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"Ava? Ava!" I tried to quietly call my friend's name as she pulled me away from the tables. "Ava, what're you doing? You'll make a scene," I cautioned. "Why're you mad? Do you like him that much?" I asked once she'd dragged me in between some tall book shelves.

Keeping her voice quiet, she said, "Look, I know we perv over him like all the time, but it's just harmless fun. At least I thought it was and now you're locking lips with our professor? He could lose his job."

"So, you're pissed," I bluntly concluded.

"I'm not mad at you. In fact, I completely understand why you'd wanna smooch the hot piece; hell, I've tried! But take it from me, a girl with experience, whatever's going on between you two has to end, you realize that right?"

"No," I refused, jerking free from her grasp. "No I don't realize that."

"So you're actually willing to risk, I don't know, getting kicked out, him losing his job, just to be with a 37-year-old stud?"

"Would you stop? He's not some... material possession that's nice to look at; he's a human being. And... no, I'm not willing to risk getting kicked out for him. Of course not. Look, we're gonna be careful. He really likes me, Ava, can you believe it? Someone actually likes me. Why would I give that up?"

"Cas..." Her expression was one of sympathy, even bordering pity. "Word of advice, don't fall for any guy just because he claims to like you. You're new to all this from what I can see, so I get it. All I'm saying is you're worth more than you may think." She shook her head then huffed out a short laugh under her breath. "But holy shit, Casper. You kissed Dr. Larsen. I'm so jealous right now."

I rolled my eyes playfully. "I'll try my best to keep your advice in mind. I do like him though."

"And I don't blame you, honest. Just make sure no one gets hurt, okay?"

My eyebrows furrowed. "Who would get hurt?"

She shrugged, her gaze dropping to my shoulders. "It's not for me to say. Just be careful."

I blinked. Who would get hurt? "I honestly don't see how me being with David affects anyone else." I shook my head slightly.

Her eyes widened. "You're on first-name bases?"

My cheeks flushed. "I... you can say we've become slightly close over the past—"

"Past what? Day? Yeah, how close."' She folded her arms, smirking at me. "Casper, you surprise me. You hit first base in a day which is more than what anyone could do in years. If only I had a penis and a nutsack. Congratulations." She poked my rib. "Come on."

*

The daytime slowly crept by, and people started to leave the long study table. Some girls slaved until night time until they eventually had to go, but I was a soldier. I was determined to stay until everyone, including Ava, was gone.

Besides, I didn't have anything else to do. There was nowhere for me to be.

"Sure you don't wanna come with me, Cas? It's a Friday night. Nash, Lucas, and I might go partying with a few other people," Ava tried to persuade me to follow her. I wanted to say yes so badly because Nash would be there. But a yes didn't come out of my mouth.

"You go. Have fun; I'll just stay here," I told her. She gave me a look, and I knew it was because I was the last one at the table. She knew exactly why I wanted to stay.

"Text me later," she said, giving up her attempts at making me leave the dark side. Once she was gone, I cautiously looked at David, hoping he'd stay with me for a little.

"Should've went with her," he told me, fixing and organizing his papers.

"Me and parties don't get along well. Besides, I'd rather be here; this is my comfort zone."

David looked at me, his eyes instantly captivating me as they usually did. "Go to a party, Casper. Get the whole... 'college experience' or whatever." He put all of his papers in a folder then laid it on the table.

"Is something wrong?" I could tell. The way his voice sounded... well, there was a way he talked to other students and a way he talked to me. It seemed he had a different tone for me—a teasing, lighter one—and it was evidently missing.

"No. I just think you should have fun. It's a Friday night."

"So, what? I can't be with you on a Friday night?"

"Casper," he sighed, looking back at me. "You can't be with me, period."

It was like piercing and deflating my heart with a needle. A very large, thick, sharp needle. I furrowed my eyebrows, glancing left and right to see if anyone was watching before leaning a tad closer. "What about... I mean, we kissed. You said you're attracted to me."

"I am. Very." I couldn't find deceit in his eyes... so what was it? What happened?

I raised my eyebrows, desperate to make this work. "We were fine just hours ago. You were happy. Right? Okay, s-so what changed?"

"Nothing changed." He kept his voice low, but it didn't take away any of the hurt I was feeling. "That's exactly the issue. I'm no mind reader, but I am a psychologist. I analyze behaviors very well. So, when your friend gives you certain looks around me, it doesn't take me too long to realize you told her about us. Am I wrong?"

I glanced down at my hands and put them on my lap, guiltily fidgeting with my fingers. "No. Not wrong," I quietly answered, my eyes downcast.

"This thing between us, whatever it may be, it can't happen any longer. I apologize for ever crossing the line with you; that was my fault."

I shook my head, not accepting any of it. "No. You said you didn't regret it."

"I don't. You're misunderstanding me--"

"Ava won't tell a soul, David. She's my friend."

He was silent for a long moment before he looked away. "Go to the party, Casper. Be a college kid." He stood up with his messenger bag and walked away, leaving me alone at the table.

I watched him go, wanting to call him back but of course, how could I? I sat there for the longest time; just me, replaying everything in my head. I needed to understand what had just happened. Be a college kid. He called me a kid. I knew what he was saying: college kids didn't have relationships with their professors.

I tasted something salty, and I immediately registered that I was silently and pathetically crying. I wiped my tears, grabbed all of my belongings and pulled out my phone. As I walked into the elevator, I sent Ava a message:

I'm coming with you.

******

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