by Mulligan

Tags: Ma/Fa, Romantic, Heterosexual, Interracial, Black Female, White Male, Slow, School,

Desc: Romantic Story: A young african immigrant gains an American education, and more! Almost no sex, most is implied only! A story of a romance.

Patience was a 20-year-old refugee from Africa. Originally her family had fled from Liberia. They had spent seven years in a refugee camp in Ghana. She had come to the United States with the rest of her family: her mother, her father, and two younger sisters. The family had been sponsored as refugees by a church in northern Indiana.

She had been enrolled in a small private high school at age 18, shortly after arriving in America. This was part of an attempt to bring her spotty refugee camp education up to the standards of her new country. She was the most educationally driven of the sisters and the attempt was very successful. In a small, middle-of-the-school-year ceremony she was awarded a high school diploma just a year and a half after beginning her 'catch-up' activities.

Patience stood about 5' 3", was small framed, and was as 'black as the ace of spades'. She was African black not the brown of the typical African American. She had a pretty, oval little face that ended in a shapely chin. She had a pair of prominent cheekbones and a smile that lit up her face. Her hair was short, generally worn clubbed together with a scrunchie in the back. Sometimes it was in cornrows neatly put in by her one of her sisters or by her mother. She had often chosen to wear a wig at school. Her choice of a brunette or black Caucasian wig was originally meant for a laugh, but they actually looked good on her.

Her bust was larger than either of her younger sisters', but to look at her mother as an example, would never be overwhelming. Her butt was a nice, shapely little bubble, with emphasis on the little — she was not a large person. She had a very small waist, which in fact gave her the traditional 'hourglass' figure and made her breasts look larger than they really were. If forced to estimate her weight I'd guess it at about 100 lbs. even. After a year plus of eating food that was much more wholesome than she had received in the camps, she would be described as slender and healthy in appearance. Her voice was quiet and her accent was British African. To a listening American the softly voiced British accent was charming. Because she spoke so seldom most people never had the chance to hear it.

She wanted very much to attend and complete 'university' as she called it, college to most Americans. Her main problem was that the allotments under which she had been supported for her first years in this country were about to expire. She was now over the maximum age and had completed the high school education that had kept the allotments coming. While they would keep coming for her sisters, she was about to be cast onto her own. The United States government had helped the young refugee, but was about to set her free to try her own skills.

An additional problem in getting that education, perhaps in fact the biggest, was with her parents. They also had been put on their own and were unable to really succeed at any of the several forms of employment that they had tried. While their pride demanded that they pretend self-sufficiency, they were in fact now dependent on the government's allotments to their daughters. Since Patience would no longer be bringing in an allotment she was about to become a burden on the family. In the usual way of handling some of their problems back in Africa her parents were determined to either cut her free from the rest of the family, to 'force her out of the nest', or to put her to work for the benefit of the rest of the family. It was beginning to appear that there would be no 'university' for Patience, no achievement of her American dream.

Some of her sponsors were attempting to set her up with a job to help out the family. They had found Patience a local job. It would be repetitive hand labor, not paying much. She already had a bicycle to ride to and from work. She could continue to live with her family and her paycheck would go to help support the family group. It was obvious to her that the situation would probably be permanent.

She was becoming desperate. She felt that none of these people cared about her as a person, only about taking care of the family problem. They were not going to help her 'go to university'. She was going to have to get help elsewhere or work, apparently without chance of release. Her level of frustration was very high.

Speaking to one of the staff people at her old school about her problem was a result of her frustration. She ordinarily concealed personal thoughts from these people; she did not share with them easily. The school system's social worker tried to help Patience evaluate the moneymaking possibilities of her skills. It became obvious early on in their conversations that she didn't have the skills that would make enough money to do what she wanted to do. At one point in the frustrations of one of their conversations she actually suggested that she would consider becoming a prostitute to get out from under her family's control, to cover the costs of living alone and of going to 'university'. Another option, which she was heard to voice under her breath, was that of committing suicide.

These two ideas from this generally levelheaded young lady shook up the social worker she was working with. She quickly brought the situation to her next departmental group discussion. She reported that she saw Patience as becoming desperate and feared a 'non-rational' response to the situation. Having heard some stories of the desperation of the people in the refugee camp the committee was really concerned about her possible resolution of these problems. But not a one of them knew how to solve Patience's problems. She had not done anything that would allow them to begin a more active intervention.

