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This is a companion piece to the stories of Seaborne Memorial High School. It’s Lucas’ turn this time. He turned out to be a little more introspective than I was expecting, but then he is an English teacher. He’s a slow, cautious guy; this ain’t a quick spank story, though most of mine aren’t.
* * *
Until that Thursday, I thought of her as “Liz the Library Girl.” I’d been checking out books from her for nearly two years by then, almost the time I’d been living in Seaborne; along the way, as normally happens when men see women, I’d been checking her out as well. Certainly I hadn’t meant anything by it, but it’s unavoidable. Even attached men like me couldn’t help but give the once-over to every female we came across; I had it on good authority from the lusty women I worked with that it was the same for attached women.
There was something different about Liz the Library Girl today, though, and it annoyed me that I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was obvious that she wasn’t, properly speaking, a “real librarian;” she was the girl who shelved the books and, occasionally, worked the circ desk. She’d helped me in the stacks maybe a dozen times, and checked out my books many times more often than that; but that wasn’t unusual. I’m what you might call a frequent flier at the library.
Liz had asked me about that a year ago, in perhaps the only real conversation the two of us could be said to have had. She’d been in professional mode that day, rocking a pencil skirt in charcoal grey beneath a tight but sensible pink knit sweater. She never wore heels, but then she was on her feet all day. She’d had her hair pulled tightly back in a French braid, and at that point she hadn’t dyed it green yet; it was a day, I remembered, that she’d chosen to wear glasses. No makeup, though. Never makeup.
“You come in here a lot, I’ve noticed.” She was smiling at me as she took my card, a wide and open grin. “You’re almost a regular.”
“Goes with the territory,” I replied pleasantly. “I’m an English teacher.” I was impressed that she’d spoken to me. I don’t think of myself as the kind of guy women simply speak to.
“Right.” She was looking at her computer screen. I noticed that a tendril of her hair, ashy blonde, was escaping down her skinny neck. “You only tend to check out smarty-pants books.” She smiled at what she saw on the screen. “James Joyce, says here. Last week.” She looked at me playfully. “It only took you a week to read Joyce? I’m impressed.” She set to work scanning my books, the motions automatic and efficient in her long-fingered hands.
I groped for something to say. Looking down at the counter, I grumbled, “You should see me with Cormac McCarthy.”
“McCarthy.” She rolled her eyes as she waited for the due-date slip to print. “Would it kill him to use some punctuation?”
“Hell yes. And those compound words…” she frowned cutely, and tucked the slip into the dust jacket of one of my books. “If you’re going to use compound words, just write in German.”
“True,” I said vaguely. I’d taken French, but I could tell I was supposed to be amused at that comment. Context cues are something English teachers know about. So I chuckled.
She looked keenly at me, and I had the distinct thought that I hadn’t fooled her. I was afraid she’d call me out, to tell the truth. Instead, she just smiled brightly. “You have a nice day, Mr Sanders.”
And that was it. That, aside from several polite nods and smiles, had been the extent of our interaction until that Thursday. Of course, “interaction” is a relative term: certainly I’d spent my share of time concentrating on her in the meantime, especially over the past six months or so, for that was the point at which I walked in one evening for my usual midweek DVD run (Friday nights are movie nights for Meredith and I) and saw Liz the Library Girl leaning thoughtfully on the counter.
With green hair.
I am a high school teacher, so of course I’m used to seeing girls with oddly-colored hair. But Liz looked like she was about 21 or so, and it seemed like an odd choice on her. Her hair was down that night, as it often was, and the whole thing was a solid sheet of faded green, like a Saudi flag that’s been out in the sun too long. Actually, I’m sure most Saudi flags have been out in the sun too long.
So I took a closer look at her that night. She was an odd-looking girl, certainly, and not just because of her green hair. For starters, she was the only healthy-looking woman I’d ever seen, at any age, with a legitimate thigh gap, something she seemed proud of judging from her choice in clothing. She was slender and tall, almost birdlike in a way: her ass was nicely proportional to the rest of her, which is to say it was not exactly robust. Her breasts, though not truly tiny, were firm enough that she often went braless. I’d had a girlfriend long enough that I could tell.
