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“Sascha?” Nic’s voice dragged me back to the present and I wondered how long I’d been standing there thinking about West. “Are you okay?” she frowned. “You look-”

“Fine, I’m fine,” I interrupted not wanting to hear how I looked right then, I could feel the heat in my cheeks just fine and my heart was pounding so hard I wondered if West could hear it.

“What’s going on?” Miss Green walked up to our little group with an expectant look on her face. “Are we going out?”

“Waiting to hear if Ms Quinn will be joining us,” Miss Sullivan supplied and I found myself the focus of attention.

I had no desire to go out with them, the last time hadn’t ended that well after all with Miss Green trying to take advantage until West had stepped in. Then West… well that was something I didn’t need to think about right then. Luckily I had the perfect reason not to go. “No, I need to get home to Violet. Thanks,” I added belatedly.

Miss Green shrugged dismissively and arched a brow at Nic who shook her head. “Kids,” she said, that one word enough of an explanation.

“So it’s just us teachers then,” Miss Green said, bumping her shoulder against Miss Sullivan’s who smiled cheerfully.

“Make that just you girls. I’ll be hanging around to clean up here,” West’s voice came from behind me, not that I’d forgotten he was there. How could I when I could feel the heat of his body, smell his cologne.

“Next time for you too then Mr Austen,” Miss Sullivan said with a wave and I felt him leave, heard his footsteps fade away.

“I should go,” I said with a smile at Nic who nodded and opened her mouth to reply but was drowned out by Miss Green.

“Well, well, Mrs Austen,” she greeted as a tall blonde woman approached.

“Miss Green.” The woman smiled and admonished, “It’s Andi remember? I was just looking for West, have you seen him?”

“Oh you know your husband, always off being a good teacher,” Miss Green said with a smirk.

“Believe me, I remember,” the blonde said with an exaggerated eye roll. “Oh, I see him,” she continued and patted Miss Green on the arm then strode away.

I looked across the room, a whisper of hope in my heart that there was another teacher named Mr Austen, but there was only West, his back to the room as he reached up to remove a painting from the wall. I felt sick, knew I had to get out of there fast, knew I couldn’t watch that husband and wife reunion across the room.

I pasted on a smile and said, “Nice seeing you all.”

“Do you want a lift?” Nic asked as I turned to leave.

“No, I drove. Thanks anyway.” I turned away as they called various goodnights, their voices sounded distant, a low murmuration I could barely hear over the rush of blood in my head.

I walked out into the fresh air and blamed that for the tears that welled in my eyes. It was a quick walk to the parking lot and I was never so grateful for automatic locks as I was at that moment as there was no way my shaking hands could have fitted the key to the lock. I slid behind the wheel of my van and just sat there as the awful reality washed over me.

I’d had sex with a married man. Bile rose in my throat again and I grabbed a bottle of water and took a sip. A married man with a hot wife. Blonde, slim, she had probably been a cheerleader back in the day. The way he’d acted that night at the bar made sense now; he wouldn’t have wanted his workmates seeing him flirting with me.

I closed my eyes and thought back to that night, tried to picture his home, but I’d only seen the bedroom, en-suite bath, and the garage. There hadn’t been any photos that I had seen, no smiling bride and groom, or happy couple shots. I went back to the bar, saw his hand reaching for food and he wasn’t wearing a ring. So how was I to know?

I groaned out loud and pressed the heels of my palms to my eyes. I had no idea what to do now. What was the protocol? Did I need to tell his wife? How would I feel if that was me? Would I want to know or live in ignorant bliss? One thing was certain I needed to stop reliving that night. Just my luck, the hottest sex of my life and I needed to forget about it. No more fantasising about a replay either.

The alarm on my cell chimed, letting me know it was time to head home. Violet was with my neighbour so I wasn’t on a strict schedule but we had a routine to stick to. An hour later we were in the kitchen finishing off the dishes when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Violet yelled and took off before I could caution her to wait. My daughter was smart, responsible, aware of stranger danger, and we lived in a good area, but that didn’t mean I wanted her opening the door alone. I followed after her, drying my hands on a dish towel, but my footsteps slowed as I heard her voice clearly before I rounded the corner to the entry way.

“Mr A!” She sounded surprised but happy. “What are you doing here?”

Good question Vi! I stopped out of sight and waited to hear his answer.

“Hi Violet, I was in the neighbourhood and thought I’d drop your painting off for you.” West’s voice was relaxed, casual. He didn’t sound at all like a man who betrayed his marriage vows. Maybe that was why he was here, to ensure I was going to keep his dirty little secret.

“Oh, thanks! Mom said the show was really excellent.”

“It was. And your painting was a big hit. Is your mom around?”

I guessed that meant I couldn’t hide any longer. “Who is it Vi?” I asked as I rounded the corner.

“Hey Sascha,” West’s voice was guarded, his eyes intense as they locked with mine.

“You know my mom?” Violet’s question broke the spell and West looked down at her with a smile.

“We met last week after the Parent Council meeting,” he explained. Then he looked back at me and said, “She’s pretty cool.”

Was that meant to be a message, telling me to ‘be cool’? I crossed my arms over my chest, something that felt a lot like betrayal causing an ache there.

“Yeah she is.” Violet shot me a cheeky look and rocked from her heels to her toes. “Even if she does make me eat broccoli,” she said and wrinkled her nose up adorably.

“You don’t like broccoli?” West sounded shocked. “That’s Evie’s favourite vegetable,” he added and Violet nodded.

“She eats it raw,” she said as if was the most disgusting thing in the world. Then she turned to me and casually informed me, “That’s Mr A’s daughter, she’s the school captain this year.”

I sucked in a shocked breath as Violet took her painting from West. “Thanks Mr A, see ya tomorrow,” she said cheerfully and ran off down the hall leaving me with West.

“Can we talk for a minute?” he asked softly.

All of the thoughts I’d had on the short drive home, altruistic thoughts about telling him he had to come clean with his wife vanished. I couldn’t destroy a family so I knew what I had to do.

I stepped closer to West as I shook my head. “There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Sascha-” he began.

I felt like a coward and a hypocrite for not confronting him. But Violet was in the house, could return at any time, and I didn’t want her overhearing anything incriminating. I cut him off with the reminder, “One night, no strings.”

He looked surprised and a little confused, but we hadn’t made plans to see each other again or even exchanged numbers. He’d driven me home and when I’d thanked him for a nice night he’d smirked and said, “You’re welcome.”

His confusion turned to a frown. “Sascha,” he said again and this time his voice held a hint of demand, just like it had that night. I faltered for a moment, wanting to say yes to whatever he wanted. How could I be so conditioned after just one night?

But before I could give in Violet’s voice rang out, “Mom can I have a cookie?”

“I have to go,” I stated the obvious as I aimed a smile in West’s direction but not meeting his eyes. “Thanks for dropping off Violet’s painting.”

He nodded and I closed the door quickly then stood there and waited until I heard his footsteps fading away.

“Mom?” Violet’s call reminded me I had better things to do than stand around regretting what I couldn’t change.

“Just one baby,” I called back and went to pour my daughter a glass of milk.

continues here Hot Teacher 7