Devon Dawson struggled to keep her papers in order as she stuffed them into her bag. It was the start of the fall semester and her schedule included five courses. She slid awkwardly as her shoe skidded across the floor, wet from the rain outside, and crashed into the wall.
“Fantastic.” Starting the day off great.
The entrance to the large projection classroom beckoned to her, and she glanced inside before stepping through the door. She had never had a class in there and it felt more like a theater than your typical room. She brushed a piece of her long black hair out of her face and went to take a step inside but stumbled and sent the contents of her book bag down several steps.
“Fuck.” Her purse, papers, folders, small laptop case, and pens went flying. She reached down to gather them and promptly lost her balance. A hand reached out and grasped her elbow before she could follow her belongings down the stairs. When she turned her head to see who had caught her, she felt her jaw drop. The man had intense blue eyes with a dark violet flame in the center and she gasped as his eyes met hers.
“Are you all right?” he asked as he released her arm.
“Yes,” she answered quickly. “Thanks for catching me.”
“You’re welcome.” He retrieved her belongings and piled them back in her arms. “I’m Professor Matthews. Go find a seat.”
Devon felt a wave of heat flush over her face as she sank down into the first empty spot. What a stupid first impression to make!
The professor took attendance moments later and she raised her hand at the sound of her name. Great, now he knows exactly who I am.
His lesson passed quickly as they went over the course outline. They would be watching recent documentaries covering the origins of modern day witches, werewolves, and vampires who were all very real, though not as Hollywood portrayed them. The notes she jotted down were similar to the ones scrawled in her old notebooks.
Why did I take another supernatural course? She had taken one in high school and the topics appeared to be exactly the same.
The classroom filled with the noise of shuffling papers and chatter. The noise snapped her out of her memories and she stood up.
“Is there something I can help you with?” Matthews called over the noise.
“I was listening intently to your lesson and lost track of time. I apologize.” Devon gathered her things slowly and moved into the aisle.
“I didn’t do much talking.”
“Perhaps I find documentaries fascinating.” She paused as he took the steps in stride until he reached her.
“Tell me something. Usually I have a bunch of freshmen in here because they think this is a cake walk. Why are you here?”
“Underclassmen are stupid if they think a course about supernatural creatures is an easy grade. I took a course in high school and almost flunked.” She rolled her eyes. “They should know better.”
“Why would you risk another go-round if you almost failed?”
Devon looked up as the last of her classmates filed out of the room. They were now alone and she kept thinking about the embarrassment she felt from almost falling. “I watched all the documentaries on the agenda already and I had free time. Your class is listed as an elective and it fit into my schedule.”
“Is the topic important to you?”
“Very.” Devon adjusted the bag on her shoulder. Dear gods! His voice caressed her as if he was running velvet up and down her legs.
“I’m glad you believe in something.” He nodded towards her necklace. “Do you practice?”
“I dabble at best. I’m not much into organized religion, but I am spiritual.” Devon looked down at the small Celtic pentacle hanging on her silver chain. It was a symbol of protection and she never took it off.
“I’d like to discuss the topic more, if you are free sometime after class.”
“Uh, yeah, I know it’s a topic we’re covering.”
His eyes sucked her in again.
Could she really consider the possibility of him being interested in her, or was it something else? “I, uh, have another class to get to. Thank you for helping me with my stuff before. I’m so clumsy.” She rushed up the stairs, knowing her next class started soon.
“No problem, just be sure to pay attention to your surroundings.”
“Okay, I will.” Devon hurried up to the hallway. Her phone chirped to indicate five minutes until her next class but at least the class was nearby. She made it there in record time but could not focus. The thought of spending time alone with Professor Matthews gave her goose bumps.
Why did he talk to me?
* * *
Devon sat quietly at dinner and didn’t engage in conversation until she felt someone give her arm a hard poke. “What?”
“You have been as quiet as a freaking mouse all night! What’s going on with you?” Barbi, an underclassman, poked her again. The girl was nice enough but could easily get on your nerves. She had been invited to live there by her and Lucy, her best friend since high school, since she had not secured a place in the dorms.
Devon gathered up her dishes, rinsed them, and set them in the dishwasher. “I don’t know. I had a new class today with Professor Matthews and I just keep thinking about him. I mean, I made a total ass of myself. I was looking at the big screen in his classroom so I dropped all my shit, and then I almost fell.”
“He only lets in underclassman and believe me, I fought to get in his Monday and Wednesday class. Did you know there is actually a waiting list?” Barbi’s eyes sparkled in awe.
“No, I didn’t know. I had free time and I got in.” Devon closed the dishwasher and turned back around. “Did you notice anything different about him?”
“I just noticed how attractive he is. Like, full on schoolgirl fantasy attractive.” Barbi giggled.
“Okay, too much information!” Devon groaned.
“Professor Dreamy is not worth your time,” Lucy snorted from her position on the couch. The room had an open layout and she could easily hear their conversation.
“Maybe he isn’t worth your time,” Devon huffed and made her way over to the armchair near the couch. She flopped into it and pulled her feet up.
“I’ve got to read the last three chapters of this book before class starts, so my butt is going upstairs,” Barbi stated and walked towards the spiral staircase. It led up to the second floor, where there were three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house, though small, met their needs well.
