by Bette Hawkins
Trish Carter has found the other side of an unsatisfying relationship and is now ready to embrace a new job and a new life. She isn’t expecting to test the limits of her fresh start on her first day at work though. The striking young author, June Williams, grabs her attention from their first conversation and Trish can’t seem to stay away from her.
When the two women form a pact to test the theories June is researching for her book, they quickly discover that romantic friendships are easier on paper. Their contract clearly stipulates which types of intimacy is allowed and which aren’t. Holding hands is okay—but kissing certainly is not.
At first the deal seems perfect. They can be close to one another without risking too much. But what happens when they cross the line and the boundaries of the contract conflict with real life?
FROM THE AUTHOR
"When I first started thinking about the setting for Like A Book a library was a strangely obvious choice. I’ve been obsessed with books and reading throughout my life, leading me to spend a very nerdy amount of time hanging out in libraries. I was also drawn to the concept of a counterintuitive setting. Libraries might not be the first thing called to people’s minds when thinking about romance and lust, and I liked the idea of a relationship developing in an unexpected place. Plus, I was confident that I’m not the only person who is attracted to a well-read woman (see the stereotype of the sexy librarian).
Almost nothing in the world has shaped me more than books. Whenever I’m wrestling with anything and want to understand it, my first instinct is to read about it. During the period when I first began to explore my difference in the pre-internet world, I went through my parents’ bookshelves in search of information about being gay. Sadly, the only thing available was an outdated textbook with a paragraph about homosexuality that didn’t give me much hope.
So, I searched elsewhere. Long before I ever thought of writing them myself, I stole my mother’s (heterosexual) romance novels. I can recall the realization at thirteen that I was focusing on the female half of the pairing and ignoring the male hero as much as I could.
Finding lesbian content could happen in unexpected places. For instance, in my small town’s second-hand bookstore I came across a paperback biography of the lesbian model Gia Carangi and a book about Marlene Dietrich. As I got older I discovered the world of queer literature and read everything I could get my hands on. Now that you can obtain anything you want on a device, I’m super grateful for it, but glad I also know what it was like when you couldn’t.
My affinity for literature led me to study it at university as part of an arts degree. In class, we learned about the idea of romantic friendships. The concept stayed with me until I decided to fold it into Like A Book.
These days I read two or three books a week, everything from classic literature, to romance novels, to non-fiction. I don’t care so much what it is, as long as its absorbing. Reading is a gift that increases our empathy, teaches us, entertains us, and can make us feel less alone. For those reasons and more, this book is my little tribute to it."
The Lesbian Review
Like a Book is Bette Hawkins’s second book and it has a lot of good things going for it (especially June!). If you enjoy contemporary romances, especially those set in Australia, you should check this one out. I look forward to seeing what’s next from this author.
Lex Kent’s Reviews - When it came to the romance I enjoyed it. I felt the two women had good chemistry and I absolutely believed in their connection. I would not call the sex scenes spicy, but they were intimate and you felt the characters deepening their connection by being together.
This is not a smooth sailing book. There is a good amount of angst. However, it is not overdone. While I found myself bothered and even tearing up a bit over the angsty issues, it wasn’t the kind of angst that gets me angry. It didn’t feel forced or just thrown in. It was a part of the books conflict and the characters needed to grow from it. I would recommend this to romance fans who don’t mind some angst in their books. I will absolutely be reading what Hawkins writes next.
Pin’s Reviews - There is some angst, some drama, some insecurities, and beneath all that quite a nice love story—although sometimes frustrating, the chemistry between the protagonists worked. This was an easy, enjoyable read for me, and I am looking forward to more nice stories by the author.
As she drifted awake, Trish resolved that she would treat today like it was the new beginning she desperately needed. When she threw her arms over her head to stretch, she looked up at the ceiling. She eyed the crack that ran from one corner of the room to another, and glumly dropped her arms. Why did she feel so tired before she had even left her bed? Summoning enthusiasm for a fresh start was easier said than done.
It was the house that made her feel like this. Trish had procrastinated about putting it on the market for the last few months. It was the home that she purchased with her ex-partner Katrina, and it was filled with so many memories that it was overwhelming. During the separation Katrina had practically given her the house. She only did it to alleviate her guilt over leaving, and Trish regretted agreeing to the deal almost as soon as it was made.
