Tara pumped down the stairwell steps. Regardless of her stressful morning, she had students to teach. It was her chance to inspire them. And if Dr. Young made an appearance, all the better.
She walked into the lab to discover her students standing next to their cadavers, ready for lesson two. Her eyes automatically shifted to table three, Richard's table, his absence, obvious.
Tara cleared her throat. "Please open your syllabus to page thirty. Today we'll cover the the female internal anatomy, including the pelvis, which is compromised of four bones. Silence hit when she'd stopped speaking.
Craig raised his hand. "Excuse me, Dr. Ross. There are only three in our group today."
"Yes, I see that. Andrea, please join table three."
Andrea walked over to the table and stood behind the group of three.
"Thank you, Andrea."
The two women in the group looked relieved to have another woman join them, and Craig nodded with approval. Dilemma solved.
"You may start the dissection as outlined in your syllabus. I will walk around, assess your work, and answer your questions."
Dissecting instruments clattered to the stainless steel trays of the Mayo stands as the students leaned over their bodies, surgically opening them with novice awkwardness, except for Craig, who incised his cadaver with one smooth swipe of his scalpel.
"Well done," Andrea said.
They toiled over the cadaver opposite one another, their heads nearly touching. Tara walked over to the next table. She assisted and quizzed the group of students while keeping a watchful eye on Craig and Andrea's borderline familiarity. She left the students at the adjoining table, satisfied in their progress. Tara circled the tables and approached Craig and Andrea from behind. She stood there until they noticed her presence. Andrea guiltily backed away. Craig tilted his head towards Tara, giving her a sly smile.
He was good, the smug kind of good.
She shot Andrea a disapproving glance. Perhaps she got caught up in Craig's ego. She'd speak with her after class.
"All right. Nice work today. Close up your tables. There's a stack of handouts on the desk. Please take one before leaving. There are questions on it regarding what we've covered over the last two days. Answer them and return the handout tomorrow."
Craig picked up a handout and glanced sideways at Andrea before he left.
The students filed out of the laboratory. Dr. Young hadn't made an appearance. He must have been too deep in his research, but even for him to express genuine interest in the anatomy curriculum and in the students was quite an honor.
She'd have to bring it up. "Andrea, can I speak with you?"
The words, "can I speak with you," caused people to sweat and put them on the defensive. But she said them to Andrea, reflexively. She didn't want Andrea's heart pounding in her chest. Andrea's shoulders hunched. Too late.
Andrea swallowed. "Yes, Dr. Ross."
She'd begin the discussion with a genuine compliment. "I want to thank you for stepping in to help at table three." She steered away from calling it Craig's table.
"Thank you," she said, softly. Her eyes filled with panic, as if waiting for the blow.
"Craig is a magnetic type of medical student. He's intelligent and confident to the point of egotistical. I know he's priming for an internship spot in OB/GYN after medical school. He has that killer instinct. And he's handsome. That being said, it's easy to get caught up in his game. I'm just looking out for you."
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