Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Three's A Crowd Chapter 22 Part 1

Hello my reading friends, it is only Tuesday and once again I am posting today because another week and my employer scheduled me to work tomorrow on Wednesday and I didn't want you guys to wait until late tomorrow night. Well, here is Chapter 22 Part 1 for your enjoyment. I hope you like how Trish and Shawn are getting closer and closer, I know you have been so patient waiting for those two to finally hit it off. They do like each other a lot but dealing with their insecurities they have been making it difficult to let their guards down. Slowly, the layers of the walls around their hearts are coming down and you will be there to witness that. I appreciate you all so much, Let me know how you like this chapter. Hugs, Yours, Dani

Friday, April 24, 2015

Twist Of Fate Chapter 10

Here is Chapter 10 with an unexpected visit at Matthew's parents. I also post a TOC for those who want the ten previous chapters in a row. It will be updated every week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Three's A Crowd Chapter 21

Surprise! I am a day early this week whereas I was a day late last week. I am working tomorrow and may not have time to post so I finished editing Chapter 21 today and here it is. I hope you enjoy how the rest of the night/morning develops for Trish and Shawn even though it gets a bit dramatic, but you know how I like drama...:-) One thing is for sure though, Trish and Shawn are becoming closer and closer with everything happening in their life. I hope you like this next chapter and as always thanks for reading TAC. Hugs, Dani
Table of Contents TAC

Friday, April 17, 2015

Twist Of Fate Chapter 9

Hi Paradevo readers, it's Friday! Time for TOF (sounds weird so I prefer not to use it) So here is Chapter 9 with a family reunion for Matthew and Cassandra. As usual, any comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Between the Pages: Chapter 1

"There’s just one researcher, today," Sharon tells me as I enter into the reading room.

"Fantastic," I whisper back, glancing across the room. One lone man sits at a table by the window with a stack of manuscripts. He's hunched over the papers and looking down. I jerk my thumb in his direction. "So serious!"

Sharon laughs as she stands up. "Academics, you know."

Once Sharon leaves, it's just me and Lone Researcher. Working in the reading room is easy, and almost as interesting as watching paint dry. To pass the time I usually play this game with myself where I try to peg what sort of research people are working on. Scientists and journalists are easy to spot: they almost always are working with microfilm. Literature scholars are pretty easy to identify too. Usually, they're the ones going through rare books, flipping the pages reverently and slowly. Then there are historians, which pretty much comprise everyone else. The historians are cranky, demanding, and usually old.

I look at the man across the room in scrutiny. Not much to tell from this far away, but my brain's pegging him as a literature guy. A professor, maybe. Yeah, he looks older and professory. Longish chestnut hair. Something about the oxford shirt combined with tortoise shell glasses and hint of a dark beard just screams "I'm reading Ayn Rand, and I like it!"

Lone Researcher is oblivious to my profiling. Which, might be a good thing. You know, in case he actually hates Ayn Rand would be terribly offended by my hypothesis.

With a sigh, I turn back to the computer. That was fun while it lasted. It's more fun when the reading room is packed, but right now it's the dead of summer so none of the university students are here to clutter the place up. The only visits our archives get in the summer are crotchety genealogists and overly dedicated academics.

Against my better judgement, I glance at the clock. It's only been thirteen minute.

I quickly start making a mental to-do list:

-email Barry about PTO
-pull stuff for remote researchers
-finish accessioning the Millner collection
-write exhibit text

I emailed Barry earlier in the day and got my paid time off for my brother's wedding next month approved. The Millner collection stuff can wait -- will have to wait -- until tomorrow. The text I had to finish was for two different exhibits. It's a maximum of 250 words per wall panel. You think that would be easy! It's not. Being brief is a skill. One which I don't possess.

