XXXVI - A lift home

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[RECAP: Juliet has just visited her teacher Carl Spencer's church with him, and met his friends Dan and Jenny]

Juliet followed Mr Spencer to his car. It wasn't the first time she had been in it, of course, but she felt unaccountably nervous this time.

The cold night air made her shiver even as she wrapped her coat around herself, stepping out of the brightness and warmth of the church.

"Cold? I'll put the car heating on as soon as we're inside," he offered.

Juliet could think of far more effective ways that Mr Spencer could warm her up but she didn't dare to suggest any of them. It was kind of ironic that she felt so on edge around him. She'd seen plenty of other guys and got up to far more heavy stuff than had ever happened with Mr Spencer. But with him it felt different. More significant.

They walked across the street to where his car was parked. Mr Spencer went around to the passenger side, opened the door for her and closed it after she had got into the seat. Guys her own age never did that. It added to her nerves, the sense of being weirdly out of her depth.

Everyone at church had seemed older than her as well, there were no other teenagers there, maybe a couple of people who looked like college students but that was it. Younger families presumably went to the morning service.

Juliet chewed her lip as Mr Spencer drove through the darkness. He didn't say anything to her, though she noticed that he had remembered the way. She flicked her eyes to his profile a couple of times, but his gaze was fixed on the road. She wondered what he might do if she put her hand on his thigh.

Mr Spencer finally pulled up on the road just down from her aunt's house. The neighbours were entertaining and their guests had parked in the space right outside Juliet's home. So by fortunate chance Mr Spencer had to park out of view from where Aunt Mary might see through the curtains.

He unbuckled his seatbelt, obviously planning to open her door for her, but she turned to stop him. "Mr Spencer..."

He moved his hand back from the door and looked at her. The angles of his face were flawless in the semi-darkness, lit only by a nearby streetlight. "I think you had better call me Carl, outside school."

"Carl..." She said the name, testing it. Somehow it shifted everything, to call him by his Christian name.

"Juliet." He waited for her question.

"Would you kiss me?"

He was silent for several seconds after she asked this and she didn't dare breathe. She hoped he wasn't angry.

"You know that I really shouldn't." He sounded conflicted.


Their eyes connected. They both wanted the same.

Without speaking he reached out one hand to cradle her face. He looked at her for several seconds as though still trying to decide.

Then he tilted her head towards him and brought his lips down on hers, tender and warm and firm all at once. She felt a throb throughout her body, melting as it intensified, as he moved her lips apart and deepened the kiss.

Juliet hadn't imagined anything could be as good as Paris but in the intimacy of the darkness it was even more sensual. Just the two of them with no one else watching.

He broke off. "I could do this all night. But I don't want your aunt to send out a search party."

"She won't be worried just yet." This time Juliet kissed him, winding her hands in his hair. She heard him suppress a groan as she kissed the corner of his mouth, then across to the centre, drawing his top lip in between hers, her tongue lightly flicking inside his mouth.

Then he gripped her more firmly, taking control of the embrace. She was drowning in him. His breathing was growing ragged as she ran her fingers up his neck, making him tighten his grip on her.

But just as she thought he might push her down onto the car seat and get really heavy, he pulled back again.

"I think we'd better call it a night."

Juliet felt bereft. She was thrilled at the effect she had on him, and bewildered by the effect he had on her. How could simply kissing be this earthmoving?

"It's not late," she pointed out.

"I know. But I shouldn't even be doing this."

"We," Juliet corrected.

Carl looked confused. "We?"

"We are doing this. It's not just you, you don't have to take all the blame."

"I'm the one in the position of authority. The one who should know better," he said.

Juliet gave him a sexy half-smile. "I don't think the world will end if you kiss me."

He was silent for a while. "I didn't exactly plan this. I figured we would just go to church, and manage not to cross the line again."

It was the exact opposite of Juliet had planned, but the concern in Carl's voice worried her. "Do you want me to not come again?"

He looked at her and his eyes softened. "Of course not. It's great seeing you there. I just need to remember that I'm your teacher, not..."

Juliet hoped he was going to say "your boyfriend" but he left the line unfinished. As soon as she thought it she realised that it was what she wanted more than anything else in the world: to date Mr Spencer. Carl. To officially be his girlfriend, exclusively.

It gave her a sudden sharp pang of envy that Rebecca had been able to enjoy this privilege, while she, Juliet, couldn't.

She felt in a daze as he opened the door for her and waited until she had entered her aunt's home before returning to his car. Now she had to snap out of it and look normal so her aunt wouldn't guess anything was up.

She took a couple of deep breaths, hung her coat up and smoothed her hair. She was living two lives: band-and-Carl Juliet, and good - or at least reformed - niece Juliet. At some point it would all collide and collapse.

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