Silence. Silence brings such an allure, which is one of the many reasons I love this space. Nothing but the slow steady beating of my heart and the faint squeal of the cart’s wheels, telling the need for an over due oiling. No other space holds so many memories or brings me peace, like this one does.
As a volunteer, I am able to give back while still reaping the benefits of enjoying the place I hold dear. Unlike the Wearhouse, where I babysit grown children in a noisy and smelly giant box, I am allowed the luxury of not having to make many decisions. I am given a task and I carry it out in silence. Heaven.
“Yes,” I reply to Frannie, the librarian, whose smile always greets anyone who encounters her. I am no exception. “Anything else?”
She nods. “Give me one second to finish putting the rest of these in.” Her fingers flying across the key board as she reviews the stack of books just returned. I always found it endearing how she nibbles on her cheek as she focuses.
I lean on the empty cart and gaze about the room. For a college library, and on a Wednesday, it wasn’t as crowded as it usually was. Students gathered in a small sitting area, hunched over books, while a few others mingled about. Patrons of the local community came to this location too when they couldn’t find a specific text at the local public library.
“This is your four-year anniversary volunteering, isn’t it?” Frannie’s soft voice inquired from behind me, and I nod.
“Yes, on Friday. I can’t believe how fast it flew by.”
My eyes meet hazel ones as I shift to face her. Even with her hair half way falling out of her bun, she looked adorable to me. “Your birthday is coming up soon, right?”
She nods and sighs.
“The big four five?”
“Don’t remind me,” she laughs. “I am not that much older than you. You’re what, Forty?”
“Thirty-nine,” I corrected with a smile, “and loving every second of it.”
That had Frannie rolling her eyes. “Yes, well, even Thirty-nine-year-olds have to stack books in this library.” Smirking as she walked around the desk and placed a pile of books on my cart.
“Yes Ma’am.” I mock an unhappy tone, but she knows I do not mind in the least. With a smile, I grab my cart and begin to push it towards the stacks of shelves. Half way across the room, Frannie asks me to wait. I pause and look over my shoulder.
“I almost forgot.” She says, coming up to me. A thick, old book in her hand. “This was donated to the library. It needs to be placed with the historical archive’s downstairs. Can you do that for me before you leave for the day?”
I take the book from her and inspect it. It was old and had a musty vinegar smell to it. “The Beginning of Hope. 1713 to 1864” I read from the cover. I had never heard of it before. I frowned and looked back up at her. “Sure, but what is this an archive of?” My curiosity peaked.
Her cheeks beamed with excitement. It was contagious, even though I didn’t know what we were getting excited about. She clasped her hands together and rocked back on her heels. My own palms getting sweaty holding the book.
“Before the town was called Ripple Falls, it was called Hope.” My eyes widened.
She nodded enthusiastically. “Yes. A lot of information was lost when the Tridle River flooded back in 1893 and then there was the fire in 1919 at the local historical society.”
“Whoa. So, who donated this then?”
“A man named Henry came in yesterday with it. Said he was cleaning out his great grandfather’s attic and he thought it looked old.” She snorted and it had me laughing. I stopped when Frannie batted me. “Shhh,” she said, “we are still in the library.”
“Alright,” I responded. Calming down my voice.
“This,” she continues, “is a recollection of how Thomas, the founder of Hope, came here and started the town. It gives details on their buildings and their local laws they formed.”
This was mind blowing. History was never my favorite subject but knowing that I was holding some very valuable information in my hands had my heart beat picking up. I looked down at the book again before turning and placing it on top of the cart. It was massive and aged compared to the other books below it. Facing Frannie again, I grip my hands together to calm my nerves.
“Amazing, isn’t it?”
“Thomas’s son, Henry, wrote that book, from what I read in the introduction.” I did not feel the sense of giddiness she did when relaying the information. Unsure why myself. “There is a picture in the book of him and his father. They were very handsome.” She tilted her head. “The whole family was.”
“The whole family?”
“The book has photos of the whole family. Mildread, Henry’s mother. Thomas Jr., Henry’s brother, and Claudia, Henry’s sister. It even has drawings of the blue prints of the town.”
