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Messaggio  simona80 il Gio 03 Mar 2011, 22:59

Chapter Four
Professor Masen paced the hallway for a few minutes and then leaned up against a wall and pinched his nose between his thumb and his forefinger.
He did not know how he got there or what had propelled him to behave in such a way, but he was about to be caught up in a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
He‘d been unprofessional to Miss Swan in his office, perilously close to harassing her verbally.
He‘d picked her up in his car, unchaperoned, and had entered her apartment. If it had been Angela who he‘d picked up, she probably would have leaned over and undone his zipper with her teeth, while he was driving. The Professor shuddered at the thought.
Now he was about to take Miss Swan to dinner, for steak, no less. If that didn‘t violate the non-fraternization policy set up by the University, he didn‘t know what would.
He took a long and cleansing breath. Miss Swan was trouble; a magnet for misadventure. And although he was sorry she was living in deplorable circumstances, he was not going to risk his career to help her. She would be well within her rights to go to the Chairman of his Department tomorrow and file a harassment complaint against him. He could not let that happen.
He crossed the hall in two long strides and raised his hand to knock on her door. He was going to offer some feeble excuse, which would be better than just disappearing. But he stopped as soon as he heard a noise from the other side of the door.
Miss Swan opened her door and stood, eyes downcast, in a simple but elegant v-necked black dress that fell to her knees. The Professor‘s eyes raked over her gentle curves and down to her surprisingly long and very shapely legs. And her shoes . . .she couldn‘t have known this, but Professor Masen had a thing for women in exquisite high heeled shoes. He swallowed noisily as he took in her breathtaking and obviously designer black stilettos. The Professor wanted to touch them. . .
―Ahem.‖ Bella coughed slightly and he reluctantly dragged his eyes up from her shoes to her face. She was staring at him now with a bemused expression.
She had pinned her hair up, but several of the curls had escaped and were falling gently around her face. She wore a little make up, her porcelain skin pale but luminous, with two delicious swathes of pink on her cheeks. And her eyelashes seemed even darker and longer than he remembered.
Miss Isabella Swan truly was everything that her name implied and much, much more.
She shrugged into a navy blue trenchcoat, and quickly locked her apartment door.
The Professor gestured to her to lead the way and followed her mutely through the hallway. Once outside the front door, he opened the umbrella and then stood there somewhat awkwardly.
Bella looked up at him, puzzled.
―It would be easier for me to cover both of us if you took my arm.‖ He offered her the crook of his left arm, which was holding the umbrella. ―If you don‘t mind,‖ he added.
Bella took his left arm and looked up at him with a soft expression. Both of them gasped suddenly as a shock of some kind passed between them.
Professor Masen dismissed the shock as a fluke of nature in the electrically charged air of a thunderstorm. But Bella knew better.
They drove in silence down to the harbor front, a place that Bella had heard of but not explored yet. Before the Professor gave his keys to the valet, he asked Bella to hand him his tie from the glove compartment.
Bella obliged, smiling to herself at the fact that he kept a boxed and immaculate silk tie in his car.
When she moved towards him, he caught a whiff of her hair and closed his eyes, just for a second. ―Strawberry,‖ he murmured.
―What?‖ Bella asked, not quite having heard him.
He pulled off his sweater and Bella was rewarded momentarily with the sight of his chest and a few curls of bronze hair through the open buttons at his neck.
Professor Masen was beautiful. He had a perfect face that was still boyish despite his years, and Bella believed that underneath his clothes he would be just as perfect. She tried very hard not to think about that too much, for her own sake.
But that didn‘t stop her from watching in muted but rapt admiration as he effortlessly tied his tie without a mirror. Alas, the tie was crooked.
―I can‘t seem to . . . I can‘t see.‖ He fussed as he tried to straighten his tie but to no avail.
―May I?‖ She offered shyly, not willing to touch him without his approval.
―Thank you.‖
Bella‘s little fingers quickly straightened and smoothed his tie and then she lightly traced the top of his collar back to the nape of his neck, where she tugged the top of the collar down so as to cover the tie at the back. By the time she withdrew her fingers to her lap, she was breathing rapidly and very red in the face.
The Professor was oblivious to her reaction because he was too busy thinking about the strange familiarity of her fingertips. And wondering why Tanya‘s fingers never felt familiar.
He removed his jacket from the hanger that hung behind his seat and quickly put it on. Then with a smile and a nod, they exited the car.
Harbour Sixty Steakhouse was a landmark in Toronto; a famous and very expensive restaurant popular with CEO‘s, politicians and various other luminati. Professor Masen ate there because their steak was superior to any other he had tried and he was impatient with mediocrity. So it never occurred to him to take Miss Swan anywhere else.
Antonio, the maître d‘, greeted him warmly with a firm handshake and a torrent of Italian.
