Some days are better than others. Libby had decided that this was one of the crappier ones. To begin with, her car wouldn’t start, which had meant that the ten minute drive to work had now become a forty minutes’ walk in the pouring rain. Then half way there, the wind had blown a gale and carried off her umbrella. She ended up at the library thirty minutes late, clothes soaked in freezing cold water and with her eyeliner smudged down her face like war-paint. Grimacing, Libby looked around for Chris or Diane, her two fellow librarians and long term friends. She was annoyed to realize that neither of them was at the front desk. Not that they had any customers to see to, but one of them had the keys to the lost and found. Wearing other people’s forgotten clothes was low on the list of things Libby liked to do, but it was better than freezing her tits off for the entire day.
With the front desk empty, she checked the back office. The two of them were in there, eyes glued to the television screen.
“I see you two are hard at work,” Libby stated, removing her jacket. It was soaking, although it had sadly done nothing to protect the top below, which was also sodden and being white, see-through. The thin material now translucent, and pasted to her dark skin.
“The place is empty,” Diane shrugged nonchalantly, not removing her eyes from the television screen. “If a customer comes in they’ll ring the bell on the desk.”
“Oh and you’ll answer it?” Libby couldn’t keep the incredulity from her voice.
“No. That’s what Chris is for.” She gestured to the man sitting next to her.
Diane was a short women in her mid-twenties. She was skinny, in the way that teenage boys were, a little too lean and little too gangly for grace. Her hair was a shaggy dirty blonde that fell in a mop over her head. Nonetheless, Libby had always thought she was attractive in her own way. Her brown eyes had a twinkling, excitable quality to them, they made her face look alive and cheerful.
Libby rolled her eyes and laughed a little. “You slackers. What if someone was to stage a grand robbery, and steal all the library books, who would stop them?”
“The police?” Chris answered. Chris was a tall man, with pale skin, dark red hair and strikingly bright green eyes. “If you’re so protective of the library, why don’t you go stand out front and ‘defend it’?”
“I would defend this library with my life!” Libby laughed and took a long bow. “However, what I’m actually after right now are the keys to the lost and found.”
Diane finally turned to face her. Her eyes grew wide as she noticed Libby’s soaked body. “You look like shit.”
“The car broke down.”
“That’s not a surprise, your car’s a fucking relic.” Chris added. “And your top’s see-through.”
“Forgive me for trying to increase the library’s profile by adding a little sex appeal to this place.”
“The library doesn’t need any more sex appeal, StarStruck is on.” Diane gestured up towards the television.
Starstruck was the most popular reality TV show on television at the moment. It starred a family of three brothers, their mother, Vanessa and her attempts to launch them to stardom. Not that it was all that necessary, the mother, Vanessa had been a popular fashion columnist and television presenter in her youth. She was a multi-millionaire with enough money to support her family a hundred times over. Nonetheless, the show appeared to find endless drama in the struggles of her and her three sons, bickering over women and work. Libby would have been lying if she said she hadn’t dabbled in watching it. The show did have its finer points. Namely, the ‘Tub of Truth’ which was the ‘safe room’ in the show, a bubbling Jacuzzi where the men and their mother went to confess their ‘secret feelings’. While the confessions might seem fabricated, their muscles were wet and very much real and that was certainly enough to sustain Libby’s interest.
“Have any of them been in the Tub of Truth yet?” Libby asked ringing out her jacket.
“Nope, although the previews show Andrew in the Jacuzzi after the break.”
Andrew Thompson was the quietest of the three brothers. He was tall and muscular with messy dark hair that framed darker eyes. He had an intense sort of feel to him. Libby assumed this was probably because he spoke the least out of everyone on the show. He kept to himself mostly, and was the least prevalent brother. All the viewer really knew of him was that he wanted to design clothes. Libby might have been slightly mocking of the television show, but even she couldn’t deny that this man was gorgeous.
“Alright, well hand me the keys, and I’ll try to hurry back down.”
“Oh, Libs,” Diane began, chucking her the keys. “If you don’t want to wear sweaty strangers clothes I think my ‘Star Wars’ costume is still in there.” The library had put on a ‘dress up as your favorite character’ for the local school children on world book day. Libby remembered that she, Chris and Diane, had gone as Star Wars characters. Diane and Chris hadn’t realized the film series wasn’t based on a set of books and bought three sets of Star Wars Pajamas for them to wear. Libby hadn’t wanted to spend more money on another costume and so had refrained from correcting them.