“Okay, see you.” Devon gave a wave.
“Night.” Lucy also waved at the younger girl then turned toward the armchair. “I don’t like your choice in eye candy.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Josh refused to take any classes in the same building as him.”
“So, your boyfriend doesn’t like him. So what?”
“Josh is my mate and he’s very observant of how people are. If he avoids him, there must be a reason.”
“Maybe he stepped on his tail.” It was a low blow even though she didn’t like the jock. Josh was third in command—whatever that meant in the werewolf pack Lucy belonged to. The two had been mated for about a year, and though the wolf thing didn’t matter, she felt uneasy around him. Why is she giving me such a hassle over him?
“You could try to get along with him.” Lucy rose to her feet.
“He could try to get along with me.”
A burst of orange flashed through Lucy’s eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Devon dropped her eyes to the floor. Whenever her friend grew angry or irritated her eyes turned amber.
“Josh never did anything to you! You met some stupid professor and now you’re all ga-ga for him?”
“He saved me from falling down the stairs,” Devon whispered.
“How close did you get to him?” Lucy growled under her breath.
“He grabbed me, but I’m not head over heels for him. I’m happy I can still be attracted to someone.” Devon began playing with a stray string on the cushion.
“You’re attracted to him?” Lucy bounced up and down on her feet. “I would drop his course and be done.”
“One conversation does not equal me jumping into bed with him. Besides, we’re going to meet up and discuss the topics more.” Devon raised her head and saw the orange glow fading back into brown.
“Just pay attention, okay? Don’t get in over your head.” Lucy headed towards the front of the house. “I need to run.” She opened the door and slammed it behind her.
A “run” meant she needed to shift into a wolf to work through her agitation. Certain cycles of the moon tipped her aggression easier than others, but usually she was pretty mellow. Devon moved to the couch, pulled down a throw blanket, and cuddled up. Lucy would be naked when she came home and would need someone to let her in.
Her thoughts drifted back to Professor Matthews. Why had he let her in his class if he only let underclassmen in? Could he have heard about her parents and want to help her out? Could he possibly know what she was doing to herself? She knew she had to change her path, but no one cared enough to help her.
* * *
Three weeks of the semester had gone by and already Devon had a bad attendance record. The grief she had pushed away tugged her to the bar over and over again so she could drown out the sadness. The only course she attended on a regular basis was Supernatural 101, taught by Professor Matthews.
Today she hid in the very back of the room behind a large pair of dark sunglasses. Normally she engaged in class discussion, but last night she had too much to drink and she’d woken up with a hangover. She sank down as far as she could in the seat as the class wore on.
The minutes ticked by slowly until the time indicated class was over. Devon stood up with her bag. She had not bothered to take notes.
I didn’t participate at all and he didn’t even notice.
“Ms. Dawson? Come here a moment,” Professor Matthews called up the stairs as she headed towards the door.
“Sure.” She spun around and clomped down the stairs. Devon reached his desk then leaned her hip against it. “I have a headache. Is this important?”
“I don’t allow sunglasses in here. Next time I will take them off in the middle of class.” He reached forward and plucked the glasses from her face.
“Hey! Those are mine!” She snatched them back, but she knew the damage was done. His eyes widened as he looked over her face, obviously seeing her bloodshot eyes with the huge bags underneath.
“If you’re not going to participate in class or follow the rules outlined in the agenda, then I’d rather you not be here.” Matthews crossed his arms as she tried to think of a response.
“I usually participate and I did read the rules but I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.” Despite her personal demons, Devon wanted to excel.
Does he know how hard I’m struggling?
“Do you have a hangover?”
“Why do you care?” she snipped, then bit down into her lip.
Why did I snap at him? Haven’t I been begging for someone to pay attention to me?
“You sound rather defensive right now, even though all I asked was one simple question. I suspect you have been left to your own devices sooner than you were prepared to be.” Matthews dropped his arms to rest his hands on top of her shoulders. “My schedule is clear this afternoon. Is there something I can help with?”
“In case you haven’t read the paper, both my parents are dead. But it doesn’t matter since I’m an adult. I can handle myself,” she stated firmly while fearing she sounded like a little girl lost in a store because she’d wandered away from the safety of her parents. Without her parents she had no motivation or purpose.
Don’t you have another class more important than me and my life?
“Forgive me if I’m wrong, but you don’t sound very convincing. I’m offering—”
“I don’t care about anything you have to say.” Devon shrugged his hands off. “I told you I’m an adult. You didn’t seem to hear me.”
“When you are here in my classroom, you will speak respectful words to me. Are we clear?”
Devon opened her mouth to tell him off when she found herself lost in the violet swirls of his eyes. She tried to think of a good comeback when his hand shot out and closed her mouth.
“I expect respectful words. Are we clear?” Matthews had a firm grip on her chin, and she nodded without breaking eye contact. “Good.”
Devon felt her heart pound against her chest as she stared at him. The rational part of her brain argued she could simply pull away, but a deeper thought wormed into her consciousness. She wanted to do exactly as he said.
“You have other classes to get to. It would help your grades immensely if you actually went to them.” He released his hold but didn’t move away.
