Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel (set five years prior). I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page. For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!
 
Letter Three
Snippet Three – Office Interrogation
Snippet Two – The First Day of Class
Letter Two
Snippet One
Letter One

Snippet Four: Promises, Promises.  Since this one is a bit “rougher” in content and rather long (nearly 3K), it’s behind the cut. 

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Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel (set five years prior). I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page. For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!
 
Snippet Three – Office Interrogation
Snippet Two – The First Day of Class
Letter Two
Snippet One
Letter One

 Letter Three:

Dear Dr. Connagher:

 

For our first written assignment, you asked us to write you a detailed letter about what we’d like to get out of class.  Are you insane?  Didn’t we already have a little talk in your office about what sort of things were safe to discuss as professor and student?

 

Because what I’d really like to get is closer to you. 

 

You’ve condemned me to a semester of hell.  As we agreed, I’ve been coming to your office each week for “tutoring,” all so painfully proper that I want to scream.  You leave your door wide open.  You call me Miss Jackson and I call you Dr. Connagher and we talk about Shelley and Byron, Blake and Keats, but while you drill me on all the extracurricular reading I’m doing (as you asked), I’m sliding my feet deeper beneath your desk, trying to wrap my legs around yours.  Or I’m wondering what you’d do if I got up and very calmly walked over to your door, locked it, and then started taking off my clothes.

 

Really, what would you do?  Would you send me to the dean’s office?  Would you kick me out of class?  Or would you tell me to come sit in your lap?

 

Please, please, tell me the latter.  Or better yet, maybe we could try out that big desk of yours that you so studiously keep between us.  I’d like to be between it and you for a change, if you know what I mean.

 

I can’t stand it, Conn.  There, I said your name.  I broke your rule.  What are you going to do about it?

 

I want you so badly that I lie awake at night and ache.  This need keeps gnawing away, eating me alive.  I need to know the strength of your hands.  I need to hear your rumbling voice against my ear while you squeeze my ass like you threatened.  I’m doing everything I can to get your attention, to push you over the edge, but you just won’t go, will you? 

 

I know you won’t.  I don’t want you to break, not really.  But I’m breaking inside every single day.  Each time that you call me Miss Jackson and ignore my every attempt to get even a finger of your incredible body on mine, it feels like a physical wound that I’ll carry as a scar for the rest of my life.

 

So tomorrow, I’m going to wait until the very end of the day, and then I’m going to stop by your office right before you leave (yes, I know I’m borderline stalking you because I memorized your entire schedule) to inform you that I’m dropping your class.  If I don’t drop out by Friday, then it’ll be too late.  You’ll have to give me a grade.

 

I don’t want a grade, Conn.  I don’t even want an A.

 

All I want is you.

 

Yours in agony,

 

~ Rae

Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel (set five years prior). I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page. For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!

Snippet Two – The First Day of Class
Letter Two
Snippet One
Letter One

 Snippet Three:  Office Interrogation

In the privacy of his office with Miss Jackson standing penitent before him, Conn found himself in what his Daddy would have called quite a pickle.

If he didn’t allow this unknown student to stay in his class, he’d be forced to scratch it completely from the schedule, and the dean had refused to reconsider her decision.  The class he’d personally created and taught over the years, his hallmark work at Drury University, would be swallowed by blowing sands.  His life’s passion would be forgotten.  Instead of advanced poetry, he’d teach more remedial composition classes, because students couldn’t figure out how to write a paper in complete sentences without LOL and BFF and whatever other ridiculous abbreviations they texted on a daily basis.

But if he were completely honest with himself, the fate of his favorite class was the least of his concerns.  Deep down, he feared that if he allowed this frankly highly-unqualified student to remain, he’d do something unforgiveable.  He’d never been tempted by a student before, but Miss Jackson spelled Temptation with a capital T and damn it all to hell, this was only the first day of class.

It was her eyes that did him in.  Oh, she had a luscious body, no doubt about that, but he’d never been one to ogle the female students.  In fact, his best friend and fellow Drury professor, Mason Wykes, had resorted to calling him Dr. Perfect.  Conn had never even felt a twinge of interest in one of his students.

Until Miss Rae Jackson walked into his class and turned those soul-deep eyes on him.

Shyly yet earnestly, she gazed at him, her eyes big and solemn and dark with emotion, and he felt his rigidly polite professional veneer crack.  Somehow, she’d managed to pick up on his hidden dominant side.  Some secret signal that he’d unconsciously broadcasted had drawn her like a moth to a flame, and she fluttered toward mortal danger, fully aware he would singe her wings clean off if she got too close, but still hopelessly unable to flee.

As soon as he focused on her, she bit her lip, her breath caught, and it was all he could do not to come around the desk, cup her face in his hands, and ask how far she’d let him go. 

