Bibliophile

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Summary

Shy girl Robyn Reece wants to overcome her social anxiety. School sports champion Adrian Wilson wants to take back control over his life. When an unlikely friendship develops, Robyn and Adrian realise that they have a lot more in common than at first glance - one being their love for books. However, when unexpected feelings start to blossom between the two, things get a lot more  complicated, and with battles that they both must face with family and friends, will their friendship survive, and will they realise the love they both share before it is too late? Follow Robyn and Adrian's journey of self discovery as they learn the value of friendship, family and love.

Genre:
Romance / Other
Author:
Grace Harding
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter I

There are two things in this world Robyn Reece despised -- number one, cucumber and number two, the rain.

At this moment, she felt she was the unluckiest girl to be alive. Not only had her mum -- the one she trusted and deeply loved -- snuck cucumber into her vegetarian pasta dish for her lunch (deeming it inedible), but it was now raining.

Maybe "rain" is a bit of an understatement . . . Hailstones, sleet, rain hammering down . . . all were present that gray Monday afternoon and this was also the moment Robyn was unfortunately walking home from school. A good reason as to why she also disliked early spring.

Not only was her stomach desperate for some food, but she was now soaked to the bone, shivering, and freezing to death. What was worse was instead of wearing a warm jumper and waterproof coat, she was wearing tights, a blue summer dress with small white flowers dotted all over, and a thin burgundy cardigan.

If that wasn't bad enough, her short, once curly brown hair had flattened against her drenched, pale, blotchy and spotty face -- bedraggled and tangled as if never been brushed. The glasses she relied on now useless with water droplets impairing her vision, and her burgundy boots were rubbing painfully against the heels of her damp feet.

It couldn't seem to get much worse for Robyn. In her defense though, her city, along with the rest of the UK, had been getting waves of warm weather -- even though it was January -- for the past week. She had gotten so blasé with the lovely weather she decided not to check the forecast for that day. How should she have known, unless she was like her grandmother who got aching bones whenever rain was on the horizon?

However, that was a topic for another time when Robyn wasn't barging past students, enviously eyeing the bright coloured umbrellas dotted around. It wasn't just the few students she rushed passed that in her mind were laughing as Robyn rushed passed, but also the umbrellas themselves as they bobbed up and down, the water spraying off them and hitting Robyn like a cold slap to the face.

Huffing and cursing silently, Robyn hiked her non-waterproof school bag further up her shoulders, shuddering at the vision of the mess her schoolwork had likely become. Damp paper probably ripped . . . ink running and smearing down the pages . . . and, oh no! Her book!

Dread washed over Robyn's face at the thought of her book being ruined by the rain. The image of the blue cover to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green warped and torn in the corners, flashed across her mind. That book was her baby! Her world! Her -- okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but she truly loved that book -- even if it did make her feel extremely single at times. She had read it so many times over and over again, the spine was broken in several places and the pages worn and tired looking, but Robyn didn't care in the slightest.

With feet squelching as lakes grew in her boots and cold numb fingers tucked under her armpits, she continued on her way with determination in each stride. Sniffing, she scanned the road for her father's old, battered, red 1968 BMW, but to no avail.

The vintage secondhand car which had seen many, many better days, was nowhere in sight. Her father was probably waiting out the rain so the slightly rusted car could stand a better chance at survival -- especially since the previous owner had somehow jammed the front passenger window so it was stuck open with a four inch gap. That meant wind, rain, snow . . . It could come into the car, sometimes creating a very cold environment for her and her parents.

Not only that, but the car didn't have air conditioning being such an old model. In the summer, the remaining three working windows would be wound down so air would flow in to cool them down. However, on especially hot days, warm air -- the kind so uncomfortable it makes you squirm in the sticky heat -- would blow in. No wonder the previous owners wanted to get rid of it for just over two thousand pounds. Why they didn't sell it to a collector instead still baffled her two years later, but she guessed they were glad to get it off of their driveway as soon as possible. However, Robyn couldn't help but feel grateful towards the car for its surprisingly cheap price as they had been struggling financially for the past three years.

