Read Teaching Willow: Session Two Online

Authors: Paige James

Tags: #Romance, #Erotic, #Love, #serial, #teacher, #Forbidden

Teaching Willow: Session Two (7 page)

BOOK: Teaching Willow: Session Two
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I’m so dejected it takes all my willpower to stay true to my promise to Tiffany. But she’s my friend and she’s worth far more than the shitty second-place treatment she’s gotten from me lately. So I
make myself
go to play practice, no matter how much I’d rather lie on the couch, eating ice cream and licking my wounds.

Ebon is becoming more and more distant to me the longer I see him as Sage. Although he’s drawing closer to Sage (me) during those times, it’s still incredibly painful to feel his marked rejection of my true self. It’s also making it harder for me
not to
inject more and more of Willow into my Sage. Case in point, the
Lady Chatterly’s Lover
quote. I don’t know how that slipped out. I wasn’t even really thinking it. I wasn’t really thinking
I was only feeling. Such physical satiation, such emotional closeness, such spiritual completeness. That night, that
whole weekend,
was nothing short of amazing.

Until I almost screwed it up.

And then I
screw it up. I told Ebon I loved him. That was obviously a mistake. If I hadn’t been certain of it then, I would be now. Just before I met Tiffany, my “Sage” phone rang (which reminds me I need to quit carrying it when I’m Willow) and I was afraid to answer it lest Tiffany show up and blow my cover. So I let it ring. And it went to voicemail. And he left no message. To me, that smacks of some kind of announcement or “talk” that he doesn’t want to leave in such a cold, impersonal way.

Something like a break-up. Or a “this is moving too fast” kind of thing. Some sort of typical guy defense to the premature dropping of the L word.

But what’s done is done. There’s nothing I can do about it now. And when things blow up with “Sage” and Ebon, all will be lost, because he’s drifting farther and farther from Willow.

And it’s tearing me up inside.

Tiffany chatters on all through dinner and then, now, as we work on the set for
Romeo and Juliet.
I make the appropriate facial expressions and I say the obligatory words to show interest, but it’s as fake as my relationship with Ebon. Few things in my life seem real anymore. I find that, more and more, I want to throw myself into my Sage role and never come out.

But I can’t. Because I’m Willow. And Sage won’t be gone forever. And then it
really will
be over.

An invisible fist closes over my vocal cords and it’s hard to swallow my saliva that suddenly feels like cotton. Panic, pure and simple. Panic at the thought of losing Ebon forever.

Keep it together, Willow. Keep it together.

“Can you clear out some of those props when they move that wall?” Travis, the set coordinator asks me as he points to one of the cardboard structures that are painted like an old brick wall. “We’ll be bringing in the set for Juliet’s room.”

With a complete lack of energy, I grab a lantern, two fake swords and a small step, and I walk back stage and down the stairs to the big double-doors at the bottom. I push them open and carry my load into the storage room that’s lined with shelves that are organized with all sorts of props. I set them near the front, where I know Travis likes them to go until he can have them properly logged and stored in their designated spots.

When I turn to leave, I nearly scream so startled am I by the shadow that’s lurking silently behind me. But then, with a rush of blood to the surface of my skin, I realize that it’s Ebon.

“What are you doing here?” I ask him unceremoniously.

“I came to talk to you,” he says in a wry way that suggests he thinks I should’ve been able to figure that out for myself.

I glance over his shoulder at the door behind him. What if someone were to stumble upon us? Like Tiffany for instance. She’s already suspicious of me
of Ebon, separately. If she were to find us down here, in the dim light, together and alone…

My worry and my pleasure are both overridden by the residual sting of rejection that I’ve nursed since class this morning. I find it easy to withdraw from him, which I do by taking a literal step backward and cupping my elbows. “What do you need?”

I’m proud of my distance, both physical and emotional. It was hard-won, but it’s coming in handy now.

“I read your pages,” he begins. A shiver twitches through my muscles, but I steel myself against my reaction to him. I need to learn to control myself. Nothing is going to happen between Ebon and me. I might as well get used to it.

“Okay,” I reply flatly.

I see a ghost of a frown flit across his forehead and then disappear. He begins to say something, but stops. He waits for a few seconds before starting again. I can’t help but wonder what he was going to say the first time.

“Should I be worried about you?” he asks, surprising me.

I don’t bother to try and hide it. “Worried? Why on earth would you be worried about me?”

“This part of the story…the tone…everything about it seems…

I’m not following. “And is that a bad thing?”

I hear his deep inhalation. “No, not at all. It’s just…well, it has me thinking that something’s going on. Are you in some kind of trouble?”

Alarm bells are beginning to sound. Did I somehow reveal myself in my work? Unintentionally touch on something that could lead him to this conclusion? Have I given away my secret?

“No.” I keep my answer short. The less I say, the better, I’m sure.

“All right,” he says, nodding. He says nothing for a few seconds before he narrows his eyes on me. “Is Sage?”

“Is Sage what?”

“Is she in some kind of trouble?”

“No. Sage is fine. Why are you asking these weird questions?” I hate that my tone sounds so petulant and juvenile and…defensive, but I can’t help it. I

“This is still supposed to be about me and Sage, correct?”

“Yes,” I say, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth as I utter the lie. Another lie.

“That’s what I thought. And
why I’m asking you these questions. Willow, the feel of this part seems…darker. Edgier. Like something has happened in pages that I haven’t read, in pages that I’ve missed. Only I haven’t missed any pages, have I?”

