Chapter 1 The Beginning
As Emily slept deeply, her dreams started to materialize out of a haze to take her to long lost places. An old woman sits in a lovely attic space that had been transformed to a wonderful bedroom so many years ago and writes a letter:
September 2, 1862
My lovely granddaughter, I leave you this journal of my life so you will always know a part of you. My wonderful Craig departed my life too soon, but he was my one and only true love. I love your grandfather very much, indeed I do; but this love is different.
Something catches the old woman’s ears, ‘But what is this noise as I write in my journal? This doesn’t seem right…’ “I don’t believe in the ways of magic...” ‘What is that song?’
Emily then sprang awake and hit the alarm clock button to turn it off, “Dang it, that was the good dream!” She closed her eyes and tried to recall as much of her dream as possible; then thought that this was a good breakthrough this morning, the date. She has always wondered what time period these imaginings were in; the ones with her Mystery Man, Craig. He was wonderful, her secret lover that she was going to marry; the one that was the man of all her dreams and desires. But he wasn’t with her this time, last night. This time she was alone in the room, her room, as an old woman who had a lifetime of memories of being a young lover here, being with her father and of raising families here, in her home. It was soon to be passed on to her granddaughter, to be her house to raise a lifetime of families and memories, along with the journal. This was her special room where her and her lover, Craig, had their secret passions and their worldly dreams. This was the same room where she saw him last before he disappeared forever.
Then Emily’s waking mind went from this lovely dream to the other dreams, the nightmares. The dreams where she was lost in blackness, always searching, always coming away alone and scared. Wanting to start this day on a good note, she let those thoughts stop right there as she shook her head and looked towards the incoming daylight. A smile soon crossed her face as she stretched across her comfy, queen-sized bed, under her thick layer of quilts and remembered yesterday, Halloween. Now that was a great day; she finally saw the grandson, Marcus.
There is this old, cozy, yet mysterious book shop on the way home from the library where Emily works part time. This is the perfect book store for her reclusive self. She was always known as the nerd, book-worm or geek in school. Now that she is in her final year at college, the stereotyping has followed all the way. She never cared what her peers thought about her, never has and never will. Her books never judge her; never call names to the fingers that caress their pages. She always hid herself away in her mother’s library at home, or was at the towns’ very small library where she grew up in Alaska. Of course the decision of getting a Masters Degree in Library Sciences was obvious from very early on. But her decision to leave Alaska and come to England was a spur of the moment decision that she has been rejoicing about every day since.
Especially since finding The Book Nook. This place reminds her of the library where her mother worked for years, the one she visited when she was very, very young. It has that great old paper smell, the dark nooks to hide and read, the big dusty windows to curl up in. There was usually no one in any of the three large rooms that made up the shop; she loved having the entire place to herself. Well except of course for the very old owner, Mortimer, and his “invisible” grandson, Marcus.
Mort is always behind the massive oak and glass counter, reading or watching sports on his little TV hidden on a shelf under the register. Marcus on the other hand was always in the back room. A bump, thump, bang and creek would come from the shut-off back room, but no face had ever emerged to say ‘hello’. Mort will say that Marcus is just very shy and doesn’t want to disturb anyone’s peace while reading.
Emily thought that was peculiar but thoughtful, she hated being bothered while she was deep into a story, but it was still very odd. She had been going there at least three times a week for the last two months since she found the place. Marcus never once came out to introduce himself or say ‘boo’, even when she was in the History Section of the shop adjacent from the back room. She could hear him there humming to himself and bumping around. Mort would wander back there with books to be repaired, which Marcus did masterfully and with astonishing speed; or he would come out with new books cleaned and tagged to put on display. But Marcus never joined him in stocking, Mort always went into the room alone, and came out alone. Emily didn’t care too much to ask, she would just wander through the three rooms full of shelves and magic. All of the books held another world, some she was familiar with and others that were still waiting to be explored.
Yesterday was an exploring day for her. Emily wanted to be away from the parties and crowds of her classmates, so she decided to just slip into the bookshop after work and stay there until Mort kicked her out at closing time. She walked in with a feeling of walking into a best friend’s house, and was greeted with that same wonderful smile from a friend.
