Authors Note - I will upload this in chapters so make sure you follow and check to see when chapters come out! (Pun intended)
Much to her dismay, book loving Jessica Hart must go to the park everyday or risk being arrested. However, she soon changes her mind when she meets an extraordinary girl who will turn Jess's world upside down. [Infrequent strong language]
Chapter 1 ~ Fairy Tales
The hypnotic rattle of the bus on the dusty road could be heard clearly through the silence of its passengers. My sweaty grip on the rail tightened as we passed over a particularly rocky part of the road. All of a sudden, the bus jerked forward, pushing a younger girl into my arm. The books I had been holding tumbled to the floor, several sliding underneath seats. Widening her eyes, the girl spluttered an apology and stooped down to clear up the mess.
Sighing, I ran a hand through my hair in exasperation.
"It's fine...I'll take care of it," I muttered. She nodded, seeming relieved, and melted back into the crowd.
Typical, I thought as I crouched to reach under a seat, pulling out a book. Wiping the dust off it's cover, I paused. It was a traditional fairy tale book, one made for children. Why I had taken it I had no idea, I had just been drawn to the whimsical idea that there could be a satisfactory happy ending for everyone.
I exhaled, and collected the other novels that were scattered on the floor, mumbling the occasional, "Scuse me," to the other passengers crammed inside this tiny vehicle with me.
Once I was finished, I straightened back up, and clutched the rail as if nothing had ever happened. Even though I would ride the bus everyday to the bookshop, I was yet to meet anybody of interest on it. Who knows, maybe one day I'll find my Prince Charming, on a rusty public transport of all things.
The bus jerked to a halt, shaking me harshly out of my childish fantasies and back into reality. The doors slid open with a mournful groan, and as I put my foot down on the step, it sank with the added weight.
To my surprise, the street was busier than usual, and a handful of stalls had been set up to attract the attention of people passing by. This was good, because we would make more sales, yet on the other hand that meant the store would be busier and it would be harder to deal with customers.
I dawdled on the pavement, trying to steer clear of passersby to avoid repeating the incident on the bus. As I approached the bookstore, I pray silently that Rick would be on counter duty.
There were three main jobs in the store, counter duty, customer service and storage duty. There were four people, including myself, working at the store each day. Rick, Jamie and Mitch. If Rick saw me with the books, he'd let me return them in peace. Jamie would disapprove, but after a short lecture would let me be. Mitch, however, would most likely threaten to tell our boss.
To my relief, when I peered in the window, I saw Jamie at the counter serving customers. Rick was directing a women somewhere, meaning he was on customer service. He spotted me, and gave me a lopsided grin. Mitch was nowhere to be seen. Perfect.
Stepping inside, I could already see Jamie frowning at me, so I hastily made my way through the customers to the back of the store. As I passed Rick, he gave me a cheery wave.
"What d'ya know, it's my favourite Jessica Hart! Long time no see honey!" he exclaimed, eyes comically wide.
"You saw me yesterday, Rick," I replied with amusement.
"Exactly! Mitch is in the back and by the way, he's in a bad mood," he warned, "You're working with me today,"
I groaned and thanked Rick. When I reached the door, I slipped inside carefully replacing the books on the shelf.
"I see you have been stealing again," a triumphant voice observed. I jumped and turned round, a guilty expression on my face. Mitch stood there, arms crossed, steely grey eyes penetrating my skull.
"You know I'm not stealing Mitch-"
I shut my mouth, taken aback by Mitch's words.
"You have been stealing books and then returning them to the store-"
"I was just looking at them!"
"-and that is illegal. I will report this,"
His voice was dangerously quiet, like the calm before a storm.
"As soon as I have evidence,"
With that final statement, he stalked away, leaving me to wonder what the hell I had gotten myself into.
Chapter 2 ~ Evidence