Chapter 1

Monday Blues

Bridge City, Pennsylvania

Anderson Residence 5:59 am

September 13th, 2010

"And today is the thirteenth with a partly cloudy sky and a 20% chance of rain!"

A hand reached out to slap the snooze button on the silent alarm clock. A few seconds later, the radio on the alarm clock activated.

"And today is the thirteenth with a partly cloudy sky and a 20% chance of rain!"

Cassidy jumped out of bed before slapping the snooze button for what felt like a second time. He spent a good two minutes muttering about needing a new alarm clock before he stretched languidly and stood, ambling off to the bathroom to start his morning routine.

After taking care of himself, Cassidy dressed for school and ran downstairs. The house was quiet. His parents were likely at work already. Cassidy was used to the silence, barely noticed it in fact. He entered the kitchen only long enough to snag an apple to eat on the way to the bus stop.

The morning was bright, but the air was crisp. It would warm up eventually, but for a second Cassidy wished he thought to bring a windbreaker or something. Nothing in particular was on his mind as he walked down the relatively quiet sidewalk. When he reached the corner, he simply waited, munching quietly on his apple.

The school bus pulled up and he climbed on. He walked towards the mid section of the bus and dropped into the seat that Rochelle had already occupied.

"Hey bitch," she said in greeting.

"Hey ho," he replied, smirking. Rochelle cracked a smile and shook her head.

"So, what's up?"

"SSDD."

"You can say that again. So, how about this: Brian called me last night saying that he wanted me to go with him to some party some friend of his is having."

Cassidy carefully chewed the bit of apple he had in his mouth before swallowing. "You going?"

"No. I mean, if I say yes then I'll seem a bit too available. Besides, he's cute as hell but totally not worth it, you know?" In truth, Cassidy couldn't relate how relieved he felt. While he had nothing against Brian, Cassidy honestly wouldn't put it past the guy to do something untoward in the setting of something like a party. He didn't mention that since he knew that Rochelle would have bitch-slapped him if he even suggested that she couldn't take care of herself.

"Actually, I do. But Brian? Cute as hell? There's cuter."

Rochelle raised an eyebrow and looked at Cassidy askance. "Yeah, like a certain geek?"

Cassidy's attempt at nonchalance failed due to a slight blush that his cheeks took on. Rochelle's eyes lit up.

"I knew it!"

"Knew what? What I think that Malcolm's kind of hot? Big whoop! That knowledge does squat since Malcolm most likely wouldn't be interested." Despite his statement, Rochelle still seemed too pleased with herself for Cassidy's liking.

"So what? I mean, ok, the guy you're crushing on might not be all that you want him to be. There's still fish in the sea."

"Meh. Most gay guys here are either so deep in the closet that they're breathing moth balls or they're too busy being impressed with their gayness to care about anything else. I can wait." The bus pulled up to the school. Cassidy expected some witty comeback and, when he received none, he looked at Rochelle to see the remnant of an evil smirk that she tried (belatedly) to pass off as a nonchalant yawn. "Please, for the sake of simplicity, don't plot anything." Rochelle opened her mouth to defend herself but was halted when Cassidy help up a finger and continued, "And before you say you aren't, you are. I know how you work. Now, you're likely going to try and plot something anyways. That's alright. Just know that I have pictures of the Christmas party of '07." Cassidy stood and walked down the aisle of the bus, leaving Rochelle to stare at him, shocked.

"Oh no he didn't!" she muttered before getting up and chasing after her friend.

Bridge City, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Highschool 6:45 am

Jacob climbed out of Malcolm's banana yellow car as it pulled into the school parking lot and took a deep breath. Another day of school. Jacob didn't mind his classes. He was passing them all, in fact. He would likely graduate in the top percentile of his class, if not achieving valedictorian. It wasn't pride that made him think that or any illusion of ambition, but a fact. Very few people recognized Jacob as perhaps the smartest student at Carnegie High...he was so quiet, so unassuming, and not to mention he didn't make it a habit to surround himself with the intellectual elite.

