Read Winter Jacket: New Beginnings Online

Authors: Eliza Lentzski

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Lesbian, #Romantic, #Lesbian Romance, #Genre Fiction, #Lgbt, #Gay Fiction, #Lesbian Fiction, #@lgbt, #Contemporary, #@unread, #Romance

Winter Jacket: New Beginnings (19 page)

BOOK: Winter Jacket: New Beginnings
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Emily
made a noise of affirmation. “The Great Dictator herself.”

I didn’t know when she’d shown up because I’d been stationed by the front door with Emily and Thad for most of the evening.

I froze when I saw the Dean look in our direction. Emily leaned in close to me. “Incoming,” she murmured before abandoning me. I continued to stand like a deer in headlights as Dean Merlot crossed the living room.

“You’re dangerously empty.”
Thad pried the nearly empty wine glass from my hands. “Let me get you a refill,” he said, scattering as well.

“Dr. Graft?”

I nodded, a little dumbfounded. No matter how old I got, I still became tongue-tied around attractive women – and Dean Merlot was most definitely that.

To say I was surprised by her appearance would have been a gross understatement
. Unlike most other Deans I’d known during my time in academia, this woman was young, maybe just a few years older than myself. Most people didn’t get to be Dean of a college until they’d taught for decades and then made the move to upper administration. It also annoyed me to admit that she was attractive. It was far easier loathing someone’s existence from behind a computer screen if you didn’t actually know what they looked like and could instead imagine them as some dried-up old crone.

She held out a slim hand. “Jessica Merlot,”
she greeted as I took her hand. Her fingernails were as manicured as the rest of her. “It’s nice to finally put a face to a name.”

Somehow I had
a hard time believing she hadn’t at least looked me up on the English department’s webpage like I’d tried to do to her. Plus the fact that she’d walked right up to me and had known me, suggested she wasn’t being entirely forthright.


Your home is charming,” she complimented.

“That’s kind of you to say,”
I returned, feeling unnaturally formal. Maybe Hunter’s defense-mechanism was starting to rub off on me. “I’m glad you were able to make it to our little end-of-the-year gathering.”

She nodded and absently plucked a red grape fr
om a bunch on a fruit platter. “I’ve been trying to make the rounds to the departments,” she said, popping the grape into her mouth. “but it’s taken some time to get acclimated to a new school. I swear” she said, chuckling and shaking her head, “I think I spent all of January and February in my office, staring at my computer, and trying not to feel overwhelmed, or giving myself daily pep-talks that the Trustees hadn’t made a mistake when they hired me.”

I nodded, not sure what to say.
Ever since Bob had instructed I tone down my gayness, I’d wanted to march into this woman’s office and pontificate, throwing around acronyms like HRC and ACLU. Self-preservation had kicked in until the next personal insult, having my proposed courses rejected. But now that she was in front of me, delicately picking at the fruit plate and almost making me feel sorry for her, I didn’t know what to do but be polite.

“I’
ve no doubt the Trustees made an informed decision.”

She nodded, looking wistful. “I suppose only time will tell.”
She rubbed her hands together as if brushing away invisible crumbs. “Well, Dr. Graft, I should probably let you go attend to your other guests. It was a pleasure finally getting to meet you.”

“Elle,”
I choked out awkwardly. “Please, call me Elle.”

The Dean’
s eyelashes fluttered. “Well, Elle,” she murmured lowly as if getting to call me by my first name was a secret between the two of us, “thank you again for having me in your home. I’ll have to repay the favor soon.”

Dean Merlot sashayed away, leaving me feeling bewildered and not a
little bit blindsided. I hadn’t known what to expect from our first meeting, but I certainly hadn’t expected such a civil, nearly flirtatious conversation. It felt like a trap.

Emily
reappeared at my side almost as quickly as she had made herself scarce. She held a bottle of red wine in one hand and shoved a topped off glass toward me. “You survived.”

I nodded, watching the Dean
continue to make her rounds. “What just happened?” I blinked.


She killed you with kindness, Professor Graft,” she snorted over the top of her own wine glass. “You don’t get to be a Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at her age without knowing how to charm and bullshit your way through a conversation.”


