I glared blearily at my coffee mug as Melissa skipped around the dorm merrily getting ready for classes. Groaning, I sank my face into my arms and rubbed my brow roughly.
“Wow, you look like shit this morning.” Melissa eyed me critically. “You sure you didn’t sneak a beer in?”
“No Melissa, I didn't drink,” I said irritably, I’d been haunted all night by him. But I wasn’t about to tell her that. She seemed to have forgotten about him for the moment. “I couldn’t sleep, how about you? How do you not get hangovers, you drank like a dehydrated fish last night.”
She laughed, “An Advil and a good shower.” gathering up her bag she turned to me. “Are you coming or are you going to be late? Literature starts in about fifteen minutes.”
I glanced at the wall clock and cursed. “Shit, I’ll be right behind you.” she laughed and disappeared out the door as I got up and dashed around the room collecting my laptop and bookbag.
I slid into the lecture hall right as the bell sounded. “You were almost late Miss Rivers,” our Lit teacher Mrs. Rayburn peered over her glasses at me.
“Sorry Ma’am,” I slid into my seat quickly and pulled out my book and laptop. As she began her lecture I started working on my report.
I was right, the entire report had disappeared when the computer crashed. Typing feverishly, I tried to finish the report before the lecture was over. I know she’s going to ask for them today, she always pulls surprise shit like that. Cursing under my breath I hammered out the paragraphs quickly. Well, at least we got to pick our own subjects this time for the report. I don’t have to keep up with any notes. I’d picked endangered animals to write about, mostly focusing on our local black wolves.
“Now if you will please, I need you all to open your class files on your laptops and send me the report I asked for last week. I’m sure you’ve had sufficient time to write it.” Shit, she’s letting class go early today. “Students with no laptops, I expect the handwritten report before you leave.” I rattled out the closing line on the report and hit send as a few students got up to take papers to her desk. “Have a good day class.” she promptly settled at her desk going to work on her computer.
“You nervous?” Melissa said playfully as we ducked out the door to head across to our next class. A minx’s smile was playing around her lips.
“About what?” I said guardedly, “My report is just fine, I’m pretty sure she’ll pass me.” Suddenly it hit me. His class is next! My palms started sweating, “I was hoping you were too drunk to remember that.” I muttered irritably.
“Me? Forget my little introverted bestie has a thing with a professor?” she laughed out loud, “Yeah right! I’m excited, I can’t wait to see this mysterious guy that’s got you so worked up.”
I glared at her, “Knock it off!” I felt myself bristle. “I told you we don’t have a thing. He just helped me! Now drop it!”
She scuttled ahead of me and ducked through the door first. I almost ran into her on the other side of the door. She was frozen in her tracks gazing at him. I glanced around, wow all of the girls are looking at him. I glanced at him and quickly saw why. He was dressed to the nines in casual low-hung jeans and his jacket from last night opened up to reveal a Beatles t-shirt. A set of reading glasses perched lightly on the bridge of his nose. He doesn’t look like any professor; he looks like a freaking fashion model! I thought in shock of the posters I kept seeing around town. He would give the Beau boys a run for their money.
The corner of his mouth quirked up into a smile when he caught me staring at him. Blushing I hurried to my seat, eventually, everyone had settled down and he started the class.
“Excuse me!” a girl in front of me raised her hand interrupting his lesson. He glanced up at her expectantly. “Are you even old enough to be a professor?”
He laughed, “Well Miss Yates, I wouldn’t have been hired for the job if I weren’t.” he said casually. “I promise, I’m fully qualified to teach this class.”
“How old are you?” another female voice suddenly chirped from behind me.
His lips twitched. “I don’t see how that pertains to our class Miss Tremaine,” glancing around at the class as it fell silent again, he nodded. “If that’s all.” he continued talking, turning to sketch an ecological life chain on the board.
“Holy shit Dusty,” Melissa whispered, leaning over while his back was turned. Her face was pale in shock, “Professor Cross is so hot! He walked you home?” I blushed.
“Stop talking,” I hissed at her, she immediately fell silent, looking like a lost deer. The class seemed to drag on forever. I was relieved when he finally drew the lecture to a close. Damn, he’s good. I glanced down at the notes, I’d taken six full pages. Well, at least he knows what he’s doing.
