XXXI - Turmoil

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[RECAP: Mr Spencer finally gave in to temptation and kissed his student Juliet, in Paris!]

He had fallen from grace. So far, so hard.

Yet he couldn't make himself feel as bad as he knew he should.

Despite going against the teachings of his church, against his professional ethics, against his own moral code, Carl knew that he would do it all again.

He stood there in the middle of Paris, looking at the girl who had upturned his entire world. What was he going to do?

Juliet smiled at him, looking strangely shy, and his heart overturned.

He had never felt like this about Rebecca or any other girl. It gave him a chill to think that he could have committed his entire life to his former fiancée when it was possible to feel like this about someone else.

"There's no point having a conversation about how I shouldn't have done that, is there?" he said.

"I guess not." Juliet found it hard to speak.

So where did they go from here?

"It's wrong on so many levels." Carl was trying to convince himself that it must never happen again.

"It didn't feel wrong. It felt anything but wrong." Juliet was looking up at him and it was hard to resist the urge just to kiss her all over again.

"I know." What had surprised Carl was that kissing her, even though she was his student, didn't really feel wrong. While he wasn't exactly expecting the heavens to crack open and punish him with a thunderbolt, he had expected to feel some kind of censure. Some Divine disapproval. Or had what he had done cut him off from God?

"I've been wanting you to do that for so long," Juliet said.

"I know. You weren't the only one," Carl admitted.

She gave him a seductive smile that shook what was left of his composure. "I wish it was just us in Paris. No one else. So we could spend all this time together."

The mention of the others brought Carl back from his thoughts with a jolt. The others - what was the time? He could only imagine the fallout if Anne Mead and the rest of the choir suddenly emerged from the museum to witness everything. He glanced at his watch and to his relief saw that they still had plenty of time before the group was due to finish their tour.

"Let's head back towards the Louvre entrance," he said.

Outside the museum they found a bench by a fountain and sat together. They could have just been any couple walking together in Paris, Juliet thought. No one around them knew that they were two people who had just crossed a massive line.

A street vendor came past with a basket of postcards and plastic trinkets in the shape of Paris monuments. He had a wire hoop strung with models of the Eiffel Tower around his neck. "You buy?" he asked Juliet. "Une tour Eiffel?" But she declined.

Carl however gave the man some Euros and handed Juliet a snow globe with the Louvre inside it. "You should have a souvenir," he said.

She shook it, watching the snowflakes fall over the pyramid, and looked him directly in the eye. "What would you like me to remember?"

He returned her gaze. "I would like to remember all of this. But it still has to stop." He saw the disappointment in her eyes.

"I don't see why. We're two free adults."

It was true. At least here in Europe, they effectively were. If they never went back, if he got a job and a place here and they both stayed... he stopped his thoughts going in such an absurd direction. "You're my student, Juliet, it's considered an abuse of power."

"It's not like you ordered me to do anything." She looked up at him again, a suggestive smile on her face. "Though I wouldn't mind if you did."

Carl wouldn't even let himself go there. "I'm a lot older than you. You might be eighteen but that's barely an adult."

"It's on the shelf by Roman standards." They had learnt in class that girls in Ancient Rome married from as young as twelve, though usually between fourteen and sixteen.

"I don't think those are the standards we want to live by today," he said.

Juliet determined to break his resolve. "You won't even be my teacher forever. It's only a few months until graduation."

"I'm well aware of that." Carl was far too conscious of it. He was letting his thoughts wander to what might happen after that time, which was totally inappropriate. "Juliet, I need some time to think about all of this. Let's talk about it when we get back."

Her heart leapt in hope. "Do you mean...?"

"I don't mean anything. I just need us to remain professional and not risk everything on an impulse," he said.

"Is that what I am to you? An impulse?"

Even as she said this Carl realised that she was so much more. "No, you're not. And that's the problem, which is why we both need some time. I promise we'll talk about this back home. For now let's just concentrate on the choir trip."

"If that's what you really want."

It wasn't what he wanted. What he wanted was to take her in his arms and shut out the rest of the world. To kiss her and hold her and be with her, ignoring the consequences.

But the consequences would be disastrous. He would lose his job, Juliet would likely be expelled and might even be thrown out of home: Carl had no idea how her aunt would react but he doubted a red carpet would be rolled out for him. There was no way he wanted to put her through that kind of ordeal. She seemed tough but he had seen the fragility in her when she had confided in him about her past.

Most of all he wanted things to be right with God, for her sake more than his. She deserved that.

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