Love, Lucifer, and the Library (Part 5)
If this is the first you're hearing about my FREE serial, here's the deal: I wrote an adorable novella titled Love, Lucifer, and the Library about two college students battling it out for the comfiest spot in the library. Sparks start to fly in more ways than one!
PART 1 is available on my blog.
PARTS 2-4 were released in my past few newsletters. Visit my newsletter archive to read them.
And PART 5 is available here!
Love, Lucifer, and the Library part 5 ...
Shorty stomps out of the elevator. The angry walk makes her round bottom bounce.
She'd probably punch me in the stomach if I pointed it out. And even worse, she'd probably try to make it stop.
I can't believe she jumped on me.
The sensation of her clinging to my back isn't something I'll soon forget. She was all muscular legs and hot breath on my neck. When I got over how hilarious it was, my body picked up on the fact that a cute girl was wrapped around me. And now I'm having trouble focusing on anything other than how I can convince her to climb up on me again.
Even my irritation about someone ruining The Spot is hard to hold onto as I trail after her fuming little form.
Then I remember that The Spot is all that ties us together. Without it she may dismiss me from her day-to-day life.
Can't have that.
"Excuse me." Shorty raps her knuckles on the front desk to get the student worker's attention. The tall blonde girl turns with a smile that falters. Having been on the wrong end of Shorty's glares before, I have an idea of what she's seeing.
"How can I help you?"
"There's a leather armchair that is normally on the third floor by the side window. It's gone. Where is it?" A few passing students slow down like rubberneckers on the opposite side of the highway from a car crash. Drama is a teasing scent in the air.
"Oh, um. I-I think someone moved it."
"Moved it?" Shorty's question growls out of her throat.
I bite my lip to keep from grinning and prepare myself to grab her if she decides to launch herself over the desk at the innocent library worker.
"Yeah, I think so." The girl fiddles with her hair as her eyes dart from side to side.
"Where, exactly did they move it?" Shorty spits out the word 'move' as if it's got a nasty taste.
The worker swallows before speaking. "Um, I might have seen it in the basement. Maybe."
"The basement!" My competitor throws her hands up and finally leaves the poor girl alone, plowing through the curious onlookers without acknowledging their existence. I jog after her as she stalks back toward the elevator. "Probably some full-of-themselves upperclassmen moved it. Think they run the place."
"Yeah. Bunch of assholes. Am I right?" I nudge her with my elbow as we wait. The gesture earns me a glare.
"I'm not fully convinced this isn't your doing." She runs her eyes over me, frowning all the while.
Instead of being intimidated or offended, I bask in her scrutiny. Shorty is back, and in full force.
She had me worried last week, but when I spotted her this morning, a surprising rush of excitement filled my chest.
The doors slide open, and she takes her gaze away from me when she moves forward. Like a besotted puppy, I follow right on her heels.
"I might mess with you Shorty, but I'd never desecrate The Spot." My fingers catch a lock of her hair, and I give it playful tweak.
The scowl she hits me with this time appears softer. As she bats my hand away, I'm pretty sure I catch a slight twitch at the corner of her mouth.
"Not sure I can trust you, Lucy."
There's a clear twinkle in her eye this time when she looks up at me. "Short for Lucifer."
I choke out a disbelieving laugh as she fights a grin.
"Where'd that nickname come from?"
Instead of answering, she tightens her lips and stares at the doors.
"Let me guess ... it's because I'm devilishly handsome, isn't it?" I make my best effort to waggle my eyebrows.
She snorts and gives me a shove just as the elevator opens up to the basement.
Before I can regain my balance, Shorty sprints out the door. That little head start is all she needs.
"Ah ha!" Sitting by a cluster of couches is the missing chair. Without any preamble, she belly-flops onto it. "I win! It's mine!"
I follow at a more sedate pace, watching her wriggle around on the seat wearing a huge grin. The sight has me struggling to clear my throat. I thought she was pretty when she was angry at me, but this happy beaming version of Shorty puts all others to shame.
