You think there is something weirdly intimate about someone else wearing your clothes. Like, its another person's body wrapped in something that's only every carried your scent and your warmth and when you get it back it will have them all over it.

"That's mine." You say, flopping down on her bed and watching HG's hands disappear into the sleeves of your sweatshirt, burrowing into the cotton after depositing a stack of textbooks onto her cluttered desk and she smirks at you sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed with your sneakers still on because you know she hates it. "My sweatshirt. Am I ever gonna get it back?"

"I am quite fond of it so it seems unlikely." She sighs, gazing down at the crossed sabers on the front before sitting at the foot of her bed and you grin at her while she presses the sleeves to her nose for a moment. "It smells of you and I like to imagine I'm falling asleep with my nose tucked against your neck."

Then she is reaching out to tug at your shoelace and you unfold your long legs with a sigh, leaning back on your hands while she fights with your shoes, pulling them off and throwing them to the floor before peeling off your socks.

"Hey." You protest half heartedly and HG rolls her eyes at you while you wiggle your naked toes.

"I'm simply proving that you were not, in fact, raised in some sort of barn." HG says squeezing your ankle once before letting warm fingers creep under the leg of your jeans. "Now, should I bother to ask what has brought you here in the middle of the night?"

"Besides my sweatshirt?" You question with a grin and she rolls her eyes again.

"Yes, besides this ratty old sweatshirt that I'm nearly certain you no longer even wear." HG says before moving smoothly up the bed to straddle your legs. Her hands plant near your hips and her knees on either side of yours so she's staring into your eyes. "Your father is going to kill you for being out and I simply don't know how I feel about being the girlfriend to a corpse."

You shrug a little, gazing up at her helplessly because you don't know how to tell her that you're taking Pete's advice the best you can and living in the moment because too soon she will be leaving. She has already been accepted to every prestigious school she's applied to and you hate to think about her leaving you behind.

"I just needed to see you, I guess." You offer, pressing your forehead to her shoulder while both of her hands tangle in the curls of your hair. "Do you want me to leave?"

"Well, you've already gone through all the trouble of sneaking out." HG sighs, pressing a kiss to your head before tugging on your hair and forcing you to look up at her again while you wrap your arms around her waist. "Myka?"

"Helena?" You grin up at her and she drops a kiss against your mouth like she's helpless to do anything else, her thumb tracing over your ear absently.

"I want to stay here, I think?" HG breathes and you frown in confusion.

"Sure. It's the middle of the night so I don't think its even safe-" Helena's fingers against your lips shut you up and you arch an eyebrow while she laughs sweetly.

"I mean," She chuckles, dropping her hand away. "After graduation. I want to spend the long summer days watching your legs tan and listening to you laugh. Then, I will attend the local university. Their engineering program is more than respectable and maybe I could….I could send for Christina? And you and I could remain together."

"Yes." You blurt dumbly, heart absolutely pounding in your chest as HG unintentionally eases all the fears you'd been working at suppressing and its nearly dizzying how relieved you feel. "Yes. I want all of that."

You kiss her eagerly and HG laughs into your mouth before kissing you back.

"I love you. Like, I really do." You murmur and HG gazes down at you so affectionately that your insides flutter before kissing you again.


"So, she's staying then?" Pete asks, head buried under the hood of his car and when he reaches blindly towards you, you hand him a socket wrench. You lean against the side of his truck, the sounds of him working filling his mom's garage.

"Yeah." You sigh dreamily, blushing when Pete chuckles loudly, handing back the socket wrench and you take, dropping it into the toolbox and handing him a screwdriver when he asks for it. "She's going to go to school out here and send for her daughter."

"Yeah? That's great, Mykes. You guy are gonna be one big happy family?" He asks pulling his head free and waggling his eyebrows at you. You roll your eyes and try not to blush, reaching out to wipe at the oil streaked across his chin.

"Shut up, Pete. It's not like that." You huff even though it is kind of like that. "I'm just a little nervous. Like, what if Christina doesn't like me?"

"Mykes, you're a rock star. Of course the kid is going to like you. You're you." Pete says easily, like he just knows and you watch him pull a part out of the engine, eyeing it like he has no idea what it is or what it does. "Anyway, are you sure you're ready for something like that?"

You shrug a little. "I don't know but I'm not afraid to try."

