Hadn’t Met You Yet. Chapter 31

“Welcome to Newseum. As you’ll learn from the video you are about to see, the idea is for you to start at the top and make your way down. Before going up, please feel free to take a look at the piece from the Berlin Wall that’s just outside this screening room.”

Their tour guide explained as Emilia, Olivia and the rest of her group took a seat at the little auditorium at the basement of the museum.

During their ride over here, Emilia had wondered if by some chance they would be passing the same spot where she’d died a few weeks ago. Thankfully, the driver commented on the amount of traffic due to other schools having their own visits to the rest of the museums right on the same street as the National Art Gallery, making him reach their final destination using another route. Still, just the sheer nearness of that spot had made the excitement she’d felt at having Michael and Olivia sitting next to each other dissipate momentarily.

Once their welcoming video was over, they excited the room. Olivia with her students and their parents in tow. They entered the small room which was right in front of the big chunk of the Berlin Wall, with a series of wall screens giving an explanation about the wall. They even had a watch tower, which had also been brought over from Germany to stand as a permanent exhibit of the Newseum.

Despite Michael’s presence and the fact that he insisted on walking close to her, Olivia shook off her unease and got into teacher mode. The night before, she’d come up with a series of questions concerning each section of the museum, some of them regarding topics they’d already covered during class. Of course, Olivia knew it would be a long shot for everyone to know the answers, but she hoped her students wouldn’t disappoint her. When she was sure all of her students were within earshot, she pointed to the watch tower and then to the wall and asked the group of kids before her.

“So as you must remember, we’ve been covering the Cold War in our history classes. We’ve talked about some of the events that took place during this period in modern history. I already know, by your wonderfully written assignments,” her brown gaze lingered on those few who forgot to deliver it, causing them to squirm uncomfortably, “that you understand what the Berlin Wall was and the purpose of its existence. Now, I wonder if anyone of you remembers when was said wall teared down?”

Apparently, no one had payed attention when she’d happened to mention that important fact a few classes ago, when Olivia talked about the Berlin Wall. She had expected at least one of her students to raise his or her hand with the correct answer. Not even Damon, who usually had an answer to everything, nor Camie who had proven she was a smart kid, ventured to raise their hands. When all the answer she got was a bunch of heads glancing right and left, there was a hand that shot up in the air.

Michael Hurst couldn’t contain his grin when Olivia scowled at him from her place at the front of the group. Ignoring Camie, as she pulled on his jacket, urging him to lower his hand, he remained with his hand held up high.

Damn that obnoxious man.

“Let him give it a try. Worst case scenario his only doing this to get your attention, he’ll get the answer wrong and you’ll get to make him feel bad about himself. Although, why would you want to do that when it was you who basically shoved him out of your house the other day and……..”

I can’t believe this. Are we really going to get into this now?

“God, no. There’s no point if you refuse to see the obvious. I’m just saying, you might get him to shut up for good if he screws up. Today I’m all about being here for you, sister.”

Yeah, right.

Damon interrupted her silent exchange with Emilia.

“Hey, Ms. B, looks like Camie’s uncle knows the answer.”

“Yes, I can see that. But let me say I’m heartbroken you kids are making me look bad with some of your parents. They’ll go home thinking what a crappy teacher I am and I might have to start looking for another job.”

This elicited a round of subdued laughter from the three other parents as well as the rest of her students. Realizing it would be rude to ignore Michael, Olivia craned her neck and motioned for him to answer.

“When is November 9, 1989?”

“Oh, cool, just like Jeopardy.” Emilia clapped her hands excitedly.

When Olivia only stammered on her already thought out “No, sorry Mr, Hurst but you are wrong,” speech, Michael’s grin grew even wider. Such confident gesture made her nostrils flare and her nails dig into the palms of her hands.

“That….that is correct.”

“I guess I did pay attention to my teacher back in high school, which is more than I can say about the nuisance of my niece here.” Camie’s cheeks went a velvet red. Good thing uncle Michael was what other girls would term as soo incredibly hot, he could get sway with being annoying and embarrassing. He then added, “

Although, Ms. Collins wasn’t as good looking as you.”

Oh my God. Is he hitting on me right in front of my students and their parents? Has he no sense of decency?

“Hey, I’ve got an idea.” Emilia’s face lighted up. “Why don’t you keep up with his game and be Alex Trebec to his Jeopardy contestant? Might still get the chance to outsmart him.” The ghost offered, while thinking she could make this regular museum visit a lot more interesting.

Finally, a T.V. reference that’s helpful. You’re right. Two can play this game. Let’s see who ends up looking like a fool.

Emilia flashed a smile at the history teacher, all the while thinking: Oh, honey you two are way past looking like fools.

“Well, why thank you Mr. Hurst.” Olivia kicked the shy yet flirty attitude up a notch and batted her eyelashes at Michael. At his sudden puzzled look, Olivia said to herself, yeah pal once I am done with you, you’ll wish you’d gone to work today.

“Since you seem to be really smart, you’ll surely have no problem answering another question of mine.”

“Bring it on Ms. B.” Michael muttered to himself.

The challenge ahead was enough for him to forget the real reason behind him leaving a number of urgent pending work back at the office and coming today. Somewhere inside his jolted brain, he knew one essential part of that reason had been to see her glare at him again. He was obviously striving for when she could look at him with a different kind of fire coming from her eyes. Still, Olivia still stirred up his juices when she wanted nothing more than to knock him senseless on the head.

