The Professor
about her case, but he wasn’t thinking about her case right now. Tom felt goose bumps on his arm, remembering the tingle he’d felt when Ruth Ann touched him. Do it. Just call her. He lowered his thumb and started to apply pressure.
    No. Tom pressed End, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. “What’s going on, Tom?” he said out loud. He laughed nervously and shook his head, trying to get a grip.
    It’s just the whiskey. It’s just the booze and that foolishness the Cock was spouting and all this shit with the board. Just go home and get some rest.
    Tom took a deep breath. “Go home,” he whispered, forcing himself to put the car in gear and flinging the cell phone into the passenger seat.
    “Just go home.”

14
     
    The next day Tom walked down the faculty hallway and stopped off in the restroom. As he took a leak in the urinal, he leaned his forearm against the concrete wall and his head against the back of his wrist. He had barely slept a wink the night before. He had left the parking lot and gone straight home, taking the time to let Musso out and refill his water bowl before turning out the lights and crawling under the covers. Once in bed he kept staring at the ceiling, unable to get the conversation with the Cock off his mind. He was still undecided about what to do with Ruth Ann’s case or the board meeting he was about to attend. He also couldn’t shake the weird feeling he’d had after talking with Dawn Murphy or his near booty call to Ruth Ann. He felt restless and unstable, as if the ground were moving beneath him.
    Tom sighed, zipping up his pants. He started to flush the toilet but stopped when he noticed some bloody residue in the urinal. What the . . . ?
    He hadn’t been paying attention while he went, nor had he looked in the urinal before he had started. A couple of months ago he had noticed a few drops of blood after a long day of golf, but he hadn’t thought anything of it. There hadn’t been a repeat episode and there hadn’t been much blood in the first place. He had thought it was probably stress or maybe a small infection that had gone away.
    Shaking his head, he flushed the urinal. Probably someone else.
    Tom walked to the sink and splashed water on his face. As he gazed into the mirror at his bloodshot eyes, he tried without success to suppress the frustration he felt at being called before the board. Tom had been to numerous board meetings in his forty-year career but never one where his actions were the subject of review. He knew acting defensive would not help his cause, but it was hard not to be irritated. Where do these turds get off? he thought, remembering the Cock’s admonition to piss on the apology.
    He exited the bathroom and walked down the corridor toward the large conference room at the end of the hall. When he reached the mahogany door, he paused, feeling a rush of adrenaline.
    Bring it , he thought, gripping the handle and stepping through the doorway.

15
     
    “He there yet?”
    The cryptic text message splashed across Dean Richard Lambert’s BlackBerry, with the familiar phone number written across the top. Lambert read the words and looked up as Tom McMurtrie entered the conference room.
    “Y,” Lambert typed, pressing Send and standing with the rest of the board members in the room.
    “Hello, Professor. Thank you for coming today. Please . . . have a seat.”
    Tom McMurtrie’s eyes fixed on the dean’s, and Lambert felt his stomach tighten.
    “I didn’t realize I had a choice in the matter,” Tom said, his voice pleasant but curt. “If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to stand.”
    “Well, suit yourself. We’re still lacking one other person, but . . .”
    There was a loud knock at the door, and the dean’s voice cut off. He smiled at Tom and looked around the room, taking a deep breath. “Come in.”

    When the door opened, Tom felt as if his stomach and testicles had both been kicked at the same time. He stared at the man standing

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