Leslie Faulkner’s life takes a turn for the weird when she steals a discarded book from her librarian boss and takes it home. Things heat up when the book brings her luscious dreams of seductive tendrils. Her waking hours are no less dramatic when she meets a young man at the college who comes to her rescue, a book is found missing from the Forbidden Collection, and she finds someone sneaking around the library bookshelves after dark.
Her dull life of books and papers is about to get a lot more complicated, but through it all she still has her nights and her dreams to comfort her.
I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and chipper. My wonderful dream filled me with a sense of hope for my dreary life and a boldness that wanted to grasp the world and make it mine. I sat up, stretched and smiled at the radiant noon-hour sunlight that drifted in my room. The heat from the sun reminded me of my precious stolen item, and even the sight of the inanimate book on my nightstand couldn’t dim my good mood. I picked it up and held it against myself, hoping but not expecting a reaction.
Nothing happened, of course, but that was fine. Even though my courage with self-gratification didn’t go past eating a chocolate bar, I was still happy with all those wonderfully lustful memories. I put the book back on the nightstand, hopped out of bed and dressed for class. There was a bright smile on my face all the way to my first class, and that’s when the day started going to hell.
Not because I was going to class, which was bad enough, but because of the two idiots I met on the way; Justin and Austin. Seeing them made me wish I’d requested earlier classes. No self-respecting bully would be up at eight in the morning harassing their victims.
I had a class on the second floor of the History building, and the pair blocked the stairs. There was an elevator, but just my luck it was broken. I ducked my head down and imagined myself invisible so I could creep past them unnoticed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much imaginations and spotted me before I’d walked halfway across the foyer. Austin grinned and sauntered toward me while Justin stayed near the stairs. “Good morning, sunshine,” he greeted me. Apparently even he could tell I was more chipper than yesterday.
“It was, but I just saw two things that nearly made me lose my breakfast,” I quipped. And I was a little bolder.
The boys didn’t take kindly to the bolder part. Justin stepped away from the stairs and cracked his fists together, and Austin sneered at me. “You got a tongue on you today,” he commented. “How about I do something about that?”
My courage was fading fast as the pair of them closed in on me, but I still had some spunk left. “How about you do something by getting out of here?” I challenged.
“What’s going on here?” a voice spoke up. We all turned to see a man stride toward us from the door that led to the teachers’ offices. He was tall, about six foot, with a muscular frame and short, jet-black hair that fell over his brow in all the right places. His eyes were almost as dark as his hair, and he had a strange, crooked smile on his face. I’d seen him around a few times and guessed he was a teacher, though pretty young since he hardly looked older than me. It was fortunate he was tall and strong looking because Justin and Austin didn’t appreciate his interference.
“We’re not doing nothing,” Justin sullenly replied.
“Then go someplace else and do something,” the man ordered.
Like most bullies the boys were cowards at heart and scurried out of the building. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to my savior to find him staring at me with a deep, intense gaze. This member of the faculty took my breath and mental faculties away from me. I felt a flicker of heat rise within me, but tamped it down. No sense getting a crush on a professor that cute, not when I probably had to get in a mile-long line just to clean his erasers. “U-um, thanks for helping me out,” I stuttered.
He smiled and bowed his head. “My pleasure, but you might want stand up for yourself next time.”
I frowned. Unwanted advice was, well, unwanted. “I wasn’t doing that bad,” I argued.
He nodded down at my waist. “Your hands are shaking, and even they could see there was fear in your eyes,” he commented.
I shoved my hands into my coat pocket, and sullenly mourned the death of my perfect morning. “I would’ve been fine. Those idiots don’t go much farther than bullying,” I told him.
“But some day they might, and you’ll be their target,” he insisted.
I raised an eyebrow. “Why me?” I wondered.
The man chuckled, and looked me up and down. “Because, if you don’t mind my saying, you’re not that bad looking.”
A blush rose to my cheeks and he went up a few notches in my esteem. Unfortunately, the hands of the clock in the lobby went around more than a few notches, and showed I was late for class. “Oh crap! I have to get going,” I told him as I whisked by the man to the stairs. “Thanks for the help!” I called over my shoulder.
“Any time,” he called back.
