A shy mover can't keep his eyes off a distant bookstore owner.
|Peering up at the chic new apartment building, Hannah sighed. Charlie’s parents had finally kicked her out of their house. Hannah knew that wasn’t quite how the story went, but still that was the basic gist of it. Hannah felt dreadfully melancholy. She tried to make light of her depression by thinking she should at least be grateful she didn’t have parents that would kick her out. But the simple reason for that was painfully obvious: she didn’t have parents at all. Well…not anymore.
Charlie saw her best friend’s face go through a variety of changes while her moods passed by. She’d seen Hannah do this more often lately and it scared her. A year after her parents died Hannah did not speak unless spoken to and never cried over the death. It took her a good two years to finally properly grieve over their death. Despite overcoming that obstacle, she never was quite herself again. She’d always been shy, but she at least made an effort to go and hang out with her friends. After the accident, she threw herself in the work her newly inherited business required of her, and stayed away from all things social. As a result, Charlie was the only friend she had left. Charlie saw Hannah’s gaze shift to a group of girls coming out of the apartment building. They were giggling and talking loudly, as any group of best friends would do. Charlie watched as Hannah blinked back tears and then quickly got back to work.
Picking up her own box she caught up with Hannah who was trying to hurriedly enter the building.
“Ya know you really shouldn’t think so badly about my parents. They really didn’t want me to leave.”
“I mean it’s like they didn’t mind I was there. I was just in their way.”
“My parents love me, and they’d let me stay as long as I wanted.”
Hannah stopped before the stairs and looked at her best friend. “Why does it sound like you are trying to convince yourself more than me?”
“You should stop being so melodramatic.”
“I know what you are doing.”
“What? I’m just…”
Hannah rolled her eyes firmly stating, “I’m okay.”
“I didn’t say…”
“Yes you did. You just made up this entirely ridiculous conversation for nothing, because you think I’m too down.”
Charlie stopped trying to think of an excuse while Hannah stared at her. Charlie could never lie to her when she had that calculating look in her eyes. Hannah started going up the stairs, while she left Charlie at the base of them stunned.
“You are a good best friend Charlie.”
Slightly thrown off by the turn of the conversation she watched as her friend disappeared up the stairs and around the corner. She tried to find exactly the point where she went wrong when she was pushed forward into the stairs. She heard a loud thump behind her as someone tried to hurriedly pick her back up.
“Hey, I am so sorry. My great partner here didn’t warn me.”
Charlie looked up dazed at the two pairs of eyes that were concernedly glancing over her. “Oh don’t worry about it.”
“Are you sure?” The light blue eyes asked her.
She glanced over to the second pair of eyes. Too bad she could barely see them. His hair mostly hung right in front of his eyes, but she could tell there was an interesting glint to them. Then her mind realized exactly why she’d probably gotten run into.
“Ya know, you should probably cut your hair if you are going to be in the moving business.”
The dark long haired man looked down shamefully and grumbled an apology.
She laughed to lighten up the mood. “It was just a joke. But seriously you could hurt yourself if you can’t see where you are going.”
His partner’s blue eyes lit up and laughed, “See! That’s what I keep telling him. Thank you Miss Bell. Maybe he will listen to a pretty girl rather than his old best friend.”
She saw that the dark haired man went back to pick up his end of the sofa and waited for his partner. Finally catching the compliment, she glanced back at the compelling blue eyes, “Call me Charlie.”
“Well Charlie, do you mind if we get back to work? Sure am aching to get this job over with so we can stop for a drink?”
She quickly picked up her box and ran up the stairs in front of the movers. She hurriedly went around the corner into her new apartment and dropped the box. She ran over to Hannah who was furiously wiping down the kitchen counter. She whispered into Hannah’s ear as she picked up a cloth and acted like she was helping, “Check this out.”
She nodded towards the door as the blond and brunette movers brought in the sofa.
“Charlie, where would you like this put?”
“Facing that wall is fine.”
They moved a little, eyed the wall, and gently dropped the sofa. As the blond began to walk out of the room after his partner Charlie spoke up, “Wait! What do I call you?”
“Well ma’am. I’d say since you hired us, you’d have every right in the world to call us whatever you want. But if you insist on knowing, my name is Aiden. And my friend…” When he realized he was pointing to thin air he flushed. “Well his name is Jacob. He’s a little on the quiet side. So you probably won’t notice his disappearing act until he’s well…disappeared. Pardon me.”
She waited until he walked out of the door to turn to her friend and grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Isn’t he gorgeous?”
“Aiden. Wow, very appropriate name. His eyes…and his southern accent. So very very nice. He’s so…so…Aideny.”
Hannah went back to her work. Charlie huffed. “Hannah, you can’t tell me you didn’t like what you just saw?”
