DISCLAIMER: As much as I would like to claim some sort of ownership, the most I can say is that I have an affinity for these characters. They belong to Katherine Brooks and Wolfe films. I'm just borrowing them because I didn't like the ending of the movie.
SPOILERS: Pretty much the climax of the movie, so if you haven't seen it, you might not want to read this.
FEEDBACK: To daydreambeliever_2001[at]yahoo.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Foolish Heart



It was walking into the hall and seeing her – so uncomfortable in his arms, so obviously drawn to Annabelle – that had been the final catalyst in the chain reaction that ended with them tangled in a dangerous embrace. Annabelle had been pursuing Simone with single minded intensity for months, convinced that there was a connection present that the older woman couldn't – or maybe wouldn't – see. Unbeknownst to Annabelle, Simone had been waging a private war against everything she thought she knew and everything she knew she felt since the first time Annabelle had touched her. Looking back, there really wasn't anywhere else it could have gone.

When Simone heard the first haunting notes of the song followed by the husky voice of its writer, she knew something had to give in the struggle. And when she heard the barely veiled promises and painfully obvious desire in the words, she knew it was her resolve that would be doing the giving. Even this realization couldn't stop her from trying to run away from the situation. But Annabelle had already made up her mind that she wouldn't let Simone run away again, so she followed the quickly retreating form out of the too crowded hall and into the pouring rain.

Simone had met her questioning stare with a look of total fear mixed with barely controlled desire and finding it too hard to be that close had tried again to walk away. Annabelle, having decided that it was a "now or never" situation, reached out and grabbed her shaking arm, pulling Simone back to her and forcing the older woman to face the obvious attraction. Seconds marked by pounding heartbeats passed before Simone took the final step to close the distance and their lips met in the first kiss they had both been waiting for.

Afraid speaking would break the connection between them, giving Simone another chance to second guess the path they had started traveling down; Annabelle had tentatively broken the kiss and taken the older woman's hand, leading her towards the privacy of the deserted dormitory. Closing the door silently behind them, Annabelle again pulled her teacher – soon to be lover – to her and into another bruising kiss. Backing Simone against the wall and using her body to pin her there, Annabelle let her fingertips wander over goosepimpled flesh, slowly working their way down Simone's body to pull the soaking wet dress back up and over her head, exposing more of her skin and the barely there slip that had been under it.

Kneeling before her as if in supplication to a shrine, Annabelle let their gazes meet as if asking permission for the intense moment to continue. Meeting no resistance, she slowly slipped the straps from the slip down over Simone's shoulders, kissing a trail over the newly exposed flesh back to the mouth she had dreamt so long about. Falling back onto the bed and pulling Simone on top of her, the rest of their clothes were lost in rapid succession until they were left with only the feeling of skin against skin.

When Annabelle touched Simone for the first time, there was no mistaking the sigh that escaped the blonde's lips for anything but pure pleasure, and as she slowly moved inside her, feeling Simone's body react in such a passionate way, Annabelle knew they could never return to the way things were. When she felt Simone's powerful climax, she knew she didn't want to.

Annabelle awoke to the unfamiliar but not unwelcome feeling of another body pressed against her side. Slowly opening her eyes, afraid that she was simply in the grip of a particularly vivid dream that would fade with the entering sunlight, she let her gaze fall on the slowly breathing blonde by her side. Smiling to herself as she adjusted slightly for a better view of her newly acquired lover, she let her gaze flick to the clock by the bed. The blinking numbers told her the electricity must have went out at some point during the night, and the faded light entering the window told her it was closer to six than she wished it was. Knowing that everyone would be heading to breakfast by seven, she stole one last look at the sleeping form and silently untangled herself from the mess of bed sheets and discarded clothes.

After gathering her slip and undergarments from various points in the room and assembling herself into something that closely resembled clothed, she sat on the edge of the faded green couch and closed her eyes, letting scenes from the previous night play through her mind. She had barely had time to let herself realize that everything she had wanted since first laying eyes on Simone was being handed to her before she was lost in the sensations of a kiss and a touch, the sounds of a sigh and a whimper. Even now, as she unabashedly watched Simone sleep she couldn't quite get a grip on the fact that they had made love just hours before. Finally standing again, she quietly moved to the side of the bed and placed a feather light kiss on Simone's forehead. As she picked up her boots she heard Simone sigh in her sleep and roll over, pulling the pillow Annabelle had slept on tightly against her chest. With one final look over her shoulder, Annabelle silently opened the door and made her way down the hall to the dormitory bathrooms.

"I'm worried about Annabelle," Colins said quietly as she cut into her eggs and pancakes at breakfast. "She wasn't in our room last night."

"She was probably in Miss. Bradley's room," Kat said with more than a hint of jealousy in her voice.

"No way," Kristen answered, laughing incredulously.

"Yes way," Kat replied, defiance seeping into her voice as she turned to look at the head table where all the nuns sat talking about the dance the night before.

"Well I don't care if they're together," Colins added with a shaky voice as the two girls watched in fascination while Kat went to Mother Emaculata with her thoughts on the situation. "I like them both."

Unable to hear the conversation, the two were left to assume what was said as they watched Mother Emaculata's expression go from amusement to anger before she made a hasty exit out of the dining hall, leaving Kat smiling at the head table.

Moving up the stairs and towards Simone's room, Mother Emaculata readied herself for what she expected to see. She had feared Simone was getting too close to Annabelle, but she had never expected that her niece would breach protocol quite like this. Pausing for a few seconds outside Simone's door, she decided it was best not to knock, not to give them the chance to try to cover it up. As she pushed through the door, Simone bolted upright in bed instinctively pulling the covers over her exposed chest.

"Simone!" Mother Emaculata said angrily, before she fully took in the scene and realized her niece was alone in the bed.

Shit, this isn't happening, this can't be happening. How am I going to explain this? Simone wondered frantically as she blankly stared at Emaculata, afraid to look at the figure she assumed was still lying in the bed next to her.

"I'm sorry," Emaculata stuttered, visibly flustered as she leaned against the door. "I thought…"

Sorry? Why is she sorry? I should be saying something. Doing something. Wait, where's Annabelle? Simone looked around the room, bewilderment showing clearly on her face. "Mother Emaculata. What are you doing?" she finally asked, impressed that her voice was only sort of shaking.

"I don't know. I mean, I thought. Well, Katherine said Annabelle wasn't in their room last night and she thought…so I thought. I don't know what I thought," she finally trailed off, looking around the room for somewhere that wasn't Simone's accusing stare for her eyes to rest.

"Katherine told you that Annabelle wasn't in her room and you assumed that she would be in mine?"

"Well, Katherine said she thought something was going on with you two. And when neither of you were at breakfast…I'm sorry Simone. I know you better than that. I shouldn't have listened to that troubled child."

"No, you shouldn't have. But if you insist on discussing this, can we please do it later in your office? I didn't realize it was so late and I need to get ready for mass."

"Yes, of course. I'll just go back to the cafeteria. I'll have the cooks put a plate back for you. I'm sorry again," Emaculata said quietly as she backed out of the room and closed the door.

What the hell just happened here? Simone thought as she fell back onto the bed, waiting for her heartbeat to return to something close to normal. Where is Annabelle and how did she sneak out without me knowing?

She let her eyes slide closed as her tensed muscles relaxed and images from the night before came to the front of her memory, causing her stomach to clench and her breathing to hitch. She remembered the look of total adoration on Annabelle's face as she knelt before her, and she remembered the taste of the younger woman's overheated skin as they had made love. She also remembered that not only was Annabelle her student, but she was only seventeen. She could feel her throat tighten as she realized that despite how beautiful the night before had been, it could never happen again.

Slowly crawling out from under the covers and stepping onto the plush carpet, she looked around the tousled room, spotting her dress in a discarded heap beside the door and her slip at the foot of the bed. As she walked around the front of the bed, she saw a sock that definitely wasn't hers in a ball near the nightstand, beside her bra and underwear. Thank God Emaculata didn't look too closely around the room. Shaking her head at the evidence that the night before had actually happened, she walked slowly into her bathroom, avoiding her reflection in the mirror and turned the shower on hot, letting the steam fill the room and cover her chilled body.



