Gathering up the assignment book, I start walking back toward Mrs. Davis’s desk when I run into something. I sprawl on the floor, my ass pounding in discomfort as the papers and book skitter away from me.
“Damn,” I mutter to myself.
That’s when I start to look up and see it wasn’t a something I ran into but a someone. A really tall someone. A really handsome someone with green eyes and a head full of disheveled brown hair. My throat tightens and my heart beats just a smidge faster as I look up from my squatted position.
“Are you okay? I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there,” he says as he reaches down to grab my hand.
I place my shaking hand in his and am amazed how tightly he grips me. Not painful but strong, sure, almost as if he was meant to always hold my hand. The fit of our hands is perfect with just the right amount of symmetry.
“Yeah I’m fine,” I grunt as he pulls me off the floor. I brush the dust off my jeans and sweater.
“It’s my fault. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and then I got turned around back here. It’s kind of a maze.”
“I hear you there. It took me a while to figure it out my first time back here. Are you new?”
He gives me a smile that has my heart skipping a beat. Whoa. That’s a strange reaction.
“I will be. I start on Monday, so I was just kind of wandering around trying to find stuff. I guess I got lost.”
I laugh, and his smile widens. “I guess you did. Well, what are you looking for? Maybe I can help point you in the right direction.”
He pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket and studies it for a second. While he’s looking over the paper, I take the moment to examine him further. He’s tall but not overly tall, and lean but not skinny. The long-sleeved shirt he’s wearing shows off enough to let me know he takes care of himself. Not buff but definitely muscular, judging from the way his body narrows at the waist. And he looks good in jeans. Really good. Damn good. Like the boy-next-door good.
I shake my head, shameful of where my thoughts were going. I have no idea who this guy is or how he ended up back in the teacher’s lounge. But if he’s a new student starting Monday I need to find out what classes he has. Maybe this school year can be salvaged after all.
“I’m looking for Mr. Herman’s office. Someone told me it was back this way.”
I shake my head. “No, not back here. He’s in the main office, next to Mr. Leonard’s office. Mr. Herman is the vice principal.”
He rolls his eyes and it makes me smile. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who does that anymore.
“Of course. I should have known that.” He looks around for an exit and returns my gaze with wide eyes. “So how do I get out of here?”
“This way,” I say trying to suppress my giggle. I place the grade book and papers on Mrs. Davis’s desk and show the good-looking stranger the way out of the lounge.
“Why do they make this so confusing?” he asks.
“It’s difficult to say. My guess is so students don’t go wandering back here without permission. Unless you’re back there all the time, you never know whose office is whose or the way to get out without losing your mind.”
“I’ve seen labyrinths that were easier to navigate than this.”
I laugh and he smiles again at me. “Supposedly when the school got remodeled they forgot to add the teacher’s offices. So it was a last minute thing, throwing together walls behind this study room, hiding it from the students prying eyes.”
“So the teachers have an office and a classroom?”
I nod. “Yep. It’s better that way really. This way the students can’t break into the desks in the classrooms and change their grades and stuff like that.”
He’s wearing some sort of cologne and it smells like heaven. And it’s not overpowering like some of the other guys around the school. Walking near them is like walking by the Abercrombie store, just makes your head instantly hurt. But his is subtle, blending perfectly into him and whatever pheromones he’s giving off, making him that much more appealing.
“So this is the main office. They’ll be able to help you out with anything else.”
I look down at my boots and scuff them against the floor. For some reason, I don’t want to leave. I’m not sure why, though. Maybe because I don’t know his name yet.
“Thanks for your help, um. I’m sorry, I guess I never got your name.”
I laugh and hold my hand out to him. “Britta.”
He takes my hand again and another round of tingles travels between our fingers. The sudden jolt of electricity surprises me, and I pull my hand back abruptly. James looks down at me with a slight concern on his face, but I force a smile, trying to play off my strange reaction.
The bell rings again and I start backing away. “I better get going to class. Guess I’ll see you around.”
He nods and flashes one last smile in my direction as I back away. “Guess I will. Nice meeting you.”