Which brought Jacob back to his original train of thought; he didn't mind his classes or his teachers. What he did mind, however, were his fellow students. His 'peers' who saw fit to poke fun at all of his supposed shortcomings. They made fun of his apparent weight (despite barely being the right weight to qualify for the term 'chubby'), they publicly speculated about his possible sexuality, the only thing they didn't do was make fun of his skin color. And that was probably because it was too politically incorrect to get away with.

It wasn't the fact that they teased him that hurt Jacob. It was the sheer malice and hatred that it was done with that hurt him. He couldn't understand it. There was a logical explanation, of course. It was an evolutionary response that made mild behaviors like bullying (and their not-so-mild variations like wars or all out genocide, all of which fell on a spectrum of human cruelty) possible. At one point in time, there was an advantage to being wary of those who were different from you. In a harsh world where resources were scarce and predators lurked around every boulder, staying close to one's family/clan/group ensured survival. Strangers could not be trusted.

But logic and theories of evolution didn't make it any better whenever someone said something cruel to him with the intent to hurt him. It wasn't as if he'd done anything to provoke them, outside of existing. If it were up to him, he wouldn't have even existed in the first place. A lot of people would have been better off. That was a digression from the original thought, however. Jacob was momentarily filled with a heavy dread as he looked upon the building. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and released it. He repeated the process until he felt the dread ebb away.

"So, I was thinking. The school probably has some old computer monitors that they probably aren't using..." started Malcolm as he climbed out of the car. Jacob opened his just-brown eyes and a small smile of fondness crossed his features as he waited for Malcolm to walk around the car. "Maybe we can ask them to give us a few?" Jacob shrugged.

"All we can do is ask," he said as Malcolm reached him. Together the two walked towards the school.

"Yeah. I guess all we can do is asking," replied Malcolm, grinning at his friend. The grin faded a little. "So. You have Gym this week. Swimming, right?"

"Yup."

A brief silence fell between the two.

"Jacob, why don't you just stand up to them or something? I mean, it's not like you're helpless."

"This has been discussed before, and though I'm sure that you will bring it up again I will give you the same answer I've always gave you, the same one that I'll always give you. Violence begets violence."

Malcolm sighed.

Jacob glanced at his friend. "I know that you aren't pleased with my decision...but I ask that you respect it at least. You know...how important it is to me." There was something behind Jacob's eyes. A look that was wise beyond his years and simultaneously haunted. Malcolm always hated it whenever Jacob gave him that look; it didn't scare him, but it did do a lot to unnerve him.

"I...yeah. I do."

"Thank you."

"Look, I know that you took a vow to live a peaceful life, I know this, but that doesn't mean that you can't tell a teacher or someone else about it. Hell, if you aren't going to defend yourself and if you aren't going to let me do something about it at least tell a teacher or something."

"Hmmm. Maybe. That may just make the teasing worse. I only have one more year of this since Brian is going to, hopefully, graduate this year. No point in making a fuss about anything now, is there?"

"I hate arguing with you," sighed Malcolm.

"Who said we were arguing?" Malcolm glanced at Jacob to see a teasing smirk on the other's face and simply laughed.

Of the triumvirate of popularity, Troy was the most silent. Leander domineered any conversation that he was a part of and Brian was boisterous beyond belief; between the two Type A personalities, Troy was understandably content with sitting in the background. Where Leander was large and blonde and Brian was large and brunette, Troy was svelte and red-haired. His eyes were an almost dull shade of green, which fit Troy just fine. He wasn't the sort that cared much about eyes. Or much else, for that matter. The only thing he cared about was the feeling he got when he was on the field. His first love was soccer, however he also played football with Leander and Brian, mainly because they badgered him into doing as such.

He didn't play sports to win. He played sports for the sake of playing sports. He enjoyed the feeling of complete rightness that he got whenever he was on the field. The complexities of life couldn't touch him there, where nothing but determination, hard-work, and sweat belonged. And the occasional trash talk. But Troy left that up to Brian to handle.

