The Adventures of Marian, the slightly aggressive Librarian,
Rivals meet, and the expected eruptions are noticeably absent…..
“So,” Henny said. “That’s how it is.”
Mike didn’t say anything. He’d listened very quietly to everything Henny had told him (which wasn’t everything, not by a long shot; she hadn’t really had any lovers before, but she knew there were things you just didn’t discuss), didn’t break into laughter, didn’t try to tell her how mistaken she was, just listened.
After ten minutes or so, Mike said, “Let me put this a little differently, and you tell me where I’ve got it wrong.” Henny nodded. “There’s a program on your computer here with initiative capabilities. It doesn’t need to be prompted, it comes up with topics on its own.”
Henny frowned. “I guess so, but it’s He, not It.”
“Or….he’s someone you met on the internet and he’s such a good conversationalist that you feel like he’s really here, inside your computer.”
She shook her head. “No.”
Mike took a deep breath. “OK. Or…..you have dreams about--“
“OK.” He thought a little longer. “You put your head next to the crack in the case and this program networks with your brain.”
“Do you know how that sounds?”
She looked steadily at him.
“OK. So you like this……guy???”
That was really a hard question. “I’m not sure. I think so. He’s not…..an ordinary person.”
Mike raised his eyebrows. “Right.” He sat and thought for a minute. Henny didn’t say anything else.
“I can see that this is bothering you…..but I don’t understand what the problem is,” he said. “If you want to……” He sighed. “…..see him, you do whatever you do; and if you don’t, you don’t.”
“But I’m his only friend, don’t you see? He’s all alone except for me.”
Mike thought some more.
“And now that he knows about you, I think he’s a little frightened that I won’t need him anymore.”
“Do you need him?”
That was a good question. “Um…..I suppose not……but…..kinda.”
He asked her question after question. He listened to her answers; he thought about what she said. She was surprised.
“I’ve been working with computers for a long time, Henrietta,” he said finally. “And I’ve never heard of anything like this before.”
“You don’t believe me.”
“I didn’t say that. I just don’t understand it.”
“You could talk to him. He said he’d like to talk to you.”
“You mean, networked? Or…..”
“No, no, with the keyboard. Let me ask him first…..”
anything for you
are you up to something?
She let Mike have the chair in front of the monitor, stood behind him while he looked at what was on the screen.
go sit down, henrietta
“How does he know you’re standing there?” Mike asked.
Henny narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know. But he usually always knows what I’m doing. It’s really annoying.”
go read a book or something
“If he says that to me one more time, I’ll…..turn him off.”
“Boyfriend?” Mike said.
Henny turned red. “Never mind. Just talk to him and get it over with.” She supposed she looked like a Christmas tree, with green hair and red cheeks. She grabbed another paperback off her bookshelf, this one entitled “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” which turned out not to be about firefighters, as she’d thought when she picked it up off the exchange rack, but was instead a chronicle about a couple that meet at an AA meeting, and decide to give up smoking together. She read the first chapter, but it was hard to stay focused; she couldn’t forget about Mike sitting in front of the computer. After a slow start, he was typing furiously, stopping and reading, typing furiously, reading, typing, reading……..
The couple in the book apparently decided they could disregard the 12 Steps, and kick their habit with love alone……and they were both so noble and long winded, she couldn’t stand it. Skipped to the middle. Aha, it hadn’t worked. Someone was cheating. The other someone was heartbroken, betrayed. She skipped to the end. Love conquers all. She sighed. Threw the book down.
“Aren’t you done yet?” she asked.
“Not yet,” Mike said. She watched his tongue peek out of the side of his mouth while he typed. Concentrating. It was cute. She watched his mouth. A flash of tongue, then open, shut…..lick, bite top lip……tongue…..it was slightly hypnotic.
She shook herself. Not really---can’t you just see her clutching her own shoulders, shaking away? No, this was a mental jerk, a blink and a breath, and she thought, I need some chocolate.
She propped her chin on her hand, on the arm of the sofa. Watched his feet instead of his mouth. Tap. Tap. One foot wiggle. Rub top of foot against pant leg. Then against other foot. Wiggle.
She took a deep breath and let it out. “What are you two talking about?”
She started to get up off the couch; Mike said, “You can’t look.” Still typing away.
“Cause it would be rude. This is a private conversation.”
Henny raised her eyebrow. “Really. Well, maybe I should just go out and leave you two alone. I’ll bet I could find somebody to have a beer with me.”
“Don’t do that.” Typing, typing, typing…..reading…..typing, typing, typing.
“Because…….” He typed a few more characters, and then reached for the power switch on the monitor. Clicked it off. Stood up. “…..I want you to stay here with me.”
