insatiable (chap 3)
6:00 P.M . EET, Tuesday, April 13
University of Bucharest
Lucien Antonescu smiled up at her from the enormous antique desk behind which he sat,grading papers. “Yes?”
“So is it true,” Natalia asked, grasping at the first question she could think of, since she’d completely forgotten what she’d meant to ask him the moment his dark-eyed gaze fell upon her, “that the oldest human remains ever found were discovered in Romania?”
Oh, no! Human remains? How disgusting! How could she ask something so stupid?
“The oldest human remains found in Europe,” Professor Antonescu said, correcting her
gently. “The oldest human remains ever found were discovered in Ethiopia. And they’re roughly a hundred and fifty thousand years older than the remains found in what we consider modern-day Romania, in the Cave with Bones.”
The girl was only half listening. He was the sexiest of all her instructors, and that included teaching assistants. On the University of Bucharest’s equivalent of Rateyourprof.com,
Professor Lucien Antonescu had been given all 10s in the looks category.
And justifiably so, since he was over six feet tall, lean and broad shouldered, with thick dark hair that he wore brushed back from his temples and a smooth, gorgeous forehead. As if all that weren’t enough, he had dark brown eyes that, in certain lights, when he was lecturing and grew excited about his subject matter—which happened frequently, because he was impassioned about Eastern European history—flashed red.
Surely the posts on the message boards were exaggerated…especially the ones hinting
that he was related to the Romanian royal family and was a duke or a prince or something.
But since taking Professor Antonescu’s class, Natalia could see why he—and his
course—was so popular. And why the line of girls—and some boys, though when he showed pictures of ancient Romanian art, Professor Antonescu spoke so appreciatively of the lush lines of the female form that there was no possible way he could be gay—at his office hours was so long. He was a gifted orator, with a regal yet very engaging presence….
And he was so very, very hot.
“So,” Natalia said hesitantly, taking in the way his perfectly tailored black cashmere blazer molded those shoulders. She wondered why she couldn’t see his eyes—those dark, flashing eyes—better and realized it was because he had the shades to his office windows pulled down. She hoped he’d still notice that she’d worn a new shirt, one that showed off her cleavage to its best advantage. She’d bought it at a steep discount at H&M, but it still made her look irresistible. “It would be correct to say that Romania is the cradle of civilization in Europe.”
This, Natalia thought, sounded very intelligent.
“It would be a lovely idea, of course,” Professor Antonescu said, looking thoughtful.
“Certainly there have been human beings living here for over two millennia, and this land has been the site of many bloody invasions, from the Romans to the Huns, until finally we had what today makes up modern-day Romania…Moldavia and Wallachia, and of course Transylvania. But the cradle of civilization…I don’t know that we can say that.” He was even better looking when he smiled, if such a thing were possible.
The smile caused her to come undone. She knew she was not the first. His bachelor
status was legendary, the intrigue heightening whenever he was spotted with a woman—never the same one twice—in the posher restaurants downtown. How many had he asked back to his castle—he owned a castle!—outside of Sighi oara, or to his enormous loft apartment in the trendiest district of Bucharest?
No one knew. Maybe hundreds. Maybe none. He didn’t seem to care to marry and start a
family.Well, all that would change when he tasted her cooking. Iliana, behind her in line to see him just now, had teased her for saying she was going to invite him over. So old-fashioned!
She said Natalia should just offer to sleep with him right there, in his office, like Iliana was going to, and get it over with.
But Natalia’s mother had always told her she made the best sarmale of anyone in the
family. One taste, her mother said, and any man would be hers.
“Yes?” Professor Antonescu asked, one of those thick dark eyebrows raising.
Natalia wished he hadn’t done this. It only made him look more attractive and made her feel more foolish for what she was about to do.
“Would you like to come to my place for a home-cooked meal sometime?” she asked, all
in a rush. Her heart was beating wildly. She was sure he could see it thrumming behind her breast, considering how low-cut her new blouse was.
Something in the dimly lit office made a chirping sound.
“I beg your pardon,” Professor Antonescu said. He reached into the inside pocket of his
expensive coat and produced a slim cell phone…top of the line, of course. “I thought I’d turned this off.”
Natalia stood there, wondering if she ought to say something about the sarmale or
perhaps undo another button of her blouse, as Iliana would have done…
…but she hesitated when she saw Professor Antonescu’s expression change as his gaze
fell on the name on the caller identification.
“I’m terribly sorry,” he said. “This is an important call. I have to take it. Could we discuss this at another time?”
Natalia felt her cheeks growing red. It was merely because he was looking at her…and
yet had never once lowered his gaze below her neck.
“Of course,” she said shamefacedly.
“And please tell the others,” Professor Antonescu said as he accepted the call, “thatunfortunately I’ll have to end office hours early this evening. A family emergency.”
Family emergency. He had family?
“I’ll let them know,” the girl said, pleased. He trusted her! That would put Iliana in her place!
“Thank you,” Professor Antonescu said politely as she slunk from the dark, lushly
decorated room, all in richly appointed leather-trimmed furniture and filled with manuscripts that were many centuries older than she was. Even Professor Antonescu’s office was different from the offices of her other instructors, which were as barren as a politburo’s and just as grim.
She opened the door, slipped through it, and turned to close it….
But not before she heard him say, in a voice she had never heard him use before, and in English, “What? When?” Then, “Not again.”
Natalia turned then to see a look on his face that made her heart turn over in her chest.
But not in the joyful way it did when she spied him coming down the corridor toward the lecture hall.
Now she was afraid.
Because those beautiful eyes of his had gone vermilion…the same color her shower
water ran when she accidentally cut her leg while shaving.
Only this wasn’t a trickle of water. It was a man’s eyes. His eyes. And they’d gone the
color of blood.
His gaze was boring into her as if he could see straight through her blouse, past her bra,
and into the most intimate places of her heart.
“Get out,” he said in a voice that she would swear later, when she told her mother about
it, didn’t even sound human.
Natalia turned, threw open the door, and flung herself through it, flying with a face as
white as death past the other students waiting to see their professor.
“Well, that obviously went well,” Iliana said with a sneer.
But when Iliana tried Professor Antonescu’s office door, she found it locked. She
knocked and knocked, finally cupping both hands around her eyes and pressing them to the
door’s frosted glass.
“The lights are out. I don’t see him in there. I think…I think he’s gone.”
But how could the professor have left a locked a room from which there was no other