So I started working with the idea of a professor and student breaking school rules by having an affair. Unfortunately, it seemed a bit too simplistic and overused on second thought, plus there was the whole question of trading sex for grades and professors using their position to solicit sex -- not sexy or romantic at all.
As I played around some more with the concept, I came up with my female lead, Ellen. She’s a scholarship student working two jobs to make ends meet. Her parents are dead and she has no family safety net or support, so she’s been forced to be very self-reliant for years, sacrificing a personal life in order to get her degree. Her only real indulgence is daydreaming about one of her professors, a sardonic, prickly English prof named Alex Cord. He’s disliked by pretty much everyone in his classes, but Ellen recognizes a bit of her own loneliness in his brittle attitude.
Alex is just as isolated as Ellen, but in a different way. As well as being the terror of the English department and his students, he’s also a widower who feels deeply guilty over the death of his wife, and has built this wall around his entire life as a method of protecting himself. But there’s this young woman in one of his classes who keeps catching his attention -- she’s a senior, quiet but incredibly sharp, and working with her turns into a rare pleasure. To his surprise, he starts fantasizing about her, justifying it to himself that since she’s a student she’s off-limits and won’t threaten his isolated little world. On the night after the last round of finals, however, he runs into her at a local Mexican restaurant, and the sparks fly. Something prompts him to take a chance, and he invites her to come home with him.
And because I can’t color inside the lines, that’s where things start getting complicated. Yes, they have smolderingly hot sex, but both Ellen and Alex have emotional issues that aren’t going to get resolved in a single night. That being said, they also have a genuine connection that can act as a starting point, if they’re willing to pull up their big kid pants and work at it. To me, watching them deal with their respective barriers and finding common ground was half the fun of writing the story.
Ellen Ragsdale is a scholarship student who just wants to get her college degree and start her life. Alexander Cord is a widowed English professor who hides his loneliness behind a sardonic facade. School rules have kept them at arm’s length all year long. But on the last night of Ellen’s college career, the two of them risk everything to find out if their mutual attraction is more than a classroom crush.
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“Did you know that you always blush when you talk to me?” he said quietly. “It’s charming. You look like a medieval maiden receiving her first suitor.”
It felt like someone had painted fire across her skin. She ducked her head, staring dumbly at the hallway’s scarred paint. He couldn’t know. Nobody knew that about her. It wasn’t that obvious.
“Interesting.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “I meant it as a compliment, but perhaps I struck closer to the truth than I’d intended.” He moved closer, and she could feel the heat from his whole body now, warming her like an invisible caress. “Are you?”
She swallowed hard. He couldn’t be asking what she thought he was asking. “A-am I—”
“A maiden. A virgin. I believe a popular term is ‘unicorn bait.’” His voice dropped, turning into a soft rumble. “I have to admit, I’m puzzled as to how someone as lovely and intelligent as you could still be virginal.”
Her entire face now felt like it was on fire. She’d gone on the occasional date, usually doubling with Keisha or Dianne, but once the guys found out what her schedule was like they didn’t bother calling again. “Too busy, I guess. Working, studying.”
To her surprise, cool fingers slid under her chin, gently turning her face up. “What a shame,” Cord said, his voice low and soft. “But if it’s of any consolation, men your age do tend to be rather slapdash and impatient when it comes to women. I assure you, you haven’t missed out on much by skipping the undergraduate sexual circus.” The façade of the academic disappeared. Underneath was a man she didn’t know, warm and standing so close to her. “That being said, I wonder … would you be willing to consider me?”
“What—” Her throat clicked, it was so dry. She swallowed and tried again. “What are you saying?”
He tilted his head to the side. “I want to take you to bed, Miss Ragsdale. I want to kiss that pink mouth of yours, undress you ever so slowly, play with those gorgeous breasts and suck your nipples before I caress every inch of your body. I want to bury my tongue between your legs and lap at your clit, and when you’re dripping wet I want to bury my cock in you. I want to see that sweet mouth of yours open and scream my name as I make you come over and over again.” Now she could smell his cologne, something masculine, woody, and underneath that, the musk of clean male. “Come home with me tonight, Miss Ragsdale. Let me make love to you. I promise you, you won’t regret it.”
Nicola Cameron is an expatriate Chicagoan who has lived in England, Canada, Holland, and Sweden, and keeps a confusing amalgamation of languages in her head as a result. Currently located in the clavicle of Texas, she has finally mastered the proper use of "y'all," much to her Chicago family's dismay.
Despite a healthy interest in sex since puberty, it wasn't until 2012 that Nicola decided to try writing about it. As it turned out, the skills she picked up during her SF writing career transferred rather nicely to erotic romance. When not writing, she wrangles cats, smooches her husband, makes dolls of dubious and questionable identity, and thanks almighty Cthulhu that she doesn’t have to work for a major telecommunications company any more (because there’s BDSM, and then there’s just plain torture...).
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