Chapter Six

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"Good morning, Lilly," Tommy replied amicably. "Did I see you come in with Bridge?"

"She was telling me about how things work. Sort of," I answered for her. It was strange, talking to him. I felt like I was trying to be polite as possible, while at the same time wanting to ask him just how often he'd been watching me. Lilly said he'd been her tutor, so he must have had some time off. Mustn't he?

"Good, I'm glad." He fell silent, smiling at me until someone cleared their throat and he blushed fiercely. "I do apologize. I'm keeping you from your breakfast."

"I'm not hungry." Why did I sound so wispy? My voice was strong, not floating away under his gaze!

"Are you going to be teaching this year, Tommy?" Lilly came to my rescue, butting into the conversation.

"Yes." He seemed caught off guard by the question, blinking slowly as his attention focused on her behind me. "English. It was always one of my favorite subjects. I'm quite excited."

"And you'll still be looking for you know who when class is out?" The question was simple enough, but sounded incredibly sneaky and intruding, which surprised me. Looking back at Lilly, though, her face was the very image of innocence.

"Of course I will. Bridge, may I speak with you in private for a moment?" His attention turned back to me and I met his gaze once more, feeling nervous as practically everyone in the room watched.

"Uh. Sure?" Why did I say that?! I don't want to be alone with him! Awkward, Bridge! Awkward!

Nodding, he motioned for me to lead the way, ignoring the whistle and laughter that rose from the vampire table.

Embarrassed, my face flushing, I hurried from the dining area, breathing a sigh of relief as the weight of everyone's eyes left me.

"Sorry about that," Tommy said, clearing his throat, his own face slightly red.

"Do they all know?" I asked abruptly. "That you love me?"

Why, oh why did this have to be something we had to talk about?

"Oh." His face went quite blank at that, despite the deepening blush on his cheeks. "Um, yes. I'm afraid so. My request to be reassigned and consequent departure to find you was made a rather large public affair. Gossip, it would seem, travels just as fast among the dead as it does the living."

"Fantastic." Groaning, I leaned against the wall, sliding to the floor and covering my face with my hands.

I could hear him, hesitating as he sat next to me, remaining quiet for a time. His breathing was slow and even, but there was something that said to me he was strung tightly, like a bow about to snap. He smelled nice as well, a musky scent that I'd often enjoyed smelling at my home, through the open shutters. It was just like the flowers in all the window boxes, the ones that Mom loved so much. Suddenly, it occurred to me that perhaps I hadn't been sniffing the flowers at all.

"I remember the way you smell," I said quietly, surprised. "I thought it was Mom's garden boxes. But it was you, wasn't it?"

Lowering my hands, I glanced over at his face, my gloomy mood lightening some at the small smile that graced his features. When his eyes met mine again, I felt myself being sucked in, not only by their color, but by the emotional turmoil they displayed.

"You did like to read and watch television by the open windows." His reply was soft and calm, but he wasn't fooling me. I could see the fear and regret he'd left unspoken, the hate he held for himself because of what happened. It wasn't only the darkest parts of him that I saw, either. The love he carried with him was there, plain as day, no effort on his part to hide it. There was also hope and excitement, his gaze seeming to imagine the sitting room of my mother's house as I did.

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