Chapter 8

     The time had finally arrived for Michael and Symphony's night out. Since Symphony didn't consider it to be a real date, and Michael simply referred to it as 'two people going to the theater together,' they both settled on calling it a 'friendly outing.'

       As Symphony was getting ready, she didn't understand why she was so nervous. She had gone out on plenty of platonic dates before, but she was now trying on her fifth dress and still couldn't figure out what to wear.

       Kicking a black dress across her bedroom floor in frustration, she fussed quietly to herself. "You know what? It's chilly out! I'm tired from work, and it's not a date 'DATE'! I'm just gonna throw on a pair of jeans and a sweater."

       After finally getting dressed, she waited patiently for Michael to arrive. She had no problem driving to the theater herself, but when he offered to pick her up, she kindly accepted his offer.

       When she heard an unexpected knock at the door, she jumped in surprise. Michael wasn't due to arrive for another 45 minutes, and she wasn't expecting any company. As she looked through the door's peephole, her heart skipped a beat.

       Looking casually handsome in his black trousers and red dress-shirt, Michael rubbed his lightly stubbled chin as he waited patiently outside of the door.

        "Damn it! Why is he so early?" she muttered quietly to herself.

      Opening the door slightly with the latch still attached, she smiled. "You're early, Dr. Black."

       As he pinched the tip of his delectable dimpled chin, he smirked and said, "to avoid rush-hour traffic, I left home a little early. If you're not ready, I can wait for you in the car."

       As Symphony's eye's zeroed in on his finely chiseled features, she lost all train of thought. She wanted nothing more but to lick and kiss the line of his sexy jaw while having him deep inside of her.

       When Symphony moaned softly at the lustful thought, Michael licked his lips slowly as if he were reading her mind.

        "Is everything alright, Ms. Wilson?" he drawled, cocking his head to the side.

       At the sound of his deep but soft timbered voice, Symphony quickly snapped out of her erotic fantasy and said, "Oh, yes. Everything is fine. Please come in for a second while I go and grab my purse. We still have some time until the play starts, and the theater is not far from here."

       As Michael walked into Symphony's condo, he complimented her on its decor. "You have a lovely place, Ms. Wilson. My favorite colors — red and black. I love the energy of red."

        "Oh, thank-you! Can I get you anything to drink before we leave?" Symphony yelled behind her as she ran to her bedroom to retrieve her purse.

       "No, thanks. I'm fine," he replied while removing a music score from her bookshelf.           From their previous discussion at the cafe, he remembered her telling him about her small library in her home. They both shared a great love for books. It was another of the many things they had in common.

     When Symphony returned to the living room, she leaned against the wall, surveying him quietly before speaking.

       "See something you like, Dr. Black?"

       "I do," he spoke huskily as his eyes traveled up and down her body.

      Knowing her question was in regards to the score he was holding, he couldn't help but take it as a double meaning.

       As Michael stared at the cover of the score, Symphony smiled and said, "That's one of the first printed copies of 'The Sound of Music.' Turn to the last page."

       While carefully flipping its pages, Michael yelped in surprise."Wow! Is this Julie Andrew's signature?"

      Symphony smiled. "It is. I had the great honor of meeting Ms. Andrews after one of her shows. She was kind enough to sign it for me."

       "That's amazing! But how did you get an original copy?" he asked in astonishment while staring at the signature.

       Taking a deep breath, Symphony smiled softly and said, "My grandfather... Before he passed away, he had a large collection of scores that he left behind to me. Most are being preserved in storage, but I wanted to keep a few around to remember him by."

         After carefully placing the score back onto the shelf, Michael neared closer to Symphony. He noticed her dressed-down attire and felt relieved. On most days, he wore a casual suit to class, but in his free time, he was pretty basic. Black slacks, Florsheim Penny loafers, and a basic white T-shirt or a plain dress shirt, were staples of his regular non-teaching hour's wardrobe.

       As he bit down on his bottom lip, he took Symphony by the hand and said, "You look very nice and comfortable. I'm glad I didn't dress up too much."

