The Academy:The Other Side of Envy(9)

By: C. L. Stone

“Can she make tacos for breakfast?” Luke asked.

“We can ask.”

“I’ve got to get to the hospital,” Dr. Green said. He sighed and then reached out to me, which surprised me because for a second I thought he wanted to walk past me and I took a step back, bumping into Silas. Silas put a hand on my back to steady me.

“Well fine,” Dr. Green said, raking back his sandy blond hair that had blown into his eyes. “I’ll give you both a hug.” He reached out, grabbing Silas by the shoulders and with me between them, hugged.

Silas, once he realized what was happening, wrapped his broad arms around Dr. Green’s shoulders. They squeezed together.

I was squished between them, my face pressed against Dr. Green’s shoulder, Silas pressing into my back. Dr. Green’s sunny ginger scent filled my nose, along with Silas’s ocean. It was an unusual combination and my nose tickled, wanting to sneeze. My arms were out wide between them, unable to bend to hug.

I blushed from head to toe, though secretly I enjoyed the warmth and amusing moments after stressing out about the kids we found. “Ugh,” I said.

Luke and Victor laughed. Silas chuckled, the deep sound reverberating against my bones.

Dr. Green finally let go. I wobbled a step and then breathed in fully. Dr. Green smoothed out his shirt and then winked at me. “Are you busy? Perhaps you and I could go check out the babies again. There’s new ones now and—”

“Hey there,” Luke called out. “About time he showed up.”

Dr. Green’s face shifted from happy to confused until he turned. I realized Dr. Green was asking me to join him at the hospital. The last time we looked in on the babies, he considered it a date. Was he trying to ask for a date?

The moment vanished as a light gray, almost silver BMW rolled up to the curb.

Mr. Blackbourne stopped the car and left it running but stepped out. Gray suit, maroon tie, as elegant as ever. His soft brown hair appeared freshly cut and brushed back away from his face. His steel eyes sparked behind the black-rimmed glasses. A polished diamond that looked out of place in the broken-down district.

I ducked behind Dr. Green and the others as they approached him. My hands smoothed over the jeans and light jacket that I wore over my T-shirt. The others were dressed similarly, but next to Mr. Blackbourne, a sense of being underdressed always hovered over me.

Mr. Blackbourne focused on Luke, the steel in his gaze hardening. “Mr. Taylor, was it truly necessary to crawl through the attic work?”

Luke nodded, causing a string of dust to fall from his hair. The light smile on his face faded. He stood taller and addressed Mr. Blackbourne. “I felt it was,” he said. “There were a few options, but the attic gave me good sound cover. Plus, there were a few holes so I could get a visual.”

“You’ve been taking a few more risks lately,” Mr. Blackbourne said. “I understand your reasoning, but your safety is more important. Miss Sorenson is in need of a situational awareness class. Perhaps you’ll join her?”

My mouth dropped open hearing this. I needed situational awareness? There was a class? Where?

Luke’s head bobbed in an enthusiastic nod. “I could use a refresher, I guess. Besides, I’m hardly in any of her classes at school.” His gaze turned until he met my stare and he smiled more. “Can we take two?”

“Start with one,” Mr. Blackbourne said. He backed up a step, and his attention turned to Dr. Green. “Let’s get them out of here.”

“I was just about to,” Dr. Green said. He put an arm around my shoulder and pulled me forward until I was beside him. “I thought I’d take Sang over to the hospital with us and—”

Mr. Blackbourne raised his open hand and sliced it through the air. “I understand, but I’m in need of Miss Sorenson to join me this morning. We have a few things to discuss. I’ll be taking her to breakfast.”

A silence fell among the group. My heart pumped heavily and my breath caught. It was a mix of feeling something intimate, and being called on by a teacher for being in trouble, and not knowing for sure what you’d done wrong.

I ducked my head a touch, a slight smile on my lips, more to reassure the others that I wasn’t in trouble. At least I didn’t think I was.

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