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Ithought I recognized his voice. I didn’t want to believe it was him—it would mean getting my hopes up—but when the man who purchased my virginity steps through the door and joins me in another small room, I can’t pretend not to know him. “Professor Wolff?” I whisper.

He only shakes his head slightly before going to a window cut into the wall. Behind it sits a girl who can’t be much older than me. He has a quiet conversation with her before pulling up something on his phone. “The money’s there. And it’s yours. But I won’t be able to move it over until morning.”

I’m going to be sick.

“I don’t know,” she murmurs. “It’s always payment up front.”

“You know where to find me, right? And you know I’ll be coming back next week. The boss knows I’m honest.”

She sighs before glancing at me over his shoulder. What the hell is going on around here? All I know is that it seems like they know each other, and he’s sort of flirting with her. I’ve spent an entire semester wishing he’d flirt with me, and now I have to watch him flirt with her.

What am I thinking? He just bought me. He might’ve saved me.

Unless he’s just as bad as the other men in there. What is he even doing here? I have way too many questions, and I’m afraid I’m won’t get the chance to ask them. What if they make me go back in there so the remaining men can bid again since he doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around?

“I guess it’ll be okay. Since you’re not a stranger. But you have to transfer it tomorrow morning, first thing. This is my ass on the line.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get it done. Thanks.” He even winks at her before taking me by the arm and leading me out of the room, out of the lobby, and out of the building. When I take a breath, ready to ask what he thinks he’s doing, he shakes his head like he did before. Like he wants to wait until we’re alone.

That’s okay since I don’t know if I’d be able to get a whole sentence out, anyway. I can’t take my eyes off his hand wrapped around my forearm. I spent an entire semester staring at his hands—big, powerful-looking hands I couldn’t help but wish were on me. Now one of them is, even if it’s not the way I imagined in my fantasies.

Finally, we reach a black Corolla, and he opens the passenger door. The glow from an overhead streetlamp reveals how tight his sharp jaw is clenched. His eyes shift back and forth like he’s making sure nobody has followed us out here as he practically shoves me into the car.

Once he’s behind the wheel, he blows out a long breath. “What the fuck were you doing in there, Emma?”

His choice of words stuns me. He’s so unlike the quiet, almost nerdy professor I’ve been crushing on for months. The guy with an amazing sense of humor who sometimes slides references to World of Warcraft into his lectures. He’s the perfect combination of looks and intelligence, sprinkled with humor. And he’s never spoken to me this way.

It’s kind of hot.

“I need the money.” Now that it’s over and we’re on our way from the auction house, I feel sort of weak. Maybe relieved? Or is it being so close to Professor Wolff that’s got me feeling weak in the knees? I’ve imagined this so many times, the two of us being alone together, but now that it’s happened, I’m at a loss.

“You could’ve come to me for help.”

“No, I couldn’t. I mean, I appreciate it, but you’re only my professor. Not even my professor anymore, now that finals are over.”

“Anything has to be better than auctioning yourself off like that.”

“So, what were you doing there? If you think it’s so terrible that I did what I needed to do to survive?”

Silence unfurls between us, filling the car until I can’t breathe. “Sorry,” I whisper, staring at my lap.

“We both do what needs to be done to make money, I suppose.”

“You work there?”

He ignores the question. “So you’re in trouble? How much?”

“I mean, if I want to keep going to school and paying rent and… eating.” I shrug. “I had to make money, fast. This was the only thing I had that was worth any money.”

“Emma…” I love and hate the way he whispers my name. It sounds so good falling from his lips, but I don’t love how disappointed he sounds.

“You know, you’re the one who just bid a shit ton of money on me, and you’ve admitted you work for shady people, so maybe don’t judge me.” This is all wrong. I hate the way things are going. I wanted to thank him, maybe throw myself in his arms and admit he’s the only man I actually want to lose my virginity to. That I’ve been in love with him since the second I stepped into his classroom.

Instead, I feel very small and very judged.