Troy didn't mind being in the background. There were people who were meant to stand in the foreground for everyone to see, and then there were those who were in the background. They were 'everyone else'. Sometimes they wanted to be in the limelight too, but they never seemed to realize that there always needed to be someone to watch and admire the people in the limelight to make that center of attention so important. That was Troy's place; the background. And he was fine for it.

Except for when it came to her. Andrea. She was a key part of Leander's entourage; she was the perfect complement to Leander. Andrea was beautiful. She was tall; black hair, almond shaped brown eyes, full lips and an hourglass figure that today's stick-thin models (and every girl who emulated them) lacked. It wasn't just her looks that Troy liked, even if that was a definite plus. It was her personality. Andrea was, by nature, an observer. She was the social butterfly that smoothed over Leander's rough edges, yes, however Troy noticed that Andrea did what very few people did: she listened. She observed. And she acted. He'd seen her manipulate Leander enough times to know that the girl was a pro; she was the best of both worlds. The notoriety that one gained from the limelight, yet the efficacy that the denizens of the background possessed.

Some would dare suggest that Troy loved Andrea, but that wasn't the case. It couldn't be. She was Leander's girlfriend. Or rather, Leander was her boyfriend. If she had wanted Troy, she would have went for Troy; he realized that early on, however that didn't stop him from watching her with eyes that didn't seem quite so dull whenever they alighted upon her.

Andrea smiled as she reached the three males. "Hey, baby!" She leaned in and kissed Leander. Troy averted his eyes.

"Hey, babe. You get the combinations?"

Andrea scoffed. "What? No 'good morning'? No 'you look smoking hot'?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, yes, sneaking into the main office and gaining access to locker combinations, all while undetected isn't the hardest thing to do, but some appreciation would be nice."

"Combinations?" asked Leander again, raising an eyebrow. The girl rolled her eyes before handing Leander a slip of paper. Leander grinned and his blue eyes, which were likely described as 'dreamy' by scores of his admirers, took on a particularly cruel glint. "You're the best, babe. Oh, yes, you are the best."

"I don't see what you have against that Jacob kid, though," she replied, frowning thoughtfully. "Kind of sad, actually."

"What's so sad about him?" asked the usually silent Troy. He really wasn't too curious about Jacob (keeping in mind that Troy wasn't a naturally curious person as it was); he just wanted to hear Andrea speak some more.

"Apparently he's a ward of the state; he has no family to speak of and lives with some foster parents."

"Who cares? A fag's a fag," cut in Brian. "Hey, Leander, I got the stuff ready, man."

"Awesome. Let's set it up during lunch."

Troy looked away from his friends, to Andrea who was watching Leander and Brian silently. She suddenly looked at him and winked before speaking.

"Fun as this is, I have more important things to concern myself with. See you guys later," she said, leaning in to peck Leander on his cheek before leaving the three. Troy watched her in his silent way.

The day passed with little fanfare, as usual. Cassidy paid attention in his classes and took appropriate notes, both on what the teacher was saying and in his own personal notebook; he needed to remind himself which assignments were due, when, and what time would be available for him to do them. School was relatively boring, but if it were fun then it would kind of defeat the purpose of it.

It was the last class before lunch, Software for Personal Computing. They were working on making presentations using Powerpoint. It was…interesting, to say the least. Cassidy let his mind drift as he put the finishing touches on his project, working on the timing of the slides and transitions.

"You know, usually people like to avoid using timing for their slides," remarked the teacher, Miss Young. Cassidy glanced at her, unaware that she was standing behind him until she spoke. Miss Young, Phoebe to her colleagues, was one quite a popular teacher at Carnegie High. Cassidy knew for a fact that a majority of the male student population took her classes because she was, in a word, hot. That is, if you were a heterosexual male (or a female whose inclinations leaned that way), and looking at her Cassidy could see where one would extract such an opinion. Somewhat tall, but built gracefully as a swan, her brown hair was collected in a conservative bun. Her sharp dark brown eyes were framed by a pair of conservative silver-framed glasses, and she always dressed appropriately.

