"Oh come on, one more drink?" The man slurred at me.
"I have to cut you off, I'm sorry." I shrugged.
"Don't be a fucking bitch." He growled.
"If you want I could get security?"
He snarled but wobbled away in to the crowd.
"One of these days, someone isn't going to take the threat of security seriously," Tom, my bar mate said.
"And when that happens they'll learn that I've got a killer right hook." I laughed it off. Sometimes, people at the bar got a little rowdy, and it did worry me, but it was best to pretend you were all together. People generally only go for you if they sense weakness.
"Alright. But just so you know, this is why I walk you to your car every night."
"Well I didn't think it was because you were in to me." I chuckled back and he grinned. "I'm sure your boyfriend would have a problem with that."
Tom rolled his eyes at me and headed off to serve another customer.
Working on Friday night had prevented me from getting home until 3 am, and I had to get up at 7:30 to get ready to work at the bookshop, where I spend most of my weekend. It is generally quiet, and so I can work on my essays or study without much interruption. The owner works the week, but spends the weekend with his grandchildren, and was very happy when I asked for a weekend job.
"Now, what else...?" I mused, looking at the plan for my final report. I was making some notes on the psychology of a serial killer, sitting on the floor, when the bell went at the door.
"Hello?" I almost dropped my pen. That voice... no, couldn't be... I peeked out from behind the bookshelf.
"Hi. Sorry. Just give me a second." I could see the tell-tale red waves through the gaps in the shelves, and scrambled to my feet, picking up my work. When I emerged from the shelves, she raised an eyebrow.
"You're one of my students."
"Helena," I nodded.
"I thought you preferred Lena?" She smiled.
"I do." I shrugged. "So what can I help you with?"
"Very professional," she noted. I watched her as she looked around, taking in her hair, down for once, and her casual skinny jeans and leather jacket. She looked good. Woah, cut it out. "I'm looking for a copy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
"I think I can handle that," I replied, motioning for her to follow me. I led her to the classics and traced the bindings until I found the right one. There were several, in fact. My favourite; a beautifully bound blue leather one with gold inscriptions. "Plenty to choose from."
She let her fingers stroke the binding of my favourite before pulling it from the shelf and examining it.
"This one is beautiful." She murmured, to herself I assumed, but I couldn't help but agree.
"It is. So are the illustrations." She glanced up at me and then leafed through until she came across one. She stared at it for a moment.
"Yes. You're right."
"Well, I have to be occasionally," I shrugged and smiled. "So is there anything else I can help with?"
"No... this is perfect."
"I hope you're not going to write in that book."
"Sorry?" She frowned.
"Well, from a psych perspective it has merit as a text to study from, but it's a beautiful copy and I'd hate to see it written on, even for the purposes of research and education."
She studied me for a moment, like I was a mystery, and then her lips tilted in to a small smile.
"I have no intention of defacing this book. I promise you."
"Well good." I nodded. "I'll be at the till then."
She followed me, rather than looking around, and waited patiently while I placed the book in a paper bag.
"So... if you work here, when do you have time to get all your work done?"
"I work here on weekends, and it's quiet enough that I can work." I gestured to my notes.
"Ah, so you have your week day evenings free too."
"Not all of them. I work at a bar. Club... bar... it can't really work out what it's supposed to be I guess."
"Two jobs and a PhD?" She raised an eyebrow. "I'm impressed."
"Thanks, I guess?" I shoved my hands in to my jeans pockets, slightly embarrassed.
"I didn't take you for someone that was easily embarrassed." She was still studying me, and there was something about those cornflower blue eyes that had me almost lost for a smart comeback. Almost.
"Well not many people bother to analyse me this closely." Fuck it. If she was going to keep staring at me, I was going to flirt. Might get her to back off. "I didn't realise I was so fascinating."
"Most people don't have as many facets to their personality as you."
"I really don't know whether you're trying to insult me or not."
"I'm not." She smiled. "I'll see you in next week's lecture." She picked up the bag and turned, heading outside and leaving the bell tinkling behind her.
"Well fuck." I took out my phone to ring Beth.
"Len? What's wrong? I thought you were at work? You never call me from the bookshelves."
"You will never believe who just walked in here."
"What? Yes, how'd you guess?"
"Well, you never really get freaked out about anyone but famous people, stalker exes and Aussie Mac, so..."
"She just bought that copy of Jekyll and Hyde I love, and she was asking me about work and Uni and analysing me."
"Well maybe she's doing a paper on the psychology of students."
"Or maybe she just fancies me." I grinned, playing with my pen.
"Even if that's true, nothing is going to happen, so please do not start pursuing someone you can't have. It'll drive you mad and you should be concentrating on your PhD. I mean god forbid I encourage your one night stands, but they're better than you losing your head over a woman for the first time in your life in the most important year of your life, so far."
"Wow, jeez, come on Beth! You know that's not me. I don't fall for people." Not quite the truth, but that was something that no one could analyse out of me. And it was a very long time ago.
"True." She laughed. "So are we done freaking out about why she's trying to analyse you like a patient?"
"I'll stop worrying, until she starts asking me to draw clocks, or talk about my parents."
"Yeah, when that happens, I'll worry too."
"You're already worried."
"You know what I mean."
I laughed and we finished the conversation. But as I continued to make notes, I couldn't help but think about the way that she looked me over. I really couldn't work out if she usually studied people like that, if she really was analysing me, or if she had a thing for me. Whichever it was, it was definitely fascinating.