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Comic Love

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The little fan on the shelf behind the counter whirred weakly as we all loitered around in a lazy huddle, half listening to Kevin’s team agenda speech. It whirred, left and right, slowly like a frail old man – I swear that fan was on its last legs – and did the exact opposite of its function of keeping the room cool. I think it might’ve actually been circulating the heat around instead. The room was hot, not sweltering hot, just at that temperature where the heat was tolerable, but uncomfortable and frustrating to no end.

That misfortune and the droning sound of the fan had me purposefully drowning out Kevin’s unusually peppy voice. I straightened up and stretched out my back; readjusting myself as I sat backwards on the black folding chair behind the counter. Kevin was definitely on something today, because as much of a yappy playboy manager as he was, he was never as excitable about group huddles as he was right now.

His words eventually returned to an audible frequency as I rubbed my eyes and tried to refocus on whatever it was he was talking about. I tuned in at the moment to answer my own question about his unusual behavior. “Last thing on the list, there’s a newcomer who’ll be starting today. 3 o’clock sharp,” his nostrils flared a bit and his eyes twinkled at his own announcement, “she isn’t that well versed about comics and the lingo, but no worries, guys. I’ll mostly be training her. Just do your jobs and today’ll be a cinch.” His cheeky smile gleamed as he tapped the stack of papers in his hands on the counter top to straighten it out and practically skipped his way out of the store. “Have a nice day!” He quipped as the door chimed behind him.

Everyone was left in silence at his abrupt but usual fast exit; it was his bubbly behavior that had all of us giving each other suspicious side glances and raised eyebrows though.

“That little pretty boy went and hired somebody, huh? I thought we weren’t even hiring.” Laura, one of the only other female employees there besides me, stoically muttered.

I shrugged and one of the guys chimed in. “Let’s just hope he sticks to his word and potty trains his new puppy himself. Let’s go.” Everyone began to move then. Those that didn’t work today or until later grabbed their things and waved their way out as those that had to open the store got ready for the day. That was Laura and I.

Throughout the shift, we ended up being pretty slow. Typical for a Sunday, but that meant the hours went by painfully. I bided the rest of my time left over from all the completed tasks of the day idly reading through some comics. Fifteen minutes till 3, my phone suddenly buzzed in my back pocket. I slipped it out and pulled my glasses perked atop my head down to read the text message on my display screen. My brows furrowed in annoyance.

It was from Kevin, saying he couldn’t make his shift because his dog vomited and he had to take him to the vet. Oh please can I cover his shift. Pretty pretty please. He really didn’t want to miss today of all days but please oh please help a guy out. He was awfully distressed that he wasn’t able to be here, I noted. Another text popped up:

“It bums me to say this, like fucking bums me, but can you also take over the new girls training today? I promise to make it up to you, Ivy.” Followed with some crying emojis and a heart eyes.

I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes in vexation, then tucked it on my head again; combing my long black bangs out of my face and letting them hang loosely in and between my glasses. “You owe me.” I turned off my phone and stuck it in my back pocket without waiting for a reply and sighed.

I’d completely forgotten about the new chick thing. I checked my wrist watch: 13 minutes until 3. Well, it wasn’t like I had much of a choice. Being on such short notice and with Laura being the only other person on duty who had a history of not being so…enthusiastic about training people, it was bound to be pinned on me. I rolled my eyes. As I contemplated about how exactly Kevin was going to reimburse me, not even a full minute had passed when all of a sudden, the store door opened and the bell chimed in greeting. I glanced up to see who it was, and for a second, I wondered if I was still at the comic store.

She was pretty and extremely out of place here in this dingy store; a safe haven and stereotypical hot spot for the geeky and fanatical. I almost wanted to call out to her and ask her if she was lost. She was tall, maybe 5’8″, and skinny as girls like her were, with a trim waist, long toned legs, and a great figure. She wore a grey and white hoodie, a plain white tee underneath, and tight faded blue jeans finished off with a pair of classic converse. I watched silently as she adjusted her tote bag on her shoulder and glanced around with a soft but bright expression; as if she was assessing the stores layout and vibe and was mildly pleased with what she saw. She brushed away a long blonde tress away from casino şirketleri her face as she quietly made her way into the store; casually sweeping her bold brown eyes at the comics here and there and figurines placed every which way. Finally, her vibrant eyes glanced in my direction, and when she saw me, a pleasant and polite smile formed on her pouty lips.

