Happy Saturday to you! I felt bad not posting a Steamy Saturday last week, but it was a ridiculously busy week for me. I was overwhelmed by the process of selling my car and buying a new one in a matter of four days! The little time I did have, I felt it was more important to respond to comments on my published pieces and catch-up on all of my lovely friends’ blogs than to turn out another piece of my own. I’m still playing catch-up, so I apologize if I haven’t made it to your blog yet. I just had to write another story of my own this week because I’ve found that if I only write prompt-based pieces, I don’t gain the personal/creative satisfaction that I need. 🙂
Now, I love to keep my posts brief, as I worry higher word counts will deter readership. However, I’ve determined that my vision for Steamy Saturday doesn’t allow for anecdotes. I’m the kind of person that can’t just jump right to sex, in both my writing and my personal life. Plus, the build-up is half the fun, right? I apologize for the length, but I don’t feel like writing a subpar story just to throw sex at you. I’ve read books that do just that, and I find it repetitive and less than satisfying. You deserve better than that!
So, no matter how much I’ve edited this story, it refuses to be contained in just one post. If you enjoy it, then you get to look forward to its continuation next week. I sincerely hope you do, because this is one of those stories I wish I didn’t have to interrupt with my human need for sleep. Ugh, I’ve really got to take those damn Christmas lights down tomorrow too. Yes, I realize it’s been four months since the actual holiday, and at this point, I might as well leave them up. But hey, we had one hell of a winter, so stop judging me and start steaming up your Saturday! 😀
With all my love and gratitude,
Pushing open the heavy glass doors into Marley’s Books, I look around to see the store nearly deserted. Nestled in the quiet and quaint city of Luddington, Michigan, its typical patrons include a few locals and tourists that happen to wander into its 19th century, brick architecture every now and then. The emptiness within its walls doesn’t bother me, as I feel accompanied by the authors lining each aisle I wander down.
I can easily lose a few hours here, but today, I’m determined to peruse only one section. As I approach the bookshelf labeled “New Age,” my eyes scan across several books whose philosophies I’ve never once considered. That is, until my grandfather insisted I study one book. With his dying wish, he assured me that by immersing myself into the life philosophy that he had followed through his golden years, I would better recover from my hectic career hopping within the financial industry.
My fingers, long overdue for a manicure, pull out the Tao Te Ching. I brush off a thin layer of dust before opening the antiquated cover. Within the first few phrases, the translation from Chinese does little to aid my comprehension. Bringing the text closer to my eyes, I squint so intensely that I develop a throbbing headache.
Sighing, I pull my face from the book and notice a figure from the corner of my eye, standing only a couple of feet away. I look over to find a man in his late twenties with tousled, sandy hair and hazel eyes. In his hand is a black book that must be at least a thousand pages or more. His eyes flick up to mine, and a subtle smirk slides upon his lips. I quickly return my gaze to the book in my hand. I’ve never actually made eye contact with a man that so closely resembled the handsomeness of a Greek God. Although, this man, with his purposeful gaze and his stubble sprinkled jaw line, is gorgeous in a rugged way…A way that leads me to reopen my book and dive back into Taoism, as a means for distraction. No matter what verse I flip to, I’m overcome with the urge to flee the store with my less-than-innocent thoughts about the man beside me. Locked into the ground, my feet prevent me from doing just that, and I silently curse them for holding me captive.
“Looks like the Tao is quite perplexing,” a smooth voice mentions from beside me.
“Oh, er-” I look up to see his eyes scanning my face, his brows arching in apparent amusement. “The translation is just…baffling.” I twist my mouth, trying to recover from being caught off-guard.
“I know the feeling,” his teeth barely peek through a soft smile, “I’m decoding some ancient texts, myself.”
“Really, what about?” Any hope of suppressing my inner geek is long gone.
“Ghosts, demons, premonitions of the apocalypse…typical stuff,” he casually replies.
A laugh bursts from my mouth, but I cut it short, noticing that his smirk has settled into a solemn line. “Oh, you um…you believe in that stuff?” I cautiously ask.
“Absolutely. Like I believe in the existence of gravity.”
“I thought all of that was just a myth, no offense.”
“Life would be a lot easier if it was, trust me.”
He glances up and down the aisle, so quickly I barely notice.
“You speak as if you’ve had personal experience with these things.” I turn directly toward him as curiosity bubbles within me.
Shutting the book, he turns to me and closes the gap between us. His chest, only inches away from mine, radiates a warm, woodsy scent.
“More than you could imagine,” he murmurs, “It’s quite exhausting, really.”
“Then why do you do it?” I ask, fighting the magnetism pulling my body closer to his.
“Someone’s got to do the dirty work.” His jaw buckles, and I sense resentment buried beneath his skin.
“You’ve got to take a break sometime…” I bite my lip, stifling the lewd suggestions burning on my tongue.
