malt whiskey shots than on raising Emma and her brothers.
All eyes were on Miss Cowan, waiting for a response about the test. Especially unnerving were the eyes of Pearce, an athletic boy who was always staring at her legs. Emma could not count the number of times she’d had to say, “Eyes down, Pearce!” And she meant on his paper, not on her thighs. Was it not clear?
Now Pearce was waving his hand in response to her question. Emma gave him a nod. “IT is doing an upgrade, Miss Cowan. They want to get some stuff out of the way before the Smoky Mountains trip. I talked to Mr. Hemley while we were planning mock wrestling.” Pearce grinned. There was irony in his voice when he said the word “mock”; he obviously didn’t intend to hold back in the slightest. “It’s going to be dirty and brutal, especially if it rains. Hemley said he wants to get his SAP testing phase done and get muddy in the Smokies.”
“Thanks.” Emma looked at the sea of faces and listened to the tap of Bridget’s pen on her Hamlet Study Guide. The trip was coming up next week, and there was no time to reschedule. Emma was looking forward to the getaway, which was planned for her favorite place in the world: a cabin at the top of Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She was assigned as a supervisor for some of the troubled kids, along with Luke Hemley from IT. That meant the view would be gorgeous in more ways than one.
“So the quiz is ‘not to be?’” Bridget quipped, grinning. Emma rolled her eyes at her. At least she had done her reading.
“I’ll reschedule the quiz for after Mount LeConte, people,” Emma said as the bell rang and the students packed up their binders. A couple of boys high-fived each other. “But it will be. Adios!”
Emma uncrossed her legs under the table and sighed, happy the exhausting week was almost over, then instinctively glanced around for Pearce. Keep those legs locked, Emma. The only thing schoolboys could sniff out more quickly than weakness was sexiness.
Luckily, only Bridget was still in the room. “Mr. Hemley put the notice up,” she said, approaching the teacher’s desk with her folder in her armpit. Emma glanced again at the doodle marks on Bridget’s bent elbows; they looked innocent enough. “Didn’t you see it? I think it says ‘Attention: IT Outage.’ I noticed ’cause it had Mr. Hemley’s name at the bottom.” Bridget grinned.
Emma had not seen a thing. She leafed through her agenda. Bridget watched sympathetically.
“No,” Emma said, feeling the student’s eyes on her. “You’re dismissed, Bridget.”
“I’m glad you’re taking us to camp,” Bridget said, her voice full of touching sincerity. Emma paused in the middle of a page flip, choking up. She tried to help all her students, but she knew from experience that there was always a special connection with one or two. Bridget was one of her girls: shy, troubled, and way too smart for her own good. Emma had a soft spot for those. She remembered what it was like to blush when answering a question in class, the words so carefully planned that they sounded stiff. Showing off a good vocabulary in high-school only got you pelted with spit-balls and branded with a humiliating nickname. Bridget’s nickname—“double-A-cup ass-kisser”–was both alliterative and sexually humiliating. Emma had often mused that if the bullies showed half that much creativity in their writing assignments, it would be she, the teacher, who was plastering A’s all over their report cards.
“I’m glad too, Bridge. Get out of here, I mean it.” The girl got the message, turning and striding off with her copy of Hamlet swinging in one hand.
The timid Emma Cowan was long gone; a teacher has to take charge sometimes. That was why she was going to give IT a piece of her mind. She pushed the door open and glanced up and down the hall, trying to guess if Luke and the guys would be in their office. Only one way to be sure: Emma set off for the techie room, students slamming lockers as she walked along. She was aware of the boys’ eyes on her striding legs—definitely her best feature. Her face was on the border between pretty and plain, but her body was a solid nine. She had overheard boys saying as much.
“Hey, watch it!” one of her colleagues barked. A pile of books was about to avalanche from a girl’s locker onto the head of a frail boy unzipping his bag. “I’ve told you to focus! You’re as out of it after hours as you are during class.” The girl, a vacant senior named Azalea who was friends with Bridget, hung her head.
Emma nodded in solidarity at the other teacher, though she did feel sorry for Azalea. There was room for compassion in teaching, but a lot of ego was needed to pull it off: guiding a class, holding the floor, letting the students—and the other staff—know who was boss. She had heard people say that teachers are similar to actors in their megalomania. Perhaps there was truth in that. It was a good thing that Shakespeare brought out the performer in her; sometimes when she read to the class she lost herself and only remembered where she was when she glanced up and saw the faces.
Emma’s high heels clicked on the hall floor. She caught a glimpse of herself in the reflective glass of the science lab door. She was not going to let the vulnerable Emma make an appearance. She was not going to be foiled by a techie who didn’t know Othello from Iago and probably wouldn’t care if one of her girls fell under a bus.
How dare they make her screw up! Bridget was right to be surprised; Emma Cowan rarely missed a beat. Someone had not filled her in like they were supposed to. She had a feeling she knew who that someone was: he was six-foot-three and charming, and melted the female staff, and a lot of the female students, into wet puddles. And he was going to be her partner supervising the kids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Why had they put an IT contractor on school camp duty anyway? Probably because he was helping to coach extracurricular sports, or maybe just because he was so friendly and everyone loved him. Too bad he had shown no interest in Emma. The married admin women got more “hello”s and “how was your trip?”s than she did.
If he thought he was going to level her students—or her schedule—like a charm-powered monster truck, he had another think coming. Emma paused to look at the notice board. Yep, there it was: PCs down, and tomorrow’s date. She whipped the notice down, sending a pin flying, and tore on, growing more agitated by the minute. She pressed the door marked IT and barged in without knocking.