Professional Development - Kate Canterbary

Chapter One


"Bananas," Drew snapped, glaring across the conference table at me while he did it.

Of course he'd safe-word out of this conversation.

"Give me three minutes." I matched his glare. "You won't be begging "bananas" when I'm done."

And of course I thought of our back-on-track trigger as a safe word. That was how it worked. Someone said "bananas" during a meeting only when the conversation had strayed out of bounds and into off-topic territory. "Bananas" kept our school leadership team meetings structured, specific, and constructive.

Not so different from safe, sane, and consensual.

Yep, that was my train of thought. There was no shutting down my dirty mind and I couldn't see a reason why shutting it down was necessary. This wasn't the olden days when teachers were fired for getting married and—gasp!—having sex. Headmasters didn't take bullshit vows of celibacy and the good ones didn't hang with that icky, antiquated title either.

I was allowed my dirty mind as long as I didn't cross the line from professional into pervy by actually calling it a safe word during a school day.

"I'm not giving you three minutes," Drew gritted out. "I said bananas. This is over. Your calibration of oral reading fluency probes is irrelevant to our agenda and I'm not wasting three minutes on that when we have campus-wide priorities to address." With a dismissive flick of his wrist, he brushed me and my argument aside. "Keep your early elementary issues where they belong, Miss Treloff."

That obnoxious fucker. As if he got a pass on his obnoxious fuckery because he capped it off with Miss Treloff.

"As I'm sure you're well aware, Mr. Larsen," I said, my words sharpened to a point, "plenty of your upper elementary students struggle with oral reading fluency."

"They wouldn't if you'd done your job effectively," he said, as matter-of-fact as today's fucking weather.

Yeah, I had a dirty mind and I used fuck like it was a comma. It was a damn good thing I knew how to keep that shit in my head rather than blasting it at the obnoxious fucker sitting across from me. I'd wanted to unload the fires of hell upon this douche canoe every day for the past two years.

That I could sit here and take his shit was all the proof I needed to know I was better than his Ivy League, bearded-up, buttoned-down, condescending bullshit.

And I had to be better. I poured actual sweat and tears into my work as co-dean of Bayside School. I did that because I loved my job and I believed in this work, but there was no way in hell I'd let my counterpart Drew Larsen win.

"Unnecessary, Drew." Lauren Halsted-Walsh, the school's founder and principal, didn't look up from her notebook to shut down my nemesis. "We can probably save the ORF conversation for our literacy data meeting tomorrow, Tara."

Drew gave me his favorite I was right and you were wrong face, a smarmy smirk that made him look more like a rotting jack-o'-lantern than a thirty-four-year-old man.

I preferred the rotting jack-o'-lantern. It suited my co-dean far more than the unfortunately beautiful package in which he existed. Honestly, he was undeserving of the entire high cheeked, chiseled jaw, broad shouldered, pouty lipped situation—not to mention the very tall, very dark, very handsome side of the equation.

More importantly, it was unfair to the human population which was often drawn to his arrestingly hot appearance and led to believe he was someone worth knowing.

He was not. He was a pompous dickhead who happened to be good enough at his job to make up for his burnt toast personality.

"That works," I said to her, smiling. "I'm sure Drew won't mind us making decisions about the assessment methods that impact all students receiving literacy intervention next quarter."

I crossed my arms, shot him a smug smile. Another battle in my win column.

He muttered under his breath as he glanced away and tossed an irritated glare toward the window. "If that's the case," he started, slowly shifting his attention back toward me, "you should've included it in the agenda beforehand. Ad hoc additions violate the norms of our meeting protocol and as I stated earlier"—he leaned forward, sneering at the sunflower doodles on my copy of the meeting's agenda—"are bananas."

That fucker and his safe word. That fucking fucker.

"As I'm sure you're capable of noticing, the agenda has—"

Lauren shook her head, stopping my argument, and jumped in with, "We've now dedicated more time to procedural discussion than actual content and we cannot extend our time this