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Authors: Alexis Adare

Commencement

BOOK: Commencement
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Becoming Jane
Commencement (#2)
Alexis Adare
Geek Girl Books
Contents
About This Book

J
ane Claremont is
a little bit broken. She has a painful past that she’s worked hard to forget. As a result, she spent the last few years of her life carefully hardening the armor that protects her heart. The last time she fell for someone, it almost destroyed her, and she resolved to never let that happen again. 

That is…until she met the Professor. 

Dr. Thomas Grayson is gorgeous, smart, charming, and dangerously sexy. Jane can’t get enough of him, his words haunt her mind, his hands own her body.

Her family is worried, they think she’s losing her head, and that just might cost her, her heart. Even though she dismisses their concerns, she knows, deep down, they may be right. 

With graduation mere weeks away, she resolves to maintain a respectable distance from the Professor until then. But it’s no use, their attraction is inexorable, and Jane finds herself falling deeper in thrall to the Professor’s charms. This was supposed to be a fling, not a love affair. 

Every moment she spends with the Professor, she can feel her armor softening, and the desire to share more than just her body, is overwhelming. With every word, every look, every caress of his hand, she can sense the Professor feels the same. He’s broken too, she can see it in his eyes, and on the marks he bears on his body. It scares her. It’s irresistible. 

W
arning
:
This book contains spoilers for Season Three of Downton Abbey, as well as unabashed geeking out over Doctor Who. 

B
ecoming Jane
#2 Commencement is 40,000 words. It’s the second book in the Becoming Jane series, and picks up directly after the first book. The series is intended for readers 18+, due to steamy sexual scenes and adult language.

1

M
y sister’s
face peered at me from the screen of my laptop, her brow furrowed with concern.

“Be careful? What do you mean by that?” I demanded, meeting her frown with one of my own. “I’m
always
careful.”

“No, no, don’t go there,” she said. “I know you’re careful when it comes to safe sex. I’m talking about your feelings.”

I rolled my eyes at her and glanced at the
End Call
button on the video-chat window. I was riding high after the Professor’s double bouquet of flowers and I was not about to let my good mood be spoiled by a lecture from my baby sister.
Just one click, and bye bye, Charlie,
I thought.

“Don’t even think of hanging up on me,” she said, reading my mind. “You’re getting really emotional about this guy, and that’s not like you. It just worries me a little.”

“So I’m usually a cold-hearted bitch?” I felt my shoulders tensing, a gloomy cloud of irritation threatening to dampen my spirits.

“Yeah, that’s right, Jane,” said Charlie. “That’s what I think of you. You’re a vicious man-eater, with a heart made of stone.”

We glared at each other for a long moment, a familiar sibling standoff that we’d been in countless times over the years. My finger hovered over my trackpad. I was so tempted to hang up on this crap. But the prickle of conscience in the back of my mind meant I knew I was getting a little too upset at her words. She’d hit a nerve, which meant she maybe, possibly, might have a teeny tiny point. I heard our mother’s voice in my head:
“You can put your shields up, arm your weapons and let this escalate into a fight — or you can take a breath, lower your defenses, and have a real conversation with someone who loves you. Which is it going to be?”

I sighed heavily and shrugged my shoulders.
Fuck it. The big sister always has to be the mature one.
I stuck my tongue out at Charlie and watched her frown curl into a grin.

“I love you too,” she said, lifting her thumbs to her ears and waggling her hands on either side of her head, blowing raspberries at me.

“Uh-huh, whatever, dork.” I smirked at her.

“If I’m a dork, then you are too, because we share blood,” she shot back. “But seriously, I haven’t heard you gush about a guy like this in, forever. I just don’t want you to get hurt.’

“I’m not gushing,” I argued.

“You are gushing—geysering, in fact. You’re a freaking tsunami of enthusiasm for this guy you just met, hardly know, and who sent you his medical records with a bouquet of flowers—“

“Two bouquets,” I said, holding up my fingers.

“Shut up. It’s weird. Who does that?”

Sexy British professors with piercing blue eyes and abs cut from hard steel,
I thought, trying to suppress a smile. I failed and ended up half snorting, half swallowing a laugh instead. Charlie glowered at me and sighed, throwing her hands up in the air. She was riled up, offended on my behalf and it was cracking me up.

“I’ll tell you who does that,’ she said, pointing at me through the computer screen, “creeps who are aiming to go bareback on the first date. That’s who!”

“I think last night might count as our first date, and no backs were bare, missy,” I said. “Besides, a minute ago you seemed to like the fact that he sent his records; you said we should clone him.”

“Well, at first it seemed kind of weirdly sexy. Mature, responsible, maybe even romantic in a post-modern kind of way. But now…I dunno. It could also be the first thing I’m telling the cops when they’re looking for your body.”

