TAWL: Chapter 2
He pulled me across the courtyard, past the Social Sciences building, to the grad dorms before I could respond. We entered on the south side, puffed up the stairs, and made a quick left to find ourselves standing before the very locked door of 315B. Four side-steps put us in front of 315A. Stuart pulled a card out of his pocket that resembled a credit card and slide it into the card-reader above the door handle. A little LED light went from red to green with a click, and Stuart turned the handle and shoved the door open.
We stepped into a small single-occupancy room. There was space for a twin-sized bed, a computer desk, a chest of drawers, and a bookcase. In the wall between my room and his was a door leading to the bathroom. The only semblance of communal living on the floor was the shared facilities. The tiny room held a shower stall with a not quite high enough door, a toilet, and a long counter with a sink at each end. Stuart’s toiletries were lined up around the sink closest to his room; the other sink was clean and bare.
“I doubt Kirk threw the lock when he moved out last semester. We should be able to get into your room through here.” He stepped through the narrow bathroom and moved to push open the door on the opposite wall. He touched the doorknob and the door creaked open.
“Thank goodness for Kirk.” We stepped into my room, the mirror image of Stuart’s minus the personal touches. I dropped my purse on the floor and sank onto the bare mattress.
“Until we can get the key card thing straight, you can just come through my room.” He sank down beside me.
“You won’t mind?”
“Of course not. Where is your luggage, by the way?”
“The bus driver told me he would bring it to me this afternoon. I had to leave it at the station so I could make my meeting with Torres on time.”
“All of your possessions are at the bus station in town?”
“Where’s your car?”
“At the dealership with it’s car family. I’ve never taken the time to get my license.”
“That’s a drag. Come on. We’ll go see Mr. Ionescu, then the resident advisor, and by then your stuff should be here.” He pulled me up from the bed and we walked hand in hand back to the social sciences building.
“I should probably warn you. Mr. Ionescu is… big.”
“Well,” he looked at me, gauging my height. “You’re a couple inches shorter than me, yeah?”
“Five foot eight.”
“I’m five foot ten and a half. Mr. Ionescu has at least six inches on me.”
“And looks like he could kick the Terminator’s a**.”
“Yeah. But he’s incredibly nice. And Romanian. And looks good enough to eat.”
“Got a little crush, there?”
“F*** crush. I am in love with that man.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
He pulled me into the reception area of the political science department. Mrs. Carson looked up when we crossed the threshold and smiled.
“He’s expecting you. Go right in.” She gestured to the first door behind her desk.
“Thanks,” I said as Stuart led the way.
Stuart tapped on the door and opened it at Mr. Ionescu’s command. We stepped into a warmly decorated, cozy-sized office. A thick hunter green rug was laid over the industrial-grade brown carpet. The larger-than-standard desk was mahogany, antique, well cared for, and set width-wise across the middle of the room. A large black leather desk chair was behind it. The door was in the southwest corner of the room. A small round conference table was shoved out of the way in the northwest corner. Beside the north-facing window were bookcases that curled around, covered the east wall, and stopped a few feet from the door on the south wall. In the northeast corner behind the desk was an overstuffed wing-back chair and a floor lamp; obviously a reading corner.
Mr. Ionescu was the largest man I had ever seen: somewhere in the vicinity of six foot five, shoulders nearly as wide as a Buick, he looked like he could bench press a fully stocked refrigerator while making himself a snack. He came around his desk to shake my hand, and I can’t swear I didn’t pee a little. He towered over my tall-for-a-girl frame.
I’m not the skinniest girl in the world, but my daily five-mile runs keep me under one-thirty-five, and my tan nicely golden brown. He looked like he regularly cleared tracts of forest for plowing by ripping the trees from the ground – roots and all. His lavender dress shirt was starched crisp and tucked into pressed and creased khakis. Brown leather belt, tasseled dress shoes, and watch completed the look. His raven black hair hung to his shoulders in lazy waves.
“Miss Reynolds, it is very nice you meet you. I am Andrei Ionescu,” he said in the precise English of someone who learned the language later in life. His pale blue eyes focused intently on my hazel ones.
I stared and shook the hand-shaped object at the end of the tree trunk. His fingers gingerly folded around mine, as to not crush them. This man knew his strength.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Ionescu,” I said, trying the name out. His nod told me I got it right.
“Nice to see you again, Mr. Greene. Please sit,” he gestured at the pair of chairs situated before his desk. I chose one, Stuart folded into the other, and he moved back around the desk.