“I’m not sure I’ll fit into it man, you’re pretty skinny.” It wasn’t that Libby was overweight, usually she quite liked her body, but she had far more tit, ass, and thigh than the spindly Diane.
“Nah, it will, it’ll just be tight and sexy.”
Libby raised an eyebrow. “Who was on your shirt again?”
Libby sighed, some days really were better than others.
The lost and found room was a small and dusty place. Cramped and hot, the aroma of sweaty socks seemed to perpetually cling to the air, no matter how many times they cleaned it. Pulling out a small foot stool, Libby groaned and began to dig about for clothes on the top shelf.
It didn’t take her long to dig out the upper half of Diane’s costume. It was a long Star Wars night shirt, with a picture of Yoda – posed for battle with his green light saber, on the front. Libby smiled as she pulled it over her head. It might not be the most professional thing she could wear to work that day, but to her surprise it (just) fit, it was dry, and hey, she liked Star Wars. She might have been twenty-six, but there was a small part of her that had always longed for adventure. To go on an epic quest, to fight evil, to save the world and be a hero. She also wanted a grand romance with a dark prince or a shining knight, either one was fine. Especially in her head, where they were played by Hugh Jackman. Sighing wistfully, she dug about on the shelves trying to find some bottoms.
After a couple of minutes of digging through old hoodies and stuffed toys she finally found the bottom half of Diane’s bed set which consisted of a pair of small bed shorts with little Yoda’s on them. They just about made it up her thighs, but they were tiny and tight, so she quickly wriggled out of them and hunted for something more fitting. While Libby’s search for bottoms ended fruitlessly, what she did find among the clothes and toys was two light sabers. Laughing, she flicked up the red one and pretended to fight with it, donning ridiculous samurai poses and making ‘shwing’ noises.
As Libby was halfway through a particularly erratic swing of her saber she heard footsteps. Libby assumed it must be Diane or Chris. They had probably come to find her and ask her to come watch Andrew reveal all in the Hot Tub of Truth. Laughing giddily she hid behind the door, preparing to jump out and leap at them with the light saber to scare them when they came in. Holding her breath, she counted down in her head, bending her legs before jumping as the door flew open.
“Hee-ya!” She propelled her weapon forwards.
Libby froze. The voice was male and distinctly unfamiliar. Cringing she looked up at the angry customer she had just struck.
Instead her eyes met an entirely different sight. Messy brown hair and almost impossibly dark eyes, a strange, amused smirk…it was him. The man from the hot tub show. Andrew Thompson.
Andrew Thompson enjoyed being a celebrity. The expensive clothes, the good food, the money – good God did he love the money.
What he didn’t love was the press. And they were fucking everywhere.
He had been trying to escape them for the better part of an hour, ducking and diving in and out of shops and cafés to escape the rain.
He knew it was part of the job description, but holy hell were they a pain. Andrew didn’t even want to be a reality TV star, what he wanted to do was design clothes. Currently he was negotiating a deal with the directors of London fashion week so that they would use some of his designs. This wouldn’t have been possible without the show, and for that he was prepared to suck it up and get on with it. He didn’t love the press, but if you want to cross a bridge you got to pay a toll. This television show was his entry toll.
Besides, the press was practically docile towards him compared to the way they hounded his brothers. He wasn’t shy by nature, but what he was good at was keeping his mouth shut. Good at being just interesting enough for the producers not to complain, but boring enough that he was usually out of the limelight, so far as that was possible.
This attitude had kept him out of trouble, but it had come with its own hardships. He hadn’t had a girlfriend of any description in five years. Although looking at his brothers, he decided maybe that was best. His eldest brother Johnny, was tall and muscular with tan skin and blonde hair, he had appeared in a few soaps, and celebrity chat shows. He reveled in the limelight and had a new women on his arm every other week. Usually small town models who needed a publicity boost, they were shallow relationships that made for good television and helped prop up the nation’s image of him as a ladies man. Johnny seemed to be having fun for the most part, but he knew that his brother found it difficult at times. As pretty as these women were, both parties knew that the relationship was such in name only, it was a business agreement and that could get lonely. On the other side of the spectrum was Aaron, his youngest brother. A model himself, he loved attention and had attracted legions of fans, both male and female alike. Aaron was bi-sexual and the most conveniently attractive of the three brothers. His smooth skin covered a body that was slender yet muscular and his hair was a strange shade of black that looked almost purple in a certain light. This, matched with his striking violet eyes made him eye-catching indeed. The only thing that belied his true nature was his irritatingly smug, shit eating grin.
