Kate showered and dressed herself as quickly as possible. She was anxious to get to work. She knew the two hours before opening time would drive her mad, but she still felt a sense of urgency. She had to hurry. She had to see him again. If he didn’t show, she would be crushed. She felt as though a swarm of butterflies had been loosed into her chest cavity. Her pulse raced.Just calm down. Keep it cool. He’s just a guy…just a guy.
Rushing to get the shelves stocked with newly arrived books, Kate struggled to contain her anxiety. She had never been so worked up about anyone. Kate had had a few male classmates that she considered friends, but they were all at out-of-state universities. Elise was the only close friend that had stayed in their small town. Everyone else had moved on to bigger places. Kate had even considered attending a larger college herself, but quickly changed her mind when she saw the cost of tuition. She refused to take out a loan for school, so she went to the school she could afford.
Ten o’clock finally arrived. Kate ran to the front door, flipping the closed sign to open. She looked out the front door and windows, gazing anxiously to see if Aidan was nearby. Nothing. It’s still early. Plus, he didn’t say what time he would come by, she tried to persuade herself. Walking back to the checkout counter, Kate switched on the CD player. The first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata flowed into the room, calming Kate’s nerves. She closed her eyes, relaxing her muscles. All of the nervous energy fell from Kate like a drenched coat, replaced with the need to sleep.
The sounding of the bell jolted Kate out of her repose. She jerked her head towards the door to see who had entered the shop. It was him. Aidan. Kate, still sitting behind the counter, reached down and pinched her leg, just to make sure she hadn’t fallen into a dream.
“Good morning,” Aidan said with a brilliant smile on his face.
“Hi,” Kate replied, trying not to fall off of her stool.
“Did your mother make it back safely?”
“Yeah, but she’s leaving in a few hours, so I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked.”
“That’s too bad. You and your mother must be pretty close then?” Aidan quizzed.
“Well, she’s all the family I have, really…” Kate answered. “Speaking of families, I was specifically told by my mother that I must ask you about your family.”
“I don’t have any,” Aidan replied as he picked up a book off the counter.
“None at all?”
“None at all, but it’s not something I like to dwell on. I find that prolonged mourning is of little use.” Aidan stated nonchalantly.
Kate perceived that the subject of family was closed, so she moved on to another topic.
“You never told me what kind of business you were in.”
“I’m an entrepreneur mostly, but I’m here concerning real estate.”
“Are you planning to buy property here?”
“Perhaps, if I can find something that appeals to me.”
“Is there a particular property that you’re looking at?”
“I’ve seen a few that might be of interest, but I’m biding my time. Timing is everything.”
“Well, I’ll take your word for it,” Kate laughed, “I have no experience with that sort of thing.”
“All in good time,” Aidan returned.
Kate noted the blackness of Aidan’s eyes again. There was something so odd about them. Kate wanted to ask Aidan his age, but didn’t want to offend him. Surely he isn’t that much older than me, she tried to convince herself as Aidan made a comment on the rainy weather. She knew her mother would want to know exactly how old he was.