One member of the school staff was particularly concerned about their discussion about Patience. Cynthia was probably the only staff member who would first of all believe that Patience's overheard comments were truly meant, and secondly, could think far enough out of the box to see a possible answer. She simultaneously feared for Patience's well being and could also see a possible (but non-traditional) way out of the situation.

She called Patience to a meeting at the school and talked with her about her home situation. Patience had always been quite open with Cyndi while a student, and this situation proved no different. Patience was in fact very talkative about the situation. Cyndi knew that some of the extreme frustration that Patience felt was surfacing in the words that were being showered upon her as the girl vented.

Patience fully understood why her family had fled from their homeland. As the oldest of the three children she had experienced much from what they had fled. That flight had allowed the family to survive when others had not. She could understand why they had to be in the refugee camp in Ghana even though she thought that the Ghanaian government was wrong not to allow them to become citizens. She was thankful that they had been admitted to the USA and also to the church that had sponsored their family so that they could come into America. But Patience was thoroughly fed up with her father's and her mother's inability to adapt to their new country. She had recently come to view them as abject failures based on their inability to lead the family or support the family for the past 8 years. She certainly did not feel obligated to give up her future to support 'them'. She was fed up with the limits on her future that were being placed in her way by the people who wanted to trap her into working to support 'them'. She had fully bought the American life scenarios that placed a college (a 'university') degree at the center of a successful life. She had come to see that diploma as her only hope for a life other than the one of flight and poverty that she had grown up with and which she continued to experience even now.

Eventually she wound down. As her words stuttered to a halt, her eyes glistened with unshed tears. She shrugged her shoulders in a universal gesture of hopelessness and slumped far down in her seat.

Cyndi sat and looked at her for a full silent minute. As Patience brought herself under control, Cyndi took two deep breaths and began to talk. "Patience," she said, "I understand that you are very frustrated. I understand that you aren't happy with your family right now. I can't do anything about them or for them or to them. But I am concerned about you. I was told about some of the things that you said the other day. You were angry and frustrated and because of that you were saying things that you otherwise wouldn't say out loud. Do you remember what you said?"

Patience was too dark colored to show the blush that perfused her skin, but she certainly felt it. Embarrassed by what one of her teachers had heard her say, she looked down at the table as she nodded her head yes.

"Did you mean it when you said you would kill yourself," asked Cyndi.

"No, not really. But I did mean that I will do anything to get out of that family and into university. Killing myself wouldn't get me into university."

"OK, let's talk about just what your anything means. You also said that you would sell your body if that were the only way you could go to college. Did you mean that?"

"Yes," said Patience, "if I could find a way to get away from 'them' and go to school I would willingly play the whore to pay for it. I had plenty of friends who did that to get things in the camp and they did pretty well for themselves. Do you really think that I couldn't or wouldn't do that? Don't you think the results would be worth the sin?"

"Well," said Cyndi, "I had to ask if you could and or would before I can make a couple of suggestions and ask your opinion on those suggestions. I'm not going to discuss 'sin'. Are you ready to do some 'hypotheticals' like we used to do in class?"

"I don't understand where you can go with this," Patience said," but go ahead."

"I think you checked it out when you were looking at schools, but I don't remember what you thought of it. Would you be satisfied to go to Green Valley U over in the Rapid City area?"

"Oh yes, I really did like GVSU and had thought it would be a good place to go. It costs less than most of the other schools around here that are 4-year schools because most of those are private. If you get with the right people as roommates even the cost of living and eating can be low. You know I don't eat much."

"OK," said Cyndi, "Now let's talk about your test scores. Were yours good enough to get in there?"

"Yes ma'am, I even sent my papers there and they accepted me. Only I can't pay for the tuition, let alone the room and board. And my papa can't or won't sign the papers to apply for a private loan. The government won't give one to me because I'm not a citizen. They won't if he doesn't sign and he won't sign because he wants me to work for 'them'."

"I want you to think about something, "said Cyndi. "But I want a promise from you before I tell you about it. Can you promise to me that what we're going to talk about now will stay just between the two of us?"

Patience nodded her head up and down. Cyndi said, "No, I want to hear you say that you can keep these secrets."