Walking into the already full church made it difficult for Annabelle to conceal her late arrival. As she scanned the heads of all the parishioners hoping to find Colins and Kristen, her eyes settled on the still damp blonde hair of Simone and a smirk found its way unbidden to her lips. As if on cue everyone stood at once for the impending entrance of Father Harris and the altar servers. As they all turned to face the rear of the church, Annabelle ducked into the nearest vacant pew, but not before her eyes met and held Simone's for a fleeting second. Before she had time to puzzle through the mixed emotions she saw in the tormented blue eyes, Simone averted her gaze to her hymnal and joined the rest of the congregation in the opening song.

We are so not going back to that again, Annabelle thought as she pretended to sing along. I'll be damned if I'm going to let her try to pretend last night didn't happen.

More than a little distracted by the unexpected knot that formed in the pit of her stomach just from meeting Annabelle's eyes across the crowded church, Simone tried with all her will to focus her attention on what Father Harris was saying. As the ancient priest droned on about circuses and frogs, she found her mind wandering to all the nights before that had lead up to what she intellectually knew was the stupidest decision in her life. Her mind flashed on images of Annabelle comforting Colins after her pet porcupine had died. Even now, looking back on it she was amazed at the depth of caring someone as young as Annabelle could possess. Then she was back at the beach house, struggling to pull away from Annabelle's confident embrace, knowing emotionally it was what she needed but instinctively railing against the thought of seeking comfort in one of her student's arms.

I guess I took that well past seeking comfort; she thought ruefully as she dutifully stood with the rest of the congregation and exchanged signs of peace, secretly thankful that Annabelle was too far away to require them to touch. As she turned to shake Sister Claire's hand though, she couldn't stop herself from seeking out Annabelle's eyes in the back of the church. Just as she knew they would be, the blue-green pools were trained on her, looking past her distant veneer and into the depths of her soul. Unable to force herself to look away she was thankful for the distraction of having to leave the pew to accept communion. As she stood waiting to receive the body and blood of Christ, she tried to focus on the comfort of the familiarity of doing what she had done nearly every Sunday since she was thirteen years old. The murmured blessings of Father Harris faded into the background as her thoughts finally quieted and she accepted the few moments of peace.

Annabelle was waiting for her outside the church when she finally emerged, long after all the students and the majority of the teachers had gone back to the dorms or off on the grounds to enjoy the warm spring day.

"Hey," she said quietly as she tentatively touched Simone's arm to get her attention.

"Hi," Simone responded, looking distractedly around the sprawling yards of the school, praying that no one was around to see the exchange.

"Can we talk?" Annabelle asked, sensing that Simone was more than uncomfortable with the current situation.

"No…yes…," Simone stuttered, too distracted by both the almost unbearable nearness of the brunette and the too real possibility that anyone could walk by at any moment and overhear their conversation to give Annabelle a straight answer.

Annabelle studied the clearly flustered form in front of her and couldn't help but smile. "So is that a no or a yes?" she finally asked, laughter edging into her voice.

Surprised to hear the lightened tone, Simone finally let her restless gaze settle on the younger woman and instinctively smiled back. "That was a no for right now. I have some things I need to take care of."

"So it's a yes for later?" Annabelle asked playfully, her tone more than a little suggestive.

"It's a yes for talking later," Simone responded, hoping her tone made it clear that nothing else would happen.

"Ok, I'll come to your room tonight around nine. Kat and Kristen both have study hall until ten and Colins is being tutored in physics."

"No. You can't come to my room. You know that students aren't allowed in the teacher's suites."

"That didn't stop us from going there last night," Annabelle replied quietly, taking a small step closer to Simone while fighting the urge to touch her. Seeing the brief shot of guilt flash across Simone's face at her comment, she sighed heavily, "ok, so where then?"

"I don't know. How about out by the statue where you always sneak to smoke?" Simone finally answered, again looking nervously over her shoulder at the still deserted landscape. Hopefully being outside will help me keep my head on straight.

"Ok, the statue at nine. I'll be there. Should I dress all in black to lessen the chance that I'll be spotted?" Annabelle added teasingly, stepping even closer to Simone and finally letting her fingers brush a slightly shaking hand.

Knowing that they were too close to be engaged in casual conversation made Simone's brain cry out that she needed to get as far away from this magnetic girl as she could. Despite her rational self demanding that she step back, her irrational self told her to lean into the touch, to soak up the closeness and the promises that it held. And just like the night before, she felt herself give into that part of her that longed for contact with Annabelle as she closed the distance between them and turned her hand over so fingertips met fingertips. We can't be doing this. Not here. Not now. Not ever.

Afraid the tenuous connection would be broken if she even so much as breathed, Annabelle slowly moved her hand over the clammy skin of Simone's still shaking palm to let her fingertips dance across the fluttering pulse at her wrist, and over the now flushed skin beneath the three-quarter length sleeve. She slowly let her fingers move back to Simone's palm, around her middle finger, and down to encircle the tip. As she let her hand drop to her side, she stepped back from Simone's personal space and watched raptly as Simone's eyes slowly opened and focused on her face. Knowing that anything she could say would ruin the trance that had enveloped the older woman she simply smiled and walked away.

As Simone watched the retreating form, her heart racing from just that little bit of contact she wondered not for the first time how she would convince herself that something that felt so right was really so wrong. I'll be fine as long as she doesn't touch me, she thought vaguely as she turned and headed back to the school.



Annabelle sat on the stone bench, smoking more out of habit than enjoyment. The ample bushes in full spring bloom offering enough shelter that she felt disconnected from the surrounding grounds – free to close her eyes and remember what it had been like to hold Simone in her arms.

"Hi." Annabelle jumped in surprise at the quiet voice that pulled her from her memories.

"Hi. You're a lot better at the whole discrete thing than Kat," Annabelle replied, smiling at the nervous blond as her heart beat began to return to normal.

"Do you and Kat come here often?" Simone asked as she sat on the bench next to Annabelle, hoping she sounded less jealous that she felt. Jealous? Why are you jealous? You're out here to tell her that what happened can't happen again.

"Not often. Once. The night you caught me in the pool – the night she kissed me," Annabelle replied honestly, moving closer to Simone with each word. "And even then I would have rather been here with you."

Simone didn't have a response. Despite being nearly fifteen years older than Annabelle she was constantly reminded that in many ways Annabelle was more mature than she was. She was so honest in her attraction and Simone longed to be able to be that free in return. For so many years she had successfully stamped out everything she wanted to feel. After Amanda she had barricaded herself behind the walls of Saint Theresa's, allowing her passion of teaching to partially fill the emptiness she had thought would never go away. And now there was this seventeen year old girl watching her with such open desire that she found it hard to breathe, let alone formulate the words to say what she had convinced herself had to be said.

Unable to hold eye contact any longer, she focused her attention on a large June bug flying noisily around the recessed lighting under the blooming flowers. "Annabelle," she sighed more than spoke, "I…"

But before she could finish her thought, let alone the sentence to follow she felt Annabelle's hands on her body – one resting lightly on her thigh, the other snaking around the back of her neck, pulling her gaze from the frantic beetle and into blue-green pools she could drown in.

"Shh," Annabelle murmured as she moved her hand off Simone's thigh to the other side of her neck – effectively forcing the older woman to either look her in the eye or let her lids slide closed.

Alarm bells were going off at a rapid pace somewhere in the back of Simone's mind, but the warmth radiating from everywhere Annabelle touched her was a very effective silencer. She felt her eyes slide closed as she saw Annabelle leaning in – ready to capture her already parted lips with her own.

At the moment Annabelle's lips met Simone's, she felt the older woman's sharp intake of breath. Preparing herself for Simone's withdrawal, it took her racing brain longer than it should have to register that Simone was actually pulling her closer rather than pushing her away. When she felt Simone's tongue brush across her lips, requesting entrance to her mouth she gave up trying to think and wrapped her arms more tightly around Simone's slightly trembling body.