“Well Happy Halloween Emily!” Mort called out from his stool at the counter. “Not in costume? I thought for sure you were the type to take all liberties of the holiday.”
“Honestly, I usually am. But this year it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe because it’s all still too new. I would feel like a dork if I dressed up here. At least at home everyone already knows that I am a dork so it’s fine”, Emily replied with a shrug and a smile. “I just wanted to roam around your Arts Section tonight until you closed up if you don’t mind my company?”
Mort snorted, “Mind? It will be nice to have someone in here tonight! I never get much business on Halloween as it is, but since it is a Thursday, there really will be no traffic.” Mort gave Emily the biggest smile and waved his hand, “Be my guest my dear to any place you wish tonight.”
Emily beamed back as she wandered towards the back of the store, “Thanks, you can even throw a sheet over me and charge to see your ‘shop ghost’.”
Mort laughed a good hearty laugh at that and turned back to his ball game, Emily chuckled at her own stupid joke, and heard a light snicker as she rounded the last huge bookshelf. When she looked up she was startled at what she saw. Not only was the back room door wide open with light spilling out, but there was Marcus, standing in the doorway with several books in hand. He had the most wonderful little smile on his amazingly handsome face. His dirty blonde hair was cut short, but not too short, and framed the face that held the lightest blue eyes she had ever seen; on a human at least. These were the blue eyes of Huskies she thought. He was very tall, at least a good foot above her, but to her six-two was tall, just as her five-two was short. The face matched the body it was atop of, perfect. He was thin but muscular, she could see the muscles in his forearm that was holding the books, the collared shirt he was wearing was rolled up to the elbows; and his corduroys framed what looked to be a well shaped ass from her point of view. Emily stood there entranced with the thoughts that she was finally seeing the ‘invisible man’, but that he is also so damn good-looking. And yet as she stared into his face for a second, he seemed so oddly familiar to her. At that moment his face changed, it went from that ethereal smile, to a deep frown in a matter of a millisecond, and then he was gone. He just vanished back into the room and closed the door.
Emily had to blink her eyes to realize what had just happened. It all happened so quickly and with no sound that it startled her now. Shaking her head to clear it, she made her way to the oversized museum books. She grabbed one, sat on the floor with her back to the shelves, and just stared out the window and could hear Marcus in the room right on the other side of the bookshelf and wall to her right. It was baffling at what had made him disappear so fast. What had she done? What had he seen? And why was he always hiding like that? You would think Mort would want an Adonis like that on the streets drumming up business for the store. Heck, half of her English Lit. class would spend all of their allowance in here just to get a glimpse of Marcus. But there was something about the way that he looked that was different. Maybe it was his paleness. Hiding in bookstores doesn’t do much for the golden tan, Emily knew that first hand. But there was something about his eyes, and the paleness of his hands. They seemed almost white where the light from the room shone on them as they were holding the books. Trying to change her thoughts, Emily sat there for a few hours just looking at the books and out the windows at the trick-or-treaters and their costumes. At nine o’clock she bade Mort a goodnight and Happy Hallows and moseyed on home.
Now, as Emily lay in bed the following day remembering the way that Marcus looked, the way he smiled, and how much she wanted to see that again, she remembered that she had to go to work and wasn’t able to go to the shop today. Mary, the usual Mender at the towns’ library, took a long weekend to celebrate the holiday, so Emily agreed to take her Thursday and Friday shift after her classes. The up side was that Emily now had the entire weekend off. She always had to work Saturdays. But now she had to get through one more day, then she can spend most of Saturday at the book shop. She had to drag herself out of bed and get moving or she will be late for her first class. It was going to be a long day today she thought to herself, now that she knows that everyday can hold a marvelous smile behind a closed door.
It was a long day. Friday’s are heavy load days. Emily scheduled herself five classes on Fridays. Might as well get as much in before the weekend, parties aren’t happening and studying is less dramatic anyway. Then, along with the long shift at work, today just happened to be the day that a leak in the roof over the “History of the 18th Century” case just happened to break through. After all of the emergency repairs and drying, Emily was dragging her book bag behind her on her walk home. She had to pass in front of the book shop, but it was already a quarter after nine, so Mort and Marcus were already upstairs in their flat getting ready for bed. Emily thought of Marcus again and let her thoughts wander for the remaining ten minutes to her tiny flat above the flower shop.
