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Michael watched Kate's reflection from over her shoulder. "It's no use, you know."
Their gazes met in the mirror.
"You can't wipe away what happened here as easily as smoothing the wrinkles from your dress. It still shows where I kissed you. Here." His finger touched the side of her jaw, where his rougher chin had left an abrasion. "And here." His touch whispered over her lips, still swollen from his.
She pulled away jerkily, making sure to keep a careful distance between them. "This was a mistake. Mine," she hastened to add, when his eyes narrowed. "I'm sorry I let it go this far. I appreciate the news you shared with me about your decision for Chloe. And the meal," she added, almost as an afterthought. "But I'm your daughter's teacher. Surely you understand how unprofessional it would be for me to get involved with..."
"Get involved with...?" he asked helpfully, when she hesitated.
She made a helpless gesture with her hand. "With...this. With you. With...anything."
"Am I to assume from that explanation that your only objection to what happened here stems from the fact that you're Chloe's teacher?"
A frown worried her brows. "No...not exactly."
Frustrated desire shortened his temper. "Well, then, what...exactly?"
"It wouldn't be right to have this sort of relationship with a parent, that's true. But you and I...we're not compatible at all."
"No?" he asked softly, moving toward her.
Her eyes tracked his movements warily. "No. Our lifestyles. Our values. We have nothing in common."
“We've got more in common than you're letting on. How about this?" he dared her, pressing his lips against the rapid pulse in her throat. "Do you like this?"
She took a deep breath. "Michael."
He raised his head slowly.
"This can't happen again."
His jaw clenched, he threw her one last fierce look. She returned it steadily, her breathing a little rapid, but her expression determined. He opened his mouth one more time, to make one last attempt to get her to see reason. She gave a slight imperceptible shake of her head, her answer devastatingly apparent. Turning jerkily, he yanked at the door to let himself out. The brisk night air held no previews of the coming spring weather, but its chill came much too late to cool unquenched fires.
"Lock the door after me," he commanded, his voice low and harsh. It gave him a reason to linger there on her steps, when common sense and raging hormones would have dictated otherwise. It was an excuse to wait to hear the unmistakable click of the deadbolt, the jangle of the chain.
His ears strained, and he could almost convince himself that he heard more, as well. That he might have heard a tiny sound against the door, that could have been her body relaxing against it. An almost imperceptible sigh, that might have been a released pent up breath.
A tight smile twisted his lips, at odds with the ache in his loins. If he tried hard enough, he might just convince himself that he heard his name whispered.
On the other side of the door.
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