Her eyes went straight to the desk where she expected to see it and there it was. Heart thudding, she walked into the classroom and picking it up, she examined it. It was the same long, plain white envelope with her name written neatly on the front. She got one every Thursday since the beginning of the semester and found herself looking forward to receiving them. They were beautiful, heartfelt and honest outpouring of his feelings and she longed to find out who was writing them.
The mystery person was obviously a student who attended her Tuesday and Thursday classes. She taught on Mondays and Wednesdays as well and had Fridays off. He got there early so that no one would see him leave the envelope on her desk. Perhaps this letter will give her more clues. She put the envelope in her handbag, promising herself to read it as soon as she got a chance.
As she got ready for the class to begin, her gaze swept over the faces of the young men in the room while in her mind she asked the question, Is it you? She knew which one of them she wanted her mystery man to be. Her eyes shifted to him and caught him watching her. He blinked and blushed before he looked away. Clive Bennington. He sat in the front row.
The first time he walked into the classroom, she noticed him. In all of her years of teaching never once did she ever notice a student until that moment. He was tall and athletic. Well dressed, he had the word preppy written all over him. The combination of sensuality and studiousness added to his appeal. It wasn’t long before she became strongly attracted to him.
She was careful to hide her feelings because if she were suspected of having a romantic interest in a student, her job could be in jeopardy. Outside of the university and in her private time, she permitted herself to daydream about him and when she started getting the letters, she wished that they were from him. She kept them in her bureau and read them every night before she went to bed.
Presently, she schooled herself to concentrate on teaching and the time went by very quickly. As usual, he was the last to leave and as he was packing up, she went over him. “I enjoyed your paper,” she said. “You’re an excellent writer. You have a remarkable way of expressing yourself. Your writing is down to earth and engaging. You should think of publishing some of your work.” As she spoke to him about his writing, it dawned on her, not for the first time how much it reminded her of the penmanship of the letters. It had to be him.
He looked shyly at her, his face a little flushed. “Thank you, Professor Williams.”
She wanted to reach up and brush the lock of hair back from his forehead. “You’re welcome, Clive.” Would it be wrong for her to ask him to go with her for a cappuccino? She decided that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Walking back to the desk, she gathered the papers together and put them in her folder. “Good night, Clive.”
“Good night, Professor Williams.” He grabbed his bag and after glancing at her, he walked out of the classroom.
After he was gone, she finished packing up and left. Thirty minutes later she let herself into her flat. Not bothering to fix something to eat, she took the letter from her handbag and headed straight over to the sofa, her heart beating fast with excitement. Her hands trembled as she unfolded the sheets of paper. Leaning against the soft cushions, she began to read.
This is the first time I have addressed you by your first name. I hope you don’t mind. Whenever I see a rose, I think about you. To me you’re more beautiful. I will always remember the first time I saw you. It was during my second year at Oxford. I was sitting outside with Samantha, my girlfriend, enjoying the weather when you walked by. My heart stopped and I couldn’t stop staring at you. You took my breath away. I sat there, bewildered because I really believed that I loved Samantha and always thought she was the girl for me. And yet, when I looked at you, it seemed as if time stood still and nothing and no one else existed. In that instance, I felt like Romeo when he was at the ball. First he couldn’t take his eyes off Rosaline but when Juliet appeared, Rosaline faded into obscurity. All Romeo saw was the lovely maiden who had captured his attention and his heart. For me you were Juliet and Samantha was Rosaline.
You didn’t notice me that day because you were talking to a student, giving her your undivided attention. I found myself wishing I were that student but I knew that if you talked to me I would be tongue-tied and probably make a fool of myself. I wanted to know your name, which course you taught so that I could be one of your students. I watched as the girl walked away and then another student call out to you, “Professor Williams.” And you turned and smiled as he ran over to you. I knew your last name. Behind me I heard Samantha say, “Clive, I have to be getting to class now. I’ll see you later.” She reached over and kissed me on the cheek before leaving me. I sat there, watching you talk to the student and I made up my mind that I was going to find out more about you from him. It felt as if I were sitting there for hours and then you left. As soon as you were gone, I went over to the student and asked him, “I’ve never seen that professor before, is she new?”
He shook his head. “No, that’s Professor Williams. She’s been at Oxford for about ten years now.”
“What does she teach?”
“English Language and Literature. She teaches 4th year students like me.”
“Is she a good teacher?”
“The best. Make sure that when you do your enrollment for your last year, that you sign up for her class. Before I took her class, I wasn’t keen on writing but now I find that I like it very much.” After I thanked him for his time, I went to my class but I was hardly paying attention to a word Professor Ayers was saying. All I could think about was you and how much I wanted to see you again. I discovered that you were a creature of habit. Every day, at a certain time of the day, you went to the library to read. I made sure I was there when you were. You didn’t notice me as I sat there with my books open on the table watching you and wishing that I had the courage to walk over there and introduce myself to you.
For two years, I have watched and admired you from afar. I am ashamed to say that I broke up with Samantha but didn’t admit the real reason. I simply told her that I didn’t love her the way she wanted me to. She was heartbroken. I felt like a heel, especially when she transferred to another university. I never meant to hurt her but I couldn’t help that I had fallen in love with you. Many nights I lay awake whispering the words, I love you. I sit in your class, longing for the day when I could say it to your face. Yes, I took the student’s advice and signed up for your class and I am so happy that I did. The first day I walked into your class and you smiled at me, I was on cloud nine. When you first spoke to me, I couldn’t think straight. I was so nervous and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to hide my feelings. Sometimes I noticed the way you looked at me and that encouraged me. I started to believe that you were attracted to me too and that made my heart dance with joy.