A muted sigh escaped between them and Simone reached frantically inside herself for the strength to pull away from arms she knew she shouldn't be in. We can't be doing this. Not here. Not when anyone could walk by. Not at all… Simone's thoughts were racing and fear was evenly matched with desire as her heart beat an uneven rhythm in her chest. She distantly felt Annabelle's hands wander down over her back to the hem of her t-shirt, eventually finding their way under the material to caress overheated flesh. Registering the feeling of skin on skin was enough to break Simone from her trance.

"Annabelle – wait, stop," she said breathlessly as she reluctantly pulled back from the younger woman.

"What? Why?" Annabelle asked quietly as she tried to recapture Simone's lips. "No one is out here this late."

"It's not that," Simone said softly as she turned away from Annabelle to stare over the grounds.

"Then what is it?" Annabelle pressed as she again moved closer to Simone, resting a hand on her thigh, unwilling to give up on all contact.

"We can't do this," Simone stated simply, refusing to look Annabelle in the eyes.

"We're not doing anything wrong. Feeling like this isn't wrong."

"We can't do this," Simone said again, sighing heavily as she forced herself to meet Annabelle's questioning look.

"We've been down this road before Simone. I know that for some reason you think this isn't something that should happen, but I know that it's something we both want."

"How do you know what I want?" Simone asked quietly, absently fingering the golden cross around her neck.

"Because I've felt it in the way you've kissed me. I always feel it in the way you look at me," Annabelle responded, equally as quietly. "I feel it in the way you always try to run from me. Why are you so afraid of this?"

Simone pulled her gaze from the ground and allowed herself to search Annabelle's features – from the open expression, to the still confident set of her body, to the hands that had in one night given her more pleasure than she had felt in years. There were a thousand reasons why what happened after the dance never should have happened. But now that it had, Simone was hard pressed to find a reason that didn't ring empty in her ears as to why it shouldn't – wouldn't – happen again.

"You're my student Annabelle. I've been entrusted to take care of you. To protect you and teach you," she finally offered half-heartedly.

"Fine, so take care of me. Protect me. Teach me. I can do the same for you," Annabelle responded easily, moving off the bench to squat in front of Simone's downcast stare. "Look at me."

Sighing heavily and leaning back away from the now too-close-for-rational-thought presence, Simone tried to gather what little resolve she still maintained. "Look, this can't happen. It shouldn't have happened in the first place, and it certainly can't happen again. It won't happen again."

The finality in Simone's voice cut more deeply than Annabelle had expected and she felt her temper flare. "Simone, look at me," she ordered as she stood, crossing her arms protectively over her chest. I'm not going to let you push me away. I'm not going to let you convince yourself that this is wrong.

"You can sit here and tell yourself that this is wrong. You can try to tell me that it can't happen again. And you can probably rattle of a hundred or more reasons why it never should have happened in the first place. But it did happen, and I'm not sorry that it did. And I know that you aren't either. Tell me it can't, or it won't, or that we shouldn't. But until you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you don't want it to happen again, I'm not going to walk away," Annabelle said finally, surprised that Simone had actually maintained eye contact throughout the entire tirade.

"You don't have a choice," Simone said sadly. "Nothing more is going to come of this."

"Tell me you don't want to be with me," Annabelle countered fiercely, half afraid that Simone would do just that.

"It doesn't matter what I want Annabelle. This is the way it has to be."

"Tell me you don't want me Simone. Because the way your body responded to me last night told me anything but." Annabelle saw Simone's sharp intake of breath as her last words settled into the still spring night. I know what you want Simone. And I know I can give it to you. If you'll just let me.

Silence settled over them as Annabelle watched Simone for any type of reaction. The seconds seemed to stretch on for hours and Annabelle began to wonder if Simone was just going to sit in silence in an attempt to make Annabelle leave. That's fine. We've got all night, Annabelle thought just as her cell phone vibrated in her pocket, indicating that in actuality they had about twenty minutes before Kat and Colins were back in the room and wondering where she was. Deciding that she didn't really have anything to lose, she took a step towards Simone and took her head in her hands, cradling it and tipping her face upwards so the dim lights caught the tears that escaped silently from her eyes. Her breath stolen by the sadness she saw in Simone's eyes, she shook her head slightly and bent to let her lips brush briefly over Simone's – tasting the salty tears.

As she attempted to pull away from the seated woman, she felt Simone's hands on her neck, urging her into a deeper kiss. Annabelle could feel fresh tears falling onto her hands as she gently explored Simone's mouth. As her cell vibrated again she broke the kiss, but let her forehead rest against Simone's.

"This can't happen," Simone murmured weakly, even as her thumbs rubbed absently up and down Annabelle's neck.

"You've already said that," Annabelle responded, her voice husky and slightly teasing.

"I'm your teacher."

"For two more weeks."

"You're only seventeen."

"For another month."

"You have an answer for everything, don't you?" Simone asked, laughing softly as she pulled back slightly and caught Annabelle's eyes.

"No, not everything. I just know that I won't let something small like semantics get in the way of what I want," Annabelle responded, her smile evident in her eyes. "But right now I have to go."

"Right," Simone agreed quietly as she let her hands drop from Annabelle's neck.

"Nosey roommates," Annabelle said with a small laugh as she straightened up. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow in class."

"Yes. Class. That should be interesting," Simone responded, her eyebrows arched sardonically.

"It will be fine," Annabelle answered with a smile as she impulsively stole another quick kiss before turning and walking back towards the dorms. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight," Simone murmured quietly as she watched the disappearing figure, forcing herself to ignore the guilt she felt and instead focusing on how alive Annabelle made her feel. In love with a student. How did I get myself into this?



Sleep hadn't come easy for Simone, her dreams filled with phantom sensations – gentle caresses, warm kisses, insistent touches – that woke her with ragged breathing and clammy skin, curled tightly around the pillow that Annabelle had slept on the night before, breathing deeply of the unique mix of shampoo and sweat. After a few fitful hours, she gave up on sleep and wandered aimlessly to her laptop, flipping the screen open and draping a blanket over her shoulders as it ran the startup scripts. If I can't sleep I guess I might as well grade.

"You look happy this morning," Kat observed in a taunting tone as she eyed Annabelle over breakfast.

"So? Is it a crime to be happy?" Annabelle asked mildly, not wanting to acknowledge Kat's insinuation.

"No crime, no. It's just that you've always had that brooding slouch and I'm wondering what happened. Did you finally sleep with her?"

"You slept with someone?" Kristen asked quietly, shock evident on her face.

"No I didn't. Shut up Kat," Annabelle said forcefully, glaring across the table.

"You did, didn't you? Wow, Michelle Peters would have creamed in her pants to be you," Kat added sharply.

"I didn't sleep with anyone Kat. Maybe you should mind your own damn business," Annabelle responded after a moment, her tone carrying more than a hint of threat. "Just because I wouldn't sleep with you doesn't mean I'm sleeping with someone else."

"Oh my GOD…you tried to get Annabelle to sleep with you!?" Kristen asked loudly, too surprised to remember to use her inside voice. "What the HELL were you thinking?! Are you gay too?"

"No…fuck Kristen! Why not announce it to the whole damn school?" Kat responded angrily, looking warily around the dining hall and catching a few hastily averted stares from the surrounding tables. "What the hell Annabelle? I think you've got your memories mixed up. I was the one who told you no, remember?"

Annabelle slowly stood and carefully loaded her utensils and napkin onto her only partially empty tray before leaning closer to the table and directing her angry eyes at Kat. "No Kat, I distinctly remember you trying to shove your tongue down my throat like some fifteen year old boy racing for second base on his first date before I told you I didn't want to be your science experiment. And if I remember correctly, you didn't take that very well," she added thoughtfully as she turned away from the now crimson face and took her tray to the trash area, hearing Kristen laughing in the background.

