Skyler Foxe is back in his old high school, as a teacher. He is nervous about letting anyone know he's gay, afraid other teachers and the principal will not be comfortable, not to mention students and parents. But when super hot Keith, the biology teacher and assistant football coach joins the faculty, it gets harder and harder not to give himself away. Trouble is, people are being murdered, and Sktler thinks Keith is involved.
Excerpt from FOXE TAIL, Book One of the Skyler Foxe Mysteries by Haley Walsh
Skyler Foxe knew they weren’t listening. Tenth graders. The toughest audience in the world and here he was trying to tell them about Julius Caesar.
He soldiered on, hoping that the enthusiastic tone of his voice would impart similar enthusiasm in them. “Shakespeare gave us less history and more melodrama,” he said. “Of course, we must remember the times in which these plays were first performed. There wasn’t a lot of room for subtlety in the sixteenth century.” He pushed his platinum blond bangs off his forehead and raised his gray eyes once again to row on row of blank faces. He wasn’t much older than they were. A room full of fifteen-year-olds versus one eager twenty-five-year old. He remembered being bored by his instructors when he was their age—and that gave him pause. Being new at this, he hoped he wasn’t one of those.
All in all, they were a good bunch of kids. A little preoccupied by today’s technology, perhaps. He was constantly plucking earbuds from ears and frowning at visible iPods and cell phones while they were texting their friends or playing games. Likely the only reading they actually did was text messages, checking out their friends’ Facebook page, and the instructions for setting up the next Xbox.
None of you gives a rat’s ass about Shakespeare, do you? Nod if you’re still alive.
Hey. Xbox. There’s an idea.
“Look at it this way,” he said, suddenly inspired. “Picture Julius as Arthas in Warcraft and he was betrayed by Brutus, his sword of power.” Several heads popped up at that. Aha. Alive after all. He walked between the rows of desks, students nodding at the reference. Spiked-haired Alex Ryan looked up only momentarily, his large square face almost animated, but he soon returned to the sullen and methodical destruction of his desk with his Bic. Skyler plucked the pen from his hand as he strolled by, gaining an even more sullen expression and a grunt from the boy.
Even after a month of teaching, it was still a weird feeling to be standing in the front of a classroom where only seven years earlier, he sat as a student. James Polk High, his alma mater, seemed smaller somehow. But familiar, like a comfortable old shirt. He remembered his old English teachers fondly; two of them were still teaching at the school. How strange to be their peer now and call them by their first names, albeit awkwardly.
A poster of a Shakespeare festival covered a crack in the wall by the door that Skyler remembered well from his day. An earthquake in his junior year had caused the old plaster to open and in nine years, no one had repaired it. He liked his classroom all the more for it.
Skyler lifted his paperback copy of the Folger Library edition. “So here was old Julius, surrounded by what he thought were his loyal supporters. Instead, he was lying on the steps of the Senate covered in his own blood from multiple stab wounds. And he looks up into the face of his best friend and says—holy shit!”
The class perked immediately. Skyler’s eye caught the goings on out the window. A bright October sun sheened off the black asphalt parking lot below…where someone was beating the crap out of his new VW Bug with a baseball bat.
“Shit! I mean...um...I’ll...I’ll be right back.” He tossed the book toward his desk and raced down the stairs, grabbed the rail to make the tight turn, and ran hell for leather for the door. Down the front steps and he was soon in the parking lot heading toward the maniac with the bat.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing!” he screamed.
The man looked up, his large dark eyes filled with tears. “So now you notice me!” His midriff top was a shimmery magenta, something like club wear and certainly not for high school parking lots. His trousers, too, were skin tight and made of an exotic fabric reminiscent of shark skin.
“Rodolfo! Jesus Christ!” The headlights were a shambles of broken glitter on the pavement, the windshield a spiderweb of cracks. The door, once a smooth expanse of white painted metal, was now dented from the battering. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”
Rodolfo threw the bat to the ground. It rang with the pure sound of a Louisville Slugger before it rolled away under an SUV. “I called you and I called you,” whined Rodolfo, his accent growing thicker. His long hair whispered over his shoulders. “And I get nothing but your answering machine. So fuck you!”
“But I—we just—” Skyler slid his gaze toward the windows where faces of students as well as faculty were beginning to gather. Fuck. He dropped his voice. “Jesus, Rodolfo. Don’t out me here. I’m a teacher, for Christ sake. I’ll lose my job!”
The dark-haired man jutted out his lower lip and raised his chin. His arms clasped over his bright shirt. He looked just like Antonio Banderas and was probably about the same age. Two reasons why Skyler picked him up in the first place. “Then why didn’t you call me back?”
Skyler glanced helplessly back to the window before taking Rodolfo’s arm and steering him behind the battered Bug. “Look, we had a good time for a few nights but now it’s over, okay? I never promised you anything.”
“Oh yeah? That’s not how I remember it, Sky-ler.”
“Well that’s the way it was… And now you broke my fucking car!”
“Hmpf. A car is nothing compared to the heart.”
“I’m going to rip yours out,” Skyler said between clenched teeth. “And my car isn’t nothing. Do you know how long I saved up for a down payment?”
“I repeat. Fuck. You.”
“No. Fuck you!” Skyler knew he was on the brink of hysterics. He was already on his toes, jabbing an accusatory finger into the taller man’s face. He reined himself in and stood squarely. “You are not going to stalk me,” he whispered harshly. “If you leave now I won’t call the police. But I’d better never hear from you again!”
Rodolfo glared. His eyes misted again and he blinked it away. “Okay. You win, heartless bastard.”
“I’m not a heartless bastard,” he said, lowering his voice again. “It’s just…it was just…Oh hell. Just go, all right?”
“I will go.” He punched a finger into the air. “But I will not be forgotten.” With one last smoldering glare, he turned on his heel and swiftly left the parking lot.
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