Home > My Own Mr. Darcy(10)

My Own Mr. Darcy(10)
Karey White

“Welcome to The Pink Salamander.” A woman a few years older than me stood behind the counter. I’d seen her at the bank before. She was exquisite. Her chin-length raven hair was sleek and stylish and her clothes looked more expensive than my car. “Can I help you find something?”

“I’m looking for The Help.”

“It’s in the Women’s Fiction room at the top of the stairs on the right.”

A plush Persian rug ran all the way up the stairs, kept in place at the back of each step by an ornamental brass rod. The balustrade was intricately carved. As I climbed the stairs, I paused to look at the framed portraits of well-known authors. In a prominent position near the top of the stairs was a portrait of Jane Austen in an ornate silver frame. Was this another sign?

The Women’s Fiction room was lined with built-in bookshelves. Two overstuffed chairs with soft, yellow upholstery sat at the window. It was an elegant room. I easily found The Help, but I didn’t feel like leaving. Soft piano music wafted through the air from a speaker somewhere near the door and the pretty chairs beckoned me. I sat down and started to read. The chair was comfortable and the book captured my attention from the first page.

“Pardon me. We’re going to be closing soon.” Startled, I looked up to see Mr. Dawson leaning on the doorframe, his arms folded. The light had changed while I’d been reading and the last of the late-evening sun slanted through the room. Tiny specks of dust floated in the air giving Mr. Dawson a hazy, dreamy glow.

“I’m so sorry. I must have lost track of time.” I hurried toward the door.

“Your purse,” he said and nodded toward my purse, still sitting beside the chair.

“Oh yes, of course.” I retrieved my purse, intensely aware that Mr. Dawson was still filling the doorway, watching me. “I’ll just pay for this downstairs then,” I said as I moved past him. He shifted, but barely enough for me to walk by without touching him.

“Nanette Eggleston will be doing a reading and book signing here next week.”

I was almost at the top of the stairs. I turned back toward him. “I’m sorry. Who’s Nanette Eggleston?”

“She’s a local author who writes women’s fiction. I thought you might be interested. If you read something other than just best-sellers.”

“Of course, I do.” My voice sounded defensive so I tried to soften my tone. “I read all kinds of books.”

“Then perhaps you’d like to come. She’ll be here next Tuesday evening.”

“I’d love to. Thanks for inviting me.”

Wait. Had he invited me? Or had he just informed me. There was a big difference and I wasn’t sure. I searched his face for a clue, but his empty expression gave nothing away. He looked at me for a long moment more before he turned and walked away.

“LIZZIE? ARE YOU sick?” Janessa asked. We’d finished dinner and were watching a reality dance show on television.

“No, why?”

“You haven’t said a word since the show started and you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

“I’m sorry. I guess I was thinking.”

“About what?”

“Nothing in particular.”

“I’ll bet you were daydreaming about the wonderful time you’re going to have with Chad tomorrow.”

I shook my head. “Nope. That wasn’t it.”

“What are you guys doing, anyway?”

“I have no idea. He said to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes.”

“That doesn’t sound very romantic,” Janessa said., wiggling her eyebrows.

“Thank goodness. I’m not looking for romance.” That wasn’t true. I was definitely looking for romance, just not with Chad.

“Give him time. Maybe he’ll start to grow on you. This is good, though. After tomorrow, you’ll have two dates down. Only eight to go.”

“No, tomorrow is date number three.”

“No, it isn’t.” Janessa gave me a stern look. “You don’t get to count the lunch date where you purposely tried to drive him away. It’s ten dates with you on your best behavior.”

“You’re impossible,” I said.

“Did something happen at work today? Why are you so deep in thought?”

I was torn. I wanted to tell Janessa about Mr. Dawson. What I didn’t want was for her to freak out and tell me I was crazy. But she was my best friend and not telling her about it seemed cruel. I sighed. “Okay, Janessa. I’ll tell you what happened today but don’t tell me it’s no big deal because I want it to be a big deal and I don’t want you to discourage me.”

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