They were all major events that she would normally have fretted over.
And maybe, later on, when the euphoria had dimmed a little, she would worry about them.
But for now…
The professor opened the door for her, and she took his hand as he helped her out of the car. In the corner of her eye, she saw his entire staff all lined up in front of his home, but instead of turning to face them, his golden gaze remained on her.
And once again, they were blazing.
But whereas it used to be with anger, this time she understood that the intensity came from something else.
“You’re worried?” she asked softly.
“It’s okay to have second thoughts about this,” he muttered. “You can still—”
“Love you?” Diana cupped his face. “Kiss you? Touch you? F—”
His mouth slammed down on hers, and she laughed against his lips.
I love you, Professor.
Matthijs’ arm went around her waist to pull her closer.
And I you.
This Guy’s In Love With You by Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass
Diana tried to take her time in the shower, but it was impossible. She was just so excited to be with the professor again. Nervous and a little frightened, too, yes, but mostly, just excited, her toes perpetually curling and her heart constantly skipping a beat at the knowledge that finally, oh finally, they could be one.
She tried to while the time away by taking extra care in styling her hair and choosing the right dress – a strapless, ruby red velvet concoction that bared nearly two-thirds of her cleavage that she matched with the same-colored stilettos.
But even after this, a glance at the clock told her it was only five minutes to six, and she still had over half an hour to go before she could meet the professor for dinner.
What to do then?
Diana grabbed her phone on impulse, and her eyes widened in surprise when she saw she had 289 unread messages waiting.
Mairi: OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.
Diana grinned. That was her sister-in-law, alright.
Mairi: YOUR NEW (HOTTIE) BOYFRIEND IS YOUR PROFESSOR.
She thought of answering Mairi’s text but eventually decided against it. Her brother’s wife might seem totally harmless, but the older woman also had a way of making people spill their guts, and that was something she could ill afford at the moment.
Diana moved on to the next message.
Katya: I take it he’s no longer an asshole?
Realizing she had completely forgotten to update her best friend, Diana quickly started typing.
Diana: Long story. But yes, no longer an asshole.
Diana: And Damen knows about him.
Katya: And he’s okay with it?
Katya: Good enough for me. Call me when you’re done bonking each other.
Diana could feel herself turning red after reading Katya’s last message. Sheesh. But since it was true, and that was top priority in tonight’s agenda, Diana decided it was best not to reply for now.
The next set of messages was from her chat group with Amine and Magnolia, and Diana choked out a laugh when she saw the screenshots they had sent. All of it were apparently tweets from women who used to have hopes of being the professor’s next girlfriend, and while most of them were students from Helder Meer, there were also a good number made up by both his present-day and former peers.
One tweet included a photo of Jennifer Lawrence shouting ‘I volunteer’ from Hunger Games, and its caption: When T-PILF and his new girlfriend breaks up, and he’s thinking of hooking up with another student.
The second screenshot had a photo of Diana and the professor kissing on the street, and its caption was pretty straightforward: When you see your secret crush kissing another girl, and you immediately start praying they choke on each other’s saliva, and wish you had your own Drogon so you could Dracarys the shit out of them #pettyisaspettygoes
Another screenshot had two photos. The first was of her and the professor kissing again, labeled simply, What I Saw Earlier. The second photo was of a cat, its big eyes welling up with tears, and its label: How I Am Now.
But then she saw the last screenshot Magnolia had sent, and she started to laugh and cry. Its caption was from a student determined to move on now that her beloved T-PILF had a girlfriend.
Could you please find a way to make yourself just a little less hotter? I’m trying to get over you here.
And the photo attached to it was from several years back: a younger-looking professor, and he was up on stage to receive his Nobel Prize. He was beautiful as ever, and he was grinning. Grinning. Because at that moment, someone hadn’t yet stolen his life from him.
Oh God, but now…
It hit her all of a sudden, how all this time, it had always been about her, and not once had they spoken of his risks, of the risks he still faced…