Review and Chapter Excerpt: The D by Vanessa Waltz

43682817 Review

Liam is a grad student teaching organic chemistry to offset the cost of his tuition. It’s no wonder he likes the attention from his students, yet up till now when a student is overtly flirtatious he has the student transferred to another section. Blair isn’t the typical student. Liam finds a note she left in the lab drawer not meant for his eyes…begging him to take her v-card. He wants much more than that.

Blair has the hots for her teacher–well graduate assistant that teaches her organic chemistry class. She does everything possible to attract his attention. She gets just that.

Just one –ok two issues with their relationship. He can get fired if anyone from the university finds out about it. And he’s her brother’s best friend. Something she knew nothing about until her brother asked his best friend to help him out with Blair.

As per Waltz, numerous hot sizzling scene between Liam and Blair. I didn’t know until after I read the book that Liam appears in his brother’s book Jingle Balls where he wrecked havoc. I need to add this to my TBR list. I have to admit that this is not one of my favorite Waltz books. I still found it quite entertaining and would recommend it. Sadly, it will not make it to my re-read list.

 

Chapter One
Blair

Sorry, I don’t do virgins.

I swipe the notification closed.

Another day, another rejection. God, this sucks. I hate modern dating—the endless swiping, the ghosting, and underwhelming dick pics. After a while, their profiles blend together. Every guy looks the same. I’ve lost count of how many plaid-wearing, bearded hipsters there are in this city.

The moment I find someone halfway decent, he flakes. This was coming a mile away. After my confession, Ryan went radio-silent and ignored my texts until two hours before our date. I wasted two weeks flirting with this dude. I worked up the courage to set up a date. He left the details to me, which I slaved over for way longer than I’ll admit, and then he cancels on Valentine’s Day.

I could scream. This shouldn’t be so hard. I just want to get laid, but it’s not easy when you have standards.

I put away my phone and massage my temples. So much for the night out. It looks like I’ll have to grab a pint of decadent ice cream on my way home, where I’ll be alone.  Another Valentine’s Day with Netflix.

I look through the menagerie of chemistry glassware and ignore Paul’s probing gaze. On the blackboard, chalk-lined hearts instead of bullet points list the day’s lesson. Liam Smith, who teaches my organic chemistry lab, is one of those saps who’s buys into this holiday.

But something happened over the holiday break. His playful smirk is missing. Liam glowers at the board and scowls at the happy chatter filling the lab. He rolls his sleeves to his elbows as though itching for a fight. Liam’s stubble is a few days long, and his coffee-brown hair stands on his head. He flattens it with a broad hand.

Interesting. He’s never frazzled.

I’m intimately familiar with Liam’s facial expressions, having studied them for half the school year. He’s famed on Rate My Professor, and it’s not because of his charm. He’s fucking gorgeous. Am I hot for teacher? Hell yes.

“Teach,” Paul booms across the bench. “Did you grade our quizzes?”

Liam slowly becomes aware of the question, massaging his neck in tight circles. “Yeah. I’ll pass them out.” He speaks in a hushed, almost lifeless tone. It hardly resembles the energetic grad student who always has a wisecrack ready.

Paul and I exchange looks. What happened to him?

The stack of papers slides from a manila folder, falling into Liam’s hands. Usually, he comes to us, but this time he can’t be bothered. He looks completely deflated. It’s as though his guts were ripped out.

I tense as he slaps an exam on my desk, his cool blues missing their spark.

What the hell happened?

I watch him with a morbid fascination as he divides the remaining sheets into piles and retreats to his podium.

“You guys figure it out.” Liam scowls as students crowd where he dropped the piles. “One at a time, guys.”

“Dude, what happened?”

Liam’s tired gaze sweeps the class, settling on Paul. “Love is dead.”

“That’s vague, man.”

“I had a rough holiday.” He sinks into his hands, and for a horrible moment I think he’ll cry, but he releases a gruff laugh. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

Wow, he sounds like he’s in pain.

I flip the sheet over, finding my name at the top. My sympathy for Liam vanishes when I read my grade.

The bastard gave me a D!

A red, spiky D fills the top right corner of my exam, followed by the words: NOT EVEN CLOSE.

A silent scream runs through me. I flip through the pages, heart seizing at the column of slashes. In bold red, he marked wrong my responses.  Almost all of them. That’s impossible. I should have at least guessed a few right, but no. After the thirty-second question, I missed everything.

Chatter breaks out among the classroom as students compare results. I block my score from view. I scan the room for hunched over figures and whitened faces, but everyone looks happy. They can’t be happy. If I got sixty-four percent on the test, the whole class must’ve done poorly.

