My Dad's Boss(9)By: Mia Madison
His eyes were on my lips, and I held my breath. But then there was a noise, a shrill laugh coming from just around the corner. Both of us stopped dead. I’m not sure how he felt, but I’d pretty much forgotten about every other person at the party.
Blinking down at me, Nick seemed to come out of a trance. He took a step back, then another. At long last, he spoke. “Shit. What am I thinking?”
“It’s okay… we didn’t…” I trailed off. Took a deep breath. Looked him in the eye. “I kind of liked what you were thinking” I said, my voice soft.
“Me too,” he said, with a quick glance downward. My gaze followed his. There was definitely a hardness straining against his jeans. “Seeing you in that red dress… with your hair up like that… it made me forget myself. But I can’t let it happen again.”
This was so unfair. He fascinated me in a way no man had in a really long time. Perhaps ever. With Brad, it had been friendship that eventually turned into love. But never in my twenty years had I met someone who excited me so much from the start. Was it really going to be over before it began? “But… can’t we even try—”
“No,” he said. “And you know why.”
I did. I wished I didn’t, but I did. Even if he weren’t my dad’s boss, there was the age difference. The fact that I was a college student, and he was a high school principal. He was a strong, confident man who knew what he wanted. He probably had been in lots of relationships. I’d just been in one. There could never be anything between us, but damn he was tempting. So I’d probably better remove myself from temptation.
He appeared to have had the same thought because he was already backing up. “I’d better get back to the party. It was nice seeing you again, Cassie.”
“You too,” I said softly, wondering how to address him. If there was any chance that he’d ever be standing by my side again, his arm around me like he did at the coffee shop, then I’d call him Nick. But since there wasn’t… “Thank you for coming tonight, Mr. Conner.”
“EVERYONE, CAN I please have your attention?”
I felt nervous as all eyes turned to me. After everyone had finished eating, I’d gone through the house and the deck, Paul Revere style, asking people to gather in the large living room, I’d seen Nick talking with various teachers, many of whom I recognized from my four years at the high school.
Now everyone was crammed into the living room, seated on sofas, chairs, armrests of chairs, and anywhere else they could fit. Mom and Dad sat in the middle, on two dining room chairs I’d placed there for them. At my back was the eighty-five-inch television they had indulged in last Christmas.
“Twenty-one years is a long time,” I began nervously. “That’s longer than I’ve been alive.” There were chuckles at this though I hadn’t meant to make a joke. But somehow seeing people’s friendly smiles helped me to relax. “Which I guess is how it’s supposed to work,” I said, grinning at my parents. Mom already had tears in her eyes and I hadn’t even shown them my gift yet.
“Since I wasn’t around—or very aware—for the first few years, I interviewed some people who were. Family. Friends. Anyone I could. And I’ve got pictures—pictures that Mom and Dad probably thought were buried forever.”
Everyone laughed again, a few people patting my parents on the shoulder.
“So, I now present to you, the world debut of Robert and Gwen: The First Twenty-One Years.” Hitting the remote, I dashed across the room, stepping over legs so I could get the lights. The music from my video started, and I blinked, trying to see where I could sit in the darkened room.
“Cassie, over here,” my Aunt Lauren whispered. Her voice came from the direction of one of the longer sofas, so I moved cautiously toward her, trying not to step on anyone. A quick glance at the screen made me hurry. I’d seen the video a hundred times while editing it, but I didn’t want to miss anyone’s reactions.
“Scooch over, there’s room,” Lauren was saying. And then I could see a small space at the end of the couch. I kicked off my shoes, folding my knee underneath me as I sat down so that I’d be higher up. But the space was tighter than I thought, and I overbalanced, placing a hand on the arm of the man next to me.
“Sorry,” I whispered, quickly withdrawing my hand.
“No problem,” came a familiar voice. It was Nick.
Seriously? I was wedged against the hot, hard body of the man I was forbidden to see? Life really wasn’t fair sometimes.