The second midterm exam came much faster than Jan would have liked. Even with all the personal tutoring Andy gave her, she was still very anxious. She knew that he had no qualms about failing her. Stupid morals. There were days when she would have traded all the good sex for an easy A.
Andy stayed up late with her the night before the exam, quizzing her. She seemed to be getting mostly right answers to his questions, but she always felt so unsure of herself. “You need to have more confidence in yourself,” Andy said. “You’re a really intelligent woman.” He kissed her when he said that. “And beautiful too.”
She slept at his house, which she had done only a handful of times before, partially to avoid arousing suspicion and partially because Andy went to sleep earlier than her grandmother. She knew Cindy was curious, but she hadn’t asked about it and Jan hadn’t shared. “We should probably take separate cars,” he said jokingly before they went to bed.
Andy started his morning ritual very early and she knew it took a good amount of time. He had to deal with a shower chair and he couldn’t throw on clothing quite as quickly as she could, although he was surprisingly fast. At 7:30AM, she felt him shaking her awake. “Jan,” he whispered, “Time to get up for the exam.” She groaned, but rolled out of bed. After a five minute shower and running a comb through her hair, she felt almost ready to face the exam.
Maybe it was her imagination, but the crowd outside the anatomy lab looked even more nervous than last time. Perhaps it was because the scores on the last exam had been pretty awful in general and everyone knew this was their shot to make it up. Andy confided in her that he tended to make the first exam very difficult so that the students didn’t get too complacent.
Jan got a clipboard and paper to write down her answers to the practical and camped out outside the lab like the rest of her classmates. Even though Andy hadn’t changed her grade, she knew that she had an edge from all the private tutoring he had given her. Yet she also knew that there was only one right answer to every question and she couldn’t help but feel scared.
“Here we are again,” Cindy said, nudging Jan in the shoulder. “Nervous?”
Jan tried to pass off a casual shrug, “It’s just an exam.”
She couldn’t help but look over at Jake, who didn’t look nearly as cool as he did prior to the last exam. This test covered an enormous amount of material and studying for it was quite a challenge. It gave Jan a little satisfaction to see Jake sweating it a bit.
“By the way,” Cindy said, a small smile playing across her lips, “where were you last night, Jan?”
Her mouth went dry. “I… I spent the night at school, studying.”
“Whatever you say,” Cindy murmured.
Eventually, the students were herded into the lab. Jan felt her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn’t just nervous about the exam—she was worried about letting Andy down. She positioned herself in front of one of the cadavers and tried her best to steady her hand holding the pen. She looked over at Andy, who was at the front of the room. Their eyes met and he mouthed to her, “Don’t worry.”
“All right, folks,” Andy addressed the class, “you know the drill by now. Good luck to everyone and you may begin.”
Andy had promised himself that he wasn’t going to give Jan any preferential treatment on the exam, but he was dying to see how she did. And he knew she was just as nervous as he was to find out her score. Her exam was going to the top of the pile, although he would do his best to grade it objectively.
His secretary Linda pushed the cart of exams to his office for him, something he might have done himself if he could have handled the cart and his chair at the same time. Linda was only too happy to push the cart for him though. She was a matronly woman in her sixties who had been Andy’s secretary since the time he was first hired and often acted like he was her surrogate son.
“I think you made the exam too hard,” Linda commented. “Some of the students looked like they were going to cry.”
Andy rounded his desk and made his way to the cart of exams. “Hey, it wasn’t that bad.”
He started flipping through the first pile of exams and quickly picked out Jan’s and plucked it from the pile. He didn’t think he could concentrate on grading twenty exams while waiting for hers to come up. “Whose exam is that?” Linda asked with curiosity.
Linda knew many of his students as well as he did. In additional to working as his secretary, she managed a lot of the administrative issues for the first year med students. Just like Andy, Linda always had her favorites. This year, Linda couldn’t stop gushing about Jake Masterson. Andy thought Jake was a good student and he’d earned one of the highest grades on the first exam, but he also thought Jake needed to mature a lot before he became a good doctor. Linda once compared Jake to a younger Andy, but Linda didn’t know him when he was a med student 13 years ago. Andy had been a very serious kid back then and also something of a geek. Jake was neither of those things.
When Andy didn’t answer her question, she glanced at the exam paper. “Janice Wright…” She spoke the name with distaste on her tongue.
Andy raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“I don’t like her.”
“Why not?” he asked, mildly amused.
Linda looked at him a long time until Andy worried that maybe his secretary knew exactly what was going on between him and his young student. “I just don’t like her,” Linda finally said. “She’s no good.”
Linda had never said anything like that about a student before. It was a little unsettling. “I respect your opinion,” Andy said, “but I don’t think she’s so bad.”
Linda didn’t reply. She ran her fingers along the cart of test papers and sighed, “Andrew, I want you to come over for dinner sometime this week. You need a home cooked meal.”
“I’m pretty busy this week…”
“Sometime soon then,” Linda said firmly. “Promise?”
“I promise. Of course.”
