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Books can’t teach you everything. There is a time in my life when I really thought they could, but then I met Raul and learned that some things have to be experienced. Greetings and salutations one and all, my name is Kym, and I have decided that by documenting my experiences over the last few months I may save someone in a similar situation to my own the years of worry and misery I endured beforehand. So, vitals to start. I am taller than Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton or even Judy Garland. That’s one way to say I made it to five feet tall, and then stopped right there. My hair is coppery red, and I wear it in a pageboy style bob cut with the super cute bangs and everything. I owe my fair complexion to my Irish background, along with my green eyes that do not function without my glasses. I owe my athletic figure to my mom, and never getting over five foot nothing to my dad. And when this story starts, I am 27 years old and my fashion sense can best be described as ‘comfort rules over all.’ I generally wore hooded sweatshirts over jeans and Chuck Taylors as my outfit of choice when confronted with the world.
Hey, it’s a look.
I was wearing just such an ensemble the day that Raul literally walked in to my life. I work at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland Oregon, keeping the labyrinth shelves of books tidy and everything easy to find if you know how to look. I love books. I love the thought that if you want to learn about anything, you can find a book to teach you. Now I know the internet is a wonderful tool, but for me, there’s a tangible difference between trying to find a website and being able to navigate that website to find the info I need and being able to flip through a book and quickly find just the nugget of information I am seeking. I adore learning new things. When all my friends were bragging about getting into Gryffindor house after being sorted on Pottermore, I didn’t need a quiz to tell me I would be welcomed in the house of Rowena Ravenclaw. Of course, I eventually DID take the Pottermore quiz and was properly sorted, thank you, but that’s really not where I was hoping to go when I started writing all this down. What I was trying to get to was Raul. And how he showed me things no book ever did. But it wasn’t at work when he saw me first. That’s just when I saw him first. He first saw me at a time when I didn’t think anyone was looking at me. He saw me perform with my choir.
It’s a bit of a misconception that a misanthrope, someone who hates people as actively as I do, never goes out into public or avoids doing so at all costs. I sing in the choir that supports the Portland Symphony, and it is one of the few times when I truly felt alive in my pre-Raul life. A lot of people don’t get it but hearing one person sing beautifully is great. Hearing five or six sing in harmony is magnificent, but hearing a group of forty or fifty musicians all raising their voices in song, listening to each other, supporting each other, and connecting through music is majestic. We practice once a week and for years it was pretty much the only time I would go out into public other than for work. Thank you Chinese delivery and the excuse to stay home you provide. It was getting to the holidays, which is the busiest time of year for any musician, and so we were in the thick of our concert season. Raul tells me that it was our Christmas Eve performance that he first saw me, third from the end of the second row in the Soprano section.
He saw me. Little old me.
It’s actually a bit of a feat. Like I said, I’m not tall, and so I tend to get lost in the crowd. Raul was there at the show that night just on a whim, he says. No real plans for the night…he just wanted to experience beauty. We sang gloriously that night, our multiple voices blending together into one joyous sound. When we were all done, I said my goodbyes to the talented and beautiful women who stand to either side of me, put on my jacket over my performance ensemble, and got in a cab to go home. Raul says he nearly lost me then and there, but his stalker-like ears heard me tell the driver my address as I got into the cab. From there he found out my name, and in true stalker form, where I worked. I am using the word stalker a lot here on purpose, because when you really get down to it, that’s what he did to find me. He tracked my ass down using his google-fu and shit he learned watching cop shows. Still though…I’m ultimately glad he did.
So again, he finally tracked down where I worked, and kept his stalker game strong by shadowing me at work, learning my routine, even which books I was secretly reading. Ok look…Powell’s Bookstore is GIGANTIC and there are SO many great places to just hide away for an hour or so reading before your shift supervisor wonders where you went off to. I have seven of them. Raul found me lurking in secret hidey-hole number five right after I had snuck away there to get to the next chapter of the tawdry romance novel I had been working my way through. Don’t judge me on that. I can feel you judging me right now. Some books ataşehir escort bayan are meant to be savored like a fine dining experience in small portions. Trash romance novels are like hitting the drive thru at the fast food joint and gorging on some nuggets you know are made from crap and processed all to hell and back, but DAMN if they don’t hit the SPOT!
