Silence hung in the library air like humidity after Beth’s announcement. The library quickly emptied of a faculty cloaked with furtive conversations.
“This is not what I anticipated when I came from Rook to teach at Covenant, Mr. McDavid,” Lily said, as they walked out through the library doors.
“Well, Ms. Rood, it was a pleasure meeting you and chatting with you this afternoon. Perhaps you’d like to get that cup of coffee tomorrow morning before school?” Mr. McDavid said. “You know where our Cup-n-Saucer is?”
“Yes. I’d like that,” said Lily. Lily wondered why Mr. McDavid had not responded to her statement, but deflected it to coffee Friday morning.
Later that night Lily wrestled in her bed. Her hip and lower back hurt, long before she rose to dress before dawn. She knew she would resemble old Miss Havisham at work Friday.
When Lily entered the Cup-n-Saucer Friday morning, she saw Mr. McDavid already seated, and he was drinking from the same coffee cup he carried at school, embossed with the Latin scroll. But he was not alone. Donald, the greeter from Beulah, sat beside Mr. McDavid. Donald rose, along with Mr. McDavid, when they saw Lily enter.
“Hello, Miss Lily. Nice to see you again,” said Donald.
As he extended his hand, Lily smiled broadly and took his hand in hers.
“Nice to see you, too, sir. I did not know you’d be here for coffee, but I’m very glad to see you again,” Lily said to Donald.
The Cup-n-Saucer had a dozen square lime-green formica tables with mostly matching chairs. As they sat, Lily looked down at her chair. She saw a tear in the vinyl, just between her legs. The chairs had silver legs that screeched on the tile. They slid their chairs under the table as the waitress approached.
“What’ll you have, hon?”
“Just coffee, please,” said Lily.
“That all? Well, okay. Just know you’re with two of the finest men in our town, so you just listen to them and they’ll take care of you, okay? I’ll be right back with your coffee, miss” the waitress said.
“Okay, yes ma’am. Thank you,” Lily said.
“Miss Lily, Thomas didn’t tell you that I’d be here this morning because we wanted it to be a surprise. But I guess you’ve had a lot of surprises since coming to town,” Donald said.
“Um, yessir, you could say that. First time at Beulah. Then Mr. Aims’ passing. Then changes at Covenant. It’s a lot to take in. I’m grateful to you both, however, for watching over me and trying to help me navigate some,” Lily said.
“Speaking of navigation, Ms. Rood, that’s one of the reasons I asked you to coffee at our interesting faculty meeting yesterday,” said Mr. McDavid. “There are some things that Fred’s daughter is not privy to, things which Donald and I will be addressing.”
“I’m not sure I understand, Mr. McDavid,” said Lily.
“You see, Ms. Rood, Fred Aims did not answer the call to begin Covenant, bring in the faculty that he did, and forget to plan for contingencies,” Mr. McDavid said. “Covenant has a board comprised of people whose ambitions are somewhat less consumed with certain people’s reputations, and instead with excellence for our students.”
“I see,” said Lily. “But what does this have to do with what our new headmistress doesn’t know, or with, I’m ashamed to ask, with me?”
“Let me see if I can help her, Thomas,” said Donald.
“You see, Miss Lily,” said Donald, “Fred Aims had three daughters. Two of them moved off, and Beth is the baby.”
“Yes,” said Lily, “I can see that.”
“But Beth is not as privy, as Thomas said, to how thoroughly her father planned his Covenant,” Donald said. “The other girls moved off for a reason, but they still are their father’s children, and are part of Fred’s vision,” said Donald.
“I know that Beth said that she’s the new headmistress at Covenant now, but Covenant has a board that Fred set up to address many contingencies, including Fred’s departure,” said Thomas McDavid.
“What that means for Covenant, Ms. Rood, and for Beth Aims, and for you and me is that leadership is not settled so quickly as Beth wants,” Mr. McDavid said.
“Oh, I think I understand somewhat now,” Lily said.
“There will be another faculty meeting soon, Ms. Rood,” said Mr. McDavid, “but the next one will be one called by the board. The other Aims daughters will be in attendance.”
(To be continued)