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Searching for Mine

By´╝ÜJennifer Probst

Searching for Mine

A Searching For Novella

By Jennifer Probst


Chapter One



“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”––Virginia Woolf



Connor Adam Dunkle stared at the paper. The circled letter mocked him in bright red, and with a false merriness that his professor probably relished.

A big fat F.

Impossible.

His gaze scanned the bleeding type scrawl filled with unknown marks, initials, and cross outs. At the end, two sentences were written in elegant cursive they didn’t teach in school any longer.

Deduction of two letter grades for lateness. Overall, a poorly thought, shallow type paper with nothing to back up the opinion via the text.

Connor Dunkle studied the woman who was his last obstacle blocking him from getting his needed degree.

Professor Ella Blake.

If he’d ever created an image of a spinster librarian, this woman would have been his inspiration. From her drab, baggy fitting clothes, to the black glasses hiding most of her features, she practically faded into the background. Her hair was twisted up into a tight bun, giving her face a bit of a pinched look. Her gray sweater and black trousers did nothing for her figure, or her skin tone. The only brightness in her entire collage was a slash of red-orange lipstick, which became so garish with her olive skin, it literally made an onlooker jerk back.

“Many of you disappointed me with your papers. I suggest better preparation is in order to pass this class. Our first exam is Friday and there will be another paper due shortly. Please make sure you refer to the syllabus for due dates. I do not appreciate or reward lateness.”

Did she shoot him a look or was that his imagination?

Unbelievable. He’d deliberately approached her last week and explained his grueling schedule. With his demanding workload and ambitious course work, he’d specifically asked Professor Blake for an extension on the paper.

Hadn’t she agreed?

It had taken him a lot to register for college at thirty-eight years old, but he had his eye on a management position at Bilkins Construction, and he was determined to change his life. He’d taken extra courses and jammed in a four-year degree into two. Finally, graduation loomed before him, but he’d put off fulfilling his last course requirement of Composition 102. Of course, now he ended up with a sexually frustrated teacher focused on feminist literature to make excuses for her own lack of a love life.

“We’ll be diving more into short stories and examining the female writer and what she brought to society in comparison to men at the time. I’d like to hear thoughts on The Yellow Wallpaper. What do you think made the story so popular? What was the writer really trying to tell us?”

Connor hid a bored sigh and tuned out of the discussion. He’d fix it. He’d be extra nice and charming and give her some needed male attention. Maybe she’d forgotten, and he’d just remind her, they’d laugh about it, and he’d get a damn C.

Professor Blake paced the front of the room in her usual black boots that made no sound. He wondered if she ever wore stilettos. Probably didn’t know what they were. She preferred shoes with no sex appeal, no heel, and no sense of fun. What type of underwear did she wear to match those awful outfits? Probably cotton. Maybe even granny panties in plain white.

“Mr. Dunkle?”

His head shot up in pure surprise. She was staring at him with a focused expression that almost made him blush. Almost. Of course, she had no clue he’d been wondering about the look of her panties. He gave her an easy grin that usually charmed women within a few seconds. “Yes?”

“I’m interested in your opinion of the story.”

Shit. He hadn’t understood the end. Hell, he hadn’t understood much of it and daydreaming in class wasn’t helping him. He kept the grin and nodded. “I thought it was a brave way of portraying the character.”

There. Sounded good. She tapped her finger against her orange-red lips and leaned against the side of the desk. “Interesting. Tell me more.”

Shit.

He tried not to sweat and frowned, as if thinking hard, and tried to buy time. “Well, the writer struggled with identity.”

Connor had heard that line in many classes and felt it was a solid portrayal of the ridiculous story he’d hated. He waited for her to move on to someone else, but instead she actually walked up the aisle to his seat. Sweat pricked his forehead. He hadn’t felt this put on the spot since high school.

“So, the writer was brave and struggled with identity. Why don’t you tell me exactly what you feel the story is about?”

And that’s when Connor realized she knew. Up close, her dull brown eyes glinted with flecks of gold-green, pulling an observer in. Her face seemed expressionless but Connor caught the challenge in her gaze—the knowledge he had no clue what he was talking about, and she was going in for the kill.

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