“Can I help you?”
I look down at an older woman with light-purple hair and a large smile. “I’m looking for Sophie.”
“The Sophie who works in the library?” she questions, her smile becoming wider.
“Yes. Can you point me in her direction?”
“Oh! She’s not here today.”
“Why are you looking for Sophie?” a male voice asks, and I turn my head to look over my shoulder.
“She’s a friend,” I tell him, turning back around.
“Sophie doesn’t have friends,” he says in a way that makes it sound like he has tried to be her frien, but she wasn’t interested.
I turn to face him, looking him over. He’s dressed like he works here—most likely a teacher—his khaki pants and button-down shirt giving him away.
“She has me,” I tell him.
His eyes look me over before he speaks again. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Is that so?” I raise a brow.
“Honey, she will be here tomorrow,” the lady says. I look at her and smile, and she beams back at me.
“Thanks,” I reply, tapping on the top of her desk before walking past the guy, out the door, down the hall, and out to my car. I have to wait another day, but I know it’ll be worth it when I see her again.
When I get to the school the next day, I go directly to the office.
“You came back,” the same lady as before greets me. “I’m Sue, by the way.” She leans forward then, like she is going to tell me a secret. “Mr. Rasmussen was not happy yesterday.” She wags her finger at me then smiles like the cat that got the canary before sitting back in her chair and clapping her hands together once. “So I guess you need directions to the library.”
“That would be helpful.” I smile.
“You sure are pretty.” She laughs. “If I was a few years younger, I’d be a jaguar for you.”
“A jaguar?” I ask on a chuckle.
“You know, an older lady with a younger man.”
“A cougar, you mean,” I correct her with a grin.
“Sure. Whatever you say, honey. All I know is I would have given Ms. Grates a run for her money.”
“Sue, if you want me, you’ve got me,” I tell her, leaning in the way she did before.
“Oh no, honey. I wouldn’t even know what to do with you.” She smiles, her eyes sparkling. I shrug and she laughs. “All right, mister. I gotta hang on to your ID while you’re on school property, but just sign in here and you can go to the library. Take a right out the door, walk until you get to the end of the hall, and take a left. It’s the last door on the left.”
“Thanks, doll,” I reply, smiling as I hand her my driver’s license, sign the visitor’s sheet, and walk out of the office. I have to say, that’s the first time I’ve ever been hit on by a woman my grandmother’s age.
When I get to the library’s doors, I look through the small window and spot Sophie right away as she stands on her tiptoes to put away books. Today, she is wearing navy-blue slacks with wide legs and a high waist that ends just under her br**sts, which are covered in a bright red, short-sleeved, button-down top that matches her heels.
Jesus. Sophie is in heels and looking like she does is going to be the death of me. I push open the door and am bombarded by the smell of books. Sophie turns her head to look at who has come in, and when she sees that it’s me, her eyes go wide and her mouth opens and closes a couple of times.
“What are you doing here?” she finally asks before looking around like she is waiting for someone to jump out at her.
“I told you I would see you when I got back to town. I’m back in town,” I state the obvious.
“Um…okay, but what are you doing here?” she repeats, pointing to the floor.
“I don’t have your number, and I want to take you out to dinner.”
“Yes, a meal you eat at the end of the day.”
“I know what dinner is. I just don’t do that,” she mumbles, looking adorable.
“You don’t eat dinner?” I ask, confused.
“No, I don’t do dinner with other people,” she replies.
“You don’t do dinner with other people?” I tilt my head to the side, watching her.
“Like…date—I don’t date,” she huffs out, crossing her arms over her chest, which only accentuates it. My eyes are drawn there, and she immediately lowers her arms to her sides.
“It’s not a date. It’s dinner.”
“I know…you said that.”
“So what would you like to eat on our non-date dinner?” I ask, taking a step towards her, the smell of apples and cinnamon growing stronger the closer I get.
“Nothing. We’re not having dinner together.”
“What time do you get off work?”
“Six—I mean, I don’t know.” She chews her lower lip, her cheeks turning a pretty shade of pink.
“All right, so no dinner then.” I shrug. “Can I get your number?”
She shakes her head no, her cheeks growing even darker. Fuck me, she’s cute. “Sorry,” she whispers, looking away.
For some reason, alarm bells start going off in my head. “It’s all good.” I beat back the urge to touch her, my mind warring with my body. I watch her for a second and then start to come up with a plan.
“I have to get back to work,” she says, looking at the floor.
“All right, sweet Sophie. I’ll see you around.”
“Bye, Nico,” she says softly.
I turn after giving her a chin lift, my chest feeling tight at the sound of my name leaving her mouth. After getting my ID back from Sue and signing out, I leave the school knowing that this isn’t over. Not by a long shot.
For the second day in a row, I’m waiting outside the school. It’s 6:02 when the door opens and Sophie comes walking out. Each time I see her, she looks even more beautiful than before. I watch her expression go from surprise to shy happiness as she spots me standing next to my car…just like yesterday.
Yesterday when I left her in the library, I went to the grocery store, bought a pint of Phish Food ice cream and a set of plastic spoons, and took it back to the school, where I waited for her to get off work. She said she didn’t do dinner; she never said anything about dessert. When she saw me standing there with the frozen treat, she said that she really shouldn’t, but I told her that it wasn’t a date and I was just meeting her after school for ice cream. Then I explained how my fragile ego couldn’t bear her denying me her company, making her laugh lightly and give in. We stood outside her car for an hour with a pint of ice cream between us. She was shy but also cute and funny.