When Katrina moved out, Trish scrubbed the house until it was sparkling clean. In a businesslike fashion, she took down all the photos of the two of them and packed away any sentimental items. Still, every time she looked around she recalled all the choices that they made as a couple, from the paint colors to the bookshelves they built. Nothing could erase the ghost of their failed relationship.
Trish rose at last and tidied the covers before changing into her workout gear. The last six months had been bleak and lonely. The only thing that helped her to get through it was a devotion to routine and structure. She jogged around the streets in the crisp morning air for half an hour, then returned home to make the same green smoothie that she had for breakfast every day.
While she drank the smoothie, she sat on the back porch with her tablet to read the newspaper and check her email. There was an unread message from her sister Leigh. Leigh was very supportive, but she drove Trish nuts with her meddling. Leigh had just become engaged to a man she met online and was convinced that it would work for Trish too. She insisted that Trish download a dating app, which Trish deleted after a couple of weeks and one single date. Trish was horrified to discover that the woman she went out with had a husband and was just looking for another woman to experiment with.
Trish warily opened the email.
Hey lil sis,
Guess what, you know that girl I work with, Zoe? I always thought you two would get along, but she had that bitchy girlfriend who used to call her every five minutes. Well, turns out they’ve broken up so Zoe is single and ready to mingle. Can I give her your number?
Trish sighed, and hit reply.
This note is to inform you that not all lesbians are attracted to one another.
No matter how nice this random colleague was, Trish wouldn’t be interested. She was nowhere near being ready for another relationship yet and didn’t see why she should be.
The breakup with Katrina had been a huge blow to her. After eight years together, Trish had not seen it coming. They had been so committed to one another, tied together by the house and the car and the joint savings account. The two of them wore matching silver rings and regularly discussed plans to get married. They had problems, but Trish told herself that with enough work they could get through them. Then Katrina returned home from work one day and told Trish that she didn’t love her anymore, and that was that. Trish powered down her tablet, wishing that she could get through a day where Katrina wasn’t one of the first things she thought about.
Trish showered and dressed in the clothes she’d laid out the evening before: a gray dress, light scarf, and black cardigan. During the interview they hadn’t mentioned what she should wear, but she reasoned that what she’d worn at the public library should be fine for the university library too. For work she liked to dress conservatively, though she was much more at home in jeans and T-shirts.
As she walked to the train station, Trish checked her watch, hoping that she’d planned the commute well enough. She lived in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Fairfield, and while it wasn’t far from the city center, she didn’t want to battle the peak hour traffic. She was going to miss being able to walk to work as she’d done in the past, but at least she could get some reading done on the train.
Her plan was thwarted when the carriage was too crowded to get a seat, and she was so hemmed in she couldn’t get to her bag. Without the distraction of a book, she worried all the way to her stop. It had been a while since she’d started a new job.
Holt University was right in the heart of the Central Business District. The station was bustling with people, and Trish pushed past suited-up men to get to the escalators.
When she arrived, she had to check the campus map again to find her new workplace. It was a beautiful fall day and trees with turning leaves dotted the campus. Holt was one of the most prestigious universities in Melbourne, and the library was legendary. Her interview hadn’t been in the library itself, so she couldn’t wait for the chance to explore properly. When she finally got there, Trish paused to gawk up at the library. It was a huge structure, an impressive stone building split over five levels. The library was already open and she watched students scurrying into it. A kick of excitement overrode her nerves. She loved libraries—all of them.
From an early age, she had been a voracious reader, and as a young adult she had dreamed about becoming a writer. The practical side of her had won out, though, and she applied to study information and knowledge management, so that she could be qualified to work as a librarian. It may not be the most exciting career out there, and Katrina always said that she could be doing something more challenging, but Trish adored it. It meant being surrounded by stories all day long. She loved the quiet marked by the sound of turning pages, and she loved giving recommendations to anyone who asked. There was nothing like the feeling she got from guiding people toward some bit of information they needed and seeing their relief when they found it.
She pushed open the glass doors and walked across the marbled floor of the foyer. There was gorgeous artwork on the walls, and a reading room off to her right. Gazing around at the high ceilings and stacks of books, Trish approached the front desk.
“Can I help you?” the woman behind the counter asked. She was in her late fifties, with short salt-and-pepper hair. Trish was accustomed to being one of the younger librarians wherever she worked.
“Yes, thank you, I’m looking for Ms. Rose?”
“Yes?” Trish asked.
“Yes, I’m Ms. Rose.”
“Okay. I’m Trish. The new librarian? They told me when they called to offer the job to ask for you?”