“I’m going to most of them,” she grumbled and slid her sunglasses back on. How the hell does he know I’m not going?
“Try going to all of them.” His tone dripped with authority and turned her on, though she hated to admit it.
“Is there a prize if I do?”
“Yeah, it’s called passing the semester.”
“Are you serious about getting together to discuss some of the topics we’re covering?”
“I wouldn’t have asked otherwise.”
“Do you have time tomorrow?”
“If I move around a meeting I would, but a few minutes ago you stated you could care less about what I have to say.” Matthews cocked his head to the side, and she felt a rush of heat come over her face.
“I don’t want to talk about me, but I would like to get as many different perspectives as I can, especially since the subject of our final project is unknown.” She straightened and found herself pressed dangerously close to his body. “My classes are done by two.”
“Can you get to The Bookworm by two-thirty? It’s quiet there and it’s just up the road.” A smirk was playing on his lips, and Devon wondered what thoughts flitted through his mind.
“Sure, and I’m sorry about before. I’ve been having a really tough time with things lately.” She took several small backwards steps until they had distance between them.
“I accept your apology and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Matthews returned to sit at his desk. “You should go or you’ll be late to your next class.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to miss it.” Devon retreated up the stairs and rolled her eyes. Each professor had asked for her daily schedule and he seemed to have memorized hers. “Bye.” She swore she heard him laugh as she reached the door, but when she glanced back she saw him involved with a stack of papers.
Why the hell did I ask him to meet with me? What am I doing?
* * *
“I can’t do this… I can’t…” Devon paced in front of the main campus building where her last class had been held. It was the day after her promise to meet up with Professor Matthews and she had ten minutes to get to the tiny cafe. Her stomach felt tied up in knots. Why did I act like such a brat and then ask him to talk? Oh my gods, he re-arranged his morning, but I don’t want to go anymore! Why am I so nervous? Finally, after another five wasted minutes of agonizing, she hurried to the location and went inside.
“I found a table over by the window unless you want to sit outside.” Matthews stood up from the small couch near the door and gestured towards the large picture window across the room.
“No, by the window is great.” Devon forced her feet to move and could not help but watch the way his jeans hugged the curve of his ass perfectly. He’s my professor. What am I thinking?
“You said you only dabble in the craft? Did you ever seek out anyone else?” He pulled her chair out and she sat hesitantly, then scooted it in.
“Uh…” She set her book bag on the floor and looked up. Devon felt like a rocket scientist caught in a game of Simon Says. Why can’t I think of anything to say?
“There used to be a campus group some years back—before the path became accepted by others.”
“I can do some spells, but really only for my protection. I’ve also asked for guidance from a certain god or goddess if I’m indecisive about something.” Devon played with her necklace as the waitress approached.
“Can I get you something?” The cute blond smiled broadly at Matthews and didn’t acknowledge her at all.
“I’ll have a tall vanilla latte with double light whipped cream, caramel syrup on top, and chocolate syrup on the bottom,” Devon smiled sweetly.
“Uh… what?” The blond started as if she hadn’t seen her. “I’m sorry, honey, what do you want?”
“Coffee in a big cup with sugar and half and half and lots of whipped cream.” Devon simplified the order since she’d only made it sound complicated to get the woman’s attention, as the waitress had seemed fixated on Matthews. He didn’t seem amused at her joke.
“I’ll have a tall mocha with an extra shot.” He patted the girl’s hand and she ran off to fill the order. Matthews brought his focus back to Devon. “You didn’t give her a chance.”
“She got all mesmerized.” She clamped her hand over her mouth as her choice of words made her sound strangely jealous. What is my problem?
“Oh? You think I’d have let her leave without taking your order? Or maybe I’d have just let her stare at me all day?” Matthews laughed as a wave of heat washed over her. “I’m sorry. It’s just something I’m used to.”
“You’re used to gorgeous blonds falling into your lap?” Embarrassed and irritated, Devon shot to her feet. “I’ve got to go.”
“Sit down. I’m not sure why you are on edge right now, but your drink will be out in a minute.” He pointed at the space across from him.
“I don’t know why you want to talk to me anyway.” She jutted her chin out, intending to leave right way, when he reached up, tugged her toward him, and planted her on his knee.
“You asked me if I had time today.” He leaned to whisper in her ear. “Now I want you to stand up, brush off your attitude, and go back to the other side of the table before you draw more attention.”
“I don’t have to listen to you.” Devon stiffened as he shifted to allow her to stand. “I’m sure you have more important things to do anyway.”
“No, you don’t have to. But if you really wanted to leave, you would already be out the door.” Matthews nodded to the chair she had vacated. “I moved up a meeting to be here, so this is my priority.”
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, then did as he requested, though her thoughts ran wild. Why did he pull me onto his lap? Why am I so turned on?
“The other day you said supernatural creatures are important to you, but you seem less than enthusiastic about your religion.”
“My best friend is a werewolf.” Devon ran her hands over the lip of the table to keep her hands busy.
“Sounds like a low budget, made-for-television movie.” Matthews slid her drink over to her and took a sip of his as she looked up.
“Thank you.” She inhaled the sweet scent, then sipped happily. She hadn’t seen the waitress come back and wondered why she had gotten so irritated with her earlier. “Lucy told me back when the two of us were in high school. I’ve done what I can to be supportive of her.”
