The moment he walked into the library, he had her attention. She had seen him a couple of times before. He would sit at a particular table and spend the next couple of hours reading the same book. One evening when he left the table for a brief moment, she walked by on the pretense of going over to one of the bookshelves nearby. She paused beside the table and looked down at the book. It was a reprint of German Atrocities: A Record of the Shameless Deeds. She went back to her table and sat down just minutes before he returned to his.
One evening when she went to the library he was already there. She saw him look up and their eyes met before she turned and went over to the book shelf nearby. She skimmed through the shelves until she found the book she wanted. She took it out and went over to a table. She placed her handbag on the floor beside her and opened the book. She tried to read it but couldn’t concentrate. Unable to resist, she raised her eyes and was startled when she saw him staring at her. He had removed his reading glasses and they dangled from his hand.
This was a critical moment. Everything was banking on her response. And there were two ways she could respond. She could quickly look away which would give him the wrong message that she wasn’t interested or she could return his stare. Summoning up all the courage she had, she held his gaze. Something told her to smile and she did.
It seemed that this was all the encouragement he needed. He closed his book, put his glasses in his shirt pocket and got up from the table.
As she watched him approach, her heart began to pound. He was so gorgeous. She couldn’t believe that he was joining her. All these weeks, she had watched him, daydreamed about him and now here he was standing in front of her with his hand extended. He was smiling. “Paolo Cinelli.”
She stared into his dark brown eyes as his fingers closed around hers in a firm handshake. “Jessica Williams.”
He pulled out the chair opposite her and sat down, placing his book on the table. He didn’t open it. He was looking at her. “For a long time I have wanted to come over and talk to you but you always seemed so engrossed in what you were doing. I didn’t want to disturb you.”
She closed her book. It was pointless keeping it open now. “I didn’t think you noticed me,” she said. “You were always so absorbed in this book. Is it very interesting?”
He glanced down at it. “It is. I like to read books and watch documentaries about World War II.”
“I won’t mind borrowing it when you’re done with it.”
“You can, on one condition” he said. “Have dinner with me tomorrow.”
She stared at him. “So, this book belongs to you?”
“Yes. I like to read it here in the library because it’s quiet and it gives me a chance to relax after a busy day.”
“I can understand that.”
“So, will you have dinner with me tomorrow?”
“Yes.” She wrote down her address and number on a sheet of paper and gave it to him.
“I’ll pick you up at seven.”
The library was filling up now and a couple of people sat down at the table with them. He leaned over and asked in a low voice, “Let’s go somewhere else where we can talk and enjoy the fresh air at the same time.”
“That’s a good idea.” She got up and put the book back on the shelf. She grabbed her handbag and they left the library.
It was a beautiful evening. The sun was still high in the sky and there was a gentle breeze. He turned to her, “Let’s grab something to eat and find a spot nearby. They stopped in a nearby fast food restaurant and got a couple of burgers and milkshakes. They retraced their steps back to the library and sat down at one of the tables outside to eat.
They spent the next few hours talking and getting to know each other. The time went quickly and when it started to get dark, that was when they decided that it was time to go. “May I give you a ride home?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yes, thank you.”
“Thank you for a lovely evening, Jessica,” he said. “I had a good time.”
“I am looking forward to our date tomorrow night.”
“Me too.” She smiled as she fell into step beside him. Yes, she was looking forward to their dinner date tomorrow. What a glorious day this turned out to be.
Source: British Library