IN THE STACKS
The first time it happened, I passed it off as my imagination.
I'd been working in the Forks Library for a couple of days, getting to know my way around the stacks and learning off of Annette, the current librarian. I had needed some kind of job to keep me occupied after school, and if it paid, well, then that was even better.
I'd had one offer, from a guy in my classes, of a job at an outfitters. It paid better than the Library, but Mike had licked his lips one too many times when telling me about his parents' store where he also worked. I wasn't prepared to get molested in a back room for a few dollars and some company.
My father worked long hours as Chief of Police and the silence at home was crushing. After living with my mother for so long I was used to odd sounds and loud noises. But I was sure that, in time, I'd get used to how slow and quiet everything was.
And, while the Library was quiet most of the time, there was always someone there, like Annette or the little blonde boy who came in on Tuesdays and liked to chew the corners of, specifically, purple books. So, the first time I felt a ghost of a touch brush the very curve of my ass as I bent over to pick up some misplaced books, I stood up, looked around, saw no one, and shrugged it off.
The second time it happened, it was a little harder to ignore.
I'd been stressed out all day at school – Mike had been hounding me relentlessly, my Bio partner was a shirking asshole and it was because of him that my grades were slipping ever so slightly. Graduation was near and I just wanted to get through the year unscathed. It was bad enough that I'd moved from Arizona to Washington so close to the deadline anyway.
Then, when I'd gotten to the Library after school, I'd noticed that some genius had turned all the home screens upside-down on the computer monitors. It took me a good half-hour to figure out how to right the problem, and when I did one of the old screens just died on me.
Annette hadn't been best pleased when I told her, but she knew it wasn't really my fault. Still, it did seem like punishment when she told me to carry it into the back and put it near the deliveries door for someone to come and look at later. I wasn't the strongest eighteen-year-old in the world, and that trip about killed any upper-body strength I may have had to start with.
It was as I came out of the swinging doors from the back room that I felt someone looking at me. That tingling, creeping sensation that not everything is as it seems washed over me and I looked around to see if something was obviously wrong. But everything looked good and I slowly moved on, going back to my normal duties.
Then that ghostly touch slid over my thigh and around to my ass.
I gasped and swung around, but all there was were the swinging doors and they weren't even moving a fraction. And this time the touch…burned slightly, in a good way.
The third time it happened, I vowed it to be the last.
All day the girls I'd made reluctant friends with at school had been talking about my Bio partner, giving me the full story of his family and how his siblings were adopted just like him. That was the day I finally gave Edward Cullen more than a one-second glance for purposes other than telling him 'to do his share of the work next time.' (He never did.)
He looked straight back at me and I found myself wondering why the hell his eyes were so…yellow. He looked a little alien too, and I wondered how I'd gone so long without realising he was a bit abnormal. I'd never been slow on the uptake, but perhaps it was because he didn't look a good kind of alien more like a creepy kind of alien. I instantly wondered whether it was him in the stacks touching my ass.
I asked him if ever visited the Library. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that if he didn't do his homework then he was unlikely to visit a building of learning. I had to give him that.
Then, later on, when I'd left my truck in the parking lot at school and begun walking the short distance to the Library, I saw the two Cullens that hadn't graduated yet pass me on the road in the biggest and shiniest car I'd ever seen. I had to wonder who the hell they thought they were.
The Library was kind of quiet that evening, quieter than usual, and Annette asked me whether or not I'd be willing to lock up at seven so she could go home a bit earlier and catch her favourite show. I was reluctant, thinking of the ghost that liked to caress my ass in the stacks, but I appreciated her trust in my abilities and couldn't say no.
When seven rolled around after an uneventful few hours, and I'd finished turning off the lights and securing the back, I just knew it was coming. That cold chill of unseen eyes rushed over me as I stood at the front desk, but I stood firm with my hands on my hips and my jaw set…before I smiled and turned to press my ass back against the panel of wood behind me.
I swear to God, I heard a chuckle.
Nothing happened for a few moments, the computers sitting silent and the space between the stacks all dark and empty, before I felt the swipe of a fingertip against my sternum through my sweater and the distinct feel of a hand slide across my denim-clad thigh.
I slammed my hands against the desk top behind me in frustration and growled. I felt silent laughter echo in the air around me.
I promised myself to catch the asshole playing games and/or seek mental help, before grabbing my backpack off of the desk and striding for the door. As I pushed it open, the ghostly hand grabbed my ass – the gesture distinctly said 'gotcha.'
I locked the door and walked back to my truck in the school parking lot, not sparing a glance backwards as I took out my cell and called the one person who I knew would believe me.
