Wyn’s eyes opened slowly the next morning. Twilight was attempting to make its way through her closed curtains. Rolling over she groaned and stretched before getting out of bed. Her fingers invaded her matted hair, scratching at her scalp as she willed herself awake. Through half closed eyes she looked over at her alarm clock, noting the time at 6:30AM. Plenty of time to get ready for her meeting with Professor Longacre.
Grabbing a towel and her shower caddie, she made her way to the communal bathrooms down the hall. It was early enough that it wasn’t crowded, and the only folks in there were the early birds who liked to get up early to go to the gym. As she showered, Wyn had a lot of feelings about recent and upcoming events and wasn’t quite sure how to deal with them.
The new feelings popping up for Han confused her. The unintended date with Gustavo Rivera was kinda exciting; however deep down she was extremely nervous. She hadn’t been on a date in months. The anxiousness of finding out if she would be awarded the chance to study abroad was all almost too much. The hot running water helped relax her, willing away anxious feelings and nervousness.
Wyn loved hot showers in in the morning, she felt more awake, more alert and like she could tackle the day. After she was done, she headed back to her room to get dressed, her hair would dry eventually. Grabbing everything she needed for the day, she made her way to the common area, fixing herself a bowl of cereal before heading out.
The air was still chilly when she finally made it outside, but Wyn didn’t mind the cold at all. In fact she preferred it, the crisp air seemed to invigorate her. How she would do with the moist heat of Selvadorada she didn’t know, but she hoped she would get the opportunity to find out.
Wyn sat in front of Professor Longacre’s office door quietly, fiddling with her phone. She had been waiting for about 5 minutes when another person entered the hallway. Not looking up when the person passed her, she just assumed it was someone for one of the other Faculty. To her surprise, the body stopped and sat next to her. A deep familiar voice spoke to her, Gustavo Rivera. “Bronwyn Gunderson. Good to see you bright and early after last night,” he cooed, flashing her a smile. His eyes were a cool grey today. Wyn shifted her weight in her seat trying to create some distance between them.
“Yea…” she said quickly, going back to her phone. “What are you doing here?” he inquired, looking her over. “I am here to meet with Prof. Longacre” she said with a small voice, wishing and praying that she would be called back so she wouldn’t have to talk to him. She always felt odd around attractive guys, and she wondered why he was even talking to her in the first place.
“Oh really?” he mused, “So am I.” he leaned back, “Well, whatever you are meeting him for….I hope it goes well,” he gave her a wink and settled, pulling his phone out. Gustavo started humming some tuneless song as they sat there, tapping his fingers on his thighs trying to keep some imaginary beat. Wyn felt like it was an eternity that they waited, there was only so much she could look at on her phone and the movement beside her was extremely distracting. It was almost like he WANTED her to say something to him.
They sat there for few more minutes before Professor Longacre’s door opened and he stuck his head outside. “Oh! Ms. Gunderson. Mr. Rivera. Glad you’re both here, come on in!” his head disappeared behind the door and Wyn and Gustavo looked at each other confused. “I didn’t know this was a joint meeting,” Gustavo mumbled, his expression growing on irritation. Wyn said nothing, but followed Gustavo into Longacre’s office, taking a seat in one of the plush chairs near his large wooden desk.
“So I know both of you are wondering…. Why are you both here!?” Professor Longacre started excited, giving them a way too enthusiastic grin.
“Uhm. Yeah. Hold on Prof.” Gustavo interrupted him, “I am wondering why she is here. I thought there was only one slot available for the program???? If that’s the case, obviously it should go to me, I am her senior. In more ways than one.” Wyn’s gaze immediately shot to the man-child sitting next to her, “The hell did he say?” she thought, growing annoyed.
“Yes, I called both, of you. Mr. Rivera, can I finish?” Longacre said obviously irritated, his expression had turned into a frown for a split second. “Now…” he continued slowly, “Originally, the department had it in the budget for 1 student. Thankfully, with a little finagling, I was about to come up with the funds to send our top upper level students for 1 full semester,” he turned to Gustavo, “As a Senior, Mr. Rivera, you had priority yes. However,” he turned to look at Bronwyn, “Ms. Gunderson’s faculty here were very adamant that she participate in the program. Congrats Bronwyn, I’ve heard you have been working hard, and your docent work has been exceptional.”
