Douglas was in the kitchen, stacking the dishwasher while she was in the living-room, admiring the décor and the beautiful patina of the antique table beside the fireplace and below a painting of a person walking along a tree-lined path in the rain. She paused to admire it.
The myriad of bright oranges, reds and yellows suggested that it was in the fall. The path and the bench were soaked from the pouring rain. Yet, the walker looked dry underneath the umbrella and in no hurry to get out of the rain. She wondered if she should come out of the rain before she got wet. Douglas and she had been seeing each other for months now. This was the first time they were at his place. So far they had been going out but avoided places where they might run into people they knew. They couldn’t afford to allow anyone to find out about them or Douglas could lose his job. He was her Economics professor.
The moment she walked into his class and saw him, she knew she was in trouble. She tried not to stare but it wasn’t easy. She would shoot him furtive glances every opportunity she got and when the class was over, she would linger, spending a little long packing up her bag. Thankfully, his was the last class for the day so she didn’t have to rush off to the next one.
One afternoon when she was packing up her bag, he went over to her desk. She glanced up and their eyes met. He had the most incredible green eyes and his face–she realized that she was staring and quickly looked away.
“I’m going to grab a cappuccino,” he said quietly. “Would you like to join me?”
She looked at him, her heart racing. He was asking her out. Get a hold of yourself, girl. It’s just a cappuccino. “Yes, I’d like to,” she answered.
He smiled. “Good. I’ll meet you at the front entrance.”
She zipped up her bag and left the classroom. She waited on the steps, watching the sun set. Five minutes later he drove up and stopped at the side of the curb. She ran down the steps and got into his car. They drove off. On the way over to the coffee shop, he asked her what her major was. “Sociology,” she said. “I want to make a difference when it comes to the social problems that we face in our society and around the world such as poverty, race relations, gender inequality, globalization and environmental change.”
“When I tell people that I teach Economics, they look at me as if I were crazy. Most people remember it as a very boring subject but when I explain to them that the course I teach is Urban Economics they become interested.”
They continued talking about university and courses until they arrived at an Italian cafe in Greenwich Village. Over a Hazelnut Cappuccino and a Hot Chocolate, they talked about other things.
“Do you ice-skate?” he asked an hour and a half later when he was taking her home.
“Do you have any plans for tomorrow evening?”
She shook her head.
“We can go skating at Bryant Park and then have dinner at the restaurant there.”
They went to Bryant Park and she had a wonderful time. It had been a while since she last skated and after a few shaky steps and falls, she was fine. Afterwards they had dinner in the restaurant where it was nice and warm. He asked to take her out the following evening and they began seeing each other regularly after that.
The sound of his footsteps behind her brought her back to the present. She joined him on the sofa. They were going to watch an old movie classic but she couldn’t concentrate. She was intensely aware of him and the fact that they were sitting very closely together so that his knee was touching hers. At one point she could sense that he was looking at her. As the movie progressed, she was on tenterhooks, wondering if at any point, he was going to make a move and longing for him to.
Finally, unable to bear it any longer, she turned to look at him when she knew that he was watching her. Their eyes met and held. Deliberately, she lowered her gaze to his mouth and parted her lips. Without saying a word, he reached for her and pulled her across his lap. His head swooped down and he was kissing her. Her arms went around his neck and held him tightly as they exchanged passionate kisses.
After a while, he raised his head and gazed down into her face, his own flushed. “I’ve been a professor for ten years now and not once have I ever been attracted to any of my students. Then, you walked into my classroom. I didn’t want to be attracted to you but I couldn’t fight it. I approached you at the risk of losing my job.”
She reached up and touched his face. “I was never attracted to any of my teachers but the moment I saw you, I was in trouble. Common sense told me to transfer to another class but I listened to my heart instead.”
“Robyn, I want us to continue seeing each other but under the quiet until you graduate.”
She nodded. “Okay.”
“By the way, who was that guy I saw you talking to in the hallway on Thursday before you came to class?”
She tried to remember who he was talking about for a moment. “Oh, that was Eric.”
“What did he want?” he asked tightly.
“He wanted to know if I was free Saturday night.”
His eyes darkened in jealousy. “And what did you tell him?”
“I told him that I wasn’t. I also told him that I was seeing someone.”
“I hate the idea of other guys asking you out.”
She reached up and kissed him. “You don’t have to worry about any of them,” she murmured against his lips. “They don’t stand a chance.”
Groaning, he kissed her back and then, putting his hands under her knees, he stood up and carried her to his room.
They managed to keep their relationship a secret and on the day of her graduation in June, he asked her to marry him.