“Has she faced discrimination, or does she hide who she is?”
“I’ve never thought about it. Lucy has always been open with me, but the only time I can remember involved another werewolf. When we were freshmen, this girl got all up in her face. This kid in our class went missing and this other girl said Lucy should try to track him, unless he had become her dinner.”
“I remember reading about that in the local paper. He ran off to Vegas with his girlfriend to elope and scared his whole family. I guess the girl just wanted to rile your friend.”
“It’s not a good idea to get Lucy worked up ‘cause she has a short fuse. I don’t think she means to get angry, but when she has to force herself to play human all the time, it drains her energy.” Devon took a long sip of coffee. “I found out later the girl was also a wolf, but I never knew why she picked on Lucy.”
“It could be for any number of reasons. Werewolves are usually concerned with protecting their own, unless there is more to the story?”
“Of course, since there are always three sides to every story. One side, the other side, and the truth in the middle.” She titled forward in her chair. “Why did you yank me onto your lap before?”
“I really wanted to bend you over it to correct your behavior, but this is a public place.” Matthews gave a small shrug. “You threw a fit for no reason after I shuffled around my schedule, and I do not appreciate that.”
Devon took another sip, then snorted her coffee as the mental image of herself prone across his thighs flitted through her mind. She set the mug down as she relearned how to breathe and recovered from the burning sensation in her nose. Tears welled over her eyes as well and she wiped at them furiously.
“Are you all right?”
“Mm-hmm.” She dabbed the napkin to her nose and mouth, then reached for another to clean up the mess. “Uh, you said what?”
“I mentioned a change in your perspective.” Matthews handed her another napkin. “You seem to be headed down a bad path, and I would hate to watch you follow it.”
“Then close your eyes and forget about me and my choices.” Devon threw down her napkin and crossed her arms over her chest. He had a point, but it only pissed her off. I don’t need his help!
Matthews rose to his feet to pay the bill then returned. “I thought you wanted to talk about other things.”
“I don’t know. Let’s pretend this didn’t happen. Just forget me and move on.” Devon gasped as he set his palms flat against the table on either side of her and caught her eyes in his.
“This conversation isn’t over. Do not disrespect me again or I will handle the situation immediately.” He bent in closer. “Do you understand what I mean?”
“No. You’ve made all these odd comments about my attitude and correction, but I’m completely confused. What are you saying?” Devon swallowed hard as the purple sheen in his eyes darkened.
“I believe that physical consequences in response to bad choices help to alter future ones. If you continue this behavior around me, I will spank you.”
“Whatever.” She ducked under his arm and stood up. “Thank you for the coffee. I apologize for interrupting your day. Good-bye.”
She rushed out the door before he had a chance to reply. She figured he would be annoyed but had no intention of a follow through. Her panties gave away her real feelings as she felt wetness pool in between her thighs. Damn it! He had turned her on with his threat of punishment and she’d had no idea how to react. Could he really mean what he’d said?
Devon stormed down the road turned the corner. “How dare he say I’m making bad choices when he doesn’t even know me?” she grumbled to herself. “I don’t even want to pretend I know what he meant by saying he will spank me!” She cursed under her breath, irritated at her choice to take the long way home when she saw a figure propped up against a lamppost. Devon got closer and realized Professor Matthews stood there with something in his hand.
“Did you know I went home this way?”
“Sort of. You forgot your bag so I took a short cut to get it back to you.” He held the cross-body pack out to her along with a small card.
“Um… thanks.” Gods, I am mortified! Devon accepted them and slipped the bag over her head.
“If you find yourself stuck somewhere, give me a call. I’ll see you in class.” He moved past her and headed up the road.
“I’ll think about it. See you.” Devon looked down at the card and saw he’d written down his office and cell phone numbers. She tucked the card in her back pocket, then hurried home.
How could I have been so rude?
* * *
As days passed by, Devon continued to escape into her own little world. Her friends tried to help, but she isolated herself from them.
Last night she’d been bar hopping, had gotten behind the wheel instead of calling a cab, and she’d been in an accident. It left her car totaled and her leg had been broken in several places.
Devon had contemplated calling Professor Matthews but had decided against it. He had his own life and after her horrible behavior, she didn’t want to ask for anything from him.
The rest of the night blurred in her memory—probably because they had doped her up with pain killers. She recalled the nurses being overly kind to her which seemed odd since she could have caused someone else to get hurt in her bad judgment. I must have ‘orphan’ tattooed on my file.
But one thing bothered her more than the injury. She had called up Lucy and had begged her to come to the hospital, but her friend had refused. Her heart hurt as much as the bruises did, but she continued to hope an explanation existed for Lucy’s decision. Then for some crazy reason a cab had brought her home for free. Not standard by any means.
Devon struggled to maneuver the crutches up the hallway towards the classroom, her foot yelling in pain with each movement. I’m so stupid; I should have taken that other pain pill! She cursed mentally as she entered the room as quietly as possible. She was late to her Supernatural exam and had been unable to reach Matthews to explain the situation. The steps appeared too steep to descend with crutches. How the hell am I going to manage this?
