Aaron couldn't believe how good it felt to be inside her, she was so wet, so tight. But he didn't have the strength to fuck her for long like this and she knew it.
As he let her down, she grabbed a two-high stack of boxes and bent over for him. He moved behind her, pushed her short skirt up around her waist, and slid his cock back into her pussy.
"Oh, fuck...that feels so fucking good!" she groaned. No one else was in the bookstore; she knew she didn't have to be quiet. Moaning enthusiastically, Chloe begged Aaron to fuck her harder, fuck her faster, as he pistoned his cock into her from behind.
Her cries of pleasure echoed off the shelves, the books the only witnesses as Aaron's hips slapped against her ass, driving his cock deeper and deeper. She grabbed the shelf beside her to steady herself as his piledriving action threatened to knock her forward, and moaned as his pounding pushed her over the edge.
Aaron looked down and saw that she was coming all over his cock, and he knew that he was about to come too.
Then he heard the curtain open.
Chloe's moans had been so loud, and he'd been so consumed by his own passion that he hadn't even heard the bell above the door.
Aaron looked over his shoulder just as the tray with the three teas tumbled from Emily's hand.
As they hit the floor and exploded all over the unsorted boxes of books, Aaron pulled out of Chloe and scrambled to pull his pants and underwear back up. "Emily, what are you doing here?!"
She didn't answer. Her mouth was open in shock as she looked at the two of them. Aaron was frantically trying to tuck his cock back into his pants, but Chloe was still bent over with her skirt above her waist, and laughed when she saw the look on Emily's face.
Turning, she ran toward the exit.
"Emily, wait!" Aaron cried, but it was too late, she was gone.
"Let her go," Chloe said. "We're not finished, you didn't come yet."
But then they saw Miriam coming through the door with a tray with three coffees in her hand. As Aaron ran out to talk to her, Chloe sighed in disappointment and pulled her skirt and top back down before fixing her hair.
"Why is the door unlocked?" Miriam said.
"Emily was here!" Aaron said. "She saw us..."
"Oh no," Miriam said, not even having to ask. "I forgot I gave her a key before so she could come in and do some extra sorting. She texted me when I was getting the coffee to say that her meeting was over and she was coming to the store, but I didn't think she'd get here so soon."
"She wasn't even supposed to be here this week! How was I supposed to know she'd just walk in like that?"
"Well, the text said she was coming to meet you; you told her last week you'd take her to dinner."
"Oh, fuck. I thought she said we'd do that next week."
"I'm sure she doesn't want to do it at all now, but you should still talk to her and apologize."
Aaron was nodding his head in agreement when the bell jingled and a customer walked through the door.
As soon as she saw him, Chloe gasped. "Oh my god! Mark, what are you doing here?"
"Hey, hon, I dropped by the meeting and was surprised to see you weren't there. They said you hadn't been coming by lately, and one of the women said she saw you coming in here?"
"Yeah, the -- the meetings just weren't working for me," Chloe said. "I needed a break, so I've been coming here, volunteering to sort books."
Forcing a smile, she turned and said, "This is Miriam, the owner of the store. And this is Aaron, one of the other volunteers."
Stepping toward him, the man said, "Hey, I'm Mark -- Chloe's husband."
The sentence hit Aaron like a bullet to the brain, but he instinctively reached out and shook his hand. As Mark introduced himself to Miriam, Aaron realized why Chloe was always in such a hurry to get home.
He glanced at her and her eyes pleaded with him for understanding, but he turned away and saw Miriam was also watching him to see his reaction.
"Is that what you wore tonight?" Mark said, eyeing his wife's short, sexy skirt.
"I left my coat in the car," she said, tugging her skirt down and praying that he didn't discover she wasn't wearing panties, or notice that she wasn't wearing her ring. "I'm actually done for the night. We should go."
As she followed her husband toward the door, Chloe looked back and said, "Goodnight Miriam, 'night Aaron."
When he replied, he saw her husband glance back over his shoulder at him with an untrusting look.
After they were gone, Aaron turned to Miriam and said, "I've just made a huge fucking mistake."
Miriam handed him his coffee and said, "I could have told you that even before we found out she was married."
* * *
When Aaron showed up the next night, the first thing he did was head to Emily's aisle to see if she was there. He was surprised to see Chloe kneeling by a box, sorting books.
