A/N: Two chapters in one day? Definitely not the norm, but I thought I'd treat tonight.
Note: Stephenie Meyer owns everything. I just borrow the characters. If I owned them, I'd never let Edward come out and play. Edward Cullen does, however, own me.
Chapter 2: Not All Alike
Only 15 minutes had elapsed in my first class and already I was mortified beyond belief. I'd butchered the first student's name to the point of hilarity. So I quickly changed my method and sent around a blank sheet of paper, asking everybody to print their name clearly so I could check off attendance later.
"I'm not going to record attendance for each class. It's my opinion that you're all adults and I know that when I was an undergrad I didn't like being required to be somewhere if I didn't want to be there," I stated.
A murmur of appreciation rolled through the small classroom. I smiled at their quick acceptance.
"But …" I started again. "If you suddenly show up to the midterm and I haven't seen you since today, I reserve the right to not let you sit for it. And the same goes with the final too." I glared at a few of the girls in the front row who were examining their acrylic nails.
One overly processed blonde gave me a condescending sneer and returned to her nails. I could already tell she was going to get on my nerves.
I shrunk back a little from her death glare, despite wanting to hold my ground. There was something about her that was rough around the edges and slightly scary at the same time. Like she'd have no problem with pulling on my hair if it came down to a thrown down between us.
I took a deep breath and tried to regain what little composure I still had. My head had started pounding a little harder when the annoying girl glared at me.
"Okay, so this semester I'm going to be trying something a bit different than some of the other literature professors," I said after a moment.
"I want everybody to keep a journal about what we read. It can be anything from what you think of the books to what we're discussing in class or if you have a personal connection at all. I just want it directed to our readings. The only other requirement is that it be in a single subject notebook so I can look over it," I continued. "Any questions about that?"
The blonde girl shot her arm up.
"How long does the stuff we have to write in it be? Cause I don't have a lot of time to spare. I'm very busy," she whined. The sound of her voice made me wince. It was high pitched and reminded me of when my old Economics professor would scrape his chalk across the board to wake up students who had fallen asleep.
I huffed indignantly.
"I don't know … a page maybe? It's not that hard really to come up with that little," I replied with as even a voice as I could manage from my throbbing head.
"You'd be surprised," she muttered so low I don't think she intended me to hear. I chose to ignore her and continue on.
I began to walk the front of the classroom. It was small, holding only 30 desks maybe. I was lucky in that I didn't have to teach in a big lecture. Some professors had hundreds of students; I had just 21.
"So now that you know about the journal, here comes the kicker. I'm not going to be collecting your journals in every class meeting and grading them. I want to meet with each of you individually. At least once in every two or three week period. I'm going post a sign up sheet on my office door and I want everybody to sign up for a time they can come in. During that meeting we'll go over your journal and discuss any problems or questions you might have. Any questions about these conferences?" I asked.
As soon as I finished speaking, the blonde's hand shot up again. Seriously? Could she really have an issue with this too?
"Yes?" I quipped at her.
"I don't know if I have enough time for the conferences. You see, I'm a cheerleader and I'm vice president of my sorority," she said and snapped her gum when she was done.
The bright overhead lights had begun to pierce into my eyes and my headache was starting to turn into a migraine. My patience with this blonde girl was already dangerously thin and something in me snapped.
"Fine!" I yelled and threw my hands in the air. "Because you're so special, or at least you think you are, I'm going to allow you to come in only once a month. Do you think you can spare fifteen minutes in your precious schedule to meet with a teacher once every four weeks or is that too much to ask?"
A soft laugh came from the back of the room and I tried to find its source. Nobody was looking at me besides the blonde mocking me from the front row. All the heads were down, but I had a sneaking suspicion it came from a guy in the back corner.
My head was pounding. I was positively fuming.
I could feel a vein on the side of my forehead pulsing and I'm sure I looked like a raving lunatic in front of my class. My hands were clenched in fists and held tightly at my side. Everything in me was tense and I could practically feel the adrenaline coursing through me.
The blonde girl just sat there looking smug. To me it appeared she was pleased she could get such a rise out of me. Like she'd intended to make me angry.
This realization let all of my built-up steam out of my sails. She's planned this. She's carefully orchestrated the best way to embarrass me on my first day. To make me, the professor, look incompetent and unbalanced.
"Sorry, I've had a long day already. Is once a month okay?" I asked between still clenched teeth, fighting for the last shred of composure I could muster.
I wanted to cry, hide, or run away. Anything to get away from this girl who'd so easily broken down the wall I insisted I should have with my students. I needed to be stoic, be composed, but here I'd gone and blown it already.
