The sunlight flooding the room was welcome but it seemed to replace the pre-existing air. Suddenly, it was nearly impossible to breathe.
He wasn't my professor any longer. He was a man, a man I wanted.
I cleared my throat,"Well, I'm sorry that, um, situation didn't work out for you," I said.
"Please, don't be."
I cleared my throat again, "I'll do my best to get to class."
"I appreciate that. I think you'll really enjoy my presentation."
"Your presentation?" I asked, this time with a full-on cough.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, ahem, excuse me, I'm fine."
"Let me get you some water."
"No, honestly, I'm fine."
"Don't be silly. It's no problem."
He got up from behind the desk and walked over to the small kitchen area of the apartment.
I stood but stayed by the desk, taking deep breaths.
He returned, just as quickly as he walked away, with a tall glass of water.
"Thank you," I said.
I took one sip, then another, then five more, my body searching for help through hydration.
"I made you uncomfortable," he said, his eyes remained steadfast on my own.
"What? No, really, you didn't. I'm just, um, really quite parched."
"Alright," he said, visibly trying to swallow a laugh.
"What? What's funny?"
"Nothing,. I just find it interesting. Big, tough athlete who takes more hits than I'd like to imagine out on the field, but the idea of his professor being gay makes him squirm."
"Well, if that were true, it wouldn't be funny, it would be shameful. A person's homosexuality shouldn't make anyone squirm."
"Well, then? Why are you suddenly so tense?"
I placed the empty glass down on the desk behind me and gripped onto the edges of the old wood for dear life as it bore into the back of my thighs.
"I'm sorry, do you think I could have another glass of water?"
"Don't deflect, young one. You can do it."
"Young one? You can't be that much older than me."
"How old are you exactly?"
"Quite young to be a professor, no?"
I mustered my courage, looked deep in his eyes and bit the living shit out of my bottom lip.
"I'm also, you know..."
"A lover of Scandinavia?"
I shot him a look.
"I'm joking with you. I know. You're homosexual. I'm guessing this isn't exactly public knowledge?"
"Wait, what do you mean you know?"
"A hunch I guess, mixed with a little wishful thinking."
My eyes bulged as I noticed how close he was standing to me.
"Ahem, wishful thinking?"
"Sorry, I don't know why I just said that out loud."
He turned away from me, started eying the books on his massive wall of knowledge.
"It's alright," I told him, "But you're, right. It's not exactly public knowledge."
"You don't have to worry. I would never..."
"I know. I can tell."
I walked over to him, his back still to me. The cologne he wore was subtle but invigorating. He smelled like cedar and vanilla. Carefully, I held my breath.
He turned, completely un-startled by my proximity.
"I can keep a secret," he said.
"As can I."
"Is that so?"
"I mean, obviously."
We laughed together.
The gap between us closed.
He pressed his right cheek against my left and whispered.
"Would you like a secret to keep?"