The twenty narrow steps to her 300 square foot flat were very long tonight. When she finally got into the house and dropped her bag on the floor did she realize how exhausted she really was. Emily dragged herself to her bed and flopped onto the comfy comforter that her aunt made her as a bon voyage present. She lay there thinking of her family and how much she missed them. She thought of her bother and parents, her dog and cat. The way Alaska was so clean and quiet compared to here. Then she thought of nothing. All traces of sight, sound and comprehension just ceased to exist as she drifted down into slumber, drifted down into another night of mysterious dreams.
Emily woke herself up screaming at three AM. It was one of the bad dreams this time. This one was the worse of them all though. She dreamt that she was wandering around in the same vast abyss but this time there was a small light illuminating the darkness. The light was so slight, so dim that she couldn’t see the source. All that was visible were parts of the room around her. She was in a large warehouse. A room where there was a bed in the far corner, and something large and round in the other corner. A small growling noise started to come from the shape in the corner, a growl that was not an animal sound, not from the throat. This was a deep, core-splitting growl that came from the core of evil, evil that was now rising to meet its new visitor. That was when Emily screamed, in her dreaming state, and living state. This was a new aspect of her usual nightmare. This was something new and terrifying that she didn’t want to start facing a few times a week. She rolled over and flicked on the bedside lamp. Shakespeare was resting between the nightstand and bed frame just for these moments. She flipped through the worn pages and found A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was a good story that reminded Emily of the peaceful things in life. The innocence of youth and love and how the sereneness of the woods and fairies invoke calmness in times like this. The language also helps make for a good challenge to make the mind drowsy as well. Emily fell asleep by the second act and had a dreamless sleep for the rest of the night.
Saturday morning came with the birds singing and the sun coming in through the tiny window. This surprised Emily because the sun didn’t break through the clouds very often this time of the year. “Well I think it will be a great day today then… has to be better than yesterday!” Speaking out loud to no one and nothing was very common for her. Emily stood, stretched and went to the window to see the day. It was splendid outside; the sun was glistening on the dew on the trees and bushes, the birds were singing and there were kids outside playing in the rays laughing with two day old monster masks on. Emily smiled, that was one of the many reasons that she loved Hallows, the kids made it so fun and it could last for days.
She decided to get dressed, have a good big breakfast and get some chores done before going to the shop. Sadly laundry and dusting were always at the top of the list, Em hated these chores more than anything. Her flat was always tidy, but not spotless. The dust would creep in and stare at her for weeks before she got around to removing it. But with the sun shining in she decided would be a good day to open the windows and get fresh air in before winter hit and she had to board them shut. Winter here shouldn’t be too bad; heck compared to Alaska any winter wasn’t too bad. The dampness here made it miserable, she could never get dry and the flat never seemed to completely warm up even with her little wood stove. But today she will clean, polish and air it out so it will feel like spring in here, at least for a day.
Her chores took her longer than expected, shock hit her when she saw on her wall clock that it was noon already. She decided to make a sandwich for lunch and shower before she went to say hi to Mort… and hopefully Marcus. Now she thought that she might just come out and ask Mort about his grandson. Why was he hiding away and why did he leave so quickly after seeing her the other day? She had too many questions, for them both. She also knew that her fleeting glimpse was probably just that, a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the god in the book shop.
Even still, she wore her prettiest green blouse that brought the bright green out in her hazel eyes, hoping that she could at least possibly make Marcus stop for two seconds if he dared to emerge again. But then again, why would he do that? She was nothing to look at – at least that’s what Emily thought as she looked at herself in the mirror. She had no idea why guys would stop to talk to her, or go out of their way to let her pass. The only pretty assets that she had were her eyes, her mother’s beautiful hazel eyes. Otherwise, she was as plain as a burlap sack in her own view. She was short so her legs were too stumpy to her, even though they were shapely due to walking everywhere. Her hair was a light auburn with darker red streaks mixed with the brown that lay just past her shoulders; she decided to let it grow out since she moved here, so that was nothing glamorous. Then she turned to the side and looked at her profile, she did have some boobs though, a big “B-Cup” was nothing to scoff at with a little waist. She thought she was too thin, but she just never seemed to gain any weight. “Oh the heck with it, after being cooped up in that room all the time Marcus wouldn’t care if I was a burlap bag,” she said to her reflection and turned to leave the room.