“Why is this here and not in a museum?” I wonder. Frannie straightened and poised herself.
“The owner wanted it donated to this library. I am not sure why.” She chewed on her cheek again in thought. “Either way, one of the historical society administrators will be here tomorrow to look at it too. I just want to make sure it is locked away for safe keeping till they come to catalogue it.”
I shrug and nod. “Sounds odd, but ok. I will get it taken care of now then.”
Her head bobs a few times in her enthusiasm. “Great!” She turns and says while walking back towards the lobby desk, “Let me know when it’s done.”
I place my key into the hole after hitting the elevator button for the bottom floor which contains the archives. A task that I have completed many times before, but this time I get an odd sense in the bottom of my stomach. I feel butterflies fill me as I wait for the doors to close. It feels as though I expect someone to try to hop onto the elevator with me. Even when that didn’t happen and the doors shut, I still cannot breathe a sigh of relief. My back presses against the cool metal wall of the elevator. Unable to shake the feeling that I am not alone when clearly, there is no one else in the elevator with me.
The buzz signaling, I reached the basement, had me jumping. Chiding myself for being silly, I held my breath when the doors slid open. No one was there. In my head I complained.
You are losing it. Stop acting like this. Nothing is going on.
Even with my own self reassurance, the feeling remained that I wasn’t alone.
Stop it, I told myself while pushing the cart off the elevator and onto the stone floor. Light illuminated the space but with the tall shelves, it still created shadows throughout the massive room. The click of my heels echoed around me as I moved down the aisles looking for the spot I needed. Finding the aisle, I left the cart and picked up the book. It was heavy in my hand and I held it close to my chest, not to drop it.
I heard a funny noise and paused. My eyes darting left to right, but seeing nothing. I tried breathing slowly through my mouth. Attempting to not make any noise, hoping I hear it again. It would not have mattered though. My heart beat flooded my ears and hearing was almost impossible in this instance.
You are alone, I reminded myself. There is nothing here.
I swiveled around and moved back down the aisle. My steps quicker this time and I took note not to make a lot of noise. Mostly stepping on the pads of my feet. When I found the alphabetical location I needed, I sighed with reassurance. The muscles in my body beginning to relax knowing I would be leaving this basement soon.
“See,” I said to the books, “I knew no one was here.”
I patted the book in place.
“I wouldn’t say that.”
A loud scream ripped from my chest. Eyes wide and the blood draining from my body, I turn to see a man standing inches from me at the end of the aisle.
“Wh-what- whh – who are you?” I tried to get out. Words seem to be stuck in my throat as I look at him. He was leaning against the book shelf. My hands still flat against the books in front of me, more for support now as I felt faint. I cleared my throat.
“I could ask you the same question Miss….?”
The way he spoke sounded off. It was as if he had an accent but I couldn’t place it. I shook my head.
“I asked you first.” My words coming out surer than I felt as I stood up straighter to face him. “How did you get in here and who are you?”
Unable to focus, there was something off about him. It wasn’t just the accent, although my mind was racing just as much as my heart beat, causing my insides all sorts of mischief.
He pushed off the book shelf and whipped his hands on his slacks. That is when I took stock of his clothes. “I am Mr. Hopely and you are?”
Leaning back on my heels, I crossed my arms. Telling myself it was to look more intimidating but in reality, it was to hold off the shiver that was creeping down my spine. “Patricia.”
“Patricia.” The way he said my name, as if he had never heard it before, had an odd excitement filling me. I watched him shift his weight. His black slacks, that fit him just right, glistened. Lifting his hat, he ran a hand over his black hair that illuminated in the florescent light.
“I see.” My eyes fixated on the outline of his lips as he spoke. Mesmerized by them. So much so, that I did not notice he had moved closer. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Patricia.”
Blinking, I refocused on the situation. He was bending, less than an inch from me, grasping my hand. His touch, feather light that I almost did not feel it. Raising my hand, he placed a kiss to the top of my knuckles. Uncontrollably, I blushed.
My eyes must be playing tricks on me, I thought, because he seemed almost shimmery when he stood back up. It caused me to blink again.
“Oh, um, nice to meet you too Mr. Hopely.” Opening my mouth to speak again when his eyes lifted to meet mine. I froze.
