Ch. 183 The Academy’s Secret Lovers (4)
When Stella returned to give Professor Hill his coat, he gave her a basket of strawberries in apology, saying it had come from the caretaker’s strawberry farm. He had actually eaten most of what Louise had given him yesterday, but he conveniently hid the fact as Stella praised the strawberries for their deliciousness.
“I’m glad that you like them. More importantly, thank you for keeping the book safe.”
“I’ve been working in the library for over a year now.”
It was enough time for a library worker to instinctively save a book first.
Professor Hill wiped the cover of the complete copy.
“It must have been difficult transcribing everything...did you have any questions about it?”
She had dozens of them, and the pair both completely forgot about time as they immersed themselves in the discussion. Before long, the sun had set and it was dark.
It was Professor Hill who first noticed the time.
“You should return to the dormitory soon. You have class tomorrow, right?”
Professor Hill smiled awkwardly as he looked at Stella’s sullen expression.
Stella Lapis was a hardworking student. It was a commendable trait, but he didn’t know if he could say such a thing out loud.
‘Of course, as a professor you have to praise hard work, but...’
Professor Hill could be straightforward sometimes and award his students a compliment or two. One of a professor’s tasks was to encourage good work, after all. However, it was difficult for him to say those things to Stella. It was strange.
He stood up and approached Stella. He was awkwardly aware of his proximity to her, but he decided to be brave and perform his duty as a professor.
“It’s...it’s great that you’ve taken the task to copy down the book and ask questions about it.”
It sounded a little artificial, but it was the best he could do. It was a miracle he wasn’t stuttering.
For some reason, Ian came to his mind. To be exact, it was an image of Ian patting Louise’s head.
Unthinkingly, Professor Hill placed his palm on top of Stella’s head. She widened her eyes in surprise, and he belatedly realized that he had made a massive mistake. He snatched back his hand and took a step back.
He even apologized for some reason.
He had nothing to answer to that question, so he dropped his head. He didn’t know what was going on with him either. What he wanted to say to her, what was he apologizing for. In any case, what was certain was that it was late and Stella had to return to her dormitory.
“Nothing. You should go back now.”
Perhaps because Professor Hill looked so troubled, Stella rose up without any further urging.
“I’ll visit again. Thank you.”
“I enjoyed myself...ah, no I mean, I was happy because I felt like I was teaching a class after a long time.”
Stella glanced backwards as she was leaving the greenhouse.
“If I have any more questions, can you teach me again?”
“Oh, of course—”
Professor Hill paused and stared at Stella.
From her straight posture to the way she hugged her notebook, he knew she was a student who loved knowledge. He once thought that she looked beautiful standing under the sunlight, and he saw she was just as breathtaking underneath the moonlight. Stella Lapis was always beautiful. Perhaps even in the dark, where the light couldn’t reach her.
Professor Hill internally scolded himself for thinking about her in the dark. No professor should think like that towards their students.
“It would be better to ask Professor Duran. He’s in charge of your class, Miss Lapis.”
“But my questions are related to the book you saved—”
“It’s fine, as it’s related to your biology class.”
Stella stared at Professor Hill in surprise. He had never cut her off before.
Stella dropped her head.
‘If I’m next to him, he’ll only recall bad memories.’
She thought she had made the perfect excuse to talk to him, but he was only apologizing for getting water on her.
“I’m sorry, Professor.”
Stella decided to apologize.
“I like the way you teach the subject.”
“I also like to teach you, Miss Lapis. However, I have to defer you to your actual professor.”
She forced her lips upwards in a smile.
“But you answered all my questions today. Thank you.”
She lowered her head and turned her heel.
She heard Professor Hill calling her name. She didn’t want to stop, but her stupid feet froze.
“You have done a commendable job. Truly.”
Stella bit her lower lip. Her feelings were at the mercy of those sweet words. It was cruel. Why was this happening? She wanted him to be as clear as could be...
“It’s great to be able to have this degree of intellectual curiosity at a young age.”
“I’m not that young!”
Stella burst out.
“Since my birthday has passed this year, now...”
She was an adult, even though she was eight years younger than Wayne Hill and still a student.
“I’m not treating you as a child.”
Even though Stella kept grasping for excuses, she couldn’t wait any longer. Perhaps it became unbearable since last fall. It was unfair.
She didn’t even take the time to think about it. At this moment, she would tell him the feelings of her heart.
Her voice trembled in nervousness, but it didn’t matter. This wouldn’t be a beautiful and romantic confession. It would be like finally yanking out a tooth that was painful.
There was a look of fear on his face, as if he seemed to know what she would say. Would this be the end of her heart?
“No...never mind. I just need to be alone.”
She liked him.
She couldn’t bring herself to speak this monumental confession. Her mouth closed as she gave up the futile act of being honest.
Really, Stella Lapis. She couldn’t even confess properly. Lies that hurt people came more easily to her.
She turned her heel and fled. A voice called out to her from behind, but she didn’t listen. She didn’t want to hear it.
Whatever he said, it would only hurt her in the end.
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