Chapter 3

3

I yawned as I rolled over, jolting awake as the book on my chest slammed onto the floor. I rubbed my eyes as I sat up, my body aching all over as I stood, grabbing a sweatshirt from my bedside chair and yanking it over my head. I headed to the door but stopped as I walked passed my mirror. I turned looking at myself.

I rubbed the dark circles under my eyes. I wasn’t sure when I fell asleep, but I was sure of one thing I needed to go to the bookstore again. I glanced over at the clock, 9:00 AM. I stopped moving, my eyes glued to those numbers. I never slept that late; I usually wasn’t able to sleep more than a few hours at a time. I ran my hand through my hair before grabbing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans and heading to the bathroom.

I took my time getting ready, because I didn’t want to be the first one at the bookstore, and I wasn’t even sure he’d be there…Nameless boy. I tapped my fingers on my steering wheel to the pop music I never listened to anymore. He wasn’t nameless any more—Trent.

When I walked in the door he was standing at the registers leaning on his arm, and he smiled up at me.

“Don’t tell me you finished it already?” he asked as he came around, stopping in front of me.

I laughed as I looked up at him. “Is there an alarm somewhere that says I’m coming in so you can greet me at the door?”

He smirked, placing the book he had in his hand on the bargain pile. I swallowed as I saw the cover— it was the one I had put there the day before to hide it from Stew.

“Not exactly,” Trent said, leaning back on his heels as he looked at me.

“Wait,” I narrowed my eyes at him. “Where you watching for me?”

He shook his head. “Not at all,” he crossed his arms; “I have spidey senses.”

“You don’t look like a comic book guy,” I replied, laughing at him.

“What kind of guy do I look like then?” he asked. “Should we get you breakfast while you analyze me?”

I fought against the smile on my lips, but gave in as we fell into step next to one another. “Did you eat yet?”

“I was waiting for you,” Trent replied. “Same as yesterday?”

“Surprise me,” I replied, watching as he walked around the counter.

“Don’t look so shocked,” he said as my jaw dropped. “I have to multitask.” I blinked at him and he began to brew the coffee. “So what kind of guy am I?”

“Maybe it’s the tattoos, but I see you more as the musician type.”

“I guess you can judge a book by its cover,” Trent commented. “So how was the book?”

I leaned against the counter, watching him as he skillfully steamed the milk. “I actually really liked it, and I think my dad enjoyed hearing something different.”

I looked down at my hands, picking at the edge of my nail polish as I waited for him to question why a grown woman was reading to her Dad.

“So you live with your dad?” Trent asked, and my eyes rose to meet his. Today he was wearing a dark blue button up with the sleeves rolled up so I could see the artwork on his forearms. The color intensified his eyes as he slid the coffee across to me and he began to make his own.

I swallowed, looking down at the cup as I tried to figure out what to say. It was an easy question, but it was still difficult to answer.

“Not exactly.”

He looked over at me, his eyes racing over my face, but he didn’t press the subject. “Well,” he began, grabbing a scone and handing it to me and then grabbing his coffee and scone before coming back around to me. “There’s another one; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It’s by the same author.”

“I’ll take it,” I replied as we sat down on the stools.

“Don’t let me forget to get it for you before you leave.”

I bit into the scone, and leaned back in the chair as the frosting and cranberries melted into my tongue. “This is amazing.”

“It’s my favorite,” Trent explained.

“So,” I asked between a sip of perfectly brewed coffee. “Are you going to give me one book a day?”

He paused, the coffee cup covering the smile on his lips but it reached his eyes, making them wrinkle at the edges. My heart hammered in my chest as I waited for him to answer. “I assume you don’t always stay up all night reading.”

I shrugged, cocking my head at him. “Sometimes I sleep.”

His eyes dropped down to his coffee as he placed it make down on the table. “Is this like the other sometimes?”

My lips suddenly felt parched, and I found myself looking around the store. I shook my head, “No, I sleep. I’m not that crazy.”

Trent leaned forward, his gaze locked on me again. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

I looked down at the now empty napkin, smeared with spots of left over frosting. “Just making sure,” I whispered.

He coughed, and my eyes went back to his face. “I like to think I can read people pretty easily. I don’t think you’re crazy…I think you’re a private person—much like myself.”

