Full Circle Ch. 01bytens©
Someone, please give me feedback! I'm seriously begging all of you out there. This is the first story I have a concrete plot and ending for, however, I need some guidance. Is this chapter too long? Does the pace of this chapter seem too slow in regard to the speed of the previous chapter? Are the characters still interesting? What's missing? What parts seem rushed? Tell me, please!
August 27, 2012
Persephone was a little angry. She had promised herself things would be different this time around. Yet, here she was, almost late for class. It was just like college, only this time she couldn't rely on the excuse of her waning "teenage tendencies." The lecture hall was crowded and there were no end-of-the-aisle seats to conveniently slip into. She squinted and panned the room like a bird of prey. If there was a seat to be found in this place, then by god... there!
The thrill of her discovery was quickly halted when she evaluated the seat's location. It sat in the middle of a row in the lecture hall's midsection. Great, she thought, plenty of people to squeeze by. With a small huff, she strengthened her resolve and made her way up the steps.
"Excuse me...pardon me," Persephone spoke softly to placate the somewhat nasty stares she was receiving from her future row mates. They acted as though they'd never had to shift their legs a little. She quickly grew annoyed with their reactions. Hell, she was Persephone-fucking-Peterson and those kids had another thing coming if they thought they could get her to cower in shame under a simple stare. By the time she claimed her seat, her "excuse me's" held a hint of indignation.
As luck would have it, she had a hard time locating her pen and notebook in her bottomless designer tote. She appreciated the good luck gift from her aunt, but right now she was sending a curse Prada's way. Persephone paused in her noisy rummaging after hearing an annoyed click of the tongue to her left.
She turned to confront her lingual commentator, a gigantic, sandy haired man. Even seated, he seemed to tower over her and she guessed he was more than a few inches over six feet. His tightly crossed arms displayed his large, sculpted torso and his scrunched pink lips displayed his strong jaw. Gigantor – her new name for this perturbed schoolmate – arched a thick brow over one of his piercing periwinkle eyes. He seemed like he knew just how to throw his dark countenance around. Was he trying to intimidate her?
"Not in this lifetime, Gigantor," she thought. She had never been in the habit of backing down from boys – especially white boys – and she had no intention of starting with this guy. Persephone inclined her head and gifted him with one of her signature wry smiles. The "I know you're not talking to me" message in that smile was clear – she hoped he received it with grace.
She was surprised when he didn't turn away immediately, but he wasn't fooling anyone with that glare. She held her ground and challenging visage, prepared to exchange words if necessary. After four moments of boring his eyes into hers, Gigantor let out a steamy sigh through his nose and directed his attention to the front of the room.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Persephone cracked her knuckles and proceeded to pull out her textbook, note-taking utensils, and laptop.
She stuffed her tote under her chair just before who she assumed was the professor waddled through the door. The spherical man seated himself at the conference-ready desk that had been placed in front of the lecture hall's large dry erase boards. Though he was short and had no beard, he instantly conjured images of Santa Claus in her head. Her comparison was justified when his hearty voice rumbled through the room.
"Hello everyone, I'm Marcus Pearl, your Contracts professor this semester. I'd also like to introduce Timothy Kim, my teaching assistant. Stand up and wave at everybody, Timothy." A tall and thin Asian man dressed in business casual gave a disinterested smile and limp wave from his post near the one of the hall's side exits.
"Yeah, that's great. Timothy will be helping you and me a great deal during this class starting with a roll call of sorts. We'll start here in the front row. First, middle, and last name, please."
Persephone listened patiently as the students in each row called out their names to Timothy the TA. She decided he was cute; his hip, inky black hair and pronounced cheekbones reminded her of the actor John Cho. Before she knew it, her aisle was calling out their names. The voice of the buxom redhead seated next to her rang out more loudly than all the others.
"Finola Lennon Cagney, I go by Finn."
"Persephone Adelle Peterson, Adelle spelled A-D-E-L-L-E."
"Ivan Kirillovich Pravdin."
