I get absolutely no sleep when I get back from the ball. All of it seems like a strange dream. I kissed my professor, well he kissed me. No, I distinctly remember meeting him halfway. Oh God, I should have known. When he told me his name he didn’t mean Jay, He meant the letter ‘J’ for Julius.
As the sun starts to rise, I stare out the window. It’s all a blur, figuratively and literally. I don’t have my contacts in and I have no reason to put on my glasses. I watch as the orange color rises over the buildings. I close my eyes when it gets too bright.
This should be a relaxing Sunday, but my mind is too gone thinking about Professor Ingram. He doesn’t even know it was me that he danced with or kissed. Should I tell him? I’m sure he is wondering who the girl was.
I stay in bed till noon. Dozing off a few times, always waking up with the same thing on my mind. I can’t text Mya because I’m sure she is hung over with Christopher. I don’t really feel like being bothered all that much today anyway. My phone vibrates under the pillow and I don’t recognize the number, but I immediately know who it is from the text
Krystal I’m sorry about last night. I was wasted. I really like you and hope you forgive me.
I roll my eyes and slide the phone back under the pillow. Stupid jerk. I make a logical decision not to sulk in bed. I get up and throw on some thick black tights, a hoodie, and my boots to go to the library and get some papers done. I pack my laptop and chargers as I’m heading out.
I usually walk to the library, but it’s too cold today so I drive. I run into the library as the breeze begins picking up. Inside, I moan as the warm air hits me. I sign in and take a seat at a far back table where it’s empty and quiet.
I dive into my term paper for English to complete it even though it’s not due for another 2 weeks. In between doing that I summarize the assigned chapters given last week. I manage to finish both in 4 hours along with a small math assignment. I’m about to wrap it up when a book falls, cutting through the silence, making me jump hard. I gasp as my heart nearly jumps out of my chest.
“I’m so sorry Ms. Smith, I didn’t mean to scare you” The deep voice is coming from behind me, but I know who it is. I turn around and look up to see Professor Ingram looking at me. The butterflies in my tummy flutter about and a familiar tingle plagues my lips.
I’m still holding my chest as my heart rate goes back to normal. “Uh...It’s okay Professor, I just thought I was back here alone.”
He sits down in the seat across from me “Working hard on my assignments, I see. How’s it going?”
“Oh, I’m done with it all”
Professor Ingram blinks a few times, “You finished all the assignments in one setting?”
I nod “I didn’t have much to do today. So I figured I’d go ahead and knock all this stuff out the way”
He looks at me in disbelief. I raise my eyebrow waiting for him to say something, but he just smiles. Immediately my mind goes straight to the kiss. I want to blurt it out, but I bite my tongue. He doesn’t seem affected by it much. Maybe it didn’t mean anything. He probably has women falling at his feet. Done sulking and being observed by Professor Ingram, I gather all of my things up. When I go to stand, Professor Ingram’s hand lands on mine.
“Wait, Can you do me a favor? I need help with grading some assignments Dr. Quinn never got to. I’m sure everyone wants their grades so do you think you could help me with that?”
My stomach growls and I frown.
“Oh, well if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.” He says as his face falls a little.
I laugh “No, it’s not that. My stomach growled. I haven’t eaten all day.”
His face goes back to normal “I could order some food while we work if that’s okay with you”
I nod “Sure.” I should have said no. In a classroom alone with Professor Ingram without any chances of interruptions? Oh, this could be dangerous.
I pack my things into the car and drive to the English building, Professor Ingram follows in his car.
When I enter the building all the lights are off except Professor Ingram’s class light. I sit my phone and laptop down. Professor Ingram comes in and we briefly make eye contact until I look away.
“Okay, so the exams are in this stack. I hope it doesn’t take you long. I know you may have better things to do with your Sunday. I’ve ordered some pizza too. I hope you like Pepperoni.” I sit down with the answer key and begin working as does he. The pizza comes and we take a short break then get back to work. During the time, we go back and forth making eye contact or he’s either looking at me or me him. It’s weird knowing that I hold a key piece of information. I kissed you, Professor and I want to kiss you again.
In an attempt to distract myself from my own thoughts, I take my headphones out of my bag and play Carrie Underwood while I grade the papers. Occasionally, I catch Professor Ingram looking at me as I tap my boot to the beat.
I look over at him occasionally and he is going through a stack of papers, making red marks on them. I wonder if he is thinking about Audrey. I smile at the thought.
“Okay, I’m all done with these.” I check the time and it’s 7:30 and dark outside.
“Thank you so much, Krystal. I know it’s not a part of the T.A’s job to come this late, but I really appreciate it.” He takes a deep breath and puts the papers in a folder.
“No problem, so I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” I say as I scoop my things up.
“Uh yeah. You don’t have to come early tomorrow since we got all this done tonight.”
I start to walk out but Professor Ingram catches me before I push the door open.
