“Abrielle? Why aren’t you listening to me?” I looked at the girl in front of me impatiently. Her open features were distorted in a scowl and her golden brown hair bobbed on her head as she shook it in exasperation. My ears were attacked by the shrill tune of the telephone so I hastily picked it up.
“Happily Ever After Books, how may I help you?” I asked, my voice thick with a pleasant and helpful tone that never otherwise came from my mouth.
“Excuse me, but do you have Twilight?” A young, whiny voice asked me. I tried not to sigh or scream.
“Yes we do. Are you interested in buying it?”
“We’ll keep it back for you. You can come and pick it up whenever you like during shop hours.”
“Good bye.” I put the phone down and slammed my head down on the counter in front of me. Kayleigh tilted her head.
“Twilight again?” I made some sort of noise in acknowledgement.
“You’d think that everyone had read it already! Are there no other books in the world?” I marvelled. She angrily shook her head.
“People should be reading Hemmingway or Wilde...”
“Or maybe Jodi Picoult or Phillipa Gregory like normal people?”
“No can do.” We both turned when we heard the bell of the door. I beamed when I saw who had entered. “Looking for a book?” I asked. Elijah laughed.
“Do you usually pounce on customers as they walk in the door?” He said, his mouth twitching with a smile.
“Oh no, only the chivalrous ones. And business is slow” I shrugged. “I get bored easily.” He smiled.
“Well can you take a break from your busy schedule? I’m here to entertain you with conversation and coffee.” I fake swooned.
“My two favourite words. I’m yours.” I said, throwing my keys at Kayleigh. “Look after the shop?” I rhetorically asked, waving absent-mindedly as I left through the door that Elijah held open for me.
“A friend?” He asked, motioning towards Kayleigh.
“We’ve been best friends since secondary school. She works in my shop in the holidays, and I’m pretty much paying her to keep me company and chat.” I told him, laughing.
“Do you go to school?”
“Yes, but I also have to run the shop.”
“Interesting.” He said as we got to the cafe. He opened the door for me again, and I smiled and chose a table in a corner where we wouldn’t be disturbed. “Do you know what you want?” He asked me.
“A latte, please.” I said, opening my bag. He shook his head.
“No, I’ll pay.” He said before going up to the till to pay. While he was gone, I took in my surroundings. The warm orange colour of the room made the room seem darker and hotter than it really was. I closed my eyes and inhaled the rich, sultry smell of the coffee. Despite the constant whirring and banging, the room was calming and relaxing.
I opened my eyes just as Elijah came back from the counter. I smiled at him as he sat down. I leant forwards and clasped my hands in front of me.
“So, you promised conversation?” I said jokingly. He leant back in his chair and the waitress brought our drinks.
“Tell me about yourself.” I sighed.
“Well, there’s not much to know, really. My last name is Schuyler, which is Dutch although my mother was French Canadian and my father was English.”
“Was?” He asked quietly.
“They died 3 years ago. My absentee aunt is supposed to look after me, but when I turned 16 she decided that I could cope on my own. So, I was left with a big house and a shop to look after, whilst studying for my GCSE’s, and now A Levels.
“It must be hard.” He said, sympathetically and sincerely. I smiled.
“I’ll live. Money’s a little tight, but I try to make the best of it. I’m looking for a lodger but people only come down here for a holiday, not to live.” I told him. He sat forwards in his seat.
“I was actually looking for a place to stay.” He said making invisible patterns on the table with his hand. “Perhaps you could lease the spare room to me?” He asked. My heart did a little jump in my chest and I raised my eyebrows.
“Well it’s your turn to talk about yourself. Then, I will make my decision.” I told him, an amused expression gracing my face.
“Of course.” He said, smiling. “I have 6 brothers and sisters. I used to live in London with them... and there’s not much else to say.” He looked at me.
“How old are you?” I prompted. A strange expression flew across his face, too quickly for me to catch it and recognise it.
“I am 25.” He told me.
“Well, I believe that you are welcome to stay in my house, Elijah.” I said, grinning. He raised his tea in acknowledgement.
“Thank you, Miss. Schuyler.” He replied and I laughed. As I finished my drink, I could feel his eyes studying me as if I were a painting that he was trying to understand and memorise.
“What is your favourite subject in school, Abrielle?” He asked me. I smiled.
“History.” I told him. He smiled.
“A lover of history?” He asked.
“Only the older history, not anything past the 1900’s. It fascinates me.”
“And ancient history?”
“Of course; it shaped our modern politics and many aspects of everyday life.” I told him, looking into his beautiful, dark eyes. I blinked a little, and broke the connection. “Do you want my number? SO that we can arrange when you are to move in?” I asked him. He nodded and I took a piece of paper from the notebook in my bag and jotted it down then passed it to him.
“I will call you soon.” He told me as we stood up. “Would you like me to walk you back to your shop?” He asked. I shook my head, and smiled.
“No thank you. I will be fine.”
“Good bye, Abrielle.”
“Good bye... Elijah.” I watched him as he walked into the sunlight.
When I got back to the shop, the first thing that Kayleigh said to me was,
“Who on Earth was that!?”