He stood outside the apartment building where she lived with her older sister. After agonizing over it for weeks, he had finally decided that it would be best for them not to see each other anymore. It had been foolish of him, a professor, to become romantically involved with one of his students in the first place. He could lose his job and she could be expelled.
When she first walked in his class in September 2019, it had been immediate attraction for him and although his head told him to keep their relationship strictly on a teacher/student basis, his emotions urged him to do the opposite. He listened to his emotions and after class during the second week in the semester, he asked her to meet him outside of Black-Eyed Sally’s, one of his favorite eateries in Hartford.
Over Southern Fried Chicken served with mac-n-cheese & collard greens, they talked about university, family, interests, sports, books, movies and life in general. Afterwards, he took her home. During the ride over, he made it clear to her that he wanted to see her outside of class and the following evening which was a Saturday, he took her out on a date. They began dating after that. He was very careful which places he took her for fear of running into someone from the University of Saint Joseph where he taught Psychology and she was a first year student. Sometimes, instead of taking her out, he invited her over to his place.
For two years they were in a relationship and things were going well until one day, what he dreaded, happened. They were just leaving Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art when they bumped into Professor Hamilton and his two daughters. After introductions were made, he had lied and told the other man that he and Traci had bumped into each other. While the two men chatted for a while, Traci talked to the two pre-teen girls. Then, they parted company. As Traci and he walked to the parking lot, she remarked, “That was a close call.”
“Too close for comfort,” was his response. Fortunately, they never held hands in public. To the casual observer, they weren’t a couple but he couldn’t take the chance that they might run into someone else from the school. So, after their run in with Professor Hamilton, they stayed away from public places. They spent more time at his place or visited cities outside of Hartford like New Haven, Norwich and West Haven.
Although they had managed to keep their relationship under wraps thus far, he still feared that someone would see them together and word would get back to Professor Hamilton, arousing his suspicions. He couldn’t take that chance. He needed his job at the university and Traci needed to finish her degree and graduate.
He stood there now, in turmoil but resolved to do what he felt was best for both of them. He had to let his mind not his heart be in control. Moving away from the spot where he had been standing for a while, he headed towards the entrance of the building. It was a Saturday evening and he had called Traci that morning to tell her that he needed to see her. She had invited him to come to her sister’s apartment because she was alone. Her sister was in New York on business and wasn’t going to be back until Friday.
He took the elevator up to the top floor and got off. The hallway was long, narrow and brightly lit. It was the last door on the left. He rang the bell and minutes later, the door opened. Traci stood there wearing a black tank top and jeans which hugged her thighs. He felt his resolve begin to weaken and when she hugged him, he closed his eyes and held her tightly. “Traci…”
She drew back and taking him by the hand, she pulled him inside the apartment. After closing and locking the door, she faced him. Noticing the tense expression on his face, she asked, “What’s the matter?”
“I came here to break up with you but, now I’m not sure I want to anymore.”
A startled and hurt expression came over her face. “Why do you want to break up with me?”
“I’m worried that someone will find out about us. I could lose my job and you could get expelled.”
“We’ve managed to keep our relationship a secret for two years and counting. As long as we continue to be careful, we should be okay.”
“We ran into Professor Hamilton, remember?”
“Yes, I remember but we told him that we had bumped into each other. He didn’t suspect that we were on a date. No one does.”
“It’s only a matter of time when something else will happen and they’ll find out.”
“So, if we were to break up, would it be for good?”
“No. It would be until you graduate.”
“I don’t graduate until next year June. You really don’t want us to see each other until then?”
“It isn’t what I want at all but it’s the only option we have if we want to remain at the university.”
“Are you sure you’re not breaking up with me because there’s someone else?”
“There isn’t anyone else, Traci. Ever since I met you, I haven’t looked at another woman.”
“I don’t know if I can do it, Julio,” she said, feeling very close to tears. “It will be so hard to see you on campus knowing that we can’t see each other anymore.”
“It will only be for a while.”
“It will seem like a lifetime for me.” Her voice broke and the tears fell.
In seconds, he was taking her in his arms. “Oh, Traci,” he groaned. “I wish there was another way around this but here in Connecticut, teachers are not allowed to have sex with students, regardless of the student’s age.”
“It’s more than just sex for us. It’s love.”
“Yes, it is but that wouldn’t make any difference to the state or the university.”
“So, we have to stop seeing each other so that we don’t get into trouble with the university and the state.”
“We won’t see each other except on campus.”
“Since we won’t be seeing each other anymore, can we at least talk to each other on the phone?”
“Yes, we can.”
“What about FaceTime?”
“Yes, we can do that too.”
“Julio, it’s going to be so hard not being together like this for a while.”
“Yes,” he agreed tightly. “It’s going to be sheer torture for me.”
“Spend the night with me,” she urged.
“I will,” he murmured huskily before he kissed her urgently and passionately because time was precious and neither one forgot that it would be a while before they were together like this again.
Sources: Open Table; Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette; Trip Advisor