Michael was aware he should’ve gone to her the very next day and settle whatever was or wasn’t happening between them. Only that he had wanted to blow off enough of his own steam before he sought her out again and forced her to talk about what they’d been about to do the other day.

The conflict raging inside him had made him sulk as opposing forces had tugged at his conscience ever since leaving Olivia’s house early Sunday morning. On one hand, part of him had been pissed off at the way Olivia had turned the situation against him, causing the progress they’d made so far during the wedding to end so abruptly. On the other hand, another part berated him for not being able to stop the moment on the couch from happening. Michael knew though, that despite her accusations, Olivia blamed the whole incident on herself. Not that he would’ve regretted it should things have gone farther, but when Olivia finally ended in his bed or the couch, he wanted her to do so without regret.

“It would be my pleasure.”

“Excellent. Let’s see…..the name of a U.S president from the Cold War period who received a Nobel Peace Prize after leaving office.””

“Who is Jimmy Carter?”

Darn it.

“The year Kennedy was assassinated?”

“When is 1963?”

“Oh come on, every one knows that one Olivia.” Emilia pointed out.

Just let me think……….Ha! I got it. See if you know this one Michael Hurst!

“The name of the U.S president who made the first state visit ever to Communist China during the Cold War, and the date of said visit.”

Enjoying this contest between them, Michael feigned frustration and turned to the kids and their parents.

“That is a hard one. Anyone who can help me out?”

There were a few giggles and a couple of others, Damon and Camie included, furrowed their brows in concentration. When the rest of the class remained quiet, Michael sighed.

Aha! I won, I won.

Gleefully, she prepared to declare this little contest her victory when Michael cleared his throat and had everyone’s attention, including a couple of bystanders’,pegged on him.

“I was trying to make you look good in the eyes of your history teacher. Seriously, no one knows this? Too bad.” He locked his stare with Olivia’s and said.

“Who is Richard Nixon and when is 1972?”

The teacher in her admired Michael for his history knowledge, but the woman in her was flabbergasted, speechless and one hundred percent annoyed at Michael. Not only had he won over the group with his charm, but now he was going to come out as smart. Olivia was the only one who saw him as what he really was, a pain in the ass. An arrogant, over-himself, with a touch that could melt ice, pain in the ass.

“I guess he was really paying attention in class.” Olivia’s ghost-friend commented, as his correct response elicited several cheers from the crowd. Despite her friend’s mental cursing, Emilia joined, too.

“Okay, okay everyone, calm down. I might have to give you extra homework for the weekend, maybe a ten page paper describing me the most important events that took place during the Cold War, including the impact said events had in world history.”

The entire group, except for the grown ups, groaned loudly and began to point out that they already had tons and tons homework from their other classes. Olivia spoke over their complaints.

“I’m just concerned you haven’t grasped fully this important part of modern history. But hey, I have an idea, maybe Mr. Hurst here can help all of you with your papers. After all, he appears to know all there is to know about that time.”

That caused the students to shut up abruptly as they glanced from their teacher to Camie’s uncle, the former with her eyes narrowed and shooting daggers at the latter, whose unwavering stare only made the rest of their audience squirm uncomfortably. Even at their young age, the majority of them sensed their teacher was not very fond of their schoolmate’s uncle. And it had nothing to do with him knowing all the answers to her questions.

“We should get going. Let’s go make a line outside the elevators so we can start our visit.”

Olivia got in with the first group and used the remaining of the ride up to compose herself and take a few deep calming breaths. Her hands were still shaking by the time they reached the top, but she would be damned if she would let Michael see he had rattled her in any way. That didn’t stop her from staying as far away as possible from him during the rest of their visit.

Unfortunately, he caught up with her as she was about to enter the news history gallery, a hall where there were newspapers from different periods in history. Thankfully, none of her students or the other parents noticed when Michael pulled her to the side hidden from the rest.

“Get your hands off me.” She spat at Michael.

“Oh, trust me getting my hands on you has been on my mind ever since meeting you. Olivia, we need to talk.”

“Talk? Now? No, we don’t.”

“Okay, name the time and place. We can’t leave what happened after the wedding…”

“Unfinished?” Olivia cut him off. “What? Want me to sneak with you to a dark corner and finish the deal?”

“Jesus, Olivia. You really think I am like that? If you do just say so and I promise you I’ll back off. If you think I’m just some jerk who doesn’t give a damn about how you felt that day, then I swear I’ll never bother you again.”

Olivia was tempted to say he was and have this over with. Yet, she couldn’t lie to him and to herself. If only, Michael had been nothing but concerned the second Noah’s call had come through. It was unsettling to recall how all she’d wanted to do at the time had been to seek the comfort of his arms, even if doing so would’ve added another layer to her betrayal to Noah. The fact that she longed for his arms to circle around her just now made her take a step back.

“No, you’re not.” Olivia admitted.

“Olivia,” Michael ignored his own stab of pain when she cringed away from his hand as it reached out to touch her face, “please, don’t push me away.”

“I……can’t do this.” She swallowed back the tears and moved out into the lighted hall.

“Besides, we have nothing more to say to each other. I am sorry for what I did the other day, but it can never happen again.”

He swore but it was too late. Olivia was already heading back to her students, answering questions from some of them and not giving him a second glance as she moved around the gallery.

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