"There's my Brave Little Toaster." Pete coos and you shake your head at him.

"You know, Amanda has been watching you a lot lately." You murmur and Pete whips around to gape at you and you shrug. Your sister admitted that, much to her horror, her friend Amanda was totally into Pete and it was your job to help make the love connection. Amanda is smart and pretty and probably really good for Pete so it's the least you can do. "Trace says she likes you."

"Oh, yeah she does!" Pete gloats, puffing out his chest before fumbling the engine piece.

"Is that a carburetor?" You wonder and Pete shrugs.

"I have no idea."


"So, another sleep over?" You ask, picking up Claudia's stuff from around the Donovan's living room and while HG watches from the hallway, having just returned from successfully tucking Claudia in for the fourth time tonight.

Pete had ungracefully bowed out of babysitting, ditching you in favor of going out with Amanda and HG had been unbelievably easy to convince to help watch Claudia.

"Yes, it seems your sister is quite fond of these ritualistic female bonding practices." HG mutters and you grin at her, tossing a stuffed turtle at her which she catches and holds against her chest while you scoop up one red sneaker. "Will you at least be there to make the entire thing palatable?"

"Oh please, as if you don't like cheesy movies and taking turns painting each others nails." You laugh, sliding past HG to get to the hall closet designated for all of Claudia's odds and ends. You dump it all inside and stand to find HG behind you, too close and way too smug.

"But you will be there, wont you? Even if you don't participate in the festivities?"

"Maybe." you laugh, turning to head back towards the living room but two hands at your waist stop you and you let HG nudge you up against the wall, laughing quietly and giving a nervous glance towards Claudia's bedroom.

"Maybe?" HG breathes, kissing your chin then your neck and you shake your head at her antics even as goosebumps erupt along your skin. "Perhaps I can sneak away from the sleepover. Steal away in your bed for a while. I can be very quiet."

"Now, that is a lie." You scoff and HG makes an indignant noise.

"Nonsense, you are by far more vocal." HG argues and you roll your eyes. "Perhaps I should prove my point."

You let her kiss you, her mouth surprisingly hungry against yours and the whimpering that pulls from your throat when she ends the blistering kiss, makes her chuckle.

Your shoulders press back against the wall paper as HG drags your hips forward towards her with fingers hooked in your belt.

Her hair is in her face and her mouth is red and your heart is pounding as she thumbs the shiny buckle of your belt. She looks at you when you push her hair out of her eyes, gaze moving from your face to the other side of the darkened hall and back again indecisively.

You know its the heat scorching its way through your veins and making you feel drunk and eager is what makes you whisper her name. It comes out rough and pleading and her dark eyes snap to you, lingering at your lips before she leans forward to press her mouth to your throat. Your breathing hitches as you tug her to stand between your legs, twisting to catch her in a kiss.

You bite down on her bottom lip and tug and she groans before fumbling with your belt.

The leather parts just as the hall light turns on.

"Impeccable timing, I swear it." HG groans pulling back before you push her away lightly and you quickly tug your belt back through the buckle before turning to face an open-mouthed Claudia.

"Claud-" you start but mortification cuts you off with a choked noise.

"Uhm, this isn't what it looks like?" HG offers half heartedly, pulling the back of her hand across her mouth and Claudia's gape turns incredulous.

"It looked like you guys were trying to, like, eat each other." Claudia points out, making chomping gestures with her hands but your mind goes to a very inappropriate place at her words.

You can feel HG's eyes on you as you flush bright red and when you glance at her, she's smirking.

"Yes, well then it was exactly what it looked like." HG concedes and you give her a withering glare.

"Claudia." You try again but HG cuts you off.

"Claudia, sometimes girls like other girls in the way that society deems they should like boys…" HG starts easily and you blush so hard that you're nearly positive that you're going to just loose consciousness.

"I know what lesbians are." Claudia scoffs indignantly and you clutch at the wall to stay upright.

"Oh my god." You breathe, bowing your head and HG makes a soft noise, stepping up to press a palm to your flaming cheek.

"So...lesbianism." Claudia starts, thin arms folded over her chest. "I get it. So when you said Pete wasn't your type you were probably referring to his boy parts."

