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I hugged my jacket tighter around myself and tucked a curl behind my ear. It was starting to get cold in New York. I walked up the stone steps of the New York Public Library looking down at my boots and then sighed with relief as I stepped inside. It was surprising that I hadn’t been here yet, considering I had been living in New York for a month now. Being me, I usually would have been here at least 4 times by now. I guess I just hadn’t gotten around to it. The inside of the library was unlike any other I’d ever seen. It was grand, silent, and smelt like books waiting to be read. It was stone and the carpets were deep colours. I knew immediately this was my kind of sanctuary. I walked up to the front, placed my hands on the counter, feeling small again, and cleared my throat. A small, bird like lady looked up at me from behind giant glasses, typical librarian style, and smiled kindly.
“Can I help you?” She asked.
“I’d like to apply for a card, please.” I said, smiling, and she drew out some papers for me to sign. I did those quickly, paid her two dollars, and then received my card, stiff and cold in my hand. I slipped it into my wallet, thanked the lady, and decided to explore this new found realm of possibilities, stories that hadn’t yet been read. I walked quietly up and down hallways, stopping to peruse different sections in different rooms, marveling at how huge the building was and how old some of the books seemed beside the newer ones. I came across a huge reading room, and was tempted to sit down and lose myself in a book, but there was the one problem that I didn’t have one with me. I left the amazing room, and checked the small pamphlet the librarian had given me, looking for the Classics section. I grinned as I saw it’s immensity on the floor plan, and then headed up to where it was. I was feeling happier than I had in a while as I reached the spot I was looking for, all thoughts of my current problems faded away and I lost myself in touching the spines of the books and reading the backs, smiling when I spotted familiar titles. After a while, I had picked out a couple books, but there was still one I was looking for. Vanity Fair. I had been wanting to read it for some time but had just never found it. In this library, too, it was hard to find. I looked around and saw another desk in the corner with another woman seated at it. This was something I wasn’t used too, a library with a separate information desk for each section. I approached it and cleared my throat again. She looked up, a bored expression on her face, and I knew immediately that this woman wasn’t going to be as friendly as the one at the desk downstairs.
“Yes?” She asked, shortly.
“Umm. I was wondering if you knew where I could find Vanity Fair by William Thackeray?” I asked politely. She scoffed.
“I know who Vanity Fair is by.” She said indignantly. I stumbled over my words, trying to apologize for something completely irrational, when she interrupted me, looking bored again. “Mr. Sawyer will be able to help you.” She said in a flat tone, pointing behind me. I turned around and saw who she was pointing at. From the back, I could tell that he was young, not much older than me, if at all. He had the most unusual colour hair, like I’d never seen before, a sort of deep brown and gold mixed together. It was wonderful. He was wearing a dark green t-shirt, and I could also tell that he was built. Not muscular like those weird men in health magazines, but toned enough to just be attractive. Unless his face looked like Quasimodo’s, I could tell he was what my friend Jessica would call “yummy”. I thanked the lady at the desk, although she didn’t deserve it, and walked over to the boy called Mr. Sawyer. For the third time since I had entered the library, I cleared my throat softly when I reached him. His back still turned to me, he was sorting books on a trolley. He was also, to my amusement, humming the “Ghostbusters” theme. He turned around at my sound, and I was met with intense, jade green eyes. He was gorgeous, but gorgeous is an understatement. More like I can't even remotely begin to describe someone so inherently amazing. He had this creamy skin tone, not exactly pale but not a weird pink either. His cheekbones were amazing, seemingly sculpted out of clay, and his lips were full and shell pink, curving up and uncovering a mouth full of straight white teeth as he smiled at me. I found myself at a loss for words, babbling and moving my mouth, no words coming out.
Working at the library was strange. It was quiet and warm and cozy, filling you up with good feelings. Sorting and shelving books was meditative, giving you time to think about everything. And the pay was good. These were the things I liked about my job. But then there was the boredom that came after hours of doing the same thing. The sour attitudes of most librarians. The abnormal loudness of the city when you left the building, having been enclosed in quiet for so long. Those were the drawbacks. But still, I couldn’t complain. I was sorting books onto a trolley to be shelved in my favourite section, and the one where I worked most often, given the choice, the Classics, when she made that tiny little noise. I was mindlessly humming something when it interrupted my train of thought. At first I thought it might be Janice, the grumpy lady who usually manned the desk up here, but then I realized Janice would never make a sound so funny. It was like a coo of a dove, all soft and hesitant, but yet demanding and humble all at the same time. It took me a moment to realize it was somebody clearing their throat right behind me, and I turned around. I was momentarily stunned by the beautiful creature that stood before me. She had a heart shaped face with big brown eyes that seemed to glow with what could only be explained as kindness. Her skin was like a porcelain doll’s, peachy and perfect, and her cheeks were rosy from the cold. Her white-blond hair cascaded in loose curls over her shoulders, and her lips were poised in a little “o”. She looked as though she had stepped right out of a Jane Austen movie. Just as pretty and innocent looking, but with a modern twist.
“Uhh hi.” I said, and then resisted the urge to bang my head on the trolley of books. Was that the best I could have come up with to say? “Can I help you?” I asked, returning to business mode, not wanting to make it obvious how amazing I thought she was. She blushed even redder, and spoke quietly.
“I was just looking for Vanity Fair.” She said in a quiet voice. My mind blanked for a minute, and then restarted itself, wanting to make this girl happy.
