The Long Weekend

bynerd4music©

Charlie especially liked the way her name sounded when he said it. It made her tingle all over, but she chalked that up to the aftereffect from the delicious breakfast.

He chuckled again, and Charlie felt another tingle. "You're funny. Katia said you'd be funny."

"Really? And what else did Katia say about me?"

"Not much else" Gavril answered, polishing off the last of his pancakes. "She told me if I wanted to know more I'd have to ask you."

"That sounds exactly like something Katia would say. However, she didn't say why you were coming here."

"Trying to get rid of me already?" She glanced in his direction, thinking he was offended but found a playful smile instead.

Charlie grinned. "If you didn't leave last night after I pummeled you, I think you'll be alright."

Gavril laughed heartily, a deep rumble that even

Charlie's salty demeanor couldn't ignore. She chuckled too. "Well if you must know, I'm back in town for the 'Terrific Tigers' awards banquet."

"Oh that's right. I forgot you played hockey here. So you were a 'Terrific Tiger' back in the day, eh?"

"That's what they tell me. Past award winners are encouraged to come back, to show some sort of moral support. I've never felt the need to return."

"Not the 'school spirit' kind of guy?"

Gavril shrugged. "Something like that." He paused for a moment. Charlie instantly got the impression that he wanted to change the subject.

She wasn't surprised when he did, but she was taken aback by his next words.

"Charlie...that's an unusual name for a girl."

She scoffed. "Says the man named Gavril."

Gavril bit into a piece of bacon, chewing thoughtfully. "Well 'Gavril' is Russian for Gabriel. So that makes sense since I am Russian."

Charlie bit the corner of her bottom lip, confused as to why his pronunciation of 'Russian' had her tingling. Get it together, she thought.

"Makes sense. My parents wanted a boy; they were so convinced that I was a boy they only thought of one name: Charlie. Not Charles, just Charlie. They were big fans of Charlie Parker."

"The jazz musician?"

That surprised Charlie. "Yeah? How did you..."

Gavril shrugged easily. "My father is a lover of American jazz music. He used to play jazz records all the time when we were younger. Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis. And of course Billie Holiday."

"Wow. That's funny. My parents were huge fans of jazz too. That's how I got my name. Charlie Billie Horton."

He studied her for a moment, this peculiar young woman. "What a coincidence," he finally said.

"Jazz was important in my home. My first crush was on Billie Holiday. I cried when my father told me she was dead."

"Aww!" Charlie exclaimed.

"I was seven and completely crushed. My parents gave me a copy of 'Lady Sings the Blues' as a birthday gift. It is still one of my favorite movies."

"Lady in Satin is my go-to Billie Holiday album."

He grinned earnestly. "I know how you feel. I love that album. It is my favorite."

Charlie tried to imagine Gavril as a young boy living in Russia, completely infatuated with the ill-fated jazz singer. The concept was adorable and odd at the same time. "Hmm. It's funny; Katia called you gruff. But you're anything but."

"Well maybe I am trying to get on your good side so you won't beat me up again."

She chuckled. "I can't make that promise. I'm kind of a loose cannon."

Gavril smiled. "I like what I've seen so far," he said. Somehow she got the feeling he wasn't just talking about their conversation. Her mind flashed back to her flimsy sleep shirt and she flushed.

Was Katia's older brother really trying to flirt with her? "Since you were so inquisitive, I have to ask you now. What are you doing here? Katia mentioned something about vacation plans falling through?"

It was Charlie's turn to shrug. "Something like that. My ex decided to be an asshole, so my vacation to Atlantic City went kaput."

"Mudak," was all he said. What a bastard.

"Yeah. Now I don't know what to do with myself." Charlie glanced up at the clock in the kitchen.

"Shit! I should probably head down to the bookstore and see if I can pick up a shift today." She slid off the barstool, grabbed her plate, and dropped it into the sink. "Thanks for breakfast. I really appreciate it."

"No problem," he replied. Gavril rose to his feet. "Which bookstore?"

"Oh...The Attic."

"Okay. I think I remember where that is. I noticed you didn't have a car parked outside."

"Yeah," Charlie said, biting her lip again. "It's in the shop right now. I had an unfortunate accident with a wayward deer."

Gavril smirked. "Well I can give you a ride downtown."

"Oh you don't have to do that," she said quickly.

"I insist. I'm staying here for a week. I have a car. Let me be useful. Just think of me as your personal chauffeur."

