The sky was a dark grey on a late afternoon in mid-December. Barren trees lining the campus were visible from the window as Rowen undid the cuffs of his white shirt sleeves. He stretched his neck, relishing the sound of his joints popping. In a week's time it would be Christmas break, finally allowing him to recuperate from an exhausting midterm.

Despite the fatigue, today was a cause for celebration. It was the last day of the game, and he was going to win.

With Hayleigh growing increasingly secretive and emotional, the timing couldn't be any more apt. It was unfortunate, but he couldn't claim to know her well enough to say the sudden change in her confused him. Besides, he was getting used to sleeping with her too much. The first signs of possessiveness had been triggered when Keiran provoked him the other day, and he couldn't afford to let that manifest into something worse.

The door opened. Hayleigh stepped inside the clinic, frowning as she spotted him on a stretcher bed by the wall.

"I got your message." She approached him with a creased forehead. "Are you alright?"

"Just a migraine," he replied. "I'm alright now."

The frown did not disappear from her lips as she perused the rest of the empty room. "Where's everyone else? Has anyone tended to you yet?"

He reached for her arm and gently pulled her to him. "It's past five. They've already closed."

Her gaze dropped. "You should be home then."

There it was. What was causing her to act so strange and distant lately? He didn't believe her one bit when she'd gone off the radar for three days, but he'd let it pass. Today he knew better than to bother, but it nagged at him anyway.

"Is there something wrong, Hayleigh?"

She answered him with a lengthy pause and a withdrawn gaze. He brushed his thumb lightly over her wrist, coaxing her. He cupped the side of her face and gently forced her to look at him. Her eyes brimmed with such open hesitation, it nearly worried him.

He pulled her in and kissed her softly. A fleeting sigh escaped her lips as her body finally relaxed a few seconds later. She wrapped her arms around his neck, but pulled away afterwards. "You need to go home and rest."

"Nonsense. You just made me feel better," he teased, hoping to distract her from whatever was on her mind. "Do it again."

He parted his knees and pulled her closer to him. "I may have been unfair to you lately. I've been having all the fun."

"What do you mean?"

He undid the first button off his shirt. "I've been too greedy. I should let you take the reins this time."

Her gaze lingered on his shirt. She brought a hand to his fingers before he could undo any more buttons. "You're sick. You need to rest."

"The aspirin doesn't work." He clasped her fingers with his and kissed the back of her hand. "Maybe you will."

The first smile tugged at her lips, lighting up her face. Something tightened in his chest.

"And here I was thinking you were faking it, but Rowen in his right mind wouldn't say something cheesy like that."

"Well, you should take advantage of it," he murmured. "It's never going to happen again."

"Take advantage how?"

He softly chuckled. For all he'd done to her, she was still naïve in many ways.

"Why, I'm completely at your mercy," he said, leaning back. "You can do whatever you want with me."

Realization dawned in her eyes. He did not expect her to look disappointed.

"Is this all we're ever going to do?" She stared at her shoes. "We'll meet up just to fuck?"

So there it was. Christ, the universe sure had a sick sense of timing. Why now when he was so close?

He released a soft sigh. "How long has this been on your mind?"

She gave a weak shrug. He fought the urge to show any sign of frustration and patted the space on the stretcher bed beside him. "Sit down."

Thankfully, she obliged. He briefly looked out the window and watched the falling snow outside. It was so easy to fuck things up from this point forward. He needed to be careful.

"You never said anything," he began. "You could've told me."

Hayleigh opened her mouth, but she was already speechless. To make a child think she was responsible for her own vulnerability was a tactic he wasn't fond of, but it had always worked on past students who began to ask too many questions. Up until this point he never would've thought it bothered her, not when she had been so quick to respond to his invitations. Besides, the sex had been fucking amazing. Why did girls always have to add drama to everything?

Feelings, that's what, the wry voice in his mind spoke.

He almost shook his head. Instead, he took her hand in his palm and held it for a good while. For the last time, he would literally hold her hand until she was forced to learn the ways of the world on her own.

"What do you think of me, Rowen?"

There were worse questions that had been asked of him before. Still, he'd always had a ready answer to "Do you like me?" or something to that extent. Yet again, it was something that set her apart from all of his previous students.

"You're smart, beautiful. Sweet," he answered. "Any guy would be lucky to have you."

It wasn't a lie. He was just the exception. She was too nice for her own good, and what little conscience he had left knew she deserved better.

She kept her gaze to her lap as a sad smile formed on her lips. He almost felt sorry for her.

"If I've made you feel bad, I'm sorry," he said, facing her. "You've just made me a little addicted to you, I guess."

It was the only truth he would indulge her with, if only to nudge her in the right direction. She bit her lower lip—a gesture he'd come to learn as a sign of her getting turned on. She was predictable as hell, and yet her receptiveness to him had always been unparalleled. He'd never met a girl as eager to please as she was, and it was one of the things that kept him drawn to her.

"I've missed you, you know." He caressed her cheek. "I haven't seen you in days and you've made me worried."

"Sorry," she murmured. He kissed her again, triumphant as she returned the kiss with more ardor. They remained lip-locked for minutes until she was left flushed and breathless.

He didn't give her another second to hesitate. He rose from the stretcher bed and nestled in the space between her legs. He kissed her again, long, hard, and passionate. Whatever doubts she had or how they got into her head, he would silence them. He would finish this game once and for all.

Slowly, he undid the buttons of her top one by one. He relished the sight of her creamy skin and the way her breasts rose and fell before him. From her collarbone down to her cleavage, he kissed her with a slow gentleness to keep her at ease.

Further down, he kissed her inner thighs until they shuddered with anticipation. When he parted her legs wider, her wetness was evident on her panties. He hid his smirk as he tugged on her underwear and let it wrap around one leg. He lifted her hips with the back of her knee and brought his mouth on her pussy. Her stifled moan was a glorious sound in his ears.

