Faith Ferguson stared out the window, mesmerized by the silver light, as it shimmered across the all but frozen surface of the Charles River. She loved that view. It was the same scene she enjoyed from her condo, just a few blocks away. In fact, one of the reasons she’d chosen Myles University in the first place, was its close proximity to her home. The other being, of course, its highly ranked psychology program, which was her current field of study.
This afternoon, Faith was waiting in the graduate student office for her advisor to arrive. It would be their final, and somewhat perfunctory, meeting of the term. She was in the last year of her PhD program, and, other than completing her internship, was set to graduate in May. In spite of that, she wasn’t looking forward to this meeting, as the relationship with her advisor was, to say the least, complex.
Now, just a few weeks before Christmas, Faith was really looking forward to the holiday break. For the previous six months, she’d been interning as a counselor at various battered women’s shelters across the city, and thoughts of what those women had suffered, as well as Faith’s own issues with her advisor, were weighing heavily on her.
Her contemplation was interrupted, however, as she felt an alarming presence drawing near. She knew instantly that she was in danger. Hearing footsteps approaching, she looked toward the door. As she did, it burst open and slammed against the office wall with such force, that the door’s handle actually put a hole in it. As she had sensed, it was not her advisor, nor was it any of her officemates. It was a man; a man she didn't know. Before he could speak, Faith grabbed the cell phone from the corner of her desk and dialed 911.
“That's not gonna do you any good,” the man said, as he ripped the phone from her hand, turned it off, and threw it across the room. Then, stepping around Faith's desk, and standing far too close to her, he said, “Don't worry, I'm not gonna hurt you … today.”
His aggressive behavior would have been scary enough, but it was compounded by the fact that he was well over six feet tall, with the physical presence of a linebacker. The only upside being that, true to his word, other than grabbing her phone, he hadn't, thus far, touched her. In spite of which, not taking any chances, Faith had slipped her hand into the center desk drawer, where it now rested on a pair of scissors.
“What do you want?” Faith asked, without moving her hand off the only physical weapon at her disposal.
“I’m Colin Wall, and I want you to give me back my wife and kids, or the next time we meet … I will hurt you.”
Faith didn’t bother to deny that she knew what he was talking about. She did. She knew, or was pretty sure, that Colin Wall was the husband of Angela Wall. Angela was a resident at the Bourne Street Women’s Shelter, which was one of the three locations where Faith had been doing her internship. But, how, Faith wondered, did Colin Wall know she worked there, and even more troubling was, how did he know that Angela was at the Bourne Street shelter, at all. Those issues were, however, while problematic, not her immediate concern. She needed to gain control of the situation. Since he’d now moved back a few steps, Faith decided to use her innate, and what could only be described as, extraordinary, powers of persuasion.
“All right,” she said, taking a breath and finally sliding her hand out from the desk drawer, and closing it. “Colin, why are you here?”
“I told you. I want my wife and kids.”
“That’s why I’m confused. I’m just a doctoral student. Even if I wanted to send them home, I have no real authority.”
“That’s not what I was told,” Colin snapped back at her.
“Told? Told by who?”
Colin was silent.
“Well, I swear, I’m just a student,” Faith said, gesturing at their surroundings.
Not willing to back down, and still intent on his mission, Colin said, “You tell her I know where she is, and if she doesn’t come home tonight, she’ll be sorry. You’ll all be sorry. Now get her on the phone.”
“All right, sit down, and let me see what I can do,” Faith said, making deliberate eye contact with him. “Maybe I can get in touch with her.”
Faith, of course, had no intention of doing any such thing, but, at that moment, what she said, wasn’t about content, it was about making a connection. Her voice was soft, with a sultry texture, and her cadence was slow and steady. Colin’s arms had been hanging by his side with fists clenched. As Faith spoke, she saw his hands relax, and with this, ever so slight, confirmation that he was falling under her control, the hint of a smile crossed her face.
He didn’t want to sit down but, in spite of himself, he sat in the chair by her desk, feeling almost a sense of arousal, but not that. It was more a sense of complete peace with a touch of euphoria.
“First,” she said, “I’ll get you some tea.”
While her special skills were well honed and almost never failed, this was an art, not a science, and Faith didn’t entirely trust that Colin would stay put. So, as she got up to cross the room, she gave a subtle glance back toward him, and, with slight trepidation, walked to the far corner. Once there, Faith unlocked a small personal storage cabinet, which hung directly above the student’s communal hotplate, and pulled out a bag that contained one of her own, special, blends of tea. The one she selected had a red tag and was the most potent of her arsenal. Faith took a carafe of boiling water off the hotplate, and selected a mug from the eclectic assortment, next to it. She poured boiling water over the bag of her souped-up herbal tea, while in a barely audible whisper, repeating the phrase, “My words compel you.”
Faith returned to her desk, mug in hand, and said, “Here, drink this, it’ll make you feel better.”
Colin didn’t want the tea. He didn’t drink tea, but he drank this tea.