“I see. If they had allowed me to join the interview panel as I requested I would have known whom I was expecting.”
Trish pulled her shoulders back gamely. When women like Ms. Rose found a role they liked, they tended to stay and rule everyone else with an iron fist. If Trish could ingratiate herself with Ms. Rose, things between them would be fine.
“Hopefully you’ll think they made the right choice.”
Ms. Rose’s eyes darted up and down the length of Trish from behind her glasses.
“I hope so. I’ll be with you in a moment, I need to speak to the young lady behind you that’s waiting for my attention.”
“Oh.” Trish peered back over her shoulder. The woman had heard the exchange; she gave Trish a sympathetic glance.
Trish stood to the side while Ms. Rose tried to locate a book the woman was asking for. The student looked older than college-age, perhaps in her mid- to late twenties. She had a striking profile, her black hair tied up in a loose ponytail. As she gestured, she exposed the lightly muscled arms underneath her oversized white T-shirt. She was tall, and there was something cat-like about the way she moved as she took the book between her hands.
The woman thanked Ms. Rose and then turned to the side, raising her eyebrows and grinning at Trish before walking away. Her skinny black jeans flattered the curve of her hips, and she wore heavy-looking black boots. A leather jacket was draped over her arm.
“Well.” Ms. Rose looked at her with narrowed eyes. “I suppose I could start by showing you around.”
Trish pursed her lips to chase the smile from her face.
“Thank you, I’d really appreciate that.”
* * *
June’s alarm buzzed once again and she hit the snooze button, then seized it and turned it off. The sun was streaming heavily through her curtains. June opened one eye, and then picked up her old digital alarm clock to pull it closer to her face. She’d been reading it right, it was already eight. Groggily sitting up, she rubbed her eyes, her mind already racing with the panic of work left undone.
She had worked late at the bar and then spent a couple of hours winding down before going to bed. She’d managed to grab a solid six hours of sleep, which was better than what she got a lot of nights. On weekends she allowed herself to sleep in past noon, but throughout the week she needed to knuckle down and write.
June treated working on her book as though it were another job. It wasn’t good enough to chip away at it for half an hour here and there while the world buzzed around her at the kitchen table or in cafés. She had to be at the library for at least a few uninterrupted hours before going to work. When she wasn’t making ends meet doing casual shifts as a barmaid, she was a tutor for an Australian literature class at the university. All these commitments didn’t leave a lot of time for leisure, but she loved juggling them anyway.
June rolled out of bed and pulled on a robe, then padded out to the kitchen. Her roommate Ollie wasn’t up yet. Ollie also worked in a bar, Sapphire, a place in the city center that stayed open until late. June worked at The Dickens, and unlike Sapphire there was no velvet rope and no bouncers. It was a cozy little place that drew an after-work crowd and some loyal regulars. June had been there for a couple of years and by now she knew the cocktail recipes and wine list like the back of her hand.
June yawned and started the coffee machine before looking around to see if there was anything to eat. She found a couple of pieces of whole meal bread on top of the fridge, and she toasted them to have dry with a mug of black coffee. While she was pouring a second cup Ollie stumbled blearily into the kitchen.
“Is that my shirt?”
Ollie looked down at himself and shrugged. He rubbed at his reddish-brown beard. The faded black Patti Smith shirt was tight across his chest.
“Sorry. I thought it was mine.”
“You’re such a liar. It looks better on you anyway. Late night?”
“Uh-huh. We were so busy and then we went out for beers after. I’m so happy I have the day off.”
“Then what on earth are you doing out of bed? I wish I was still in bed.”
“You’re going to work on your book, I’m guessing?”
The book could feel like a burden now and then. In her darker moments, when she was wrestling with a line of argument or wondering whether she had even chosen the right subject, she wished she could throw the whole thing away. Most of the time, however, she loved it. June was addicted to the feeling that came over her when she was on a writing bender. It could make the whole world disappear.
Ollie pulled a chair up to the table and June poured him a cup of coffee.
“How was your night, dear?” June asked.
Ollie took a mouthful of coffee, wincing at how strong she’d made it. “Delightful. Gerald asked me out, can you believe it?”
“The bouncer? Oh my. What a dark horse.”
They had been roommates for years, and friends since high school. June still ribbed Ollie about how he’d gotten drunk on cheap wine and then told her he thought it was important that they start hanging out. He’d earnestly explained that he thought she was the only cool person in their whole year. The two of them had supported each other through everything, from coming out to breakups.
