A/N: I really struggled to get this written today. I pretty much busted out 10 pages of smut for the sequel to Dualism called Permission (link in my profile!) and was incredibly distracted by the loveliness of the Twilighted boards.
I'm beyond exhausted and if there's typos in this, forgive me. I'll reread this tomorrow and fix any I find.
Note: Stephenie Meyer owns everything. I just borrow the characters. If I owned them, I'd never let Edward come out and play. Edward Cullen does, however, own me.
Chapter 4: Encounters
Though Alice kept haranguing me to call "Mr. Sexy Times" (as she'd taken to calling him), I'd managed to resist the almost siren-like call of his phone number.
The Post-It was securely taped on to the front of my fridge, mocking me with its yellow paper and careful handwriting every time I passed by. My eyes were instinctively drawn to it.
I was obsessed.
My eyes would draw around the round numbers, circling the tail of the 5s and snaking past every pen stroke. The more I looked at it, the more beautiful it became. The more it taunted me, the more I had to resist lunging my hand for my phone and dialing as quickly as possible.
Why didn't I just give into temptation and make another call?
Because it would have been the most awkward conversation of my life. What could I really say to him? I didn't know his name, I didn't know what he looked like, I didn't know if he'd even stayed the whole night. And I sure as hell didn't know if he'd been good or not. I wasn't about to call up some guy who's possibly been terrible in bed and start something up with him unless I knew exactly what he was like.
I needed details.
But I didn't know his name.
And I was too chicken to call him.
But I wouldn't get details unless I called him.
I was floating on the edge of a conundrum. For a few hours I'd be all for calling him and just jumping off that ledge, but then I'd swing violently in the opposite direction and want to run and hide in a corner.
I oscillated between the options for days, and finally picked the one I felt most comfortable with. The safest one.
I didn't call back.
I knew it made me a wimp, but I just wasn't ready to find out anything about the guy I'd had a one night stand with. I preferred to come up with my own fantasies.
In my head he was tall and extremely handsome, well-muscled and smelled delicious. I've always had a thing for guys that smelled good, that's for sure. Of course Mr. Sexy Times had great hair too, hair that begged me to run my fingers through it all day.
I imagined his laugh too, oddly enough. It was a laugh that was musical by nature, yet could turn in so many different directions with the drop of a hat.
My imagination ran away from me so often, I even found myself dreaming about him. But the curious thing was that every time I had the dreams, I couldn't see his face. He was always turned away from me or was hidden in some other fashion. It was the weirdest thing and always left me confused and delirious when I woke up.
The one thing that kept me from descending into my obsession with my MST was the fact that I had to stay relatively sane for my class.
I'd assigned the first book, Lolita by Nabokov, and we were having a rather heated discussion in class one day.
"I just think he's a creep. I mean, honestly, he's an old guy who's giving goo-goo eyes at a pre-teen. In every state in the country that's illegal!" a girl named Emma said.
"Well, remember there are several mitigating factors to his obsession with her," I replied from my perch on the edge of the little table in the front of the room.
"What factors? He's old. She's young. It's weird," Tanya quipped in her annoying voice from the front.
I fought the urge to grate my teeth from the sound of her voice. It was worse than fingernails on a chalkboard or a desk being pulled across the old linoleum floors. My blood curdled every time she opened her mouth.
"I really think you all should look outside of the ages," I said, trying to maintain my calm exterior.
We'd been arguing about the age difference between Humbert and his Lolita for several class periods and our discussions were getting us no where. We'd been revolving around the same issue for days.
"Professor Swan?" a velvety voice rung out from the back of the room.
I snapped my head up and my eyes scanned trying to find who'd said my name. A guy with reddish hair in the back corner had his hand raised and an impatient look plastered on his face.
"Yes …" I trailed off. This particular guy had never spoken in class before and I'd actually been concerned that he wasn't paying attention most of the time. He spent a majority of class not even pretending to listen to me or the other students. Half the time I didn't even realize he was there he was so quiet.
"Edward," he said and stared at me intently. There was something so familiar about the way he looked at me that almost made me have some kind of déjà vu, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly where I'd seen him before.
I shook my head quickly and tried to get rid of the sudden feeling.
"Yes? You wanted to say something?" I asked.
"Well, I think the obvious issue most people are having with Humbert is his physical age. But that doesn't into account his emotional age. When Annabel died, he stopped developing. His body continued to age, but his brain shut down. He was permanently stuck at that age and that explains his obsession with young girls. He's forever trying to replace Annabel, a girl who died before they could consummate the relationship," Edward said.
My mouth was hanging open and I couldn't form a reply. He had just stolen everything I was trying to get across for a week now. Every concept that the rest of the class had failed to pick up on he had just rolled off his tongue like it was no big deal.
