Fall from India Place Page 11

His eyes washed over me and my insides dipped like I was on a roller coaster. We’d never been this close to each other before.

“I bet your parents tell you you’re smart all the time,” he muttered.

“Yeah, they want me to believe in myself.”

“That’s good. You should believe in yourself.”

I made an impulsive decision right at that moment and my palms began to sweat as the blood rushed in my ears. “I think believing in yourself means having to be brave sometimes.”

Before Marco could reply to that, I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his. My heart was slamming so hard in my chest I could barely hear anything over the sound of its beating. Marco stiffened beneath my kiss, but I didn’t pull back. Instead I put more pressure behind it. Seconds later, I felt the heat of Marco’s hand on my waist and his lips moved against mine.

I didn’t have time to feel relieved or triumphant because he was kissing me back, taking control of the kiss, and sending my hormones into overdrive. My skin was flushed, my lips tingling, and all I wanted was to sink deeper into him and feel his hands all over my body.

My hands suddenly had a life of their own, one coming to rest on his knee, while the other cupped the nape of his neck.

He squeezed my waist and I sighed involuntarily, my lips parting on the sound. Almost instantly I felt the touch of Marco’s tongue against mine, and the surprising bolt of lust that hit me between the legs made me stiffen in shock.

Just like that, I found myself pushed away as Marco abruptly stood up.

I looked up at him, panting for breath, watching him rub his hands over his short, dark hair and drag them down over his face. Then he dropped his hands and his taut features were revealed to me as he lowered his incredulous gaze.

Before I could say a word Marco strode down the steps and disappeared up the street.


The fourth-year class erupted into boisterous conversation as soon as the bell rang. Chairs scraped against the wooden floor, jotters were stuffed into backpacks, and friends who had been separated in my seating plan reunited as they headed toward the door.

I had finished a year of teacher training at the beginning of the summer, and now I was two months into my probation year. Once this year ended, I’d be fully qualified. After that came the really hard part – finding a permanent teaching position.

I felt confident that I knew what I was doing, but every now and then someone would remind me I was just starting out and there would be this moment of panic. I couldn’t let that kind of self-doubt win, and I definitely couldn’t let it show. Kids were like predators – show a sign of weakness and they’d take you down.

My eyes caught Jarrod Fisher’s as he lazily put away his things. His friends, two of my problem kids in this class, stood by his desk, waiting on him. From what I had heard they followed Jarrod’s example, but in my class Jarrod wasn’t a nuisance, though his friends were obnoxious brats. I’d heard stories from the other teachers, however, that Jarrod could be a menace. He swore, he talked back, and he disrupted lessons.

I wondered what was causing him to clash with those teachers. I got his cheeky side, but never an aggressive manner.

“Jarrod, may I speak with you, please?” I asked, and then gestured to his friends to leave the room along with the rest of the students.

As per usual they ignored me, looking to their ringleader.

As per usual I didn’t let that fly. “Boys. Out. Now.”

The boys threw me dirty looks but turned and walked out of the classroom. Jarrod stood up, stretching out his tall body. He grabbed his backpack and came over to me slowly, a small smirk playing on his lips. At fifteen he was already well over six feet. With his dark skin and light eyes he’d reminded me of a certain someone from my past the moment he’d entered my class. After I discovered the photo two nights ago, that resemblance seemed somehow more pronounced. Of course, Jarrod was less brooding, but perhaps just as angry underneath his cocky charm. Sometimes it was difficult not to wonder what caused that anger in a boy so young. Sometimes it was difficult to try not to care about that and just teach him English.

“What’s up, Miss Nichols?” He slouched against my desk, completely at ease with me.

“I’ll be handing back the first draft of your personal essays tomorrow, but I wanted you to know that you did exceptionally well.” I studied him, knowing there was more to this cocky boy than met the eye. There had to be. I knew that after reading such a wonderful essay about his little brother. “You’re very insightful, Jarrod.”

His eyes widened slightly. “Seriously?”

“I’ve written notes. You can look it over tomorrow. I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed it.” I gave him a knowing look. “If you would work like that in all your classes, you’d do well. You should start thinking about university.”

The spark that had lit in his eyes at my praise died, but he offered me a cheeky smile. “And why would I do that? That’d be no challenge for the teachers.”

I gave him a look of reproach. “Jarrod.”

He shrugged. “They piss me off. Mr. Rutherford does it deliberately. I’m not going to sit there and take it.”

I didn’t know if that was true or not, but since Mr. Rutherford, a maths teacher, rubbed me the wrong way whenever we crossed paths, I couldn’t find the words to disagree with Jarrod.

Instead I went with, “Don’t swear. And don’t let anyone stand in the way of your future. You’re a really smart kid. You should do something with it.”

“If you say so, Miss Nichols.”

“I do say so. Maybe the other teachers would as well if you’d stop smart-arsing them.”

He cocked his head to the side. “Did you just swear?” he teased.

Knowing I’d be in trouble if he decided to report me, I cursed myself inwardly. Sometimes it was hard to separate teaching the kids and volunteering with the adults. When I swore in front of my literacy class it was no big deal. Swearing in front of youngsters? Not so professional. I shook my head in innocence. “I don’t recall doing so, no.”

Jarrod laughed. “Look, the other teachers aren’t like you. They’re immune to my charm. That’s the problem. End of story.”

“Oh, Jarrod.” I gave him a mock-pitying look. “I’m not charmed by you. You aren’t that charming. What I am is pleasantly surprised by your abilities.”

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