June quickly got herself ready, then packed her laptop into her bag before mounting her motorbike. Riding to the library cleared her head and helped her to get into the right frame of mind to work. The bike was cheaper to run than a car, which was the main reason she had it.
June parked her bike and kicked down the stand. There was a woman on the steps, staring up at the building. While June pulled off her helmet and jacket, she watched. Though she couldn’t see the woman’s face, June could admire the loveliness of her figure. The woman was a little shorter than her, with a subtle curviness. She had beautiful legs, her calves accentuated by the low heels she wore. June had the urge to call out something so that the woman would turn around and she could see what her face looked like.
June walked into the library behind her. The woman’s hips swayed while she walked, taking her time, staring around the lobby. She hadn’t been here before, June didn’t think. Maybe she should offer to help her find what she was looking for. At the last minute, June realized that they were both headed for the front counter.
June hung back while the mystery woman spoke to Ms. Rose. She overheard that her name was Trish. June liked putting a name to her. Trish’s voice was soft and deeper than she would have expected, giving the impression that Trish was the kind of serious woman that June had always been drawn to.
Ms. Rose was a bitter old crone but she could be sweet when she wanted to, and June had come to appreciate her efficiency. Right now, though, she was giving Trish a hard time. Trish handled Ms. Rose calmly and politely, like she’d clocked everything about Ms. Rose in a heartbeat.
When Trish turned around to walk past, June was finally able to see her face. If there was such a thing as a textbook definition of a sexy librarian, a picture of her would be an excellent illustration to go along with it. Trish had beautiful bone structure; well-drawn cheekbones and a delicate chin. Her honey-blond hair was scraped back into a bun. A couple of wisps of hair had escaped from it and were curling gently around her face. The hemline of her dress was modest, ending just below her knee, but the understated toughness in her voice hinted that she might be less demure than she appeared.
When June was walking away with the book safely in her hands she couldn’t resist making a face at Trish, just to see her full red lips curl up in a smile. Trish adjusted her glasses and June saw that behind them, she had amazing blue-gray eyes. When they made eye contact, Trish’s gaze was surprisingly direct. For just a second, June was sure that they were connecting in that unspoken way strangers did, and the rareness of encountering a woman who looked at her that way only made it more special. She smiled at the thought that she was going to be seeing Trish around the library now and then.
June left with her book to find a quiet corner. By now she knew where the best desks were—in the areas where students were least likely to congregate. A lot of the time, younger students came to the library to hang out with one another rather than study.
But today, the library, often dull, had become charged. June opened the book, spread out her notebook, and uncapped her pen. She took one last look over her shoulder to see if she could spy blond hair, and then she got to work.
Within the week, Trish was sure that her new job was the right fit. Each morning she bounced out of bed, ready to learn more. She was already dreaming about extra projects she could take on in the future, all the archiving and collection building she could do. It had been a long time since she had felt this excited about anything.
Although Ms. Rose had not warmed to her, the rest of Trish’s colleagues were very welcoming. It was a large staff of librarians and assistants. Angela, one of the assistants, was a keen environmentalist who welcomed Trish by gifting her a reusable coffee cup. Chris, who worked in the audio-visual collection, spent a break lecturing her about the influence of New Wave cinema while everyone else groaned. They invited her to join them in their coffee runs and weekly group lunches. Trish sat listening happily as they talked and shared jokes, grateful for the way they included her.
It was nice to feel that she was connecting with her colleagues. Trish’s social life suffered when she broke up with Katrina, because some of their mutual friends chose Katrina in the split. Old friends had fallen away throughout the years, and she had realized far too late how isolated she had let herself become. Now that she was on her own, Trish longed to meet new people and to start having fun again.
The job was more demanding and busier than what she was used to, but she adapted to it quickly. When she had free time, Trish wandered through the stacks to take in the library and familiarize herself with it level by level. The collection of books and journals was huge, and much broader than any other she had worked with. Trish loved pulling out random volumes to see what they held. She flipped through the pages to examine the underlined passages and read the scribbled notes that could be from yesterday, or years before.
Though she loved the books, Trish enjoyed the human side of the work just as much. Trish was good at dealing with stressed students, she always had been, and now she had plenty of opportunities to practice her skills. She talked students down when they came to her panicking about overdue assignments. She provided a calming presence, helping them navigate the search systems and narrow down what they needed. There was a lanky, redheaded psychology student who came to her every day wanting to talk about the new angles he’d come up with for his research. Trish also met Beth, a brilliant student who was studying medicine. Trish and Beth worked on finding a good poetry collection, so that she could slow her mind when she was trying to sleep.
