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Kate was the only one in the library. The doors had been locked, the other members of staff had been sent home, but she still felt the need to double-check. She didn’t want to be interrupted, and she didn’t want to be caught, either.
Her secret hobby: Reading through the return pile, and imagining what sort of person borrowed which book. She always felt a bit guilty, like she was prying into someone’s personal life.
There were the usual suspects. Timid types and their self-help books. Shut-ins with dreams of travel. Someone had been ploughing through their computer-literacy section, and she liked to imagine some grandma was desperately trying to keep up with her grandchildren.
She saved the best till last. The romantic novels. The erotic fiction with well worn spines. Kate would place the book on the table, and nine times out of ten, it would fall open onto the hottest sex scene.
Her real guilty pleasure.
It wasn’t just the smut, but imagining who was getting off on it. A bored housewife looking for romance. A bookish lesbian fantasising about a coworker. A muscular young man who, despite his looks, felt happiest on his knees.
There was only one piece of smut in the return pile today, and the spine had been repaired several times over. She cackled to herself, knowing full well she’d be in for something utterly filthy.
Kate looked over her shoulder before starting the ritual. Carefully placing the book on the table, letting go, and diving straight into the steamiest smut.
“What the fuck.”
The page was covered in handwritten notes. “Unrealistic” read one. “Motivation???” was underlined three times.
Kate flicked through the book to check.
The entire thing was littered with personal notes. Disagreements. All that was missing was a note reading “See me after class!” with an unhappy face for punctuation.
Kate closed the book, and took a deep breath.
She’d have to check who borrowed this book. She’d have to confront them. Worse still, she’d be breaking one of her cardinal rules. It would be rude to find out who had actually borrowed which book.
With a long sigh, she closed the book.
She’d been unable to sleep properly. Who would write in a library book? She couldn’t imagine what sort of monstrous evil would be capable of such a crime.
Yes, sure, people cracked the spines. People spilled their tea, or worse, used the book as a coaster. There was also that one time when someone had torn pages from a book, but she tried not to think about it. Even so, she’d spent the night worried that there were other vandalised books on the shelves.
The romance section was rather big, and possibly the most popular section of the library. It would take several hours to check.
Kate clocked into work early the next day. With a pair of rubber gloves, just to be on the safe side, she spent several hours flicking through the pages of every novel on the shelf. Thankfully, it seemed the culprit had only made a mess of one book.
Still, Kate was boiling over with anger. Even after taking an early lunch.
There weren’t any records of the book being borrowed. It had the library stamp, it was in the catalog, but there wasn’t a name listed where one should be. Perhaps it had been taken while the computer was having a power nap. That, or the criminal had stolen the book, perhaps only returning it in a moment of guilt.
Either way, Kate was determined to track down the suspect. Give them a good old librarian stare of disappointment. Extract an apology. Maybe even charge them to replace the book, just to twist the knife.
That was why she spent the afternoon reading the book in question.
That’s what she told herself, anyway. That would be her excuse if anyone asked why she was reading “She stepped on my heart.”, a steamy anthology of smut.
Despite Kate’s best efforts to fall into some escapist erotica, the vandal’s running commentary kept snapping her out of it.
Kate would be midway through reading some scene, say involving a well endowed university professor and an air-headed student, and then her eyes would drift over to the margin, only to find the word “Clumsy”, ruining her fun.
It took twice as long to read as it should have. It was closing time, and she was barely halfway through the anthology. With a sigh, she put the book away.
It was then that she noticed someone hovering outside her door. One of the assistants, Eric, a man who made up for intelligence with height, had been waiting for her.
“Hey Kate, I mean, Miss, I mean.”
“Eric? What’s up? How long have you been standing there.” She asked. “Also, Kate is fine.”
“Miss Kate”, He stopped to think. “Err.. A minute or two.”
“So, what’s up?” Kate repeated. Asking him two questions at once was a bit too much to ask.
“Oh. Yeah! Someone said they’d returned a book by accident!”
Kate was about to ask ‘Can’t they just check it out again?’, but decided against confusing Eric any further.
She decided to focus on the task at hand.
“Do you know balıkesir escort which book?”
“Err.” Eric blushed. “Erm. Um. She said. Err. Um.” He handed her a note. “She wrote it down.”
Kate took the note. It read ‘She stepped on my heart. An anthology of lesbian love stories.’
