Part Fourteen

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Part Fourteen of You Will Find Your Way
Doctor Peter Sweeney doesn’t shake hands with anyone who doesn’t have at least two or three PhDs. That counts Dallas out.

Dallas can’t say she gets used to being back on campus, but as the days counting down to fall term pass, she feels slightly less like she’s about to flip out if some poor, overworked soul—see: Giselle—breathes wrong in her general direction.

The living room in their little townhouse is still stuffed to the brim with books that Dallas and Giselle are trying to force into some sense of organization before they move everything into the massive study at the back of the house. Unfortunately, Giselle has so many that she had to keep in storage when they moved to Blythe, and with that and the second move up to the northwest, all their careful indexing has pretty much gone to hell.

Dallas snorts at Giselle’s offhand comment, “I’ve seen hell, and hell does not have books.”

“Oh whatever,” Giselle plucks the bottle of wine they’ve been sharing off the coffee table—their second of the night—and takes a long swig. “I’m sure there’s more than one hell. Mine doesn’t have books. Or organization.”

Looking up from the pile of reference manuals stacked on her lap, Dallas narrows her eyes to slits, “I survived in a world without internet.”

Giselle pauses mid-swig, thrusts the bottle across the couch, “You win.”

“Of course I do.”

A knock on the front door echoes over their quiet laughter, and with a mutual eye roll they play a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Nuclear Apocalypse, to decide who has to unbury themselves from the book avalanche and answer it.

As campus gears up for the new semester, the other professors and their families have been stopping by in a steady stream to see who the residents are.

Since her banishment from UCLA, Giselle may or may not have gained something of a reputation within her side of the scientific community as having theories that verge on being bat-shit insane.

And yes, they can’t actually talk how actually right Giselle’s theories are for obvious reasons—as much as it pains Giselle that she’s trapped on the perish side of publish or perish—but that’s no reason for the other professors to treat them like a pair of zoo animals.

Dallas throws paper because Giselle’s thrown nuclear apocalypse three times today, but instead she throws scissors. With a snort, Dallas pushes the books onto the cushion and vaults over the back of the couch.

She pads barefoot into the foyer and opens the door to a man standing on the porch in a sweater and slacks.

He looks like he’s somewhere in the ballpark of Giselle’s age, but what Dallas notices the most is the aggravated scowl on his face. She tightens her grip on the door, shifts her footing a little as one hand slips to the spot on her back where she used to carry her blade, “Yes?”

The man clears his throat, “Professor Quiggle, I presume?” He says with something of a sneer, like the words coming from his mouth are making him sick.

“No, but I’ll let Doctor Quiggle know that we have a guest,” she says, tries to keep her annoyance at his blatant disrespect for Giselle’s three or four PhDs. “Please come in.”

Giselle appears next to her before Dallas has the chance to bellow through the house like an absolute heathen, and the man barely conceals a look of distaste as he takes in their matching sets of tank-tops and shorts that they got in a three-pack discount at Kmart.

“Good evening, Professor Quiggle,” he holds a hand out. “Sorry for calling on you so late, I’m Doctor Peter Sweeney, Co-Chair of the Astrophysics Department.”

“Oh, it’s wonderful to meet you,” Giselle shakes his hand, and Dallas drifts back a little to watch the carnage unfold. “I’ve hear so much about your current breakthroughs in spacial radio mapping.”

Sweeney’s chest puffs up a little at the praise, and Dallas resists the urge to gag.

“I’m sure you have.”

Dallas’ brow ticks and she shifts her weight a little, crosses her arms over her chest while Giselle definitely holds back a scowl, “Well I can imagine you’re very busy preparing your own grant work for the year,” she says, her voice that sickly sweet tone that she’d use whenever someone from UCLA called to ask where she left one piece of equipment or the other. “But please let me know if there’s anything Dallas and I can do to help.”

“And Dallas is,” he trails off, looks around like there’s another person in the house.

Or like he doesn’t already know that Giselle made it clear she was bringing a companion.

She clears her throat, holds up a hand and gives him a dorky wave that he doesn’t seem to appreciate, “Hi Peter.”

Peter looks her up and down, his scowl deepening to something that makes him look much older than he probably is, “I prefer Doctor Sweeney. It’s a pleasure to meet you miss,” he trails off, doesn’t off her his hand like he did for Giselle.

“Anderson,” she grinds through her teeth. “Just call me Dallas.”

“So informal are we?” Sweeney asks, obvious rhetorical. “They must do things different out in the wilds of the Mojave. Pray tell, what did you get your degree in, Miss Anderson?”

The way the man speaks is absolutely ridiculous, and Dallas does roll her eyes at him, grins like a shark when she says, “Interdisciplinary studies.”

Even the sounds of those words make him look a little green, which she counts as a win, “How lovely,” he turns back to Giselle, which Dallas thinks she’s supposed to take as a dismissal. “If you would like me to assist you with finding some qualified research assistants, I would be happy to provide you with a list of candidates.”

He leaves, shutting the door behind him with a click, and Giselle meets Dallas’ gaze, rolls her eyes, “I do not think I like him.”

“No, you definitely don’t. What a dick.”

You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Fifteen

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