Latest Event Updates
The Office Wife, Issue 3
The Office Wife, March 11, 2017, Issue 3, Olivia Gaines
Manigault Hurley, R & D
A quiet Tuesday morning ensued as Vicki made coffee in the breakroom for whichever members of the board who were in the office that day. Although the suggestion box requested, almost daily, the purchase of one of those machines with the little pods, it was not economical to purchase so many expensive packages, to make one cup of coffee at a time. Besides, the pods left a medicinal taste on her tongue. It wasn’t as if she were a coffee purist, but there was no reason to ruin a good cup of Joe, with a plastic cup of ground nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense, Vicki checked her inbox to find five invitations for lunch from Konnie with a K who had an unnatural fascination with personal organizers and Washi tape. Twice in the last two days, Vicki found stickers with Washi tape in her office mail box. Konnie was like a naughty little cat who liked to leave dead treats on your pillow. There was something odd about the young temp in a not so good way. The Washi tape felt like little dead bodies in coils of bright colors left for her to see every other day. To make matters worse, somehow, Konnie found out today was her birthday.
A roll of Washi tape with little balloons and cakes sat on her desk with a card, when opened spit out a puff of multi-colored confetti. It was all over her desk. By the time lunch rolled around, Vicki’s futile attempts to rid herself of the meddlesome colorful dots only resulted in confetti in her hair and stuck to her neck and face. Taneeka, her office best friend of only a month, sent her a text message with an image of her face, frozen in laughter.
Vicki’s phone binged. It was another text with an image from Taneeka.
This image was of her nose, taped upwards, Miss Piggy style with a bright strip of Washi tape. It was comical. However, it wasn’t as comical as the image of Manigault Hurley, standing in front of her desk dressed like a character from Monty Python.
“Allow me, Ms. Lawrence, to take you to lunch on this special day of your birth,” he said with his lips pressed together as if her were holding in a wad a slobber and a chunk of peanut butter in his cheeks like a deranged chipmunk.
“Thank you Mr. Hurley, but I can’t today,” she tried backing away from the offer.
“Nonsense,” he said, leaning back rubbing his little flat stomach. “It is your birthday. If you don’t have plans, and based on that lunch bag, I can only assume you don’t, then allow me to treat you to a lovely lunch at my club.”
He was right. Her lunch bag held left over take out from the Chinese restaurant around the corner from her house, which always had too many onions, which gave her horrific gas. She didn’t want to eat what was in her bag any more than she wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon finding discrete places to poot.
“Come, it will be grand. My driver will take us over to the club, you can order whatever you want, and I will have a lovely cake ordered just for your special day,” Manigault told her.
He seemed like a nice man who reminded her of Grandpa Lawrence. She hoped he didn’t have the same sense of humor though. Her Grandpa Lawrence, for fun, enjoyed taking his teeth out in church to make lewd gestures with his tongue to the ladies in the choir, but he never followed up on any of his suggestive behaviors. She prayed Manigault was the same way.
“Sure, it would be nice to join you for lunch on my birthday. I am certain you are going to make this a day to remember,” she responded.
“No, I am going to treat you to a good meal,” he told her with an expressionless face.
Vicki was just crossing into the three-month mark at American Conglomerate. Thus far, based on what she’d seen, clicks and grouplings were formed, but Manigault stood out from the crowd. He was a man of what appeared to be impeccable breeding, ridiculously good taste paired with a reputation without flaw. From what she could gather, his private life, was indeed very private. His desk held no personal photos, momentous, only documentation of his life at American Conglomerate.
“Perfect, I will meet you downstairs at my car at 11:45, please don’t be late,” he cautioned.
Vicki looked down at her watch. It was 11:15. She had thirty minutes to prepare herself for what she knew was going to be a drawn-out conversation on his bug collection from New Guinea or worse, a long-winded montage on the down fall of the black man. This was usually followed by an invitation to make her life easier by offering her a key to his love pad downtown, or worse, a tiny ranch house in the Valley right below Rancho Cucamonga. Suddenly her appetite waned the same moment her desk phone rang. It was Taneeka.
“Hey!” She said to Vicki.
“Hey back,” she said slowly.
