Authors: Adrian J. Smith
Memoir in the Making
A May-December Romance
Adrian J. Smith
Supposed Crimes LLC, Matthews, North Carolina
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 Adrian J. Smith
Published in the United States
Dedicated to all the fangirls who love older women and can’t stop squealing around them.
“Present,” Ainsley raised her hand and smiled when her professor looked in her direction. She went back to slouching in her chair and waiting for roll call to be over with. The first day of class never left her with any impressions other than she wouldn’t enjoy the amount of homework she had the next fourteen weeks.
Ainsley sighed and picked up her pen, doodling in her notebook by coloring in the rectangles on the side. She didn’t know anyone in her class. It was rare in her junior year, but she’d never taken a course with this professor before. She’d heard of her, rumors about how hard a grader she was, but Ainsley hadn’t had the chance to enroll in one of her courses.
Her professor shut her binder and stood up straighter, catching Ainsley’s attention. The room stilled as silence echoed. Ainsley’s heart rapped in her chest, and she checked the clock. Over an hour left. Rolling her eyes, Ainsley looked back at the front of the room, her professor staring directly at her. Straightening her shoulders and sliding into her seat more firmly, Ainsley looked down at her notebook.
Those eyes were unnerving. She couldn’t tell if they were blue or green, but they were so pale and their owner gazed deeply into her until she became uncomfortable. Ainsley wrote on the top of her college-ruled notebook the name of the course and the date, preparing to take notes about what would be required of her for the rest of the semester.
“My name is Meredith Frenz. You may call me Meredith or Professor. I want to see a show of hands in this class who have declared English as their major.”
Ainsley looked around the room and noted two or three hands raised and threw her own up in the air. Meredith looked at each one of them and nodded. When Meredith’s gaze locked with Ainsley’s, she once again felt unnerved. A shiver ran down her spine, and when Meredith’s lips turned up in a smile, her stomach felt like jelly.
“Who is in this course for a requirement?” Meredith said.
Her voice was like honey. Ainsley watched everything she did. Meredith stood still, her gaze roving around the room to look at each student. Her hands were folded neatly together in front of her body, and her smile never wavered. Ainsley was entranced.
“For interest only?”
Only one student raised their hand. Ainsley glanced at him before looking back at Meredith. The rest of the class went by in a blur. Syllabi were handed out, along with a quick lecture about their topic. The amount of papers was close to overwhelming. Ainsley stashed her stuff in her backpack and swung one loop over her shoulder. Heading for the door, she was close to the last one out.
Meredith was cleaning up her own stuff, shuffling papers into her bag. Ainsley bit her lip and tried her hardest to make her body walk out of that room. She didn’t need to talk to her professor. There was no reason for it. Yet, she felt drawn to her in a way she’d never felt drawn to someone before. Letting out a breath, Ainsley turned for the door and got right to the jamb when she stopped.
“Ainsley, right?” Meredith asked.
Ainsley wrinkled her nose and spun on her toes back to face her professor. A flush rushed to her cheeks when they locked eyes.
“Yeah,” she said. “That’s me.”
Meredith smiled, the crinkles at the corner of her eyes giving away her age. Ainsley would have guessed her fifties, but she looked damn good for them. Meredith had soft curves she didn’t hide; her fitted pant suit working her in every possible way.
Ainsley flicked her gaze up when she realized she was staring. Meredith was still putting her binder in her bag and then slung it over her shoulder. She stepped up to Ainsley and smiled again. Green—her eyes were the palest green Ainsley had ever seen.
“I’m glad you’re taking this course. Sam Campbell speaks very highly of you.”
“Oh!” Ainsley’s lips pursed. “Yeah, he’s a great prof. I’ve really enjoyed my classes with him.”
Silence clung onto their conversation, making Ainsley nervous. She had no doubt professors talked about their students—she just hadn’t ever thought she would be the subject of one of those conversations.
“I’m excited for this class,” Ainsley said and then bit her tongue.
Could I have been any lamer?
she thought. “I mean—I haven’t taken a memoir class before. Only creative fiction. Non-fiction is a whole new subject to tackle.”
There it was again. The smile. Meredith’s thin lips curved upward and wrinkles appeared at the corners of her eyes and her mouth. Her shoulders were straight, but her form was relaxed. Ainsley wished she would be able to exert that amount of confidence with such ease. She had no doubt Meredith Frenz was a force to be reckoned with if angered. The stance she took said so.
“Then this will be a good introduction to it. I look forward to reading your work.”
“Right,” Ainsley said, feeling the awkward tension ease into her stomach again. “I—uh—I have to go meet some friends.”
“And I have a meeting. I’ll see you Thursday for class.”
“Yeah, see you then.” Ainsley booked it out of the room and down the hallway. Her heart skipped the entire way, and she held her breath, only letting it go when she was outside. Sighing, she walked toward the library, her pace slow. She didn’t want to see her best friend—he would know something was up the moment he saw the look on her face. Ainsley still felt the flush in her cheeks and pleaded for it to go away.
Meredith sat down at her desk and unloaded her bag. Grabbing her binder with the roll call, she set about inputting the names present into the computer system. The school didn’t care after the first day who was there and who wasn’t, but the first day affected enrollment. She brushed her hand through her hair, flinging the locks behind her back.
Ainsley Jacobs was number twelve on her list. Meredith marked her present and then sat back in her seat, staring at the name in front of her. Something about Ainsley drew Meredith. She couldn’t figure it out, but there was something there that kept her looking and smiling.