Her father was a stay at home dad who did all the cleaning and gardening at their semi-detached two story home and her mother owned an interior design business which had been struggling the past few years due to the rising competition. Robyn always had faith her mother would prevail though. When it was her turn to carry on the business (a dream of her's for many years), she could help it grow even more, so the one shop, called Allison's Design -- her mother's first name being Allison -- on the outskirts of their city centre, could become two or three shops spread across England, maybe one even in London.

Robyn couldn't help but smile at the idea of helping grow her mother's business. In fact, she was so caught up in the thought, she almost missed the bright red telephone box that suddenly stood out like a beacon of hope in the dull, mundane surroundings. Her hazel eyes gazed up at it as she lifted her wet glasses to get a better look, her steps hesitating for a second as one thought, one word flooded her brain:

Shelter!

With her heart leaping for joy and a smile larger than the Joker's, Robyn yanked the red door open and leaped into the small rectangular space before closing it behind her, effectively blocking out the terrible weather. Wiping her glasses on the inside hem of her damp dress, she slipped them back on and took one sniff before scrunching her nose up at the foul stench of urine that hung in the air.

Compromising with the weather, she opened the door a crack to relieve the cramped space of its stench.

It's better than nothing, she thought with bitterness as she looked at the yellow, pink and black graffiti covering the left side of the telephone box, then to the cobwebs covered in dust and other unidentifiable things that claimed their spots in all areas of the telephone box.

It's no Tardis, but it'll do. Robyn gave a small nod and ran her fingers through her mangled hair, droplets of water splashing onto the concrete ground and slithering down her neck.

A shiver flew up her spine and she ran her hands up and down her arms, jumping up and down on the balls of her feet, the water sloshing around in her boots, shuddering at the thought of how wrinkly her toes were going to be when she took them off. She was absolutely positive the skin in between her little toes and the next ones were going to be split and painful for the next few days.

Banishing the thought that made her hair stand up and toes curl in on themselves, she focused her attention to the interior of the telephone box.

Her eyes landed on the stainless steel telephone with the coin slot and dial pad next to it, covered in thick, dusty, grey cobwebs after years of disuse. Maybe if she were to insert some change it would take her down to the Ministry of Magic like the scene in Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, Robyn spotted something like a miracle to the dismal situation she was stuck in: books.

A whole pile of books were stacked into a large grey shoe box. A smile worked its way onto her face as her eyes began to sparkle. She let them soak in the bright colours of the spines until they landed on a white folded up piece of lined paper perched on top. There were two words written, but they spoke volumes to her: "book swap." Inching closer, she let her cold index finger run over each spine and read the title of each book.

Atonement . . . Pride and Prejudice . . . Looking for Alaska . . . The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe -- Wait!

Robyn's eyes moved back to a previous book and her fingers reached out, pulling it away from the pile of books. Reading the front cover, her heart sang with joy. In her hands lay Looking for Alaska by John Green. Oh how she had longed to read this book!

Greedily, her eyes read the title once again to make sure she wasn't dreaming before she turned the used book over to read the blurb.

It's like it's meant to be! Robyn had been wanting to read that book for ages but was unsuccessful in finding it in local charity shops. She had spotted it plenty of times in bookshops, brand new and shining at her, yet the price on the back would always make her cringe and she would leave the shop with a small inkling amount of hope she would find it in a charity shop for a third of the price.

Flicking through, she noticed a couple of the corners had been folded down to mark the place in the book the previous owner had got to, and she couldn't help but wonder who the previous owner was. Could it have been a twenty year old girl clearing out her stuff before heading off to college? Or could it have been a seventeen year old girl who was socially awkward -- like herself -- and had read all the books, now on the prowl for some more?

Her fingers were itching to turn to the first page to begin reading. However, she calmed herself and her excitement before placing the book back down on top of the other books. The sign specifically said "book swap", not "feel free to take anything you like". Robyn would feel too guilty if she was to take one and not trade for her own book. For all she knew, the person who did this book swap could be waiting excitedly to get his or her hands on a new book.

