As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Mr. Morrissey’s Secret

by Toni Sweeney

Mr. Morrissey's Secret - Toni V. Sweeney
Editions:Kindle - 1st Edition: $ 3.99
Pages: 186
Paperback: $ 16.99
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 184

When it's discovered a prep school teacher was once a romance novel cover model, his life is turned upside-down.

Publisher: Wordwooze Publishing
Setting: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Languages Available: English
Setting: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Languages Available: English

“OMG. Can you believe this?” A student waved the Scandal Sheet.
Someone put a finger to lips, a few nodding in David’s direction, and the student subsided.
They muttered greetings, which David returned. Most were holding that blasted newspaper, of
course, and talking about it.
By now, he was annoyed by the sight of the thing, for he realized it somehow figured into the
odd glances and cryptic remarks he’d been getting. He wanted to retrieve his own copy from the
textbook and read it, but one of his rules was no extraneous reading matter in class, and that
included the school newspaper. He refused to break his own rules.
Giving them time to settle, he began roll call, making little checks by each name on the grid
in his grade book as the students answered.


Clinging tenaciously to its conservativism, Castleton had computers in its computer science
lab but none in their other classrooms, holding to the theory that research done through a student’s
own efforts, not that of an electronic data storage unit, was more constructive and instructive. Other
than the Journalism Department, the only person in the entire school who had a computer at her
disposal was the principal’s secretary. She had the responsibility of daily collating and entering
the information into each student’s folder.
Leonora Mims, the secretary, more than earned her salary.
David always thought that was carrying the conventional and traditional a little too far—after
all, the presence of electronics was more or less now the norm—but he knew better than to say so
aloud. He simply hoped one day soon, Castleton Prep’s board of directors would step
wholeheartedly into the twenty-first century. In his opinion, making a single course in computer
science a mandatory part of the curriculum, using the computers in Journalism’s classroom, wasn’t
Roll call took a few minutes.
Afterward, he put away the grade book and went over reminders of upcoming tests and
research papers. Then, he opened his American History textbook, spread his teaching plan (printed
from his home computer) on the desk, and got to his feet.
David waited until he had everyone’s attention. “Okay, kids, we’re taking a little side trip
today. Into colonial America. A lot more went on back then besides George Washington et al.
crossing the Delaware in a leaky rowboat and Tom Jefferson drafting the Declaration of
“You should know,” someone called out.
“Hey, I’m not that old,” David replied.
Matt Reed was one of his best students but a bit of a smart-mouth, as he’d just proven. He was
slouched in his seat.
Some gave polite but stifled laughs at his answer. Several of the kids exchanged pointed
glances and smirks. One or two put hands over mouths and rolled their eyes.
David decided to turn Matt’s retort back at him and use it to his advantage. “So, Mr. Reed,
what can you tell me about the everyday setting at that time?”
“Not much, Mr. Morrissey,” the boy answered with a shrug. There was a barely perceptible
pause before he went on, “Except that it must’ve been pretty hot back then.”
That elicited a giggle from one of the girls. When David frowned, she glanced down at her
book and bit her lip.
“I would imagine so,” he agreed. “Since there was no electricity, in spite of Ben Franklin’s
kite-flying adventure—which never happened, by the way—air conditioners and box fans
would’ve been nonexistent.”
“I guess one day would’ve seemed endless, like a thousand burning days?” Matt said.
Someone snorted.
“A very descriptive way of putting it.” David frowned as the boy emphasized those last three
Why did that phrase sound familiar?
He continued, “Travel, cooking, all the acts of everyday living would’ve been extremely
“Not too uncomfortable,” someone snickered.
“Therefore, anyone who did much traveling back then had to be extremely hardy, with high
endurance levels.”
“I’ll say!” the snickerer added.
David ignored both remarks.
“Which is as good a segue as any to bringing in the Mountain Men,” he continued.
“Bring ’em on!” Matt sat up straighter, pumping one fist into the air. He looked around as if
in approval.
Several of the other boys nodded enthusiastically. One actually high-fived him.
What the hell’s going on? Scowling, David studied Matt a moment.
The other students were watching both him and young Mr. Reed closely, some actually turning
around in their seats and peering over their shoulders, then glancing back at him with evident
Whatever was happening, Matt was the ringleader. David decided to single him out until he
got to the bottom of it.
“Mr. Reed, what would you say the motto of the Mountain Men was?”
The boy hesitated and looked around as if asking, Do I dare?
A couple of the others nodded, seeming to give him the go-ahead. Did someone actually
whisper, Say it?
He took a deep breath. “Give me liberty or give me lust?”
“What was that?” David wasn’t certain he’d heard correctly. Did he say…?
He felt his belly take a sudden dip and didn’t understand why.
“Come on, Mr. M., as if you don’t know.” Matt arched his eyebrows and shook his head,
looking a little disappointed.
“All right. That does it.” Closing the text, David dropped the book onto the desk.
It landed with a loud crash, echoing through the classroom and making several students jerk
upright. There was a startling silence as twenty-two pairs of young eyes fastened on him.
“I’m sensing an undercurrent of rudeness…no, downright crudity…and I think it had better
stop right now.”
“You’re a fine one to talk about crudity.” Matt actually had the effrontery to talk back to a
teacher. Or was it stupidity?
“What does that mean?” David was more than a little shocked.
Matt had always been a talker, coming up with all kinds of smart-assery to get a laugh, but he
was also a polite kid, not a troublemaker. He usually knew how far to push the envelope and when
to adhere to the rules.
