Jan woke up the next morning feeling uneasy. Andy had seemed distant last night and she had left his house early, but couldn’t fall asleep. She tossed and turned until around 4 in the morning, then finally dozed into a restless sleep. She woke up in the morning to see Cindy at her computer, which surprised her because she assumed that the sound of her roommate typing away would have awakened her.
Cindy’s brow was furrowed as she looked at the computer screen. Jan felt a little bit sorry for her roommate—it was clear that Jake didn’t care for her at all. She wished she could tell Cindy, but she thought it wasn’t her place. Cindy would figure it out eventually.
Jan rubbed her eyes and when they cleared up, she noticed that Cindy was staring at her. “What is it?” Jan said.
Cindy’s blue eyes were clouded. “Jan, did you sleep with Dr. Callahan?”
Jan nearly choked. “What?”
“There was an email to the whole class…” Cindy gestured at her computer screen.
“It’s anonymous.” Cindy bit her lip. “You are, aren’t you? He’s the guy you’ve been seeing.”
Jan didn’t say anything.
“I can’t believe you,” Cindy murmured. “You’ve been cheating all along. No wonder you never need to study.”
Cindy had always been so nice to her, despite the way Jan had blown her off. This was the first time she had ever seen Cindy really angry. “That really sucks, Jan,” she said. “Some of us have had to work really hard this year. And you… you just don’t give a shit. You took advantage of poor Dr. Callahan.”
Poor Dr. Callahan. That was what everyone would think. Nobody would see her side or get that she really cared about him.
“Cindy, listen to me,” Jan said, “yes, I did sleep with Dr. Callahan. But there’s more to it than that. I… I’m in love with him.”
Cindy snorted. “Jan, come on.”
“I am!” Jan insisted. “He’s… so sweet and dedicated to what he does. And he’s… I mean, he’s hot. Don’t you think he’s kind of sexy?”
Cindy narrowed her eyes, “Yeah, I guess he is.”
Jan felt encouraged. “I really like him, Cindy. And… he feels the same way about me. I think.”
“You did seem to be kind of head over heels for someone,” Cindy grudgingly admitted. “But god, Dr. Callahan? He’s our professor! And he’s got to be at least 35. What are you—22?”
“I don’t care about that.”
Cindy was quiet for what seemed like an eternity. Jan had never cared what her roommate thought of her, but suddenly she felt that she needed Cindy’s approval. Finally, Cindy laughed, “God, you have it bad, don’t you?”
Jan smiled in relief. “I know.”
“So what are you going to do about all this?”
Jan hesitated for a moment, but she knew where all this was going from day one. She knew there was only one thing that she could do at this point. “Take the fall,” she replied.
When Andy got to his office in the morning, Linda was waiting for him at the door. Her face was very pale and he immediately got a sinking feeling in his chest. “What’s wrong?”
“Dean Richards called me to his office this morning,” Linda said. “There was an anonymous email this morning to the whole department…”
Andy was speechless. He hadn’t really believed that Jake would expose them.
“I tried not to tell him anything,” Linda said, “but he just… kept pushing me…”
“Linda, what did you tell him?”
“The truth,” Linda said, sticking out her chin out. “That Janice was manipulating you. She’s a horrible person.”
Andy looked down at his legs. He wished Jan had listened to him when he told her they should go to the dean themselves. Now they had no leverage. Nobody would believe what was going on was innocent. How could a girl like her actually be attracted to a guy like him?
“He told me he wanted you to come to his office immediately,” Linda said.
“I see,” Andy breathed.
Linda’s eyes filled with tears. “Andrew, I know you didn’t know about her. This wasn’t your fault. If there’s anything I can do to help you…”
“I mean, she really took advantage of you,” Linda said. “I know it isn’t easy for you to meet women and I’m sure she seemed really nice…”
Please stop talking. “Linda, it’s okay.”
“I don’t want you to lose your job!” Linda dapped at her eyes with a tissue from her pocket. “This is a very serious offense.”
Don’t you think I know that?? “It will be okay,” Andy tried to reassure her. He didn’t know why he was comforting her when he was the one in trouble. It kind of reminded him of the way he had to comfort his mother when she was crying over him all the time after he was injured, even though he was the one who couldn’t walk anymore.
The dean’s office was one flight up, which was also where most of the academic professors’ offices were located. When Andy had first been hired, they had given him his predecessor’s office, which was not far from the dean’s. It was only under Andy’s insistence that they moved him so that his office would be closer to the anatomy lab. He wanted to be close to the labs so that the students would have easier access to him, for questions or concerns. Plus he’d be within wheeling distance of the labs, instead of having to rely on elevators that took their sweet time to arrive.
When Andy first made his request to the dean for a new office, the dean had laughed at him, You’re the first professor I’ve met who actually wants the students to bother him. For Andy, teaching was his life. It was what he loved and he had intended to do it till the day he died.
It was torture waiting for the elevator to arrive. When it finally came, he saw that one of his students, a solid C-student named Victor, was already inside. When he saw the professor, a smirk formed on his face that made Andy’s heart jump in his chest. Victor knew. Everyone knew. Shit.
Andy wheeled into the elevator, trying to act like nothing was wrong. “How are you doing, Victor?” he asked.
“I’m fine, Dr. Callahan,” he said. The smirk widened slightly.
Andy looked down at his legs, positioned quietly in their footrests, willing the elevator to move faster so Victor didn’t feel a need to comment.
“I just want to say, Dr. Callahan,” Victor began, “I don’t blame you. Hell, I would have done her too. Any guy would have.”
“I mean, she is sexy,” Victor breathed. “Really great tits. I bet she’s amazing in bed, huh?