At night she went home and paced around, wondering if she could fix the house problem by doing more work on it. The new job brought into focus that she had been unsatisfied with a lot of things since the breakup. She had been sleepwalking through her life. It terrified her to think of how unhappy she had been even before that. Things hadn’t been right when she and Katrina were still together, and she was only just beginning to face that fact.
Trish and Katrina stopped talking about the things that mattered long ago. Instead, it was as though they were performing a job together, running the household, doing tasks like hosting dinner parties and going out for Sunday morning coffee. Yet the dinner parties had been planned through a storm of disagreements about who to invite and what to serve. When they went for coffee, they would barely look at one another while Trish buried her head in a book and Katrina worked on her laptop.
The way they lived made Trish desperately lonely. She had wanted them to go to counselling to start working through their problems, but Katrina shook her off. When Katrina ended it, Trish wished that she had listened to her instincts more.
Trish learned too late that it was better to be alone than to waste your life with someone who wasn’t right for you. She would never put herself through that again, no matter what.
Trish walked toward the entrance to the library, a cup of coffee from one of the kiosks inside Flinders Street station warming her hands. It was sunny this morning, despite the chill and she had reached work early, so she took a moment to sit on the steps and finish her drink. She looked out over the grounds at the lush grass, at the clusters of students lounging around before class. This was just the right place for her.
The loud roar of an engine made Trish turn to see a motorcycle pulling in to the carpark near the library. The bike was red and black, sleek, and quite small. As the person stepped off the bike, it became clear that the slim but shapely body belonged to a woman. When she pulled the helmet from her head, Trish recognized her from her first day at the library. There had been fleeting glimpses of her throughout the week, but this was the closest Trish had been to her since then.
The woman opened a storage case at the back of the bike and pulled out a backpack, arranging the strap over her shoulder. Her back was turned, and Trish’s eyes dropped to study the woman’s very nice rear end. Trish sipped at her coffee, feeling more than a little guilty that she was checking out a student. As a staff member at the university, for her to have any interest in a student would be highly inappropriate. But she could rationalize that the woman was older and had obviously come back to school late. It couldn’t hurt to just look at her.
The woman walked over to the steps with the strap of her bike helmet dangling from her fingers. They made eye contact and the other woman’s face broke into a smile. It was quite dazzling, how good looking she was. Her eyes were a clear green color, and she had a cleft in her chin. She was effortlessly cool in dark blue jeans and an oversized black knit sweater.
The boot-clad feet slowed as she walked closer to Trish.
“Morning,” Trish replied. She put her palm on the ground behind her and leaned back, the woman following the movement of her chest with her stare.
“You’re a new librarian here, aren’t you?”
“I am. My name’s Trish,” she said.
“Nice to meet you. I’m June.”
June put out her hand and Trish reached up to shake it. June’s fingers were warm and soft against her palm. They slowly released their grip on one another but neither of them shifted her gaze.
“It’s nice to meet you too.”
June finally broke eye contact and walked toward the library entrance.
“I guess I’ll be seeing you around, Trish,” she called over her shoulder.
Somehow June had made the innocuous sentence sound full of possibility. Trish tracked June with her eyes as she pushed open the library door, bumping her shoulder against the glass. It had been a long time since a woman had flirted with her like that, and she felt pleasure and remorse in equal amounts. She should be more careful. It wouldn’t look good for her if anyone were to get the impression that she was encouraging June to act that way. Trish tried to fix the thought in her mind, but instead all she could focus on was the way June stared at her, and how high it made her feel.
The good mood that had ballooned inside her all morning threatened to pop when Trish walked into the breakroom. Ms. Rose was the only other person there, and there was no choice but to try and make conversation with her. Trish had managed to avoid spending too much time around her so far.
“Hi, Ms. Rose.”
Everyone called her that. Trish had no idea what Ms. Rose’s first name was, and she suspected that she would never find out.
“Hello. I’ve just made a pot of tea if you’d like a cup.”
“That would be great, thanks.”
They sat at the table, Trish swirling a spoon in her cup. She glanced longingly at one of the magazines on the table.
“How are you finding it here?” Ms. Rose asked.
“It’s been great. I’m enjoying it a lot. How long have you worked here?”
“Twenty-five years,” Ms. Rose said. “And barely a day off in all that time.”
