A 700 word idea that became 80,000 words fast


“I found my home address, my birthday, and a bunch of other stuff,” Pixie said over my shoulder. “I even found a mom with my name and a very boring blog. What about you?”

We had one simple assignment, Google our names.

“I can’t find anything about me at all, or my dad, or my mom’s death. I am going to fail.” My head hit the desktop.

“That’s weird,” Pixie shrugged and left.

She was finished. I was stuck.

Eventually, boredom and a supersized crush had me typing my professor’s name into the search engine. Bryan Petit was all that I could think about lately. I laughed when I saw a 92 year old man. Then I saw him. My professor stood beside this old man in a photo for the obituary. The caption said that his name was Nicholas Austen.

Immediately, I Googled Nicholas Austen and my breath caught. He wasn’t a professor. According to the internet, he was a war veteran and D.C.’s youngest U.S. Marshall.
Why was he teaching English at an all girl school? I wondered if it had anything to do with the killer that the media had been speculating about recently. Was my English professor really some kind of amped up school security?

“Elle?” A hand on my shoulder sent my flying. I slammed my thighs into the underside of the desk and then cried. “Ahhh.”

Bryan, I mean, Nicholas was staring down at me, bemused. “Are you alright?” he asked still smiling.

“Are you trying to kill me?” I demanded, utterly embarrassed. I shut my laptop immediately.

“Do you know what time it is?” he asked.


“It’s after midnight. Just because the school library is open until two doesn’t mean that you should be here until then.” The sight of his dimple sent me swooning.

I wondered how long ago Pixie left? Was it really midnight? My watch gave confirmation.

“What are you doing here?” I doubted that he was paid to teach all day and then patrol the campus all night too.

“Can I give you a ride home?” He ignored my question.

That would be sure to send tongues wagging. Giving his student a ride home at midnight seemed like a bad idea to me. I resolved to walk before he got himself fired.

“I’m alright,” I said slinging my bag onto my arm. It disappeared as quickly as I had tossed it. Nicholas was securing it over his own shoulder.

“What are you doing?” I accused.

“I’m giving you a ride home.”

His thick red lips caused a cloud to settle on my brain. He turned to leave and I followed along, incoherent. His jeep was pulled up on the curb outside the building. Nicholas hefted my things into the back and opened the passenger door.

“What were you doing here alone?” His voice was protective and I blushed.

“I wasn’t alone.” As I said it I knew that wasn’t true, not anymore. The entire campus was deserted.

“You shouldn’t be out alone,” he cautioned, pulling away from the building and heading directly for my apartment.

“Right, the Ohio Valley is a real crime mecca.” I rolled my eyes, but he glared. His consternation was evident.

“You need to be careful,” he warned again.

“You keep saying that.” I looked him full in the face. I knew that I was blushing, but I also knew he had a secret. “Why?”

His eyes burned into mine for a long beat, and then he pulled the jeep onto the sidewalk in front of my building. This night had just gotten very interesting.

“Elle, there’s a very dangerous man somewhere nearby. You’ve seen the news?” One eyebrow rose slightly.

“What does that have to do with me?” I asked incredulously. “You can’t drive everyone home from the library.”

His face went flat. I took advantage and pressed further.

“How did you know where I lived?”

Nicholas stared. His eyes were narrow. He was thinking, struggling.

Before he could answer any one of my questions, I blurted, “I know your secret,” nearly daring him to deny it. “Why send a Marshall?” My mind was full of questions. They kept falling out.

“Why not the FBI?”

“Marshalls are assigned to witness protection details.” He didn’t deny it.

“He’s looking for a witness?” I asked about this ‘dangerous’ man.

“Elle, He’s looking for you.”

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