Chapter 8 “Teacher Crush” or, “Karen’s Teacher” [Smelly old Mr Collins]

27 Sep

Moral of the Story: Having a crush on your teacher can lead to dire consequences – like getting squashed by a fridge

Twenty-six-year-old Elizabeth Wakefield dawdled into the Stoneybrook News headquarters on Monday morning and caught a look at herself in the tinted window. Her face was pale and drawn, and her coral cardigan was hanging off her emaciated body – a week with no appetite can do wonders for a size six, she thought grimly. Elizabeth touched a hand to her ragged blonde hair, which hadn’t seen a brush for days, and she knew her brows had more than a few stray hairs begging to be tweezed. The puffy red eyes framed by dark circles were the final tell-tale sign that Elizabeth Wakefield was nursing a broken heart.

“Hey stranger,” a warm, friendly voice called her attention. Behind her was an athletic-looking blonde man, carrying what appeared to be some high-tech photography gear.

Elizabeth groaned inwardly. “Jeffery French,” she responded flatly.

What was this? Another guy from her past? And on the one day she’d dragged herself out of bed and was looking like a drowned rat! She silently cursed the universe.

“Why are you here?” It was as if the world wanted to punish her. But for what!? Elizabeth looked up into the pale blue eyes that had once given her so much love and comfort. He was practically albino! Why had she not noticed this before?

“I’m the new photographer for the News,” he said, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “We recently moved here from Oregon and I’m meeting with Tina this morning. Will you show me in?”

Elizabeth sighed. She certainly hoped Jeffery didn’t want to rekindle their old flame here in Stoneybrook. She had practically cried herself numb already – it was unlikely there was a single fibre left in her heart capable of forming any attachment. She motioned listlessly up the stairs toward the main offices. Things couldn’t possibly get any more complicated.

Poor Jeffery!

Jeffery French grinned to himself as he wandered up the stairs. God, ten years on and Elizabeth was still complicating everything! Nothing had changed at all – she was still so self-absorbed, still convinced that everything happened either because of her or to spite her. She probably assumed he still wanted her! Jeffery glanced down at the wedding band on his left ring-finger. He’d have to tell Suzanne about the hide of his high-school ex, the girl who’d screwed him over not once but twice – for Todd Wilkins and Conor McDermott at that! He walked into Tina’s office and took a deep breath. Jeffery French, photographer of the stars was about to make his mark on Connecticut.

* * *

Knock knock. Jessica Wakefield rapped on Travis Simpson’s door on Monday morning. She glanced down at her knuckles, white with apprehension. Her palms were practically dripping with sweat.

“Who’s there?” grunted Travis. Jessica thought she could hear another male muttering in the background.

“It’s Jessica,” she responded, hoping her voice sounded less shaky than it felt.

“Gimme a tick.”

Jessica pressed her ear to the door. She could hear muffled voices and an audible, “Cupboard – now!”

Jessica took a step back and drew in her breath as the door opened. Travis stepped out to greet her, a towel wrapped around his narrow waist. Jessica allowed herself one last admiring glance at his sculpted torso.

“Jessica, I-”

“Don’t,” she held up a hand to silence him. “I know about Tom, and I’m okay with it.” Travis visibly relaxed.

“I want to ask if…if you’ll do me the honour of being my senior fashion consultant?” The words tumbled out and she glanced up, hopefully.

“Jessie,” he took a step into the morning light and grasped both her hands in his own. “You know we’ve had some fun, but your little shop is just not really my thing.”

“No?” Jessica responded defiantly. “So why did you spend every minute of the last month trying to fix it?”

“Its not fixable,” he retorted. “And that’s why Tom here has asked me to join his latest venture. We’re going to be Simpson-McKay Hairstyles.”

Tom McKay joined Travis on the doorstep, sliding an arm around his waist. “Jessica,” he greeted her formally, bowing his head.

Jessica’s mouth was gaping wide open. “What? Why?”

Tom ran a hand through Jessica’s shaggy bob. “Let’s face it, Jess – your little shop might be doing ok, but you could definitely do worse than a session with us.”

He looked at Travis and they giggled, sharing a private joke.

Jessica turned on her heel, infuriated. Not only was Travis ditching their relationship but he was totally dissing her work! And with Tom, of all people – the once popular jock who’d had Amy Sutton, Jeannie West and Sandra Bacon after him simultaneously! Jessica marched toward the sidewalk, positively steaming. Could this day get any worse?

She didn’t want this life any more! What happened to the Jessica Wakefield who was wanted, successful and loved, the queen bee of Sweet Valley? She craved the beach, and Secca Lake, and Miller’s Point! She missed the cool comfort of her Spanish-tiled kitchen, her bedroom with its purple walls and the suburban tranquility of Calico Drive. She wanted Dana Larson, and Ken Matthews, and even Winston Egbert. But most of all, she wanted Elizabeth

* * *

Elizabeth swung round in her chair and stared blankly at the screen. She could really use that Margo kid right now to give her a hand. The words spilled out of her hands and meshed together, a pastiche of useless catch phrases.

Teen dubbed “The Walking Disaster” still on the run. Sources claim he was sighted overnight at the Underground Railroad.
Local talent Jessi Ramsey crashes and burns with the Bolshoi ballet.
Diabetes epidemic at an all-time high: Dr Johanssen says no end in sight.

Elizabeth threw up her hand in despair. She hated this life! She wanted La Maison Jaques, and Palomar House, and the Box Tree Café. Hell, she’d take Guido’s, or Casey’s, or the Dairi Burger right now! She felt a pang of yearning for the Beach Disco, and Fowler pool parties, and she’d give her right arm to be in the bleachers at a Gladiators Game. She missed Enid Rollins, and Penny Ayala, and even Heather Mallone. But most of all, she missed Jessica. Elizabeth reached into her purse for her phone. Her twin answered on the first ring.

