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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sophie Watson has put her life on hold for long enough, so that her fiancé Nathan, can have the life he wants. But Sophie is determined to change her life around as soon as possible, and a move back to her hometown in Yorkshire, might be the ticket to start her new journey.
But the cracks are beginning to form in the relationship, and Sophie is wondering whether to leave Nathan, or stick with him for life, even if it will make her unhappy. What she needs is freedom, and another man might be the answer to her prayers, even if its forbidden...


Life Before.

When you reach a certain age in life, there comes a point when you regret not doing the things you wanted, as they had to be put on hold for someone you loved. You supported them in their dreams and not your own. You worked countless of jobs to put food on the table and pay the bills whilst your husband to be squanders off to university, partying most of the time, coming home at God knows what time. You put up with it because you have loved him since the moment you met, and after 8 years, it is too late to change your mind. You’re stuck with him.

I wish I had gone to university myself, but I sacrificed my placement so that Nathan could go and enjoy himself, learn so he could get his dream job as a lawyer. And I know how hard it was for him to get into Oxford, and if it meant moving away from my hometown, just to be with him for the rest of my life, so be it.

I managed to get a full-time job working in the local café, but after that business closed down, I moved onto various careers, even packing in a warehouse, to retail work in the town. It kept me busy. But now I’m reaching the age of 25, and with him being in his final year, it has dawned on me that I am not happy with the way of life. I hardly see the man I came down with. He’s been studying for his finals and forever spending his time in the library. Which makes a change for him partying, but I’m starting to think he was doing more than spending time in the library, if you know what I mean.

Our sex life is non-existent and has been for a year now. I get that he is busy, but even when we had a week away at Christmas, nothing happened. Complained he was tired all time (which I do get), but he was drinking during the break and never stayed sober enough to acknowledge me or leave the hotel room. Luckily, we were staying back at our hometown in Yorkshire to be with our families for Christmas, so I went to see them instead. Yes, I got asked where my man was, but I came up with the excuse that he was studying hard.

It was after that week, that feelings and thoughts about my future were in doubt. Whether I had made the right choices. I missed home. I missed my family. I had no one down here other than him. I got curious about going to university myself. I had perfect grades, I wanted to be a teacher. The deadline for applicants back at home was the end of January. I applied.

It’s been months now, and I still haven’t heard from them whether they have accepted or not. If I do, it could be the start of a new beginning. He’s already been accepted by a law firm in Leeds near where we used to leave, as soon as he leaves University anyway, so I wouldn’t be far from him.

The thing is, I haven’t told him what I had done. He just thinks we will continue the way we have been doing, me working at the same shop I am now, as I will be transferred over there. No point having a job here when I will be living over there. He’s already found an apartment in Leeds City Centre, close to his firm. I have three months to prepare. Three agonising long months.

At this moment of time, we are just sitting in our living room, tea in hand, a book in the other, ignoring each other. Seems to be the norm around here now that he has finished his exams. He has no excuses of going to the library or being in lectures to avoid seeing me. I do know he loves me, as all this effort is for our future. We can plan our wedding; we can start afresh back in Leeds. I hear the letter box open in the hallway of our ground floor flat. I loved our little flat, nice, and cosy, just big enough for the both of us. Most of it is now packed away in boxes, ready to be moved. I place my tea on the table, my book on the chair arm, and get the post. Nathan’s just sat there with his laptop on his lap, answering emails, or on social media. I can see him typing away as I move past him into the hallway. I glance at his screen. He’s messaging someone on Facebook. I don’t recognise the name but must be someone important, or a new university friend. He has plenty. I shrug and gather the mail. I stop. The top letter is from the university I applied for. This is it, the moment my dream can happen.

I pop back into the living room, hand over the mail to him, and dash into our bedroom to open the letter. I sit on the bed, nervously. What if it’s bad news? I can’t bear the thought of going to Leeds and have no purpose and spend my days there the same way I have been doing here. It’s his turn to earn, whilst I learn. With shaking hands, I open the letter…

* * * *

“Welcome to your new home!” The estate agent said, as we stepped into our new apartment, looking over the canal in Leeds. It was spacious, clean, open plan, high spec, nothing like our cosy flat in Oxford. The estate agent left us to it as we unpacked all our boxes and moved into our new life. Nathan had a few days off from his new job to help me out, and we couldn’t be closer. He’s been more attentive this last couple of weeks, and it felt like the old days, when we first got together. It reminded me of why I left everything at the drop of a hat to be with him. It could be because we were starting afresh, away from Oxford, and to be back on home soil.