So that was an act?” I openly marveled.

“Don’
t let that doe-eyed pantomime fool you, Elle. She’s a pit bull behind closed doors.”

“Why is she touching all my stuff
?” I quietly hissed. I watched her stand on tiptoe to inspect the books on the top of my built-in book shelves. I felt like she was judging my life with every item she casually picked up and inspected. “Is she just trying to torture me?”

“I’m pretty sure this is what’s ca
lled Marking Her Territory,” Emily remarked. “She’s an Alpha and she wants you to know it.”

I continued to stare after the Dean, letting my gaze unabashedly travel the length of her long legs. “Do you ever think about what you’d be doing if you weren’t teaching, Emily?”

“Painting coconuts for tourists on a remote island oasis,” she said without hesitation.

“You sound like you’ve thought about this,” I laughed, returning my full attention to my friend.

She ran a finger along the top of her wine glass. “Nearly every semester,” she sighed.

+++++

CHAPTER TWELVE

It was a beautiful Spring day in the upper Midwest; the perfect day for a
college graduation ceremony, but the scent of sweet, fragrant flowers in the air did nothing to appease my sour stomach. Emily sat next to me at the ceremony. It was a tradition from when I’d first been hired. We were in charge of nudging each other to keep from falling asleep during the long and often tedious event. From where the faculty sat on an elevated platform, we roasted in our heavy academic regalia under the heat of the sun above. The speeches were long, and I felt Emily’s elbow in my side a few times throughout the ceremony. But when it came to the conferring of degrees, I was alert.

The Dean of Students, a kind-faced woman
named Nancy with whom I’d interacted a few times, stood at the podium and read off each student’s name alphabetically. When she called out Hunter’s name, Emily nudged me in the ribs. I bit back a complaint; Emily was a thin woman and her elbows were sharp. I watched with joint pride and adoration as Hunter walked across the stage to shake hands with the university president and accept her diploma. From out in the crowd of family and friends, I heard a voice above the polite claps.


Yeah, Grunt! Way to go!”

I smiled privately,
recognizing the nickname Hunter’s brother had given her.

Hunter ducked her head, embarrassed, and waved at the crowd without really looking at them before stepping off the graduation stage to return to her chair.

“Congratulations, Elle,” Emily leaned in to murmur in my ear. “You’re no longer dating a student.”

Having a last name that began with the letter D, Hunter’s name was one of the first called. I settled back in my chair and tried not to think about the dinner I was supposed to have with her family later that day. Instead, I retrained
my focus on the rest of the students as they received diplomas, waving at a few English majors as they caught my eye before crossing the stage.

I always
became a little nostalgic on the last day of classes, but especially at graduation. It was a small school, less than 2,000 full-time students, so chances are I would see many of my students again on campus either in another class or just randomly at the cafeteria or walking to and from one class to another, unless they were graduating. Teaching is hard for people who hate goodbyes. You get to know students and they you, and then at the end of the semester you go from seeing them 3 to 4 times a week to never again.

 

When the ceremony ended, I ditched my robes in my office and quickly freshened up so I didn’t look like a wilted flower when I had to meet Hunter’s family. My heels clicked in th
e empty halls of the Humanities’ building. Just before exiting, I stopped at a drinking fountain to stave off the dehydration from sweating in the sun that afternoon. I congratulated myself for being responsible, but really it was just another delay before I had to face Hunter’s mother for the second time.

“Dr. Graft.”

At the greeting, I stood upright and turned. Dean Merlot stood behind me. She too had changed out of her academic regalia and was wearing what I assumed was her signature outfit – an immaculately tailored power suit. It was a little too much clothing I thought for a late Spring afternoon.

I
wiped the water from my chin. “Oh, hi.”

I hadn’t realized anyo
ne else was in the building. I’d thought everyone was still outside or had gone home already. It didn’t make sense why she was in this building, which housed classrooms and the offices of humanities faculty like myself; her office was on the other side of campus.

Her eyes seemed to
slowly take in my form. I’d changed into a light cotton dress, cinched high at the waist with a thin belt that accented my thin waist. “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”

“It is,” I acknowledged with a nod.

