All right. A bit of explation - this is the Wordsmith's and Adrian's first encounter with each other, but it got pretty long, so I'm going to post the last part as a separate chapter. This will be my first two-shot. Hope you guys find it satisfactory, and please leave a review with any comments, questions, critiques or ideas! Thank you so much to the people who have reviewed so far - you guys honor me with your compliments and the awesomeness of your existences. :D
Maddie gasped as another shock of cold water splashed up onto the leg of her jeans. "Really, Adrian! Do you have to stomp right through the middle of every big, wet thing we run across?"
"Well, I'm wearing boots. Why not?"
The two girls - one short, pale and athletic, the other tall, brown and wiry - were in the middle of a rather packed London street on a sopping wet day. Rain had been pouring down on Great Britain for hours beforehand, and iron-cast clouds still hung over the city, threatening it with another deluge. And despite the threat, Adrian Marx plowed her way across the street toward the doors of the library, heedless of wind and weather.
"Bloody awful day to be walking about town," Maddie grumbled, tightening the drawstring on her hoodie. It was a Bronx sweater. She'd borrowed it from Adrian a few weeks before and hadn't given it back yet.
"Hey. At least the book signing's inside." From the flippant tone in the American's voice, she couldn't have cared less about what a bloody awful day it was. Maddie sighed and shivered resignedly, following close at Adrian's shoulder as they struck out across the wide cement pavement that lay before the library's grand double-doors.
Inside the building, just beyond the fogged window glass, a slow stream of shadowy people milled back and forth. Among them, with her back to the windowpane, a woman with rolled-back shirtsleeves and a mane of brown hair stood before a small group of the people with a book propped open on her arm. A long gray-and-white quill pen scratched across the page as she signed the book with a satisfied smile and handed it off to them, only to turn to the next pod. This one consisted of three laughing college-aged girls with damp hair and steam rising from their coats. It must be raining hard again.
The raindrops trickling down the long windowpane began to patter faster. The Wordsmith turned to glance outside, noting that the day's heavy clouds had swung low again, and the puddles in the cement splashed as the drops grew bigger and crowds of passersby cleared the street. Across the courtyard she caught sight of two running figures heading for the library: one with her hood tightened around her face, clearly upset, dragging her companion by the arm towards the shelter of the library; and the other, hoodless and in a light jacket, laughing as she was dragged along. As they neared, the Wordsmith could make out her wet, dark hair flying about her face, and the coffee-and-creamer color of her skin.
A brilliant grin flashed across the girl's face just as they disappeared up the steps, and the Wordsmith felt the beginnings of a smile at the expression. She finished her signature in the last girl's book and turned toward her desk in the next room, deliberately drifting closer to the front doors. She wanted to see this girl's reaction.
A wash of warm air swirled around Maddie and Adrian as they passed inside, with a relieved huff from the former. The latter tugged her arm away absently, gazing around at the milling inhabitants of the library. Book-themed chatter rose into the air on a current of rain-dampness. Adrian relished it. Her fingers prickled, already aching to get ahold of the book in question. The excitement in the atmosphere was thick, so thick she could run her fingers through it like heavy satin, because somewhere in this building was a genius. Libraries knew when there were geniuses, Adrian thought. They felt different inside.
She wandered through the clusters of enthused fans, half in a trance. Her friend Maddie was forgotten, off in the crowd somewhere. At the side of the room ran a lengthy white table, covered in neat rows of books - oh, those marvelous books, aligned in groups of sagas and volumes of poetry, those books filled with fire, that ignited in her hands when she opened them. And there, at the end, stacks of the newest addition to the ranks, gleaming in their shining covers of dark violet and gold. The tips of her fingers buzzed at the thought of, finally, touching one.
The genius was somewhere in this room, she thought. Her genius, the one genius whose beautiful works had saved Adrian from law school, whether she knew it or not. The author of these books was sitting only a few feet away, behind the thin curtain of bodies shielding her view from the author's desk. But these books called her attention. She traced a hand across them, and the waxy deep-velvet texture of a new book cover ran under her fingers like the surface of a dark pool. It felt like almost nothing, and she shivered in delight.
"I take it you're enjoying the series?" someone's voice inquired curiously behind her. Adrian didn't bother with a glance. Fans didn't need eye contact to share in their fandom.
"Most definitely. ...Is-is it good?" she asked, referring to the new book. There was tight eagerness in her tone, but also hesitance. She hated spoilers.
Over her shoulder, the Wordsmith grinned a wide, easy grin.
"That's a loaded question. If you haven't read it, my lips are sealed."
"Oh, good. I hate spoilers." The girl's hands played over the smooth cover, trailing over the bronzed title, fingering the edge of the binding. Relishing the fact of not yet having opened it.
"You love books, don't you." The question was a statement.
"Well, in that case..."
A tanned, brown hand reached from behind her and swept the book off the top of the stack. Adrian turned around to find the author standing behind her in jeans and a black button-down collar shirt, the book propped open in the crook of her elbow and a quill pen in her hand, scribbling something down in the cover of the volume. Adrian stared.
"There. Fifth installment, free of charge." The Wordsmith's pale eyes glanced up at her, and she grinned.
The girl was speechless.