Procrastination is one that I do though, so I leave the text for later. Pulling materials is easy and mindless. At least on my end. It's probably a pain for the vault staff though, who have to track down that one obscure text about Acadian architecture in Nova Scotia in our 30,000 square foot vault. But then, the vault is pretty organized (it's actually meticulously organized, and I'm scared to touch anything on the rare occasions I venture down there), so maybe it isn't too bad for them after all.

Thirty-five minutes (and a lot of dicking around on the computer) later, all of the materials I'd requested arrive. That's actually a pretty good response time for a large research archives. "Thanks, John."

John, a tiny man with huge glasses that has worked in the vault for almost thirty years, smiles as he handed my books over. "Sure thing, Inez."

After John leaves, I look over at Lone Researcher. Still bent over his books. Ugh, I wish I had his work ethic.

I've got to get a least one wall panel out of eight done. But it's already 4:30. We'll be closing in thirty minutes...do I really have time to start this?

I glance over at the clock again--somehow it's still 4:30 even though feels like it's been five years since John left--and settle in to begin writing.

"'For a pillow I used a stick of wood, softened with an old pair of shoes, and strange to say, slept very comfortably.' These are the words young Wesley Olin Connor penned as he camped outside of Cumberland Gap, TN in the winter of 1862. While Connor is often remembered for his time --"

"Excuse me?"

The voice startles me. It's low, with a distinctively Southern sound, and it rolls over me like a smooth whisky. Looking up, I realize Lone Researcher has vacated his post, and is now waiting in front of my desk. Now that he's closer, I realize that he isn't old after all. Not only that, but underneath the professory, academic facade, he's also attractive. Like, really attractive.

Annnnd...whoa. He’s also using a wheelchair. How in the hell did I miss that earlier? He sits in front of me with a huge Bankers Box on his lap.

I peer sheepishly over the desk, feeling guilty for not having noticed his presence before now. "How long have you been waiting?" I ask in an apologetic tone.

He smiles. Whatever he wants -- and I'm certain he wants something, because that's pretty much the only time people smile at me in the reading room--I'm already planning on giving him simply because of that smile. Seriously! I bet the girls in his classes (I’m still working under the assumption he’s a professor) eat him up--wheelchair or not. Hell, I'm practically salivating.

"Only a short while." Lone Researcher nodded towards the computer. "You seemed very focused. I didn't want to interrupt."

Despite my minor embarrassment, I laugh. "Is that ready to be re-shelved?"

He shakes his head. "Actually, could you hold it for me for tomorrow?"

"Sure!" I respond, a bit too enthusiastically. Still trying to make up for having ignored him at first. "Name?"

"Max Ellis."

I make a note on one of the "Hold" shelves and then reach out for the items in his lap. Then, I watch as Lone Researcher -- Max, I guess -- shuffles the box from his lap onto the circulation desk.

"Thanks." He flashes me another winning smile. "So I'm all set for tomorrow then?" I nod and try to match his smile, but I'm pretty sure I fail miserably. "Well, see you tomorrow then."

With that, Max makes his way towards the door, propelling his wheelchair forward with smooth and practiced strokes. With each pump his broad shoulders pulse and I can tell that he is incredibly built, especially for a stuffy academic. I (rudely) stare as he wheels down the hallway to the circulation desk to check out of the reading room. And suddenly, for the first time in a while, I'm excited about coming back to the reading room tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Between the Pages: Chapter 2



The next day starts off not so great.

When I get to work there is an angry note on my computer monitor that reads: "Text. TODAY." It's not signed, but I know it's from Barry, my boss. There's probably a vicious email in my inbox too. You know, just in case the sticky note isn't enough. I check my email and sure enough, there it is.

Aside from the sticky note and a semi-catastrophic coffee spill, the rest of my day goes well. I finally get text written for the water reclamation and wilderness exhibits and send that off to the media department. They'll spruce it up, make it look pretty, and make it fit on a poster so that it's more appealing to visitors. How are they going to make water reclamation interesting? No clue.