She tried not to smile. The vandal had returned.
“I can handle it from here. Is she still waiting?”
Eric mumbled out a “No.” but didn’t know what to do next.
“Did she say when she’d be back?”
“Oh. Um. Err.” Eric started to count on his hands. “One..Two…Friday. She said Friday.”
There was an awkward pause as Eric stood by, waiting for his next thought to arrive.
“That will be all, Eric.”
“Um. Err. Yes. Ok.” He made a quick exit.
Kate tried not to laugh. The poor thing was still bright red. Completely embarrassed.
Back in her office, Kate unfolded the note. It looked like the vandal’s handwriting, but she wanted to be sure.
Flicking through the book absentmindedly, she found three sheets of paper tucked away in the back. It wasn’t handwritten, but there were the same notes and corrections littering the pages.
In any other situation, Kate would have folded the note back up, and tucked it back in the book. She wasn’t one to pry into people’s personal life. Usually.
However, the vandal had scrawled their thoughts all over the book. That’s why it wouldn’t be rude to peek at what was written elsewhere.
That’s what Kate told herself, anyway. She glanced at the opening paragraph, before tucking the note back inside the book.
It seemed that the vandal was a budding author.
Kate couldn’t help but think about getting revenge. Maybe she’d find a big red pen and underline the mistakes. See how the vandal liked it when the flaws in their work were circled and critiqued.
With a sigh, she put those thoughts to one side. There was only half an hour left and she had a lot of work to do. If she rushed, there might be just enough time to get lost in the returns pile, lost in her imagination, and forget about the book defacer for a moment or two.
Her imagination had other plans.
Despite reading lesbian erotica all day, or perhaps because of it, all she could think about was the unknown vandal.
Seeing them grovel, hearing them apologise, making them swear to never commit such a criminal act again.
Seeing them beg for mercy.
Kate slept soundly.
She’d taken the anthology home and ploughed through the rest of the book without a care in the world. It was far easier to annoy the vandal’s comments this time around, as Kate knew full well that revenge would come.
Well, maybe not revenge. Maybe a fine. Maybe a talking down. Maybe a stern look over the edge of her glasses.
The day rushed past, and Kate found herself without much to do. There wasn’t any paperwork to file. The returns pile was empty, and she still had a good half an hour to fill before she could go home.
Kate took a moment to argue with herself. Yes, it would be rude to read someone’s story without asking, but then again, it wouldn’t be much different from reading the scrawls in the margins.
Carefully checking for witnesses, Kate pulled the book out of her bag, and the crumpled draft from the back.
It wasn’t much of a story. The main character was a complete self-insert, she figured. The sex scene was hurried, and rather clumsy, or in other words, accidentally realistic. The vandal had attempted to rewrite the cruel professor & airhead student story, without much success.
Kate resisted the urge to leave a snarky note.
“Isn’t as easy as it looks, huh?”
“Oh. Eric.” Kate quickly folded up the story, neatly placing it in the back of the book. “What’s up?”
“Oh. Um.” Eric saw the cover of the book and began to blush.
“I found the book she was looking for.” Kate answered with a smile. “Thought I’d give it a read. See what was so interesting.”
It was just so much fun teasing Eric, she couldn’t stop herself.
“Err. Um. Yeah. Err.” Eric tried his best to avoid making eye contact. “Um. I’m heading home now.”
“Oh.” Kate blinked. “Oh. Of course.”
Kate placed the book inside her bag.
“Time for me to call it a night, too.”
Eric mumbled out “See you tomorrow” and scurried towards the exit, almost tripping over his feet.
Kate tried not to laugh, and failed miserably.
On her way home, she read the story again. There was something a little odd about it. Some detail that just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until she got home that it finally dawned on her.
“Red hair. Red glasses.”
Staring at herself in the mirror, Kate tried to ignore what should have been obvious. Yes, the main character had been a bit of a self-insert, but it looked like the vandal had put her in the novel, too.
Kate hurriedly pulled out the story and read it again. The only real difference was that Kate didn’t wear a red dress balıkesir escort bayan to work.
“Kay pushed up her glasses…” “Her red hair was the only thing straight about her.” “Her red plastic glasses, in a classic librarian style…”
It was a lot to take in. The vandal seemed to have quite the crush. She went back to the mirror and began to read out some of the rather crude dialog.
