Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(7)

By: Ella Linden

Holly smiled. “Mostly, it’s going great. We’re both stubborn, but we also both recognize that we each bring something different and necessary to the table. We love this place, so we make it work even when we disagree about something.”

“It’s so great to see this place. Really, you both should be so proud,” Olivia said, looking around again.

“We are. And we are both looking forward to having you on board. By the way, I am a huge fan of Welcome to Paradise,” Holly said, and Olivia felt herself blush a little.

“Really? Thanks,” she said.

“I think pretty much everyone who works here reads it. Of course, I didn’t realize it was you until Lauren said that Jack told her it was you. So finding out that I knew the creator makes it just that much more awesome,” Holly said.

Olivia didn’t answer, just gave a small nod.

“So you want later hours, right? Afternoons and evenings?”

“Yes, please. I usually work at night, so mornings are a killer,” Olivia said.

“Which works perfectly for us. We’re both pretty much always here because we’re obsessed and we clearly have no lives,” Holly said wryly, and Olivia laughed. “Other than us, there’s a part-timer, Maggie, and I’m hoping to bring in one more part-timer soon, now that we have you here.”

“I should be honest here. I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here beyond summer. I’m hoping to pick up more illustration and design clients, and…” she trailed off with a shrug and Holly smiled.

“And that’s what your passion is. And that’s totally fine. You’ll help us get through tourist season, and if you decide not to stick around, we’ll look into hiring a replacement. I’m just happy to have you here. I know you know comics and you love comics and you’re not a rude jerk. You’ll be perfect.”

Olivia laughed. “The ‘not a rude jerk’ part is important, huh?”

“We are determined to make sure everyone who walks in that door feels welcome. Comics are for everyone, and customer service is hugely important to both me and Lauren. So our goal is that no matter who comes in here, they leave knowing that this is a good, welcoming place and that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. And we really do welcome everyone. It was why we added the books almost immediately.”

“Specific books, or…?” Olivia asked.

“Romance, sci-fi, fantasy, books about gaming… Lauren insisted on the romance part, and it was a smart move. I didn’t realize how many romance readers are also into comics.”

“Like Lauren,” Olivia said, nodding. “And me.”

Holly smiled. “Like I said, she’s stubborn, but Lauren is a genius at what she does.”

“So it’s an all-female staff, right?” Olivia asked, remembering what she’d read online.

Holly shrugged. “It’s just kind of worked out that way, which is fine with us. We’ve had a few guys work here, but you know how the workforce is here. Lots of college kids looking for jobs in the off season, but not nearly as many who stick around year-round.”

Olivia nodded. She was about to say something when the door opened, a small bell dinging to announce whoever had walked in.

She glanced toward the door. The man who had just entered the store moved like a panther, smooth, confident, somehow dangerous. His dark hair and neat goatee caught her attention until she noticed his eyes, such a dark brown they were almost black. He looked to be in his late thirties, maybe early forties. A straight, narrow nose, a tattoo peeking out under the sleeve of his black t-shirt, nice shoes. Tiny details that Olivia took in before glancing at his eyes again, knowing, somehow, that she’d draw someone soon with eyes that dark, because how could she not?

She was about to turn her attention back to Holly when he caught her eye… and winked before walking toward the new releases.

“Hey, Andrew,” Holly called.

“Why do you always insist on saying hi to me?” the man, Andrew, answered as he glanced over the display. Olivia looked at Holly to gauge her response. Holly smiled and shook her head.

“It’s called customer service,” Holly said as if they’d had this discussion before.