"I promise," said Patience. "What you are going to tell me about will remain confidential with me."

"OK, I have helped some students who were in situations somewhat similar to yours. I arranged for what amounted to a full scholarship for their freshman year for each of them. It gave them a 'free ride' on tuition, on books and room and board for one year. They had to do some things in exchange for the help. First of all, they had to live with the person who gave them the money. The people who got the 'scholarships' were all girls and the donors were all single men. You have to decide if you could do that."

"Secondly the girls had to do some work around the home — they sometimes had to cook, they almost always had to do some or all of the weekly cleaning. Most of them did the laundry for both people in the house. They were completely responsible for their own rooms. And they had to do well at school. The donors insisted on at least a B average."

"How does this sound, so far?"

Patience was quick to answer. "It sounds great! This is like a private scholarship arrangement? What's the catch — the way you're talking about it makes a catch almost a given."

"You're right. In every case the girls chose to change the situation so that the 'scholarship' was for all four years of school, not just the freshman year. One is even getting her master's degree the same way. The 'catch' is that each one of the girls ended up sleeping with the man involved in their case. Sleeping with him regularly. One girl even got pregnant during her senior year and they got married. All the girls did this willingly and seemingly they enjoyed the arrangements."

"That's why you wanted to know if I really meant that I could be a whore! In this situation instead of getting paid money for sex the girls got a university education in exchange for sex. And you want to know if I'd be willing to do the same thing. I can tell you right now that I mean what I said. I will sleep with a man for 4 years in exchange for 4 years of university."

"What you describe would be whoring for only one man, not for many each night. That's not really whoring! I'd want some veto power over who the man should be of course, but I can and will do it!"

"OK," replied Cyndi, "But I don't know if I can do it again. Let me talk to some friends up there in Rapid City. I have one special friend in mind. Remember, I have made you no promises other than to contact some people who might agree to this idea. Agreed?"


Two days later John Bosma's phone rang in the middle of the afternoon.

"Hi, stranger! CO here. We need to get together. I've got an interesting proposition for you"

"Hi, Cyndi! Hey, you've brought more than one interesting idea my way, so I'm ready to listen. None of them ever started out this way, though."

"Yea, well, this one has the potential to cost me my job if word about what I want to propose to you gets out to the wrong parties. You have to promise me to keep this one on the QT regardless of your decision."

"I'm good for it girl, you have my word."

"I'm counting on it John. Here's the deal. I've got a client that I really want to help. You have the capacity to help me do that. Do you remember the arrangement I set up for Bill Baker a couple of years ago? You were quite interested in it at the time. Does that arrangement still interest you enough to want to meet to discuss some possibilities? Or were you just joking when you asked me to set up something similar for you?"

"Well, this certainly is a unique conversational gambit. If I remember right that was a matter of a 'live-in maid, with benefits.' Right?"

"That's the arrangement. And in return you send someone to the school right across the river from you. So, are you interested in discussing some possibilities that exist right now?"

"Oh, yea. I at least want to hear about this. I'll meet with you, when and where?"

"Do you remember the place we had dinner the last time? How about there at 7 o'clock tonight?"

"You are in a hurry, aren't you? OK. See you there and then!"

"Done. Bye!" and she hung up.

At 7 o'clock that evening Cyndi slid into a booth at the Outback Steakhouse on the southwest side of Rapid City. John grinned in welcome as the waiter simultaneously came to the table with a manhattan for him and a glass of her favorite white wine for her. They lifted their glasses and touched rims in salute. "Hi again, girl. Long time no see!"

"Thanks for anticipating. I can use this glass of wine, and probably another before he serves us our dinner. I've been a very busy girl the past few days."

"He'll be back in a few minutes with their onion appetizer but why don't you check the menu and order when he comes back."

"OK. Their onion sounds good and we can talk after he takes my order."

"Good timing." John sat back and watched while Cyndi placed her order with the waiter who had taken his earlier. As they started to pull pieces off of the onion they began to talk.

"OK," said Cyndi, "I'm out pimping again. I'm looking for a 'sugar daddy' with some scholarship money. This is a very last minute, very private arrangement that no one else should ever really know about. Do you remember how hard it was for you to find out what was going on with Bill? That's how deep I want to bury this."

