A/N: Alright. So, I look through sections constantly, particularly Romance, and see all of these 30-ish chaptered stories, with about 500 reviews. Upon doing this, I think to myself, Wtf, self? Why can't you get 500 reviews? 100, even? Then it occurred to me: I never keep the same story going. So…this is my attempt at keeping something together for more than 10 chapters. My other attempt at this, Saving Grace, is an amazing story, and I'm wholeheartedly proud of it, but it's stress on my brain to try to think of more plot points. So I'm giving Jolene the vampiress a bit of a sojourn for a couple of days. That said, please follow my Golden Rule: you review me, I'll review you. And we'll all love each other, oh my God, yay!
- Peace, Love and Cher, Patricia
000!000Chapter One: Coniuramus Coepto
We Begin the Plot
As I sit in the chair in the reading room of Muldoon Books, I stare at the people that pass by the plate glass window, and make judgments about them in the back of my mind. Old woman with stroller, I think to myself. Some people just shouldn't procreate.
I jot notes down in my binder, too. I recently discovered these binders that are perforated in the middle so that they fold down into an easel for your lap if you're not at a desk but need to write. When I unearthed these treasures in my local Wal-Mart, I let out a screech of excitement so loud that a woman squeezing the toilet paper she had placed in her cart glared at me, and a security guard came running, his hand on his holster.
I write and draw. So did my mother, before she died. Her name was Sarah Carmichael, and her husband, my father, is David Muldoon of Muldoon Books, third generation owner of the store. Muldoon Book's claim to fame is their sun-roofed, friendly reading room in the back of the store, with complimentary doughnuts and coffee.
Everyone in town is allowed to swing by at opening, and spend all day sitting in the reading room guzzling coffee and glazed doughnuts, and then can leave not buying anything. It's perfectly fine with my father; he says it keeps them coming back.
Dad tells this story all the time, of how he met Mom when he was unpacking new arrivals in the stock room and she breezed by clutching a binder and a pencil, and asked him softly where the restroom was.
He had turned so he was facing most of his coworkers, and remarked loudly that the restrooms were right behind her.
Mom was smitten immediately.
They were married a year and a half later, and about a year after that, I was born.
My mother, however, died when I was a year old. She wrote me a poem, Nora's Song, which is framed and posted on my bedroom wall. I used to love it when I was little, having my famous mother write a poem just for me, but after she died and my father and I got a ton of sympathy cards with the words printed on them, it seemed rather abused. Like somebody had taken my poem, my poem, violated it, and left it sobbing on the side of the road. People still recite it, seventeen years later, at coffeehouses and christenings. Such a wonderful baby poem! Good grief.
I really don't care if I never hear anyone recite it again.
"Nora?" My father sticks his head into the reading room, and I buck, startled, causing me to stab my pencil into my eye. I squint up at my father, eyes wet, and let out a piteous moaning sound.
"Dad?" I try not to sound too angry. The old woman with the stroller looks up from the stack of bodice-ripping romance novels that was placed right in front of the reading room.
She looks around carefully, as if making sure that nobody was watching. I go out of my way to meet her eye, and she smiles meekly at me before fanning the book pages, making it seem from my angle that Fabio was rippling his stomach muscles.
I look at my watch. 3:45. I stand up, pat my father on his shoulder to acknowledge his existence, and totter to the break room near the back to wipe my eyes and affix my apron and nametag on, so that I can proclaim for all of the world to see that I am Nora!. A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers named Randy was bored during break. We all gave him a five dollar bill, and he went back to the label maker smirking. For the rest of the day, without my father realizing it, people weren't asking Randy! questions, but Dickhead!.
Randy's in the break room now, and I smile at him as I take my apron off of the pegboard by the coffee maker. Randy didn't notice me, though; he's always too engrossed in whatever book on auto mechanics he's removed from the shelves to thumb through whenever he has a spare moment. Randy really wants to make cars, and he gets spare parts from scrap yards. He's attempting to build a functioning car by hand, which requires a lot of money. Hence, his job here.
"Randy?" I ask, reaching for the coffeepot and pouring myself a small cup, which I gulp down. My shift begins at 4. Randy looks up at me, distracted. He has mussed, untidy brown curls and deep brown eyes that make everyone trust him and think him an angel. He's beguiling, of course: he has the ability to get people who come in just for the doughnuts to leave with five hardcover books and a gift certificate for each of their grandchildren.
Randy's problem? He's clumsy as hell. He can be walking in a totally vacant area with a completely flat floor, and trip in the middle, fall flat on his face, and bleed copiously for hours. Randy is not dramatic; his body is.
"Nora!" he says happily once he's parted with his book. A toilet flushed in the back room, and our other afternoon coworker, Liz, walked into the room, absentmindedly tying her apron behind her. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but as usual, the bangs were popped out and sticking out of the sides of her head.
Liz was wonderful, and my best friend. She was tall, thin and gangly, but graceful from years of gymnastics. She had that amazing, natural-blonde head of hair and deep, sapphire blue eyes. Her sad puppy eyed look was famous for beguiling you into just about anything.
"Are we supposed to be busy today, Nor?" She asked. I shrugged, and dragged my finger down the chart of new releases on the wall.
"A new John Grisham is out today." I announced, and heard Randy moan, as he had every reason to be. Randy was a cashier, Liz helped out in stocking the reading room, and I worked in customer relations. With a new Grisham novel out, Randy wouldn't have any time to do much of anything but stand in front of the register and ring up totals all afternoon long.
"Display set up?" Liz wondered aloud, peering out the small window set into the door out at the main circulation area, still fumbling with her apron ties. I sighed, stepped over to her, and did it for her, hearing a grateful sigh in return. Indeed it was: a large cardboard jury stand was set up, with stacks of the Grisham novel in each seat. Liz kicked open the door with her foot, still clutching her piping hot coffee in her right hand.
"Another day at the old grind," Randy murmured, washing his hands at the sink, tossing his styrofoam cup away in the trash and pausing at the door to meet my eyes. "You know, I never knew what that meant. But my father used to say that, before he went to work." This stated, Randy turned on his heel and left.
I entered the restroom, if only to make sure that my hair wasn't flying everywhere with static, or that nothing unusual was hanging out of my nose. Nothing was happening: the same drab dull red straight tendrils, same dark brown eyes, same bags under my eyes, same extremely pale skin. This resolved, I stepped out into the room and began to assist.