Chapter 18 - New student

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Ella woke early like she always did on the first day of school. She was ready but she was still anxious. Unlike the teacher she replaced before who had retired, this teacher moved over the summer and his students were expecting him back. She imagined there was a lot of talk about her after they received their schedules. She would have to prove herself to them.

Much to her surprise, they were welcoming and genuinely curious. By her second class word had spread of her singing with the band as someone had found a YouTube video. If she knew it would be that easy to impress them she wouldn't have worried.

After lunch, she was taking attendance when a student walked in late. He apologized and said he was new to the school and didn't know his way around. He handed her a slip from guidance showing he had just enrolled in her class. She glanced at the name and had to look again.

She looked up at him and he was smirking at her. Her new student was Caleb Gallagher and he knew who she was. It didn't even occur to her that Caleb would have moved with Joe, but it made sense.

"Caleb, please take a seat. I was about to begin."

She spent most of the class talking and only at the end did they sing a warm up. She listened and it appeared that Caleb could sing better than his half-brother.

At the end of the day, she found her way to Joe's classroom. His smile faded when she stomped in and shoved the slip of paper in front of him.

"What was your purpose with this?" she hissed.

"What? I have no idea. He did this on his own... if you want to blame someone, my guess would be Leah." Joe took out a copy of Caleb's schedule. "I thought he had gym..."

"Not anymore."

"I didn't know the kid could sing," Joe sighed.

"Better than you," Ella answered without a hint of teasing.

Joe smiled and whispered, "You liked my off-key singing in the shower."

Ella's mind played a slow motion of his soapy, wet back and shoulders and a charge pulsed through her body straight to her core. She hoped he wasn't reading her mind because he always seemed to know what she was thinking.

"Listen El, whatever his reasons are for taking your class it has more to do with getting at me than you. I'm not his favorite person..."

"What'd you do?" she scolded.

He thought for a moment and said, "If this is your line of questioning for the day, then I'd prefer to table it until we're out of here. Preferably with a beer in my hand and you on my lap, but I'd settle for just the beer. I'd ..."

"When are we going to get the hell outta here!" Caleb interrupted and froze mid-step when he saw Ella in the room. The two of them had been standing with Joe's desk separating them. "Oh if it isn't Ms. Burke."

"Hi Caleb," Ella said tentatively noticing that Joe stiffened the minute his brother appeared.

Joe added, "I was just learning that you changed your schedule. Anymore switches you care to share with me?"

Caleb said, "Yeah pretty much everything. I kept English with your Ms. Faiman because she's funny in a Hitler kinda way which could be interesting, but the rest I switched for digital art, illustration and creative writing."

"Art and chorus! I didn't even know you could draw," Joe replied.

"Maybe if you hadn't spent the past year in a half with your head up your ass and bawling your eyes out, you might have noticed."

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