some books

by James

There’d been no time for roses, but could he count this as a date? Maggie had winked at him, and then in a pirate voice had said, ‘Arrr matey, it’s a date,’ so maybe. Johnny grinned about that; and could he count it as date number two? Man, because what people always said about the third date, what people in this modern world got up to. He grinned like a Cheshire cat at that thought, because when was the last time he crossed over the final frontier? When did he last wake up one morning to a lovely bacon sarnie and a cuppa?

As soon as he saw Maggie walk into the library he knew he had miscalculated – should have sat at the wood tables, not on the comfy chairs, because then he wouldn’t have had to make a frantic grab for a book from the display rack to position strategically across his lap before she joined him. What was wrong with him? He could hear the voice of any number of guys in his head – not a looker, is she – but man, that smile of hers, how she waved at him. She had the look to her, didn’t take no shit, and that’s what was turning him on, the confidence, the swagger, and who cared if her hair was frizzy wild or her teeth weren’t cover model straight. Johnny and Maggie. Oh man, the ring to that.

Maggie had a tall stack of books with her that she set down on the sofa, but did it so that the books were between the two of them when she sat. He smiled, and then she smiled, and then she picked up one of her books and started to read the back cover.

‘What are the odds?’ Johnny said. ‘I’m not long in town and the two women I know both have red hair.’

‘You don’t know me,’ Maggie said.

‘Isn’t that what this is?’

She wrinkled her face derisively. ‘I’m here to bring a book back. Just my tough luck you’re here too.’

‘I told you I’d be here. And, anyway. You sat down opposite me.’

Her shrug was dismissive. ‘I want to sit down, pick my books. You don’t own these chairs, do you?’

‘Actually, my dad’s a philanthropist chair donator, so…’

‘Cool. He single?’

‘Nah, and he prefers blondes.’

‘I can be blonde, for a man giving away chairs like these.’

‘You’re not a natural redhead?’

She twisted a lock of her vibrant cherry red hair between her fingers. She looked at him, her eyes wide. ‘You’re really asking me that question?’

‘I’m trying to be delicate about it. What I really want to know - why someone would choose that colour.’

She didn’t mind him saying that. She was trying her best to look insulted, but she couldn’t hide the smile. ‘I went to a fabulous party.’

‘Fancy dress, was it?’

‘That’s right.’

‘What you go as?’

‘I went as a horny girl with fucking amazing red hair, who thought it might help her pull, but it turns out, all it does is intimidate guys.’

‘It must have been a party full of blind guys,’ Johnny said. ‘Because…even with that hair, no way should you not have pulled.’

Maggie nodded as she thought about it, and Johnny began to nod along in time. Killer line.

Maggie said, ‘So…what you’re saying. I went to a party where it didn’t matter what I looked like, but not one of the dudes liked my personality?’