The devil on his shoulder whispered that he should test her.  Give her a few simple, innocent little requests to see if she would obey as sweetly and quickly as he suspected.  He clenched his jaws and flipped the mental bird at the evil bastard.  The last thing he needed to get into was an improper relationship with a student. 

Especially one that stared at him so hopefully, innocently, and naturally submissive.  Did she even have a clue that she was sending off a “please gobble me up whole” vibe in waves–a vibe that was irresistible to a man like him?  Son of a bitch.  Mason would laugh his ass off if he ever found out that Dr. Perfect had met his match and then some. 

Conn softened his voice and tried to begin, “Why don’t you sit down–”

She dropped like a stone into the seat so quickly he couldn’t help but wonder what she would’ve done if there hadn’t been a chair available.  Sitting behind his desk made him vaguely uncomfortable, as if he was abusing his position of authority as her professor, so he did something very rare during office consultation:  he stood, came around to the front of his desk, and casually sat on its edge.  It put him closer to her, making the devil cackle with glee, but hopefully took him out of the authority position.

“I’m not going to bite, Miss Jackson.”

Her eyes flared wider and her gaze dropped to his mouth.  Definitely not an improvement. 

Quickly, before he could dwell on any inappropriate vision of which delicious bite he’d like to sample first, he rushed on.  “That is, I’m not an ogre, despite whatever you may have heard.  I’m truly concerned about your wellbeing” and my sanity “in my class.”

A hint of a smile flickered on her lips.  “They didn’t call you an ogre, Dr. Connagher.”

“Troll?  Demon?  The wicked professor of Pearsons Hall?”

“You are rather famous,” she admitted, smiling wider and beginning to relax.  “Everyone I talked to sincerely enjoys your classes despite your…quirks.”

“And what do they say about my Romantic Period class?”

“It’s the hardest class in the entire English department,” she replied sheepishly.  “Casual English majors won’t take it because they don’t want to risk lowering their overall GPA.”

“And since it’s such a difficult class, non-English majors are too intimidated to sign up.  That’s exactly the argument Dean Strobel presented to me when I protested her decision to cancel this class.”  Sighing, he kept his face and voice equally soft.  “So why were you brave enough to sign up, Miss Jackson, Accounting major with barely enough English requirements for your business degree?”

She ducked her head.  “It was your only open class that I haven’t already taken.”

“It’s very important that you be truthful with me.”  He risked reaching out, slipped his fingers beneath her chin, and gently tilted her face back up to his.  Risk indeed, because he found that once he had her in his grasp, he didn’t want to let her go.  “Why were you looking for my classes in particular?  Do you know me from somewhere that I regretfully don’t remember?”

Uncomfortable, she hesitated, clenching and opening her hands in her lap, torn between fleeing and blurting out the truth.  He waited in silence, his gaze steady.  I’ll have her answers, however long it takes.

“No, sir,” she finally whispered, earning a smile and an encouraging nod to continue with her explanation.

He felt her swallow beneath his fingers and she moistened her lips.  The faint glimpse of her tongue made him suck in a breath.  What the hell was he doing?  These little games might seem innocent, but once he accepted this challenge, he’d find it difficult, if not downright impossible, to back off.

And I need to back off.  She’s my student!

“I heard you, Friday, outside the dean’s office.  You quoted poetry, and your voice…  I wanted to hear more.  Poetry, that is.”

She winced at the rather lame excuse, betraying herself.  She’d definitely wanted to hear more, and it wasn’t because she had a sudden interest in Shelley.  She’d responded to the hard edge of anger in Conn’s voice, the desperate need to keep what was his, and she’d been drawn to seek him out in any way she could.  Naked attraction shimmered in her eyes, darkened by her response to his voice, his presence, and most of all, his very position of control and authority that he could not violate one iota if he valued his career. 

He forced himself to release her.  Too many thoughts crowded his mind.  The small challenges she’d unconsciously set for him to master were adding up alarmingly.  He already knew that no harsh word would be required to earn the truth from her; his unapproving silence and the strength of his will were enough.  He also knew she found it very difficult to prevaricate even slightly.  If she ever thought to lie to him, all he’d have to do was look deeply into her eyes to see every truth laid bare before him.

Now, the fledgling truth he saw burning in her eyes promised that she would be the greatest test of his life.  Mastering himself with and for her would be like earning his doctorate all over again and a hell of a lot more pleasurable than slogging through another four years of graduate school.

Retreating to his chair, he put the desk between them.  Quickly, he ran through his options.  He hadn’t said anything that could be misconstrued later.  She could walk out now, find an easier class, and perhaps they’d accidentally on purpose run into each other about campus.  It would still be frowned upon for a professor to involve himself with a student, even if she wasn’t in his class, but it wasn’t worthy of reprimand.

