Winter Storm by April Kelley - PART 1 & Giveaway
Josh Ainsley is one of those teachers who goes above and beyond. When he agrees to deliver a day’s worth of homework to a student’s house, it’s not exactly out of character. So what if the student’s father is one of the hottest people Josh has ever seen? Operation homework drop turns into a rescue mission when he gets caught in a snowstorm and subsequently snowed in with one sexy dad. Who says good deeds go unrewarded?
Winterport arrived at its name aptly. Set just off one of the biggest lakes in North America, Winterport got most of the lake effect snow, making Josh Ainsley’s drive into work a bit treacherous, although beautiful when he took the road next to the lake, even with the icebergs and violent waves crashing against the snowy beach.
His knuckles were white on his steering wheel all the way into the school’s parking lot. Winter had set in, freezing everything until the salt on the roads and in the lot did nothing to melt the ice.
He parked his car and grabbed the sugar skull candy he had bought for his Around the World unit. October might have come and gone, but Josh still wanted the kids to know about the Day of the Dead, and he was so excited to share the candy with his students.
He braved the cold as he made his way across the dark lot into school. The traction on his boots did little to keep him from sliding across the pavement. It wasn’t until he was under the light at the door by the gym that he felt safe enough to walk without falling.
Josh sighed. Winter in Winterport was mostly yucky.
Why didn’t the superintendent close school for the day? It seemed dangerous for the children to ride in such conditions, even if the bus was safer than a car.
Oh, who was he kidding? He hadn’t wanted to leave the coziness and warmth of his house, especially with the temperature so low. Josh had a book calling his name. It sat on his nightstand where he had left it last night. Chapter ten called his name all through his morning routine, and he hoped he could bury himself in the pages all day while he watched the world turn white outside.
He stomped his boots off on the rug just inside the door, letting the heat sink into his bones before he made his way down the hallway. The gym was a big, open space with the bleachers tucked against the wall and basketball hoops ready for students. It was mostly open to the hall, making it as easily accessible as possible.
Ben, the gym teacher, yelled his name when he passed.
Josh stopped in the hallway, turning until he met Ben’s gaze.
Ben, or Coach to the students, pointed at him and grinned. “Snow day tomorrow.”
Josh hadn’t taken the time to listen to the weatherman. He didn’t include the daily news as part of his morning routine, and he only ever paid attention if it pertained to his school closing.
Josh nodded and waved as he started down the hall again.
He passed the cafeteria and then the office as he moved down the south side of the building toward his classroom. He was almost to the hall when Barbara, the school’s secretary, stopped him.
He sighed and turned, smiling.
He half-expected her to say something about a snow day, but she said, “One of Ari Weaver’s parents is here to see you.”
He headed her way. “Thanks.”
Ari Weaver arrived in his classroom last week. He was new to Josh’s room but not to the school district. Of all of Josh’s students, Ari was the one who shouldn’t miss school, but he had been ill for a couple of days already. The kid was behind in reading at least two grade levels, which had to do with a learning disability severe enough he needed Josh’s resource room.
They hadn’t had an IEP meeting yet, but Josh had read Ari’s file and had a modified plan so Ari would have an easier time learning the material.
“I was going to call your classroom, but then I saw you walk by. Perfect timing.” Barbara smiled and held the door open for him.
“I guess so.” Josh passed her and plastered a smile on his face.
And then he blinked. Once. And then twice.
Nope, the sexy guy with the stocking cap and a Carhart coat was an actual real person and not a figment of his lonely imagination.
Mr. Weaver was broad and tall enough to be intimidating, but his smile was warm and friendly.
Josh cleared his throat. “Hi, you must be Mr. Weaver. I’m Mr. Ainsley, Ari’s resource teacher.”
Mr. Weaver held one of the small computers the district gave to every student. “Nice to meet you finally, Mr. Ainsley.” God, his voice was deep and rumbly, reminding Josh of cuddling in front of a fire, sharing a blanket.
“How can I help you?” Josh was surprised he wasn’t stumbling over words, but he was a little proud he kept himself together in the face of such an incredible attraction.
“Ari’s computer died. He tells me the charger is in your classroom.”
“I think it’s on his desk. Would you like to walk with me to get it?”
Josh gestured to the door, letting Mr. Weaver go first. Mr. Weaver opened the door for Josh, letting him go through.
Josh waited until they walked beside each other to speak again. “How’s Ari feeling?”