“You’re quite the disappointment.”
Somehow she kept a straight face.
“Well. I could… No.” Kate began to hatch a plan.
It would make the perfect revenge. She had red heels. She already had red framed glasses. She could try and find a red dress on the way into work tomorrow.
“Eric, can you cover the opening shift tomorrow?”
She hastily punched out a text message. If Eric said no, then she’d put the plans to one side.
Eric said yes.
Kate did a small fist pump.
It had taken a little longer than she’d hoped to find a red dress, and although a little impulsive, she’d stopped past a pet store to buy a matching collar and leash.
Kate didn’t plan on using it. Just a little prop to leave out on her desk, to really sell the image of the dominant librarian.
“Hey Eric.” Kate hurried past him, then stopped. “Wait. Did the vandal.. I mean, did that person with the lost book turn up yet?”
Eric looked confused.
“The one with the note. You told me. On wednesday. Her.”
“Oh.” Eric stopped to think. “No. Don’t think so.”
“What does she look like, anyway.”
Eric shrugged. “Small. Black hair. Boots.” Eric paused once again. “Piercing? Dunno.”
“If you see them, send them my way. Ok?”
Kate waved goodbye and ran straight to her office. She was in such a hurry to put on the red dress that she almost forgot to remove the store tags. The red shoes weren’t an exact match of shade, but they were complimentary enough.
Bright red lipstick and some dark eyeliner. The final touches that completed her look.
A look that screamed ‘Villain.’
She picked up the leash and collar, and took a celebratory selfie. Posting it to her private Instagram with the caption: “Why you don’t mess with a librarian.”
Everything was perfect.
It was just a matter of waiting for the villain to make an entrance.
By lunchtime, Kate had almost given up.
“Miss Kate.” Eric knocked on her door. “That person who um with the book who…”
Kate double checked her makeup and hair in the mirror before replying.
“Send her in.”
‘Small. Huh. I guess everyone’s small when you’re Eric’s height.’
Kate had assumed she could stand over the vandal and loom, or look down upon them with disdain. It wasn’t to be. Even with the help of the heels, she was still staring up at the would be graffiti artist.
“Take a Seat.”
Kate pointed to the chair she’d set out.
“Um. Am I in trouble?”
“Just take a seat.”
Kate got out of her chair, and stood in front of her desk. Arms folded, disdainful stare engaged, she could finally look down upon the criminal in front of her.
The rest of Erik’s description was pretty accurate. Two piercings. An arm tattoo that looked like a coverup. Shorts, leggings, a messenger bag, and a bike chain tied around her waist like a belt.
“This is the book you were looking for, Yes?”
Kate had resisted the urge to label it with ‘Evidence A’.
“Um Yes But.”
“Just Yes Or No Will Suffice.” Kate insisted.
“Yes.” The vandal looked a little guilty.
Kate opened the book.
“This is your handwriting, yes?”
Kate pushed up her glasses. “Yes, Or, No.”
“Yes.” The vandal looked at her feet.
“This is a library book, correct?”
“It is but…” The vandal tried to make a sentence again, but quickly gave in to Kate’s stares. “Yes.”
“Do you know what the punishment is for vandalising a library book, Miss?”
“I. Um.” The vandal made eye contact for a moment. “No.”
“A lifetime ban.” Kate clicked her tongue. “Along with a bill for replacement.”
The vandal didn’t reply.
“Do you know how much this book costs to replace?”
The vandal shook her head.
“$500.” Kate answered. “It’s out of print. Hard to replace. Do you have $500?”
“Yes. Or. No.” Kate interrupted.
“Well. Do you want to be banned from the library.”
“No. But. I… No.”
Kate placed the book in front of her.
“You’re lucky you left your notes in pencil. Here is an eraser. Get to it.”
The vandal looked back at her as if to ask ‘Really?’
“If you’re not done by closing time, Don’t Come Back.”
Kate picked up the leash, and snapped it in her hands.
“Do I make myself clear?”
“Will you stay here and clean up your mess?”
“Good. Although..” Kate fiddled with the collar. “I was looking forwards to using this.”
She placed the collar into her desk drawer.
“You can use my desk.” escort balıkesir Kate marched towards the door. “Don’t forget. If you haven’t finished by closing time.”
Kate pulled down her glasses.
“Don’t Come Back.”