By the time that 3:00 rolls around, I'm relieved to be heading to the reading room. I've got some research to finish for another exhibit I'm curating titled “1616, 1916, 2016”. It’s only a pop-up exhibit, so it won’t last for more than a day, but I think it’s going to be pretty neat. Basically, I’m picking a few of the more interesting rare books in our collections from the years 1616, 1916, and 2016 and displaying them. The only problem is all of the cool books I want to use—like the Italian anatomy textbook bound in human skin!—are not from the correct years.

Maybe I should reconsider which years to use…That's what's on my brain as I walk into the reading room. Thoughts of books bound in human skin are quickly pushed from my head though, as I realize the reading room is covered up. It's crazy crowded. Seriously, I've worked at the University Archives for five years now and I can't remember a summer day this busy in a while. I groan inwardly.

Poor Sharon looks haggard. Her expression is pretty much a visual version of my inward groan, and it makes me nervous for my shift. She looks too relieved to be leaving.

"It's been insanely busy," she confirms in a whisper. Quickly she runs through a list of who is who and where their on-hold materials are on the shelf. There's only eight patrons in the room, I realize as she explains, it's just that they all have a shit ton of materials. I'm feeling much more relaxed about things as she logs out of the computer and gathers her things, until she adds, "Oh, and vault staff is down three people today. So, it's just John and Rachel."

Great.

I know that there's a look of pure terror on my face. With this many people simultaneously requesting a large number of items and only two people working to retrieve those instead of five, our usual fifteen-minute turnaround time is going to skyrocket. Which in turn, makes the researchers pissy. And who are they pissy at? Whoever is behind the desk. Sharon gives me a sympathetic look as she leaves.

Okay. Game face on. I'm ready for this. Kind of. Sort of. Not really. I hate (even the possibility of) confrontations.

The first twenty minutes goes by quickly and smoothly. One old lady huffs a little bit when I explain to her—for the third time, by the way—that she can't have her coffee cup in the reading room, much less on the same table as a map of France from 1789. As she stomps out of the room to put her coffee in the researcher lockers, I hear a small snicker to my left.

Looking up, I'm fully prepared to shoot the offender a look of pure venom. Having to chase off little old ladies is not funny! But then I realize that the offender is none other than Max, the lone researcher from yesterday.

Today he's traded in a window seat for one closer to the circulation desk. Maybe because it's crowded in here? I personally hate having to weave in between the tables with oversized maps hanging off them; I imagine the obstacle course's difficulty would be increased tenfold in a wheelchair. Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining that he's closer today. It gives me a perfect vantage point for oggling (almost) unashamedly at him. He has a strong jawline that is only slightly hidden by a faint beard. Usually I'm not into the long haired, bearded, hipsterey types, but there is something about Max that makes my heart beat faster. His hair is a rich chestnut brown and his skin tanned, hinting that maybe he spends a fair amount of time outside. That's hard for me to believe--especially if he's the stuffy academic I think he is. Today he's sporting a baby blue Oxford shirt and I can see a tweed jacket hanging off the back of his wheelchair.

I roll my eyes at him good naturedly as if to say, "Old ladies are the worst, am I right?"

His broad shoulders shake with a small chuckle and he flashes me a grin that makes my stomach flip before looking back down at the manuscripts in front of him.

Just as I'm debating the ethics of creeping on Max via the internet and his research account information with us (which is actually crazy AND creepy seeing as how we've only had the one, very professional conversation and the one very unprofessional snicker exchange), the door to the reading room opens and John pushes a huge cart carrying a thick stack of oversized folders inside. He stops by my desk so that I can check them into the patron that requested them and then deposits the materials at the desk of a Mr. Bob Heading, who looks incredibly unhappy.

"You the only one working down there, son?" Mr. Heading asks in a loud and thick Cajun accent. The fact that he called John "son" would have made me laugh since John looks to be at least twenty years his senior, but something about the look of contempt on his face makes me restrain. "Because it sure did take long enough for this to get here to me."