"Once a month is fine," she politely responded.
I glanced up at the clock and found that thirty of the fifty minutes of my class time had elapsed. Close enough, I thought. I don't know how much more of this I can handle today.
I took a deep breath and went over to my podium. Shifting the papers around, I found the class reading schedule and the assignment for the next class meeting.
"So since today is the first day, I've decided not to keep you the entire time. Look at the schedule and read the assignment for the next class. I'll post the conference signup sheet on my door today and you can sign up at your leisure. Everybody must be signed up by next week though. My office number is listed in the syllabus. Class dismissed," I said quickly.
Before any of the students could even pack any of their things away, I grabbed whatever papers I'd brought in with me and escaped the small classroom that was quickly becoming much smaller.
I ran down the hall and fumbled with the keys to my office, dropping them twice before I managed to get the door open. Once inside, I collapsed for the second time that day in my chair and buried my head under my arms.
That could not have gone any worse if I'd tried. God, I'm a moron for accepting this job. There's no way I should have ever believed I could actually do this. I was too young, too inexperienced. Hell, I've never taught anything before.
Tears flooded my eyes and I couldn't hold them back. Today was too much already. First I'd woken up to find myself naked and alone in a bed that I'd obviously shared with someone else and now this? Seriously, what horrible sin had I committed in a past life to deserve such terrible things? I couldn't even remember the damn sex, for god's sakes!
And the blonde girl? Apparently she was sent straight from hell to torment me on my first day of teaching. And sent to show me that I would never be good enough to do this job.
"Fucking crap," I muttered between sobs. I hardly ever swore aloud, only saving it for when I really felt bad. And this definitely constituted a "really bad" moment.
A soft knock sounded at my door and I quickly sat up, trying to compose myself. I wiped my fingers across my face to get rid of any traitor tears and smoothed the hair that had come loose back.
I'm sure I still looked like utter trash, but it was the best I was going to do.
I turned to my door to find it open slightly. A brown haired girl was looking in the crack with wide eyes, concern written on her face.
"Professor Swan?" she said, sounding fearful of my response.
"Come in," I hiccupped and waved to her.
She tentatively opened the door and stepped into my small office. She stood awkwardly by the door and played with the straps on her backpack.
"What can I do for you?" I asked, wiping another tear from my face.
"I just wanted to apologize for that back there. Tanya's … well … I don't like calling people names, but Tanya's always been a bitch. She makes it a priority to see how many of her professors she can get to cry on the first day," the girl spoke softly.
I nodded, trying to process what the girl said.
"But I don't understand. Why are you apologizing for her?" I finally asked, my brows pulled together in my confusion.
"She's my sister," she admitted.
"But … you two don't look anything alike."
"Well, she's not my actual sister. She's my sorority sister. And I don't like when she pulls out that excuse why she's so busy. It gives us a bad name when she's a bitch like that," she said.
"Oh," I replied. "Well, I'm going to be honest with you, I never would have pictured you as a …" I trailed off at the end.
"Sorostitute?" the girl laughed, using the campus nickname for certain sorority girls. "Yeah, I'm not. Most of us aren't like that. I didn't even want to join it really. My mom said it would be good for me to open up to people. I've never really made friends all that easy." She pushed something on the floor around with her toe and avoided my eyes.
"What's your name?" I asked.
The girl brought her head up and looked me straight in the eye.
"Angela Webber," she answered.
"Well, Angela. I'm glad that you came to talk to me. You've made me feel a lot better knowing that I have at least one good person in my class," I smiled at her.
There was a part of me that identified so much with Angela. I'd been shy in high school, too scared to "blossom" as my mom had called it. I had a few close friends, but mostly I was invisible. I kept to myself and buried my nose in a book most of the time. I probably knew more about Shakespeare, Austen and Bronte than I did about my classmates.
Angela mirrored my smile and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
"So I have to get to my next class, so I'll see you in class Professor Swan," she said.
"Bella, call me Bella. I'm not much older than you, probably," I replied. My eyes narrowed in mock seriousness. "But in the classroom it's Professor Swan." I smiled again to reinforce that I was trying to keep it light.
"Sure, Bella. See you on Thursday," Angela answered and turned to leave.
I turned back to the stack of papers on my desk.
"Oh and Bella?" Angela quietly said. I turned back to her to see her face holding a sly smirk.
"I'm really glad you put Tanya in her place. And that you didn't cry," she laughed. "I think you just made my year with that."
"Glad I could be of assistance," I chuckled with her.
"Have a nice day, Bella." Angela moved to leave again.
"You too, Angela," I said as she shut the door again.
