“God, if that man grabs my shoulder again, I’m going to put him in the ground,” Michelle smiled and waved to an investor, talking through grit teeth.
“Looks like I was right to buy you those Tae Kwon Do classes,” Miles laughed, plucking her empty glass from her hand. “You might need a refill after that conversation.”
Michelle nodded, giving him a pitiful face. “Before I scream.”
“Down tiger, I’ll be right back.”
“A pinot grigio, please!” She called after him.
Michelle paused to contemplate the room after her husband slipped into the crowd. Many of their guests seemed to have forgotten their checkbooks this evening, preferring to keep conversations on the upcoming holidays or current events. With tonight’s abysmal turnout, their wing would take at least two more years in order to get built. They were right when they said that the move up to administration was a headache and a paycheck, but she had no idea it would be this tedious. Her beaded clutch vibrated in her hand. She undid the clasp and checked her phone, suddenly flooded with notifications. Six messages from Bones.
She glowered at her phone. Another night with Kostya back in town, drunk and looking for a diversion until his next layover. Rolling her eyes, she swiped away the notifications.
“Something wrong?” Miles returned, with a new glass of champagne for the both of them. A brave choice, considering that he generally didn’t take his alcohol well.
“No, just checking to see if I have any messages from the dog sitter,” she shook her head, locking her phone.
Her husband gave her an indulgent smile, his almond eyes curving into gentle half-moons, “Don’t worry about the dog, Jenna’s got it.” He took the cell from her hands and slipped it into the pocket of his dress pants.
“Miles,” she protested.
“Uh-oh, looks like you should hold onto this instead,” he handed her the glass of champagne.
“Okay fine, you’re right,” she said, reaching out to accept.
“Be here now,” he rubbed her back through her portofino.
“Thank you, Dr. Ngyuen.”
“Of course, Dr. Spotleva,” he said graciously, draping her hand over his outstretched arm. He lead them through the glass atrium of the western wing of the college.
She’d first seen Miles here years ago, when he started as an adjunct here, working fervently to finish a PhD track, and just as fervently concerned with making a good enough impression to get hired Post-Doc.
Michelle taught a class down the hall from his, and it was hard to forget how soulfully he stared out the windows of the atrium when his classes let out, in his own world. She wondered what he was constantly working out in his mind, staring out at the courtyard below like it was a silent council.
She finally decided she liked him after she observed him teach at a guest lecture, when he rolled up the sleeves of his sweater and she could see his delicately wiry wrists below. Miles spent the entirety of the lecture speaking to an empty corner of the room, too humiliated to address the crowd behind him. Then, with a small voice, he thanked them for coming and wrapped up the seminar.
After the lecture, Michelle decided to do something about things.