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
Snippet Four: Promises, Promises. Since this one is a bit “rougher” in content and rather long (nearly 3K), it’s behind the cut.
Rae stared at the closed office door, sighed, and sat down in the small waiting area outside the English professors’ offices. Dr. Connagher was still here, she knew that much, but he’d made his rules about office hours very clear to the entire class from the beginning. When his door was shut, he didn’t want any interruptions.
Running through the speech she’d rehearsed yet again, she lost track of time.
“Rae?” Jerked to full alert, she hadn’t even heard him come out of his office. He must have been distracted to slip up and call her by her Christian name, because he was normally a stickler for propriety. “Have you been waiting long? If I’d known you were going to stop by, I would have left my door open.”
She stood, searching his face to try and decide his mood. He looked tired and harried, glancing at his watch with that deep frown between his eyes. “Sorry, I know it’s late. I just wanted to tell you something.”
Her voice quivered despite the endless hours which she’d spent practicing exactly how she’d tell him. His eyes narrowed, focusing intently on her face. He never misses a thing, she thought bitterly, except how much I need him.
“What is it?”
His voice remained soft but his face lined even more. This was the formidable face of the ogre of Pearsons Hall. Before her bravado waved the white flag, she said in a rush, “I’ve decided to drop your class after all.”
His eyes didn’t flicker with emotion. His voice didn’t rise. He certainly didn’t panic and beg her to stay, or shout with elation that they’d finally be free to date. No, he simply watched her, eyes hooded and dark.
“If I don’t drop out by tomorrow, you’ll have to give me a grade.”
“Midterms are only a few weeks away.” He nodded slowly, studying her face as though he might find answers written for his every question. “Are you angry? Is something else wrong?”
“No,” she whispered, fighting back the urge to fly at him and pummel him with her fists until that cold stone façade cracked. “I just don’t want to wait any longer.”
He glanced at his watch again and cursed beneath his breath, stirring her hopes. He’d only rarely ever lost his temper enough to curse, even in class when they were hopelessly lost. “I apologize, Miss Jackson, but I’m late for an appointment. Walk with me so we can discuss this further.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Because you’ll smooth talk me into staying in your class, and then I’ll have another two and a half months of hell to survive.
“Walk with me,” he repeated, his eyes dark, but he deliberately lightened his voice. “I’ll count it as extra credit.”
Dread tightened her stomach, but she nodded. Of course she went with him. All he had to do was ask her to jump off a cliff, and she’d leap as high and far as possible, crying out his name all the way down to splatter on the rocks.
He lead the way downstairs and over to the next building in companionable silence. So why had he asked her to come with him? He didn’t even ask whether she had the drop request prepared. Finally, she couldn’t take his silence any more. “Where are you going?”
“We have a guest lecturer from Scotland on campus. He’s talking about Robert Burns, which I thought you might enjoy.” Dr. Connagher paused at the auditorium door and peered inside. “Damn, we’re late. They’ve already begun.”
“Shhh, let’s slip inside. Dean Strobel will nail my hide to the side of Pearsons Hall if she finds out I nearly blew off this lecture.”
He stepped inside the darkened auditorium, and of course, she followed. She didn’t have anything else planned, other than a quart of her favorite ice cream while she watched television, something she hadn’t had time to do for weeks thanks to his class.
A man about fifteen years older than Dr. Connagher stood at the podium down in front with a slide projector. The audience was rather modest. Drury was a small private university with an even smaller English department. Despite the abundance of seats, he chose a row close to the back of the massive room and sat, arching a brow up at her in deliberate challenge at her hesitation.
“Extra credit,” he whispered. “You need it, don’t you?”
You have no idea what I need, she wanted to blurt out bitterly, but she clamped her mouth shut and sat beside him. What choice did she have? He had to initial the form or she couldn’t escape.
The closest person sat dozens of rows ahead of them. A head turned, shooting a glare at them for the disruption, and Rae couldn’t suppress a groan when she recognized the dean. Great. Heat blazed across her cheeks. Evidently, he’d admitted to Dean Strobel that he had a student in his class for which he didn’t entirely trust himself to be impartial. Therefore, Dean Strobel was grading all of her work to ensure Dr. Connagher wasn’t giving Rae any special treatment. Is that why the dean had given her such a horrid look?
“Relax,” he whispered way too close to her ear for comfort. “She’s only warning me that I should be on my very best behavior.”
Rae suddenly noticed that her thigh was practically touching his. The stadium seats had drop-down arm rests, but he hadn’t put the one down between them. In fact, nothing would prevent her from curling against his side like a kitten.
Nothing except her own damned pride. He’d made it perfectly clear that she couldn’t tempt him. Not that way.
