(WP) Meet Cute: Overdue Books Edition

(WP) Meet Cute: Overdue Books Edition

               (Happy
Valentine’s Day, all! I hope you enjoy!)

The day started with being late:
Liz had slept through her alarm, leaving her no time for a shower. She stopped
at a drive-through for an iced coffee, finger-combing her hair as she waited.

               She
found herself wishing that she’d had the day off today, but she wasn’t that
lucky.

               There
was so much to do after work: errands, laundry, house-cleaning.

               The day
had only just begun and she was already stressed out beyond belief.

               She
took a sip of coffee and set it in the cupholder. Something in the backseat
caught her eye: a bag of library books that were a few days overdue already.
She’d have to stop on her way home.

               Pulling
into work with two minutes to spare, she grabbed her coffee and bag and headed
inside at a brisk clip.

               Liz
worked at one of the country’s top literary magazines as a writer, and she
loved it. Getting paid to write? It wasn’t much better than that.

               The
office was already buzzing, and she waved quickly, walking to her office.

Shoving her hair up into a messy
bun and holding it in place with a pencil, she sat at her computer, eager to
get started.

**

The day went by in quick dollops:
an hour here, fifteen minutes there. She was so busy she didn’t have any time
to watch the clock. When three thirty hit, she clocked out, already making a
note to stop for another coffee.

She had no plans to stop moving;
she would treat herself to a nice dinner and maybe a glass or two of wine. Without
thinking, she was grinning to herself. Today might have started on a rough
note, but it didn’t have to end that way.

She’d never minded being by herself;
she liked being around people, but she was just as content being alone.

She got in the car and began to
drive, making a mental list of all the things she had to do. Laundry, cleaning
the house, balancing her checkbook and paying the bills.

If she hadn’t stopped for another
caffeine fix, she would’ve forgotten about the library books in the backseat.

She put her new coffee in the
cupholder and drove to the library, which was on the other side of town. It was
a stately stone building, with three stories and ivy on its face; it reminded
Liz of a woman’s long tresses.

It felt like home, like safety.

If she wasn’t already so busy, she
would’ve lingered. But perhaps she could later in the week.

She grabbed the heavy bag of books
and put it on her shoulder, locking the car and striding into the library.

She was so absorbed in her own
thoughts that she collided with a broad back, hard, and she and the poor person
she bumped into crashed to the carpet.

“Oh, my God! I’m so sorry!” Liz
spluttered, feeling her cheeks heat. Normally, she was alert to her
surroundings, but she’d just been so distracted and flustered today. “I should’ve
watched where I was going!”

The person she’d knocked over was a
man, with a golden-red goatee and glasses. He was wearing an olive-colored Henley
and dark jeans. He was blushing as well.

“It’s okay!” He said, and much to
Liz’s relief, he was grinning. He’d been holding a pile of books, and they were
scattered on the floor; Liz’s own bag had been dropped and several books had
spilled out. “I shouldn’t have been standing right here, in front of the doors.
Way to cause a traffic jam!” He laughed, and Liz’s heart melted at the sound;
it was so warm and jovial, a big belly laugh.

Liz scrambled to her feet and began
to help him gather his things. He was still kneeling on the floor, and he
reached for a book; it was one of the same that Liz had, and their fingers brushed
fleetingly.

She pulled away as if shocked, and
quickly put her own books back in her bag. Realizing she’d put one of his books
in her bag by mistake, she held it out to him, smiling self-consciously.

“First, I bump into you and
practically run you over, and then I try to take one of your library books! We
really haven’t started on the right foot, have we?”

He laughed, taking it from her. “Really,
it’s fine. And after all, it’s not every day a pretty girl bumps into me. What’s
your name? I’m Rhys.”

“I’m Liz. It’s great to meet you,
Rhys.” She frowned to herself for a moment, then took the plunge, screwing up
her courage before she lost it.

“After I turn in these overdue books,
would you like to go out for coffee with me? My treat. It’s the least I can do
after running into you like that.”

“I’d love that, Liz.”

**