She walked down the lane slowly to take in all that was around her. Emily loved this part of town, her little corner of the world. There were darling little shops on the thin sidewalk with little flats above each one. The last of the fall flowers were starting to die in the flower boxes that lined the little, old brick rectangle faces. The leaves were turning the most vivid shades of red and orange, the kids were playing here and there in the alleyways and stoops, cats were perched in every high niche they could find, and there were shoppers coming and going out of every doorway. Em didn’t realize how different this street was on Saturdays. Most times it was just locals getting what they needed and going where they needed to go. But today it seemed as though there was three times as much traffic. Maybe it was just the weather and not the day… She couldn’t be missing out every Saturday could she?
She was at the door to The Book Nook before she knew it. She actually paused at the window to see the new display that was done last night. Was it there yesterday and she missed it in her stupor walking home, or was it done after that she wondered. It was a very colorful and cheery display, perfectly matching the weather outside. There were new books in bright yellow, red and pink dust jackets. Old classics in deep blues and ochre’s, even props of plastic flowers, balls, toys and candy. Wow, this was the most beautiful display of books she has ever seen! Then she looked closer at the titles of the books; they were all about love, romance, families and children. This was not usual for Mort to do; maybe Marcus did it after closing. Well she thought, one way to find out and she pushed open the old, creaky door.
To her astonishment the shop was packed full of people, so much for a quiet afternoon for her here. She was about to turn and leave when Mort saw her, “Emily, so glad to see you out on this gorgeous day! Come see the new arrivals!” He had to practically shout over the din of people coming and going.
Emily made her way to the end of the counter where Mort was, “This is amazing, I have never seen so many people in here.”
“I know, I haven’t either. I think the last time this happened was when paperbacks were first invented.” Mort gave Emily a sideways wink and smile. It took her a second to catch on… duh!
“Mort, what happened suddenly? Is it the weather, or perhaps your wonderful new window? Did you do that last night?”
“No, no, no, not me. I could never be that creative. Something got into Marcus last night and I woke up to it. Then as soon as I opened the doors it has been like this. Maybe I should have redone the window a long time ago,” Mort said thoughtfully.
Just then a woman with her arms full of books came crashing up to the counter, “Excuse me, are these all the books that you have on Renaissance Art?”
Mort turned from Emily towards the woman, “Of course not, set those down and let me show you our wonderful collection.” Mort escorted the lady to the rear of the shop and stopped along the way to point out this book or that that might peak her interest as well.
As Emily made her way to the rear of the store where there seemed to be less people, she passed all sorts of folks perusing the isles. There were more women and children than anything. The kids were crowded in the children’s section, mothers were one row away where the cookbooks and crafts were held; and there seemed to be a few fathers roaming around in the cars, westerns and Sci-Fi books. Luckily there weren’t very many people in the history section in the back where Emily liked to hide. She found her favorite nook in the window across the aisle from the mending room. Finally finding a book as she sat and flipped through the pages and could hear Mort making his way back up to the front to cash out the lady with more books for her reading pleasure. It then dawned on her that Mort was alone. Now why in the world would Marcus not come out and help with all of these people? That was just rude to leave his poor old grandfather to deal with all of this hustle and excitement.
Emily was thinking that she would go up front and ask Mort if she could help in any way at all. She could at least take the money from customers and bag their books. She started to get up and turn when something in her peripheral vision caught her attention. She looked across the aisle and saw Marcus standing in the door of the mending room looking at her. She gasped for breath as she saw him again, was he better looking than last time? He then raised a pale hand and waived for her to come over to him. She almost fell back down onto the window seat but caught herself. Like an idiot she pointed to herself to confirm that he was waiving at her. He chuckled and nodded his head yes. She crossed the aisle and went to the door to stand in front of him. Marcus quickly and quietly, so quiet she was shocked that she heard him, “Please come in here quickly,” and he took her hand and drew her into the room and closed the door behind her.