"Amongst other things." HG offers with a shrug that makes you want to kill her. "Darling, Myka and I are dating and we'd intended to keep it a bit of a secret."

"Really?" Claudia says, face screwing up in confusion.

"My-my dad…" you blurt but HG tucks hair behind your ear and cuts off what was sure to be something rambling and awkward.

"We just prefer to remain private and while Pete is already aware of the situation we'd like it if you could keep this to yourself."

"C'mon guys. You can trust me. I won't tell anyone. Because Myka's been all smiley lately and its probably because of you."

"That's very nice of you." HG smiles. "And as a show of gratitude I'm sure we can work out some sort of schedule for you and I to spend sometime together upgrading your tree house."

"That would be awesome." Claudia beams. "I'm just gonna go get some water and then you guys can continue making out. You won't even notice I'm here."

With that, Claudia tiptoes towards the kitchen like some sort of cartoon character and you watch her disappear before dropping looking at HG who is smiling softly.

"Well, that was only mildly mortifying." she offers quietly and you can't help but laugh

"I'm gonna puke." You say as HG pulls you into a hug, hand coming up to rub between your shoulder blades while you press your forehead to HG's neck. "And you just bribed a child."

"I've been accused of worst things, honestly." HG laughs quietly before dropping a kiss on the back of your head.


You and your sister have never been all that close.

For as long as you can remember its always been a contest, a rivalry between the two of you and sometimes you don't even think you guys are capable of anything more.

That doesn't mean you don't wish you could.

"Trace, can I talk to you?" You ask, knocking on her bedroom door and Tracy looks up from her desk where she is doing homework, her expression already slipping into irritation. "It's kind of important."

"Okay." Tracy sighs, closing her book as you slip into her room, shutting the door behind yourself and trapping the two of you in her upsettingly girly room.

And you've imagined how this could play out. You've imagined your sister laughing at you. Calling you disgusting. Running and telling your parents. Whatever is playing out across your face startles your sister because her irritation drops away and now she only looks concerned.

"Mykes, what is it? You're being weird." She says and you take a deep, steadying breath. You don't have to do this and you know you could continuing to keep this secret but this beautiful thing you have with HG is getting heavy and as much as Pete is there for you, you think this might be sibling territory. "Myka."

"Remember, when we went dress shopping?" You start tentatively, swallowing down your nerves and Tracy nods.

"You're finally ready to tell me who your mystery date is?" Tracy lights up, leaning forward in her chair eagerly.

"It's was HG. Helena…we're dating." You blurt helplessly and Tracy rocks back in her seat like you just punched her. "She and I…we're dating. I'm kinda gay…."

And you're nearly positive you could've finessed this whole coming out thing a lot better than what just came flying out of your mouth.

"Oh." Your sister exhales and you can tell she was not expecting anything like this. "Oh."

"Yeah." You swallow, squeezing your sweaty hands into fists at your sides. "Sorry."

"Sorry?" Tracy huffs, frowning at you and you close your eyes tightly. "What are you sorry for?"

"For-for…" You try but before you can say anything your sister is pulling you into a hug.

"God, you're so dumb sometimes." She whispers in your ear and you sag against her. "Don't be sorry for falling for someone."

"Thank you." You breathe, wrapping your arms around your sister and she tightens her hold on you.

"Thank you for telling me." Tracy whispers before pulling back to look you in the eye. "You could've told me sooner, Mykes. Then I would've done a better job of convincing Mom and Dad that you're not on drugs."

"Can-can you not tell Mom or, god, especially Dad about this?" You plead and your sister nods.

"Sure thing." She sighs, her fingers reaching up to attempt to tame your hair and you bat her hands away with a laugh. "But tell HG that she and I need to have a talk."

"Oh no." You sigh and Tracy nods.

"Oh yes."


You laugh when you find HG draped across your bed, shutting your bedroom door and dropping your bag on the floor.

"Darling, I thought you'd never return." she coos and you roll your eyes at her antics.

"HG, what're you doing up here? You're supposed to be sleepover-ing." You sigh and HG sits up on her elbows to watch you move around your room.

"You're sister invited me over early and gave me quite a stern talking to about my intentions with her younger sister." HG murmurs. "Then informed me that you'd be home soon and would probably welcome my company though I would be sorely missed at the sleep over."

"I warned you about her." You say and HG sits up fully, throwing her legs over the side of your bed.