“No.” I waved off her concerns. “If he were planning on killing me he wouldn’t want to leave any DNA evidence behind.”

“Oh my God! Way to miss the point, you weirdo!”

“Charlie, look. I really like him. We have a
crazy
amount of chemistry. I’m looking forward to…exploring. Safely. Don’t worry.”

“Right. Well, just a few more weeks till you get to explore to your horny heart’s content. Congratulations, but don’t get murdered,” she sneered.

“Uh-huh. So let me see if I can follow you: on the one hand you’re worried that I’m overemotional and what? Falling in love and losing my head over this guy? On the other hand you’re basically calling me a disease-courting slut, who’s likely to end up in a body bag before the end of the year. Unbelievable. ”

“Don’t overreact, Jane. All I’m saying is I think it was presumptuous of him to send his medical records like that.”

“I don’t think he’s presuming anything.”

“How on earth can you say that?” She gaped at me.

“I’ve met him, you haven’t. He’s got a wild side but he’s not a brute. If I want to use condoms we will, and I have no doubt he’ll respect that. I think sending the records was meant as a gesture of trust.”

“Okay, well, why the trust? Why do you need all this trust if you are just going to be fuck buddies? Just bone and be done with it.”

“I’m not about to get into it with you,” I said. “This,” I held up the Post-it note, “was a message for me, based on things he and I talked about last night. I get the message.” I pointed at the screen. “
You
don’t need to.”

“Whatever.”

“Why are you so bugged?” I asked. “You’re confusing the hell out of me. Right now this whole thing just is, whatever it is. But so what if it becomes more? You act like there’s something wrong with that. Like you don’t want me to be with anyone.”

“I don’t want you to get hurt. You need to protect yourself. This guy’s been wishy-washy, and full of mystery.” She started counting off bullet points on her fingers. “He lives in another country, he’s much older than you—”

“Probably only about ten years older. That’s less than the age difference between Mom and Dad.”

“You really want to use them as an example?” she said, raising an eyebrow. “Look, I care about you. I want you to be happy. And don’t want there to be any…surprises. I don’t want to see you hurt again, you know, like before…”

“Like before,” I echoed, my eyes locking on hers. “That was a long time ago, Charlie.”

“Not that long ago.”

“Yes, it was. Brian and I are ancient fucking history. That entire chapter of my life is ancient fucking history and I don’t appreciate you bringing it up as if it has any bearing whatsoever on my life now. On who I am now. Because it doesn’t.” I was pissed, and no longer found any part of this conversation amusing.

“Whatever you say.”

“Yeah, whatever,” I spat back at her. “Look, I gotta go pack to drive to Mom’s tomorrow. Are you coming up?”

“No,” she said quietly. “Mason’s mom wants me to spend Thanksgiving with them in the Hamptons.”

“How about Christmas?

“I don’t—” Charlie said, glancing off screen as a door opened behind her. I saw Mason, her jack-ass boyfriend lean into the room and point to his wrist. Charlie held up a finger and waved him off, then turned back to me. “I’m not sure about Christmas, I have to discuss it with Mason.”

“Jesus Christ, Charlie, are we ever going to see you for a holiday again?”

“Don’t be so melodramatic. Just kiss Mom for me and tell her I’m sorry I can’t be there this year.”

“Tell her yourself, baby-sister,” I said, and I hung up the call.

S
till fuming
, I stalked to the bathroom and started the shower. Charlie had brought up a topic that was strictly off limits in our family. Off limits by my decree. It was my life, my history, and had long been my choice if I wanted to discuss it or not. She’d crossed a serious line when she’d alluded to my past, and I could hardly believe she’d done it.

Brian had been my high school boyfriend. We’d been serious, the kind of couple everyone assumed would get married after school, have a family and live a long and happy life together. We’d both been straight A students, popular and part of all the right clubs. But something happened during our junior year, several somethings actually. The fallout had been excruciating and frankly more than any teenager should have to deal with. When it was all over, Brian and I were broken, forever linked by heartache, but irrevocably divided. He went his way, which meant law school, his father’s firm, and eventually marriage. I went mine.

My way had meant leaving my hometown of Cape Annabel, Maine, and heading north to Maryville, where no one knew me. I worked five different shitty retail jobs before I finally decided to start stripping at Clouds, a decision that would have boggled the mind of seventeen-year-old me. But I’d needed to leave that girl behind, to reinvent myself and to find a little peace by forgetting my past. Charlie had just dragged that past up into the present, and I didn’t appreciate it one damn bit.

I sloughed off my clothes and climbed into the shower. Scenes from the past played like a movie trailer at the edges of my consciousness. My throat felt tight, a well of sadness flooding my chest, threatening to drown me in nostalgia and heartache. But I’ve had a lot of practice at forgetting. I took a deep breath and willed myself to shake it all off. I walled off the dam, and stuffed the memories back into the dustiest corners of my mind, where they belonged. The pounding hot spray of the shower cleared away the shadows, and I felt my mood slowly brightening, and my thoughts turning to the previous evening.