It took her a second to take in the room. It was much, much larger than she thought, and much brighter than the rest of the shop. Along one wall there was a huge table with cutting boards, small drawers, plastic boxes and various tools hanging on the wall. On two other walls there were metal shelves full of books. Some looked so old Emily was shocked they were still standing at all. Looking down to her left beside the door that she was still standing in front of, she saw a large fluffy couch and a table set with tea and cookies. Marcus was sitting on the couch staring up at her. She wondered how long he was sitting there looking at her, how long had it taken her to take in the room?
With a look of shock on her face she looked down at him, “How can you be hiding in here when your grandfather is out there running around like a chicken with his head cut off taking care of customers? Why are you not out there helping him? And why are you always hiding in here?”
Marcus laughed and stood up, “Hi, my name is Marcus, as I am sure you already know. And you are the lovely Emily that my grandfather speaks so much about.” He held out his hand for her to take, but she was too startled to take it. Dropping it he continued, “I’m sorry if I startled you. Mort can handle all of those people just fine; he is a master at this sort of thing. Actually I would think he would be quite displeased with me if I did go out there and take the spotlight off of him. He has needed this type of excitement for so many years. Please, do sit down and have some tea with me. I will be more than happy to answer your questions for you.” He waved his hands towards the chair and tea tray. “Please?” He flashed her this smile that almost made her turn into a melted Popsicle.
“Um, yeah sure,” she managed to bumble out. Emily took a seat on the edge of the chair and suddenly felt like she was back in high school. She felt too awkward and out of place to be here alone with this man in a room, his personal office space.
“Please do relax Emily. I know that you don’t like crowds like I do, so I thought this would be a great time for us to finally meet.” Marcus took the space across from her on the couch and started to pour the tea. “Do you take cream and sugar?”
“No, thank you. I cannot see how you English can ruin a good cup of tea by adding milk to it,” She made a sour face, and then realized how rude she must have sounded, “Oh I am so sorry, I didn’t mean that as an insult.”
Marcus chuckled, “Don’t worry about it; I think it is quite unpalatable myself. I like it with nothing added also. A good tea needs nothing but water to make it great.” Then that smile again, those smiles that can make any woman’s heart stop for twenty beats.
“So. May you please answer why you are not out there helping?” Emily didn’t want to sound rude, but she couldn’t help it. It was either that or squeak like a mouse and sit there and stare at this beauty in front of her.
“Most certainly.” Marcus took a pause to sip his tea like a perfect English gentleman out of the movies, “You see, Mort and I have an arrangement here in the shop. He does the entire front of the house stuff; like taking care of the customers and such. And I stay in the back of the house doing all of the stuff that he doesn’t like to do. When we keep to our specific areas, the shop works like a dream. Even when it is this busy Mort is never overwhelmed. That old bugger has more energy than you think he does.”
Emily’s mouth dropped open, “That’s it? That is your ridiculous excuse for staying back here? Why are you always back here then, even when it is just me out there?”
“Well… I don’t know, “ Marcus stood and went to one of the book shelves. “Honestly, I really don’t even know what compelled me to ask you in here with me today. I must be getting a little ‘cabin fever’ being in here all day.
“Well if this was a mistake then I will be more than happy to leave you to your books,” Emily stood up, put her tea cup back on the table and turned to leave. Within a second Marcus was standing in front of her with a pleading look on his face, “No, please don’t go. I’m sorry if that came out wrong, I didn’t mean it like that at all. I just mean that since I saw you the other day I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind. Wait, I mean that I would really like to be able to talk with you alone. Well I mean if you want to speak with me after I have been so rude these last couple of months since you have been coming here. There is no real excuse for me to be hiding away,” he stopped like he wanted to say more but thought better of it.
