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Halloween Bites
Author: Alexa Riley

 

Chapter One

 

 

Raven

 

 

“Miss Treat?”

I look up from the stack of papers I’m grading to see Scott Grayson standing in front of my desk. His sandy blond hair is a mess, and a smudge of dirt is on his cheek. He clearly had a good time during the extra recess the class has earned today. His bright blue eyes sparkle with mischief, and I know what’s coming.

“Everything okay, Scott?” I glance over at the clock and see I still have a few minutes until the class has to come back to collect their things at the end of the day.

“My uncle Jack was asking about you again.”

My cheeks warm as a smile spreads across Scott’s face. I have to give it to the guy, he’s relentless. Maybe a little bit of a romantic at heart. I didn’t know third graders played matchmaker, but apparently this one does. Whenever Scott has a moment to talk to me, it’s always about his uncle Jack and just how wonderful he is.

I have to stop myself from asking how his uncle is, because I’m sure he’ll run and tell him anything I might say. Then again, who knows what he’s telling him. For all I know, he didn’t ask about me at all and Scott is making this up all on his own. I’m not sure I want to know what he’s telling his uncle about me.

“Did you have fun during the extra recess?” I try to change the subject because I don’t want to think about how my heart does a little flutter every time Scott brings up his uncle. Or how I feel a little weak in the knees when he sometimes shows up to pick him up from school. It makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. In all kinds of places. It’s how I always feel when his eyes are on me.

I don’t understand why he watches me, though. Jack is one of the hottest men I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s been the topic of conversation at more than one staff lunch here at Hartwood Elementary. I know more about him than I probably should at this point as all the female teachers here can’t seem to stop talking about him. Even a few male teachers, too.

I know that at the age of thirty, he’s a well-respected architect in the city. He was recently named one of the most eligible bachelors in Seattle, has his own charity that helps under-privileged kids go to college, and is more active in his nephew’s life than half the dads around here. All that perfection and it’s not even counting how handsome he is. So he’s definitely not looking at me.

I’m the new third grade teacher who’s a little overweight with no plans to change it. I’m not giving up sweets for anything, not even to get into a smaller size. I wear thick-framed glasses because my eyesight is terrible, and I’ve got uncontrollable curly hair that always gets in the way.

I’m so shy and inexperienced when it comes to men, I can barely say hi to him when he tries to talk to me. Maybe he’s looking at me and wondering why the school would hire a teacher who is so shy she can barely speak. Maybe that’s why he was asking about me. He’s probably worried Scott isn’t getting the schooling he should be. And for what some of the parents pay to send their children here, I can’t even be upset about that.

Scott does the cutest half eye-roll at my change of subject. “He asked if you were going to be at the Halloween party.”

“Of course I’ll be there. I wouldn’t want to miss seeing what you’re dressing up as.” I smile back at him, not taking the bait. This kid is good.

We both turn and look as students start to pile into the room.

“Everyone get your stuff. Don’t forget your agendas. Your spelling test is tomorrow,” I tell them over the noise as they move about the room, doing as I say.

“I’ll tell him you’ll be there,” Scott says excitedly. He seems happier about this than the actual Halloween party. “He’s right, too, Miss Treat. You do have pretty eyes.”

With that, Scott turns and runs towards his cubby to get his backpack. My face warms once again.

The bell rings a moment later, and the kids file out of the room, leaving me thinking about Scott’s innocent words. And also thinking about what I’ll wear to the Halloween party. I haven’t given it much thought. My mind has been on making the chocolate candies I’ll be bringing.

“We still on?” Apple says, breaking me from my thoughts as she enters my classroom. Her brown hair is pulled into a tight braid. Apple is just as eccentric as her name. I can never guess what she’ll wear from one day from the next. It all fits her, seeing as she’s the art teacher.

She is the only friend I’ve made since I moved here. The other teachers are nice, but Apple made it clear she wanted us to be friends as well as colleagues, and tonight is the first night are going to hang out outside of school. I’ve been looking forward to it. Her husband is out of town this week and she doesn’t want to go straight home to an empty house. I have a feeling an empty house is something that would drive Apple crazy. Apple likes to talk. A lot.

I’ve been in Seattle for over two months, and haven’t made any other friends at all. She’ll actually be the first person I’ve ever had over to my condo. I’ve never had a place of my own and it’s exciting to have a space to call mine. Well, for the time being, that is.

When I first got to Seattle after I learned I actually got the job at Hartwood Elementary, I had to stay in a hotel until I could find a place. It wasn’t that bad, since I graduated college in the spring and left the dorm rooms at Berkeley to come straight here. I didn’t know where I’d finally land a job and didn’t want to put down roots until I knew.

It was hard, and most of the places were way out of my price range on a teacher's salary. I am lucky to have gone to college on a scholarship that had given me room and board. It left me without a giant pile of student debt, but my budget is still somewhat tight. Then I lucked out and found a place to lease in a fancy building that’s within walking distance of the school.

The only catch is I can only stay there until they find a buyer for the place, and I have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. And I can’t be there if they need to show the place to a potential buyer. In the four weeks since I’ve lived there, it hasn’t happened once. That’s been a relief, because I haven’t had time to look for another place. I’ve been too wrapped up in my first teaching job.

“Yep.” I stand up, grabbing my cardigan off the back of my chair before sliding it on and smoothing out its wrinkles. “Just need to grab my bag.” I get it from the cabinet and bundle in all the papers I have left to grade.

“Miss Treat.” My head flies up at the sound of his voice. Jack’s voice. It’s deep and husky and not a voice that I would ever forget. It slides across my skin, making goose bumps rise. “Scott forgot his agenda.” A smile pulls at his full lips as his gray eyes roam over me, and his smile grows when they stop at the top of my head, reminding me I’m still wearing a pair of Halloween bunny ears. I quickly reach up and grab them off of the top of my head and try to smooth my unruly hair. My eyes go to Scott, who has a matching smile on his face.

I know he forgot it on purpose. “Go grab it,” I tell Scott, keeping my eyes locked on him, determined not to meet Jack’s. My knees are doing the weak thing again. My hand squeezes the poor bunny ears.

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