Classes were uneventful, and by the time I walked over to the library for my four o’clock to ten shift my mood had improved. That is, until I put away my bag and cellphone, and was cornered by Miss Hamish in the back maze.
“Leslie, can I speak with you?” she requested.
I felt the color drain from my face as I recalled the book I’d swiped. It’d been found missing and I was the prime suspect. “Sure thing,” I choked out.
I followed Hamish to her office where the Lost box sat under her desk, a silent witness to my crime. Hamish closed the door behind us and turned to me with pursed lips. Her voice was barely above a whisper and her stern eyes penetrated my very soul. “Marvin told me something very alarming, and said you knew something about it.”
I gulped so loud it echoed in my apartment. The jig was up. My thievery was revealed. “Maybe?” I squeaked.
She raised an eyebrow. “Maybe? He said you found the piece of paper in the drop slot books.”
I blinked. “Huh?” was my only reply.
“Marvin told me you found a piece of paper in the drop slot pile yesterday with the location of a book on the fifth floor,” she explained to me. “He took a look at the collection up there and found a book missing off the shelf exactly where the directions said it would be.”
“Oh! The paper! Oh, right! Yeah, I found that.” I giggled and my hands fidgeted in front of me. “I thought you were talking about something else.”
Her eyebrows crashed down and she gave me a careful examination. “What something else?” Hamish wondered.
I shrugged and shook my head. It was almost impossible not to look at the tell-tale Lost box at my feet. “Just about-um, just about how I was acting yesterday. I’m really sorry about that.” And a lot of other things, but not sorry enough to return that book. Not when it promised pleasures I couldn’t even imagine.
Hamish smiled and waved aside my apology. “That’s fine, Leslie, I’m sure you were just having an off-day. What we should be focusing on right now is that missing book.”
“What’s the title?” I asked her.
“That’s part of the problem. The title isn’t in our database.”
“It never got put in?” I wondered.
She shook her head. “No, it was deleted. Worse yet, we can’t find its title in the old card catalog because the whole catalog has been misplaced in the basement.” She sighed and shrugged. “I wouldn’t even be sure there was a book on the shelf, but the dust has been disturbed.”
“So an unsolved mystery?” I chimed in.
“I’m afraid so,” Hamish replied. She sounded tired. “I just hope the book wasn’t one of the rarer copies we have in our collection.” Hamish plopped herself down in her chair and shook her head. “Well, I shouldn’t keep either of us from the books.”
I nervously laughed. “Yeah, they’re practically screaming at us to be shelved.”
“And Marvin wants some reprieve from keeping the front desk. He’s been at it since two,” Hamish told me.
“Sure thing.” I hated front desk as much as any person, but I was just glad for a quick excuse out of there. I hurried over to the door, but the conversation wasn’t quite finished.
“Oh, there’s one more thing I wanted to ask you,” Hamish spoke up. I stiffened and waited for it. It came. “I can’t find that book in the Lost box. The one that was dropped off yesterday in the book slot. You haven’t happened to have seen it today, have you?”
I cringed, managed a shaky smile, and turned to her. “Didn’t you put it in the box after I left?” It wasn’t a lie so much as a question that ignored her own question.
“Yes, but I just can’t seem to find it.”
“Maybe it fell out?” I suggested.
The head librarian looked me over with a careful eye, but sighed and nodded. “Yes, that might be it. I just hope it’s found before the owner comes for it.”
“You think someone really lost it? Maybe they left it to the library?” I wondered.
Miss Hamish shrugged. “It’s possible, but for safety’s sake it would be nice to have that back in the box.” She gave me a pointed look. “I hope I’ll find it by the end of this week.” Today was Tuesday.
I noticed the creases of suspicion around her eyes and her tense hands at her sides. They weren’t enough to convince me to give up my best chance at happiness, or at least a good time. “Yeah, hopefully it’ll be found,” I replied.
My boss sighed and waved at the door. “Well, that’s enough. There’s books to be sorted and shelved.”
I nodded and hurried out of there before she asked any more uncomfortable questions. There was a strange, twisted irony to all these goings-on; I got my wish. My boring life now had plenty of mystery and lies, and my book lay at the center of it all. Now I just had to figure out how to get out from this mess without losing my book to the library or its unknown owner. Yay me.