"Since the semester is almost over, and you've all had enough time to become familiar with many different poets, I want you to pick a poet whose work touched you in some way and analyze one of his or her works," Simone told the grumbling students, raising her hand to quiet them. "Then, I want you to write a poem of your own, in the style of the poet that you chose. This will be due on Friday. I'll give you the rest of the week in class to work on it."

"Guess Colins will be doing Sylvia Plath since they're both so interested in death," Kat said loud enough for Simone to hear her.

"Out of my class," she ordered quietly. "And don't bother coming back. You can work on the assignments in study hall for the rest of the year."

Kat stopped on her way out the door, looking back over her shoulder incredulously. "You can't do that."

"I just did. Go," Simone said simply, her arms crossed tightly over her chest.

"Bitch," Kat muttered as she threw the classroom door open hard enough to cause it to bounce off the wall and spring back in her face, almost knocking her right in the forehead. Shaking her head in frustration she stepped through the doorway, closing the door on the sound of her classmates laughing heartily at her expense.

"That's enough," Simone said quietly, calling the class to order. "Get to work. You can use any of the books we've worked out of this year. If you need to take one back to your room, come see me and I'll sign it out to you."

As the girls moved around the room, leafing through various tomes of poetry, Simone sat at her desk, red pen at the ready, pretending to be dutifully poring over freshman composition papers. Despite her best intentions though, she found herself staring at the same sentence over and over, trying to absorb what the young author was trying to say, her eyes occasionally darting up from the paper to catch Annabelle staring distractedly at her, pen cap resting against lips parted in a slight smile. Simone's body responded as if Annabelle's gaze was a caress, goosebumps creeping up her arms, her heart beat becoming erratic in her chest. How can a look leave me so dismantled, she wondered in silent disbelief before again trying to concentrate on the paper laying open on her desk.



The late morning class had passed relatively uneventfully even if it was also mostly non-productive for both Simone and Annabelle. Both women had found it next to impossible to remain focused on any task at hand, more often than not choosing to observe each other attempting to put some sort of work on paper. Annabelle had caught Simone's eyes on more than one occasion, and without fail the older woman's breath had caught and she felt her body flush. While Simone had never been so happy to hear the end of class bell, Annabelle had never been so disappointed. As the other girls quickly left the classroom for lunch, Annabelle lingered, not taking her eyes from Simone's bent form.

Sensing the intent gaze, Simone slowly raised her eyes, knowing that the two were quite alone in the room. "Did you have a question Annabelle?" she asked quietly, hoping her feigned indifference would stop Annabelle from making any bold statements – or worse yet bold actions.

"No," Annabelle answered simply, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

"Then did you need to check out a book?"

"No," Annabelle said again, smiling more broadly, but still not making any move to leave her chair.

Simone carefully placed her pen on her desk and removed her glasses, resting the tip of the earpiece against her lips as she let her gaze settle fully on her student. Giving up on the feigned indifference and allowing a smile to grace her features, she watched Annabelle in silence. "You're going to be late for lunch," she finally stated quietly, not letting her intent gaze falter.

"I'm okay with that," Annabelle responded as she slowly stood and moved towards Simone's desk, her eyes darting quickly to the window in the door and the deserted hallway beyond. Sure that everyone was either in their next class or on the first lunch shift, she moved to sit on the edge of Simone's desk, her right hip resting lightly against Simone's right hand.

Simone carefully leaned back in her desk chair, never taking her eyes off Annabelle's penetrating stare. Taking a slow breath to calm her racing heart, she watched herself as she slowly reached out her right hand to stroke Annabelle's bare calf and knee. This is getting out of hand already. But even that thought wasn't enough to stop her from tracing idle patterns over the exposed flesh as she watched the blue-green eyes of the younger woman drift closed. I can't even be near her without wanting to touch her. I'm drawn like a moth to a flame, and I know that one of us is going to end up getting burnt.

She was standing then and moving away from Annabelle and all rational thought as she deliberately turned the lock on the classroom door and the light switch to off. Turning back towards her desk, she found herself mere inches from Annabelle, who had followed her closely and was now pulling her towards the darkened corner in front of the cabinets and out of the line of site from the small window set high in the door.

"This could be interesting," Annabelle said quietly, laughing gently as she backed Simone against the cabinet doors and tenderly brushed the older woman's lips with her own.

"This could be dangerous," Simone answered softly, pulling Annabelle towards her and into a slower, more thorough kiss, tangling her hands in the long sleek hair and gently playing across the nape of Annabelle's neck.

"Hmmm," Annabelle murmured briefly, moving to kiss Simone's neck and ear, her hands moving over the swell of hips to the deep bend of the small of her back. "I think I could live with a little danger."

Simone's thoughts were broken as she rested her forehead against Annabelle's shoulder, her mind focused only on the gentle caresses moving over her back and stomach, slowly and purposefully gliding further up her torso until fingertips brushed surely over already hard nipples. She heard her own sharp intake of breath as she tilted her now spinning head back to rest on the cool cabinet, granting Annabelle unhindered access to the fluttering pulse point just above her collarbone. Taking full advantage of Simone's exposed flesh, Annabelle trailed a warm line of gentle nips followed by longer kisses over her neck before capturing her lips in a slow but possessive kiss, using her body to pin Simone to the cabinet, insinuating her thigh between the older woman's legs.

Simone felt herself unconsciously bearing down on Annabelle's thigh as their tongues danced forcefully together and Annabelle teased her nipples into an almost painful state of arousal. Her hands trailed absently down Annabelle's back until she found the hem of the white button up of the uniform all the girls had to wear. She easily found her way under the shirt to overheated skin as Annabelle continued her assault on Simone's nipples, their kisses breaking only long enough for their ragged breathing. Trembling fingertips moved quickly over a taught abdomen before loosening each button on the dress shirt and laying it open while somehow managing to resist the urge to push it off the younger woman's shoulders.

As she caressed the swell of Annabelle's breasts, her muddled mind registered the feeling of sure fingers sliding under the waistband of her slacks, rapidly releasing the clasp and zipper before lightly brushing the apex of her hip and causing her knees to want to buckle. When she felt Annabelle shift so that she was at an angle that allowed her fingertips to pass under the last silk barrier between them she stifled a groan that she was sure the teacher in the adjacent classroom would have heard. Annabelle had felt the harsh intake of breath and she broke their kiss, pulling back from Simone as she let her fingers slide into the moisture pooled at Simone's sex.

"Look at me," she whispered harshly, wanting to see the desire in Simone's eyes when she touched her.

Breathing heavily Simone forced her head back and her eyes open, fighting to bring Annabelle's soft features into focus as her brain seemed to dissolve into a million pieces. "Oh God," she murmured as she struggled to keep her eyes open.

Annabelle watched the intense need move over the now crystal blue eyes and felt her own excitement rise to meet Simone's. Allowing her forehead to rest against Simone's, she felt her own breathing catch as she slid inside Simone's already climaxing body.

Simone felt the orgasm approaching, felt her body start to spiral down and away from itself. As she let her head fall to Annabelle's shoulder, she used to material there to silence the guttural cry that threatened to escape from her panting mouth. When she felt her body tensing for a second – completely unexpected – climax, she gripped forcefully at Annabelle's body, briefly wondering if the younger woman was strong enough to support them both before her too weak knees forced her to find out.

Annabelle kept her body tense, using the leverage against the cabinet to support the limp, panting body against her. When Simone started to stir, finally resting her now tousled head against the door, Annabelle finally, gently, slowly, eased herself away from Simone's center, smiling slightly at the sharp inhale when her fingertips brushed across a too sensitive clit.

"I think I missed lunch," Annabelle quipped quietly as she backed away from Simone's still disheveled form.

"Yes. I think you did," Simone replied with a sigh and a smile as she held tightly to the front shirt-tails of Annabelle's button up, sex-hazy eyes still taking in the smooth tan skin, the rise and fall of breasts with breath. "That wasn't supposed to happen."

"But it did."

"It did."

"I'm not sorry it did," Annabelle added softly, taking Simone's hands in her own.