“I can see why you would want to stay here. It’s a fantastic job.”
Trish searched her mind for a neutral subject.
“Do you have children?”
“I do not. Mr. Rose passed away many years ago, not long after we were married. Before I could fall pregnant.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Trish said. She should know better than to assume asking about children would be an easy subject, given how tired Trish had become of well-meaning enquiries since she’d reached her thirties. Expectations about things like kids and marriage could be destructive if you didn’t follow the same path as most people did.
“Thanks. But it’s all a very long time ago now. And you?”
“Oh no. I’m not married or anything. I live alone. Thank you for the tea, I should get back to work.”
Trish made a mental note to be more careful about the type of questions she asked people. You never knew what someone’s story might be. Trish had always been disinterested in getting to know Ms. Rose. If she’d known her history, Trish might have made more of an effort to be nice, and she definitely would have been more forgiving about her prickly ways.
Trish’s problems were tiny in comparison to what Ms. Rose had been through. It made her ashamed to think about the way she had been wallowing about her split with Katrina. Trish was still young and healthy, and nothing tragic had happened. She and Katrina had just gone their separate ways, like people did all the time. It was okay to be sad about it, but why was she letting it rule her life?
June was in the zone, typing rapidly as her eyes flicked between her notes and the screen of her laptop. For a couple of days this week she had written haltingly, grinding out the sentences one by one. The best way she’d found to deal with writer’s block was just to push through and wait it out, and it was finally working.
June knocked her pen off the desk with her elbow, looking down to watch it roll away before deciding to ignore it. A moment later the pen reappeared back on her desk, attached to fingers. June looked up. Trish was standing there, looking down at her. Trish withdrew her hand and continued on, pushing a cart loaded up with books toward a nearby shelf.
“Thank you,” June said.
Trish looked back at her. “You’re welcome.”
Trish scanned the spines of the books on the shelf, searching for the right place to deposit the book she was holding. June’s gaze followed the line of Trish’s waist and hip, then dropped down to her legs underneath her blue dress. Biting her lip, June reluctantly looked back at her computer screen. The train of thought was gone.
June felt Trish’s eyes on her.
“Are you working on an assignment right now?” Trish asked, her thumb running along the bottom of the book she held.
“Something like that. I’m writing a book,” June said.
Trish whistled. “A book? That’s a lot of work. Impressive. How’s it going?”
“Slowly but surely. I’m getting a lot done today.”
“Glad to hear it. Do you mind if I ask what it’s about?”
“No, of course not,” June said. There was a range of answers that she could give to that question. For students or close friends, June usually went into detail, but for casual enquiries she had a much shorter answer. Trish could be placed in a separate category. June wanted to impress her, to sound like she knew what she was talking about. But she knew literally nothing about Trish or what kind of opinions she might hold.
“It’s nonfiction. An English literature thing,” June explained.
“Fantastic. I thought about studying that myself once, I’m a big reader,” Trish replied. “Well I am a librarian, after all, so one would assume so. What are you writing about?”
“Oh…it’s 18th and 19th century, Western canon and all that stuff,” June said.
“Really? Which authors?”
“A whole bunch, really, some of them obscure, some you’d definitely know.”
June glanced back at her laptop, and Trish took a moment to respond.
“Well, all the best with that.”
“Thank you. And thank you again for the pen.”
“It’s not a problem.”
Trish turned back around and got back to her work. June wanted to say something else to try to explain her evasiveness or apologize, but the moment had passed.
Trish wheeled the cart over to the next shelf, her shoulders drawn up tightly. During their last interaction, June had been so different, and Trish wasn’t sure what she had done to make her clam up. Most students she talked to were more than happy to talk about their work. She was writing a book and presumably sending it out into the world, so it was hard to understand why she should be so secretive, unless of course she just didn’t want to talk to Trish. It had certainly seemed that way, given that June was barely looking at her.
This was exactly why she was so terrified by the prospect of dating again. It was too easy to misread signals. Trish hadn’t fooled herself into thinking that this could lead anywhere but she still enjoyed June’s attention. She looked forward to the harmless flirtation and to feeling desirable, something she hadn’t experienced in a long time. When she noticed June sitting there with a lock of hair hanging over her forehead and her sleeves pushed up, she couldn’t resist talking to her.
Trish glanced over at June, whose fingers had resumed tapping on the keyboard. To Trish’s surprise she caught June’s gaze slipping away from hers. Almost like she had been caught out.