“Hunter Dyson participated in today’s graduation, did she not?”

I bristled. There was no reason for Dean Merlot to know my girlfriend’s name. She hadn’t called her my girlfriend
, per say, but there seemed no other reason for her to single-out Hunter as a student who had just graduated. I wondered at Dean Merlot’s need to research. “She did.”

“Congratulations,” the Dean said, bobbing her head and rocking a little on her stiletto heels.

“Thank you.” I didn’t know how else to respond.

She looked like she wanted to say somewhat else, but deciding against it, she turned and walked away. Her heels echoed in the hallway until she walked out of sight.

 

I pushed through the double doors to the outside to escape Merlot before I could go after her and say something I’d come to regret later. I might have been able to check my emotions at the departmental party, but I was still angry; it felt like this woman was going out of her way to single me out. I loved my job and my co-workers, and the students were bright and friendly and polite, but Dean Merlot had made this my worst semester ever.

I shielded my eyes as I first walked out to let my pupils adjust to the lighting change. The sun was still bright and hot above in the cloudless blue sky. I scanned the campus green, trying to find Hunter or her family. Robed faculty, graduates, and their friends and family littered the lawn, but the crowds had begun to disburse now that the ceremony was over.

I spotted my girlfriend standing near an ancient maple tree, surrounded by an assortment of similarly blond and pale people whom I took to be relatives. She was originally from the suburbs, and it looked like her entire extended family had made the commute into the city to support her. She had a small, blond, curly-haired child on one hip, a younger cousin perhaps. She looked at ease, and most importantly – happy.

And I hesitated.

I wanted to walk over to them, but she looked so happy, so carefree; I knew that the second I interrupted their family moment things would become uncomfortable. I didn’t want to ruin this day for her. She would be disappointed, but in the end, this was for the best.

I turned down the sidewalk, away from campus, and began my walk back home.

+++++

I was on the couch watching
You’ve Got Mail
when Hunter returned from dinner with her family. As soon as I heard the key in the lock, I tensed. I buried myself under blankets and tried to focus on Tom Hanks bringing daisies to Meg Ryan in a trench coat even though every noise coming from the front of the house put me on edge.

I heard the front door
close and Hunter lock the door behind her. Tom Hanks was making tea for Meg Ryan. Hunter took off her shoes and carefully set them in the front foyer, lining them up with the other shoes and sandals in the entryway.

She dropped a doggie bag on the kitchen island. I could smell the distinct aroma of chicken fried rice even sitting in the living room.

Her feet creaked on the wooden floor as she walked from the kitchen to the living room where I sat.

She stood behind me, hovering over the couch.
“Why are you watching your sick and sad movie?” Her voice sounded detached, void of any emotion.

Tom Hanks was tucking Meg Ryan into bed.

I made a noncommittal noise before I dared to look up at her.

“You disappeared.” The corner of her mouth twitched. “My parents asked where you were.
I had to lie to them about a family emergency.”

My stomach twisted uneasily. “I’m a coward, Hunter. That’s my only explanation. I wanted to be there, but I thought it would be for the best if you went to dinner with your family without me.”

“Stop it. I don’t want any more of your excuses.” Her nostrils visibly flared. “I want you upstairs.”

“What?”

“Go upstairs to your room,” she commanded. “And don’t make me wait.”

+++++

I was on my back on my bed, and Hunter was straddling me between her thighs. This would have been Heaven except that she was currently tying me to the headboard. I should have been distracted by the perfect view of her sundress inching up her toned thighs, but instead, I was about to have a panic attack.

“Shit,” she uncharacteristically swore. The curse word sounded ugly
coming from her mouth.

“What’s wrong?”

“Your clothes.” She bit down adorably on her lower lip and rested her weight on my stomach. “I should have planned ahead.” She stood up and hopped off the bed.

“Where are you going?” I lifted my head with difficulty.

“I’ll be right back,” she called out as she disappeared.

I clenched and unclenched my hands a few times, testing the strength of
the bindings around my wrists. I didn’t know where she’d learned to tie knots so well. Maybe her father took her boating when she was younger because the knots were efficient and capable of keeping me in place. There was a tiny knot that dug into the inside of my wrist every time I tugged at the restraints.

