“Wow,” he said, looking around. “Read much?”
She smirked. “What gave it away?”
“The stacks of books,” he said, throwing his trench coat across a living room chair.
“Make yourself comfortable,” she whispered, to herself. “Coffee?”
“Sure. Black, please.”
“Love them, unless they’re double stuffed, then no, thank you. The cookie is the best part, the filling is just there to give the top and bottom layers a boost,” he said, reading the spines on the books. “You read everything.”
“Not everything,” she said. “And I don’t buy double stuffed, so no problem.”
“I want to look at every book. Every single one.”
“Here’s your coffee.”
“Thanks,” he said, still looking at the books on a shelf.
“So? What do you think?”
“Think? Think bout what?”
“About the apartment, what else?”
“Um,” he said, smiling at her.
“That’s why you’re here,” she said. “To look at the apartment.”
“Don’t move out,” he said. “Don’t change a thing. This is a trendy neighborhood, and I’ll come over next weekend and build more shelves in the other room. You said you needed more space for your books, so I can fix that problem.”
“Of course. That’s what book people do for each other, isn’t it?”
“Not that I know of,” she said. “You’re starting to creep me out.”
He turned to her, three books in his hand. “You love books, know how to make black coffee, and you don’t buy double stuffed. Not only that, you were willing to move from this great apartment, for the sake of your books. You’re the perfect woman.”
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, staring at him.
“Nothing. Where are the cats?”
“In the bedroom. How did you know I had cats?”
“How could you not have cats?” he asked, frowning at her. “I think I’m in love with you.”
“I think you’re in love with my books.”
“And your plants. And your artwork. And I’ll probably love your cats, once I get to know them. I hated Moby Dick,” he said, looking at the paperback, he was holding.
“So did I.”
“Do you read books you hate, or do you stop reading them?”
“I stop reading them,” she said.
“Same here. Life’s too short to read books you don’t like. Are you in love with anyone, at the moment?”
She shook her head.
“Neither am I.”
“You’re not a regular real estate person, are you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I need to measure the walls, so I know how much lumber to buy. Brackets, screws and all that.”
“You can’t be serious,” she said.
“There are a lot of big name authors missing from these stacks.”
“You don’t read best sellers.”
“I like that.”
“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said, obviously frustrated. “Who are you, and…”
“Oh, sorry,” he said, holding out his hand. “Devin Smith. Actually, it’s Devin Ian Smith, to be exact.”
“Are you a relator, or not? I want to know.”
“Now and then. I mean I have my license and everything. I saw your friend Janet, at Todd’s TO GO, and she told me all about your books. She said you were thinking of moving because you were running out of room. She asked me to come over and take a look. Janet and I have known each other for years. We grew up on the same street.”
“Why didn’t she tell me about you?”
“She probably meant to, but you know how she is.”
She nodded. He was right. Janet probably forgot completely, or just didn’t press SEND.”
“Call her,” he said.
She did. “She said you’re not crazy and that she’s known you for years. She said you grew up together.”
He looked at her. “Can I see the cats?”
Fluff and Marlene sashayed out of the bedroom, tails held high.
He smiled and sat on the floor. “Hi,” he said to the cats, who were moving toward him. How gorgeous are you!” he said, reaching out to pet them. “You must be Marlene,” he said to the gray and white long haired. That makes you Fluff. I have a big dog who would love to meet you. He adores cats. You can climb on him and everything.”
“Do you want to stay for dinner? It’s getting late.”
“Sure. Thank you,” he said, getting up. “Janet is a great friend. She said we would like each other, and she was right, at least on my part.”
“That’s why she didn’t call,” she said. “She was setting us up.”
“I’ll have to buy her flowers,” he chuckled. “I’ll make the noodles,” he said, pouring water into the pot.
“Great,” she sighed, thinking of ways to kill her best friend. A fall from her apartment window, poison ice cream.
“Look,” he said, coming up next to her. “Neither of us expected this. I can just go, and if you don’t want the shelves, just say so. No one should be set up the way we were.”
Magic words, she thought, smiling at him. “No, stay. I want you to.”
“Are you going to kill Janet?”
“I haven’t decided yet. Let’s see how the evening goes.”
He nodded, and went back to the noodles.