Story Time was over for another week. Thank God.
It's amazing, thought Marian Mott, that the mere fact of conceiving and bearing children could turn people who might otherwise have been reasonable rational adults into such fools. Watching a mother pleading with her little heathens to "let go of Mommy's hair" brought her own parents to mind for a moment.
Actually they hadn't played a large part in Marian's early life. She had never had much need for instruction from without, being of strong character from birth. Her recollections of them were dim, and from the distance of years (well, not that many), she remembered them as damp and somewhat ineffectual.
"I cannot understand why parents find it so difficult to control their children," she said out loud.
Henrietta, one of the Hodges from the east side of town, was sitting at the cataloguing computer, tapping irritatingly away on the keyboard.
"Those dreadful children made such a din," Marian went on. "I have a serious headache beginning."
"Actually," Henny said in a small tentative voice, "I thought they were pretty well-behaved. They're only children, after all. You can't expect them to sit still and be quiet every minute."
"Really. Well, if you feel that way, you won't mind straightening the pre-school section."
Henrietta paled. "Now? There are still children in there."
"I was planning on doing that after we closed."
Marian picked up, one by one, the returned books in the pile on the counter, and ran them under the scanner. "I think perhaps we should try," she said, gesturing toward the open doorway where a young girl could be seen tumbling all the books off one shelf and arranging them around herself in a sort of nest, "to make some inroads on it before that."
"But….but….I have all this work to do right here," Henny protested desperately.
"Pish tosh. You won't have any trouble catching up tomorrow."
Henrietta looked at the seven three-foot-high stacks of books on the floor next to her chair. "I think I might."
"Oh, all right, if you're going to be such a baby, I'll help you with them. Go on, now, and I'll do this stack while you're gone."
"But you always get them in the wrong---" At Marian's raised eyebrows, she heaved a big sigh. "All right, but if I'm not back in an hour, come rescue me."
"Of course. I'll set the timer like I always do."
Marian eyed the stacks. The paperbacks, she thought. Quick and easy. They required no musing on the Dewey Decimal System, nor any mucking about on the Internet to find the necessary cataloguing information. Frankly, Marian had often thought books could just as well be shelved according to the colors of their covers. So far, she hadn't found a lot of support for her idea.
The first paperback was authored by the current diva of literature. The rumor in library circles was that she dictated them in her nightgown while a young secretary of the opposite gender pantomimed the monologue in his underwear. Marian suspected he then pantomimed them without his underwear. She considered that for a moment, then shook herself and went on to the next.
A western. One of those perennials, reprinted again and again, ad nauseum, because the author was deceased and not there to stop them. She sighed, and imagined Tom Selleck as the hero of the title, tied to a tall post, while a quartet of----no, no, not Tom Selleck, he was much too serious of late----Sam Elliot, yes, he was probably still fun, and there was that moustache……Sam Elliot tied to a tall post while a quartet of nubile Indian maidens removed his clothing with their sharp knives…….
A crash, and a loud squeak from the children's room roused her. I might have to shut that door, she thought.
The next one had an interesting cover. Two shadowy blurry forms clutching one another…….statuary, drat. She riffled through it, and stopped on page 142, where this caught her eye:
"The heat of their bodies, their desire, rose by vaulting degrees, as though they had to no more than touch and feverish passion stung them to the quick.
"'Don't stop,' she breathed, his penetration inflaming her senses."
Marian fanned herself with Sam's book. It was getting a little warm in here.
"He knew better, but he whispered, 'Never…..' and glided in a fraction more, sensitive to the limits of sensation, less reckless than she.
"'I want to die of pleasure……'"
Well, yes, Marian thought, don't we all? Better than being hit by a bus.
She remembered her last lover, a wonderful man, brutal yet tender, strong and compassionate…..not a snappy dresser, but all the more reason to get him out of his duds.
Their union had been all the more poignant for it's brevity; and she remembered with a surge of emotion his last words to her, as if she'd heard them just yesterday……..
"I'll never forget you," he'd said to her, "Even though I have to leave you, you'll always be here," and he placed her palm against his chest, "in my heart. Good-bye, my love."
Marian heaved a big sigh. Life had to continue, of course, but there would never be another man like Officer White.
She turned her attention back to the book in her hands.
"Riveting sensation jolted their bodies, thrilled through their senses, burned away all but rapacious need, and they moved in the heated water in an agitated-"
Marian blinked. That didn't seem quite correct. No, it didn't say that, it said, "-in an agitated flux and flow that sent waves of water onto the carpet. Unmindful, driven by a frenzy of torrid desire, they wildly took and gave, greedy, impatient, consumed by a carnal hunger -"
She ignored that. It didn't belong.