She was wearing the same skirt as the night before, and as soon as she saw him she leaped to her feet and tried to wrap her arms around him.
Pushing her away, he said, "Where's Emily?"
"She called Miriam and said she can't help sort anymore, so I'm taking over her aisle. Now we don't have to worry about being interrupted," she said, and went to rub his cock through his pants.
Aaron grabbed her hand and stopped her. "Chloe -- you're married."
She pressed her body close to his and whispered, "Don't worry, baby, he doesn't suspect a thing. We're not going to get caught."
Aaron stepped back. "You think that's what bothers me -- getting caught? Chloe, I would have never touched you if I'd known you were married. When I shook your husband's hand last night...only minutes after you and me had been...I felt like the biggest piece of -- "
"It's not like that," she interrupted. "I don't even love him anymore. The only reason Mark and I are still together is for our kids."
"Oh, great, you've got kids too. All that matters to me is that you're still married, and you should have told me that."
"Aaron," she said, and as she tried to move toward him he took another step back. "I want to be with you. Mark hasn't touched me in months, and if he tried to I wouldn't let him; you're the only man I want to be with. Please, he'll never find out about us."
"Chloe, I don't know about other guys, but I can't be involved with a married woman."
"Then -- then I'll talk to Mark, and tell him I want a divorce."
"Look, Chloe, what I'm really trying to say is, I can't be involved with a woman who would cheat on her husband."
The instant he said the words he could see how deeply they'd hurt her. "It's not like that," she whispered, "I love my husband, but I love you too."
"Chloe, I -- "
"Please, just let me talk. The reason I come to the bookstore on Thursday nights is because that's the night I'm supposed to go to my meetings...my A.A. meetings. Honestly, the first time I found this place I wasn't even looking for it, I was looking for somewhere to get a drink.
"When I'm at home with my family, with my kids, all I used to want to do was get drunk. But now that I've met you, I don't get those urges anymore; you're all I think about."
"Chloe, I'm glad that you're trying to deal with your problem, but it sounds like you're just replacing one problem with another. You and I can't be together -- not now, not ever. I hope you beat your addiction, but you're only going to find a way to beat it at those meetings, not in this bookstore."
"Maybe -- maybe we can just be friends? I can come by your apartment, and visit?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't think that's a good idea."
" I think I'd -- I think I'd better go." Chloe tried to wipe away the tears that rolled down her cheeks, but there were too many. Grabbing her coat, she hesitated before turning to Aaron and hugging him tightly. "I'll never forget you," she whispered.
He hugged her back and, kissing the top of her head, said, "Go to your meeting, and good luck."
As she left the store, and thanked Miriam for everything, Chloe took one last look back at Aaron and, smiling through her tears, waved goodbye.
* * *
When Aaron returned to the store a week later neither Chloe nor Emily were there. When he went to her row he saw a new sorter there, an old man.
Miriam introduced him to Harold, the sorter that he'd originally replaced, and said, "Try not to chase him away too."
Aaron tried to throw himself back into the hunt for first editions but his heart wasn't in it. He couldn't stop thinking about Emily and wondering why, after the mistakes he'd made, it was her being punished. She was the one who loved books, not him.
Aaron passed Harold as he headed toward the counter, and when he got there Miriam was trying to quiet Molly, who was barking madly.
When she finally got her to stop and made her lie on her dog bed, Miriam said," I don't know why this damned dog always barks at poor Harold, I think she's getting crazy in her old age. What did you need, Aaron?"
Aaron smiled at Molly, who was quietly growling in Harold's direction, and said, "I've been thinking...and maybe I shouldn't be coming here to sort anymore."
Miriam's jaw dropped. "Are you kidding me? You chase away all my other sorters and now you're going to leave me too?"
"But that's the reason I'm leaving. You can call Emily and tell her that I'm gone, and then she can come back here. She loves this place."
Miriam sighed. "You don't have to leave, Aaron. Just go talk to her, tell her you made a mistake and that you're sorry."
"You -- you really think she'd listen to me?"
"It can't hurt. I'm sure she can't like you any less than she already does."
"Thanks, that really makes me feel better."
"Go talk to her, but no matter what she says I still need your help sorting. You can't leave Molly and me alone here with Harold."
