Word Count: 2,062
She felt eyes on her and while she shouldn't care, she broke her kiss with Brent. She wasn't doing anything wrong, but when she saw West staring daggers at them from the other end of the hall. Well, she felt a little guilty.
"You okay?" Brent asked.
"Yeah, just," she shrugged. "I'm not out to hurt anyone."
"I get that," he said, tucking some of her hair behind her ear as he brushed her cheek with his hand. "It's one of the things I like about you. A lot of girls would be out to do whatever they could to let their ex know they moved on. I mean, you said you dated him back in high school."
"Well, yeah, but it’s not as easy as that and he's not stupid."
"No," he said, glancing in West's direction. Claire tugged on the front of his jacket to stop him from looking all the way at him.
"Stop it. He'll know we're talking about him."
"As if he doesn't already?"
"Well, maybe not," she said and leaned in to give him another kiss before heading to class.
"Ah good covert measures."
"If you say so," she said.
Doors shut throughout the hall, professors could be heard beginning their lectures from the few that remained open, signaling they were both - well, all three of them if she included West - late for class. Not that professors really said too much, just rolled their eyes. Claire was getting used to that, she seemed to have become a pro at being fashionably late for classes.
Western Civ. had turned into one of her easiest classes of the semester due to the sudden death of the professor within the first two weeks of class. A series of TA's rotating in and out was making it rather easy. Class plans were difficult to follow when musical teachers was being played. Not that it was a cakewalk, she still had homework and stuff but TA's tended to be a little easier.
She took her seat in front of Brent, setting the textbook and notebook for the class on her desk as yet another TA assessed the class. He looked a little old to be a TA, but she knew there were people the same age as her parents going to college so she couldn't really judge.
Brent leaned toward her. "Don't forget to meet me at the Union."
"What?" she asked, turning a little to look at him?
"I told you I was going to buy you lunch today," he said, giving her cheek a quick kiss. "I have to stop at my car first to get my wallet, I left it in the glove box, but I'll meet you there."
"Oh, right, yeah, I won't forget," she said.
She doubted she'd be trusted with a car again anytime soon so she was stuck eating at the Union or brown bagging it except for those rare days she was able to go off-campus with someone who had a vehicle. Brent didn't always have money to go to lunch somewhere off-campus so even though he had a car they spent most of their time between classes together on-campus.
She settled into her seat again, catching the professor watching them. His gaze was pretty intense, so much so she found herself shifting in her seat a little.
"Good morning, class. It's nice to see most of you can be timely," he said, eyes directed at her and Brent.
"First of all, I should introduce myself. My name is Dr. Adam Monroe and I will be your professor for the rest of the semester. And if you’re going on to take the second semester portion you’ll see me there, too."
"Yes," he said in response to the few audible groans at the idea that there was now a permanent teacher assigned to the class. "And with that, please once again adhere to the attendance and tardiness expectations that you would for your other classes."
"Since I'm new not only to your school but to Costa Verde, let's take a few minutes to introduce ourselves so I know who everyone is."
Claire was one of the first with her last name being Baxter. She gave the basic outline without revealing too much. Moved here from Texas, on the football team's cheerleading squad, and hoped to go out east somewhere for college next year, but was happy here for now.
Brent with his last name being Whistler was one of the last. He was a lifelong resident of Costa Verde, was in ROTC, and was going to actively serve once he was done with school. Claire had known that, but it was still a little weird to hear him say it. She'd known guys in Odessa with plans of going into the military after high school, but most of them were guys who couldn’t afford college. Or didn't have the intelligence to advance past high school.
"A worthy endeavor," Dr. Monroe said in response.
"Thank you," Brent said.
"Used to be a time it was expected of a young man, service to God and his country. That's gone to the wayside for the most part, and I realize I could probably get in trouble for mentioning God in class now. So don't go home telling your parents that you have a zealot as your new professor. I assure you I am not. It is in fact part of our history. Since this is a Western Civilization course and not an American History course it's probably a better topic for when I have a US History course to teach."
"My enlistment is completely voluntary."
Claire saw a look of respect cross the professor's eyes before he called out the next classmate's name. After Brent came Dana Young and then Alex Zachary. Introductions were done. Being a local college, Claire knew most everyone in her classes at least by sight. Some were older than she was so she didn’t know them being new to town, but the ones her age she did.
"Thank you for the introductions. As I said, I'm Dr. Monroe. I've been more of a researcher to this point, but thought I'd try my hand at teaching when I found out they were having some difficulty finding a full-time replacement for Mrs. Ziggler. Now, don't go thinking that means I'm going to be an easy target. I assure you I know my stuff and will know who's done the homework."
And with that, he went into a lecture about life during war. Whether it was for Brent's benefit since he'd mentioned going into the military or just a coincidence Claire didn't know. It had to be a coincidence, as if he'd know anyone in the class was going to be enlisting and have a lecture prepared for that.
She had to admit, he held her attention the rest of the class. There were a couple of times she thought for a second or two that he was talking specifically - and only - to her. Silly notion. Brought on, no doubt, by the fact he was the first teacher she'd ever had that made her take notice of the fact that he was incredibly nice looking.
Oh, sure, she'd had cute teachers before, but that was when she was like twelve and thought that her dad was a cute guy, too. Totally different in the way she took in Dr. Monroe. She'd never been one of those girls that crushed on a teacher. His sandy blonde hair was worn just a touch too long on top and in back, though the sides were shorter. A little wavy, too. His eyes were blue and very striking, especially when they seemed focused on her. Something that he did that a lot. Or so she thought anyway. It was brief and he did it so casually she couldn't be sure. She just didn't see him focus on anyone else in particular as he lectured.
And after the first couple of times she stopped taking such copious notes and looked, wondering if it was just her imagination. He was probably just making sure she and Brent were paying attention to him and not to one another, except he didn’t really ever look at Brent.
The class was soon over and she took Brent's offered hand when they walked from the room together.
After school, Brent drove her home as he'd been doing the past week. It beat taking the bus that was for sure. With transfers it could take over two hours to make it home if she missed a connection. Her mom was home, which was not unusual this time of day, and her dad was out of town today.
"Hi Mom," Claire said.
"Hi. How was your day?"
"It was good. New Western Civ. professor finally."
"Yeah, gave an interesting first lecture but other than that I don't know if he's very good or not."
"Well, I'm sure if the college hired him he'll do fine."
"Oh, right," she said, shrugging her backpack off and setting it on a chair in the kitchen as she did every day. In fact, she'd been doing the very same movement for so long it was automatic. She came home from school and went to the kitchen where her mom was fixing dinner. They talked about her day before she got started on her homework.
"Hi Brent," her mother said. "It's nice to see you again."
"Hi, Mrs. Baxter, you too."
"Did you two want something to eat?"
"No, we're fine. Just going to do some studying."
"All right," she said, going back to the laundry she'd been folding before they'd come home. "I'm broiling pork chops for dinner tonight, Claire. You're welcome to join us Brent there will be plenty since Claire's father isn't home."
"I can call my mom and see if she has anything special planned."
"It's up to you," she said, leaving them alone after that.
"So, what do you think the odds are of our skating through Western Civ. class now?"
"I think they went down pretty drastically. He seems pretty intense," Claire said.
"Yeah, I got that, too. Probably has something to prove if this is his first actual teaching job."
"Great," Claire said, echoing the same thought from earlier in class. "Just what I need."
"Well, you have me to help."
"I know, but I can't count on you to help me pass the class. It was just kind of nice having one class I didn't have to try so hard in."
"It was," he agreed.
She got them each a soda with glasses and ice as he took his books out of his backpack. It was nice having someone to study with. It was how they started going out to begin with. They had four classes together and when she kept running into West on campus he'd been there to help her keep focused when her mind was on other things.
Like the dirty looks West shot her when he thought she wasn't looking. She had no doubt he knew that Brent came here every day after school. They could have gone to his house. Both of his parents worked so they could have been alone, but other than the kissing they did, Claire wasn't ready to tempt things by being completely alone with him for hours.
"Are you going to stay for dinner?" she asked casually. He had a couple of times. She didn't get the impression his mom cooked dinner a lot. Not sit-down dinners like her mom did.
"I can if you want me to."
"Your parents won't care?"
