Mid Week Tease: The Art of Grant Management #MWTease #MidWeekTease
Happy Hump Day! Let’s celebrate it with another wonderful Mid Week Tease, courtesy of the lovely and talented Sandra Bunino. This week, I’ll be sharing a teaser from my current WIP, a M/M contemporary story set in a medical research center called “The Art of Grant Management.” I always knew that those years of managing research grants would finally come in handy!
Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
“I know Dr. Cheung may give you an extraordinary amount of leeway, but I expect you to do your job,” Dr. Peter Loeffler said, glaring down his nose at the man sitting behind the desk. “I have extra funds remaining in my NHS grant, and I wish to use them to purchase additional tissue lines.”
The administrative assistant for the Robert Kenilworth Research Center smirked back up at him. “And I’ve told you at least three times that those funds are earmarked for personnel, not supplies,” John Quincy said, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms. “Which apparently you can’t parse. If you tell me what language they speak on your planet, I’ll try to translate it into something you’ll understand.”
“Oh, ha, ha, very humorous.”
Quincy’s smirk quirked, one side rising. “Then let me repeat it — again — in English. I am legally unable to transfer funds from one grant area to another. So the answer to your question is no. While we’re on the subject, you’re going to lose that money from next year’s grant if you don’t hire a research student toot sweet.”
Peter clenched his jaw. “I don’t need another researcher. I need fresh tissue lines.”
“Not my problem,” Quincy said dismissively. “This is what happens when you don’t budget your grants correctly. Consider it an object lesson.”
Peter ground his teeth together. “I need those funds reallocated so that I can use them as I see best,” he grated. “And since it is my burden in life to have you as an administrative assistant, I insist you do your job and administrate this transfer.”
Quincy’s answering smile was feral. “You want me to administrate something? How about I administrate my foot up your–”
Dr. Mai Cheung’s voice sounded mild, but there was steel under the center director’s tone. “May I remind you that voices carry? Mr. Quincy, get back to work.” Peter felt a hand on his arm. “Could I see you in my office, Dr. Loeffler?”
Grimacing, Peter let her pull him away from Quincy’s desk. The man had already turned back to his computer, whistling insouciantly.
Insouciantly. Damn him.
“Is there a reason why I came back from lunch and found you yelling at my administrative assistant?” Mai said. “Again?”
“I wasn’t yelling,” Peter said with a sniff. “As for your administrative assistant, he’s a boorish, obnoxious little man who has no respect whatsoever for his superiors, and he takes a particularly childish delight in being obstructive. I simply do not understand why you insist on keeping him employed.”
“Because he’s a god of grant management,” Mai said. “Not only does he keep track of every research grant opportunity out there, he’s also a walking calculator who can balance multiple million-dollar budgets in his head.” She shrugged. “Plus he’s also the only person who’s been able to put up with all the personalities up here.”
He folded his arms across his chest and glared. “I assume you’re referring to me?”
“I’m referring to every researcher up here, including me,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Let’s be honest. We’re a bunch of prima donna scientists who are far too undersocialized for our own good, and we’ve scared the shit out of every admin who walked in here.”
She pointed at her office door and the room beyond. “Except Quincy. He dishes it out as well as he takes it, and he keeps us funded. So I would consider it a personal favor if you’d ease off on the insults and let the man do his job before he gets fed up and goes to work for Grant Management.”
“I was trying to get him to do his job!”
“No, you were trying to get him to bend the rules for you,” she fired back. “You know full well you can’t use personnel funds for supplies, so stop asking. If you need those cell lines so badly, you’ll have to find another way to pay for them.”
Peter felt his fury subside a bit. “I — damn it. There is no other way,” he admitted. “I’ve exhausted all of my resources. My new NHS grant won’t fund for two months, and I need those cell lines before we get our site visit from Clemmons.”
Mai frowned. The Clemmons Endowment Fund provided the huge program project grant that kept the Kenilworth Center itself up and running. “Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier, Peter?”
He scuffed a toe along the carpet. “Well, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I, er, underbudgeted.” Quincy’s sneer loomed in his mind’s eye. “I don’t know what to do, Mai. I need those cell lines if I want to complete my current research project before the site visit.”
“Huh.” She frowned thoughtfully. “You know, if you talk to Quincy, I bet he can find a grant somewhere that will pay for your lines.”
Peter stiffened. “I would rather orally service Sarah Palin than ask John Quincy for a favor,” he snapped. “And you know both my political leanings and my sexual orientation, so that should fully indicate the depths of my repugnance.”
Mai grimaced. “Thanks for the mental image. Now I need brain bleach.” She rubbed the bracketed skin between her eyes. “I really wish you’d just ask him out already.”
Peter’s mouth dropped open. “I beg your pardon?
“Oh, please. You know perfectly well what I’m talking about,” she said. “I’ve seen the way you look at him when you think nobody’s watching. And he looks at you the same way. Your little mating dance has been amusing enough, but it’s time to step up your game and do something about it.”
He’d gotten his jaw under control. “Quincy and I are not doing a mating dance,” he said. “Despite what you most mistakenly believe, I think he’s an obnoxious little troglodyte, and he obviously has no fond feelings for me. We’re not compatible in any way, shape, or form.”
One sleek eyebrow arched at him. “How would you know, seeing as the only thing you ever do is bicker with him?”
“I do not bicker,” Peter said sharply, then paused. “All right, perhaps I do. A bit. But he starts it!”
“Mating dance.” Mai sighed. “Look, there’s no rule against you dating a staff member, so why don’t you try being the bigger man for once and just ask him out?”
“It would be difficult to be the littler man to that homunculus,” Peter muttered.
Her eyes narrowed. “Let me remind you that you’re speaking about the man who can pull your metaphorical fat out of the fire, doctor. If you won’t cowboy up and ask him out, that’s your decision, but I do expect you to go ask him for some grant help, especially if it has a bearing on the site visit.”
He resisted the image to squirm under her gaze. “I’ll think about it. May I go now?”
The director waved him off. With as much dignity as he could muster, Peter stalked out of the office, into the anteroom that doubled as Quincy’s domain.
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