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A week after Cheryl and I had a drink and a chat with Gina and Gigi I had another meeting with the ‘Concert Squad’. This one took place at Nic’s house though and I soon found out it was less of a working bee and more of an excuse to drink wine and eat cheese. And apparently ask me questions.

“How long have you been divorced Sascha?”

I looked up from the cheese selection in surprise to find everyone looking at me.

Surely I hadn’t heard what I though I had? “Sorry?” I looked across the table at Kate.

“I don’t mean to pry,” Kate began and Nic snorted and interrupted.

“Yeah you do. You want to know if you have competition.”

“Okay, fine I do,” Kate said and rolled her eyes. “So? Are you on the prowl or not?” she asked with a grin.

“Not, definitely not,” I assured her. Then curiosity got the better of me and I asked, “Who are we competing for?”

“There are quite a few single dads.” Kate looked over at Don who wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. “And a particular teacher I wouldn’t mind err, dating.”

I looked at Don with his short blonde hair and blue eyes, he could have been aged anywhere from twenty eight to thirty eight while Kate looked to be in her mid thirties.

“Dating?” Max’s laugh was big, like him. “Is that what you kids are calling it these days?”

“We can’t all be old married couples like you lot,” Kate teased.

“Who are you calling old?” Nic’s husband John said in mock offence as he slid a platter of dips and crackers onto the table alongside the cheese one then sat down next to Kate.

“Max and Paula,” Kate said quickly.

“Hey!” Paula protested from beside me. “Kate was just telling us about all the teachers she wants to date.

“Oh come on, not again,” John groaned. “I mean, I love West but if I have to hear again about how dreamy his eyes are of how wonderful he is, I think I might barf.”

“Don’t be jealous John, you have dreamy eyes too,” Max said as he scooped up dip.

“Yeah John, don’t be jealous,” West’s voice sounded from behind me and by John’s lack of reaction I guessed he’d been standing there the whole time.

“Come and sit,” Kate invited patting the empty chair beside her but her mouth tightened as the chair beside me moved.

I couldn’t help but breath in his scent, especially as he reached across me to the food then again to take a beer from Don, and it awakened memories I’d tried to suppress, my body reacting to his proximity with no common sense at all.

“So, what did I miss?” he asked, looking around at everyone.

“We were just getting to know Sascha a little better,” Don supplied shooting me a smile.

“Don’t let me interrupt.” West slouched down in his chair and stretched his legs out under the table, his denim clad leg brushing against my ankle as he invaded my space. I shifted my leg slightly and his followed.

I chanced a quick look at him but he was focused on the plate of food he had in his hand.

Then to my dismay, Kate picked up the conversation again. “Is your divorce recent Sascha?”

It was a reasonable question so why did I feel so awkward answering it? “No, we’ve been happily divorced for years,” I said briefly hoping that would be the end of it.

“Are you seeing someone then?” Don jumped in next, a flirtatious grin on his face.

“Only my daughter,” I said lightly, really hoping that would be the end of it.

“Oh come on, pretty lady like you?” he said sceptically.

“I don’t date,” I said, my voice light but firm.

“Ah.” Kate nodded and gave me a pitying look. “Hung up on the ex.”

I shook my head, kept my smile in place with an effort. “Nope. Just focused on my daughter.”

Nic leaned forward then to give me a considering look. “At all?” I shrugged and she  said, “Pity.” Then thankfully changed the subject to who apparently was dating who.

I sat back and listened with little interest since I didn’t know many of the names mentioned and West was nearly as quiet beside me, uttering “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” a couple of times when he was directly asked a question.

“What you should do,” Paula piped up after Don and Kate had spent a few minutes complaining about how hard it was to meet people. “Is do one of those swapping parties.”

“What?” Nic started coughing  having choked on her drink. “Paula?” she gasped.

“I saw it on Sex and the City,” Paula said then paused to eat some cheese and crackers. She looked up from smearing dip on some bread to find herself the focus of attention and mumbled “What?” around her mouthful of food.

“You saw what on Sex and the City?” Nic prompted.

“A swapping party. You know, you bring your ex and someone else can have them.”

Her explanation was met by a chorus of “Oh” then a discussion of which ex they would happily trade.

“Obviously West would have to bring Andrea,” Kate said which gave me an excuse to look at him.

He had that blank look on his face again and I felt an irrepressible urge to ruffle his feathers. It didn’t seem fair that I was hyper aware of him, particularly of the warmth of his leg pressing against mine while he was relaxed, like a cat napping in the sun. So my eyes on him I  asked, “Obviously? The only ex worth trading?”

“The only one he has,” Kate answered as West tilted his head back to look at me from under his lashes and sipped from his beer. “West is like you Sash, he doesn’t date either. But didn’t I hear your ex is taken?”

“Hmm? Oh, Simon? Yes,” I said, jerking my head away. West’s eyes were a trap I shouldn’t be looking into. Ever. Under the table his leg eased away from mine then came back in a gentle tap, then it happened again and again, and I looked at him in question.

“No others?” Kate sounded disappointed

“Just Corey,” I replied absently, watching as West took another drink then captured a stray drop with his tongue.

“Corey? So you do date?”

“What?” I looked over at Kate with a frown. Why had I said that? “No, that was years ago and he’s married now.” I shook my head. “Sorry, I have no one for you.”

Kate made a disappointed sound then turned her attention to Paula. “What about that neighbour of yours?”

“West I have a layout for the program ready if you want to check it out,” Nic called and he stood up and followed her inside.

I should go, I thought, because it was late, not because I was avoiding anyone. Not because being in close proximity to anyone particular was tempting me to step outside my comfort zone and consider the discreet affair Cheryl assured me I could have. No, it was only the late hour prompting me to leave.

I waited for a lull in the conversation to say I was leaving. “I’ve had a great time, tell Nic thanks,” I told John as he walked me to the door.

“I can go grab her,”he said, not for the first time, but I assured him it was fine, I would see her soon anyway.

“Okay, drive safe,” he called as I walked to where my van was parked on the street and climbed in.

I drove home at my usual sedate pace, in a nice mellow mood from the glass of wine and good company. I was even only mildly surprised when I pulled into my driveway and my headlights briefly illuminated West waiting on my porch. I wasn’t sure if my easy acceptance of his presence was a result of my mood or if it was something deeper. I hit the button on my remote and my garage opened and I drove in then walked back out to West as the door closed with a low whirring sound.

I stepped up to the front door and used my key then pushed the door open. “Come in,” I said with a smile and stepped over the threshold, West right behind me.


continues here Hot Teacher 13