With nose burrowed at a profound depth, and toes rigorously planted in fictional shoes, a unique individual nestled content. Her conscious dwelt in lands far away and was vicariously neck deep in peril.

Quite outside her awareness, in a different realm of reality, a character strutted in, tall and squarely dressed. After requesting a large something with espresso, he let out a pleasant sigh and looked about.

Fresh coffee grounds and cinnamon pastries perfumed the atmosphere. Slouching jewel toned, velvet sofas and arm chairs skirted antique tables topped with ornate, and bizarre, knick-knacks. One wall homed a Victorian bookcase laden with classic literature, while across the room a hearth glowed.

Bearing his mug, crowned with froth swirling in a flower simulacre, the young business man mazed among the occupants to the rhythm of smooth jazz. His eyes lit upon a half-hidden figure cuddled in a Queen Anne’s chair in the corner. Rectangular glasses peeked above a hefty book, and a shock of champagne hair wisped to the side with the turning of a leaf. The thin eyebrows rose in distress and the irises progress across the page quickened to frenzy.

With an impish grin, Charm himself slid his way to the empty seat opposing her. There were other available spaces, certainly, but none so promising.

“Is this seat taken?” he motioned to the matching heliotrope upholstery.

A pause, the worn volume sank a few inches in her lap, revealing a round face with an electrocuted expression. The creature’s lashes flicked, agitated, and then the slender pink lips emitted, “Mm,” in reluctant affirmation.

Unperturbed, the fellow removed his hat, set aside his briefcase, and settled down with crossword and coffee in hand. The bibliophile shifted her feet into an ordinary posture and eyed him suspiciously. After a few flustered moments, she recommitted to her adventuring and soon resumed her feverous pace.

Foot bouncing jovially, he read 12 Down: self taught… He chewed his pencil before filling in, autodidact. 13 Down: disposed to love. He suppressed a grin, wrote ‘amative,’ and glanced at his companion. 

Before him our reader grew further engulfed in her tale until her gold eyes widened, nostrils flared, and emotion climaxed in a startled gasp.

Amused by the progressive drama, the blithe gentlemen snickered, unabashed.

Slamming the novel, she snapped, “You’ve quite ruined it!” snatching up her valise and outer wrap, she added with venom, “Stoker would see you hanged.”

Agog, the industrialist watched her storm the exit. Outside the wind whipped her mercilessly. The stricken foe turned to her empty chair, then back to the door. Re-clamping his jaw and gathering gumption, he abandoned his belongings to pursue the testy cherub into the street, determined this would not be their only meeting.

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