“Never had a good reason to…Not sure I’d know what to do with myself…” Tilting his head closer to mine, I watch as his eyes trail down to my lips. I slowly swallow and notice the desire quickening my pulse.
“I can think of a few things,” I mention and quickly regret coming on to him so blatantly.
Chuckling under his breath, he looks up at the ceiling before piercing my eyes with his. “I apologize for not asking your name…?”
“It’s Abby. What’s yours?” I feel my skin blush.
“Mitch.” He sighs, and I watch the lustful intrigue drain from his face. “The thing is, Abby, you really don’t want to get mixed up with me.”
“How would you know?” I challenge, as I encounter an entirely new frustration.
Mitch looks over his shoulder before leaning in closer, his eyes narrowing. “What I do isn’t a nine-to-five job. It’s dangerous, and it’s my life…” Running his fingers through his hair, he deeply inhales.
“Well, I’m tired of playing it safe, and I can think for myself.”
“Look Abby, I’m not trying to make decision for you,” his voice escalates, “I’m telling you the facts. Someone always gets hurt, and you’re no exception.”
I scramble to construct a witty retort, but Mitch suddenly pulls me behind him. As he backs up, I’m pinned behind him and the bookcase.
Snapping his head back at me, Mitch’s furrowed eyebrows and clenched jaw silence me. The shelves press into my back, and I strain to look over his shoulder. Though, all I can see is his head scanning from one side of the aisle to the other. The fluorescent lights above start flickering, and he spins around, now pinning me to the front of his chest. I open my mouth to speak, but his harsh eyes demand me to do otherwise.
The quickening of his heart vibrates across my skin, and while I sense we’re under threat, I can’t stop the fantasies that darken my mind. I want so badly for him to slam me against the books even harder, to rip my blouse open, or at the very least, to kiss me. But all I can do is watch as his head rapidly turns from left to right, searching for whatever might be after him…or us.
“They found me. It’s too late,” he whispers. His hot breath sweeps across my cheek and ignites an even deeper craving within me.
The store goes black, and there’s an abrupt rattling in the back of the store. That’s when reality twists my stomach and the yearning that fueled my pulse is immediately replaced by terror. A heavy scraping travels from the back of the store toward us. I hear it weaving through every aisle. Books are thrown from the shelves as the cases crumble to the floor. Only one aisle from ours, the pace of destruction slows, inflicting torture before our inevitable death. I press my eyes shut, but this doesn’t prevent the tears from searing down my cheeks.
Mitch runs his hands up the sides of my body and stops at my shoulders. The rigidity of his body steadies the trembling of mine. The bookcase behind me juts forward. Mitch presses against its frame, as it threatens to collapse on me. The case starts shaking heavily, and I notice the books on both ends of our aisle begin to fly as the shelves crackle beneath them. Whatever these creatures are, I can’t see them.
“Abby, I need you to trust me. Are you ready to run?”
I quickly nod before asking myself the same question.
“We’ve only got thirty seconds before this demolishes the store.” From his coat pocket, Mitch pulls out a metal object, illuminated with red lights. He methodically punches various buttons on it until the weapon buzzes and the lights rapidly flash. As he tosses it to the ground, the object emits a thick fog. He wraps his arm around me, and we run. The fog, so pungent it gags me, rushes out ahead of us. As it rises, the fog reveals the figures surrounding us. Though, instead of attacking, they writhe, as the vapor smothers them. I stumble over a pile of books, but Mitch swiftly lifts me up before I can fall to the floor.
Nearing the front of the store, an earsplitting racket of crackling and rumbling arises from where the device remains. My widened eyes shoot over to his. Amidst the flying sparks and roars of our dying assailants, his eyes focus on mine with calm resolve. Finally reaching the doors, we pull and push, but they don’t budge. Mitch and I look back to the beeping device, but the dense fog blocks our view of anything further than three feet from us. Unflinchingly, he pulls a shiny object from his pocket, a black pistol. With his hand closest to me, he covers my ear and presses my face into his chest. Mitch raises the pistol to the doors in front of us, and I automatically squeeze my eyes shut. All I hear is the faint screeching, muffled by his shirt, and his constant heartbeat. Then this bone shattering vibration, and then another, travels through his body and into mine. He releases my head from his chest but abruptly pulls me forward, sprinting through the sea of shattered glass.
I don’t know what hits me first: the blistering heat, the shaking of the pavement beneath our feet, or the deafening boom that’s quickly replaced by a soprano ringing. Though, I don’t look back.
As we reach his motorcycle, I dutifully put on the helmet he hands me. After helping me settle into the back of his seat, he pulls out the Tao Te Ching from inside his coat and places it in a hidden compartment. Mitch takes his place in front of me and I slide forward, wrapping my arms around the stoic man, whom I’ve known for barely an hour. The engine revs and the bike rumbles beneath us. As we speed away from the rubble that was once my sanctuary, my body melts into a man who has both endangered and saved my life in a matter of minutes.