However, if she remained as his student, she’d not only enable the last semester of his favorite class, but she’d also challenge him to keep that control he valued so much.  He could test her, and she would test him and not even know it.

If I can survive such a challenge to my self control.

He shifted in his chair, already rather uncomfortable.  The longer he looked at her, watching as she tucked an errant strand of chocolate brown hair behind her ear and bit her lip, waiting for his decision, the more he responded in a way that no teacher ever wanted to feel about his student.  Too young, too pretty, too damned sweet and innocent for a man like him.  Every dominant instinct he possessed urged him to wrap his arms around her and set about finding each and every limit she threw up at him until she was utterly and completely his.

Irritated that his libido was running amok on the very first day of class, he muttered, “’The desire of the moth for the star,/ Of the night for the morrow,/ The devotion to something afar/  From the sphere of our sorrow.’”

“Oh.  Okay.  That’s your answer, then?”

He arched a brow at the quavering despair in her voice.  “Do you know what I just quoted?”

She dropped her gaze to her hands and her shoulders slumped with dejection, but she nodded.  “It’s Shelley’s ‘One Word is Too Often Profaned.’”

At least she didn’t see the shock that must be written all over his face.  How on earth had she recognized Shelley, let alone that particular poem?  She was an Accounting major with absolutely no English poetry background, for God’s sake.  If she knew that much poetry, why were they even discussing her right to remain in his class?  “What line in particular did you think was my answer?”

She jerked her gaze up to his, and the fierce determination blazing in her eyes sent a jolt of unexpected delight through him.  Ah, here, too was the rebellion and spirit that he would relish exploring.  

“’I can give not what men call love.’  Or how about the line which gave its title:  One word is too often profaned/ For me to profane it.  If you’re not interested, Dr. Connagher, all you had to do was say so.  Dropping your class will be a hell of a lot easier than studying nonstop all weekend and reading everything about Percy Bysshe Shelley that I could get my hands on simply because everyone says he’s your favorite poet, all before the stupid semester even started!”

She leaped up out of her chair, whirled, and strode toward the door.  Her braid swung dark and heavy down her back, drawing his gaze to the sweetest ass in tight blue jeans that had ever crossed his desk. 

She wanted a chase.  Good. He gave it.

In a heartbeat, he rounded his desk, planted his palms on either side of her flat against the door, and hovered at her back without touching her.  Inappropriate, yes, but it wasn’t exactly physical contact.  She froze with her hand on the doorknob.

“Rae,” he purred, savoring her name on a low rumble that made her shiver beneath him.  “I never said I wasn’t interested.  I’m cursing my own impossible desire as the moth is drawn to the stars.”

On a low moan, she started to turn to face him.

“No, don’t.  Don’t look at me, not this close, or I’ll likely do something that we’ll both regret.”

“I won’t regret it,” she whispered, her voice ragged.  “I was hoping–”

“You came to me as a student.  My student,” he growled out next to her ear.  “You defined the exam the moment you enrolled in my class.  If you’re my student, then this is as close as we’ll be for the rest of the semester.”

“Then I guess I’ll be dropping your class, Dr. Connagher.”

“Conn,” he whispered, deliberately letting his lips brush her ear.  “Right here, and only right now, I’m Conn.”

“Conn,” she repeated on a low ragged groan.  “Are you sure I can’t turn around?”

“Absolutely sure, and although I know it would be easier for you to drop my class, I hope you don’t.”  He chose his words carefully so she wouldn’t feel as though he were demanding she stay in his class, because he feared very much that she’d comply just because he asked.  “Instead, I hope you come to class and torment me every single day.”

“But…but…don’t you…”

“If you decide to drop my class, leave your number so I can call you as a man and not your professor in a month or two.  But–” he hardened his voice, stilling her immediate eager response, “I think a semester of getting to know each other in a controlled environment would be best for both of us.  You’re testing my control to the breaking point already, darlin’.”

“Sorry.”  She laughed shakily, although he didn’t think she sounded repentant at all.  In fact, she backed that tempting ass so she could rub her back against him like a cat.  “When you say darlin’ in that smooth Texas drawl…”

“Yeah, darlin’?  What does that do to you?”

“It makes me weak in the knees.”

“Good,” he drawled, rewarding the truth with a quick nibble on her ear.  “Now I want you to march that delectable ass out of my office.  I’m going to do some serious thinking about the course syllabus and how we can make this class fun and rewarding for you, for all of us, and who knows, in the end, we may come up with something even the dean will approve so I don’t lose my favorite class.  Wednesday morning, I’m Dr. Connagher and you’re Miss Jackson.  We’ll get to know each other as professor and student.  I won’t say inappropriate things–like how much I want to squeeze your ass and haul you into my lap–and you certainly won’t rub said ass against me.  And that’s the way we’ll behave until you’ve turned in your final and I’ve turned in your grade.”

