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No sooner had Tate wrestled his dick into his jeans and gotten his fly up, then the doorbell rang. Turning to take a fast look at Zoe, after dropping a reassuring kiss on her forehead, he ran his fingers through her tussled hair in an effort to try and tame it, and make it look less like she’d just been in bed having sex.
Then noticing from the corner of his eye, the glint of the shiny metal handcuffs practically winking at him, groaning, he snatched them off the bed and tossed them into the nightstand.
When he took a fast look down at himself and realized he was sockless, Tate just shoved his bare feet into his canvas shoes as Zoe rushed out of the bedroom to answer the door. At the last second, he threw the comforter back in place, and then his eyes flew open, realizing he needed to turn the pillows over too, to hide the double indentations that showed they’d been sleeping side by side.
“Mom, Dad,” he heard her say from the other room. “What a nice surprise.”
Sidling stealthily out of the bedroom, he snuck into the kitchen before they had a chance to realize what room he’d been in. And then he heard Zoe call out, “What a coincidence, you know Robert’s brother Tate just dropped in to check on me, too.”
“I think he might be in the kitchen, I’ll just go and check. Why don’t you have a seat? Would you like some tea or coffee or maybe some wine?” He had to give her credit, she sounded surprisingly calm, but he had a feeling her knees were probably shaking.
And he was relieved to hear her mother say, “Oh, nothing for us dear, we just wanted to see how you were doing. You know your father and I were worried about you being all alone in the city and just thought we’d come by to say hello. Dad was in town on some business this afternoon, and this’ll be our only chance to see you, since we’ll be driving home in the morning.”
Walking into the kitchen, Zoe rolled her eyes at Tate, and called out to her mother, “Well, I’m glad you did. But you didn’t have to worry, honestly, everything’s been fine.”
Then she whispered to him, “Okay, time to come out and meet them. And then you can find some excuse to leave.”
He nodded and took a breath, letting her lead the way. And once he walked into the living room, he dug deep for his most confident smile. “Oh, you’re checking on Zoe too, are you? My brother asked me to look in on her, so I thought I’d drop in tonight and see how she was doing.”
Zoe’s father, obviously no fool, narrowed his eyes on him, and began raking him over slowly, but thankfully her mother just smiled and extended her hand. “Well, at least we get a chance to meet you this way, Tate. I’m Connie McKay and this is my husband Jim.”
Tate reached out and accepted her hand, telling them, “A pleasure to meet you both.” Then he felt his father’s suspicious gaze land on his feet, and he looked down at his bare ankles, suddenly feeling guilty as shit. But then it occurred to him that lots of guys went barefoot in their shoes, didn’t they? But he decided it best not to look directly at her father, or he’d know from the guilty look on his face what they’d been up to. Well probably not exactly what they’d been up to, or he’d already be punching him in the face. Suddenly inspiration struck — he had to figure out a way to leave, just as Zoe had suggested. Obviously they wouldn’t be expecting him to stay long if he’d really just dropped in to check in on her.
And as though she’d read his mind, Zoe said, “Well thank you for coming by, Tate, but you really didn’t have to. And I’ll be sure to call you if I need anything.” He just nodded, relieved that she’d given him an excuse to get out, but then began to wonder if she’d be okay alone with them. He gave his head a mental shake. Of course they were her family, so he imagined she should be.
Tate smiled at her parents. “Well, I’ll let you have your visit with your daughter.” Then he turned to face Zoe and silently tried to make her realize with the way he was staring hard into her eyes, that he wanted her to call him as soon as they were gone. “And don’t be afraid to call if you need anything now that you’ve got my cell number.” And with a quick nod to her parents, he said, “Nice to meet you both, goodnight.” He was glad now that he and Zoe had exchanged phone numbers and other info over dinner, so she’d be able to call him.
Her mother smiled after him, watching him close the door behind him as he left. “Well, he seems nice, coming to check on you, too. I think Robert must come from a good family.” But judging from the look on her father’s face, he didn’t seem quite so sure.
“Oh, I’m sure he does,” Zoe said, trying to calm her erratic heartbeat, unbelievably relieved that he’d left before her parents could start giving him the third degree.
