I should be happy to go on a date with him. But why didn’t I? Something is disturbing me, and I could not pinpoint it.
“What happened, Hanna?” Paige asked me.
I looked at her.
“You are silent throughout the dinner.” She said again.
“Mr. Martinez asked me out,” I told her.
“What?” She was shocked and asked me back, “When?”
“He asked me while we were discussing the project.”
She narrowed her eyes.
“Is he harassing you?”
“What? No.” I said in surprise.
“Tell me what happened.” Her tone was serious now.
“He asked why I chose this project. When I told him about the reason, he said he was surprised and said he would love to know more about me.” I stopped.
“He is our professor Hanna,” Paige said in a flat tone.
I sighed. “I know. I even said that to him. But he said that he would not be my professor after two months.”
Paige became silent. After a couple of minutes, I asked her.
She did not answer but looked at me.
“Do you like him?”
“I asked do you like him.”
I kept quiet for a moment. “I... I don’t know.”
Paige sighed loudly.
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“When I saw him for the first time, I felt an attraction towards him. But then I learned that he is our professor. So I am confused now.”
“What about Mr. Martinez?”
“He looks like he is interested in me. But, I feel something is off.” I told her.
“What?” Paige asked me in confusion.
“I am not sure. I could not point out clearly, but I feel that he is hiding something.”
“If you are not sure, why did you accepted when he asked you out?”
I kept silent, looking away. Then, after a moment, I turned to Paige.
“After a long time, I slept the whole night yesterday without any dream,” I whispered.
“Oh, Hanna!” Paige sighed and took my hand. “Do you think he is the reason for not getting any nightmares? Are you using him to escape from your problems? Then you are not only cheating yourself but him also.”
“No, Paige, when I met him first, something sparked in me. I could not explain the feeling, but I wanted to talk to him, know about him. When I realized that he was our substitute professor, I understood that I could not talk to him beyond a student-teacher relationship. But he showed his interest openly on both days. At the same time, I feel that he is hiding something from me. Something that I could not understand. But, I am feeling happy whenever I see him.”
Paige did not answer.
So I prompted. “Say something, Paige.”
“I feel this is too soon. But, if you are happy, I am not going to say anything. But please be careful.”
After saying Goodnight to Paige, I lied on my bed and thought about the day. I thought about how my heart skipped a beat every time I saw him, how I felt peaceful yesterday night. But now, I am feeling uneasy whenever he wanted to talk to me personally.
While getting ready for the day, I finally decided to talk to Mr. Martinez. I would tell him that I wanted some time and to cancel the date. But I could not see him till lunch and decided to meet him in his room. And then I learned that he was on sick leave. I was surprised to hear this news.
When Paige saw me still in my casual clothes, she raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“Are you not going on a date now?”
“Mr. Martinez is on sick leave today. So he may not be turning up for the date.” I told her.
“Strange.” She said.
“You both have decided to go on one date. But still, you are addressing him as Mr. Martinez.” She answered with a smile.
I stopped when we heard the doorbell. I got up and moved towards the door. I was stunned to see him at the doorstep.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him in surprise.
“Didn’t I asked you out?” Mr. Martinez asked back with a smile.
“But, I heard that you are sick today.”
“I got an urgent work. So I missed the work. But how can I miss the date with you?” He asked, looking at me from top to bottom.
I then realized that he was still at our doorstep, and I asked him to come in. Paige saw him and gave a smile.
“Miss Nelson.” He nodded his head at her.
I excused myself to my room, leaving them both in the living room. I changed my clothes, brushed my hair, and left the room with my clutch.
I could see Paige firing some questions at him, and he was answering back with a smile. Then, hearing my footsteps, Mr. Martinez turned to look at me.
Paige smiled at me, showing thumbs up at his back, while Mr. Martinez was gazing at me from top to bottom. I flushed at the intensity of his eyes.
He took me to a seaside restaurant. He already reserved a table for us. After ordering the drinks and starters, we sat in silence.
“Mr. Martinez,” I called him.
“Mr. Martinez?” He asked in surprise. “Hanna, do you still want to address me formally? Call me Jack, please.”
“Aren’t we going very fast?”
His smile fell a little.
“Do you think we are going very fast?”
“I mean. I know you only for two days. I don’t know anything about you.”
“But I feel as if I know you for days.” He said in a soft voice. “Ask me anything. What do you want to know about me?”
“I don’t know anything about you at all. Can you tell me about you?”
He chuckled and looked at me.
“As you know, my name is Jack Martinez. I am running a business.”
“Business? Then how are you here?”
“I run a software company. I take guest lectures in colleges. Michael is my good friend. Because of his problems, he is needed home for some time. So I accepted to cover for him.”
“What is your company name?”
“Cyber Gate Solutions.”
I sputtered at his answer.
“What? The Cyber Gate Solutions?” I asked in awe.
Cyber Gate Solutions is one of the fast-growing software companies in the country. So how come he is here in college for two months if he runs a big company? I asked him the same.
He smiled at my question.
“My company is important to me. But I value my friends and family more than that.”
Wow! My inhibitions about him lessened at his answer.
“What about your family?” I asked him.
“My father runs a small automobile shop, and my mother is a homemaker. I have a small brother who is studying computers. He wants to join my company after his studies.”
“My friend Amy and I also used to talk about your company. We were even planning to apply to your company after our degree.” I said with a sad smile, thinking about Amy. The sound of glass breaking brought me back to reality. I saw the glass in Jack’s hand was broken into pieces on the floor.
“I am sorry. It slipped my hands.” He said.
“Are you alright?” I asked him.
“Yes. It was an accident.” He signaled the waiter to clean the place.
The rest of the evening went uneventful. We spoke many things about ourselves, and I was surprised to see that many of our tastes match each other. By the end of the dinner, I understood that I like him more.
Jack stopped his car at my place. We both got down.
“Thank you for dinner. I had a great time.” I told him.
“I am sorry that the evening ended so soon.” He said with a smile.
I smiled back at him. “Me too.”
“Can you do me a favor?”
I looked at him. “Tell me.”
“Do not tell anyone that I own Cyber Gate.”
“I have come here as a friend of Michael. I don’t want to have any unwanted disturbances. I have told everyone that I work in Cyber Gate. If anyone asks you, please maintain the same.”
I nod my understanding. He suddenly became serious.
“I don’t want to disturb this feeling, but I have to.”
“You project thesis. Bring your code tomorrow. Your deadline is not far away.”
I nod at him. “I will bring it tomorrow.”
He took my hand and kissed my palms.
“Since this is our first date, I don’t want to take any more advantage. But don’t expect me to be a gentleman all the time.”
I took in a sharp breath at his words. He laughed at my reaction, got in the car, and left. I stood there looking at the moving till it dissolved in the traffic.