And he hadn't spoken up through all of our discussion. He'd let the other students wander around a point that none of them had grasped and didn't seem to think it was a big deal that all this pointless was wasting both my time and the class's time.
To say I was annoyed would be an understatement.
"So am I right or not?" Edward smirked and crossed his arms across his chest.
My hand clutched at the book I held, trying not to let my annoyance show. He was a student. No worse than Tanya. Hell, he was easy next to Tanya. I could deal with him.
"Edward has made an excellent point," I said and stood up from my perch on the table. I turned my back to the class to hide my face. "Humbert's actions are not merely centered around his obsession about young girls as an adult, but also the death of Annabel so early in his formative years."
I heard a soft chuckle from the behind me and I could only guess who it came from.
I took several calming breaths before I turned around and continued.
"For our next paper I would like you all to pick a side in this argument and defend it using at least three scholarly sources to back your claim up. Remember they need to be reputable, not just Google searches off the Internet," I said evenly.
A round of groans rolled through the classroom, but Edward stayed silent in the back. His eyes were still trained on me and it was beginning to get uncomfortable. I squirmed under his intense stare.
So I took the chicken's way out. Again.
"Um, 5000 words, double-spaced, due in two weeks. Class dismissed. I'll see you all next time," I mumbled and quickly gathered my stuff, retreating once again to the safety of my office.
I made myself busy with whatever leftover paperwork I'd saved from the previous day and lost track of time until I heard a firm knock at the door.
"Can I come in?" someone said from outside the door.
I glanced at the sheet I'd tacked up on my board with all of my student's conference times and groaned when I saw who was listed for today.
The same Edward who'd just made a complete fool of me by summarizing the point I'd been trying to make for several class periods.
The same Edward whose smirk had annoyed the hell out of me.
The same Edward whose eyes had bored into mine all of class today.
But I could avoid him. He was my student and I needed to be civil towards him. After all, how bad could he really be? I didn't need to talk to him that long, just long enough to look at his journal and see if he had any questions or anything like that.
"Come in," I finally managed to say.
The door opened and in walked a calm and collected Edward, a tan messenger bag slung across his torso.
I waved at the seat that the students sat in and he sat down, almost too gracefully for someone of his size.
"So Edward," I said, my voice strained and tight.
"Professor Swan," he replied.
I turned in my chair and faced him. Edward was leaning forward, his hands together and elbows wresting on his spread knees.
"Do you have your journal with you?" I asked.
Edward moved and withdrew a red spiral notebook from his bag. He handed it to me and I flipped to the first page. His handwriting was neat and tidy, much more so than most male students' tended to be.
I quickly scanned through what he'd written and was immediately taken aback by the depth of his writings.
He talked about how he identified with several of the characters in the story in some aspects, explaining how their perspectives influenced the way the story flowed and pointing out some excellent thoughts that I barely picked up on myself when I'd first read Lolita.
I was very impressed.
I looked up from his notebook to see Edward staring at me intently again and immediately my eyes fell to the page again. A blush crept across my cheeks and my hair fell forward off my shoulder.
I flipped through some of the pages and continued reading, only to be further amazed.
"This is very good," I finally said.
"Thank you," Edward replied in a very melodious tone.
I finally glanced back up and Edward wasn't looking at me anymore, instead his eyes were off to the side as if he was purposefully trying not to look. A small smile played on his lips.
"So do you have any questions or anything you want to talk about?" I asked.
Edward's gaze returned to mine and he smiled widely at me.
The pit of my stomach seemed to drop out and my heart rate picked up a bit. There was definitely something very alluring about his smile. Very charming.
I gulped to get rid of the lump that had formed in my throat and took a shaky breath.
"Anything at all?" I squeaked.
"Nope, I don't think so. You already know what my position on the paper will be after today, so I think I'm good," Edward grinned again. My stomach flip flopped.
"O-okay," I stammered.
"Is that all?" Edward asked.
I nodded, too lost for words in the memory of Edward's smile to form words.
I mutely closed his notebook and handed it back to him. Edward took it and replaced it in his bag. He moved to stand up and slung the messenger bag over his shoulder.
My mouth hung open and I still couldn't manage to find anything to say.
Edward was at the door before either one of us said anything. He turned to me, his face a mask of serious and said, "Sorry about today, Professor Swan. I really didn't mean to embarrass you. It was terribly rude of me."
"S'okay," I mumbled.
Edward opened the door and left the tiny office. The door swung shut behind him and I heard the click of the handle.
I looked down at my hands and they were shaking lightly.
I shook my head and tried to come up with an explanation for what had just happened.
I'd been disarmed by a student. Not in the same way Tanya had disarmed me the first day of class, but in a completely different way. A way I couldn't quite put my finger on.
What the hell was going on with me?
A virtual cookie to those who figured out Edward is one of her students. But there's more to the story than meets the eye, just you wait.