Homecoming Dance Prep + Enemies to Lovers Angst = Classic Calder and Emma
My least favorite staff member had been assigned as a floater, helping wherever he could. Calder had shown up this afternoon the most dressed-down I had ever seen him, sporting a pair of dark jeans and a plain white T-shirt, just fitted enough to contour the muscular outline of his figure. I blamed Casual Friday, the last day of our homecoming spirit week, which had also included such hits as Crazy Hair Day, Crazy Hat Day—the works.
Predictably, there had been a squabble over where the vampire would be placed, groups of teenage girls bickering with one another until Calder graciously offered to share his time between everyone. I’d just rolled my eyes and done my best to ignore him, but he was kind of difficult to ignore with all that muscle normally hidden beneath a three-piece tweed suit on display.
I couldn’t blame the girls for fighting over him, either. The guy was gorgeous. They just didn’t know he was a vampiric ass beneath that shiny, hunky veneer.
After giving my precious gymnasium a onceover, the transformation for the upcoming dance making my inner wolf grumble, I folded the sheet of paper in half again and made my way to the far back corner, toward the door that would open to a hallway, my hallway, at the end of which sat my office. Hopefully the internet would have a suggestion or two for “cooler”, more “authentic”, on-theme drink names to appease the senior class president.
Never mind that she and the student council had come up with these ones in the first place.
One of the major items out of place during the prep stages were the chairs. Stacked some fifteen high, they sat bunched together in the back corner, and a crew of seniors had been moving them into the gym all afternoon, lugging the large black and gold chairs up from the storage room one or two at a time. As I neared the towers, my first thought was that they were stacked too high—that it wasn’t safe.
A suspicion proven correct mere moments later when someone on the other side of the chair wall tripped, their shoes squeaking out a familiar cry, followed by the clunk of chairs colliding with chairs. The row to my immediate left teetered, stacked too precariously tall, and I staggered back, tensed, waiting to catch the damn things, then pretend it had hurt me to do so.
Only the stack never fell.
Because some gorgeous vampire dick stopped it.
Calder appeared out of nowhere, his back to the stack, catching and righting it again in the span of about five seconds. It was a risk, using his speed around all these humans, but the music faintly whumping from the AV club’s speakers carried on, as did the chatter, the clatter of furniture, like nothing had ever happened.
“You okay?” I called, Calder and I no more than a foot apart, my heart in my throat as he stared me down, for once neither smarmy nor smirking.
“Yeah, I’m good,” the culprit on the other side called back, and I caught his shadow moving beneath the chair legs, marching back and forth, walking it off. “Tripped over my own feet.”
“These are stacked too high,” I said, still holding Calder’s gaze, unable to tear myself away, my stomach looping. “Cut them down by half so they don’t fall on someone.”
“Yes, Miss Kingsley.”
Calder smelled earthy today. Sandalwood. Oakmoss. Musk. My cheeks peppered with heat the longer I breathed him in, and when he eased away from the tower of chairs, I took a sizeable step back, crinkling the paper in my hand.
“I could have caught that,” I muttered, then ducked my head down and made a beeline for the nearby door. The metal handle squeaked when I gripped it, but the brightly lit corridor on the other side was mercifully silent. As soon as the door closed, the chaos outside disappeared. His scent vanished. Smoothing a hand over my loose waves, I dragged in a deep breath, then exhaled it slowly, making my way by the trio of closed, locked grey doors, beyond which was all my equipment. Balls. Netting. Rackets. The final door, way at the end of the hall, offered me guaranteed sanctuary, a private place to quiet my hammering heart.
The handle squeaked again, and I whirled around at the sound. Calder stalked in, letting the door slam shut behind him, and I turned away, unable to withstand that dark, brooding look for a second longer than necessary. If he wanted a proper thank-you for doing something I honestly could have done myself, he’d be waiting a long time.
I hadn’t made it more than three steps closer to my office before his hand snapped around my elbow, and my inner wolf snarled when he yanked me back and shoved me against the wall. Hackles up, my lips peeled back as the crumpled paper fluttered to the ground, forgotten at our feet. Calder caged me in with a hand on either side of my shoulders, his face ducking down to meet my eyeline…