She had an unremarkable face, except Tokat Escort in one way: she was the proud owner of a pair of very striking light-green eyes, with which she tended to stare with a wary directness. Those remarkable, insane eyes flanked a long, slightly crooked nose with a tiny jeweled stud in the left nostril. Her lips were thin, even severe, but that might have just been the way I thought of her because she worked at a library. She seldom wore makeup, and I could see that her skin was rather blotchy from an adolescence filled, no doubt, with bad acne.
On the whole, she was not pretty. Far from it, in fact. But she was absolutely, completely, and gloriously sexy, in a funky modern way that she managed to convey though her distant manner, her model’s strut, and that cool, level, slightly crazy gaze. I could picture her shopping at a craft fair, say, or manning the tables at a farmers’ market. Or cosplaying at a fantasy convention.
I was ashamed by the thought, but it was unavoidable: she gave the overwhelming impression that, despite her evident calm at all times, she’d be an absolute animal in bed.
As a rule, I tried not to think of women that way; I was raised better than that. But Liz the Library Girl was just so sexy it was impossible not to picture her naked, in the shower, bent over…
No. I had a girlfriend.
That Thursday was one of the braless days. As usual, my eyes had gone straight to the circ desk as I’d walked into the library to see if she was working today. She’d had her back turned, digging through the returns. She wore a scoop-neck turquoise shirt, very short-sleeved, and it looked at first as though there were straps underneath; as soon as she turned around, though, it was clear that it was just some kind of tanktop. No, today her boobs were on proud display.
I looked away before she could see me staring, headed for the nonfiction; the Middle East was in deep trouble, and I needed some background. The students were asking, and the history teachers at my school were not useful for much that had happened since Vietnam. I trolled the stacks, grabbed a few likely-looking volumes from the current events display, and brought my load to the counter. They poured out of my arms, Liz watching with a half-smile.
“Good afternoon,” she said politely. She waited with the scanner, and as my eyes moved furtively over her body there was something off. I just couldn’t figure out what.
“Hi,” I replied vaguely, still puzzled. She picked up on that, her forehead wrinkling for a second as she ran my card. The hair was not unusual, a rinsed green ponytail; no makeup, as normal. Even her lack of a bra was not too strange.
“Something wrong?” She had noticed. Damn. And I was staring right at her chest. But at least she didn’t look pissed. Still, it was an awkward couple of seconds before I had it.
“Wait,” I said. “I thought your name was Liz.” Her nametag was different. It read Ellie in five big, bold letters.
“Oh.” She shrugged, boobs a-jiggle. “I lost my usual nametag this morning. This is one of my spares.”
“Huh.” It had been a long time since I’d worked a job requiring a nametag, but I remembered the need for spares. The thing was, those spares usually all had, you know, the same name. That was the whole point. “So which is it?”
She raised an eyebrow as though I wasn’t making sense. Her hands fluttered surely among my books.
“Are you an Ellie, or a Liz? Like, which do you go by?”
Her face cleared, and she smiled. She had a mysterious smile, rich with meaning and a little bit troubling. “That’s an odd question,” she said calmly, finishing with the books. “Why does it have to be just one or the other?”
“Oh. Well, I guess it doesn’t.”
“Right.” She looked at my data on the computer screen. “You’re Lucas. Is that Luke with a K? Luc with a C? Cas?” She shrugged. “It can be whatever you want it to be.”
“Today? Ellie. Tomorrow?” She shrugged again.
“Maybe Mary,” I ventured. She blinked once, and then laughed richly.
“That would be silly. Mary isn’t my name.” She held out a thin hand. “I’m Elizabeth.”
“Ah!” I’d met other Ellies, but they hadn’t been Elizabeths. Whatever. “Nice to meet you, Elizabeth.”
“No, it’s Liz.” I took her hand, expecting cold dryness and getting warm moisture. I gave her what I thought of as a disarming smile. “To me, you’re Liz the Library Girl.”
“My! That’s wordy.” She pondered. “I’m a lot more than just a library girl, though.” She winked. “A lot more.”
“No doubt.” I put my hands up, palms out, meaning no offense. “It’s just how I think of you.”
“Ah. We should change that.” She deliberately rested her elbow on the counter, bending at the waist and looking up at me. “Librarying isn’t even what I do best.”
“Oh?” I raised my eyebrows politely. “What’s that?”
“A bunch of stuff,” she pointed Tokat Escort Bayan out calmly, as if she was describing the state of traffic outside. She frowned thoughtfully. “But if you wanted to label me with where I do my best work, you should think of me as Liz the Bedroom Girl.”