"Nah. So, I can stay if it'd make you happy."
"Sure. Mom won't mind. Dad's out of town like she said, but Lyle will be here so it won't just be us and Mom."
"Your dad travels a lot, doesn't he?"
"Yeah," she said with a shrug.
"And you said he works for a paper company."
"Yeah, well, you know, they have a home office just like other companies with branches around the country."
"Oh right. I just never realized paper products was that big of a deal."
"Well," she said, thumbing through the extensive textbook for their History class. "Just look at how many trees went into making this book."
Word Count: 3,170
The next few days passed by pretty quickly. Try as she might, it never failed they were a few seconds late to Western Civ. class. Evidently, it was a male thing being able to make her uncomfortable just by a look because Dr. Monroe was just as good at it as West and her dad.
His lectures were interesting. She couldn't remember the last time a history teacher, any of the ones she'd had, was so animated about their subject. History was boring. It was in the past. Yes, there were lessons to be learned, but who really cared about things that happened two or three hundred years ago.
Dr. Monroe obviously did. And she had to admit it seemed to be rubbing off on her. She found herself looking stuff up online that had nothing to do with what they'd be tested on. Just things he'd spoken about in class that day that piqued her curiosity. He mentioned things in passing sometimes that were more interesting than his lectures.
"Claire," he called out to her on Friday after dismissing class.
"I'll save you a spot," Brent said as he continued out of the room without her.
If he was going to yell at her about being late all of the time, shouldn't he have included Brent with her? They were both late together.
"I noticed on the previous exam you had a difficult time."
"Yeah," she said with a shrug.
"Going by your grades in the grade book prior to that test it would seem that is unusual for you. You're an A/B student."
"Just had some stuff going on and didn't study as hard as I should have."
"Did any of your other classes suffer as a result?" he asked. And, oddly, he sounded as if he actually cared. He was watching her intently, as if memorizing her or something. And she had no business liking that thought at all. He was her teacher.
"No, I didn't have any other tests that week."
"It was personal."
"I'd never done the whole get stalked by my ex-boyfriend thing before and it got to me. It won't happen again."
His lips quivered into a hint of a smile. He found that amusing? Of course, he would. He'd probably broken up with more than one person by the time he was her age. She was behind the times she realized.
"So a boy was the reason for your poor performance?"
"I guess." Kind of. There was more to it than that, but nothing she could tell him about.
"Not the same boy," he said, gesturing to where she and Brent sat every day.
"And how do I know when you two break up your test results won't suffer in the same way?"
"I, well, you don't, I guess, but I think I'm better prepared for it. Hopefully he won’t stalk me. You know, like change his college on the chance I’ll change my mind. I’m just not used to drama," she said.
He looked as though he didn't believe her at all, which made her panic a little. Did he know something? How could he? She'd done absolutely nothing to reveal her secret and she didn't see West divulging it to him.
"Well, I tell you what. I'm feeling generous."
"Okay," she said cautiously.
"If you want to come in during my office hours on Monday afternoon, I'll allow you to take a makeup exam."
"I'm sorry. You what?"
He smiled again, and this one reached his eyes, which she noticed once again were very nice. Except, she realized that she was amusing him. Great.
"A makeup exam. You know what those are?"
"Well, yeah, but they're usually given to someone who couldn't make it to the first test because they were sick or something."
"Again, I'm feeling generous, and as I said looking over your grades before that test it made me think that perhaps one bad mark wasn't fair to you."
"I, well, don't know what to say."
"Yes, thank you."
"You're welcome. Monday afternoon then?"
"The last one was an essay test."
"Yes, assume it will be similar. I'm not going to create a multiple choice test for one person."
"I get that," she said, deciding now was a good time to leave. "Thanks again, I appreciate it."
"Oh, and I'd appreciate it if you don't mention this to anyone. That I'm letting you retake a test."
"I wouldn't," she said with a slight frown.
"Not even your boyfriend," he added.
"I don't need everyone who's done poorly on a test deciding they want to see if I'll let them try again."
"I'm not the only one who's had a bad test."
"No, but you're the one I chose to give the opportunity to. Make of it what you will."
"Yeah, sure," she said. "I'll just say it was about some extra credit or something."
"Have a good weekend."
"You, too," she said before leaving the room.
She found Brent in the Union once she'd gotten herself something to eat.
"So, what did you do?"
"Nothing," she said with a shrug.
"Nothing? It can't be because you're late, because I'm late, too, so he'd have talked to both of us."
"That's what I thought, too, but that wasn't it at all. I forgot that I'd asked him about some extra credit. I bombed the last test and want to try and make up for it."
She shrugged. "I'm still looking at colleges out east after this year, you know. And every grade will help. I have to show that I'm not going to blow off classes and stuff like I did last year." Only a handful knew what the stuff was. Brent never asked her to elaborate and she was glad for that because she wasn't sure what lie she'd come up with if he did.
"I suppose you're right. So, what's he going to give you to do?"
"I don't know yet. He asked me to see if I had any ideas of my own over the weekend."
"Hmm. I could think of a couple."
"I doubt they have anything to do with history."
"Well, no, but a memory or two could be made."
She blushed, taking a sip of her milk as she glanced around the union. Claire wasn't the only one who noticed Brent on her squad. Why he'd chosen her exactly she wasn't sure, especially if he had plans on getting laid anytime soon. That wasn't her thing. She was here to put a little polish on her high school transcript, nothing more. There would be no attachments or things potentially holding her to California when she was done. Moving in the middle of high school and the drama before and after the move put holes in her high school transcript that she wanted to improve before applying to the schools she wanted to get into most.
She spent most of the weekend studying for the test. She was not going to blow this opportunity even if she had no idea why it was being given to her. She didn't even mention it to her mother. And that wasn't because Dr. Monroe had asked her not to. She was almost afraid of what her mother would say, read it into it, especially if she found out that he'd told her not to tell anyone else. He was doing a favor for her and her only.
She had no idea what she was going to tell Brent if he asked about her extra credit topic. She'd have to think of something, thinking she might stick to the topic of the test she was retaking. He hadn't mentioned it at the party they went to together on Saturday night after the game. She'd stayed in Friday night. As much as she hated to, she felt she had to.
Sunday she was in bed long before she'd meant to be. She woke in the middle of the night with an "Oh God," echoing what she'd said in her dream. She looked around her room, getting her wits about her before settling back into bed. She hoped she wouldn't pick up where she'd left off in her dream. Not that she was having a bad time in her dream. Quite the contrary. It was just who she was dreaming about. And what they were doing in her dream. She’d never had a sex dream before. She wasn’t sure why she was having one about her professor now, or how she knew things about the way he’d treat her to have them play out that way in her dream.
She woke up Monday morning rushed and deeply embarrassed by the dream she'd had the night before. She didn't always remember her dreams and wished this was one she hadn't. She wasn't sure how she'd go to school, sit through class with him and in his office afterward knowing she'd dreamt about him like that.
True, he was nice looking and was being kind in letting her better a grade. Potentially anyway. There was no telling his test wouldn't be more difficult than the one she'd done so poorly on.
Fact remained, he was a teacher.
"So uncool," she murmured at her reflection in her mirror as she brushed her hair. The dream was still right there for her to pick out bits and pieces. How did she know how his hands would feel touching her? Or how completely thorough he would be in everything he did? And why, despite the fact she'd never done any of the things she dreamt about before in her life, did she have absolutely no problem picturing exactly what he'd be thorough in doing?
She placed her brush on her vanity, willing her mind to think on something else. Anything else. She didn't want to face her mom, Lyle, or Brent knowing what thoughts were going through her mind. She glanced at her computer, wondering if she could find a reference site on dreams. She didn't have a lot of time, though, and really didn't think she needed someone to interpret her dream because it was pretty clear.
She had a crush on someone who was off limits.
So, that would make it easy. It wasn't as if she could do anything about it. She'd just have to let it run its course and sooner or later she'd get over it.
She'd never really had a crush on someone before. Not the dream about them at night type of crush anyway. She really had no idea what normal was in this case. And there wasn't anyone to ask. She wouldn't dare tell any of her friends she dreamt of Dr. Monroe that way. So, she was kind of on her own.
It wasn't as if she was going to tell him.