“No,” I confirm, my fingers toying with the beginnings of a hole in my jeans at my right hip.

“Then there must be something going on with Sage. Or with you, and you just don’t realize that it’s coming through in your story.”

The way Ebon is watching me makes me nervous. His eyes are so sharp, his expression so focused, I fear that he can see right through me, right through to the liar and the pretender and the desperate girl that I am.

I can’t let him find out. Not like this. Not. Like. This.

I take another step back, away from Ebon. “It’s called art, Ebon. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m
to learn a craft. I’m
to learn how to use different perspectives and different tones, different emotions. Normally, I wouldn’t throw them all into one story in such a disjointed way, but since you’re using this as part of my grade…I wanted to show you what I can do.”

My heart is a fluttering wildly inside my chest, a butterfly frantically trying to escape the confines of its cocoon. I can’t be sure anything I just said makes sense, but the beauty is that I’m a student. Worst case scenario, Ebon thinks I have no clue what I’m talking about. And I won’t disabuse him of that notion. He can think what he wants to. As long as he doesn’t think the truth.

I can see by the look on Ebon’s face that he doesn’t believe me. But, whatever he’s thinking, it seems it’s far from the truth. I don’t think he’d be this calm if he’d gleaned any amount of real veracity from my story.

“Willow, I’m not criticizing you. I’m simply asking if I should be worried. About you or about Sage. You seem so conflicted. I can’t help but wonder what could be causing such an intense war in such a sweet, young character.”

His gaze is soft now, soft and inviting. It would be all too easy to be lulled by his interest, his concern. By the insightful way he can see into my soul sometimes.

But it would be a mistake to let down my guard. One small misstep, one tiny blunder and my house of cards would come crashing down around me.

“It’s fiction, Ebon,” I state calmly. “Just fiction.”

His eyes narrow the slightest bit, a reaction to my casual use of his first name. Yet another gaffe on my part. I’ve
got to be
more careful!

“But you also told me that it was your interpretation of your sister’s feelings toward me.”

“Parts of it are. And parts of it aren’t. I already told you that a big portion of it is artistic license. Nothing more.”

I don’t mention the sex scenes specifically. Just talking about that with Ebon could be a problem for me. I feel flustered already. That would only make matters exponentially worse.

He stares at me. I resist the urge to squirm. Instead, I put all my focus into maintaining a carefully neutral expression.

“It’s good, Willow,” he finally says, backing up a step as well. “It’s very good.” His gorgeous lips curve into a lopsided smile. “I guess you
know it is
when your readers have trouble distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not.”

For one heartbeat, for the space of one short burst of air sucked into my lungs, I see something flicker in Ebon’s eyes. It’s heat. The heat I thought I’d seen before is there again, staring back at me. Only this time, I know I’m not imagining it. I’ve seen it in his eyes dozens of times. As Sage.

Before I can even properly analyze it, before I can figure out what to do with it, it’s gone, replaced by this new casual ambivalence he’s giving me.

“I guess I’d better let you get back to your volunteering,” he says with a cool, professional smile. “I’ll be anxious to read the rest.”

I say nothing. I just smile. I imagine the gesture that I force onto my face is every bit as politely indifferent as his seems to be. I watch Ebon walk away, waiting until the door closes quietly behind him before I drop into a squat. I wrap my trembling arms around my bent legs and squeeze my eyes shut. I wonder how much more I can take of this kind of stress and deceit. It’s taking a toll. Maybe not on Sage, but it sure is on Willow. And Willow stopped her meds a while back.

Am I asking for trouble? Can Ebon see something in my writing that I can’t even see myself?

Neither those questions nor the million-and-one others floating around in my head have answers. And tonight I’m too exhausted, too emotionally drained to try and figure out some of them. I just need to sleep. I just need to be Willow—uncomplicated Willow—for a few hours before I dive back into the unrivaled chaos my life has become.

As I collect myself and head back upstairs to re-enter the world of Romeo and Juliet, it isn’t lost on me how tragically similar our stories could be. Love. Obsession. Betrayal. Deception. Ruination.

My name is Willow Masters and this is my life
, I think with no small amount of bitter regret. It isn’t until I’m headed home just over two hours later that my phone rings—my Willow phone—plunging me into an even bigger set of problems.

I’m stopped in a turning lane, waiting for a break in the traffic so that I can dart across the road and into the parking lot outside my apartment building. Barely glancing down at the screen, I hit the TALK button and hold the phone to my ear as I hit the accelerator, charging out into the gap between two cars.



That voice. I’ve known it all my life. And I’ve never dreaded hearing it more.

It’s Sage. I’m almost to the parking lot when I hear her next words. Almost.

“I’m coming home in two days. Can you pick me up at the airport?”

My foot reflexively hits the break, as though that might help stall the coming storm.

From the corner of my eye, I see a flash of light right before the sound of crunching metal gives way to an ocean of blackness that swallows me whole.

That’s the last thing I remember.

To be continued…

Session Three coming April 22


To everyone who took the time to read this story, who took a chance on an unknown author, I am deeply and profoundly grateful. Thank you for making a girl’s dream come true. I would be ecstatic if you could take the time to leave a few words in the form of a review. Your thoughts are important to me and I’d love to hear them!

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BOOK: Teaching Willow: Session Two
13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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