Gracefully, she sauntered over and I had to get up from my seat as I realized she was getting bigger and bigger the closer she got. Sitting down was beginning to make me look like a small child compared to her towering stature. “Hi, is Kevin here?” Her voice was smooth and she pronounced every word articulately. I raised my brow.

“He’s not, actually. Are you a relative or friend of his?” I figured she had to be his girlfriend but I still wanted to ask anyways.

She looked surprised at the question and then chuckled. “Oh no, nothing like that. I’m actually starting here today. Rachael Harris,” suddenly she took my hand and shook it, “Kevin wanted me to ask for him the first thing I got here.”

“Uh, right. Ivy Jenkins.” My expression probably looked doped out as I froze in revelation of all this new information. What? She was the three o’clock?? Everything started to make sense then. Kevin’s lovesick behavior that morning, why he’d hire someone when we didn’t need too, and why he was so willing to do the training himself. I clicked my tongue and swore under my breath, “that horny wanker.”

I explained to her what happened and how I was going to train her for the day instead. All the while, she stared blatantly at me; listening intently yes, but so unabashed by the constant eye contact she was making that would otherwise shrink most who tried to do the same. Then I realized she was still holding my hand, so I gently slid mine out of her grip as I spoke. Her eyes were intense, making me shift around a bit as I stood there, but they were softened as the slight smile she had crinkled the corners. Lauren eventually popped up around the corner and was equally as surprised and suspicious at Rachael’s appearance and her desire to work here. I quickly introduced them and for the rest of the day, I tried to get her settled into the job.

I found out later on in the day that Kevin was going to take a couple of days off because of his dog. Apparently his little beagle had eaten too much of the living room couch and wasn’t doing so well. So for the next couple of days, I spent a lot of time with Rachael. She learned fairly quickly and was able to do most of the things on her own, but that wasn’t the problem. Although a speedy worker, she was seriously draining. I hadn’t figured out yet if she was aware of it herself, but she was quite the natural flirt – granted, I understood far enough that half of it was due in part to her confidence and good looks – but what I quickly learned over the course of her training was that not only was she confident, but she also possessed an uninhibited and strong personality; especially when it came to personal space. Rubbing my shoulders when she would notice I was tired, always placing her hand on my arm or forearm when we occasionally talked in the same proximity, and when she was really feeling handsy, sometimes brushing my hair out of my face.

I think she was getting too comfortable with me. I thought about probably putting up boundaries and decided to mention it by the end of the week. What was also exhausting was the constant talk about her among the rest of the staff. Since she started, the guys couldn’t stop fussing and drooling, and since I was training her, they prodded me relentlessly for any information. They only lightened off when I snapped at them to piss off.

I could understand their excitement, sure. A pretty girl like her working in the same vicinity as them. It also didn’t help that the guys’ fantasies were further fueled by Rachael’s enduring kindness and friendliness. But I wasn’t fooled. It was strange for a girl like her to want to be here in the first place. She was a very mysterious character. What exactly was she doing here? Then again, I didn’t care enough to want to find out.

A week later, the workplace was still on a high with the presence of the “new blood” so to speak. Kevin had returned then and tried to make up for lost times with Rachael by hitting her full on with his advances – even going so far as to attempt to re-train her, which she politely but firmly declined. Watching that moment, when all the hopeful expectations drained from his face, made my week. Everybody was still trying to assess, impress, and settle down from the effects that the new “change” had set in motion. I, on the other hand, had already deflated back to my normal routine as Rachael’s training was officially over and she was now off my hands. Or at least that’s what I thought.