So, she was fine. She'd go about business as she normally would. She'd eventually get over it. He was new, intelligent, and obviously knowledgeable about the subject he chose to teach. Apparently, that was something Claire liked in a guy.
He was cute.
She couldn't forget the cute part.
Because she supposed if she had to dream about someone doing things to and with her there were worse people than the new Western Civ. professor.
"Good morning," Brent said as she got into his car.
"Hi," she said, leaning over to give him a kiss.
"You look nice. Something special going on that I forgot about?"
"No," she said, glancing at the skirt she was wearing. She'd dressed without really thinking about it too hard. "Just felt like dressing up a little. Got a problem with that?"
"As long as there's not someone else you're trying to impress, no."
She gave a soft laugh. "You're safe."
"Good to know. So, did you figure out your extra credit?"
"Yeah, I'm going to talk to him about it later today to be sure it's doable. No sense putting a lot of effort into something he won't let me do."
He walked her to where her first class was as he did every morning. They didn't have first class together, so he gave her a kiss.
"See you soon."
"Yes," she said with a slight smile.
"Be good until then."
"If that's the best you can do I guess that's all I can ask for."
And with that he walked toward his class. She watched for a minute, having time to kill before class.
"You shouldn't have to look like that, Baxter."
"I'm sorry," she said, turning around.
"I said you shouldn't have to look like that," Wade Phillips said. He was one of Brent's teammates on the football team. They were friends, pretty close ones until Brent started dating Claire. Claire didn't like him too much so Brent hung out with him less and less these days. No complaints from Claire there.
"As if you don't know what's underneath the wrapping."
"A nice view is always appreciated, Wade."
"Or maybe you're holding out on him."
She rolled her eyes.
"If that's the case but you find yourself curious. Or just wanting to trade up for a better model."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Well, you know where to find me."
"And I'd do that why?"
He gave a loud bark of laughter then. "You have to ask that, you obviously haven't seen under his hood yet."
"Whatever," Claire said and made her way to her class.
The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. She even managed to make it to Western Civ. on time. She really was trying now that there was a permanent teacher there.
She didn’t rush to his office when it was time. She had second thoughts about even going to retake the test. Her dream the night before was part of the reason. She’d found it very difficult to sit through class, listening to his voice without visualizing what she’d seen the night before. He was very animated with his hands, too, she noticed today and that didn’t help her forget about the dream.
The other part was that she realized it was kind of unfair. She wasn’t the only one who’d bombed a test that semester. One drawback of musical professors like they’d experienced until Dr. Monroe took over the position was that it was difficult to know just what was going to be on each test. Every professor was different, so preparing for the next test based on the questions or content of the previous test didn’t work as well as it would normally.
She knocked on his office door, her decision made when she came to the conclusion that she hadn’t sought him out to retake the test. He was giving her an opportunity to better her grade, and that was what she wanted out of this year.
Better grades to show that she could achieve those steadily.
His door was ajar and she overheard the fact he was on the phone so she leaned against the wall outside of his office until he was through.
“And I told you that I would not press and I assure you I am not.”
“Merely a convenient circumstance, an in as it were that I could not possibly pass up.”
“No, you cannot comprehend. When you’ve experienced what I have then you can lecture me.”
“I am heeding your warnings and on that note I have to go. I have a student waiting to see me.”
“You called during my office hours.”
There was no sound of a phone being hung up on a receiver like at her house so she assumed he was on a cell phone. She was tempted to knock again when he didn’t say anything to her or open the door or anything, except he’d said she was there so he knew.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he said finally, opening the door wide so she could come in.
She apparently wasn’t at all discreet about checking him out because he smiled at her in a way that suggested he knew exactly what she was thinking.
“You did just get here,” she said.
“I’m sorry?” The amused smile was still there. Great.
“Your office,” she said, nodding slightly to the nearly empty bookshelves that most professors had filled to the brim with reference books, texts, and whatever else they had come across during their academic career they thought applied to what they taught or studied.
“Oh, yes, as I said my first day here, this is my first teaching position so I don’t have as much as some professors. I assure you, I know my stuff.”
“I wasn’t doubting you.”
“Because if you were in doubt, thinking you are paying for credits that are going toward a class taught by someone incompetent.”
“I didn’t say that,” she said quickly.
“You could test me.”
“I could what?”
He shrugged. “Just offering to ease your mind.”
“My mind doesn’t need any easing. You do seem to like this guy, though,” she said, pointing at the number of books by the same author.
“I wrote them.”
“I used a pen name. Various reasons as to why and I’d prefer if you not share that bit of information with anyone.”
“I like my privacy, and believe it or not, I don’t like talking about history every waking moment of my day.”
“Oh, right, of course,” she said, noting the titles seemed to cover a wide array of subject matters.
“So, no testing me?”
“I don’t think so.”
“If you’re sure.”
He was teasing her now. That smile from a few minutes ago was back as if he’d just now gotten back to thinking on the fact she’d been so obviously checking him out.
“Shall we get on with your test then?”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
“All right, good to know we both know what you’re here for.”
Was he flirting with her? Teasing her again? It was hard to tell, but she found it hard to believe he’d be flirting with her so chalked it up to more teasing.
“It shouldn’t take you too long,” he said, setting the test on his desk.
“Where are you going to be?”
“Ah, well, seeing to getting more stuff on my shelves so more students don’t question my credentials.”
She blushed deeply and felt bad that he might have even remotely thought she’d been doing that.
“I’m sorry, I really wasn’t.”
“It’s all right. Worry about your test.”
She set her backpack on the floor by the door and sat in his chair. Walking past him she realized she had another sense now to add to her dreams about him. He smelled good. Good was an understatement. So good she wasn’t sure she’d be able to concentrate instead of remembering her dream.
She closed her eyes and then picked up the pencil, determined to do well on this test.
Word Count: 2,605
She aced the retest, and went on to get A's for the rest of the semester. For some reason, she found herself paying attention to his lectures. He very rarely adhered to the text book, and tested based on it over his lectures even less. She didn't understand it because history had never interested or held her attention.
Winter break happened and she was on her way to New York for two weeks. She was so excited. She loved her family, but ever since her first time in New York she'd been hooked. Tragedy and all.
Peter and Nathan had offered her a white Christmas, so she wanted to come. Her father wasn't thrilled she was spending Christmas away from them, but he seemed to get it. She hoped so anyway. She didn't want to upset him, but she wasn't a kid anymore. Next year she hoped to be out east somewhere for college. She'd see her family even less, so he had to get used to the idea that she wasn't going to be home forever.
She was meeting Peter for a later dinner. Late because her connecting flight out of Chicago had been delayed due to weather. She'd planned on seeing Nathan first, but she'd send the car to his house with her things. He and the boys would probably be sleeping by the time she got there. She'd see them at breakfast, though.
She supposed it said something about her priorities that she was willing to put off Nathan – her birth father – until tomorrow but not Peter. She liked Nathan now, certainly more than she did when she made her first trip to New York. Peter, however, there was no awkwardness between them and she needed that tonight.
She spotted him seated at the bar alone when she finally got there. She'd called when her flight was leaving O'Hare so he knew about when to expect her. She hoped he hadn't been waiting there for too long.
He looked good. Better than that, really, and she felt a twinge of something. Guilt? Regret? At feeling that way about him. She couldn't help she'd been attracted to him, only to find out later he was her uncle. Off limits? Of course, but she could still appreciate his good looks. She wasn't the only one, either. He could easily have his pick of any of the single women in the bar. Probably some of the married ones, too.
"Is this seat taken," she asked after she'd approached him.
"I don't know," he quipped. "It depends on whether it'll be worth my while."
"I'll try my best."
"What more can a guy ask for?"
"I'm not sure," she said, leaning in to give him a kiss before taking a seat next to him.
"If you consider three hours late early."
"Well, I figured you'd have a while between your call and actually taking off."
"I called as we were taxying."
"I know, I push the rules. The plane crashes I'm going to survive," she quipped, but both knew she was not serious.
"So, other than the delay?"
"The flights were fine. There was sure plenty to do at O'Hare for two hours."
"Yeah, it's not a bad airport to be stranded in."
"So, how long have you been here then?" She noticed his drink was almost gone. So, took it he'd been here a while yet said she was earlier than he expected.
