Newly divorced Professor Evie Brown notices her student Cameron Slade and how attentive he seems, so totally unlike her ex-husband. Cameron is also delicious to look at, all taut body, broad shoulders, and hot eyes. He’s forbidden territory, but one late afternoon as she pleasures herself in an empty lecture hall, she looks up to find she’s not alone. He’s there…watching her.
And then there’s Sophie Walker. Ever since Evie met the sensual woman, she’s allowed her inhibitions to unreel, one by one. It’s Sophie who’s been sharing Evie’s erotic awakening, Sophie who she yearns for. Or is it?
“Can I help you with that, ma’am?”
I stumble in carrying acres of marked term papers and glance at the young man standing too close to me.
Cameron Slade is tall, preppy, and has honey-brown eyes. His skin is so young and unblemished it shines.
“Thank you. I’ve got it.” I pull slightly away from him. The sweet smell of deodorant and well-soaped skin wafts my way.
Cameron Slade. Always wearing a winning smile, he’s cocky, so sure of his whole twenty or so years. And he displays all those things I was coming to value later in life—kindness, consideration, helpfulness—things I’d wished I’d valued sooner.
I dump down the papers, and set to that afternoon’s task. Catcher in the Rye.
“Do we have to stay the whole four hours?” asks one of the students.
“Only if you want to pass.” I didn’t want to stay the whole four hours, either. On such a late-week afternoon you could almost see the tumbleweed drift across the empty campus. “I promise I’ll try to get through this quickly. Let’s start by looking at some of the themes.”
One huge clean board in front of me, one long, long afternoon. I take a deep breath. The room is stale with over a thousand student tracks worn into the threadbare carpet. An air-conditioner shudders to a halt. Showtime. “Dichotomy, is what they call it. Nuns who like sexy books, prostitutes who don’t like to swear.” I squeak the black marker over the whiteboard, listing the contrasts I want them to grasp—lecturer/student, old/young, married/single.
“Married.” I’d used this concept to describe myself as every part of speech for so long. “And what is Evie? She is married. And how does she define herself? Married Evie, Evie got married, Evie’s marriage.” I stop lecturing and look out at those achingly young faces—young, young, young. I face my future—old, old, old. And divorced.
“Are you okay, ma’am?” Cameron frowns at me. He sits front center, just under where I stand, and has chosen that moment to pull his sweater off, revealing a glimpse of taut young flesh. Ma’am. If marriage was a shield against temptation, the word ma’am was the reminder that age was the real barrier. Ma’am was my mother. Now, it’s me.
Students glued to their phones amble in late, shuffling to seats at the back of the lecture hall, never to look up again. There are rows and rows of heads that tilt to look down at their laps at the slightest vibration of those goddamn phones. Some are still switched on and their beeping and twinkling sounds page the students to another place, far away from here. The front row is different—eager students who engage, debate, or sometimes not, but keen nonetheless.
“Ma’am?” He’s waiting for my answer.
“Yeah, all good. What can you tell us about how Holden feels about his sexuality?”
Cameron Slade. He’s broad-shouldered, a young man who’s entered his twenties, unsure about the man’s body he’s inherited. He has a walk that staggers slightly. A limp? Always in jeans, always long pants, and always wearing the same sneakers. His hair is styled forward with gel. Sure, he’s cute.
I noticed. I always notice the cute ones. Who wouldn’t? All that youth as fresh as squeezed milk in a pail. Soft, creamy lushness right there under my nose. Tempting, sure. But I require a mental connection of sorts to accompany the physical. Sapiosexual, it’s called. To be turned on by smartness, intelligence, the thrill of the quick wit, the erudite, and the well-read.
Like Sophie? Had she ever read Catcher? I doubt it. And yet, she’d been sharing my bed for a few months now. Sophie could probably teach these young faces looking at me more than I ever could.