She blew out her breath on a long, mournful sigh that made him chuckle.  “I never thought I’d actually look forward to finals week.”

“You and me both, darlin’.”

Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel. I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page. For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!

Letter Two
Snippet One
Letter One

Snippet Two:  The first day of class
 

After preparing all weekend for the big introduction to the professor of her most erotic dreams ever, Rae wanted to scream and throw the ridiculously thick course book out the window.  She’d been a nervous wreck last night and couldn’t sleep, so of course, she’d overslept this morning.  Whose God-awful idea was it to schedule class at eight o’clock in the morning anyway?

So instead of looking gorgeously and studiously prepared in her coveted front-row seat as soon as Dr. Connagher walked in the door, she found herself hovering outside the door, frazzled, hair still damp in a frantic braid, and late enough that he’d already begun speaking.  The thought of walking into his class, late, with only enough prerequisites by the skin of her teeth–while he spoke in that rumbling purr–made her want to sink into the floor and disappear. 

At least there were only a handful of students to witness her shame.

Taking a deep breath, she quietly opened the door.  It creaked like a hundred-year-old rusted iron hinge on a haunted house, and every single eye focused on her.

Including two steely blue ones with a deep canyon deep between them.

Ducking her head before those fierce eyes could lock on hers, she mumbled an apology and rushed toward a seat.  Front row, but not center.  Heart pounding, she yanked out the poetry anthology and stared at it without blinking until her eyes burned.  She could feel his attention like a brand searing her flesh.

“Well,” he finally said.  “I suppose we beat the dean after all.  Miss Jackson, I presume?”

Peeking up at him through her lashes, she nodded.

“We’re very thankful for your late registration.  If you hadn’t joined us, I’m afraid this class would’ve been scratched off the schedule.  As it is, this is the last year I’ll be teaching the Romantic Period.”

His voice growled with suppressed frustration.  Now she knew why he’d been outside the dean’s office on Friday. 

“As with so many other niceties from an age gone by, I suppose it was only inevitable that this generation give up on poetry.  We’re too busy playing on the computer or watching television to sit down and read any book at all, let alone one that makes us think.”

His voice had gradually neared until she knew he must be standing right in front of her.  She could see the toes of his boots, a different, cleaner pair in black leather than the ones he’d worn on Friday, and although he still wore jeans, these were black too.  Imagining him topping it off with a black leather jacket made her shudder. 

“However, as grateful as I am for meeting the minimum quota of ten students to hold this class, I think it only fair that I warn you, Miss Jackson.”  He paused, waiting for her to meet his gaze. 

Heart pounding, she slipped her trembling hands beneath the desk and gripped them so hard she felt her nails digging into her palms.  This was it.  Would he feel anything at all when he looked at her?  Would he see the effect he had on her?  Or would he only see a silly college student drooling over her sexy professor?

Hoping she didn’t look like a crazed fangirl, she raised her gaze up to his. 

“This is not a class for the faint of heart.”

Beneath that steely blue intensity, her throat tightened but she managed to sound like a normal, intelligent student.  Mostly.  “I know this is a senior level class and no, I’m not an English major, I’m actually in Accounting, so I’m going to be behind, but I promise I’ll work very hard.”

She shut her mouth and swallowed hard to keep from saying, for you.

Long agonizing moments went by, each thud of her heart resounding in her head until it ached.  She couldn’t tell what he was thinking, let alone feeling.  His eyes had narrowed, deepening the groove between his eyes.  Frowning and silent, he stepped closer, forcing her to tilt her head back to keep her gaze on his face.

Sensing that strain on her neck, he bent down, keeping his attention locked on her.  He was close enough that she caught a faint scent of his cologne, something spicy and rich, with a hint of old, treasured leather books with gilded edges and swirling embossed titles.  He even smelled like libraries and knowledge.  She’d never been a fan of the library before, but damned if her mouth didn’t water at the thought of pressing her face against his neck and breathing in that scent hot off his skin.

“Why are you in my class, Miss Jackson?” 

Husky and low, he kept his voice soft, almost as if they were the only two people in the room.  Now she heard the hint of a southern drawl in his voice.  She knew from his biography on the campus website that he hailed from Texas.  He wasn’t married (or she wouldn’t be here).  He’d gotten his degree from Southern Methodist.  Or was that where he’d gotten his doctorate?

Her mind babbled the facts she’d dug up on him because she couldn’t think about his question.  She couldn’t answer him.  Literally, her mind blanked.  She couldn’t think of a single plausible excuse other than the truth, which would be too humiliating to admit to him, let alone in front of the rest of the class. 

