Well, I’ve been slacking off on my blog a lot lately because I’ve been working on a book. However, I hit publish on that book a few hours ago and am now waiting for Amazon to approve in. In the mean time, NaNoWriMo started three days ago, and I’m using that as a chance to push myself back into writing new stuff. So with that in mind, here’s the first part of my NaNoWriMo project.
“Why is this book in the return pile?” I asked, pulling the red book out of the stack of dystopian teen fiction that sat on the checkout counter.
Amber looked at me in confusion. “Probably because someone borrowed it, Rach.”
“They borrowed this book, Amber?” I insisted, holding it up so she could see it clearly. Unlike most of the library, filled with dog-eared paperbacks, this book was unique. The thick stack of papers were hand bound in blood red leather, hand-tooled with runes and symbols. A red ribbon wrapped around the book several times, binding it shut as if opening it would release something evil.
“Yeah, last week. Why?” Amber asked, barely glancing over. Her eyes seemed to slide off the book like it wasn’t important. I frowned at her. Amber was normally a sharp one.
“Amber, look at me for a moment,” I said, catching her eye. “Are you trying to tell me that you loaned out Birds of Fire?”
“We’re a library, Rachael,” Amber said, sounding exasperated. “Loaning out books is what we-ohhhh.”
Her eyes suddenly went wide, staring at the red book. One of her hands went to her mouth and I raised my eyebrows at her.
“Now you see my issue?” I asked, though it was obvious she’d finally noticed her error. Birds of Fire was specifically not meant to be loaned out, as Amber should have known. Most of our books were meant to teach or provide an escape. But this one was more than just that. There were secrets in the covers. Secrets we were bound to protect.
“I… yeah,” Amber stuttered, looking at the ground. I sighed at her, crossing my arms. Amber was new to our library, and I’d had my doubts about her from the get go. The rest of the staff had told me I was over-reacting, but now I was beginning to wonder.
“Do I need to explain this to you again?” I said sternly. “The books in the section 11 are all restricted to the general public. They’re here on loan from the Falconer family, and are all one-of-a-kind books. We do not lend these out.”
“Y-Yes Ma’am,” she said. Her voice quivered as she spoke, and I could see she was on the edge of tears. I glowered at her a moment longer, hoping to drive the message home. Amber tried to meet my eyes, but one stray tear spilled over her cheek. She hastily wiped it away.
“It won’t happen again,” she whispered before turning around and practically running for the bathroom. I sighed, sitting down behind the desk to process the rest of the returns.
I’d checked in half of the stack when Mark appeared out of the racks, leaning over the counter.
“I hear you’re terrorizing the new girl again,” he said. His words sounded playful, but I could hear the scolding edge all the same. I grunted at him. I probably deserved it for driving her to tears. And yet…
I slid the red leather book out from the beside the computer so he could see it, and he let out a low whistle.
“That’s the book she lent out?” he asked. I nodded and he frowned. “No wonder you’re mad.”
“Glad you’re caught up,” I said gruffly. “I can’t even figure out how she checked it out, this book has no code or slip.”
“I’m a little more concerned about why she loaned it out,” Mark said, and something in his words made my blood run a little cold. I looked up at him curiously.
“She said she thought it was just a book of fairy tales,” he said.
“She what?” I raged. “Mark, she just finished her initiation last week! Do you think she was making excuses, or is she just that stupid?”
“Rachael, I know you dislike her, but I don’t think it was either.” Mark was frowning.
“Oh come on, don’t try to protect her,” I said. “Either she’s dumb or she’s unreliable and either way I’m close to firing her now.”
“Rachael, our initiation process is pretty intense. You can’t really cheat your way through it.”
“So then she’s making excuses,” I said, standing up and grabbing the thick leather book. “Come on, let’s go put this back.”
“Maybe you should go talk to her before you make any decisions,” he said, falling into step behind me. “I ran her tests myself and she was on point the whole time. I can’t believe she’d mess that up so quickly.”
“Well she obviously did,” I said, unlocking the door to the private collections. Mark was right behind me. “You know this as well as I do, Mark, this isn’t something we can easily forgive.”
“I understand that but-” Mark cut off as we reached the final shelf, staring down the aisle.
I quickened my step slightly behind him. “But wha- Whoa!”
I stared at the row where the book belonged. What should have been rows upon rows of rainbow-coloured leather books had been gutted. Half the shelf was empty with unsightly gaps between the green and blue books. The entire yellow section was missing, and the book in my hand was only one of the slots in the reds. Overall, at least half of the books were missing.
“I am going to kill her,” I whispered.
Mark shook his head. “I think we have a bigger problem, Rach.”
“If you mean how we’re going to get these back…” I began, but he was cutting me off.
“Amber has only been on the checkout once since she finished her initiation,” he said. “Do you really think she could have messed up this many times in one day?”
I looked at the gutted shelf again. I was angry enough to argue with him, because the only other option was scarier.
“Rachael, I think we’re dealing with a fae.”