Emily stopped hearing what he was saying after he said that he couldn’t stop thinking of her. Did she hear that part right? “What? You have been thinking of me? Why on earth why?” She didn’t let him answer but shook her head and waved a hand, “Never mind. Listen, you don’t have to explain your life with your grandfather to me. I’m sorry that I pried, it really is none of my business.” Emily tried to say something to change the atmosphere in this room, she really didn’t want to leave at all, and she definitely didn’t want to be mad at the one man that she wanted to be near. “I know, why we don’t start over. Hi, my name is Emily Cook, nice to meet you Marcus, “she held out her hand to him.
He looked down at her offered hand and a smile crossed his lips and made it all the way to his eyes. Then looking up to her lovely face, took her hand in his and kissed the top of it, “It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance Ms. Cook.” He kept his head down and looked up at her over his brows and smiled this crooked little grin from the corner of his mouth. Emily’s heart did stop a beat this time, no mistaking it; she was going to pass out. Marcus stood upright, touched her elbow with his other hand and led her back down to her spot on the chair. “Now, does your tea need to be topped off?”
“What? Um, no, it’s fine thank you.” Emily had to remember to breathe and focus now. His kiss and eyes just knocked the wind out of her. Worse than the time her brother knocked her off the monkey bars when they were kids, at least then she knew why she couldn’t breathe right. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him as he moved around the table to his seat. He sat so gently and quietly, if she wasn’t looking at him, she wouldn’t even know that he was in the room.
“So Ms. Cook, what brings you to lovely England, you are obviously an American,” Marcus looked genuinely interested in what she had to say; this was a shock to Emily, no one ever cared that much about her or her company.
“Well, I’m actually getting my last year of college done here. I decided that I better see the world a little bit before I get tied down in a library somewhere - not to emerge until I am grey and with a bun,” Emily smiled up at Marcus and shrugged. “I’m actually from Alaska, well originally from Texas, but my dad got transferred to Alaska when I was ten years old.” She couldn’t believe she was telling him this, and he was actually listening! Something had to be wrong; this was too good to be true.
Marcus couldn’t take his eyes off of her, “How long do you plan on staying here; after graduation I mean?”
“Well I actually hadn’t really thought about it…” Emily was interrupted before she could finish.
Just then Mort opened the door, “Marcus can you please… Oh my God, what is she doing in here?” Mort’s eyes were about to pop out of his head.
Emily jumped out of her seat, “I better get going; you guys are really busy today. Thanks, err, for the tea Marcus.” Emily spun around Mort and was out of the door before either of them moved a muscle. She sensed that Mort was not happy at all about Marcus having her in there, and he seemed like a kid caught doing something naughty. Suddenly the thought of high school returned again, getting caught in a boys’ room. Oh man, this was all too surreal, too strange. She made her way through the shop and out the door without any hesitation. The fresh, sunny air felt so good that she decided she better go for a walk and clear her head.
When she was about five blocks from the store did she begin to breathe normally again. There was a bench at the start of the park in the sun so Emily decided she would let her legs stop trembling as well. Her thoughts just couldn’t stop replaying the short ten minutes she was in Marcus’ office; so much had happened, yet nothing at all. She laughed internally thinking that she had a million questions before today, damn, now she had three million! But then thinking of Mort’s reaction and the look on Marcus’ face; he looked like a prisoner there. Why can’t he have anyone in his space, or was it like a cell? Marcus seemed so happy there though, the room seemed like it was part of his home, it had too many of his things about it to make it comfortable. He had old paintings of seascapes and mountains, there was a picture of Mort pinned to a corkboard along with what looked at a quick glance to be quotes also. The shelves also held little knick-knacks; there was a Japanese fan made of silk and painted with a wonderful bonsai tree. There was also a small cup, that sort of looked like a chalice for a large fairy. She didn’t know why she thought that, but maybe because it looked so delicate to her and it had a stem that looked as though it were a larger curving twig that was dipped in the silver. She also spied on the bottom shelf a silver elephant that looked as though it had some sort of Middle Eastern designs carved into the large cloth that was draped over the back of the wonderful beast.