“So, do you think you could give us the grand tour of the place before we go?” her mother asked, looking hopeful.
Zoe let out a strangled laugh, glancing around. “Well, there’s really not much to see. Artvin Escort This little room we’re in now, I guess is what you’d call their living and dining area, then there’s the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and that’s it.”
“Well, I’d still like to see it,” her mother pressed.
Ugh, though her insides were squirming, Zoe kept a smile plastered on her face and said, “Of course.” Now she just prayed there’d be nothing suspicious, like a pair of handcuffs lying around, or even worse, her damp crotchless panties, reeking of sex.
Stopping first in the kitchen, she let her parents wander in to have a look then quickly ducked her head into the bedroom before they could follow. Gasping, her startled gaze landing on Tate’s black socks on the floor near the bed, she managed to kick them underneath just as her parents were walking in behind her. Throwing her arms open wide, looking like Vanna White, she said nervously, “And this is the bedroom.”
“Kind of small isn’t it?” her father muttered gruffly, glancing around the little square room with a scowl on his face.
Zoe nodded. “I know, it’s not that big. But it’s so expensive to live in New York, I’m sure they were lucky to have found this place.”
“Well, it’s still their little love nest, isn’t it?” her mother said with a dreamy look in her eye as she glanced around the room. “I know the first place we had after we were married was pretty tiny, but it was cozy.”
Still frowning, her father was quick to say, “It might have been small, but at least it had a backyard, and we didn’t have to walk up all those darn stairs to get to it.”
“Well, small as it is I find it’s plenty of room for me and the cat,” Zoe told them, hoping to end the discussion so they would leave.
Her mother’s expression brightened, looking around the room. “You know I haven’t seen their cat yet.”
Oh, god, she cringed, why the heck did she mention the cat? “Well, she likes to hide, so she probably won’t come out while you’re here,” Zoe explained, hoping they’d just give up on seeing it and go.
Walking around her to try and look under the bed, her mother asked, “What’s its name?”
“Puss, its name is Puss,” Zoe said in a rush, managing to get between her mother and the bed before she had a chance to bend down and look underneath where she’d be sure to discover Tate’s socks.
“Not a very original name,” her father grumbled.
“No,” Zoe conceded. “But little Puss usually likes to hide in the living room, so we should probably go look for her in there.”
“Come out, Puss, wherever you are,” Zoe called out as she gently turned them around and herded them ahead of her back into the other room. But it seemed Pussy had other ideas, and stayed put right where she was. “Guess you won’t get to see her this time,” Zoe finally said with a shrug, as she got to her feet, after looking high and low in every conceivable nook and cranny for the stubborn little thing.
“Well, we should probably be going, anyway. It’s getting late,” her mother said, “And we’re just glad to see you’re okay. But you be sure to call us if you need anything. And make sure to lock up tight after we go. You can never be too safe, you know, especially here in the city.”
“Don’t worry, Mom, I will,” Zoe promised. Hugging them both and pressing kisses to each of their cheeks as they walked out the door, she waved them off. “And you have a safe trip back.”
And no sooner had she turned around from locking the apartment door when her eyes popped, seeing Puss padding into the room with one of Tate’s black socks dangling from her mouth. “Oh, thank goodness you didn’t come out any sooner,” she said, dropping to her knees. Rubbing the little cat’s head, she finally released the nervous laugh she’d been holding in since her parents had come.
Tate returned a little while later, once Zoe had called him to let him know the coast was clear. Lightly rapping on the door, he was flashing a grin when she opened the door for him. “That was close,” he said.
Zoe rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and that’s an understatement.”
Just then Puss wandered out of the bedroom again with Tate’s other sock hanging from her mouth. “Hey, that’s my sock,” he said. And Zoe finally let go and laughed out loud, as she explained about her mother nearly discovering them under the bed, and how the moment they’d left, Puss had shown up with proof that he’d been staying with her, just as she was doing now.
Chuckling at the cat’s antics, Tate watched her expression as he asked, “So do you think they believed that you’re staying here alone?”
She nodded. “I think so. Actually, come to think of it, my mother even said how nice it was of you to come and check on me. And I don’t think she would have said that if she had any doubts.”