       "Oh God! I knew I should have worn a dress!" she screeched.

       "No! Ms. Wilson. I didn't mean what I said in a bad way. You look lovely, as always. And look, I'm not dressed up either. The theater is pretty low key... Your attire is just fine."

       Feeling a sudden rush come over her body, Symphony shivered when Michael started caressing her hand with his thumb. Although he was trying his hardest to take things slow with her, she was also making him feel things that no woman had in a long time.

       As Symphony released her hand from his light grasp, she spoke shakily. "Ok, If you say so. But we should get going."

       "Yes. You're right, Ms. Wilson. Let's get going before we're late. I am a keeper of time, you know?" he chuckled, in attempts to break the sexual tension between them. He knew if he stayed in her home any longer, he would have thrown her over his shoulder and carried her to the bedroom.


***

       The ride to the theater was a quiet one. Michael focused on driving, while Symphony stared blankly out of the window. She wasn't thinking about anything in particular, but her thoughts often drifted to the classical music Michael had switched on. It was gorgeous. She had never heard such a beautiful melody and was utterly transfixed by it.

       Every now and again, Michael would take glances at her. He loved that she wore minimal makeup and smelled pretty. A scent he recognized all too well — 'Bal A Versailles,' one of his favorites. Since he didn't like wearing harsh colognes, he opted for gentler powdery scents. He would always say, 'If women can smell nice, then why can't men as well.'

       When Michael and Symphony arrived at the theater, they promptly headed for the location of their seats, but in doing so, they bumped into Raven and her date. As Raven looked Symphony up and down, she twisted her lips disapprovingly. "What a surprise, Dr. Black. I didn't know you would be here tonight."

        "I didn't know that you would be here either," he spoke coldly.

        Feeling that Raven was none too pleased to see her, Symphony politely excused herself to go and find her and Michael's seats. When she began to walk away, Michael grabbed her by the hand and said, "No-no, Symphony. This won't take long."

       As Raven stared at Michael and Symphony menacingly, she spoke bitterly before stomping away. "We'll talk later, Dr. Black. Please enjoy your evening."

        After Raven was out of earshot, Symphony shook her head sideways and said, "Well... That was interesting."

        Michael sighed. "Symphony please, Let's just enjoy the play, ok?"

      Trying to lighten the mood, she giggled and said, "Ok. But one quick question. Am I allowed to call you Michael since you just called me Symphony?"

       Michael chuckled in return. "Outside of university — yes. But during class hours, absolutely not."

       As they watched the play, Symphony would sometimes look over at Michael to see if he was enjoying himself. Every time their eyes would meet, they would stare at each other for a brief second before turning their attention back to the stage.

        At some point during the play, Symphony placed her head on Michael's shoulder. She was mentally exhausted from a long day at work and was growing a bit tired. When her head fell onto his shoulder for the third time that night, she whispered apologetically, "I'm sorry."

       "No need to be," he replied gently, placing his arm around her.

        With that simple gesture, she took it as an Ok, to place her head back upon his shoulder. As Michael stroked his hand up and down her arm, delicate tingles shot throughout her entire body. His touch was soothing and gentle. She felt completely relaxed with him.

      Sensing that Michael was making it very clear he was interested in her, Symphony sighed and thought, "Why are you shying away from him when the man clearly likes you. It's time to let him know how you feel."

         When the play was over, they both gave it a standing ovation. Michael seemed to have enjoyed himself, and she was happy that they had attended it together.

        On the drive back to her place, Michael couldn't stop talking about the play. He especially loved the special effects and make-up. Two things he absolutely loved when it came to film and theater. He loved seeing the transformation of one's persona when their physicality changed through wardrobe and prosthetics.

       Becoming quiet, Michael reflected on his former acting role as Edgar Allen Poe. He hadn't told Symphony the entire story and felt that now was a good time to do so.

        Taking a deep breath before speaking, he turned to her briefly and said, "As I've previously mentioned, A few years back, I was supposed to play 'Edgar Allen Poe' in a film adaptation of his life. That's actually why I brought a house in Baltimore to begin with. I was going to move here since some of the movie was set to be shot on location."

