Shouts of glee filled the classroom as fourteen five-year-old kids rushed into the hallway.
We had just finished the story circle and I was shelving books, thinking about how much I was going to miss the kids and my classroom when I left Prescott.
I had no idea where I would move but with Nick living here, I couldn’t stay.
The idea of disappointing my colleagues and abandoning my students gave me a sharp stomachache but the thought of running into Nick on a regular basis, or seeing him with another woman, felt even worse.
Was he with someone now? Did he have kids? Just the thought sent my heart into my stomach. I needed to get away from here before he ripped me to shreds. Maybe I could make it through to summer and finish up the school year. If I lived as a hermit, sticking close to the school and home, I could probably avoid seeing Nick.
Lost in thought, I jumped when a rumbling voice sounded in the room.
Avoiding Nick was going to get really hard if he barged into my classroom.
I drew in a labored breath before spinning around, my eyes raking him from head to toe. He was as gorgeous as ever. Not much had changed about him over the years. His beard was a bit shorter and he had more muscle on his frame.
“Emmeline,” I corrected. “What are you doing here, Nick?”
“I told you Friday. We need to talk.”
“I’m not ready to talk yet.”
“Nine years wasn’t enough time to think of something to say?”
I winced at his joke. “Is that supposed to be funny? Because it’s not.”
“Sorry,” he muttered. He looked me up and down. “Fuck, Emmy. Is that what you wear every day?”
I dropped my chin to inspect my clothing. What was wrong with this outfit?
I wore wide-leg black pants with patent nude pumps and a cream blouse with a mandarin collar. Because the blouse was sheer, underneath was a lace-trimmed camisole. At my wrist was the rose-gold, oversized Chanel watch my mother had given me for Christmas the previous year.
I wore this type of clothing almost every day. It was classy and professional, exactly the image I wanted to portray as a teacher. Nothing about my clothing was inappropriate for a kindergarten setting, though it may have been a bit dressy for rural Montana.
“What’s wrong with my outfit?”
“Nothing. You just look beautiful,” he said.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “Please don’t say things like that to me.”
“I can’t give you a compliment?”
“No. Not anymore.”
“Emmy,” he said softly. “We need to talk about us.”
“Emmeline. And there is no us.”