I leaned over the counter and examined some ordering forms in the early morning light, rubbing my temples as I scanned for any errors before casino firmaları sending it off. A slight rustling approached from my left, over the counter, and I reluctantly dragged my eyes away from the forms as a slight tap on the glass counter drew my attention. I looked up to see brown eyes gazing down at me. “I’m gonna grab some coffee and breakfast. You want anything?” Rachael softly smiled. I stared at her slightly caught off guard and then glanced over at some of the other guys who were working that morning, intently but trying overtly to listen in on the conversation, who then ducked behind shelves and posts at having caught them. I squinted, annoyed.

“I’m good, thanks. Don’t take too long.” I brushed off. She paused for a moment, as if mulling something over, then smiled again. “Ok,” she took one step before catching herself, “anybody else?” The others jumped at the sudden direct inquisition as they realized Rachael had known they were eavesdropping, and all timidly declined in a chorus of muttered embarrassment. She waved behind her with a grin as she sauntered out the door.

Immediately, the others, who were just Laura, Ed, and Bobby, glided over to the counter.

“She only ever asks you whenever she goes on her errands. Suspicious.” Laura flatly teased.

“Shut up. She asked you guys, didn’t she?” I retorted.

“As an afterthought,” Bobby added, “lately she’s been floatin’ around ya. I only ever see her in a really good mood when she’s with you. Ah, why do the moody ones always get the attention.” He jokingly bemoaned. I raised my hand in a feign to smack him and he jerked away chuckling.

“Leave it alone. It’s nothing like that.” I declared, ending the conversation there.

A couple of minutes later, after everyone had settled, the door bell sung again and Rachael walked in. I was stocking the display cases under the counter, putting up featured comics and such in place of the old ones when a soft single crunch landed above my head. I looked up to see that Rachael had placed a small bag on the counter. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Be careful not to skip it too much.” She winked and left before I could even react. I reached for the little paper bag and peered inside. A loaded breakfast bagel.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Rachael, I just wasn’t much of a people person. I liked my own space, my own time, which is why I was working at the comic shop in the first place. Everyone did their own thing. Occasionally, we’d have a little party or go out to eat and drink, but the rest of the time everyone just tended to the store and minded their own business. We were close to each other, yeah, but more in a familiarity sense.

By the end of the night, I’d lost interest in the matter of Rachael’s questionable behavior. What did it matter anymore? I turned off the light in the little office and stacked the night shift paperwork away. The moon was out tonight, bright and whole, illuminating the inside of the store despite all the lights being off. I twirled the store keys loosely on my finger as I set out to look for her. It was just Rachael and I closing tonight and I couldn’t well leave the girl locked inside the store all night.

Rachael had disappeared for the couple of hours we spent tidying up the store and closing everything up. I figured she was in the back, packing away boxes or something as the usual routine was, but as I crossed an aisle, I caught a glimpse in the corner of my eye of long legs crossed over one another and splayed across the aisle. I did a double take and looked back to see Rachael sitting on the floor, her back against the wall, reading a comic, with the moonlight gently enveloping her entire body. It was a sight like the ones in the movies.

“Hey, you have to pay before you read, you know.” I coolly joked. She looked up at me and smirked.

“I never understood what was so great about comics, but I’m starting to understand the cultivated passion for it. It’s not all superheroes and villains.” She replied, looking nostalgic as she gazed down at the book in her hands. She turned to me again and patted the area next to her, indicating for me to sit. I walked over and slid down the wall onto my butt right next to her.

“We should start heading out now. It’s almost 11:30.” I said as I cocked my head back and turned sideways to look at her. She really was way too pretty. She’d never flaunted it or emphasized it though. Her beauty was something more down to earth and natural. She always wore her makeup light and her clothes and accessories were simple but cute. Like right now, an orange cotton sweater and jeans.

“Just 5 more minutes. I promise.” She whispered, immersed in the comic in her hands. Did she really call me over here just to watch her read? But I sat there quietly anyways, and closed my eyes as I waited for her to finish. A few seconds went by.

“Sometimes when you put your glasses on your head, your hair bunches güvenilir casino up on the top and makes you look like a rugrat with a cowlick. It’s the cutest thing ever.” Rachael spoke, softly chuckling to herself. I opened up an eye and saw that she was still reading, smiling to herself. I closed my eye again.

