Home > Business as Usual (Off the Subject #3)(8)

Business as Usual (Off the Subject #3)(8)
Author: Denise Grover Swank

Tucker lowers his voice. “I heard about your arrest and how you lost your scholarship. All I can say is when I look back at everything I did in the years before I met Scarlett, I’m amazed it never happened to me.” He sighs. “I’m sorry you’re stuck in this mess.”

“They dropped the charges, but code of fucking conduct and all that shit…” I shrug, pretending it’s no big deal, but the bitterness still leaks out in my words. “Just one semester left in my mechanical engineering degree. I couldn’t go anywhere else to finish up without practically starting over, so I sucked it up and got two part-time jobs.”

He grimaces. “That’s a bitch.”

There’s no denying it. “I’m looking for another one in the afternoons. Something on campus would be great, but we both know those jobs are next to impossible to get.”

Tucker studies me for a second. “Actually, I know of one that just opened up. One of the tutors in the math lab quit a couple of days ago and Scarlett has been filling in for him. You’re an engineering student, so you should be damn good at math, right? It could work. No one knows about it yet, either.”

Math lab. I hadn’t considered it as a possibility before now. “Do you know how many hours?”

“That’s the problem, not many. Maybe ten? But it’s something.”

“No, it sounds good.” Tucker’s right. This could be a great job for me. “Thanks for the heads up. Who should I get in touch with?”

“Sure thing. Reed Pendergraft is the guy. Tell him I sent you.”

“Thanks.” I try to keep the disappointment out of my voice. Of course it was too good to be true. Reed Pendergraft has been on campus for less than two semesters, but he already has a reputation of being a total hard ass both inside the classroom and out. Austin, one of my roommates, had a run-in with him in the fall semester and almost lost his spot as a student liaison on the academic advisory committee. Still, I’m desperate.

“I know for a fact that he’s at the math lab right now if you want to run over. I just saw him after walking Scarlett over there.”

I’m torn. I need this job, but Pendergraft? I close my history book, hoping I’m not wasting precious study time on this. “Thanks, I’ll do that. And thanks again for the heads-up.”

“No problem.”

When I arrive, the math lab is full of students waiting for help. The only tutors are a cute brunette, a curly-headed guy who looks like he stuck his finger in a light socket, and a guy who has to be Reed Pendergraft. He’s seated at a table with a student, going over an equation. I stand by the door and wait.

Pendergraft looks up. “You can take a seat and we’ll get to you as soon as possible.”

I take a step toward him. “Actually, I’m here about the tutoring position.

His mouth parts as if he’s about to say something, but instead he looks me over as if he’s taking my measure. While he’s wearing dress pants and a button-down shirt, I’m dressed in faded jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a hoodie. The look on his face says he finds me lacking.

“I’m Ben Masterson. Tucker Price sent me.”

The brunette girl smiles and shoots me a look of recognition. I haven’t seen Scarlett in over a year. We had a couple of classes together freshman year, but we never interacted much. She was always extremely quiet and self-contained. She looks different now—happier and surer of herself.

“Your name sounds familiar,” Reed says. “Have we had a class together?”

“No.” I’d remember if I’d had anything to do with Reed Pendergraft. He probably recognizes my name from the news about my arrest, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to mention that.

He watches me for a long moment. “What are your qualifications?”

“I’m a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. I’ve had over twenty-hours of math courses with a 3.8 GPA.”

He gives a brisk nod. “I’ll need a copy of your transcripts and a recommendation from one of your mathematics instructors. I’ll also need a copy of your schedule.”

While I don’t necessarily like taking orders from a guy who’s barely a year ahead of me in school, it’s the way he poses his requests that irks me. The rumors are clearly true—the guy is a demanding dick. “Is that all?” The question blurts out of my mouth without any forethought. If I want this job, I’m going to have to rein in the attitude.

As expected, Pendergraft doesn’t look amused. “I haven’t posted the position, but I’ll hold off if you can get me everything by this afternoon.”

I give a quick nod. “Can do. When would I start?”

“If your information checks out, you can start today if you like. The sooner, the better.” Then he tells me the hourly wage, which is higher than I’d expected. “We’ll work around your schedule, of course.”

“Thank you.” I only hope I won’t regret this, despite the pay. It’s only for three months, I tell myself. I can do anything for three months. Can’t I?

Chapter Three


I knock on the door of Dr. Tyree’s office promptly at four o’clock, my stomach a bundle of nerves.

He looks up from his desk, a bright smile on his face as he sets down his pen. “Lexi, come in. You’ve had me intrigued since our phone call this morning.”

As I walk into the room, he motions to a chair beside his desk. I sit down and pull a folder out of my bag and place it on his desk. “As I mentioned, my independent study class this semester focuses on my liaison work with the children’s charity and the expansion of their summer program to include middle-schoolers. But I want to take this beyond the basics of child care. I’d like to make it a fun experience that will excite the kids. Let’s face it, it’s hard to make a tween or early teen do anything they don’t want to do.”

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