John nods his head understandingly. "We're down a few people today so it's just me another worker."

"Whether there's one of ya or five, I think ya ought to do better than taking thirty minutes to bring these here materials to me," Mr. Heading grumbles.

John flashes me a "What can you do?" look and shrugs. Mr. Heading wanders back over to his desk and starts to examine the large stack of oversized documents.

I do a quick check on the computer. Bob Heading is an independent researcher from Southern Louisiana -- and holy Lord! -- he's called up the entire Johnson Confederate States of America collection. The Johnson Collection is a huge collection we're acquired about thirty years ago that's made up of like two hundred different boxes of old Confederate documents and probably twice that many maps and newspaper clippings. The thing is a behemoth, and Mr. Heading has requested all of it be brought up.

Already I know that this is going to be a problem. Reading room policies only allow patrons to have five items in the room at a time. As I watch Mr. Heading look through the five maps he has in less than five minutes, something tells me that he's not going to like the five item rule. Or the fact that he's going to have to wait twenty more minutes for another five to be brought up.

We manage to get through the whole routine twice before he says something. But by the time 4:00 rolls around, it seems like he's starting to lose his patience. He's up pacing around the room, huffing and puffing loudly. I send his request through at 4:01 and text John that it's urgent. By some miracle, the door opens fifteen minutes later, rather than the thirty I'd planned on, and at 4:16 John walks through with Mr. Heading's items. He winks at me as he sets them down.

Grinning broadly at the quick turnaround time, I alert Mr. Heading to their arrival. "The next items in your queue are ready."

But instead of matching my enthusiasm for our (understaffed) vault staff's quick retrieval time, he scowls. "I've been waiting here fifty minutes."

I give him an incredulous look. "You've been waiting fifteen, Mr. Heading."

"FIFTY MINUTES," he repeats, this time louder. It makes the other patrons look up. Out of the corner of my eye I see Max watching the man with a curious expression. "I've been waiting fifty minutes for these, and it's gonna take me less than five to go through 'em. Then I got to wait another fifty minutes to have more brought up? That's bull--"

"--Sir, please," I interject. "Keep your voice down."

"Why? I'm sure all these here people are just sitting here, waiting on their stuff too."

"Mr. Heading, I'm sorry you're displeased with the retrieval time, but we actually do have a very quick one for a facility--"

"Well I don't think that you do, missy," He tries to talk over me. "I think there's a problem--"

"--of our size and--"

"--and that problem is YOU."

My jaw drops.

Mr. Heading is standing in front of my desk now, leaning over it. The look on his red face is one of utter contempt. On the one hand, he's right: it is annoying to have to wait for thirty minutes for something that you'll finish in five...but on the other hand, that also sounds like a personal problem too. Plus, we have at least three signs--all in clear view--that inform patrons of the wait time, which we usually over estimate as being thirty minutes.

I don't like confrontations. I don't like being yelled at. I don't like that he's disturbing other patrons with his claims of waiting almost an hour when I have proof of it being fifteen minutes. But what really gets me, what really grinds my gears, is that this man insinuates I don't know how to do my job. The job I've worked at for over five years and that (although I bitch about sometimes) I love.

I don't hesitate for another second. "Sir, I'm going to have to call security."

Mr. Heading snorts. "You don't have to call security."

With that last statement, he walks out. But not before he snatches his laptop off of the table. Then, he chances one last look at me, and with a wicked gleam in his eye, shoves the stack of oversized folders he'd been looking at off the table and onto the floor. He practically runs out while the old documents flutter onto the floor, looking just as fragile and sad and defeated.

I let out a wounded sounding yelp at the state of things and immediately rush over to the documents. "I am so sorry for that," I apologize to the remaining eight patrons in the room. I squat down and start to carefully pick up the documents, feeling my face redden. Whether it's from embarrassment or anger at Mr. Heading, I'm not sure. In five years I've never had a day at work as bad (or exciting) as this one.