Deep pools of foggy brown peered up at me. A strange tingling sensation, as if in a hum, started in my toes and crept up my body. His eyes stealing the air within my lungs. When the sensation reached my throat, I felt the overwhelming need to speak. Reminders of why I was in the basement suddenly filled my head and I took in a much-needed breath of air. He stood.
“Mr. Hopely, it is time for me to be getting back. They will be wondering where I went and- “
His hand that held mine, yanked and I lost my balance. I fell into him. My other hand outstretched, hit the book shelf before gripping his shoulder. I believe I let out a scream but all thoughts were swept away when his mouth landed on mine.
The softness of his lips, coupled with the gentleness of his embrace around me, had me swooning into him; beclouding the reasoning I once had. I could hear murmurs in my head and wondered if that was just me or if I was hearing his thoughts. That inkling had me pausing just enough that I broke away from his intoxicating kiss.
“Wait,” I stated, pulling away from him. His arms falling away as I backed up. “Wait.”
“Is something amiss?” His words laced with concern. “Did I misread the situation?”
Looking at him, his hands lowered and his palms outward, made me feel cold and unnervingly empty.
“No.” Using my hand, I wipe my face. “Yes.” I close my eyes. “I mean no.” I was beginning to get frustrated because I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. His laugh had me feeling more out of sorts and I opened my eyes to see him smiling back at me. “What?”
He tilted his head and a piece of his black hair fell down onto his face. “You are bewitching Patricia.” He moved closer towards me and I backed up, bumping into the bookcase.
“How so? You don’t even know me.”
Caging me in, he placed his hands on either side of my head against the books. The smell of old pages and bound leather filling my senses. My heart leapt to my throat and my legs grew weaker at the glimmer in his eyes.
He licked his lips as he peered down at me. “I can think of nothing more,” he eyes trailed down my face, “but of tasting you again.” Those eyes, darkening as he spoke, seemed to caress my lips. “Wouldn’t you say that is a bewitching quality?”
My mind went blank as my mouth went dry. I swallowed. His eyes lowered to follow the movement of my throat before lifting to meet my eyes again. What I saw was a haziness that was confusing and alluring. I couldn’t respond.
“And,” he went on, “I would adore to know more about you.”
A noise, half squeak, half sigh, escaped my lips. I was unsure where it came from exactly, but I felt as if it was a plea of some sort. A plea for what, I wasn’t sure.
Mr. Hopely, whom I still had no first name for, lowered his head next to mine. My thoughts, now starting to form, had me wanting to ask him for his first name, when I was stunned, yet again, by the words he whispered in my ear.
“Oh, my Patricia. How you have me hungry for more.”
A whimper ascended my throat as my legs wobbled. Sensing it, his leg lifted between mine and he held me up. Pressing me hard against the bookcase, he kissed my neck. My hands slipped through his jacket and gripped the sides of his button-down shirt. His tongue traced down the side of my neck, over my collar bone and stopped just before the dip in my dress.
“You taste like dessert.” He mumbled against my skin. His breath fanning my heated body causing me to shiver. The friction between my legs from his knee had me moaning.
“Please,” he begged, “do that again.”
The passion in his words alone made warmth grow, seeping through my panties. His leg lifted and more friction ensued. My moans echoing in the empty room we filled.
“Perfect.” My head pressed against the book stacks when his mouth started kissing back up my neck. “So perfect.” He cooed again before covering my mouth with his own once more.
He moaned into my mouth, filling my mind with the sound. An energy vibrated from him, filling my own body. The hair on my arms rose as though they were sparked by electricity.
Breaking the kiss, his nose less than an inch from mine, he said, “I am hungry for more.”
I opened my mouth to speak but before I got a single syllable out, his hands moved. They slid, lifting up the hem of my dress, and his body dropped. As if, by magic, he disappeared from my vision. Hands parted my thighs and I wanted to look down, but my head would not move. It felt like someone was holding it still. From my neck up, I was paralyzed to move and it frightened me.
I heard ripping. I could smell books and my own arousal. I could hear rustling of clothes and noises he was making. Not being able to move, to see what he was doing, had my mind going in a panic. I felt his hands slide up my thighs. Honing in on my sensitive area.