I told him I had applied for university a week before we were moving here, and he was very supportive when I told him I had been accepted. Not that he had much choice. I reasoned with him now that he has a high earning job, I can now work for something I want to do myself. How the roles have reversed in the space of a month. I do think that’s why he has been giving me a lot of attention, so I don’t forget about him as I study away. He forgets I will be coming home every night to him, just like he used to do.

I start next week, doing a year of study to get the points I need to apply for the teaching course. I don’t mind. I love learning. For the next couple of days, I bought the supplies I need and uniform I need for my new casual job that I got to work on the side, to earn my own income to pay for the course. Even though he said he would support me on my learning journey, he wouldn’t be paying for it as he has the bills, rent, food, and his own student debt to pay, which is understandable. I had savings from my previous job and my parents had giving me the university fund they had saved up for me to put towards the cost. I still needed money for travel expenses and pay for the rest of it.

At last, my first day has arrived. I got up early, showered, dressed in a beige jumper, a wool skirt, tights, and boots, and hoped on the bus towards Bradford University. My hometown. I would have studied in Leeds, but I wanted to be closer to home. I had decided to leave our car at home, as it was his anyway and he may need it to travel away on jobs, see clients. It saves the environment doing it this way anyway, and I get to read on the journey.

I arrive in the interchange; it hadn’t changed one bit. The bustle of the early commuters, the students going to college or university, like myself. The Greggs downstairs smelled amazing of baked goods, just waiting to be eaten. I got myself a bacon sandwich and a tea and ate it on my walk-through town towards the university.

* * *

A few months have passed, and I can say I am enjoying my hectic but busy life. But I can feel the strain it has taken on my relationship. I only see Nathan when he comes home from work, hours after he is meant to, either arms full of paperwork or stinking of booze when he has been out with his colleagues, on their weekend celebratory antics without telling me, so his food is cold when he gets home.

It got to the point when I stopped rushing home to make him tea as I knew he would either order out or have it in town, and the food would go to waste. I was fed up with waiting for him to come home, so I cooked for only myself. My course was going well, my teacher is a lovely man, and I love my restaurant work here on my days off university. It gets me out of that empty apartment.

I feel as though I am more invisible to him here, than I was back at Oxford. But at least I have something more to focus on here, and it doesn’t hurt me as much as it did back then. And I have my family here too. It was after half term when an unexpected wave of emotions came over me, changing my life and everything that was meaningful to me…

The Moment

I walked into my classroom, it was empty, which wasn’t unusual as I was always the first to arrive and there were only ten of us in the class anyway. I hung my hat, scarf and coat on the rack provided to us. It was an awfully chilly autumn day. I was glad to be inside the warm building. I was just warming my hands on the radiator when the door opened. I thought it was a fellow student, and I turned around to say hello, only for the word to be stuck in my throat. It wasn’t them, but my teacher, Mr. Gareth Carter.

It was the first time I’d been in the room alone with him, as he waits until the rest of the students came in. He smiled at me, said hello, and proceeded to take off his coat. It was then I noticed for the first time what he was wearing. Usually, I’d see him in just his jeans, shirt, and tie, and I’d be busy on my work or reading a book. But this time, he was wearing a suit, made of dark blue, a crisp white shirt and a grey tie. It was a though he was running an office, rather than teaching a class.

I stood there, frozen on the spot, my hands burning from the heat of the radiator, a sensation that was running through the rest of my body. His dark hair was in a messy sort of way that men can get away with, the type of hair that you want to run your fingers through. He moved to his desk at the front, put down his bag and looked at me, piercing me with his grey eyes.

“You’re here early.” He said, moving back to his bag, pulling out some books of his own. “Class doesn’t start until 10am today.”

Taking my eyes off his, I looked at the clock on the wall above him, and I was indeed early. I thought it was a regular 9am start, instead of 10am. I had another argument with Nathan last night, as he rolled in drunk, smelling of perfume as well as the alcoholic fumes. He says it’s the new colleague at his firm that wears it, but as it was the fifth time in two weeks he came home that night, I cracked and accused him of having an affair. After countless hours of shouting, I fled to the spare room in tears, cried myself to sleep and woke up, focusing on my regular morning routine, and not once registered the time. No wonder it was quiet this morning.

“I forgot,” I said, hoarsely. “Sorry!”

“No need to be sorry. Glad to have some company whilst I get the class ready.”