Maybe I should spend more of my time trying to get her to smile rather than scowl.
Too bad I have to point out an unpleasant reality.
"Not sure this is over quite yet, Shorty."
She pops up, sitting cross-legged in the chair, her face falling back into a defensive frown. "Yeah it is. I'm here. I've got the chair. Accept your defeat."
I snort before crouching down beside her. "You're really going to tell me the chair is all you care about? That it's the only thing that makes The Spot so great?"
Her eyes won't meet mine as she pinches the leather on one of the armrests.
I push a little more. "You're fine with sitting down here? In the basement? No windows? No nice lamp? No coffee table?"
She groans and collapses back on the chair, her backpack making her spine bow out at a dramatic angle. With her sitting like this, her chest presses against the baggy material of her sweatshirt. I can make out the slopes of her breast, reminding me of the pleasure of them molded against my back just a few minutes ago.
"Okay." Her answer pulls me back to the present. "You're right. It's not just the chair."
She struggles to lift herself up, so I stand with an extended hand. After a side eye look at it, she concedes and slides her palm into mine.
The touch of her soft skin against mine is too good to give up. When she's on her feet I keep a hold of her as we stare down at the chair.
"This is a two-person job. I think we might need to call a temporary truce."
I watch her chew on her lip as she glances between the piece of coveted furniture and the elevator. "What are the terms of the truce?"
Her hand is still in mine, which I take as a positive sign.
"Terms ... good idea." I fiddle with her palm as I sort through different options, fascinated with the small calluses I find at the base of a few of her fingers. "How about we work together to put the chair back, then we flip a coin. Winner gets The Spot today."
When I look down to see how she takes my suggestion, I find her watching our hands. I bite down on my lips to keep from smiling.
"Okay. I can agree to that."
Time to give another push. "And you tell me your name. Your real name."
That gets her peeking up at me, self-satisfied smirk decorating her round face. Maybe I shouldn't have shown my hand. Now she knows there's something she has that I want. And if I thought she'd give that bit up without anything in return, I was obviously naive.
"That's not really balanced is it? I should get something else too."
"Oh really. Like what?"
She purses her lips and squints her slim eyes as she stares at me. Then, like the sun bursting from behind a cloud, a glorious grin spreads across her face.
"You have to tell me an embarrassing story about yourself."
Sneaky little witch.
"You think that's a fair trade?"
She shrugs. "You tell me. What's my name worth?"
This girl might actually be a witch, come to think of it. I’ve just noticed the design on her sweatshirt, some kind of satanic symbol: a pentagram inside a sun-shaped circle.
Maybe she cast a spell on me, and that's why I'm happy to spill all my secrets to her.
"Okay, Shorty," I sigh. "A name for a story. But you better pull your fair share when it comes to moving this thing."
"Yeah, yeah. Let's just see if you can keep up." She's the one to drop my hand first.
I'm not sure I would've let go otherwise, which would've made the next ten minutes even more of a struggle. Between the two of us, we heave the armchair across the lower level, then tilt it at an awkward angle in order to fit it in the elevator. Shorty ends up wedged against the back corner, completely blocked in by the piece of furniture. I squeeze myself in and press the third-floor button.
"You know, if I was really cruel, I'd leave you in here." Standing up straight and tilting my head to the left, I can just make out her glaring eyes.
"Try it. See what happens."
My chuckle fills the tight space as we inch between floors, and then I give in to my curiosity. "What's that symbol on your sweatshirt? You worship Satan? But wait ... wouldn't that mean you worship me?" I let my wicked thoughts spill into my grin.
She rolls her eyes. "You are the devil. That's for sure. And it's from a TV show. Which, FYI, you just lost major points for not knowing."
But she just shakes her head, leaving me kicking my past self for not consuming every aspect of pop culture in order to impress sassy girls I meet in the library.
When the door pops open there's some more creative maneuvering and a decent amount of cursing on both our parts before we're able to exit the elevator. But, after that, it's smooth sailing, with Shorty doing a surprisingly good job at holding up her end of the chair. She's hiding some power in that tiny body of hers and showing it off in all sorts of creative ways today.