“It’s over here, just follow me.” I said, leading the way to the most obscure corner of the section, somewhere where nobody would ever look. I was always having to direct people over here. She sighed happily, picking up the book gently and brushing the very thin layer of dust off the cover. She looked up at me and smiled, one dimple appearing on the left side. My heart lurched again and I struggled to control myself.
“Thanks.” She said, still smiling. I stared at her for a second and then cleared my throat awkwardly.
“No problem.” I said. She started to walk away and I watched her go sadly, a sinking feeling in my heart. I couldn’t let her just get away. “Wait!” I called. She turned around, looking amused. “Umm, sorry-I just. You look familiar.” I lied quickly. She looked confused, but came back anyway.
“I don’t think we’ve met before...” She said, grinning.
“Oh, well. Nevermind. It must be someone else. It’s okay, sorry.” I stuttered out. She blushed again.
“I’m Remy.” She said, holding her books to her chest, rocking back slightly on her heels. I let out a breath I had been holding in.
“Keane.” I told her, flashing her a smile.
“Uhh hi.” He said in a velvet soft voice, biting his lip. “Can I help you?” I blushed, obviously, as I always did.
“I was just looking for Vanity Fair.” I told him quietly. He looked like he was thinking for a minute, those gorgeous green eyes of his off in the distance, and then seemed to come back to reality.
“It’s over here, just follow me.” He said confidently. I followed him to a section so far away from everything else that it seemed almost silly. He showed me where the book was and I picked it up gently, brushing the dust off. I couldn’t help but to look up at him and smile.
“Thanks.” I said sincerely. We just stared at each other until it became awkward, and then he cleared his throat.
“No problem.” He said. Not knowing what else to say, I turned around and began to walk out of the Classics section. I was really regretting leaving without knowing his name or something, thinking maybe I’d come back tomorrow and pretend to be looking for another book, when he called out.
“Wait!” He said. I turned around hopefully.
“Umm, sorry-I just. You look familiar.” He stuttered. I walked back towards him, absolutely sure that I had never seen him before this day. If I had I would have remembered it.
“I don’t think we’ve met before...” I told him, smiling again. The way he talked just made me feel fuzzy inside.
“Oh, well. Nevermind. It must be someone else. It’s okay, sorry.” He said, looking embarrassed. I blushed again.
“I’m Remy.” I said, holding my books tighter to my chest. He let out a breath.
“Keane.” He said, flashing me the most dazzling smile I had ever seen. It turned up on one side, crooked and perfect. Keane was a name that reminded me of romance and old books. What a perfect name for this moment. It really suited him too. I could just imagine him in a dashing white collared shirt and tweed vest, looking boyish but handsome. “Uhh. I know this may sound weird but I was wondering if you might want to have coffee some time.” He said quickly. My heart felt like it was dropping off the face of the earth. That wasn’t possible. Suddenly, all of my problems came rushing back to me, crushing the magical moments that had just happened.
“I’m so sorry, I can’t...It’s just...I have a-” I started to say. I then felt a familiar pair of hands close onto my shoulders and saw Keane Sawyer’s beautiful, structured face fall. I winced and visualized someone stomping all over my heart.
“Hey Rem.” I heard Luke say.
Boyfriend seemed like a word that had just suddenly been thrust into my vocabulary again after a temporary absence, and I realized how silly I had been to leave a note for Luke on the desk.
Her features fell into what could only be described as an expression of emotional pain. A shadow was almost actually cast across her face, and I felt the need to reach out and comfort her.
“I’m so sorry, I can’t...It’s just...I have a-” She began, and then I saw him. He was burly, more muscled than me, but not by too much. He was shorter than me and stocky. He had dark blond hair arranged in spikes and pale blue eyes like ice. His hands squeezed Remy’s shoulders and I saw her wince, her beautiful eyes seeming to cloud with despair.
“Hey Rem.” The blond guy said.
“Hey Luke...” She said weakly. His gaze then focused on me.
“Who’s this?” He asked shortly, caution in his eyes. Remy looked frantic, shot me a very convincing, apologetic look, and shrugged.
“He was just helping me find the book I was looking for.” She said. I saw his eyes flit down to my employee name-tag, and saw his eyes clear up again, not recognizing me as a threat. “Thank you very much.” Remy said, looking me straight in the eyes and then allowing Luke to steer her away. I walked a short ways away and pretended to sort books while really listening to their conversation. It was hard, since they were using hushed, library tones, but I managed to catch all of it.
“How did you find me?” Remy asked. The two were standing quite close together and I had gathered that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. The boy named Luke snorted.
“Rem, it’s the Classics section. Of course you’re here.” He said. So Remy liked Classics.
“Oh.” She said.
“I told Daniel and Becca we’d meet them in 15 minutes, come on, let’s go.” Luke said, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her along a little too violently for my liking. From this conversation and Remy’s body language, I could tell she was intimidated by Luke, and he knew it. This made me angry. A girl like Remy deserved nothing less than the best. As the two walked out of my section, I caught Remy casually drop a piece of paper near my trolley. When she was out of sight, I hurried over to it, making it look like I was picking up her trash, and read it. It looked like the front page of an agenda or planner, and I saw with wonder that it had her full name (Remy Delilah Dalton) and her phone number written on it, along with things like birth date, address and email. It looked like she had ripped out of her planner while Luke wasn’t looking. My heart gave one last feeble leap of victory, and I stuffed the page in my pocket. I then caught sight of Janice, who was glaring at me, and apologized. I got back to work grudgingly, lost in thoughts.