The door shut with an audible click that echoed through the room, and 12 pairs of eyes glared accusingly at me. I held my palms out in front of me in apology and made my way through the library to my table. As I sank into the chair, my eyes flicked up to the clock.
4:16. I had exactly four minutes to make myself look occupied. I dumped books, notebooks and pencils out of my bag, tossing it onto the floor beneath the table, and arranged everything so it looked like I'd been there for hours, studying my brains out for finals. 4:18. I rearranged my clothes, took my hair down out of its ponytail in what I hoped was a Pantene-esque mane of shiny beauty, and stared fixedly at the book open in front of me. Was it history? Chemistry?
I picked up my pencil and began writing notes in my notebook. Glancing up at him through my eyelashes, I caught him watching me and I dropped my pencil in surprise. With a chuckle, he winked and returned his attention to his books.
I grabbed a scrap paper with call numbers scribbled on it and lost myself in a row of books. Sarabeth, stop it this instant, I thought as I paced up and down. You're here to study, not to meet boys. So what if he's the best-looking guy you've ever laid eyes on and he's smart and has arms you want to snuggle in and hair you want to touch? Study, study, study! By now, he thinks you're crazy, anyway! Now get back out there and do your work! Satisfied I'd berated myself enough, I started for the beginning of the row to return to my table when HE rounded the corner and headed toward me.
Quickly, I turned toward a shelf of books and ran my fingers along the spines. When he came close, I looked up in feigned surprise like I didn't know he was there. "Oh! Sorry, I'm just looking for a book on the Civil War," I explained. "Am I in your way?" His cologne wafted over me and I closed my eyes briefly, inhaling it in.
"No," Jason smiled, the heart-melting begun afresh, and held out the paper I'd grabbed from my table. "You dropped this, and I thought you might..."
I couldn't keep the nerves from shaking my voice. We were talking. Right? We were talking? "Thanks. That would probably be helpful."
"Well, I guess I should get back..." he trailed off. "Hey, Sarabeth? You wouldn't want to go get some coffee or something later, would you?"
I blinked at him in surprise. Was he seriously asking me out? "Oh- Oh," I stammered. "Well sure, that would be nice. Maybe tomorrow?"
Jason grinned. "Tomorrow would be great... I'll see you tomorrow."
When he cleared the row of books to head back to his studies, I clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle a squeal of excitement but couldn't stop the leap of joy.
"Oh, and Sarabeth?" He poked his head back around the corner.
I quickly pulled myself out of the air and leaned in attempted nonchalance against the bookshelves, one eyebrow lifted in inquiry.
He crooked a thumb over his shoulder to the other side of the library and his eyes sparkled in humor. "The Civil War's on that side. You're in biology."