“You realize,” Tad began as he pulled into my parking spot at my apartment, “that I’m not going to let you stay alone tonight.”
“What if someone sees your car is still here in the morning?” I asked, but I didn’t want to fight it. I needed him.
“We’ve gone over this before,” he reassured me, his eyes locked on mine. “My friend will vouch for me.”
“You mean lie for you?”
“He knows about us, Vera. It came out in conversation when he asked why we broke up and why I’d been so moody or whatever,” Tad explained, his hand warm on my back.
“Really? I made you moody?” I asked, opening my apartment door.
“Depressed is more like it.”
“Join the club,” I replied, sliding his jacket off and handing it back to him. He stared down at it with his lips in a stern line.
“I wish I was a more admirable boyfriend to you. I would much rather be that than your teacher.”
“I enjoy your teaching…but I do enjoy you being my boyfriend more. It just can’t be,” I replied, and his response was silence so I continued, “I should go change. You want your pajamas?”
“Wait—did you get to slow dance at all?” Tad asked, and I shook my head. He fiddled with his phone before putting it down on the coffee table and holding his hand out. “May I have this dance?”
“No, we shouldn’t. You should go home…it’s too hard to have you here and then tomorrow I’ll be in your classroom again as your student. It’s so easy for you to go from here to there,” I whispered, my voice trailing off.
“You have got to know...” Tad cried out, throwing his hands up. “You have to know this is not easy on me either. I see you almost every day as my student, and I have to fight myself...who I really am—you know it. You’re so sensible about this whole thing, everything, you’re just so strong. I wish I could be like you and forget all the pain.”
“It’s a farce Tad, I’m not strong. I feel like there's a train heading straight towards me. You were what kept me stable—let me forgot the past I’m running from. I can stand this every day class thing because you take the pain away...even if you’re only my teacher,” I explained, shaking my head as I took in his distress.
“You know what the real farce is?” he whispered as he pulled me into his arms. “That I’m only your teacher.”
I let him kiss me; let the nights events wash away from my mind and let the shadows remain shadows. Tonight I would forget what I was running from even though it was closer than it had ever been, for I knew I was safe in his arms.
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