“Come on, Davy, don’t play dumb.” Even as he said it, Matt bit his lip.
“What did you call me?”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
Matt didn’t answer, simply dug his teeth into his lip even more violently while continuing to
smile, if somewhat crookedly. His expression turned a little sickly, as if he’d suddenly realized
he’d gone too far.
In the hall the bell rang, signaling the end of class. With obvious relief, the students hastily
gathered their books, Matt included.
“Hold it right there!” Stalking to the door, David turned the dead bolt and clicked it shut,
thankful the classroom entrances had working locks.
He looked back at the class. They returned his gaze with startled ones.
“I consider myself a fair teacher. Even before the current non-permissiveness in the
educational system when it comes to the punishment of students, I’ve never been a believer in
corporal punishment, but I will not tolerate rudeness or misbehavior in my classroom. None of you
is leaving here, and the next class isn’t coming in until someone tells me just exactly what the hell
you mean by all these snarky and totally asshole remarks.”
Whether it was his mix of profanity and vulgarity or not, there was a sudden shocked silence.
David told himself he’d apologize later.
“Matt. Mr. Reed.” He looked at the boy, who sank back into his chair and dropped his
backpack to the floor with a defeated air. “You’ve been so outspoken. Would you care to start?”
“No, sir, I wouldn’t.” Digging into his backpack, Matt pulled out a folded paper. He got up,
walked to David, and held it out to him. “I think it’s best if you read it for yourself.”
There was challenge in the gesture and something of an apology.
David accepted the paper.
Matt returned to his seat, still facing David as if afraid to turn his back on the teacher.
David unfolded the paper to its full length.
Someone drew in a sharp breath, almost a gasp. Everyone else held theirs.
It was the Scandal Sheet, of course, the back page where most of the ads from sponsors were
placed. He saw nothing there to warrant such outspokenness. He turned it over and stared in
disbelief at the words spread across the front page in three 4x6-inch columns with a margin-to-
margin headline.
Ooh, Mr. Morrissey! You Naughty Boy!
The words leaped out at him in bold face font as did his bare-chested, loincloth clad image,
embracing a young woman barely clothed in a colonial ball gown.
Oh, holy God, it’s me and Maddie. No, no, no!
Under the photo was the caption Give Me Liberty or Give Me Lust. Davy Morrissey Bares His
Talents. A little further down in the article, as an inset, was another picture of him in gym shorts,
lifting a couple of ten-pound dumbbells, and the caption David Moreau, aka David Morrissey,
Today, Still Hot.
He recognized the picture. Flavia’s sister had snapped it with her cell phone when she
interviewed him for an article she was doing titled “Keeping in Shape as We Get Older.
” He’d
given his permission, because he felt being fit was important. And she’d…
David looked up, realizing the entire class was staring at him, wide-eyed and expectant. A
couple of the girls actually looked tearful. One put her hands over her mouth as if muffling a
scream. Abruptly, everything got incredibly bright, as if a floodlight had exploded. He felt hot,
then cold, then lightheaded, a thunderous ringing in his ears as everything went black.
“Omigod!” someone screamed. “Catch him, quick!”
He wasn’t certain who said it, because he was falling into a deep, dark well.
Hands grabbed his shoulders, supporting and leading him back to his desk, pushing him into
the chair.
“Does that mean he didn’t know?” someone muttered. “How could he not?”
David opened his eyes as the blackness receded. He put a hand to his temple.
“Mr. Morrissey, I’m sorry.” It was Matt, looking contrite and frightened. “Are you okay?”
“And I thought after managing this class I could handle anything,” David muttered.
Not surprisingly, no one laughed.
The second bell rang.
“Unlock the door, Matt.” David was startled by the calmness in his voice. “Get to your next
class, everyone.”
They couldn’t obey fast enough.
The next wave of students came thundering in.
He realized he was still clutching the Scandal Sheet, staring at the front page, trying to scan
it, his brain not comprehending, simply catching a word here and there—the body…hottest
model… bestsellers—as the next class of kids swept by him to their seats.
They were all holding the newspaper, of course. Some had it tucked into their history books;
others were reading it, the paper lying atop books in their arms. Barbara passed him, immersed in
the front page. Now he understood her earlier reaction, but all he could think was, Who found out?
How did they find out?
David got to his feet and dropped the paper onto the desk. No roll call or class announcements
this time. He had to keep this class from reacting as the previous one had as well as keeping himself
under control. The lightheaded feeling rushed back. He took several long, deep breaths, and it
Everyone settled and got quiet.
“I see you all have the Scandal Sheet. It’s certainly living up to its name today.” His voice
sounded unusually loud, or was that because they were unnaturally quiet? “Let me say now, no
one is to mention it. I want those newspapers put away. There’s to be nothing open on your desks
except your American History 20 text. If I see anyone reading anything else…” He paused, looking
around. Not surprisingly, several evaded his gaze. “…it’ll go very badly for him…or her.”
He glanced at Barbara as he said that.
In answer, the girl crumpled the paper and stuffed it into the pocket of her backpack, dropping
the bag onto the floor. She flipped through the pages of the book, found the correct chapter, and
stared at it.
“Now, then.” David cleared his throat and reached for his grade book. He got roll call out of
the way and proceeded to today’s lesson, picking up his own book, opening it to the proper page.
Looking remarkably cowed, Barbara and the rest of the class did the same.
“Today, we’re beginning our study of the American Civil War, also called the War Between
the States, the War of Northern Aggression, or the War of Southern Secession, depending on where
one lived at the time.”
His voice regained some of its enthusiasm as he launched into his prepared lesson on a subject
he obviously loved.
“Today it’d probably be called the War Causing Those Statues to be Put Up That We’re Now
Tearing Down.

