My eyes widened in terror as the door to the front of the classroom suddenly slammed and a tall figure took the stage with a large hawk sitting prominently poised on his strong arm. The professor was shockingly young, no older than twenty, and his face and eyes were like ice behind his tinted glasses and large lab coat. Suddenly, my mind fogged and I felt a flurry of anxiety grip at my chest. My heart rate quickened as though my life were being threatened and I struggled to remain calm, focusing on his face instead.
The professor’s youthful skin was radiant and unflawed. He had a prominent chin and thick eyebrows that framed his strong face well. The glasses he wore shielded his eyes, making it hard to tell exactly where he was looking. The pitch black of his hair contrasted beautifully with his pale skin and for the first time, I felt I wasn’t the only one that stood out.
My heart rate remained elevated and the flutter in my chest began to sting painfully. I started to wince uncontrollably and my head suddenly ripped open in agony. Something was attacking me, someone was drawing the life from my bones and I found myself now struggling to remain calm.
Scott noticed me trembling as he eyed me tensely, probably hoping I wouldn’t attract any attention. I shot him a worried look as I struggled to take deep breaths but my lungs seized sharply, causing my cheeks to flush as a sudden rush of blood streamed straight to my head.
“Class,” the professor boomed, he hadn’t yet seen me and I prayed he wouldn’t. “The red hawk is a fierce predator.” I noticed the squirrel in the tank leap from its branch and scurry into a small house in a far corner as beads of sweat gathered on my forehead.
The professor suddenly froze, scanning the class with his dark eyes which abruptly took on a new, almost ominous glimmer. His mouth was pursed into an angry line and his nostrils were flared. The hawk gently sat on his arm, unfazed by his carrier’s sudden mental disruption. As his eyes landed on each student, I saw them squirm uncomfortably on their stools.
Suddenly, his eyes met mine and my whole body unexpectedly went weak, my limbs tingling as though someone was forcing sand into my veins. Placing my hands on the table to prevent myself from fainting, the world around me seemed to slowly dissipate as I felt him pulling me closer.
His eyes were burning even darker now, mesmerizing me with terror. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t look away from his perfect face. His gaze becoming harder to handle as I began to sweat more profusely. It felt like an eternity had passed as we stared at each other, my mind going a stormy dark.
His brow furled even deeper, the lines on his face deeply cutting into his angelic white skin. As he finally broke the gaze, I softly gasped for air and the world around me returned in a rush of warmth.
“Elle,” Scott whispered to me frantically, “Are you ok?” His throat sounded dry and his voice was cracking.
“Yeah,” I breathed heavily, regaining what composure I could and summoning a courage I had never known.
The professor half staggered, half walked to his desk, looking away from the class to hide his faltering expression. His body language looked as though he too was having trouble regaining his composure. I watched intently as he leaned one strong arm against the mahogany desk, the hawk continuing to sit confidently, unchanged in his composure to the class. Slowly, the professor turned back and the stinging in my chest subsided and I noticed his eyes were suddenly serene.