The Professor Woos The Witch

Page 78

The reception area was just beyond the foyer. A woman with pointed ears greeted him. “Good morning. Welcome to Harmswood. How may I help you?”

“I’m Cole Van Zant. I have an appointment with Hugh and Sebastian Ellingham.”

“Of course.” She stood. “Right this way.”

She led him down a broad hall. Oil portraits of the board members decorated one side. Many of them were decidedly not human. He tried not to stare. The receptionist turned into a small alcove with two doors. She knocked on the right one.

A voice called out, “Enter.”

She opened the door. “Mr. Ellingham, Mr. Ellingham. Mr. Van Zant is here.” Both of the Ellinghams stood. She stepped out of the way to let Cole into the large conference room, then closed the door.

And left him alone in a room with two vampires.

It was impossible not to feel some level of discomfort.

One of the men stuck his hand out and smiled. “Hugh Ellingham.” He gestured to the other man. “This is my brother Sebastian. Good of you to join us on such short notice.”

“Thanks.” Cole shook the man’s hand. It wasn’t cold like he’d imagined. “I appreciate the opportunity.”

“You don’t even know what it is yet,” Sebastian said as he sat behind the table.

Hugh took the chair at the head of the table, so Cole took the one across from Sebastian. “True,” Cole said. “But whatever it is, I still appreciate the opportunity and your time.” That might have been a little bit of a suck-up, but it was true.

And they were vampires. Best to stay on their good sides.

Hugh clasped his hands and rested them on the table while Sebastian continued to stare at Cole like he was trying to map the veins in his body. Not the most calming of thoughts. Hugh cleared his throat. “We’ve checked up on you. Your resume is impressive, and your colleagues speak highly of you.”

“You spoke to my colleagues?” He hadn’t yet told the college he wasn’t planning to return.

Hugh held up a hand. “Discreetly, I promise.”

That was something. Cole laid his envelope on the table. “I assumed this was about a possible teaching position, so I brought my resume.”

“It is about a teaching position. And we’d be happy to add the resume to your file, but you graduated with honors from M.I.T. a semester ahead of your fellow students. I don’t know what other recommendation we’d need.”

That information was available in his online bio. Not the part about being a semester ahead, though. “You did your homework.”

Sebastian nodded. “We’re very thorough.”

“Are you looking for a math teacher, then?”

“We are,” Hugh answered. “Specifically for Advanced Placement classes. Algebra and calculus. As the school is expanding, we’re trying to broaden our curriculum. And as you can imagine, it’s not always easy to find qualified teachers who are also supernaturals. We need teachers who are both skilled in their professions and sympathetic to the particular needs of our students.”

Hugh paused. “I should mention, you’ll need to meet with the board of trustees and the dean as well, but it’s merely a formality. They’re all in agreement that you’d be an excellent addition to the school’s faculty.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

Sebastian glanced at his brother. “And seeing as how we control the school’s finances, they also weren’t inclined to be anything but in agreement.”

Cole thought for a moment before he spoke. “You understand that I’m fairly new to being a supernatural, let alone knowing that supernaturals exist. I hope that’s not going to be a problem.”

Hugh smiled. “We know. And from what we’ve been told, you’ve adapted extraordinarily well. It’s not an area of concern for us. As long as it’s not an area of concern for you.”

“No,” Cole said. “It’s not. But I am still learning.”

“That’s a healthy place to be in,” Hugh said. “I understand you’re interested in enrolling your daughter here.”

“I am. What is the tuition? I’m afraid I don’t know much about the school.”

“That’s all right. We keep a low profile outside of the supernatural community. Tuition for students requiring room and board is twenty thousand a school year. For students not requiring room and board, it’s ten thousand. However, for the children of our faculty, all fees are waived.”

“That’s a nice perk.”

“We believe in taking care of those who take care of our students. And I assure you, we’re an excellent school. We run all grades from kindergarten through twelfth, and our students have been accepted into every college you can think of. I believe you’ll find our offer very competitive.” Hugh looked at his brother.

Sebastian opened a leather portfolio and took out a sheet of paper and slid it across the table to Cole. “It’s a fairly standard deal.”

Cole picked it up and read it. The highlights were paid vacations, holidays and summers, full insurance including dental, and a non-disclosure agreement, which, considering the nature of those working at and attending the school, seemed fair. The only thing that gave him pause was the figure at the bottom. It was thirty-five percent more than his college salary.

He looked up at the brothers, then turned the sheet around and pointed to the sum. “This number here. This is the salary?”

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