The next few days were pretty uneventful. Ian was busy dealing with the insurance people and all that shit that goes along with what happened. He’d even spoken to Emma’s old boss, Floyd Grim, to get his professional opinion on everything, just to cover his bases.

Ian had gone to his office this afternoon to meet with him, and Floyd had agreed to help him out with the legal side of things if he needed it, which was nice of him. He’d then asked Ian to see if Emma would like to come back to work for him since his current secretary didn’t hardly know her ass from a hole in the ground. His words apparently, not Ian’s.

Ian called Emma when he got home and relayed the message, which prompted Emma to call Floyd and thank him for the offer, but, between Skin Deep and Everly, she had her hands full, so she’d declined regretfully. He had asked her to call Mrs. Allen and check on her every once and a while, though, seeing as how the old woman still called every week and now instead of only bitching about Doc (the vet) and Fluffers (her mangy, overweight, freak of a cat), she spent most of the time bemoaning the fact that her Emma wasn’t there to talk to her.

I knew this because Emma had just called me and was filling me in.

“I feel bad for him,” Emma was saying about Floyd. “He’s a really good attorney and a lot of people applied for my job, but I guess he was doing a friend a favor and letting this girl work for him but she keeps losing files because she can’t remember how she filed them in the cabinets. Yikes.”

“Wait a sec, what happened to the woman that had stepped in to cover when you left?” I asked.

Emma sighed. “She was just filling in, but apparently she retired, so…this is what he’s left with.”

“Hmmm,” I said, feeling bad for Floyd. “So, did you call Mrs. Allen?” I asked her, tongue-in-cheek.

Emma groaned. “Oh, God. Yes, I did. I swear I’m a glutton for punishment because she kept me on the phone for a good forty-five minutes talking about Fluffers and the latest hairball he’d hacked up. Don’t even get me started on the whole Doc thing, either. Jesus, you’d think the man would just let the cat be a matted mess rather than subjecting himself to the ass-chewing he gets every time.”

I laughed until tears were pouring down my face as Emma continued to recount her conversation. When she was finally done, we chatted a little bit more, with her asking about Ian and if he’d gotten everything worked out about the accident at work. Then she asked about my class and if I had any new funny stories.

Ironically (or not so ironically), I did. And who did it involve? Gerry the Gerbil, of course. “Yeah, I had a kid try to smuggle Gerry out of the classroom yesterday. How did he do that, you ask? Well, let me tell you,” I said, heavy on the sarcasm and disbelief. Seriously, if it wasn’t something I’d lived through myself, I’d probably think I was a liar.

Ian was sitting in the recliner and I was kicked back on the couch, but he must have been listening with half-an ear, because he started chuckling.

Emma was already laughing, too, just imagining what was coming. “Hold on, wait, wait…let me put this on speaker. I know Luke, Brandon, and T.J. are gonna wanna hear this!”

I paused, asking, “Are you still at the shop?” I looked at the clock, seeing that it was after seven and she was usually home with Everly by then.

“Yeah, Mom and Dad took the baby for the night, and the guys had a couple clients booked so I hung around. Watching all the tatted up sexiness strut around is hard work, you know,” she drawled, and I could hear the guys laughing and hooting in the background.

“Geez, what a rough Friday night you’re having,” I retorted, rolling my eyes at Ian. Emma just laughed again. “Anyway, back to Gerry-”

I was cut off by T.J. asking, “Who the fuck is Gerry?” but before I could reply, I heard Luke say, “Not who, what. Gerry’s a gerbil, dude.”

I opened my mouth to continue again, and once more was cut off. Ian looked at me weird, so I covered the phone with my hand and whispered to him, “She put it on speaker, so now the guys are all interrupting.” He nodded in an, ‘Ahhh, I get it,’ way and went back to watching TV, his lips still twitching in anticipation of what I was about to say.

“What the hell do you have a gerbil for, Leah?” T.J. asked.

I didn’t even bother answering, and for good reason. I heard Brandon pipe up with, “For illicit sexual acts, dumbass. What do you think?” He said it sarcastically, thank God, which is the only reason I still kept my mouth shut. “It’s the class pet.”

“Oh, yeah,” T.J. answered. “I forgot she was a teacher.”

I winced when Emma clapped her hands loudly, obviously not bothering to move them away from where she must have laid the phone down when she put it on speaker phone. “Alright! Let the poor girl finish or I’m taking it off speaker and you don’t get to hear!” she yelled.

Yup. That’s my sister.

“Okay,” I started again. “So about half an hour before the end of class, one of the boys in the class asked if he could get Gerry out and hold him for a bit. I said sure, helped him get him out, and set him up-oh, did I tell you I got a tiny little plastic kiddy pool and put it in the corner so the kids could kneel at the side and put Gerry in it so he’d quit getting loose?” I asked, cutting myself off.

“No, you didn’t. That’s a good idea! Now you won’t have to worry about the other teachers staging a protest anymore,” Emma said.

“Anyway, I let the boy put Gerry in the pool and he was sitting there, petting him and watching him run around. I turned around to answer another student who asked a question and when I turned around, Gerry was not in the pool anymore. I asked him where Gerry was and he said that he jumped out of the pool.”

Emma and the guys must have been completely invested in the story now, because I wasn’t hearing a peep from their end.

“I looked around, but I was a little suspicious, especially because I noticed that he was starting to fidget a lot more than usual-”

Brandon interrupted this time. “The kid, not Gerry, right?”

I sighed. “Yes, the kid, I didn’t know where Gerry was, remember? Pay attention!” I said, jokingly. “Moving on. I asked the kid if he was telling the truth, and his face got really red. All of a sudden, he let out this God-awful shriek and started dancing around, holding his crotch!”

“Aw, hell no!” one of the guys hollered. “He put it down his pants? That’s just messed up!”

“I know, right?” I replied, still in disbelief that it had actually happened. “I got him to hold still and asked him to please carefully take Gerry out of his pants. He did, and handed me a very clearly traumatized, but no worse for the wear, gerbil. But the poor kid was crying, saying that Gerry bit him so I had to get someone to cover my room for a minute and walk him up to the office to call his parents. They had to come down and check him with the nurse, you know, since it was in a delicate area.”

“Oh, God!” I heard a mix of groaning and laughter coming from the other end of the line and figured that the guys were probably cupping themselves protectively, same as Ian did last night when I told him what happened.

“He didn’t really get bit on his little…you know. It was more like Gerry just nipped him on his thigh, didn’t break the skin, no marks, nothing. Do you know how mortifying it is to have to explain to a parent that their son put a gerbil in his pants?” I cried, feeling my face flame red with embarrassment once more, just thinking about it.

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