“Ms. Dawson, it’s so nice of you to join us for this exam. I saved a seat for you, right here.” Matthews smacked the top of the desk in front of him.
“I wrapped my car around a tree last night and broke my leg. Then I waited in the emergency room for four hours, got doped up with a ton of medication, and didn’t get home until after five a.m.” The icky sweetness of her tone could give all her classmates cavities.
Everyone in class had dropped their booklets and were staring at her as she continued, “I apologize you didn’t receive the messages I left for you on your office line and via email. I’ll be sure to take my seat once I figure out how to hop there.”
“I’m aware of your graceful disposition and will make up for my lack of courtesy by carrying you to the only empty seat in the room.”
Devon said nothing as he approached and placed her crutches against one of the seats in the last row. He then lifted her firmly into his arms and walked back down the steps. A flush came over her as he set her gently into the seat. Her classmates meanwhile settled back into their tests while she opened her booklet. “Thanks,” she mumbled and picked up a pencil.
The minutes ticked by as she studied the clock on the wall. Shit! I barely made it through the first portion of the test! The material covered exactly what she’d studied, but the pain in her leg kept distracting her. She had decided not to take the second dose of pain medication so that she could focus on the exam.
Her pencil now had bite marks up and down the length and she dropped it in disgust. How am I going to pass this when I am so freaking distracted? She rubbed the bridge of her nose and looked around. The rest of her classmates had finished and had left.
“Give me the exam back.” Matthews got up from his desk and reached for it.
“No!” she snapped and held the booklet to her. “I’m almost finished.”
“We can re-schedule it for next week.” He slid the papers out of her hand, ripped them into pieces, and deposited them into the trash.
“I would’ve completed your test had you allowed me just a few more minutes. I have a doctor’s note to excuse me for the rest of the week, but I managed to get here.” Devon slammed her pencil onto the desk and crossed her arms. Why the hell did I just lie to him? I barely got through the first two questions!
“I can see you are in pain. What would you say if I told you I’ve got something to help your foot?”
“Like drugs or something? I don’t think so. I have a bottle of pills at home.” She collected her things and put them in her bag, then stood and flung the bag over her shoulder. “Please excuse me while I crawl up the stairs.” Devon twisted around and hopped up two steps.
“I’m not going to watch you break your other leg.” Matthews suddenly stood there in front of her as if he had been there the whole time.
“How did you move so fast?” She tilted her head to the side in confusion. Holy shit!
“Follow me into my office. I’ll give you something to heal your leg completely.” He gestured back down the stairs.
“You mean like an herb?” She shook her head and rattled the words ‘heal your leg’ around in her brain. “I mean, not FDA approved?”
“No, but it will treat the break.”
“Um, I don’t need hair growing on my tongue or some crazy side effect like leaking fluid out of my ears.” Devon glanced up toward the door. “Anyway, my crutches are up there, so unless you are going to grab them, I’m stuck standing here.”
“Would you talk to any of your other professors in such a flippant tone?”
“None of them get me this…” she swallowed hard to avoid the word ‘aroused’, “…get me like this.”
“Like what?” Matthews looked genuinely perplexed as she fumbled for the right word.
“Flustered,” Devon substituted. His proximity was making her sweat. Even with the ache in her leg and the embarrassment from the failed attempt at the test, she could not ignore her attraction to him.
“Flustered?” Matthews nodded and she thought she saw a shadow of a smile. “Well then, I’ll try not to do that.”
“You seem quite amused at my choice of words.”
“I’d rather hear how you really feel.”
“I feel irritated, somewhat annoyed, and right now, pissed off. So choose one.”
“You can either follow me into my office or you can hop your butt up the stairs, but I’m done listening to your mouth.” Matthews rushed up the stairs, grabbed her crutches, and returned them to her.
“If you’re angry I missed the exam, fine, but I can’t handle whatever game this is.” Devon dug her nails into the soft cushioned bars of the crutches.
She wanted to tell him how she’d gotten to this spot in her life but didn’t know how to open up.
“You will eventually realize I don’t play games.” He brushed past her and headed down the stairs.
“I’m not going anywhere!” She swiveled her body toward the front of the room and watched as he descended the stairs without a glance back to her.
“Good-bye, Ms. Dawson.” He waved over his shoulder and continued toward his desk.
How dare he dismiss me so easily! Devon thrust the crutches under her arms to spin around after him but the left crutch tip got stuck mid-swing. Her balance got thrown off and she had to let go of them to break the fall. A flash of movement caught her eye and suddenly she was no longer falling. Somehow he had managed to catch both her and the crutches at the same time.
A thousand thoughts flitted through her brain, but none of them made sense as he slowly brought her to a standing position and released her. It reminded her of a dip in a passionate dance, and for just a moment she wanted to stay in his arms. “How did you catch me?”
“Adrenaline rush. You would probably be on your way back to the hospital if I hadn’t.” He handed her the crutches. “Do you want to come to my office now?” He swept one arm toward the small side door at the front of the room.
“Yeah, fine,” Devon mumbled then swung her crutches and followed him.
They made their way through several hallways until they reached a door embossed with his name. He quickly twisted open the knob, bid her to enter, then shut and locked the door behind them.
