Studious Desires by Mary Winter
contemporary erotic romance novella
cover art by Valerie Tibbs
Release Date: 02/21/2013
Ten years ago Kathryn loved Neal Graves. After graduation, Kat moved to Florida and worked for NOAA while Neal stayed in the Midwestern college town and worked toward an eventual teaching position. Cutbacks and a necessary career change have sent Kat back to college…and to Neal. She never stopped loving him, and when she enrolls in Neal’s organic chemistry class, she gives a whole new meaning to being teacher’s pet.
This book is a re-release of a previously published title.
Neal pushed his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose and squinted at the clock on the wall. Nearly ten minutes to one. He swore under his breath and gently placed the lid back on the Petri dish. He hurriedly closed bottles and vials of chemicals, placing a few of them in the lab’s fridge, then pausing long enough to grab his satchel, raced from the room. First day of classes and he was going to be late. Most of the students wouldn’t care, but this was his first semester as a teacher, even if he was teaching a beginning Organic Chemistry class. He raced from his office through the quad, ignoring backpack carrying students easily a decade younger than himself. Dragging his fingers through his dark brown hair and hoping he didn’t have a cowlick, he hurried through the corridors and slid into the room before any of his students.
Neal exhaled his breath and dropped his bag on the desk. Sitting at the desk, he scrambled to organize his notes and books, mentally rehearsing the first day of class speech he had prepared. About how this was only a basic course, but it would teach them the building blocks upon which all life was built, and it was important, very important to their future scientific careers. He remembered perching on the stools behind the scarred, worn tables, staring at beakers and test tubes and inert bunson burners.
Around him the bustle of students getting situated filled the room, shattering the silence as a cacophony of noise swirled around him. Stool legs scraped against the worn, linoleum floor, the chatter of a myriad of conversations, some among students others on cell phones. The steady beat of music from headphones sounded nearby, and someone had laid their perfume on too heavily. The cloying aroma made his nose itch and his eyes water.
He looked up and saw a sea of blue. Deeper than the ocean and deeper than the sky on a clear summer’s day, blue eyes captured him, and pulled him into their warmth and light. He’d only seen vivid blue eyes like that before, nearly a decade before. Eyes so full of laughter and joy with life as he helped tutor her through her final math courses, kept her safe from the frat boys always playing jokes on her. As he kissed her, and laid her down on the twin bed of his dorm room and lost himself in her body.
It couldn’t be. She’d gone on to a job with NOAA, working out of Florida somewhere, and leaving him back in this Midwest college town. A few scattered letters, both of them busy establishing themselves in their careers—his academic, hers scientific, and eventually, like two boats lost out at sea, drifted apart.
Someone sneezed. The explosive sound pulled him from his reverie, and he found himself staring at an older, but no less beautiful, version of the young woman he’d fallen in love with all those years ago. Kathryn Holmes.
Neal cleared his throat. He scanned his roster and saw her name. He made a show of counting, trying to find some composure. The last time he’d seen Kat both of them had sat on the same side of the tables. Why was she back? And why was she in his Organic Chemistry class, a class she had taken the last time she’d been in college?
“Hello,” he said. “I’m your professor, Neal Graves, but you can call me Neal.” He rose to his feet and stood by the old fashioned chalkboard like his professors had done. “I’m going to do a quick roll call,” just to make sure I’m not hallucinating, “if you all don’t mind.” He quickly rattled off the names, and there she was, right after Daniel Hollenbeck, Kathryn Holmes.
“Here,” she said, the simple word spoken in the low, alto voice he knew so well.
Neal finished the roll call and invited the students to turn to the opening pages of their book. Once more in his element, he began his speech, a combination of what he’d rehearsed. As he grew more comfortable speaking extemporaneously, he finally allowed his mind to wander.
And wander it did, right back in time to when he was an awkward student and she a graceful creature who happened to wander in his midst. If her friend hadn’t needed Algebra tutoring for her nursing degree, then he might never have met Kat. He remembered her back then, all legs and smiles, with tiny breasts that fit perfectly into the palms of his hands. From the looks of her, age had rounded out her curves and given her the womanly figure she’d claimed to have always wanted.
The room narrowed down to just the two of them. Oh sure, he spoke to the entire room, carried them into the thread of his one-sided conversation about the joys of Organic Chemistry and what he hoped to accomplish. But in reality, he saw only Kat. The young, jock-type sitting next to her, trying hard not to look bored, faded away, as did the young Asian girl sitting behind Kat taking notes and looking serious. Neal may have made eye contact with all of them, but in his mind, he was sitting in a quiet corner speaking only to Kat.
He glanced at the clock. The hour had nearly flown. Reining in his thoughts, he made mental notes for next week, and then sat back down behind the desk. He glanced at his notes, then announced for next week they were to read the first two chapters in the book and complete exercises one through three. At the groan that emerged from some of the students, he wondered if he was being too harsh. Then remembered the syllabus, and knew that each student knew exactly what they were in for. No, he was simply doing his duty to impart knowledge. With a nod, he dismissed the class and reminded them they were back in three days for their first lab.