His previous students had whispered wide-eyed about his stringent requirements.  He expected formality and immediate, well-thought-out answers, and if she didn’t answer, he’d kick her out of his class so fast her head would spin.  Or she could simply tell him the truth, and later, he’d be laughing while he told his friend all about the crazy student he’d had security escort off campus.

Silence weighed heavy in the room.  None of the other students made a peep, as if they dreaded drawing his formidable attention to them instead.  Her pulse was so fast and frantic that she could feel the side of her neck thumping away like a subwoofer.  She couldn’t sit here and not answer his question.  It was like he’d injected her with a truth serum or something, but the thought of blurting out the truth in front of everyone made him swim in her vision.

Your voice makes me hot and when I look at you, every bone in my body melts.

Horrified, she realized her eyes had filled with tears.

Abruptly, he returned to the table at the front of the room, picked up an Expo marker, and began writing on the whiteboard.  Dutifully, the other students flipped open their notebooks and the busy scratching of pens filled the silence.

Rae sagged in her seat like a piece of wilted lettuce, relieved that he’d relented before she’d done something stupid.  Damp and sweaty, her shirt stuck to her back.  Her hands shook, but she managed to shove the book back inside her backpack.  Now if she could only slink away quietly…

“Miss Jackson,” he said in that wicked voice without turning from the board, “I expect you to stop by my office immediately after class to discuss my concerns.”

Her heart soared at the thought of speaking to him in private, and then plummeted to the depths of hell.  She swallowed hard.  He wasn’t the sort of man that ever lost a battle, let alone surrendered.  In the privacy of his office–his personal domain–he’d want the truth. 

And he’d have it, because she was terribly afraid that there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t give him. 

Miserably, she whispered, “Yes, sir.”

Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel. I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page. For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!

 
Snippet One
Letter One

Letter Two:
 

Dear Dr. Connagher:

 

So it should have been a clue that if you were quoting poetry…you were probably an English professor.  Which didn’t sound too bad, until I found out that your only open class is a senior-level class on the Romantic Period.  I admit, I was giddy and relieved, until I actually read the course description. 

 

Then to make matters worse, my suitemates knew somebody who took your class last year.  Thank you very much–now I’m terrified that I’ll fail my first class at Drury.  Why did your only open class have to be this one, your pet class, the one you use to “break” English majors too foolish to have changed their major to basket weaving already? 

 

What hope do I have of surviving your class?  Absolutely none whatsoever.  Yet the thought of dropping out before I even meet you makes me want to cry.

 

You can thank [name redacted to protect the innocent] for warning me that you require all students to contact you in formal letters, which is exactly why I’ve lost my mind enough to write not one but two letters to you already.  She also said that you despise the internet, and if anyone even brings up Google, e-mail, or Lord forgive us, cliffnotes.com, then we’d better get a head start for the Registrar’s Office for that withdrawal.

 

So while all my friends are out partying one last frantic weekend before having to drag themselves to class with a hangover, I’m settled into bed with a foot-thick tome of poetry, a dictionary, and every resource the librarian could suggest for a dolt who knows absolutely nothing about Shelley beyond Frankenstein.  Which I now know, thanks to you, wasn’t even written by the poet listed in the course description, but his wife.

 

I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m reading, but I keep picturing you in the hallway.  There were deep grooves about your mouth and your eyes were like dark storm clouds.  When I close my eyes, I can see your face, and I press kisses to each one of those lines until they fade away, and the only darkness that remains is in your eyes.  That darkness gives me cold chills and sends my heart pounding like a jackhammer, but I can’t look away. 

 

I want your eyes on me.  I want your darkness.  I want you.

 

Now, as I read this poem for the hundredth time, I hear your voice reading it, and I’ve never heard anything sexier in my entire life.  Just don’t ask me what the poem actually means, please, until I’ve had time to study a whole lot more.

 

Why isn’t it Monday yet?  This is so stupid.  I’ve done more work for your class than I’ve ever done in my entire life and the semester hasn’t even started!

 

Still yours,

 

~ Rae

 

P.S. Would it earn me any extra credit if you knew that I’d hunted down that snippet of poetry you quoted in the hall yesterday?

 

P.S.S. I guess not–I used Google to find out that you were quoting from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

Letters Snippet

This is another snippet of a Dear Sir, I’m Yours prequel.  I’ll be writing out several scenes over the next few weeks, alternating with more letters, and when the whole thing is done, I’ll package it all together as a pdf on the Free Reads page.  For now, I’m calling this prequel “Letters” since I haven’t come up with another title. I’ll accumulate the links here in reverse chronological order if you need to catch up!

