The Book of Gateways (Installment 3)

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Chapter2

The next day is the same routine: stocking and registering books. Piers comes in around three o’clock and takes a nap in his usual spot. I shake my head and continue to work. I sent Milo a text but never heard back from him. I guess he’s busy. I’m always curious as to how he can afford such frequent and exotic trips. It seems impossible to constantly be flying out of town and I know he goes out of the country as well because I see different souvenirs he brings home or how he has stickers or key chains from wherever he visited. Like I said before I guess Milo is magic…or something. I straighten my little black bowtie that’s casually tied around my white collared neck. My white sleeves are rolled up to my elbows and my happy green sweater vest keeps a smile on my face because of it’s flamboyant little touch it gives to my cute little black skirt. I look cute, there’s no hiding it. I giggle to myself but abruptly cut myself off when I see that Piers is awake and now looking at me.

            “…Cesar?” He acts like he’s asking a question. I wait for a long time deciding whether or not to respond.

            “Ya.” I mumble under my breath. His face lights up only to be quickly snuffed out by a casual smile. “What are we going to do today?” He says getting up from his nesting chair. I swear if he were a bird he would’ve laid eggs by how much he’s been sleeping in that chair.

            “Well today I wasn’t gunna do anything. It seems like things piled up overnight. I didn’t realize so many people read books in this town.”

            “Maybe they don’t.” Piers said looking lost in thought.

            “Huh?”

            “Oh, well I don’t know… Don’t you think it’s odd that this little shop does so well when only a few costumers come in to get books or borrow them?”

            “Well I don’t know. I suppose it kind of works like Netflix. You pay a monthly fee and we ship you books or you pick them up?” I say shrugging my shoulders.

            “Hmm, I guess so… I just…” He’s lost in thought again. “Ya forget it. But you know he has another book store in California right? He has a girl named Lannah run it while he drops in and out.”

            “Who’s Lannah?” I ask sharply.

            “Huh?” His face is bewildered.

            “Nothing. Yes that seems odd but it’s not like your uncle is magic or anything. We do have airplanes you know.”

            “It’s too fast for that.” He said scratching his head.

            “Well maybe he is magic.” I wink, what the heck. Is this trait contagious?

            “Why do you keep doing that thing with your eye?” Piers gives me a weird look. My cheeks turn red. Maybe I should just leave the winking to Milo and Piers.

            Beep. My laptop notified an online message. It’s Milo and a video chat invite. I open it.

            “Hello there beautiful!” Milo smiled from inside the little square on my screen.

            “Hello Uncle you’re so nice!” Piers calls from the other room.

            “Not you!” Milo rubs his forehead. “How are you dear?”

            “I’m well thank you Milo! How’s business? Where are you?” I say trying to look for clues in his hotel room for signs of where he is. It’s a big city. Large sky scrappers and lots of lights. Night time? I hear a woman speaking rapidly now and she comes into view and sets down towels on the nearby chair. She’s wearing a uniform. “Are you in China?” I exclaim.

            “Ah I am indeed! I suppose the Chinese attendant gave it away?” He says to me and then says something to the attendant in Chinese and gives her what seems to be a nice tip. I look above my screen to see Piers flailing his arms to get my attention. He starts mouthing something to me: “How did he get there so fast? Huh? Huh?” I smile and wave him off discreetly.

            “So when are you going to be getting back?” I ask sweetly.

“Oh not for another two days I suppose…Maybe I could make it back in one. I’m not sure really. There’s lots to do here so I’m trying to do as much as possible in a couple days.”

            “Ah I see… So am I gunna handle the store for a little while longer? It’s been really quiet here. It’s the same old same old.” I pause momentarily and see that Piers has wondered off to somewhere out of sight… Maybe to the bathroom.         “So…who’s Lannah?” I ask quietly

            “Lannah?….Hmm well she’s the little girl who lives in California and runs the book shop I have there. She’s quite adorable and very funny.” Milo said smiling “Why do you ask?”

            “Oh, no reason… You like me better…right?” I say half joking.

            “Of course I do my dear!” Milo said winking at me.

            “You say that to all your shop owners huh?”

            “Well you’re the first one to ask….so no.” He laughs “Well I have to go! It’s rather late here my dear and I must get up early in the morning! I have an important meeting with a very important person!”

            “You’re rich huh Milo.” I said squinting a cautious eye at him. He laughs heartily.

            “In some ways yes! I have a good job, good employees, a good life, and a good God! So yes I am rich in a sense. Goodnight Cesar.”

            “Goodnight Milo.” I smile as Milo cups his hands as if he’s holding my face in them just like he does when he’s here. Cupping my face in his warm hands and kissing my forehead, just like a dad should. I nod and end the call.

 

 The next few days are normal and somewhat dull, although Piers finds a new and original way of annoying me everyday. Milo is gone for a full four days and I somehow miss him. Missing your boss? Strange, I know but I can’t help but like the guy. He’s the reason I could pay rent on my own and pay for other necessities in life. Gave me a job no questions asked and he’s been good to me ever since. He’s a real treasure I tell you.

                        “Whatcha  thinking about?” Piers asks me while he writes down a little       memo. A list of titled “to-dos”.

                        “Oh nothing. Just thinking I suppose.”

                        “About?”

                        “Stuff.” I reply shortly.

                        “Mhmmm, how suspicious.” He does a funny dance with his eyebrows. I   laugh.