"These are all out of order," I mumble despondently. The documents aren't tagged or marked and I'm not sure which items go in which folders. As I continue to pick them up and try to make some sense of the order, I mutter some more really obscene, really not nice stuff about Mr. Heading under my breath. I'm having a huge glass of red wine when I get home tonight. And take-away. Maybe from that new Italian place that just opened downtown. Hmn...I wonder if they deliver?

I'm concentrating much more on my dinner plans than I am to what I'm doing. Which is probably why I don't notice Max until he's literally right in front of me. He doesn't say anything--respecting the reading room rules, unlike some people!--but he starts to help me collect the massive amount of spilled documents. Bracing himself with one hand on one of the wheels, he bends over at the waist and starts to pick up some of the smaller documents and put them on the table. The gesture is so kind that I barely cringe when he picks them up haphazardly and I don't mention the fact that should really be handling each document with two hands.

"Thank you," I whisper when we're finished.

Max smiles. "Sorry you had to deal with that guy."

I shrug. "It happens."

At this point I stand up and start walking back towards my desk. The clock on the wall says it's 4:45 and I'm shocked to see a stack of materials on my desk waiting to be checked back in. Everyone else is gone, except for me and Max and one other man who is a regular during the summer (genealogist). Great. At the rate that my day seems to be going, someone probably walked off with a rare book or something.

When I'm done checking everything back in, and after I've said a prayer that nothing is missing, I clear my throat. Both Max and the genealogist, look up. Max smiles bashfully, and it's adorable. "Is it time already?" he asks.

"It's time," I tell them both a little apologetically. I doubt anybody working in the reading room today achieved anything, thanks to all the commotion, and I feel party responsible. "I'm sorry again for today."

The genealogist deposits his materials on my desk and leaves without a word. Max, on the other hand, sticks around. He wheels up to my desk with his box on his lap, but he doesn’t hand it over. He’s holding it in a protective grasp. I wonder if he loves books and antiquities as much as I do.

He's clad in his tweed coat now--though why, I don't know, it's literally ninety-three degrees outside today--and he looks quite dapper.

"You know," he begins, grinning mischievously, "I would have thrown a fit if you had insisted I turn these in promptly at 5:00.”

I smile gratefully at his joke even though the memory of the afternoon still stings.

"Hey, don’t beat yourself up. Like you said: it happens,” he tells me as he finally relinquishes his hold on his materials. The sentiment surprises me. A second later Max begins to laugh and is talking to me again. “I have a friend who works at an archive in Mississippi and she's constantly butting heads with this researcher who comes in once a week demanding to see a certain set of 'macrofilm.'"

I smile as I realize a few things all at once:

#1: Max, a (handsome) stranger, seems to be making an actual effort to cheer me up.
#2: Max, a (handsome) stranger, the likes of which we never see in the reading room, is making an effort to continue this conversation.
# 3: Max, a (handsome) stranger, might be flirting with me.

But really, I'm an idiot when it comes to flirting. Maybe he's just being nice. Yeah, he’s definitely just being nice, because there is no way a guy like that is single--even with the wheelchair.

Even so, I play along. After all, a little fun never hurt anyone, right? "That's better than having someone ask for their 'mini fish.'"

Max tilts his head in confusion. "Mini fish?"

I sigh heavily. "She was a tenured professor and she meant microfiche."

Max laughs. It's a deep, hearty, and genuine sound. I grin too and mentally pat myself on the back as he wheels back to his table to gather the rest of his stuff.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Three's A Crowd Chapter 20

Hello readers of TAC. I know I wrote a message earlier about posting my next chapter. I decided to post the next chapter today anyways as it was edited and ready to go, so here is Chapter 20 of TAC. Trish and Shawn have an odd encounter at the casino. In this chapter find out if Shawn can catch Trish after she takes off seeing him with another girl on his lap. Hope you enjoy it and as always, thanks for reading and letting me know how you like it, you all mean so much to me, Hugs, Dani

Between the Pages: Chapter 3

A few days later I'm sitting across the booth from my best friend Meg as we recount our weekly woes. Meg and I have a standing lunch date every Sunday at Willow Tree, a small cafe in between our apartments, that make the best grilled cheeses in the city. They also have six dollar bottomless mimosas.