Meredith shook her head and sat back up in her chair, filling out the rest of the roll call. It was not the wisest idea in the world to dwell on one student. She hardly knew the student after all, and there was nothing particularly interesting about her. She sighed and relaxed her shoulders. It was going to be a very long semester already if only because she was thinking things she shouldn’t. Biting her lip, Meredith submitted the roll call to the registrar’s office and relaxed back in her chair.
The meeting she was supposed to go to started in twenty minutes, much to her hatred. Had anyone told her what meetings she would be forced to attend and the politics surrounding a professor at a private university were, she might not have done it. Over half the meetings were pointless and let nothing happen, while the other half just suited to piss her off by the utter frustration of diplomacy. She rubbed her thumb of her right hand into the palm of her left and smoothed out the aching muscles there. Meetings like the one coming were a waste of her time.
Still, she grabbed her planner, a book, and a pen, leaving her office. She headed out of the room and down the hall, leaving the building with determination in her step. Even if she hated going, she would put on a face like she loved it and get it over with. The first meetings of the school year weren’t usually too horrible to attend. Mostly they just picked the place of the potluck dinner they hosted each semester for the majors and minors in the English department, and she was due to host. Meredith sneered at the thought and headed down the stairs, her heels clacking against the worn linoleum with each step.
She made it down the first flight and only had six or seven steps to go at the bottom where the stairs turned out into the main entryway of the building. It truly was one of the most beautiful buildings on campus she had seen or worked in, and it gave her a lot of inspiration for creative writing. She smiled and pushed open the nearest door and let herself out into the warm summer breeze. The air was still hot against her skin, and the sun shone down into her eyes. It was rare to see the sun in the northwestern part of the country, but for the first two weeks of school it was generally present.
Meredith stopped short when she saw Ainsley sitting at one of the benches just before the library. Her heart skipped a beat, and she made to turn and walk more quickly to the sociology building. Instead, Ainsley caught her gaze and stared back, her face not giving away any emotion. Meredith looked at her briefly then closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. She had fifteen minutes left before the meeting began.
What the hell,
“Ainsley,” she said and sat next to the young college girl on the bench. Ainsley’s jean-clad thigh brushed against her own, and heat sank into Meredith’s body. Meredith ignored it and risked a glance in Ainsley’s direction. “Everything all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Yeah,” Ainsley said, her voice cracking on the word. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Just waiting for my friend.”
“Ah,” Meredith answered. “You know, junior year was my hardest year, and not because of school work. I sincerely hope yours goes much better.”
“How did you know it was my junior year?” Ainsley asked, her brown eyes widening when she turned to look at Meredith.
“Roster sheet,” Meredith said and shrugged. “They give us a whole lot of information on our students.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Are you sure you’re okay? There’s a change from ten minutes ago when I saw you.”
“I’m fine. Promise.” Ainsley rolled her eyes, and Meredith noticed a blush creeping into her cheeks.
, now it makes sense. I’ll have to watch out for that one
. It wasn’t completely out of the blue for a student to have a crush on her. Meredith straightened her back and looked around, suddenly glad they were sitting in public where the rest of the world could see, not that she thought Ainsley would try anything. It was just easier that way.
Meredith sighed and glanced at her watch, making sure Ainsley didn’t know she did it. It wouldn’t benefit the situation any. She still had ten minutes and only a thirty-second walk. Meredith looked back over at the young woman with chestnut hair and resisted sighing again. If this was the case, and it didn’t wear off soon, it was going to be a very long semester indeed. She would have to worry about every step she made until Ainsley was out of her class.
“What other classes are you taking this semester?” Meredith asked, trying to distract both of them.
“Just some requirements and one other majored course. I wanted to balance them out with requirements so I didn’t get bored.”
“Smart thinking,” Meredith commented.
“I thought you had a meeting.”
“I—I do. It’s in the sociology building.”
“Why’s it over there?” Ainsley sneered and looked at the yellow-bricked building right behind them. “That makes no sense.”
“Better conference rooms.”
“Yeah. Not my first choice either. I’d rather walk less and sit in uncomfortable desks than leather chairs. Also means the meetings go more quickly when it’s not as nice to sit there.”
Ainsley snorted and then shook her head. “Who would ever think a professor wasn’t fond of meetings.”
“Most aren’t. But they are a necessary evil of the job.”
“Well then, I’m glad I don’t want to work at a university.”
Meredith nodded and bit her tongue, not wanting to ask what Ainsley’s goals for life were. If anything, it would only add fodder to the fire. She relaxed a bit more, her shoulders still straight and her back against the hard wood of the bench. She was known for being prim and proper and looking good while doing it, so Meredith had no desire to slouch down on the bench and ruin her image. It took a lot for her to get where she was without a ring on her finger, and she would keep her position and status for as long as possible.
“I just wanted to be sure you were all right. You looked a bit forlorn.”
“I’m fine. Promise. Scout’s honor.” Ainsley lifted two fingers to her forehead and half-saluted Meredith.
Resisting the urge to laugh, Meredith stood up and took two steps back from Ainsley. “I’ll see you Thursday in class.”
Not saying anything else, Meredith walked along the brick sidewalk to the sociology building, her heels catching every so often in an uprooted brick. She wished sometimes they had foregone the beautiful look and built with cement to make it easier to walk. She made it to the building, up the stairs to the third floor and sat down in the conference room, still the first one there. Pulling out the book she’d brought, she managed one line before someone else came in.