Simone held her gaze, blue eyes slowly clearing of the climax induced fog. Her breathing had returned to normal and she felt her brain beginning to work again. What she didn't feel was the expected guilt and regret. "I'm not either," she said quietly as she pulled her hands from Annabelle's and slowly started buttoning the now thoroughly wrinkled dress shirt. "I probably should be. God knows I should be, but I'm not."

"Simone, can I please speak to you for a minute?" Mother Emaculata called sharply from her office door.

Simone felt her pulse accelerate and her hands go cold with sweat as she turned towards the older nun, at once banishing the images of Annabelle's hands on her body and bracing herself for another confrontation involving the senator's daughter. "What is it?"

"Katherine came to see me this afternoon. She said you kicked her out of your class today," Emaculata stated as Simone seated herself stiffly in one of the wooden visitor's chairs across the huge desk. "I just wanted to make sure you didn't do so out of retaliation for Sunday morning."

Simone looked at the stern face of her aunt. A face that she had at one time looked to for comfort, but now viewed more as a prisoner views their captor. Still, despite her general disenchantment with Mother Emaculata she couldn't keep her temper from flaring at the blatant accusation.

"Do you really think so low of me?" she asked quietly.

"What do you mean?" Emaculata responded with false surprise.

"Do you really think that I would seek retaliation on a student? Do I strike you as being that petty or irresponsible?"

"I wasn't insinuating that at all Simone. I was simply asking why you felt the need to permanently remove a student from your class so close to the end of the semester. I mean it could just be a coincidence that it happened so close on the heels of our…misunderstanding…but I thought I would ask."

"Our 'misunderstanding' as you call it involved you believing a habitual trouble maker and liar. Katherine's removal from my class involved her continued abuse of a fellow student. Abuse that has been going on all semester despite previous warnings and temporary dismissals or detentions," Simone answered coldly. "Katherine needs to learn that everyone is not her whipping post."

"You do realize that she is a rather high profile student?" Emaculata said finally, after carefully regarding her niece. "Her father has a lot of money."

"Don't all the parents of all the students who come here? I'm very aware of the politics Mother Emaculata. But Katherine's removal from my class will not hinder her ability to graduate and therefore should not upset her father in the least…assuming he can be roused from his drug induced stupor long enough to even find out about it."

"Simone!" Emaculata said sharply, shock evident in her features. "How dare you speak of a student's family in such a manner."

Simone stared at her aunt for a few moments, choosing her words carefully before responding, "I'm sorry…"

"I should hope so," Emaculata interrupted, smoothing the front of her habit.

"No…I'm not sorry for what I said. I'm sorry that you don't want to acknowledge the truth. The truth is that Katherine is a troubled girl and her father doesn't care. You have chosen to turn a blind eye to her behavior because of the money that comes with her being here. I have not made that same choice. Katherine will not be returning to my class. She will be allowed to finish her work, and she will be allowed to graduate. But she will not be allowed to continue to verbally abuse students in my presence," Simone finished smoothly as she stood and moved behind the chair, absorbing the look of complete shock that had taken over her aunt's face. "Are we finished here?"

Mother Emaculata held Simone's gaze for a few tense moments, her mouth working as if trying to formulate some sort of response before finally going slack. She gave Simone a barely perceptible nod as she finally averted her gaze back to the reports on her desk. She didn't bother to look up as the door opened, but stared into the now empty room in wonder as she muttered under her breath: "what in the world has gotten into her?"

"I can't believe Miss Bradley kicked you out of class," Kristen said incredulously as she and Kat lounged in their room later that evening. "Can she really do that?"

"She can try. But I talked to Emaculata earlier, and she didn't seem too sympathetic to Miss Bradley's point of view. I bet you a bottle of Jim Beam that I'm back in class tomorrow morning," Kat replied with a broad smile. "This whole thing is your fault Colins. If you weren't so messed up Miss Bradley wouldn't feel like she needed to protect you," she added bitterly.

"Shut up Kat," Colins murmured softly, not willing to look up from the book in her lap.

"What did you say?" Kat asked angrily as she leaned forward on her bed.

"She said shut up," Annabelle answered calmly as she entered the room and dropped her bag on her bed.

"Who asked you Annabelle?" Kat said coldly, directing her angry glower at her fourth roommate. "I figured you'd be with Miss Bradley tonight."

"You know Kat, I'm beginning to think it wasn't Michelle Peters who had the massive crush on Miss Bradley. With as jealous as you are anytime anyone else gets any attention from her, I think you have a crush," Annabelle said softly as she sat on the edge of her bed. "And that's okay, I mean it's perfectly understandable, but you have to realize you don't have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting anywhere. She's way too far out of your league."

Kat's eyes were locked on Annabelle, her face set in stark anger as Colins and Kristen volleyed their gaze between the two as if in the front row at a Wimbledon match. The tension in the room was palpable, the lingering silence deafening.

"So, Annabelle, who are you doing for that paper Miss Bradley assigned?" Kristen finally asked, attempting to change the subject and prevent another physical altercation between her two volatile roommates.

Annabelle slowly pulled her gaze from Kat's and regarded Kristen. "I don't know. I was thinking about Whitman or Rilke."

"Huh, figures," Kat mumbled under her breath.

"Did you say something Kat?" Annabelle asked as she idly flipped through her sketch book looking for a blank page.

"Yeah. I said it's not a surprise that you would decide to imitate a gay poet."

"I'm going to do Poe," Colins interrupted quickly, her mousy eyes bouncing uneasily between Annabelle and Kat.

"And that's a real shocker too."

"Kat, why don't you just leave her alone?" Annabelle responded angrily. "Seriously, can't you find someone else to treat like shit?"

"Why would I do that when Colins is right here all the time?" Kat responded, smiling sweetly – her tone obviously threatening.

"What the hell happened to you when you were younger to turn you into such a cold hearted bitch?" Annabelle asked clearly as she lay her sketch book down on the bed.

"What happened to you that made you a dyke?" Kat asked in response.

"Kat!" Kristen said loudly, shocked at the other girl's choice of words.

"Stay out of this Kristen," Annabelle said softly.

"Yeah, stay out of this Kristen. Don't you need to be studying chemistry or something? Unless you want to go for the third year senior discount that is."

"Screw you Kat," Kristen said softly, her features coloring in embarrassment.

"No thanks. You're not my type. But maybe Annabelle would be interested," Kat said with a sneer. "No, probably not. She's saving herself for Simone."

None of the girls saw Annabelle move until she was in front of Kat's bed and her hand was connecting solidly with the girl's cheek, the loud crack of the slap echoing around the now deathly silent room. "Don't you ever fucking talk about her again!"

No one moved or even seemed to breathe in the seconds following the outburst, everyone involved was simply too stunned. Then Kat was scrambling off her bed and towards Annabelle who had already grabbed her sketch book and made her way through the open door and into the slightly crowded hallway.

"FUCK YOU ANNABELLE!" Kat yelled at the retreating form, causing nearby doors to edge open, their curious occupants retreating quickly after Kat stormed back into her room, slamming the door in their startled faces. "What the fuck are you looking at?" she barked at Colins as she threw herself down on her bed facing the wall. Kristen and Colins shared a private smile behind her still heaving back before each returned to their own school work.

"It's well past light's out," Simone said quietly as she knelt beside the prone figure on the lawn. "What are you doing out here?"

"Watching the stars," Annabelle responded absently, her gaze slowly leaving the late spring sky to meet Simone's smiling blue eyes. "What are you doing out here?"

"Looking for you," Simone answered as she settled herself more fully on the ground beside Annabelle, taking one of the younger woman's hands in her own.

"And why are you looking for me?" Annabelle asked quietly, allowing her fingertips to stroke lazily across Simone's palm as she returned her gaze to the sky.

"Because Colins was worried when you didn't come back to the room. She said you and Kat had had a fight again and that you had walked out hours ago."

"Colins didn't need to bring you into it. I just needed some time to clear my head."

"You want to tell me why you and Katherine were fighting again?" Simone asked gently, studying the mostly shadowed features of her young lover.

