A/N: Thanks so much to my wonderful beta, EmmaleeWrites05.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. Otherwise, Emmett and Jasper would be my boys. ;-)
I never thought I'd be 22 and alone. Not that I mind… most of the time. I like solitude, it suits me. I'm used to it. It lets me delve into books, to think. To breathe. If my mom, Renee, had her way, I'd be out on a date with a different guy every weekend.
"Bella, honey, I just worry about you. You're a woman! You have needs!"
"Ugh, Mom, do NOT talk about my needs. I'm not you."
Renee had been a slight dating-whore until she met Phil. Now I get to hear him meet her needs. Every night. I hate my life sometimes.
I work in a bookshop. It's perfect, really. Each day I can surround myself with the written word, of adventures far away from Washington, of cultures so exotic I could barely fathom them, of romances too pure and too passionate to truly exist… It's my guilty pleasure, my addiction. Most of our customers are old; moms dragging in their kids for picture books, retirees looking for something to pass the time, professors digging around for new material, book collectors searching for a treasure.
That's why I never expected him to walk through the door. It was a shining October day, a miracle in Forks, so no one was bothering to come into the shop. Why would they? I was counting the minutes until I could close the shop so I could enjoy the fading blue sky, and maybe catch a few stray sunbeams.
I was buried in my own worn copy of Wuthering Heights, when I heard the tiny bell on the door rattle. I looked up, and my prepared greeting died on my lips. There stood… Adonis. A… miracle in a red flannel shirt. He was tall, slightly muscular (from what I could tell from the well-fitting black T-shirt under his plaid shirt), and had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. My heart probably skipped a few beats, and then sped up until I swore he could hear it from across the room. To make matters worse (or better), he smiled a quick grin my way before heading over to the history stacks. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest. He had disappeared behind the stacks, but I could see his honey colored hair between rows. It was slighty wavy and long enough that I could pull my fingers through… Wait! What was I doing? Going out of my head for a guy I'd had a glimpse of for less than 5 seconds?!
I placed a hand over my still-racing heart, and took several deep breaths. Calm… calm… I thought to myself. Minutes passed, and I didn't see anything but the peek of blonde through the stacks. My heart finally reached a reasonable speed, and I turned back to my book, but I was still sure that my face was bright red, my dead giveaway to embarrassment, nervousness, and excitement. I think at this point I was a combination of all three. I was glad he hadn't emerged from the shelves. I think the shock of seeing him twice so close together would have sent me into a heart attack.
Back to Wuthering Heights. Right. I could do this… I can concentrate… I kept my head down, trying to reabsorb myself in my fictional world, when I heard someone clearing their throat. I looked up and nearly died again. He was even more perfect close up. He was very tall, towering over my 5'4" frame, but not menacingly. He had clear blue eyes that were startling but hypnotic. A full mouth which begged to be kissed. Broad shoulders, lightly muscled arms… I was staring.
When I looked back up to his face, he had a slight smirk on his face. My heart gave a hard thud, and I tried desperately to focus.
"Di-… did you find what you were looking for?" He held several books in his hands, thick books.
"All but one. I was wondering if you had some sort of ordering system. I've been searching for this book for my grandfather, and his birthday is next week."
"Uh… yes. Yes. We do. Um…" My voice was shaky, and far too bright. I looked down. I could think if I didn't look directly at him.
"Yes. If you give me the title, we can look it up and make a special order in for you. And," I pushed a form out to him "when you give us your name and phone number, we can call you when the order gets in."
I finally looked back up to him, pushed the form out to him, and handed him a pen. Our fingers brushed in the exchange, and my hand (and entire body) erupted in tiny goose bumps, and I swear an electric current passed between us. As our eyes locked, I jerked my hand back quickly, as if I had been shocked, and so did he. I cleared my throat quickly, and weakly asked, "Would you like me to ring up these other books for you now?"
"Yeah, thanks." He too cleared his throat and looked away from me. I was glad. I wasn't sure how much longer I could endure his presence. Not that I wanted him to go away… hardly. He just made me nervous, and I wasn't sure yet if that was a good or bad thing.
I quickly rang up his books, which were all about the Civil War. I wondered if they were for his grandfather that he'd mentioned, or himself. He shoved the form back to me, and paid for the books.
"Thanks," he said, quietly. He still wasn't looking back at me.
"You're welcome. We'll be getting into contact with you when the book comes in." My voice was still shaky, but I was grateful I'd come out of this with my sanity and dignity (mainly) intact.
"Great… bye." And he was gone. I slumped over the counter, not realizing how tense I had been since the moment he'd walked through the door. My heart was still running marathons in my chest, and I felt something akin to an adrenaline rush. I was shaky.
How on earth was this possible? I saw him for less than 5 minutes. Spoke with him even less. I know nothing about him except he may or may not read books on the Civil War, his grandfather's birthday was next week… and he was heartbreakingly gorgeous.
I glanced down at the sheet of paper he had thrust forward on the counter. He had a soft, sloping scrawl, messy yet somehow confident. My eyes immediately went to his name. Jasper Whitlock. A shiver went up my spine. Jasper. I immediately imagined myself moaning it, then undoubtedly turned scarlet. At least I knew I'd get to call him… when his book came into the shop. And I'd see him again. If only my heart and sanity could make it through that encounter… I sighed.