“Happy Birthday,” Taneeka said quickly. “Drinks on me after work if you can make it.”
“If it is close by at a local watering hole and on my way home, I could sip on something to cut the edges off my glitter infused morning,” she replied.
“Just don’t sip or suck on anything during lunch. I heard old men give you bugs,” Taneeka joked.
“I think he is just being nice, considering he knows no one else on this floor or team is going to do anything for my special day,” Vicki mumbled.
“You never know,” Taneeka said. “No seriously, you never know, he could be taking you out to set you up for the old rope a dope.”
“As in…a surprise on my desk when I get back?”
“No, he is going to show you that an old stove still has a hot pipe,” she told Vicki.
“Just when I started to like you a little,” Vicki chided.
“Well, hurry up. Manigault hates it when people are late plus, I am dying to find out what this lunch thing is about,” she said.
“Okay…whatever, have fun at my painful expense,” she said before saying goodbye and ending the call.
At least I get a decent meal out of it. Hurrying to the ladies to room to take care of her necessities, she washed her face, fluffed her hair and applied a little lipstick before heading to the first floor. Manigault had said driver. She failed to ask what his driver would be driving. Once she stepped out of the door, she quickly saw.
The classic Bentley was manned by a very large Asian gentleman who remined her of the James Bond villain with the bowler hat that could decapitate a man. I wish I could remember the villian’s name. Her fingers involuntarily went to her neck, caressing the soft skin. The door was opened for her as she tugged a little on the red dress she chose to wear this morning, even considering it was bordering on too little for her curvy body. The dress made her feel pretty even if on the inside, she felt like sludge. The three-inch heels added a bit of height to her frame, as she slid her bottom into the car seat first, swinging well-toned legs around to face the front. Manigault appeared to be pleased. It was more of a move to protect her modesty from the eyes of the driver. He didn’t need to see the hot red lacy undies.
“Thank you for joining me,” Manigault told her.
“It is I who should be thanking you,” she said sweetly.
He only nodded, pulled out his phone, and began to make notes in a pocket note book as they drove to the Lakeside Country Club in Burbank. The drive was short, his body was tense as the car came to a stop in front of what looked like the main entrance. His glasses came down from his face.
“Wait for me to come escort you,” he said.
The driver opened his door first. Manigault inhaled sharply, exhaling what sounded like frustration as he stood, leisurely walking around the car to open Vicki’s door. A well-manicured hand reached inside the car asking for her to join him. Luckily, she’d just gotten a mani and pedi herself as her hand slid into his, coming out of the car, to stand at his side. He wrapped her arm into his as they made their way into the main building.
Vicki learned something new about Manigault that day. She found out that he was Hollywood royalty. Everywhere he turned, people were bending over to almost kiss his ass. He held his head high, walking as if he didn’t see any of the little people as they passed making their way to a private dining area. This pushed Vicki to do the only thing she knew to do, play along. Whatever was happening here was in the now. She was being audition for a role she wasn’t certain she wanted to play.
Over lunch of rock crab claws, something drenched in champagne, and a dollop of mashed potatoes, she said nothing as they ate in silence. On occasion, she would look up at him in well placed intervals and smile. His face did not move the first time she did it. The second time she smiled at him, she added a wink.
It got a reaction out of him.
Brief, but small, Manigault’ s eyes smiled back at her.
Three young men, all waist staff, were gawking at them all throughout lunch. Someone snapped a photo which infuriated Manigault to no end, who raised his hand, and three managers materialized like ghostly apparitions awaiting his bidding.
“My lady friend and I value our privacy. Whoever it was who snapped the photo, I know you will assure me it will not be seen anywhere?” He asked the manager as he got to his feet. He held out his hand for Vicki to come to his side in a show of outrage by the staff’s actions.
“Of course, Mr. Hurley, we will take care of it,” the manager lied.
Vicki held his arm, lips pouting out like an upset child, looking at the manager. In a childlike voice, she asked him, “Manigault, they are not going to sell our pictures to the papa-pazzi are they?”
“Paparazzi dear,” he said to her.
“Oh yeah. Pappa-prazzi,” he said trying to mimic him.
Manigault looked at the manager, “See that they don’t.”