"I've got a situation where I would like to help out a girl who might be of interest to you. She's 20, a refugee from Africa, and she just finished high school here in the states. Her family is going to be forced to kick her out with no support, or make her go to work for all of them. They would benefit if she got a job to help support them. She has no skills to earn much of a living but she really wants to go to college. I think she'd do well at GVSU."

"OK, I'll bite, why tell me about her?"

"Well, she's willing to do anything to get that college education."


"That's what she says. I thought about how you had liked the arrangement Bill had. She would do very well in that kind of a situation. You could offer her room, board and tuition for maid services. It might turn into something more. Remember Bill didn't start out with the 'fringe benefits'. That situation started out just like the one I've laid out for you. The part that scares us in the department is that she has suggested suicide if she can't figure a way to go to college."

"And her family can't help her?" John asked? "She sounds rather desperate."

"No, they don't want her to go to school, they want her to go to work. To go to work for their benefit. They're barely making it themselves. I thought that if you wanted..."

At this point the waiter reappeared and asked about a refill on drinks and they both agreed that this was a good idea. While the young man fetched the refills they spoke of the weather and recent local political events. After promising that their meals would arrive soon, he left them. They returned to their earlier conversation.

"My thought was that if you wanted to pay her way through college, provide her with a place to live and study, that she could provide you with cleaning, cooking, and, maybe with other services. Of course, your place is an ideal location for someone who wants to go to GVSU"

"Other services?"

"I thought you would catch on that. You know what I mean. You know what Bill had. This girl did say in desperation that she would consider prostitution. Why not turn her into a maid and cook as well as a possible bed partner in exchange for giving her a full ride to school. No pun intended!"

"Is she that worth considering?"

"Yes. First of all, she's smart. She'll do well in college, especially if you volunteer to help her out with the difficult stuff. You were a teacher long enough to value drive and ability at school. You also know the university from your work there, and could help her with some of the cultural problems she might run in to. She'd be very attentive to a 'school master'. It's in her background, in her culture. Secondly, I think she's good looking in a way that you would like. Here's her senior picture and a couple of others."

Cyndi slid a manila folder over to John.

As he opened it to peruse the pictures of Patience, his eyes opened wide and he asked: "You know me too well. And you know what I like. Why do you think she'd agree to this idea of yours? It sounds pretty far fetched to me. Convincing her to put up with an old guy like me as a landlord would probably work. But to convince her to "take up" with an old, white guy strikes me as impossible. I can't see the 'benefits' part ever working."

"Well," Cyndi said, "she's really fed up with her family at this point. She really wants that 'university' education. And, she has already considered trading her body for the means to get what she wants. The last consideration is that threat of suicide. I'm willing to float anything past her if it might break her of that particular thought sequence."

"I don't think the fact that you are the age you are or that you're white would bother her. It would upset her parents, but we'll see to it that they don't find out. At least until it couldn't matter anymore. She probably would see an older white man as a man who should be in control of her. Especially if he is paying for something very important to her. Again, that's cultural in her."

"I thought you should offer her the deal I suggested. You and she write up a simple contract that runs, maybe, on a semester schedule for one year. You provide a room, meals and tuition one semester at a time and in exchange she provides maid and cook service for that semester. We can't write down anything about other services, but I'll make sure that she understands that she has to at least consider them in order to go beyond her first semester, definitely beyond her first year. Maybe you end up with a situation like Bill's, maybe not. If you're not happy with things, you don't renew the deal at the end of the year. If she's not happy she just doesn't renew the deal. She already understands that if she doesn't put out, the deal most likely doesn't get renewed.

At that point the waiter returned and did a fast cleanup of the table, removing the empty glasses and the remains of the onion and dipping sauce. He delivered their meals and offered another round of drinks. Neither of them accepted the drinks, saying that they'd switch to the water he had already provided. Finished there, he left them to their meal.

"OK," said John, "I can see how this would work if we go by your plan, and I can see that I can easily afford the costs. Especially if they are paid in exchange for certain 'services' (some of which will not be defined), but it seems to me that you are trusting that the two of us will get along. That might be a reach; after all, we've never met. And you already see us climbing into bed together. I grant that you know me fairly well, and you probably know her fairly well. But did you float this idea past her, or is this the first time you tried this out. Her pictures show that she's cute and I probably wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers, but I've no reason to expect she'd consider ending up in my bed with the crackers in the first place."