Andrew frowned, Aaron had had even more difficulties than Johnny. He had recently started dating a man named McKenzie DeLaney. McKenzie was a popular columnist for Smash Magazine that specialized in alternative fashion and music. They had first met when he had given Aaron a bad review in one his articles. He had slated his brother, stating that the pretty faced Aaron couldn’t pull off the punky clothes that had been given to him to model for the cover of one of SMASH’s most recent issues. Andrew loved his brother, but he was a vain son-of-a-bitch and had run straight to the man’s door demanding an apology. Andrew wasn’t sure what exactly had happened in that place, but a week later the family was told (off camera) that they had started dating. McKenzie liked to appear put upon by Aaron, who was talkative and always just a little over enthusiastic, but was simultaneously and begrudgingly amused and endeared by him. In turn, Aaron was utterly enamored by the strange and solitary McKenzie, and found him fascinating.
But it wasn’t a tidy romance. There was no sweeping off the feet, desperate declarations of love or even massive arguments. Instead, what existed between them was a constant tension that crackled and burned every time they laid eyes on one another. Anyone in the same room as them would be able to feel it, although the viewers at home wouldn’t be able to see it.
This had turned out to be a massive problem.
Deep understated relationships didn’t make good television and the producer had instead opted to cover up the romance, selling it to the public as an unlikely business partnership. Aaron had been furious, but McKenzie seemed pleased, he disliked the lime light, even in regards to his own work “I’m a voice, not a picture,” he had told Andrew.
Andrew had disliked the producer’s callous attitude towards his brother’s romantic life, but had come to decide that perhaps it was for the best. He had recently dropped some of his designs over at McKenzie’s apartment for a critical appraisal and had learned some things about his brother that he could have gone his entire life without knowing. The first was that Aaron was a screamer and the second was that he had no regard for the proper hygiene practices of the kitchen counter.
“Shit.” Andrew was snapped out of his thoughts by a flash of light. The paparazzi had found him again. With no time to waste Andrew skidded across the next corner looking for somewhere to hide. Andrew breathed a sigh of relief as he noticed the public library. He liked to read, not that you would know it from watching the show. Fantasy, mystery, romance, so long as it was a good story he would devour it, and it had always annoyed him a little bit that the show tried so hard not to film him with a book in his hand. The only exception was romance novels, and even that was always followed by a nudge into the Hot Tub of Truth so he could talk about his lonely and longing soul.
Once he was safely within the confines of the library walls he spotted a small cupboard and decided to take refuge in there for a few minutes before he perused the books. Just to be safe.
“Ouch,” Andrew called out as he felt something smack against his arm. Briefly he wondered if he was about to be kidnapped, then reluctantly, he lifted his head up to look at his attacker.
She was really quite pretty.
His assailant was a young black women who looked to be in her mid-twenties. Her eyes were a light brown, but they weren’t soft, instead they had a reddish hue and a slight slant that gave her a decidedly wolfish appearance. Her hair was thick and dark, and although it was wet from the rain, tight curls cascaded wildly down her face.
“Sorry I, uh didn’t mean to attack you. I was-” The women looked awkwardly at the light saber in her hand, “Playing.”
Realizing he was in no real danger, Andrew grinned. Having caught his breath, he was now able to survey the scene completely and was amused at what he found. Not only was she wielding a light saber, but she was also wearing a Star Wars T-shirt, and from the looks of it nothing else. Andrew would have liked to have said that at this point he turned his gaze away or at the very least maintained eye contact, but he couldn’t help it when his eyes traveled downwards and couldn’t quite hide his delight at viewing a pair of long dark legs.
His common sense told him to run and find somewhere else to hide. This women was quite clearly crazy. She was wearing a Star Wars top and having a light saber fight with herself. But something else made him take a step forward. The part of Andrew that lived for noise and joy and a touch of mad brilliance, the part he usually carefully controlled to maintain appearances to the press. The part that he squashed deep inside of him, a feral beast that he chained for the sake of his family’s reputation.
That part of him tore apart his common sense, and shut the door behind him.
The women in front of him looked startled, nearly dropping the light saber, before clenching her teeth and raising it as she moved forward in an offensive stance.
