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Teacher’s Pet Wolf
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This sexy alpha intends to teach his mate a few lessons about local wildlife…
Alicia Simmons rarely lets anyone get too close. So crushing on a hot wildlife expert via videochats in her classroom is completely safe. The long-distance flirtation means no expectations—and no expectations means no disappointment…or hurt. And when Ranger tells her he’s visiting her neck of the woods, spending a few days—and nights—with him doesn’t sound too dangerous, either. Sure, when the fling is over, she’ll have to pick up the pieces of her heart. But at least he’ll be safe from the beast inside her.
Except Travis Ranger isn’t coming for a fling. He’s coming for Alicia. And he’s got a lot to show the shy science teacher…starting with a lesson about what happens when a wolf finally gets his claws on the woman he’s waited far too long to claim. And no matter how hard she tries to push him away, he’s never going to let her go.
Because Alicia thinks she’s a beast? His shy little teacher hasn’t seen anything yet….
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“Can we quit now?” Maria’s voice breaks through the quiet in my empty classroom as I’m adding up the points on a chemistry quiz. “Give me permission to quit now. Or kill me. I don’t care anymore. I just want this misery to end. Are you even listening to me, Alicia? Because you look like you’re ignoring me in this time of desperate need. Are you grading something important there? Am I messing up your count? Am I? Five, seven, eight, two, three thousand and twenty-four…”
Laughing, I write the score at the top of the sheet and glance up. Maria’s leaning back against the frame of my classroom’s open door, forking something green and leafy out of a huge Tupperware container, and looking gloriously frazzled—dress shirt untucked from her pencil skirt, curling brown tendrils falling out of her French braid, cat-eye glasses perched at the tip of her nose as if pushing them into place will take more strength than she has left.
“Only three more days,” I remind her.
“Three more days of classes,” she emphasizes. “But another week for us. So you know what unfresh hell will continue?”
“Lauren reheating fish in the microwave?”
I make it sound like a question, but it’s not a guess. Though the teacher’s lounge is on the opposite side of the building, I can smell the fish from here. And I’ve been trying to ignore it. Trying so hard, though my stomach keeps rumbling and my mouth keeps salivating. Because the smell doesn’t nauseate me. Not like it did only six months ago. Instead it just makes me hungry.
But everything makes me hungry.
“Yessss,” Maria hisses, then shoots a furtive glance around to make certain no students hear her continue, “Effing Lauren. I dashed to the fridge but my shirt still picked up that stink. Which means the rest of my afternoon is going to be spent trying to teach seventh grade boys who think they’re real damn clever with their fish jokes.”
Seventh grade girls are usually worse. More vicious. They’re just sneakier with the jokes, a little quieter. I hear them, anyway.
I shake my head in sympathy. “Effing Lauren.”
“And—and—as if that wasn’t enough bullshit today”—she takes a huge bite of salad and then chews while saying—“Ava’s mother wants to talk after school today about the grade she earned on her last essay. On the phone.”
“Chase-Carroll,” she says without missing a chew, crunching what smells like sunflower seeds and kale. “On the phone. What’s wrong with e-mail? How is anyone of our generation choosing a phone call over e-mail? Even face-to-face is better than a phone call—and I hate people. So if I’d rather be face-to-face? You know it’s bad.”
By this time of year, every teacher I know hates people. The kids are still okay, but people? Ugh.
Except for Maria. I still like her well enough. And since she seems to be settling in to eat her lunch against my door frame, I pull a thick roast beef sandwich out of my desk drawer—forcing myself to unwrap it slowly, breathing through my mouth, already dreaming of sinking my teeth into bread and meat. “Are we the same generation as Ava’s mom?”
I’m not old enough to have a thirteen-year-old girl. Well, biologically I am. But only if I popped out a baby in middle school.
Which, knock on wood, I haven’t seen happen to any girl in this middle school. But this is only my third year of teaching, so it’s early days yet.
“I think so? If we aren’t, her mom looks real damn good for someone who’s of voluntarily-talks-on-the-phone age.” Maria scrapes up another bite and contemplates the forkful of kale, adding morosely, “This is the cruel and unusual punishment part of our job.”
“Talking on the phone or that salad?”
“Ha ha.” She narrows her eyes at me. “You probably like phone calls, considering that you’ve got a direct line to Ranger Ranger.”
My chest hollows out as my heart swoops into my throat, because simply hearing Ranger’s name creates the most wonderful, painful, achingly sweet combination of emotions inside me. “Those are video calls. Not phone calls.”
“It’s face-to-face.” When it wasn’t face-to-classroom, with Ranger giving lessons to my biology students from his remote location in the Arctic Circle. “You said yourself it’s different.”
She waves that off. “Is he calling in today?—it’s always Friday, right? Or did you guys already wrap up for the summer?”
My stomach tightens. “Today’s the last day.”
“Aw. Well, I’ll tell you what you should do as soon as vacation starts: fly up to Alaska, hike to whatever mountain he’s on, and then be all, ‘Oh, Ranger Ranger!’” she exclaims in a breathy voice, fluttering her lashes. “‘I’m so lost, and my vagina’s so rusty. Can you save me?’”
“Rusty? I really hope that’s a reference to my hair color.” Not that calling the auburn curls down there ‘rusty’ is much better, but still. My vagina’s not rusty.