Their hands met, reaching for the same book.
"Oh, sorry. Wait, were you just reaching for A Little White Horse?"
"Uh, yes. Were you?"
"Mhmm. I thought I was the only person in this town who read that book, much less even knew it existed."
"Key word 'was'; I just moved here last month."
She held out her hand. "I'm Kris, and I've lived here my whole life."
He shook her hand, grinning. "I'm Byron, and I look forward to seeing this town as home."
"The library was definitely the best place to start."
"I agree. So, tell me, what other books do you enjoy wearing out?"
"No, I'll do better. I'll guess."
"Ooh, you're brave. Shoot. What's my top five?"
"The Lost Clue, To Have and to Hold, A Little White Horse, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, and Prisoners of the Sea."
Kris's jaw fell open.
"What-how? How did you know that?"
Byron chuckled quietly.
"You should see your face right now; it looks like you've seen a ghost."
"Haha, funny. But seriously, how? Like, that's really creepy."
"You should break the habit of taking notes in library books. It could be considered defacing public property..."
"Oh. That. Well, the truth is that I donated those five books to the Library. Still, it's cool that you happened to check those books out, and cooler still that you recognized my handwriting."
"Those also happen to be some of my favorites. Classics, all of them, except for Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart."
"Yeah, but it'll be a classic someday."
"It better be. Anyways, I'd better be going."
"Oh, okay. See you later maybe."
She turned to wave one more time after she walked through the glass door. He was still looking after her.
"Oh, hey. I see you found my favorite coffee shop in town.
"Yup. Kris, right?"
"Mhmm. Byron? I see you're enjoying my book."
He laughed. "Yes, yes I am. Hey, are you okay?"
She shifted uncomfortable in her chair, stretching her black shirt sleeve to cover the blue spot on her forearm.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
"Okay. If you wanna talk about it, I'm here. Heh, I'm told I make a good listener."
"I'm sure you do. I'm-I'm fine. Really."
His heart broke at the sight of pleading in her eyes.
"Okay. But my offer still stands. On your time."
"Thanks, Byron. I've gotta go now."
"Yeah, okay. You wanna meet at the library tomorrow? Maybe at 10?"
"Yeah, sure. Well, maybe not. I don't know if I can."
"It's okay. I'll be there, but don't feel like you have to meet up. Just whatever is fine."
"Sure. See ya 'round."
Byron looked up in surprise when Kris's face came into view at the top of the stairs.
"Hey! You made it."
"Yeah, I kinda needed to get away, and I figured I might as well come here."
"Yeah? Well, I'm glad you did."
"Me too." She smiled a little.
"Let's play a game."
"What kind of game?"
"A getting-to-know-you sort of game. Basically we just take turns asking each other questions."
"But it's okay if either of us doesn't want to answer one, right?"
"Of course. You start."
"Okay. Hmm...what's your favorite subject in school?"
"English. But I'm also into sports. Football, particularly."
"Cool. English is my favorite, too."
"Gotcha. So, what's your favorite hobby?"
"What do you write?"
"That's two questions in a row, but since this is your game I'll oblige. Poetry."
"That's really cool. I've dabbled in poetry, but don't really have a gift. I stick with fiction. Anyways, your turn."
"How old are you?"
"Same. What's your favorite season?"
"Fall. Can't beat the flaming colors and pleasant weather."
"Same. It's-oh." She looked at her watch. "I've got to go! But I'll see you again?"
He saw that same hurtful pleading deep in her eyes, and his own almost teared up.
"Of course. Meet at the same time tomorrow?"
"Yes, yes, see you then! Please be here, please." Her voice was barely above a whisper.
"Kris, what's wrong?"
"I-I can't tell you. I have to go! Now!"
"Mom! Mom, I made a new friend. Mom?"
Sounds of chaos and anger came from the family room. Then a loud cry dominated the pitch of breaking glass and fuming curses.
"Kris, it's time to run!!!!! Now. RUN!!"
Kris swung her backpack back over her shoulder and bolted out the front door. She heard the door crash open behind her, angry cursing and delirious commands being thrown at her. She didn't look back.
A few minutes later she huffed into the small-town police station.
"Yes, how can I help you young lady?"
"Please, please go quick. I-" she gasped for air. "It's my step dad. I think he's hurting her."
"What is your address?"
"522 Ash Street. Please hurry."
Took me long enough. The first sentence is from a Pinterest writing prompt. :) more will (hopefully) follow soon, but please don't hold your breath. I've been crazy-busy lately. Haha. But so happy. God has really been good to me. I'm blessed with great friends, a great family, and a great life.