"Wait," she gasped. "Someone might come in."

"No one will come in," he muttered, licking on her clit. Her hips bucked as she took a fistful of his hair. Her breath grew ragged as he licked and sucked, and when he slipped a finger inside her, a hoarse groan escaped her lips.

Once, he'd never really cared about pleasure other than his own. Going down on a girl had always been nothing more than a chore to make her give in, but there was a rawness to Hayleigh's reactions that made him want to keep going. Her voice would grow husky whenever he fucked her, and it never failed to arouse him.

"Please," she cried, signaling she was about to come. He did not relent and ate and fingered her pussy until orgasm washed over her. She covered her mouth and screamed into her hand, and despite her wildly bucking hips, he did not stop until he drank the last drop. She collapsed to the stretcher bed, breathing heavily. He unzipped his pants.

"No…!" she exclaimed as soon as his tip found her entrance. She quickly sat up and tried to push him away in her oversensitive state.

He shushed her with another kiss. One careful inch at a time he entered, and she tore her mouth from him with a gasp as he pushed all of him inside her.

It was his first time to penetrate her right after an orgasm, and she was wonderfully, mercilessly tighter than she had ever felt before. It nearly broke his control that he had to keep things slow until they both calmed down. He began to kiss his favorite spot on her neck and marked it for the last time. He would miss this, almost.

She buried her head in his shirt to stifle herself as he began to move inside her in longer, fuller strokes. He would savor every second of her warm, delicious tightness and embed it into his memory. His lips thirsted for the taste of her, but he stopped himself. Kissing had been nothing but perfunctory up until this point, but now it almost felt like a reflex. His body had grown to have such an irrational need for all of her it was maddening. Thank god this whole farce was about to end once and for all. Who knew how he'd turn out if he had to keep playing any longer?

His thrusts began to pick up in speed and force. The stretcher bed began to creak, and her cries grew louder. Hayleigh bit her lip in an attempt to shush herself, but he pried her mouth open with his thumb.

"Let me hear you," he ordered, his own voice growing hoarse.

"Rowen," she gasped, gripping his shoulders. "Please—"

She screamed into his shirt, and for the second time she orgasmed. The force of her tightness overwhelmed him, and with a growl he came with her. He spilled into her, filling her, and contentment seeped all the way to his bones as he pressed his forehead against hers and breathed hard.

On the nearby table, his phone vibrated. He ignored it and allowed himself a few more seconds to bask in their afterglow. Her fingers raking his hair felt comforting, and she felt warm and soft in his arms.

With a sigh, he slowly pushed away and fixed his pants. He turned around and discreetly pressed on the secret button at the bottom of the medicine cabinet across the bed to disable the camera in the room.

When he faced Hayleigh again, she was already buttoning her top. She was avoiding his gaze once more.

Her reaction should've made things simpler. He had just officially won the game, and her aloofness would've made it easier for him to begin pulling away. Now it seemed he no longer had to worry about how to wean her off of him.

Yet why was he feeling so unsettled?

He observed the mask that had returned to her face as she began tracing small circles on the bed. She was hiding something, and it was beginning to concern him.

"How well do you know Prof. Michaels?" she asked.

His forehead creased in confusion. "He's only a colleague. Why?"

The memory of Keiran speaking with Hayleigh returned to him, sparking a flare of irritation.

"Why were you in his class the other day anyway?" he asked, unable to stop himself.

She opened her mouth, and that one second of hesitation was enough to make his suspicion spike. "Is there something going on with you and Prof. Michaels?"

"No." Her voice shook. "Do you know about the camera in the library?"

The question stunned him. How the hell did she know about that?

He retained a careful, blank expression despite the confusion brimming in Hayleigh's eyes. He expected everything else but this. How long had she known? More importantly, who had tipped her off? Keiran? It wouldn't make sense for his friend to sabotage their own game and put their entire reputation at risk.

"What camera?" he deflected. "What are you talking about?"

She avoided his gaze again and grabbed a fistful of her skirt. She took a deep breath and swallowed, doing nothing to alleviate his worst fears.

"I received an anonymous text the other day," she said. "Somebody knows about the two of us."

Something in his chest lurched, but he said nothing. Not yet, until he knew all the details.

"This girl came up to me. I don't know her name, but she informed me of the camera in the library." Hayleigh looked up at him again, the fear resurfacing in her eyes. "Did you know about the camera? Did it catch a video of us somehow?"

Shit. A thousand questions raced through his mind, and picking the wrong response would only aggravate the situation tenfold.

"Who is this girl you're talking about? What does she look like?"

"Long black hair. Green eyes. She's from this school."

The description brought no one to mind. It could be anyone, but definitely not a former participant in the game. And yet to have known about the camera…

"She told me I wasn't the only one, that there have been other girls before me," she whispered. "What did she mean by that?"

The hurt on her face was almost unbearable to look at. How the fuck was he going to answer that question?

He approached her and reached for the side of her face. He kept his gaze on her soft, luscious lips—anywhere but her eyes.

"You're the only one," he said. "There isn't anybody else. I don't know where you're hearing these things."

A partial truth at best. He kissed her again in an attempt to assure her, and she seemed to believe him enough not to pull away.

"I need to go," he murmured. He was never seeing her again behind closed doors.

Rowen grabbed his phone and left the room without looking back. The harsh December wind slapped his face when the clinic doors closed after him. He brought the phone to his ear.

"It's me. We need to talk."

A/N: This marks the end of the preview for Teacher's Game. If you'd like to keep reading the rest of the chapters, you're welcome to check out the rest of the book at Amazon or Kobo (links on my profile page). Thank you for your support! :)