Fire Under Glass
Fire Under Glass
I concentrated on work the remainder of the day. Yes, Dickerson and I narrowly whisked by with our presentation, but we had a hell of a lot of work to do. With all that pressing, I still found plenty of time to remember KC Gable, to finger the business card I'd stuffed in my suit pocket, and to remember the way the words spanking and discipline jumped out of the conversation and into my brain... and suddenly someone else was in my mind besides my maverick rescuer-Rossi the day we first met... when I was just twenty-one...
She'd climbed to the third floor of the Architecture Building-knees shaking as she took each creaky step. The air in the upstairs corridor was sweltering, her skin beginning to sweat-May had been unusually hot. She only had two weeks left in this oppressive place-if she survived the next few minutes.
"Professor Rossi?" she tapped on his office door. It swung wide open with one gentle knock.
His back was to her, and hearing her voice, he turned around, his desk chair squealing.
"Yes?" He looked up absently, still preoccupied by the journal in his hand.
"I have an appointment."
"Yes, Gail Henry? I made it with your secretary last week?"
He consulted his book, thumbing through a page or two. "Yes, Miss Henry, I see you did. Sit down." Rossi was an austere man-forty, with sharp Classic features. If anything, his age accentuated his physical appeal. Both lean and fit, the effect of age matured him, enhancing the profound essence of quiet authority he exuded well. "You're failing my class." He made the disclosure in a matter-of-fact way, which required his faltering student's reply.
"I wasn't sure I was."
He thumbed through another book and then looked narrowly over his cluttered desk to assault her with his judgmental eye. "You are," he confirmed. "And why is that?"
Overcome with anxiety, she suddenly spilled out a monologue filled with remorse, confusion and dozens of details that the professor didn't need to hear. She was on such a downward slide he just let her speak ".... I lost my text, couldn't replace it until I'd wired for money-because I was overdrawn at the bank... and that didn't happen until after the final was over ... I borrowed one from my boyfriend's roommate but he had to have it back before I finished my notes. Then the storm, the power was out for two nights, even the library had to close with no lights, so there was no way I could get the research books... or another text... " she hardly took a breath of air then rattled on, "... I was hoping that you'd give me another day since I'm sure I could make up the work ..."
"I don't think so," he interrupted without raising his voice. "A semester's worth of study cannot be made up in twenty-four hours. If you want to pass this class..."
"I have to pass this class or I'll get kicked out," she whined like a grief-stricken child.
"If you want to pass this class," Rossi continued without acknowledging her misery, "you'll spend the next four weeks in make-up sessions. I have two other students in the same fix. You'll retake the final then. Shall I put you on the list?"
"But I had summer plans..."
"Then change them," he jumped on her remark, quickly silencing the beginnings of another rambling monologue. He sat back in his chair appraisingly, "You need discipline, Miss Henry. If you get nothing else this summer, you will get discipline." According to the way he framed his words and the quiet force with which he spoke them, there was no doubt in her mind that plans would change, and her summer would alter, not to suit her frivolous fancy, but to suit the professor's blueprint for her futu