“Will you please tell me how you caught me?” She set her crutches down carefully with one hand, then positioned herself onto the long black leather couch. His office contained two additional couches, and several bean bags lay out casually between them. The room felt very polished, set off by modern black furniture and wide book shelves.
“Maybe I’m a ninja.” Matthews gave a graceful shrug.
“I call bull shit.” She blinked and found him inches away from her face.
“If you curse at me again, I’ll teach you a lesson in respect you won’t easily forget.”
“Does it involve your lap?” Devon felt her nipples harden underneath her shirt. Why am I so excited at the thought? Could it be the attention? Damn my body!
“It does, which leads me to believe you’re curious despite your hesitation. Sometimes I think you poke in hopes of a reaction.”
“You don’t know me well enough to make such a statement.” Maybe I do want some fucking attention. Devon dropped her arms slowly as he moved to his desk.
“You’re very easy to read but we can discuss that some other time.”
“So what is this stuff you have? Can it really fix my foot?” Her fingers fiddled with the charm on her necklace. If he hadn’t caught me, I would probably be back in the hospital. How can I not trust him?
“You drink it, and the answer to the second question is yes.” He twirled the combination on a small safe and pulled out a locked box.
“Is it legal?”
“Technically it’s unknown, so it can’t be legal or illegal. But I warn you not to use it in public.” He took a small maroon colored vial out of the box and held it carefully in his hand while he re-locked the box and safe.
“Are there any side effects?” She weighed the risk and decided to follow her instinct to trust him. He had saved her from another fall, so he must have her good in mind.
“It will burn and then probably knock you out. But nothing else I can think of.” He took slow and deliberate steps until he was at her side. “Swear you will place it in your purse and not open it until you’re home in bed.”
Devon extended her hand. “I swear,” she mumbled as she stared at the small yet pretty container.
“Repeat what I say, ‘I will place it in my purse and not open it until I am home in bed.’” He dangled it above her palm.
“Repeat what I say.” Devon rolled her eyes at his insistence to keep the item under lock and key. What the hell is in it? “Blah-blah… I promise.”
“Do you speak this way to everyone?” Matthews dropped it carefully into her hand.
“No, only to someone who thinks he has authority over me when he has none.” Devon curled her fingers around the vial and tried to calm her frantic pulse. Whenever he focused on her, she forgot how to act.
“If you don’t believe I have any authority, then why did you follow me in here?”
“You prevented me from getting hurt twice.” Damn! The fact that he knew she listened to him despite the crap going on around her rubbed her the wrong way. He had led her to his office and she had blindly trailed behind. “Anyway, I appreciate it. When you pay attention to me, I want to listen.”
“I’m genuinely surprised at this response, since you were mouthy back in the classroom.” He raised his eyebrows. “Did you forget the back talk?”
“No. And I’m sorry about all of that.” Devon felt embarrassed that her inner brat kept poking at him and nearly demanding he address her.
“I accept your apology and expect to see you after class on Tuesday to talk about your make-up exam.” He held his hand out to help her up.
“Okay, I’ll be here.” She popped the vial into the zippered pocket of her bag, then closed it. “I’m in a lot of pain, and I really didn’t mean to be disrespectful to you.” Devon used his arm as leverage to get up, then grabbed the crutches.
“Get home safe.” Matthews unlocked the door and opened it for her. “Have a good night.”
“Thanks. You too.” She made it through the door, then quickly left for the bus stop. Forget his orders to take the vial home! If it contained something powerful enough to fix her foot, she wanted to down it now and go out. He had warned about the substance and its effect on her stomach, but alcohol did the same thing.
Devon hopped along the path towards the bus stop. The next bus would arrive in about twenty minutes according to her phone. It was the free campus bus, so on schedule would be closer to thirty minutes.
“He told me to go home and take it in my bed. Whatever.” She sat down on the bench and opened her purse. The elixir practically called to her and she glanced around to make sure no one else was nearby. She brought it out of the pouch and tried to twist off the top. After several failed attempts she was able to slide her nail under the rim to pop off the top.
An odd chill went down her spine and she started as two legs appeared next to the bench. When she looked up to see Matthews glaring daggers at her, she sprang up from the seat. “Why are you following me?” A white hot pain shot through her foot and caused her to crumple to the ground.
“I got the impression you wouldn’t listen and I’m right.”
“I’m sorry!” She took in great gasps of air. “Oh! My leg hurts!”
“I’m sure it does.” He pulled her up into his arms. “I’ll bring you to my house and you can take it there, but next time you listen to what I tell you to do.”
“I will!” Devon settled against his chest and wondered how she had wound up being carried by Matthews again in such a short amount of time. Other than Lucy occasionally showing off her super werewolf strength, no one had cradled her since kindergarten. She felt oddly cared for, though her leg still throbbed and pulled her back to reality. “It really hurts.”
“Just breathe. The pain will stop soon.”
A few minutes later they arrived at one of the older houses on campus. It was set back from the road and was in the woods up a winding driveway. She could see small lights in the windows but the other details blurred from her tears.
Matthews opened the door and brought her to the couch. He set her down carefully on the cushions and then handed her the vial. “Drink this.”
Devon took the vial and tipped it into her mouth. She laid her head back against the cushions as an awful burn hit her throat. “Aggh!”
