The Book Addict(4)

By: Annette Mori

Tolstoy sashayed out to the deck and focused intently on the birds who teased him mercilessly. His tail swished back and forth, and he made that chirping sound. If only they would come a little closer, Tanya imagined him saying.

“Time to jump on the bike, Tolstoy. Hopefully, by the time I finish showering and getting ready, the bookstore will be open.”

Swish, swish, chirp, chirp.

“Okay, I see you’re busy. I guess we won’t have any riveting discussions this morning about politics or the state of our crumbling society.”

Colorful gems were glued to the outside of the store window, accenting the words, The Enchanted Page, Where Magic Happens. The sun hit the bedazzled window, perfectly reflecting the light and allowing the decorations to twinkle. Tanya chuckled. The flashy window art was the exact opposite of her lackluster nature.

She hesitated outside the store. At five minutes to nine, she was early. She was always early, always waiting for something. Waiting to hear back on a job, waiting for a movie to begin, waiting for her grandmother to get ready, waiting for her love life to begin…waiting for this store to open. Tanya was perpetually early.

A tall woman with long and wavy blonde hair passed in front of the window and tilted her head. She looked like she might have walked from the pages of a Nordic adventure. The angular features of her high cheekbones and strong jaw served to emphasize her generous lips. A female Viking ready to fight for the rights of all women. A row of perfectly even white teeth appeared, as she smiled and swept away any perception of a harsh edge present in the warrior. She was too far away to see the exact color of her eyes, but somehow, Tanya thought of a body of water when the woman captured her gaze. Tanya wanted to look away, but she couldn’t. Staring slack-jawed, she was surprised when the woman enthusiastically waved for her to come in.

Tanya turned around, looking to see who the woman might be waving at. There was no one else on the sidewalk. Tanya took a tentative step forward, turned the knob, and walked into paradise.

“Good morning, you’re my first customer, and already I can tell you will be the one to bestow the magic,” a chipper voice declared. “Whew, I thought I might have to stick around for years to fulfill my mission.”

“Hi, I’m kind of a book addict,” Tanya responded.

“Then you’ve come to the right place, indeed. I’m Elle, owner and book magician at your service.” The woman stuck out her hand.

Tanya scrunched up her face at the outstretched hand.

“Isn’t that how to greet people?” Elle looked confused.

"Oh, yes. Sorry, I’m being rude. It’s just no one usually pays any attention to me. I suppose, since I’m the only person in your store…”

“Nonsense.” Elle clasped Tanya’s hand with both of hers and held it for a few extra seconds. “Tell me your favorite type of books to read.”

Tanya blushed. “Um do you have a…uh…um…lesbian romance or fiction?” she whispered.

“Of course, that’s our largest section. I knew you were the one. I have just the book for you. May I?” Elle glided over to the floor-to-ceiling shelf and pointed to a prominently displayed book with a beautiful woman and a dream catcher on the cover.

Tanya picked up the book and turned it over to peruse the blurb on the back. She liked this particular author and hadn’t read this book yet but wanted to know what the story was about. “This sounds interesting.”

“Oh, it is. Let me go get the special copy for you.”

Tanya was excited. She assumed special meant the author had signed the book. When Elle handed her the book, the sun reflected against the cover and produced a spark of light. Tanya didn’t think anything of it. Opening the book to look inside, she was disappointed to see the blank page, no author’s signature.

Shrugging her shoulders, she placed the book on the counter and opened her bag to retrieve her credit card.

Elle waved her hand in the air. “This one’s on the house.”

“What? No. How can you stay in business if you don’t charge? I really want your store to succeed. I insist.”

“I’m afraid I can’t accept money, or the magic won’t happen.” Elle smiled and touched Tanya’s hand. “Please.”