But . . . sucking in a breath, Robyn swung her bag onto one shoulder and unzipped the damp fabric. How bad was her book going to be? Biting her lip as lines showed in between her dark eyebrows, she brought out The Fault in Our Stars and relief flooded through her as she realized the book and the rest of her work had hardly been affected by the "spring showers". Cheering inwardly, she picked up the other book and held them both in her hands, eyes flicking between the two.

After what felt like a painful ten minutes when it was probably barely two, Robyn hesitantly put The Fault in Our Stars down into the gap in the pile of books before putting Looking for Alaska into her bag and zipping it closed. Somewhat happy with her decision, Robyn fished her phone out of the front pocket of her bag. Relieved to see it wasn't waterlogged, she phoned her father. The gentle purr of the phone ringing sounded in her ear, drowning out the raging storm as she tapped her foot against the dirty and wet floor, waiting for her father to pick up.

"Hello Birdy," Her father's voice was loud and crackly, but still the loving voice she recognised.

"Dad!" Robyn huffed. "Where are you? School was let out fifteen minutes ago. You're usually here by now."

"Alight, alright!" Her father chuckled and Robyn held back an eye roll, momentarily stopping to look at the book she had placed on the pile. "I'm coming. I wanted to see if the rain would hold off, but I'm about a minute away. Whereabouts are you?"

"I'm in a red telephone box currently shivering to death in a dress, thin cardigan and rubbing shoes. Please hurry before I die!" Robyn whined, peering out to the road, looking out for the red car. "Oh, and one more thing, mum put cucumber in my pasta!" Robyn pouted, still annoyed at her mum's act of betrayal.

She heard her dad's deep laugh and clenched her fist. "Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want, but just be glad you're not the one starving and shivering to death!"

"Sorry, you're right -- ah! I see the telephone box! I'll see you in a bit, Birdy."

"Bye, dad," Robyn couldn't help but smile at her dad's use of nickname towards her. He had always called her "Birdy" for as long as she could remember and she loved it. Peering outside, she watched as the recognisable red car pulled up outside of the telephone box.

Taking one last look at the book she had left, she opened the door and rushed out.

Robyn smiled as she jumped into the car, slamming the door shut and cringing as it groaned when the wind caught it, slamming it louder than intended.

"Please be careful!" Her dad furrowed his light brown and graying eyebrows together, wincing at the unhealthy noise the door emitted.

"Dad, the thing's practically falling apart. I'm still in shock it passed its MOT this year!"

"Yes, but as the mechanic said," -- her dad cleared his throat to imitate the deeper, Yorkshire accented voice of the mechanic -- "'It works like a charm! Never seen a finer engine in me life!'"

Robyn laughed and playfully pushed his arm as her father chuckled. "That was a terrible imitation!"

"I tried!"Smiling to herself as she shook her head, Robyn looked out the window and noticed the supermarket white and green plastic bag which had been stuck to the inside of the window with sellotape where the gap was.

"Smart idea," she said, nodding her head towards it.

"Why thank you. Fixing windows is one of my many talents. Perks of being a stay at home dad."

They both jumped suddenly when a beep came from the car behind. Her father looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes. "Tsk, people are so impatient these days."

"Well, to be fair you have been sitting here for over a minute." Robyn pointed out as her father put the car in gear and pressed down on the accelerator setting off down the road with the other car behind.

"Alright, missy." Her father sent her an eye roll as he changed the gear, speeding up. "You have the same sass as your mother." Robyn couldn't help but smile at him. "So anyway, how was your day?"

"Well, apart from the starvation and death by rain, the typical Monday." Robyn shrugged as she looked outside at the last remaining students rushing to get home. Then gazing straight ahead, she grinned as the grey clouds seemed to come to an end and blue sky was on the horizon.

"So, apart from the near death experience and mum putting cucumber in your pasta, because you were too lazy to get up this morning . . ."

"Dad!"

". . . How was your day?"