Closing my notepad, I shoved it back into my bag and stood up, “Miss Rivers,” his voice was suddenly right beside me and I jumped in alarm.
“Oh, hello Mr. Cross.” I stammered, nervously shouldering my bag. “I loved the class today; you seem to know your stuff.”
He smiled; I caught the dirty looks from the other female students as they filed out the door. Melissa was standing by the door waiting, her jaw nearly on the floor in shock.
“As I said, I’m quite qualified for the position.” he cocked his head giving me a churlish look. “I told you to call me Liam.” he admonished lightly. “Anyway, I was wondering how many more classes you had for the day?” I gaped up at him.
“Um…” my mind blanked and suddenly I was irritated. “Why are you asking me that?” I glared at him. “I’m a student, you’re a teacher.”
“Dusty you’re being prickly again,” he murmured, a small smile on his face as he leaned against my desk. “I want you to have lunch with me.”
“Don’t you have classes to teach?” I sputtered; my heart was racing. “You don’t even know how old I am, what if I’m a sixteen-year-old that got into college early?”
“Stubborn one, aren’t you?” he said, grinning at my skittish nerves. “I have one more class for the day.”
“Do you normally ask your students out on dates?” I retorted, glaring at my shoes. “Who said I would go?” I scowled up into his smiling amber eyes.
“You’re blushing Dusty,” he leaned closer, the laughter in his eyes unmistakable. I glanced away at Melissa who had her fists over her mouth in excitement. “Can I take that as a yes?”
“How old are you anyway?” I asked, trying to avoid answering him. “I don’t hang around teachers, that’s just weird.”
He paused before he answered, “Twenty-five, and technically I’m not your teacher, I’m a substitute.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “You sure are stubborn, how old are you again?” I could hear the laughter in his voice now.
“Twenty-one,” I mumbled. Okay so he isn’t that much older than me, but still! I set my jaw mulishly. “Who are you calling stubborn? You’re the most persistent creature I’ve ever met in my life.”
“And you’re the most enchanting creature I’ve ever met.” he grinned as my heart leaped into my mouth. I sputtered and clutched my bag nervously.
“Fine, I’ll go to lunch with you,” I stumbled over the words. “My lunch is at eleven.” I quickly turned around. nearly running in my haste to get outside. When did the air get so thick in here!
“Glad to see your feet are feeling better Dusty.” he called after me and I stumbled “I’ll see you at lunch, eleven sharp.”
Melissa latched onto me immediately as soon as I ducked past her. “Did I hear right? He asked you to lunch!” her voice was two octaves higher than normal. “Oh my gosh! My dusty bunny has a date!” she gushed as I shook her off.
“He’s persistent,” I groused as we headed to the Math and Sciences building. “He pretty much made me.”
“Dusty, he's gorgeous!” she gushed, clinging to my arm again. “You’re so lucky! How did you do that?”
“I have no idea,” I said, shaking her off again. “I was super rude to him and I almost hit him when I met him last night.”
“Maybe he just likes feisty girls.” she retorted, shooting me a mischievous grin. “I think you should make the most of this.”
“Don’t count on it,” I snorted as we stepped into our next class. “He gives me the creeps, not to mention how pushy and obnoxious he is.”
“Oh, lighten up.” she nudged me with her elbow. “I would kill to be in your shoes right now. Try to enjoy it okay?”
I sighed and sank into my workstation. This class was almost completely online except for the occasional pop quizzes the teacher handed out to make sure we were doing our work. The time ticked by too quickly. Before I knew it, I was standing outside the small cafe that catered to the university students and staff. Well, I could always chicken out and go eat lunch in my dorm. I was seriously considering it when an arm slipped through mine. I looked up startled into deep amber eyes.
“Trying to chicken out on me?” he smiled down at me, reading my thoughts. “I’m hurt.” he clutched his chest with his free hand feigning a broken heart.
I straightened my spine, “Who’s chickening out?” I can’t let him get under my skin! “I hope you know you’re not buying for me. I’d rather buy my own if you don’t mind.”
He shot an amused glance down at me, “You can’t stop me from paying.” He said, “Besides, you can’t pay without this.” He reached around dangling my wallet in front of my face.
“Give that back!” I hissed, suddenly aware of the stares we were drawing. “You’re making a scene!”
“Let me pay,” he said ignoring the onlookers. “I asked you to lunch, so it’s only fair that I pay for it.”
