I eat professors like him for breakfast.
My fingers pulse as I sit waiting with my English paper in hand, and an argument on the tip of my tongue. There's no way I deserve this grade. My cheeks burn at the sight of the bright letter F on my most recent class essay. Poetry has never been my forte, but the only reason why I signed up for English 401: Poetry and Prose is because I assumed we would be doing more reading than writing. I didn't sign up because I care about fluffy imagery or the complexity of Keat's love for nature. I signed up because Professor Dorian's class is known among campus as an easy A.
I have one year of college left and nothing is getting in my way from graduation. Three years ago, I made a deal with my parents. Graduate from college with a degree and trade my diploma in for a 5.4 million dollar inheritance. Check payable to Josie Wilde, heiress of Wilde Entertainment Industries. The biggest production company this side of the Hollywood Hills.
At this point, it's the only thing motivating me to finish school. I'm over the busy work, over the pretentious professors who act like they know everything, and especially over the so-called great author we're forced to read. If I have to read The Bell Jar one more time, I'm going to stick my head in an oven. There's no way I deserve an F on this paper. I had this essay in the bag. Sure, I wrote it last minute but all of my papers have been written last minute, and all of them have been A papers. There's no way I'm failing an English class in my last year of college. I'm an English major for fuck's sake. This is not happening.
I eye the birch colored desk next to me as I wait for Professor Dorian to arrive. My fingers itch to clear the shabby looking thing. It sits cluttered with textbooks, graded papers, a grocery list and covered in coffee stains. It's like the man lives out of his office. So why isn't he here? Office hours started almost an hour ago. It's not like it's the day after mid-terms when Oceanside's campus is as quiet as the dead, with everyone either out celebrating in town or writing their future obituaries. Speaking of obituaries. God, my parents are going to flip when they find out that the nearly twenty-four thousand dollars of tuition is yielding an F in English.
It could be worse, right? I could be failing English. This is just one little essay.
"One little essay worth 30% of my grade," I groan.
My forehead is in my hands when I hear footsteps echoing down the hallway. Relief washes over me as I silently recite my well conceived argument for Professor Dorian. I'll just make my case and he'll have to let me rewrite my paper. Right? There's a reason why I chose his class. Professor Dorian is known among the University of Oceanside as an easy A. He uses a curved grading scale and he's well known by students on the site Grade The Professor as a softie. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if I've been led wrong.
The footsteps I heard earlier are now outside the door. I straighten my shirt, picking the lint off my sleeve and then direct my gaze to the doorway. The relief I felt only moments earlier quickly melts into confusion as a man in an expensive suit strolls into the office.
Who the hell is this? Instead of the short, old man with a white beard and giant glasses I was expecting, a stranger walks in.
The mysterious man is definitely not Professor Dorian.
This suit is tall, with silver highlighted brown hair, a 5 o'clock shadow and piercing green eyes. His shoulders are so wide they nearly swallow the tiny doorframe. I gulp, suddenly aware of how little of space this cubby size office has. If he steps any closer, he might as well be on top of me. If he's even one tenth surprised to see me as I am to see him, he doesn't show it. The silver-haired fox gazes at me with neither interest or surprise.
"Can I help you?"
The disdain in his voice is clear. Piercingly so. He sets down the leather briefcase in his hand and leans it against the tiny bookcase across from Professor Dorian's birch desk. He does so without ever taking his eyes off me. It's as if he's predator slowly approaching his prey.
I clear my throat, feeling a dryness setting in.
"I'm sorry, I'm here to see Professor Dorian."
A silence falls between us, leaving me to twiddle my thumbs as I wait for the green-eyed stranger's response.
"My English professor."
"I'm your professor."
My jaw falls open in confusion. Have I been hallucinating this entire semester? I'm pretty sure my English professor is the embodiment of Santa Claus. This guy looks like the embodiment of the naked man on my fireman calendar. I'm willing to be that even under that suit and tie, there's abs without an inch of fat.
"No, no your not. Professor Dorian is old and -"
"And dead," he says, cutting me off. "Professor Dorian passed away. I'm Professor Grant. I will be taking over your English class."
I haven't even told him which class I'm in.
"Oh," I say, trying to cover my surprise.
Guilt sets in. Professor Dorian wasn't my favorite professor but he is - or rather was- one of the sweetest. If you forget the fact that he liked oggling tits and asses all day.