“Perfect.” He hummed again. His breath close to my sensitive bundle of nerves that I knew I was exposed to him. I whimpered. He kissed my thigh and licked there.
“I want my dessert.”
His words had my fear edging off a bit.
A loud, deep moan tore from my throat as I felt his warm lips and wet tongue stroke my exposed bud. My legs opening like the pages of a book eager to be read. His palms gripped my thighs and held me open wide against the book case as he feasted on me. Moaning, grunting, and growling as he ate. Whimpers and uttering came from my own lips involuntarily as my ecstasy built. I didn’t even wonder at how I was unable to move or how he was able to hold me up the way he was. With my growing pleasure, I did not dwell on such trivial matters.
This moment and these feelings were astounding.
My body hummed and vibrated on its own. I could be my own lighting bolt with the energy coursing through me. His fingers dug into my bare skin and his mouth pressed hard against me. Eating as if I was his last meal.
The intensity of the scream bellowed out that the echo of it would have shattered glass. He lapped and ate even after the climax had ended. His hunger for all that I had seemed insatiable until it rose yet again. I was so sensitive, that it was almost painful. I knew where he gripped my legs would be bruised or worse, possibly bleeding. His grip hard and rough, but his mouth felt so good at my center that I would have never complained.
The books dug into my back and my head began to ache from another building orgasm. His tongue took one last lap before he shifted. His mouth covered my opening and his warm tongue dove into the core of me.
I screamed and moaned as he suctioned his mouth to me. Thrusting his tongue in and out as he suckled. I moaned still, as my body grew in a furor of splendor. I craved to thrash about but was still pinned to the bookcase.
“Please!” I begged. “Please.”
He growled against me. The vibration causing ripples throughout my body and I screamed again as another orgasm broke. This time, panting, his mouth released me. I tried catching my breath as I listened to his words.
“You are mine.” He stated from between my legs. “Perfect and bewitching.”
He released me and my legs planted on the floor. I found myself able to move again and I slumped back against the bookcase. Sore and wobbly, I expected to see him rise. I wanted to look him in the eye and kiss him. Craved to. Although, I was not awarded that reprieve.
Instead, When I straightened, I found myself alone. He was not on the floor, kneeling or otherwise. He was not in the aisle at all.
My heart beat picked up and my ears pricked for any noise. Any sound at all that would prove he was still here. My head swiveled back and forth in the aisle expecting to see a glimpse of him on either end but after a few minutes, there was nothing.
If I didn’t still feel the thrum and ache between my legs, I would have known I imagined it. My hands flittered down my body, straightening my dress as they went. I look down and checked. My underwear was gone. I looked around on the ground but it wasn’t to be found. My cheeks heated and I checked my legs. Bruising hand prints on either side of my thighs were beginning to fade.
I stood, confused. What is going on?
Cradling my head in my hands, I felt for a fever. None. Then I rubbed my temples. A headache forming as I began my walk back down the aisle towards the cart I left at the end.
A rustle and a loud thud came from behind me. I squeal and jump, hitting my back into the bookcase.
My hand flying to my chest and my heart racing, I look around. A book was lying on the floor. Collecting myself, I move back down the aisle to go pick it up. Reasoning with myself as I went.
You are not crazy. It is just a book. There is nothing going on here.
Almost convinced myself by the time I reached the book. I lean down to pick up the open book, when I see the pages. My blood ran cold and I froze.
On the ground, open, was the book I just placed on the shelf. The page it was open to was of a photo of Thomas and his son Henry, dated 1759. They were side by side smiling. The deep brown eyes and slick black hair of Henry had my knees going weak.
Shaking, I picked up the book and scanned the image. It was the same man. The man who had just shared an intimate moment with me. My stomach dropped and I shook my head.
“No.” I tried convincing myself. “No, it couldn’t be.”
Wind brushed my shoulder and I turned my head. Nothing there. I shivered. Closing the book, I placed it back on the shelf. Making sure it was snuggly in place this time.
“You are not crazy.” I reassured myself before blowing out a breath and turning to walk back down the aisle.
“No,” I heard in my ear, “you are mine.”