“Okay fine you can pay!” I snapped; he dropped my wallet into my hand innocently. “Jesus you’re embarrassing!”
The corner of his lips twitched into a sexy smile and he suddenly leaned over until his face was right in front of mine. “I think you’re not used to anyone showing you attention.” my throat closed off as a bundle of nerves choked me. I could almost feel the room holding its breath with me.
“Knock it off!” I stammered, backing away and sliding into a booth quickly, my heart was racing. Damn it he got under my skin!
He slid into the booth across from me resting his chin on steepled fingers. “You are a shy one aren’t you.” my skin prickled under his scrutiny.
“It doesn’t matter, why are you monopolizing my lunchtime?” I said refusing to look at him. “I have finals coming up, I should be studying.”
“Careful Dusty, your thorns are showing again.” he grinned, sitting up and folding his arms across the table in front of him.
I ignored him glaring at the table, why is he after me? But my thoughts were interrupted when a busty waitress sashayed up to the table.
“Welcome to The Cafe, my name is Aimie.” she nearly dropped her notepad when she glanced up and caught sight of him. “Can I... take your order?” her cheeks flushed.
“I’m not so hungry,” he said, glancing up at her briefly before turning his attention back to me. “I’ll be fine with a coffee please, how about you Dusty?”
“Um...coffee is fine,” I said weakly, clasping my hands together in my lap under the table. “I’m not hungry either.”
He cocked his head at me as she bustled away. “Do I make you that nervous?” he slid around the booth to sit closer to me.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” I said ignoring his question. I slid out of his reach and glared at him. “I’m not pretty, rich, or slutty so who’s paying you?”
His mouth popped open in shock. “Who’s paying me?” He repeated my question incredulously. “Really? Dusty, I would pay somebody else to get the chance to be around you. You have a fire that I don’t usually see in women, not to mention you’re actually beautiful.” he gave me a devilish lopsided grin, it was my turn to look shocked.
“Anything else I can get for you?” Aimie set our cups down with a flourish, startling me out of my reverie.
“This is fine,” he said, not looking away from me. “Thank you very much.” Dismissed, she shot a wistful gaze at him before she ambled away to check on the other customers.
I shot a quick glance around. “Everyone is staring at you,” I muttered, tapping my fingers nervously on the warm mug in front of me, “I’m pretty sure they’re wondering why you’re hanging around a nobody like me.”
“Or they’re wondering how I got so damn lucky,” he said, glancing around at the cafe. “I want to get to know you.” he reached out to get his cup.
Blushing, I hid behind my mug, “There’s nothing to know, I’m a student living on campus.” I took a sip of the coffee trying to calm myself. “I’m actually really boring.”
“What are you majoring in?” he asked calmly, running his fingers across the rim of his cup.
“Photography,” I mumbled back, trying to focus on the cup.
“Oh? What kind of photographs do you like to take?” he sounded amused.
“Wildlife and nature mostly.” I relaxed as the conversation started moving toward a more comfortable subject.
“Nature? Explain.” he kept grilling me.
“Endangered species and habitats,” I said, sipping at the coffee again. “I want to be able to capture them before they disappear forever.”
“What’s your favorite subject?” I glanced up at him, he was focused intently on me. I looked away quickly.
“Well, I love taking pictures of wolves.” I heard a sharp intake of breath and glanced up at him again confused. He still looked calm and composed. “Our population of black wolves in the reserve have pretty much been wiped out. So, I take pictures of them whenever I see them.” I frowned, “They’re such beautiful creatures, I wish people would stop shooting them. I mean they wouldn’t be eating livestock if we would stop cutting down the woods to build those stupid housing developments.”
He fell silent watching me sip at the coffee. “Are you always a teacher or what?” I asked, uncomfortable at the sudden silence. Aimie quietly came over refilling our nearly empty mugs.
“Only when I’m asked to be,” he said, his smile coming back in an instant, “I guess you could call me an entrepreneur of sorts. I do all sorts of things, teaching, writing, I even do some mixed martial arts fighting.”
I thought about the way he had put the guys down last night, no wonder he’s such a good fighter, “Are you qualified to do the jobs?” Setting my cup on the table, I sat back in the booth. I was starting to feel more at ease around him, he’s so easy to be around.