"She needs to learn to think before she speaks," Annabelle finally answered, turning onto her side and pulling her knees up against Simone's back. "She doesn't realize that words can be dangerous."

"She's got her own problems Annabelle," Simone stated quietly, resting her weight against Annabelle's legs, draping one arm over her hip and resting her head in her hand.

"Everyone has problems Simone. Not everyone chooses to act the way Kat does," Annabelle said as she allowed her free hand to absently begin stroking Simone's bare legs.

"What did she say?"

"It's not important. I just don't like how she treats people. She's always coming down on Colins. She knows just how to get to Kristen. And she thinks she knows how to get to me," Annabelle added softly.

"How does she get to you?"

Annabelle regarded Simone silently for a few moments. Her blue-green eyes – almost black in the dark – taking in the planes of her face, the curl of her hair, the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed slowly and evenly. By insinuating that this is something less than it is. "She doesn't."

"She must. Or you wouldn't be so quick to fight with her."

"I'm not quick to fight with her. She just goes too far sometimes," Annabelle stated stubbornly, her eyes narrowing in the dark.

Simone studied the guarded expression that had crept into Annabelle's features. She had the distinct impression that this evening's argument had been triggered by more than Kat being cruel to Colins – even though she knew Annabelle was fiercely protective of the backwards girl. But she also had the distinct impression that Annabelle really didn't want to discuss it. Sighing slightly, she decided not to press the issue any further just then, and after a furtive look across the deserted and darkened grounds she moved to lay beside Annabelle, pulling the younger woman close against her side as she did so.

"We can't stay out here long," Simone murmured softly, turning her face so it rested against the top of Annabelle's head. "Colins will send someone looking for us both."

Annabelle snuggled more closely to the older woman, throwing her leg over Simone's in an almost possessive gesture. "I know," she finally whispered.

They lay like that in silence for a few moments. Listening to the night sounds and each other's breathing before Annabelle tilted her head slightly so that she could see into Simone's eyes, "Simone?".

"Hmm?" Simone replied absently, her hand stroking gently across Annabelle's back, her eyes locked on some indistinguishable constellation in the night sky.

A hundred different questions fought their way to the front of Annabelle's mind as she studied Simone's profile in the muted light. There was so much about her that was still a complete mystery, but Annabelle had never felt as comfortable in another person's presence as she did anytime she was around Simone. And despite her perhaps irrational happiness at finding herself wrapped so securely in Simone's arms, she couldn't help but wonder where they would end up after the semester was over and she left St. Theresa's once and for all. She could feel her heart hammering more and more erratically in her chest until she was certain that Simone could feel it against her own ribcage as she turned question after question over in her racing mind.

"I guess we should get back into the dorm," she finally said after deciding she wasn't ready for the answers to the questions she wanted to ask.

"I guess," Simone said softly, turning her body slightly so that she was facing Annabelle.

"I guess there's no chance that I could just go with you back to your room?" Annabelle asked playfully, a small smile gracing her features.

Unable to hold back her own smile, Simone leaned forward and gently captured Annabelle's lips. "Unfortunately, no, there isn't," she responded after breaking the leisurely kiss. What the hell am I doing? We're on school grounds. She's still my student. If we get caught…

Annabelle saw the ghost of fear crossing into Simone's eyes and hurried to pull the older woman into a strong embrace. "It's okay. I'll have this to get me through the night," she whispered against the cup of Simone's ear, sending goosebumps over her entire body. "Come on," she added as she untangled herself and stood, offering Simone her hand.

Simone took her hand, despite the ever fading voice in the back of her mind that insisted she remove herself from the decidedly dangerous situation she had gotten herself in, "try not to let Katherine get to you. As you so deftly pointed out we only have two weeks left."

"I'll try," Annabelle responded with a smile. "Thanks for coming to look for me."

"Colins seemed worried. It worried me. I wanted to make sure you were okay."

"I'm much better now," Annabelle said playfully. "I'll go back this way, through the front. You go through the teacher's entrance in the back. I'll see you in class in the morning. Good night."

"Good night," Simone said softly, reluctantly letting Annabelle's hand slide from her own and watching the slender figure as it was swallowed by the deepening night. Sighing heavily she finally turned and headed back towards the teacher's entrance, kept company with only her thoughts. Two weeks. And what exactly is going to happen after they're over?



"Graduation is in one week," Mother Emaculata announced at breakfast amid shouts and claps from the tables of seniors. "It will be a joint graduation with St. Thomas' and there will be a celebratory dance following the commencement ceremony. Again, we expect you all to be on your best behavior."

"Can you believe we're going to be graduating in a week?" Colins asked excitedly as she, Annabelle, and Kristen finished their breakfasts. "I can't wait to be done with this place and get started in college. Where are you going after this Annabelle?"

"I don't know," Annabelle murmured distractedly. "I haven't given it much thought."

"Well you're going to college right? I mean you have to go to college," Kristen added quietly. "Your mother is a senator; you have to go to college."

"I don't have to do anything," Annabelle responded defensively. "I haven't even talked to my mother since before spring break. I highly doubt she has considered what she'll do with me after I graduate from here."

"My parents are sending me to Europe for the summer," Kat interjected with a sneer as she passed their table with her almost empty tray. "Bet you're upset that you won't be seeing Miss. Bradley every day, huh Annabelle?"

"Boarding school in Europe is still boarding school Kat, it's just different scenery," Annabelle said with a smile. "We all know that you're still underage and since your parents don't want you around they had to find somewhere else to put you until they don't have to be responsible for you anymore."

For once in her life Kat was left speechless and as she walked quickly away from the table she could hear Annabelle's, Kristen's, and Colins' laughter ringing in her ears.

"Please turn your poetry assignments in as you leave today. And remember that your final will be on Monday. It is cumulative. If you have any questions, I'll be in the library Sunday evening, find me and we'll review whatever you need clarification on," Simone said quickly as the end of class bell rang and the students rushed to get their things together and get out the door. "Have a good weekend."

Annabelle lingered in her seat as the last of the students filed out to the crowded hallway. She and Simone hadn't had any time together that hadn't involved classmates or other teachers since the night she had slapped Kat and she was desperate for some affirmation that Simone still had feelings for her.

"Did you turn your paper in Annabelle?" Simone asked quietly as she organized the mess of notebook sheets on her desk.

"Not yet. Here," Annabelle responded as she handed a neatly written sheet to Simone, letting their hands briefly touch. "What are you doing tonight?"

"Grading all these papers. And writing your final exam," Simone answered softly as she turned towards Annabelle, closing the distance between them and letting one hand briefly tug on the hem of her white dress shirt. "You know that final exam that you should be studying for?"

"Yeah, I know – I could use a little extra help with that studying," Annabelle replied playfully as she tucked a strand of hair behind Simone's ear.

Simone, startled by the sound of a slamming locker, stepped quickly away from Annabelle, "well, like I said, I'll be in the library on Sunday. Come find me and we'll work on anything that you're having problems with."

"I'd rather not wait until Sunday. Do you think we could work on some of it tonight?"

"Of course. Do you want to meet in the library? Around eight?" Simone responded absently as she went back to organizing the papers.

"We could do that," Annabelle said quietly as she stepped behind Simone and slid her arms around her waist, resting her chin on the older woman's shoulder. "Or, we could go to your beach house."

Simone couldn't stop the tremble that started at her knees and worked its way up her body any more than she could stop the goosebumps from spreading across her skin in response to the warm breath on her ear. Her hands closed instinctively over Annabelle's and she leaned back into the embrace.

"I can't take you off campus, you know that," Simone whispered as she turned in the embrace and faced her young lover. "Especially not tonight. Not when everyone is here."

"You're allowed to leave campus, aren't you? Didn't you leave to go out with Michael," Annabelle asked – unable to keep the distaste out of her voice when she said his name. "If you can leave campus, then you can take me with you."

"Yes, I can leave campus, but I can't take you. Don't you think Kat and your other roommates will notice that you're not in your room?" Simone responded as she rested her forehead against Annabelle's.

