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It was the evening of our monthly PTO meeting. On the agenda was to designate the volunteers for several fundraisers that would take place in the spring.
Setting up the refreshments and a coffee urn in the hallway outside of the classroom, I couldn’t wait to get this over with so that I could go home, get into my pajamas, and relax. It was always exhausting to have evening commitments when the workday ran so late to begin with.
A deep voice from behind startled me. “A keg would be much more fun, wouldn’t it?”
I turned around to find Mack standing there, holding a box of chocolate chip cookies from the supermarket.
“What are you doing here?”
He placed the cookies on the table. “This is the parent and teachers meeting, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but…” I hesitated, not even knowing what to say.
He finished my sentence. “But I’m not supposed to be included in that group?” Mack snapped his finger. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought PTO stood for ‘pissing teacher off.’ My bad.”
“Well, if that were the case, you might be in the right place.”
“This is the right place for me tonight.”
“This meeting is for serious participants.”
“I’m serious about the teacher. Does that count?”
“Actually, in all seriousness, I’d also like to help. It’s the least I can do after crashing your school year. I really would like to be as involved as I can in Jonah’s education. That’s the truth, okay? Getting to spend time with you is an added benefit.”
What could I say? He had just as much right to be here as anyone else.
“Just be aware that this isn’t the right place to be joking around or distracting the other attendees, for that matter.”
“I don’t plan on distracting anyone but you.”
“Yeah, well you have quite the fan base here. We have a very strict agenda to adhere to.”
He moved in closer and just stared me down for a bit. The contact caused my skin to prickle and my nipples to harden. “Don’t worry,” he said as he looked down, seeming to notice that my nipples were piercing through the fabric of my shirt. “Your points are well noted, Miss O’Hara.” He wriggled his brows. “I’ll see you inside.”
I hated that he knew he was having an effect on me. If my body had this kind of response now, what would have happened if he’d actually done more? Spontaneous impregnation? Some things just never change, and my reaction to this man was an example of that.
A long table sat in the middle of the spare classroom where we held the meeting. There wasn’t a single man in the room besides Mack. He was like the centerpiece.
I took my seat at the end of the table. “So, shall we get started?” Looking down at my list, I said, “First on the agenda is the book fair. We need to elect someone to be in charge of it and coordinate the volunteers.”
Mack raised his hand.
“Yes?” I asked.
“That sounds like it’s right down my alley. I’d like to volunteer to run the book fair.”
“What makes you want that task? It’s a lot of responsibility.”
He thought about it for a moment then said, “I write children’s books. I think I’d be a perfect fit.”
“That’s a good point,” one of the women said. “He might be the perfect fit.”
I’m sure you’re thinking he’d be the perfect fit, alright…in your vagina.
“Okay…but I hope you know that there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into organizing that particular event. It takes place over the course of an entire weekend. You have to place orders with the bookseller, do inventory, delegate tasks, and arrange for an onsite food vendor because many people just come for the food. Ultimately, the food is the bait.”
“I can bait people. I’m a master baiter.” He paused. “I mean…I can handle it. I’ll get a shitload of people to sign up.”
An attending nun gave him a dirty look for his use of foul language.
He cleared his throat, seeming to regret his choice of terminology. “I’ll get people to attend. Don’t worry.”
“I’ll put your name down as a possibility. We’ll take a vote at the end.”
Looking around the room, I asked, “Is there anyone else here who is interested in taking the reigns on the book fair?”
Not a single person budged.
One woman said, “No, but I’ll be happy to help Mack with whatever he needs.”
I’m sure you will.
Mack nodded then offered a smug smile. “Thank you.” He then took a bite of his cookie and winked at me.
About the Author
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism and a 9-year-old boy. Penelope and her family reside in Rhode Island.