"Well, another friend of mine is here from out of town. So, I figured I'd take advantage of your being late and meet him for drinks."
"Oh. If you wanted to do dinner tomorrow or something we can."
It wasn't like they were super old friends. She wasn't even sure they'd be called good friends. Fate had thrown them together. There had been attraction and world-ending drama, followed by her finding out Nathan and he were part of her biological family. Then they were gone, feared dead.
The bulk of their relationship had been long-distance. E-mail, texts, and the occasional phone call. They'd even sent one another actual mail a time or two. She liked Peter, they had a bond she doubted would ever go away.
She just wasn't really sure what they'd be quantified as. Friends seemed overly simplistic yet severely understated.
"No, of course not."
"I'll just have a diet," she said to the bartender since Peter didn't seem to be in a hurry.
"You sure that's all you want? I'm buying."
"I have money."
"She just doesn't want you to know she can drink you under the table."
Peter chuckled a little while Claire glanced over her shoulder. She knew that voice, she'd dreamt about it more than once now. What was he doing here?
And then another thought struck her.
She had been up and traveling since seven in the morning. She had to look absolutely dreadful. Her first time seeing him outside of class or on-campus and it had to be tonight after the flights from hell.
"She can, huh?"
"You'd be surprised at what she can do, Peter."
"I think he's safe from my out drinking him. I hardly drink at all."
Now that she thought about it, she didn't drink because it never seemed to produce the effect in her it was supposed to. Not that she wanted to get drunk necessarily, but especially after things in New York happened and then with West going crazy-like on her she'd tried to take the edge off a bit a time or two. It had never worked. She just assumed she was doing something wrong, drinking the wrong type of alcohol or that her dad watered it down in the event she or Lyle broke into his liquor.
"Good to know," Peter said.
"So, you two know one another," she asked. It was obvious that was the case. "And neither of you seem surprised that you know me."
Silence. What did that mean?
"I knew Adam was out there, yes."
"I see," she said simply.
"Are you ready to eat then?" Peter asked. It was clear neither of them were going to fill her in on the details of how they knew one another. None of her business she imagined.
"Great. I admit I'm famished."
"I'm sorry," Claire said.
"It's not your fault, Claire."
"Will you be joining us, Dr. Monroe?"
"Adam, please, and I'd love to."
Dinner wasn't as odd as it could've been. She caught herself more than once stopping herself from saying something stupid sounding in front of her professor. He wasn't here tonight as that, though.
"I can see to it she gets to Nathan's house, Peter."
"Are you sure? All you have to do is call the car service to get her."
"I'll get her there and take a cab to my hotel."
"Just take the car, Adam, Nathan won't mind if it's for Claire's safety."
She rolled her eyes a little at that.
"Um, guys, it's getting in and out of a car. I can handle it on my own. Really. Peter, I know you have to work tomorrow. And Adam, I don't know where you're staying. Probably somewhere out of the way of Nathan's house."
"We just want to be sure, Claire. This isn't Costa Verde."
"I know it isn't."
Peter let the waiter run his card through while they were talking.
"You two can get dessert or whatever you want. Claire, I'll call you when I'm done working. If you're not busy I'll come see you then."
He stood, brushing her cheek with a kiss. "It's great to have you here. I look forward to showing you everything about New York you ever wanted to see."
"Me, too," she said. The drawback of her last trip here was that lives and the world had been on the line so going sightseeing was out of the question. When everything was over she was so relieved to see her dad, her real dad, yet despondent over the idea of never seeing Peter and Nathan again that all she wanted to do was go home. "Good night, Peter. Thanks for dinner."
"Yes, thank you, Peter. I'll get the next one."
"All right, Adam. I'm sure I'll see you before you go."
And with that, Peter was gone.
"So this is rather uncomfortable," Adam said.
"A little, yeah."
"It doesn't have to be."
"Don't say it. I'm not in New York as your Western Civilization professor. Any more than you're here as my student."
"True, and it's not like I'll see you again."
"Well, I'm here to see the Petrelli's."
"Ah, yes, Peter mentioned showing you around. I can show you things, too."
"Hmm, like what?"
"Name it. I guarantee you I'll show you a better time than Peter would."
"Why do you say that?"
He slid a hand over hers, causing her to jump a little.
"Because I'm not your uncle."
"I," she frowned slightly. How did he know that? And why did his touching her have that effect on her?
"Have a boyfriend. Yes, I've seen you with him. He's not here. I am."
"Did you know I was going to be here or something?"
"No. How could I? I am on break, too, and I enjoy winter."
"It is nice, isn't it?"
"Yes. I'd forgotten how refreshing the cold can be."
"I've only been here once before and this is my first winter. I'm not sure how refreshing I'll find it, but it's not too bad so far."
"Ah, yes, Texas and California."
"Yes," he said simply. "Let's get you home."
"Nothing to do tonight then?"
God, had she really said that?
"Not ready to go to sleep, Claire?"
She shrugged, eyeing his hand as he slid it off of hers. A fingertip grazed the top of her hand, and she remembered vividly what he could do with his fingers in her dreams about this man.
And how much she enjoyed those things.
Get your mind on other things, Claire.
"Maybe I'm not."
No, that's not the way to get your mind on things other than this man who you have no business being alone with.
"Well, then, I'm sure we can find some things to do before the car brings you home."
"All right. You're on."
"If I find something I get a second chance?"
"It depends on what that something is."
"Let's go," he said, offering her a hand after he held her chair out for her.
She couldn't recall anyone doing that for her. Not West. Certainly not Brent. Why certainly? She wasn't sure exactly. Brent was nice and everything, but things like opening car doors and pulling out chairs just weren't things he did for her. He did open doors for her once in a while, but not all of the time.
"Do you have an ID?"
"We'll fix that, but it rather limits where we can go tonight."
"You'd better figure it out."
They found an eighteen and over club with live music. She hated to admit that she had a real good time. He danced with her when she said she wanted to. She also learned that he was as interesting to listen to and enthusiastic about his topics outside the classroom.
She wanted to have a terrible time. Maybe then the dreams would stop and she wouldn't feel guilty when she saw Brent every morning after fantasizing about someone else.
Thinking of Brent must have been an omen of some sort. Her phone vibrated and when she checked, it was him calling. She declined without thinking too hard on it.
She hadn't even texted him to let him know she'd gotten here. She had no excuse either. Glad to finally be in New York she'd just gotten excited. Then seeing Adam distracted her from thinking about Brent.
He noticed her do it, too. He didn't say anything, but his smirk let her know that he knew. She slid her phone back into her pocket.
They stayed a lot longer than she would have anticipated. She didn't really notice how tired she was until she got into the car after last-call had been announced. She'd been up since before seven that morning.
"Feels nice," she murmured.
"It's supposed to," he replied softly.
His fingers were running through her hair and along her neck. She was half asleep or there was no way she'd be this close to him. Head on his shoulder. Close enough for him to touch her with those fingers she'd dreamt about so often.
"Well then, I guess you're doing it right."
"I can do lots of things right."
She glanced at him a little. "You can, huh?"
"So, I've been told."
He touched her cheek with his other hand and her heart skipped a bit. Somehow he positioned them so his face was next to hers. She was too tired to know how he did it. All she knew was that even in the dimness of the car she loved his eyes.
Especially when he was looking at her like that. Hungry. For her. Her heart skipped again at that thought.
His lips were soft. Not too soft, a little bit of stubble. Not dry or chapped, though.
She gave a soft moan as he moved her so she was on his lap. Much easier to kiss this way, for sure. She certainly wasn't sleepy anymore. Arms slid around his neck as his slid lower along her back to her ass, drawing her closer.
He didn't need to push too hard. She wanted closer. God, his hands felt great touching her, and he had not even gotten under her clothes yet. He certainly knew how to use them.
She pressed herself against him, encouraging him to touch more than just her ass. At least she hoped she was. She slid her mouth to his neck, kissing him there as she slid her hands to his neck, kissing him there as she slid her hands to his shirt front. She wanted his shirt off, at the very least open.
"Oh God," she murmured once she touched his skin. Hot. Smooth. Hard. Fit. Not an inch of fat to any part of him she touched.
It was the most careless she'd ever been, letting go completely and giving in.
"Claire," he whispered.