"I'll say I'm sick and have to go to the nurses' office. If I don't come back, they'll think I'm really sick and had to stay in the infirmary over night. None of them will check on me; I'll be clear until breakfast."

"You've got this all figured out, huh?" Simone asked softly as she leaned back and searched Annabelle's eyes. "What about when we come back tomorrow morning? Don't you think people will see us driving onto campus together?"

"Not if we come back early enough," Annabelle responded, closing the distance between them and stealing a quick kiss. "Breakfast is at seven, if we come back at six, no one will be outside. I'll just go straight to the bathrooms and shower and then go to the cafeteria. So I'll meet you in the teacher's parking lot at nine?"

"I don't think this is a very good idea," Simone stated gently as she stepped away from Annabelle and back behind her desk.

"Nine o'clock," Annabelle said simply as she leaned in and kissed Simone more forcefully before grabbing her bag and heading out the door to lunch.

"Ugh…I feel terrible," Annabelle moaned from her bed. "I think I need to see the nurse."

"I think that's a great idea," Kristen said quickly. "I don't want whatever you have."

"I can walk you down to the nurse," Colins added quickly. "And I can stay with you while she checks you out if you want."

"Thanks Colins," Annabelle said quietly as she pulled on her shoes. "But as bad as I feel, I don't think you want to be around me. I'll see you guys later – if I feel up to coming back to the room."

"Okay – feel better," Colins and Kristen responded as Annabelle gingerly walked out the doors and towards the nurse's office. Once in the back stairwell she took the first door on the left rather than the second and headed towards the teacher's parking lot – hoping Simone hadn't chickened out at the last minute. As she pushed the outside door open and scanned the lot she saw the blue convertible parked in its normal spot and as she looked more closely, she saw Simone in the driver's seat watching the door she had just come out of. Smiling broadly Annabelle let the door close behind her and jogged towards the car.



"Hi," she said breathlessly as she slid into the passenger's side of the car. "I was wondering if you would be here."

"Hi yourself. Where else would I be?" Simone responded quietly as she turned the car on and eased it out of the parking space. Where else could I be?

About five minutes away from the school Annabelle reached for Simone's hand and was still slightly surprised when the older woman didn't pull away but instead entwined their fingers and let them rest in her lap as she drove. They traveled the majority of the way in a peaceful silence, the radio playing softly in the background. It wasn't until they were nearly to the house that Simone finally gave voice to some of the thoughts that had been running wildly through her head.

"Do you have any idea how badly this is going to go if we get caught?" she asked softly as she parked the convertible and turned off the ignition. "I could go to jail. At the very least I'll get fired. Your mother will have my head on a platter."

"First of all, we aren't going to get caught. Second of all, you aren't going to go to jail. And third – well, would it be such a bad thing if you got fired from that place?" Annabelle responded confidently as she turned in the passenger seat to face Simone. "And as far as my mother goes, well, she'd have to give a shit about me to want your head on a platter."

"Annabelle…" Simone started to disagree with her headstrong student turned lover but was interrupted with two fingers firmly placed on her lips.

"No – we're not going to talk about this. Not now. We're going to the beach house, and we're going to spend the night together. We'll work the rest of this out tomorrow or the next day," Annabelle said firmly as she disentangled her hand from Simone's, got out of the car and waited expectantly at the top of the stairs leading to the beach.

Simone sat in the car for one heart beat, and then another wondering how she had gotten from point A (teacher, devoted girlfriend, devote catholic) to point B (teacher, lover to one of her students, questionable catholic) in a manner of one semester. And then the headlights from a passing car caught Annabelle's steady gaze and she realized that once Annabelle had come into her life, there really wasn't any other path she could have taken. Shaking her head slowly she exited the convertible and joined the younger woman on the stairs, taking her hand and leading her to the house.

"It gets chilly down here on the water at night this time of year," Simone said as she unlocked the door on the deck and lead the way into the house. "I can start a fire if you want."

"Yeah, a fire would be nice. I'll just open a bottle of wine while you do that," Annabelle responded as she moved towards the kitchen. "Red or white?"

"How about neither?" Simone replied with a smile. "You're still underage remember? I can't let you drink."

Annabelle stopped searching through the cabinets and turned to face Simone, resting her hands on her hips and cocking her head slightly, she smiled broadly. "You're worried about giving me alcohol? Seriously?"

Realizing that her providing alcohol to a minor was likely the least of her worries at this point she smiled helplessly and headed towards the living room to start the fire. "White," she called softly over her shoulder as she disappeared around the corner.

A few minutes later she had a decent fire going and Annabelle had poured two glasses of white wine and sliced down a loaf of French bread that Simone had bought the last time she had spent the night at the house. They settled into a pile of pillows on the floor in front of the fire in familiar silence watching the flames dance provocatively behind the fire screen and sipping their wine. Annabelle studied Simone's profile in the firelight – watched a blush from the wine (or maybe the heat of the fire) touch her cheeks and the lines of worry that were always present in her brow gradually relax as she allowed herself to just be in the moment.

"You're beautiful," she murmured softly as she moved closer to Simone, cupping her cheek with a palm and turning her face so she could capture her lips in a gentle kiss.

Simone absorbed the words and the kiss as if it were the first time for either. Michael had kissed her thousands of times. Had told her she was beautiful almost every time they went out. But she had never felt either like she did with Annabelle. Truthfully, Annabelle was the first thing that felt real since Amanda had committed suicide all those years ago.

It was Simone who deepened the kiss. And it was Simone who urged Annabelle to lie back in the pile of pillows on the plush carpet in front of the blazing fire. Leaning up on one elbow to meet Annabelle's eyes she watched the light from the fire turn already tan skin a darker shade of bronze. Using her fingertips to trace light caresses over the swell of breasts, down the curve of rib cage, and across the bend of hips, she watched Annabelle's breath catch and her eyes slide closed. The feeling of warm, soft skin beneath her hands as she worked Annabelle's shirt up and over her head to be discarded somewhere across the room made her realize that this was the first time since Amanda that she had actually wanted to touch the person she was making love to.

Annabelle tried unsuccessfully to keep track of all the places she felt Simone's hands and lips. Both times before she had been the aggressor – now with Simone fully in control her senses were overwhelmed with every caress, every sigh, and every movement of Simone's body against hers. She vaguely registered her jeans being slipped over her hips and off her feet as she feverishly worked the buttons loose on Simone's shirt and pushed it off her shoulders exposing her breasts to the warm glow from the fire – and to Annabelle's gentle tongue.

Simone could feel every sensation as if she were experiencing each one individually. The carpet under her arms, the warmth from the fire on her back, Annabelle's hands traveling confidently over the curve of her shoulders, down her spine, and eventually resting on each hip, pulling her closer in an attempt to create enough friction to relieve the pressure that was building in them both. She felt Annabelle's lips and tongue on her breasts – working each nipple into tight peaks. Needing to feel the entire lengths of their bodies pressed together she pulled far enough away from Annabelle to quickly shed her jeans and underwear – all without taking her eyes off of Annabelle's heavy lidded gaze.

At the first brush of fingertips over a too sensitive clit Annabelle was certain she was going to explode. She had felt the orgasm building deep inside before Simone had even ventured to touch the apex of her hips and she knew that once that first contact was made her control would be short lived. When Simone effortlessly slid inside her she felt her body fall over the edge and into itself as the orgasm ripped through every inch of her being. Seeking Simone's center in her post-orgasmic haze she found Simone more than ready and after only a few gentle touches the older woman was climaxing – Annabelle's name whispered into the night.



"Annabelle, wake up," Simone murmured as she pulled the younger woman more securely against her chest. After they had made love in front of the fire for a second and then third time they had somehow found their way to the queen sized bed where they had quickly fallen asleep completely tangled in each other.

"Huh? What time is it?" Annabelle responded sleepily, burying her face deeper in the curve of Simone's neck.

"It's five o'clock. If we're going to get back to school before everyone else is awake, we need to leave soon," Simone answered quietly as she kissed the top of Annabelle's head and slowly extricated herself from the tangle of arms and legs. "I'll make coffee."