“You told me to ‘check this out’. So I checked them out, and it didn’t look like they were planning on stealing any of your stuff. And I’m pretty sure they are good at moving things. Did you notice how they put down the sofa? They acted as if it was fragile.”
Eyeing Hannah with an intense gaze Charlie said, “Seriously, Hannah. That’s it?”
“I’m not boy crazed like you Charlie. Now if you don’t stop this conversation now you are going to be utterly embarrassed when they walk back in here and you are still drooling over them.”
Hannah spun away abruptly and went out of the apartment to bring in more boxes. She passed the head mover, James, on the stairs and then went outside. The glaring sun momentarily blinded her so she waited a moment to watch the two movers out by the truck carefully taking out Charlie’s television. Hannah smiled as she thought about the big screen television.
Charlie’s parents really hadn’t kicked her out of the house. They had actually let her stay at their house after her apartment building burned down. She’d been living with them for a year and kept asking them whether or not she was intruding. They insisted that she wasn’t, but she paid them rent anyway. A year after she’d been living with them she overheard their conversation.
“Greg, you know I’d love to go. But we can’t just leave Charlie behind. We have to bring her.”
“But why? It’s OUR vacation. I want to go with you…and just you.”
“I wish I could too. But Charlie is living with us now, and to leave her behind is just rude.”
“You mean to tell me that if Charlie weren’t living with us, we could go on the cruise alone?”
“Then maybe it's about time she found her own apartment.”
“It’s just that we can’t do anything with her around…”
“Gregory Bell, that’s our daughter.”
“Yea I know I said she could stay with us for however long she needed, but that was before I knew she’d be coming on the cruise with us.”
Charlie had informed her parents the next morning that she was moving out by the end of the week. They were extremely worried that she’d overheard their conversation, but she never let on. Actually she stayed at Hannah’s for the rest of the week and only went to her parent’s house to pack up. That was when her parents surprised her with the television. Hannah reasoned it was probably an apology gift just in case she overheard their conversation and if not it gave them brownie points as cool parents.
Hannah stepped aside as the movers passed by her with the television. She momentarily looked at Aiden then shifted her glance to Jacob. She couldn’t see all of his eyes but she could tell the moment when their eyes locked.
Moving her eyes back to the street, she went to her car to take in some more of Charlie’s junk. Which, in Hannah’s eyes, most of it truly was. Really, how many pairs of roller blades does a person who doesn’t roller blade really need? Not three. Hannah also saw no reason to bring in all of these framed posters and paintings if Charlie was never going to get around to actually hanging the stuff up. Hannah was convinced Charlie just brought the pictures so that those watching her move-in knew how cultured she was. Despite the sheer lunacy of Charlie’s machinations Hannah brought in the paintings and posters.
It wasn’t anymore than an hour later, when the movers were leaving and Hannah was this time scrubbing the stove when Charlie accosted Hannah in the kitchen once again.
“You know your kitchen is absolutely filthy.”
“We are going out tonight.”
“No WE are not. I have to go to the bookstore and make sure the day went well…”
“Hannah! Of course it went fine. You have great employees that try to work their butts off, but you never give them the chance. I am sure that right now they are trying to prove to you that even if you are off for the day they can still manage things, when you aren’t around.”
Hannah frowned. She knew that her employees were hardworking and rather bored when she was around, because they never got the chance to prove they could do their job. They were afraid that she’d realize that she really didn’t need them and would fire them.
“I promise. The bookstore will still be there with all its little books in a row. So, what do you say?”
“Where are we going?”
Hannah took her cloth to the sink to rinse it out. Charlie hopped up on the edge of the counter.
“To Edge Blue.”
“That’s a club.”
“Get off the counter I just cleaned that.”
Hannah pushed her friend off the counter and picked up the cloth. She scrubbed vigorously, “You know I do not like clubs.”
“But Aiden invited us.”
“Then you go.”
“I’m not going without you.”
Hannah kept scrubbing and just shook her head. Charlie placed her hand over Hannah’s to stop her and looked into her eyes.
“He’s bringing Jacob, and two other friends, one of which is a girl. Aiden seems really sweet. I just want to get to know him better. But if you don’t go, I am not going without you.”
Hannah understood. After a friend they knew was drugged at a club and then later found in the back alley, they’d promise to always stick together in those types of situations. It just so happened that the one guy Charlie had her eye on wanted to go to the club, but she wouldn’t and give up her chance with him if Hannah wouldn’t come. Hannah wasn’t about to stand in the way of Charlie’s happiness.
“Thank you hon.”
“It’s what best friends do.”
Charlie looked into her friend’s solemn eyes and then hugged her. She really didn’t want Hannah to feel like she was sacrificing herself. She wanted her to have some fun for once.
**** TO BE CONTINUED ****
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