Thursday, May 7, 2009

Your Cheesy Bookstore Romance Pt. 8

She opened the cabinet in the bathroom to put away her things and found a bottle with a pale blue ribbon tied around its neck and a tag with her name on it. “Indulge,” it read. Signed “GG,” with a smiley face. She grinned. Mrs. Graves was so sweet. She always knew what would do Andie good. All-natural bath oil, lavender scented. Andie opened the bottle and breathed deeply. She replaced the stopper and set it back on the shelf. But shortly after her things were put away, she was running hot water in the tub. Turtle moseyed in to find her after a bit. Once she realized she was starting to doze, she pulled herself reluctantly from the comfort of the bath, wrapper herself in a thick robe, and made her way into the bedroom.

She woke at 3 a.m. to find herself still in the robe, the duvet wound around her. She stopped to look out the window as she dug for her nightgown in the dresser; the moon had set, and the stars shone like so many laughing children. The sight over the quietly rolling ocean took her breath away. Once back in bed she slept deep and long. The late hour on the clock when she opened her eyes startled her, and after stretching, she laughed out loud. Turtle ran in and leapt onto the pillow, having finally heard her stir. He nuzzled her face and purred sweetly, but she refused his charms and lay in bed awhile longer, enjoying the feel of it, knowing there was dry food in a dish in the kitchen.

Avery’s new friend balked at the name. “GRYPHon? Sounds like a monster!”

“That’s because I am!” Uncle Gryphon assumed the Monster Stance and chased after the screaming 4-year-olds. When they splashed into the waves, he picked them both up and spun them around, falling into the wet sand with them scrambling to get away, unable to stop giggling.

Then they begged him to do it again.

“Wheredja get your name, anyway?” little Benjamin asked.

“I found it.”

This puzzled the child.

“I found it. It was up in a tree I was climbing one day, looking kind of lonely, and I took it down and used it.”

“You don’t get names from trees.”

“Oh yeah? Where’d you get yours?”

Benjamin thought about it. “A seashell. It was in a shell I found one day.”

“Awesome. Avery?”

“My dog’s butt.”

Gryphon and Benjamin burst out laughing. “Your dog’s butt? Your dog’s butt?” Gryphon repeated as he scooped the boys up again and went running headlong down the beach.

Time to try on the new contact lenses. This was where the princess emerged, right? When they glasses went into the drawer? It was mostly for convenience; she’d brought regular sunglasses instead of her usual clip-on lenses. She’d been meaning to try them for a while, anyway. She’d felt like she needed a change, and she needed to start small.

Out on a lounge she stretched in the sun. She’d forgotten how wonderful it could feel. She lay with her eyes closed, feeling its golden hue as it warmed her skin, oozing over her like syrup, enveloping her in the embrace of an old, watchful friend who wanted only to see her happy. It was just so right, so perfect, with the slightest breeze coming off the ocean and the quiet rushing sound of the waves, that she felt like this was the only place she would ever need to be again. She felt like she could move mountains. What was it about the ocean and the sun that combined to create the perfect setting, to draw the deepest smile, the most contented heart?

He emerged from the waves, hair strewn over his shoulders, water sliding off his skin, his mouth twisted in a wry smile. Oh, he had ideas. He had something in mind all right. He knelt before her and walked his hands up along either side of her body, up to support him as he hovered over her. Water dripped onto her legs and stomach. “Sorry about that,” he murmured. She could barely find breath to speak.

But she didn’t have to, because that’s when she woke up. “Oh my Lord,” she breathed heavily, her hand to her collarbone.

She got up and headed inside for some lunch just before a man escorting a flock of children made his way past.

Turtle sat on the counter, watching her make a turkey sandwich, knowing there would be a crumb for him at some point. They both looked when they heard a meow at the screen door; a scrawny cat scurried away at Turtle’s quick hiss. When Andie went back outside it was with a small dish of cat food and a bowl of water. Turtle would stay in for the afternoon.

She brought her things in and walked into town to browse. She bought an elephant necklace for Mrs. Graves and a brightly colored tin drum bungalow for herself. A black cat sat in one of its windows.

Her last stop was Cravings, for a strawberry-banana frozen yogurt waffle cone. Five kids were at the counter ahead of her, all together, with a somewhat harried-looking man at the center of their swarming mass. What a thing to tackle, she thought, getting five kids to pick and settle on ice cream cones in less time than it took to build a small home. She smiled as she watched him maneuver. Actually he wasn’t doing too bad; a brown-haired 5-year-old was reaching out her hands for a sugar cone topped with peanut butter fudge, and there was only one to go. Their shepherd turned toward Andie as he responded to a tug from the littlest; she thought he looked familiar but couldn’t place where from. Finally everyone had their dream cone, including him; he thanked the girl behind the counter sincerely and stuffed several bills into the tip jar. She smiled, waved off this thanks, and told the kids to come back tomorrow. Andie laughed silently at the instigation in the invitation.

As the group headed out the door, the man’s eyes met hers; his brow furrowed unconsciously as he tried to figure out how he knew her. He smiled quickly anyway. She blinked and managed a small smile in return, and he was gone. She ordered her waffle cone. “Can I also get a cup of water?”

She walked the two miles home smiling. What a wonderful day it was. The rest of the week was supposed to be just as beautiful, and she swung her canvas bag in merry thanks to nature.

It was buying Time magazine at an outdoor newsstand that brought 2 and 2 together for Gryphon: that bookstore in Orlando, that one near the good Indian place. The bookish bookseller who for some reason had intrigued him one day. Well, he was glad to see she was taking a vacation.

Wasn’t her hair different?


Elly said...

I want to go to this place too and get strawberry-banana cones and sit in the sun with a cat.

Moonkee said...

You've been to the town ;)