The Book Addict(10)

By: Annette Mori

“Participation. I don’t understand.”

“You will and when you do, it will feel glorious. Tanya, you must allow the story to take you places you’ve never been.”

Tanya chuckled. “I always do, but unfortunately it isn’t real. The minute I finish the last sentence of the book, I’m back to my mundane life as a computer analyst.”

Elle grinned. “Do you trust me?”

Tanya thought that was a very strange question, considering she’d just met the woman. Although she was a bit on the strange side, Tanya didn’t get any kind of danger vibe from her. Still, trust was a big deal. “I don’t distrust you.”

Elle frowned. “What would allow you to trust me?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I suppose I would need to get to know you a lot better.” Tanya couldn’t believe she’d just said that. It felt like she was asking this woman for a date, or even more horrific, to start dating and become an item.

“Hmmm, well it isn’t usually done that way, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Okay. What would you suggest as our first outing?”

“I guess this walk might constitute a…” Tanya hesitated. She didn’t want to name this a date, so she used Elle’s words, “a first outing.” She wondered what Elle meant by desperate times. Was she a booby prize for someone who was desperate to meet new people in a new town?

Elle clapped her hands together. “Wonderful.”

“Don’t you have a bookstore to run?”

“Oh, that. Mother is looking after it for me.”

“Your mother lives here?”

“Not exactly, but we are a team, so to speak.”

“Well if you have your mother, why would you need me? I’m sure you will meet people in no time. You seem the outgoing sort.”

Elle chuckled. “Oh, you are very precious, Tanya. I wish to spend time with you, but not because I don’t have friends. There is a much bigger purpose at work here.” She leaned closer to Tanya and whispered in her ear, “But don’t tell anyone, especially my mother. She’s so cautious these days. It’s a travesty, really. She used to be the best. That nincompoop in charge is at fault. I don’t normally care what they can hear, but Mother does. At least there aren’t any walls around for those damn ears to pop out of.”

“I…I…don’t understand.” Tanya was thoroughly confused. She didn’t want to believe this attractive, assertive woman was unbalanced, but the evidence was overwhelming.

Elle stopped walking and stepped in front of Tanya, grabbing her hands. “I’ll probably end up breaking all the rules… Oh, just wait. Don’t imagine yourself in the book until Maya’s character shows up. Please? In the meantime, what shall we do this afternoon?”

When Elle grabbed Tanya’s hands, she couldn’t help her reaction. She didn’t want the woman to let go. The handholding was the most human contact she’d felt in years. Tanya justified her next suggestion by convincing herself everyone was a little odd. Most people had harmless quirks and insecurities not truly understood by others. She would spend time with this woman, especially if she was the touchy feely type. More touching was definitely worth whatever price she might pay for an unusual friendship. “It’s lunchtime. Do you, uh, want to get something to eat?”

“Oh, that would be lovely. Where shall we go?”

“Well, I’m partial to the bistro. They have good food, a casual atmosphere, and it isn’t terribly expensive. I can buy, since you just came to town and opened a brand-new business. I understand that can sap a person’s finances.”

“That’s very sweet of you, Tanya, but I am not—how do you say it? Ah, yes—I am not strapped for funds.”

Tanya sighed in relief. She wanted the bookstore to make it. If the business started slowly, at least Elle had the funds to keep it going for a while.

“Um, okay. We have to take Tolstoy back first, and if you don’t mind walking, we can continue on the path to the bistro.”

The two women walked the short distance back to Tanya’s condo and Tanya set Tolstoy inside before they continued their journey to the restaurant.