A Simple Love Connection

I thought with school coming up (or having already started for some of you), people would be in need of an easy read. I wrote this the other night. It needs editing and it's only part of a larger story, but I think it's cute.

Piper leaned back in her desk chair; one stiletto-booted foot perched on the edge of the vintage wood counter at Hamelin Books and the other designer boot crossed over the first. It was a Wicked Witch-like picture to be greeted with, the sight of only those two feet, but Piper really didn’t care. She loved her job, but she didn’t feel like a bookstore required such propriety. Cordelia, her boss, would not have agreed. But Cordelia wasn’t there.
The little bell above the door let Piper know that a customer had entered, but she didn’t look up from her book. At least, it was her intent to remain undistracted by the new arrival, until she heard footsteps approach the counter and then stop. She waited, refusing to look up for a few precious moments.
“That must be some book,” said a male voice. Piper’s insides curled at the sound which was Irish and smooth. She set aside her worn copy of Finnegans Wake to look at the newcomer. She wished she’d kept her eyes on the rather less attractive James Joyce because she wasn’t prepared for the guy that stood before her now. He wasn’t the usual sort---nerdy, arty, skinny, cute but not handsome. This guy was tall and lean but muscular. Her eyes lit on his light blonde hair that looked a lot like a lion’s mane, and then let her gaze travel down to his dancing green eyes.
“Can I help you find something?” She found her voice, and at the same time suppressed a self-satisfied smirk as the guy’s gaze turned appreciative.
“I was told that if I wanted to find Roethke I had to come here.” The guy grinned. “My name’s Ian, by the way.”
“You definitely came to the right place,” she said, ignoring his question. “We’re the only bookstore around that carries Roethke.”
“So you aren’t going to tell me your name?”
“Well, technically, you didn’t ask,” she said. “Roethke’s in the poetry section, up those stairs and to the—What are you doing?” he’d reached down to pluck an old name tag from the jar of pens on the counter.
“George,” he read. Then he met her eyes. “I’m guessing that’s not your name?”
“No,” she tried to sound cold, but she had a feeling he didn’t buy it. She sighed and gave in. “Strangers call me Melissa,” she began. “Family and acquaintances call me Mel. But my friends call me Piper.” He raised an eyebrow. “It’s my last name,” she explained.
“But I don’t want to be a stranger or an acquaintance or even a friend.” Her traitorous breath caught. “So I guess I’ll have to call you something else.” Now she raised an eyebrow. He stroked his chin in mock-thought. “Melissa…Izzy?” Warmth curled in her at the way he said the name. And he smirked because he could tell she liked it, but he didn’t say anything. He did, however, turn and walk to the stairs. Then he stopped.
“I’m not sure I can find it on my own, Iz.” She noticed he was trying to make a sad kind of face. It was actually pretty effective because she found herself rising and walking up the stairs with him.
She helped him find the Roethke book, standing on her toes to reach the top shelf. In a move as old as time, Ian stepped up behind her and grabbed it so that they were pressed close together in the isolating row of books. She turned, but he didn’t move. She could smell his scent, a combination of coffee and spice.
“What do you want that book for?” she said to break the thick silence. He stepped back.
“A class at the university,” he said. “But I’ve been meaning to read some of his poems for a while now.”
“You like poetry?” She couldn’t keep the surprise from her voice.
“Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I’m illiterate,” he said, pretending affront.
“In most cases it does,” she joked. Then she bit her lip which drew his heated gaze. She made a decision. “Follow me.”
She led him through the brightly lit rows of books into the back corner. Then she knelt down to a small section of shelf.
“This is where I keep the best books,” she admitted. Ian laughed.
“Hoarding them for yourself, Iz?”
“Something like that,” she laughed. “Actually, these are mine. I usually keep some of my favorite books around, just in case.” She half-smiled, wondering if he thought she was crazy. He was really thinking that she was fascinating and beautiful, but she couldn’t tell from his face.
She rose and handed him an old book. He set the Roethke aside to take it. It was an old copy of poems by Mandelstam.
“An old friend of mine translated them himself. They’re kind of amazing. You can borrow it, if you want.” He smiled at her.
“I want,” he grinned. She laughed a little. She felt isolated in their little space between the shelves. And she found herself liking this guy way too much.
“Come on, let’s get you checked out.” She slid past him toward check out, and he followed. She was acutely aware of his breathing and his footsteps. What was it about this guy? She’d met tons of cute, charming guys before. Her heels clicked on the wood stairs as she descended, jarring her back to reality. Then she heard him curse.
“What?” she asked.
“I left the Roethke back there,” he said. “I was distracted.” His eyes caught hers and held with an unspoken message that said it wasn’t any book that had distracted him. She looked away. “I’ll go get it and be right back.”
Piper went back to the counter, head spinning. She bit her lip before turning to ring up his purchase manually. Then, before she could stop herself, she had a pen in her hand and her fingers were scribbling ten digits and two hyphens on the back of his receipt. She shook her head at herself as she finished.
Ian appeared at the top of the stairs and a smile flitted over her face. She liked him, even she couldn’t deny it.
“Hey,” he said. “Here.” He handed her the book. She slid he receipt into the front cover and put both books into a bag. Ian watched her in silence.
“Take good care of my book,” she said.
“I will.” He smiled, and it did funny, unwanted things to her heart. “Well,” he said. “I’ve distracted you enough for one day.” She snorted. “I suppose you won’t give me your number then?” But he didn’t wait for an answer. And she didn’t have one for him anyway.
The door jingled, and then he was gone. And Piper felt oddly lost for a few moments after that, like she had to reacquaint herself with being Piper alone and not Piper with Ian. I was most unnerving.

Anyway, the idea is to start out the story with this little exchange that seems really really normal and then reveal the truth. I'm not sure what the truth is. By the way, the story's called Pied. I'm leaning towards making it take place after the world has pretty much been ravaged, but they're in one of the few rebuilt places. We shall see.


Post a Comment