At the moment she was observing the slide show as it played out. "Well, I'm good at timing, so I'm not too worried about it," replied Cassidy, turning back to his project.

The taciturn teacher simply nodded before walking over to another student who called for her assistance. When the bell rang for his last class before lunch, Cassidy let out a slightly relieved sigh; lunch was a nice respite from the usual monotony of the day. Besides, only three classes after lunch and he was free for the day. Even if he was a relatively good student, that didn't mean he liked sitting through a whole day of classes.

Cassidy took his time finishing up a few last minute tasks before saving the project and gathering his stuff. He left and made the short trip to his locker, where Rochelle was already waiting for him.

"Come on, Cass! I'm freaking hungry." Cassidy hid a smile as he opened his locker and dropped off some books that he wouldn't need for the rest of the day.

"Shush, I'm doing you a favor. We missed the main lunch rush; we won't have to wait in a long line this way, Rochelle."

"Tell that to my stomach." Cassidy rolled his eyes as he went to close his locker and suddenly jumped back as brown, fragrant water spilled from it, splashing all over his clothes, and plopping wetly onto the floor. He looked down at himself in shock and disgust.

"What the hell?!"

"Uh Cassidy? Cassidy? What's wrong?" asked Rochelle, suddenly concerned. Cassidy looked up at Rochelle, confused and angry.

"What? Don't you see all of this…" Cassidy looked down at himself; his clothes were clean. Rochelle raised an eyebrow and gave Cassidy an impatient once over.

"See all of this what?"

Cassidy clamped his mouth shut. A second ago mud had just spilled from his locker. He was sure of it. He could feel it, smell it…it had hit him. Was it all just a hallucination inspired by hunger? Could such a thing even happen?

"Nothing," he replied airily, biting his lip as he looked at the ground; no sign of mud, either.

"Cassidy, what's been with you these last couple of days? You've been acting...strange." Cassidy looked at Rochelle; she was looking at him strangely. For good reason; he was acting strangely.

"It's—it's nothing, Rochelle, really. I'm just hungry," he said, smiling shakily. Rochelle didn't look assuaged, however. Cassidy slammed his locker shut and walked past Rochelle.

"Cassidy?"

"Come on, we're missing lunch."

"You know, for you to complain so much about school food you sure do like eating my lunch," commented Jacob, giving Kevin a false look of annoyance as the other boy plopped a stolen grape into his mouth. Kevin chewed loudly before giving Jacob a charming smile.

"You're the one always complaining about being fat; I'm just helping you out."

"Ok, one, I never complain about being fat-"

"Well, you should," interrupted Kevin, stealing a French Fry this time.

"Two, grapes aren't fattening-"

"But these fries are; why didn't you get more ketchup?"

"And three…I," Jacob cast a plaintive look over at Malcolm's direction, "...Malcolm, I forgot what my third point was."

"I think you were about to tell his lazy ass to go get his own lunch?" suggested Malcolm with a small shrug.

"Ah, right. Kevin, take your lazy ass up there and get your own lunch."

The surprised look on Kevin's face was priceless and Malcolm laughed, both at Jacob's statement and their friend's reaction. Jacob grinned mischievously and winked at his surprised friend. Vulgarity from Jacob was like seeing frogs fall out of the sky; it just didn't happen.

"Ok, wow…note to self: don't pick with Jacob again," muttered Kevin, rolling his eyes before stealing a few more fries. Jacob chuckled a little and Malcolm gave Jacob an amused grin.

"Oh, hey, not to harp on the same topic, but did you happen to bring the blueprints of the hangout with you?" asked Malcolm.

