“Are you sure about that?” His eyes were flat, devoid of emotion. He was still sweating but his voice was once again controlled. “I didn’t e-mail it to myself first? You’re absolutely sure?”

Her temple began to throb. The fluorescent lights overhead were suddenly too bright, the walls too yellow, the air conditioner too loud. Her armpits tingled and she could smell onions. Ethan’s body odor. Or was it her own?

“You wouldn’t dare,” she whispered.

“Wouldn’t I?” He grinned triumphantly as he wiped his sweaty brow with his hand. Turning away from her, he finally yanked open the office door and stepped out, taking deep breaths of the semi-stale hallway air.

Sheila sat, dazed. There was a 99 percent chance he was bluffing-her gut told her there was no video anymore, he wouldn’t have had time to send it somewhere else from his phone before she’d made him delete it-but goddamn it, it wasn’t good enough. If anything like it ever showed up on, a website notorious for outrageous gossip and nasty comments about all things involving the university, she’d be ruined. The video would go viral before she could blink twice, and two decades of hard work would be snuffed out like a campfire in a thunderstorm.

Having an affair with a student was one thing. It happened all the time-she could think of three professors who’d been involved with students in the past, who’d gotten nothing more than slaps on the wrist. And Ethan was twenty-three and neither of them were married, which counted for something.

But a video? It wouldn’t matter whom she was screwing-a video of her writhing naked on the Internet would get her fired. No hearing, no chance to defend herself, just an hour to collect her personal belongings and she’d be out the door on her ass. Do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred.

How could I have been so fucking stupid?

A voice broke into her thoughts, and she looked up. Valerie Kim, one of Sheila’s other TAs, stood in the doorway just behind Ethan.

“One sec, Val,” Ethan said to the petite young woman. His tone betrayed no hint of the tension that filled the office. “The professor and I are almost done here.”

“That’s cool.” Valerie looked past Ethan into the office at Sheila. “I can come back in five.”

“No need.” Sheila’s smile felt clownish. “Come in, Valerie.”

Ethan stepped back into the office and made a show of bundling up the scattered term papers on the desk. Slinging his worn leather bag crosswise over his torso, he grinned at Sheila. “Dr. Tao, I’ll see you next week. Thanks for your time.”

“Sure,” Sheila said. Her shoulders slumped and her back ached.

Ethan winked at Valerie as he left the office. “She’s all yours.”

She heard him whistling as he ambled down the hallway, not a care in the world, and her mind reeled. What the fuck had just happened?

“So, Professor Tao, did you hear?” Valerie’s voice was breathy. The ponytailed teaching assistant plopped into the chair across from Sheila and rummaged in her bag for her own stack of papers to be reviewed. “Diana St. Clair’s body was found this morning.”

“Hmmm?” Sheila could not process what the graduate student was saying. Somehow, she had completely underestimated Ethan Wolfe. He had outsmarted her, and how was that possible? Damn him. Damn her. This was a disaster. Could he really still have that video? He’d made it several weeks ago, and maybe her memory was foggy, but she was certain she’d seen him delete it right afterward, could remember her relief when she saw it was gone…

“The swimmer? Diana St. Clair?” Valerie was saying.

“Yes, of course I know she disappeared,” Sheila said, irritated. A drop of Ethan’s sweat remained on the desk and she swiped at it. She forced herself to focus on Valerie’s pretty face. “What’s the update?”

“I don’t know all the details yet.” The grad student sounded appropriately somber, though her eyes were alight with morbid excitement. “She was found floating in Puget Sound early this morning. A ferry rider spotted her.”

“She drowned?” Sheila’s hand flew to her mouth. Valerie had her full attention now. “How is that even possible?”

Everyone was familiar with the story. It had been all over the news. Diana St. Clair was the pride and joy of PSSU, a champion Division I swimmer and Olympic hopeful. She’d gone missing after swim practice over a week before, and it was all anyone on campus could talk about. There’d been multiple theories about her disappearance: she’d eloped to Brazil with a guy she’d met online; she’d quit swimming but didn’t have the heart to tell her parents; she was pregnant and hiding it from her sponsors…

“She didn’t drown, that isn’t how she died. I heard she was stabbed first.” Valerie paused for dramatic effect. “Multiple times.”

Sheila sat up straight. “Holy shit!”

Valerie looked pleased to hear her professor swear. “I heard they’re going to be putting new security measures in place because of this.” Clearly Valerie had heard a lot. “My boyfriend works part-time in the communications department. They’re sending out a bulletin later today.”

“Holy shit.” Sheila felt disoriented as she tried to process the news.

Diana St. Clair had been her student. Sheila had never known someone who was murdered.

Until now.


The campus-wide e-mail sent out by the university’s security department did a good job of outlining the new safety measures that all faculty, staff, and students were to follow. But ultimately, it was all for nothing, because nobody was taking the memo seriously. Nobody at the university was worried.

It had been almost a week since Diana St. Clair’s body had turned up, and Seattle PD still couldn’t confirm exactly where the swimmer had been when she was murdered. Her stabbed and decomposing body, bloated and gassy from days floating in Puget Sound, provided no evidence to suggest she was killed on university grounds or anywhere even near the university. Police had combed the campus and nothing had turned up. They had no idea whether she’d been stalked or snatched by someone she knew, or whether the killing was random. The only thing they could confirm was that Diana had engaged in sexual activity before she died, and that everyone close to her- including her boyfriend, fellow swimmer Donovan Langley-had airtight alibis for where they’d been at the time she was killed.

In short, Seattle PD had nothing. And other than her obituary and a long, gushy article in the Puget Sound Village Voice (the school newspaper), nothing further had been written about Diana once she’d been buried.

It was tragic. And to Sheila, the greatest tragedy wasn’t just that Diana had been murdered, but how quickly the beautiful student had been forgotten. Everyone had moved on. Local news was now flooded with stories of a bomb scare at Sea-Tac airport. What had the world come to?

She sat alone in her office, trying to remember the last time she’d had contact with Diana. It had to have been about a year before, shortly before the social psych midterm during fall term. Diana had asked for an “early write,” a common request for student athletes who had obligations within their sport. Sheila had received a supporting letter from Diana’s coach so the swimmer could head to UC Irvine for the big Nike Cup Division I meet immediately afterward.

It was funny how Sheila could remember something so specific from a year ago that in itself wasn’t memorable. But Diana herself had been an unforgettable person. Straight-A student, runway-model tall, long blond hair, focused. She’d had the world at her feet.

Come to think of it, wasn’t it Ethan who’d proctored Diana’s exam that semester? Sheila wondered now what he thought of her murder. She had meant to ask his opinion about Diana’s disappearance after the swimmer was first reported missing. That was the morning she and Ethan had both come to work early. Without even saying hello, he’d kissed her neck and had reached under her skirt to pull down her panties, right here on the…

A knock startled her out of her thoughts, and she looked up to see all six foot four of her investment-banker fiance standing in the doorway. She felt her face flush. Christ.

“I almost didn’t want to knock, you looked so deep in thought,” Morris Gardener said with a grin, his loud Texas

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