“You’re not trying to get free are you?” came Hunter’s sing-song
-y voice. “I wouldn’t have tied those just so you could wiggle out of them.”

My eyes trained on the location from where Hunter’s voice floated. She walked through the threshold of my bedroom. She had changed out of her sundress and was now wearing little more than lace and a smile.

Once again, however, my perfect view was corrupted when I saw the scissors in her hand.

“Wh-what do you need
those for?” I asked in a tight voice.

She flashed a wide smile at me, her temporary captive. “To cut off your clothes, obviously. I can’t take off your clothes if your arms are tied to the headboard.
And there’s no way I’m untying you until I’m satisfied.” The cheerful tone in her voice was in stark contrast to the gleaming sheers she held in her hand – like a sunshine-y serial killer. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t turn me on.

Hunter
swung her right and then left leg over my own, straddling my lower body. She gently sat down on the tops of my legs, pinning me to the mattress even more so than the bindings that held my wrists.

“Hunter –.” I wanted to reassure her that we didn’t need to
do this, but my words were cut off with the end of the scissors, gently resting against my lips.

She smoothed down my hair with the fingertips of her free hand while the othe
r hand continued to grasp the scissors’ handle. “Relax, Ellio. It’s just for your clothes.”

“But I just bought this dress,” I whimpered.

“Then you shouldn’t have stood me up,” she said quietly. “You know, just because you’re beautiful doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. It really hurt me that you didn’t come to dinner with my family and me.”

“I know, baby. And I’m sorry.” I wasn’t just saying the words out of routine. I genuinely felt horrible for what I’d done. At the time it had seemed like the right thing to do, but now I saw it for the
self-centered act it was.

“Quiet,” she said sternly. The honey warmth was gone from her tone.

A nervous giggle stuck in my throat. I wasn’t laughing at her or the situation, but I was disoriented. I was a natural top, so I had a hard time letting go of control or letting myself be vulnerable like this. I trusted Hunter, and I wanted to be able to give in to her request to Switch, but taking orders or being a pillow princess was unnatural for me.

She drew the
scissors’ blades down my lips, the sharp tips lightly brushing against the skin of my neck, collarbone, and down to a covered nipple. With two quick motions, she cut the thin straps that held my dress affixed to my shoulders. With my hands securely bound, I was helpless to do anything but watch as Hunter slowly peeled the top of my dress down over my breasts.

“Oh, Ellio,” Hunter
murmured, as if in a trance. “We should have done this a long time ago.”

The scissors clattered as she set them down on the bedside table.

“Now,” she announced. “What to do…what to do…” She fluttered her fingertips over the tops of my breasts, feeling the goosebumps that rose on my skin.

“You could always use those scissors to cut me free?” I suggested. I jerked a little at the bindings around my wrists. The wooden slats of my headboard creaked. I could probably get out of this position, but it would mean breaking my bed.

Hunter continued to straddle my waist, resting her slight weight on me. She leaned forward and her blonde hair, even blonder now from sun exposure, fell forward like a waterfall. The ends of her hair tickled at my exposed collarbone and her cleavage swelled beneath the confines of a black lace bra I’d never seen before; I forgot all about trying to escape.

She
traced her tongue along the hard line of my mouth, requesting access. She gently nibbled at my bottom lip. I closed my eyes and could only sigh, my resistance crumbling.

Hunter trailed
kisses down my neck, leaving a wet path in her mouth’s wake. “Fuck,” she mumbled into my skin. “I’ve wanted to do this since the moment I saw you, Professor,” she rasped.

“Oh God.
” I groaned at the sudden sensation of Hunter gently biting on my right nipple through the thin lace of my bra. I could feel her smile around the hardening bud, as my body instantly responded. I moaned lowly, arching my back and pushing my chest desperately at my girlfriend. Hunter made a disapproving noise and placed her palm on my sternum to gently, but forcibly, push me back onto the mattress. She continued to lavish attention to the two tight nubs through the delicate material of the undergarment and it took all my willpower to stay still.

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