L. L. Ash
Publication date: February 14th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
From the Bestselling Author of HIM.
I’ve been trying to get that TA job ever since my senior year at college. I’m in my last semester of my Master’s degree and finally got the job. Only problem is our new professor is a sexy, middle aged, brilliant writer and an even better teacher. He runs the English department and now he’s my boss, my professor, and the center of every last one of my fantasies. There’s no way I should want him this much, but it’s those dang glasses and that smile and that little dimple in his chin. I was swooning the moment I met Professor Harlo, but the moment he opened his mouth, I fell in love.
This is the last thing I wanted. I’m fresh off a divorce and with two kids and two demanding careers, I don’t have the time or energy for this. Except, this girl sticks inside my brain like ABC gum and I can’t shake her. Doesn’t help that we’re crammed in my office grading papers several days a week for hours at a time. The whole innocent thing she has going on kept me away, but she’s a writer too, and I made the mistake of reading her half finished romance book. Unfortunately for me, the things I love about this girl are her mind and spirit, and those are the two things I can’t say no to.
Writing was my life.
And I’m not joking about that. If I couldn’t write, I would be absolutely useless to society. Some people take antidepressants, or do yoga or hike, or eat really good chocolate ice cream. For me, I write. It’s my therapy, if you will.
So, to say that my creative writing class was my favorite my first year of college was a bit of an understatement. I mean, I’d taken it every year since I started college. When I became knowledgeable enough to become the class’s TA, oh my God, it was like a dream come true.
Sure, being a teaching assistant was mostly just correcting tests, reading papers and doing the grunt work that my professor didn’t have time to do, but I didn’t care. I was going to be learning from some of the best, and my writing was going to benefit. Hell, maybe I’d even try to publish!
Now, the big obstacle ahead of me was getting the job.
I stood outside my professor’s office door, waiting for time to tick by because I was ten minutes early.
“Goddamnit!” I heard from behind the office door and my eyes widened.
Professor Harlo was new, replacing my recently retired professor. A spike of worry shot through me, wondering if the man had a temper.
The door swung open and there Professor Harlo was, over six feet tall, in slacks and a white shirt, deft fingers ripping off his tie.
“Oh, shit,” he whispered, jumping a little when he saw me there outside his door. “You here for the TA job?”
I nodded dumbly, my head bobbing up and down while he dabbed at his shirt. The big brown coffee stain on the front of his shirt finally grabbed my attention.
“Are you ok?” I finally bumbled, grabbing the tissue out of his hand so I could vigorously rub at the stain. “Did it burn you?”
Professor Harlo raised an eyebrow at me and watched me make a bloody fool of myself while I cleaned off my professor.
I finally blinked, realizing what I was doing, and shoved the napkin back at him.
“Sorry, I don’t know what I was…”
“Know how to get this out?” he asked, pointing to the spot and interrupting my apology.
“Good,” he said, waving me into his office as he wandered back in himself.
Those fingers, long and dexterous, started unbuttoning his shirt, starting from the neck down. I watched slack-jawed while he didn’t even bother glancing at me.
“Consider this a trial run,” he said finally, sliding his shirt off his arms before he bunched it against his bare chest.
Uh, yes, bare chest. And what a chest it was! His skin was pale, but there were muscles there that many academic men never bothered to develop. A dusting of freckles sprinkled across his pecs, and a peppering of dark hair trailed down into the band of his slacks.
“Hey,” he called, making the ‘I’m watching you ’motion with his fingers and eyes. “Get this all cleaned up and you’ve got the job.”
I blinked, clearing my mind as he shoved the shirt at me and pulled on an old man cardigan that fit him so well; the horn rimmed glasses on his face accentuating his dark, carmel colored eyes.
“What’s your name, by the way?” he asked once he was dressed again.
I drew my eyes away from the little triangle of chest and neck I was staring at and looked him in the face.
“Mia,” I stammered. “Mia Miller.”
“That’s fun enunciation,” he said with a grunt. “Ok, Miss Mia Miller. I want that back by tomorrow. Can you handle it?”
I lifted my eyebrows and nodded.
“Good,” was all he said before grabbing his leather briefcase bag and moving past me through the door, locking it on the way out. “By lunch tomorrow!”
I watched him saunter off after locking his office door behind us, and felt like my entire world had just imploded in that tiny room.
Once he was gone though, it was easier to breathe, and when I got some oxygen into my brain, I was able to finally convince myself of how idiotic my little instant crush was. Not only was my professor likely ‘over the hill ’and in his forties, but he was going to be my boss. Because yeah, I was getting the darn job, and no amount of coffee stained shirts were going to get in my way.
Shutting off the blood flow to my little love button, I stuffed the shirt into my backpack and hurried to my next class. Math. Yuck.
L.L. Ash is a Washington-born writer who has traveled and lived across the western coast of the US. Ash has been writing fiction since she was a pre-teen, and while her writing has improved since then, her love for literature has not changed.
Oftentimes you can find Ash reading an indie romance or enjoying a historical fiction. Dabbling in culinary arts and music, Ash has been an artist for decades but found her true love and passion in romances.