30 Nights - Christine d'Abo

Part 1

An Interesting Discovery

1

“You are the biggest coward in the world.”

Yup, that’s me—Glenna Marie O’Donald—stellar research assistant and consummate romantic coward.

Jasmine, my best friend since my first year of college, fell into the chair opposite me at our table in the lunchroom. I wasn’t bothered by her comments; she was right, after all. My history with guys was shaky at best. I liked them and they seemed to like me for a time. Then inevitably things devolved when my job took priority over hanging out.

Your boss is taking advantage of you.

You work way too much.

Why can’t you spend as much time with me as you do at the school?

This sucks. I’m out of here.

Honestly, when you get burned more than a few times for the same thing, you tend to back away. I didn’t need a man in my life. Jasmine never believed me when I told her that I was quite happy on my own. She’d snort, roll her eyes, and wave away my comment without a second glance.

It did get annoying.

I didn’t need a man.

Even if I sometimes wanted someone special in my life. Occasionally. Every so often.

“I’m telling you, the staff barbecue is the perfect place for you to talk to him.” She opened her lunch and the smell of kimchi rice filled the room.

The him she was referring to was Professor Eric Morris. The tall, dark-haired, super-fit sociology professor had a voice that could melt hearts and drop panties with a simple hello. Professor Eric Morris, who had more female students in his class than anyone else on campus. A man who rarely smiled, but when he looked at you there was no doubt he not only saw you, but every thought and feeling that flitted through your head. He starred in far too many of my nightly fantasies for me to admit without sounding like a crazy, obsessed stalker.

The man, who in the year and a bit that he’d been teaching at the college, I’d barely managed to say two words to, because I was, as Jasmine put it, a coward.

“I love you like a sister, Jaz. But there is no way I’m going to say anything to him. Ever.”

It was the Friday before the Labor Day weekend, the last workday before the start of the school year. Most of the professors from the college were gone, taking their last bit of vacation to play golf, read, or do whatever their passions happened to be. I loved working this time of year. The school was quiet. It always felt as though someone had taken a deep breath and were waiting to exhale. A collective pause before the chaos to come.

This year was going to be especially awesome. Professor Mickelson, my boss, had already been away for three months on his semester-long sabbatical. I still had four more months of only communicating with him via e-mail. Heaven!

“Are you insane?” Jasmine threw her napkin at me. “This is the perfect time for you to do it. He’ll be there. You’ll be there. Your crazy boss won’t be there. You might even be able to relax and have fun for once.”

She was my best friend in the whole wide world, but there were times when Jasmine scared the shit out of me. I looked down at my hands and picked at the dry skin around my nail. “I just can’t.”

“What’s the worst that can happen? He’ll say no. At the very least you’ll have an answer and you can move on to someone else.”

A grad student chose that moment to come into the kitchen. He didn’t even look at us as he made his way to the coffee machine. I leaned forward to close the distance between me and Jasmine. “I’m quite happy with my fantasies, thank you.”

“I bet you are. I bet you dream about climbing up his body and licking every inch of his skin.”

The grad student looked at us wide-eyed before he spun away quickly. I got the impression he was still listening, no doubt wanting to get some dirt that could be passed around the student lounge. Great, like I needed that kind of attention.

I nodded my head in the direction of our friend. “Can you keep your voice down a bit?”

“Not if you’re not going to listen to my advice.” She leaned back and crossed her arms, her eyes locked onto mine. “You need to make a move before someone else snatches him up.”

Now the grad student wasn’t even pretending that he wasn’t paying