“Mrs. Carson tells me there is a mistake regarding your academic advisor?” He looked at ease with his elbows on the arms of the chair and his hands clasped, resting on the top of the desk.
“They gave her Torres,” Stuart interrupted.
Mr. Ionescu looked from me to Stuart, and exhaled. “What program were you admitted into, Miss Reynolds?”
“History. I have a bachelor’s from Taylor.” I pulled my transcript from my bag and handed it to him.
He took the time to read through it thoroughly, then typed a few commands into his computer and brought up my records on the university system.
“Your record is impressive, Miss Reynolds, but it seems to me that you would be better suited in my department. Would you consider a transfer?”
“Political science? I don’t know. I’ve never really considered it…”
“Understandable. It would be the simplest solution to your problem. If you transfer to my department, I can take over as your academic advisor. If you wish to stay in the history department, you will have to appeal to the president and the board to make the change. This can be a lengthy process.”
“Even if he insulted me?”
Mr. Ionescu creased his brow in a look of concern. “How so?”
“He told me that he didn’t take silly little girls and to go down the hall, that the commie could have me.”
His expression didn’t change, but his eyes dilated into deep pools of black. He was very quiet and very still for several moments. He moved his hand to the multi-line phone at the corner of his desk without taking his eyes off of me, and pressed the intercom button. “Mrs. Carson, come in here, please.”
She quietly stepped through the door, steno-pad in hand. “Sir.”
“Schedule a meeting with the president and the regents for myself and Miss Reynolds for later this week. Pull Miss Reynolds’ complete academic file so that I may have access to it at the meeting. Escort Mr. Greene to the lobby. Bring me another cup of coffee, and whatever Miss Reynolds would like. Please.”
“Yes, sir.” She looked expectantly at me.
“Coffee, two sugars?”
She winked at me, grabbed Stuart’s wrist, and withdrew to the lobby leaving me alone with the angry Romanian.
“I must apologize for my colleague. Mr. Torres has become more… difficult the longer he stays with the school.”
“I’m guessing he was referring to you?”
“Unfortunately, I must agree with your guess.”
I lifted a shoulder. “As long as you’re a good teacher, I don’t see why your political associations would matter.”
The corner of his mouth curled up. “You are certain you have not considered a political science degree?”
Mrs. Carson tapped and entered, giving Mr. Ionescu a paper cup of coffee and a file folder, and giving me a paper cup of coffee and a smile. She left as quietly as she entered.
Mr. Ionescu spoke to me while going through the papers in the file folder. “Later this week I will accompany you to see the board. You do not have to speak, but it would be helpful if you would be willing to give them your version of events with Mr. Torres. Otherwise, I can act as your representative and give them your statement. I will be transferring you to my department, making myself your advisor. Unless you disagree.” He looked up as he said the last sentence.
I searched his face and tumbled my options around in my mind, sipping my coffee.
“I can tailor your course study to include emphasis in both history and political studies. It would not be a dual major. If you complete the plan, you would graduate with a degree in political science. Would that be acceptable?”
“Do I have all the necessary prerequisites?”
“You are more than qualified, Miss Reynolds. From what I can see in your academic file, you are over-qualified for almost every program offered at Graham.”
“It took me a few years to decide on a major,” I said by way of explanation. I could feel the blush returning to my face.
“This is nothing of which to be ashamed. You are what I would consider an intelligent and well-rounded student.”
“Thank you, sir.” I blushed harder under his compliment.
“Not at all,” he said with a dismissive wave, returning his attention to the file. “Mrs. Carson will contact you with the time and date of the meeting. Meet me here thirty minutes before the meeting, and I will have a preliminary course plan ready for you to review, and will then accompany you to the meeting.”
“Yes, sir. And thank you for all your help.” I stood and he handed me my transcript.
“Of course, Miss Reynolds. It was my pleasure.”
He smiled and I blushed and hurried out of the room to the reception area and Stuart.
“I get booted from the room and you get coffee. How’s that for luck?” He winked when he said it, so I was pretty certain he was teasing.
I turned to Mrs. Carson who sat, pen poised, at her desk. “He said you would contact me about the regents meeting?”
“Certainly, Miss Reynolds. Would you like me to call your dorm room, or do you have another contact number?”
I must have looked like a deer in headlights because Stuart took over for me. “Call her room, 315B. If you don’t get her, call me in 315A.”
She made a note of our room numbers. “Got it. See you in a few days, Miss Reynolds. Stay out of trouble, Stuart.”
He winked at her and led me out of the office.