"I just told Ms. Hara that, being the leading expert in psychics, I could easily destroy her reputation."

"Was I asking about her?" I said dryly.

It was the end of class on Monday, as Naru and John had chased me home with promises of healthy self-care on my boyfriend's part. He had texted me enough to get me off my back, saying he'd tell me after class (probably so he could think up a good lie).

Well, it was after class. Godmother of the mafia Mai here to collect.

"We just got in a bit of a tussle," he said calmly, stacking the pile of essays and tapping them on the desk to straighten the pile.

"He couldn't walk let alone hold incense straight last time I saw him."

"He was acting."

"Gene told me he cursed me because he blames me for his condition."

Naru's hands stilled for perhaps a fraction of a second before smoothly sliding them into his blackety black bookbag.

"Anger and adrenaline can do a lot to a person."

With a closed mouth yell, I slammed my open fists on the desk.

"If you insist on lying to me, can you at least give me the reason why? It's not because you had hot kinky gay sex, is it?"

Whatever he had been expecting, it wasn't that, and he nearly dropped his bag. The look he gave me could have made the terminator faint.

"Mai," was all he said.

"The correct answer is: 'It's for your own good, my love. I fear what would happen to your delicate heart and mind should I tell you.' And then I would say, 'bullshit, beloved dearest, for I am a strong, independent woman,' and we continue fighting until we fall into a steamy make-out session where we confess all and get over this dramatic episode."

As I expected, his frown faltered and twitched, and the dark look to his eyes fell away to an amused spark.

"People can still hear you," he said lightly, glancing over my shoulder and back to my face so quickly, it was just a blur of blue. "Speaking of your classmates, have you spoken with Takigawa?"

I prickled. "Oh, and I'm supposed to give you all the details?"

He raised an eyebrow, then said, at the level of a buzzing, low murmur, "wish to hide your illicit, hot kinky sex, then?"

My jaw dropped and I put my fingers to my cheeks. "Oh Lord, Professor Davis just said the 's' word in front of his innocent student, where are we now? Sorry, Prof, I'm still an inexperienced virgin. All the broads are in the art department."

The twitching of his mouth gave way to a full smile and chuckle.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a few of the straggling girls pause at the doorway, falling silent. I put some extra space between the professor and I and folded my hands behind my back, all innocent-like. When they didn't move right away, I turned to give them a small smile and to inwardly wince at their gobsmacked faces. They blinked and hurried out, and with that, leaving us finally alone in the classroom.

"Maybe you shouldn't giggle so easily," I said, then biting my lip.

"Not my fault."

"Yeah, but I fear you're in danger of breaking hearts."

"And that's my problem?"

I felt a wisp of fingertips atop my knuckles, almost as though a ghost touched them. But I could see his smile still, and it sent my heartbeat straight to where his caress might or might not have been.

"Just tell me if you have a good reason for not telling me," I asked quietly, joking aside.

He met my gaze, and his eyes shivered from one of my eyes to the other. Something softened and bent in that gaze that made my insides heat exponentially and melt.

"I never want to hurt you," he said, again on the edge of a whisper. "And if I have any say in it, I never will. This time is no different."

I nodded and reached to my back pocket for my phone. "And Takigawa only sent me one message. He won't respond to anything else." I pulled it up and handed it to him.

His fingers definitely brushed mine this time as he took it.

I can never forgive myself for what I did, Mai. I only wanted to make you happy. The stuff I did to you…I was only ever really intimate with one of my last girlfriends and that's what she liked. I didn't know any better, but it doesn't matter, because if I had just been paying more attention it would have been obvious. Please, don't look for me or try to get a hold of me. You won't ever have to put up with me again.

He handed me the phone back.

"Are you okay with that?"

I stared down at the message, whatever heat had given me before gone cold.

"No," I said.

And there was a whole book in that single word. But then and there, 'no' was all I could have given. Because when I thought of Takigawa, I still thought of my closest friend, a wide smile, an echoing cry of "Yay! Rape van!," and a bag of chocolate Twizzlers.

After a space of quiet, Naru asked, "Are you angry with me?"

"No," I put my phone away. "It was just a misunderstanding."

He made a grumpy noise in his throat that made me think he was about to protest, but he only swept off his black briefcase/book bag and headed to the door, stuffing his other hand in the pocket of his slacks.

"Don't you have a Calculus class to get to?"

"Oliver Davis, I am twenty-years-old and can schedule my own life—"

"Twenty? I thought you were nineteen?"

I blinked. "Uh, my birthday was three weeks ago."

Now it was his turn to blink owlishly at me. "And you didn't tell me?"

I scoffed and adjusted my backpack. "Uh, you were just my weirdo professor who I had a suicidal moment with, why would I tell you my birthday? 'Hey, Professor Davis, today's my birthday! Can you buy me a cake?'"

And yet he still had the gall to look annoyed and offended.

"For Pete's sake, no wonder you have a hard time getting close friends."

I wrinkled my nose. "Yes, because you have so many."

He opened the door for me, at least. Yep. That's high levels of PDA right there.

"Besides," I said as he let the door swing shut behind us. "I didn't think you were into sappy things and dates like that. I can just see you now on the day of our first wedding anniversary. 'Anniversaries are just the commonwealth's excuse to get presents and have a cheap trick to make their significant other think they actually care.'"

I had reached the turning point in the hall, where sunlight poured in from the glass front doors, when I realized he wasn't following anymore. Usually, he'd at least give me a good-bye if he planned on walking off while I was talking. So I turned, frowning.

To find him staring at me with his eyebrows high and his lips parted.

"Wedding anniversary?" he said faintly.


He closed his mouth, quickly going back to his resting, stony expression. "You just sounded so sure that it would happen."

"You think too much," I said, turning around and very pointedly ignoring the heat rising in my face.

When I got to the glass doors, he was back where he was supposed to be, right at my side, the sun adding much-needed color to his pale face and the bright blue of his eyes.

"On the contrary," he flashed me his smile, something that was growing less and less rare, and probably because he knew what it did to me. "I think just the right amount."

He was already several steps down the sidewalk and to the parking lot before I closed my mouth and ran after him.

"Don't you go acting like you're all that, you're still in trouble, Sir! Hey! I'm talking to you! I thought I said to stop smiling so much! Ugh, jerk!"

He didn't so much as wave back at me. Before I could catch up (curse his stupid longer legs), he was already in his little old gray car and backing out. I watched him go, pouting.

A few minutes later, my phone gave my butt cheek a massage.


I would remember our anniversary. And I will.

The hidden message didn't hit me until half-way through Calculus an hour later. Needless to say, the professor was confused as to why I was so stunned over the answer 3.

Author's Note: and that's the end of this segment! And it pretty well opens for another story, should it ever smack me in the face. I'm actually a little embarrassed that I'm on my third series of Ghost Hunt. First the Slenderman series, then the Cumin, and now these "Out of" series. X.X Anyways, thanks for your patience. I have to run and tend to my youngest baby now who is yelling angrily at the porch door on his belly. He can't crawl yet, but he scoots and rolls everywhere like a champ. The other one is currently six and singing to himself as he jams his toast. BTW, you won't find the Slenderman series. I took it down.