After Miriam gave him Emily's address, Aaron left the store and drove over to her house. Night had already fallen and stars littered the clear winter sky. Aaron shivered as he walked down the street; a cold snap had hit the area recently, and temperatures had fallen so low that Miriam had been forced to bring space heaters to the store to try to keep it warm.
Aaron found the address he had been given, an old wartime house, and he was surprised when he knocked and a man answered the door.
"Umm...is Emily home?" Aaron said.
"Yeah, who are you?"
"Uh...a friend from the bookstore."
"Oh, great," he said, rolling his eyes, "another booknut. Emily, there's someone at the door for you!"
As he was waiting, Aaron looked down the hallway and saw boxes lined up along the wall as if someone was packing to move. Emily came around the corner, wondering who could possibly be looking for her, and when she saw Aaron the smile left her face.
"What do you want?" she said.
"Hey, I just stopped by to -- sorry, but I have to ask, is that your husband?" Aaron said.
Emily was surprised by the question. "No, I'm not married, but I wish I was so I could divorce him...that's my brother."
Aaron breathed a huge sigh of relief. He could feel the warmth from inside the house and, shivering on the porch, he said, "Can I come inside to talk?"
Emily half-closed the door so all the heat wouldn't escape and shook her head. "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Oh...well, I just came by, I mean, I was just wondering why you haven't been at the bookstore." As soon as he said it, he knew he couldn't have said anything stupider.
She glared at him. "There's nothing there that interests me any more."
"I just wanted to let you know that...Chloe's gone."
She paused. "Why would I care if she was there or not?"
Aaron rubbed his hand through his hair. "Well, I just thought, maybe -- "
"Like I said," Emily interrupted, "there's nothing there that interests me anymore. You should leave now, I have to go."
"Wait," Aaron said, and put his foot out to stop her from shutting the door. "I know the way I treated you was wrong, and that's why I'm here -- to apologize. I totally understand why you don't want to be friends any more, but I just wanted to let you know that if you want to come back to Booklovers you can, I'll leave. You won't ever have to see me there again."
Emily didn't answer; she just stared at him. Aaron moved his foot from the doorway, and when he did, she said, "I'll never come back to that store again," and shut the door.
* * *
Aaron didn't want to go back to Booklovers either; the memories of what had happened with Chloe and Emily were too fresh, too painful. But he didn't want to disappoint Miriam too, so he went back to sorting, back to endless boxes of James Patterson novels.
He hadn't had any luck finding first editions, and was convinced that the book gods were punishing him for his actions and that sorting through box after box of junk was his penance.
Opening one box, Aaron discovered a stack of old Nancy Drew novels from the forties. He wasn't sure if girls even read this type of book anymore, and knew he'd have to ask Miriam what she wanted him to do with them. He was pulling them out when a photo slid out from the pages of one of the books. It was an old black and white photo of a middle-aged woman, and on the back "Aunt Mabel" was written in pencil.
He flipped open the front of the book and saw an inscription: "To Cathy, Merry Christmas 1946, Love Aunt Mabel."
He looked in each of the books and saw that Cathy's aunt had given her one as a present every year for eight years. She must have been too old for Nancy Drew when the last book was given, but the collection was a snapshot of her childhood.
He could picture her lying in front of the Christmas tree, in the years before television, eagerly turning the pages and being swept away by the adventure within. He wondered what had happened to her and how the books had ended up here. And then he remembered Emily and the photo that had tumbled out of her book, and the way she'd lovingly taken the broken book home.
Miriam was surprised when she saw he wanted to buy them. "I didn't know you were such a big Nancy Drew fan. I've got boxes of them if you're interested."
"No, thanks, just these ones," Aaron said.
He drove over to Emily's house and saw that her brother's car wasn't there. So he left the books on her porch and rang the bell, running away into the dark like he was ten years old again and playing nicky nicky nine doors.
He watched from hiding as Emily opened the door and, surprised to see the stack of books on the doorstep, curiously picked one up and opened it. When the photo fell out she caught it before it could hit the ground, and then, carefully sliding the photo back into the book, picked up the stack and took them inside.
