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by Selena Kitt
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Maya's heart yearns for romance and adventure, so that's what she writes about--but James Reardon, her college creative writing professor, insists she's wasting both time and talent. Determined to prove him wrong, Maya stumbles onto the fact that her professor's been keeping secrets--not the least of which is his attraction to her. Faced with a choice, she will have to decide whether or not to reveal his secret to the world--and her own desire for a man nearly twice her age.
eBook Publisher: Excessica Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2008
42 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [121 KB]
Reading time: 35-49 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"A heartfelt love story--characters ... well developed--the sex is hot and explicit. The professor's secret is a nice twist.... Kitt earns a well deserved pat on the back for Paperback Romance."--Manic Reader Reviews
She hated the big, round table where the students sat together as they rifled through the pages of each other's work. She would've preferred to hide at the back of the classroom, tucked away in a little boxy desk.
"Hey, Maya." Connor sat next to her--again. This was the other reason she hated the big table. Personal space was becoming an issue. Somehow his knees and feet and hands kept getting all tangled with hers under cover of the table, and she wasn't quite sure how to stop it without making a scene.
"Hi." She pretended to be engrossed in the story they were discussing today.
It was a long, depressing piece about a girl whose father had sexually abused her, told entirely from the point of view of the girl soaking in a bathtub. At the end, she slit her wrists. Maya hated it, but she was already famous among the group for loathing unhappy endings. She was just thankful that no one put their names on their pieces, especially after her epic WWII tale of a soldier falling in love with the nurse who took care of him was ripped to shreds last month by the entire group of Salinger-wanna-be's.
"Great story, isn't it?" Connor leaned over her shoulder, and she could smell the tuna they'd served in the cafeteria this afternoon on his breath.
"Is it yours?" She glanced at him. He was what her roommate, Jen, called a "hottie"--blonde, blue-eyed, strong jaw, great cheekbones. Male model material, really. He could pose for romance novel covers, she mused. Still, in spite of everyone else's enthusiasm about Wheaton College going co-ed this year, Maya still couldn't get used to having boys in her class. All the boys her age seemed so immature.
"I wish!" He nudged her with his knee under the table. "Hey, what are you doing tonight?"
Maya looked up in surprise. She knew she should have been attracted to Connor, all things considered, and she thought she was supposed to be grateful for the attention, but she just wasn't.
"Studying." She pulled her limbs in and made herself as compact as possible.
"Connor!" It was Betsy Monroe. Bouncy and blonde, she was the perfect feminine bookend for the boy sitting next to Maya.
Maya turned away from their conversation, trying to decide what to say about this story when it came around to her. Poignant was a good word. She'd try that one. She wrote her comments at the end, in her rounded, girlish handwriting. By the time she finished, Professor Reardon had come in and was looking for a place to wedge in. There were only about fifteen of them around the table.
Maya looked up when he set his briefcase next to her, popping it open and pulling out a stack of papers. She noticed what a mess it was, how unorganized, and smiled. So Mr. Reardon wasn't Mr. Perfect, was he?
"All right." He snapped the attendance book closed and slipped it back into his briefcase. "We're going to have to go on to the next story in the queue. The author of the story we're intending to do isn't here today."
They all looked around, trying to figure out who was missing. The stories were anonymous, but they could usually tell who wrote what.
"Which one is next?" Betsy asked.
"The Captive Bride." Professor Reardon held up Maya's story and she shrank even further in her seat, willing herself not to blush. It wasn't working--her face already felt hot. The rest of the class was shuffling through their papers, locating the story. "So, who wants to start?"
"The sex was wicked hot!" Connor remarked. The room tittered, and Maya could feel his thigh brushing against hers, back and forth. "What? I'm serious."
"All right, the sex was hot." Professor Reardon shook his head at Connor. "It's a start. Anyone else?"
"It was kind of formulaic," Betsy remarked. "I mean, I liked it, don't get me wrong. What girl doesn't like a good romance, right? But it didn't break any new ground or take any chances."
"It was really well-written." A small, dark haired girl who wore huge glasses spoke up. Maya didn't know her name. "I mean, it could've been something that was published. It was that good."
"You're right," Professor Reardon agreed. Maya felt an immediate flush of pride. "The quality of the writing itself is easily publishable, as is, for the genre. This author has a great deal of talent and natural ability."
Maya sat staring at the words on the page--the words that she'd written--trying not to get all glowy and starry-eyed. She thrived on praise like no one else she'd ever known, and his approval was like vital sustenance to her.
"But it's just a little romance." The voice that spoke up belonged to Joseph Kramer. He was on the staff of the school paper, a freshman with his own column already called "My View."
"What's wrong with that?" Professor Reardon asked the class again.
"Nothing, I guess." Joe shrugged. "But if I'm writing something, I want it to be different. I don't want my stuff to be like everything else out there."
"Do you realize what kind of market is out there for romance writing?" Betsy tossed in. "It's huge! Women eat this stuff up."
"Yeah, it's like porn for women," Connor agreed.
Maya winced. "I don't know if I agree with that analogy."
"Why not?" Professor Reardon looked over at her. His eyes clearly stated that of course he knew who wrote it, and of course, he was talking directly to her.
"I guess I just feel a difference," Maya said with a shrug. "Romance is about love, and porn is just ... just sex."
"So, what's wrong with writing romance?" Professor Reardon asked again.
"Nothing, if you want to be mediocre," Joseph replied with a snort.
"And make a million dollars," Betsy retorted. "Look at Danielle Steele."
"Yeah, well," Joseph went on. "No matter how good you are in the genre, you'll never win a Pulitzer Prize, will you?"
"No," Professor Reardon replied. "That's very true."
"It just seems like a waste of talent to me," Joseph replied.
Maya's face was on fire and she felt tears stinging her eyes. She blinked them back, biting at the inside of her cheek.
"So what about the story itself, then?" Professor Reardon went on. Under the table, Maya felt a hand on hers, a brief squeeze, and then it was gone. She was so used to Connor touching her, that at first it didn't register that it had come from her other side. She stared at Professor Reardon for a moment, incredulous. The discussion was still going on.
"Ok, but this is about a pirate abducting some young girl," Joseph was saying. "Shouldn't he be dangerous? He sounds like a big pussy to me."
"Girls like bad boys," Connor agreed.
Maya tuned them out. For the rest of the discussion, all she could think about was the brief touch of Professor Reardon's hand on hers. It stayed with her, like a brand.
After class, she stayed and asked him if she could have her story. They were supposed to pick them up at his office (to keep the air of anonymity.) He handed it over to her, though, and she saw through the cover page that it was full of red marks.
"You said it was good!" She sighed, flipping to the end to see the grade. "B-". She had never earned less than an "A" on any piece of writing in her life. At least it was better than the "C" she got last time.
"It is." He packed up his briefcase. The class had departed, and they were alone.
"I don't understand." She shook her head. "What do you have against romance stories?"
"Nothing, per se." He snapped his briefcase shut, his eyes on hers. "But I do agree with Joseph. You have an incredible talent, and you're wasting it writing fairy stories."
"But you don't understand--this is what I want to write!" she cried, smacking the table with her story.
He shrugged. "That's up to you. I just want you to know what you're capable of." He started toward the door and Maya felt tears stinging her eyes again, but she refused to let them fall. "Maya," he said from the doorway. His voice was soft. She turned to look at him, but his back was still to her, his hand on the door. "Would you come to my office tomorrow at two? I'd like to talk to you about something."
She frowned, but said, "Okay."
He nodded, opening the door and walking out, leaving her alone.