Vicki, to add fuel to the fire, pushed up on her right breast with her hand, as if to shift its attention toward the door as she took Manigault’ s arm squeezing it for support, she held her head high and walked out the door. She added a bit more swish to her hips, stomping her feet like a runway model until they reached the car.
Bottom in first, she swung her legs around as the driver closed her door. She waited patiently for Manigault to entered the other side of the car, turning to face her with a gigantic grin on his face. Vicki shuddered. In three months’ time, she’d never seen him so happy.
“Mr. Hurley, you do know that photo is going to be everywhere by 6 am. It will be all over social media and every one will be trying to figure out who I am,” she said to him. “It never dawned on me that you were the Manigault Hurley.”
“One and the same. I love my job at American Conglomerate and I am very good at it. I allow my family to handle the Hollywood stuff and I make public appearances with unknown pretty girls on my arm to keep the family’s name in the papers,” he said.
He’d told her enough, she understood.
“How many country clubs do you belong to?”
“Unfortunately, four. I visit one each week,” he said. “I love the months with five weeks because then I get a break.”
Vicki started to smile.
“Why are you grinning?”
“Because, if I get three nice wigs, I get a free lunch at an exclusive country club for the rest of the month,” she said with a wink.
“You’re good,” he told her with a larger smile.
“I thought you’d get a kick out of my Papa-pazzi comment,” she grinned.
“That was a nice touch,” he said patting her hand.
The drive back to the office passed in silence until they reached the front door of American Conglomerate. Manigault touched her hand.
“Ms. Vicki, you are a very astute young woman. I trust the details of our day will be kept in confidence?”
“Mr. Hurley, in my current position, everything I see, touch, feel or understand goes to my grave.”
“So, this is safe with you?”
“It will be as safe as the three wigs you hide under the driver’s seat for the next few Tuesdays,” she said, as she opened her door and stepped out into the Burbank sun.
Vicki did not see Hurley for the remainder of the day, but at 4:45, she’d trained her body to hold on, to make that last stop to the ladies’ room before she headed out at 5:10 each day to sit in traffic trying to get home. She returned to her desk to find a cupcake along with small black box on her desk with a diamond ring, nothing flashy, but classy in all the right ways. It had a simple note in bold script.
Keep it in your drawer for our once monthly first Tuesday outings. Enjoy your birthday. – Hurley
She’s passed the test. Whatever the test was, in Manigault’ s eyes, she’d passed it with flying colors. Once monthly outings. So once a month, on the first Tuesday, she was having lunch or making the rounds with him. Uncertain, yet sure as the corn on her left toe aching when it rained, she had just become something special and significant for Manigault.
Oddjob. That was the Bond character’s name with the bowler hat!
She’d been given an odd job herself. Once a month she would wear a pretty dress, don the ring and escort him on his rounds to ensure he got his name and the family brand on a social network site. Eyeing the ring a final time before securing it, she stood up and stuck it into the office safe for the next first Tuesday of next month. However, right now, she was ready to have a drink, celebrate her day of birth first with Taneeka, then her friends at home.
Vicki shrugged. Technically, Taneeka would be the third person she celebrated with since Konnie had been the first. Either way, it sure beat spending her birthday alone. In her heart, she knew much of his private life, he’d spent that way. If lunch or an outing once a month took some of the pressure off him to be a certain something for his family, she could do that for him.
Everybody needs some body.
She had just become a somebody for Manigault Hurley.
Oddly, I am okay with that.
Here we catch up with Jack and his new bride, Cyndi who ordered their new home, but it is getting cold. This means the ground is frozen and he can’t dig to put in a septic system or water lines, so no running water. Holden suggests he moves in with he and Tallulah since her delivery is so close.
Cyndi and Talullah have become instant friends but she and jack are a bit too randy for her tastes which causes a bit of an issue.
This issue is small in comparison to the unlikability of Molly who has tried to get settled into the town. Carson our confused and tearful Farmer, who thank heavens, has finally gotten a decent haircut, is settling in with his new wife. Sharing a shack with her on a cold night seemed a lot easier than sharing a house with her and two puppies. Winter is coming fast as well as the snow and it is time to hunker down for the long, cold, time of the year.
