~The Celtic Wizard~

Chapter 24  

They sat sucking their milkshakes through straws.  “He scares me Jenna, he really scares me sometimes.  I feel like such an imbecile about some things.  We have great conversations about everything, books, music, and the arts, all of it.  I just wish I felt a little more.... I don’t know, comfortable around him.”  Catherine sighed rather loudly.

“Hmm, so what makes you feel uncomfortable around him?  The press?”  Jenna had a feeling where the conversation was headed but she needed to eliminate all the other issues first.

“No,” Catherine flatly replied.  “I can deal with the press.  I’m used to speaking for the school.  I have to admit though, his press is definitely different and on a much grander scale.”

Jenna accepted the answer as fact.  She had seen Professor Miller speak in public, and she could handle large audiences.  “Is it the whole fame thing and the fans?”

Hunching over the table Catherine pulled the straw in and out of the lid of her drink.  “I haven’t met many.  A few women the night we went to the Blue Moon and I wouldn’t repeat to you what they wanted from Kevin and his friends.”  Catherine’s cheeks took on a rosy glow.

“I can pretty much guess what they wanted.  Is it just sex?”  Jenna flashed her a smile.  She watched Catherine become even redder after she had spoke.

“I’ve thought about things like that but I would never discuss them in a bathroom at a club.”  Leaning back, she tilted her head to the side.  “I... I... I...”

“Spit it out, will you, please?”  Jenna was becoming disturbed as she watched Catherine fumble for words.

“I’m literally stupid in that department and I feel like a dork,” Catherine pushed the words out of her mouth.  For the first time she had said it, out loud.

Jenna didn’t quite know how to answer her.  If Kevin had a problem with Catherine about this from what she had known of him and the little time they spent together, he didn’t seem like he would have a problem telling Catherine about it.  “Is he complaining?”

“No, why would he complain?  Why would you think that?”  Catherine went on the defensive instantly.

Jenna shook her head slowly back and forth, “I don’t think that, you do.”

“Sorry,” Catherine quickly apologized.

“Look if you’re that insecure then why don’t you talk to him about this?”  Jenna was done playing cat and mouse with Catherine.  Catherine needed to bring the spirit and fire that she showed in her teaching to the real world.

“I can’t,” Catherine closed her eyes.  “I’m embarrassed.  Things are going all wrong.  I feel like I’ve changed in more ways than one.  The Dean doesn’t want me seeing him.  I’m between a rock and hard place.”

“You’re just rattling off at the mouth now.  The Dean has nothing to do with whom you date.  You’re just too embarrassed to talk to Kevin about this.  If it’s so hard, why don’t you get a book?  You’ve always learned from books.  Maybe you could talk to one of his friends?”

“The Dean has everything to do with it.  I have to meet him in his office later, after class.  He wants to talk to me and go over my work.”  The dread she was feeling was crushing her.  Catherine’s shoulders sagged forward as she spoke. 

Jenna could see that Catherine felt defeated where the Dean was concerned.  This didn’t surprise her, Catherine had always been spouting off about how wonderful the Dean was, until she met Kevin.  Kevin, as well as Jenna, had begun to make Catherine question her feelings and relationship with the Dean.

Taking a long, slow, sip of her drink, Jenna waited for Catherine to continue.  She waited and waited.  Finally, to break the silence she scooted up to the table.  “Do you think you could pull some strings for me so I can meet Howie again?”

“Huh?  What?  I’m sorry I was distracted.”  Catherine’s voice carried over the tables at the outdoor cafe.

Jenna’s head rocked from side to side.  Catherine was truly fighting an inner battle.  “I understand,” Jenna smiled.  “I have to go to another class.  I’ll see you later.”

Catherine just nodded as if she had only half heard Jenna.  Grabbing her backpack, she touched Catherine’s arm.  “Take it easy will you, it will all come together.”

“I will, I’ll see later,” Catherine still distracted, headed for her car.  For a long time she sat in her car in the parking lot of the fast-food chain.  She listened to Kevin asking her questions in her head as she watched people go through drive-thru.

“You can’t sit there all day, head back to campus, you’ll miss your class,” Kevin admonished her as he watched from his office.  “I want to go out to dinner tonight, meet me at this place…”  Kevin rattled off an address.  “It’s a private club but they know you are with me.”

“People will think I’m strange, I’m talking to myself in the car.”  Catherine smiled as she drove down the street.

Kevin’s laugh was very loud.  “Nah, turn on the radio, they’ll think you’re singing.” 

“Okay but I might be a little late,” Catherine hummed to the innocuous tune playing over the radio.

“Why?” blinked as the fellas watched him.

Catherine thought about her answer but bit her tongue.  It was useless to get Kevin riled up over a meeting.  He didn’t like the Dean and didn’t have a problem expressing that to her, “Because I want to look nice.”

“You always look nice Catherine,” a new voice chimed into the conversation.

“I’ll see you later, I have to go kick Nick’s butt, that boy needs to learn his place,” a soft, deep laugh followed Kevin’s mock tirade.

“Thank you Nick,” Catherine spoke and then began to hum along with a new song.  Her humming broke into singing.

“Dude you’re woman is singing O-Town!”  A.J. chirped and Catherine could tell the connection had been cut after a bunch of laughter.

“Well it’s a good song,” her head bobbing from side to side, as she drove to campus.

Catherine sat at her desk reviewing her notes for class.  She had brought her dissertation to review with the Dean.  All she had to do now was gather up some courage to tell him that he had no right to tell her who belonged in her life.  A quick stop at a bookstore to see what the shelves held on a certain subject made her face flush as she recalled some of the titles.  Catherine was amazed at the amount of books that had been published on the subject matter of improving your sex life.  A couple of the books she found offensive, some too clinical.  She had decided she would go back next week when school had finished.  She had a week off before she was to be back in her office and working with the Dean.  Catherine had made her decision in the bookstore; she wanted Kevin in her life.  Where they would end up after this ‘Pre-engagement’, she was still unsure, but for now she wanted to be in a relationship with him.

A cough from the doorway made her raise her head, “Yes Sir?”

The Dean watched as Catherine had been concentrating very diligently on something.  “I’ll see you in my office when you are done?”

“Yes Sir,” Catherine stood up next to her desk.

Walking straight to her, he held his hand out.  “I’ll look at your dissertation while you finish this class.”

Catherine’s hand shook as she reached into her briefcase.  She felt like she was surrendering her entire life to this man.  “Yes,” she spoke meekly with her eyes cast to the floor.

“You’re such a good girl Catherine,” he smiled as he pulled the thickly bound manuscript from her.  “I’ll see you in a while.”

Jenna and Debbie had observed the entire exchange from the door.  The Dean had been watching Catherine for some time, at least ten minutes by their watches.  Ducking into the next room they waited for him to pass by them.

“He’s weird,” Debbie whispered.

“No kidding and she acts like he’s her father or something,” Jenna tiptoed out from behind the door.

“Hi Professor,” Debbie poured on the cheer. 

Catherine nodded to her as the rest of the students trailed in behind Debbie.  Everyone took a seat.

“Okay let’s get started,” Catherine answered as she sat at her desk and flipped open the text they were using.

Not more than five minutes later all of them were involved in a discussion so deeply that they didn’t notice they were being observed once again.

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This is a work of fiction.
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