Returning to Booklovers the next night, Aaron rifled through the boxes of unsorted books with a renewed enthusiasm. But this time he wasn't looking for first editions, he was looking for photos, bookmarks, flowers -- anything that may have been forgotten inside of a book.
And over the next few days he found a marriage certificate, forgotten between the pages of a worn copy of War and Peace; a handwritten poem in a collection of poems by P. K. Page; an old postcard in a book of fairy tales; and a hotel cocktail napkin with a name and a room number on it tucked inside a copy of Tropic of Cancer.
Aaron left all of these, one by one, on Emily's porch, along with numerous other books with flowers, feathers, leaves, baseball cards, photos and locks of hair hidden between the covers.
Every time Emily opened the door and found a new book, Aaron was already out of sight. But he watched from hiding as she hunted through the pages to find the treasure within, and even from far away he could see the joy in her eyes as she lovingly clasped the book and its contents to her chest and took it inside.
On a Thursday night in early February, Aaron was hunting through the boxes for another book for Emily when a folded letter fell out from between the pages of one. He was tucking the letter back inside the book to give it to her, when out of curiosity he opened the old letter and read it. He scanned through the simple love letter and thought it would be perfect for Emily, but he froze when he reached the end and saw the signature: "J.D. Salinger."
Aaron was stunned. He knew this was it, the treasure he'd always hoped and hunted for; if this letter was authentic, it would easily be more valuable than all of the first editions he'd ever found combined.
Miriam had gone to get coffee, so he went to her desk to use her computer to check the signature. Molly brushed against him, sniffing at his jeans, and he petted her.
Aaron googled the signature, and as he searched through the pages he heard Molly barking at the back of the store. He turned around and realized he'd left the gate open; she'd wandered out and started barking as soon as she found Harold. Checking to make sure the front door of the store was closed and she couldn't get outside, Aaron went back to his search.
As he scrolled through the pages, he found images of other Salinger letters and saw the signatures matched -- the letter was authentic! Aaron securely tucked the letter back in the book, and as he did he heard Molly, barking and barking at the back of the store.
"Leave Harold alone, Molly" he yelled. When she wouldn't shut up, he turned around and realized she wasn't barking at Harold.
An orange glow was coming from the far aisle, and as Aaron watched an ominous tendril of smoke curled around the top edge of the bookcase. He ran to the aisle and as he looked around the corner he flinched back from the heat, the row was engulfed in flame.
"Fire!" Aaron cried, and ran to the far aisle where Harold was still sorting books. "There's a fire! You've got to get out of here!"
After making sure that Harold was safely out the front door, Aaron ran back behind the counter and grabbed the fire extinguisher Miriam kept there. But as he turned and saw the wall of flames consuming the far aisles he knew it was too late, the fire was out of control. And then he realized he didn't hear any more barking.
"Oh fuck, Molly!" Aaron ran through the burning red curtain and headed down Emily's aisle, the farthest from the blaze. Once he reached the far end, he headed toward the fire, searching for the half-blind dog.
The heat was indescribable and as he hunched over, coughing and choking from the smoke, he found her huddled in a corner, cringing in terror from the flames.
Aaron swept her up, and as he did she whimpered and crawled into his arms for safety. He headed back the way he'd come, but as he looked down Emily's aisle he could see the flames had swept across it, blocking his path; he'd have to find another way out.
Violently coughing from the thick smoke, Aaron held Molly tightly as he headed toward the rear of the store. He'd never been back here before, but knew there had to be an exit.
He spotted it between stacks of unsorted boxes, and as he burst through it into the cold night air the flames roared behind him.
Aaron fell to his knees in the back parking lot, his eyes stinging and his ears ringing as the fire alarms in the neighboring stores blared.
"It's okay, Molly, it's okay," he said. The frightened dog whimpered as she licked his chin and cheeks and Aaron, still coughing from the smoke in his lungs, headed toward the front of the building.
Miriam spotted him as soon as he came around the corner and rushed toward him; tears of relief streamed down her face.
"I'm okay, we're okay," Aaron said, as Molly scrabbled into the outstretched arms of his owner, who squeezed her tightly and kissed her over and over.
"I was so scared when Harold said you were still in there." Miriam leaned against Aaron's chest, and he hugged her and Molly against him as she sobbed her thanks.
"Is this him?" a paramedic said, and took Aaron away to examine him.