XXXIII - Back to school

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[RECAP: After kissing his student Juliet in Paris, Carl Spencer must decide if and how he should see her again]

Carl had thought of little else but Juliet since getting back from Paris. He couldn't deny his feelings any longer. If it was solely sexual attraction it would have been easy to deal with, or at least to make a decision about.

But it ran deeper that that. He found himself happy to be around her and looking forward to seeing her. He felt protective of her. When Cynthia or one of the other girls tried to goad Juliet, he had to restrain himself from jumping to her defence. That would really give the game away.

So what was he to do?

He couldn't confide in anyone. After all, she was his student and any relationship between them was strictly illicit.

But he knew that he had to see her again.

"How was Paris?" Dan asked him when they met at church.

"Amazing. It went very well," Carl said.

"Jenny's always wanted to go. I don't know how we'll manage it once the baby arrives, we'll probably have to wait a couple of years."

Jenny joined them at that point, trying to escape Rebecca who had cornered her. Unfortunately Rebecca came along as well. After freezing Carl out over the past month or so she was now talking to him again. It was awkward and he found himself preferring the silence.

"Carl was just telling me about his Paris trip," Dan said.

Rebecca pursed her lips. "I can't imagine giving up vacation time to take a load of schoolchildren half way around the world. You really do go above and beyond the call of duty with your job, Carl."

It was a criticism poorly disguised as a compliment.

"It's a very beautiful city. It's always worth seeing," he said, trying to keep his tone neutral. He was relieved when it was time for the service to start and he could escape Rebecca. He sincerely hoped she didn't have plans to try to rekindle their relationship. Breaking up with her had been like waking up from a suffocating dream.

It wasn't that she was unattractive but her personality left him cold.

This was another issue with Juliet. Sure, she was beautiful, but there were several other very pretty girls at St Gillian's who had tried to flirt with him in the most outrageous ways when he started teaching there. None of them did anything for him. Yet Juliet, even before she had started paying him attention, had caught his eye.

There was something about her and he couldn't get over it.

Carl managed to avoid sitting anywhere near Rebecca by going and helping a couple of older congregation members to their seats: one elderly lady needed assistance getting up and down, and had to remain mostly seated for services.

He felt a twinge of guilt when the old lady thanked him as he was mainly glad of the opportunity to sit by her and nowhere near his ex-fiancée.

Afterwards he was approached by Agnes. "What happened to those two nice young women from your school who visited our church? They seemed like very bright and well-behaved girls."

Carl suppressed a smile. There was nothing well behaved about Margot, given the slightest opportunity. He was fairly certain that her sudden illness in Paris had been a ruse. And Juliet broke plenty of rules too. Her aunt had no idea that she sang in a band.

"I don't know if they'll be back," he said.

As he said it an idea came to him. A way that he could maybe see Juliet outside school without crossing any more lines. He would have to think and pray on it, but it might just work.

* * *

Juliet felt a weird mix of excitement and flatness coming back home from Paris. She would no longer get to see Mr Spencer all day every day, but he was now taking things seriously enough to make some kind of decision.

Being in limbo was better than nothing. Certainly better than continual rejection.

She had bought Aunt Mary some religious souvenirs from Notre-Dame. Aunt Mary clucked with disapproval at the suspected cost but Juliet could see that she was secretly delighted. Her aunt gave them all pride of place around her home.

To distract her there was an email from Drew.

We've been asked to play The Green Room again, but we'll get a cut of ticket sales this time. It won't be major bucks but it will cover expenses.

He didn't specify a date so Juliet prayed it didn't clash with a school event or something of Aunt Mary's. How she had managed to conceal her participation for so long was something of a miracle.

That's awesome! See you on Tuesday.

The band had temporarily been named Dover Six after the street they rehearsed in and the number of members. The idea was to pick a better name eventually but no one ever managed to come up with anything that everyone else liked.

So Dover Six it was. Juliet was secretly happy because she felt more included, being the sixth member. Although she was effectively the lead singer now she sometimes felt a bit out of things, as she was the only female and had joined ages after everyone else.

The biggest thrill had been when Jax set some of her lyrics to music. He managed to make Juliet's verses into an actual song, it sounded far better than it had as a poem. She had been embarrassed to share them at first but Drew had persuaded her and now she was very glad that she had plucked up the courage.

They performed a couple of covers as well, as it helped to warm up a crowd. But most of the music was their own.

Juliet wondered how she would have felt if she had known that Mr Spencer was in the audience for the first gig. She might have frozen up.

Now that she felt more confident about it all she liked the idea of him being there. Maybe she should invite him to the next gig?

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