"I'm just trying to get this girl a way to get out from the blind alley her family is putting her into," said Cyndi. "And I'm telling you that if she gets screwed in the process, well, she won't be the first of us college girls to get screwed will she? I'm also saying that if that happens it is entirely between the two of you. I suppose a part of my message is that my department will NOT be involved in this. We are NOT making these arrangements. We are NOT going to supervise this situation. Both of you are over the legal age of 18 (and you both will be over 21 when the next semester starts). That's the reason why I want this to be a classifiable secret. If it does get out that I had anything to do with setting this up I would lose my job. I am not putting the two of you in bed together. Never call me a pimp and mean it."

"I understand that", said John with a laugh. "I will definitely be over 21 at that time. Hell, I'll be over 51 at that time. So, here is what I will promise right now: I will agree to meet with this girl to talk to her. You have suggested nothing untoward to me. I recognize that some people may think my offer is unacceptable because of the genders involved, if they do just tell them that I am simply making the offer and that no one, absolutely no one, has to accept it. The offer is a take-it or leave-it offer. I have the money and the location to make it work well."

"My offer would be simple. I will provide her a room in my apartment, 3 meals a day, and I will pay her tuition, books and some other expenses for one semester at Green Valley State University. She will satisfy me that she is making good effort at her schooling. If she is getting a 3-point average at the end of the first semester, or if she is getting a lower average but can convince me that she is making good effort at her school work, I will extend the offer for one more semester. At the end of 1 year we can discuss whether either of us desires to extend to arrangement further."

"Is that the kind of arrangement you want to see?" he asked?

"Yeah," said Cyndi. "But you know that Bill got more out of it than that! You can't include 'benefits' in any expression of this deal. And, yes, I did discuss this with her. She clearly understands about the unspoken 'fringe benefits' possibilities of this agreement. She understands and agrees to them."

"Right, and I hear you saying that she will probably deal with them the same as Susan did with Bill. By the way, did you catch that I am not including any maid or cook service for the initial offer? If the object of the exercise is to get her an education, let's not clutter up her thinking with all the obligations on her side. She can, I'd call it 'help out', if she wants to. OK?"

While carrying out this conversation their dinners had disappeared. It actually took longer than it appears when written in the paragraphs up above. Deciding that no dessert was a good idea for both of them they also decided that their evening's business was completed. John put enough money for the two dinners, the drinks, and the tip inside the bill book the waiter had dropped off and they stood up and exited the restaurant. As they walked to Cyndi's car they reached the agreement that she would bring the offer to Patience to consider and that if Patience were interested then Cyndi would make an appointment for them to meet. That would be the start of the 'compatibility test' part of the process. They parted with a friendly wave of their hands.

Two weeks had passed when, on a Tuesday morning, John's cell phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID screen he saw that it was Cyndi calling. He hadn't heard from her since they had parted at the Outback parking lot. He flipped his phone open and gave her a big "Hello, Cyndi".

"Hi, John. I'm sorry that I didn't get back to you earlier but it took time to set this all up. Can you meet with Patience and me this afternoon?"

"I have a one o'clock meeting scheduled that will take about an hour and a half. How about three PM? Well, wait a minute, where did you want to do this?"

"Three o'clock will do fine. I thought that since I was bringing Patience to meet you we might do it at your apartment. That way she could see your home and its location as well as meet you. After all, your charming personality is only part of the deal we're offering to her."

"Sounds good to me, I'll make sure that the place is cleaned up before the two of you show up. In fact I'll do that before my one o'clock. See you then."

As they drove the two-hour drive into downtown Rapid City Cyndi did her best to bring the normally quiet Patience into a frame of mind to talk freely. After discussing generalities she began to tell Patience more about John and the offer he was making to her. She identified John as a retired teacher at both the high school and college levels. She pointed out that 'retired' identified him as 'old', in this case, almost 51. He was single, divorced more than 20 years earlier, with no children or other family that she knew of.