The Professor responded equally warmly, also in Italian.
―And who is the beauty? What a beautiful lady!‖ Antonio kissed the back of Bella‘s hands while he chattered away to her in very descriptive Italian about her eyes, her hair and her skin.
Bella flushed and thanked him, shyly but determinedly answering him in his own language.
The sound of Miss Swan speaking Italian was tantalizing.
Miss Swan had a lovely voice, it was true, but Miss Swan speaking Italian was something celestial. Her ruby mouth opening and closing, the delicate way she almost sang the words, her tongue peeking out to wet her lips from time to time. . . Professor Masen had to remind himself to close his mouth after it had dropped open.
Antonio was so surprised and pleased at her response, he kissed her cheeks not just once but twice and quickly led them to the back of the restaurant where he provided them with his best and most romantic table for two.
The Professor hovered over his chair reluctantly as he realized what Antonio was doing. He‘d sat at that table before, not long ago, but with someone else. This was a mistake and one he needed to correct, but just as he cleared his throat to make the correction, Antonio asked Bella if she would accept a bottle of a very special vintage from his family‘s vineyard in Tuscany.
Bella thanked him profusely, but explained that Il Professore might have other preferences for the wine he would like to drink with his dinner.
Professor Masen sat down quickly and not wanting to offend, said that he would be delighted with whatever Antonio offered. Antonio beamed and quickly withdrew.
―Since we‘re in public, I think it would it be best if you didn‘t refer to me as Professor Masen.‖
Bella smiled brightly and nodded.
―So just address me as Mr. Masen.‖
Mr. Masen was too busy looking at the menu to see the way that Bella‘s eyes widened and then fell.
―You have a Tuscan accent,‖ he remarked absently, still not looking at her.
―How did you come by that?‖
―A junior year abroad in Florence from Seattle University. And then a trip last year for a few weeks.‖
―Your Italian is fairly advanced for only a junior year abroad.‖
―I began studying it in high school.‖
He looked across the small and intimate table and saw that she actively avoided his gaze. She was studying the menu as if it were an exam, worrying her lovely lower lip between her teeth.
―You are invited, Miss Swan.‖
Her eyes darted to his with a questioning look.
―You are my guest. Order whatever you like, but please order some meat.‖ He felt the need to add that qualification since the express purpose of their dinner was to provide her with something more fortifying than couscous.
―I don‘t know what to choose,‖ she said quietly.
―I could order for you, if you prefer.‖
Bella nodded and closed her menu, still worrying her lip back and forth.
Antonio returned just then and proudly displayed a bottle of Chianti with a handwritten label. Bella smiled widely and watched with delight as he opened the bottle and poured a little into her glass.
Mr. Masen watched, almost breathless, as she swirled the wine in the glass expertly and then lifted it so that she could examine it more closely in the candlelight. She brought the glass to her nose, closed her eyes and sniffed. Then she placed the glass to her plump lips and tasted the wine, holding it in her mouth for a while before swallowing. She opened her eyes, smiled even more widely and thanked Antonio for his precious gift.
Antonio beamed, complimented Mr. Masen on his choice of dining companion a little too enthusiastically, and then filled both of their glasses with his favourite wine.
Meanwhile, Mr. Masen had been adjusting himself under the table because the sight of Miss Swan tasting wine was the most erotic thing he‘d ever witnessed. She was not merely attractive, she was beautiful, like an angel or a muse. And she wasn‘t merely beautiful, she was sensual and hypnotic, but also innocent. Her wide eyes reflected a depth of feeling and purity that he had never seen before.
He had to drag his eyes away from her as he adjusted himself once more for good measure, suddenly feeling dirty and more than a little ashamed of the reaction she was eliciting from him. A reaction that he would need to attend to later that evening. When he was alone. And surrounded by the scent of strawberries.
He ordered their meals, making sure that he requested the largest portion of filet mignon possible for Miss Swan. When she protested, he dismissed her concern with a wave of his hand, remarking after Antonio had left
that she would be able to take her leftovers home with her. If Mr. Masen had his way, this meal would feed her for a couple of days.
He wondered what she would eat after her leftovers were exhausted, but refused to allow himself to dwell on the problem. This was a one time only event, and only because he‘d shouted at her and then shamed her. After this, things between them would be strictly professional.
For her part, Bella was happy to be with him. She wanted to be able to talk to him, to really talk to him, to ask him about his family and the funeral. She wanted to comfort him over the loss of his mother. She wanted to tell him secrets and have him whisper secrets to her in return.
But with his eyes determinedly but somewhat distantly fixed on her, she knew she could not have what she wanted. So she smiled and fidgeted with the silverware, hoping that he wouldn‘t find her nervousness and its desperate outlets embarrassing.
―Why did you start studying Italian in high school?‖
Bella gasped. Her eyes grew wide and her beautiful red mouth hung open.
