Short fiction written for Alison Tyler’s Valentine’s Day contest.  Head over and vote!  Votes must be cast by the 14th!  Trollop with a Laptop.

I ran my fingers across the spines of the books, searching for 900.09 SMI.  My research was grinding to a halt.  Finding sources was like looking for the proverbial needle in a cliché haystack.  I sighed audibly.  So audibly, I actually had to look around to see if I’d disturbed anyone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the silhouette of a young woman on a step ladder in an adjacent aisle.  Young, cherubic, and thrift-store chic, she was an obvious employee of the library.

I was tired.  I was rummy.  I was weak and my boundaries were slipping.  I’d have done anything to make my project disappear.  And she looked promising.

I wandered over and began looking, nonchalantly, at books around her hip level.  I bent just enough and squinted, inching my way closer.  Suddenly, at least for her, I was inches from her thigh.  Brushing my arm against her leg, I reached for a book.

“Excuse me; I just need to reach past you for a moment.”

“Oh…I can move; let me get out of your way.”

“No…no.  No need.  Stay right where you are.  I’ll only be a moment.”

To test, I slipped the book back into place, hovering near her thigh, so close I could feel the warmth of her skin, through blue fishnet tights.  She didn’t move.  But she did look down as I looked up.  Briefly.

There were no words.  And my fatigue clouded my boundaries.  I placed my palm on her knee.  She looked only at the shelf of books, but she did not say a word or retract from my touch.

My palm moved to her inner thigh.  Moving upward, to the warmest part of her body.  I rubbed my hand across the seam of her tights until I reached the place where her legs met and her folds rippled in momentary softness.

I reached my other hand between her calves to run my fingertips back and forth across the numbers.  700.06 to 700.27.  This steadily encouraged the spreading of her legs just enough to reveal the blue and skin previously hidden by shadow.

She was not wearing underwear.  Her skin, pink and glistening through the strings of the fishnet, was just beginning to swell.

It was enough.  Enough to turn my mind back to my purpose.

I selected a book I didn’t need, stood away from the stacks, and thanked her.  I walked away, placed the book in a nearby empty cubicle, and went back to the reference section.

The quiet was deafening, and I could hear the blood flowing in my ears.  My neck was warm, and my skin was covered in goose bumps.  Every hair was alert to the possibility of contact.  It was an intoxicating feeling that trumped the effects of caffeine, liquor, or medication (prescribed, or otherwise).

In a sea of red reference books on Valentine’s Day, alone on a Thursday, in a quiet university library, all I could think of was blue.

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