have been procrastinating because I didn’t quite know how to do the backstory.
so here is part of the next chapter
Running around after young children had taken their toll on Katie. She flung herself onto her bed, and pulled the doona close. Time for a snooze before dinner. She reflected how her life was so different since she left the village. Now she was back, she worried whether she would be able to fit in.
Katie’s breath quickened as she recalled the incident which prompted her to take leave. She had complained to her Professor, but he had been less than supportive. Her mind returned to the events leading up to her coming to Woodland. She closed her eyes, and it played like a movie …
Katie’s eyes flashed. ‘What do you mean? This creep can do what he likes and you do nothing?’
‘This creep is the Head Librarian, and has tenure.’
Katie glared. ‘So?’
‘So, we will have an enquiry, and look into your allegations.’
Katie pointed to her face. ‘Do you call this bruise an allegation?’
‘He denies he had anything to do with it.’ Paul Baxter sighed. ‘If it’s any consolation, I believe you.’
‘Katie. I value you. The university values you.’ Paul came around to the front of his desk. Katie backed away from his domineering stance. ‘I don’t want to hurt you, or your career.’
‘What you’re saying Professor Baxter is that you value that creep more than me.’
‘No. What I’m saying is that he retires at the end of the year and you’re in line for his job.’
Katie put a tentative hand up to her face. She could still feel the sting of the punch as the Head Librarian screamed at her, ‘Get out of my way.’ It’s not worth it, really not worth it. There were other universities.
‘All right, I’ll leave.’
‘I don’t think that would be a good idea.’ Professor Baxter smiled, ‘Remember what a small community we are.’
Katie felt like an animal hounded into a corner and trapped. ‘Et tu Brutus.’
‘Now Katie don’t be like that.’ Professor Baxter held out his hands in supplication. ‘I’m offering you a deal.’
‘Deal – what deal?’
‘A private apology, and a sabbatical for the next nine months.’
‘You’ll pay me to go overseas?’ Katie laughed. ‘I thought this place was strapped for cash.’
‘Not overseas.’ He leant back on his desk. ‘What I’m offering is for you to take nine months off – do whatever you want – on full pay and come back refreshed, and take over the library at the end of that time.’
‘It sounds like bribery to me.’ Katie’s eyes narrowed. ‘Are you recording this?’
‘No – no.’ His face reddened. ‘You misunderstand me. I’m trying to work out a solution that’s best for the university, and for you.’
‘And the creep gets away with it. Who will he try and intimidate next?’
‘Leave that to me.’ The Professor walked Katie to the door. ‘Think about it – let me have your answer tomorrow.’
‘I don’t like being bullied.’
‘I know. Think of it more as a pragmatic solution.’
Katie groaned, and turned restlessly. Katie woke to knocking on her door.
‘Come on sleepy-head. Time for dinner.’
She shook her head. Dinner? Katie looked around, and remembered where she was, and struggled upright.
‘Oh. I was having a snooze.’
‘Time to freshen up, and come and eat.’
‘Okay. Give me five.’
She reluctantly swung her feet to the floor, untangled herself, and caught sight of herself in the mirror. ‘Ahhhh.’ She pulled a comb through her hair, straightened her clothes and gave herself a mental talking to – Get over it.
As she walked down the stairs, Jason waved to her, and carried their mugs onto the verandah.
‘It’s quiet here. They’re with their grandmother.’
Grabbing her mug, Katie smiled. ‘I don’t know how you survive. You must be very fit.’
He laughed. ‘They’re just excited to see you.’
‘We’ll eat after they had theirs. Give Nanna time to settle them’
‘Easier that way. I couldn’t bring myself to call her Mum. We talked about it and Anne suggested I call her Nanna, like the children do.’
The next day, the siblings sat in the lounge having afternoon tea. Mrs Grey, Jason’s mother-in-law, fussed around bringing out plates of cakes and scones, before retreating back into the kitchen, where she was baking cakes for the local fete, with the help of her grandchildren.
Katie studied her brother, noticing the fine lines that had appeared around his eyes, and across his forehead. She worried about him. He was her only family, and would always be her little brother.
‘Take them away,’ Katie laughed as she helped herself. ‘I put on weight just looking at them.’
Jason reached for another scone. ‘I must be immune.’ He grinned and patted his flat stomach. ‘I eat these once a week.’
‘I’m glad you have someone looking after you.’
‘Yes, it was good Nanna was able to come and live here.’ Jason’s shoulders drooped, his eyes filled with tears. ‘Caring for two young children is challenging.’
‘You’re doing a great job. The kids are happy.’ Katie patted his hand. ‘A great job.’ She glanced around the room, giving Jason time to compose himself. ‘How’s work?’
‘Going well but now there may be competition. A new bank manager in town.’ He smiled. ‘Perhaps, you remember him. Sebastian Greenwood. His grandmother died, and he’s living in her house.’
‘What, the one on top of the hill?’
‘Yes. The one you always wanted to own.’
Katie absent-mindedly helped herself to a scone. ‘Why come back here? I heard he was some big shot in the city.’
‘His father died.’ Jason hesitated. ‘There was some scandal, but I can’t remember.’
‘Is he staying, or selling up?’
‘Don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.’
‘I might just do that.’ Katie smiled. ‘I might just do that.’
Katie woke in the middle of the night. She was again tangled in the bedclothes. Why wouldn’t her mind give her a rest? The movie started again –
Katie stomped down the corridor, her mind in a whirl. What to do? If she rejected it, she’d not get another job in a good university. What pricks they are. This was all she knew. Do I want to work for people like that? Just as she reached the quadrangle, she bumped into her old Professor.
‘Katie my dear you look grim.’
‘I’ve been talking to Professor Baxter.’
‘So formal.’ His faded blue eyes smiled at her. ‘Take the offer.’
‘Don’t be obtuse, Katie. It doesn’t become you.’