Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
The Beautiful Bookworm
by Kelly F. Barr
Jordan scanned the room. What a party—lots of food, drink, loud music, dancing, conversation, and pairing off—couples in corners, on sofas, and sneaking off to other rooms. What was he doing here? Sure, Brian was his friend, but Brian knew he wasn’t into this.
Then he saw the beer cans. No way am I hanging around. What if there’s a raid? I’m not getting busted for underage drinking.
Brian was dancing with a blonde in tight jeans and a low-cut red blouse. Jordan was about to interrupt, tell Brian he was leaving, when several dancing bodies parted, giving him a clear view of a girl with long waves of brown hair hanging around her face like a curtain. She was sitting on a large, square ottoman, elbows propped on knees, reading a book. How could she read with all this noise?
Why was she here? Curiosity adjusted his path, past Brian and the blonde, until he stood directly in front of the girl on the ottoman. She didn’t raise her head from the book, so he squatted down to her level. Still no response from the bookworm. He placed an index finger in the open spine of the book, applied a little pressure, and the book lowered, revealing the largest, greenest eyes he’d ever seen. It was like staring into two perfect emeralds, and his heart skipped a beat.
“Hi, I’m Jordan. I was just wondering how you could read with all this noise.”
“It’s a great book. Have you read it?” She lifted it so he could see the cover, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
“Uh, no, I haven’t. Listen, would you like to step outside—get some fresh air, talk where we don’t have to shout at one another?”
She shrugged, placed a bookmark between the pages, and stood up.
Jordan rose, turned, and led the way out the front door. The porch was empty. Jordan led the way to the swing.
When they were seated, Jordan, once again, peered into this girl’s emerald eyes. They enchanted him. “So, I take it, this isn’t your idea of a fun evening?” He smiled.
“Absolutely not.” She shook her head for emphasis. “Sabrina talked me into coming. She says I don’t get out enough.”
“My older sister. She was thrilled that Brian invited her to this party. She thinks he’s hot. Mom and Dad will kill us if they find out we were here, not to mention what they’d think of Brian. I’m afraid Sabrina’s going to get in big trouble, but she won’t listen to me. She says I need to get my face out of a book and learn to live a little.”
“So, how old are you?”
“Sixteen. I’ll be seventeen in two weeks.” She fingered the book’s cover.
Jordan perched on the edge of the swing, ready to rise. “I’m sorry. I’m keeping you from your book.”
“Wait, please don’t go. I … I think you’re cute.”
She lowered her head, allowing her hair to hide her face, but not before Jordan had seen the blush creep into her cheeks. Was he the first guy she’d talked to?
He placed a finger under her chin and lifted so he could look at her face. For the first time, he forced himself to look at more than her eyes. Her creamy complexion was flawless and her pink lips formed a bow. He’d never beheld such beauty before.
He allowed his eyes to do a quick scan of the rest of her. She was wearing a white mid-calf length skirt and a mint green summer sweater.
“What’s your name?”
“How come I haven’t seen you around before?”
“My mom homeschools me. She tried homeschooling Sabrina, but Sabrina fought with her about it. Sabrina wants to be popular, and she’s boy crazy. My parents keep trying to encourage her to get to know the young people at our church, but Sabrina doesn’t want anything to do with church. I’m praying for her, and I talk to her. She listens to what I have to say, even if she doesn’t agree. I hope she at least thinks about it.”
Jordan raked a hand through his hair. “Do you have a boyfriend at your church?”
The corners of her mouth tipped a bit. “Not exactly, but there is someone interested in me.”
“Are you interested in him?” Jordan held his breath.
Abigail shrugged. “Maybe.”
“But you think I’m cute?” He quirked an eyebrow at her.
This time she didn’t lower her head, though the blush colored her cheeks again, and Jordan leaned toward her.
Abigail jumped up and Jordan nearly fell as the swing rocked.
“I’m sorry. I better find Sabrina and get home. It was nice meeting you, Jordan.” She turned to flee into the house.
Jordan moved to follow her. “Wait … Abby!”
She stopped at the front door, turned to look at him. “No one calls me that.”
“I’m sorry. Did I offend you?”
“Say it again.”
“Say it again … what you just called me.”
“Abby.” He noticed her slight shiver. He stepped closer. “Abby … Abby … Abby.”
Standing before her, he lifted a hand, cupped the side of her face.
Then she was gone, through the door, into the crowd.
Jordan leaned against the door jamb and sighed, his heart pounding like tribal drums in his chest.