Steven Dorian considered himself to be the best-looking teacher at Miller High School. In his mind, there was no contest. The youngest hire in Miller history, he had already earned a reputation by the end of his first month. He heard the other teachers whispering in the hallways. The silences when he passed. He recognized the silence from his high school days. Unfriendly.
Steven didn't care. They could talk all they wanted. All the gossip in the world didn't change the fact that he was more qualified than they were. Overqualified, some might say, and they would be right.
He sat behind his desk and thought about his position. He didn't belong there. He deserved to be teaching British literature in one of those ritzy schools uptown--the university, even. He reflected on the concept of paying one's dues with grim determination. He would make it in the world.
It was then that a student slid a note across his desk.
Steven picked up the note. He looked up, saw blonde hair--the girl had disappeared. He hadn't seen her face. Even if he had, he was still learning faces. There was no guarantee he would recognize her.
He opened his hand. The note was warm, though from his touch or from hers, he had no idea. "Mr. Dorian" was scrawled across the front in sloping cursive. She had left her name off. The mystery thrilled him.
He opened the note. The writing inside was sloppier, scribbled in haste and slanting right. The ink was smeared in some places. He laid the paper on the desk and smoothed the creases with his hand. His eyes skimmed the page. As he read, he felt his eyebrows shoot up into his hairline.
All that from a student?
Steven let go of the note. He leaned back in his chair and let his arms fall by his sides.
He was in trouble.
The next day while his students were taking a quiz on Christina Rossetti, Steven checked out every blonde girl in the room. Although he hadn't seen the face of the girl who left the note, none of the girls in his class looked right to him. He couldn't say for certain how he'd know which girl was right. He suspected he'd just have some kind of gut feeling.
Steven took out his tattered copy of Misery and leafed through it. Every page had at least one underlined section. The book had been his favorite when he was in college and he hadn't opened it since. Looking through it now, he felt a little guilty. He also felt a strange kinship to Paul Sheldon, the protagonist. Like Paul, he often feared becoming the object of a psychopath's obsession. After all, who could blame him or her for being attracted to someone as remarkable as Steven?
Half an hour passed. Most of his students had finished already. They brought their papers to the front of the room and laid them on his desk before returning to their seats. Once they were back at their desks, Steven set down his book and scanned their handwriting. Nothing matched the note.
Ten minutes before the bell rang, the last student turned her test in. Lola Dolores, blonde-haired and long-legged, sashayed to the front of the room and added her test to the pile. He looked up from his book. Their gazes met.
"Did you get my note?" she asked. Her voice was barely audible. She was leaning over Steven's desk, and he had to make an effort not to look down her blouse.
Steven feigned ignorance. "I'm not sure what you're saying."
"The note I left on your desk yesterday. I was wondering if you read it."
"We'll discuss this after class."
Lola smirked. Steven watched her walk back to her seat. Then, he picked up Misery and went back to reading.
The next ten minutes passed slowly; torturously. The whole time Steven rehearsed what he was going to say. He had never been approached by a student before. He knew he wasn't supposed to engage in any inappropriate behavior, but his class was full of seniors. If Lola was eighteen, then surely it would all work out. Besides, what were the odds of his boss or anyone else finding out? He wouldn't tell if she wouldn't. No, of course not.
Lola Dolores was attractive. There was no doubt about it. Steven had been single for a long time now and he could use the flirtation. It was all fairly harmless. Everything would be fine.
Once the bell rang and students filed out of the classroom, Steven felt his heart punch the inside of his sternum. It was time to speak with Lola. He slipped a bookmark into Misery and slammed it shut. Right on cue, Lola made her way toward his desk. She smelled like strawberries. The scent spoke before she did.
"You wanted to see me?"
No, Steven thought, she wanted to see him. He tapped his fingers on the top of his desk. "I read the note you left for me."
"Yeah?" she asked. "What did you think?"
He studied her face before going any further. She looked much older than her chronological age. She was gorgeous, too. Who could blame him for considering an affair with her? There was something strange behind her eyes, too. It took Steven a moment to identify what it was. Fear.
"You aren't in any trouble, if that's what you're afraid of."
Lola's shoulders relaxed as she exhaled. "That's a good thing."
Steven knew she was waiting for him to continue. He cleared his throat. "Why don't you have a seat? What's your next class? I can write an excuse for you."
"Just lunch," she said. Instead of returning to her desk, Lola sat down on the edge of his, swinging her legs back and forth like a child. He forced the association to the back of his mind. She didn't look like a child. No, not at all.
He got up from behind the desk and walked over to stand in front of her. He was only a little bit taller than she was when she was sitting. For now, he kept a respectful amount of distance between them. "I'm assuming all of this is concerning your grade."
"In part," she said.
"What do you mean?"
Lola smiled. "Mr. Dorian, I'm sure you've heard everyone talking about the fact that you're the hottest teacher in school. If not, well... you should know that it's the truth."
Steven flushed with pride. Of course he'd already known that his reputation preceded him. Still, it was nice to have his suspicions confirmed--from the mouths of babes and all. "I've heard some rumors."
"I plan on majoring in literature when I go to college," she said, "so you can understand how important this class is to me." Lola looked up at him through her eyelashes. They were longer and thicker than he'd noticed before. Then again, he'd never gotten to look at her up close. "I'm tired all the time from cheerleading practice, so I might not give it my best effort sometimes, but that doesn't mean I don't care." She licked her lips. "I need to do well in this class."
"As long as you do the work, you should be just fine." He had an idea what she was getting at, based on the content of the note, but he wanted to hear her say it. It was better if she said it.
"I'd like to arrange some extra credit opportunities with you," she said. "Just in case my academic performance isn't what it should be. Do you still have the note?"
Of course he had the note. It had taken up residence in his front pocket. He'd read it over and over the previous night until his eyelids got too heavy for him to keep open.
A smirk tugged at the corners of his lips again. "How old are you?"
"Just turned eighteen. Why do you ask?" She was toying with him. There was no way a girl like Lola could write the kind of note she'd given him without knowing why he would want to know her age.
"Tell you what," he said, leaning closer to her, "if you'd like some extra tutoring, I could certainly arrange that. I'd like you to stay after school tomorrow and go over the rest of the Victorian poets with me. How does that sound?"
"Perfect," she said.
He couldn't agree more.
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"He wouldn't tell if she wouldn't. No, of course not." Teacher Steven Dorian is in trouble in this story by @brianawrites. (Click to tweet)