“Well…..this is my house. So technically you’d be staying with me.”
“Not if you’re not here.” He walked over to her, studied her; face, neck, arms…..he was so intent, she felt like he might be able to see right through her shirt……put his hands in her hair. “I wanna stay with you. How’s that?”
She blinked. He kissed her before she could ask any more questions.
Picked her up. Kissed her again. He was stronger than he looked, she thought. Must be all those bowling balls…….It took him two tries to find her bedroom, he carried her in the bathroom first, but it was a little house, her bedroom was right next door…….he carried her in and kicked the door shut without turning on the light.
She thought about protesting. It seemed awfully high handed, to just pick her up and take her wherever he wanted to go, and do whatever he wanted to do……so she thought about it. For about five seconds. She just had time to notice his facility with the fastenings on female clothing (he got her bra off faster than she could have done it), and then she was too distracted to think about protesting or anything else.
Turned out he was handy with more than just underwear.
“OK,” Marian said.
It was dark. If there was moonlight, Marian didn’t know about it. She couldn’t see anything. She was glad they’d found a track of some sort to run along, instead of through the jungle.
“Never mind.” On the other hand, if there were branches and things to fall over, instead of this bloody interminable sort-of-a-road, maybe they could have spent some of their time doing something besides running.
“There was supposed to be a truck waiting here,” her rescuer said. “Damn. Well, come on.” He took her hand.
“No.” Marian pulled her hand loose and sat down right where she was.
“We have to go.”
Silence. Then Mr. Camo-face sat down next to her. “All right, we can rest a minute.”
“This is just stupid. Why aren’t we going toward the airport? Why are we running off into the forest---“
She raised her eyebrow. Too bad he couldn’t see it. “Why don’t we just go back? Where are we going, anyway?”
The man took a deep breath and sighed a big sigh. “I can’t tell you everything…..”
Of course not, Marian thought, disgusted. That’s the way it always is.
“…but there are other things happening at that airport that are actually more important than this little hijacking. Things you don’t want to be involved in. Things that need to proceed undisturbed. Things that we don’t want jeopardized by the bunch of amateurs that took over your airplane.”
She thought about that for a minute. Then she wanted to smack him. “You let them get away!! You dragged me out here in the middle of nowhere so they could get away, and I wouldn’t know about it!!”
She couldn’t help it. Rescuer or not, she had to let him have it. She swung. Couldn’t tell if she missed because it was dark or because he ducked. Then his arms were around her, and she couldn’t swing again.
“No, no,” he said in her ear. “I imagine Dino’s got at least some of them stashed away for later, but we couldn’t risk a gun battle right at that moment. Makes a lot of noise, and blood is hard to wash off the cement.” He rubbed one hand up the outside of her arm. “You have goosebumps. Don’t hit me, now; we’ll see what we can do about that.” She couldn’t tell what he was doing at first, but when his shirt settled around her shoulders, she couldn’t stay angry. It was warm from his body, yum; and when she touched him, she realized his arms were bare. And large and lovely, from the feel of them. She ran one of her hands over his bicep, and tried to picture it, ‘cause she sure couldn’t see it, more’s the pity. Where the hell was the moon when you wanted it?
“What’s your name, anyway?” she asked.
“Terry. And I know yours, Miss Mott.”
“Call me Marian.” She slid her arms around his neck, rubbed her ample bosom against his chest, and waited in the darkness to feel his lips on hers…….
“If you’ll trust me a little longer,” he said. “I think I know a place not too far from here where we can spend the night. A little more comfortable than the middle of the road.”
Marian sighed and put her arms down. “Fine. Lead the way.”
Maybe she just wasn’t his type. Maybe he didn’t care for mature beauty. Or ample charms. Or intimidating personal confidence. Maybe he was one of those legions of men who was more beguiled by incompetent, wimpy, wispy little waifs that always needed rescuing. OK, OK, Marian had needed rescuing this time, but she didn’t make a habit of it. And nobody could ever mistake her for a wispy little waif.
Another possibility---she had heard there were men that didn’t enjoy women making the first move. She’d never met one, but she’d heard they existed somewhere, so maybe that was his problem. A worse possibility occurred to her, but she shook it out of her head. It would be sad if he was just not interested in women……
He took her hand and helped her to her (aching) feet. “Not too much farther now,” he said, and started loping down the track she couldn’t see. She didn’t have much choice but to try to follow him.
“Alone in the dark with the handsomest pair of biceps I’ve seen in quite a while,” Marian muttered, forgetting that she hadn’t actually seen them, only felt them (she had a good imagination), “And a lovely deep voice, and a sweet rear end……and what is he doing? Running in the other direction. Un---believable.”