Monday, December 19, 2011
Not the Marian Kind
The Talbot’s Peak Library doesn’t see much action. Between cable TV, video games and the Internet, who has time for books? They’re ancient and outmoded and no self-respecting (and peer-aware) kid would be caught dead with an actual one in their book bag. The library’s for old geezers looking for a warm place out of the wind, and cash-poor students with laptops looking for free Internet.
People figure the same holds true for the Talbot’s Peak librarian. Evie’s a sweet girl, but, well, she’s a librarian, and you know what that means. Shut up all the time in a drafty old building with musty books for company, and liking it that way. She dresses the part, in demure skirts and primly-buttoned blouses and reading glasses on a chain around her neck, so all the rumors must be true. It’s a pity, because she’s still young enough to catch herself a man if she’d only make the effort. Mutters and headshakes accompany the compassionate looks passers-by give the building.
Evie’s scanning returned DVDs into the system when she hears the front door open. It’s early afternoon, the traditional dead time when she’s able to catch up on her cataloging. A pack of oldsters has taken over the reading room, as they do most days after lunch. They’ll hog the chairs and the newspapers and argue about everything from politics to Medicare, and drive everybody away until around three, when school kids allegedly bent on research will pop in to meet with their friends and drive the old men out in turn. There’s one guy using the computers, a nervous sort hunched in his chair with his nose only inches from the screen. Evie thinks he might be a ferret, and figures he’s surfing for porn. There are no kids around, so for the time being she’ll let him get away with it.
The man heading for the circulation desk makes her sit up and set her glasses aside. Grayson Chase knows how to fill out an EMT uniform quite nicely. People say he’s not a full wolf shifter, because of the one blue eye. Evie knows better. He’s got the distinctive alpha walk, that unique gait that makes him look like he’s stalking prey with every intention of catching it. She props her elbow on the counter and her chin in her hand and watches every step of that sexy walk carry him up to the desk.
“Anything I can help you with?” she asks in a husky voice.
“I’m looking for a book,” he says, in that wolfy growl that can curl a girl’s toes right on back to her heels. “I’m not sure of the title. I think it’s under History.”
“Of course, sir. If you’ll follow me?”
She feels his hot breath on the nape of her neck as they pass the computer terminals. The ferret never looks up. Evie navigates the shelves with a sure step and unerring sense of direction. Their destination puts them within earshot of the oldsters, an easy trick as the men tend to shout. “That’s a crock of scat, you old goat.”
“Who are you calling a goat, dogbreath?”
“If the beard fits, Billy.”
Under cover of their argument Evie murmurs, “Can you recall the subject matter? That would help narrow it down.”
He’s right beside her, nuzzling her neck. She leans into him. He always smells delicious. A ragged little growl builds in her throat.
“A history of illicit lovers,” he whispers, and licks her cheek.
That’s all she needs. Her hand has his fly down before he finishes the sentence. His hand hikes her skirt up her thigh. They sink to the carpet in tandem, shielded from view by the towering shelves. As always, part of Evie hopes someone will happen by. The constant threat of discovery adds zest to the act.
She picked this job deliberately when she came to Talbot’s Peak. She wanted to disappear. Libraries are nice and anonymous. Play up to people’s expectations, dress and act the part, and it’s easy to become invisible. Aware of everyone and everything, while passing under all the various radars. Coyotes are tricky that way.
Of course Chase found her again. It wasn’t the first time he’d lived up to his name. Was she secretly happy he’d tracked her down? Does the Mayor eat bananas?
“Hey. Hold up a second, Billy. You hear something?”
“That’s just the pipes. When are they gonna turn up the heat? It’s always so dang cold in here.”
Evie’s not cold. She’s deliciously warm, here on the floor in Chase’s arms. Chase removes the hand he used to muffle her cries and blocks her mouth with a kiss instead. The hand came into play after the lunch room incident, when people outside heard her howls. Now everyone thinks the library’s haunted. Hey, coyotes sing when they’re happy. Look it up.
“I’m afraid we don’t have that book here, sir,” she says when he finally releases her mouth. “I’ll have to request it from another branch.”
“How long will that take?”
“A couple of days. Come back Thursday.”
He helps her up. They tug each other’s clothing back into place and walk hand in hand to the circulation desk. The oblivious ferret hasn’t budged.
“I may need another book,” he tells her once she’s back behind the desk. “One on dog training. I’ve got this bitch that insists on yapping at the most inopportune times.”
“That’s easy to correct.” Evie reaches into a drawer and pulls out a bondage magazine. “Page 67. Muzzles work wonders. You can also roll this up and swat her with it.”
“I’ll give it a try.” He rolls up the magazine and leans across the desk to whack her lightly on the fanny. “Harder than that,” she growls. “Make it worth her while.”
“Not today. Maybe Thursday.” The ferret’s not looking, so he swoops in and plunges his tongue in her mouth. Every time’s still as exciting as the first. She toys with the idea of running again, just so he can pursue her.
Or maybe she’ll just stay put this time. Do a little chasing of her own.
He flicks her a lazy salute and a grin and strolls out of the library. Evie looses a contended sigh and returns to her computer cataloguing.
People say a lot of negative things about libraries and librarians. They should remember an even older saying: Never judge a book by its cover.