Upon early retirement John had purchased a new 15th floor condominium apartment in one of the new downtown buildings that was being built at that time. In his case it was in a multiple usage building. Part of it (the first 5 levels) was in service as a hotel. The next 3 floors were rental apartments and the upper 20 floors of the building had been sold as condominiums. John had purchased one of the larger units giving him three bedrooms, which he arranged as master and guest bedrooms and an office. Each of the bedrooms had a full bathroom while the office did not. There was a 1/2 bath off of the entrance hallway available for general guest use. Cyndi had once been there as a guest at one of John's parties.

Cyndi's main message to Patience was that John's building, while it was a prestigious Rapid City address, was, more importantly to Patience, directly across the river from the main GVSU building on the downtown campus. John's apartment windows faced the campus. There was a public pedestrian bridge that went from that campus location across the river to a walkway that passed right next to the building John lived in. If Patience lived there she could walk to campus. If some of her classes were on the other campus out in Bakersville the busses left from the other side of that same pedestrian bridge. If she lived there she would be an immediate neighbor to the college of her choice.

"I know that you visited the school on their visitation day last year, but I want to drive through campus so that you can see where John's building is from campus."

"OK, I'd like that. Now, you said that he would pay for my first semester no matter what, right? And if I can do 'B' work or better he will pay for the second one also? And that business of sleeping with him to get the money is not part of the arrangement anymore, right?"

"You have the idea in general, Patience. But you have to remember that one of the things you want to do is to consider that possibility. I can tell you that although John is a really nice man, he has never funded a scholarship before and I kind of doubt that he would without some special consideration on your part. You've seen pictures of him and I've told you about him. He is considerably older than you are. But I've always enjoyed his participation in our activities; he's a very nice person. You are going to have to decide today if you are willing to live with him in the terms of his offer. Be prepared to decide that before we leave his apartment this afternoon."

"He will offer you that decision, just that one, before we leave. It's a simple 'yes' or 'no' that you have to decide. Yes means you will go to school next month, no means that you will go to work at the creme curl factory next week. YOU are the one who decides, unless of course, John doesn't think it will work, in which case he will never make the offer. I don't think he will do that. He likes young people who want to better themselves and who express a willingness to work to do so. And he likes young people who are female. And he likes young ladies who are of a darker skin color than our white tones. And especially he would like dark young ladies who are willing to share his bed with him, enough, probably, to pay for all four years of 'university'."

Cyndi parked the car on one of the downtown side streets. "Let's get out here and walk around campus for a little bit. I can show you all the points I was talking about earlier. And you can see where 'home' will be when you accept John's offer this afternoon."

"You seem pretty sure that I will accept his offer. Why?"

"Because you want to — that's his building there, by the way. You want everything he is offering and you're smart enough to know that he isn't demanding anything. He's only expecting that you will consider the possibilities of a sexual relation with him. You don't have to do more than that. He is going to give you — to give to you with no other requirements on you — a free ride, a full ride scholarship for at least one semester. How you do in school will determine if it goes any farther. Patience, you can get a full year of college for free and you don't have to do anything except your college work. And, of course, you have to be your normal pleasant self with him. If the agreement ends at the end of one year you will be in excellent position to qualify for some other scholarships that we'll be able to find for you."

"Patience, you can't lose in this situation! Of course I expect you to accept it."

"But what if he doesn't like African people. Does he know that I'm African?"

"Oh yes. I've told you that! That's why I tried to set this up with him. I've told you that he is one of the most non-prejudiced people you can meet, and I know that he is particularly attracted to young, pretty, black girls. Most of his friends know that very well. We've met some of the people he has dated and several of them were black. And, to add to that, he has said to us and to at least one of those dates, that he's been dating for companionship and fun, not for romance. He doesn't ever expect to marry again."

The meeting started awkwardly. Neither John nor Patience was very comfortable or talkative. Cyndi worked very hard to overcome the apparent (and surprising) shyness of both of the others. They both wanted something but were unable to bring up their ideas because of the social restrictions that they thought applied.

Cyndi and Patience had actually walked from the campus to John's building, showing Patience how close and easy it would be to go to the school from John's apartment. Entering the lobby of the hotel section they passed to the desk in front of the two elevators that serviced the upper, private floors from this level. John had left entry authorization with the clerk manning the desk who controlled access to the elevators. Once they were aboard the elevator the clerk swiped an ID card that allowed the elevator to move. It carried them swiftly to the 15th floor where they stepped out into a small lobby-like area with 6 doors visible. Cyndi led the way to the door labeled 15B and pushed the doorbell button.