Aside:  the poetry quote opening this section has an interesting little story.  If you read Dear Sir, you’ll learn that “Ozymandias” has special meaning in the story.  As I sat down last night to write this scene, I knew I wanted to open with Conn quoting some poetry, but I didn’t know what it was.  He was unhappy, even angry, and the poem had to speak of some kind of despair.  Not wanting to sit for hours browsing Shelley and Byron — as enjoyable as that would be — I went through a mental check list of all the poems from which he’d already quoted.  I thought, hey, what the heck, let’s start with Ozymandias and see if there’s anything I can use.

Voila.  The piece is absolutely perfect, and in a subtle way, ties back full circle with the main story itself.  I swear, I broke out in goosebumps.  I love it when things I picked seemingly at random months ago suddenly end up having a deeper meaning that I hadn’t anticipated!

Letter One

Snippet One:

“’Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.’”

The masculine voice froze her in place.  Other students bumped into Rae, knocking her aside, impatient in their rush to purchase their books or line up for a coveted class before it filled, but she couldn’t move. 

That voice…

She turned and saw two men standing outside the dean’s office, obviously professors by their air of respectability, experience, and age.  The man quoting poetry in that incredibly sexy voice couldn’t be more than ten years older than her, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he was a doddering old man with a cane.  His voice would have affected her the same way.

He quoted those lovely, haunting words of poetry in a rough, deep rumble that seemed to vibrate on the air with power.  Her body thrummed in response, rippling with the subtle resonation. 

If that incredible voice wasn’t enough to send her body into overdrive, his dark good looks and rugged face only increased her attraction.  He wore faded, soft denim that hugged his thighs and ass, work boots that had definitely seen the outdoors, and a plain baby blue Oxford shirt.  He’d rolled the sleeves up to his elbows, and the sight of his corded forearms made her breath hitch in her throat.  His hands were large, his forearms lined with muscle and sinew as though he was used to hard physical labor.

What on earth had the professor been doing to earn the forearms of a warrior?  She couldn’t help but wonder if his hands would be rough and calloused to match, as powerful and commanding as his voice.

He laughed, but the lines remained on his face, deeply grooving his mouth and between his eyes.  He looked grim and fierce, his eyes as blue as his shirt but steely, as though a thunderstorm roiled inside him.  Staring at him, she ached to earn the right to smooth those grim lines from his face with her lips and tongue.

Heat seared her face and she jerked her gaze away.  She didn’t know this man.  If he was a professor, then he was certainly off limits. 

Her stupid body didn’t care.  Her mouth felt dry, her eyes hot, her muscles tense and eager.  Her instincts demanded that she either flee or rush over and fling herself at his feet, warring back and forth between fierce attraction and downright terror.  If a man could turn her on with his voice alone, what would it be like to kiss him?  To feel those big hands sliding over her skin?  Or better yet, to lie helpless beneath that power, bound for his every whim?

Get a grip, Rae. 

She’d never had pervy thoughts about a professor before, but once her mind wandered into that territory, she couldn’t seem to clear away the idea of the wicked professor tutoring his teacher’s pet.  Or punishing her.

“Enough, Mason,” he retorted in a low voice that made her shudder.  “You have no idea what I need.”

Her heart stuttered in her chest and she couldn’t catch her breath.  Oh, God, but she could all too easily imagine what he might need.  What was wrong with her?  Why would she suddenly have visions of walking up to this man and begging him to allow her to strip off her clothes for him?  She didn’t know anything about him except that voice, and the torturous images he inspired.  She didn’t even know–

“Dr. Connagher, the dean will see you now.”

He disappeared into the dean’s office.  The door shut and Rae felt as though a rubber band inside her had snapped.  She stumbled over to rest her shoulder against the cold concrete wall, closing her eyes and concentrating on breathing.

His friend might not know what he needed, but the darkness in his eyes and the elegant roughness in his voice spoke volumes to her.  As soon as she could walk without wavering like she’d just left a frat party, she headed for the Registrar’s Office.  She could only hope that Dr. Connagher taught something other than Calculus or Physics, because come Monday morning, she was going to be sitting in the front row of his class.

Letters

If you’ve been reading here for long, you’ll remember me blogging about “Letters” or “Letters to an English Professor” for a year and more.  You’ll remember that we went through dozens of title possibilities.  We wanted something that said “romance” but also hinted at the core of the story, and when we finally settled on “Dear Sir, I’m Yours” it was like angels singing.  Why didn’t I have that as the title in the first place?  It’s PERFECT.

Since it’s June 1st and Dear Sir, I’m Yours will be released in a few short weeks, Conn and Rae have been on my mind quite a bit.  I suppose it’s no wonder, then, that Rae began writing more letters to her English professor.  I plan to share many of them here over the next few weeks to hopefully whet your appetite for more.

