After washing off my face, I headed to the double doors that Caden had indicated earlier as the dining room. As I approached the doors, I could hear a low murmur of voices. I knew many of the teachers had arrived the week before to set up their classrooms. As the librarian, I did not need to arrive then, so I was later than everyone else and new.
Nervously, I wiped my hands on jeans, forcing myself to breathe calmly, and pasted a smile on my face. Opening the door, I noticed two long tables set up parallel to each other in a large room. It looked like it might have once been a ballroom. Upfront sat a third longer table perpendicular to the other two. I had a flash of the Harry Potter dining set up at dinner. Surreptitiously, I glanced up towards the roof to see if the look included floating candles.
Gasping I stopped and stared closer. Two large chandeliers graced the room. The modern lights were hidden behind cascades of crystals dripping down towards the ground. It had to take hours to clean all that crystal. Smiling, I hoped I did not have to do that chore.
“Ah, Cassie, you made it,” Esther welcomed me.
I looked at her sitting at the front table, smiling, “Yes, Caden kindly showed me where to find this room.”
“Oh, wonderful,” Esther smiled, “I was just about to send Rose to find you.” Esther gestured to a gorgeous blond-haired woman next to her. “Please come meet everyone.”
Nodding, I walked forward to the table as she started the introduction, “Everyone this is Cassandra Delfian, the new librarian.”
She turned to me, “Cassie, next to me is Rose Dragus, the Chemistry teacher.” Rose gave me a small smile that didn’t reach her green eyes.
Esther gestured to the bald man in glasses next to Rose, “Next to her is Paul Riches, the physics teacher, then Mark Wilfers, the natural science teacher.”
Mark gave me a smile and wink with his pretty blue eyes. I smiled back as I watched a short, brown-haired beauty smack Mark on the arm as Esther continued, “And next to Mark is his wife Kathryn, the social science teacher.” Kathryn gave me a little wave. “Then at the end of the table is Hunter Brady our physical education teacher.”
Hunter gave me a broad smile but did not speak as Esther continued, indicating next to her on the other side, “Cassie, this is my husband, John. He teaches are foreign languages, specifically French, Spanish, German, and Japanese.”
I smiled at the handsome older man. Then moved on as Esther kept introducing people. I knew I would never remember them all, “Next to him is our Language arts teacher, Laura Hall. I’ll bet you will work a lot with her.” I smiled and nodded at her.
“Next to Laura is Richard Stevenson the music teacher and of course you know Caden already, our history teacher.” Esther waved her hand toward Caden sitting a seat away from Richard.
“Hi everyone,” I said. Before I could continue the door banged open as I jumped slightly turning around. A red haired lady in long hippie like dresses rushed into the room, saying “Sorry, I’m late. I had trouble removing the paint from my hands, and I know you dislike me getting paint everywhere Esther.”
From behind me Esther said, “Cassie, please meet our art teacher Margaret Johnson.”
Margaret stopped and looked down at me. Her gorgeous green eyes twinkled, “Oh please, call me Maggie. Margaret feels like someone dressed in suits or playing doctor.”
“Okay, hi Maggie.” She gave me another breezy smiled as she walked past me to the table, “Wonderful, Caden you saved my favorite spot.” Maggie said, giving him a peck on the cheek as she sat down between him and Richard.”
I looked away, quickly, wondering if Maggie and Caden had a relationship. Pushing that thought out of my mind I turned back to Esther, who smiled at me, “Well,” she said, “the only two not present are our cook, Sally Stewart, and her husband Dr. Kyle Stewart, the island doctor and health teacher. They like to eat in the kitchen.”
Looking at them all I felt like a little girl in front of the teacher’s panel, but Esther just smiled and waved toward the available seat next to Caden, “Now that you have met everyone, please join us.
After I sat down, I looked at my empty spot, then looked around for the food. I found nothing. No one else seemed confused as they all talked with each other. I noticed Rose sent me a few glares, but I tried to ignore them. Maybe she just didn’t like new people much and I was too hungry to care.
Finally unable to wait, I touched Caden lightly on the arm to get his attention. He finished whatever he was saying to Maggie, before turning to me and smiled, “You called, my lady.”
Smiling back, I asked, “Do we usually eat air here? Because if we do, then I need to go shopping.”
Caden laughed loudly startling the other teachers who turned in our directions. In a clear, alto voice Rose asked, “Caden, honey, care to share the joke?”
Caden’s smile tightened a little as Rose spoke but he spoke easily, “Cassie here wondered if we ate air for dinner.”
Everyone else chuckled as I turned red, staring at the table. Caden finally answered me, “A bell will ring indicating dinner is ready. Generally, assigned students will serve us, but today we will serve ourselves.”
Just as he finished the bell rang, and Esther stood, “Let’s eat.” She led the way down to a table against the wall behind us filled with food.
As I stood in line to serve myself, I pondered my choices wondering how much I could eat without feeling guilty. I felt someone come up behind me, “Cassie is it?” Rose asked.
I turned slightly smiling, at her, “Yes.”
Rose smiled, again it didn’t reach her green eyes, “Well, just a word of advice, Caden is mine, so leave him alone. Though I doubt he would be interested in someone like you.” She looked me up and down, “You may want to take up that air diet.”
As I stared at her trying to figure out where this animosity had come from, she skirted around me, linked her arm with Caden, and started talking to him. Losing my appetite, I only took a little food, ate quickly, and fled the room as fast as possible. I could practically hear Rose’s laugh chase me to my room.