overlooked by ingridfnl

30 Jan

He was looking over her head at the clock.

“Yeah, I need these,” he said, holding his student card in her general direction over a stack of books.

Valerie expertly flapped open all the books to the last page, piling them on one another. Entrepreneurship, 12 Practical Steps in Taking Business Risks, Predicting Markets… The titles made her want to yawn. She scanned his student card, and a notice appeared on the check-out system’s screen immediately.

“I’m sorry, Peter,” she said reading his name from his card, “you owe fines. You can’t check these out right now.”

“What?” he replied, looking at her the first time.

“You owe more than 125 dollars in late fines. You can’t check out these books until you’ve paid your fine,” she repeated.

He leaned against the counter, “Come on. I just need them this weekend. Paper. It’s important.”

“I’m so…”

“Hey,” he said, catching her eye, “My fraternity has a social this weekend.”

“That’s nice,” Valerie said. She’s heard it all. In fact, the only time she was ever offered favors or asked out was in the face of overdue fines. “Would you like to pay the fine now? Or would you like to leave the books behind?”

“You’re a hard one,” he replied, winking at her. He looked her up and down and Valerie felt immediately self-conscious about her shapeless grey cardigan and sat a little taller, meeting his eye. Her cheeks flushed but she felt defiant against his attempt to use charm.

“No,” she replied, “I’m just doing my job. If everyone…”

“Look,” Peter said and touched her hand. She pulled her hand back instinctively.

“I think the situation is quite clear. You want the books, you pay the fine,” she replied.

He leaned closer to her. “What about if I want the girl?” he said.

“You pay the fine,” she replied, aware that her lips were closing in a thin hard line, virginal and matronly. “I don’t think you really want the girl.” Valerie was never cheeky. Her heart was pounding and she felt more than aware of the impatient glares and from some curiosity of the other library patrons waiting in line.

Peter started laughing. “You’re a hard one, miss… ”

“Valerie, my name is Valerie.”

“What do you do for fun, Valerie?” he asked. “Clearly you’re impervious to my charm arsenal.”

Despite herself, Valerie started laughing, and replied a little too loudly, “I’m sure your arsenal is very charming.” And Peter saw the girl for the first time.

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