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Living in Shadow

By:Jackie Ashenden

Chapter One

English legal history. Fuck, Luc was starting to hate this class. It was his own special brand of hell: a lecture theatre full of people and him in the middle row with a slowly intensifying hard-on. And all because Professor Eleanor May was writing something on the whiteboard and her little pencil skirt was pulling tight around her extremely delectable ass.

Luc glanced down at the laptop open on his desk. Anything so he didn’t have to look at her. The screen was completely blank. He hadn’t taken any notes whatsoever and they were almost done with the class.

Jesus. This was the third time in as many weeks he’d sat there, hard and aching, thinking things he shouldn’t be thinking instead of taking notes. At this rate he wouldn’t be passing the paper if he didn’t get his head back into study mode, and since he had only a couple of semesters left before getting his law degree, failing a paper would be very bad indeed.

She was talking again, her husky voice filling the room, and he didn’t want to look because he knew what he would see: a petite, fine-boned woman with golden-blonde hair in an elegant chignon. All feminine sophistication in a beautifully tailored pencil skirt of pale blue and a crisp white shirt, a small silver necklace around her neck. It made her seem fragile, yet the impression she gave off was anything but. Her gray eyes were as sharp as a steel blade and she walked as if she were ten feet tall and bulletproof. Like she was keeping everyone at a distance.

But not when she spoke. When she gave a lecture, her delicate face would light up and the impression of ice and steel and distance would vanish. She would look at everyone in the room as if they were all having a conversation together and she was interested in what they had to say. Becoming warm and approachable. And if questions were asked, she’d smile and it would be like the sun had come into the room.

Christ, he wanted some of that sun.

He’d been at Auckland University for four years, only spotting Eleanor May a couple of years after he’d started since she mainly taught postgraduate students. Even back then, he’d registered her but had dismissed the attraction. She was a professor. Polished and sophisticated and way too much like hard work for him. He preferred his pleasure easy to come by and undemanding, with women who didn’t want anything more from him than a couple of orgasms. Definitely not complicated, and seducing Professor May had complicated written all over it.

And then she’d taken over his English legal history class from Professor Holmes who’d gone off on sabbatical. And every Thursday he’d found himself sitting in the same place, right down in the front of the class, in the middle of the row, so he could look at her.

So he could figure out what the hell he found so fucking fascinating about her.

Because it wasn’t only her beauty, though she had plenty of that. He could find beauty anywhere these days and though he’d once glutted himself on it, it hadn’t ultimately satisfied him.

No, she had more than that. Perhaps it was the sharp intelligence he saw in her eyes whenever she spoke. Or maybe it was the distance she projected, as if she were holding the world at bay. The kind of distance that made him want to close it. Touch her.

Or perhaps it was merely the contrast to all the other women he’d had up till this point. Women his own age or a couple of years younger. Who had no distance, no walls. Children, in many ways. Children who didn’t even know they were alive. Which was fine because that was the way children should be. Yet, at the same time, they offered no secrets. No challenges.

Strange to find that was suddenly an issue, when challenges and secrets and complications were the last thing he wanted.

Whatever it was that fascinated him about Eleanor May, it made every lecture pure fucking torture.

Luc sat back in his seat, folding his arms. Watching her. Irritated with himself and his stupid fucking cock with its insistence on wanting a woman he wasn’t allowed to have anyway.

She was reaching the part where she looked at each person in turn as she reiterated her main points, a tactic that worked well in drawing people in to what she was saying. Except that, for some reason, she never looked at him.

God, he was sick of that too.

He shifted on his seat, spreading himself out a little, pinning his gaze on her. She looked at his neighbor, then, like it always did, her gaze skipped him and went on down the row. As if he didn’t even exist.

Oh fuck no. Not today. Today she was going to damn well look.

Perhaps she’s not looking at you for a reason?

Well, whatever the hell that reason was, it was not happening today.

Luc raised his hand to his mouth and coughed.

And she looked; cool, gray eyes seeking the source of the sound. Meeting his head on.