Naomi hurried toward the old stone building that housed the Historical Archaeology department, and mounted its steps. She glanced at her watch.
"Crap," she muttered. "Late again."
She pushed open the door, and made her way down the tiled hallway to the classroom. Inside she could hear Dr. Foker's voice, a deep bass that floated clearly out on the air currents. Naomi tried to slip into the classroom without being noticed. She tucked her chin down and cast her eyes away from the professor.
"Nice you could make it, Miss Langer."
Heads swiveled to watch her slide into her seat. She smiled weakly. Dr. Foker's unblinking eyes bored into hers. His mouth pressed into a thin line, accentuating the leanness of his handsome face.
"Now that you're all here, we'll try again," he said.
Naomi slouched lower in her seat.
"I am missing several proposals regarding your semester projects. You have one week to complete your proposal and get it into me. If you need help selecting your project, make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. The deadline on this is nonnegotiable."
Naomi fidgeted. She had finally narrowed her choice down to studying a 17th century Acadian site, a French trading post dating back to the late 1600s. She only needed to narrow her project down to something she could manage in the next three months; something that would impress Dr. Foker without overtaxing her too much.
By the end of the class, Naomi had created an artistic series of doodles in her notebook. As far as the lecture went, she couldn't have told anyone what it was about.
"I'll see you all next week," Dr. Foker said as chairs scraped away from desks. "And don't forget your proposals. Miss Langer?"
Naomi turned, stepping aside to let the other students stream past her out into the hallway.
"Yes, Dr. Foker."
"Do you need some help selecting your project?" Dr. Foker walked toward her. Naomi smelled the musty scent of his after shave. His day old beard shadowed his jaw, illuminating his deep blue eyes. A curl of black hair fell over his high forehead. Naomi's stomach turned over. Her heart picked up its beat and she shifted her weight uneasily.
"Um, I have some ideas. But, I'm not entirely sure about the scope."
Dr. Foker smiled, showing his gleaming white teeth.
He should be in toothpaste commercials, Naomi thought.
"Why don't you come by my office and we'll talk about it."
"Now?" Naomi cast her eyes away, looked out the tall classroom windows. She could barely make out the shadows of the tall oaks in the night sky. Clouds obscured the moon and the light of the stars seemed dimmer than usual.
"Sure, why not." Dr. Foker glanced at his watch. "I have at least a couple more hours of office time before I head home."
Naomi nodded and looked back at her professor. Was he hitting on her? The thought flitted across her mind briefly before she banished it. No, it wasn't possible.
Dr. Foker's office was set on the north side of campus. Naomi hugged her books to her chest and tried to keep up with her professor's long legged gait. He strode along the sidewalk, his arms swinging loosely at his sides. When he spoke, the fog of his breath blew out into the crisp autumn air.
"So are you always late everywhere you go, or is it only when you come to my class?"
"I'm so sorry, Dr. Foker. I'm afraid that lateness is one of my biggest problems."
"Call me Alex. Dr. Foker is much too formal." He turned his head to flash her another smile. Naomi licked her lips and didn't answer. Her palms grew damp.
"Here we are."
The dark stone of Dr. Foker's office rose into the night sky, blending in with the blackness.
"No one else is here," Naomi said.
"No, they all go home at five o'clock. Makes it a much nicer work environment." Dr. Foker inserted a key into the door and opened it with a resonant click. Naomi followed him to his office, the last one at the end of the hall.
A mahogany desk, piled high with books and papers, sat with its back to one wall. Tall bookshelves lined two other walls. A thick Persian style rug of deep cranberry and blue lay in front of the desk. Dr. Foker leaned over his desk and clicked on the desk lamp. Light reflected through its stained glass globe and radiated a dim, colorful hue out into the room.
"Wow," Naomi said. "Some place."
"That's what comes with tenure. Please, sit down." He gestured to a chair placed at an angle in front of the desk. Naomi sat. Dr. Foker perched one hip on the front edge of the polished mahogany woods and leaned toward her.
"Tell me what you're thinking of for your project."
"I'm thinking of Saint-Castin's Habitation."
"Aha." Dr. Foker steepled his fingers beneath his chin. "And why is that?"
Its easy, Naomi thought. But what she said was, "I think it will be fascinating to study."
He laughed, a rich sound that echoed in the room. "And it's been studied so much all the information is right at your fingertips, right?"
Naomi felt a blush rise in her face, its heat prickling all the way to her scalp.
Dr. Foker leaned forward and stretched a finger out to touch her cheek. "You know, you are quite a beautiful woman." His eyes held hers, dark in the dim light of his office. She found she was quite unable to look away.
"Dr. Foker," she whispered.
"That's better." His hand cupped her jaw. His thumb slipped over her lips. Naomi closed her eyes. Her lips parted. This wasn't happening.