I’m the best. I always am.

A sliver of self-doubt cracks through my armor. How can I be so sure? Maybe I’m an idiot. Maybe I don’t belong in college. Maybe I’m not cut out for a career in biochemistry.

My panic spirals to even darker depths as the flaming red D seems to pulse. I grow hot around my collar. I cover the score, blocking curious eyes from reading my grade.

Paul cranes his neck to look at my score. “What did you get?”

“Nothing,” I blurt. “It’s a mistake.”

“What, did you get an eighty-eight percent instead of ninety?” His smile widens at my continued silence. “Eighty-five? Eighty?”

I shake my head, unable to speak.

“Wow, so you got a bad grade?”

“A B isn’t a bad grade!” And now I’m a liar.

“For me, yeah.” He chuckles, showing me his C+. “For you, it’s like, embarrassing.”

Even he thinks it’s ridiculous. “Thanks.”

“Relax, girl. I’m just giving you a hard time. Congratulations on your first B, or whatever. You’re now one of the losers.”

Except I did not get a fucking B.

My attention snaps to Liam. Staying angry with him is hard. Even when he’s scruffy, he still resembles the man of my dreams. Espresso-brown hair with windswept bangs spill over a face with striking features. Thick eyebrows frame two piercing eyes constantly narrowed with mischief. Today they don’t look playful, though.

They’re sad.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone with dates,” Liam deadpans. “For those of you without loved ones, you can join me at the bar. I will be destroying my liver with bottomless pomegranate mimosas.”

Did he break up with his girlfriend?

That would explain his disheveled appearance. His button-up shirt is wrinkled. His eyes are pinched with tiredness, and his mouth sags downward. He looks like he hasn’t shaved in days, but the beard suits him.

Nervous smiles flash across the room.

Paul straightens. “Did you get dumped?”

“Sort of.” Liam’s melancholy gaze sweeps the class as sympathetic awwschorus. “Unrequited love. Whatever.”

Paul leans across the table, whispering. “I heard he had a meltdown.”

My curiosity piques. “What?”

“Got arrested or something.”

I stare at Liam. “No kidding?”

Well, no wonder he screwed up grading my test. He looks heartbroken, and I feel for him, but NOT EVEN CLOSE was a tad unnecessary.

Liam rakes his flyaway hair. “Anyway, back to the test. A lot of you missed the question on enantiomers, so I’ll do a refresher for next time. You can’t solve mechanisms without understanding how R configuration differs from S. Only a few of you answered correctly.”

I flip through my exam and glance at my bubbled-in answer sheet. I circled A on my exam, but B was darkened into the response. A closer look reveals that I messed up on reporting the correct answers. I left the thirty-second question blank but filled in the following responses in the wrong order, which made every single question after that wrong.

Fuck. A stupid mistake, but at least it’ll be easily fixed.

Liam faces the whiteboard as he draws in the correct response. Today he’s wearing skinny jeans, which is always a treat because I’m a fan of scoping out his ass. He sculpted body isn’t the only reason I love his classes. Listening to him lecture does something to me. The man could have a career in narrating erotic books.

But right now I’m out of sorts. I don’t get D’s—hate seeing that D on my paper. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t count, I want him to cross it out and write A. Now.

My hand shoots into the air.

Liam’s demeanor cools when he notices my hand. He sighs. “Yes, Blair. What is it?”

“I think I filled out the scantron incorrectly. All my answers after the thirty-second question are wrong.”

“That’s because they are wrong.”

“Yeah, but I circled the right ones on the test.”

“You can schedule an office hours visit if you like. Now’s not the time to discuss it.”

I sink into my seat, face burning from his dismissal. Can’t he pretend to be nice? It’s not my fault he got dumped.

“Your score should give you a good idea of where you stand,” he says coolly. “There’s a reason we make you pass the course before you’re allowed to take the lab. The second part of the series will be much harder than the first. On the whole, though, I’m pleased. The average grade was seventy-five percent, which is pretty good.”

And I got a fucking sixty-four.

It pisses me off. Liam should know that I’m not a D student.

“I’m going to assign lab partners for you.” Liam grins apologetically as people scowl. “Sorry, but I’m not sorry. It’s one of my rules. I like to break cliques apart. You’ll thank me later. Promise.”

People slowly gather their things.

“Make sure you read section one point four of the lab manual and have your prewriting done. You will not be participating if you don’t have the correct mechanisms written out.”