So, Gigantor had a name. How very Slavic it was. That explained his unreal big blues and angular facial features. As she waited for the roll call to finish, Persephone caught herself taking a second glance him, noting that he was easier on the eyes when he wasn't being rude. She gave her full attention to the front when Professor Pearl spoke again.
"Thanks for your patience. I expect you all to keep these seats for the rest of the semester. This is for my benefit. I'll be calling on you all randomly as I lecture and write and it's good to be able to find you in the same place - especially those of you trying to hide in the rafters."
Ugh! She had to spend the rest of the semester with Gigantor? They hadn't exactly gotten off on the right foot. In fact, they'd gotten off on her left - and terribly for that matter. Maybe she could hope for better to the right with Finn. She seemed nice enough, if not a little confident. Persephone liked confident people - and it never hurt to have someone to get notes from if she missed a class.
Professor Pearl wasted no time getting into the material. As she had read in the syllabus online, the first reading assignment was indeed due today. The assignment was forty or so pages long and he was drilling them on the material without mercy, forcing students to analyze what they had – or hadn't – read. Persephone flipped through her highlighted text as Professor Pearl jumped from idea to idea. Trying stay in the right place in her textbook while frantically typing up everything he said of consequence was a little bit of a challenge. There would be little time for her preferred method of note-taking; notebook writing during lecture. Though it was intense, Persephone found she got a rush out of the class' fast pace. A nerd at heart, she loved learning and loved being the best at it. The first day of school always seemed like an adventure.
She saw that not everyone shared her enthusiasm. The woman in front of her was flipping through her unmarked text book in a hurried, anxious manner. It was clear she couldn't find the passage and the students on either side of her could care less. On occasion, they glanced her way as if to ask, "What's wrong with you?"
Persephone felt a little sorry for the woman as she recalled being the one without a clue on a few occasions during her undergrad days. That feeling of ignorance combined with the fear of the professor calling on you any second was a tight spot she wished on no one, even if they had put themselves there. Back then, Persephone loved being the best in school a little too much; she'd experienced a rude awakening when she realized that she'd have to work hard at things that didn't necessarily come easy to her.
There was no way to help out the poor woman in front of her, the row-long panel desks and stadium seating saw to that. Persephone sighed and regained her focus. Minutes later she noticed someone else flipping through pages frantically. Gigantor muttered under his breath and ran his hands through the wispy hair above his forehead.
"Serves him right," she thought a little bitterly. Then, as he continued to search, she felt a little pang of guilt. She'd just let her heart bleed for a lady she didn't know from Adam and now wanted Gigantor to drown in the sea of endless information they were receiving. It would be easy to point out the correct passage to him. Besides, he was even easier on the eyes when distressed, and she guessed that counted in his favor.
Persephone decided to help him. She had nothing to lose as far as things stood, and she would need a backup person for notes if arrangements with Finn didn't work out. Stealthily, she moved her hand to his textbook, flipped the page, purposely patted the second paragraph with her pointer finger, and retracted her arm. She watched his face as he read and realized her directions had indeed led him where he needed to be.
Rather than the half smile of thanks she expected, Gigantor just pursed his lips, looked straight ahead and scooted his chair and textbook slightly to the left.
Persephone wasn't even offended. She was just shocked. That shock turned into amusement as she heard a giggle. Finn, who she now guessed had observed the entire exchange, smiled at her and shrugged her shoulders. Persephone tried to contain her own giggle and shook her head. How very childish of him!
Taking a deep breath, she decided playtime was over. There was no way Contracts was supposed be this fun. At least now she had a good reason to chat up Finn after class. If law school was going to be as cutthroat as she perceived, making a few good friends seemed like part of a good strategy for coping.
Who the hell did she think she was? First, she lugged herself to her seat at the last minute and then attempted to wake the dead with all the noisy zippers concealed in her enormous bag. Vanya had tried to shut her up with no avail.
He did respect her a little for not backing down from him. Her dark, doe eyes didn't blink once; perhaps she had a strong constitution. Either that or she was just stupid. In all the circles Vanya had been a part of, people recognized that he wasn't someone to goad or trifle with. The fact that she hadn't recognized that vexed him. It made him wonder what she recognized instead. After their staring contest, his annoyance had been quelled a bit by a closer observation of her person.
