Chapter 13

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 I forced my eyes opened and breathed in sharply. He smelled familiar like my Father's-cologne-familiar, and that was impossible. He pulled away, his eyes already an intense green, darkened and became opaque. 

He rubbed his lower lip with his thumb and said casually, "That was fulfilling, I feel somewhat energized-even strengthened-by it." He paused for a moment-then smiled and said, "I need another taste of you?"

I reacted as one under attack. Gritting my teeth, I jerked my knee up fast and hard. Nate doubled forward to protect himself, and I slammed my fists down on the back of his neck. While he recovered, I took the opportunity and went straight for my door. I got in quickly in spite of fumbling with my keys. I peeked out after a second and the walkway was empty.

"Bethany?" she must be still out. I leaned against the door, sliding down to the floor and landing with a low thump on the ground. I let my head rest against the door. I closed my eyes and wondered.

My lips tingled as I touched the same spot where Nate's lips had been. My mind replayed the image of my basic self-defense tactics. I shook my head in an effort to erase the scene. This was a typical rich kid move, and I was supposed to just fall into his arms and be glad to be his conquest. I refused to fall into that junior-high school plot line, it would be the dumbest thing ever—-worse, even, than Juliet's fateful falling for Romeo.

I was at the edge of my sanity and stood at Mr. Richardson's desk in his office begging, "Please Mr. Richardson I'd really rather not work with him!"

 Mr. Richardson just flipped through his tattered copy of The Illiad, Books were everywhere. Extra shelves had been installed in an attempt to organize but apparently it had not worked. Books lay in every direction, except, and neatly lined up on the shelves. Likewise, students papers were tossed across the table, I thought I saw my synopsis paper with a coffee cup holding down the cover.

Mr. Richardson droned, "I've already explained this, Ms. Craft, there will be no changing of partners, not now, not ever."

I begged with enthusiasm, "Ashe changed his partner to Patricia this morning. I overheard them talking about it. Why won't you let me change my partner?"

Mr. Richardson smiled slowly, his face eyes seeming to fill with some inner glee, "Ahh! Because I believe students who read erotica and sleep in my classroom are not entitled to personal requests."

In spite of my embarrassment, I resorted to a guilt trip. "That is just prejudice, I mean favoritism."

Mr. Richardson laughed with knee-slapping action, "Haha!, Ms. Craft, good try but I have been a professor so long, I do not fall for such nonsense. Furthermore, I am positive that I have been more than fair. If favoritism were a factor here, then I would allow you to change your partner." 

 He laughed again, which was more shocking than his refusal to make the change in partnerships. 

He turned his attention back to The Illiad and said without looking up, "Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to a great product from you and Mr. Kronus."

 I shuffled out of his office and felt the air escape my body. This situation made me itch all over. What was I going to do?

Over the next two weeks, I became a stealthy operator. I avoided any possible chance of getting cornered by Mr. Kissy-Pants. My treacherous best friend, Bethany, while eating her salad inspected me with humor and had the nerve to say, "Perhaps you like him more than you know."

My face twisted into disgust, "What! Bethany! Bethany, just how simple-minded do you think I am? I will not fall for someone simply because they kiss well and smell fantastic! There has to be more to a person. Besides, I have better taste in men then that! Also, I am not sure how I should react?"

She leaned on her hands and continued chewing, her eyes glancing over in the direction of the 'Babes' in the opposite corner of the dining facility. Bethany sort of moaned her thoughts.

"Hmm. Well, despite your distaste you are still going to deal with him through e-mail about the project in Lit Class. So if you, Corrine Craft, wanted to avoid him, you could have switched partners."

I flipped thru my copy of 'Fifty Darker Pages' and fumed out, "I tried, thank you very much!"

Bethany glanced skeptically. "Really? Then why haven't you switched?" She interrogated.

I morosely stared into space, chewing on my lip, "Well, if you must know, it's because Mr. Richardson hates me and apparently wants to see me suffer."

Bethany laughed. I glared at her, but that of course just made her laugh harder. 

"Ha, ha you know this is your fault. You provoked him by blurting to the entire class, that this year's reading list had been created by a 'sadist'. Perhaps if you had been minding your manners, you and Mr. Kissy-Pants would not be craving one another's lips and such."

I rolled my eyes and slammed shut my book. "Well, thanks so much for the helpful pep talk. But how are you going to help me with my current problem? Oh! That's right, you are not helping..."

Bethany shrugged, rubbed her eyes, "I'm too hungry to solve your non-problems. I mean, I do not see a problem because that fella' is a cutie pie, oh yeah!" 

 She made some obscene noise, groaned and shoved another hand full of chips into her mouth, "Take a look at my partner, Neil. Good looks sure but I swear he's a human version of an ogre, I just don't get how he even made it into this school?"

"That's easy," I scoffed. "Money, of course! His family owns the auto race track here in town, and a couple of race horses in Kentucky. I heard they even placed well in the Derby last year." Bethany dawned a look of deep concentration. 

 Putting her head on the table she mumbled, "Aargh, whatever. I just want to get this partnership done, the faster the better."


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