Home > The Professor (Seven Sins MC #5)

The Professor (Seven Sins MC #5)
Author: Jessica Gadziala

 


CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Charlotte

 

There was no better place than the library late at night when the world outside is dark and the warm glow of the lights are on. When the crush of people are long gone, leaving only the ones who truly appreciate the magic of it all lost among the stacks.

I swear half of the reason I became a professor was because the campus libraries are open all night long, and no one could tear me away from all those books, all that knowledge, all the adventure and fun.

I mean, sure, I liked teaching. I liked my work. I liked my income and my stellar health plan.

But I was pretty sure it all boiled down to the library.

Which, incidentally, was where fellow faculty members and my students could find me most of the time, despite having a nice office all my own. The problem with my office was there was only maybe room for twenty or thirty books. Forty if I got rid of my printer.

Not enough.

Not nearly enough.

Especially compared to the unused corner of the library where I had three tables pushed together, stacked with a good fifty books, ones I kept flipping between as I was trying to find a new, engaging way to teach Greek history and philosophy in a way that didn’t put the entire class to sleep.

For me, history had always been exciting, full of larger-than-life characters, wars started over the love of women or small men’s prides, the wonder of new inventions, and the struggle for each civilization to explain life itself.

The ultimate questions: Why are we here? And Where did we come from? And all the interesting answers each society through from each age would come up with.

The Kuba people—from a former kingdom in Central Africa—they had Mbombo who vomited out the world after a stomachache.

In Egypt, you had Atum whose semen created the world.

Or, my personal favorite mythology, we had Greece.

At first, it was all Chaos, a massive emptiness. But somewhere along the way, the other primordial gods appeared. Gaea, Eros, and Tartarus. Somehow, Chaos and Gaea—both females—were able to procreate, creating Erebus and Nyx.

Then through many a wild, windy, twisty story, we transitioned from the Titans to the Olympians. Where we met Daddy Zeus and all of his screwed-up-edness.

I think it was the depth of the Greek myths that truly fascinated me. Who screwed who, who screwed over who. All of those tales, all of the thought that had gone into the creation of these tales.

I was just as fascinated by the unknown people who first wove the tales as the tales themselves.

What kind of personal famine must a person have felt to create the story of Erysichthon, who got so hungry that he… ate himself to death?

How warped was the brain of the person who came up with the story of Leda… who mated with a swan?

How bad was the heartache of a man to come up with the story of Pan, who made his flute out of a woman who rejected him?

Don’t even get me started on Ixion mating with a cloud to create centaurs.

I mean… you couldn’t help but let your mind wander when you heard these fantastical tales.

Or, at least, I couldn’t.

My students?

Yeah, they were a harder sell.

Hence my never-ending pursuit to get them as fascinated by the tales as I had been since I was a little girl.

If only I was as engaging a teacher as my father had been for me, sitting beside me in bed at night and telling me the tales of the classics instead of reading me bedtime stories.

I mean, objectively, was it completely inappropriate? Absolutely. The Greek myths were filled with sex and violence and really, really false education.

Hera restoring her own virginity over and over, for example. Or Dionysus gestating inside Zeus’s thigh.

But I would take those stories over tales of princesses getting saved by mediocre princes any day of the week.

I mean even the all-powerful slayer of the Titans, the wonderful god with his magical lightning bolt—Zeus himself—was often depicted as a hen-pecked husband who was afraid of his wife Hera.

As one of my students might say: We stan a powerful queen.

For the record, I was not allowed to say that. I tried once. The looks my class gave me. I still get nightmares about it.

Hence trying to find a new way to offer them the information since trying to use their vernacular was off-limits.

I was working on my father’s advice when I called him the other night, upset about how often I found students’ attention waning, more interested in social media than what I had to say.

“Lead with scandal, Charlie. And if everything else fails, everyone loves sex and violence.”

I had to believe he was right. And because a good chunk of my class was female, I was working on an angle where I taught stories about how women from the myths were wronged in the stories written by men.

Medusa, who was supposedly punished for her own rape.

Circe, who was sent to live alone on an island because of her sorcery.

Danae, who was locked in a tower by her father who heard a prophesy that her son would kill him one day. Not only was she locked away, but then she was relentlessly stalked by Zeus who impregnated her against her will, producing the son who would, eventually, grow to fulfill that original prophesy anyway.

There were many retellings of the classics lately, ones that explored the lives of these women, giving them the stories they’d been denied from their own perspectives.

I was hoping to not only get my students interested in the stories themselves, but also the books retelling those stories.

I just had to find a way to do that.

Hence my long nights at the library surrounded by more books than I probably needed.

“Char, girl, do you ever sleep?” Imka, one of the librarians—a tall, slender woman, with rich, dark skin, and long, micro-twisted hair—asked as she walked past with her cart.

Imka was born and spent a large chunk of her childhood in Ghana before her parents moved to the States for work. Under her subdued blue blazer, she had on a bright yellow, burnt orange, and royal blue blouse in a traditional African print.

She’d given me a scarf with an almost identical print for Christmas my first year in college, a few months after first finding me cuddled in a corner of the library, crying my eyes out with a small stack of books cradled to my chest.

In my defense, I’d been only fifteen when I’d started college, and so wholly unprepared for being out on my own, surrounded by everyone much older and more experienced than I was.

“Oh, come on, girl, you have to stop that,” she’d said, clicking her tongue. “If for no other reason than you’re going to give those books water damage.”

That had done it.

Gotten a seemingly impossible laugh out of me.

And ever since that day, Imka had been a sort of big sister figure in my life. All through the years that I’d studied, and then when I’d started working at the university as well.

“I am having trouble… relating my love of the myths to the kids,” I admitted, sighing hard.

“Perhaps because you never got to be a kid yourself,” Imka suggested, shrugging her shoulders.

Imka had told me countless stories of her own childhood that was filled with running around outside and playing games with other kids her own age.

I, well, I’d never really had that for myself.

I couldn’t tell you if that was because I’d just been born a sort of older soul, or if I’d been raised to be more mature than others. Either way, the result was the same. I had never been able to relate to other children.

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