The next ten minutes were awkward for Heather and Kelly as they sat there and waited for Pam to return. Of course, they weren't really sure why they stayed there behind Arnold's privacy screen. They could have easily moved back over behind Heather's and didn't. The teacher had even started walking around and checking different students and their music choices and they still didn't make any attempt to move.
Janet sat there, holding Arnold's hand, and didn't quite glare at the two of them. She was definitely on guard and neither Kelly nor Heather could muster the courage to say anything to Arnold as she watched them like Pam commanded. Kelly had almost fully recovered from the incident by the time Pam came back into the classroom. She carried a plastic bag and inside was clean underwear and dress pants nearly identical to what he wore, just a different color.
Pam used some of the cleaning supplies in Arnold's backpack to clean him up a bit better than she had before she left and then handed him the underwear and pants. He transferred everything in his pockets to the new pants and she gave him back his keys. She put Arnold's dirty clothes into the bag and tied it, then put it on the table as a reminder.
“What are the two of you still doing here?” Pam whispered the question as she took Arnold's hand and Janet took the other one.
“We aren't done talking about this.” Heather said. Her bubbling anger at being accused of pushing things had faded during the long silence and now she only wanted to discuss things to make her position clear.
“Oh, I think we are.” Pam said. “What's to discuss? We saw what happened. Kelly got greedy and hurt herself, because she didn't want to stop, even though she knew... knew... that she hadn't done anything like it before. I was trying to help her and she ignored me, suffered for it and ruined Arnold's enjoyment, not to mention his underwear and pants.” She looked at them like they were beneath her notice. “What else do you want to talk about?”
“I'm sorry.” Kelly said. “I didn't mean to...”
“...to what? Almost choke to death? Get sperm in your sinuses and your lungs?” Pam said. “Forget about apologizing to me for not listening. You should be apologizing to Arnold for what you did.”
Kelly opened her mouth to do so when the teacher came over.
“Can you show me what you chose to get out of your comfort zone?” Miss Josephine asked.
Pam immediately leaned in close to Arnold to whisper. “She means us and the music.”
Arnold nodded and Pam held out her cell phone with her search on it to the teacher.
“Ah, yes. Very good.” Miss Josephine said. “Did you find the experience put things into perspective?”
“Definitely.” Pam said, her voice almost as hard a steel. “Sometimes it's not a good idea to do something you haven't done before without at least some experience.”
Miss Josephine gave her a happy smile. “Very, very good.” She said and handed Pam the phone back. “I'm so happy that you caught onto the lesson so quickly.” She looked at the bag on the table and saw Arnold's different color pants and understood where Pam had went, which saved her from asking about it. That was very nice of her to do that for him. “Well, then. Carry on.” She said and walked away.
She didn't even talk to the rest of us or ask why there was another girl in the class. Janet thought.
After a few more awkward moments, Heather spoke.
“I have some preliminary designs done up for your office space.” Heather said, hoping the change of subject would change the kind of oppressive atmosphere that Pam was giving off.
“We're off next class. We can stay here or meet you at the building.” Pam said, which caused no argument about her inviting herself along. There was no way she was leaving Arnold alone with either Heather or Kelly in the foreseeable future.
“At the building.” Heather said, a little dismayed at Pam's attitude. “I have to go get it from my dorm.”
“We'll see you there.” Pam said and picked up her cell phone again, then ignored the two girls as she wrote out on her sheet the choices from her search.
Janet took the cue and did the same thing. Heather and Kelly exchanged looks and looked at Arnold. His face was impassive and they knew the conversation was over. Kelly thought about apologizing to Arnold for what happened and she couldn't make her mouth open. She had tried, she really tried. Should she apologize for that? She didn't think so. She should apologize for how it ended, though.
“Let's go.” Heather whispered to her and led her away from Arnold's table.
After class, when Pam, Arnold, and Janet left the building, Pam led them to her car in the nearby parking lot.
“I had to drive back.” Pam said and waved for them to get in. “It was too far to run both ways. I would have been out of breath.”