During a furtive glance, he caught sight of her breasts. There was only one word he could think of to describe them – glorious. Though short and round, she was fit. Her large breasts didn't seem too out of place on her body. The blouse she wore displayed them handsomely. The fabric was some kind of blend; it was a subdued, pastel green, a great complement to her rich brown skin. The top was short sleeved, low cut, and a tad clingy, showing off just how wonderfully round her breasts were. He could just make out her perfectly placed nipples.
The admirable décolletage was forgotten when he saw her staring at the struggling girl in the next row. This Persephone was such a busy body; why couldn't she just pay attention? Persephone. It was a unique name in this day and age, Classic...tragic even. She probably thought it made her special, a self-important girl, no doubt. She surely wasn't thinking of anyone else whenever she erratically tapped her pencil against the desk. Every time she began to loudly click away at her keyboard she chewed on her plump bottom lip. It was that lip that got Vanya lost and searching for the correct place in his textbook. He usually wasn't agitated this way but she was so damn distracting!
He couldn't believe she'd had to gall to reach over and grab his book. He would have caught up eventually. The giggling hadn't helped his concentration either. Was everyone but him acting like they were twelve years old? He hoped she would settle down soon, seeing as they had to sit together for the rest of the semester. He had nearly confronted her when class was over but she popped up as soon as Pearl had said a parting "thank you" and started chattering with her redheaded giggling partner.
It took her entirely too long pack up. He couldn't get out of the row on either side. However, he minded less and less every time she bent or squatted to gather her things. On anyone else the gray and black tweed miniskirt may have seemed conservative but her round ass transformed it. Tweed...sexy? Who would have thought?
Vanya wondered if she was intentionally displaying her attributes to him. He quickly decided that she was not as she plodded clumsily down the stairs, oblivious to everything around her, and completely consumed in conversation with her buddy. Her inelegant gait did not diminish her curvy, swaying hips. She was truly...stacked. Even so, he intended to set things straight.
He gruffly interrupted their conversation once they'd all reached the hallway. "I'll be able to manage on my own from now on, thank you."
On level ground, he realized just how much taller he was than her. She was barely over five feet and seemed like she was hardly over twenty-one, though he knew that was unlikely given the age of most students. The thought made him uncomfortably conscious of the twenty-nine years he had reached this July. Her height and apparent age didn't make the stormy look on her face any less fierce. Just when he thought she would be foolish enough to rip into him, her mouth stretched into a sweet smile. The sudden appearance of friendliness and innocence in her features threw Vanya off guard.
"It's nice to meet you, too. I'm Persephone Peterson. I guess I'll see you on Wednesday!"
She daintily waved goodbye as she turned to catch up with the redhead without as much as a backward glance. He thought the redhead seemed familiar, but he couldn't put his head around where exactly he had seen her before their class. At that point, Vanya realized he was still standing in the middle of the hallway staring after Persephone's figure even after she had turned the corner. Silly girl. She thought this was funny. Whatever. He couldn't waste time on people that didn't matter. She was just an obnoxious girl with a tight-.
His thoughts were interrupted by the vibrating phone in his pocket. Reaching for it reminded him of how strange it felt not to carry his handgun. His heart and head often chastised him for not carrying it under his jacket, especially since he had just gotten a great custom made concealment holster. Even so, he couldn't justify the action. He didn't expect any trouble here at school, nor did he want to start any. For now, keeping his side arm in the bedside table drawer seemed like a good way of maintaining the peaceful status quo. Screening the call, he saw that it read "Отец." He answered immediately.
"Alló, Papa...Ya tol'ko chto zakonchil pervyĭ klass...net. Da...da. Hah, a little boring, nothing I can't handle. Hmm? Net. Ya ne govoril s nim...Pravda?...Konechno...da. Uvidimsya skoro. And Papa, kiss Lina for me. Spasiba...spasiba, paka."