Andy took a deep breath. “This… uh, isn’t really appropriate.”
Thank god Victor didn’t say anything else, because he didn’t know how he’d respond. He assumed all the students probably figured the same thing as Linda did: that Jan had been playing him for a grade. The more he thought about it, the more he started to wonder again if they were right. Even if she wasn’t explicitly cheating, there was no way she could have passed anatomy without his help. She needed him.
Andy wheeled out of the elevator at the next floor and into the receptionist area of the dean’s office. He knew Dean Richards’s secretary well and he could tell by the way she avoided eye contact with him that even she knew what was going on. “Dean Richards is expecting you, Dr. Callahan,” she said.
He nodded and took a deep breath. He smoothed out his pants legs and straightened his tie before wheeling over to the dean’s door. Not that any of that mattered, but it was a way to delay the inevitable.
Andy knew Norm Richards well. He’d been over to his house on several occasions and met his wife and kids. He had even attended his daughter’s recent wedding. They weren’t best buddies, but they were at least casual friends and Andy was grateful to him for taking a chance on him as a young professor straight out of his doctorate program. Andy had never felt so much fear when approaching Richards’s office.
Richards had an appropriately stern look on his face when Andy wheeled into his office. Andy could barely look at him. “Andy,” Richards said, “what the hell?”
Andy cleared his throat. “It’s not… what you think.”
“I’d expect this kind of behavior from Marsh or Peterson,” Richards muttered. “But from you? Never. I thought you had too much integrity. Everything was always by the book with you. To the point where it was almost annoying.”
He hadn’t thought it was possible, but he was feeling worse by the second. He wanted to try to explain what happened, but any explanation sounded fake in his head. “I… I’m sorry.”
“Look, Andy, I’ve known you for almost ten years,” Richards said. “I know you’re a good person. Let’s be straight with each other. I can see what happened, how this… girl took you in. You’re single, she’s an attractive young girl, and she tricked you.”
“No, she didn’t…” Andy tried to say.
“Andy, Janice told me what happened,” Richards said.
He stared, speechless.
“She told me that you wouldn’t change her grade,” the dean went on, “so she stole the exam off your computer.”
“She… she told you that?”
Richards nodded. Andy looked over at the dean and all he could see on his face was pity. Poor pathetic Andrew Callahan. Stupid cripple thought an attractive young woman might actually like him.
“Janice has been expelled,” Richards said.
Andy inhaled sharply. He wanted to try to defend her, but he knew the truth in the bottom of his heart: she deserved to be expelled. Even if she had earned her grade in anatomy, she had arrived in med school through years of cheating. It wasn’t right for her to be here. And he could tell that she didn’t want to be here either most of the time.
“I don’t want to lose you, Andy,” Richards said. “I’ve been here a real long time and you’re by far the best anatomy professor we’ve ever had. But… I can’t just ignore what happened.”
“I understand,” Andy murmured.
Richards looked at him a long time before doling out his sentence, “You’re suspended from teaching. Until I meet with the disciplinary committee and figure this out.”
Even though the medical student anatomy course was already over, Andy still had teaching duties with the undergrads and the anatomy graduate students. He hated the idea of being kept from his duties, but he was even more frightened of the decision of the disciplinary committee. If he lost his teaching job, it would be extremely difficult to find another position. He couldn’t believe he had done something so stupid to jeopardize his job.
“I understand,” Andy said quietly. There was nothing more that he could say.
“I’ll do what I can for you,” Richards said. “I think ultimately this will blow over and we’ll be able to reinstitute you. Just don’t do it again, okay?”
Andy felt a lump rising in his throat and did his best to push it down. He didn’t trust himself to speak anymore, but he managed to say, “Thank you.”
Outside of the dean’s office, Andy allowed his shoulders to slump and he buried his face in his palms. He wasn’t the kind of man who cried. He hadn’t cried when he was told that he going to be paralyzed for the rest of his life and he hadn’t cried when Jessica told him that she was leaving him because he couldn’t walk, although he’d come damn close. He wasn’t going to cry now either, although he realized this was the lowest point in his life since he had landed his job at the med school. It was even harder to take, considering that only a month earlier, he had been in love and on top of the world.
He looked up and his mouth fell open slightly when he saw Jan’s face. She looked as awful as he felt. “Jan…”
“I did what I could,” she said. Even though her eyes were slightly bloodshot, her clothes were wrinkled, and her hair was tousled, she still looked beautiful. “I hope things end up okay for you.”
“Nobody’s ever done anything like that for me,” Andy said. He still couldn’t believe she had given up med school in order to try to save him.
Jan shrugged. “If one of us comes out of this with our career alive, it ought to be you. I don’t belong here anyway.”
“I want you to know,” Andy said, “I think you could have been a great doctor. You had it in you.”
Jan shrugged and smiled, “I’ll be a great something else.”
Andy looked up at Jan and shook his head. She was unbelievable, this girl. If he lived to be a hundred, he’d never meet anyone else like her. “I love you, Jan,” he blurted out.
He regretted the words as soon as he spoke them. He was supposed to be ending things with Jan. He needed to focus on his job, on his shoulder surgery, on anything but this unethical relationship. But he just couldn’t imagine telling her goodbye right here and now, and never seeing her again. She meant too much to him.
Jan ran her hand down his jaw line. “I love you too,” she whispered. “I just don’t want to get you in anymore trouble then you’re already in.”
Andy realized that a few minutes ago, when he had been close to tears, he hadn’t been worried about his job… he had been broken up at the thought of losing Jan. No matter how “wrong” their relationship was, even if they were destined to failure, he wanted to be with her now.
“Get me in trouble,” he said, “I don’t care.”
To be continued...