That earned a couple of cautious chuckles.
“This was one of the bloodiest conflicts in which the United States fought. More American
soldiers were killed in this war than in any other before or since. Miss Bentley, can you tell us
Barbara looked up at him, eyes like a deer in the headlights. “B-because…”
The hall door opened. Staring at the person entering the room, Barbara never finished her
David turned.
Estella Cooper stood in the doorway.
Closing the book, he hurried toward her. “Sweetheart, what are you doing here?”
Something had happened, and it wasn’t good, if her expression was any indication.
“What’s wrong?” Dropping his voice to a whisper, he reached for her hand.
She dodged.
“Hey,” he whispered,
“it’s all right.”
All the students had seen them together at school functions enough to be tolerant if he gave
his fiancée’s hand a little squeeze. That wasn’t breaking any rule concerning Public Displays of
Backing out of reach, Estella began, “Mr. Morrissey…”
“Mister Morrissey?” He laughed, though he still kept his voice quiet. “Aren’t we being a little
Also whispering, she shook her head, repeating, “Mr. Morrissey, Principal Stapleton would
like to see you in his office.”
“I’m in the middle of class. Tell him I’ll stop by on my break. Why’d he send you with a
They had student aides for that.
“Now, David,” she said. “He wants to see you now. I’m to take over your class.”
She pushed past him, going to his desk. He followed her, aware every eye in the classroom
was watching, and those sharp teenage ears probably had heard every word she said in spite of
their whispers.
“Very well.”
Damn it, this was interfering with his teaching. He was tempted to throw the book onto the
desk as he had earlier and barely kept himself from doing so. Handing it to Estella with a
deceptively mild movement, he released it into her hands.
“We’re beginning the study of the Civil War.” He looked up. “I have to leave for a bit, kids.
Ms. Cooper’s going to sub until I come back. Go easy on her.”
With that, he walked out. Behind him, he heard papers rustle as Estella picked up his study
guide. There was a brief silence as she read it, then spoke.
“Now, then, the American Civil War was one of the bloodiest—

