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“I don’t …” He shook his head as if he were clearing it. “I don’t want to get rid of you.”

She flushed as he didn’t look away from her. “Yes, my father has seen the light. So what do you need me to help with tonight?”

“I … um …”

Elise made a show of fishing into her backpack for her red pens and notepad. “I think we were close to your being done? If that’s true, maybe we can talk about my concluding chapter? And then I think I’m ready for a final review of—”

When Troy continued to stammer, she glanced up to see what was wrong.

Oh.

He was wide-eyed and pale as he looked up at Axe.

Who was standing over the human like he was measuring her professor for a death shroud.

FIFTEEN

What the hell kind of professor is this, Axe thought as he loomed over the human waste of space with the hipster clothes, the full head of hair, and the come-hither-you-college-coed eyes.

Professors were supposed to be old, bushy-browed, tweed-wearing anachronisms, the kind of males where, even on a deserted island with the fate of the race in jeopardy, no female would ever look twice at them, much less consider procreating with them without a loaded gun to the head.

Oh, and then top off all the totally-not-old-and-elbow-padded with the fact that the miserable bastard had been staring at Elise like she was the single most gorgeous female on the planet?

Which, fine. Was true.

But still.

He needed to kill the bastard right here, right now—

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Elise said quickly. “This is my, ah, he’s my—”

“Bodyguard,” Axe snapped. “I’m here to keep punks away from her.”

And how’d you like a demonstration, you pencil-necked psychology- spouting whatever-the-fuck. How ’bout I break both your thighbones and use the splintered end of one of them to clean my teeth—after I rip your throat out with my canines—

“This is Axe,” Elise cut in as she shot him a glare. “He’s just here to make my father feel comfortable. I am well aware there are no real threats against me.”

“Well … ah …” Mr. Professor pulled at the collar of his shirt. “So, um, actually, there have been a number of shootings on college campuses in the last couple of years. I, ah, I can see how … um … that would be distressing to a father.…”

Distressing?

This guy actually used the word distressing.

Yeah, you want distressing, Axe thought, how about I hang you out a third-floor window from your cute little pair of Merrells until you scream like a soprano and your libido falls out of the top of your head—

“Axe,” Elise hissed as she jumped out of her chair. “Will you come with me?”

Grabbing him by the elbow, she smiled with determination at James Franco– lite. “Will you excuse us for a moment. We’ll be right back.”

Axe was more than happy to follow her, because he had a few things to say, too.

She frog-marched him back farther into the stacks and shoved him against a line-up of books on the American Revolution.

With a jab, she shoved her finger in his face. “Lose the attitude or you can leave.”

“Excuse me?” he ground out. “I’m not the one who’s dating a human. If you’d been up front with me in the first place about why you wanted to come here, I would have appreciated it. Especially after your holier-than-thou ‘honesty is all I want from you’ bullshit. Or, wait, maybe you’re like your cousin Peyton and believe commoners like me are so second class, there actually is no hypocrisy when you lie to us.”

“I am not dating Troy!”

“Troy. His name is Troy.”

“What’s wrong with that? It’s a perfectly nice name!”

“I’m not touching that one—”

“Don’t be an ass! And there is nothing going on between us!”

“Oh, come on. I saw the way he looked at you. And this …” He motioned around her face. “With the hair and the makeup? It’s all for him, isn’t it. You got yourself dolled up for your little boyfriend, didn’t you.”

“I did not! And he’s not my—”

“Where’s that honesty, sweetheart—”

“Okay, you did not just ‘sweetheart’ me—”

“What do you want me to call you, ‘Professor?’ ’Cuz that title’s already taken by Troy—”

“You were growling! You were standing over him and growling!”

Okay, that got through to him. And she was not finished. Leaning in so close that she was practically rock-climbing up his chest, she nailed him with that forefinger again.

“You were about two inches and one giant testosterone surge away from baring your fangs and killing him!”

“I was not!”

They were both screaming at each other—at stage-whisper volume. Which was ridiculous, but at least they were alone back here.

“Show me,” she spat.

“What?”

She grabbed his upper lip like he was a horse and cranked it up over his head. “See!” More with that damn finger. “Your canines are totally descended—and let me tell you, the last thing in the world I need is for my bodyguard to rip the throat out of the very reason I’m bothering to put up with his sorry ass! You back off or I will get someone else!”

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