She turned her attention to the lecturer. His lilting accent was lovely, and although his explanation about why Burns’s difficult, archaic language was so important in today’s study of poetry was rather long-winded, she found the discussion interesting.
Until she noticed that Dr. Connagher’s thigh pressed fully against hers.
Between one breath and another, he’d simply taken up more space. She nearly swallowed her tongue with shock. Jerking her head around to search his profile, she hissed out, “What are you doing?”
The bastard didn’t even look at her. “Shhh. Don’t miss this part.”
Heat burned alongside her thigh. His spicy leathery scent filled her nose and she whimpered softly.
“Outside of Shelley, Burns is my favorite poet. What do you think, darlin’?”
Damn it all to hell, why did he have to go and call her that, too? “It’s too late for this.” So why is my heart galloping in my chest?
“If you’re going to drop my class, then I don’t have to be so careful.” Oh, God, his mouth hovered at her ear, so close she could feel the moist heat of his breath against her skin. “You don’t like his accent better than mine, do you, darlin’?”
She couldn’t help but snort, and he chuckled softly.
“I’m afraid that I have a problem, and I’m going to need your help to fix it.”
Turning her head toward him, she stared up into his dark eyes, his mouth just inches from hers. “You know I’ll do anything for you.”
She didn’t expect him to wince. “That’s what I’m afraid of, darlin’. You see, you’ve been doing every single thing I asked you to do as your professor. Don’t pretend that you would’ve worked this hard for any other class.” She shook her head, and he sighed. “Even Dean Strobel has been impressed by the amount of work you’ve been doing. She’s thrilled with the revised syllabus I submitted, and I think with a few more tweaks, she’ll approve a brand-new exciting version of my Romantic Period class next year.”
Joy swelled within her. “I’m glad, Dr. Connagher. You deserve to keep your class.”
“Conn,” he whispered solemnly. “I wouldn’t have my class without you, darlin’. I’ve been busy submitting a mountain of paperwork to the dean, preparing for midterms, grading, and then we meet just about every single day, which I love, don’t get me wrong, darlin’. But in all that work, I’m afraid I neglected something that I shouldn’t have let slip so long.”
His head dipped toward hers and her heart thudded up into her throat. However, all he did was brush his nose ever so lightly against hers and then he turned his attention toward the speaker. The frantic leap of her pulse slowed, leaving her feeling dizzy and lightheaded. Disappointment weighed upon her chest, crushing the breath out of her lungs.
“I neglected to make sure you realized how much you drive me crazy.”
She couldn’t help but splutter out, “What?”
“Do you have any idea how hard it’s been for me to keep the Dr. Connagher mask on for you? I sit there in my office imagining all sorts of highly inappropriate things I’d do if you weren’t my student.”
Staring straight ahead, he whispered, “Do you really want to know?”
She nodded jerkily, very carefully keeping her eyes locked on the podium, although she couldn’t hear a word of the lecture.
He eased closer, shoulder to shoulder, and leaned his head against hers. If the dean glanced back at them, it might appear as though they were conferring intently about Robert Burns.
“I imagine telling you to do something, just to see if you will. Oh, at first I wouldn’t ask you to do anything too inappropriate. Like I might ask you to wear only jeans, because, darlin’, this little white skirt you’re wearing is dangerous.”
“How…” she wet her lips, “dangerous?”
Without warning, his hand clamped on her thigh, his fingers digging into her skin. The sudden force of his grip made her jump. He didn’t hurt her, not exactly, but he’d never touched her so…so…hard. Shock and desire throbbed through her, stealing her breath. It was all she could do not to squirm and widen her thighs in hope he might slide that hand higher.
She’d wanted to feel the strength in his big hands and yearned to crack his constant control, but in reality, her immediate, fierce response to this hint of force scared her. She’d never had a man hurt her, even a little, yet heat built steadily between her thighs.
Her stomach felt jumpy, her nerves jittery, but she also wanted him more than ever.
“Very dangerous,” he growled out low and soft. “It makes me want to slide my palms underneath and find out what sort of panties you’re wearing, or better yet, maybe I’d find none at all. And then I can’t help but wonder when I might get you under my tongue.”
She made a choked sound and he squeezed warningly. Her quadriceps ached beneath his grip, worsening her desire, a dueling tango of aching need. His heat burned along her left side, yet she shivered, sweating on one side and chilled on the other.
Worse, bizarre fantasies streaked through her mind. She imagined him rolling her onto his lap and using that powerful hand to grip her wrists behind her back. Or lying beneath him with her arms pinned over her head, the same theme over and over and over.
His hands, holding her down, strong, so strong, too strong for her to ever escape.
So why did she let out a low groan and arch her hips, burning for him to do it again, harder, longer?