The door slamming behind him cut off whatever else she said.

Reviews:Sherry Perkins on Paranormal Romance Guild wrote:

A five-star review about a man who has an unexpected reconnection with his secret past.

“It started out as such a beautiful day.”—Mr. Morrissey’s Secret
I do enjoy books beginning with a bit of foreshadowing, especially romances ,since they offer us the much-desired promise of happiness ever after. Really, who doesn’t crave a little HEA? With Toni V. Sweeney, depending on the genre, she knows how to craft and deliver on a promise made. Because no matter what genre she is writing, she is particularly adept at setting the hook, telling a story, throwing in a clever twist, and then resolving the conflicts created.
In “Mr. Morrissey’s Secret,” David Morrissey is a prep school teacher at a South Carolina school. The good life is essentially his. He loves his job; his students like him. He has a steady romantic relationship with a coworker, and he has his daughter with him—his first wife died not so long ago. But he has a secret. It is something discovered incidentally by his daughter and her BFF, Flavia. They find a portfolio of book cover art in the attic with Morrissey as the partially clad, dashing hero. The art is for what we have affectionately come to know as “bodice ripper” novels. Already the object of several high school crushes and the usual teenaged curiosities about teaching faculty and staff, the prurient covers pique the interests of the school newspaper editor (and burgeoning investigative reporter) who happens to be Flavia’s sister. Although only considered titillating to most, the discovery is more problematic for the school principal, board, and of course, Morrissey’s love interest, Estella. So, Morrissey is fired, and his relationship with Estella is strained. As he fights his wrongful dismissal—because he made no secret on his resume that he had done ad work and modeling prior to becoming a teacher—someone from his past makes a reappearance and presents a more surprising secret. Thankfully, it’s a secret which offers a most satisfying solution.
Speaking of secrets, it’s no secret I enjoy Sweeney’s books. She is a go-to writer for me. One appealing bit of her writing style is the ability to connect us to “real” people, places, and predicaments. Her heroes are believable, the conflicts are familiar, and the places seem recognizable. In other words, Sweeney has a gift for making you feel that you can identify and sincerely root for the main characters!

About the Author

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy/Horror under her own name and the pseudonyms Icy Snow Blackstone and Tony-Paul de Vissage. She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books, was an amazon reviewer, and is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by

Currently, Toni has written 94 novels with 84 of them have been published. This includes several series.