She managed to shut the door behind her before she burst into a smile. Covering her mouth to suppress a giggle.
‘Did I really do that?’
“Err. Miss Kate. Err.”
“Yes Eric?” Kate snapped to attention. “Is there a problem?”
“Did she get the book back?”
“Yes. Well. She’s cleaning up after her mistake.”
“Good. I was really worried we’d lent it out again.”
Kate stared. It wasn’t like Eric to have so many thoughts in a day.
“You know. It was. Ex-Libib? Ex-Li-bris. Exiliberous?” Eric scrunched up his face. “One of our old books we sold last month.”
Kate began staring into the void.
“Err. Eric. Thank you. Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”
Ex-libris. A former library book.
Yes, the vandal had scribbled in a book, but it was hers to damage. Only a minor crime.
Kate carefully opened the office door.
The vandal had pulled the small chair up to her desk, and was methodically working through the pages.
Kate carefully closed the office door.
It was closing time again. Erik had been sent home early. The last thing Kate wanted was a witness hanging around.
The vandal hadn’t left her office.
Kate didn’t know what to do, and had run out of time trying to think of a way to say sorry.
“Hello. Are you done?”
She decided to roll with it. Keep up the act. Maybe the vandal wouldn’t come back out of shame. Maybe it would be over and done with.
“Um. Yes. Err.”
“Just Yes or No.” Kate repeated.
The book was lying on her desk and the vandal had even moved the chair back to where it was originally.
Kate confidently took a seat behind her desk. Then she sat frozen for a second, unsure of what to do next.
The vandal was staring at the book.
Kate picked it up, and quickly flicked through the pages.
“Good.” She placed the book down. “I believe that’s everything.”
“Um.” The vandal shifted in her chair.
“Um?” Kate forced a smile. “Just this once, you can ask a question.”
“My story. Err. Was.” She mumbled. “Was there anything left inside the book? .. When it was found. I mean.”
Kate suddenly realised why the vandal had been waiting all this time. They just wanted their story back.
Kate pulled open her desk draw. Ignoring the dog collar she’d placed there earlier, she fished out the story and placed it in front of her.
“Yes!” The vandal reached forward to snatch it.
Kate took the story out of reach without thinking.
“Don’t you want to hear what I think?”
“Unrealistic.” Kate interrupted. “Lacking Motivation.”
Kate wasn’t exactly comfortable playing the villain, but she felt locked into this path. That, and if she did give up, it would mean all that time practicing in front of the mirror would be wasted.
Kate almost felt guilty. The vandal seemed crushed.
“It seems you lack inspiration.” Kate couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth. “Every writer needs a muse.”
The vandal was staring back. Nervous. Shallow breathing. A little flushed, too.
“Would you like something to write about?”
Kate reached down to grab the collar and leash.
“Yes?”, Kate snapped the leather in her hands. “Or No?”
She stood up from behind her desk, and stood in front of the vandal.
She dangled the collar in front of the vandal.
“Yes please…” Kate stared over her glasses to make her point.
Kate pulled the vandal up by the chin. “Good girl.”
It must be the dress, Kate told herself. That must be why I’m acting this way.
She opened the collar and held it in front of the vandal.
The vandal looked at Kate, then at the collar. She pulled her hair to one side, leaned forward, and whispered “Please.”
“Please what. Say it clearly.”
“Please. Please. Mistress. Leash…” she mumbled. “leash me.”
Kate’s hands were on automatic. She’d snapped the collar around the vandal’s neck almost immediately.
Kate wanted to scream. Somehow her revenge fantasy had taken over. She’d hoped that the vandal would have been scared off, felt awkward, even a little embarrassed. She’d hoped that the vandal would have made some awkward excuse, and rushed out of the library.
Instead, the vandal gently got out of the chair, and knelt in front of her.
‘I guess she really does had a crush on me.’
Kate didn’t want to believe that someone had written her into an erotica, and couldn’t quite imagine who would do such a thing. Even when said person was collared in front of her.
‘Maybe i’m dreaming at work.’
Kate wasn’t sure what to do next. The vandal’s story was unfinished. She racked her brain for inspiration. What things had the vandal been focusing on. What details could she add.
“Hmm.” With the leash in her hand, Kate took a seat on her desk. “Show me your adoration, pet.”
Kate lifted up her foot, and flicked the vandal’s chin once again.
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