Remember Me(4)

By: Ashlee Mallory

The hallway teemed with kids amped up on Red Bull, hormones, and spring fever—despite the abysmal weather. Returning from a week-long spring break, they were livelier than usual for a Monday morning, which only made it more difficult to push through. She evaded a near collision with a freshman flipping a soccer ball into the air, giving him a stern look, but was too tired to follow up with more.

The raucousness of the hallway lowered to a dull roar when she crossed the threshold into the faculty lounge. She took a deep breath. Peace and quiet—relatively anyway. Now for more coffee.

With time to spare before her first class, she refilled her travel mug and stopped at the fridge to pour in her favorite creamer—salted caramel mocha—before finding a seat. As if on repeat, her mind played back the events of last night—and Sam Fratto’s unexpected and brief cameo.

Could he have been any more of a jerk? And why, after so many years, was her body’s first reaction to him so…immediate? So visceral? One glance at the man still sent her heart thumping madly, just as it had when she was a painfully shy, overweight sophomore nursing a gripping crush on the handsome senior.

She would have recognized him anywhere.

His face had never been pretty-boy handsome like many of the popular heartthrobs back in high school, but it had been rugged. Strong. With a jaw that would set in a stubborn line when he didn’t like what he’d heard, which, frankly, had been much of the time. He’d never been one to throw away his smiles—no matter how sexy she thought them—but it was when he turned those light hazel eyes in her direction that she would hold her breath. And melt just a little.

“Have you heard the news?” her friend Janine squealed, and slid into the seat next to her. Janine’s hands thrummed with excitement as they tapped the surface of the table. A drama teacher at the academy, her flair for drama was innate. Her burgundy colored, choppy, mid-length haircut was no exception. Allie smiled, took a sip of her coffee, and waited.

“Jeremy may have found a replacement for Carter. They’re in Jeremy’s office as we speak, discussing the details.”

“Thank God.” This was better news than Allie could have hoped for. Hastened by the heart attack he’d suffered over the Christmas holiday, Robert Carter had announced his early retirement from the St. Andrew’s English department at the first of the year. Effective immediately. A substitute had picked up most of his classes, but there were a couple that Allie’d had the bad luck of being assigned until they hired his replacement.

“And that’s not even the best part. I haven’t seen him, but from what Marie says, he’s pretty hot,” Janine gushed.

“Which is not the best thing to have in a high school teacher, if you ask me,” the algebra and calculus teacher, Claire, added in her no-nonsense tone and took a seat with them, a steaming mug of tea in her hands. As always, Claire looked fairly bright-eyed and chipper, despite the early hour. She’d also been at the academy for seven years and was turning twenty-nine next month—but tended to have the stodginess of a seventy-year old. She was also Allie’s best friend at St. Andrew’s. “The last thing we need is dozens of impressionable girls flocking to his classroom. Mark my words. Trouble.”

“He could be Brad Pitt for all I care,” Allie said. “So long as he takes Carter’s Advanced Media and Graphic Design class from me. When your students know more than you about a subject, that’s trouble. Last quarter was a nightmare.”

“Which is probably why Marie was here looking for you earlier,” Claire said, and tucked a strand of her long, shiny, chestnut hair behind an ear. “She mentioned Jeremy was hoping you had time to swing by his office before your first class.”

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