"I'd say the usual," Robyn shrugged, looking at the dashboard in front of her and picking at one of the stickers that littered the surface. Dozens were stuck permanently on there, images of landmarks from across the world with text below naming the country. Things like The Eiffel Tower from Paris and The Grand Canyon from the USA. The sticker began to peel up so Robyn stopped. It was one of Niagara Falls. "Nothing much happened. Just got on with work as usual."

The stickers were most likely collected by the previous owner, and Robyn couldn't help but fantasize over their lifestyle.

Did they travel to all these places?

Robyn's dad smiled at her. "Not too stressful then?"

She looked at him, raising an eyebrow before gesturing to outside and herself. "Really?"

The journey home was one that only took ten minutes and before Robyn knew it, they were pulling up in the garage after her father opened it with the remote. He cut off the engine and shut the garage door with another click of a button. Smiling at Robyn as he got out, Robyn following his actions, but making sure not to forget her bag.

The garage was small due to the fact half of it had been converted into a small office area where Robyn's mother worked, conjuring up interior design after interior design. The office was also Robyn's safe haven and the place where she felt most inspired.

"Mum's in Aladdin's cave if you want to go see her. I'm gonna get started on dinner and then we all need to have a talk." Her father said locking the car and opening the door that lead from the garage into the hallway of the house.

Robyn nodded. Her mother's office was also called Aladdin's cave due to the fact it was piled high with what her mother and Robyn called "treasure" -- also known as fabric, buttons, beads, moodboards, wallpaper strips . . . Her father on the other hand, didn't believe the collected items were the equivalent of "treasure", for he did not possess the creative gene his wife and daughter had. Robyn knew he was more of an intellect who had a love for maths and engineering. She almost laughed at the thought of him one day being on the same wavelength as her and her mother.

Walking through the hall and through another door, she was welcomed by a small cosy room exploding with colour, fabric, moodboards and other bits and bobs. There, in the middle of all the chaos, sat her mother on the computer, typing away. She smiled before walking up and wrapping her arms around the older woman.

"Hi, mum," She mumbled, taking a deep breath of her mother's floral scent. Jasmine and Rose -- the perfume her father bought her mother on their twenty-fifth anniversary. Her mother didn't go anywhere without a spritz.

Her mother turned in her seat so she was facing Robyn. A smile was stretched across her thin red lips, accentuating the wrinkles on her cheeks and around her eyes as they crinkled in the corners, the brown irises sparkling. Robyn had got her wild, tight curled hair from her mother and whilst hers was cut just above her shoulders, her mother's was much longer, resulting in it being tied up most of the time -- like it was now. The ringlets too short to be in the messy bun, framed her aging face instead, and even though curly hair was a pain, Robyn was proud to have inherited it from her mother. Her father, on the other hand, had a much lighter colouring of brown in his short, straight hair.

"Hello honey, how are you?" Her mother, being born and brought up by her parents in France until she was fifteen, had a slight Parisian accent. She could speak fluently in both languages and Robyn, being half French and English, wanted to be bilingual in the two languages as well. The other reason was the fact her mother's parents both could only speak broken English, so it would be a great opportunity to talk to them both a lot more.

"I'm alright, Just glad to be home." Robyn tilted her head and smiled, stepping back.

"I'm sure! Look at you! You're soaked to the bone!" Robyn's mother stood up, shaking her head with an amused smile. "I told you to take an umbrella."

"I did! Only . . . it sorta broke in the wind . . ."

Her mother laughed. "Oh well, just go and take a shower. You can put your boots on the radiator by the door and put the clothes straight into the washing machine. Oh, and make sure to dry your bag out or your books will get wet!"

Robyn saluted her mother, walking over to the door. "Yes ma'am!"

"Oh, and one more thing, your father and I--"

"Want to have a word with me? Don't worry, dad told me," Robyn smiled as she opened the door. I'll see you in a bit!"

She heard her mother laugh as she headed to the front door, yanking off her shoes and placing them on the radiator. She then took her bag up to her room and quickly dumped its contents onto the bed, smiling as Looking for Alaska fell onto the white duvet.

Making her way into the bathroom after grabbing a spare change of clothes, she stripped down and hopped into the warm stream of water, sighing immediately as she felt the blood rush back into her hands and feet.

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