Vanya waited for the line to go dead and then hung up himself. Sighing for what he guessed was the seventeenth time in the last hour, he made his way outside to his black M5 sedan. The call seemed like a normal, fatherly check up, but Vanya knew what it really was – a reminder. It was a reminder that he was away at school because Kirill Dmitrievich Pravdin had allowed it. After Vanya earned his degree his father expected him to resume his duties, this time in a more serious capacity.
He recalled the careful and strategic suggesting he had done to convince his father to allow him to leave the fold for three years. He came to his father with the request years before he planned to attend school. While his father contemplated his only son's wish, Vanya not only served him faithfully, but also very quietly and efficiently. There was hardly ever trouble when Vanya was handling transactions at the family's jewelry stores, merchandise at the warehouses, or collections from wayward customers. He had more than proven his intelligence, strength, and loyalty and it had earned him a place as one of his father's most trusted confidants.
With help from his older sister, Akilina, and his younger cousin, Mikhail, he gradually fed his father reasons he should be able to go to law school. He would only be a stone's throw away, and could get back to the city within three hours if needed. The professional degree he earned would help his family's business in the long run. The type of contacts he could make at this kind of prestigious school could prove useful in the future. At the very least, a legal firm would be a good, legitimate investment to add to the Pravdin's many business ventures.
In the end, his father had relented, provided Vanya would visit often and as needed. This was one of those "as needed" times. His father had asked him to talk to Mikhail by the end of the day and prepare to come home for a weekend visit in two weeks. Partnering with Mikhail meant that he was most likely going to pay an unfriendly visit to one of his father's associates. It was a task he had carried out several times since he was nineteen. Whereas he usually felt powerful, strong, and proud when carrying out the various duties of his family's business, this time his heart wasn't quite in it.
It wasn't the nature of the visit that bothered him; it was the timing. A weekend in the city with his family meant that he wouldn't be studying very much. He'd arrive on Friday, get with Mikhail on Saturday, and eat with the family on Sunday afternoon before returning. If he was lucky that would be it. If Mikhail's unruly twin Yulian was up to his usual antics then things would become more complicated. Vanya and Mikhail would be charged with shepherding him home after a late night or pulling him off of some girl. He winced at the thought of loading Yulian's heavy body into the back of his car, praying he wouldn't vomit.
"This weekend stuff can't become a habit," he thought. He would need the weekends to catch up on studying. Perhaps if he tried to tighten up as many loose ends as possible on this visit it would mean less involvement in the future. Vanya was loath to admit it, but a week without contact from anyone in his family had been kind of great. He loved them, but this time away had made him feel as light as a feather. As Vanya pulled out of the parking lot, thinking on his family, he couldn't help but feel a little heavier.
"Wow, lady, you've got some gumption, playing with Ivan Pravdin like that," Finn laughed when she and Persephone made it to the cafeteria. They had decided to grab lunch together before their second class.
"I couldn't believe he looked at me like that. What, just because he's tall and cut means he can't be cut down to size? The bigger they are..." Persephone smiled smugly and took a bite from her tuna fish sandwich.
"Hah, that's not what I meant, although I'm sure he needed that," Finn replied as she placed her long red hair in a sloppy bun with her pencil. She seemed very prim and polite. The floral blue sheath dress she wore reminded Persephone of a Kate Spade advertisement.
"Well, then, what did you mean?" Persephone asked after making sure she had swallowed down all her tuna.
Finn leaned in, presumably for dramatic effect. "Well, his high school was my high school's rival. This was years ago, mind you. He's a little older than me; he was in high school the same time as my big brother. They played basketball games against one another all the time. Kids from our high school would never heckle Ivan because they were afraid his family might come after them."
"Come after them? Were they all super bullies or something?"
"No, nothing like that. People are always saying the Pravdins are Russian mobsters. Not many people can live like that off a couple of jewelry stores, some real estate, and a few clubs. I'm sure it made him hotter than hell with the girls though."
Persephone nearly spit out her water in laughter. Finn gave a mischievous smile, "Oh, come on. What kind of high school girl wouldn't be into that kind of danger?"