The rest of 365 Days of Rain can be found here.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Farmer’s Market,” Mum said, her face tense. “Your grandmother needs bananas.”
“They’re good for you,” Grandma said. “Lots of potassium.”
Mum’s eyes met mine in the rear view mirror. “Katy, why don’t I drop you off at your friend’s bookstore? You could ask him about a job.”
“Mum — ”
Grandma’s eyes narrowed. “What’s this, Kathryn?”
Oh god. The last thing I needed was Grandma involved in my (non-existent) love-life. “Just a friend I ran into at the airport, Grandma,” I said.
“Is he attractive?” she demanded.
“Yes,” Mum said. I glared at her and she hid a smile.
“Thanks,” I muttered under my breath.
“Single?” Grandma asked.
“Uh.” He hadn’t mentioned a girlfriend, but that didn’t exactly mean he was off the market. So to speak. Not that I was looking. “Not that I know of.”
“Not one of those queers, is he?”
Her eyebrows drew together. “They seem to be everywhere these days. You can’t be too careful.”
“Grandma, you can’t say things like that,” I said. Oh god. Grandparents. You can’t take them anywhere.
One of her bony shoulders hitched upwards towards her ear defensively. “Got nothing against them. Just saying be careful, that’s all. Don’t want to fall in love with someone who isn’t going to love you back.”
Well, if that wasn’t the truth. Even so… “Thanks for the advice, Grandma,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure Ryan’s not gay. Not that I’m planning on falling for him.”
She snorted. “You never plan these things, Kathryn. Of course if you ever want to have any babies you’re going to have to put some fat on those hips. Men like to see a woman with hips.”
Choking back a strangled laugh, I managed to say, “Thank you very much, Grandma. I will keep that in mind.”
“I’ll drop you off at the bookstore, then,” Mum said.
“Please,” I whispered. “Oh, god, please.”
I waved goodbye to Mum and Grandma and started up the block towards the bookstore. Lovestruck Leaves. Really? Geez, I hoped Ryan really wasn’t gay, because that would be a supreme disappointment. I mean, it would be fine, but your fantasies tend to get cold water dashed on them when you find out the object of said fantasies is not interested in your gender.
The bell over the door dinged as I walked in, and I heard Ryan call “I’ll be right with you” from somewhere near the front of the store. I turned my attention to a shelf as he finished up his conversation with the customer, a pretty young woman only a few years older than myself.
“Now, I think you’ll enjoy that, Tara,” he said, smiling down at her. “It’s a little less explicit than the last one, and she’s one of our most popular authors. If you don’t like her, come back and let me know and we’ll see if we can find you something else.”
“Thanks, Ryan,” she said, smiling up at him. She lingered for a moment, clearly hoping he’d continue the conversation, and then, with a supressed sigh, opened the door and went away.
“What can I help you with — ah.” The smile on his face broadened to a genuine grin as he saw me. “Katy Reynolds. Fancy meeting you here.”
“Hi,” I said. “Nice shop. Does your clientele usually flirt with you?”
He laughed. “Darling, I run a romance and chick lit bookstore. I’m an attractive man. They’re often lonely women. What do you think?”
“Wow,” I said. “That — wow. Conceited much?”
Leaning forward, he rested his hands on the bookshelves on either side of my head, trapping me against the books. “Are you saying you wouldn’t flirt with me?”
“Um. No. Yes. Stop it.” Dammit, libido, sit down and shut up!
He tugged gently on my yellow head scarf. “Not a fan,” he said, stepping away. “Can’t see your hair.”
“Didn’t wear it for you,” I said, trying to take a deep breath without being obvious. Gaaaaah. Just being close to him was enough to send my heart careening off towards Shelton at sixty miles an hour. Not good, Katy, not good.
“So what are you doing here?” he asked. “Or did you just stop by to see me? Seeing as I did rescue you last night and all.”
“Haha,” I said. “I did actually stop by for a reason. Well. My mother made me come.”
He snickered. “Aren’t you a little old for your mother to still be making you do things?”
“Shut up,” I said. “She wants me to get a job. Or, well… I need a job. I’m an English and literature person. I’ve read a lot of chick lit. I’m kind of overqualified, but I guess I was wondering if you might need any help around the store.” His expression was unreadable, so I quickly added, “I kind of figured you wouldn’t — you’ve probably got college kids who come in and work shifts for you. Not a problem. Anyway, I’ll just…go now.”
“Reynolds, stop backing up before you fall out the door.”
I stopped. “Sorry.”
“And don’t say sorry.” He stared at me for a moment and then sighed. “See, I’m really torn.”
“Um. Why?” I asked when no further explanation appeared to be forthcoming.
“I really want to play the hero again and give you a job,” he said, resting one arm on the top of a bookshelf. “And then you’d be happy to have a job, and I’d get to spend time with you because, well, you know, you’d be working here. Except then I’d be your boss, and you could totally sue my ass for sexual harassment if I come near you, which quite frankly I’m not so keen on. So I’m torn.”
I stifled a laugh. “Wow. Those have got to be the worst reasons for hiring someone I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah, I know.” His mouth twisted. “Okay, fine, you’re hired. Mostly because I don’t like to think of you being unemployed and depressed. And at least if you’re here I can keep you out of trouble.”
“Oi!” I glared at him. “I don’t need you to keep me out of trouble. I don’t get into trouble.”
“You fell out of my truck.”
“That was me being clumsy, not me getting into trouble.” Quite frankly, I reckoned working for him was probably me getting into enough trouble as it was, and I was also pretty damn sure he wasn’t going to lift a finger to keep me out of it. If anything, he’d use both hands to pull me further in…