I pulled my SUV into a parking spot near Emily’s townhouse and turned off the ignition but didn’t move from the car. I’d debated making up an excuse and canceling on the dinner party. Emily had said a bunch of people would be there, but should I really be spending more time with her outside the rink? We already saw each other almost every afternoon at the coffee shop.
I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel and stared at the front door of the townhouse. Maybe I should stop going to Starbucks every day. The more time I spent with Emily, the more I wanted to know her even better, but I had to keep some distance between us. It was just incredibly difficult to do that when I felt myself constantly drawn to her. She had such an infectious energy and was so easy to talk to. I loved listening to her get all passionate about whatever we were discussing – books, music, our favorite performances by our skating idols… My lips twitched as I pictured her sitting across from me at the coffee shop, wide-eyed with enthusiasm, waving her skinny latte around.
Two cars turned into the lot and parked a few spaces away, and Marley and Trevor climbed out and walked together to the door. I grabbed the box of brownies I’d picked up at a bakery on Main Street but hesitated again as I headed toward the townhouse.
It’s just a party. Why shouldn’t I enjoy a good meal and hanging out with friends? There was no harm in that. Emily and I wouldn’t be alone.
I stepped onto the front porch and straightened the rolled-up cuffs of my oxford shirt. Moments after I rang the bell, Emily opened the door, and I took a long swallow.
Damn, she was beautiful.
Her big blue eyes shone with an excited brightness, and her dark blond hair, usually in a ponytail, fell in loose waves over her shoulders. She didn’t wear much makeup, but she didn’t need it. Her ivory skin, her long eyelashes, those pink lips… they were already perfect.
“Come on in,” she said. “You didn’t have to bring anything.”
I glanced down at the box, breaking the spell from her gorgeous eyes. Clearing my throat, I looked back up at her and smiled. “Just something to go with that mind-blowing meal you’ve made.”
Her cheeks turned the color of her pink blouse. She took the box from me and peeped under the lid. “Mm, brownies. Can’t ever go wrong with chocolate.”
She walked ahead of me down the stairs, her skirt swaying above her bare legs. My gaze went straight to them, admiring their smooth curves. I was used to seeing her in workout gear and sweats. In the skirt and sandals, she looked so soft. She’d probably feel even softer.
I tugged at my collar as heat rose to my neck. You can’t go there. She’s your student. You shouldn’t look at her as anything other than that.
She turned and smiled at me as we entered the kitchen, and all rational thoughts disappeared again. I quickly went over to Chris and Trevor to shake their hands and straighten my head.
I had a serious problem.
This is how I imagine Sergei's reaction when Emily opened the door: