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by Talia Carmichael
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Robert Berkus's steady academic life seemed to be an open road until the day he took a detour... right into Officer Miguel Rodriguez's path. When Miguel helps the sexy professor change a flat tire, Robert is absolutely oblivious to Miguel's interest. That suits Miguel just fine, though. He's used to being the aggressor although it sure would be nice to get this sweet and staid college professor to make the first move. When Robert gets his act in gear, the results prove explosive. Miguel wants Robert in his bed and in his life permanently, and Robert enthusiastically agrees--but they've already learned that life makes detours. Sometimes it takes love a little courage to arrive at its chosen destination.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: May 2011
29 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [183 KB]
Reading time: 116-163 min.
"Aren't you going to be late?"
A voice behind Robert Berkus made him swing around. The papers in his hand went flying in the air. He took a breath to calm his racing heart. Blinking, he looked at the tall, lanky man who had spoken.
"Bernie, you almost scared me to death!" Robert exclaimed.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Rob." Bernard Jenkins blushed, smiling sheepishly.
Robert waved him off. He went to his knees on the floor and started picking up papers. Bernie came over and helped. They were quiet as they picked up the papers. Once done, they stood and put them on the long table Robert had been working on.
"What did you say?" Robert asked while sorting the papers back into order.
"Hmm...," Bernie said.
Robert glanced at Bernie. Bernie was at another table looking into a microscope. Robert studied his research and teacher's assistant. Bernie was brilliant, although he tended to be absentminded, and outside of the lab, he was a major klutz. When Bernie had been assigned as his research assistant and TA, their first meeting had been memorable. Bernie had, within seconds of meeting him, ripped Robert's shirt off before promptly falling on his ass and somehow breaking his arm. After taking Bernie to get his arm fixed, Robert had doubts about working with someone so clumsy in a lab with various dangerous substances. He had visions of Bernie wrecking the lab while releasing toxic chemicals. Yet, when Bernie explained in a soft voice that every other professor in the science department had refused to work with him due to his clumsiness, Robert felt bad. Once Bernie turned those sad, pale green eyes covered with wire-rimmed glasses to him, Robert knew he couldn't form the words to fire him without giving him a chance.
Glancing at Bernie now, he was glad to have given him that chance. Bernie might be a klutz anywhere else, but in the lab, he was graceful and had a strong attention to detail. In the months they had been working together, he had come to view Bernie as not just a research assistant and TA, but as a friend. Bernie pushed up his glasses and brushed his shaggy hair back impatiently. Robert smiled fondly and went back to sorting his papers.
"Now I remember. You told me to remind you about dinner with your friend. Something about going home to change before," Bernie said suddenly.
Robert looked at the clock. "Crap. Thanks. I'll have just enough time."
He started to put away his papers.
"Go, go. I'll clean up," Bernie called.
Robert glanced at Bernie, who was still bent over the microscope.
Bernie glanced up at him, glaring. Robert stopped what he was about to say. He knew the look. It was similar to his own "get the hell out so I can work already" look.
"Thanks." He strode to his office and sat down for a moment, taking a second to relax.
Morning office hours, back-to-back lectures, and working in the lab exhausted him. It was only five o'clock. He still had dinner and then work to do at home. It was spring break, and he was looking forward to the time to make lots of progress on his project. With a groan, Robert sorted through the largest stack of papers and files on his desk. He flipped open the latest information on his current research topic. He hoped to complete his paper before the end of the break and ship it off to be looked over by his mentor. He read the first sentence and was drawn into the article. A noise made him look up. He looked at the clock. It was quarter to seven.
Robert groaned in irritation as he gathered his things to leave. He didn't have the time to go home. He would just make it to dinner on time. Thankfully, the restaurant was little more than across campus, but it was a fairly large campus. The university, after all, had over thirty-five thousand students. Robert rushed out of his office.
"Night, Bernie," he called as he walked rapidly to the lab door.
"Rob, I thought you left already," Bernie called.
"Got caught up. See you tomorrow."
"Okay," Bernie replied absently.
Reaching the door, Robert glanced back. Bernie was busy working. They both had plans to work through the break. Robert continued on his way. In moments, he arrived at the parking lot. With a glance at his watch, he saw that he had less than five minutes to make it to Bacchus Sloan, the local eatery.
He strode to his car, making his way across the brightly lit, fairly empty parking lot. Most of the students were already gone. This late on a day before a holiday, even the most dedicated professors had departed. A warm gust of wind blew by him just as he reached his vehicle, raising his body temperature. Robert unlocked the car door. The night was clear and relatively warm. Although it was almost seven o'clock in the evening, spring in Mapson in Southern California meant warm nights. He shrugged off his jacket.
A native of Rhode Island, he still wasn't comfortable with the temperature of the West. Drastic changes when the seasons changed was more his thing. He was from a family with lots of academics. They, and those who followed other career paths, all stayed close to New England for their studies, teaching, research, or various businesses. Robert had gotten used to the cold climate of first his undergraduate school, then his MS degree institution, and finally, the university where he'd received his PhD. This far southwest, he'd discovered there really were only two seasons: hot and wet.
His thoughts filled with the life he'd left behind on the East Coast as he peeled out of the parking lot and onto the road. It had been months since he last really spoke to anyone from Rhode Island. With his demanding schedule, he'd found it difficult to dedicate any time to his family and friends. Which was why he was both excited and apprehensive about meeting with Alex Hayes, his ex-lover and current friend.
Alex had just moved to the region since the marketing firm he owned had more clients in this area. Robert knew he'd be roped into showing the man around. It was hilarious, considering he only managed to find enough time for teaching, working on his research and paper, and then driving back home in time to pass out in his condo.
Instead of his usual route, Robert took the short detour that he had heard others mention using to get to Bacchus Sloan. He made the quick right, then left onto the road. He was already halfway through the turn when he realized that there was a light, and it was yellow. Already too far in to hit the brakes, he gunned the engine and flew through the intersection just as the light turned red.
Robert was just about to send up a silent thanks that there were no cops around when he heard a weird whomp, and then his car listed. He stopped and got out, hoping it wasn't what it felt like. He walked toward the back wheel and looked down.
"Shit! It's a flat. Why me?" he asked.
He glanced at his watch. He was going to be very late. Walking back to his open door, he jumped at the sound of sirens behind him. He glanced back at the distinctive red flashing lights of a cop car pulling in behind him. Robert tried not to look guilty for going through the red light earlier. He waited for the cop to reach his vehicle. The cop got out and strode over to him.
"Do you need some help?"
His voice was deep, gruff, and distinctively sensual. It was the kind of voice that called out to his darker senses, enticing erotic images of sexual delight. Robert swallowed thickly, pushed aside the wicked thoughts the cop's voice sparked, and focused on the question asked.
"Yes, Officer. I have a flat. Can you help me change it?" he asked as he looked over the man beside his car.
It was sinful just how well his voice matched his body. The cop was tall, several inches over six feet, making him seem a giant compared to Robert's own five-foot-seven height. He was buff, with well-defined muscles. Those hard muscles were the most deliciously colored, warm butterscotch skin tone, a testament to his Hispanic heritage.
His features were a perfect match to his exotic coloring--sharp cheekbones, wide mouth with a full bottom lip, and a hard, dimpled jaw. Although Robert couldn't see his eyes because of the mirrored shades, he figured they would be a dark, smoky brown, a deep color that changed with his moods, becoming hard and intense when he was angry or heated and bottomless when he was happy or aroused.
"Sure, pop the trunk." The cop moved his hands slightly, bringing Robert's attention to them. His fingers were long, thick, and blunt. They were competent hands--the kind that could be loving or harsh.
Pop me. Touch me anywhere, Officer. Robert flushed at his thoughts and turned away
He opened the trunk and turned back. The officer got the tire out and got to work. Robert tried to think of something to say. He opened his mouth, then closed it as the man bent down. His pants stretched across an awesome ass. Robert knew he should look away before he was caught ogling. He glanced down the road, and then, despite his best intentions, Robert looked back at the man working on changing his tire. The flex of his back and ass made Robert's mouth go dry. A shaft of need moved through him at the sight of that ass and those hands changing the tire with such competence. He stifled a moan at the thought of them on his skin. The moment he realized what he was doing, he mentally smacked himself for being stupid. The cop was 100 percent straight. There wasn't a gay thing about him
"There you go," the officer said.
Robert jerked and glanced at him. There was a slight smile on the cop's face, and then the stern look was back. Robert flushed again and glanced away.
"Ummm... thanks," he said.
The sound of shoes walking away made him look up. The cop loaded the old tire and the tool he used back in the trunk, closing it. The cop walked over to him, crossing his arms over his chest.
"No problem. Let me have your license and proof of insurance."
Although confused, Robert got back into the car and retrieved the requested items, then silently handed them to the officer. He made to get out of the car.
The officer shook his head. "Stay there."
Robert sat behind the wheel. The officer shut his door, then studied the paperwork Robert had given him. He wondered why the officer needed his information but was afraid to ask.
Did he see me run the light? He wasn't looking forward to paying the ticket or having a moving violation on his record. Shit! He wondered if his insurance was going to spike ridiculously. Nah, if he had seen me, he would have said something. Robert took a breath.
"You're older than you look."
Robert blushed at the officer's words. He knew he appeared to be just a little older than his students, although he was in his early thirties. It was his curse. With his fair hair, clear complexion, bright blue eyes, and pretty features, he was constantly mistaken for one of the fifth- or sixth-year college students. Hell, he still got carded sometimes.
"I hear that a lot."
"I bet. Where are you off to?"
"Where are you going from here?"
"Oh, I, uh, I'm going to dinner with a friend." He glanced at the clock on the dash. "I'm late."
Hidden behind his mirrored lenses, the officer stared at him. Robert found the sensation distinctly uncomfortable.
"Do you work around here?" the officer asked.
"Yes. I'm a professor at the university."
"Okay. I'll let you go, then. I'll let you off with a warning. This time."
"This time?" Robert asked, confused.
"For running the red light." He handed Robert back his identification and insurance card. "The next time, you might not be so lucky. So pay attention, Professor." He gave Robert a wave, and then he was gone.
Robert waited until the cop drove off. Then he waited some more. He wasn't sure how long he remained parked at the side of the road. He only knew he couldn't get back onto it until his nerves settled. He didn't know why, but the cop had rattled him
"That's what you get for taking a detour," Robert sighed.
He pushed thoughts of the handsome officer out of his mind, started the car, and pulled back onto the road. In no time at all, he reached the restaurant, parked, and went inside. He quickly found his friend. Alex appeared perturbed. Robert couldn't blame him. He was thirty minutes late, and in a place as populated as Bacchus Sloan, that could feel like days.
"I'm sorry I'm late," he murmured as he slipped into the booth opposite Alex.
"It's okay. I've been keeping myself busy munching on the pita chips and hummus and staring at the eye candy," Alex replied as his gaze followed a young male undergrad in a pair of ridiculously tight, skinny jeans.
Although he'd seemed pissed as Robert walked in, it appeared that Alex's irritation was not directed at him for being late. Thank God for the hot, undergrad boys. Robert grinned. Alex hadn't changed at all in the years they'd known each other.
His gaze skimmed over the undergrad and took in the room. Bacchus Sloan was a mix of small town charm and big city design. The decor was funky, the ever-changing menu had a variety of great food, and the staff was efficient and friendly. The combination made it a well-known hang out spot for the locals. It was also known for its beer, which was brewed on site.
"So, how's life treating you, Alex?" Robert asked, turning his attention back to his friend.
They fell into a comfortable conversation about what had occurred in their lives since they last saw each other. They were so deep in the conversation that the waiter seemed to appear out of nowhere.
"I see your friend showed up," he said.
Robert raised one eyebrow in question at the waiter's statement and lifted his head. The moment he saw the young man, he knew why Alex hadn't been pissed at him for arriving late. Although the man wasn't Alex's usual type, if the waiter was the one who'd been keeping him company, no wonder he was in such an affable mood. The waiter was hot, in a dangerous sort of way. His shoulder length, jet-black hair with red-tipped edges was full of waves and body. Carved features balanced out the feminine nature of his haircut. The lip, nose, and eyebrow piercings gave him a rebellious edge, but it was his dark green eyes, which seemed to sparkle with wicked intentions, that really gave him a bad-as-you-want-to-be look that made it apparent he was trouble and knew it.
"Yeah, I got stopped by a cop," Robert said.
Alex stared at him in surprise. "You did?"
"Yeah. I ran a red light and then got a flat. He changed the tire and let me off with a warning."
"You're lucky," the waiter murmured.
Robert glanced at his nametag and saw his name was Leslie. A male named Leslie with a gorgeous face. That explained the piercings and the hair coloring.
"Could you give us five minutes?"
"Sure." Leslie turned away, but not before winking at Alex.
"Damn, you move quickly," Robert whispered across the table to Alex.
The man blushed. Robert stifled a grin. He thought of Bernie, who also blushed easily. He wondered if it was a genetic thing and if there was a scientific way he could figure it out.
Alex's voice brought him back to their conversation. "The boy is way too young. He's a step away from an arrest. He's barely legal."
"He doesn't look that young to me."
Alex shook his head. "We've got nothing in common. Anyway, what's good here?"
Robert let it go. Alex's face bore that stubborn expression he always got when his mind had been made up and he would not be swayed. They went over Bacchus Sloan's latest menu together, making a decision on what to order, what to share, and what to take to go. Leslie returned and took their orders, and soon he was back with hot, heaping plates of delicious food. They ate in a companionable silence that was ever so often broken with comments on their well-made meal or attempts at catching up. Soon they were enjoying dessert and tea
"I've got to go. A contractor is coming by the house I bought. I just closed on it a few days ago." There was pride and excitement in Alex's voice.
"You bought a house already?" Robert sat back, putting down his fork on his empty plate.
Alex gave him a look.
"Yeah, yeah, it was a dumb question. I know you hate living in apartments. I bet it's a beautiful house that needs a little TLC," Robert teased.
"You know it. Found it right on the beach, not far from here. You'll have to come by and check it out." Alex stopped, then asked thoughtfully, "You don't have a house yet?"
Robert shook his head.
Alex continued. "I'm surprised. You hate apartment living more than I do. What did you do with your lab?"
"I put everything in storage. I haven't have time to find a house yet that will suit my needs. I did buy a one-floor, three-bedroom condo. So it's not exactly an apartment. I was able to set up a small lab in one of the spare bedrooms. I've been so busy that I haven't had time to really look for anything else." He put his hand under his chin. "Seeing as a friend just moved here and already has a house, maybe he can help me look."
"Sure, I saw some houses that I didn't get that might work for you. Come by my house and check it out first. Let me know what you think. This week is spring break, right? What are your plans?" As he spoke, Alex stood up.
"I have to go in and work on my paper and prepare for classes after spring break."
"Robin, it's spring break, for Christ's sake. Take some time and have fun." Alex frowned.
"Don't call me Robin. You know I hate that nickname," Robert growled playfully. "You just want me to come and help you with drywall or something." He snorted.
"Whatever, Robin. Hey, you're good with your hands, and you're the only one I trust with my tools." Alex grinned, unrepentant.
Robert chuckled. When they were together, Alex had helped him discover a love for fixing up houses and bringing them back to their glory. It was Alex's way of relaxing from his job. At first, Robert didn't think it would be, but surprisingly, he had also found it relaxing. They used to buy properties and flip them, selling for a profit. They did the majority of repairs themselves in their spare time. They even found furniture pieces from various sales and restored them, selling them as part of the house. Robert hadn't done anything like that since he'd moved here.
He and Alex might not have worked as a couple, but they were great friends. Even when one of them got tied up with work or school and didn't speak with the other for months, when they did get in contact again, it was as if they had just spoken yesterday.
"I'll call and tempt you to come by and relax. I'll get the list of houses to you, and we'll go check them out." Alex leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I've got this."
He patted Robert's shoulder, then strode off to pay the bill. Robert watched his long-legged stride and shook his head. It was just like Alex to pay. He was generous, and it was hard to say no to him. Alex stopped at the register. Their waiter passed Alex and gazed at him as he went to serve another table. Alex glanced sideways at the waiter, then walked away, not saying a word. The waiter looked once more, then walked away himself.
Robert frowned. From the interaction he had seen between them, he knew their waiter intrigued Alex. It wasn't like Alex to not flirt or try to pick the man up. He wasn't promiscuous by any means, but the interest level he had shown the server throughout their meal would have at least led the Alex Robert knew to ask for a number. Alex waved at Robert as he walked toward the door. Robert pondered why Alex hadn't tried to pick up the waiter for a moment longer, then made a mental note to ask him next time they spoke.
Robert slid out of the booth and walked to the restroom. He pushed open the door and stopped just inside the doorway. He leaned his head to the side and glanced around, but found nothing. He could have sworn he heard someone speaking, and the voice had sounded familiar. With a shrug, he straightened, then walked to the closest sink and washed his hands. He was reaching for a paper towel when he heard someone come into the men's room. The other man was on the phone and speaking in Spanish. Robert didn't understand a word, but judging from his tone, his conversation wasn't going well. But it was the distinctive sound of his voice that made Robert go still. When the man rounded the corner, Robert found himself staring into rich, espresso eyes.
He had been right. The cop did have gorgeous, brown eyes.
The officer smiled. "Hello, Mr. Berkus. Nice to see you again."
Robert smiled weakly. "Hi, Officer."
"Miguel. Miguel Rodriguez," he replied.
God, even his name was sexy. Robert needed to get out of there as soon as possible, before he did something stupid like ask the man out, despite the fact that his gaydar wasn't going off. Although he had been told that he sucked at knowing someone was interested, much less if someone was gay. Robert felt his cheeks heat up, and he looked down at the paper towels in his hands and continued drying.
"Well, hi, Miguel. I just want to say thanks for helping me with my tire and not giving me a ticket." He glanced up.
Miguel's grin widened, and he approached Robert, his gait slow and calm. "Don't worry about it. I was glad to help. As for the ticket, a warning should be more than enough to keep you from running another red light."
"Enough to scare me, huh?"
He wasn't sure what made him say that. The words were out of his mouth before he thought about it.
The guy's brows lifted. "That's not what I meant. You just don't seem like the type to break the law, being a professor and all. It's your job to train the young to be their best, and hopefully, to be law-abiding."
Robert's heart thumped in his chest. He felt foolish for his stupid words. The officer, Miguel, was right. He was a rule abider, always had been. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that."
"It's okay. Just forget it."
"No, let me buy you a drink to make up for it. Are you off the clock?"
The guy's smile returned, this time sharper, showing off his white, even teeth. He was blindingly handsome when he smiled that way. It made him both more human and attainable. "As a matter of fact, I am. And I'd love to have a drink with you."
Robert stilled, a shiver of lust racked him. He could swear that Miguel was flirting with him, but that was impossible. Wasn't it?
Stop that! It's a friendly drink. Emphasis on friendly. He finished drying his hands and then threw the paper towel in the trash. Miguel walked over to the door and held it open for him. He walked through the open doorway. Robert turned to look at Miguel, swearing he had heard a groan. Miguel's gaze was friendly and calm. He motioned for Robert to continue on. They walked over to the bar, found a seat, and placed their order. The bartender gave them their beers and went to serve other customers.
Robert turned to Miguel. He gulped as Miguel's Adam's apple bobbed while he drank from his beer. Miguel lowered his glass to the bar, then met his gaze. Caught staring, Robert fought a blush.
"Ummm... so what brings you here?" Robert winced at how lame he sounded.
Miguel's lips twitched, but he was too polite to laugh.
"I had dinner with three of my brothers." Miguel rolled his eyes. "It's not like we don't see enough of each other at the weekly poker games or monthly family get-togethers."
A pang of longing filled Robert. He missed hanging out with his family and friends. They were on the other coast. At least Alex was here now, and they could hang out. The last time he spoke with one of his brothers, he had mentioned he was looking into jobs in the area. Robert hoped he found something. He would love to have some family close again.
"More like, fleece each other for all our money. Do you play?" Miguel asked.
"A little," Robert demurred.
"Uh-huh. I know that look. Tomas, my brother, uses it just before he takes all your money. You're a card shark." Miguel laughed. "Maybe you can come play some time."
Robert didn't know how to respond to that. The thought of being around this luscious man and not being able to touch was too much to contemplate. He gripped his beer, raised it, and took a drink. He set it back down and changed the subject.
"You have a big family, and a close knit one, it seems."
"Yep, sometimes too close. Mami and Papi have monthly cookouts to, and I quote, 'Keep an eye on their bambinas.' You would think we all weren't already grown. Do I look like a baby to you?" Miguel chuckled, motioning down his body with his hands.
"Baby" was not the first thing that came to mind when Robert looked at all those muscles on display under the caramel colored T-shirt hugging Miguel's chest. Robert took another drink of his brew to wet his suddenly dry mouth.
"No, a baby you're not," he agreed, thankful that his voice was normal.
Miguel nodded. "Just have to convince the parents of that. They love us and care, so we don't sweat it. So, what about the poker game? We have a variety of players who come according to their schedules. We're always looking for fresh meat," Miguel said teasingly.
Robert was tempted to accept. He hadn't played poker in a while. He opened his mouth to reply. A trilling sound cut him off. Miguel took out his cell and then flipped it open.