She stopped kissing his neck, drawing away to look at him. His eyes were like nothing she'd seen before. Cloudy with desire, deep and potent as he looked at her. Hunger. Desire.
She knew he felt those things because for the first time she felt it, too.
He stroked her cheek with his thumb.
"As tempting as it is, I cannot do this with you here."
She sighed heavily. "Yes."
"By all means, bookmark where we are and we can pick up here tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? I'm," she said.
"Seeing Nathan and Peter, I know. That won't last all day. Or even better, all night."
"Let's make a deal."
"I'm free for lunch tomorrow. Show up and we'll have lunch. Talk. No pressure."
"What about the bookmark?"
He kissed her lightly. "We'll move on to the next page whenever you're ready."
He chuckled. "I'm not worried about him. He's not here."
"All right." She shouldn't. She should pretend this never happened and call Brent as soon as she stepped out of the car. She didn't call Brent until the next day, choosing instead to send a text before going to bed.
Word Count: 3,095
What did one wear to lunch with your professor who you spent a good three hours out with the night before? Not to mention part of that time was spent making out with him. In his lap no less.
She was on her fourth outfit when someone came to her door informing her that she had a caller.
Did people really talk like that? She imagined they did when they worked for people like the Petrelli's.
She checked her phone after deciding this most recent outfit was good enough. She sighed at Brent's message.
SORRY I MISSED YOUR CALL. GLAD YOU GOT THERE ALL RIGHT. WAS WORRIED WHEN I DIDN'T HEAR FROM YOU. CALL ME WHEN YOU CAN. MISS YOU!
She'd taken the easy way out this morning, calling when she knew he'd still be sleeping. It was easy to do with a three-hour time difference between New York and California. Her plane being delayed and staying out too late with one of the relatives she was visiting was a logical – and good sounding – excuse for not calling yesterday.
She zipped up the new boots Angela had given her as a present. She wasn't sure how functional they were as far as keeping her feet warm and dry, but they were stylish and very beautiful.
She slid her coat on, grabbing her cap and gloves before heading downstairs.
"There you are. I was beginning to think you were going to stand me up."
"Sorry to disappoint. That would be kind of hard to do with you being here where I'm staying."
"Could still be done. Women can be crafty devils in my experience."
"Hmm," she said, noticing now standing next to him like this that the boots she was wearing added about three inches to her height. Brent wasn't hugely taller than she was, about five foot eight inches or so. Adam, however, was like a foot taller than her she noticed the night before.
"Well, I'm here and ready to go to lunch."
"Do you need to tell anyone you're leaving?"
"No. No one's here. Nathan went out somewhere," she shrugged. She was surprised Nathan had actually made it to breakfast that morning. She thought for sure he'd find some excuse to have a meeting or something to take him away from her early. His boys had eaten and returned to playing their video games, leaving the two of them at the table until they'd both finished.
It was odd sitting with him, but they'd talked. Small talk. It was all they really knew how to do with one another. She wondered if that would ever change, if they'd have a relationship beyond formal awkwardness. Maybe one day when it still wasn't so new to both of them.
She was just grateful he was letting her stay here. Christmas and New Year's in New York had sounded great, but she knew Peter's place was a little too small for her to stay with him.
"Another car?" she asked as he opened the door for her.
"Cheaper than a cab when I knew I'd be waiting for at least a few minutes."
"Very seldom have I encountered a woman who has been ready to walk out the door at the specified time. You made me wait far less than I imagined you might."
"Making me sweat out whether you'd changed your mind."
"I should have."
"Where should I start?"
"Is it your boyfriend or the fact I'm your professor most difficult for you to get around?"
"That you're my professor."
"You're not taking my class next semester?"
"Actually, I am."
"Oh, I see. Well, then I'll have to do my best not to show you any favoritism."
"We wouldn't want that."
"I just started the job, Claire. I'd rather not lose it so soon and so scandalously."
"I suppose that would put a crimp in advancing to larger schools."
"Slightly, yes," he said.
"So why bother then?"
"Bother with what?"
"Spending time with me here?"
"That should be obvious, but I still don't see why there's a question about it."
"If we have to go back to teacher and student."
"Who says we do?"
"You just said."
"Obviously if I'm fearful of getting caught showing you favoritism I'd presume I'm seeing you outside of the classroom."
He leaned toward her then, sliding a hand to her cheek before he kissed her. She'd waited for him to kiss her first unsure if last night was some inebriated fluke. He hadn't seemed drunk, but Claire wasn't too sure about guys yet. Brody's trying to take what he wanted and West's semi-stalking left her wondering a bit.
Well, here she was kissing another guy while purposely avoiding communicating with him. Brent was never supposed to be permanent and long-term, though. She had absolutely no intention of staying in Costa Verda any longer than necessary. Would she visit her parents? Sure. Assuming they stayed there once Claire moved onto a better college. They probably would for Lyle's benefit so he could finish in one school. She wanted nothing holding her back, though. She was brutally honest with Brent about that when he'd initially asked her out. Whether he still remembered, or believed her, was another story but it wasn't on her because she hadn't lied.
She slid onto his lap when they stopped to take a breath. She'd loved being here last night, so much easier to kiss him this way. He hadn't seemed to mind then. He didn't seem to now either.
His hands slid under her coat to her ass, cupping her there. She slid closer to him as she found his mouth again. She knew it was highly inappropriate. Last night she had pants on at least. Today she'd worn a skirt, which he seemed to like the idea of. A lot.
His hands slid a little lower along her thighs and he broke the kiss for a moment.
"Real? Or the new elastic kind young women are so fond of?"
She gave a soft laugh and kissed his lower lip before moving to his ear. She kissed him there.
"You'll have to find out," she whispered.
"I like that idea very much."
"Me, too," she said softly before kissing his neck. She had no idea what it was about him that had her behaving so oddly. Completely out of character for her. She'd heard in high school more than once whispered rumors regarding her being a tease. Or frigid.
She and West had never gotten past making out. Some touching over clothes. She and Brent hadn't even done that. Contrary to what his jock friends undoubtedly thought.
So what was it about this man that had her behaving so utterly unlike her? Even from the beginning and her dreams about him. Her reaction to not just the sound of his voice but the mere sight of him.
She'd tried last night to concentrate on Peter after not seeing him for so long. It had been hard to do. It – her attraction to him – was even worse listening to and talking with him conversationally. He was a good listener, contributed to the conversation yet didn't interrupt what was clearly to be a reunion between Peter and her.
She took one of his hands and put it on her abdomen under her shirt. She had to know if her dreams were even close to reality. She gasped at the jolt that shot through her at the contact. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine someone could make her feel like this.
The car came to a stop and only then did she realize the divider hadn't been put up.
"He couldn't see anything," Adam said. "Your skirt and coat stayed in place as best as I could ensure it."
"I do know how to be discreet."
"Could've fooled me."
"I'm not the one who seated you upon my lap."
"No, but you didn't stop me."
"Naturally, I have no fear of being caught here. A beautiful woman positions herself in such a fashion, I'm not going to push her away. Least of all you."
He got out once she'd slid beside him. He offered her his hand, which she took. He didn't let go when she'd gotten out of the car either. He laced his fingers through hers and she found she didn't mind at all.
"So," he said, sounding almost uncertain.
"Well, this is where I'm staying. There are plenty of places to eat around here as well as a restaurant in the hotel."
"Of course," he said.
"Let's do that then."
She followed his lead to the elevators. She was surprised – and in a way not – that his was a penthouse suite.
"Pretty good for a small college professor."
"It's not my only source of income."
"Right. Your books."
"Among other things. I'm a man of many talents and means."
"Want something to drink?"
He was watching her she knew as she walked to the windows to check out the view. She liked that he was watching her. She'd never been in a penthouse suite before. She could remember vaguely seeing one in a Julia Roberts movie years ago, but that was as close as she ever thought she'd come.
The room out here was neat, but obviously lived in. He had a laptop on the desk and she wondered if he was working on another book.
She walked back to him, amused a little that he hadn't moved. Did he think she was going to change her mind?
She slid her coat off, realizing as long as it was on their driver probably hadn't seen anything he shouldn't have. She draped it over a nearby chair, setting her cap and gloves on the seat.
"What are you drinking?"
"Well, you can have whatever you want. Wine. Soda. Beer. Harder."