Tate decided not to tell her about the suspicious way her dad had looked him over, imaging it might upset her. And he was relieved if they had managed to pull it off, since he didn’t Artvin Escort Bayan want her parents hating him before he even got a chance to know them. And the way he was feeling about Zoe, he felt pretty sure he’d be seeing them again, but hopefully next time not quite so soon after un-cuffing their pretty daughter from a headboard.
Slipping his hands around Zoe’s waist and tugging her against him, after gently brushing his lips to her forehead, Tate rested his chin on her the top of her head and said, “You know what I’d really like to do with you in bed tonight?”
He felt her shake her head, then pulling back, she looked up at him and said tiredly, “I have no idea.”
His lips curling into a grin, he simply said, “Sleep.”
“Hmm, sounds perfect,” she agreed, dropping her head back onto his chest, sighing as he enveloped her in the warmth of his arms.
Later in bed, curled up naked against him, with her back to his chest, Zoe yawned and snuggled her butt in a little tighter to his groin, loving the feeling of being so close to him.
Tate just rolled his eyes, feeling himself getting hard. And he realized it would take more than utter exhaustion for his body to ignore the allure of Zoe, convinced he’d actually have to be in coma to avoid getting aroused by her. Noticing her breathing gradually becoming shallow as she dropped off to sleep, he wrapped her tightly in his arms, and pressed his lips to the back of her head, wondering how he’d managed to fall for her so fast.
Over breakfast in the morning Zoe got a text from her friend and fellow third grade teacher Kimmy, letting her know about possible cutbacks in the town’s upcoming education budget. She’d heard rumors when the school year ended in June, but now according to her friend, the cuts were almost a certainty. Tate noticed Zoe frown as she read the news on her phone, and asked, “Something wrong?”
Looking at him across the little table, she sighed. “I’m not sure, but there may be some cutbacks coming up at my school by the sounds of it.”
“So you think they might affect you?”
“Maybe. There are two grade three classes, and since neither one is full, it looks like one or both of us could have a problem.”
Tate pushed his empty plate away and reached for his tea. “So what would you do if it was you they decided to let go?”
Already Zoe was gazing off into space, trying to imagine what she’d do if she couldn’t teach in her hometown anymore, since it was all she’d ever done. “To be honest, I don’t know what I’d do.” And she didn’t. Leaving her school was something she’d never had to contemplate before. Finally she looked at him again and shrugged. “Though I hate the thought of leaving my school, and all the kids and staff that I’ve grown so close to, if I end up having no choice, guess there’s not much I can do and I’ll just have to go find somewhere else to teach.”
Tate let out a breath, deciding it was probably a good time he let her know a few things about his past, as well as his future plans. “Unfortunately I had to leave the last school where I was teaching.”
“Due to cutbacks?” she asked, picking up her fork again to take another bite of her scrambled eggs.
He shook his head, but didn’t elaborate at first, barely able to look at her. “No,” he finally said, “I was asked to leave.”
Though he was looking down at his plate, he couldn’t miss hearing her gasp. “And why was it you were asked to leave?”
“Believe it or not, it was due to my own naivety, I guess. I got tricked by one of my students.”
Zoe felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end when he said that, and she carefully asked, “Got tricked into ‘what’, exactly?”
He thought for a moment before he answered, remembering how horrible it felt to be reprimanded for something he hadn’t done, especially something so salacious.
Blowing out a weary breath, Tate decided he might as well tell her the whole story. “It was last year. I had just finished a lecture on cultural influences in sexuality and the treatment of the human body, and had touched on both male and female circumcision, and their ties to religious and cultural beliefs and practices.”
Listening intently, Zoe nodded.
“And at the end of class, I was packing up to go when I noticed one younger girl had hung back and hadn’t left with the others. I’d seen her watching me the odd time and thought she might have been harboring some kind of crush, which of course I never encouraged. Standing in front of me, she got out her phone. And before I realized what she was doing she’d pulled up pictures of circumcised and uncircumcised penises and asked me if it was true that uncircumcised men actually enjoyed sex more. Then before I could even think of how to answer, she smiled and came right out and asked if I was circumcised and how it affected my sex life. Then she looked at me like she actually hoped I’d pull it out and show her. Of course, as you could imagine, alarm Escort Artvin bells started going off in my head and I told her that I thought she should leave, and said that any relevant information she needed for her exam would be found in her text book.”
