I had known the moment was coming from the instant Sean had declared his intention to discipline me. Fore knowledge did nothing to dissuade the butterflies swarming in my midsection, nor did it ease the sweatiness of my palms while I stood outside Dean Rosecliff’s office. His secretary- ah- assistant, mostly ignored me. I’d like to think I was an unusual sight, wearing only socks and shoes, but I guess naked and mostly naked girls are a common occurrence around the Dean’s office. Fortunately, the Dean was having a busy day. Meaning he only left me waiting as long as it took for him to clear his desk of whatever issue he was dealing with prior to our scheduled appointment. Ms. Chambers escorted me inside, where I stood hands on head in front of the desk.
Dean Rosecliff remained comfortably seated behind his desk. He gestured toward an open chair to the side of his desk while looking at Ms. Chambers. “Please, make yourself comfortable.” His gaze turned toward me while Ms. Chambers settled into the chair. “I can’t say I’m surprised we’re having this conversation, but I am disappointed, Abigail.”
I looked him in the eye for sincerity’s sake and hoped he didn’t read it as defiance. “I am sorry, Sir. I could have handled the situation much better.”
He raised a furry eyebrow. “The situation? How is disrespecting a member of this institute’s staff a ‘situation’?”
The question required a delicate answer. If I said too much, Sean would face repercussions, possibly even lose his job. On the other hand, if I failed to communicate a reasonable reason for my actions, and my actions were reasonable, I would lose my position as a Monitor. Neither of those outcomes appealed to me. I said, “I only intended to assist the new girl, Margaret.”
Ms. Chambers asked, “How exactly did disrespecting Mr. Mason assist Margaret?”
I couldn’t very well tell them he was leering. The facts needed finessing if I was going to successfully minimize the repercussions. I took a deep breath. “I felt Mr. Mason was teasing Margaret. She was having difficulty getting her jumper on correctly and he was doing nothing to help. I interceded with the intention of helping her, but my words to Mr. Mason were poorly chosen and gave the false impression I was accusing him of something inappropriate.”
Dean Rosecliff said, “Mr. Mason’s job is to operate the Tanzanite House Store, not to teach young ladies how to dress.”
I nodded. “I understand that, Sir. He was in the vicinity of Margaret and watching her. I realize he had no obligation to interfere or offer assistance and it was quite unreasonable of me to criticize him.”
Ms. Chambers looked at Dean Rosecliff. “I think she has learned her lesson.”
He pursed his lips. “Abigail has a long history of disrespecting authority. I told you initially I felt she was a poor choice for Monitor and this incident has only strengthened my conviction. I believe it would be best if you replaced her with a more suitable candidate such as Britney Pearce or Amy Graham.”
Ms. Chambers shook her head. “I don’t trust Amy and Britney has refused the Monitor position on two different occasions. Whatever Abigail’s issues with authority, she has repeatedly demonstrated an interest in the well-being of the other girls. In my opinion that makes her the ideal choice for a Monitor.”
Dean Rosecliff clicked his tongue in that annoying, disapproving manner that demonstrated his own lack of respect for opinions which deviated from his own. “Have you ever considered that her concern for the other girls combined with her disrespect for authority might lead to situations where she successfully hides serious behavior issues from proper handling?”
Ms. Chambers smiled. It wasn’t the happiness sort of smile, but rather the ‘I feel sorry for you and your ignorance’ smile. “I am confident Abigail understands that avoiding responsibility for one’s actions is not in the best interests of anyone. If not, I’m quite certain she would be leveling accusations against Mr. Mason rather than apologizing for her mistake.”
The glance she sent my way as she finished her statement sent a shudder down my spine. Sean and I had always been so careful to avoid anyone suspecting our relationship. The latest discipline coming directly from him, should have dissuaded even the faintest hints of suspicion. And yet there it was, clear as daylight in her eyes. She knew and rather more astounding, she didn’t seem to care.
Dean Rosecliff leaned back in his squeaky chair. “It seems you are determined to ignore my advice on this matter.”
Ms. Chambers shook her head. “I understand your concerns. It is just my belief that both Tanzanite House and Abigail will benefit from her continued participation as a Monitor. In wielding authority responsibly, she might just learn the respect for authority you’re so concerned about.”
Dean Rosecliff inhaled deeply and leaned forward on the edge of his desk. “The decision is of course yours. However, you’ve gone against my advice twice now in regards to Abigail and as a result she has disrespected a member of the staff. Abigail has been disciplined for this, the disciplinary action ends this evening, but you, Ms. Chambers are ultimately responsible for the Monitors in your house. If you think it’s fair for her to continue as a Monitor, I think it’s only fair that you have a share in the consequences.”
Ms. Chambers jaw set and she leaned forward in her seat. “What are you suggesting?”
He smiled. “If Abigail is to continue as a Monitor, you will receive a five day discipline for disrespecting authority.”
“Disagreeing,” Ms. Chambers said, “is not disrespecting.”
He chuckled. “I never suggested it was. Reinstating Abigail as a monitor does however suggest that you think her disrespect toward Mr. Mason was either insignificant or somehow deserved.
“That’s not how I feel,” she said. “I merely believe Abigail is worth a second chance as Monitor.”
Dean Rosecliff nodded. “As part of your punishment, you will write a letter to Mr. Mason explaining as much. You can go ahead and stand up and get undressed.” He picked up his datapad and began tapping on it.