I clenched my jaw, rubbing the back of my neck. “So that book?” I reminded him.

“Oh, yeah,” he said standing. I hopped off the chair, and he smiled over his shoulder at me.

“What? You think it’s funny I’m short and have to hop off your chairs made for giants?”

He put his hands up. “No, not at all,” he replied with a smirk. “I actually think it’s kind of cute.”

I stopped walking and he turned to face me. “Are you trying to inflate my ego?”

He widened his eyes, crossing his arms so my eyes moved to his flexing forearms. “No,” he shook his head; “that’s big enough as it is.”

I blinked at him. “Don’t get me started. Tight t-shirts and now a button-up…those tattoos. You’re the one with the inflated ego— all mystery and smoldering hotness.”

He smirked down at me, grabbing a book from the shelf without looking at it and handing it to me. “So you think I’m mysterious and hot?”

A tingle crept across my neck and to my face. Did I really just say that?

A group of girls walked in, looking over at Trent and me and immediately burst into giggles.

I nodded towards them. “They sure do.”

His jaw tightened. “They’re also ten minutes late for their shift.”

“Uh oh, hot boss is all angry,” I teased, walking passed him and knocking shoulders with him. “Now are you going to check me out like they were checking you out?”

Trent caught up to me, reaching over and grabbing the book from my hand as he slipped passed me. His eyes ran up and down my body. “Checked out, now would you like to purchase this book or continue making my employees jealous?”

I leaned over the counter, pushing my chest up. “I think jealous is more fun.”

He looked over my shoulder at them and the smile slipped away. “You know they’re always trying to figure me out. It gets tiring.”

“Maybe they’re just trying to figure out why you haven’t asked any of them out yet, when they’re fluttering their eyelashes at you and talking sweetly.”

Trent scanned the book. “How do you know they do that?”

“I’ve seen it.”

“Well, there’s an easy explanation for why I haven’t, besides the fact I’m their boss— I’m just not interested.”

My mind raced over the many reasons he wouldn’t be interested. I swiped my card, concentrating on entering my pin as I managed to ask, “Already have a girlfriend?”

The sound of the receipt printing echoed throughout the store, and I cringed at the sound of it against the silence where his answer should be.

“You could’ve just asked me that instead of bringing them into it,” he replied as he tucked the receipt into the book and handed it to me.

“Answer the question, Mr. Mystery,” I shot back, grabbing the book.

“You got it wrong, it’s Mr. Smoldering Mystery to you El,” Trent replied, leaning over the counter.

My heart pounding in my chest as I bite my lip.

Trent’s eyes slipped down to my lips before he replied, “No girlfriend.”

“So do they talk behind your back?” I asked as I leaned forward towards him. I narrowed my eyes. “What’s the juicy gossip on you?”

“Well, there are rumors I’m in the mob.”

I snorted as I laughed at him and his eyes widened. “It’s that bad boy exterior, but I think you have a heart of gold beneath those perfect pecks.”

“Or,” he replied, dragging out the word. “I’m just a mobster with perfect pecks.”

“And I’m a Russian spy.”

He pointed a finger at me as he stood up. “You cover your accent well.”

I cleared my throat, standing and putting my shoulders back as I narrowed my eyes at him and tried on a Russian accent. “I have caught zu admitting zur illicit activities. Zurrender now.”

We burst out laughing again, and he shook his head. “Oh, man, you suck at that.”

I shrugged. “Well, you suck at being a mobster!”

Trent scratched the back of his neck. “I guess I should get back to my real job, seeing I suck so badly at being a mobster…and before one of my employees tackles you for flirting with their hot boss.”

I rolled my eyes. “There’s that inflated ego again.”

He walked passed me, leaning down to whisper in my ear. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

The feel of his breath on my neck sent shivers down my spine. I looked at him through my bags. “Do you want to?”

He winked at me. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Ellie.”

“Wait,” I replied, stopping him in his tracks. “I have to hang out with some college buddies tomorrow.”

His eyes faded, looking passed me as he pursed his lips and nodded. “Well, let me know if you like the book.”

I stared at his back as he disappeared into the stacks of books, and the high his presence created faded.

I had enough emotional strife in my life, why was I adding more to it by falling for this guy?

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