Re-released January 17, 2017
I wasn’t looking for love, only some occasional lust. But my best friend, Jennifer, had other ideas. She kept trying to set me up with her concept of the most eligible bachelor, which most definitely wasn’t mine.
I’m an oceanographer, a scientist. My life was all about research and logic. There were laboratory samples to study and presentations at European conferences to prepare for. Men weren’t part of my agenda… until Jennifer twisted my arm and signed us up for a weekend sci-fi writing class.
The instant I saw professor Justin Lincoln, I knew I was in trouble. His curly blond hair and to-die-for body is damn distracting. He’s irritating, annoying and drives me crazy. He’s also the only man I want. What am I going to do now? I don’t have time for this. No really. There’s too much at stake.
Wise Jane suggested we carpool to the first class. She knows me too well. If we weren’t travelling together, I would have called her an hour before class, saying I’m so sorry, but I’m not going to be able to make today’s class. Then I would moan that I’d been stricken by the most dreadful menstrual migraine, my tooth ached or my garage door wouldn’t open.
We strode into the building and sat at adjacent desks arranged in a semi-circle around what I presumed was Professor Justin’s desk. I feigned sending text messages, occasionally glancing up to check out my classmates. Two elderly women walked into the room together and sat side by side, their shoulders hunched over their desks, their legs crossed. Several college-aged students sauntered in, including a Hispanic girl with a flawless olive complexion and long iron-straightened hair. Another girl with a tiny heart-shaped face and a miniature body to match it wore makeup so thick, I wanted to ask if she’d spread it on with a knife. A handsome man with a football player’s physique dropped into a chair. He looked like Jennifer’s type. His curly dark hair looked like it hadn’t seen a brush for days and a five o’ clock shadow darkened his face even though it was only nine in the morning.
Three of us comprised the professional crowd. We wore too many wrinkles to belong to the Hello-Fresh-Face collegiate crowd but looked far too stressed-out to be retired. I was the one with lines etched into my forehead, while Jennifer had bitten her nails down to the quick. The balding man sitting beside me nervously plucked hairs from his brows. It was Zoloft we needed, not a writing class. But Jennifer just didn’t get it.
Justin Lincoln’s entrance broke into my people-watching moment. His tall physique was lean and muscular, and damp unruly blond curls fell below his shoulders. Either he had washed his hair recently or he’d just worked out. Maybe an episode of intercourse dampened his hair, I thought, before I covered my flushed face with my hand and pretended to study papers on my desk.
Once my face cooled, I cautiously glanced up. He wore knee-length khaki shorts with threads hanging loose, a black crew neck T-shirt and a pair of Brooks running shoes. California was way more casual than the East Coast, but this guy gave a whole new meaning to the word. Maybe next week, he’ll show up in his underwear. The image made me laugh, which sent several pairs of eyes looking my way, so I coughed to make my burst of psychotic behavior appear less awkward. When Jennifer glanced at me curiously, I shrugged.
He pulled a stack of papers from his black backpack and introduced himself. “I’m Justin Lincoln.” He continued speaking and walked toward me. The gold flecks in his emerald green eyes captivated my attention. I blinked and tried unsuccessfully to look away from him.
Just when I expected him to drop the pile of papers on my desk and say take one and pass them around, he handed a sheet of paper directly to me. As he did, our fingers touched. A warm tingle flowed up my arm leaving me feeling light headed. When I glanced up, his gaze lingered on mine for longer than necessary. As my pulse raced, my once reasoning brain began thinking like a love-sick teenager. The calm and collected scientist that I am, I allowed the paper to slip from my quivering hands. Blushing, I snatched it from the floor.
I’m a research scientist at one of the most prestigious oceanographic institutions in the world. So why can’t I hold onto a simple piece of paper?
Once Justin finished passing out papers, he reviewed the syllabus line by line. The rubber soles of his shoes squeaked as he paced. Every other week, we would bring in copies of our work for the class to critique, he explained.
Justin’s eyes followed me over the top of his black rectangular reading glasses as I leaned over and whispered, “What the hell did you get me in to?” into Jennifer’s ear.
“Is there a problem, um…” He glanced through his pile of papers before saying, “Miss Jones? Or do you mind if I call you Marissa?” How the hell did he know my name?