"Harder?" she asked, smiling a little at that.
"Well, there's not a huge selection. The bar is stocked with the basics: whiskey, vodka, rum, Scotch."
"She ran a fingertip along his shirt front before reaching for his neck. She drew him to her so she could kiss him. The boots definitely helped make it not quite so awkward.
She helped him out of his coat. If helping involved practically tearing it off of him and leaving it in a heap on the floor anyway.
He reached under her sweater, cupping a breast. She pressed against the palm of his hand, groaning softly into their kiss.
His other hand slid lower, reaching for and pulling up the hem of her skirt. She reached for the front of his pants, squeezing him there. Her heart was beating a mile a minute as she took the step to work his belt.
He helped her with it, wordlessly reaching for it. He didn't brush her hand out of the way, though. Instead he showed her how to work it as if he understood this was new for her.
Somehow they started walking, slowly. Her backwards and him forward. She knew where they were headed. Her mind was screaming at her to stop. Once she'd gotten into his room and his bed she knew she wouldn't go back.
She didn't stop, meeting his urgent kisses with ones of her own until he finally broke the kiss entirely so they could get to the bedroom faster.
"Wow," she said, catching sight of the absolutely incredible bed.
"It's not my bed you're supposed to be having that reaction to."
She laughed softly as she sat on the bed. He stopped her from taking off her boots, kneeling in front of her to do it for her.
He skimmed her calves with his hands, higher up over her knees to her thighs as he stood. She reached for his pants then, wanting to remove the belt altogether but he stopped her.
"Lay down," he whispered and she did as he asked.
He was amazing. From head to toe there wasn't a spot on here he didn't touch or kiss (sometimes both) as he removed her clothes.
That's where logical thought left her for quite some time.
His fingers, his mouth, or his tongue. It didn't seem to matter what he did or which he used she responded to his ministrations easily. And intensely. Several times.
She worked the buttons on his shirt, but that was as far as she got with him. Not that being able to touch his bare chest was a bad thing.
Eventually, he stopped. Hands at her hips as he rested his head against a thigh.
"Are you hungry?" he asked after several minutes.
"What?" she asked confused. That was it? Not that she'd had a bad time, but what about him?
"I invited you to lunch. It occurs to me I haven't delivered."
"I'm not complaining."
He chuckled softly, sliding up along the bed so he was even with her now.
"That is very good to know. However."
"Did I do something wrong?"
"Wrong? What could you possibly have done wrong?"
"Well, you didn't. I didn't."
"Oh, you did. Many times."
"It wasn't about me."
"Isn't it supposed to be?"
"Not if it's done right, now. We'll have plenty of time to worry about to and with me."
He nodded, running a finger along her collarbone.
"But we're here."
"I'm not going to have sex with you while you're still conflicted about your love life."
"Does it seem like I'm conflicted."
"No, not at the moment, but that could change when you are back in familiar surroundings and see him again. The surprise of seeing me here having worn off. He's not going to let you go easily."
"We're not that serious, Adam. I've only been dating him a few months. He knows I'm leaving in the fall."
"It doesn't matter. I wouldn't let you go that easily."
"Because you're amazing."
She was quiet as she let his words wash over and through her. Amazing? She'd never thought of herself as that. It was nice to hear though, and oddly, especially nice to hear coming from him.
"I haven't talked to him since I left California."
"Fact remains, you may get back and rethink things. I won't have sex between us causing an issue either way. And, well, I don't want to feel as though I took advantage either."
"Why do you care? I'm willing to have sex with you."
"I've come too far, Claire, to have you look at me with regret. Or worse to know what you feel like and know I can't have you again."
"We have all week."
"Not nearly long enough to satisfy me."
"What if I want to?"
"We'll know when it's right. Don't worry. Cheating is not the way to begin a relationship."
"What was this then?"
"You are tempting even out of a bed."
"And yet you continue cavorting around with that insipid young man."
"Insipid? Cavorting? Are you a history professor or an English professor?"
"He's nice enough."
"I'm not there for the long term. He knows that. He knows I'm boosting up my grades so I can go somewhere else."
"Maybe he will follow you."
"I don't want him to follow me!"
"Does he know that?"
She shrugged. "I haven't hidden the fact when I leave I plan on leaving everything behind me."
"Bigger and better things?"
"Yes! There's so much to see and do. I'm not going to stay stagnant any longer than I have to be. I need these grades this year to show my high school transcript was a fluke."
"I had some … drama happen the last couple of years. It could have been worse I suppose, but not much."
"Well, you'll get it. You may need some help with Western Civ., though."
She turned onto her side, running a fingertip along his lips.
"A tutor, you mean?"
"Mm hmm," he said as he kissed her fingertip.
"One who writes books under a pseudonym?"
"Is that what you have the laptop here for?"
"I noticed it in the other room. Are you writing another book?"
"I'm always writing things. I keep a pretty detailed journal as well."
"Yes. My mind. Well, I don't always remember things as well as I should, so the journal helps me remember things. Good and bad."
"That's a good idea," she said.
"Indeed. I can't remember when I haven't done it. Much easier with a computer now."
"Oh, I bet. I had a diary when I was little, but I never wrote much in it. I was always worried my mom would find it and read it."
"So, no lunch?"
"Not right now, no."
"All right. I don't want to be accused of being a cheap suitor."
She giggled softly. "You say the oddest things sometimes."
"I do not."
"Not the things you say, I guess, but how you say them. You should teach English."
"I wouldn't be very good at it."
"Does your mother talk like you do?"
"No, not particularly."
"Where'd you learn it then?"
"I don't know. How does anyone come up with the dialect they chose to adhere to?"
"So, no lunch. Do you want your clothes back?"
"If I say no does that mean you'll touch me some more?"
"You have no idea how difficult it is for me to keep my hands off of you, Claire. I cannot. I shouldn't have taken it as far today as I did. Not when you're involved with someone else."
"Involved is such a touchy word. I'm not physical with him."
"No! I'm not attracted to him that way."
"I already told you. He's nice and he seems all right with the fact that I have no plans or sights set on being his wife."
"Just his wife?"
"Oh, I'd like to be one someday. You know. Just after I've seen the world a bit."
"It's not fair you know."
"You've seen me. All of me. I haven't seen you."
"In time you will and when you do, trust me, this discussion will never be had again."
"You'll stay naked as much as I want you to?"
"Within the laws the State of California has handed down, yes."
"I'll hold you to that."
"I suspect I will enjoy every minute of it."
Word Count: 1,762
Disappointingly, they never went back to his hotel room again after that day. They did many things together, but it seemed he meant what he said. She wasn't mad exactly, but it was strange. For the first time in her life she wanted to experience all of it and she was the one being put off. She knew his reasons were valid and understandable. The fact she felt virtually no guilt at wanting someone else while dating Brent told her all she needed to know about her relationship with him.
She was rarely alone with him again after that afternoon. She was curious how he knew Peter and Nathan, but she was so inundated with holiday parties and other doings that she never had the chance to ask him.
The flight home was long. Long because she knew at the end of it she'd have to break-up with Brent. It didn't really matter if it did or didn't work with Adam. The fact that she was attracted to someone so completely was information enough.
She had Adam's phone number and address. He had hers, but would never come to her house. It wasn't unheard of for professors to have students over, but they didn't go to students' houses.
Discreet. That was the key. At least she wouldn't have to deal with West staring daggers at her anymore when she was with Brent.
Then again, he might take their break-up as a sign she wanted to get back together with him.
She got in too late to do anything. She was glad to see her brother and her parents. Mr. Muggles, too. She knew it was not easy on her parents when she said she wanted to spend Christmas with the Petrelli's. They'd let her go, though, and she loved them even more for that.
Classes started the next day. She was going early to talk with Brent at the Union. No use putting it off. It seemed like he knew what was coming, but she had to tell him.
She sat at a table mostly away from crowds so they'd have some privacy. Her coffee was too hot yet to drink so she waited.
"Hi," he said.
"You had a good trip?"
"Yes. It was great. I was super busy, though. I think I'm going to be tired for days."
"I saw a couple of pictures of you with a senator?"
"Yeah," she said, not realizing that would happen. Pictures?
"You looked good."