Charlie couldn't help the smile that spread on her face. "Well since you put it like that, I guess I'll have to say yes."

Gavril decided that he liked her smile. It really brightened her face and made her eyes sparkle.

They were a lustrous copper color, shining like newly minted pennies. They stood out wonderfully against her beautiful skin, a hue reminiscent of smooth, creamy Nutella. "Good. I have to run some errands while I'm in town. How about you get ready and we'll leave in thirty?"

"Sounds good." She went to leave just as he went to move toward the sink with the rest of the dishes in his hands. "Oops" they both mumbled.

They tried to sidestep one another but only crashed again. Gavril raised his arms high and twisted to the side, allowing her entry.

Charlie ducked under his arms and glided past, her breasts lightly brushing his chest. The contact sent a shock through both of them. She gasped softly and heard his own grunt of recognition.

Before she tried to figure out what the hell that was, she dashed quickly up the stairs.

********

Three hours later, Charlie was regretting her decision to "drop in". When Gavril dropped her off at The Attic, she discovered the store packed with people and a frantic Dale at the end of his rope. Liana, Charlie's co-worker and the main daytime bookseller was out sick with a terrible case of mono, leaving Dale alone.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal but today was unusually busy at The Attic, an alternative bookstore that boasted a wide array of "other" reading material, from comics, graphic novels, and manga to erotica. It was a fairly easy job and a cool place to work most days. However today was not looking like one of those nice days.

When she stepped into the store and found Dale hard at work on the register, his coffee-colored eyes practically sparkled with relief. "Bless you," was all he said.

With a large sigh, she walked to the back, stashed her purse in an empty locker, clocked in, threw her lanyard nametag around her neck, and joined him at the register.

She worked steadily bouncing between the register and shelving books while Dale ran the coffee bar/counter. It was almost four when Mimi showed up to start her evening shift. She breezed in, wearing dark purple Wayfarers that no doubt hid her hangover. "Hey babe," she said, taking a sip of her signature soy mocha latte.

"Hey yourself," Charlie said as she finished ringing up a Thor comic book for a pimply-faced kid, who couldn't have been more than sixteen.

She gave him a look of death when she caught him staring at her chest. "Take a picture if you're so intrigued," she snapped.

The kid smiled, revealing a mouth full of metallic braces. "Holy shit, can I?" he asked excitedly.

Charlie stared at him incredulously before pointing to the door. "Yeah, get out. Shoo."

Dejected, the kid stalked out. Mimi grinned. "You are in rare form today."

"I am in no mood for that kind of foolishness."

"Aww come on. You would have made his life. That picture would have been prime wank material for at least two weeks. Now he'll be forced to scour the internet for chocolate boobies."

Charlie smirked. "You are so fucking ridiculous."

"And you are a nerd-tease. Working in this store, wearing those low-cut shirts, and teasing all these teenage boys." Mimi waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

"Shut up," Charlie said. She was laughing openly now.

"Poor Dale. I wonder how he's coping."

Charlie rolled her eyes. "Dale is just fine. We've been working quite well together. He's staying in his corner, and I'm in mine."

Mimi glanced around. "Seems a little busy for a summer Thursday."

"It was worse earlier. The crowd's considerably less now."

"Well good thing I showed up when I did."

"For real. I wasn't even supposed to be here today."

Mimi perched her sunglasses atop her head. "Yeah well that's what you get for trying to be employee of the month. No one told you to drag your happy ass here."

"Shut up" Charlie said, a smile playing on her lips. "What else was I supposed to do with my time?" She looked up and realized a small queue had formed behind Mimi. "Now will you kindly move your ass away from my counter? I have customers to help."

Mimi sauntered off in the direction of the 'Employees Only' section when Charlie called out to her. "Your help would be greatly appreciated, lady! Seeing as how this is technically your shift."

"My shift isn't for another fifteen minutes. I think you can handle this," Mimi yelled back.

"Will you two PLEASE stop shouting across the store? It's bad for business!" Dale called from the coffee counter. "Charlie, stop worrying about Mimi and concentrate on getting that line down. Mimi, take your beer-soaked ass in the back, drink your latte, sober up, and be back out here to help Charlie in five minutes."

Charlie glanced over at Dale, whose face was flushed with agitation. "Sorry, boss" she said sheepishly. She shot Mimi a dirty look.

Mimi stuck out her tongue. "Uh-oh. Dad's mad."