I've already given her the rundown on my worst day at work to date and she joined me in complaining about the patron accordingly. Nothing like the loyalty of a best friend. I nonchalantly mention that there was a cute (devilishly handsome), (seemingly) nice, youngish guy at the archives on Friday, which piques her interest. But then I tell her that that's really all there is to it and she's possibly more disappointed than I am. Meg has this notion that I'm going to meet the man of my dreams during one of my shifts in the reading room. I, on the other hand, think of patrons like Mr. Heading, and have my doubts.

Since there's nothing more of interest on my end, we move on to her. She had a date on Thursday -- I know because I helped her choose her outfit -- and I've been anxious to hear how it went for three days now. Unfortunately, it seems like it was a ginormous flop. Meg's a great storyteller, so she manages to make the tale of how he showed up an hour late to the restaurant wearing workout clothes an epic. Then she delivers the coup de grace: "He didn't say a single word to me the entire night. Actually, he didn't make a peep at all. Even when I kicked him underneath the table!"

Some of my mimosa sputters out in a laugh. "You kicked him?"

"In the shin." She looks at me as if she doesn't understand what's wrong with kicking your unresponsive date. She finishes off her drink and then sighs heavily. "I might as well have been on a date by myself."

I make an appropriately sympathetic face.

"What would you give it?" Meg asks me as she catches the eye of our waitress. Mimosas are only until three, which is in thirty minutes. "I'm rating it a two-star date out of five."

"Oof. Thanks." The waitress sits our mimosas down and runs before we can ask for anything else. She’s probably irritated that we've been camped out for two hours and so far only spent twelve dollars apiece. "He's worse than Booby Boy then?"

Meg groans.

Booby Boy had been one of my more disastrous dates. And believe me--between the two of us, we'd had some doozies. This had started off great. He'd shown up early, dressed impeccably, and with flowers. It wasn't until halfway through dinner that things started to get weird. He'd spent twenty minutes telling--very passionately, I might add--about his job as a plastic surgeon. It all sounded fine and dandy until I'd asked him why he'd pursued medicine as a career.

His answer: "So I can touch women's boobs all day and get paid for it."

Facepalm.

It was a downward spiral from there. After we sat there in painful silence for a moment, Booby Boy then tried to salvage the date by describing to me -- in excruciating detail -- all the naughty things he wanted to do to my breasts. It might not sound bad, but trust me, it was horrifying.

"No one is worse than Booby Boy," Meg finally concedes. "Okay, your turn."

I snort. "I haven't been on a date in almost a year."

Meg rolls her eyes. "Yes, I know, and at the rate I'm going: lucky you. Don't you think no dates are better than bad dates?"

I shrug. Truthfully, I'd rather have a terrible date than no date at all. Maybe I have a warped sense of self-worth or something, but even knowing that a pervy plastic surgeon was thinking about my boobs or that some gym rat enjoyed something about my company enough not to leave halfway through a date quickly going downhill makes me feel less pathetic than I do when it's a Saturday night and the only company I have is Rook (my fifty pound German Shepherd) and a bag of take-out. It's not like I'm not one of those women who need a partner in order to feel fulfilled or anything, but...

Look. I'm thirty-three. I want kids someday. A husband too. And I've already got the dog. But, the older I get the more I feel the possibility of that happy ending slipping away. I know I'm not like some decrepit old lady who knits while she waits on the bus or anything (yet), but I feel like I'm close. Of course, the fact that my baby brother is getting married in four weeks really doesn't help the situation. Actually, I think that wedding is what's making me wish I'd kept Booby Boy's number on file, rather than literally burning it.