"---a carnal hunger that burned away all but feeling, and when their orgasmic culmination exploded over them, they were both left breathless."
Oh my. Marian exhaled, a little breathless herself.
Who the devil was that? Marian realized her eyes were shut. She opened her eyes, and then her mouth to tell whoever it was to go away………oh, my…….
She tossed the book, which had been pressed against her generous and shapely bosom, aside and stood up.
"I'm sorry to trouble you, madam," the man on the other side of the counter said, with a charming smile.
Marian's knees felt weak and shaky, which usually meant she had low blood sugar, but she didn't think that was the reason this time.
The reason was big and blonde and smelled of the sea---the nasty, dirty, stinky, algae and slime laden sea---but that didn't matter, it was the romance of the sea that mattered, and he had plenty of that. She would hold her nose if she had to.
"Have I disturbed your work?" He spoke with an English accent that sent shivers through Marian's body. Did it matter that his origin was a mystery, as was his motive in seeking her out and accosting her in this public place? And his smell, since they were a hundred miles from the beach? No, nothing mattered except the hunger in Marian's heart---or somewhere---for love.
He glanced about him. "I'm sorry, is there someone else with whom I might speak?"
Oh my god, she thought. Long blonde curls trailing down his back, and good grammar, too! Her heart---or something---swelled with emotion.
Thoughts of Officer White flitted across her mind and evaporated in the heat. "He left," she muttered. "His loss."
The Englishman frowned and took a step back. She thought of running around the end of the counter and decided that was too slow. So she sat on the counter, swung her legs around, and hopped off in front of him.
He seemed startled.
"I can help you," Marian said. "I'm the librarian." She wondered if he thought she purred. She felt like she was purring.
His biceps bulged from under the short sleeves of his black tee, teasing her, inviting her touch…..
"I was told you had---" He hesitated when her finger trailed up his forearm through the golden hair there, toward one of those lovely biceps.
"---umm, geological statistics on microfilm---"
"We have microfilm." Marian had a terrible urge to place her palm over the small bump just visible under his teeshirt. So she did it.
"Ahhh, madam, I don't believe---"
"It's Miss. Miss Mott."
He looked at her for a moment, and blinked, and then he smiled. Her heart leapt within her breast with the beauty of that simple expression on his face. Leapt, did a cartwheel, a double back flip…and then she was out of breath. Her heart was out of practice.
An Apollo, a blonde god in a black tee right here in her library. A blonde god watching the rise and fall of her bosom with a smile made of the rays of the sun, blinding her with its radiance. Figuratively speaking. If she actually were blinded, obviously she wouldn't be able to see. And she wanted to see.
"If you have microfilm, you must have a microfilm reader," he said.
"Yes, we do," she breathed. "Kiss me." She took his hand and placed it against the small bump just under her own shirt…..which was on a great big bump, but he didn't seem to mind.
He smiled again, then cocked his head to the side. "My dear lady, I'm getting the distinct impression you'd like to show me more than the microfilm reader."
"What would you like to see?"
He laughed. "Well…..that's the question, isn't it?"
His laughter reminded her of sun-drenched afternoons on a white sand beach, beside crystal clear water, not that green nasty stuff she saw the last time she was at the beach, a loaf of bread nestled in a basket next to their towel……no, scratch that, it would have ants all over it in short order. A bottle of wine, unopened…..which they drank immediately as soon as they opened it so that the ants didn't get in it…forget the wine, this was getting too complicated.
The man in the black tee took her hand from where it still rested against his lovely broad chest, turned it so that their thumbs were intertwined and brought the back of it up to his lips, watching her from under his brows while he did it. (Yes, yes, we know everybody watches from under their brows, where else can you look from? Give me a break, it's just poetic, you know?)
Oooooooohhhhh…………..oooohhh myyyyy………….there was the first one………and she wasn't even undressed yet. Her bones turned to jelly (figuratively speaking, in reality that would be silly) and she felt like slithering to the floor at his feet. But then she'd be looking at his knees and she'd rather look at his face. Or even something south of his face, as long as it was north of his knees.
There was another crash from the children's room, a torrent of childish giggles, and a few shrieks, then "Help, Marian, help me!"
Marian backed to the doorway of the children's room, so she didn't lose sight of him, and slammed the door shut.
"You know my dear, I really think we should find a spot with a bit more privacy, don't you?" he said as she walked back to him. He said "privacy" like he was saying "privy", you know, in that snotty English way, but it didn't seem snotty to Marian…..well, it was slightly nasal…..but wonderful just the same.
He followed her gaze toward the reference room, and grinned. He held out his hand and said, "Come."
"I already did," Marian replied faintly, "but I'm ready to try again."
His shout of laughter echoed in the library, and it brought a reflex desire to say, "Be quiet!" but Marian stifled that as being inappropriate for someone to say who has high hopes of being seduced.
