Rain check! Hilda's here for her usual reading, maybe next time..?
Reading the text, I slowed down walking as I typed up a quick reply to Roe: You promise? You're the only one who can get thru Mr. Cross ya know?
I felt a sense of trepidation as I glanced up at The Barnickle store sign, willing my feet to take me inside the establishment, before the 'ping' of my phone announced an incoming text:
Old man Cross is as easy to play as a fiddle! Just distract him with talks of his mother-in-law, gudluck! Xoxo
Rolling my eyes at Roe's response, I pocketed my phone and took a deep breath, preparing myself on yet another sales talk session with Mr. Cross on why he should be interested in the painting Gatsburg's Town Library had to offer.
But the moment I was about to push open the door, it had swung in, causing me to lose my balance until a pair of big, warm hands stopped me from toppling over.
Embarrassingly righting myself, I was just about to quickly thank this random bar patron, but was surprised to be welcomed by a familiar set of jade-green eyes, looking at me with open amusement, “Noel! Have you come to also convince Mr. Cross on the library's painting?”
“Well... you could say that..?” I was surely convinced that Noel had somehow won over Mr. Cross with his charisma alone, but found myself doubtful now after hearing the reluctant tone of his voice.
Stealing a glance behind his tall form, I couldn't help but ask out loud, “So... just a little noontime drinking for you huh?”
The moment those words came out of my mouth, I noticed how his jade-green eyes darkened as he tried to look away, the dark locks framing his face barely concealing the ticking on his jaw.
“Something like that...” He coughed out as a way to change the subject, “Also think Mr. Cross wouldn't be in the mood to entertain some guests after I tried to haggle my way on one of his.. treasures.” I noted Noel's carefree demeanor was now back as he waggled his eyebrows at me as he mentioned some of Mr. Cross' priceless, 'not-for-sale' heirlooms.
“That's too bad..” I quietly said to myself, but really I was now somehow relaxed at the thought of not facing Mr. Cross for the day. Still, I was curious about something...
But before I could let my curiosity get the best of me, Noel was now guiding me back towards the direction of the library, “Better luck next time, Cole. I promise I'll be there to cheer you on then.”
His smile would have been enough to appease our usual crowd of female patrons, both young and old, but I thought better—because behind Noel's charismatic persona, I glimpsed something dark about him.