“Are you going to hit me again? That’s not very chivalrous. I thought you were supposed to be a Jedi?” He hoped the joke would make her relax a little. Introductions would have been more usual he supposed, but then this wasn’t a very usual situation and he didn’t want to spoil the first taste of fun he had had in months.
Her shoulders relaxed a little bit before she replied, “The light saber is clearly red.”
“Ah so you’re a villain, forgive me.” He bowed deeply, his smile growing wider, this was getting more interesting by the minute. “Allow me to pledge allegiance to your reign of darkness.” The woman’s shoulders relaxed a little, and she lowered the light saber to half-mast.
“What is your name and how shall you serve me?” Andrew smiled, glad she had decided to play along.
“My name Andrew Thompson. I shall be yours to command for eternity, without question, or reservation. Your desires are mine.”
He noticed her flush a little, he wasn’t sure if that was because she recognized his name, or because his words had come out far more flirtatiously than intended. Either way he loved the effect it had.
“That sounds quite nice.” She conceded. “Can you cook?”
“No, sorry.” It was true, Johnny was the chef of the family, whereas Andrew was barely capable of pouring himself a bowl of cereal.
The woman rolled her eyes. “Well that won’t do, if you want to be a part of my evil army you will have to make yourself useful.”
“Couldn’t I fight?”
“Nah, sorry. I was just digging around up there,” she gestured to the cupboard behind her. “The only other light saber up there is a green one. If you were to use that we would have to become sworn enemies.”
“Ooh really? That doesn’t sound too bad, I quite like the idea of a passionate rivalry.” He laughed, “So oh-enemy mine, what is your name? And how did you come to be half naked in this cupboard?”
“My name’s Libby. I work here. Who are you?”
“My name is Andrew.” He noticed a flicker of recognition, although she said nothing. He decided to push the game further, hoping it wouldn’t deter her. “And this is what you wore to work? I suppose that’s one way to get teenagers to read more.”
“Star Wars tops?” She queried.
‘Tight tops and thick thighs,’ is what he wanted to reply, but instead he settled for, “Yes.” Before adding, “Although I thought Star Wars was a film franchise…”
“It is.” Libby sighed. “Why are you here anyway?”
“It’s a public library, clearly I came to borrow a book.”
“I deduced that much,” she responded sarcastically. “What I mean is how did you end up in the lost and found room?”
Andrew stopped and thought for a moment. He liked this girl, and saying ‘hiding’ was a little too much for his manly pride to take. Besides he was having fun, and as necessary as his celebrity life was, it certainly wasn’t that.
“Despite my dashing good looks, I too am but a mere mortal. I took a wrong turn.”
Libby raised an eyebrow. “Dashing are you?”
He was about to respond when he noticed she was shivering. Her wet hair must have been dripping down her back.
Sighing, Andrew removed his wet coat, down to the black dinner jacket he was wearing beneath it. Sure he’d get wet on the way home, but he liked this strange, light saber wielding woman.
“You don’t have too –” She began, as he placed it carefully over her shoulders.
“I want to.” Andrew responded, and he felt his chest grow tight as she eased into his touch. It was nice. He’d spent so long avoiding romance because of the show that he had forgotten what it was like to hold someone like this.
“Thank you.” She replied, smiling.
There was a second of silence, in which his arms stayed wrapped over her shoulders, a lingering moment of heat, before they both reluctantly pulled away.
“So Elizabeth…” Andrew began. Suddenly, he felt rather sad. He had gone so long without having anyone but his family that he had become used to it, but with that small moment of heat and comfort he felt as if he had suddenly become acutely aware of what he might be missing.
“My name’s not Elizabeth.” She interrupted him, suddenly looking very embarrassed.
“What is it then?”
Andrew frowned, “I think that’s a very pretty name. If a little ironic considering your position as an evil overlord.”
“Liberty is perfectly fine. It’s my last name that makes it ridiculous.”
“Please tell me.”
She smirked. “You had better not laugh.” He was about to protest, but she continued. “Remember which of us is armed.” Libby waggled the light saber at him.
“Fine. I won’t.”
“My last name is Belle. Liberty Belle.”
Naturally, Andrew burst into laughter.
Libby poked him playfully with the light saber, “I thought you weren’t going to laugh.”
“I promised nothing.” Once he had stopped laughing, Andrew added, “How’d you get that name?”
“My dad thinks he’s funny.”
“Don’t all dads? With a name like that maybe you should be a superhero instead of a villain.”