She headed to the back room while Charlie turned her focus back to the line, which seemed to have grown since her little tiff with Mimi. Gritting her teeth, she set to her task. Five minutes later on the dot, Mimi returned. With both of them working seamlessly, they were able to get the line down.

The afternoon rush seemed to be at a lull. Charlie leaned over the counter, stretching out her back. She was a little sore from standing stiffly. Mimi stifled a yawn. "Ugh, drinking was a bad idea last night. My tummy feels all rumbly."

"Yeah well that's you get. You could have left when I did."

"Well not all of us were trying to escape the clutches of Linus."

"Oh my god, don't remind me."

Mimi grinned. "You know, he's texted me about seven or eight times since I woke up. I think he was trying to figure out if you were working today."

"Oh no," Charlie groaned. "You did not tell him I was going to be here."

She brushed off the inquiry with a casual shrug of her shoulders but Charlie wasn't fooled. She watched as Mimi gathered her dark orange-reddish hair into a high ponytail. Mimi was going to drag out her response and Charlie was contemplating whether choking her out was enough to get her fired.

Mimi's aqua blue eyes were playful under her heavy fringe bangs. "I may have mentioned you

were planning to make an appearance today."

"I should just cut you right now."

"Oh come on," Mimi said with a smile. "Linus is completely harmless."

"Yeah, you sit there and think that. You weren't the one he was ogling."

"The lady doth protest too much. Why are you being so hard on him? It's not like you've got someone else in mind?" She glanced at Charlie, who was trying not to meet her gaze. Mimi grinned. "You skankbot. You DO have someone in mind! Well out with it. Give me all the juicy details."

Charlie rolled her eyes and focused on stacking some papers. "Girl, please. I am not even studying you right now."

"Ooh, he must be cute. Don't tell me you went back to Brent."

The look on Charlie's face was pure stank. "You must be drunk."

Mimi chuckled. "Okay so it's not Brent. Well who is it? He must either be really hot or a damn paper bag man if you're not trying to give up the goods."

"A 'paper bag man'?"

"Yeah, you know...a guy so hideous you have to put a paper bag on his head just to fuck him."

Charlie choked with laughter. "Oh my god...that is so fucking ridiculous."

"Don't act like you've never seen a PBM in real life." They were quiet as more customers came up to the counter to check out. Charlie knew Mimi wasn't going to let it go. What the girl lacked in height, she more than made up for it by being a nosy ass bitch.

Mimi always had the scoop on everybody and while she was never intentionally malicious she was quite possibly one of the worst secret-keepers since Peter Pettigrew.

With another lull in traffic the girls were able to lean back and chill. Charlie knew she was going to start up again. It wasn't like she was lying; she really didn't have someone in mind. She just thought her best friend's brother was attractive.

He wasn't really her type. Charlie was a sucker for pretty boys: light-skinned dudes with smooth waves and cool attitudes. The kind of guys who wore blazers and scarves; who smoked Gauloises and talked about music and art.

Someone who could tell the difference between Monet and Manet. A guy who could hold his own in a conversation concerning the backlash against modern R&B and the progressive fusion of urban underground artists and indie music.

Charlie was loathed to admit it, but she was pretty much a hipster, save for the ironic sense of entitlement and those shitty clothes the girls seemed to wear. Gavril was anything but. He looked...rough. He was massive; not muscular per se but you could definitely tell he was an athlete.

While he surprised her with his knowledge of jazz, she thought he would prove to be a bit of a dunderhead.

A fairly attractive dunderhead. With his dark looks and those intense hazel eyes, she was sure he had his fair share of female admirers. However she wasn't sure she was ready to be counted among them. He was nice enough though, and his accent was altogether pleasing. It was weird; she'd never been affected so much by someone's voice.

Katia's light Russian lilt made her even more adorable. Gavril's accent was smooth and sensuous, running over her like warm honey. His deep voice wrapped thickly around the syllables and phrases and sent a heated shiver down her spine. Now that was the way a man should sound.

But still, she wasn't interested. No sir, not Charlie Horton.

"Is it Dale?" Mimi suddenly asked.

Charlie glanced over at her friend before erupting into a fit of giggles. "Really? REALLY? No it's not. And will you stop asking? There is no one. I'm just not interested in Linus."

Mimi shrugged. "Alright, alright. No need to shout it to the whole store."

It was another hour before the traffic in the store completely slowed to a standstill. Mimi was solo on the register while Charlie had organizing and shelving duty. Chris, another night worker had long relieved Dale from the coffee bar.

