Author’s Note: This story was written only a few years ago, yet between then and now, the LGBT community and their allies have made great strides in gaining equality. I gave serious consideration to changing parts of the tale to reflect the current state of the hard-won rights some of us now enjoy, but I thought it more important to leave it as it is. We should never forget where we were, or how much has been sacrificed to get us where we are now.
Love at First Sight
or Will Crawford makes a fool of himself and doesn’t even realize it.
Love at first sight.
You hear that phrase all the time… in movies, from friends who’ve experienced it, in books, on television. Does it exist? I didn’t think so until that rainy Saturday when I ducked into a local bookstore to wait out sudden showers.
It was one of those places that offered couches and chairs to its patrons so they could sit and read in peace, a cup of coffee or tea beside them on a small but sturdy table. Not part of a bookseller’s chain but an independent that had been in business for decades and made itself part of the neighborhood.
I’d been inside before, but not often and only briefly. I was usually so busy I ordered books online and had them delivered. But I liked the place, and every time I was there, made a mental note to visit more often. The ambiance was quiet, relaxing, comfortable, and my celebrity not an issue.
I approached the clerk behind the counter, shaking rain off my hat and running my fingers back through almost-black hair. He glanced at me incuriously, a young man of dark and uncommon beauty, a book open before him that he read between customers.
“Need help?” His voice was smooth as honey and deeper than mine.
Love at first sight? That’s what it felt like. I immediately wanted to crush him against me and devour his mouth. It was a nice mouth, the lips full and soft. “Um… I’m looking for a book about the guy who thought he was a hat…?”
The clerk smiled and tried to hide it. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks. Good book.”
He stood and gestured for me to follow. He led me to the back right and pulled a book off a shelf. Handing it to me, he asked, “Anything else?”
“What do you have on psychopaths?”
He studied me for a moment, took two steps to the right, and went down on one blue-jeaned knee to pull a volume off the bottom shelf. He handed it up to me. I looked at the title: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.
“Doing research for a role?” he asked. “I mean, I thought you sort of had that one down by now.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Which one is that?” I played a sexy killer on a television show. It was the role that made me famous.
He laughed and a shiver went through me. When he got to his feet in one smooth motion, as graceful as a dancer, I felt something twist in the pit of my stomach and it wasn’t hunger. Well, not for food anyway.
He left me, returning to his perch behind the counter, and I looked after him, noticing his ass and the long attractive line of his back under the denim work shirt. I wanted him as I hadn’t wanted anyone in a long time.
I took the books to the counter, laying them down before him. He looked at me from under dark eyebrows. They weren’t thick and wild like mine, but sleek and beautifully shaped. I wondered how much time he spent getting them to look that way. However long it was, it was worth it.
“Did you even look at them?”
I shrugged. “Didn’t need to. I know I want them.”
“And I bet you always get what you want, right?” He ran a scanner over the bar codes and rattled off the total.
He dropped them in a bag and handed it to me. I let my fingers graze his as I took it from him. Our eyes met.
“I’m meeting friends at a club this evening,” I said. “Interested in joining me?”
He sat on his stool and picked up the book he’d been reading, dismissing me. “Thanks, but I already have plans.”
People didn’t usually turn me down. I was intrigued, and I wanted him more than ever. “I guess I don’t always get what I want.” I turned and walked away, pausing almost immediately to look back at him. “Name?”
“Yup, got one.”
I couldn’t help laughing. Returning to the counter, I held out a hand. “Will Crawford.”
He looked at my hand and then at me before shaking. “Ren Starky.”
“Nice to meet you.” I walked away again, talking to him over my shoulder. “Maybe I’ll see you again.”
He shrugged and returned to his book. I drew in a sharp breath.
Oh, how I loved a challenge.
Chapter Two will be posted Friday.