Delicate webs covered the staircase that led to the reading corner on the top floor. They sparkled like silver under the lanterns’ light. Laurel could tell him she had summoned a thousand little spider helpers to spin and weave those webs. He’d believe her. There was also a huge carved pumpkin on the counter next to the cash register. Mark brought the candy to his nose and he nearly had an orgasm out of the sweet, sour and spicy scents he caught.
The old bookshop and café always had that fragrance in the air, of the millions of drinks from her menu. She said the recipes were all hers but the person who prepared them was Corwin, her right hand and assistant.
Mark had always been attracted only to girls and women. He couldn’t deny how alluring Corwin was, though. The man behind the counter exuded raw sexuality, and that made Mark feel intimidated and slightly turned on.
Corwin was probably the tallest person he had ever seen, easily over six feet and ten inches. He often joked he was lucky that the “boss lady” picked up a house for their shop where he didn’t have to hit his head on a door frame. The tall ceilings and arched doors of the bookshop suited him… just like the petite, mysterious Laurel when she was next to him. Corwin was definitely not a man fitted for narrow spaces with his muscular body, broad chest and arms. He was more fit to tie heavy knots on ships than prepare spicy tea and coffee. His athletic figure was useful when he had to climb the ladder to get books from the upper shelves.
Corwin had intense hazel eyes and a rugged face that gave him a menacing appearance. It was a big surprise for Mark once he got to know him better. Laurel’s assistant was both intelligent and sweet. He was probably one of the smartest people Mark ever met. He knew every book at Cinnamon Bookshop by heart and could give lengthy recommendations about all genres, from young adult fiction to philosophical studies. There weren’t many topics he didn’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of.
He was also part of the reason the bookshop was often full of giggling teenage girls who tested their flirting skills on him. Oh well, Mark couldn’t really judge them for that, could he? He had a mad crush on Laurel from the moment he saw her.
“Come on, Mark, open it and read just a few lines.” She interrupted his thoughts, laughed and her honey voice caressed him. A warm feeling was growing inside him, like the first fires of the golden fall.
He took his sweet time to admire Laurel before he flipped through the pages. How could he keep his eyes from her? Her pretty, pale face framed with a veil of raven hair, a kind, yet mysterious smile and plump, ruby lips allured the gaze even when she was out of sight. Right then she had tilted her head in expectation for his next move and played with the frills of the bright red poncho scarf wrapped around her…
… and those green eyes amazed him.
Funny thing, he never fantasized what she’d be like without her long skirts and scarves. They were part of her mystery.
Mark knew he was too young for her but he was helpless to her little cloud of enchantment. No matter what he did during the day, his inner compass always led him up the hill to Cinnamon Bookshop. It wasn’t just her… the entire house was drawing him.
It was that lazy, seductive environment with a thousand different spices lingering in the air, the paper and ink. New books that smelled as if they had just come out of the print with snow white pages and slick covers. First editions with heavy leather bound covers whose fragile yellow paper brought him back to the past with a mere touch. All the tiny details, the silver bells at the front door, the old furniture of the cafe, the lacquered wooden shelves made for a little heaven in his mind.
Sometimes Mark wondered if his attraction for Laurel was even sexual. It was a pleasure for him to be around her and enjoy her presence. Corwin provoked the same sensations in him and he couldn’t imagine the old bookshop without the tall man.
Corwin and Laurel were a gorgeous couple. Mark felt thrilled to watch them together. Laurel suited his towering, muscular figure so well with her soft femininity. They rarely acted like lovers in public but Mark sensed their connection with every fiber of his being.
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