“Lizzie! Oh Lizzie you won’t believe how terrible it’s been!”

“No – I think this time I have some idea!”

The twins began blabbering at once, about Laine Cummings, and gay exes and promiscuous secretaries and Cokie Mason until finally, each slumped silently in her seat – Jessica in the cab and Elizabeth at her desk.

It was Elizabeth who spoke next. Four minutes older, it was her job to provide the voice of reason, to provide some ray of hope in their melancholy existence.

“Let’s go home, Jess,” she whispered.

* * *

Margo Pike smacked her lips together and spun around in front of her mirror, admiring the way her strapless pink dress kicked out around her thighs. Bruce wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off her! She grabbed some frangipani perfume – Elizabeth’s favourite – off her bedside table and sprayed it at the nape of her neck. She glanced at the clock – there were still 20 minutes left before Bruce’s limo would arrive. 20 minutes to cram in some more study on the obsession that was taking over her life.

She looked across the road at the Wakefield’s pristine, split-level house, still chuffed that a place so close-by had popped up on the rental market.

Margo wondered fleetingly if her parents had noticed her absence? Nah, she thought spitefully. They’d be too busy fawning over the triplets, or braniac Mallory. She peered into the Spanish-tiled kitchen across the road. Ned and Alice would notice, she thought. She watched Mrs Wakefield, thin and strikingly beautiful in a linen pantsuit, busily stirring a pot on the stove. Mr Wakefield wandered round behind his wife, giving her a gentle hug and cheekily digging a finger into the evening meal to sample it. He was a total spunk, Margo decided, admiring his broad shoulders and chiseled jaw. Even the hint of grey hair and slight wrinkling around his eyes lent him a handsome, mature quality. Margo sighed longingly, raising a hand to the cool glass. “My family,” she rasped. “Someday very soon.”

Margo turned. But that day had not arrived. She had to be patient…and diligent. She glanced at the case notes strewn across her desk and picked up the paper on top. “Elizabeth Wakefield,” she read. “Birthday, June 13th. Four minutes older than her twin, Jessica. Likes root beer and cannoli. Enjoys Chinese food although her father is allergic. Favourite singer, Colleen Dunstan. Dislikes Johnny Buck and Cam Geary. Favorite activities include hiking, swimming and Amanda Howard mysteries. Wears Nars blush in naked and Loreal lipstick in nude. Virgin. Kisses like a dead jellyfish.” [Bruce had filled her in on the last two.]

Beep! She hurried over toward the window. Bruce was here and he did not like to be kept waiting.

Margo hurried out the door, grabbing her black glow-mesh clutch on the way. The night was young!

* * *

Karen Brewer hesitated at Mr Collins door. Maybe she shouldn’t have worn red? Were the flowers a bit too much? She skittered nervously on her heels, wishing she’d gone to the bathroom at the Big House. But she’d been too busy going through the bags that Elizabeth had left when she’d gone home to Sweet Valley for the weekend. Karen smiled to herself. It had been a gigundoly hard week, but having Elizabeth around had made everything okay. Now that Margo was gone, nobody even wanted to know her. Amanda Delaney and Myriah Perkins ignored her in the cafeteria. Pamela Harding was just downright rude. And Ricky Torres hadn’t looked her way once! But Karen had one last trick up her sleeve, something Kristy had told her about a long time ago, when she’d pretended to be a lesbian to win over Basher Bart: the jealousy maneuver.

Karen drew in a deep breath and pressed the doorbell. She hoped Mr Collins’ son, Teddy, wouldn’t be home. That would be downright embarrassing! She was just adjusting her boobs  – almost an A-cup tonight – as the door opened.

“Karen,” Mr Collins said kindly. “Come on in.”

“Thanks, Mr Collins.” It was more of a high-pitched squeak than the sultry drawl she was after.

Her teacher chuckled and patted her on the back. “Call me Roger.”

* * *

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield stood in front of the mirror, in the bathroom adjoining their old bedrooms. They were wearing matching blue baby-doll dresses and just a hint of makeup on their fresh faces. Jessica grinned and pinned a barette in her blonde wig, the same as Elizabeth’s. Trust her twin to come up with such an ingenious idea. All their old friends would be so amused!

Elizabeth finished applying mascara to her bottom lashes. She was feeling much better now, after being reunited with her twin. They’d spent today at the Secca Lake and the mall, and tonight they’d be meeting up with some old friends at the Beach Disco.

“Like old times,” she pondered.

“But with new people,” Jessica reminded her. Claudia and Stacey would be joining them tonight.

Elizabeth reached over and squeezed Jessica’s hand. The night was young!

How far will Karen go to get Ricky Torres?
Will Margo’s murderous plot ruin the Wakefield twin’s night?
And what will Claudia and Stacey wear?
Find out in Chapter 9 of “When Lila Met Stacey”, “Too Good to be True,” or, “Dawn on the Coast”

3 Responses to “Chapter 8 “Teacher Crush” or, “Karen’s Teacher” [Smelly old Mr Collins]”

  1. cokie mason September 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    This is just too good! Poor Jeffery! ;[
    I knew Mr Collins would be on his way to jail…Can we have Enid? Pleaaaase?

  2. Daniella September 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Those headlines that Liz is reading…absolutely brilliant!

  3. winstonegbert September 28, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Hmmm…I was not such a fan of this chapter. Bit of a filler, really. Not enough murder. I think I’ll put the other one up soonish.

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