“Oh, there you are! Just in time, too. Come to my office.”
Nick and I were sitting on the plush sofa, pizza in one hand and drink in the other. While we were
discussing his wired situation with Tim, Dr. Julian startled us.
“Dr. Julian! We were just…” I stammered and set my slice of pizza down, embarrassed. We were still
on the clock after all. It wasn’t exactly appropriate for Nick and I to be lounging in the break room right
“No worries. It’s the holiday season. I’d expect you all to relax a little. “Dr. Julian smiled and rubbed his
belly. “I’m not as strict as David is.
We both nodded in agreement.
The whole lab knew David for his staunch self-discipline. He was always the first to arrive at work and
the last to leave, and that wasn’t where his hard work ended. Recently, everyone’s been talking about
his workout routine. One of the
researchers who stayed until 5 in the morning heard David working out in the gym. No one ever used
that facility, so the poor man thought the building was haunted.
To be honest, I thought David belonged on Wall Street, not in our stuffy old lab.
Dr. Julian was very different from David. He was an old Englishman with a wholesome love for life. The
first time I met him, he invited me to enjoy the rose teas made by his wife.
Outside of the lab, he’d frequently indulge in rose teas and cherry wood wines. It was a less rigid sort of
A while ago, Nick had told me that Dr. Julian’s wife was actually a drama and literature professor at
Oxford, so all of the lovely cookies and rich teas that Julian occasionally brought to the office were
handmade by him. Nick also told me that Julian owns a huge estate in England. Apparently, he even
had a horse racing track on the property!
There was hardly any information about Julian online, so when Nick revealed those things to me, I
realized why Julian was able to pay his research team so much more than other project leaders.
Regardless, Dr. Julian was an incredible supervisor. He was always generous and respectful, and he
made sure to give us enough independence to explore on our own. With that freedom, I initially started
exploring human-computer interactions in the first year of my PhD, but I eventually found a new goal for
myself: the cure for cancer.
The only bad thing about Julian had to be…
“What do you all have planned for Christmas?” Dr. Julian smiled as he handed out a round of his
‘wife’s’ bear paw cookies. His question made my stomach turn.
No, no, no… Please…
Sure enough, his next words were:
“I’ll be in England for the next week, so the entire lab will be closed. I hope you enjoy your Christmas!”
The biggest problem with Dr. Julian was that he had no ambition!!
He was about the same age as David, but David’s annual publishing count was several times more
than our entire lab combined. There was even a senior researcher in our lab who hadn’t met the
graduation requirement after working under Julian for 10 years. There was no structure to his
Of course, if I was a tenured professor with a racetrack in my backyard, I wouldn’t be so strict either. I’d
be content to just enjoy life by baking and gardening every day.
Alas, I was only 27. I still had a long road ahead of me.
G*d, I hate Christmas!
My research was already at a standstill, and now that the lab is officially on holiday leave, I can say
goodbye to any progress. I would have to prepare fresh samples and start my experiments from the
very beginning once we were back.
I thought I still had a few weeks left…
It was my fault for spending so much of my time putting my social life before my work.
“Come on, Olive.” Nick tapped me on the shoulder. “Do you wanna get some hot cocoa?”
“No. I need to get back to my lab and finish this s*it…”
“How about with marshmallows?”
“… Yes.” I gave in.
“One Nicholas special, coming right up!” Nick handed me a cup of hot cocoa. “In addition to being a
part-time DJ, I’ve also worked as a barista! Now you’ll really see what I can do.”
“Thanks.” I smiled and took the mug, and after just one sipl knew he wasn’t lying, his hot cocoa tasted
exactly like the one from the Sweet Kitten cafe near campus!
“… How did you make this?” I stared at him incredulously. And where did he find the time to work so
many side jobs? I’ve had my hands full with just my experiments. “And why didn’t you tell me you
worked at Sweet Kitten?! You could’ve given me free drinks!”
Nick shrugged. “When you’re in love with someone, it’s worth working day and night to provide for
Then he sighed and poured himself more coffee. “Of course, no matter how hard you try to make things
perfect, there’ll always be a man who wants to take advantage of you.”
“Oh, Nick…” I set down my cup and pulled him into a huge hug. “You’ll be ok.”
“Of course I will. This is just a setback.” Nick said with a grin.
I was a coward compared to him. Not only has Vincent cheated on me, but I’ve stayed with him! All
while getting tangled up with Aaron! I wish I had Nick’s ability to just let things go.
“Forget about him. Let’s talk vacation.” Nick waved his hand and changed the subject. “Did you have
plans for Christmas?
Are you and Vincent going anywhere?
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