                        “You’re ridiculous!” I laugh more. The front door bell jingles and my ears perk up to see who has come through the door. A man of average height meanders into the shop. Straight blonde hair nicely swept to the side, blue eyes, and a nice natural tan. His right hand casually thrust in his pants’ pocket while he opens the shop door with his left. Left, how interesting he’s left handed. It’s odd because it seems like a guy like him wouldn’t be interested in books… Although I thought that about Piers too… Watch this guy be physicist.

                        “Can I help you find anything?” Piers walks to meet the newcomer halfway.

                        “Uh no I’m alright, thanks.”  The voice comes as a shock. It’s smooth and melodic and definitely foreign. Aaah he’s British. It’s true. Accents make everyone more attractive.

                        “Ok well just let me know.” Piers says nicely and then turns to continue stocking a shelf he had started earlier. The blonde boy walks a little pass me and suddenly turns around with his finger in the air like an idea suddenly hit him.

                        “Ah you know, actually I do need help. Miss would you mind helping me                          out?” He smiles devilishly. I smile and hear Piers mutter under his breath some kind of exasperation.

                        “Ya, what can I do for you?” I say.

                        “Do you have any books on portals, black holes or the likes of it?” He says leaning against the counter in front of me.

                        “Um ya I might have one or two. That’s quite an interesting topic… Any                            specific reason for wanting books on that?”

                        “Well, a hobby or rather an obsession I suppose.” He says with a light chuckle. This guy is such a charmer.

                        “Well let me go see if I can find you something. I’ll be right back, give me                         one second ok?” I say writing down the last of the locations of the books onto a post-it. I only left for what seems like a moment, but when I return there is extreme tension in the “office area” of the shop. Or at least Piers seems annoyed. Blond guy is leisurely playing on his iPhone. I give Piers a “what-the-heck-is-the-problem-with-your-face” face and he suddenly snaps into his normal mood and normal face. I lay the books down in front of the stranger and he looks up with a dazzling smile.

                        “Thank you dear.” He says scanning over the books. “Can I rent these?”

                        “Sure, I’ll ring them up for you.” I say scanning th

them and start the usual process.

                        “I’m Matt by the way.” He says smoothly.

                        “Well I’m glad you found our shop Matt.” I say and hand him his receipt. “Their due date is highlighted on the receipt.” I smile and hand him everything.

                        “Oh, ok… Well thanks for all your help.” He says partially shocked at my resistance to his charm. I still love his accent though. “I’ll be back again.” His charm is suddenly back and he winks as he makes his way to the door.

                        “Bye Matt! See you!” Piers calls after him in a sarcastic tone.

I wait for the door to shut and see British guy walk out of sight…then I spring at Piers!… Verbally of course.

            “What is your problem? Are you crazy? Why were you acting like that?” I say waving my hands wildly.

            “I don’t know what you’re talking about Cesar! What’s with you anyways?” Little does he know this is a normal forecast of my sunny disposition.

            “You’re so strange. The guy wasn’t even doing anything.” I huff giving him an ugly look. Then a thought dawns on me. No. No, it’s not possible. Jealousy?

            “He was cute though. I love his accent.” I toss bait out.

            “Ya he was a good looking guy.” He says normally.

            “Wow, you would actually say another guy is attractive?” I say poking fun and still waiting for a reaction.

            “Hey, it takes a secure man to say that another man is a good looking guy! Besides I never said he was attractive. That’s different.” He says all the more casually. Ok, so I was wrong. Not jealousy.

            “Well anyways don’t you have errands to run?” I say holding up his sticky note.

            “Oh ya that’s right. Do you have anything you want me to pick up while I’m running errands?” He says taking the sticky note from me and tossing his phone into his pocket.

            “No I’m fine thanks.” I say smiling at him. He gives me a weird look.

            “Why are you smiling at me? I’m just that attractive huh?” He says teasing. I smile some more.

            “No, I’m just happy that you’re leaving.” He scoffs genuinely annoyed at my comment.

            “Well then.” He says snatching his keys aggressively and walks out the door. I think he tries to slam the door but it has a nifty little device that makes sure the door never slams. So instead of a dramatic slam I just hear the little mechanism on top of the door let out a gentle hiss as it sweetly shuts as if he had left in a good mood. Then I begin other things only to see him come back to pop his head in the door.

            “You’re gunna be ok here by yourself, right?” He says obviously no longer affected by my comment.

            “Don’t worry I’ve watched the shop a lot on my own before you got here. I wrestled an intruding bear once. Stuffed the thing myself. It’s in my living room as we speak.” He rolls his eyes and leaves without a word. I laugh loudly to myself because after all I am hilarious.

After Piers leaves there are a few costumers that come in and rent books or just aimlessly walk about the shop. Once they leave I go on my break at three to run some errands and pick up some food. It’s about four when I come back and I’m doing a balancing act as usual. I have a bag of groceries on each arm, an armful of three books I was returning, and my purse and McDonalds in my other arm. I drop all the stuff on my desk and open the golden-arch stamped bag and toss a fry into my mouth.

I hear a little rustling in the back room of the shop and every hair on my body raises. An intruder? A mouse? A locked-in customer I hadn’t noticed? A million things are buzzing through my mind and I feel adrenaline start to pump through my veins. I creep slowly towards the backroom’s door and I see that it’s already cracked quite a bit. I peek slowly in and suddenly an unfamiliar smells rushes me and almost knocks me off my feet. Blood. Lots of blood. I start to panic my heart is pounding and my arms are going numb. I force myself to look inside whatever might be waiting and then suddenly my heart stops and I feel like I’m being run over with a train.

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