"Let me guess, you're from English 115."
Ouch. I'm not a freshman.
"Do I look like an eighteen year old trying to figure out who she is?" I ask.
A smirk hits his lips and my skin is immediately set on fire by the sight. Sweet baby Jesus. I try my best not to get even more flustered than I already feel. I'm suddenly all too aware of the fact that Professor Grant is really hot and probably twice as old as me.
"Actually, I'm in English 401," I counter.
He looks at me as if trying to decide whether I'm lying or not. His gaze is intense and unrelenting in his search for truth.
"You look -" his eyes rake over me. He takes a moment as if measuring what he's about to say. "I mean…how can I help you this morning, Ms-"
"Wilde," I offer.
He makes it a point to step around me before taking a seat at Professor Dorian's desk. The moment he passes me I smell the faint scent of hazelnut and citrus. It's so intoxicating that I can't help but lean in.
"Ms. Wilde?" he says, with a look of confusion.
Shit. Was I just sniffing him like a dog?
"How can I assist you?"
I straighten my body and lean further back into my chair, creating as much distance between the two of us as possible.
"Is there something you need?" he presses on, as he removes his jacket.
Like your clothes completely off and you fucking me over this desk?
Josie, get a grip on your libido.
"Um, yes. I came to speak to Professor Dorian regarding my grade on our last essay assignment." My fingers grasp the paper wedged between my textbook. I almost feel ashamed to show Professor Grant my grade and I don't know why. The man in front of me doesn't even bother looking at me as he fires off another question. He begins to scribble on a notepad as if my presence no longer bares any importance to him.
"The paper on Jaques Derrida's theory of deconstruction?" he asks, still staring at his screen.
"Yes, that's correct."
His lips slightly curve into a smirk and despite the movement the rest of his face remains completely unmoved.
"What's wrong with the grade you received?" he asks, sounding bored.
"It's just wrong," I bite back.
My tone stills him. Anxiety crashes through me as he drops his pen and turns his full attention toward me.
"I'm quite sure it's not. In fact, I'm certain. I'm certain the grade you received is the grade you deserve." It takes me a moment to realize that maybe just maybe Professor Grant was the one to grade my Derrida paper, not Professor Dorian.
"I've never received an F on an English paper."
And I've certainly never deserved one. Not even now. The essay prompt was ridiculous and pretentious.
"There's a first time for everything, Ms. Wilde."
Irritation seeps through my veins. Is he serious? I can practically hear him laughing at me, despite the stone cold expression he wears.
"I would like to contest my grade and ask for a rewrite," I say, refusing to back down.
"Contest all you want, Ms. Wilde. The grade isn't changing."
"So you're not going to let me rewrite the paper?" I ask.
"No, but I'll tell you what I will do. If you show up to class and work hard, I'll let you remain in my class." His lips emphasize the word my. He turns back to his computer and begins to type away once again.
"Now, if you'll excuse me I have some work to do."
He dismisses me as if I'm just a child. I stare at his silhouette and curse him.
Who does he think he is? My eyes trace his broad shoulders up to the clean cut of his jaw. My annoyance only grows as I take in his all too appealing face. I've never wanted to punch and kiss someone as much as I do now.
"I would like an exception to withdrawal from your class."
I don't have to see his face to know he enjoyed saying it.
"I didn't sign up for your class. I signed up for Professor Dorian's class."
"Ms. Wilde, let me make this clear. You can choose to stop attending my class. It makes no difference to me, but if you do, I will fail you. Your only choice is to continue my class and work hard or fail and accept the blemish on your record."
"Blemish? This isn't the Scarlett Letter."
"Take the easy way and fail my class."
"You're an asshole!"
The words escape my lips before I have the opportunity to think them through. He turns to me with a look of irritation, as if allowing me to still be here is a gift from God.
"And you Ms. Wilde are nothing but a petulant child. Although I hate to insult my daughter by calling you a child. That is obviously what you are."
My cheeks heat at his brash words. Why is he affecting me this way? And why do I care? I stand taking my paper with the large letter F, turn and exit the office. There's no way in hell I'm letting this jerk get to me. Fuck him. My chest is on fire as I practically flee down the hallway. Don't cry, Josie. Don't cry.