Tensions on Friday game night are high as everyone gathers at Daniel and Darlene’s and for the first time, Doc comes along.
The extent of the damage to Doc’s mental state is revealed as well as the type of medicine he practiced, what happened to him and his long struggle back to some semblance of normal. His recovery is aided by the most unlikely of female heroine which begins the wind down of the series which ends with book 5, this Summer with Jamar’s story.
I can’t wait to welcome you back to Serenity in June.
Death’s Door By David Reichart
“Late at night, when you’re all alone behind the wheel of a big Freightliner, with the deep hypnotic drone of 500 horses trying to hum you a lullaby, all the dark thoughts you manage to keep locked up during the light of day get a chance to make their move. That’s when images you’ve tried to banish and thoughts you’re still not prepared to deal with creep out of a reptilian brain stem and slither toward your unguarded conscious mind.
I should have known that trucking wasn’t a good career choice for a guy whose whole adult life had been spent as a professional warrior. One thing I didn’t need was more time alone with my thoughts. But I did need a job, so when I heard that trucking companies were begging for guys like me—and nobody else was—I took the bait. Big mistake.”
David Reichart’s story is about a former Special Ops military man trying his best to fit back into society. Now, Jessie Yates is an undercover operator. His first assignment centers around the hijacking of transport vehicles in an area of Alabama and Georgia. A trucker thriller is a first for me.
Currently Free on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Door-David-Reichart-ebook/dp/B016SBJLAE
Addict of the Wasteland Wasteland, Volume 0.5 Jon Cronshaw
“He passes dead trees and crawling vines, rusted road signs, and the foundations of long-gone houses poking through the lifeless soil. Blast craters pepper the land to the south. Everything is coated in a brownish-grey dust, probably swept across the wastes during the last storm. He heads towards the greenery.
After two miles or so, the road gets steeper. He keeps watch, alert for movement. He grips the handle of his pistol and listens. A dog howls in the distance, too far away to be a threat. The pull of the plez is there; it’s always there, nagging him, prodding him. He shudders, removes his cap, runs his hands over his lank hair and beard, and shakes away the withdrawal.”
Addict of the Wasteland is a post-apocalyptic tale about finding hope and redemption against all odds.
Download Addict of the Wasteland to survive a twisted future today!
Download at Instafreebie: https://instafreebie.com/discover/author/5871/jon_cronshaw
What are you reading?
I don’t know what I am writing.
Some days I sit at the computer and stare at the screen waiting for something to materialize.
Other days, I am up, at my desk and punishing the keys as I take my sexy hero and his misunderstood heroine on this quest for love.
Here lately, I have been picking my nails bordering on one step for boredom.
I have tons to write.
I just finished Blind Date. This one is really cool, but it will not be available for purchase. You can get it if you see me in person.
March 17- 18, 2017
Romancing the Smokies Knoxville, Tenneesee
May 18-20, 2017
Interracial Readers Expo Party Daytona. Florida
September 6-9, 2017
Swirling in the Big Easy New Orleans, LA
I know it seems evil, but readers who go the extra step, get the special prize. This is a special prize.
Fun. Sexy. All of the elements you love.
Mr. Cromwell Goes to Washington
I am working on this one. However, I put it aside, then some back to it, put it aside then come back to it. So I will keep you posted.
I have some other projects in the works, but I am really gearing up for the release of Oregon Trails. I really love this story. I can’t wait for you to read it.
The Office Wife, February 5, 2017, Issue 2, Olivia Gaines
Taneeka James, MBA- Procurement
Thirty days of Vicki’s life sped by in that first month at American Conglomerate (AC). As the executive assistant to the board of directors at American Conglomerate, each work day she rode the elevator to her office on the 35th floor seemed far above the maddening crowd but not nearly high enough to avoid stepping in the daily bullshit of life. At one point in her week, it unaffectedly felt as if someone had backed a laden truck full of manure to the front door and unloaded it on the marbled entryway. True, shit travels downhill, but the smells always waft upwards.
Vicki’s nose was full of the stench. Trying to rise above it all was difficult since all the crabs on the bottom of the barrel were yanking on her ankle. Finding a balance between the demands of her new job and the demands of her life took a great deal of effort. If one could be honest, Vickie was bordering on exhaustion. Entering the building each day with a look of determination on her face was part of the job. Being a professional was mandatory, and being human was a given. On days like today, it was difficult being a nice person and a professional when men like Willie Johnson believed her to be an easy target.
