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Alex took a deep breath before knocking on the frame of the open door. She held a thick essay in her hand, careful not to crease it. Ideally, she would have taken the independent study with someone else, but there was no getting around it. Of course, Alex was a realist. The ideal never produced anyone of real note—that’s what her father said anyway. And she was never one to back away from a challenge.

"Come in."

She stepped in just as Liz Donnelly was taking off her glasses. "One essay on courtroom etiquette," Alex said, trying not to roll her eyes as she placed the pristine papers on Donnelly's desk.

"Mm." Alex turned around, but she could hear her thumbing through the paper. "Miss Cabot..."

Alex stopped, squeezing her eyes shut before turning around, a light and concertedly pleasant smile on her face. "Yes, Dr. Donnelly?"

"There's a typo on the fourth page."

A typo on the fourth fucking page. Alex could not stop herself from pursing her lips. Donnelly had a reputation for being a hardass and something of a bitch, but this was beyond ridiculous. And there was something infuriating about the way she looked over her glasses—infuriating and decidedly sexy. But that was something Alex chose to ignore.

“I know,” Alex replied, struggling not to snap. “I corrected it in pencil on my way here.”

“In pencil, yes.” Donnelly put the paper down and stood. “Close the door, Miss Cabot.”

Alex let herself sigh; she had a date with the Dean’s son that night, and she was pretty sure this was going to make her late. It was his sister that interested her, but Alex had always been very aware of which connections to make public and which to keep hidden. She shut the door by pushing it to, anticipating that the sound would echo as it hit hard against the frame.

“Some of your professors your first year might have found this sort of thing...acceptable, but I do not. You can either fix it or I can take of points.”

“How many points?” She asked, crossing her arms.

Liz stood. “We discussed my grading procedures at the beginning of the semester.”

Alex watched her go to the bookshelf and take down one of the heavy reference books. It was as if she was being dismissed, but she did not move. She had never had Donnelly in a classroom setting, but she had heard that she was one of those professors who paced.
“I seem to remember a focus on quality of content rather than minutia.” She hated the way Donnelly was looking down at the book, flipping through it nonchalantly, when Alex knew the woman probably knew exactly what she wanted and where it was located. She hated that seeing her standing—when during all their meetings she had stayed behind her desk—was distracting because of the promise of long legs under a skirt of perfectly respectable length.

“Attention to detail can make or break a case,” she said without looking up. “You, especially, would do well to remember that.”

While Alex prided herself on being detached, she hadn’t learned not to raise her hackles to the quality in others. “I’m not fixing it,” she said, shifting her weight. “And I will go to the Dean if...”

“You’ll run to the Dean if you decide...what, Alexandra? That it wasn’t fair?” Liz snapped the book shut as she looked up. “But I suppose you would automatically run to the closest male authority figure when you don’t get your way.” Alex’s cheeks flushed hot; she did not notice Liz taking a step forward. “Isn’t that right?” With Liz there, suddenly so close, Alex felt her breath catch. She kept her arms crossed but was unwilling to move back. Her eyes were fixed on her professor, but Liz’s, seemed to be all over...all over her. “I didn’t think you needed me to tell you that running to the Dean won’t be as effective as running to daddy.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Alex blurted the words out before even thinking to walk away. “It’s one mistake on a pointless paper that I did countless hours of research for... You have railed on me all semester when I have done nothing but give you my best work.”

Donnelly chuckled. “Your work would be excellent if you could reign in the attitude. Most judges don’t find arrogance appealing. And they like entitlement even less.”

Alex licked her lips self-consciously. She wanted to avoid Donnelly’s eyes, but she found herself looking at her just as openly. “So, I guess that explains why you haven’t graced the doors of a courtroom in at least ten years.”

There was a moment, as Donnelly raised her hand, when Alex flinched, preparing for the sting of skin against her cheek. She was even more unnerved to find Liz’s fingers caressing it instead.

“You are pert, Alexandra.”

“What are you doing?”

There was the briefest hint of something in Liz’s eyes—Alex almost felt like the older woman was taunting her. “I’m giving you a third option.”

She licked her lips again as she tried to find the breath to respond. “I could get you fired,” she said emptily, her mouth feeling like it was full of cotton.

