Lorelei: Lorelei Sapelo is perfectly content with her life, thank you very much. She has a job she loves, owns her own house, and is fulfilled by being surrounded by books. Home has been what she has created for herself by herself. And, while she may feel a nagging sense of something missing, it doesn’t stop her from creating her idea of a perfect life.
Connor: Connor Dwyer is perfectly happy moving from place to place. Meeting new people, exploring various places, and being content with his own company. The concept of home has been for other people, for families, something he’s never had. And, while others might have that need, he hasn’t worried about stopping long enough to see if it’s something he lacks.
Two lonely hearts on a collision course that will change their lives in unexpected ways. Yet, in the shadows, there are those watching, interested in a bond that shouldn’t exist.
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Copyright ©2021 M.A. Freeman
Mondays were the worst. This one, even more so than usual. Several things were vying for the spot of frustration number one as Lorelei Sapelo reported to her job. First day of classes with demanding, entitled students. Her car had some ominous glowing light on the dash that probably meant an expensive trip to the mechanic. And her favorite fountain pen was missing. She had the vaguest hope it would turn up when she got a chance to turn her office upside down but wouldn’t count on it.
“Hello, Ms. Sapelo.”
Lorelei fought the urge to roll her eyes. His smarmy voice was not attractive at all. The upperclassmen were all the same, but this one was more persistent than most.
“Mr. Jernigan, are you lost? The library is across the quad.” Lorelei’s eyes narrowed slightly. She was in no mood for his stupid come-ons. It wasn’t like the archive was an extension of the library. They were housed in a completely different building. It was tucked out of the way from the main quad thoroughfare.
“Just getting a jump-start on the optional reading list for my Lit class. Thought I’d pop in to see if you have any recommendations.” He moved closer to the counter and leaned against it in what he probably thought was a coy, come-hither manner.
What a pack of lies. Lorelei fought the urge to roll her eyes as she moved farther behind the counter, so not only was it between them but the computer was as well. His pursuit was beginning to verge on harassment, something she would not tolerate. If this continued, she would have to lodge a formal complaint. This was the part of her job she hated — playing babysitter, especially to the ones who did not appreciate the historical culture they held in their hands. Each book, each artifact was a valued piece to be appreciated and treated with respect.
The message chime on her computer interrupted her mental tirade. She had never been happier to hear that annoying tone in her life. It meant she had to work to do which meant Mr. Jernigan had to leave. She didn’t care what the message said. It was going to get her out of this tedious interaction.
She clicked on the alert and frowned as she quickly read the opened window. Well, Lorelei had wanted an excuse for denying Mr. Jernigan access to the archives. Here it was in nice Calibri font. The Kyoko Foundation, her employer, wished to conduct a full audit and inventory.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Jernigan, but the archive is going to be unavailable this semester.” Lorelei looked up. What an ugly expression. Someone didn’t like not getting their way. “It seems the Kyoko Foundation will be conducting an audit and inventory. I’ll be sure to send out the communication email notifying the campus by the end of the day.”
It was plain she wanted him gone. She wasn’t trying to hide it. It must have come across because he stormed out when he didn’t get what he wanted. Pleased, Lorelei returned to the message to read it in more depth. They were sending a representative to perform the audit while she completed a full inventory. Great. Either this rep was going to know nothing of the subjects collected here, or they were going to know too much to interfere with the process she had perfected over the years for acquisitions and loans.
Lorelei glanced back toward her office. She gazed specifically at the stacks of boxes she had been meaning to convert into the new digital system. So much dust. Her allergies were going to go berserk. She could only hope mice hadn’t gotten into those records. She did not like rodents.
Further information provided in the email let her know she had a week to complete the conversion. Doable, if she worked late with a minimum of interruptions. She had to have everything in order considering she was soon taking a short leave for medical reasons.
Lorelei glanced up and was stunned. It was as if the entire world paused. A moment of revelation and acceptance and longing she didn’t even know she was capable of flashed through her. A moment that could be summed up in a single word: mine. All mine, from his pelt of black, grey, white hair like the coat of a wolf to his sun-kissed skin from time outside. Icing on the cake was his lean, hard body encased in a slouchy jacket, button-down shirt, and tailored jeans. All of it, topped off by a pair of ice-blue eyes watching her with the same possessive fervor.
What a crazy thought. It snapped her out of whatever trance she had fallen into. You couldn’t own another human being. Maybe her friends were right — she needed a break. Although it would have to wait until after this audit.
“Yes? May I help you?” Her mind finished the rest of what she wanted to say. Help you take off your dapper jacket? Unbutton your crisp white shirt? Pull those jeans — Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Lorelei blinked a few times and forced her brain off the X-rated track it was on. Jesus, what was wrong with her? He was a fine-looking man who ticked all her boxes, at least for now, but here she was, quivering like a schoolgirl.
He approached the information desk with long strides, while the energy between them seemed to spike the closer he got to her. Never in her life had she felt anything like it. Judging from the slight flush across those high cheekbones and the rapidly dilating pupils of his eyes, he felt it too.
“I’m Connor Dwyer, the new adjunct.” He reached into the inside breast pocket of his jacket. “I believe this is yours. I found it on one of the stone planters in the quad.”
Lorelei gaped at her favorite fountain pen held in his long-fingered hand. “Oh, my God, thank you!”
He handed it over. The brush of his skin was a shock. He was the one. Yet there was something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Something about him that belied the usual male-female attraction. Something making the attraction much more intense. The urge to get close to him, to touch him, was almost overwhelming. Suspicion made her frown. She thought she might have snatched the pen out of his hand in a somewhat brusque manner.
Connor’s lips curved slightly, obviously not offended. “You’re Lorelei Sapelo, correct? The archivist?”
Lorelei gripped the pen tightly and shivered. He had kept her pen close in the days since he’d found it. She could tell. She could always tell. An invaluable skill…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M. A. Freeman lives near Wilmington, NC and never makes it to the beach. Any free time is consumed with books, either reading or writing. An avid traveller and self proclaimed geek, trips abroad and to cons such as DragonCon in Atlanta are always on the agenda. Currently working full time in healthcare and attending school to obtain a Master of Library and Information Science degree to compliment the Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Creative Writing.