She adjusts her glasses as she looks around. "So…you're sure?"
I sigh and give her a hard look. "Angela… I'm sure Annette won't mind that we're in on a Saturday. Anyway, she told me to come by and make sure there aren't any deliveries. She won't know if we stay longer than necessary."
Angela just nods and turns away, her long dark hair swishing behind her in a straight curtain as she goes to inspect the state of the Library's donated computers.
I know she isn't nervous, though she's cleaned her glasses enough times to make it seem like she is. She's just trying to stay scientific about the whole thing, and it's difficult for her. She's really excited. The whole 'unexplainable phenomenon' thing has really got her going.
She clicks her tongue as she looks over the lonely hard drive, the one that lost its monitor. "What's going on here?"
I resist a smile. She's a total techie.
"Monitor broke a few days ago. The guy Annette called to have a look at it hasn't come by yet. I was thinking of calling Jake…"
Angela raises her eyebrows at me.
Angela and I have been friends ever since I can remember, even after my parents divorced and began to play 'Pass the Bella' every summer, and she knows that when I say 'I was thinking…' I really mean, 'I don't want to, but…' She also knows I haven't seen him in years, and the last time I did he tried to suck face with me when I just wanted to stay friends.
"Jake, huh?" She asks.
I shrug. "Only person I can think of who might know how to fix it. He does cars and stuff."
I have no clue about mechanics, including cars, computers and even goddamn calculators.
Angela snorts. "Yeah, cars, Bella. Totally different thing. Just let me at it, and I'll see what's up."
I lead her to the back room and the monitor, which has gathered quite a bit of dust since I carried it in. So while Angela tries to fix it, I clean up the back a bit.
"You know," Angela says offhandedly, pulling out a miniature tool roll from her back pocket, "It might not be a ghost."
I stare at her from across the room where I'm sorting catalogues. We've been through this line of enquiry a few times since I called her a couple of days ago.
She looks up as she unscrews the back of the monitor. "Don't look at me like that. I mean it could be something else."
I raise an eyebrow and stay silent. I know she doesn't mean it could be the wind goosing me or that I've just made it all up in my head for a few kicks. She means it could be something else.
"Like… I don't know, but there's more to the supernatural than ghosts, Bella."
I just let out an amused breath and turn back to my cleaning.
Angela talks away as she fiddles with the screen, telling me about her aunt who's convinced she's descended from a long and powerful line of 'good' witches. I listen half-heartedly, thinking about the cameras Angela's set up in several of the stacks to catch movement in the Library.
"I've found the problem."
I come out of my thoughts and look around to see Angela holding up a fried piece of gum.
I grin. "Nice."
"If you like that kind of thing." She wrinkles her nose at me, throwing it out of the open deliveries door and wiping her hands on her jeans.
I just stare. Frozen.
"What's up? Bella?"
All I can think is that the deliveries door was not open when we came into the back.
I point. Angela's mouth slackens in realisation.
Her curse knocks me out of my loop. I watch her scrabble around in her backpack by the door and pull out a small tablet screen.
I go to ask her what she's doing and she shushes me with a silent finger on her lips. The screen flickers to life and I watch as she scrolls through different camera feeds.
And, suddenly, there's movement.
I feel my heart pick up in my chest as Angela settles on the clear image of the children's section.
He's just standing there, innocently passing by the colourful toys and poking around the small shelves with obvious curiosity. His hair's a wild explosion of dark blonde curls and though I can't see his face I can say with certainty that it should be handsome at the least. He's barefoot, masculine feet with smudges of dirt digging into the soft fuzzy rug where the kids who come to the library sit and listen to the Reading Train, and attached to those feet are long lean legs covered in a pair of well-fitting jeans. Hugging the stomach where those jeans begin is a plain dark blue shirt with long sleeves that cover long arms. His hands are big… His hands are nice.
I feel a spark of something run through me. His head suddenly snaps to the left.
His profile is as good-looking as it should have been, more so probably, with a straight nose and a defined jaw. His eyes are shielded.
"Huh," Angela huffs out.
I look up. "What?"
"Why are you whispering?"
I shrug. I don't know. I kind of…don't want to disturb the barefoot hot guy flicking through the cardboard child-proof books in the kids' section.
She shakes her head at me sadly. "Not a ghost then. Just a hot homeless guy."
Angela looks truly disappointed, but I can't help but feel relieved that the mystery's been solved.
"The guy's got some serious skills. I mean, we didn't even hear him come in, or see him."
I just nod. "How the hell do we get rid of him?"