“Of course,” he copied me, leaning back in the booth and throwing his arm across the back. “I’m not exactly poor so I got a few different certifications while I was in college.”
“Well, I’m poor.” I laughed, “I don’t get to go do whatever I want at school. I settled on photography because it’s something I can throw my heart into. I wouldn’t get bored at work because I would be doing something I love.”
He leaned forward, propping his head on his hands again. “And if you could go back to college after you graduate what else would you major in?”
“Veterinary school,” I said immediately, “That was my choice at first but I couldn’t afford the scholarship.” my face fell but I brightened up quickly. “I can still do my photography; it makes me just as happy.”
He glanced away and I followed his gaze, shocked to see that it was already starting to turn to dusk outside. “Hmm...time flies when you’re having fun,” he mumbled and reached into his back pocket to get his wallet. Folding a slim black credit card inside of the receipt he held it up for Aimie.
She was there in an instant, eagerly grabbing the receipt, “Back in just a second,” she said sweetly, dashing away with the card.
“See that wasn’t so bad, was it?” he said, closing the distance between us and throwing his arm across the back of the booth behind me. “I count this date as a success.”
“It wasn’t bad,” I agreed automatically. “Thank you for the coffee.”
“Does that mean we can do this again?” he said, tilting his head and giving me an amused smile.
“You mean have coffee again? Sure.” I said, glancing over at him. “Next time you’re letting me pay though.”
“Actually, I was thinking more like a real date,” his smile turned into a mischievous grin, I was immediately suspicious. “Our lunches are at the same time, not to mention I know where your room is now. Let’s find something to do.”
“Like what?” I said cautiously, eyeing his eager smile. What is he up to?
“Well, I’d honestly like to get to know you better,” My jaw dropped and he laughed at my shocked expression. “Go see a movie, maybe meet your family, an actual date.” I felt like he wasn’t telling me everything.
“What else were you wanting to do?” I said, still eyeing him cautiously as Aimie returned with his card.
“We’ll see how it goes; I might even let you meet my crazy ass family.” he gave me a troubled look. “If you don’t want to then I’m sure we can find something else to do.”
We got up together to walk out into the chilly evening air. “Why are you so interested in me anyway?” I asked curiously as he wrapped a casual arm around me, blocking me from the chill. “You just met me yesterday.”
He smiled down at me, “I don’t know, I just feel like you’re special.” he frowned as I shivered despite his warm arm. Shrugging out of his jacket he wrapped it around my shoulders. “Not to mention I do enjoy a good chase.” his small smile was disarming.
“Won’t you get cold?” I asked immediately and tried to give it back. “Look I’ll be fine, here, I was the crazy one who didn’t wear a jacket.”
He stopped and took the jacket from my hands, wrapping it snugly around my shoulders again. “I’m perfectly fine, I don’t get cold easily.” my arms were trapped by my sides as he held the front of the jacket and tugged me forward until I was pressed against him. “See?”
My heart frantically ricocheted around inside my ribs as he held me against him. He was right, a soothing warmth radiated from him. He grinned as a flush crept up my neck and my breath hitched.
“Too close,” I stuttered and tried to pull away but he held me firmly in place, not letting me move. Reaching up he stroked my cheek softly. “What are you doing?”
“You’re not going anywhere just yet,” he said quietly, a thoughtful look on his face. “I want to try something.” I shook my head quickly, too close! The same hum as before arched across my skin as he stroked my cheek again. “you’re welcome to push me away.” When I didn’t move, he slowly leaned down and seized my lips in a gentle kiss. My knees turned to jelly and I wavered leaning against him. He wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me tighter against him.
My heart was thudding loudly in my ears when he finally pulled away. He looked at my shocked expression with an amused grin, “Are you alright?” He held me against him as my breathing slowed.
“I believe I’ll survive.” I stammered, trying to remember to breathe through my nose. What just happened?! My subconscious screamed at me frantically.
“Good,” he perked up and pulled me along as we started toward my dorm again. I walked beside him in dazed silence.
He frowned when we finally got to my door. “You’re awfully quiet, are you sure you’re alright?” he looked like he was holding back a laugh.
I stiffened, “I said I’m fine.” I growled, God he’s so full of himself!