“You are looking mighty fine in that red dress Ms. Vicki,” he said with a lecherous smile. Willie, also a board member, a recent divorcee and feeling the lightness of his new-found freedom took it upon himself to make a play for her. He was also a life-sized pain in her ass. A month in and the stupid man was forgetting himself.
“And you would look mighty fine in a court room explaining why you felt it necessary to sexually harass me,” Vicki responded.
Willie sputtered as if he’d eaten a Habanero pepper and tried to wash down the heat with a cold Coke. “I meant no harm, Ms. Vicki, I was simply complimenting you today,” he lied.
Vicki stepped closer to him.
“You are a member of the Board of Directors. It is no more appropriate for you to compliment me than it would be to tell Mr. Herman he had a nice ass. Stop being insipid and remember where you are,” she said in a hushed tone of voice.
“Jesus!” Willie said.
“Stop blaspheming and get back to work–over here bothering me with your nonsense,” she mumbled walking to her desk. This week’s schedule reported Willie traveling to Poughkeepsie. Why he was still here getting on her nerves was beyond her comprehension, but he was here. Getting on her nerves.
Lately, everything was tickling a nerve ending.
A nice cup of tea should do the trick.
Making her way to the break room, Vicki heard the sound of someone crying in the lady’s room. It was loud. By the sounds of it, the person crying had reached the snotting phase. That is the level where the tears, snot, and sadness all intermingled into one big flow of gooey liquid.
“Hello,” she called out as she entered the restroom. “Do you need some help?”
“No,” a weak voice called back. “I’m okay.”
Vicki sighed deeply, moving further into the bathroom when she wanted to turn, run and go the other way. She couldn’t. Someone needed her help.
“It doesn’t sound like you are okay,” Vicki responded, walking down the row of silver doors until she came to the one which was closed. A pair of very expensive pumps, hung from underneath the door. Dark, hose covered legs were attached to the shoes. Only four women were on the board. Of the four, just one was black.
“Ms. James, is everything all right?” She asked.
Taneeka James, by anyone’s standards was a sharp, savvy woman going places. Widely respected in the company, she was appointed to the board at the age of 32 after saving the company millions by switching a supply chain provider, which put her in contact with a farmer, who worked with a small company which shortened the processes of distribution in South America. It put her on the fast track. Rumors swelled throughout the company that once she finished her two years on the board, she would be able to pick where she wanted to work in the world. Someone had even mentioned a vice president position in the corporate main office.
Each time Vicki saw the young woman, her face was filled with determination. The drive she had for AC was envied by some while mocked by others. Crying in a bathroom stall was unlike the tenacious Taneeka.
“Ms. James, seriously, it can’t be that bad,” Vicki said softly.
“Oh yeah? Wanna bet,” Taneeka replied.
Vicki decided to have some fun at her expense.
“Oh no! You are pregnant with your boyfriend’s baby and your husband is sterile.” Vicki asked.
“Say what?” Taneeka responded. Vicki noticed that the sobbing had eased.
“You gained ten pounds and your doctor has placed you on a no carb diet,” Vicki said.
“No…what are you talking about?”
“Please tell me you don’t have cancer!” Vicki yelled.
Taneeka flung open the door to stand in the stall staring at Vicki as if she’d lost her everlasting mind. Vicki greeted her with a wide smile.
“At least I got you to stop crying,” she said to Taneeka. “Come one over here and let’s hug this out.”
Vicki opened her arms to the young lady, uncertain if she would step into the embrace or curse her up one side of her head and down the other. Instead she stood still.
“Don’t be shy. No one is in this bathroom, but the two of us. Come on and get this love before I start charging you an admission fee,” Vicki said to the woman.
To her surprise, Taneeka stepped forward and flung herself into Vicki’s arms. It was so forceful, it would have knocked Vicki down if it weren’t for the granite counter top behind them. She held onto the young woman as a fresh set of tears marched from her ducts, making an imprinted trail down her cheeks. After five minutes, Vicki stepped back and pushed her away.