Mr. Masen‘s eyebrows furrowed at her reaction. Her reaction was completely out of proportion to his question; he hadn‘t asked her for her bra size. His eyes dropped involuntarily to the swell of her breasts and then returned to her eyes. He reddened as a number and a cup size miraculously entered his head.
―Um, I became interested in Italian literature. In Dante and Beatrice.‖ She fidgeted with the linen napkin in her lap, her curls hanging forward around her heart shaped face.
He thought of the painting in her apartment and her extraordinary resemblance to Beatrice. Once again, the thought twisted in his mind and once again he pushed it aside.
―Those are remarkable interests for a young girl,‖ he prompted, allowing his eyes to memorize her beauty.
―I had – a friend who introduced me to them.‖ She sounded pained and more than a little sad.
He realized he was treading very closely to an old wound and so he quickly retraced his steps, trying to find more comfortable ground to tread upon.
―Antonio is very taken with you.‖
Bella looked up and smiled prettily. ―He‘s very kind.‖
―You blossom under kindness, don‘t you? Like a rose.‖ The words escaped his lips before he had time to consider them, and by the time they were pronounced and Bella had looked at him with no little warmth, it was far too late to retract them.
That did it. Professor Masen began focusing his attention on his glass of wine, and his features clouded and then grew very cold.
Bella saw the change, but accepted it and made no further attempt at conversation.
Antonio wondered why the Professor would bring such a lovely creature to such a romantic place and then sit there stoically without even speaking to her, looking all the while as if he was in pain. And so throughout the meal, he spent more time than was necessary at their table chatting in Italian with the beautiful Isabella, and inviting her to join his family at the Italian-Canadian club for dinner next Sunday.
Bella accepted his invitation graciously and was rewarded later with tiramisu, espresso, biscotti, grappa and then finally, a small chocolate Baci, in leisurely succession.
Professor Masen was not rewarded with these delights and so he just sat there, watching Miss Swan enjoy herself, and brooding.
By the end of the evening, Antonio had pressed something that resembled a large food hamper into her little hands and would not allow her to refuse it. He kissed her cheeks several times after he had helped her with her coat, and then begged the Professor to bring her back to them soon and often.
Professor Masen straightened his shoulders and fixed Antonio with a stony gaze. ―That‘s not possible.‖ And with that, he exited the restaurant, with Bella and her heavy food hamper trailing dejectedly behind him.
When they arrived at Bella‘s apartment, Professor Masen obligingly opened her door for her and then removed the hamper from the backseat of the Volvo. He peered into it curiously, moving a few things around so he could analyze its contents.
―Wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, biscotti, a jar of homemade marinara from Antonio‘s wife, leftovers. You‘re going to be very well fed for the next little while.‖
―Thanks to you.‖ Bella blushed, holding her hand out for the food.
―This is heavy. I‘ll carry it for you.‖ He escorted her to the front door of the building and then waited while she unlocked the door. Then he handed her the hamper.
Bella began to stare at her shoes and her cheeks grew warm as she thought of what she needed to say.
―Thank you, Professor Masen, for a nice evening. It was really generous of you to . . .‖
―Miss Swan.‖ He interrupted her. ―Let‘s not make this more awkward than it already is. I apologize for my – previous rudeness. My only excuse for my behaviour is, ah, personal reasons. So let‘s just shake hands and move forward.‖
He held out his hand and she took it. In his grasp, her hand lay like a lifeless thing and he was perplexed as to why. He simply shook her hand, trying very hard not to bruise her, and absolutely ignoring the thrill that coursed through his veins at the feel of her skin against his.
―Good night, Miss Swan.‖
And with that, Bella disappeared into her building leaving Professor Masen on slightly better terms than she had that afternoon.
An hour or so later, Bella sat on her bed for a very long time staring at the photograph she always kept hidden under her pillow. She was trying to decide if she should destroy it, leave it where it always was, or put it away in a drawer.
She‘d always loved this picture. She loved the smile on his face. It was the most beautiful picture she‘d ever seen, but it also hurt her terribly to look at it.
She gazed up at the lovely painting that hung over her bed and fought back tears. She did not know what she had expected from her Dante, but she definitely hadn‘t received it. So with the wisdom that comes only from having experienced a broken heart, she resolved to let him go once and for all.
She thought of her now crammed pantry, and the kindness Antonio had showed her.
She thought of the voice mails she had received from Peter, how he had expressed concern at leaving her alone with the Professor and begged her to call him at any hour to tell him she was alright.
She padded over to her dresser, opened the top drawer, and placed the photograph reverently but determinedly at the very back, underneath the sexy underwear that she never wore.
And with the contrast between the three men well fixed in her mind, she went back to bed, closed her eyes and dreamt of a secret meadow.


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Data d'iscrizione : 01.01.11
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