V - Conflicted feelings

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[RECAP: High school student Juliet is starting to fall for her hot new Latin teacher, Mr Carl Spencer. But it turns out that he has a fiancée, so will he even notice Juliet...?]

It was Carl Spencer's rule to switch off from school thoughts when he went home each day, at least for a couple of hours. Later in the evening he often had marking to attend to, and he felt at least couple of hours mental break were healthy.

Today though St Gillian's and its students remained on his mind. In particular one student: Juliet Martin.

Carl found himself thinking of the blonde schoolgirl more often than he would have liked. There was something about her that had struck him on the first day. She was a beautiful girl but she looked troubled.

"You're zoning out again, honey, I need you to give me an opinion on these wedding invitations."

His fiancée Rebecca was round at his place, going over their wedding plans. They didn't live together of course, as both were waiting until marriage to move in together.

"Do you like the gold edged ones better or the ones with the silver scrolling?"

Carl tried to feel an interest in the different pieces of card. Really, the details of the wedding didn't overly interest him. He just wanted to get it done: start his married life, have a family and all the other things he had in his life plan.

Rebecca smoothed down her long skirt. Her hair fell down over her shoulder as she looked at the invitations, trying to decide between them. She had long, dark, straight hair, held off her face with a couple of clips.

"The ivory ones have little gold crosses on them. It think that's kind of nice, don't you?" she said. "Appropriate".

Carl and Rebecca had met through their church. The pace of their courtship had been quite rapid, but then that was often the way if you didn't spend months or years having a test run by cohabiting, as Carl thought of it. There was no reason to drag it out.

Seeing Rebecca's dark hair he had a flashback to Juliet's blonde hair. She also pinned hers back, as was the requirement at St Gillian's, but a strand would often escape and she would play with it in class. It was an unconscious habit but Carl found it strangely distracting.

He was feeling particularly guilty that evening. Partly for his lack of tact in mentioning Juliet's parents and upsetting her. But also because he had felt the strongest urge to put his arms around her when she had stood there after his class, looking so sad and trying to act as though everything was okay.

"You're daydreaming again." Rebecca's voice broke through his reverie.

Carl tried to erase his memories of the day by thinking back to his relationship with Rebecca. He remembered the first time they had held hands, on a church picnic when they were officially dating. Their first kiss - awkward, but that was presumably always the way - after a date at an Italian restaurant.

"Sorry. I'm happy with any of them. The ivory ones seems nice," he said, saying it only because he thought Rebecca liked them.

Rebecca looked pleased. "Ivory it is then. I think they're more solemn, don't you? After all it is about sanctifying our future life together."

She was also working on the guest list which was predominantly their families and people from church. Carl had thought they might invite friends from college, even a couple of guys from his home town, but Rebecca was concerned about keeping numbers tight.

It was probably wise. There was no point starting married life with huge debts from a blowout wedding.

"You know we could just fly to Vegas one weekend," he joked.

Rebecca turned to him, shocked. "Are you serious? Starting our marriage in a city of sin, gambling and..." She couldn't bring herself to say "prostitution".

"Relax, I was only joking. Of course we'll do it the correct way. Even though it's hard waiting to be with you properly as my wife."

Even as he said this it felt kind of hollow. The celibacy had actually been easier than he had thought. He figured it was thanks to prayer, though he remembered how his friend Daniel had been practically climbing the walls ahead of his own wedding night, and his fiancée - now wife - as well.

No wonder that Dan and Jenny were pregnant just weeks after the honeymoon. But Carl himself didn't find the waiting as hard as he had imagined it might be.

The zeal and the joy with which Dan and Jenny had approached their wedding was one of the things that had encouraged him to propose to Rebecca. He and Rebecca hadn't been dating that long: they had fallen into it partly due to being two single young people in church. Everything was easier as a couple, you could double date with other couples, do social activities.

Carl had admired Rebecca's devotion to her faith. He was at an age himself where he was starting to think of having a family and making a life with someone. Rebecca was a good person, attractive, she was both church and career minded. It had made almost perfect sense. They seemed entirely compatible.

Rebecca stood up, gathering the invitation samples together and putting them in her bag. "I have to get going, I have some work to catch up on tonight." Rebecca worked in a bank and was studying towards a financial qualification.

"Don't forget that we have marriage class tomorrow night after church," she reminded him.

As if Carl could forget. The marriage classes were held at their church for engaged couples and he and Rebecca had faithfully attended every one. They wanted to do all they could to ensure they started married life properly.

Rebecca gathered her things together and tilted her head for Carl's kiss. Chaste kissing was considered appropriate, but the pastor who led the marriage classes continually warned of the dangers of going further, even when one was engaged. "A marriage based on lust is a union that won't go the distance," he had said.

Rebecca had taken the pastor's teachings very much to heart, taking on the responsibility to keep her Carl at arm's length from her until their union was properly sanctified. It wasn't hard for either of them as they'd both been committed to chastity since teenagerhood. After a while you got used to it.

As Rebecca left, Carl wondered if it was healthy or not that he didn't feel much desire to break the rules. Maybe a switch would flick on once they were confirmed as man and wife. It wasn't that he didn't have urges or sexual thoughts, but whenever he did they were rarely triggered by Rebecca. Perhaps that was a good thing, because he respected her so much.

Despite himself he found his mind wandering to St Gillian's and the sultry look that Juliet had given him as she read out a line of Latin love poetry. He realised he had grown hard just remembering it.

This wouldn't do. He was a teacher, his students were completely forbidden fruit to even fantasise about. He would need to pray about this.

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