Charlie was organizing a display of Walking Dead comics when she saw Gavril approaching, a pair of aviators shading his eyes. He was dressed simply, in a pair of light jeans, black boots, and a navy blue t-shirt.

"Privet," he rumbled. His smile was adorably crooked. "How is work going?"

"Oh fabulous," Charlie said. "I immediately regret my decision to show up today."

Gavril chuckled as he pushed his sunglasses atop his head. "Well don't worry. I have something that will cheer you up. Are you ready to go?"

"Oh god, yes. I was ready to leave as soon as I got here. Just let me get my stuff." She finished stacking the comics and headed towards the counter, where Dale was busy chatting with Mimi.

"Hey Dale, I was wondering since it's slow if I can just go ahead and take off?"

Dale smiled. "Sure. You've already done more than you needed to. Thanks for helping out today, Charlie."

"No problem. I needed the money, you needed the help...everyone wins. Will you need me tomorrow?"

"I don't think so. Today was most likely a fluke. I'll open, Mimi and Topher have the afternoon on lock, and Chris and Rona will close. You can come in Saturday if you want."

"Sounds good."

"Charlie?"

Three heads turned in Gavril's direction.

"Hey, I was just wrapping up things with the boss man here. I just gotta get my stuff and then we're good."

"Cool. No need to rush you or anything. I just have ice cream in the truck and it's hot as hell outside."

Charlie grinned. The Russian just said the magic words. "Ice cream?"

"Yeah. When I was going through your fridge this morning, I noticed containers of ice cream. Since Katia's lactose intolerant I assumed they were yours. I bought some more for you."

"Oh, well that was really cool. Thanks, Gavril."

"It was my pleasure."

A loud, exaggerated throat clearing made Charlie turn away. She shot another look of death Mimi's way. Mimi, who pretended that she didn't see THE LOOK waggled her eyebrows suggestively. "I knew it," she mouthed silently.

Charlie sighed. Might as well get it over with. "Gavril this is Dale, my boss. The tiny redhead

lacking couth and class is Mimi."

Gavril chuckled as Mimi stuck her tongue out at Charlie. "Nice to meet you guys."

"The pleasure is most definitely all mine," Mimi cooed. "Wow. You are certainly quite large. Why I bet you'll look like a giant next to lil ol' me."

Charlie was flabbergasted. Where the hell did that terrible Southern accent come from? Mimi was so damn ridiculous sometimes. "Well, let me get my stuff and let Scarlett O'Hara here get back to her party at Tara."

"Oh hush, Charlie. I'm just having a little fun with your new beau."

"What?" Charlie yelped. She looked up and noticed

Dale had uttered the same short question. He looked stricken, like he swallowed a particularly sour candy.

"No, Gavril's not...He's Katia's brother. He's crashing at the house for the week. That's all." She shot a reassuring smile at Dale.

Gavril surveyed the scene with quiet curiosity.

So, the manager had a thing for Charlie. It was painfully obvious. The looks he was shooting her way were full of longing. He wasn't a bad-looking guy, if you went for that sort of thing. Gavril could smell his desire for the girl a mile away.

It was pathetic, pining over someone who clearly didn't think of you in that manner. But he wasn't going to judge the man.

Dale visibly relaxed. "Oh. Makes sense. Well I guess we'll see you later this week Charlie." He surveyed Gavril, and cringed. He sure was a big guy. "Nice to meet you," he mumbled.

"Likewise." Gavril maintained a polite demeanor.

"I'm gonna go get my shit," Charlie said absently, heading for the break room door. She wanted to duck out of that conversation ASAP. Mimi kept waggling her eyebrows at Gavril and Dale looked like he was about to cry. What the hell is with everyone, she thought.

********

Charlie plopped down on the couch, remote in hand. She was free for the next day and was looking to relax. Sinking back into the comfy Berber sofa, she channel surfed in silence.

The sound of Crystal Castles' "Suffocation" filled the room. Charlie slipped her phone out of the pocket of her yoga pants. It was Katia calling. "Hey pumpkin," she said jovially.

Katia giggled. "Pumpkin? Someone must be in a really good mood. Let me guess. Just got off work, freshly showered, and sitting in those grey yoga pants I hate."

Charlie laughed. "Ding, ding, ding! How's the Gal Pal trip going?"

"Well Blair's already drunk dialed Kiefer eight times already, Leslie's been banned from Margaritaville, and Dana's just being a grouchy bitch. It is awesome."

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