'You're late, again.' Joe moaned at me as the bell jangled when I walked through the door of the dusty second-hand bookshop.
'I know, it won't happen again.' Dumping my bag behind the desk, I sat down and pulled my long hair out of my face before pulling a book out and settling down for a quiet afternoon shift.
'That's what she says everytime and I still believe her.' Joe muttered to himself as he walked into the stacks. As bosses went, Joe wasn't bad. He was only just thirty and was already losing his hair but was still looking good. He was nice to me too. The shop didn't get many customers and he could run the place by himself, but he still kept me on because he knew I needed the money.
I focused on my book, desperately trying to get into Hardy's long-winded sentences and blocks of description. Personally I preferred books with a little more action and romance, but Tess was on our course for A-level so I couldn't get out of it.
'What are you reading?' I almost jumped out of my skin when the unfamiliar voice broke through my bubble of silence. I was surprised I hadn't heard the bell go.
'Tess of the D'Urbervilles,' I said, holding up the book. The voice belonged to a man of about twenty, with dark brown hair that brushed his jawline and striking dark blue eyes.
'I'm not much of a fan of Hardy myself, but I'm impressed to see someone else reading it.'
'I wouldn't get too excited,' I laughed. 'I'm reading it for school. Hardy isn't really my thing either.' I closed the book, marking my place with a scrap piece of paper. 'What are you looking for?' His hand scratched the stubble on his chin as he thought.
'There was something I needed to find but it's just gone completely out of my head.'
'I wouldn't worry, that happens to me all the time.' I smiled widely at the guy, my eyes still studying his face.
'Do you mind if I take a look around?'
I shrugged. 'Be my guest.' I pulled out my book as our newest customer wandered off into the maze of shelves. He was in there for some time before he reappeared, empty handed at the desk. 'Didn't find what you were looking for?'
'No, but I like this place. There is something safe about it. I could get lost in here for days and not be worried.'
'I know what you mean,' I agreed. 'This is probably one of the few places I feel at home.'
'I'd better go.' The man said, looking at his watch. 'I'm meant to be meeting some friends five minutes ago.' I couldn't help but laugh at the funny way he structured his sentence.
'It's almost time for me to shut up too.'
'Then I suppose I'll see you again at some point.'
'I'm here most days.' I said.
'Then I'll come and visit you.' He smiled and held out his hand. 'Lucien.' I shook his offered hand.
'Louise, but my friends call me Lou.'
'So I'm considered a friend am I?' He looked pleased.
'Only if you're nice to me,' I joked. 'See you soon.' I waved as he walked out the shop door, the bell clinking behind him. A few minutes later Joe appeared and said I could go home, promising to close the shop for me.
Imogen and Rob were out when I got home, so I settled down on our battered old chair, in front of the tiny TV we had saved for months for, with a tub of ice cream and channel hopped until I eventually decieded it was late and I crawled upstairs, into bed and fell asleep.