She gave him one last look before reluctantly leaving his office. Linda had been so resolute in her opinions about Jan—it was so unlike her. But she didn’t know Jan the way he did. Jan had done some pretty low things in the past, but she deep down, she was a good person. He had never met anyone quite like her before. And he was beginning to realize that with each passing day, his feelings for her grew stronger. When she wasn’t with him, he found himself longing for her touch, her smile. She was incredible.
Holy crap, he suddenly realized, I’m in love with this girl.
That night, Jan went to Andy’s house for what he called a “celebratory dinner.” He had planned the dinner before she even took the exam and claimed he was that certain she’d do well. Jan herself didn’t feel nearly so confident in herself. In spite of Andy’s tutelage, there were a lot of answers she wasn’t sure of.
As soon as Andy answered the door, he handed her a glass of white wine. He kept his own glass safe between his knees. Her hands were shaking so badly that she nearly dropped the glass immediately. “Did you grade my test yet?” she asked.
“Jan, this dinner was supposed to help you forget about the exam,” Andy said. “The important thing isn’t your grade. It’s that you learned the information.”
Jan just stared at him.
He sighed, “You got an A.”
She was so happy, she thought she might cry. She leaned against the wall to steady herself and downed the wine in one gulp. She wiped her eyes and smiled at him. “I can’t believe it.”
“I told you that you’d do well,” he said, smiling back at her. “Now how about dinner, huh?”
Jan nodded and followed him to the living room. She was impressed to see that he had set up an elaborate meal of pasta with fresh vegetables cooked into it. She also loved the touch of the single candle lighting the table. She noticed that he was watching her face for her reaction. “You did this yourself?” she asked in amazement. “I didn’t know you cooked.”
“You like it?” he asked.
She nodded vigorously. “Let me just run to the bathroom for a minute before we eat.”
Jan just needed a few moments to collect herself in private before she started her meal. She stood in Andy’s bathroom, inhaling the faint odor of his aftershave that hung in the air. The bathroom was twice the size of the one she shared with Cindy and the sink and medicine cabinet were lowered to height made to accommodate a person in a wheelchair. She saw the plastic chair set up in the shower and the handheld nozzle suspended from the wall. A metal grab-bar was adjacent to the toilet.
She couldn’t help but notice that the medicine cabinet was slightly ajar. She felt guilty for doing it, but curiosity overcame her and she wasn’t able to stop herself from tapping the door open with her finger.
She was surprised to see rows of pill bottles lining the shelves of the cabinet. She had no idea Andy had to take so many medications or why. She looked at the first bottle: Vicodin. She knew that was a painkiller, but she had never heard Andy say that he had pain before. But clearly he did—why else would he have this medication? She looked at a second bottle: Celexa. She knew what that was from her high school days, when her parents had sent her to a therapist. Celexa was a medication for depression.
Jan quickly shut the door to the medicine cabinet. This was none of her business anyway.
She sighed and faced her own reflection in the mirror on the cabinet door. With her dark hair that always seemed to hang in her face, pale skin, and intense eyes, Jan never considered herself beautiful by any means, but she knew that she had a quality that many men found very sexual. With Andy, she could see the lust in his eyes every time he looked at her. Although never before had she met a man that she wanted as badly as he wanted her.
This can’t end well, can it? He’s 13 years older than me and he’s my professor…
Jan took a deep breath before washing her hands and exiting the bathroom. Just before she turned the corner to walk into the living room, she heard Andy’s voice, quietly talking to himself. She stood silently, trying to make out the words.
“Jan,” he was whispering, “I love you.” He sighed and shook his head. “I love you, Janice.” He shook his head again. “Goddamn it.”
Jan inhaled sharply. Was he actually trying to work up his nerve to tell her that he loved her? She didn’t know what to think. No man had ever told her that he loved her before. No, that wasn’t exactly true. She’d heard it once or twice in the throes of passion. But never at a candlelit dinner before…
She still didn’t know how she felt about Andy. She knew that she enjoyed being with him, of course. But that was all she could say for sure. And if he told her that he loved her now, she’d have to say it back. Or else their relationship would be over and she knew for sure that she didn’t want that.
Goddamn it, she thought, echoing his own sentiments.
She made a noisy entrance back into the living room so that Andy would know she was coming. He smiled when he saw her. “Done powdering your nose?” he asked.
She returned his smile as she slid into her seat. “I really want to thank you, Andy,” she said. “I never could have aced this exam without your help.”
“It was my pleasure,” he said, gazing into her eyes. He picked up her hand and held it between his rough palms.
“And I also,” she swallowed, “have really loved the time we’ve spent together doing… other things.” She cleared her throat. “I’m glad things have stayed so simple in our relationship. I really have a great time with you.”
Andy looked at her a long time, absorbing what she had just said. Finally, she saw his shoulders sag in relief. “Me too,” he said. “I have a great time with you too, Jan. I wouldn’t want to change that in any way.”
Yet now that Andy had abandoned his intention of professing his love, Jan couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed.
To be continued...