Stools scrape the concrete floor as students head for the door. I chew my lip, watching Liam through a pile of chemistry glassware as he makes small talk. Abigail shyly approaches him, binder clutched to her chest.

Liam smiles at her. “Good job on the test. Highest score in the class.”

“Thanks.” Abigail beams, cheeks darkening when he gives her a hi-five. “It wasn’t too hard.”

A furious jealousy pounds behind my ribs. He’s never given me an attagirl, no matter how many high scores I’ve gotten. Abigail loves the attention, and why shouldn’t she? Liam lives and breathes sex appeal. He could roll out of bed and model for a hipster flannel catalog. Sometimes I glimpse him running laps around campus. Dude is fine.

Which makes picking a fight with him super awkward.

The room finally empties. I gather the courage to approach him. Liam deigns to notice my presence. Halfway between packing his messenger bag, he stops.

“Yes, Blair?”

I frown. “You don’t have to sound so defensive.”

Liam slings the bag over his head. I admire the way his muscles in his biceps dance. “I’m not.”

“Whatever.” I thrust the exam and the scantron into his face. “I accidentally skipped the thirty-second row. The answers I filled in are right. They’re just in the wrong place.”

Liam doesn’t look at the test. “Schedule an office hours visit.”

“Oh come on. It’ll take you five minutes to fix!”

“I have a life, Blair. You don’t get special treatment just because you have the highest grade in the class.”

“I’m not asking for special treatment.” Asshole. “I just want five freaking minutes.”

He groans, and it somehow manages to sound hot even though he’s irritated. Then he plucks the test and scantron from my hands. He throws them onto his podium. For a moment, it’s safe to watch him. I try to avoid staring when he’s facing the class because Liam has a sixth sense. He catches me checking him out way too often, and he always wears a disapproving frown.

But with his gaze safely turned toward my test, I study the shape of his mouth and wonder what it’d feel like against mine. I wish I knew. Standing in his presence is part agony, part ecstasy.

“You might be right. But I’m still not changing your grade.”

I must’ve heard wrong. “What?”

“Schedule. An appointment. With. Office. Hours.” He pushes the test into my hands. “You’re not above the rules.”

“Excuse me? I’m your best freaking student, so don’t act like I’m a moron who hassles you every class.”

“You do hassle me.” He adopts a high-pitched voice that’s supposed to mimic mine. “Liam, that’s misspelled. Liam, that comma doesn’t belong thereLiam, there’s glass in my drawer.”

“Well, the Erlenmeyer flask was broken! There were shards everywhere. What do you expect me to do, clean it out myself?”

Yes. Gloves are in your student cupboard.”

Fair point. “Fine, but that hardly classifies as hassling.”

“You ignore my instructions and demand me to fix your test now. Then you stare daggers at me when I refuse to give what you want. It’s annoying.” Liam heads for the door. “I won’t have you undermining my authority.”

“That’s way overblown!” I chase him, tugging his sleeve. “Come on, Liam. I have three other classes today.”

“You’re not a little girl anymore, sophomore.”

“Good, you finally noticed.”

He gives me a sharp look. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what, professor?”

Hell, he’s single. There’s no crime in flirting.

Liam makes a face. “I hate it when you call me that.”

I know. “It’s what you are.”

“I’m a grad student. Not a professor.”

It’s so easy to get him flustered. “But I like calling you my professor.”

Frustrated, Liam grabs my shoulders. The contact is enough to root me to the spot. If he moved his hands over my heart, he’d know exactly how I felt about him.

“Blair, I’m serious. You have to stop talking to me the way you do in class.”

“In what way?”

“Keep your smart mouth shut.” He squeezes before releasing, eyes dancing like two bright blue flames. “And stop flirting with me.”

“But it’s so much fun. What are you going to do, paddle me?”

Color rises to his pale cheeks. “No, but maybe I’ll transfer you.”

“You can’t.” My tone is even, but my pulse races ahead. “Not without just cause.”

“I do have cause.”

“Hmm. Am I too much for you to handle?”

Speechless with disapproval, Liam shakes his head and leaves the room.

I slump into my bench, books sprawled over the countertop. I can’t believe the ass wouldn’t correct my test. It would’ve taken him less time than his spiel about my behavior in class.

Who is he to judge, anyway?

He’s not exactly a peach. If Paul’s telling the truth, he got himself into serious trouble over the break.

I flip open my binder and tear a piece of notebook paper. I grab a pen and write a frustrated letter that will never reach Liam’s eyes.

Dear Professor,

Please take my virginity.

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