She watched him walk up the aisle, not moving until the slam of the heavy door jarred her out of stunned silence. She felt herself blush at his words, fumbling with her books as she collected them and made her own way out into the crowded hallway. Professor Gilbert was leaning against the foot of the staircase reading his text messages, and she saw him laugh. He continued to smile as he tapped out a response. She had never noticed him outside of class before—had never seen him doing the ordinary things people do. He looked up at the sound of the lecture room door slamming behind her and his unflinching gaze made her stutter in her steps. He raised one eyebrow slightly and a faint smile crossed his lips before he turned his attention slowly back to his phone.
She put her shoulders back and and wound her way through groups of loitering students to the small common area. It was packed; the few vinyl sofas and uncomfortable wooden chairs, and even a low table were occupied by students relaxing between classes. Professor Gilbert had thrown her off-balance and she felt a sudden desperate need to get her feet back under her again. She scanned the room quickly, and spotting a small space between a slender boy in a hooded sweatshirt and an older guy, likely a graduate student, she crossed to the two men, putting a little extra sway in her hips than usual. The older man saw her approach and looked up. “Excuse me,” she said, smiling at him. “Is there room for me to squeeze in here between you?”
The boy in the sweatshirt looked up at her and drank in her short skirt and tight sweater and quickly slid over in response, swallowing hard and making as much room as he could for her on the vinyl cushion. She gave him a grateful smile and turned it on the grad student. He smiled back and stood. “Please.” She sat and he perched on the arm of the couch, letting his thigh brush against her upper arm. The boy next to her was staring at her, his eyes fixed on her cleavage. She crossed her legs gracefully with a satisfied smile and looked around.
Professor Gilbert was watching her with his arms crossed and still the barest hint of a smile on his face. He seemed amused at how easily she had managed to get to young men to move aside for her with little more than a sexy smile. Or was he irritated? Janie couldn’t be sure. She took a deep breath and sat up straight, thrusting her breasts out and hearing with some satisfaction the boy next to her inhale sharply. Coyly, she returned Professor Gilbert’s half-smile. His eyebrow went up again just as his phone sounded. He broke into a grin at whatever he was reading and quickly replied, then shoved his phone back in his pocket and turned on his heel, leaving the building without looking back at her.
She wondered who the texts were from and what they said to make him smile like that.