I must have looked at her as though I had seen her arm fall off, blood spurting from the stump. Never had I heard anything quite like that. “Well, um, I see…”
She smiled whimsically, her steady gaze unblinking. She reached that moist hand out and laid it on my arm, toying with the hairs there. “I see I’ve scandalized you. I’m disappointed, Luke. That’s not your reputation, and your reading list certainly suggests you’re hard to shock.” She arched her eyebrow. “Irvine Welsh? DH Lawrence? Some bedrooms in books like those, if I remember.”
I’d fixated on something else, though, and it wasn’t her fingers on my skin. “My reputation?” I said, very low. “What?”
Her smile this time was slow and intense, her gaze unsettling. “I know a little bit about you. My sister’s in your tenth grade class.” She paused. “She says you talk about sex a lot in class. All the time.”
“Well, sure,” I spluttered, “in a literary sense. A lot of authors use sexual imagery to – ”
She backed off, waving her hand as though dismissing a fart. “Calm yourself, Lukey. No need to justify yourself. She’s not offended by sex talk, and my parents signed the class release form anyway.” She crossed her arms across her upper abdomen, pulling her sweater tightly across those free-swinging breasts of hers. “She’s like her big sister. We’re a horny crew in our house.” Her eyes were twinkling; she wanted me thinking about her fucking, no doubt. “You need to step aside, sir; there’s a line,” she said briskly.
“Oh!” I twisted to look behind me; three elderly people, thankfully, had only just arrived. I wasn’t sure whether I should leave, or simply stand aside and wait for Ellie/Liz to be finished with them. That’s why the three elderly people were treated to the sight of me, a quiet and respectable English teacher, standing like the sixth man at a five-stripper bachelor party, holding a pile of books and looking blankly out into space. They made polite small talk with Ellie, and she responded with her usual quiet sparkle. She paid me no attention at all as I stood there awkwardly. The minutes passed; she checked out their back copies of Cat Fancy and Good Housekeeping, and eventually they left with more than one odd glance at me.
Ellie followed suit. “Was there something else you needed, Cas?” she wondered, turning that level gaze back my way. A long finger with a stubby nail went to her neckline, casually fingering the material of her shirt. I found myself staring at the skin of her chest. I stirred.
“Uh, it just seemed like we were in the middle of a conversation,” I said, trying hard to regain my cool. I tried, with only marginal success, to hold her gaze.
“Huh.” She looked again at the computer. “This woman. Meredith Castello. Is she your wife or your girlfriend?” I must have gaped back at her in complete incomprehension. “She has the same address as you,” Liz explained helpfully, with a prim smile.
“Oh. Uh, she’s my girlfriend,” I said, shifting the books piled in my arms.
“Huh.” She frowned. “She’d be wondering why you were staring at my chest just now.”
“What? I…” It was clearly time to go. This young woman was going to get me kicked out.
“You were,” she went calmly on. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you shouldn’t lie about it either.” She paused and flickered that gaze down to my books. “I could find you a place to put those, if you’re going to be standing there much longer.”
I had no idea what was happening here. If Liz was flirting, she was doing so with a directness and confidence I’d never encountered before. I cleared my throat and glanced around the area, but there were no other customers to save me. I’d need to slink off in abject surrender. Liz just kept looking steadily at me. “No, I’ve got to get back.”
“To 3446 Crescent View, apartment 3?” She had once again consulted the computer. Now she was smiling impishly. “I live right on Florencita. We’re practically neighbors.” She slid her eyes sideways, thoughtfully. “Tell me,” she said suddenly. “You ever get it on in a library?”
It took a few seconds to process that. “Um. Can’t say I have.”
Her grey-green eyes flashed. “I have.” She smiled very slowly and deliberately, then turned her attention to a kid coming up with some graphic novels. “But not in the stacks.” She gave a broad, mischievous wink, then dismissed me.
* * *
It is not my way, when dealing with issues like this, to confide in Meredith. Just as well; telling her the cutie at the library had come on to me was, naturally, not an option. I tend to keep these kinds of events to myself and brood over them, which is probably unhealthy. But Escort Tokat that evening, as I drove home from the library, I was on fire with curiosity.
I had been dating Meredith since grad school, which was a long time. I hadn’t been in the dating game in four years or so; that’s a presidency. An Olympiad. An eternity. Plus, I’d never really been what you’d call outgoing anyway. So, needless to say, I was not used to confident women hitting on me.
