Aurelia quickly realized that Baron wasn’t playing when he told her to work hard in his class. He gave a hundred and ten percent and expected the same effort from his students. No one was given a free ride, male or female.
The females that thought they would pass this class based on their looks alone quickly got a rude awakening. Many of them dropped the class by mid-September, unable to keep up with the barrage of assignments, unable to use their beauty to gain Baron’s favor or his leniency, unable to entice the handsome professor in any way. Dr. Baron Weaver was all about business.
Aurelia wouldn’t think of dropping this class. Not only did she need it to graduate, she seriously doubted if she would have learned as much from another instructor. Baron was a wealth of information on any given topic it seemed, especially forensics. He welcomed student questions and always answered them thoroughly.
Baron also liked asking questions. Many of which he directed at Aurelia just to see if she was up on her game. Or so it seemed to her. That only made her study harder. Aurelia even put in extra study time during her breaks at both jobs, one of which was the weekend position at the crime lab. Oh yes, she’d gotten that coveted job after interviewing better than all of her peers put together.
There was no time to study at the soup kitchen. It stayed busy the whole two hours she was there on Saturdays.
This past Saturday, one of Aurelia’s Vietnamese-American classmates was involved in a very bad car accident. That accident totaled Bambi Mac’s vehicle and sent her to the intensive care unit at a local hospital. Incidentally, everyone called the injured woman Bambi Mac because they couldn’t pronounce her Vietnamese name. That extraordinary name was Mac Yen Co Truc (in order from last name, middle name, with Co Truc as the two-part first name).
The meaning of Bambi’s Vietnamese name was ancient or old (Co), bamboo (Truc), and peace (Yen). In short, peaceful old bamboo.
Although Bambi was anything but old right now, she was definitely peaceful and an outright peacemaker at times. She was also as versatile as the bamboo plant, which was used for all kinds of things, including food, medicine, and construction.
Bambi would need some of that versatility to help her through this trying time in her life. For even though she miraculously survived her accident, she broke both of her hips in the process. Now she would miss a few weeks of vital class time due to her injuries.
Wanting to do something to help her injured classmate, Aurelia came to class extra early today and asked Baron for all of Bambi’s assignments upon informing him of that unfortunate weekend accident. She stuttered over her words a time or two while she talked as her emotions ran higher than usual. Her island accent had never been thicker.
Yes, Aurelia was upset about Bambi’s accident. Yet it was Baron that made her emotions spike so significantly. That made her accent thicken so considerably in his presence.
The whole time Aurelia talked, Baron remained completely silent in his chair with his hands clasped tightly together upon the desk. His eyes kept going from her eyes to her mouth in a slow sweeping motion. He kept licking his lips every so often, stirring up volcanic memories in the process.
By the time Aurelia finished, she was almost breathless with desire, despite her somber news. It was a good thing no one else was in the room. Otherwise they would know that there was something personal going on between her and the professor, despite the fact that his hot gaze never went any lower than her chin.
“I’m really sorry to hear about Bambi,” Baron finally replied, sounding a bit breathless himself and also concerned for his injured student. However, he looked impressed…by Aurelia.
“What’s wrong with Bambi?” Claude Greenman asked, suddenly appearing at the door. The gifted biology major, who was heading straight for medical school to be an oncologist when he graduated, had heard the tail end of their conversation. Now his interest was thoroughly piqued.
Aurelia took a deep breath and repeated the sad news she gotten via text message last night from Bambi’s mother. That message had been sent to all of Bambi’s close friends and study buddies. Aurelia was still in the study buddy group. Though she and Bambi were friends, they hadn’t hung out long enough to be in the close friends’ category yet.
“Wow. I’m sorry to hear that. But Bambi’s a trooper. I’m sure she’ll pull through just fine,” Claude said, once he’d heard a much quicker summary of the accident than Baron had gotten.
“I certainly hope so. She’s such a tiny little ting,” Aurelia replied, her eyes shiny with fresh emotion. Her accent still just as thick.
Moved by her concern for others, Baron sprung to his feet, ready to comfort her in his arms. But after quickly remembering where they were, he refrained from all physical contact and instead offered Aurelia time and space to pull herself back together. “Miss Bunting, why don’t you have a seat now and leave it up to me to tell the rest of the class about Bambi. If there’s anything you want to add afterwards, please do so.”
“Thanks, Professor.” Aurelia blinked her eyes free and turned to give him a grateful smile before moving to her usual seat on the third row.
An emotional lump formed in Baron’s throat at that dimpled smile. Amazement filled his heart that something as simple as a smile could affect him so deeply.
Returning to his desk, Baron waited for the rest of his students to arrive so that he could keep his word to Aurelia. Wisdom dictated that he tell them all at one time to eliminate the need to repeat himself.
At the end of his solemn disclosure, Baron turned to address Aurelia. “Before I give you the floor, Miss Bunting, just know that you’re welcome to come to my office after class today to receive the next two weeks worth of assignments for Bambi,” he said, maintaining his habit of addressing his students formally when talking to them directly, but referring to them informally when discussing them with others. “Then if she’s still unable to return to school after that, I’ll give you another two weeks worth.”
“Thanks again, Professor,” Aurelia said, blessing him with another grateful smile. Then she turned to address her fellow classmates. “As for the rest of you old chaps,” she said, now speaking in an Australian accent to help lighten the heavy mood that had settled in the room. “I’ll be taking up the usual donations after class, so dig deep in your pockets,” she concluded, making sure to elongate her vowels and end her sentences an octave higher so that they all sounded like questions.
Everyone burst out laughing, including Baron.
“Will you be getting the usual card, flowers, and fruit basket, milady?” a grinning Claude replied, speaking in an Australian accent of his own, except his sounded a bit more British. Though best known for his intelligence and overall good looks, his easy wit was also renowned. Thus it was no surprise when he was the first to link up with Aurelia’s Aussie Express.
“You know it, mate.” Aurelia chuckled.
Soon more classmates join in on the animated conversation, all speaking with their own versions of Australian accents. The rest laughed. They were used to Aurelia’s witty antics, although this particular prank usually only occurred on her April 1st birthday.
Baron continued to roar with laughter as the unique banter persisted among his students, getting even funnier with each new comment. His reaction was much different from Rhoda’s. She’d wanted to suspend the whole class for talking with a Swedish accent when Aurelia initiated the same prank during their freshman year. Incidentally, Rhoda was the only AU professor to ever get offended by that prank. All the others found it funny.
Baron found Aurelia’s playful side downright hilarious. Adorable, too. Deeper inside, more than just laughter swirled in his heart. There was now love there, too.
Seeing the other students’ reaction to Aurelia made Baron even more impressed by her, even more conducive to loving her. The fact that they were readily pulling money from their wallets and purses and passing it to her already proved to him that she’d not only led the way in charitable acts before, but that she could also be trusted to carry out such acts.
Megan had been almost the exact opposite. Any acts of charity always had to have an audience. None of them were ever done just from the heart.
Discovering that Aurelia was genuinely a trustworthy and benevolent person made Baron’s lower body stir to life, as well. He recalled another time when she had been just as giving of herself. As a lover, she’d been the epitome of unselfishness.
Realizing he was going to have to spend the next thirty minutes or so teaching from his desk, forgoing his usual walk-about method of instruction, Baron respectfully closed the Aussie Express by asking the class to open their textbooks to the review questions at the end of the chapter. He garnered smiles from them by making that request in an Australian accent of his own.
Aurelia smiled at his playfulness, too. She also tingled…a lot.