"My dear," he said, "I was asking you if you were coming with me."
"Not yet, but I hope that's the way it works out."
He pulled her through the door. She was entranced, bewitched, bound by the spell of the seafarer. Then she thought of something.
"Are you a sea captain?"
"Am I a what?"
"A sea captain. Are you a sea captain? Not a hard question."
He raised one eyebrow and pulled his tee shirt off over his head. "Would you like it if I were a sea-captain?"
"Yes." She ran her hands all over that lovely wide chest, and kicked the door shut with her foot. "Oh, yes."
"Then sea captain it is. And you are----?"
He laughed. "The sea captain and the librarian. I can do that."
His laughter washed over her like…..like……dammit, something watery and sloshy, but not icky…….oh well. It refreshed her, it revived her, it would get irritating eventually if he didn't stop it, but right now it was ok.
"What's your name?" she asked when she raised her mouth from his neck.
He backed her up against the wall with his body. "What would you like it to be?"
"Jack. I like Jack."
"You're a mind-reader." He lifted her skirt and wrapped one of her legs around his waist. "I'm Jack the sea captain. Now," he said with a grin, "What would you rather do, hoist the stay'sl, or climb the mainmast?"
As it turned out, she got to do both. She learned about starboard and larboard and yar, the lesson on the foc'sle made her tremble and cry out, and by the time they got to bowsprits, she never wanted to come aground again………
His hair came out of its tie at one point, and fell over her face, and got in her mouth, but it didn't taste too bad, and it was so silky and soft, there wasn't any need to make him tie it back up. And actually, it felt good in her hands, and it looked so nice around that smile……..
Alas, as with all journeys, even this kind, the end comes. She thought the end came once before it actually did, but she was wrong and that was nice, but now the end was actually here.
"The wind is gone from my sails, lass," he said finally.
"Are you sure?" Marian asked. She placed both hands firmly on his aft compartment, and asked him in a different way. The slow sunshine in his face made her want to weep with joy. Of course if she'd done that, he might have been concerned, and then the sunshine would have been gone, so she didn't.
"It appears there might be a small breeze left. Shall we see?"
There was a saying, "Good things come in small packages." Marian knew that was a load of hogwash. She knew what kind of packages she liked, and it wasn't the small ones. Guess who thought that saying up.
Small breezes, though, that was a different thing…….
All the patrons had gone, except for the children, before she and Jack had emerged from the reference room. There were stacks of books lying all higgledy-piggledy on the counter and all the tables. "Pigs," she said in disgust.
Jack had protested his love, and then his regret he couldn't stay with her, before he left.
"I must be off, the sea calls to me like a mistress," he'd said, and then turned roguish. "I'll come and see you again the next time I'm in town, shall I?"
"I'll miss you," Marian said disconsolately. "Where are you going?"
"I'm off to Brazil," he said, and then chucked her under the chin. "Next time I'm here, perhaps you'll have thought of a new game."
Marian was confused. "I don't know what you mean."
He studied her face for a moment, and sighed. "No matter. I believe my ship is a three-master, and we only explored one of them this time…..and you didn't even get a peek into the hold."
"Ooooo," Marian said.
He smiled. "Bye, then, luv."
She mourned his leaving for about 10 minutes, and then went looking for Henny. Her assistant was laying on the floor in the pre-school area. Marian clucked and shook her head.
She waved her hand at the seven children who were sitting on top of Henny. "You're just encouraging them," she said. The children giggled. Henny didn't say anything. She appeared to be unconscious. Oh, well.
The children's parents picked them up ten minutes after the library's closing time…..as usual.
Marian locked the doors of the library from the inside. She went into the back, found a blanket left over from the air raid drills in the forties, and draped it over Henny, who was snoring on the floor.
Back in her office, she opened the bottom drawer of her desk and took out a book. There was a picture of a beautiful ship on the cover. She found another blanket and a lumpy pillow that was supposed to resemble a giraffe, and took them into the reference room. Settling herself on the floor, savoring the lovely ache somewhere we can't mention, the scent from his heated skin still in the air, she opened her book at the bookmark and began to read…..
"There was something very young and slightly ridiculous about Jack……."
Not long afterward, she pulled her scratchy blanket around her and snuggled down into a lovely dream of an intrepid voyager, rescuing damsels that looked amazingly like Marian from varied and most terrible dangers. Lots of cannon fire, and big explosions (she liked those); lots of kisses and whispers (she liked those, too); and a big blonde sea captain with plenty for said rescued damsels to hang on to.
"Avast," she murmured, and thought once more before she fell deeper into slumber, how lucky she was to work in such a wonderful place. Anything, absolutely anything, could happen to you in the library.