She smiled, and put her free hand across her heart. “I can see it now! Liberty Bell, all American action girl, fighter of crime and defender of justice!” Libby laughed, “What would my power be?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t know you that well.”
She frowned and he felt his heart momentarily stop. Andrew realized at that moment he felt really very sad about that. He wanted to add ‘but I’d like to.’
That was when his phone rang.
“Hello?” He tried to keep the irritation out of his voice.
“Yo Andy, it’s Aaron. Mom needs you back at the house ASAP.” Andrew groaned, wondering if he was cursed.
“Is it urgent?” Andrew really, really, really did not want to leave just yet.
“Sorry man, it’s been a slow week. They want you to talk about the hardships of being an overlooked middle child.”
“Johnny’s been doing topless push ups for forty minutes, and I’ve cried twice. I’ve got to be honest man, we’re running thin.”
“And you couldn’t maybe…cry for another half an hour,”
“Sadly, I only have so many split ends to have a break down about.”
‘Damn Aaron,’ he thought, Andrew could hear his shit eating grin through the phone. “Besides,” Aaron continued, “I need to go meet McKenzie in half an hour. I have an appointment with his kitchen counter.”
“You’re an asshole,” Andrew sighed. “But I get the message, I’ll come over as quickly as I can, sob story prepared.”
“Be sure to mention how jealous you are of my looks –” At this point Andrew shut the phone cutting him off. He looked over to where Libby was standing. He didn’t want to leave.
Briefly, he wondered if he should say something. He wanted to see her again. Wanted to ask for her number, hell, to ask if she was single. He wanted another chance to hold her in his arms and have another ridiculous conversation. He wanted to get to know her.But a second vision competed against his pretty dream of happiness, as he remembered the paparazzi. If he got a girlfriend they would go for her in swarms and pick her apart like vultures on a carcass. He remembered his far more awkward teenage years. Remembered the way they picked apart each blemish on his face, each soft ream of teenage puppy fat and every misspoken slip of the tongue. He had gotten used to it, gotten stronger. But he’d had to break to build himself back up, and he wouldn’t want that for anyone.
So instead of asking for her number, or if she’d like to see him again, he muttered, “Sorry, I have to go,” and left.
Libby sat in the lost and found room for some time. A constricting sadness welled up in her chest. At first, she wondered if it was just shock from having run into such an attractive celebrity. But it wasn’t. She had been interested in him. Far from the vapid and vain man she had seen on the television, the Andrew Thompson she had met had been smart and he had been kind. He was intense, there was no denying that. But it wasn’t a dark troubled intensity, but rather a sort of forceful energy that exuded from him, an enigmatic wildness that seemed to want to burst from every word and action. As if he were repressing a fire, that seemed just on the brink of bursting free from his every movement.
She shook her head, hoping the force would knock some sense in to her. It was absurd to have expected anything. If he was anyone else she would have asked for his number, but she had quickly thought better of it. Andrew Thompson was famous. He was surrounded by models and actresses, so why on earth would he be interested in her.
Rolling her shoulders, Libby squashed the lingering feeling of disappointment and headed back down towards the library. She tried to ignore the warmth of his jacket on her shoulders, it would be silly to think about that right now, to miss something that had never had a chance of existing in the first place.
As Libby entered the main part of the library, a cold burst of wind ran through the room and she became acutely aware that she was still only wearing that ridiculous Yoda bed shirt. She sighed, and put her head on the desk. From the angle her head was at she could see that someone had left a book on the side, groaning, she raised her head and picked up the book, supposing that she might as well put it away on her way back to the lost and found room to find some pants. The book was ‘A Room with a View’ by E.M Forster and she opened it up to see if it had been stamped yet.
What she found instead nearly caused her to drop the book. Inside the cover was a letter.
Sorry I left in such a rush. As you can imagine from witnessing that phone call with my brother, my family can be pretty demanding.
Honestly, I might be out of my mind for doing this, but the minute I walked out that library I was struck with a feeling that I was missing out on something. I don’t yet know what it is, but I want to find out. I want to see you again. If you want to meet up I’ll be up the top of Hillcrest International, it’s the big red building on 7th Street. Saturday at 8pm.
I can’t give you my home phone number for security reasons, but I promise I’ll be there. I hope that you will too.
Libby reread the note in frozen shock, before breaking out into a wild smile.
Some days were better than others. Libby decided that this was one of the better ones.
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