       Looking at him with wide eyes, she exclaimed, "wow! You learn something new every day. That's interesting, Dr. Black. But why didn't you do the movie?"

        Returning his eyes to the road, he smiled and said, "Call me Michael, please... We're not at University. And unfortunately, the film's budget fell through so the project got canned. It broke my heart. I've always wanted to do more acting. I had even started writing a bit of classical music for the movie's score. I love all music, but I especially love old show tunes and classical."

         Looking at him curiously, she asked. "So how come you never made a classical album? And not to bring up your past as Michael Jackson, but that would have been amazing coming from you. I think you should still do it."

        Michael gave her a reassuring smile and said, "Oh, it's alright. I know you don't mean any harm. And I so wanted to make one, but Sony Records was against it. I kept pressing them about it, but I eventually let the idea go after them telling me no multiple times."

        Symphony knew that Michael's creativity knew no bounds, and she was delightfully surprised to learn of his love for various musical genres. Wanting to know more, she asked inquisitively, "Do you still write and compose classical music?"

       "Yes — sometime," he replied plainly, as he pulled into her driveway.

       After putting the car into park, he became very silent, as he didn't want their night to end. Despite their run-in with Raven, it was the most pleasant evening out that he'd had in a long time.

       Turning towards her, he smiled warmly and said, "Thanks for inviting me to the play. It was so very kind of you to do so... It means a lot to me. Oh, And by the way! The soup that you made for me was amazing. I think it helped rid me of my lingering cough."


        "I'm glad you had such a nice time tonight. I did, as well. And I'm happy to hear you liked the soup! The recipe has been passed down for many generations in my family. My mom swears that it cures any and all colds."


    "Hey, I can believe it... I seriously stopped coughing soon after eating it. But again, thank you. You've been so kind to me. You didn't have to do any of this."


       "I know... But I wanted to. You're a great guy and an awesome professor."


       "Awww, that's very kind of you to say. But I have to be honest with you. I really like you, and I would like to get to know you better. I know this could be complicated due to me being your professor and all, but we're also two sensible adults."


       "Same here, Michael. I would like to get to know you better as well. And I'm not going to lie. Your being my professor does bother me a little, but as you said, we're two sensible adults. And besides, the university doesn't really have any rules on professors befriending their students. Or do they?"


         "Not really. I know that it's not the most ideal, but trust me... We wouldn't be the first, and most certainly not the last to form a student-professor friendship." 

      

       "Hmm. While that makes me feel much better, I still think we should keep our professional and personal dealings separate. During university hours, I'm still your student and should be treated the same as everyone else."


      "Yes. I agree and would see it no other way. I take my career as a professor very seriously. I'd never want to jeopardize myself or you in any way. We'll have to approach this very carefully."


       "Oh. I understand completely, and I'm happy that we've had this conversation, but I do have one last question to ask?"


       "Sure. Go for it."


       "So... What's up with you and Ms. Foster? That was a pretty intense situation back at the theater."

       Not wanting to give any personal details about the nature of his situation with Raven, he stated simply, "we're just friends."

        Though Symphony felt otherwise, she didn't pry. She simply hoped that Michael would tell her more about him and Raven when he was ready to do so.

       Becoming slightly uncomfortable with his lack of discussion on the topic, Symphony yawned while looking down at her watch. "Ahhhhhhh, I think that I should get going. I have to be up for work by 5 am tomorrow."

        Before getting out of the car, Symphony placed a tender kiss on Michael's cheek, catching him off guard.

        "I should walk you to the door," he breathed deep.

        "Aww! That's very sweet of you. But it's only two feet away. Please — I know you're a gentleman, but I can manage," she laughed.

        Not wanting to go against her wishes, Michael didn't ask a second time. He simply said 'Ok' and wished her a good night. Had he walked her to the door, he was pretty sure their goodnight would have turned into a good-morning.

        And though he wanted Symphony like he wanted no other woman before, he also didn't want to rush things between them. He still had a lot to figure out with Raven and his personal life as a whole.

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