After emptying his bag, he turned towards the board to write our lesson plan today. I sat down at my table, got everything out ready myself, my eyes glancing at his back, watching him move. I shook myself out of my stupor. I was being silly. I was an engaged woman, a mature student. Fair enough, he was closer to my age than the other teachers and lecturers that work here, and he was attractive, but like I said, I wasn’t a single woman, out on the prowl. And he was my tutor! Off limits, even if I was single.

I was still seething from last night, lack of sleep and my sex life was non-existent still, and the first person who had made me forget about those things happened to be the man standing in front of me, doesn’t mean I see him anything more than my teacher.

 I take out the book that I was reading on the bus, to distract me from looking at him, and the feelings that are bubbling inside me. The room was quiet apart from the turning of my page, and the squeak of the pen on the board. I was surprised he couldn’t here my heavy breathing from concentrating on my reading. The squeaking stopped, and my head popped up, I smiled at him as he turned around.

“I’m heading to the staff room to get a coffee. Would you like one?” He asked me.

“Tea please.” I replied.

He nodded and headed out of the classroom. I breathed a sigh of relief. Whilst he was gone, I busied myself taking down the notes in advance and calmed down my breathing. But as soon as he entered holding two take away cups, smiling at me, I knew this was more than just a flutter of attractiveness, this was a whole new level of feelings that I was afraid I couldn’t control.

* * * * * *

A few weeks later after that day, Nathan announced he was going down to London for a month, as his firm needs him down there for a client. Which meant, a month of peace and quiet, no arguments and time to recharge myself. I felt guilty of my feelings towards Gareth Carter and focused on being Nathan’s wife to be. Threw myself into wedding planning, cooking his tea as soon as he gets home, no matter what time it was. Cleaning the apartment every day, making myself desirable for him.

However, the old feelings resurfaced, the resentment, the accusations as we still weren’t making love as we used to. And that led to more arguments. I was becoming drained, and because I had nowhere else to go, I stayed. I committed to this man, whether he hasn’t committed to me still, is a different matter.

It became clear though, that since that hour alone with my teacher, my dreams were not empty, and I might as well as cheated on Nathan in them more times than what I think he has done in real life. I just can’t get Gareth Carter out of my head. He’s always wearing that suit, piercing me with those grey eyes, whispering my name as he makes love to me…all dreams and fantasy of course, but it doesn’t stop me waking up screaming in pleasure. I feel more alive in my dreams than reality.

Nathan doesn’t know this of course. And I’m glad for the space he has given us for a month. He said we should talk after he gets back, about our wedding and I should use this time to select a venue and email him with all the details. At least its something to do whilst he’s away.

At 5am the next morning, with his suitcase packed, briefcase loaded with paperwork and his laptop, he sets off for the first train to London. I see him off at the station, with a kiss and a promise to look after himself, he’s on the train. I go back to the apartment, which no longer feels empty to me, due to the fact I’m used to being there on my own, and make myself some breakfast, before setting off to Bradford.

I tend to arrive more early since that day, so I can have that moment alone with Gareth Carter. We don’t talk, just casual how did you sleep and all that, but I have noticed him wearing more and more suits, and I tend to dress a bit more than casual these days, less jeans, and more dresses. Like today, for example, I’m wearing a fitting navy dress, with tights and boots.

As I step into the classroom, Gareth is writing on the board, and is wearing the same suit he wore on the day. I wish I hadn’t of worn this dress now as it looked like we matched on purpose! I hang up my coat, said a quick hello and moved to my table. I felt him turn around and watch me take my seat.

“Hello, Sophie. How was your evening?” he asked as I sat down.

“Very well, thank you. How was yours?” I replied, taking my books out and getting myself ready for the class.

“Could have been better.” He said, before moving back to his work on the board.

Usually, I would have left it there, but something in me wanted to pry a bit more.

“I’m sorry to hear about that. If you want to talk about it, I’m here if you need me.” I blurted out.

That made him stop writing and turn back towards me. His eyes found mine, and I was pulled into the depths of them. It was like I could see through his soul. I tried to avert my eyes, but I was in too deep. He sighed and came to table and stood in front of me. I had to look up, and that was a big mistake. All thoughts of Nathan vanished, to be replaced by this man who stood before me. He leaned down, hands on my table, and I could tell I was in trouble.

“Sophie, I’ve been noticing you come in early every morning, and it’s become a big problem for me.” He said, his words coming out in firm whisper. I swallowed.

“Oh?” I say, “What sort of a problem? Have I done something wrong?”