So maybe this semester wouldn't be as long as I thought it would if my students were anything like Angela Webber. I hoped that Tanya was the oddity, not the norm.
For another few hours I planned out what the next few weeks would look like, with more details than I'd put on the syllabus. I taped the conference signup sheet on my door and did more work.
Along with my teaching duties, I was helping some of the other professors on their research, so I read through some journal articles that one of them had asked me to scan for them. It wasn't that I was trying to suck up, I just wanted to do a good job. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be thought of as a serious English professor, especially considering I was so young compared to most of them. There were even some I could be their granddaughter, they were so old.
It was near 4 o'clock when I finally realized my office hours were long over. I packed up some stuff in my briefcase and checked my phone for messages.
I had seven. All from the same person too.
Damn. I forgot to call her this morning in my rush to get to class.
And I'm sure she's calling about the one thing I really don't have any way of talking about.
I quickly checked my voicemail.
"Bella, hey it's Alice. We just saw you walk off with a guy. We want to make sure you're okay. Call me when you get this."
"Bella, so we're still waiting for your call."
"You're starting to freak us out. Please call us!"
"Dear god, Bella. You better not be dead somewhere!"
"Rosalie says I'm probably interrupting some steamy hot sex, but I don't care. I just hope you're okay. Please call me!"
"Bella, it's morning now … you better be calling me!"
"ISABELLA MARIE SWAN! It is now 3:45 pm and I haven't heard from you! If I don't get a call from you in the next half hour I'm coming over to your house to see if you're alive! I'm really scared!"
I chucked the last of my stuff in my bag and quickly locked my office door on the way out. I noticed a few students had been by to sign up for conference slots and the idea that they were already taking my class seriously made me smile.
But I didn't dwell on the thought since I had a very scary Alice probably hunting me down as I stood there. I raced out of the building, much in the same fashion I had this morning but for a drastically different reason.
The morning hubbub had died down and there was a lot less foot and car traffic, making my walk back home much faster and obstacle-free.
When I got to my house though, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Standing at my front door was Alice with her arms crossed, her toe tapping impatiently and a very angry look on her face.
"Isabella Marie Swan, you better have gotten laid last night because I am going to kill you for not calling me and telling me you were okay," she said icily.
"Alice, would you believe me if I told you I don't remember a single minute of it?" I admitted.
Alice's eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. "No."
I nodded, too ashamed to admit that I had absolutely recollection of what very well could have been the best sex of my life for all I knew.
And then it all came down on me again. The sex, the morning, my class, Tanya. Everything.
I burst into tears and my bags dropped from my arms. Alice unfroze and closed the few steps between us. Her small arms wrapped around me and held me tight. I buried my head in her low shoulder and let the sobs flow freely.
"Ssssssssh, Bella. Everything's going to be alright. Let Mama Ali take care of you," she cooed and rubbed my back.
She fumbled for my bags with one hand walked me into the house with the other.
Once inside, Alice took placed both of her tiny hands on my cheeks.
"Bella, whatever's wrong is nothing. Everything's going to be okay. You did nothing wrong," she soothed. "You know what we're going to do?"
I hiccupped and frantically wiped at my tears.
"W-what?" I choked out.
"We're going to pig out on ice cream tonight and watch Brat Pack movies!" Alice's eyes twinkled with her plans.
I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her.
"Alice, this is why I love you so much," I laughed through the last of my sobs.
"No, you love me because I tell when you're being an idiot. Like right now for instance," she laughed with me.
"Can't argue with that, Alice."
And with that, we began our ice cream and 80's movie night.
A/N: No offense intended to sorority girls. The term "sorostitute" was used at my school among those of us that didn't much like Greeks. I have absolutely nothing against them, especially since some of my best friends are Greeks. It's just a funny term I like.
Sorry, last chapter until next week probably. See you then!
A/N #2 - So it's been brought to my attention that Bella's age and position are in no way possible in a real academic setting. I was vaguely aware of this, so I'm not at all shocked that someone brought it up actually. So she's probably not a professor ... I know. She's probably little more than a glorified teaching assistant. My college freshman English prof was a doctoral student. So it's entirely possible that Bella got a position teaching English in college, even if her official title isn't "professor". She just likes to use it because it makes her sound professional. And she's in no way tenured to the position either. That's why she's trying to be super good and professional. She needs a few years before she can get tenure (I think? That's how it works with my high school teacher friends.). I'm sure my explanation is crap, but I just wanted to point out that it's entirely possible that at 24 Bella is teaching a class by herself even if it's just as a glorified grad student. And to top it off ... it's freaking fiction people!