So there I am, getting to the part of the scene that, well…hits the spot…when I see a man step around the corner wearing a nice grey suit that looked like it was worn regularly, and dark polished shoes. He stood a foot taller than myself, a slim build with black hair tied up in a man-bun, and what I could only assume was a perpetual five-o-clock shadow. I tried to hide the book I was reading behind my back, but he clearly had busted me. I stammered out some sort of ‘can I help you find anything’ to which he simply smiled.
“Oh, I think I found precisely what I have been looking for. I see you are reading the latest from Nora Roberts. I find Naked in Death to be her magnum opus, and find her newer work mostly derivative…let’s see…”
He paused as he scanned the shelves and pulled a Kim Harrison book off the shelf. Her smut is very supernatural in nature, not something I had read a lot of, even with all the breaks I took here in what I thought was ‘hidden’ spot number five.
“Nora is brilliant, of course, and great at what she does, but sometimes we all need to break free from our routines and explore things that are a bit further off the beaten path.”
His voice had a Latin American accent I couldn’t quite place, explaining his warm brown complexion. He pulled the novel off the shelf and stepped closer to me. He smelled like sandalwood as he pressed the book to me and flashed me a smile that made me somewhat weak in the knees.
“You can start it now, I know you have about forty five minutes before Mike comes to try and figure out where you are. I’ll take this other copy and buy it for you. It’ll be at the front desk under your name. Consider it payback.”
Seventeen different things tried to pop in my head all at once while I worked on processing THAT statement, but it finally came down to what I considered the essential two main questions: how do you know so much about me, and what exactly are you paying me back FOR? I did not get a chance to ask either of them, because as I was trying to untie my tongue he had taken my hand, kissed it, given me a small bow, and then backed out of the little corner I had been hiding in. By the time I had reshelved both the book I had been reading and the one he handed me and hurried around to try and get some answers out of him, he was gone. I went back to my shift and tried not to let him get in my head for the rest of the day, but sure enough as I was walking past the front desk to clock out for the day, Judy flagged me down and gave me the copy of the Harrison book and tried to start asking me all sorts of questions about the man who had bought it for me.
Of course it had to be Judy. She is the gossip queen of Powell’s Bookstore. You would think with a store this big and a staff this large there could be some kind of secret she didn’t uncover and merrily spread to everyone who would listen…and in my case, people just trying to get the hell out of work for the day. I dodged her questions by feigning stomach cramps, grabbed the book from her, and shuffled out into the crisp Portland air. I hugged my new book to my chest and walked home, stopping and getting some curry on the way for dinner. I felt that fantastic sense of paranoia as I walked, and kept checking over my shoulder, sure to see a Latino stranger in a grey suit following me. I finally got home, made sure to lock my door behind me, and fed my cat, then ate my curry and did my chores for the evening. I decided it was a fine night for a nice hot bath, so I lit some candles, poured myself a nice glass of pinot noir, set my new book on my bathside reading table, and by the time the claw foot tub was ready and full of steaming hot water, I had taken off all my clothes and eased myself down into the hot, relaxing water.
This bathroom was the main reason I had gotten this house. The tub was over a hundred years old and gigantic. It swallowed me whole and I had plenty of room to stretch out in it. Plus it had the perfect curves and angles for me to be able to sit and read comfortably for as long as I wanted. That was usually as long as the water was warm. The first step in any amazing bath is that first initial relaxation. One slides into the tub and is embraced by the water. Generally, I close my eyes for this part, letting the hot water ease away the tensions of the day. Then, sip wine. After that, I grab my soap, and my loofah, and cleanse my body. Then, sip wine. Next, I dry my hands with a hand towel that lives on the table that sits next to the tub. The brightest candles go there and the book I plan to read whilst soaking. There really is just something romantic about reading by candlelight. Especially escort kadıköy in a nice giant tub of steaming hot water. At that point the bath experience alternates between sipping wine, reading, and occasionally draining some of the water and then refilling the tub with fresh hot water if it starts to get too cold. The bath ends when two of three criteria are met: the glass of wine becomes empty, the tub gets too cold, or when I find a satisfactory stopping point in my book.
