Am I wearing underwear?
Her fuzzy thoughts congealed. She remembered sliding well-worn panties over her morning gooseflesh, pilled white cotton, weak elastic around the legs . . .
Thank God, thought Addison Taylor.
Five seconds ago her only concern had been controlling the nervous vomit crawling up her throat. Lips compressed, she’d stepped behind the battered desk, dismissed the rickety nature of the office chair, and dropped into the seat.
And fell over backward.
Now the overturned chair cradled the twenty-three-year-old like a veal calf in a chute. On her back, legs in the air, long tweed skirt flipped over her face, Addy decided this was an omen. Not a good one. She opened her eyes; fluorescent light filtered through the loose weave. Saliva awakened the stink of mothballs as rough fabric brushed across her teeth.
Why me? Was I a murdering, incestuous prostitute in my last life?
She used her chin to inch down the material, uncovering green eyes and freckled nose. Twisting, she freed her arms. Long, wavy, honey-stained hair burst into statically charged frizz. The chair’s wheels still spun furiously next to her head – the whirring sound brought to mind a dying beast’s cry, warning its young of approaching human asses.
The classroom door snapped open. Brisk steps quickened her heartbeat, stopped her wind-milling legs. She turned her head, cringed. A gap between the floor and the back panel of the desk revealed a well-oiled pair of men’s black dress shoes.
“Mrs. Taylor?” A pleasant male voice rolled through the room. Troy Ford, her boss.
If I answer, he’ll see my Goodwill panties. If I don’t, a herd of fourteen-year-olds will show up and capture this on their cell phones.
Her silence didn’t matter. A cleft chin filled the air above her desk, followed by gladiator cheekbones and water-blue eyes. Vice-Principal Ford, cartoon handsome, placed his fists on the desktop and leaned over, quirking an eyebrow. “Mrs. Taylor.”
Well, of course. It couldn’t be the blind math teacher from next door, now could it?
The administrator stepped around the desk. “Let me help.” He managed to sound condescending and polite while crouching his long, lithe body close to hers, grasping her arms and heaving her to her feet like she was a first aid dummy. His superior facial features twitched but did not break.
“I see you’ve encountered The Chair.”
“Gargle.” Addy couldn’t clear the last piece of dignity from her throat.