Maybe that’s why he’s so cautious about letting me run with the Eliot story now.
“Look,” I manage through gritted teeth. “If you won’t let me run a full seminar, at least give me a couple of research assistants. They don’t even have to be PhD candidates; I’m not picky. Undergrads if you prefer. I just want a couple more eyes on this project than my own. You know, to be sure I’m not just conveniently hallucinating similarities in tone.” I inject a certain amount of venom into that last statement.
He stares me down, and I can practically hear the tiny cogs in his brain cranking. He wants to turn me down for the hell of it now. Say no just to watch me yell and shout.
But he won’t. Pierson might be a rat, but he’s a smart rat. How else would he keep his post through all the knee-deep shit he’s waded into?
“Fine. One undergraduate. No more.”
Now I clench my fists for a different reason—to keep from punching the air in celebration. Okay, so it’s not the full seminar I hoped for. But a dedicated research aid and I can tackle this headlong, no problem. I’ll select based on research experience and writing ability. I can use my eighteenth century class as a pool, see how they do on the Heaney assignment.
My mind is racing so fast with preparations that it takes me a moment to notice Pierson has already slammed his office door shut in my face, stranding me in the middle of the quiet, mid-morning college hallway, a few steps from the registrar’s office.
I turn on my heel, ready to storm back to my office and start putting a list of potentials together, when I nearly trip headlong over a student.
I blink a few times at the girl blocking my path down the hallway. She’s almost a head shorter than me, her huge blue eyes locked on mine beneath a cloud of runaway auburn waves. Something about the purse of her lips makes my mind immediately run to places I’m not proud of. My eyes want to drift along her curves, drink in the way her low-cut shirt exposes her collarbones and the hint of cleavage beneath, not enough to be revealing, just enough to make me know there’s a lot she could reveal to the right guy. I lock my eyes onto her face instead, but that doesn’t help quell the beast.
Fuck, she’s gorgeous.
She’s also staring at me, wide-eyed. “Sorry,” she gasps, her eyes somehow widening even more, and that’s when I recognize her. Mary Kate’s nervous friend from class.
Stop ogling the students, you cretin. “Not at all,” I say aloud. “My fault. I trust you’re enjoying my class, Miss . . . ?” I wait for her to fill in the blank, but she only gapes at me longer.
Finally, her mouth snaps shut and her shoulders square. She’s even more attractive this way than when she’s being timid. I bet she could take charge in the bedroom. Christ, Jack, what the hell. I banish that thought to the darker recesses of my clearly overworked mind.
“I’d like to talk to you,” she says, all in a rush, like this was a difficult admission.
She’s American, I notice with surprise. Something about the loose gray sweater she’s wearing, paired with jeans and high boots, had suggested local girl to me. I readjust the settings in my head, think about her as a confused exchange student instead. It certainly helps explain her bewilderment in class.
I really don’t have time for this, but I sigh and point up the corridor toward my own office. “I can give you five minutes.”
Do the right thing, Harper.
I stand outside the office of the registrar, my heart torn in two. I really, really wanted to take this class. But there’s no way I can sit through his lectures knowing what happened between us. Especially when he obviously doesn’t realize. That much was clear from the way he gave me a blank look in class.