“Oh, so that didn’t bother you?” his amber eyes gleamed with mischief. I shook my head glaring up at him stubbornly. “So, if I do this it doesn’t bother you?” he leaned closer until his face was a hair's breadth away from mine again. My heart immediately seized in my chest. I took a shaky breath and shook my head firmly. “How about this?” he leaned over farther and skimmed his nose down my neck. I stopped breathing completely as he pressed a soft kiss in the hollow of my throat.
Ahhhh! My mind immediately started cursing vehemently. “You sure have a mighty high opinion of yourself,” I stammered when he leaned back against the wall with a wicked grin, pulling me against him.
“You’re adorable when you’re being stubborn.” he said quietly, “You do realize, I can hear your heart from here?” he laughed as I blushed crimson.
The door opened suddenly beside us, “Oh my god!” It was Melissa, her face turned almost as red as mine when she saw us and she slammed the door quickly. I realized how we must look and suddenly felt uncomfortable.
I pushed away quickly, clasping my hands in front of me. “I’ll think about another date,” I mumbled, “Uh...goodnight, Liam.”
He arched one of his perfect eyebrows at me. “You’ll think about it?” an infectious grin spread across his face. “That’s great! I’ll see you tomorrow after class then?”
“Uh, sure,” I said, wondering at the eager look on his face. “You want coffee again?” he laughed at my confused look.
“Well, I figured we could try something else,” he pushed off the wall. “Let’s go see that movie.”
“A movie?” I said blankly, oh no, dark room! I scrambled to collect my thoughts. “Which movie?” I said cautiously.
“Well, they’re taking requests, it will be a nostalgia night.” he said looking at my panicked expression, with a bemused chuckle “You got any favorites? I’m sure I could get them to play it for you.”
I thought fruitlessly coming up with nothing. “You pick.” I said and gave him a stern look, “No romances, I hate them.”
“Something scary or action then?” his eyes lit up devilishly. What is he thinking of? I shrugged trying to be nonchalant about it.
“Surprise me,” I said, a yawn slipping out. I covered my mouth blushing. “Oops, sorry I’ve had a long day.”
“No need to apologize,” he gathered me in a tight hug and kissed me on the forehead. “Goodnight, Dusty.” letting me go he disappeared down the hallway again.
I covered my mouth with my hand as I stood there in silence for a minute. Jesus that man could charm a snake out of its skin! I sighed and opened the door to go into the dorm. Melissa was nearly bouncing on the edge of her bed, her eyes bright with curiosity.
I immediately held up my hand before she even started. “He’s not my boyfriend, yes we kissed, and he wants to go out tomorrow too.”
“Wow, kissing on a first date?” she said, giving me a small teasing grin. “Doesn’t sound like you at all, you usually boot them out the door after the first ten minutes!” her smile turned devilish. “I think you like this one.”
“I don’t know that yet!” I snapped, blushing. “He kissed me, not the other way around. It’s not like he gave me much of a choice in the matter.”
“Then why are you still wearing his jacket?” she said quietly, and I glanced down realizing that his jacket was still wrapped around my shoulders.
“He made me wear it,” I quickly took it off and hung it on the closet door. “Maybe he just forgot it, I’ll give it back to him tomorrow.”
“Oh, you’re probably going to catch it tomorrow,” she suddenly looked worried. “Those girls are going to give you hell, you snagged their new obsession. I heard them talking about him at lunch, he’s only been here one day and he’s already got a gaggle of fangirls.”
“Hey, he came after me!” I said defensively, as I started getting ready for bed. “It wasn’t like I was after him or anything.”
She smiled mysteriously as she rolled under her covers. “Try telling them that.” A few minutes later I heard her soft snore, telling me that she was asleep.
Sighing I climbed under the covers and pulled the pillow over my face. Jesus, why does it always have to be so cold in here? I shivered and sat up. Hmm, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to wear his jacket to sleep, would it? It might help keep me warm. I quickly climbed out of bed and snagged it off the door handle. Wrapping myself in it I snuggled under the covers again. Wow, this thing really is warm, and it smells amazing. The warm scent that clung to it reminded me of my hikes in the reserve, it smells like velvet mesquite. I buried my nose into it and sighed, falling asleep almost immediately.
About the author
I am a single mom of four who is also a published author! I use writing as a second income to help me raise my kids so every little bit helps! I write Erotic Fantasy novels and poems. if you love my work thank you! I appreciate your time!