“He’s at the tail end of the flu, so better. Not well enough for school yet.”
Josh’s classroom was the first one on the left down the south hallway. When he entered his room, he turned on two rows of lights, leaving one off. He liked the dimmer lighting. Some of his students had sensory issues, and the harsh lighting made it difficult for them. He did what he could to make the classroom comfortable.
He went behind his desk and dropped his bag, taking off his coat. “His is that one there.” He pointed to Ari’s desk, which had his charger laying haphazardly on top, two pencils, and his library book.
Josh took off his coat as Mr. Weaver crossed the room and grabbed the charger. When their gazes again, Mr. Weaver averted his eyes as if he were guilty of something. Was he checking me out?
Josh decided to chalk it up to wishful thinking.
“You’re welcome to take his library book too.”
Mr. Weaver grabbed the book, putting it with the computer and the charger. “Does he have any more work I could take?”
“I have all of it for the days he’s missed so far, including the work his general education teachers gave him, but I won’t have today’s until the afternoon. And I have it on good authority we’ll have a snow day tomorrow.” Josh bit his lip and was glad his desk and most of the classroom were between them because he swore the attraction grew with each passing second, and God, he needed to not feel that way because his students were minutes away from arriving.
Ari’s work was in a manilla envelope, sitting on the corner of Josh’s desk.
When Josh held it out for Mr. Weaver, he closed the distance between them and took it, putting it with the computer and book in a neat little stack. “Thank you, Mr. Ainsley.”
“If it’s okay, I could drop off today’s work after I leave here this afternoon.”
“I don’t want to put you out.”
“It’s okay. I’d rather Ari not be behind when he comes back, and with the snow day tomorrow, he’d have a whole extra day to get the work done.”
“It’s not out of the way for you?”
Josh lived a twenty-minute drive from the school and didn’t remember Ari’s address from his file, so he didn’t know the distance in relation to his home.
Mr. Weaver put his load on the corner of Josh’s desk and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He moved next to Josh so he could see the screen. He had a map app on and what Josh thought was his home address plugged into it in no time.
That close, Josh could smell his cologne and feel his body heat. Josh cleared his throat and said, “Can you zoom out?”
“Sure.” It didn’t take very long for Josh to know where the Weavers lived. While it was out in the rural part of town, it wasn’t out of his way. “That’s not a problem. It’s a detour, but I pass that road to get home if I take the back roads and not the highway.”
Mr. Weaver smiled. “Right after school then?”
“I’ll see you then and call the phone number on file if I can’t make it for whatever reason.”
Mr. Weaver grabbed a pen and a piece of scrap paper from the container Josh always kept on his desk. Josh was a list maker and took a million notes a day so he wouldn’t forget anything. Mr. Weaver wrote his name and number on it and handed it to Josh. “My cell."
Josh held the paper in his hand and nodded even as he looked at the man’s neat handwriting. He didn’t write Mr. Weaver for a name or even Ari’s dad. He wrote Max like he gave his number to Josh for the sole purpose of scheduling a date.
Josh shouldn’t accept it. He should hand the paper back and tell him it was inappropriate to take it while he was in his place of work. Even though it was fifteen minutes before his day officially started and there wasn’t anything in his contract saying he couldn’t date a student’s parent. But did Max have that intent, or was he reading more into it than was there?
“Thank you, Mr. Weaver.”
“It’s Max.” He had a warmth in his expression that appealed to Josh.
“Max.” If Josh was honest with himself, he hoped for flirting.
“I’ll get out of your hair. Thanks for the charger, Mr. Ainsley. And for the work packet.” Max gathered Ari’s things, holding everything against his chest.
“It’s Josh. Please.”
Max stopped, turning to meet his gaze again, nodding once in acknowledgment. “See you later, Josh.”
God, he was flirting. No one looked at someone like that without it being anything else.
A second later, Josh sat down behind his desk and wondered if he imagined the whole exchange.
To Be Continued….
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COPYRIGHT (c) 2020 by April Kelley
Cover Art by Once & Books
Cover content is for illustrative purposes only, and any person depicted on the cover is a model.
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the author’s written permission.
Published by Hard Rose Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
April Kelley is an author of LGBTQ+ Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more. She’s a main contributor at Once and Books. April has been an avid reader for several years. Ever since she wrote her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, she can be found taking a long walk in the woods or going on her next adventure.
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