"Yeah, give me a moment," replied Jacob, batting Kevin's hands away from the remaining grapes. He reached for his bookbag and rummaged through it before suddenly stopping. "Ah, that's right; I left them in my locker. We should probably get them now before the bell rings; I have gym next so…"

"Alright, so off to the lockers, let's go!" Kevin stood up and climbed over the table, stealing Jacob's grapes on the way and playfully batting Malcolm's head as he made his way out of the lunch room. Jacob and Malcolm exchanged a look before following after their mercurial friend.

Cassidy was silent at the table that he and Rochelle sat at. A few other of the socialite crew hung out there. They weren't necessarily bad people, or good people at that. They...were a mixed bag. Even so, there wasn't anyone, besides Rochelle, that Cassidy normally spoke to. He was already a taciturn boy, but today he was quieter than usual...

Something strange was happening. It was as if he could see flashes…of something. Like he was peeking into a keyhole and seeing only a brief image of a larger picture…

"…wonder if I should be worried that…my…combination"

Someone with brown skin, shy smile, kind eyes.

"I'll…stalker…"

Tall. Shaggy black hair. Looked...greasy.

"Yeah…not…good…admit…"

Tanned skin, glasses, handsome features...Malcolm.

"Cass? Cass? Cassidy!" The boy started and looked back at Rochelle, who looked equal parts annoyed and worried. "Jesus H. Christ, Cassidy, what's the matter with you?"

"Um…nothing?" replied Cassidy, trying to beat back the sudden foreboding feeling he got. Something was going to happen soon.

"Bull. You've been acting spacey all weekend and it keeps getting worse; what's wrong with you? Tell me…" Rochelle reached over to grab Cassidy's hand. Cassidy looked down at his and Rochelle's hand and his frowned deepened.

"Something bad is about to happen…"

"What?" Rochelle's question went unanswered as Cassidy stood suddenly from his seat at the table and ran from the lunchroom. Rochelle bit out an expletive before chasing after her friend.

"Cass! Cassidy!" The sandy-haired boy paid no heed to his friend. He could feel it…the ebb and flow of something urgent pressing against him. Something bad was about to happen, but he could stop it. He could stop it, if…

Rochelle finally managed to grab hold of Cassidy's arm and yanked him back. "Cassidy! Where are you going?"

When Cassidy faced her, Rochelle let go with a horrified gasp; his eyes were pure white. Cassidy blinked and his eyes were normal again. He didn't say anything as he turned and frantically ran down the hall.

Leander, Brian, and Troy stopped near the target's locker. Leander leaned against one of the lockers a little down the hall with Brian and Troy on either side of him. They were close enough to get a good view but not too close to actually raise any suspicions. That mixed with the cover that the moderately crowded hallway provided made for good cover.

"You seem 'em yet?" asked Brian, glancing around.

"No," replied Leander, crossing his arms. "And stop looking around; you look suspicious." Brian stiffened at the admonishment but likewise stopped glancing around nervously.

"E-excuse me?" Brian turned to look at a mousey girl nervously clutching a book to her chest and glancing up from the ground and back down again.

"Huh?"

"Y…you and your friends…aahh…they…my…I need my…books…please?" she asked, her voice getting weaker as she continued, a red blush coloring her face. Brian looked away.

"Buzz off."

The girl looked up, horrified. "But—but…my books, my…!" Brian responded by simply slamming his fist into the locker he was leaning against. With a terrified squeak the girl scurried away.

"Here they come," muttered Troy, nodding his head down the opposite direction of the hall.

"So, what's with this hangout spot anyways?" asked Kevin, walking in-between Jacob and Malcolm.

"It's an idea I've had for a while, Kev. I told you about this the other day.

"Oh, yeah, the geeky pad. Place to host your LOL parties or some shit like that, right?"

"LAN, parties. LAN," replied Malcolm, while Jacob laughed a little. The hallways weren't empty, but far from being full; kids were milling about, getting materials for their next class, or just taking the extra time to hang out or catch up on some gossip. The trio reached Jacob's locker, but Kevin pushed himself in front of Jacob and toyed with the lock for a second before unlocking it.

