Reading Between the Lines

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Chapter 3

I tried not to let my mind wander to the events of last night as I crawled into work the next morning. I still refuse to believe that Samuel was genuinely nice to me last night. I convinced myself that he wasn’t feeling well last night.

As soon as I stepped into the store, I turned towards the stereo hooked up to play music throughout. Maybe John Mayer would help me get out of this daze.

After setting the music, I went about my general maintenance of dusting the shelves and making sure all the books were in their rightful spots. Ah, the joys of owning a store!

I had just brought the step ladder out to dust the top of the shelves when Hazel came into the store in the same fashion I had.

“Aw, did someone not get any sleep last night?” Hazel glared at me before proceeding to flip me off.

“My neighbor’s dog wouldn’t stop barking. All fucking night. I love dogs just as much as the next person but by the end of the night, I wanted to strangle the little mutt.” Hazel collapsed into an exhausted heap in an armchair that’s kept by the front counter.

“You know, someone came in yesterday and picked up a dog training book. Maybe you can ask them for some tips to give to your neighbor?”

“I’ve said this to you on many occasions, but fuck of Cassandra.” She was able to hold the glare for a few seconds before she cracked a smile. The bell over the door rang before we could continue the conversation. We weren’t even open people, come on!

It wasn’t a customer, but it was Samuel, carrying a cup of iced coffee in his hands.

Hazel and he locked eyes for a brief moment, glaring at each other as they did. God this isn’t going to end well. Hazel’s half-dead and Samuel’s- well, Samuel.

“Samuel,” Hazel grumbled, narrowing her eyes even further than before.

“Hazel, it’s nice to see you again.” Samuel narrowed his eyes to match hers.

“It’s too early to fucking deal with you.”

“It’s almost 10 in the morning.” I couldn’t help but point out to Hazel.

“As I said, it’s too early for his shit.” Hazel’s eyes must have finally seen the coffee in Samuel’s hand because her entire body perked up. “That cup of coffee better be for yours truly.”

“Sadly, no. This is actually for Cassandra. She was up late last night so I figured she might need this.” He got me a cup of coffee. That was- oddly sweet of him.

Hazel turned her gaze on me, somehow managing to narrow her eyes even further. “How would you know she had a late-night last night?” In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t told Hazel about last night. I Sue me for not telling my best friend a detail of my evening I knew she would approve of.

Samuel and I glanced at each other, each of us silently begging the other to answer her question. Eventually, Samuel cleared his throat as he placed the cup of coffee on the counter.

“She was working late last night and was walking home. I saw her and offered to drive her home. She is my neighbor after all.”

“Mhmm, likely story.” Hazel stood up from the armchair. “Guess I’m going to have to buy my own cup of coffee.” As she began walking past Samuel, she lightly jabbed at his chest with her finger. “Don’t think I’m not watching you, buddy.” After her dramatic exit, Samuel wasn’t able to hold back his laughter.

“Would you believe that this wasn’t the worst encounter I’ve had with a girl’s best friend?”

“Honestly? I could see.” There were a few seconds of silence before he spoke up.

“I got you an Iced White Mocha, I hope it’s ok. Jessica swears by it.”

“No, it’s perfect. Thank you.” Taking the coffee off the counter, I took a sip through the black straw. I nearly sighed in relief as the white mocha flavoring began to fill my mouth. He was right, I needed this.

“I was hoping you would be able to help me out with something, considering that you run a bookstore.” Samuel was now leaning against the counter, bracing himself with his left hip.

“Depends. What am I helping you with?”

“What can you tell me about the famous shower murder scene from Psycho?” Woah, what the hell was Samuel into.

“Can’t say that’s been the weirdest question I’ve been asked,” I muttered. “Um- it’s known as one of the most iconic movie scenes in cinema. It's kind of brought Norman Bate's obsession phase to the forefront. I’ve got to ask- why do you want to know Sam? Plan on committing one like it any time soon?” He laughed as he straightened himself against the counter.

“Call it professional curiosity. I should probably head back to work. Enjoy the coffee, I’ll call you later.” He turned his back on me and began to leave, but not before I responded with “Why would you be calling me tonight?”

“I forgot to mention it to you, but your mother wants me to- come over and fix a few things around the house for her.”

“Can’t you just call the house or hell- my mother?!”

“You know she is with technology. I’m surprised she knows how to work the TV without a master manual.” He does have a point there. “I’ll see you around Cassandra.”

I was barely able to get out a “You too” before he was out the door. Well, it wasn’t how I wanted to start my morning but at least I got a free cup of coffee out of it.

Just as I walked over to the register to log on for the day, Hazel came back into the store with a newly acquired cup of coffee.

“So now that I’ve got caffeine pumping through my veins, I can say this. Sleeping with the enemy, now are you? And to think I thought you hated his guts.” My jaw dropped at her comment. Did she SERIOUSLY think I would have sex with Samuel? I mean, sure I have less hatred for him now then I did before but that doesn’t mean I’d sleep with him!

“What makes you think we’re having sex?”

“You called him Sam!” Hazel exclaimed.

“And?!”

“Ever since he’s moved her and ever since you told me about him, you’ve called him Samuel Cassandra.”

“Ever think that Sam is easier to call him than Samuel? He calls me Cassie sometimes.”

“Ah-ha! Coffee, pet names and giving you rides home? He definitely wants to get in your pants!” I just shook my head as we went about the morning.

There’s no way Samuel has any interest in me much less want to have sex with me. Right?

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