Grading the Curve
Ellen Novak is a hardworking college student who wants to get her degree and start her life after years of financial struggle and isolation.
Alexander Cord is a widowed English professor who hides his loneliness and guilt behind a sardonic facade.
School rules have kept them at arm’s length all year long. But on the last night of Ellen’s college career, the two of them risk everything to find out if their mutual attraction is more than just a classroom crush.
- Contemporary, Erotic Romance, MF
- Word Count: 30,000
- Heat Level 3
- Published By: Belaurient Press
“Five Cocktails. I LOVED this book!” –
– Cocktails and Books
“A fast-paced story that is filled with sexy banter.”
– The Romance Studio
“Did you know that you always blush when you talk to me? It’s charming. You look like a medieval maiden receiving her first suitor.”
Medieval maiden? What are you doing, channeling that idiot Shelly?
But Ellen Novak did blush whenever he spoke to her, and it painted her skin with a rich color that reminded him of peonies. It also made him want to pull her into his arms and kiss her until all she could think about was him.
She ducked her head, staring dumbly at the restaurant’s checked tabletop. And now you’ve embarrassed her. I’m sure she must love being compared to a—
His brain came to a screeching halt. No. That can’t be right. For God’s sake, she’s twenty-four. With skin like cream dappled with cinnamon, an enchanting face, and a rounded body made for pleasure, there was simply no way she could still be a virgin.
She was still staring at the table. “I’m sorry,” he said quickly. “I seem to be absolutely incapable of speaking to you tonight without sounding like a complete ass.”
Her lips curved for a moment, then straightened out before she looked back up at him. “You don’t sound like an ass. I thought it was nice.”
Christ, she’s lovely. He wondered what it would take to make her truly smile, laugh, lose the self-control that surrounded her like a wall of clear ice. “Miss Novak—” He took a deep breath, praying that Davinder was right and he wasn’t about to make the biggest, most foolish mistake of his life. “Now that your grades are filed, it means that our relationship as professor and student is officially over.”
She nodded solemnly. “I know.”
“So what I was wondering is—well, I mean—” His mind went frustratingly blank while in the background his subconscious was yammering would you have dinner with me go see a movie with me go to bed with me?
“Do you want to go to bed with me?”
For a moment he thought he’d said the words aloud. It took a beat before he realized they’d come from her. “I—what?”
More color mounted to her cheeks but she held her ground. “I like you, Dr. Cord. I like talking with you, I like your intelligence and your sense of humor. And I think you’re very handsome.” She swallowed hard. “And you were right. About the maiden thing. I mean, I don’t know if that’s a problem or a turn-off for you, but…”
A turnoff? He wondered if she had any idea what she was saying. It was a ridiculously atavistic turn-on, to claim virgin territory, render her wet, willing, and begging for release before bringing her to that peak. To leave his mark and make her his own.
“It’s not a turnoff,” he said, clearing his throat. “But why me?”
“I already told you, I like you. So if you’re interested—”
“Oh, I am, believe me.” That certainly wouldn’t do him any harm, if this turned out to be a prank—most straight men his age would be entranced by a beautiful young woman, after all. He leaned forward, lowering his voice. “But Miss Novak, allow me to repeat—why me? I’m fully aware of my nickname among the students, and I earned it honestly. I’m ill-tempered, brooding, and I don’t tolerate fools lightly. In short, I’m not a nice person. And while I thank you for the compliment on my looks I’m hardly the most handsome man on campus, plus there’s the age difference between us. So I don’t understand why you’d like to indulge in such a momentous occasion with someone like me, when there are easily a hundred young men within a ten block radius who’d be more than willing to help relieve you of your virginity.”
He half-expected her to start crying, perhaps, or get offended and storm off. He would have regretted it, but that would have confirmed his suspicions. Instead, she surprised him by nodding. “You’re not very nice, that’s true. But I’ve never seen you be deliberately cruel, either. You don’t play games or sling bullshit, which I appreciate. As for your age, I know you’re older than me, but if there are any problems because of that—”
“There aren’t.” He wondered if he should be insulted by the implication that he might need pharmaceutical help with his erections, but he was too intrigued with her analysis of him.
“All right. I don’t have daddy issues, if that’s what you’re asking. And I don’t have a problem with the age difference. As for the hundred young men who’d be happy to take my virginity, according to my roommates it would result in a really substandard experience. To be blunt, guys my age suck in bed. I want someone who knows what he’s doing.”
Part of him wanted to prop his chin on his hands and gaze at her in sheer admiration for her bluntness. The other part wanted to throw her over his shoulder, take her home, and ravish her until the neighbors all knew his name. “And you think that’s me?”
“I loathe repeating myself, but why?”
“The way you move.” It was said without hesitation. “You’re very aware of your body, like a dancer. When you move, it’s done with power and grace.” She bit her lips, then smiled. “You may be a bastard, but I’m betting you’re one hell of a sensual bastard.”
How long has she been watching me? “I haven’t had many complaints over the years,” he admitted.
Her smile turned challenging. “Well, then. Why don’t you take me to your place and relieve me of my blushes, Dr. Cord?”
There was only one thing he could say to that. He lifted a hand. “Check, please.”