"I wonder if I should be worried that you know the combination to my locker," commented Jacob, raising an eyebrow.

"I'll admit it, I'm a stalker," replied Kevin, winking lewdly at the black male.

"Yeah, not a good idea to admit that out loud." Malcolm shook his head before nodding at the locker. "Now, stop being a hog and get out of the way so Jacob can get the blueprints."

"No, no, allow me." Kevin opened the locker door and brown, fragrant, watery mud spilled on top of him. There was a palpable pause as Kevin stood there in shock. Jacob stepped back, eyes wide, and all activity in the hallway seemed to come to a pause.

It was this scene that Cassidy. "Oh…no…" He turned to look when he heard laughter. The source was Brian, though Leander had a pleased smirk. Troy, as usual, remained impassive.

"What…the FUCK?!" shouted Kevin, whipping his hands down, sending splatters of mud onto the floor.

"It was meant for your fat boyfriend, there…nice of you to take the shot," replied Leander, walking towards the trio. Brian and Troy flanked him.

"Heh, you know what they say: fags of a feather flock together."

"No one says that," said Leander, still giving Kevin and company a self-satisfied smirk.

"You're DEAD, Young!" Kevin's lunge towards Leander was interrupted by Malcolm and Jacob grabbing his arms and restraining him. Leander calmly strode forward and punched the shouting Kevin in the face.

"Hey, back off Leander!" shouted Malcolm shoving the blond backward. Leander went to punch Malcolm; the sable-haired teen performed a perfect rising block and responded in turn with a punch of his own, smashing Leander across the face with enough force to knock him back.

Brian jumped forward with a haymaker but was intercepted by Jacob. The somewhat portly boy stepped into the punch, grabbing the wrist, turning, and using Brian's momentum against him, flipped him over his waist and slammed him onto the ground. "Stay there," ordered Jacob with a deadly calm.

Troy simply watched the two and sighed before shaking his head; he wasn't going to hop into the fight. Jacob turned to see to Kevin, Malcolm pausing long enough to give Troy an approving nod before following his friend's lead.

"Kevin, wait!" shouted Jacob.

Kevin was already marching down the hall, ignoring his friends' calls. Students who were still in the hallway flinched away from the muddy Kevin. Some pointed and laughed, some whispered amongst themselves, others tossed out unkind words…

"Take a bath, bitch!"

"Damn you stink!"

"I knew you were full of shit, but that's taking it to a whole new level!"

Laughter, teasing…idiots, he was surrounded by laughing, jeering idiots!

It wasn't until he made it through the front doors that either Jacob or Malcolm caught up to him.

"Dude, wait up!" shouted Malcolm, reaching forward to grab Kevin's arm. Kevin shook off the slightly shorter boy and turned to glare at him.

"Wait, for what? More ridicule? More back-stabbing?" he asked, glaring at Jacob as the boy caught up.

"We didn't backstab you…" replied Malcolm weakly, thinking back to the event. It all happened so quickly.

"Oh? So what do you call that little maneuver you and Jakey boy pulled back there? Helping me? Cause damn, I have to say, getting punch in the face by Leander fucking Young REALLY DIDN'T HELP!"

"We didn't mean for that to happen…we didn't want you getting into another fight; you're already in a lot of trouble as is. One more fight…and you're expelled," supplied Jacob, giving Kevin a look of honest concern.

Kevin's glare faltered as he looked at Jacob before turning away. "The fuck does it matter anyways? Not like I'm worth anything…"

"Kevin…" muttered Jacob, stepping forward. He reached for Kevin, but his hand was slapped away.

"Just…just…" Standing there, covered in mud, Kevin never looked more pitiful…or deadly. Kevin shook his head before walking away.

Troy silently helped Leander up while Brian picked himself up. "Wow…who the fuck knew the fag knew some moves?" muttered Brian as he rubbed his head, looking at the puddle of mud with an approving grin.

