Seduce the teacher.
Meet the cousin.
Make a deal.
Steal the painting.
Andrea Anderson has no clue of the thoughts churning around in the dark and dangerous ex-con’s head as he enters her classroom. In fact, she’s momentarily lost for words. Not in her entire teaching career has she had a student who looked quite like Stu Cross.
A widow at just twenty-eight, love is something Andie hasn’t considered a part of her life for a very long time. However, when lingering touches turn to whispered words and hot, searching stares, she begins to wonder if maybe she should take a leap of faith.
But Stu is in her class for a reason, and it has nothing to do with love. He’s there to burrow his way into her life and repay a debt, otherwise his family will suffer. Andie is the first person to show him true kindness since he left prison, and though he doesn’t want to mislead her, he doesn’t have another choice.
Before long, Stu can’t tell whether or not he’s acting anymore, and his feelings for Andie could throw all of his carefully crafted plans into complete and utter disarray.
I organised my things and opened my laptop, pulling up the morning’s lesson plan when I heard the friendly chatter quieten down. Glancing up, I saw our new student had arrived, and I had to take a second to catch my breath.
Stuart Cross looked dangerous, in a James Dean, careless male beauty, leather jacket-wearing sort of way. He was tall, with chestnut-brown hair, hazel eyes and dark, expressive brows. He looked like he drank beer straight out of the bottle and drove a motorbike.
Mary placed a hand on her hip and smirked as she looked him up and down in a very ‘I’ve got your number, sonny Jim’ sort of fashion. I imagined she’d eat him for breakfast if he even gave her so much as a hint he was interested in becoming her boy toy.
And I, well, I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off him either. He was just so unexpected. It was like entering Alfie’s bedroom and discovering a newly finished painting. He seemed too much for our ordinary, comfortable little classroom.
He made eye contact with me just as he pulled out a chair in the third row and sat, a whoosh of air capturing my lungs. I rubbed my palms on my skirt and leaned forward, about to introduce myself when a student approached him. It was Harold, a small, bespectacled man in his early fifties, who liked everything to be done just so. In other words, he was set in his ways, and Stuart was currently occupying his usual seat.
“Pardon me, but I sit there,” he said, tapping Stuart on the shoulder.
Stuart rested an elbow on the desk, and slowly turned to look at him. “You what?”
Harold cleared his throat. “This is where I sit. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to move.”
Stuart let out a quiet chuckle, shook his head and leaned back to spread his legs. “I don’t think so. I’ve just gotten comfortable, mate.”
I frowned and rose from my seat. Making my way past the desks, I felt the others watching as I approached our new student. I stopped just in front of him, briefly placed a reassuring hand on Harold’s shoulder and leveled Stuart with a strict look.
“We actually have a set seating plan. Come with me and I’ll show you where you can sit.
I’m Miss Anderson, by the way. Your teacher.”
Stuart took his time raising his eyes to mine, slicing his teeth across his full bottom lip for a second as he contemplated me. I rested my hands on my hips, trying not to fixate on his mouth as I felt a tiny flicker in some long-neglected part of my body.
“All right then, Miss Anderson. I wouldn’t want to cause a fuss,” said Stuart, standing to his full height and allowing Harold to take his seat. His attitude rubbed me the wrong way, but nevertheless, I led him to the only free seat in the front row. He stepped forward, his chest brushing mine before he sat. I caught my breath for a second; the contact took me by surprise.
In fact, it almost felt like he’d done it on purpose.
Yep, I was definitely going to have to keep an eye on this one.