Angela gives me a look – a look that clearly says 'you want to get rid of him?' Because, yes, the guy is breaking in on a Saturday to read kids' books, but he is damn fine.
She relents after a moment. "Cops?"
I shake my head immediately. "We'll have to explain everything to them. I think we should just…you know, go talk to him."
I look down at the screen to see a wide amused grin that's way too close to the camera.
I leap back. Angela gasps. His smiling face disappears into thin air.
After a moment, when our heartbeats have steadied, we look up to see the deliveries door is shut.
"Wow." It's all I can say.
Angela just nods, before turning to me and breathing, "A ghost."
Because there is no other way to explain what we just saw.
Angela looks out of breath. "He was hot though, wasn't he? Kind of looked familiar, too…"
A week later and nothing else has occurred. Every day Angela walks me over to the Library and stays with me until we close up or Annette gets annoyed that I spend all my time in the Supernatural section and not doing my job.
Angela's managed to hide some cameras in prime places around the stacks, looking out over the main floor and in between the rows. She even managed to borrow a couple of cameras from Ben, in exchange for a date of course. Like she would have had to have her arm twisted in the first place. She's so in love with him and his roll-away travel keyboard.
The only problem was that Ben wanted the date tonight, Saturday, and Angela was reluctant to agree because we'd planned to stay in the Library on a stake-out. But I was happy to do it on my own, and Angela was only happy to let me go solo if she was allowed to call me every hour and keep an eye on me through the camera feeds. Ben was more than happy for Angela to take her tech along on the date – excited would be the word.
I make sure I'm over at the Library as early as possible and that I lock the doors behind me once I'm in. Angela calls my cell to make sure everything's okay before she goes on her day-long date in Seattle with Ben.
"I'm good," I assure her. "Promise."
"Yeah. I can see that." She giggles a bit.
I look around from my seat at one of the research tables. "Are you watching me now?"
"Yeah." I can hear her smiling. "Might want to hold off on picking underwear out of your butt or anything for a while."
I laugh. It feels good to laugh, even in the quiet empty place I'm in now.
"Will do. I'll talk to you later, yeah?"
"Yep. I'll call soon. Oh, and I love those cut-offs, Bella!"
I grin, looking down at my jean shorts and dark purple vest top. "Thanks. It was actually sunny this morning."
"I know! Ben and I are going to have a great time, especially if the weather holds up. Okay, so speak soon. Bye!"
I take my time going over old material for finals, which are coming up soon, and researching a couple of things in the stacks that I can't remember from class. Angela calls intermittently. After a couple of hours, I take a quick break and fire up the old coffee maker out back, before cleaning up my revision and getting to maintenance. I clean and tidy, check the computers are running well and make sure there haven't been any deliveries, scrub down the surfaces of the kids' section after the long week, and make sure the cameras are all secure and invisible still.
It's late afternoon by the time I finish and I absently wonder whether or not to pack up and go home. I deliberate for a while, before deciding to check out a couple of books before heading home.
Romance catches my eye first, but the sensual pink and red covers of the books there make me cringe and I end up finding myself at the very back of the Library in the dustier and disused stacks. The books here are old, and I'm not sure anyone's checked out anything from here in years.
The dusty shelves annoy me but I spy a handy yellow dust rag on one. It looks like someone just gave up halfway through cleaning. I can't blame them.
I get to work on the lower shelves first, before clambering up to the top ones. The stacks are old and creaky, wood instead of metal, and I have trouble reaching the top. But when I finally get up there I find dust an inch thick. I huff and continue, reminding myself to ask Annette if we have cash for renovations yet.
A buzzing sound knocks me out of my cleaning haze.
I turn my head to look out over the stacks, but the ones at the back are too high with books piled up on top of them.
My ringtone for Angela follows the buzzing – The Eagles' Desperado rings out and I smile as I think of Angela's love for the band. It cuts off halfway through the song.
I frown slightly, before I remember Angela can probably see me cleaning away from my cell. I turn back to my work.
A door slams somewhere far off.
I jump, wobbling on my precarious ledge. The shelf of the stack creaks underneath me.
Another door slams, closer this time.
Jesus Christ, my voice is tiny and helpless. I frown at myself. I'm not scared.
My cell vibrates again and Angela's ringtone sounds. It doesn't stop this time.
Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
I start stepping down off of the shelves like a ladder. I hate the way I'm getting further and further away from the Library's fluorescent lights. The old stacks are dark and a chill runs up my spine.
These things that are pleasin' you can hurt you somehow…
Eyes. I can feel them on me.
Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy – she'll beat you if she's able…
Slowly, I corner the stacks, making my way further towards the main floor space. I wonder why the hell I ever put the full goddamn song as Angela's ringtone.
Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger – your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home…
The phone at the main desk suddenly rings shrilly, garbling Don Henley's voice. But my legs won't move any faster, and I can feel that tingling sensation washing over me that means he's coming closer.
It goes to the answering machine. "Bella! I can see him! He's behind you!"
My heart stops. I spin around, and I come face to face with the ghost that's been feeling me up.
Angela's voice rings out. "He's so hot!"
The stranger grins, wide and smug and crooked, with pearly-white teeth.
I have to look up to him a bit, because he's way taller than he looked on the camera in the kids' section, but he's definitely as good-looking, if not more so. His curls are wild, his eyes are dark, and he doesn't have a shirt on…
"Oh, my God, Bella! I see muscles!"
Yes. Yes, so can I. Lots of them, and they look…delicious.
He's barefoot again, his feet just as smudged with dirt like before as if he's been running in it, and he has those form-fitting jeans on again.
Angela is silent. She's probably as stunned as I am.
His black eyes roll over me. He doesn't say a word, but the corner of his mouth hitches up in a smirk that I just want to lick. He clearly likes what he sees and he's looking right at my long bare legs.
He growls a bit and the noise makes me stumble backwards over my own feet and into the stack behind me. But I don't impact with the cold metal shelf like I think I'm going to. Cool clamps grip my wrists and stop me from falling back, but they push me against the shelves anyway.
I look up to see his hands are wrapped around my wrists and his face is hovering above mine. His breath is cold, sweet, and it kind of makes me dizzy – in a really, really good way.
His leg inches forwards, his knee slipping between mine, and I don't feel threatened. I feel hot, all over, and there's something about this barefoot ghost stranger that makes me…
"Uh…" Angela's voice sounds as his face gets closer and closer, until his mouth is suddenly on mine.
His lips are cold, but they're kind of pleasant at the same time. He's not icy, he's just…cool.
I squirm as his mouth opens mine, his tongue gently probing.
"Is this consensual?" Angela asks from somewhere far, far away.
Is it? It has to be. He feels good – better than good – and I want him.
He moans against my mouth.
I manage to make a thumbs-up sign with my hand. It obviously appeases Angela because she stutters out a goodbye and an unthinking 'have a good one' before she cuts the call and the answering machine clicks off.
His knee comes up and rolls against my thighs, widening them, before insistently pressing against my crotch.
I gasp against his lips and I feel my blood singing in my veins. I can't remember the last time I had an orgasm and I need one. As if he senses it, his mouth becomes harsher and his knee rubs against my pussy.
I roll my hips against his unyielding force, catching my clit against the seam of my denim shorts again and again until–
He swallows my scream, breathing it in and kissing me hard.
God, he tastes sweet and smoky - like cherry tobacco.
His hands release mine, only to turn them and curl my fingers over a shelf edge. His eyes tell me to hold on. I do – for goddamn dear life.
His cool fingers slip under the hem of my tank, pulling it up and up until my chest is on display for him. His eyes linger on mine as he slips two fingers into the left cup of my bra and…
He likes that. His black eyes and his smile say it all.
His cold fingers feel good against my nipples, and I can feel the little points hardening and tightening for him because he's just so goddamn good. He pinches and pulls, his mouth descending to my sternum as he goes – the very sternum one of those fingertips touched not so long ago.
My legs feel limp and useless, like noodles, from my orgasm, and my breath's still stuttering from the high that rushed through me. And I know my fingers are white from holding onto the metal shelf above me that's heating under my tight grip, because I can feel my knuckles straining to stay in one piece and not crack under the pressure I'm putting on them.
His head suddenly dips down, his expression hungry, and I wonder what exactly he's hungry for.
But I'm not left to wonder for long. His fingers release my nipples, leaving my tank to fall back down over my chest, and alight beneath the waistband of my shorts. He tugs them down without a word, along with my panties.
His cool breath hits me right there and I can feel myself pulsing in anticipation of anything, but I don't expect to feel his fingers first.
They slip inside me with ease, stretching my slickness and sending a burning throughout my body.
I moan and keen and I know it's spurring him on, because his mouth parts and his tongue wets his lips…but I can also see the reaction he's having pressing insistently against the fly of his jeans.
Then I feel his tongue, right on my clit, and everything disappears except for that one muscle. It flicks and licks and swirls and stabs and flattens against me in the most amazing ways, until I'm coming for him again and he's actually tasting me.
