It's early spring, and the main character has been out shopping. A familiar scent grabbed her attention as she strolled along the street and led her to the door of a used book store. This is where we come into the story.
Excerpt from Church Hill. . .
I rushed to the door and pushed it open. As I entered, the musky smell of the old books flooded my senses. Mingling with that smell was my luring scent. The man had entered this store.
It was perfect. If I had been following the man from my past, he would have entered this shop. He wouldn’t have been able to resist the words written so long ago. They would have pulled him in here with the mysterious power they had always held over him.
But it was impossible that I could be following that particular man. I was in central Pennsylvania, and he was in California. Well, that was the last place I knew him to be. (Although that was more than fifteen years ago.)
I began to browse the shelves. I enjoyed reading, so I thought I might buy myself an old classic while I was in here. As I drifted through the upper levels of the four-story shop, my original motivation for coming here escaped me. Eventually I came to the Attic, as a sign designated the fourth floor.
This was where the really old books were. Most of the books on the shelves were falling apart. A sign posted at the door read: please do not handle the books unless you are a serious buyer.
A strange sensation overcame me in this room. It was an anxious feeling, yet I felt totally at ease at the same time. Objects with history always seem to have this sort of effect on me. But it wasn’t just the books. I could sense someone else in the room. Then, as I milled through the shelves, I smelled him.
The scent I had followed down the street and into this store was now here with me. My senses heightened, and I slowly crept past the rows of book-covered shelves toward the back of the room. I stopped at the second to last row and entered, feigning interest in the books.
The man with the familiar aroma was on the other side of the shelf. I could smell him as I stood there taking in the perfumed air deeply through my nose. I allowed the scent to take me back to a time when life wasn’t so complicated.
I could see his handsome face with the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea in the background. I closed my eyes as I fell deeper into the memory. The warmth engulfed me.
I don’t know how long I stood there like that, but a sharpening of the man’s scent brought me back. I opened my eyes to find him standing there gazing down at me with sea-green eyes. His thick brown hair was wind-blown, his skin sun-kissed.
I couldn’t look away from that beautiful face. I had dreamt about this man. He haunted me in my sleep.
My jaw must have dropped, though I can’t be sure. My entire body went numb, and I couldn’t speak.
A slow smile spread across his face. My God, he was beautiful when he smiled. Then again, he was beautiful before he smiled, too. His eyes gleamed in the sunlight slanting through the windows. It was like looking into the depths of the sea, and I was drowning without ever jumping in.
“Lord Byron,” he said, indicating the book I held. “I like his style. But you seem more like a Poe fan than Byron.”
His deep voice flooded my system, almost sending me into overload. I practically melted at the sensual tone resonating from his beautiful mouth. My mouth started to water as I gazed up at him.
He chuckled at my paralysis, sending me further into my stupefied state.
“Hey. You okay?”
I didn’t respond. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I was not okay.
He asked again, this time gently grabbing my upper left arm with his warm, masculine strength. His eyes held genuine concern.
And it was that tender touch that broke the spell, had me dropping everything I held and throwing my arms around his neck. I lost myself in his wonderfully strong and gentle embrace. Burying my face against his neck I inhaled deeply and allowed his essence to flood my system once again. Tears filled my eyes, and I held him tighter as he lifted me off my feet and squeezed his soul into me.
“Oh, Ella, I’ve missed you so much,” he breathed in my ear.
“I missed you, too,” I whispered.
We held each other for a short eternity, and when he set me on my feet again, I wasn’t sure I could stand. I took a small step to steady myself. “What are you doing in Summerville?” I asked, my voice shaking slightly with emotion.