VIII - Jealousy

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[RECAP: Juliet has visited the church of her hot Latin teacher, Mr Carl Spencer, to try and win her way into his affection]

They walked back to Margot's car; Juliet both relieved to have left and disappointed to have had no time with Mr Spencer alone.

She mentioned this to Margot. "There's no point going to church to seduce him if his fiancée is also going to be there."

Margot rolled her eyes. "Girl, you're not going to jump his bones in church! You're going to play good-little-Christian girl and get to know him."

If Mr Spencer ever did read her school file, he wasn't going to think she was much of a good Christian girl, Juliet thought.

Margot opened the car door. "Anyhow, this isn't just a bet any more. It's a rescue mission."

"A rescue mission?"

"Rescuing him from that sour faced bitch hanging off him," Margot said.

Juliet felt that this was a bit harsh. They had barely spent a minute in Rebecca's presence.

"I can tell a bitch when I see one. Holy or not," Margot told her.

"I liked the service," Juliet said, changing the subject. "They all seemed so friendly."

"Friendly like a cult. They just want to suck you in," Margot said.

It hadn't felt that way to Juliet. People had seemed genuinely friendly and welcoming, no strings attached. "It's not like they took our names and addresses and tried to sign us up or anything."

"You just wait. I bet it will come."

"So should we go again?" Juliet asked.

"You should, if you want to win this bet. But I'm not wasting my time going to some church on a weeknight, mass is bad enough. Take Fhemie."

Margot pulled up outside Juliet's place. "But you know," she added, "I think it's working. Like when he spoke to you, there was something. Maybe that's why that bitch got so edgy."

This gave Juliet a faintly giddy feeling. "You really think so?"

"Yeah. And why not? I mean you're hot, way more hot than his fiancée." She drew the word out in an exaggerated way. "And that bitch knows it."

* * *

"I really don't think it's appropriate for your students to be turning up at our church."

Rebecca had felt annoyed ever since the two St Gillian's students showed up at the service.

"It's not our church, we don't own it. I'm happy to see them finding their way in their faith," Carl said. He was driving her home as he usually did.

"It's your private life. It's our private life. Can't we keep something separate from your job? It's bad enough you have to take so much work home all the time."

It was the nearest they had come to arguing about something related to faith, and Carl was troubled by it. He couldn't understand Rebecca's resistance.

"You have your study too. My work gives me something to do while you're busy with that." He tried to defuse the tension, make a joke out of it.

But Rebecca didn't agree. "My study is temporary. Once I've completed my qualification I won't be working in the evenings. But when will you stop bringing work home?"

Carl had thought that Rebecca understood that for a teacher, the work didn't stop when the bell rang. There was always marking, reports, lesson planning. He didn't mind because he loved his work.

He tried to reassure her. "We'll still have time for us. You know that. If it ever takes over... well, we can have a discussion if and when that happens. But it's never an unreasonable amount of work."

He was surprised by the strength of her reaction. Rebecca had made remarks a few times about how it might be a good career path for Carl to become a pastor, and he'd given it some serious thought. After all he had come close to taking orders during his studies in Oxford.

But it hadn't been right then and it wasn't now. It couldn't be a choice: it had to be a vocation. And teaching was his vocation, it was what he loved. He felt that he was doing something really worthwhile when he taught his classes. He had hoped that Rebecca would understand this.

Rebecca was silent. She couldn't admit even to herself that she had felt a flash of jealousy at the two girls, and the warmth of Carl's greeting towards them. She had been much happier when he was working at the boys' school. Teenage girls could be so precocious.

Carl was feeling a twinge of discomfort himself. Juliet had looked so pretty earlier and he had felt genuinely glad to see her. He wasn't sure if this was an appropriate emotion or not.

She had such a beautiful smile but there was always a sadness in her eyes that made his heart tighten. Not to mention his loins. He would have to be careful in class because she was starting to get to him.

* * *

Aunt Mary was in the living room when Juliet entered, with her bible and another religious book next to her. She often did devotional reading in the evening. Juliet sometimes wondered why she hadn't become a nun.

"How was your prayer group?" she asked.

"It was fine. Nice people," Juliet said, grabbing a banana from the kitchen and heading upstairs. She needed a little space and solitary time. Her head was rushing around with different thoughts.

She lay on her bed for a while, trying to zone out. But her head wouldn't clear, so she decided to clear her room. There was a heap of clothes that needed to go to the laundry. As she picked them up to dump them in a basket, a piece of paper fluttered down.

Juliet picked it up, only just glancing at it before she was about to crumple it and toss it. Then she saw that it was the email address the guy in the bar had given her.

At the time Fhemie and Margot had talked her out of doing anything about it. Now, though she wondered. What did she have to lose? She was kind of curious anyway, even if it was a pick up attempt.

Mainly though she needed something to distract her from the images of Mr Spencer swirling around and around in her mind.

So she got out her laptop. Aunt Mary had finally allowed her to have a computer and internet access in her bedroom the previous year, since Juliet needed it for study. On the one hand Aunt Mary had heard a lot of scare stories about sinful content online. On the other hand she had very little technical knowledge so couldn't have investigated Juliet's files and browsing history even if she had wanted to.

Hello, you gave me your email address the other day in The Green Room. My name is Juliet.

She pressed send, wondering when she would get a reply, and then started working on a history assignment she had.

The little chime and email symbol arrived about half an hour later.

Thanks for getting in touch, I'm Drew. If you're interested, come down 11am on Saturday to 15 Dover Avenue. Sing whatever you like, the Blondie was awesome.

Dover Avenue didn't sound like a cabin in the woods. It was only a few streets away from school. Still, it would be safer to take Margot or Fhemie along with her if she did go as you never knew.

But Juliet was torn. She thought her friends might tease her or try to talk her out of it.

I'll be there. J.

Now at least she had something else to think about other than her growing obsession with Mr Spencer.

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