The sounds that come from him make me buck and roll against his beautiful face, and I can't believe that he's between my thighs. Not because he's a strange supernatural being, but because he's such a hot supernatural being.
I can't help but moan. "Please… Please…"
His face transforms, turning from hungry to ravenous.
His fingers and tongue leave me, flickering their way up my belly as he stands up straight and his other hand goes to the zipper of his jeans.
"Yes, yes, yes…"
His jeans drop and so does my mouth. He's so thick and hard, and, my God, my insides quiver at the thought of feeling him inside me.
He strokes it, hard, with his hand as he kisses my neck and my cheek until he reaches my mouth.
Instinctively, I go to wrap my legs around him, but they won't move. I find them immobilised. One bare masculine foot holds down my shorts and panties that are still hooked around my ankles, pinning my feet to the floor.
He smiles at me, every inch a predator, and he finally speaks. "Let me in."
His voice is quiet, rough, so sensual I can feel my knees quaking, and I know I want him in every way possible. My thighs part further and I bow my back as much as I can against the stack with my feet stuck to the floor by one of his.
The inequality of the situation should frighten me, but I'm not scared. I'm giving myself to him and that power makes him seem so dark in all his hot naked glory.
He bends his knees and then he's right there, pressing into me and sending me spiralling somewhere where I've never been. I'm tight, I know I am – only having had sex once in Phoenix – and his face shows it. His expression is pained, twisted with pleasure, and I clamp down on him as he finishes his thrust inside of me.
He growls, cursing a blue streak, and then I feel him there – right there, in that place that sends shocks up my spine and fire down my legs.
One hand curls over my right and the other cups my ass as he withdraws and then slams back into me. The rhythm is hard, his body's like stone, and I can feel the shelf leaving a long horizontal bruise across my shoulders from the pressure he's using to pound into me again and again…
"Oh, God… Oh, please…"
He attacks my throat, licking up and down and running his teeth over the skin there, before moving down and nosing my tank and bra out of the way. And then his lips are wrapped around one of my nipples and I can feel that wave about to wash over me as his hips slam against mine and his thighs bruise my own.
I break, crying out and throwing my head back against the books behind me as I reach the most satisfying feeling of fulfilment I'm sure I'll ever experience.
He gasps against my ear, moaning and growling as he keeps thrusting into me and hitting that spot that makes me see stars.
"Fuck…" He spits. "Fuck… Fuck, yes…"
His words are his rhythm and when the words stop his hips pump in jagged thrusts that leave me gasping. He comes undone in silence, cold wetness filling me as he pants against my ear.
I'm done. I'm Jell-O. I'm sure I'll never be able to walk right again, or at all for that matter.
He watches me as he pulls out slowly, licking his lips at my gasp when his magnificent dick leaves me. His mouth descends and he kisses me slowly, tasting my tongue and sighing into my mouth as I enjoy his cool body against mine.
His foot leaves my shorts, releasing my legs, and he gently pulls my panties and shorts back to their rightful place when he's done kissing me senseless. He rights my tank and my bra before he takes care of his own clothes, yanking his jeans up his legs and fixing them closed with speed.
Then he's back with me, kissing me and pushing me against the stack he just fucked me against.
He tangles his hand in my sex hair, cupping the back of my head and pulling my hips against his with my other hand.
He pulls away after a moment, breathing heavily against my lips, before he speaks again.
"I'll be back again soon. I can't tell you when or she'll see."
I just stare at him, still completely blissed out from the pleasure he's inflicted on me. He smirks at me crookedly, watching me with something that looks like…affection.
I don't know what the hell he's talking about and he knows it. He looks like he's deliberating saying something else for a moment, when something on the shelf behind me catches his eye.
He grins, reaching behind my head and shifting something, before looking back at me. He runs one finger down my face, temple to jaw, before kissing my lips one last time and vanishing.
I breathe. In, out, in, out, in, out… Slowly, my faculties come back to me and I manage to stand without the aid of the stack behind me.
The Library phone rings. I let it go to the answering machine, still dazed.
"Bella?" It's Angela. "I swear, I didn't watch all of that…" Liar. "But I'm so going to burn you a copy of the recording… One word: HOT! Call me back!"
Recording? I want it.
The call cuts off and the machine clicks.
Feeling a little more in control now I run my fingers through my hair and over my body, checking everything is in place and I haven't, in fact, lost my head.
I look up at the sign bolted to the metal stack that he fucked me against – SUPERNATURAL.
I turn my head. "No way–"
One book stands out from the rest on the shelf at head-height, pulled from its slot so my eyes can see the jet black front cover – The Ancient Myths of the Cold Ones…
Do I really want to know?