“Okay, enough of that shit. It’s time to shake it off, make a plan and move forward,” she told Taneeka.
“You make it sound so simple,” Taneeka said.
“It is that simple. What makes life complicated is that we are always trying to make every circle fit into a square simply because it looks pretty to us. Life isn’t pretty. Sit down, figure out a game plan and get moving,” she said with authority. It was difficult to believe that a woman who represented the entirety of procurement for a multi-billion dollar conglomerate was in the lady’s room crying.
When Vicki accepted the position, many of the departments the board members represented required extensive research. Taneeka’s role in procuring involved the procedure of selecting vendors, establishing payment terms, strategic vetting, selection, the negotiation of contracts and actual purchasing of goods. Her role in overseeing procurement from the board perspective focused more a concern with acquisition all the goods, services and work that is vital to organizational policies that are in place to make sure AC is sourcing from companies with similar ethics, and that the sourcing materials that are not environmentally hazardous.
“So, with all that said, Ms. James, why are you crying?”
She inhaled twice.
Taneeka looked down at her feet.
She shuffled her feet.
Vicki was getting impatient and she really wanted her tea. Please don’t let this be about some chuckle headed boyfriend. It wasn’t. It was over her chuckle headed husband.
“Malik, that’s my husband, is all over me about the credit card and my spending. On top of that, I can’t cook, the house is a mess, and I overshoot my budget every month. It has become a point of contention in our marriage,” she confessed.
Stunned was the right word to describe what Vicki was feeling.
This powerful, black woman, sat on a commode in the bathroom crying, because she couldn’t cook and couldn’t balance a checkbook.
A woman who made purchasing decisions and wrote policies for one of the largest conglomerates in the world was falling apart in the bathroom because she was a lousy wife.
“I need some tea,” Vicki said.
“Are you leaving me?”
“Yep. I thought you had a real problem,” Vicki said as she washed her hands.
“I do have a real problem. I am a lousy wife,” she said to Vicki.
Vicki walked away from Taneeka, headed to the break room to make that cup of tea she so desperately needed to get her through the rest of a crappy day. The last thing on her list was listening to a woman who made six figures, wore clothing she couldn’t pronounce and live in a neighborhood where she couldn’t even get a job as a housekeeper.
“Vicki,” Taneeka called behind her. “Wait a minute, please.”
“No. I am going to make myself a cup of tea. Would you care for one as well?”
“Uhmm, yes,” Taneeka responded.
“Good. Get cleaned up and I will see you in the break room,” she replied.
It was the start of a relationship that few could explain, yet most women could understand. Vicki had somehow become Taneeka’s office wife. By adding Taneeka as a friend to her Pinterest board, Vicki was able to offer her guidance, friendship and a camaraderie in a job were there were no such things as friends. Vicki taught a wife who could not cook how to prepare fresh meals in her home. Some of the meals were via crock pot, stove top or oven created with simple, easy to follow recipes. Taneeka’s shopping habit now was relegated to one new pair of shoes or a purse every six months, which eased the tensions in her home. Vicki encouraged her new friend to start a cash only diet. This type of spending meant if she didn’t have the cash in her hand to buy an item, she would not be able to charge it either.
The two women were seldom seen together in the office. It would not be appropriate for a board member to seem so friendly with the support staff. Taneeka James and Victoria Lawrence, spotted once on a Friday afternoon in February sharing a cup of tea, were not seen together in public again. Yet the bond between them was strong. A bond which would later come under fire.
But, for now, the conversations between them developed through comments on a Pinterest board, where the two women interacted daily and shared a private life. Photos from vacations, family functions and personal milestones were posted to a private board visible only to their eyes.
It was the best type of relationship. A relationship closed to prying eyes.
Here’s a starter pack on me.
You get the intro to my best selling series, The Blakemore Files where you are introduced to my power couple, Saxton and Odessa.
You will also receive the intro to my Modern Mail Order Bride Series, North to Alaska. Amanda and Riley are hot in a very cold climate.
And finally, you will receive a full length novel, Wyoming Nights, which introduces the reader to Serenity Wyoming.
Good free reads. https://instafreebie.com/free/oBEbm
Genre: Science Fiction
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.