“You’re right.” Diana closed her eyes, and the tears fell harder. “He’s not that kind of asshole.” He was just someone who thought she was good enough for a ten-minute sex game…and nothing else.
The professor couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
A pale, stiff figure sat on the front row, dark bags under her eyes, and hands tightly clasped over her desk.
It had been two days since she had stood naked in his office, two days since he had done his best to humiliate her into wanting to despise the mere thought of him. Two days. Two fucking days he hadn’t been able to get the sight of her dull, lifeless eyes out of his mind, and when he wasn’t fucking thinking of her, he was fucking dreaming of her.
In the past forty-eight hours, there had been countless times he had almost succumbed to his desperation and guilt. Countless times he had already punched in her number on his phone, and all he had to do was hit the Call button.
But he hadn’t.
Because for once in his goddamned life, he was doing his best to be good.
And the only good thing to do where she was concerned was to stay the fuck away.
So why the fuck are you still in my class, mijn obsessie?
With hell’s greatest temptation seated just a few damn feet away, his sacrifice was turned into ashes, and a stampede of emotions he hadn’t felt a long time was threatening to make his chest explode from within.
Fear. Helplessness. Despair.
But none of it was as terrifying as the hope that had started to flicker, and he was now internally scrambling to extinguish.
Because of her, he was weak again, and the truth made him furious. With her. With himself. With the whole fucking world. Damn her. Goddamn her for making him weak and forcing his hand.
Goddamn her for leaving him no choice, with only one way for him to be strong again.
Diana was finding it impossible to breathe and not scream.
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
(My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)
They were one of Jesus’ last words on the cross, and she could practically see her guardian saint frowning in silent censure, could practically hear him reproach her for making light of the Son of God’s suffering by comparing her predicament to His.
Everything that was happening now was her doing, not God’s, Saint M lectured her. It was your decision to play deaf to the voice of reason. Your decision to come here despite knowing you’re not ready. Your decision.
And so it was, hence this blurry world of anguish and desolation, with her nerves stretched so tautly she was terrified just meeting the professor’s eyes would break her.
Coming here was such a big mistake.
She knew that now.
And yet Diana was unable to make herself leave, unable to even take her eyes off the professor despite the worrying impact of his presence, her body stirring in awareness even as her heart cracked into pieces.
She watched the professor remove his trench coat, and the whole thing just made her recall the impressive breadth of his shoulders. She watched him drape the coat over the back of his seat, and God, oh God, it only had the most foolish part of her dwelling at the graceful efficiency in his movements.
It was just crazy how she couldn’t stop obsessing over every little thing he did.
Just so frighteningly crazy how the knowledge that he was a first-rate scoundrel still wasn’t enough to break his spell on her.
Just so crazy…that when the professor finally began speaking, Diana automatically ducked her head, not wanting to risk meeting his gaze.
“Before we proceed to hearing out your proposals, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what this class is supposed to achieve.”
Diana kept her head bowed, her only concern to get through class without embarrassing herself by bursting into tears.
Meanwhile, the redhead seated next to her – Pepper, with the pointy orchid-colored nails – quickly raised her hand and tossed her hair over her shoulder when the professor nodded for her to speak.
“It’s to emphasize the need for and benefits of breakthrough discoveries for smaller groups rather than focusing on treating the human population as a whole,” the redhead declared with a kind of confidence that bordered on obnoxious. “For Novel Therapy courses under Professor de Graaf, the demographic we’re focusing on are Catholics—”
“Perfectly elucidated, Ms. Lowell.” The professor’s firm tone had Pepper reluctantly returning to her seat although she still had a good number of things to say. She even had a quote prepared to end her spiel. A small step for man, a leap for mankind!
Pepper suppressed a sigh.
Oh, what a finale would that have been, if she had just thirty seconds more of limelight.
“In addition to what Ms. Lowell has shared…” It was the professor speaking again, and Diana found herself shrinking back at the sound.