I had settled into the tub and had closed my eyes, but relaxation was not coming easily. I just had too many unanswered questions. Who was this guy? How did he know so much about me and my routine? I mean, I was pretty careful about switching up my hiding spots as not to use any one too often, but he had either known that spot five was next in my rotation, or followed me there…so many questions, not any answers. I sighed and sipped my wine, figuring I may as well just forget about it. There’s a lot of weird people in Portland, and weird stuff just happens sometimes. Maybe that’s all this was, just another expression of the chaos of the universe manifesting for me. I reached over for my new book, and as I was lifting it off the table, a sealed letter slipped out from between the pages and fell to the floor. I peeked over the edge of the tub and saw that it had my name on it. Kym.
I set the book back on the table and reached down to pick up the letter. I opened it and found a handwritten note.
I hope you will forgive my somewhat dramatic approach to you earlier today. I must seem a menacing figure but please believe I have absolutely no ill intent toward you. Quite the opposite, in fact. I find you fascinating, beautiful, and enigmatic. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself once again and hurting my cause rather than helping it.
My name is Raul. I would tell you my last name, but I come from a family that is, shall we say, somewhat notorious and does not always paint its members in the best light. I have lived here in Portland for nearly a year and moved here to get away from my families influence. It’s complicated.
I went to the Christmas Eve performance of the Symphony. The musicianship was incredible, and as I looked through the black clad mass of performers, my eyes found you and I was transfixed by your beauty. I was moved, by the sheer joy the music evoked in my soul, and by the genuine look of wonder in your eyes. I tried to catch up to you after the show was over to make a more traditional greeting, but you were already getting in a cab to go home. I couldn’t help but overhear you give the cabbie your address as you got in. From there I was able to learn your name and where you work. I apologize if that all sounds rather underhanded, but I am more than a little smitten by you.
I tried to manufacture another encounter with you. One where I could invite you for coffee, or to a movie, or any number of the overused and trite rituals we use while seeking companionship. I watched you at your work and became even more enchanted to see your rebellious spirit sneaking in book breaks while on the clock. It is not that I lack the confidence to approach you, but rather that I felt like any mundane flirtation would be unworthy of you. It was then that I decided upon this plan.
Let me be frank. I very much would like to start a relationship with you. However, I have absolutely no idea whether or not a relationship is something you also desire. Tomorrow, if you would like me to cease my pursuit of your affection, the signal for that will be for you to wear black shoes. I will be sad, but I will utterly stop my efforts and you will never see me again. However, should you be interested in an adventure, in breaking from your routine, then any other color of shoe will do. If that is your decision, then I shall continue enacting my plan to ensnare your heart. The decision is entirely yours.
I sat back in the tub and let the letter fall to the floor. I was stunned. I had no clue what I was going to do. So I did what I always do when I have a question that needs answering. I read. Maybe that sounds like putting the problem off, but its been proven that even when you aren’t actively thinking about a problem your subconscious is still gnawing away at it. So I picked up my new smutty book, took a long sip of wine, then another, and settled into the tub. The water had started getting cool, so I turned on the tap, and as the steam once again was rising off the top of the water I opened the book and started on the first chapter. I have been reading since I was four years old, every day, and I have become quite proficient at it. The story began, characters were introduced, and then by the time my wine glass was getting low the story hit a nice steamy section. As lovers found each other in the story, my fingers started wandering under the water. As their bodies entwined, my fingers were tracing familiar paths along my most sensitive parts. Hey, there’s a reason why romance bostancı escort novels continue to sell, folks.