When John answered the doorbell Cyndi made the introductions and John invited her and Patience in, leading them to seats in the informal living room. As the awkwardness made itself known and felt in the ensuing conversation Cyndi was afraid that she was seeing all of her planning go up in a smoke of non-communication. Grasping at any straw to get the conversation back on track she turned to John and said "John, why don't you show us around the place. Let Patience see what the place looks like."

"OK," said John and proceeded to do just that. To Cyndi's relief, as they began to move about and as Patience began to look at the rooms, the two of them began talking. Granted, they were making non-important comments about the rooms and the furnishings, but THEY WERE TALKING!

Patience was impressed with the views from the windows of the corner apartment. The long side of the apartment faced north across the city. In addition to commenting about what they could see they discussed the things that could not be seen because they were in the other direction. As they looked out of the windows that faced west they held similar discussion. The room that Patience would use was one with a west-facing window, facing the university. John pointed out that with the exposure in that direction she would probably be keeping the blinds partly or completely closed in the sunny afternoons. That was especially true now in the middle of summer even though the apartment was fully air-conditioned.

With some conversation now flowing, Cyndi was gentle in bringing the reason for their visit back into it. She used the western window from the living room alcove to point out the location of the campus buildings right across the river and the intercampus bus stop that was clearly visible from this elevation. She pointed out other campus classroom buildings and residence halls in the distance. Once the idea of school had been reintroduced she turned the discussion to the things a student would use which could be found in the apartment. These included the desk and bookcase in 'Patience's room' (as Cyndi was deliberately calling it), the library of books that John had in his 'office', along with the computers and printers located there. They discussed John's connection to the Internet via a DSL line and the wireless network he had set up between his computers in the apartment. It would be easy for Patience to work on the network from anywhere in the apartment and (this amazed Patience) John was planning to lend her a laptop for as long as she lived in the apartment. She might even be able to 'hit' his wireless system from the classroom buildings across the river.

John wordlessly conveyed to Cyndi his willingness to go through with his offer. Now! thought Cyndi, now we can get to the meat of this meeting. "John," she began, "let's go over what you want to offer to Patience. Patience, let's make sure we understand what he is offering, OK?"

"Well, Cyndi, why don't we all have a seat here (they were in the office at the time)? I would imagine that you and Patience have already discussed this at length. I wrote up my offer as a contract because you asked me to do that. I'm very impressed with Patience and want to offer this arrangement to her. Here it is." Taking a file folder from one of the surrounding counters he handed a sheet of paper to each of his guests.

"As you can see here, I offer to pay the expenses of attending GVSU for Patience for one semester. If she is doing well, defined here as maintaining a 3-point average, or if she can explain why she doesn't have a 'B' average to my satisfaction, I will do the same for another semester. I will provide her with a room (you've seen it) and board; I will pay her expenses for tuition, books and incidentals one semester at a time. In other words I offer you, Patience, (switching his attention) a free ride to Green Valley for a year if you are willing to live here and to do 'B' work in school. I will also offer to help you with schoolwork in so far as I am able to do so. You do not need to do anything else to obtain this support, but I would hope that you will prove to be a pleasant apartment mate and that you will offer to help with some of the chores of housekeeping from time to time."

"Patience, you and I are both free to end this arrangement anytime we want, in part or in the whole, if either of us finds that we cannot put up with the arrangement. Any money I pay out before we end the arrangement is a sunk cost — that is, I won't demand it back. You would just have to find another place to live without any more help from me. Does this sound like the deal the two of you discussed?"

"Yes..." both Cyndi and Patience started at once. Patience started again: "Yes, that's what Mrs. O. told me about, and I am willing to accept your offer if she can help me get away from mama and papa without getting me into trouble with them."

John put a hand on Patience's arm stopping her as she began to turn toward Cyndi. "Look at me, Patience," he said. Looking straight into her brown eyes he spoke directly to her "I expect nothing from you other than those things written there. Anything else anyone has suggested is NOT part of our agreement here. Understand?"

"Yes Sir," she responded, "Like I said, all I have to do is not get in trouble with mama and papa." Looking at Cyndi her eyes re-asked the question.

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