Just too many things didn’t make any sense to her at all. As her legs began the walk again so did her questions. There were no plausible answers that her mind could come up with. She noticed that her legs brought her around the outside of town; she was now on the outskirts of the forest, sparse as it was. She had never been on this side of town before, the school and library were on the north end by the river, this was where this town ended and the farmland began. She could see some tall green leaves growing in thick rows past the pine trees and shrubs. Emily had no idea what kind of plants they were, maybe she should roam through the horticulture sections more often. Now her mind was right back to the book store; dang it, she was really trying hard to think of something different. “I better get home before it gets too dark to see…” Emily decided that it was easier to cut through the center of town to get home quickly; she was suddenly very tired after her long day. The walk only took about thirty minutes; she was seeing the flower shop window now from down the lane. She paused at Elm St. where the shop was only 2 blocks straight down, should she stop by to see Mort? To make sure that he wasn’t upset with her? They are probably still very busy she thought quickly, and she didn’t want to make matters worse. Plus she was so tired now; all she wanted was a bath in her nice clean tub and to crawl under nice clean sheets with a good book. She decided that she would stop by the shop tomorrow, that will give them both time to talk and straighten out, whatever it was, that needed straightening.
After a long, hot soak with a glass of her favorite wine; which was so good here compared to the states, she got into her favorite PJ’s and tucked herself under the sheets. The warm weather ended right at sundown, the temperature dropped about thirty degrees in about fifteen minutes. She was so happy that she took the quick way home and avoided freezing half to death. The warm quilt and wine were the perfect ending to her day, her very crazy day. Funny how days like that always start off so normal, so benign and then wham-o, they take a turn for the surreal and it changes everything. Emily was feeling so strange about how Mort looked, she felt like she should never go there again, like she broke some unspoken rule that is punishable by death. But there was no way that she could not see Marcus now. He was a like a bad habit that you didn’t want to break. She wanted to ask him questions just to watch his lips answer. Watch his eyes, those oddly pale blue eyes that say so much more than those luscious lips. After breakfast tomorrow she would go down there and apologize to Mort for whatever it was that she did, and to make time with Marcus to talk so they won’t get into trouble. Maybe Mort would feel better if he chaperoned? Wait a minute; Marcus had to be older than her, which would be ridiculous that he needed a guardian. Dang it, more questions that have no ending and no beginning. The book that was patiently waiting on her lap was suddenly ripped open in a flurry to a random page at Emily’s mercy; she was so frustrated at so many circles that she needed to get lost in a story just to get her mind to stop spinning. “Alright Barrie, take me away to where this craziness doesn’t happen. Fairies are more realistic than what I have on my plate.” The pages of little boys, Indians and crocodiles sent her to sleep very quickly.
The events of the day stayed at rest until the next morning; at least she got a mindless sleep. Dawn broke in through the open curtains; Emily rolled over and threw a pillow over her eyes. There was no way that she was getting up early on Sunday, especially not this Sunday. Then she thought right away of the day before at the shop. Oh crap, they were closed on Sundays, she couldn’t go there today, and she had to suffer in her unknowing state for another day. How was she going to get through it, what could she do? As she lay there pondering she thought she heard someone call her name. Emily took the pillow off of her head to listen better. Then she heard in a faint whisper, “Emily, are you awake yet?” She sat upright immediately, “Who’s there?” Her voice didn’t sound like she wanted it to, not strong at all, mousy was more like it. Then a slight knock was at the front door. Emily sprung up out of bed and quickly ran to the peep hole in the door. All she could see was the back of a man, a man that had short light brown hair, a nice blazer and slacks that framed the best butt. He turned around and Emily almost lost her balance when she saw that it was Marcus standing at her door. She actually gasped out loud and Marcus’ face was at the door in a second, “Are you okay Emily? Are you hurt?”
She was baffled that he actually heard her, “Yes, I’m fine. What are you doing here, it’s only five in the morning.”
“I had to talk to you, after yesterday. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow; there was no way that I could go that long without seeing you… I mean I needed to make sure that you understood what happened yesterday, with Mort.”
Emily opened the door slowly; she couldn’t believe he was at her door. How did he know where she lived? “Please come in. How did you know where I lived anyway?”