“Keep it down.”
“Everything is blurry and it burns.” She gagged as the uncomfortable heat slid down her throat. “Gross!”
“Close your mouth and swallow it, or it won’t work.”
Devon clamped her mouth shut and gritted her teeth. The liquid felt thick and heady and had an awful bite to it. Once it reached her stomach, she doubled over as if someone had punched her. “Oh my gods!”
“Relax. Take a deep breath and go to sleep.” Matthews took her face in his hands and caught her gaze.
“I feel sick.” Devon blinked sweat out of her eyes and tried to calm down. What did I just drink?
“You’re fine and the pain is gone.”
Her body did feel better and to her surprise the pain had faded. “It stopped.”
“Good.” Matthews released her head and helped her lie back against the cushions. “Now do what I said.”
Devon nodded as she snuggled deeper into the cushions. He patted her head and she heard him walk upstairs. She wondered about the repercussions of staying at his house, but her eyes fluttered shut and she fell asleep.
* * *
Devon awoke with a start. She stretched out her arms and looked around the room.
“Where am I?”
The room was done up in warm colors—various shades of pink with ornate white wood dressers and nightstands. A huge window seat grabbed her attention as it looked like the perfect place to curl up and read. Devon sighed happily as her fingers trailed over the soft blankets, but then she frowned as the events of last night pressed to the forefront of her memory.
“Where is my cast?” She raised her leg and wiggled her toes. “What the hell did he do?” Hesitantly she placed her feet on the ground and stood. The pain had faded dramatically and was now only an ache.
Devon headed to the hall and looked for a bathroom. She relieved herself and finger brushed her teeth, then stepped back into the hall. She spied a small spiral staircase and descended carefully. His house was gorgeous. I should get the hell out of here after being so rude.
Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a note on the fridge in the kitchen. Could he have left it for her?
She decided to see what it said. The note contained tight cursive:
I trust your foot is feeling better. Please enjoy the plate I left for you.
She opened the door, saw a large dish of food, and grabbed it.
After four tries to heat the food in his overly technical microwave, she settled for lukewarm and sat down on one of the stools near the breakfast nook. Her first bite of hash browns tasted too fresh to have once been frozen and she wondered when he’d had time to cook. She moved on to the eggs, perfectly scrambled, just the way she liked them, and then to the pancakes. When did he have time to make all of this?
Is my foot really be fine? Her thoughts moved away from food and returned to the elixir. She wiggled her toes in amazement again. Why did he help me?
The front door opened as she popped the last of the meal into her mouth. Matthews came into the kitchen just as she dabbed the corners of her lips with a napkin. “I’m sorry I passed out last night.”
“I told you to go home and take the potion in your own bed.” He moved past her to the fridge and poured a glass of orange juice. He passed it to her, then leaned back against the counter.
“What possessed you to take my cast off?”
“Drop the attitude.” He took the dirty dish from her, rinsed it in the sink, and placed it neatly into the dishwasher. He was the first man she had ever met who put dishes in the dishwasher the way she did. “Your leg will be good as new tomorrow, so the cast would cause more harm. I do have one question though. Did you crash your car because you were drunk?”
“My car got bored with the road and decided to explore the woods.” Devon shrugged. She didn’t want to tell him she’d been bar hopping.
“I’m amazed that the same girl who offers incredible insight inside my classroom is the same brat sitting here.” He ran a hand down over his face.
“I’m not a brat!” Devon snipped and sounded exactly like one even to her own ears. Damn! Why does he have this effect on me? She looked away now, embarrassed by her behavior.
“You refused to answer my question so I’ll assume you were under the influence.” Matthews cocked his head to the side to study her.
“Do you know what happens when you assume something?” Devon surprised herself again with her tone. Why do I want to challenge him?
“If you had any idea what I’d like to do to you right now—”
“Does it involve handcuffs and whipped cream?” She blinked up at him innocently as he glowered down at her. She had hoped to diffuse the situation, but his eyes darkened.
“Your attitude is not cute. I’m concerned you will continue to go out, drown yourself in alcohol, and place yourself into dangerous situations. I think you need someone to guide you.”
“I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions.” She finished the juice and slammed the glass onto the counter. It would have had more merit had the glass broken, but the look he shot her made her secretly glad it had not.
“Be respectful of the objects in my house. I’ve let you stay here as a guest.” He picked the glass up, rinsed it, and put it in the dishwasher. “I think you would benefit from my guidance.”
“Nope. I’m good, so I’ll get out of here.” Devon shrugged her shoulders as if she didn’t care but her interest piqued at the mention of him doing anything for her.
“Did anyone check up on you last night to make sure you were all right?”
“Of course!” Devon made a point to pull her phone out of her pocket. The screen showed not one missed call or text. Some of her anger faded at the realization she had spent too many nights away from the house. “Well, I guess not. Lucy and Barbi must have been busy.”
“Is being out all night part of your routine?” Matthews locked those deep blue-violet eyes on hers.
“My routine is none of your business.”
“Your antics caused me to cancel my plans so it is my business. Do you remember what I said in the cafe?”