"Thank you," she said, glad it was a picture with Nathan he'd seen and not one with Adam. That would not go over well with anyone.
She sighed heavily, not sure where to start. With West it had been sort of easy to break-up because of their differences. Brent had done nothing to her really. He just didn't do anything for her, which was what led to where she was now.
"Listen," he said. "I'll save you the effort."
"I got the picture. I'm not stupid. The first time you called at six o'clock in the morning I could believe you forgot about the time change. But every other phone call or text was always at odd times. Or timed just perfectly for you to be asleep even though I'd be awake for hours yet."
"I know. I just."
"Yeah, I get it. I was really hoping I was wrong, because I like you."
"I like you, too, Brent."
"I know. Just not in that way. I knew it a while ago."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to lead you on."
"You didn’t. Not really. I just kind of hoped that you'd come to like me, too. Maybe change your mind about going out east next year. Nice guys like to finish first sometimes."
"Thanks for being nice about it."
"And don't worry I'm not going to be like that Rosen guy."
"Yes," she said. "I'd like that."
"I don't see why not."
"See you around, Claire."
"Yeah," she said.
He left then, leaving Claire to wonder if she'd done something wrong to have a break-up go that smoothly.
Her last class of the day was Adam's. As tempting as it was to sit right in front she chose a seat not quite so blatant. She decided that there were worse things to do than listen to him talk for fifty minutes three times a week.
"Miss Baxter," he said after class.
"I have a copy of that book you asked about last semester."
"Oh, okay," she said.
"You can come by anytime I have office hours to get it."
"Oh, yeah, thanks," she said.
"What book was that?" Sandy asked. She'd been in the first semester's class, too.
"Oh, I did an extra credit report and there was a book referenced in some of the other things I read that I couldn't find here."
"That was nice of him."
"Yeah," she shrugged. "I didn't realize he was going to get it for me."
She went home after that, did her homework and talked with her mom while helping to make dinner. She didn't mind living at home while going to college, but looked forward to next year when she'd be on her own. Dorm living had to be better than living under her parents rules even though other people she went to school with didn't have to.
After dinner she went up to her room and called him.
"Hi. This is Claire."
'Hi,' he said softly.
"How are you?"
'I'm well. You?'
"How were your classes?"
'I should be asking you that, but they were fine.'
'Yeah. Any good ones?'
"One has potential."
'Funny, I have one class looking better than the rest, too.'
'I'd say so. So, what's on your agenda for the night?'
"Nothing. Just finished eating. My brother wants a ride to the library."
'How long will he be staying?'
"I don't know. Until he calls me to get him I guess."
'I could meet you there.'
'If you'd like.'
'Drive around town. Park somewhere. And talk," he added. "Come back to my place.'
"Okay, sure. Twenty minutes?"
'See you then.'
She changed quickly, touched up her hair and makeup before taking Lyle to the library. She didn't think he really had any studying to do, but he liked to read some magazines they had there. She imagined he met friends there, too. It was one place their parents really couldn't say no to him going on a school night.
He was waiting when she parked on the parking lot. Lyle got out and she did too, once he was inside the library.
"Hi," she said.
He leaned in and kissed her. Too short of a kiss as far as she was concerned.
"Hi yourself. You look nice."
"You do, too."
"I don't care."
They ate their ice cream in his car.
"So, how did you end up here from Texas anyway?"
"Dad got a job transfer."
He shrugged. "I decided it was time for a change. I write these books, but I don't see how they're used."
"Did you want to teach?"
"Not really. I mean, I'm not a monster who hates kids or anything."
"You know what I mean."
"I don't know. I prefer being on the information-gathering side of things."
They ate their ice cream for a while.
"I broke up with Brent today," she said finally.
"You didn't waste any time."
"I didn't see any reason not to get it done with. Better now, at least we can be friends hopefully."
"So. He took it well?"
"Yes. He said he knew."
"So you're a free woman then."
"So it would seem."
"And you understand for the semester time together like this – not in public – will have to be the way it is. I can't take you to dinner or on proper dates you're probably accustomed to."
"Yes, I understand. I didn't break up with him for you, you know."
"Wow. Where did that come from?"
"Well, I get it. Discretion. That's not why I broke up with him. Just to date you. I mean, it may not work with you. I just knew that he wasn't it."
"You know. The one. There was nothing there. I knew as soon as I saw you honestly."
"Yes, you," she shrugged. "I dreamt about you."
"There's nothing wrong with dreaming about someone, Claire. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the relationship you're in."
"Dreams I wouldn't tell my mom about. You know?"
"I probably shouldn't have told you that, but I knew if I was dreaming like that about someone else that he was the wrong guy for me."
"Well, hopefully you won't dream about another guy then."
He leaned over and kissed her. It was a nice kiss. Not as nice as most of the ones they shared in New York, but better than the one at the library.
"One day. I'll ask you to tell me about those dreams."
"You taste like mint."
"And you taste like rocky road."
"I had to try it."
"You've never had rocky road?"
"Not in years, no. It was my favorite years ago."
"Do you like rocky road?"
She leaned in and kissed him. She understood they had to be careful, but God she'd come to really enjoy his kisses. He kissed her back, and didn't draw away too soon this time. She moaned softly when he did pull away, not at all happy.
"You're phone's buzzing."
"Oh," she said, not having heard it. She checked it and groaned. "it's Lyle."
"Time to go then?"
"I'm surprised he'd go to the library."
"Right, of course, I didn't mean to imply he didn't or wouldn't find a library useful. It just seems with computers and video games there wouldn’t be much need."
He kissed her before getting out of the car to throw their trash away.
"So," he said, starting the car. "Come see me tomorrow night."
"I'll cook dinner."
"I'm a man of many talents, Claire Baxter."
"I can't wait to find out."
"We'll start with cooking."
She smiled, knowing she was blushing. She already knew he was good at a few things that had nothing to do with kitchens or food.
Word Count: 2,420
They saw each other when they could. He helped her study sometimes. She realized quickly that he was very smart. Not just book smart either. He knew things she'd never heard about before in any history or English book she'd ever read.
Sneaking around sucked most of the time. More than once she wanted to quit, but he'd always talked – or kissed – the idea out of her mind. It was a new experience for her, being able to talk to him about everything. Well, almost anything. She still hadn't decided whether she could – or should – tell him everything about herself.
"Hi," she said as she pushed open his office door.
Since he was a new professor he didn't warrant an office with windows. That worked to their advantage a few times when they'd wanted to make out for a minute or two.
He stood from his chair and walked to her, kissing her.
"What brings you here?"
"I thought you might want something to eat," she said, sliding her backpack off her shoulder. She opened it and handed him a paper sack from the union. "It's just a sandwich, chips, and an apple."
"An apple a day."
"Well, thank you. You're sweet to think of me."
"Yeah, yeah. I just know you won't think to stop to eat before dinner."
"So, I heard that Lowell fellow ask you out."
"Mm. Indeed. I was curious what he wanted because he's a fairly good student so I didn't think it was class related."
"Did you hear me say no, too?"
"I did," he said, regarding her. "About that."
"I wonder if you should say yes."
"Wow. Thanks for lunch, Claire. Oh, and by the way, I think it's time for you to see other people."
"Keep your voice down, and that is not how I mean it."
"How else could I possibly take that suggestion?"
"Women your age date. I've been watching and it's common. I see it. Men and women your age change dates more quickly than they wash laundry I'd wager."
"My age. I'm not that much younger than you. And so what if other women do that?"
"You not dating makes you stand out. Or it may."
"So, you want me to say yes to Lowell? Is that what you're saying? You want him to what? Be my beard?"
"I'm not sure what that means."
"Do I get to kiss him, too? Or just what is it you think I should be doing?"
"No, I don't want you to do any of that. At all."
"Then what, Adam?"
"I don't know. I'm new to this."
"Hey," he said. "It just seems someone as attractive as you should have a boyfriend."
"What is it you want from me, Adam?" She ignored how good his compliment felt because that wasn't the point right now.
"Want from you?"
He slid his hand to her cheek and drew her to him. He kissed her then. Really kissed her, deepening it as she slid her arms around his neck. He pressed her against his door, running his hands along her body.
She gasped as his hands slid along her hips.
"You had to wear a skirt today?"
"I wear them all of the time. Why is today bad?"