Wyn smiled widely, she was so excited she could barely contain herself, but she did, because Gustavo was sitting next to her flabbergasted at the decision. “This opportunity was for one student. For a year. That that was the plan right? Sh-she has no field experience whatsoever! If you expect me to-” Longacre cut him off, “I expect you to work with Ms. Gunderson and help her in the field. Never underestimate your peer, Mr. Rivera. You need to learn to manage others, and Bronwyn needs the experience. So you will mentor her in addition to completing your studies or, I am sure I can find another student to accompany her.” Wyn smiled to herself, “Damn,” she thought, “Way to stick it to him, Prof.”
Gustavo huffed for a moment, then looked over at Wyn with a stink face, “Yeah. K.” he mumbled. “Congratulations to the both of you,” Longacre continued, “We have already purchased your tickets…you’ll leave early September. We will arrange the housing and transportation for you. Otherwise, you will receive the tools and supplies you need once you reach Selvadorada. Your contact there will be Mathias Tran, he runs the museum bookstore near the center of town. He’s an old colleague of mine who had been studying Selvadoradian culture for a long time.”
Gustavo took the opportunity to give his opinion yet again, “Yeah, are you sure she should go? I mean. Look at her, she looks like she will freak out if a bug looks at her the wrong way.” Wyn did everything she could to not get offended by the statement, “I’m sure I have more outdoor skills than you.” she mumbled to herself.
Even though college life had severely limited the amount of time she could spend exploring the outdoors, she was always out if she could help it. To her, being outdoors was like breathing, thanks to many days spent in her mothers garden. It was like her second home and she felt infinitely comfortable out in the open air. “I think I will be fine, thank you for your concern Gustavo but its not needed,” she replied courteously. Gustavo sucked his teeth, still very annoyed, but he shut up after that.
Longacre spent the remainder of the meeting giving them all the details they needed, in addition to being assigned a project that they were to complete together before they left for the trip, “Now, I want a general schedule of how you both are going to spend each day, I want to see how you are breaking up the workload, and Gustavo…..Bronwyn will be giving the final evaluation on your leadership skills throughout the trip. Please do take this seriously. Your graduation depends on it.”
Gustavo went to say something then closed his mouth, he looked like a fish out of water. With teeth clenched tightly his eyes were nearly bugging out of his head in frustration, “Alright.” he breathed finally. What happened to the flirtatious poised man she had met last night? Wyn wondered, cause at the moment he was coming off as a frustrated toddler.
“I am sure both of you can work it out. I want to see something on this desk in two weeks. That means both of you have plenty of time to get to know each other and put something professional together. Yes?” Longacre asked the both of them. Wyn nodded, confident that she would be able to put together a stellar schedule and work plan. Now working with Gustavo? That was something she was less excited about, especially since she assumed they still had a ‘dinner’ date that night.
“Damn, I thought I was gonna have dinner then never see this dude again, now we are going on this trip together, for a whole freakin semester,” Wyn sighed internally, Gustavo seemed like a huge pain to work with. Again a total 180 from the charmer that she encountered last night at the party. Gustavo was now standing, shaking Longacre’s hand. “Yeah Prof. We will work it out. Right… Wyn?” he winked at her, his once cool grey eyes had turned to resemble the color of granite. Cold and imposing. Wyn almost rolled her eyes, but as Longacre was sitting right there she nodded and smiled. “Alright then,” Longacre smiled, “You are free to go,” he said to Gustavo. “Ms. Gunderson, could you stay here for a few minute please?” Wyn looked at Gustavo and back at her Professor, “Sure,” she said cautiously as she watched Gustavo exit the room.
Wyn was sitting alone in her Professor’s office, “What else could he have to talk to me about?” she wondered nervously. “Now Ms. Gunderson, you should be proud to know that not only Professor Murphy gave you high accolades, but also Professor Reddington. Their recommendations letters are what convinced the board to allow two students this opportunity. They felt like starting field work earlier would be of great benefit to you. In more ways than one. All that to say. Do not let Mr. Rivera intimidate you. He is smart and quite talented, but I think you’ve got something special to offer, so I hope that you take this seriously.”
Bronwyn could hardly breathe. Two of her toughest teachers gave her stellar recommendations, and Professor Longacre, Department Head was confident that she would kick ass? Hell Yes. “Of course Professor Longacre, I will do my best,” Wyn replied confidently. “Fantastic! Remember, I want that project outline on my desk in two weeks. Good luck my dear,” he stood and shook her hand. “Please see yourself out,” he said as he sat back in his desk chair.