He eased his grip but left his hand on her thigh, his fingers rubbing in gentle circles that took away the slight pain he’d given. “So you see why I haven’t allowed myself to remove the professor mask, Miss Jackson.”
“No,” she retorted, jerking her head around toward him. “Don’t go back to Dr. Connagher, not yet.”
“I can only give you a taste right now, Rae. Did you honestly think I couldn’t see the need in your eyes? Or that I’d fail to make sure I took care of that need, at least as much is within my power given our situation? You needed me to remind you that I want you as badly as you want me. You needed me to show you how it might be between us as soon as we’re free.
“Rae, darlin’, I’m burning up every single time I look at you. Not touching you is pure hell every single day, but you and I both know you’re not a quitter. You’re doing well in my class, darlin’. I’m so proud of you, and I swear that I’ll make up for this agony once we’re clear of the final exam.”
“I can’t keep doing this.” She tried to keep her voice down, yet still convey her desperation to him. “We’re playing games, but then I forget which game we’re playing, or maybe it’s not a game at all anymore and I can’t tell. You’re all tangled up in my head. Dr. Connagher or Conn, which is it? I want to be more than your student, but even now, it feels like you’re still playing the teacher role. You’re still in control. While I… I’m confused. About you, and myself. I don’t know who you are. How much of this is playacting, and how much is real?”
“This is me,” he whispered, squeezing to emphasize his words. “But I’m the professor, too. The professor would like very much to do all sorts of inappropriate things, too. If you’ll let him.”
Applause signaled the end of the lecture. The lights slowly rose. People stood and began milling about. Frustration churned in Rae’s stomach, along with unease and nerves, even while her body trembled with need. It’s a good thing he hadn’t gone exploring beneath her skirt, for she feared he would’ve found quite a mess.
“Stay in my class, darlin’. I swear I’ll make it up to you as soon as you turn in your final.”
“Absolutely.” He turned to face her, his eyes smoldering with desire and a great deal of wicked amusement too. Bastard. He knew very well what he’d made her feel, and he thought it was hilarious that she was going up like wildfire and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. Not in such a public location with the dean just waiting to catch them. “If you want me to sign your withdrawal, I will. However, I’d like to make one more improper comment before we let Dr. Connagher return.”
He leaned closer, but she averted her face, carefully checking to make sure the dean wasn’t watching them. He pressed his lips to her ear. “If you wear that skirt again, I’m going to bend you over my desk and spank that delectable ass.”
Her eyes flared, every muscle went rigid, and her mind simply locked up, every gear frozen to a halt. Outraged, she curled her right hand into a fist and thought really hard about punching him in the stomach, even though he’d probably only laugh. And threaten to do something even worse.
She couldn’t help but remember the strength in his hand, the way he’d gripped her thigh, hard enough to hurt just a little. A subtle warning. Or a promise. What would it be like to have him hold her down on top of his big desk? To feel his hands coming down on her ass? Would he truly spank her? Hard?
Wouldn’t it be worth it simply to get his hands on her again?
“Ah, you like that suggestion. Good. I hope you do wear it again.”
“Oh no I don’t, and if you even think about it, I’ll… I’ll…” She couldn’t even come up with an appropriate threat, not when her mind kept flickering back and forth between his hand on her thigh, and the possibility of his big hand sliding over her backside.
“If the lecture had lasted another five minutes, we could test the validity of your protests, darlin’. But with the lights on, I don’t dare slide my fingers into your tempting heat to prove my point.”
She shoved him away and stood, shaking with the need to get away…or hurry him to someplace private. “Don’t threaten me, Dr. Connagher.”
“No threat, Miss Jackson, but a promise.” He stood, too, and moved to exit their aisle, rudely, she thought, because he started to cut in front of her, but then she realized he’d done it intentionally. He pinned the back of her legs against the seat and used his body to block what he might do from the dean. “I need a promise from you too, darlin’.”
He cupped her chin in his hand, and his eyes blazed like molten sapphires. His brow was heavily lined, his mouth too close. Hot, hard with muscle, and so demanding, he crowded her, trapping her against the seat.
She knew she ought to be mad, or afraid at least a little, but all she could do was tremble and stare at his mouth, aching for him to kiss her.
Kiss me now, even if the dean sees, I don’t care!
“Always tell me the truth, no matter how awful you think it is, and most especially if you think it’ll piss me off.” His fingers tightened, making her focus back on his eyes. “I need to know then more than ever. Promise me, Rae.”
Staring into his fierce eyes, she knew a sudden truth of her own. When he held her like this, and he demanded something, anything…
She’d give it.
“I promise.” Rising up on her tiptoes she dared a quick brush of her mouth against his. “Dr. Connagher, sir.”