I could see in his eyes that he was searching for an answer, to word it correctly. My heart was thumping.

“Sophie…” he sighed, moving away to lean back on the table in front of me. “I can’t seem to concentrate whilst you are here on your own. You’re all I think about when I go home at night. And it’s not right for me to do so. I’m your teacher, you’re my student. I know you’re also engaged to be married, but when I saw you that morning, looking tired, and red eyed, I knew I had a duty to protect you and make you happy. But we can’t and I just don’t know what to do any more. We can’t be alone, ever.”

His answer took me by surprise. I thought it was just me feeling the way I do. I did not expect this at all. His last sentence hit me hard. My head is screaming no, I need to be alone with you, it gets me through the day, knowing I’ve talked to you, had tea with you, relaxing before the studying begins. He’s waiting for my reply, but no words escape me.

“I’m sorry Sophie. I’ve crossed the line I know. I won’t say anymore on the subject. It was inappropriate of me. Forgive me.”

I sat there in silence as he walked back to the board to finish the objectives we had for the day. If I was brave enough, I would have joined him and kissed him right there and then. I knew from that moment I didn’t love Nathan anymore. All I wanted was to be with Gareth. He treated me with respect, laid out his feelings, even though it would cost him his job. Nathan is the complete opposite. I had spent 8 years with him, and maybe I had loved him once upon a time, but the man had changed into someone I couldn’t be around anymore. I resented him for making me feel worthless.

Throughout the day, I buried myself into my studies, talking to my fellow students, reading during breaks, keeping myself busy. But what Gareth said to me, filled my thoughts with longing. I had to speak to him after class had finished. I had five minutes to do come up with an excuse or plan to get him alone. “We can’t be alone, ever.” Swirled in my head. It was forbidden and I wanted him, alone. The act of defiance sent a thrill through me.

Two o’clock came quick and fast, and it was time to go home. I knew Gareth couldn’t leave until everyone else did, so I took my time getting all my things packed. As the last student left, I moved slowly over to Gareth’s desk. He had his back to me as he was wiping the board clean. I coughed to notify him I was there. He turned around, and the spark between us ignited right there. I knew he could feel it too, the pull towards one another. He looked at the open door beside me, and I took that as my queue to close it, so we had some matter of privacy. The door clicked shut.

I was about to tell him what was going through my mind, when I felt him grasp my arms behind me, turn me around to face him and push me against the newly cleaned board.

“I warned you we can’t be alone together!” he growled before placing his lips upon mine.

I gasped at his abruptness, but his lips felt like heaven on mine. They were soft and urging for me to open my own and I replied willingly. His tongue felt hot against mine, and I found myself melting against him. His hands wrapped around my hair, and I mirrored him. His hair was just as soft as I thought it would be. He pulled me deeper into him, and in my head, I knew we had to stop before anything else got out of control. I was becoming hot, and a pool of desire was building up inside me. His kiss moved from my lips to my neck, to every available flesh of skin he could run hot kisses over. It was now or never.

“Gareth,” I pant, catching my breath, “We have to stop before we go any further in case someone walks in.”

He paused. A clog seemed to have clicked into place. We were in the classroom, where anyone could walk in on them and if he was caught, he could lose his job. He stood abruptly and pulled away from me, like I had given him an electric shock. His eyes glazed over, as though he was just realising who he was passionately entangled with. A student. Me. Before he spoke a word, I placed my finger on his lips.

“Gareth, I have to confess something myself. And I want to tell you without interruptions. Yes, I am engaged, but I am unhappy. I don’t love him anymore. I am trapped. I need someone to release me, and the only one who can do that is you. I want you too.” I say to him, my breathing slowing down. I felt like a weight has been lifted voicing those feelings. “I know you’re my teacher, and I am your student. Its forbidden…”

“It is Sophie, which is why we can’t be alone. I want you too, but we can’t. I know there is only a few years between us, but we need to be sensible. You have now seen what happens when we are alone together. I could lose my job, but all I can think about is throwing you on that desk and make passionate love to you!”

It took all my strength not to tear that suit of his and take him up on that offer. It occurred to me then that I must be dreaming. This sort of thing only happened in that, and I have fantasised about having sex on that desk with him. But he was right. His job wasn’t worth the risk, and a part of me deflated at the thought of not being able to touch him the way I just did then.

“You’re right.” I said, “Your job is not worth the risk. But I can’t ignore the feelings between us, that spark we have. I do think it’s for the best I no longer spend any time with you, alone. For both our sakes.”

