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|Moonlight on Nightingale Way(On Dublin Street #6)(61) by Samantha Young|
Mr. Tatum nodded gravely at me. “I’m inclined to believe her too.” He looked at Mr. Bruce. “Layla has demonstrated inappropriate behavior around me and has been warned. I noted it and made sure management was aware of it.”
“Maia’s behavior of late hasn’t been great though,” Mrs. Rogers added.
“It’s been getting better again,” Mr. Tatum disagreed. “And I’ve noticed friction between the girls in my class.”
“You’ve got it in for me, Mr. Tatum.” Layla narrowed her eyes on him.
“Quiet,” Mr. Bruce said sternly. “Layla, were you the one who started the rumor? If you admit it, I’ll cut the length of your suspension.”
“Layla, please,” Maia suddenly said. “Tell the truth.”
Layla rolled her eyes. “You’re such a boring bitch lately.”
“Don’t speak to her like that,” Logan interjected, and Layla flinched at the warning in his voice. He held her gaze, his expression fierce, and it seemed someone was able to pierce that indolent arrogance of hers. She blushed and bit her lip, looking down at her feet just as Maia had done a moment ago.
“Layla?” Mr. Bruce said.
She refused to speak.
He gave a weary sigh. “Then I have no recourse but to punish both girls.”
I clamped a hand down on Logan’s arm, anticipating his reaction. Putting pressure on his arm, I forced him to be quiet without saying a word. “Perhaps we can work something else out that’s a little more fair.”
“Fair?” Mrs. Rogers snapped. “I had to explain this nonsense to my husband.”
“I know Maia wasn’t involved,” I told her. “So if she’s to be punished, I want to make sure it’s not a suspension that blackens her school record.”
“What are you suggesting?” Mr. Tatum said, seeming willing to hear me out.
“It’s the end of school. Isn’t there an event that they could volunteer to work on?”
There was silence as they mulled it over. Mr. Tatum looked at the headmaster. “There is the end-of-term service… but I have something else in mind.”
“Oh?” Mrs. Rogers wore an annoyed expression, as though pissed off he was contemplating my idea.
“Next semester I’ll be hosting the fund-raiser for Armistice Day in November. It’s always a stressful event for me on top of my work… so why don’t I just leave it to these two ladies to organize it for me?”
Mr. Tatum held up a hand to cut off Rogers’s coming complaint. “If they screw it up, the suspension still stands.”
I looked over at Maia and Layla. “How does that sound?”
Maia nodded glumly.
Layla glowered at me. “How do you think it sounds?”
“Attitude,” Mr. Bruce warned. “If Mrs. Rogers agrees, then this will be your punishment.”
We all looked at the teacher in question. She glared back at us but eventually nodded.
Logan shook the headmaster’s hand and then the teachers’, thanking them. Maia sidled up to me and clasped my hand. “Always saving the day,” she whispered to me.
I squeezed her hand. “I’d do anything for you.”
She smiled cheekily and then looked pointedly at her dad. “Anything?”
I groaned. “Almost anything.”
We were heading out of the office when Logan caught up with us, Mr. Tatum at his side. The teacher immediately held out a hand to me. “It was nice to meet you.”
Our eyes met and held again, and I felt a little zing of attraction. “You too. Thank you for being so fair.”
“I don’t believe Maia had anything to do with it.”
“Nice, Mr. T.,” Layla snapped at him as she strode past us, eating up the ground with her long legs.
“I guess we’re not friends anymore!” Maia called after her sarcastically.
Logan put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “She was never a very good one anyway, Maia.”
“Um… do you have a minute to talk privately?” Mr. Tatum suddenly asked me.
I could feel Logan’s and Maia’s eyes burning into mine. “Uh… Yeah, sure.” I looked back at them. Maia was glowering. Logan’s expression was carefully blank. “I’ll catch up with you.”
Logan had to budge Maia to get her to move, and as soon as they were out of earshot, I turned to Mr. Tatum, curiosity written all over my face.
He grinned, a boyishly charming smile that I had to admit I liked a lot. He didn’t look a thing like Logan, and I decided I also liked that fact. “Maia’s a good kid. I get the impression she’s been through quite a bit. She talks about you and her dad a lot.”
I smiled softly. “She’s a very special person.”
He nodded. “She thinks the same of you. That’s why I know your name is Grace and you are a freelance book editor.”
I laughed. “What else has she been telling you?”
“Apparently you make good homemade pizza.”
“I do,” I agreed with mock arrogance.
He chuckled. “She said nothing of your modesty, however.” He cleared his throat. “Look, I hope you don’t think this is forward, but I’ve written an historical fiction novel that I’d like to send out on query to a few publishers, and I was wondering if I could hire you to edit it before I do.”