“Although the episode left me feeling shaken, I’d thought that was the end of it, until the next day when I was summoned to the Dean’s office. Understandably, Dean McGregor was not happy. Turns out the girl was only sixteen, extremely bright for her age, having skipped a grade to get into college early, unfortunately she was also far more manipulative than I gave her credit for. Apparently she’d gone home that night and told her parents that she and I had spent hours alone in the lecture hall looking at pictures of penises while discussing male gratification during sexual intercourse. And she’d even told them that I’d discussed my own body with her. Of course I tried to defend myself with the truth, but he didn’t want to hear it, probably due to the fact that the young lady’s parents — one of the school’s more wealthy benefactors — had informed him in no uncertain terms that they wanted me gone. He actually apologized and explained that perhaps their small conservative university wasn’t ready for such a controversial course to be taught, especially not by a good looking young man who might attract the attention of young impressionable students.”
Shocked beyond belief by what she was hearing, all Zoe could do was blink at him and stare. She had no idea what to say. Flabbergasted that something like that could have happened to him, sure he would never have done anything so wrong, not with his level of integrity, she said, “So, you were forced to leave all because of the lie the girl told?”
With a resigned shrug, he nodded. Odd, but Zoe was the first person he’d shared this with. No one else really knew the exact details of what he’d gone through. And he was glad and relieved that she seemed to believe him, especially with so many stories floating around lately about teachers taking advantage of their students.
“Of course I called my lawyer, and after he spoke with the university they agreed to compensate me until the end of the school year, with an added bonus if I agreed to keep my mouth shut about the exact circumstances of what had happened.” Finally looking up and seeing the compassion in her eyes floored him. And he was glad now that he’d told her what had happened to nearly end his teaching career.
“But it’s just so unfair. From what you’ve said, it sounds like you didn’t do anything wrong.” She felt outraged by the total unfairness of it all, to think he was let go over something so silly. Leaning closer, she said, “In fact, you actually did the right thing when you asked that student to leave. So, how could they possibly blame you for that?”
“In hindsight, I think that’s what might have gotten me into so much trouble. The girl might have felt I’d rejected her advances and decided to get even with me by causing me to lose my job, in addition to possibly destroying my reputation and career.”
Zoe shook her head, unable to fathom what she was hearing. “I can hardly believe something like that could actually have happened, and that she could have been so spiteful.”
“Believe me, neither could I. And if I’m going to be honest, there are days when I still can’t believe it.” Though thankfully, they were becoming less frequent. He’d suffered the odd nightmare over the whole sordid affair, imagining scenarios like spending years in a jail cell, or being blacklisted from teaching for life, all over something he hadn’t even done.
“So what are you going to do now?”
Lost in thought, he blinked, belatedly realizing she’d asked him something. “Well, I’ve decided to accept a lecturing position overseas. Thought a change of scene might be good for me, and give this ridiculous controversy time to die down.”
Hating the thought of him leaving, it suddenly occurred to her that once he left, it was possible she might never see him again. “So where will you be moving?”
Wow. The idea of him moving clear across the world left her feeling stunned all over again. She stared across the table at him. “But that’s so far away.”
“It is, but since this whole thing happened, I’ve been looking for a change. And I imagine living and working in Australia will be something really different for me.”
Zoe slowly nodded her head, wondering where that left them. But figured she already had her answer… nowhere. Tate was moving to the other side of the world, and she’d be returning to Martindale to try and find out if she even had a job waiting for her. So, in all likelihood, they would most likely never see each other again, especially with him moving a world away.
As Tate stood to collect their dishes, he tried to reassure her. “But I’ve got a feeling we’ll both be fine. I’m sure I’ll enjoy lecturing in a totally new environment, and I think even if there are cutbacks at your school, you’ll wind up landing on your feet. I can tell you’re dedicated, Zoe, so I’m sure things should turn out all right for you, too.” He hesitated before he said, “Unless there’s a chance you’d be willing to join me?”
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