“Miss Taylor!” Mrs Noble exclaimed happily. “I have the last spot just for you.”
She pointed across the room to the second-last bench towards the back, where an empty stool waited for me.
I recognised Theodore immediately. Raven black hair falling in strands across one eye. He hadn’t noticed me yet, busily flipping through a text book.
As I walked down the aisle to the empty seat a tingling sensation filled my head. I reached the desk and started to pull out the stool when he looked up. Expecting another dazzling smile I inhaled deeply to calm myself. Instead, his eyes widened in recognition and his forehead crinkled, an expression more worried than pleased to see me. I tried to hide the confusion from showing on my face – hadn’t he just smiled at me during lunch? It was understandable that he would change his mind now he could see me up close.
“Hi.” I quietly chirped, moving to sit down.
My face felt hot again, no doubt tinged with red. Not hitting the seat squarely, glancing painfully off the side, I stumbled and caught my head on the edge of the bench, tripping into the aisle. Great first impression.
“Are you alright?” Theodore bent down steadying me with his hands, both of us squatting between the rows of benches.
I was thankful that he had been the solitary witness to my ungracefulness.
“I’m sure I’ll live.” I pushed back my hair and met his eyes.
They were even more stunning up close, the lightest pale blue around the black centre, to a deep violet rimming the circumference. His irises did that reflective thing you see in photographs for a second. A little twinkle. I was suddenly aware of his hands on my shoulders and my breathing accelerated. Theodore’s hands were hot, maybe I made him nervous too?
“Here let me help you.” He stood, steadying me by grabbing an elbow.
“Is she okay?” I heard Mrs Noble ask over my shoulder.
My head momentarily dipped and I clumsily stepped into Theodore’s chest. Wow – he was more muscly than I had thought. His arms shot around me before I fell again. Boy he smelled good! I attempted to shake off the dizziness and felt Theodore stiffen. Was he preparing for me to topple again?
The sound of breaking glass exploded through the room followed by alarmed screams. I felt sharp pain on my left forearm. Looking up, I discovered that the beakers on the shelves above our bench had exploded, shards of glass littering the floor and the bench. My eyes shifted to focus on a glittering at Theodore’s shoulder, and the thick pointed wedges embedded there.
“Oh my goodness!” Mrs Noble fussed, signalling for the class to settle. “How did that happen?”
“You’re hurt.” Theodore’s husky voice breathed in my ear.
I knew it was my arm without looking, it stung and a warm stickiness dribbled towards my elbow.
“Mrs Noble, she’s bleeding.” Everyone wide eyed and excited, but Theodore’s voice was calm, as if unaffected by the event.
“Dear girl.” She stepped over splintered glass and inspected my arm.
Theodore’s hands left my skin, followed by the distinct tinkle of a few pieces of falling glass.
“Should I take her to the nurse?” Matthew suddenly appeared at the teachers side.
“Yes, that would be a great help.” Matthew wrapped an unnecessary arm around my waist and walked me up the aisle towards the door.
I turned to look at Theodore, knowing he’d been cut too, but something about the look on his face made me stop. Matthew tugged on me harder and got me out of the door.
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