"Rodriguez." He listened, then replied curtly, "I'll be there in a few."
He closed the phone and returned his attention to Robert. "Sorry. I've gotta go. Thanks for the beer."
Miguel stood and put out his hand. Robert shook it. A shaft of heat made him shiver. Miguel looked at him closely, then smiled.
"Don't run any more red lights, now." Miguel chuckled and released his hand.
"I won't," Robert promised.
Miguel raised his hand in goodbye and walked toward the door. Robert turned and watched his long-legged gait. He bit his lip at the sight of Miguel's tight ass encased in black jeans. Robert rubbed his damp palm against the leg of his black dress pants. He looked up and met Miguel's gaze across the room. He waved weakly, hoping Miguel hadn't noticed him ogling his ass. Miguel nodded, then went out the door.
Robert turned back to the bar and drank the rest of his beer in one gulp. He put the glass back down and breathed deeply. It was a good thing he hadn't gotten a chance to accept the poker invitation. Miguel Rodriguez was too much temptation. He signaled the bartender for another drink. While he waited, Robert wondered which disappointed him more; that he hadn't made arrangements to meet with Miguel again or that there may not be another opportunity to see him.
* * * *
Miguel strode across the full parking lot of Bacchus Sloan to his dark blue SUV. When he was done with his shift, he had headed to Bacchus Sloan for dinner with his brothers. Since it was central to where they all lived, it was the perfect place for them to meet. His brothers had left right after dinner, each having something to do before heading home. He had gone to the restroom. Miguel couldn't believe his luck, running into the sexy man he had changed the tire for, and almost ticketed, just before the end of his shift.
From his license, he knew Robert was five-foot-seven, and that, despite looking only to be in his early twenties, he would be thirty-three on his birthday, which was a little over three months away, on June 18. And, of course, he also knew Robert's address. His license picture hadn't done him justice. It hadn't shown the soft and luxurious, slightly wavy blond hair, peaches and cream skin, and pretty features. Those bright blue eyes framed by curly lashes had an intelligence and heat in them that was intoxicating.
Miguel had seen his interest, but Robert hadn't made any overtures. Usually, he would have made his interest clear, but something made him want Robert to make the first move. Miguel could tell Robert was a little uptight from the way he dressed. The carefully pressed dress shirt and pants with a crease line were a dead giveaway. Reaching his car, Miguel pressed the button for his alarm. As he opened the door, he looked back at Bacchus Sloan.
"Maybe it's good Mr. Berkus didn't come on to me. It wouldn't work anyway. We're too different," Miguel mused.
He shrugged and got into his car. In efficient moves, he backed out of the space and then headed back to the station house.
* * * *
Almost a week later, Miguel still couldn't get bright blue eyes framed by curly lashes out of his mind. Shaking his head, he emptied the cart, putting the beer into his car, then the grocery bags. He closed the doors, then went to the driver's side and got in. Lowering his shades from the top of his head to cover his eyes, he backed out of the space. He drove down the aisle of the packed Smulders parking area. Flipping his signal, he absently turned on his cop radio. He frowned as he heard the call that was in progress on his beat. Making a decision, he drove toward the scene.
Miguel pulled in behind unit 5 and got out. He walked over to the car.
"Hey. What's going on?"
"Rodriguez, it's Friday. You know... your day off." Gerald Ramirez teased. "Hey, I'll take your day, and you stay here and work the scene." He laughed.
Miguel was lucky enough to have Friday, Saturday, and one Sunday a month off. He appreciated his days off.
"In your dreams, Ramirez. What's up?"
Ramirez got serious and filled him in. "There was vandalism in one of the lecture areas. Nasty stuff. Some kind of chemical poured on the floors that stinks to high heaven. It burns too. Carl had to take Alvin to the hospital to get treated. We're waiting for the hazmat guys to come and clear the area. Things are all ripped up and damaged."
"Isn't it spring break this week? Who would be here to call it in?"
"Some professor was working today. Poor slob doesn't even know to take the day off. He said the smell is what made him go look, even though it wasn't his room. He didn't expect to be able to get in since he didn't have a key, but the door was broken. He looked, but didn't go in, or he'd be on his way to the hospital like Alvin. He called it in when he found it."
Miguel had a strong suspicion he knew who it was. "What's the prof's name?"
He got a strange sensation. Miguel looked up and locked gazes with the bright blue eyes framed by curly lashes he had been dreaming about.