"You did and while I'm glad that you felt comfortable enough to inform your sister of your relationship, now I question if it would be worth the possibe loss of limbs Tracy suggested should I hurt you."

"Trace, said that?" You grin thoughtfully and HG nods.

"Threatened other awful things as well." HG sighs and you take pity on her, moving closer to her. "She can be rather terrifying."

"I'm sure you're deeply traumatized." You whisper, stepping towards her slowly and HG bites her lip, watching you ease closer to her until she has to drop her head back a little to gaze up at you and her hands curl around your waist, pulling you to stand between her legs.

"Myka, I will never hurt you but perhaps you could find a way to ease the fear your sister seems to have struck within me.

"You'd like that wouldn't you?" you hum and HG nods, while you reaching out to run your fingers through her hair.

"I would." She admits quietly but then there's an explosion of girlish giggles downstairs and you roll your eyes.

"But…"

"No, no, no…" HG laughs, pressing a kiss to your stomach through your tee shirt. "No buts. Let me demonstrate the truly scandalous thoughts I've had concerning you while I was to be fawning over boys."

You swallow hard as she pulls you down onto her lap, hands clutching just below you behind and you hold onto her shoulders tightly.

"I just came from practice. I'm all sweaty." You inform her softly and HG just licks her lips, tugs you closer still, hands crawling up your back and under your sports bra, fingertips against your spine.

"I won't be deterred by a little perspiration." HG just sighs right before leaning forward to lick a slow stripe right up your neck, ending with a sharp nip at your chin and you make the most embarrassing squeaking sound.

"I don't have a lock on my door." You swallow, gazing down at her and the pad of your thumb brushing over her perfect lips absently. "Anyone could just walk in…My dad will barge in if he hears any strange noises."

"I can be quite quiet. Can you? " HG grins teasingly, biting at your thumb and you let her teeth sink into the flesh.

You nod absently before leaning forward and kissing her, pulling your thumb from her mouth before pressing your tongue into the space.

HG lets you, pressing her hips up into yours, keeping your mouth against hers.

"This is a bad idea." You pant, pulling away to stare down at HG, her hair messed up from your fingers.

"I don't care." HG taunts but her eyes are dark and her mouth is serious as you settle better in the cradle of her hips, dropping your hands to finger the collar of her blouse. "Don't you want me?"

"I do." You swallow thickly, her hands adjusting to grab your ass. You kiss her once before straightening to fight with the belt on HG's pants, followed by the button and zipper of her pants and when you glance at her, breathless and successful she gives you a dazzling grin.

Your hands are shaking and your pulse is pounding and HG hooks her fingers in the elastic of your sports bra, tugging you forward and kissing you before breathing. "Go on, then."

And really, its all the motivation you need.

She arches an eyebrow that's all challenge as you sit up on your knees so you're hovering over her, wriggling your hand past the waistband of her jeans while she spread her legs beneath you.

"You are so amazing." She murmurs, leaning back on her hands and peering up at you with hooded eyes, it makes you feel inexplicably powerful as your fingers slip against wet heat.

There's more squealing downstairs and you glance at the door over your shoulder before HG tugs you forward to kiss her.

"Hold on." You mutter, HG's hips lifting with a groan as you wiggle your hand back out of her pants and hop off of the bed.

"Myka." HG exhales shakily, watching you move across the room with bleary eyes. "What're you…?"

"Just, hang on." You say, hurrying to your desk and dragging the chair from beneath and you hear HG chuckle softly as you drag it across the room before shoving it against the door, right under the knob, effectively locking you and HG in.

"Aren't you brilliant." HG smiles and you grin as you move towards her.

"A really smart girl showed me that." You murmur as you drop to your knees at the foot of the bed and HG eyes you, teeth sinking into her bottom lip. "Now, take off your pants."


It happens quickly.

One day the two of you are more or less planning your future together and the next….

The next, your entire world is folding in on you.

You feel stupid for not seeing it coming. For not paying attention to the awful feeling you woke up with five days ago or the way HG completely avoided you for days then clinged to you like she never wanted to let you go. Because she knew she was going to have to let you go.

She's been talking in circles, weaving together apologies and explanations at a dizzying speed while the two of you stand on opposite sides of her bedroom.