Five years ago, Rae was Dr. Connagher’s student in his senior-level Romantic Period poetry class.  It was a class that she never forgot for many reasons.  In one short semester, he not only managed to instill in her a love of poetry, but also a habit of letter writing.  In our modern age of e-mail, IM, and Twitter — a story in 140 chars? — a formal handwritten letter is a rarity, so it’s no surprise that Conn would treasure each and every one of these letters……if she ever sent them.

Dear Dr. Connagher:

 

You don’t know me.  To be honest, I didn’t know you before today.  I didn’t even know what classes you taught, but I ran down to the Registrar’s Office and enrolled in your only open class anyway.  Thank God you teach English instead of Calculus, but I’m afraid a senior-level poetry class may make as little sense to me.

 

It doesn’t matter.  I have to be in your class.  I want to be in the front row when you begin roll call on Monday.  I want you to know my name, and see me, and maybe, just maybe, you might feel it too.

 

I know this is crazy.  I’m crazy.  You don’t know me at all, and I’m just a student–an accounting student!  But I heard your voice, and I knew.  You weren’t even speaking to me, or I might have done something thoroughly embarrassing.  The thought of speaking to you, with your full attention focused on me, makes my tongue plaster to the roof of my mouth.  My stomach quivers, my hands tremble, and so help me God, every muscle in my body clamps down with longing.

 

I have to be in your class.

 

No, I’ll never send this to you.  I don’t want you to think I’m just another crazy stalker student offering sexual favors for a good grade, or screeching about improper behavior to blackmail you or get you fired.  On the first, I’m not that kind of girl; on the second, I’m ashamed to say that I’d never complain about your improper behavior. 

 

To be perfectly honest, I’d welcome your improper behavior.  Wholeheartedly.

 

I heard your voice, and I knew.  I knew I had to be in your class.

 

I knew I had to be…

 

Yours,

 

~ Rae Jackson

Dear Sir I’m Yours Excerpt

Samhain Publishing, June 16, 2009

With the flashlight gripped in her fist, Rae pushed her shoulders through the crawlspace beneath Miss Belle’s back porch. Colonel Healy had designed the addition in honor of their daughter’s birth nearly sixty years ago. Rae cast the light up at the floor boards. Nice solid heavy beams. They didn’t build houses like this anymore. She checked the closest footing, digging dirt away from the concrete.

 

“The porch and addition are in good shape, Miss Belle. Let me check the foundation real quick, but I don’t think you’ve got any problems outside the house. It’s good, real good.”

 

“Aren’t you afraid of spiders?” Miss Belle demanded. “It’s not natural for a young lady to be crawling around in dark spaces like that. Who knows what kind of creepy-crawlies are in there.”

 

In Rae’s experience, the creepy-crawlies weren’t bugs under a porch at all but real live people. “I’m fine, Miss Belle.”

 

She wiggled her shoulders deeper beneath the house to get a better look. The dirt was dry but rich, good smelling, not dank with mold or slime. Good stuff. But it was the foundation of the original structure that she most wanted to see.

 

She cast the light over the tight stones. This old plantation house put brand new tract homes to shame. “Looks good, Miss Belle. I don’t think you’ll have any leaking problems into your basement for years yet. I—”

 

“Why didn’t you call me?” A male voice interrupted. “I want to meet your contractor before you sign anything.”

 

Rae’s heart slammed against her ribs. Every feminine instinct screamed a warning. She froze, glad she was mostly under the porch. Except for her lower body. Shit, shit, shit. On her knees, ass in the air, dirt in her hair… And that voice…

 

Oh, God. Not him, please. Anybody but him.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Verrill. I can take care of myself.”

 

Relief washed over her and she let her forehead rest against her forearm a minute. She didn’t know any Verrill. Deep breaths, calm—she had no reason to be worried, let alone hopeful, excited, terrified…

 

“If you call me that, then I get to call you Grandma.”

 

“Oh, Conn,” Miss Belle growled out a laugh. Rae heard the slap on his arm. “I want you to meet someone.”

 

Conn.

 

She couldn’t breathe. Five years might have passed, but he still possessed the ability to reduce her to a twenty-one-year-old English student again, drooling over her sexy professor. Betrayal choked her. The old lady had set her up. Had he been in on the joke? Furious tears burned her eyes.

Maybe the fantastic old house would suddenly break apart and bury her in rubble. She’d rather die than face him again.

 

He gave a low whistle. “Hello, gorgeous.”

 

Her brain skittered with panic, her sudden intake of breath echoing beneath the porch. Great, just great. He was staring at her ass. Heat flared beneath her jeans as if he’d smacked her. Again.