Eventually the book was set back on the table, the wine finished, the tub drained, the candles blown out, and I snuggled into my bed for the night. I lay back on the pillow and closed my eyes. All I could see as I drifted off to sleep was Raul’s rich brown eyes drinking me in, how his hand felt as he took mine, the softness of his lips as he kissed it. My dreams that night were vivid…and I woke up yearning for a carnal relationship in ways I had never felt before. I guess I was pretty smitten as well.
I got out of bed and began my morning routine. Start the coffee, feed the cat, pee, make my breakfast, eat my breakfast, back into the bathroom once the coffee kicks in, shower, get dressed, and then head off to work.
I had only just made it to the third item on the checklist when I was reminded that I had a pretty major decision to make that morning. As I sat on the toilet I saw the letter where it lay from the night before. I read it again and was still no closer to making a decision. I kept my morning routine going, and then it came time to make my choice. I was wearing my green Oregon Ducks hoodie and jeans, and I could have worn my black chucks to go with it, or I had green ones that I would normally wear with this hoodie. My gaze went from one pair of shoes to the other. There was a part of me that was screaming that what Raul had done was sketchy at best and dangerous at worst. But then I had a thought. How hard would it really have been to find out all that stuff out about me? I certainly had become a creature of habit. I guess it came from never having to do things anything but my way, so that just became rote.
But was that really how I wanted to live? Knowing that because it’s Thursday that meant I would order falafel for lunch from the food truck near the store and dinner would be pizza from Ginos? Knowing that tomorrow was choir practice after work and then the weekend would once again be consumed by books? My weekly routine had been the same for so long I couldn’t actually remember how long it had been like this. Let’s not even get into how long it had been since I was in a relationship. All I want to say about THAT mess is that you learn a lot in college, and it’s not always fun. I was perfectly happy with my life the way it was…but how would I feel in five years, or ten, if I didn’t take this chance now? Would I eventually be an old woman, still making my eggs for breakfast and knowing what I would eat for dinner based on what day of the week it was?
I set my jaw and put on my green shoes. Let’s see where this goes. I figured if it got TOO weird I could always shut it down, but so far Raul hadn’t done anything TOO egregious. And honestly, I was really curious to see what his next play would be. It wasn’t too cold, or rainy, so I walked to work as I normally would. I didn’t check behind me to see if I was being followed, but I did try to see if I could spot anyone who may be lurking somewhere checking on my shoe choice for the day. But by the time I got to Powell’s and clocked in, I had not seen any hint of anything out of the ordinary. When lunchtime hit, I went outside and went to the falafel truck. There was a line, like always, and by the time I got to the front, the vendor was already asking if I wanted the usual. I was about to say yes, but then I suddenly got the urge to be spontaneous, and I told him no. I got kebabs instead. I went and ate my lunch outside, even though it was early February and rather chilly out. I pulled the strings on my hoodie tight and ate my warm roasted meat off of sticks. I smiled as I made my way back into the store for the second half of my shift. It seems I was capable of all kinds of changes to my tried and tested routine.
The work day came to an end and I clocked out of my shift and walked back home. Three steps past Voodoo Donut I pulled out my phone and called Ginos to put in my order. As I walked into the pizzeria, Gino himself greeted me, as he did every week, by saying, “Kym, you always time it just right! Your pizza just came outta the oven!” I smile, pay, take my pizza and walk the last few blocks home, where I checked my mailbox and saw a similar cream-colored envelope to the one I opened last night. There was no postage, no return address, just my name written on the front. I was instantly intrigued. I opened my door and walked in. My cat pounced on me, demanding food, obviously about to die from hunger, despite having eaten that morning. The letter could wait. I fed Crookshanks and poured myself a nice big glass of wine to consume with my pizza. The pizza was still hot but cool enough to eat without damaging the roof of my mouth. I sat at my little kitchen table and took a sip of wine as I opened my new letter.
I passed last night in a restless and fitful attempt at sleep, wondering if I would have to abandon my pursuit of your affection, wondering if I had made a huge mistake, wondering if I had come across as far too strange a man to consider as a paramour. But one glimpse of green shoes this morning took me from a sleep deprived and overly caffeinated wreck of self-doubt to floating upon cloud nine, visions of a glorious and adventurous future ahead.
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