I squeezed a healthy dollop of a new coconut body wash onto my shower sponge and glided the suds over my breasts, recalling the Professor’s nimble fingers bathing my nipples with a teabag, his strong hand fucking me with a beer bottle. Holy crap it had been awesome. The sexiest, most mouthwateringly arousing encounter of my life. So far. I couldn’t wait for more. But I realized, as I stood there imagining his hands on me, that it wasn’t just his hands that turned me on. It wasn’t just those incredible blue eyes or that lean athletic physique. Sure the sexy accent or the shaggy mop of brown curls didn’t hurt, but beyond all that the Professor was seducing me with his words. I replayed our conversation from last night in my mind.

What was it he’d said? I’d surprised him? Yes, that was it. Three times, he’d said. Once when I told him off in his office, once when I’d debated a fellow student in his classroom and once…wait. What was the third surprise? He’d never said. We’d never gotten that far. Instead of sharing the last way I’d surprised him, he surprised me, by squeezing a hot bag of Earl Grey across my tits and rocking my world with an empty bottle of dark ale.

Oh this is intriguing.
I was suddenly desperate to know what the third surprise was. I ducked under the shower spray for a final rinse then shut off the water, anxious to get to my computer to see if I could hunt up some contact info for him. School was closed for the week of Thanksgiving and there was no way I could wait that long to alleviate my curiosity.

All university teachers had their emails listed on the school website. Although he wasn’t a full time staff member, there was a chance I’d find the Professor’s email on the website too. I was already crafting a cryptic message in my head as I reached for my towel. I had no doubt the university had access to emails, so I definitely needed to be discreet. I didn’t want to say anything compromising. Besides it would be fun to tease him. I needed something that on the surface appeared related to class, but which made it clear I wanted him to get in touch.

“Professor Grayson,” I said, composing aloud to my reflection in the bathroom mirror, “when last we spoke you remarked that there were three aspects to Jane that you found surprising. We discussed the first two, but the third was forgotten in your haste to attend to your tea.” I laughed out loud. No. too silly. I tried again. “The third was forgotten and…and…” I stepped out of the bathroom and heard my cell phone ring. “And that’s Mom checking on my departure time for tomorrow.” I raced, half naked and still dripping, into the kitchen, snagged my phone from where I’d left it on the counter, and answered it without even looking at the screen.

“Hey, Mom!”

“Hello, darling.” The Professor’s posh drawl sent a chill up my spine.

“H-hello,” I stammered, completely shocked to hear his voice. “How did you get my number?”

“I stopped by your place of employment this evening, I’m afraid, hoping to find you there. When I didn’t, I resorted to charming your number from your boss. I hope I haven’t overstepped?”

“No, no, that’s okay. I’m surprised she gave it to you, but I’m really glad she did.” I smiled into the phone.

“And I’m glad to hear you’re glad.”

I covered my mouth, trying to stifle a giggle, but it was no use and the sound bubbled out of me. “Oh jeez,” I groaned, mortified.

“That,” the Professor purred into the phone, “was adorable. Do it again.”

I did, right on cue. I couldn’t help myself. Pavlov would’ve been proud.

“You sound as though you are in a very good mood. Do my flowers have anything to do with that?”

“They did, I mean they do, yes—I love them. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome.”

I laughed again, a nervous, reedy sound this time.

“Jane, is everything alright?”

“Yes, I love the flowers. Really.”

“But?”

“It’s just, I was on the phone with my sister when they came. When your…” I stalled for a moment, wondering if it was right to bring this up. Oh, what the hell. No barriers, no uncertainty, right? “Well, my sister was a bit put off by you sending me your medical records.”

“Ah, I can imagine that would’ve seemed strange.”

“Yeah. She claimed that was a creeper move, and that you’re probably a killer and I’m going to get myself murdered.”

“Nonsense. If I wanted to murder you I’d be certain not to leave any DNA behind.”

“That’s what I said!”

“Mmmm, great minds….” He laughed. “In all seriousness, I debated sending it. It was an unconventional move to be sure, but our entire acquaintance has been unconventional. And it’s clear that we are both resolved, and dare I say anxious, to move things to the next level.”

“I’ll say,” I said, and he laughed that low velvety sound I was already addicted to.

“I’ll be blunt,” he said, then paused for a moment, sighing heavily into the phone. “I generally know a woman better before I have sex with her, Jane. We are racing past the traditional stages of courtship at incredible speed and I admit I find it a little unsettling. I sent my records because I don’t want practicalities, and issues of safety and respect to be overlooked in the midst of…enthusiasm.”

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