 

Maybe he won’t remember me.

 

Her heart clenched in agony.

 

“The Fix-It Lady has accepted my offer. Rae Lynn, come on out and meet my grandson.”

 

Wait a minute, meet? So maybe Miss Belle didn’t know the whole sordid truth.

 

“Rae?”

 

The sudden intensity of his voice rocked her with panic. She scrambled deeper beneath the porch. He caught her foot, his powerful hands shackling her leg. She kicked back with her other foot, catching him solidly with her boot. Hopefully in the head.

 

He grunted but didn’t let go. Weight trapped her lower body, his arms snaking around her legs, hauling her back. She grabbed at the footing, missed, dug in the soft soil for a root, anything to slow him.

 

Miss Belle shrieked. If she’d carried a parasol, the old lady would be beating him over the head with it. “What are you doing? Let go of her this minute, Verrill Connagher! Don’t you know how to treat a lady?”

 

Grappled inch by inch backwards into the open, Rae wanted to die.

 

He flipped her over, his hands locked on her waist. One more tug and—

 

“Rae!”

 

Blinded by the afternoon sun, she swung her fist at his head, grateful she couldn’t see. She didn’t want to see the face she’d daydreamed about all these years. Those incredible baby blues, changing with his mood from steel gray to brilliant sapphire. One look from those eyes and she’d be lost all over again.

 

Her heart pounded, her skull split open, her mouth dried like an old bone. She bucked and fought, trying to kick him again.

 

Don’t touch him. Don’t melt into his arms and burst into tears and wail that I wish—

 

Pinning her hands on either side of her head, he leaned down over her to block the sun. She squeezed her eyes shut and averted her face. She strained in vain, knowing he was too strong, always too strong, as strong as she remembered.

 

“Stop it,” he said gruffly, his voice tight. Anger? Or pain? Had he missed her? Why did the weight of his body against hers have to feel so damned good? “Are you hurt?”

 

She laughed, wincing at the ragged edge of pain and regret in her voice. “Get off me, Dr. Connagher.”

 

“I take it you two know each other?” Miss Belle sniffed loudly. “Honestly, Verrill, do as she says and get up. You can’t scare her off with your intimidation tactics—she’s the best contractor around!”

 

“Look at me,” he whispered fiercely, lowering his face within inches of hers. Steel-clad velvet, his voice reached into her chest and tugged on her heart.

 

His panting breath was hot and moist on her cheek, the leathered musk of his cologne achingly familiar. The heat of his body burned into hers, driving her into the ground, and she felt her muscles softening. She arched against him helplessly, but not to escape. Not this time.

 

So weak, so miserably weak. She braced herself to bear the intensity of his gaze, the force of his will. I can tell him no. I’ve learned that much in five years. Haven’t I?

 

Slowly, she turned her head and opened her eyes.

 

All hard angles and shadows, his face had aged, lined and worn but better for that aging. Like fine whiskey and Sean Connery, he merely got better, more distinctive and impressive over the years. His Oxford white shirt had a dirty boot print over his heart. Ironic, that.

 

Staring into his eyes, she felt her throat constrict with tears, her eyes filling. No, no, she wouldn’t cry. Not here. Not now.

 

The chips of ice glittering in his eyes thawed at whatever he saw in her gaze, but he held her pinned beneath him. “Don’t run out on me again.”

 

She nodded jerkily. He knew she wouldn’t refuse him. She couldn’t. That’s why she’d run the first time. Evidently she hadn’t learned a damned thing.

 

Immediately, he climbed to his feet and offered her a hand up. Belying the burning fierceness of his gaze, he said lightly, “Rae was a student of mine five years ago.”

 

“Oh!” Miss Belle clapped her hands, grinning ear to ear. “So you’re the one he spoke of so often. Fabulous. What a coincidence. I hope he gave you an A, Rae Lynn.”

 

Heat seared her face. Oh, he gave her an A all right.

 

Talking about coincidence… Suspicious, she glared at the innocent little old lady.

 

With a breezy smile, Miss Belle flounced back toward the rear of the house. “I’ll see you for dinner, dear.”

 

“Oh no you won’t,” Rae retorted, her stomach twisting into knots. “I’m not coming back.” Not if he’s here.

 

Turning slowly to look over her shoulder, Miss Belle arched a brow at her beneath the broad brim of her big straw hat. That look would have scared General Sherman away from Atlanta. “You gave your word, Rae Lynn. You accepted my offer, signed our contract, and I don’t tolerate fools or liars. Besides, remember your slogan.”

 

With that, Miss Belle disappeared down the trail skipping like a little girl.

 

Making It Right.

 

Clenching her teeth, Rae shook her head. It was too late to make it right with Conn.

 

Five years too late.