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YOU come into the bookstore and my eyes follow you with the chime of the doorbell, watching as your fingers slip from the doorknob, your nails painted black and tipped at the ends. Your eye makeup is dark and your hair is black, tied back into a low ponytail that makes it seem like you aren’t high maintenance and don’t care too much about your appearance when you obviously do. I tilt my head to the side, wondering what you’ll buy as you pass the mysteries and biographies and finally find yourself in fiction. You feel my eyes on you because you turn your head to look at me, and god your lips are full and beautiful, and I wonder what they would look like stretched around the length of me. You smile at me, those full lips pressed together and hiding so many secrets and my hands start shaking and I need Ativan, but it’s in the basement and I don’t want to take it. You’re into me, and the way your eyes linger on me tells me you want me but then you turn away and you’re searching the book titles. 


I remain at the register, Women don’t like for a man to come on too strong, I think but I keep watching you, those black nails tracing over the spines of the books and I imagine you dragging them down my back as you’re screaming my name. You’re looking for something in particular, and I think you’re going to buy Stephen King because your skin is pale and your face is smooth like you’ve never tanned a day in your fucking life. You pass the Ks, and stop in front of P. You stand there for a minute and I move from behind the register and head in your direction, being the good bookstore manager I am and seeing if you need any help. You don’t notice me walking up to you and why would you? I hear the music playing in your headphones before I’m within five feet of you and you’re listening to Marilyn Manson and I bet you’re dirty and want to be choked.


I’m close enough to smell your perfume before you notice I’m there and you smell like spices with an earthy undertone, and I want to push my face into your neck and breathe you in until I’m drunk with the taste of you. You turn and your shoulders go rigid for a split second when you notice I’m there and your face flushes pink in embarrassment and I imagine how many shades I can make you turn while I’m between your legs and before I have the chance to speak, you’re pulling out your headphones and your voice floats to me, soft and low, “Can you help me find something, please?” You smile at me with your teeth now, perfect and straight and I see a flash of metal in your mouth and goddamn do you have a tongue ring?


“Of course, what are you looking for?” I force my voice to stay steady and I’m practically chomping at the bits for your answer. 


“Danielle Paige, she uh, wrote Dorothy Must Die?” You seem embarrassed that you would be into that, and your olive eyes are scanning my face and I notice your checking me out and I take the time to look at you more closely. Your shirt is low-cut and I see you lilac bra peaking out where your breasts meet and I think I should be the only one to see you this way and I want to throw my jacket over you so no one else can see the beautiful swell of your breasts. 


I lean over to the bottom shelf and pluck it from the row of books, handing it to you. When you take the book, your fingertips graze mine and I know you want me and I want to devour you right then and there. “Thanks! I read it’s kind of a twisted version of the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is evil and apparently a castle gets dropped on her,” you’re talking to me and this is good, because you want me to talk back. 


I laugh and indulge you, hoping I can get you to keep talking. “She must’ve thought there really was no place like home then,” I wink because I think you’ll like it and you start laughing at my joke and your laugh is like a bell chime blowing in the wind, musically uncoordinated. 


“The grass is always greener on the other side until it’s not, right?” You ask, and I wonder where your cynicism spawned from and I think of all of the people who hurt you and I want nothing more than to take care of you and protect you. 


I watch as you unplug your headphones and wrap them around your neck like some kind of jewelry, and you start walking toward the register and a panic sets it because I know our time is ending and you’re going to check out and I need to keep talking. “Why only the one book?” I ask, stuffing my hands into my pockets as I follow behind you.


You shrug your shoulders and set your book on the counter and start digging through your purse, which looks more like a wallet except it’s bigger and doesn’t have the same girly, basic bitch designs like most hipster wallets do. “I have a really bad habit of buying multiple books at a time and then suddenly my nightstand is overflowing, and I feel kind of shitty because I can’t read as much as I would like since I work quite a bit,” you sound genuinely upset you can’t spend more time reading and I think how I would take care of you and made sure you had more than enough time to read as much as you wanted.


“It’ll be twenty one fifty,” I tell you, and you take out your debit card and hand it to me. Do you want me to know your name or is because you don’t have enough cash to cover the total? I see a five dollar bill poking out from a slew of receipts and I feel disappointed you don’t want me to know your name and are giving it to me more out of necessity than by choice. I run the card and take a moment to look at it, raising an eyebrow. “Ravenna Thatcher?’ I ask, wondering what kind of creatures of the night your parents must have been to name you something like that. 


You smile again, taking your card and the bag I just placed your book into. “It was better than their first choice,” you tuck a lock of hair behind your ear where it’s fallen out of your ponytail. “I just don’t think I look like a Rebecca,” you laugh and it causes goose bumps to raise on my arms. You turn to go and it’s like watching the light leave the room, and you’re walking toward the door without telling me goodbye and I’m offended, but before you push past the door you turn to look over your shoulder, expecting me to say something and I wave at you.


“Until next time, Ravenna,” I call, and a rush of blood goes straight to my dick when you run the ball of your tongue ring across your lower lip. 


“Just Raven,” you call back, propping the door open, “I’ll see you around, Joe.”