With Every Heartbeat
Page 26

 Linda Kage

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:

“Oh my God. Isn’t that the teacher who was fired last semester for having sex with a student?”
As I squeezed her hand in warning under the table, Noel swung his head her way and narrowed his eyes. “What did you just say?”
Crap. I definitely should’ve warned Cora, but she hadn’t taken any of Aspen’s classes last year; I didn’t think she’d even know who Aspen was.
But she did. She pointed. “Look. She’s right there.”
We all twisted in our seats to look, even though I’m sure most of us knew exactly who we’d see. And sure enough, Aspen had just entered the pizza parlor with Noel’s two younger brothers, Colton and Brandt.
“Cor—” I started, hoping to quiet her, but she just kept talking. “Did you not see the naked picture of her that baseball player was showing everyone on his phone last night?”
I winced and lifted my hand to stop her, but Noel was already slowly turning around to pierce Cora with a hard stare. “What picture?”
She started to answer, but I quickly put my hand over her mouth, muffling her.
Noel swiveled his attention to me. “Hamilton?” His voice was low and deadly.
I glanced toward Ten, not sure what to say.
“Don’t worry about it.” Ten patted Noel’s shoulder in way too nonchalant of a way. “We took care of damage control.”
“Damage control?” Noel swiped Ten’s hand off him and stood up, fisting his hands down at his sides. “What the fuck, man? Someone’s spreading around pictures of my woman and you don’t feel the need to tell me? Whose phone was it on? Was it the same picture the coach posted on the locker room wall or was it a new one?” When no one responded, he kicked the table leg. “Damn it. Somebody answer me.”
Caroline snaked out a hand to catch the napkin basket as it started to topple over while a wide-eyed Zoey moved back in her chair, looking petrified.
Though I was still using one hand to cover Cora’s mouth, I set the other on Zoey’s arm, trying to calm her. “It’s okay,” I mouthed the words, but her eyes were wide with panic and fear.
“Noel?” A concerned Aspen touched his arm as she reached the table. “What’s wrong?”
He spun to her and pulled her into his arms, crushing her to his chest. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Cora ripped my hand off her mouth. “Oh, snap.” Her mouth fell open as she watched Noel and Aspen hug. “Noel Gamble was the student who got her fired?”
“Say what?” Caroline shouted as Noel and Aspen broke apart.
Ten stood up and glared at Cora as if he was going to strangle her.
I rushed to my feet, intervening, and grabbed my girlfriend’s hand to pull her up after me. “Come with me.”
I think it was past time to get my girlfriend up to speed.
I didn’t know exactly what was going on around me, but it wasn’t taking me long to catch up. Caroline’s brother, the star quarterback, had started dating one of his teachers and gotten her fired for having a relationship with her. And they were still obviously together.
Got it.
And now I also knew what had been on that cell phone last night that had set Quinn off.
As he dragged Cora away from the table, I gaped after them, not sure what I was supposed to do. Follow them, or just stay here? I didn’t want to stick around because it looked as if Caroline’s brother was about to blow a gasket. But getting up and leaving now didn’t feel right either. Plus, Caroline reached out and grabbed my hand hard, letting me know she needed some serious moral support.
Watching Cora and Quinn disappear down a hall, Noel’s girlfriend pulled out of the hug and smiled sadly up at Noel. “I’m guessing someone just let the cat out of the bag, huh?”
“Oh my God.” A pale Caroline let go of me and stumbled to her feet, her gaze darting between Noel and Aspen. She covered her mouth. “Oh my God. So that...what she just said...it’s true?”
Noel winced as he kissed Aspen on the forehead. “Care.”
When his voice cracked with apology, her eyes bulged with horror. “Holy shit.” She backed away. “Oh, holy shit.” Whirling away from them, she stumbled over me and my chair in her haste to escape.
Okay, now I really felt uncomfortable for sitting through all this.
Aspen—who actually looked younger than her ex-student—turned worried eyes up to Noel. “We really should’ve told her.”
“Told her what?” the youngest boy with Aspen asked.