Meg launches into another story, but I don't pay much attention. I spend the rest of brunch taking advantage of my bottomless mimosas while I can, and trying to remind myself that I'm way better off without the likes of men like Booby Boy.

***

Monday morning dawns bright and early. Too early.

Rook wakes me up every day. He likes to sleep curled up on an oversized doggie bed underneath my own, but every morning around 6:15 he jumps up next to me and noses my hair until I'm awake. I usually swat at him and pull the covers over my head, hoping he'll go away, until he starts barking. It's ten times better than having an alarm clock. Seriously! If you don't have a frisky three-year old German Shepherd, you should definitely get one.

Today's Monday, which means it's a jogging day. I groggily throw on some running clothes and then begin to search for Rook's leash. I alternate between jogging and cycling in the morning throughout the week. I don't really care for jogging--I much prefer cycling-- but Meg likes to run 5ks and 10ks and I usually get cajoled into being her running buddy. I run a pretty slow pace, so I usually try to take Rook with me. He could definitely use the exercise and energy release. In retrospect, having a German Shepherd occupying a tiny little apartment on Bay Street might not have been the best idea.

But, I tell myself, as we're out the door and finishing up our first mile thirteen minutes later, Rook doesn't seem any worse for the wear. He's just trotting alongside me, tongue half out of his mouth, grinning like the goofy goober he is.

I love Savannah in the mornings. You know, before it's miserably muggy and the gnats are attacking in droves. While the squares are still mostly empty, save for the occasional person, and traffic isn't yet horrendous. In the mornings I can relax a bit. Enjoy the architecture. Appreciate the history.

My run takes me down Drayton Street, around Chippewa and Layfayette Squares, around Forsyth Park, and then back home again. The entire loop equals about three and a half miles and usually I'm home within the hour. I don't even like running, but it's easily the best forty-five minutes of my day.

Rook collapses in his doggie bed as soon as we get home. I laugh. "Lazy bones."

I put on some coffee and make a smoothie for breakfast, then hop in the shower. As I'm getting ready for work, I'm surprised to find that I spend a little more time on my hair than usual (read: I'm actually trying to tame the unruly curls rather than letting them fly away freely). And I know the reason is that I’m hoping to see Max.

I feel silly, really. After all, I'm primping for a guy that I've had two conversations with and might not even be there today. But, he's so attractive. He seems really nice too. I go ahead and throw some mascara on too. Just in case.

Of course, in true Monday fashion, I'm late to work. I blame it on the makeup and hair taming. Barry gives me that look -- you know, the one your boss gives you that says, "really, Inez?"-- as I slink into the office and slide into my chair at my desk. The look kind of irritates me because I'm usually never late to work. Stupid boys.

Surprisingly, the day flies by. Before I know it, it's time for my reading room shift to start. With unfamiliar butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I open the door and walk inside.

To an absolutely empty room.

"Aarrggghh!" The ugly groan escapes from me inadvertently before I can stop it.

No patrons in the reading room. While that means I can sit in here and work on my own stuff in blissful peace, it also means that Max probably finished conducting his research on Friday...and that he won't be back.

A full five seconds pass before I finally notice Sharon side-eyeing me. "Anything wrong?"

"No," I lie quickly. I'm just DEVASTATED my crush isn't in today. "No, I just realized I left my to-do list at my desk."

"Well, I think you'll have time to go get it," Sharon tells me with a wink. She gestures at the empty room. "I'll hold down the fort for a few more minutes."

"Eh, it's okay." I wave away her offer. Pfft. There is no to-do list. Sharon looks at me for a moment before she signs off the computer, and I squirm a little bit under her gaze. She's in her fifties and has three daughters all around the same age as me. Very quickly she looks at something on the lending materials software. When she makes a satisfied little "hmn!" noise and smiles as she exits the program and then starts to leave, I realize I haven't fooled her at all. She knows the to-do list was a fib. Honestly, the fact that I'm wearing makeup today probably didn't help my little story either.

