Chapter Six – continued
“Where should we start?” Adrian asked, rubbing his hands together as his eyes eagerly swept through as much of the shop as they could see.
Abigail tilted her head and looked at him from the corner of her eye. “Are you a reader as well?”
He laughed. “I don’t know how I gave that away, but yes. My parents own an extensive library. Not quite as impressive as the one at Roderick Manor in the Spindle, but large enough.”
“Do you and your sister share the same reading interests?”
“Not even close. Actually, Andalissa isn’t much of a reader, but does enjoy books that teach her how to do things. There’s a term that’s started floating around here from the other world. You’ve probably heard of do it yourself? Well, that’s Andalissa right there. She followed a gardening book once and planted the most spectacular flower gardens, but quickly found out following the rest of the book to care for the garden to be too taxing. The garden was brown in a matter of days and the groundskeepers spent a week digging it up and replanting.”
“So not gardening,” Abigail murmured as she set off.
“Where are you going?” Adrian asked, his footsteps sounding right behind hers as she wound her way around shelves and tables, heading deeper into the darker depths of the shop.
“Most of the books up front are fictional. We simply can’t get enough of the stories from the other world. But I believe Master Henry also stocks some how-to guides. They’re not exactly popular, but they’re here for curious souls.”
Finally, they came to a small alcove packed full of books nearly toppling over one another. Most had hard, glossy covers and were nearly twice as big as the soft covered fictional novels they’d passed. Some had pages that looked crisp and white, but most sported faintly yellowed pages.
“Do it yourself may be growing in popularity, but I daresay most people are still reluctant to actually do any of it themselves,” Abigail said.
Adrian gently touched her arm and smiled down at her. “This is wonderful. Thank you, Gail. I’m sure we can find something Andalissa will like.”
Abigail was glad her head was buried back enough in her hood that the shadows masked her hot blush. At least, she hoped so. Being back around Adrian was comforting; he hadn’t changed much. Her childhood crush on him also hadn’t changed much, it would seem. But she’d promised Madeline, and Madeline needed to get out from under her mother’s thumb much more than Abigail did. Not that Abigail wanted to marry Adrian, exactly. Becoming a duchess would require her to be much more visible than she’d like. Still, it was nice to dream about. There just wasn’t any need for Adrian to know. For all she knew, he was going to marry a lady from another kingdom.
Adrian was still staring at her, she realized with a start. His fingers were still on her arm. She’d forgotten to breathe.
“Not gardening,” she blurted out, certain her face would never feel cool again.
But it snapped Adrian out of whatever he’d been in. His hand abruptly dropped and he blinked, pivoting around at the same time to stare hard at the books.
“No, definitely not,” he agreed in a murmur. He cleared his throat. “Mother would kill me if I get her a book about sword fighting.”
“You said she’s taken up ladylike activities?”
Adrian reached out and tipped forward a large, hard book with an image of a canvas and a needle on it. “Yes, but I must say she isn’t very good at any of it. Definitely not this needlepoint.” He pushed the book back into place and reached for another. “She does have a bit of an artistic streak in her. Perhaps this watercolor book will do.”
“Does she paint often?”
“I’m beginning to think your sister might not have any use for a book.”
“Oh, here we go!”
Abigail watched with fascination as excitement lit is features. He reached up and pulled down a slightly yellowed, but dust free book. It had a soft cover and was just a little larger than one of Adrian’s hands.
“Your sister is a writer?” Abigail asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t call her a writer. But she does love to tell stories. Some are better than others, and I think this storytelling book would be perfect for her.”
“Much better and more appropriate than sword fighting,” Abigail agreed.
He smiled down at her, the book tightly grasped in his hands. “Once again, Gail, you’ve rescued me. How can I ever replay you?”
Abigail ducked her head to better hide her hot blush, catching sight of the ducks weighing down her basket. “Perhaps let me get home before the ducks spoil?”
Adrian laughed and swept her along with one arm. “That I can do.”
Catch up on Sisters of String and Glass
Check out Queen of the Garden of Girls