Ten minutes later they were both dressed and cradling large mugs of freshly brewed coffee on the deck overlooking the beach. Watching Annabelle's profile as she gingerly sipped the steaming liquid Simone couldn't help but notice how completely normal the whole situation felt. Annabelle belonged there, on her deck, drinking out of her coffee mug, sleeping in her bed. Despite the apparent insanity of the situation, Annabelle made Simone less restless, less misplaced than any other person she had ever been involved with. I'm in love with her. How can I already be in love with her?!?

"We should probably go, huh?" Annabelle sighed as she turned to face Simone, the pale morning light barely strong enough to cast her features in shadow. "Simone?"

"What? Oh, yes. We should go," Simone responded distractedly – her mind still stuck on the realization that she was without a doubt in love with her seventeen year old student.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Annabelle asked quietly as she gently brushed her fingertips across Simone's cheek. "You okay?"

Simone regarded the younger woman in silence for a few moments, studying the concern in her features, the slow and even breathing, and the blue-green eyes that she had watched slide closed in ecstasy just hours before. She couldn't put words to what she was feeling – she wasn't ready to say them out loud, and she wasn't sure that Annabelle was ready to hear them so instead she pulled Annabelle closer and allowed herself a few seconds to be lost in the now familiar smell of shampoo and perfume, sweat and sex that was uniquely Annabelle. "I'm fine," she finally whispered. "Let's get going. I don't want to be pulling onto campus just as everyone is wandering to the cafeteria."

They pulled into the parking lot on campus at a few minutes before six and it appeared that everyone was still in bed or just getting started with their day. The parking lot and adjoining grounds were completely deserted so Annabelle gently took Simone's hand as they headed to the door to the back stairwell together. Once on the floor for the girl's dorm Annabelle pulled Simone to her for a quick kiss before going to the showers and just as they were separating, they heard the door to the stairwell open and the quick intake of breath as Mother Emaculata realized what she was seeing.

"Simone!" Emaculata exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing?!?!"

Suddenly unable to hear her thoughts over the rushing of blood in her head and the pounding of her heart Simone looked helplessly back and forth between Emaculata and Annabelle. "I…"

"No. Don't. I don't want to hear it. I had a feeling something was happening between you two, but I had hoped that you would come to me before it got this far. I want to see you in my office. Right now." Emaculata stated angrily as she tore the door she had just exited open and stormed back through it, the sound of the heels of her shoes echoing loudly in the empty stairwell.

"It's going to be okay," Annabelle murmured softly as she stepped towards Simone and rested a shaking had on her arm. "It's going to be okay."

"You should go. Shower. Go to breakfast. I have to go see her," Simone answered distractedly, a million thoughts and scenarios running through her mind. I'm going to jail. I know it. I'm going to jail. How could I let this happen? What will happen to Annabelle..."

"It's going to be okay," Annabelle said again, more confidently this time and she squeezed Simone's arm and quickly went through the door to the girl's dormitory. But instead of going right to her room, she headed left, towards Emaculata's office.

Simone was still standing frozen in the stair well minutes after Annabelle left. It was as if she couldn't force her legs to move for fear that if she did they wouldn't support her weight any longer. I have to go talk to Mother Emaculata. I have to try to explain to her what she saw. I can't deny it – she saw us kissing. But maybe I can…hell, I can't do anything. I can't justify this. Even though I love her, I can't justify what's happened.

Convinced that she was headed to what would essentially be her execution, Simone slowly opened the door that Emaculata had stormed off through and took her first steps towards what would be left of the rest of her life.

"Come in," Emaculata said quietly when she heard the tentative knock on her office door. She hadn't been able to make herself call the police yet. She knew that she needed to, but because it was her niece she had found herself without the strength to even lift the phone. I'll see what she has to say for herself. Then I'll call.

"Mother Emaculata," Annabelle said quietly as she stepped through the door and slowly closed it behind her.

"Annabelle?! What are you doing here? You need to go to breakfast with the rest of the students. I have to talk to Miss. Bradley. Go. I'll talk to you about what I saw later."

"No, you'll talk to me about it now. Because what you saw is something that you have no control over," Annabelle responded slowly as she took a seat in the visitor's chair across the heavy desk. "And you're not going to do anything about it."

"I beg your pardon?!?!" Emaculata replied angrily. "Who are you to tell me what I saw or what I'm going to do about it? Your mother will not be happy when she hears about this."

"You're right, she won't be. Which is why you aren't going to tell her. Because what she will see is that you let a teacher have an affair with a student. And not just any student, but a student who also happens to be the daughter of one of the most prominent senators in the United States. How do you think that will make this school look?"

"I did no such thing. Are you suggesting that you were not a willing participant in this affair?!"

"Not at all. I was a very willing participant. But my mother won't see that. She'll see this as entirely your fault. And she will bring this school to its knees. Is that what you want? All that publicity? Parents will be yanking their kids out of here faster than you can recite a Hail Mary. St. Theresa's will never recover," Annabelle stated as she calmly regarded the fuming figure across from her.

"You will not threaten me or this school young lady. I won't stand for it. Leave my office now. Go to your dorm and pack your bags. You will be leaving campus today," Emaculata responded, anger dripping from every word. "Now!"

"No. I'm not leaving. And I'm not threatening you or this school. I'm simply telling you what will happen if you call the police about this. So I'm going to give you an alternative that I think we'll all be able to live with," Annabelle replied with a small smile. "You're going to pretend that you didn't see anything.

"I graduate in one week and then I am no longer your concern. Simone will be allowed to stay here and teach if that's what she wants although I have no idea what keeps her here. If she decides she doesn't want to stay, then she will resign and you will write her a stellar letter of recommendation if she decides she wants to teach somewhere else.

"No one will know about our affair until after I turn eighteen and at that point, it will be of no one's concern. Your school and reputation will remain intact and wealthy parents like mine will continue sending their daughters here. Don't you think that's the most reasonable solution to this problem?" Annabelle finally concluded as she watched the color drain from Emaculata's face.

"How dare you try to tell me what to do," Emaculata sputtered quickly. "You have no right…"

"How dare you even think of turning your own niece over to the authorities?" Annabelle interrupted, her temper finally flaring. "Simone is a good teacher. And you know as well as I do that she is not some sort of child molester. This isn't something she's done before, and it's not something she'll do again. I love her – and I'm old enough to make that decision."

"Not in the eyes of the law you aren't," Emaculata responded quietly.

"Fuck the law," Annabelle spat angrily. "Mother Emaculata, I think you know that what I've suggested is the only way this school will survive what you seem to think has happened."

"I'm going to walk out these doors and when Simone comes through them you will tell her that you have decided against involving the law and are instead going to handle this as an internal matter with discretion in order to protect the school," Annabelle said over her shoulder as she pushed through the door and into the hallway and almost ran over Simone in the process.

"Annabelle? What are you doing here?" Simone asked quickly. "Did Emaculata call you down?"

"No, she didn't. But I'm done talking to her. It's going to be okay," Annabelle responded quietly as she quickly brushed Simone's arm with her fingertips before heading down the hallway and towards the cafeteria.



(Six months later)

"Simone," Annabelle called out to the deck where her lover was working on her latest art project. "Coffee's ready."

"Hmm, thanks," Simone responded as she took the proffered cup and stole a quick kiss. "What time is your class this afternoon?"

"From two until five," Annabelle replied as she pulled Simone into a longer kiss, more than willing to let their coffee cool on the counter in exchange for a chance to be wrapped in her lover's arms.

They had been living together pretty much since the day Annabelle turned eighteen. Simone had decided to leave St. Theresa's and devote more time to her art. Annabelle had enrolled in English classes at one of the local colleges and in that moment, in their kitchen, with the late morning light streaming through the doors that lead to the deck, she was struck by the normalcy of it all – and by how perfectly their lives had ended up.

"I love you," Simone whispered between gentle kisses.

"Mmm. I love you too," Annabelle responded, smiling as she pulled Simone away from the counter and towards the bedroom.

The End

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