“Thank you.” Arnold said and gave her a kiss.
“Arnold, I'm sorry for how that ended.” Pam said. “I wanted to introduce her to it, not traumatize her like that.”
“I know.” Arnold said and gave her another kiss.
“That's all she's going to think about, isn't it?” Janet asked as they all climbed into the car.
“Unfortunately.” Pam said with a sigh and started the car, pulled out of the parking lot, and drove across the campus. “It was supposed to be a nice and enjoyable experience for her, something that she would want to keep doing, and all she'll see in her mind and remember feeling is the choking and tears instead of how good it felt to have Arnold inside her mouth and making him feel good.”
Janet nodded. “It was pretty awful to see.”
“Her nose is going to be itchy for a while, too.” Pam said and shook her head. “I don't know if she's going to recover from it.”
“What do you mean?” Janet asked.
“Whenever she sees Arnold's penis now, all she'll remember is the feeling of what it did to her, both times it's been inside of her.”
“Oh, damn.” Janet said and she reached over the seat to Arnold and hugged him from behind. “I'm so sorry, Arnold.”
“Hey, seat belt.” Pam admonished her.
“Oops, sorry.” Janet said and sat back to buckle up just in time to laugh as they pulled into the dorm parking lot and unbuckled it.
“They're probably going to be twenty minutes, maybe more.” Pam said. “I know if I were them, I wouldn't be in a rush to get here.”
“They?” Janet asked.
“You can bet your ass that Kelly's coming with her. I guarantee it.” Pam said. “Once she broods over it for a bit, she's going to want to apologize when she gathers up the courage again.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” Janet said and took Arnold's hand. “It's okay. We're here. We won't let them take advantage of you.”
“Thank you.” Arnold said and kissed her.
The three of them walked over to their building and went inside to wait.
“Good god, how could I have been so stupid?” Kelly asked as she went with Heather to the dorm to grab the design portfolio.
“You tried your best.” Heather said and went over to her desk. She put the samples inside the large folder with the nice computer assisted designs. She had easily found the building's floor plan in the administration building and had been working with actual dimensions and not her makeshift walking feet measurements.
“I did and they looked at me like I had kicked them in the teeth or something.” Kelly said.
Heather snorted and then laughed. “You? Kicking someone's teeth in? Really?”
Kelly gave her a stern look and Heather laughed again.
“I'd tell you to keep that attitude if it wouldn't wreck everything you're trying to do to get him back.”
Kelly lost the expression and sighed. “It's not working out very well.”
“What's the old saying about trying too hard? I can't remember.” Heather picked up the folder and shut and locked her dorm room door.
“I can't either.” Kelly said.
“Well, as long as you don't do that, you'll be fine.” Heather said with a smile.
“Thanks a lot.” Kelly said sarcastically and Heather gave her a one arm hug.
“It's okay. I'll keep trying to help.” Heather said.
“What about what Pam said?” Kelly asked.
“She hasn't seen me being too pushy yet.” Heather let her shoulder go and they walked down the hallway. “You know what I can get like when I do.”
Kelly nodded and the pair made their way across campus. It never once crossed her mind to not go.
“I told you.” Pam whispered to Janet and Arnold as they saw Heather and Kelly come in the front door.
“Hi, there.” Heather said in her best presenter voice. “Can we use the big office? There's a desk in there.” She lifted the big portfolio folder to show there was a lot to go through.
The five of them went into the office and Heather walked around the desk to the position of authority. The symbolism was not lost on Pam or Janet.
Heather had as big of a smile as she could manage and opened the folder. “I started off with just a basic design and went from there.” She said and started to lay out all the things she did in a progressive timeline and made her presentation. She made her arguments for the changes she wanted to make and justified the designs, the layout, and even the colors of the carpet.
To her surprise, Pam was actually impressed. She had assumed that Heather was a bit of an airhead... and in some respects she was... but, she also had talent and an eye for aesthetics. Janet shared both views and looked over everything that Heather had presented to them. It made sense. The decisions and the color palate would work well in the space they had and sectioning it up also gave them the best use of the space.
