This flash fiction story* was published in Susan Stovall’s debut short story collection, COFFEE BREAK ROMANCE, in 2012.
*Please feel free to read and enjoy this story. It is legally copyrighted, excluding the image below, by the author. All rights reserved.
The Bookstore Mystery
Lauren was looking for a particular book.
She loved mystery books and had been searching for the new book in a detective series that she’d been reading.
It was Saturday and she decided to stop by the bookstore to see if they’d gotten the new book in.
“May I help you find something?” the clerk said, as he noticed Lauren walking into the bookstore.
Lauren looked over at him and replied, “Yes, I’m looking for the fourth book in the Castle Detective Series.”
“I’m a mystery reader myself. Good choice. And I think we got a shipment in this morning. Let me go to the back and check on that for you. I’m still a trainee so it may take me just a few minutes. I hope you don’t mind waiting,” the clerk said as he smiled at Lauren.
Lauren didn’t mind waiting. She’d noticed him in the bookstore a couple of weeks ago and thought he was cute.
“Yea, we got that one in,” the clerk said as he walked up with a couple of books in his hand. “Actually we got a few copies in. That’s good because I haven’t read that one yet either. I’ll have to buy a copy. Oh, and by the way, my name is Nick,” he said as he pointed to his name tag. “I just started working here part-time a few weeks ago, mostly as a hobby. I also have a day job. I teach high school English and I love books.”
“Reading is one of my favorite things to do, too. By the way, I’m Lauren. It’s nice to meet you, Nick,” she said as she took the book from Nick’s hand, pausing for a moment as they made eye contact. “Thank you, Nick. Have a nice day,” she said as she started walking away.
Right away, Nick had felt a special attraction to Lauren. He had to come up with an idea quickly so that he could see her again.
“I know this may seem unusual but I get off in thirty minutes,” he suddenly blurted out as Lauren started walking away. “Would you like to meet me at the coffee shop next door when I get off? Drinks are on me. We can have a book discussion,” Nick asked, hoping Lauren would say yes.
“Yes, I would like that. Thanks!” Lauren replied.
“I’ll meet you over there soon. See you then, Lauren,” Nick said, smiling, as he walked back over to the aisle to stock some more books on the shelves, still thinking about Lauren.
After Nick got off work he went through the check out and bought his copy of the mystery book. He was anxious to get over to the coffee shop to see Lauren. He thought she was very pretty. He liked the way her big, round eyes sparkled and her blond hair shined.
When he arrived at the coffee shop, he didn’t see her anywhere. Maybe he’d come on too strong, he thought. After all, maybe she thought it was strange for him to ask to see her, since they’d just met.
She wasn’t anywhere to be found. Why would she have left if she said she would meet him there? He had no clue as to where she had mysteriously gone off to. With a strong feeling of uncertainty still lingering, he decided to go ahead and get some coffee, pull up a chair, and look at his book. He hated to think so but maybe she had stood him up.
Just as he was reading the introduction and sipping on his drink, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he was surprised to see Lauren standing there, wearing a pair of glasses over her emerald green eyes.
“I had to go out to the car and find my glasses. I am so absent-minded sometimes and usually can’t remember where I’ve put them. I use them to read.”
“I wondered what happened to you. I was clueless. May I still buy you that drink?”
“Yes, that would be nice. I’ll have a tall, skinny vanilla latte, please,” Lauren answered, smiling and opening her eyes widely, making sure to make eye contact with him.
Nick liked the way she looked in her glasses. He could hardly take his eyes off of her. He managed to tear himself away long enough to walk up to the counter and order her drink. As he stood there, she studied him intently, wondering what would happen next. Would he ask her out on a “real” date? She was very interested in getting to know him better. After all, she liked several things about him already, including his tantalizing blue eyes, along with his interest in mysteries.
She liked his voice, too, and the way he sounded as he stood there ordering her drink.
A few minutes later he returned to the table, handing her drink to her, noticing how delicately soft her hand felt as she reached out to take it from him.
As they sat down together, Nick picked up his book, gesturing to Lauren. “Now,” he said as he paused for a moment, “let’s get busy reading. We have a mystery to solve!” he said, as he winked and smiled.
Lauren picked up her book, smiling back, feeling her heart beating much faster than usual, knowing that this was going to be her favorite mystery ever. ❤