“What happened earlier was a one-time fluke,” Pepper hissed. “We’ll see how you’ll really fare when you’re made to defend it.” And as if she felt she hadn’t been explicit enough in expressing her hatred, she snarled under her breath, “Bi—”
“Careful, Ms. Lowell,” a silken warning interrupted Pepper, and when the three of them looked up, it was, of course, no other than the professor. None of them had noticed him coming up to them, and maybe it was just her, but Diana couldn’t help thinking how he looked every inch an avenging archangel with his blazing golden eyes and every lethal inch of him radiating a dangerous form of rage.
An archangel, Diana couldn’t help thinking, who also happened to be so much more stylish than all the other professors she had known in her life.
With his cobalt three-piece suit (tweed, of course) including a single-breasted waistcoat that boasted of velvet trimmings for its pockets, he should have appeared laughably overdressed for conducting a lecture. But because he was, after all, T-PILF, he only ended up being more breathtaking than usual while at the same time making everyone else feel overwhelmingly underdressed.
It was probably why everyone came to his class with ironed shirts and zero sandal sightings—
She blinked, the sound of her name bringing her back to reality, and then she blinked again, seeing that the professor was no longer there and – was it just her imagination, or did Pepper seem to be fighting back tears?
It was the guy seated on her right again, and it took a second longer than it should for Diana to recall that his name was Lars. “Um, yes, sorry.”
“I have a feeling you totally missed the last two minutes,” Lars whispered. He seemed a pleasant enough guy, with light brown hair and an affable smile that had the power to put everyone at ease.
In fact, he had that smile on now, and she returned it tentatively while reminding herself to relax. “I’m afraid so. I was…thinking,” she finished lamely. From kindergarten to Christopoulos University, she had always had Katya to act as a buffer between her and the opposite sex. It was only here in Helder Meer that she had been forced to come out of her shell and test her social skills on guys who were neither her brother nor men she had known since childhood.
“Well, you missed the best part unfortunately, but I’ll do my best to recap. Firstly—” Lars nodded towards Pepper, who had just vacated her seat and flounced off in the professor’s direction, schedule request form in hand. “Bitch got schooled. Hard.”
The words had her choking, more so when the other student went on to add, “She tried to make light of what happened, but Professor de Graaf wasn’t buying any of her B.S. She got a citation on the spot, and a warning that the next time she ever so much as looked at your direction the wrong way, she would be asked to drop the class or be graded an automatic F.”
Diana’s jaw had dropped by the time Lars finished speaking. “I missed all that?”
“There was also the part the professor invited me to be your knight in shining armor,” Lars joked.
“You mean my babysitter,” Diana tried to tease back, and her baby step in socializing was rewarded with Lars turning a little red in the ears.
Schubert started playing from the PA system, and Lars appeared visibly disappointed at finding out that their class had officially ended. “See you next class I guess?”
“See you.” She managed another awkward smile before turning away, and as she reached for her bag, it was then she saw the request form she had yet to fill out.
A wild, crazy germ of an idea struck her, and Diana’s heart thundered against her chest.
Could she? Should she? Would she?
Only one way to find out, Diana thought, and taking her pen up, she started scribbling.
It was around ten in the evening and Diana was about to hit the sack when a system-generated message from Helder Meer’s registrar arrived at her inbox.
Subject: Schedule for Thesis Consultation
Dear Ms. Diana Leventis,
Your requested schedule for thesis consultation for Novel Therapy under Professor Matthijs de Graaf has been approved.
Tuesday 0500 – 0700
Friday 2100 – 2300
Diana unconsciously pressed a hand to her chest. Ad Altiora Tendo for the win.
The professor was getting used to cursing his stupidity.
Consternation struck him the moment the system sent his confirmation slips out to the wild. He had never been the type to second-guess himself, but ever since that girl happened—
Matthijs raked a hand through his hair.
Had it really been only a week since he met her?
Necessity had made him a creature of habit, with every minute of his day accounted for. And he had been fine with that. Until – again – she happened.