“You could. But you’re too smart to attach yourself to that kind of scandal before your career even starts. Aren’t you.” Her voice was low, and Alex shivered.

“Maybe you’re right,” she said. “But that leaves the question...where does this get me?”

“Lock the door, Alexandra.”

The lock turned heavily in her fingers. It was old, like the rest of the building; the walls were thick and the heavy draperies on the windows needed updating. She wondered if they held sound as well as they held dust. Her date would be waiting, but Alex knew he would accept whatever excuse she gave him.

When she turned, Donnelly was reclining against her desk, legs and arms crossed. Alex crossed to her, and while her footfalls were sure, she was not. It was dangerous for both of them, and it was not even a fantasy in which she had truly indulged. But the woman in front of her unnerved Alex more than the consequence.

“Well?”

“Well,” Alex repeated, more quietly.

Liz laughed lightly as she stood and slipped out of her skirt. Alex was not surprised to see navy blue lace, but she stood in place, still reeling a bit. She thought she saw the corners of Donnelly’s lips twitching, but she couldn’t be sure.

“Do you need a tutorial, Alexandra?”

“No.” Alex blushed and automatically smoothed her blouse as she stepped forward. She had a feeling that satisfaction was not on Liz’s agenda for her—not during this encounter, at least.

“Good.” She spread her legs, and Alex, after taking her glasses off, went to her without having to be beckoned.

She ran her fingers up Liz’s smooth thighs, appreciating them in a more detached way then when she had simply been looking, speculating. If this would get her ahead... Alex knew better than to become emotionally involved. As long as she got where she needed to be, as long as she became the best...methodology was irrelevant—as long as the things that needed to be hidden remained that way.

The lace was delicate under her fingers, and Alex could smell Liz as she knelt. The desk was a little too tall for comfort, but she was sure that was the intention. When she flicked her eyes up, she quickly lowered them again, avoiding Liz’s appraising, calculating gaze. She had to crane her neck, to stretch her back straight to run her tongue over the top of the lace. Even through it, Alex could taste her, but she did not take the time to find the words in her mind.

Liz’s hand was warm in Alex’s hair, but Alex flinched at the unexpected feel of it. She pushed the panties aside and ran her tongue up Liz’s slit. She preferred a woman who was shaved, but Liz was holding her head firmly now. Alex did not want to meet her eyes again—not yet.

“Mm,” Donnelly intoned. It was the same sound she made when reading over proposals and briefings, when she was grading, and it only served to infuriate Alex. She pressed two fingers into Liz without warning and was rewarded by a gasp. That, however, was followed by a tug on her hair. “You’re hardly at the point where you may take liberties.”

Alex sank her face back down, pressing her tongue to Liz’s clit and sucking it lightly. She resented that she was already wet, wetter than Liz. She resented that she would probably end up in bed alone, trying to get off while frantic and angry. But she used all of her restraint to fuck Liz slowly with her fingers, curling them as she pulled each thrust back.

Yet Liz was still, her breathing the only thing that betrayed how much she was enjoying herself. Alex could feel her eyes, and she closed her own. Her back and neck ached, but she pushed rhythmically, consciously resenting each thrust and unconsciously thrilling in the test.

She did not know Liz was coming from the small sigh, from the way her fingers flexed in Alex’s hair. It was the way Liz’s body clenched around her fingers, the almost imperceptible thrust of her hips. She pulled away, Liz’s tug at her hair and her own movements becoming fluid. Alex flushed, looking up at her as she knelt there. She opened her mouth to ask, to beg, but she quickly closed it. But Liz had seen; she was smirking.

“Bring this back,” Liz said as she tossed the paper to the floor and stood, “when you can show that level of effort.”

Alex picked up the essay, careful still not to crease it. Her sticky fingers made a smear where they touched. She did not watch as Liz pulled her skirt back on.

“Goodnight, Dr. Donnelly,” she said, voice quiet with its anger.

“I’ll see you next week, Miss Cabot,” Liz said as Alex unlocked the door.

The hall was empty save for a few open doors. Alex’s legs felt heavy and her cheeks hot as she walked away.