I graduate in three weeks and I have mixed feelings. I’m happy to be moving on to bigger things but at the same time, I will miss being in your class. It has been the highlight of my whole university experience. I look forward to seeing you every week and can’t wait for the weekends to end. I am hoping that you will want to stay in touch with me. I will even dare to say that I hope that you would be open to the idea of going out with me. Nothing would make me happier than to be in a relationship with you. My family will not approve for obvious reasons but when you’re in love, it doesn’t matter what others say or think. On Tuesday, I will stay after class and ask you to go to the café with me. I hope that you will say yes.
This is my last letter but before I close, I wanted to say that when I first saw you, I never imagined that I would fall so hard. I dream about you, think about you and long to be with you every day. My heart pounds when I see you and I get butterflies in my stomach when someone mentions your name. Even if you don’t end up falling in love with me, I want you to know that I love you now and I will love you for the rest of my life.
Rose didn’t realize that she was crying until a teardrop fell on the page. Finally, she knew who the mystery man was. It was Clive. This was the only letter he signed his name to. In all the other letters, he simply wrote Anonymous. This letter was by far the most precious one and after reading it a second time, she clutched it to her heart. Clive loves me. He wants to be in a relationship with me. On Tuesday, I will let him know how I feel.
Tuesday came and all through class she thought of nothing else but going out with him. As soon as they were alone, Clive went over to her as she was gathering the papers together and putting them in her briefcase. She paused and looked up at him. He looked so shy and unsure of himself that her heart melted. Reaching for his hand, she said, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Let’s walk to the café.”
His heart was racing and he couldn’t think straight because she was holding his hand. “Thank you,” was all he could manage to say and she smiled.
She finished packing up and then preceded him to the door. They walked to the café and sat at a table in the corner. They chatted for a while about different things including what his plans were after he graduated. “I’m going to miss your letters,” she told him. “I loved reading them. I read them every night.”
“Really?” he asked, looking thrilled. “I’m relieved to hear that. I was afraid that I was being too forward but I couldn’t keep my feelings bottled up inside.”
“You were right about me,” she admitted. “I was attracted to you the first time I saw you but I tried not to show it. There were times when I couldn’t help looking at you. I had to be careful that no one else noticed. When I started getting the letters, I hoped that they were from you.”
“Does this mean that you will go out with me?” he asked, looking anxious.
She nodded. “Yes, but we have to keep it on the quiet until you graduate.”
“All right,” he agreed, holding her hand, relishing the feel of it in his. “We’ll do whatever you think is best just as long as we are together.”
“Are you free tomorrow evening?” she asked, unable to think with him caressing her hand.
“Yes,” he said. “I am.” Even if he had another engagement, he would cancel it for her.
“How would you like to have dinner at my place?”
“I’d like that very much, Rose.”
“Come at six-thirty. Let me give you my address.” She had to extricate her hand from his in order to write down the information.
He took the folded piece of paper and put it in his wallet. “I’m looking forward to dinner,” he told her.
“I’m afraid I have to leave now,” she said, sounding regretful. “I have to attend my niece’s recital this evening.” She finished her cappuccino and paid for both.
He was disappointed that they weren’t going to stay longer but at least he was going to see her tomorrow. He stood up when she did and they left the café. They walked back to the parking lot of the university. When they beside her car, he wanted to kiss her but thought better of it. Someone might see them. “See you tomorrow,” he said.
“See you tomorrow,” she replied, smiling up at him. She got into her car and waved before she drove off.
He watched until her car disappeared from view before walking to his. He couldn’t sleep that night. All day in school, he thought about Rose and when it was time to go home, he scooted out of there. Promptly at six-thirty he was outside of her flat.
She opened the door, smiling when she saw him. “Good evening, Clive. Come in.”
“Good evening, Rose.” He went in and turned quickly so that she couldn’t see what he was holding behind his back. After she closed and locked the door, he produced a bouquet of orange roses. “Roses for a Rose,” he said huskily.
“They are gorgeous,” she exclaimed. She took them and put them on the table nearby. “Thank you, Clive.”
Touched, she reached up and kissed him. When she would have pulled back, his arms went around her waist and his eyes met hers in a passionate gaze before they dropped to her lips. They darkened with desire when her lips parted and then he was kissing her, feverishly, wildly. All the pent up emotions came gushing out and she matched his kisses with the same intensity, her arms going around his neck as he pressed her against him.
Several minutes went by as they exchanged hungry kisses and then he released her to remove his jacket while still kissing her. She moved her arms from around his neck to help him to unbutton and then take off the dress shirt. Then, she was backing him over to the hearth where a rug was spread. They were lying on the rug, he was holding her face between his hands as he plundered her lips.
“I love you, Rose” he muttered thickly when she drew back to look at him and to catch her breath. “Let me show you how much.” And then she was lying on her back, staring up into his flushed face.
“I love you too, Clive,” she whispered before she reached up and pulled his head down to hers.
They ended up having a late dinner and that night marked the beginning of a new relationship.