When He Was Bad Excerpt
“Where do you get those stockings from, doc?” Niles Van Holtz, Van to his friends and family, growled. Those stockings were like something out of a 1940s movie with that one sexy line up the back of each leg. He bet she wore garters too. Man, the woman drove him absolutely crazy and she didn’t even notice.
Cold, brutally pale blue eyes turned and locked on Van. “Ah, yes,” she sighed out. “Niles Van Holtz. My night at these charity functions wouldn’t be complete without your biting wit and continual obsession over my underclothes.”
“Why else do you think I’d drag myself to the science building, of all places, except to see you?”
Van had known a lot of mean women in his time. Coming from a wealthy background filled with lethal predators, he was more surprised to find a nice female than a mean one. But Dr. Irene Conridge, PhD several times over and Rhode Scholar by the time she was fifteen, made mincemeat of them all.
Irene Conridge was what one would call a child prodigy. At least she was. But at a luscious twenty-five she’d left her “child” anything long behind.
From the time Irene had walked onto the university campus, Van had locked onto her scent and had hunted her relentlessly ever since. She’d been eighteen at the time and Van twenty. He thought she was just another freshman. Or, as his buds liked to call them, freshmeat. But he found out quick enough-when she’d coldly laid in to him, leaving him standing speechless in the middle of the Square-that she was actually a guest professor. And a big deal. Ivy League universities all over the country and Europe had fought for her. But, for some unknown reason, she’d taken the job at this small but elite university on the border of Seattle, Washington. She’d turned down Harvard, Yale, M.I.T., Berkley, Oxford…all of them.
No one understood it, but Van did. Why go to a big university with a bunch of other former prodigies, when you can go to a smaller one and be Head Shit in Charge? Because Irene went “small”, she ruled. They denied her nothing, gave her whatever she needed, and strove hard to keep her happy. In return, Irene kept the university’s name alive in academic circles, had students begging to get into the school so they could enroll in her class-until they actually had to get through one of her classes-and kept the money flowing in. The woman wasn’t charming but somehow she dragged money from some of the richest families in the Northwest. His included.
“Besides, I’m only obsessed with your underclothes, doc.” He knew she hated when he called her that. “Tell me, do you wear garters under those clothes?”
“Yes,” she replied plainly. “I don’t like pantyhose. I find them too binding.”
Van couldn’t help himself, he growled again. Enough so that she turned and looked at him directly. “Did you just growl at me?”
“It was much more of a purr.”
“No. You’re not. But the fact that a grown man would growl over garter belts is fascinating. I’m sure the psychology department would find you a fascinating test study.”
She frowned and it wasn’t a frown of annoyance or concern, but one of deep thought. “Am I? I’ve been told I’m cold and quite removed.”
Van had to try really hard not to laugh. To be honest, he didn’t know a colder woman on the planet. Female cavewomen who had been frozen in blocks of ice for millions of years were warmer than Irene. And yet…he simply couldn’t leave her alone.
His sister, who currently floated around the party avoiding anyone who annoyed her, didn’t understand his obsession over that “plain girl” as she often called Irene. He’d heard it before. Irene called “plain” or, his personal favorite, “not hideous.” But Van didn’t know what they were talking about. The woman was absolutely adorable. Black, shoulder-length hair which had an out-of-control curl thing going that made him, for some unknown reason, think constantly of sweaty rough sex. Full lips he’d seen in more than one wet dream over the years and a regal nose. A long, curvy body she constantly hid behind boring prim and proper power suits in the dullest colors but she always wore those sexy stockings and killer shoes. But it was the eyes that did him in. He saw eyes like hers on arctic wolves. So pale blue he didn’t really even think of them as blue at all. He’d heard more than a few people call her eyes freakish or disturbing, but he could stare into those eyes forever.
“I bet you’re not really cold, doc. Not underneath it all.”
“Actually, I am. Oh. And Jackie and I have a bet going.” She motioned to her roommate, Jaqueline Jean-Louis and former child music prodigy. The two women had known each other for years and Jean-Louis taught in the prestigious music department of the university. What Van found fascinating about the whole relationship was the fact that Jean-Louis was a shifter. A jackal, specifically. He always wondered if Irene knew. If she did, she absolutely never showed it. But it wouldn’t be unusual for her not to know. Many shifters went through their entire lives successfully hiding who they really were from the full-humans close to them. It was important to their kind to hide who they were. In fact, hard choices were sometimes made in order to keep their secret.
“Is that right?” he asked, taking a glass of champagne from the tray passing by.
“Yes. I’m convinced you believe I’m a virgin and all this time you’ve been hoping to defile me.”
No matter what he did, he couldn’t stop from choking that champagne right back up.