"Because the idea of you even pretending to be interested in another man drives me crazy."
"You brought it up! Crazy?"
"And that's bad."
"Why?" she asked. This was the most aggressive he'd been since New York. She liked it. A lot. She was always hesitant with him, her lack of experience getting in the way more often than not. His signals were very difficult to read.
"Because it makes me want you."
"That's good, Adam."
He chuckled, kissing her neck. "Really want you."
"You can have me." She knew that he was in part afraid she'd feel guilty if they had sex and they had to keep hiding from everyone, but she didn't think that would be an issue.
His hand slid under her skirt and she bit her lip as he brushed her nub with his thumb. She reached for the front of his pants, undoing them.
"Claire," he hissed.
"Oh God, Adam. No, not again."
"You deserve so much better."
"Then what? Feeling good?"
She touched him then, running her hand along his length to draw him out of his pants. He drew away a little and she gave a soft whimper in protest.
"Do you trust me?"
"Yes," she said. Didn't he know that by now?
"Come over tonight."
"Adam," she said, feeling severely disappointed.
"I will not have our first time be against a door, rushed because I don't know when someone is going to come by."
"You can be quick, can't you?"
He chuckled. "Ah, my dear, no, I cannot be quick. Not with you."
"Use the opener I gave you and park in my garage."
"Thank you for lunch."
"And I don't want you to go out with someone else, but people may find it odd you aren't seeing people."
"I came up with an idea."
"Brent mentioned he saw a picture of me online at one of the parties I was at over break."
"That's not good, Claire."
"You weren't in it, I'm sure. We were never together other than a dance or two at those parties."
He frowned and she sighed.
"I'll just tell people that I met someone while I was there. I mean, it's not a lie."
"You have no idea how tempting it is."
"I'm still not saying no. You can make it up to me later tonight. As slow as you want."
"Don't tempt me."
"God, Adam, I want to tempt you. I've been trying for weeks."
He pushed her skirt up and gripped her hips to prompt her to put them around his waist. She didn't need much prompting, wrapping herself around him as completely as she could. He captured her mouth as he slid into her.
"Tell me when I can move," he whispered, nipping her lower lip.
"You can move."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said softly.
He took hold of one of her hands, sliding their hands between their bodies.
"No, you do it," he said when she started to draw her hand away. "I want to watch you please yourself."
"Adam," she said.
"No time to be coy, Claire. We're in my office. I don't know how you tick as well as I should and I'm not going to last long."
She closed her eyes, slid her head to the door and started touching herself as he began thrusting into her. He moved them to the wall right next to the door. A little less flimsy, she guessed. Her breath caught as she brought herself over the edge.
"Look at me," he said. She did, expecting to see revulsion or something in his eyes. That wasn't there at all. She watched him slide into her as she touched herself lazily. She lifted her fingers away from where their bodies were joined, bringing them to his mouth.
He groaned, licking each of her fingers in turn as he finished, growing still once he had.
"I knew this was a bad idea."
"I'm sorry? What?" That wasn't the response she was expecting.
"You were fine. It was a bad idea because now I want to – what is the term – play hokey?"
"I'd love to play hokey with you."
"I can't, Claire."
"I can, however, say that I'd like to come home to you waiting in bed for me."
"Yes, though, wearing much, much less than this."
"I can do that, I think."
He helped her fix her skirt, kissing her before picking up the bag of lunch she'd brought for him.
"Thank you again for lunch."
"I have this image of you sitting on my lap at my desk here."
"Well, we'll see what we can work out. I'm sure that's doable. If not here at your desk at home."
He set the bag on his desk and picked her backpack off the floor.
"Go before I rethink the hokey thing."
"I don't want you to go."
"This is why I tried to stop."
"It's fine, Adam. I'm not mad or anything." She kissed him, drawing away. "I'll see you later."
"I look forward to it."
He didn't lock the door from his garage to the house so she had no problem getting in. She called her house and told her mom that she was studying and wouldn't be home for dinner. Then she went to his bedroom. He hadn't said what time he'd be home.
It always struck her as an odd place for him. It was a typical Southern California bungalow-type house. So, the house wasn't the problem.
It was him. The things he had. She was not an expert, but some of his things looked very old. And very expensive. They didn't fit this life he had here. Small college professor.
She found a shirt of his in his closet and put it on once she'd gotten undressed.
"Now this is the best thing I've come home to in I can't tell you how long."
"Well, that's good."
"Getting your homework done?"
"In my bed."
"In my shirt."
"Yes," she replied, watching as he undressed before joining her.
"Mostly. I was just reading ahead a bit for English class."
"Why are you such a good student? Even last semester I knew I could count on the fact you'd done your reading."
"I told you already," she said as he started working the buttons on the shirt she wore. "I want to get into a better school."
"Oh right. I forgot, sorry."
"It's okay," she whispered.
It was the last coherent thing she said for well over an hour.
"I apologize if I hurt you."
"I should have realized it would be that way, but I guess I hadn't thought that deeply on the intricacies."
She climbed onto his lap, kissing him deeply. She touched him, fingers trailing along his chest and abdomen. She loved how he felt. And tasted. The sex was great, but this stuff, the touching was almost better. Getting to know him.
"Better than fine even."
"Well, good. I'll be more mindful from now on."
"It's okay, Adam. I'm not glass."
He kissed her jaw. "You have no idea how many times I've pictured this."
"One day maybe you'll understand, but yes. Really."
"That's good to know."
"Yes, I love that you thought of me."
"The idea of you before finding you. I'd lost hope."
"I'm sorry. You sound so sad when you talk like that."
"Not sad, Claire. I was just so very tired. It's hard to explain right now, but one day I will."
"All right," she said, hoping one day would come sooner rather than later.
"How long are you able to stay?"
"I should be home by midnight or my parents will be worried."
"Oh yes. I forget about those things."
"Mm hmm," he said, nibbling at her neck.
"You don't have parents?"
"No," he murmured, finding a breast.
He chuckled softly. "It's all right, but thank you."
"I can't even imagine. I've been mad at my dad a few times lately that I thought I'd be better off with my birth father."
"How do you know that?"
"I know lots of things, but it didn't take much intellect to put it together."
"How do you know them anyway?"
"Yes, and don't change the subject on me like you did in New York."
"You noticed that?"
"Yes. Every time!"
"Peter and I enjoyed The Company's hospitality together. I was there a little longer than he was. We escaped together."
"And Nathan? Because he clearly knows you, too, and seems to like you."
"Yes, well, one seems to like the person who saves their life."
"You saved his life?"
"The same way that you could have."
"Me? What are you talking about, Adam?"
"You mean, you don't know?"
"Your ability. What it entails. Your father, neither of them, have done you any favors not telling you."
"How did you?"
"Peter told me about you. I think he knew I was at the end of my rope. Years I've been alone, no one. The Company promised me a cure, but there is no such thing. Believe me, I hoped there was. I had a plan when I escaped. It wasn't to come to California and get a girlfriend."
"It's not important anymore. Peter – you – gave me hope. Something else to focus on. A desire to live at least a little longer."
"So, have you really written those books in your office?"
"Yes," he said with a laugh.
"Why are you laughing at me?"
"I'm not. It's just that I've told you I'm like you and you ask me about my books."
"How did you heal Nathan?"
"My blood heals, as does yours."
"I didn't know."
"I suppose you wouldn't. I learned quite by accident. I was in battle; fell on top of one of my wounded comrades. My blood mixed with his and healed him. It took me attempting it for real, with the desire to actually heal someone I mean to know for certain. Someone should tell you. Since my escape, The Company would love to get their hands on someone else with the same ability."
"I can do that, too? I could have healed Nathan?"
"You didn't know, Claire. He knows that."
"I know. I just. My God, that's terrible. Months he was laid up in the hospital bed. In pain."
"He was unconscious."
"You didn't know."
"Why didn't you tell me this?"
"Truthfully, I wanted to get to know you. The you others see. And I wanted you to get to know me, too."
"You were going to tell me?"
"Yes, eventually. It wasn't my intention to lie or deceive you. I just had to be near you."
He spun them so he was on top of her. She gave a bit of a shriek in surprise.
"I will always want to be near you, Claire."
"This near me?"
"I think it's not near enough."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com
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