Sighing, I walk pass him, smoothing out any creases of my dress, running my fingers through my hair to comb it, and grab my coat. I put it on, and without saying a word I left him in the classroom. I got outside the university and walked towards town, trying not to let the tears surface. I was ignited, alive, for the first time in years, and I knew I would never feel like that again.

I carried on walking, and just as I was passing the theatre, the heavens opened. I reached down into my bag to grab my umbrella, when I realised, I didn’t have my bag with me. I had left it in the classroom. The rain was coming down hard, so I had to run towards one of the theatre entrances for shelter. I remember coming here as a child to watch the pantomimes with my parents. The laughter, the innocence back then, not a care in the world.

How stupid was I to leave everything behind! I was too focused on leaving that classroom to notice. I was about to brave the elements and walk back up, when a tall figure walked pass with a big umbrella, carrying what looked like my bag in his arms, looking for someone. He stopped as he went pass my shelter, turned towards me, that same energy and pull we felt not long ago, ebbing its way between us. He smiled at me, with relief that he had found me, and I couldn’t resist it any longer.

I ran towards him, not caring that I was getting wet, and wrapped my arms around him as he caught me, dropping his umbrella in the process, and kissed me in the rain. I felt my bag thud to the ground, and for once I didn’t mind that everything could get wet. All I wanted was him. No-one else. He released me, grabbed my bag from the floor, and retrieved his umbrella.

“You left your bag, Sophie. I had to find you, to bring it to you. But now, it seems we can’t be alone outside of the classroom.” He laughed then. I was pondering what to say next, but he beat me to it. “You’re worth the risk, Sophie. I can’t stay away from you anymore. I don’t care if you’re with another man. I will fight for you.”

My heart leapt with joy. But I knew deep down, I couldn’t escape Nathan. He wouldn’t allow it. It came clear to me that for us to be together, it would have to be a secret, between me and Gareth. We couldn’t come out in public because of the forbidden element to our relationship, and what if it fell apart if I did break up with Nathan. I would have to crawl back to him, begging him to take me back, and he would make me pay for it.

All I wanted was to be happy, have some fun in my life. With Nathan away for a month, I could potentially live that way for a short while. An idea formed in my head, but now wasn’t the time or place outside in the rain, to say it.

“Would you like some tea?” Gareth asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. “You look frozen, and we need to talk.”

“I would love to.” I replied.

Handing back my bag, I put it on and walked with him across town to my favourite bookstore, Waterstones. The smell alone when I walk in is like heaven to me. How did he know I love coming here to relax and read with a pot of tea in the café upstairs? I was about to ask him that very same question when he said,

“I’ve seen you come here often. I’m usually hidden out of site, in front of my laptop, or marking papers and you never seem to notice me. But I, my dear, noticed you. Always a nose in a book. Can I have a pot of loose-leaf tea please, and a latte, and two slices of your Victoria sponge?”

We were at the counter; I was too stunned by his revelation to even notice. He winked at me as he paid for our tea and cake and we found a table by the window, looking out onto the street below. The town was bustling as always, mums with prams and toddlers, the elderly with their shopping trolleys, laden with food, couples going into the pub opposite, laughing and not a care in the world. Up here, you feel like you’re invisible to the world, but at this moment in time, I felt anything but, as I could feel the grey eyes of the man opposite me, burning into my skin.

The drinks and cake arrived, and Gareth took it upon himself to set the table, passing the cake and making my tea for me. I felt the warmth of the teacup in my hands, and it took me a while to realise how cold I was from the rain. I shivered, taking a sip to warm my body on the inside, although, it was heating up from his gaze alone. I had to tell him my idea.

“I have a proposition for our predicament. Just to let you know, Nathan is away on business for a month. So, I have a month to relax and enjoy my freedom. I’m taking a break from him. It’s what I need. If we want to be together, it will have to be a secret anyway as we can’t let the university know we are together. We are both adults, and old enough to know what we want. I can’t ignore this feeling inside me any longer. I would like to be yours for a month. Only yours.”

I waited with berated breath. He sipped his latte, ate some of his cake, contemplating my offer. A month was all I could give to this man. While Nathan was away, I could play, be free. I may regret it in the end, but to have the man of my dreams, for once and for all, was an opportunity too good to miss. I saw him smile, take my hand in his, and I knew he would be my forbidden little secret, for a month at least.

Submitted: January 22, 2022

© Copyright 2022 S.R.Thornton. All rights reserved.

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