Home > A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime(5)

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime(5)
Author: Monica Murphy

A pleasant smile curls his lips. “A Christmas baby. How sweet.”

“It’s actually the worst. People give you presents wrapped in bright red paper with Santas all over it.” God, I sound ungrateful, but I’m only speaking the truth.

“Is that a cardinal sin?” His brows shoot up, his eyes sparkling. I’m sure he’s teasing me, but he doesn’t understand what it’s really like.

No one does, unless they have a birthday on a major holiday like me.

“I wouldn’t say it’s that bad. It’s just no fun having your birthday and Christmas at the same time. Your birthday is never as special as someone’s who’s in June or whatever,” I explain.

“I’m sure.” He nods, his tone grave. “Well, Wren, I’m excited to have you come on as my TA next semester.”

I’m thankful for the change in subject. I don’t want to talk about anything personal pertaining to me.

“I’m excited too.” I’m just grateful for the free period next semester. I’ve heard it’s pretty easy, being his TA. He doesn’t ask you to do much.

“You’ll be replacing Maggie. That’s why she was crying earlier. I told her I didn’t need her to be a TA for me any longer.”

Alarm races through me, leaving me cold. “What do you mean? I thought you always had a couple of TAs each semester.”

“I do. I still do. Maggie just wasn’t—working out.” He leans over the desk, his face drawing closer to mine. Close enough that I can’t help but rear back. “She’s a little clingy sometimes.”

His voice is low, as if he’s letting me in on a secret.

Unease slips down my spine. “Clingy how?”

When he hesitates, I regret asking. Maybe I don’t want to know.

“I gave her my phone number. In case of an emergency, or if she needed to contact me. I didn’t think it would be any big deal.”

If he says so. I think it sounds like a terrible idea. A teacher giving a student his number? That’s a line he probably shouldn’t have crossed.

“And she won’t stop texting me. It’s become…an issue,” he continues.

An issue he brought on himself, is what I want to tell him. But I keep my mouth shut.

“I hope if we happen to exchange numbers when you become my TA next semester that you won’t react that way. I’m looking for someone a little less…excitable. If you know what I mean.” His smile, his entire demeanor is giving off easygoing, no big deal vibes.

But there’s a tension in him, lying just beneath the surface. He just doesn’t want to reveal it.

I’m having a hard time agreeing with what he’s trying to say. I don’t plan on giving him my number ever. That’s inappropriate. And I’m not interested in having a relationship with him beyond student/teacher.

It makes me wonder what exactly happened between Maggie and Franklin—and if Fig has anything to do with it.

“I should go.” I rise to my feet, grabbing my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder. “I don’t want to be too late to second period.”

I’m almost to the door when Fig calls out my name. I freeze, my hand on the doorknob as I slowly glance over my shoulder to see Fig standing directly in front of me.

Terribly close.

“You forgot your pass.” He hands out the familiar blue slip of paper. “Don’t want you to be marked tardy.”

I face him fully and take the note from his fingers, hating how he tightens his hold on it for a second too long, making me tug. Pulling me even closer to him. He eventually lets me take it, his lips curved, his gaze dark.

“Thank you,” I say weakly, turning toward the door.

“Bye, Wren,” he calls once I’ve pushed the door open.

I don’t answer him as I flee.









The rest of my day goes by normally. I worried about spending lunch with Maggie at our Honors Society meeting, but she ended up spending it with Franklin, so I didn’t have to deal with her asking me about my conversation with Fig.

A conversation that’s left me unsettled. It’s like he was trying to communicate with me with unspoken words. Implying one thing while saying something else. I didn’t like his tone. His familiarity. He knows what I’m about.

He knows I’m not interested in boys or drinking or sex. That’s not my scene. It never has been. I’m a good girl.

Those kinds of things…scare me.

When I walk into my seventh period class, the last one of the day, I’m excited. Psychology is my favorite class. I love learning how people act and think, and the motives behind our actions. It’s so interesting. Today is when Ms. Skov announces our last project for the semester, and she usually has us work in groups. There are a couple of girls in this class that I’ve worked on group projects with before, and I know it’ll be easy to work with them again. They’ll at least carry the workload equally with me.

Crew is already there, the only other class I have with him, as well as Ezra and Malcolm. They’re all three sitting together in the back of the classroom, surrounded by girls. Girls who roll their skirts up so high they practically flash their underwear, and they have so much makeup on their faces I’m surprised they can open their eyes all the way. There’s too much mascara on their lashes weighing them down.

I really shouldn’t be so mean in my thoughts. It’s not kind. I blame it on it being a Monday. The tension between Maggie and me—and Maggie and Mr. Figueroa. The conversation with Fig.

It’s all so unsettling.

“Okay, everyone, listen up!” Skov slams the door behind her once she’s entered the room, striding toward her desk. She’s fluid movement and rhythmic noise, the bangles on her wrists clanging as she moves her hands. And she likes to move her hands a lot.

We all settle down, sitting face forward and paying attention. Everyone respects Skov. She’s fun and interesting and makes us excited to learn, which can be a rarity, even at a private school that pays a generous salary to have the best educators on staff.

“As you’re all well aware of, it’s time to begin our final project for the semester. I took the time over Thanksgiving break to really think it over and I came to the conclusion that after doing pretty much the same damn thing for the last eleven years…I’m bored.” Ms. Skov glares when Crew and his clan hoot and holler from the back. “Settle down, boys.”

They go quiet and I can’t help but glance at them over my shoulder, a smirk already on my face. It disappears when I catch Crew glaring at me, those blue eyes freezing me in place.

I hurriedly turn back around, clutching my hands together on top of my desk.

“I decided to change it up. You’re going to work on your project on a one-on-one basis. As in, you’ll be paired up with someone.” She pauses. “And I’m the one who assigns you your project partner.”

A collective groan rings through the room, though I still remain quiet. And a little nervous. Hopefully Skov won’t pair me with someone too horrible.

Nerves eat at me when she starts rattling off names. I realize quickly she’s pairing us up with someone who is our polar opposite. There are more groans. A couple of curse words dropped.

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