I sigh despondently and look out the window at the darkening sky. The day started off so promising. Now, I'm alone in the reading room AND it looks like I'm going to get rained on. Fantastic.

Just as I'm starting to really get my pity party going (I'm moved on from the weather, to the fact that I burned water while cooking last night and how I'm generally failing at life), I hear a gentle rapping on the doors of the reading room. Because of the sensitive materials sometimes kept inside, you have to scan an employee ID card to be granted access. There's a little button under the desk that unlocks the doors so patrons can come and go. Fully expecting it to be a disgruntled, ID-less coworker at the door, I press the button without looking up. Then, my stomach drops through the floor as I notice a peculiar kind of movement and flash of metal out of the corner of my eye, and suddenly I'm face to face with a gorgeous pair of hazel color eyes framed by a smart pair of tortoise shell glasses.

I can't help the smile from spreading across my face. He's back.

And--holy shit!--he's standing? Propped up and supporting himself on two aluminum forearm crutches, the tips of which are planted firmly just in front of his feet. Looking down at me. There's a small grin playing on his lips.

"Uh...c-can I help you?" I finally manage to stammer out. God knows how long I sat there grinning like a fool before I did though. I'm not the sort of person who ever finds herself speechless, but at the moment I feel like an unwitting cast member in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Or Punked. Because standing -- rather than sitting in a wheelchair -- in front of me is Max the Lone Researcher and object of my most current (and obsessive) crush. How and why?

He nods and his grin widens. With the light bouncing off of him from a different angle today, I notice some faint highlights of red in his otherwise chestnut colored hair. They're especially prominent in the neatly groomed, thin beard he sports. "This is probably a bit...unorthodox."

I laugh, nervously, and wait for him to go on.

"So, I'm finished with my research here." A-ha! I knew it. "But luckily, I'm in town for a bit longer,"
He pauses here and shuffles his weight between his crutches. Luckily? What does he mean by that?

"Because,” he continues, “I realized, due to the hullabaloo on Friday, I neglected to grab a card from you. Or even catch your name."

All at once my heart soars and then it sinks. Then it hits rock bottom. All he wants is my friggin' business card? REALLY?!

"Oh," I respond very cleverly. I'm focusing on trying to not let my (totally unfounded) disappointment show. Opening the desk drawer and rummaging around for a stack of my business cards provides a welcome distraction. Extending the card, I offer it up to him. "Um, yeah, here you go."

But taking it from me seems to be a more challenging task than I anticipated. Max is an awkward distance away from the circulation desk. Close enough for a polite conversation, but too far to easily reach out and grab my business card. Plus, his hands are kind of occupied by the forearm crutches. I watch as he moves his crutches forward about a step, and then propels the lower half of his body forward using the strength in his arms. Which are massive. I notice that his legs move slowly and minutely.

He repeats the process again--crutches followed by body--until he's right at my desk. Shifting his crutches to one hand, he sets them aside for a moment. Then he leans forward slightly, grabbing the edge of my the desk for extra support. Once he’s situated, Max smiles ruefully at my blatant staring, and finally takes the card from my still outstretched hand.

"Inez Carter," he starts thoughtfully as he reads from the business card. "Assistant Director of the DeVinn Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, huh?"

"Yeah." Man, my responses are on fire today! "That's me."

Max reaches into his back pocket, pulls his wallet out, and sticks my card inside. "Thanks, Inez," he says as he gathers his crutches. He flashes me another movie star smile (seriously, that smile equals money. His teeth are SO straight!) and sort of waves goodbye. As he turns to leave, he says, "Hopefully, I'll see you around."

I watch as he exits the reading room. This time the movement is different. More of a quasi- walk. First come the crutches, followed by his body. It's slow, but not as slow as I'd expect. I'm mesmerized and intrigued. But, a moment later he rounds the corner to the elevator, and disappears out sign. And this time, I’m afraid he's gone for good.