“I’m not going to do it, so you might as well fire me now.” Grace put her paperwork in her briefcase before slamming the lid closed.
“Will you calm down and listen to me for five minutes?”
“No, Ross, I won’t! Because there is nothing you could possibly say to change my mind.” Grace picked up her briefcase, attempting to step around her department head, but he forestalled her by taking her by her arms and pushing her down into a chair.
“There are only the three of us in the computer department. I can’t do it, because my schedule is full. I’m already overloaded by one class, and we both know CeCe can’t. It would be like putting a kid in a candy store. She would ruin the college’s reputation. She’s lucky to still even have her job after last semester.”
Grace forced herself to take deep, calming breaths. “You cannot seriously expect me to teach classes at that prison. The Grange is maximum-security. I won’t do it. I’ll teach your courses, and you take the classes at the prison.”
“I thought of that, but you’re not qualified to teach the classes we could switch out yet.”
“Damn it. Then let CeCe teach them.”
Ross gave her a frustrated look. “After her affair with that student last semester, she’s fortunate Miller couldn’t replace her in time.”
Grace clutched her briefcase tighter against her stomach.
“There is no one else, Grace,” Ross’s voice softened. “The guards will be in the classroom with you the whole time. The college can’t afford to lose the revenue from the prison. How could we anticipate Mattie falling and breaking her hip? She’s taught the classes there the last five years. It’s a good program, helping a lot of men turn their lives around.”
“I don’t care. If they’re in prison, that’s where they deserve to be. They can stay there as far as I’m concerned,” Grace snapped.
“You don’t believe that.”
“Yes, I do,” she insisted.
“You’re the most kindhearted woman I know. How many dogs have you fostered?”
“That’s beside the point.”
“You volunteer for every cause.”
“You’re not going to change my mind, Ross.” Grace turned her head away, unable to stare at him any longer. He wasn’t only her boss; they had become friends during the five years she had worked at the small college. During her first year, he had attempted to date her, but when he had seen she wasn’t going to change her mind, they had become good friends. Now, he was engaged to another colleague who taught in the English department. “Hire someone else.”
“There’s not enough money in the budget. We had trouble barely keeping both you and CeCe. If you can’t do it, one of you will have to go, and I’ll have to hire someone willing to teach the class at the prison until Mattie can return.”
She had been here the shortest amount of time. CeCe had been here six years. Before last semester, CeCe had been the perfect instructor. Grace didn’t want her fired, either.
Grace swallowed hard. “I can’t do it, Ross. I just can’t.”
Ross stared down at her sympathetically. “It’s just for one semester.”
She knew when she was beaten. Nodding, she stood up. Ross backed up, giving her room. “I guess I don’t have a choice then, do I?”
“I’m sorry, but no, you don’t.”
“Email me what I need to know.” She left her office without another word, ignoring her name being called. She rushed down the hallway, her flat shoes tapping in the silence of the empty hallways.
Classes wouldn’t begin until next week, giving her enough time to prepare herself, if that was even possible.
She threw her briefcase into the backseat before climbing into her car. The drive through the town to her house didn’t take long. Stephenville only had a few businesses, the college, and the prison as the main employers in the county. If she was fired from the college, she would have to leave town to find another job. However, Grace didn’t want to leave. She loved Stephenville. She had chosen it specifically when she had graduated college. It was considered one of the safest cities in the United States.
Grace pulled into the driveway of her home, turned off her motor, and then sat quietly, staring at her pretty house which she had lovingly poured her time into. It had flowers and shrubs planted around the front, giving it a cozy cottage appearance.
Getting out of her car, she grabbed her briefcase before locking her car door. As she walked up the front path, she reminded herself to mow the lawn this weekend. What seemed like a chore to others, she enjoyed. The time she spent on her yard would relax her.
She put her key into the door then hastily stepped inside, quickly keying in her four-digit code to deactivate her security system. Shutting and locking her door, she reengaged the system before turning toward her living room. She stood silently with a smile quirking her lips as she listened to the patter of feet on the tiles grow closer.