Knocking on his father’s door once he’d arrived on campus the next morning, Dan waited. He nodded politely to the admin assistants and front office accountants. His father’s office door richocheted from the wall back when the Governor flung it open.
Dan cringed as he slid inside. “Problem?”
“Eighty-five emails,” the Governor barked.
“About what?” Dan turned to see the large computer monitor on his father’s desk.
“I just got off the phone with Stephan. Half of them don’t want their kids in Bryant’s classes. Others want to know when I’m going to fire Dean. No one seems to have considered that it isn’t quite that easy. He has a wife and children not to mention a hefty pension and insurance policies tied up in Venton Academy. I’m tempted to send out a school wide email saying if you want things improved shut up and let me do your job. And if you really believe that your children, who by the way 90% of are out there having intercourse with someone that they are not married to as of yet, are really going to suffer from being in her classes please proceed down to the Axillary department of the Senate and volunteer somewhere to improve this Realm. Clearly you need more to do with your time,” Governor Vindico seethed.
His father’s ability to cut through all of the crap had always deeply impressed Dan. It was something he tried to emulate on a regular basis. “What did Governor Haydenshire say?”
Governor Vindico sank down in his chair and downed a long sip of coffee. “He had me forward her reviews from her students and her final scores along with her semester long project grades to him. Truthfully, she appears to be an excellent Mentor. She had one or two negative reviews in all the years she’s been here. The students seem to respond to her well. They appear to really understand the material she presents. Stehpan thought perhaps I could talk to her and then assure the parents that nothing about the affair will ever be discussed in her classes.”
“That sounds fair,” Dan allowed.
“I don’t have time to deal with this every morning. There are things that need to be worked on and as of right now I have to go hear trials at the Senate at eleven. Then come back up here before you bring my baby girl to see her Grampa tonight, which by the way, is the only thing I’m looking forward to doing today.”
A broad grin stretched the width of Dan’s face. Aida had been talking about going to the Vindicos to play for the past two days. “Aida’s excited, too. She wants to play checkers with you.”
Governor Vindico looked very pleased to hear that. “Son, I hope you get down on your knees every single night and thank the Lord for her because she is your own personal little angel. She goes right along with the taller version that’s currently agreed to house you’re third little angel and they all love you.”
“I know how blessed I am, Dad. Now, I just have to take care of all of the angels He’s given me.”
“Yes, you do. I know I’m asking a lot right here at the end of Fi’s pregnancy but on top of all of this,” he gestured his hand to the computer monitor, “Governess Martin’s son, Fergus was in my office bright and early.”
Dan rolled his eyes automatically. “Uh, huh,” the Governor agreed. “He was anxious to tattle on you this morning. Been a long time since a little pip squeak ran up to me to inform me that you were being mean.” He shook his head unable to stop laughing. “Out of habit, I started to call Stephen because if you’d done something we were always certain Will and Garrett were in on it as well.”
“I swear that little fucker is the bane of my existence. What did he say?” Dan demanded with another eye roll.
“Watch your language, Daniel. This isn’t a police precinct. He informed me that you and Fionna had not been to any of the team building events for the faculty and staff here at Venton.” Governor Vindico cracked up suddenly. Dan’s brow knitted as he waited on his father to continue. “I believe his following statement was ‘Sir, Mentor Vindico is just too hung up on his baby and his kid. You’d think Fionna Styler was all that mattered to him,’” the Governor doubled over, seeming to need to laugh more than anything else.
Dan clenched his jaw trying to let his father have his moment before he began shouting.
His father held up his hands in surrender. “I did correct him on Fionna’s name and I did inform him that your wife and your girls were most definitely the most important thing to you, just as they should be. I even added in that putting your wife and children first was precisely how I’d raised you.”
Dan felt his shoulders relax slightly as he nodded.
“But, Dan, come on,” the Governor got to the part of the story that he’d known was coming and was dreading. “You need to do the whole team player thing. If for no other reason, then please do it for me,” he begged. “Your mother and I are coming to this Fall formal thing Sherman has planned next Friday night. Why don’t you bring Fi and just have dinner? It’s supposed to be nice.”
“The last conversation I had with that moron he went on for the better part of three minutes, I’ll never get back, that he didn’t know why everyone went on about how gorgeous my wife is because, and I quote, she has tanning booth skin, her breasts are too big, and she’s getting fat,” Dan sneered furiously.
The Governor’s eyes goggled. “I feel certain I don’t want to know this but what did you do to him? Please tell me you didn’t hit him.”
“I might have jerked him up out of his chair, by the collar of those ridiculous shirts he wears, and informed him that if he ever discussed my wife’s chest again I’d make it a very painful experience for him.”
Governor Vindico shook his head. “You are aware that although no one would argue that Fionna is a beautiful girl she doesn’t do for everyone what she does for you.”
“Dad, I’ve been beating guys off with a metal baseball bat since before we were dating, and Fi and I are too old to attend Venton formals. Besides, Adeline still has her on some kind of modified bed rest.”
“What’s modified bed rest?”
“I’m not exactly sure but as soon as I get to my office I plan to call Adeline and find out because Fi’s struggling to make sense of everything right now. Her rhythms are jagged on the best of days. I’m worried about her and the baby. She’s having relatively normal braxton hicks contractions but Adeline says hers are much more intense and they’re affecting the gun shot wound. She’s worried that Fi will need to be induced early if she doesn’t rest and take it easy for the next few weeks. Adeline and I have both tried to talk Fi into going on to Kauai for a few weeks letting her energy reset and for her to really relax but she’s refusing to go without me and Aida. So I don’t think making her get all dressed up and coming to some ridiculous Venton Fall formal is what she needs right now.”