"What are you saying?" You whisper, you challenge and Helena is watching you so apologetically that your own eyes burn with tears. You lick your lips, attempt to swallow down the surging emotion welling up inside of you while Helena exhales slowly.

"I'm leaving, Myka." HG says carefully and it feels like the world tips right from under your feet. "I spoke with my family and they…My parents do not see how I can live in the states and attend university while caring for my daughter and as a compromise they will pay for my tuition if I return to England and-and I will be with my Christina again."

"Oh." You croak weakly, the words rattling up from the depths of your chest and HG steps forward even as you step back, keeping vigilant distance between the two of you because your sure if she lays a hand on you you'll just crumble to dust against the pads of her fingers. "Okay."

"Myka, I am…" She stops, throat working as if the words are choking her and you shake your head. She looks afraid, like she knows she's killing you and you suck in a slow breath and focus on keeping your knees from wobbling.

"It's fine. You-your daughter needs you. And, I mean, free college…so…." You breathe, shaking your head and wrapping your arms around your self so you don't come undone. "I get it."

It sounds dismissive, an ugly sort of fake nonchalance that only magnifies your pain and you clench your jaw and breathe through your teeth.

And you've read hundreds of books, thousands of words but can't find anyway to communicate the way it feels like you're dying but HG is gazing at you helplessly, like she's sorry and she loves you and you swallow thickly.

"Myka…" HG tries again, voice so soft and hands fisting at her thighs while she watches you with glassy eyes, she's killing you and she's watching you die and maybe she's killing herself too and there's absolutely nothing either of you can do about it. Because you can't compete with HG's daughter, because you won't, because you don't, because Christina deserves her mother.

"She's going to be so happy to see you." You hiccup tearfully and the image of Helena holding her child emerges clearly from the static currently filling up your skull. "She is."

"I know." Is all Helena says quietly.

"When are you leaving?" You rasp and HG looks away from you, all the way on the other side of her bedroom and her hands flit up quickly to wipe at her cheeks. "When, HG?"

"Soon. Two weeks." She says after a moment, lifting her chin again and you laugh once, choked and hysterical while the entire world collapses around you. "Every time my brother, Charles, calls he tells me that she's been asking for me more and more often. And since I qualify for early graduation, my parents…and I… thought it was best to…"

And that makes you even more sad.

You sit at the edge of HG's massive bed because the room is vibrating and your ears are echoing and its getting harder and harder to breathe. You realize you're angry, at her because she made you feel this way and at yourself because you should've known better. You don't get fairytales and happy endings and you're stupid for thinking you could.

You listen to HG move around the room until she's kneeling before you "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"I love you." You whisper forlornly, gripping HG's hands desperately where they're clawing at you jeans at the knee.

HG kisses your knuckles, leans up to kiss you hard over and over before rising to push you back until you're lying back on her bed and when HG bends over you, you feel the wetness of her tears on your skin. "I love you very, very much, Myka Bering."

And you know its true, can feel it in your chest when she looks at you.

"Please say something." Helena pleads quietly and you look up at her sad, beautiful eyes.

"I should've known you were too good to be true." You whisper and HG breathes in raggedly before kissing you again.


You say goodbye on a Friday.

You've spent the last few days desperate and reckless, sneaking out every night to spend just a bit more time with HG and ditching class to spend those hours with HG tucked away in your secret space instead.

Your dad thinks you've lost it. Your sister is covering for you even though she has no idea what's going on while Pete actually takes notes in the classes you share on the days you just don't show up because he knows exactly what's going on.

But now you're at airport security, the world bustling around you while you try not to start sobbing. "This doesn't even feel real."

"A nightmare." Helena agrees but you shake your head and wipe at your eyes hard.

"No. I mean, you're going to hold your daughter in your arms when you step off that plane." You whisper, "That's no nightmare."

Helena only stares at you, tears filling her eyes but they don't fall and you wheel her suitcase around between the two of you.

"I am going to be in love with you forever, Myka Bering." She murmurs and you swallow hard. "I have something for you."

You watch her shuffle through the bag slung over her shoulder for a moment before producing an envelope. She hands it to you and you take it with shaky hands.

"What is this?" You croak, opening the envelope and pulling out what you realize is a plane ticket. HG reaches out for you and you take her hand, lacing your fingers with hers.