And I wasn’t in the market, either. I was pretty sure I loved Meredith; even if I wasn’t, I liked her an awful lot. She was a fiery, robust Italian girl with a large family that adored me. I lived with her, owned a dog with her; we had a past. Who cared if sex had become, well, stale? I wasn’t looking for another woman, that was for sure. My life was comfortable and calm, and I wasn’t interested in endangering that. Hell, if I needed vicarious sexual thrills, there were always the lively stories from my uninhibited coworkers.
I guess I was aware, on some level, that I was kind of attractive. There was definite warmth from the girls in my classes, and Gina from work had given me a sloppy, drunken kiss once when I’d given her a ride home. If I looked in the mirror and managed to be honest with myself, I supposed I could see what they were responding to. I’m tall, about five-eleven, with a slim build that I try hard to keep in shape. My face, I’ve always thought, is a little sad-looking: there’s something about my eyes, the way they sort of slope downward, that makes me look, according to Meredith, like a Renaissance artist. Dark, wavy hair, worn long, probably helps that impression. I don’t smile often, and even as a young boy I tended to be thoughtful and solitary.
I’d never really gotten much sexual experience, either. I’d managed, unlike most American teens, to emerge from high school a virgin: not for lack of desire, but rather because I’d always had a hard time approaching girls. My girlfriend, Jan, had given me a few furtive blowjobs from time to time, but she was as straitlaced as I was. College had been little better; a few girls, here and there. I’d finally lost it to an older woman at a debate-tournament party in Albuquerque; it had been embarrassing and overwhelming, I’d lasted maybe four seconds, and I’d never seen her again. I hadn’t had any regular sex until I’d met Meredith.
It had been nice to be flirted with, but also terrifying. On the whole, I dreaded the point at which I’d need to go get more books.
* * *
Most of the time, I made around two trips per week to the library. Not much happened at work over those two days; I did, however, spend a lot of mental energy in my two sophomore classes trying to figure out whose sister Liz (Ellie?) was. I had no last name, and there were no girls in there who really had much of a resemblance to her. Certainly there were no eyes like hers.
Ultimately, on Monday at lunchtime, I bit the bullet and asked Audrey, my friend in the guidance office. “Hey Aud, I ran into a girl at a restaurant who said I teach her sister. Her name’s Elizabeth, probably graduated about three or four years ago?”
Audrey blinked at me and then slowly set her sandwich down. “Honey,” she began patronizingly, “do you have any idea how many Elizabeths I’ve had since I’ve been working here?” She rolled her eyes. “You’ll have to do better than that.”
“Oh. Sure. Well, she’s tallish, pretty skinny, with like ashy blonde hair. Sort of gawky looking. Her sister’s a sophomore in one of my classes.”
“Huh.” She frowned as she tried to remember. “Can I check your class list? I do better with last names.” She fired up her laptop, and I dutifully scooted my chair closer so that I could look over her shoulder. I was cautious about Audrey; she was an awesome person and a good friend, but our friend Gina was having an affair with Audrey’s husband. It was common knowledge, pretty much… except for Audrey herself. I was always wary around her; I didn’t want to be anywhere near her when she found out, which would have to happen sooner or later.
Our other friend, Shannon, came hurrying in; she didn’t have a prep period today, so she’d be in a hurry to get her food down. She gave us a smile; as always, I was struck by her beauty. Shannon was a jewel, a gorgeous woman with brains and, more often than not, good sense.
I had a painful crush on her.
“‘Sup, guys?” she bubbled as she came in. She’d been in an excellent mood lately; her long-term boyfriend, some sort of sailor, was home these days. She noticed us sitting together. “What’d I miss?”
“Lucas is trying to identify one of his kids.” Another friend, Amy Pesci the Spanish teacher, drifted in. She was nice, but it was clear that Gina was not a huge fan of hers; and in our group, Gina made most of the rules. She was the loudest. We nodded at Amy.
“I feel like my head’s been beaten with a hammer,” she announced, stretching. She was a little on the chubby side, but much of her weight lay in her two ponderous breasts. “I hate teaching freshmen.”
I exchanged a glance with Shannon and we both smiled; we avoided freshmen. “Who are you looking for?” she asked, coming over to see what Audrey’s screen had to say.
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