“All right, I’m going to go ahead and filter that through your shield that tends to jump to the worst possible scenario whenever one of your girls are involved. How abou this? If Adeline says it would be safe for her to come to the formal, Fionna might have fun. It’s a dinner dance. I’m certain either of your sisters would watch Aida if Fionna’s parents weren’t able to. If she’s not feeling up to it, then you certainly don’t have to come but she might have fun, Daniel. Women tend to like having a nice meal with their husbands and then dancing in his arms.”
“Fine.” Dan sighed. “I’ll ask her, but I’m also going to tell her that I would much prefer her home on our couch with me waiting on her hand and foot.”
“I would be absolutely shocked if you didn’t,” the Governor huffed.
A knock sounded on the door. “Would you get that?”
Dan stood and opened the door. “Uh, I’m sorry to interrupt, Mentor Vindico but there’s a fight in an Adminis classroom. It’s bad!” Jeff panicked.
Dan raced out of the room with Jeff and his father hot on his trail. Shoving people out of his way, Dan eventually realized that he was in Mentor Bryant’s first period class. He pulled a sophomore that he recognized off of a similarly sized freshman that was already bleeding from the mouth while he was having his skull pounded against the ground. The freshman was still swinging as Jeff and Thane, along with Gerald Meere, held him back. His adrenaline upped his energy and drove him through their grasp.
“What the hell?” Dan spat furiously. He caught the kid by the chest and threw him to the ground.
“In my office. Now!” Governor Vindico commanded angrily.
Dan grabbed the sophomore by the scruff of the neck, hoisted him off of the ground, and shoved him forward. The kid turned and spat at the freshman in hate driven wrath. But Dan was vastly quicker. He summoned and used his powerful shield to ricochet the saliva back onto the sophomore, landing it on his face.
“Ugh!” He wiped it away with the back of his hand.
“Try it again, genius,” Dan huffed indignantly.
Jeff and Thane, who continued to shove the freshman forward, tried not to laugh while staring at Dan in awe.
Shoving the morons into the chairs in Governor Vindico’s office, they waited to hear the punishments. “Now,” the Governor’s tone was laced with venom. “Would you care to tell me why you decided to use your first period class this morning to try and kill one another?”
The boys refused to look at one another and refused to speak.
“Gotta be a girl.” Dan supplied. Seeing that this was going nowhere quickly, he changed course and turned to Jeff and Thane. “Who are the two stooges we have here?”
“That’s Brody Quentin,” Jeff pointed to the freshman who was attempting to move his broken hand. “I don’t know him.”
“That’s Kellan Morris,” Thane supplied. “We were in the study period for testing out of History of Defense right next door. When Mentor Bryant came into the room, they were already arguing. She tried to stop them. I think she got hit” Thane explained.
“Yeah it’s about a girl,” Kellan spat just a little too quickly.
“Yeah,” Brody huffed.
“Dan, please go make certain that Katherine Bryant isn’t hurt,” Governor Vindico sighed.
Feeling his stomach swirl ominously, Dan nodded. It clearly wasn’t about a girl. He needed to remain there to force a confession but he couldn’t refuse his father, the current chancellor in front of students. Making a return trip back to the nearby classroom, he peaked through the window in the door.
The students were glancing around nervously and Mentor Bryant was seated at her desk rubbing her temples. Dan knocked cautiously. She waved him in.
“Could I speak to you for a moment?” Dan more demanded than asked. Some habits die hard.
“I suppose,” Mentor Bryant drawled coldly.
Keeping his distance, Dan stood several feet from Katherine Bryant in the hallway. He kept the door cracked, knowing that rumors started frighteningly easily. “A few of my Ioses students just informed us they thought you might have gotten in the middle of that. I was just making certain you were all right.”
“I do not have the plague, Mentor Vindico, and contrary to popular belief, I am not looking for a boyfriend, nor am I attracted to every man on campus.”
“Well, you appear to be fine. I’ll just leave you to your martyrdom,” Dan spat.
If she wanted to take out her self-created frustrations about her life on someone, she could find another candidate because Dan wasn’t going to join her pity party.
“Of course, because I’m certain Fionna Styler would somehow be concerned with you talking to a woman like me. I mean, I certainly can’t be a trusted coworker without any ulterior motives,” she sniped. “And everyone knows whatever the Vindicos want the Vindicos get.”
Dan narrowed his eyes though he was intrigued with everything Katherine Bryant had just admitted without even being aware. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” He had no trouble letting his disgust permeate his tone.
“I told Dean not to hire you. Glenn Sullivan insisted you were the man for the job. But you know Mentor Vindico,” she drawled her disdain, “Not all of us spend the summers vacationing in Hawaii and refusing to do anything at all involving the academy. Most of us work through the summers and participate in activities around the school outside of our classes. We do not threaten teenage boys that happen to let their hormones get the better of their mouths. But whoa be unto anyone that compliments Dan Vindico’s quee. Now you’ve got Daddy up here running the school. That must be convenient.”
Dan nodded wryly, keeping his hate-filled scowl staring directly into Mentor Bryant’s malevolent eyes. “No, I mean you’re right,” he snarled. “Seems to me you spent your summers and off hours in another man’s bed. Trust me, Mentor Bryant, my wife is most definitely the queen of my castle and there will never be another. I happen to keep my vows and my word to my wife and my children. And my father is here trying to clean up the shit storm that you and Wilshire created together, so take it from me, you lie with dogs eventually you will get eaten alive.” He spun and headed out of the building.
“Wouldn’t you like to know why they were fighting?” she retorted.
“Not if it means talking to you.”