We stand next to each other, recovering our breath and admiring The Spot put back to rights.
"Okay. Story, then coin flip, then name." She stares up at me expectantly.
"Story, then name, then coin flip," I counter.
The corner of her lip quirks, and she gives me a go-ahead nod.
"Okay. I thought of one on the ride up. You ready for this?" I wait for her dark chocolate eyes to be focused solely on me. If I'm going to make a fool of myself, I want every bit of her attention. "Last summer during a family trip to the beach, I pissed off my brother. It's a common occurrence, so I didn't really think about it. But, when I fell asleep lying out in the sun, he decided to use some sunscreen to write a little message on my back."
Shorty's teeth pinch her bottom lip as a grin threatens to split her face open. Close to a year later, I can see the humor in the prank, but at the time I wanted to put him in a choke hold until he passed out.
"What did he write?"
I give her a good-natured grimace. "Took me a while to realize why everyone was congratulating me and telling me I looked good. The little shit decided to borrow a line from my mom's favorite musical."
She's hooked, listening to my humiliation with wide, excited eyes.
"For the rest of the summer I had to wear a shirt or show off the message 'I Feel Pretty' to anyone who could see my back."
Her delighted gasp has me smirking in response. She stares at me like I'm a fricking unicorn.
"I think I'm in love with your brother."
The breathy statement sends a streak of jealousy shooting through me. A scowl threatens, but I try to smooth it. She's obviously joking.
"Yeah, well, he's underage. So, you're stuck with me."
She grins and leans to the side, as if to peer behind me. "It's not still there, is it?" The hope in her voice brings my smile back.
I shake my head. "Sorry, Shorty."
It takes me a second to realize that she's giving me my end of the bargain.
"That's your name?"
"Hannah," I sigh it out, looking forward to saying it in all different sorts of circumstances.
"Yep. Now flip that coin!" She rummages in the pockets of her navy blue shorts, coming up with nothing. "You do have one, right? Cause I'm all out."
Hesitantly, I pull a quarter from my back pocket. I fiddle with it for a moment as if I'm having trouble gripping it, stretching out the time I have with her.
But all good things must come to an end.
"Call it." With a flick of my thumb the silver sails into the air, rotating fast.
The coin lands neatly in my palm, and I slap it down fast on the back of my opposite hand. Drawing out the suspense, I peak under to catch the first glimpse.
George Washington's head comes into view, and my eyes flick between him and the eager girl in front of me.
"You're in luck." I slide the coin back into my pocket. "The Spot is yours."
The resulting happy dance is a joy to watch. Hannah pumps her fists in the air and sways her hips back and forth, chanting, "I win! I win!" in time with her movements. With a dramatic flourish, she drops her fat book bag onto the coffee table before turning back to me with a triumphant chuckle.
"I'd say good luck next time except ..." She trails off, the smile fading from her face as she glances over my shoulder. "Shit sticks. Really?"
I glance behind me, intending to fight whoever took away her happiness. But the space is empty. Just a few shelves and a wall with a clock.
"I can't believe this. The one Tuesday I get the chair, and my time runs out."
When I turn back around, Shorty has the straps of her bags over her shoulders.
"Hey. What's all this?"
I want to step in front of her, stop her from walking away, but I hold myself back.
She grimaces. "Group project. Gotta meet my partners in the science building. Looks like you win today, Lucifer."
Hannah grins at my frown, probably thinking I dislike the nickname instead of the fact that she's about to disappear. It's not until she's almost around the corner that I get my voice back.
One of her eyebrows quirks up as she pauses to glance back at me.
"You didn't tell me your last name." It's lame, but it's the first thing I could think of on the fly.
Hannah shakes her head and waves, calling out to me as she vanishes around the corner. "The Chair and my first name are enough. You can't have everything!"
That sounds like a challenge.
Want to know what happens next with Hannah and Nathan (or should I say Shorty and Lucifer)? Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get PART 6! I'll be sending it out the last week of January.