Marcus walked into the tiny living room and turned to face her. As she closed the door he had to hold his own hands together, he was so nervous, excited and confused all at the same time. When she turned to face him he stammered, “Um, well, you see… I, ah…” he looked at his feet then back up to Emily’s face, her gorgeous face. Then without even thinking he went to her slowly, took her chin his hands, bent over and kissed her. Kissed her softly and gently, and then let her go. Emily didn’t know whether to laugh, rejoice, or slap him. Instead she just looked into his longing eyes and gaped with her mouth open.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he backed up reluctantly, “I just couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to do that since the second I saw you on Halloween. I didn’t mean to offend you or scare you. I didn’t hurt you did I?”
“Hurt me? How in the world could you hurt me? But no you didn’t, it just startled me. It’s not every day that a man that I just met three days ago shows up at my door at the crack of dawn and then plants the best kiss of my life on me. You have to admit that this is all a little on the bizarre side?” Emily realized they were still standing in front of the door, and she still just had her pajama’s on. Suddenly she looked down and gasped, “Oh geez, let me change, I must look like a complete mess. Give me two seconds, make yourself comfortable, you can get some tea, it’s on the counter.” Emily then raced off to her bedroom to put on some clothes and brushed her hair and teeth.
As she was racing around her room putting on a pair of jeans and long sleeved shirt she was processing what had just happened. Why was he really here? He surely couldn’t be here just to see her. And that kiss… wow! Then she stopped dead in her tracks, that kiss, those lips, something was off. His hands were cold and the skin seemed very strange, the same with his lips. They were not soft like a peach, they felt more firm like an apple. Man, more stupid questions now. Emily started to run through everything about Marcus suddenly; then her insane imagination started to think of all the crazy stories of zombies and the ‘un-dead’. How their skin and eyes look. Then she thought how stupid she was being, vampires have red eyes, not blue; and surely he would have ripped her throat out by now, not making tea in her kitchen.
Frustrated with herself, she threw her brush on the dresser, went out of her small bedroom and went into the kitchen. Marcus was at the sink looking out the window at the lane below. Emily stood and looked at him for a moment, besides the great ass that he had, he was much taller than her and very slight of build. He must work out, no one can look this good sitting in a book shop all day.
“So what are you looking at?” Emily asked as she walked closer to him to look out the window as well, there seemed to be no one awake yet.
Marcus slowly turned and looked down at her, “I love this time of the day. It is still quiet and peaceful. It seems as soon as the people awake the world goes to sleep. I love how the birds are singing their songs, the squirrels running hither and thither getting their food stuffs; it is really so beautiful.”
“I agree, even though I am never awake this early to take in the sights,” Emily smiled and turned to get the kettle that was done steeping off the stove. “Can you please hand me the mug in the dish board?” She grabbed him a mug from the cupboard as he placed her favorite mug in front of her. She had to concentrate on what she was doing; she had to slow her mind down a little so she can get a grasp on reality here. “OK, here you go. Do you want to sit in the living room?” She turned and started to walk out of the kitchen.
Marcus took his mug and followed her to the couch. Hell, if she wanted to sit on the kitchen floor he would; he didn’t care where they were, just as long as he could be with her, talk to her, and hold her. But that he couldn’t do now. The kiss was too much; he went way too far on that one. Granted she didn’t try to give him a black eye so he didn’t feel too bad about it.
As Emily sat down she decided to just get the conversation started, “Alright, out with it. What’s going on with you and Mort and now me? I have so many questions to ask you I don’t even know where to start.” Everything just sort of came bubbling out of her mouth all in one rushed sentence.
Marcus chuckled, “Yes, I have some explaining to do to you, especially with the way that Mort reacted yesterday, I really am very sorry about that. You see, it’s just that he is very protective of me, and I have never brought anyone into my workshop, so I think he was just startled about it.”
Em thought for a second about his answer then she just blurted out, “B.S. You are not being honest with me. I want to know why he is so protective of you? You are old enough to take care of yourself, what can he possibly protect you from?” Emily was not buying it, and she was not going to be lied to in her own house.
Trying not to grin Marcus liked her more and more for her straight-forwardness, “No, it isn’t a lie. You see, well, I guess I really don’t know how to explain it or where to start. But let me try, please be patient while you listen to me for a spell.”