“How long will this take?” Arnold asked.
“Two weeks, maybe three. It depends on the state of the floors under the carpet.” Heather said. “If they're fine, then most of it's just cosmetic and not structural.”
“When can you start?” Arnold asked.
“Wh-what?” Heather looked at him in surprise.
“Do this.” Arnold pointed at it.
“But... don't you want to discuss...”
“No.” Arnold said.
“Then... I'll need money to...”
Arnold reached inside his backpack and pulled out a small stack of money, then did it again. “Here's twenty thousand.”
All four girls stared at the money in shock. He was walking around with that in his backpack? They all thought at the same time.
Heather looked at his face and then at the money he held out to her. “You're really hiring me for the job.”
“You'll have the fourth assistant salary when the secondary grant comes through.” Arnold said.
Heather knew what that meant and she smiled. “I'll have a work crew here by noon to get it started.”
Arnold nodded. “I'll have another set of keys made for you.”
Heather nodded and looked down at all her hard work. It had taken her several days to get everything together and to call around to get the samples and estimates. She looked at the money in her hands and then she looked at Arnold.
“Thank you.” Heather said. “Thank you very much.”
Pam had a restraining hand on Arnold's shoulder to stop him from going around the table and kissing her. It was one thing to share him with a girl he loved before her, it was quite another to allow him to kiss someone that had thrown him away over a meaningless kiss.
“Until you get the keys, Arnold, Janet, or I will open the building for you and the work crews.” Pam said and Heather nodded. “We have to get to Chemistry and another class after that. Call when the workers get here.”
Heather nodded again and gathered everything up. Her design plan was set, without argument, and she was ecstatic that she was going to see one of her works come into being. She carefully put the money into her purse and then she and Kelly led the way out of the building. They exchanged numbers with Janet and Pam and left them at a fast walk.
“Oh, my god.” Heather whispered excitedly when they were far enough away. “Oh, my GOD!”
Kelly nodded several times. She still hadn't told Heather she had gotten ten grand from Arnold the night before from buying the computers. She wasn't sure if she was going to, either.
“I need to get on this right away.” Heather said and handed Kelly the portfolio. “Can you hold this for me? Thanks.”
Kelly took it and Heather took out her cell phone and dialed the number for the first company she had called when building the design. Kelly listened to her negotiate for someone to come over that afternoon to start stripping the place. She next called a dumpster company and had them deliver one to the side of the building. After that, she called the painters to make an appointment for the next week.
Look at her go. Kelly thought as she watched and listened to her friend.
Chemistry class was almost fun as the teacher gave them the information and background for the lab that afternoon. Pam was only a little sad about Art class that morning and happy that Arnold had been so decisive with Heather. He cut her off when she tried to talk and that made her feel a lot better about the whole thing. She still regretted that Kelly had messed up the great chance she had.
Pam looked at Arnold's face from the side and she hoped that Kelly smartened up. He was too good of a man to let slip through your fingers over something so stupid. She almost laughed as she realized that she could have really overreacted and banned Kelly and Heather from even looking at Arnold, and she hadn't. Almost as if he knew what she was thinking, Arnold turned to look at her.
“I couldn't tell Kelly to stay away from you.” Pam whispered. “I love you too much to hurt you like that.”
Arnold gave her an angelic smile and leaned in to give her a kiss. “Thank you.”
Pam received a text during lunch and ran over to the building to open it up for Heather and the work crew. They were barely in the door when they started stripping everything. She left them to it and went back to finish lunch. They had Chemistry lab that afternoon and during the free class afterwards wrote out the lab reports. After passing them in, Pam and Janet had other classes and Arnold had the last class off.
Arnold went to his dorm and borrowed the van from Dalla. She showed him how to fold the bed up and away to get more storage space in the back. He left to go and pick up the rest of the computers and Dalla stayed to make supper, despite her desire to accompany him.