"Yes it is." His voice sounded low in her ear; the warmth of his breath smelling faintly of mints.
How did he know what she was thinking?
"I know everything about you. You're perfect."
Naomi opened her eyes, felt the thrill of fear wash over her.
"But I didn't say anything."
"Shhhhh." His hands slid down her arms. His mouth folded over hers. She grew weak with the passion that rose unbidden in her.
"Oh my God," she whispered as he guided her to the thick Persian rug. His hands and mouth seemed to be everywhere at the same time. She allowed herself to fall into the abyss. Nothing existed but him. He unbuttoned her blouse and slid her jeans over her thin hips. The moments stretched out; seemed to last forever. The end, when it came, was beyond anything she had ever felt before.
"Did you like that?"
Naomi lay on her back, her head cradled atop Alex's arm while he gazed down at her.
"No," she said with a smile. "It was awful."
He laughed. "So you're a liar too." He traced a finger between her breasts down to her stomach. Naomi shuddered.
She pushed his hand away. "No more. Please."
She sat, began gathering her clothing, suddenly aware of her nakedness on the Persian rug of her professor. Embarrassment washed over her. What the hell was she thinking?
"Don't be embarrassed. I'm not."
She pulled on her blouse and glanced back at Alex who sat on one hip, a self-assured smile playing on his lips
"We shouldn't do this." She looked away from him and began buttoning her blouse. "You're my professor."
"Don't be a prude, Naomi. This happens on college campuses all over America. I promise I won't let it effect your grade." He ran a finger down her back. "In fact, I won't even consider your grade or the fact that you're my student the next time it happens." She heard the smile in his voice.
"If there's a next time."
"Silly girl," he said.
The next morning, Naomi woke with an ache in her groin and soreness in her muscles. She felt like she had survived ten rounds in a boxing ring. She stood in front of the bathroom mirror and frowned at the dark purple bruises on her arms and thighs. Funny, it hadn't felt like rough sex.
"Where were you last night?" Naomi's roommate, Pauline, pushed open the bathroom door and walked in. Naomi snatched her robe from its hook and quickly wrapped it around her. But, not quick enough.
"Jesus. Who did that?"
"No one." Naomi picked up her hair brush and began swiping at her auburn hair.
"Are you okay?" Pauline lay a hand on Naomi's shoulder. Her eyes exuded sympathy.
"I'm fine. Stop being such a mother hen." Naomi shrugged Pauline's hand from her shoulder and headed back to her dorm room.
"I'm here if you want to talk." Pauline's voice drifted out the closing bathroom door.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Naomi muttered.
Back in her room, she dressed quickly. She gathered up a notebook, a favorite pen, and her purse and stuffed them into a dark gray satchel. Alex had given her a list of resources to research for her project. It meant driving out to Castine for the day. Naomi sighed. It was a perfect autumn day in New England: cool, crisp breeze blowing off the ocean, the orange oak leaves swirling on the lawns. And she would be spending it inside a library.
The long drive to Castine gave Naomi time to reflect on the night before. What had happened in that dimly lit office?
"He obviously planned that," she said, turning onto the coast road and heading north.
Thinking about the events that led to being sprawled beneath Alex's body on the plush Persian rug, Naomi concluded that Alex had pretty much been in control. Not her. And was he reading her thoughts? Or did she just imagine that? Remembering the feel of his mouth on her flesh and the complete way she had abandoned herself to him made her shudder. God, it had been exquisite. So why was she doubting herself now.
"Because, you dip, he used you for a roll on the floor and you know it."
Naomi reached down and turned on the car radio, raising the volume against the rush of cool air flowing through the windows. Her hair blew about her face. She pressed her foot down on the accelerator and pushed the car ten miles an hour over the speed limit. The smell of the ocean filled the car. Leaves swirled in front of the tires. She used all these distractions to keep thoughts of Alex at bay.
The research center in Castine was huge. Naomi stopped at the reference desk to get directions to the room that housed the volumes about the French explorers from the late 1600's. Alex had directed her to check out the information on Alexandre St-Castin (a French explorer who had settled in Maine in the late 1600's) first and go from there.
Hours later, hunched over a hard wooden table, Naomi had accumulated more notes and threads of information than she could reasonably assimilate. Her eyes ached. Her fingers felt stiff. She stood, stretched and glanced at her watch. Here, inside the cavernous research center, she had completely lost track of the time. It was close to 7:00pm. She had spent nearly seven hours here! Her stomach growled and she suddenly realized that all she had eaten was a stale muffin, a banana and about ten cups of coffee. She shuffled her papers together and crammed them into her satchel, before heading out to her car.
A cold sea breeze blew the leaves around her feet as she crossed the nearly empty parking lot towards her car. She pulled her car keys from her purse and bent to fit the key into the lock.
Naomi screamed, turned and immediately dropped her keys to the pavement.