Say It Isn't So

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Chapter 2

I loved my job. It was more than just a job- the ability to lose myself in a world of books always made my soul sing with happiness, so directing other people to different worlds only pleased me further. Whatever someone was seeking, you could guarantee to find it within a book store. I had more fictional lovers, husbands and boyfriends than I could count; and they always beat the real thing.

I ran my finger down the spines of the books as I turned back to my trolley, selecting the new books carefully. I slid them into the space my fingers had created, and smiled to myself. More worlds to explore. I didn't read non fiction though, reality was hard enough without that.

A young girl walked over to me, a confused look on her face as she did. She must've been about seventeen, and I immediately envied her. I was ten years her senior, and felt every day of it.

"Hi, sorry," the girl muttered, "do you have The Kissing Booth?"

A movie book. One of my least favourites, but I understood why people read them. Personally, I preferred creating my own worlds, with my own leading men, and if I were an author, I'd never want my books on the screen. It detracted away from the whole reading experience to me.

I led the girl over to the young adult section, before locating the book in question.

"We've sold loads of these recently. It's very popular."

The girl surprised me then by rolling her eyes.

"I read true crime. This is for my mother. She is obsessed with the guy in it."

I'd not seen it, but made a mental note to watch it. Her mother had to be at least thirty seven, and if she was hankering after the man on screen, he may just be decent. I glanced at the cover, noticing a handsome young man with great teeth and dark eyes. Yum.

"Oh, well is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Have you got anything on Ed Gein?" The girl asked, her eyes now alive with excitement. I shuddered internally at the mention of the notorious serial killer, and nodded.

"Yes. Let me take you to the true crime section. It is pretty gory, from what I've heard," I warned her, as the corners of her mouth lifted with pleasure.

"Great," she beamed, sticking the young adult book under her arm. Samuel, my colleague, was hovering in this section as per usual, pretending he was rearranging the books. I knew differently- I'd caught him many times reading here. He was obsessed with the macabre and sinister- the corners of the world I actively sought to ignore. Samuel avoided my eyes when I walked over, selecting the book in question.

"Oh, perfect," the girl breathed, her eyes drinking in the cover. "Thank you."

"No problem. If you need any more recommendations, Samuel here has pretty much read the entire section. Enjoy."

I winked at Samuel who dropped his gaze, quickly turning back to his 'work'. I left the girl in her element, and made my way back over to my trolley. My eyes drifted over to the window that overlooked the street below, and I allowed myself to people-watch briefly.

The street was one of the main ones out of the city, and therefore most people here were hurrying in one direction or the other, no time to stop and admire the beauty that surrounded them. The street was tree lined, with buildings that had been here for centuries. I'd always thought that if I won the lottery, I'd love to own an apartment or house somewhere like this. But as someone who just worked in a bookstore a few hours a week, I wasn't in the position to be buying city apartments.

I turned my attention back to the books, pushing away the negative words of my mother as they echoed in my mind.

'You need to find a man, get settled. Have babies- oh, I'd love grandbabies. The clock is ticking, Max.'

My dad and I simply exchanged a look, and I'd learned not to respond. My mother was married at twenty, and had me at twenty one. She had my sisters, Frankie and Alex two years later. My little twin sisters, who I loved dearly. My brother, Presley, was born last of us all, and was the apple of everyone's eyes. But because my mother had been churning children out like it was a hobby, she expected me to follow suit.

Hardly.

It wasn't for lack of trying though- I'd almost had it. When I was seventeen I met a guy through college, Kevin, and we had stayed together for six years. He ended up moving halfway across the world to follow his dream of being a world famous chef, and apparently I was holding him back. To my knowledge, he was still working in the same restaurant that he had moved to four years ago, and he had children with some waitress there.

So much for his dream.

I finished work some hours later, and I picked up some delicious tapas from Marks and Spencer, along with a decent bottle of red wine. I was off work for the next two days, and I fully intended to make the most of it. I let myself into my apartment, sighing with delight as I did. I ran myself a bath, selected a book, and poured a glass of wine. I was halfway through said glass when my phone rang, causing me to curse when I sat up, sloshing water over the side of the bath. I always put it on silent when I went on the bath- but I'd forgotten.

Sod it, they can call back.

I sank back into the bath, waiting for the irritating noise to stop disturbing my peace, and when it did, it was replaced with a message notification.

"Please fuck off," I muttered, returning my attention to my book. Whoever it was clearly decided to leave me to it, and I managed to finish my bath in peace. It was only a few hours later, when I was engrossed in a gripping tv drama did it ring again, and I jumped guilty. What if it was urgent?

I got up, picking the damn phone up with irritation. It was Charlotte.

"Has some died?" I asked drily, sipling the last of my wine. I felt fuzzy and content, and was beginning to wonder if it wasn't too early to go to bed.

"You will, if you don't pick up my calls again," Charlotte huffed.

"You're so demanding. Who needs a boyfriend when I've got you?"

I padded over to the wine bottle, tipping the final amount into my glass as Charlotte laughed heartily. We'd been friends since college, and despite being polar opposite physically, we shared a connection I was grateful for.

"No one is good enough for you anyway," Charlotte declares dismissively, before continuing. "Harry has decided to throw a party tomorrow night. It's fancy dress, and everyone is coming. Including you."

It amazed me how Harry was so popular that people would drop whatever plans they had to go to one of his parties, or soirees as I called them. Usually it was a small affair, filled with interesting people from all walks of life. He seemed to make friends daily, and I approved of most of them. Except for Cain, of course.

"Charlotte-" I begin, as she cuts me off.

"No, it's happening. You have no plans, and sitting in the bath with wine and a book doesn't count as plans."

I opened my mouth to respond, but realised I had nothing. But how was I supposed to pull together a fancy dress outfit in twenty four hours?!

"You can come as Dracula's bride or something equally easy."

How did Charlotte know what I was thinking?

"You've got no excuses left. Be at ours tomorrow at eight pm. There will be plenty of hunky men here for your delight. Ta Ta, darling!"

I grumbled a goodbye before making my way back to the sofa. If it wasn't for Charlotte, I would have never picked myself up after Kevin dumped me, claiming I had 'no ambition in life'. Charlotte was my rock, and she seemed to always know what I needed, even before I did.

So, fancy dress it was.

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