Leander sighed and shook his head. "Well, brief hitch aside, I'd say the mission was a success…" He rubbed his jaw and winced; for a geek Malcolm could throw a decent punch. Leander turned around and paused when he spotted Cassidy staring at the puddle of mud. Cassidy's eyes slowly ascended to meet Leander's. Leander gave Cassidy a bright smile as he approached him. "Like I said, little brother, I'll always take care of you." Leander winked as he walked by with Brian and Troy following.

"You better tell your boyfriend to watch his back, Cass; next time I see him and his fat friend they're both getting creamed!" as if to illustrate his point, Brian punched a fist into an empty hand. Cassidy ignored the boy and turned to look at the pool of mud and felt a cold, sick feeling settle into the pit of his stomach. Something bad was happening. Going to happen…had already happened?

Cassidy didn't know.


Diamond's Ramblings: Second chapter, yay! If it seemed a little rushed at parts I apologize; I really wanted to get this chapter done but certain bits just gave me trouble until finally I just forced myself to write it out. Certain things that I feel I should point out, I like having moments of characterization for various characters at various times and not always when one is first introduced. So, otherwise minor characters may become major later. Code word being 'may'; not everyone you meet is important, but at the same time everyone kind of is important in that, in my mind, each has a history, likes, dislikes, their own personalities…but, the story doesn't focus on them. So, if it isn't clear who the main cast is, for lack of a better phrase, don't worry; it'll become clear with time.

Also, for those of you who were astute enough to notice, it is mentioned a lot in the previous chapter that Cassidy and Leander are cousins, while here Leander calls Cassidy 'little brother'. There is a reason for this and I'm wondering if anyone can guess why this is before it's revealed in the story.

Anyways, if you enjoyed, or even if you didn't, please leave a review. I feed on reviews and use them as a source of strength. Well…not really, but they do make me feel better :)

Also, keep an eye out for a Thin Floors update coming soon!

As a treat to fans of the series (and as a shameless plug) I've included a sneak-peak of the next chapter below. Enjoy!


Thin Floors

Chapter 8

"Excuse me, I was wondering if you had this book!" said a woman who seemed to materialize out of nowhere. The sleep deprived blond gave the woman an expectant look.

"What sort of book?" he ventured to ask. He had a bad feeling about this.

"It was a purple book. I seen someone reading it on the bus and they really seemed to enjoy it. Do you think you have it here?"

"Do you know the title?"

"Well…no."

"The author?"

"Not exactly…look, I told you that it had a purple cover; you can't find it from that alone?" Marvin raised an eyebrow before he stood up.

"This is a job for our best reference librarian. If you'll follow me." Marvin made the not-so-long trip to Scary-Mary's desk. Dressed in a green and white sun-dress that looked a little too expensive, the red-head looked up at Marvin with a thinly veiled glare of disapproval.

"What do you want, Marvin?"

"I have a patron who has a request and…I've found my skills to be inadequate for the job. Do you…think you can help?" he asked. Marvin honestly felt a little guilty when he seen the self satisfied smirk cross her face.

"Pitiful," she uttered the one word so low and with such venom that it sounded like a curse word. She leaned to the side to give the woman a beauteous smile. "Ma'am, I'll be able to help you."

"Oh, thank you so much!" said the woman, gushing gratefulness as she stepped forward, partially shoving Marvin out of the way. Mary-Jane looked over at Marvin with a narrowed glare that promised trouble for him later; she was going to tell the boss that he was both inept and utterly incapable of doing his job or lazy.

Marvin turned to walk back over to his own desk. As he walked, he was still close enough to hear the woman say with a gravity unfitting for the situation, "Like I told your co-worker, I was looking for a purple book."

"Ok, what sort of book?" asked Mary-Jane, flipping her hair aside and giving the woman a winning smile.

"A purple book."

"Do you know the title of the book?"

"Well…no."

"The author?"

"Not exactly…" Marvin hazarded a glance at Mary-Jane's desk and saw the barely disguised grimace and felt just a little better about his day.