“How rude, I’m your superior, you know.” I replied, feigning my upset.

She giggled and the silence presumed. “So,” there was a slight pause as the tone in her voice dipped into a serious one, “what’s your story, anyway. Who is Ivy Jenkins?” I raised my eyebrows at the sudden question but didn’t open my eyes.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

There was a moment of silence, then a rustling of a book being put on the floor and her pulling her legs closer to her body.

“Finished college out of state last year and came back to live in my hometown. Still the same ole town I left behind. My mom owns the hardware shop on Hennesy Lane and my dad is a mechanic. I live on my own, much to my parents dismay, and I own a two year old Russian blue named Corbin.” At this point, my eyes were open, and I was retracing the patterns on the ceiling as I found myself listening to Rachael’s quick biography. “Before this job, I was working as an intern at some company out of town, but due to some recent events, I decided to leave. Took a few months off of work after that. Then, unexpectedly, I stumbled on an opportunity and found my way here, at Redview Comics shop.” She sighed as she finished; rubbing her hands on her thighs. “Your turn.” She nudged me.

I was still staring up at the ceiling. Somehow, sitting here like this with her, just the two of us in this small corner of the shop, felt natural and I couldn’t stop myself from speaking, although I was still a bit apprehensive. “Hmm, College dropout from a no name university close to home. I finished my associates degree but haven’t used it since, so I’ve been doing odd jobs over the past years and was finally doing well enough to live on my own.” I finally allowed my eyes to fall from the ceiling and I turned to Rachael, who scared me a bit as I realized she’d been looking at me the whole time, paying full attention. It made me feel a little self conscious the way she was looking at me, so I whipped my head away and stared somewhere else – anywhere else but at her probing eyes. “I found this job by chance. I wasn’t really looking for a job at the time, but things just happened.” What I didn’t tell her was that my mom passed away in the summer last year and I had desperately needed something to distract me. “Sooo that’s me. Now, I really think we should get going.”

I pushed myself up and began to gather my things, but before I could, Rachael grabbed my knees as I sat crossed legged and whirled me around so that my entire body faced her. She pulled me in close with ease and scooted herself even closer. We were practically nose to nose. Finally she spoke, “is it weird if I said I wanted to be your friend?”

“Yea…” I uttered, not entirely sure where this was going.

She nodded to herself, as if declaring on some decision in her head, “I guess it would be. But I want to be, is that okay?”

“I mean, I can’t really stop you.”

She grinned. “No, you can’t.”

Months had passed since that night. Our relationship at the store gradually grew more comfortable and I eventually got over the fact that she was never going to keep her hands to herself. To elaborate, one time, I was trying to stock some of the higher shelves in the store on my own because someone had misplaced the little step stool we had. All of a sudden, the scent of vanilla and fresh mint invaded my nostrils and a curtain of soft blonde hair tickled my ears and neck as Rachael came up behind me, took the book I was trying to put on the shelf, and popped it in there like it was nothing, all the while holding my hip close; pushing our bodies together.

Her chest was lightly pressed up against my back and I whipped around at the sudden intrusion. A bit flustered, I shoved the stack of comics in her arms and stalked off as she looked back at me with a clueless face, pretending she didn’t do it on purpose.

In spite of that, there was something even more troubling brewing along than that. Kevin had texted all of us one night about getting together for a “company party,” which was basically just the lot of us drinking at some bar or eating out. He added on in his text to me that it would be his treat, for what he owed me. I narrowed my eyes into slits. I knew what he was up to – it was very obvious to the eye over the months what he was trying to do with this get together and it one way or another involved getting into Rachael’s pants.

Saturday night, 10:00 pm, most of us were already at the designated meet up. We waited out in the brisk cold outside some bar downtown waiting for the few who were missing. Some of the guys were late and not even Rachael was here yet. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my green winter coat. It had a fur hood that cushioned the back of my neck and head and I wore my thick gray scarf for extra measure against the cold. Black cuffed pants and white sneakers finished off my outfit.

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