"I don't expect you to wait for me." HG begins, squeezing your hand tightly until you look at her face and she's not crying but she looks as exhausted as you feel. "You are brilliant and you are beautiful and anyone with minimal intelligence can see that you are…that you are amazing."

"This is a ticket to Paris." You mutter, getting a good look at the ticket and HG smiles tearfully. "HG…"

"But I will be waiting for you at the Lourve the day after your graduation nonetheless and if, for some reason, you still think of me…"

"HG, I'll never stop thinking about you." You cut her off and she watches you with shinning eyes for a long moment.

"There's no way to be certain, Myka. You said yourself that feelings can not survive time and distance." HG murmurs and you frown, lifting your tangled fingers to wipe her tears with your thumb.

"That's not the same."

"Myka."

"Then what is this ticket?" You wonder and HG licks her lips and kisses the back of your hand.

"Hope." She sighs, "Foolish hope that you'll meet me on the other side of the sky, I suppose."

You can't help but kiss her then so you do, right in the middle of the crowded airport and when the world doesn't end, you feel even more sad.

She's wearing your sweatshirt, sabers crossed on the front and your name stitched over her heart and you whisper. "I want my sweatshirt back."

"Never." She laughs wetly, kissing you again.

"Don't you dare tell me goodbye." HG murmurs urgently against your lips and you smile a bit.

"See you around, Helena." You croak, the words scratchy on the way out and you kiss her one more time before letting her go.

"Farwell, Myka."

And then she's disappearing into the crowd and you have no other option than to let her.


You've been running for what feels like ages.

Your chest aches from the cold air and the tips of your ears are icy but you ignore it in favor of the soft, rhythmic thud of your sneakers on the rubber track.

Your thighs burn and your calves ache but you don't stop, keeping your stride even and your mind deliberately blank even as you notice Pete standing in the grass at the heart of the track, watching you do laps because HG is currently boarding a plane back to England and taking your heart with her.

The thought makes your breath hitch, ruins your metrical exhalations and you stumble a little, trying to blink sudden tears out of your eyes and failing.

You know you scared him when you showed up on his doorstep days earlier, red eyed and inconsolable, and told him that HG was leaving after all but he only wrapped you in his arms and whispered apologies to you for the longest time.

Pete walks to the track, stopping at the white dashes on the turf that mark the beginning and the end and blocking your path purposefully. He doesn't move as you near him, just stays still and solid and opens his arms for you when you stumble into him with a sob.

He doesn't tell you everything is going to be okay, just holds you tight while you fall apart

You're not sure how long you stand out there in the cold but eventually Pete ushers you back to his truck, takes you home and walks you up to your room. You barely step out of your shoes before crawling into bed and beneath the covers.

"I'm so sorry, Mykes." Pete murmurs and hot, painful tears burn your eyes again as he smoothes a hand over your hair. You close your eyes as he does it over and over. You know your dad would absolutely murder Pete if he found him in your bedroom and you know your sister is about to echo that sentiment when she stumbles upon the two of you.

"Tracy, can I talk to you for a second." Pete whispers like he thinks you're asleep instead of dying. You drift off for a moment, time slipping through your fingers easily because you're not trying to catch it and when you come to with gritty eyes Tracy is in bed with you.

She's curled up against your side and you can feel her looking at you as a hot tear spills from the corner of your eye, racing towards your ear as you blink up at the ceiling. Tracy wipes it away with her thumb then throws her arm over you, nudging you onto your side so she can curl up behind you and she presses her forehead to your shoulder and holds you as you cry.


"You've been very quiet lately." You dad says as the two of you stock shelves and you shrug, tucking a book in the shelf. He really means you've been sad lately, spending hours closed up in your room while Tracy does your chores for you and deflects questions from your parents. Your mom notices too and has taken to cooking all of your family "Trace told me that your friend had to move back to England."

And you think about telling your father right then and there that HG was way more than a friend, that you held her hand and you kissed her and you love her but you're too tired to deal with the heart attack that would probably give him. "Yeah."

"You know," He starts with a deep breath and when you glance at him he's rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. "An intelligent man once said something along the lines of 'Don't be dismayed at goodbyes, a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are soul mates.'"

You turn to look at your dad then and he gives you a half smile before disappearing deeper into the bookstore.