“Wait, Krystal.” I turn around, “Since you have finished all your assignments, I’ll exclude you from the exam Thursday and Friday. Just turn in all your work. I’m pretty sure you’ll make A’s on them anyways”
“Thank you so much, Professor. I really appreciate that.”
He gives me a smile and opens the door for me to leave, but he walks out with me. I give him a confused look.
“I’m walking you to your car. It’s dark out and I want to make sure you are safe” I smile and continue walking. When we get outside it is freezing. I turn my face away from the wind as it burns my cheeks. Fishing my keys from my coat pocket, I hit the unlock button and throw my things into the back seat.
I turn around to face Professor Ingram “Uh, thanks for walking me to my car, Professor.”
He smiles and lays his hand on my shoulder “No problem, now get home safely”
We stand in the cold for a moment and the wind blows hard. My hair flies in my face and I try to swoop it back. I feel Professor Ingram’s hands on my face and my breath hitches. I move my hands and let him brush my hair out of my face. When his face is visible again, I smile up at Professor Ingram. He takes his finger and tucks a piece of hair behind my ear.
I feel my knees get weak so I put my hand on the car for leverage.
“Well...I’ll see you tomorrow, Professor.”
He nods and I turn and open the driver’s door. He watches as I get into my car and drive off. I look into my rearview mirror and he is running back into the building. I get back to my dorm and eye the jacket on my desk chair. Of course, I kept the jacket, but it wasn’t on purpose. When I ran off I didn’t realize it was still on me.
One day I’ll give it back.
The next morning I am pumped to get to class and tell Mya about Saturday. Should I really tell her though? I planned on keeping last night a secret. I don’t want Professor Ingram thinking I’m just some gossiping girl. I usually don’t gossip, but I can’t keep this information from my best friend.
When I walk into class. Professor Ingram looks at me and gives me a small barely noticeable nod. I smile and take my seat. Every student that walks into class I hope it’s Mya. Finally, she comes in and sits. “I have something to tell you”
“What is it? Oh, and Todd has been calling me nonstop asking about you. I told him to go fuck himself” She rolled her eyes. She is a little protective of me.
“You know the guy .....” I’m interrupted by the door closing. The class is starting and I have to hold my secret in. During his lecture, I get more and more anxious. I decide to write it on paper.
I take out a loose leaf and start writing.
You know the guy I was with after Todd got kicked out? I slide the paper over to her and she replies
Yea, what about him? Didn’t you kiss him?
Yes, but his mask fell off and I saw who he was.
She looks at me and I nod my head in Professor Ingram’s direction. She looks and her eyes get huge and she gasps a little. “Are you freaking serious?” She whispers.
I nod “Yes!”
“Oh my God. That is crazy. Does he know?”
“Nope. I never took my mask off. I still have his jacket in my dorm and....”
“Do you have anything you’d like to ask, Ms. Smith?” My face turns red as everyone turns around to look at me. In my mind, they know something happened between us.
I clear my throat “Uh..no, Professor Ingram” I sink down in my seat. How can he go from having a moment with me last night to embarrassing me today?
“Please refrain from talking while I lecture” His voice is stern and mean.
After class, I look at Professor Ingram and he catches me but doesn’t smile. My whole mood falls a little. When I leave the class Mya is waiting for me. I tell her everything that happened Saturday.
“So when do you plan on telling him?”
“I have no clue. I don’t even know if I should. I mean it was just a one-night thing that may never happen again. I don’t even think he likes me. He totally embarrassed me in class.” I sigh.
As I’m about to walk off, I realize I forgot my book in the class and have to go back. I tell Mya bye and turn around. When I get to the class I hear Professor Ingram on the phone. I decide to listen in outside the door.
“I’m telling you, I have to find this girl. I’ve been thinking about her nonstop since that night. I don’t even know what she looks like, but when she saw me she took off like I was a fucking ghost” He pauses, I assume the person on the other line is talking.
“Yeah, I know. I haven’t dated anyone in 2 years you don’t have to rub it in.”
I tap on the door and he tells the person that he has to call them back later. I walk in and see my book. “Sorry, I just forgot my book” I don’t smile. I just keep a blank look.
I grab my book and give him a quick look. I turn to leave, the quicker I get out of here the better.
“Ms. Smith.” He gets up and walks to me.
“Yes.” I turn on my heels to face him. I shift my weight from one foot to the other.
“I’m sorry for calling you out earlier. I’ve been stress lately.”
“It’s ok. I was talking so I deserved it. “I shrug and make the mistake of making eye contact with him. He looks down at me that same way he did that night. I don’t know if my heart is going to stop or explode.
He looks into my eyes for a moment and I swear they are burning into mine, pulling out all my secrets. I turn around and walk out before he can even say anything. I don’t hear him call me so either he still doesn’t know or he is in shock from realizing that the eyes he was just staring into belong to Audrey.