“I don’t have time to stay here and listen to you lecture me.” Forget this, I am out of here. She stood up and found her book bag on one of the kitchen chairs, but as she reached for it he grabbed her hand.
“I don’t intend to lecture you for this.”
“I’m a junior in college, not a child! You can’t spank me!” Devon shook off his hand. “I’m an adult.”
“You’re acting like a child. Accept the punishment I have in mind or drop my class.”
“It’s the only class I enjoy!” Devon brushed at her eyes as tears suddenly welled up and began falling. “If I withdraw this late in the semester my whole term is done.”
“Then go sit on the couch.”
Devon searched his face for some hint of amusement but found none. Is he really going to spank me? She wiped at her cheeks, then resolved to do as he said. She really wanted to pass all of her classes, and his attention had given her a reason to actually participate. She figured a spanking paled in comparison to flunking out.
Matthews joined her on the couch and patted his lap. “Get over my knees.”
Devon felt her lower lip tremble as she took in his command. Why the hell did I agree to this? She clambered over them, unable to comprehend how they’d reached this point. She felt his hand rest on top of her jeans and jumped as the other smacked the center of each cheek.
“Ouch!” Her first cry came from amazement rather than pain. Shit! He is serious!
“I specifically explained in detail to go home first, before you took the vial, but you lied to my face.”
“I decided to go out afterwards, since that would have been more fun. I didn’t mean for you to change your plans. Ouch!” Devon bucked upwards as another round landed.
“You can’t change what happened, but I can help you get back on track.” His hand struck each side of her bottom in fast succession and she reached her arms back to cover herself.
“Fine! Can we please stop playing 1950’s housewife now?” She looked over her shoulder to see him glaring at her.
“We’re not playing.” Matthews slid his hand underneath her and unbuttoned her pants. He yanked them down, turning a deaf ear to her protests.
“No! Wait!” Devon moved her hands to her face and buried her head in the couch cushion. Yesterday morning she had run out of clean underwear and had gone commando. Gods! I am even more embarrassed! “I usually wear panties,” she mumbled in defense.
“Did you skip them for my class?” Matthews traced the curve of each cheek with his hand.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she grumbled and wondered if her butt would be the same shade as her burning face.
“You’re getting my thigh damp, so I don’t believe you.” He landed several stinging blows to her butt.
“Ow! Ow!” Devon yelped and reached her hand back again but he captured it in his and continued. “Okay! Okay! You turn me on, but please stop!”
“Finally some truth from you.” Matthews massaged each cheek lightly then tapped his hand hard at the very top of her thigh.
“Oh! It hurts more there!” Devon thrashed as another flurry came down across her entire bottom. His grip tightened around her waist and four more slaps met each side of her butt. They hurt the most and Devon let out a sob as her will to fight drained. The intensity of the last set showed her how awful his punishment could be.
“Part of life is learning to live with your emotions. We all feel pain, and grief, and sadness. If you substitute those feelings for a void, you will hurt yourself.” He pulled her pants back up and righted her.
“What do you get out of this?” Devon accepted a box of tissues from him and leaned her head on his shoulder. She quickly raised it, surprised at her desire to be close, but he looped his arm around her and she rested her head against him again. Why do I want to curl up and not let go?
“The satisfaction of seeing you believe in yourself again. I have no hidden agenda.”
“Are you going to spank me every time I go out drinking?”
“This has nothing to do with drinking. You will face consequences when you are disrespectful to yourself or to me. Am I clear?”
“Yeah, but I can’t stop going out to bars. It’s honestly the only escape I have.”
“We’ll tackle the alcohol issue after you go to every class, every day.” He moved his arm to lean back, then folded his hands behind his head casually as if he had not just spanked the daylights out of her.
“Like that’s going to happen—”
She squeaked as he took a hold of her and flipped her back over his lap. Several taps landed on top of her pants and stung her badly aching bottom.
“Okay! I’ll go to class!” She could not believe he’d followed through on his promise so quickly. Her blushing face felt cool in comparison to the burn along her upper thighs. “I get it!”
“Don’t disappoint me.” Matthews turned her onto her back and helped her sit up.
Crazy thoughts rushed through her head as she sat next to him. Is he going to do this every day? Why the hell am I so turned on?
Devon gave herself a mental shake, found her sneakers on the side of couch, and slowly laced them up. “You’ve made your point.”
“Have I?” Matthews stood and retrieved her bag. He handed it to her as she stood up. “You don’t seem very convinced.”
“I guess I’ll have to prove it.” She accepted the item and adjusted it in front of her. “Thank you for fixing my leg. It feels a lot better.”
“I’m glad to hear that, and I’m glad to hear you want to prove yourself. Get home safe and don’t linger anywhere.” Professor Matthews ushered her out and she heard the lock click behind her.
Devon let out a long sigh as she walked down the driveway to the main pathway on campus. She followed it to the bus stop, but this time she leaned against the bench. Did he feel anything when he pulled me over his lap?
The campus bus came to the stop within a few minutes, and she flashed her school identification to get on. As usual she mindlessly took a seat. The stiff leather seat offered no cushion to her still warm behind. Devon glanced around and spied a free spot to stand in the back. She moved to it sheepishly, though no one else aboard could guess her issue. I’ll be sleeping on my stomach tonight.