I hated using the library computers, but my hard drive crashed, my roommate was out of town with his laptop, and I was in a jam needing to get an assignment printed for a morning class. I was normally pretty good with them but was having a formatting issue and couldn’t find the right menu option to turn it off and change it back to what I wanted. God, this was frustrating! This cute little thing next to me asked if I needed help. Of course, I did, but I wouldn’t admit it. Typical male. So, she let me stew for a minute, then told me to listen to her. “Look, I know very little about life, but I know computers and I know Office. What is the problem? You obviously need to get this done and need to change or fix something. Oh, my God, your bullets and indents are fighting each other. Let me help.” She moved in close, the scent of lavender or something similar wafted around me. Really nice. It filled my nose. I just moved over, but not far enough to lose the scent, and let her take control. She did. Thin figure, long dark hair with a reddish tint, navy blue slacks with matching high heels, and a plain white long-sleeved button up blouse. She could have been a real estate agent, a secretary, or a rocket scientist. A generic pretty girl. Really pretty.
“Are you my library fairy? Ummmm...”
“Lydia. Lydia Preston. You might say that. I’m happy to help. I am here a lot. I don’t have my own equipment, but I used to and ... Never mind. I like computers. You look like you normally use a different one. Is there a story there? Ummmm...”
“Chuck. And yeah. Hard drive crashed this afternoon. Haven’t even had time to get it to the shop.”
“Want help with it? I could use the money and I know a thing or two about it. Maybe I can help you save some information on your old one. Is it a desktop or a laptop?”
“It’s a desktop. You really know that stuff?”
“Maybe. It depends, but I’d like to try. You could pay me, maybe?”
“Lydia, I’ll give you a hundred bucks if you can get it running tonight and more if you can save some stuff I have on it.”
Her smile could have blinded me. Money, I had. Time, I didn’t.
“I get off in about fifteen minutes. Let me fix your document and save it. We’ll get you printed out and then take care of your desktop issue. Walmart is still open. Take me there, we’ll buy you a hard drive and see what we can do. You’ll need a hard drive one way or the other, and I can show you how to do backups, so you don’t have this happen again. But, then, as soon as you start the backups, you’ll never have a crash. Insurance, you know? As long as you have insurance, no accident. Let it lapse, and a telephone pole jumps in front of you.” I could tell she was nervous and laughing at her own joke.
I took her to Walmart where she picked up a couple of hard drives and an external hard drive reader she asked me for. She said it would help.
“Lydia, is that the same kind of hard drive a laptop uses?”
“No, they use these little ones, Chuck.”
“Get one of those, too, then. I have a laptop that quit a few months ago. Same problem. Hard drives don’t like me. You get it running and you can use it. How does that sound?” Another smile to eclipse the sun.
She asked about the software that came with the machines and after I told her I had all that, she smiled, and off we went.
At my house, she asked for the little girl’s room, then came out and got to work. My computer was up and running in an hour, and she was dumping saved files on it. She asked for a little screwdriver and had a new hard drive in my old laptop and had it running alongside the other. She was a machine. Both computers were up and running before I knew it.
“Lydia, you’re great. Thank you. Here’s two hundred dollars. Here’s the charger for that laptop and a bag to keep it in. I don’t like it because my hands are too big, and I make too many mistakes on it, but maybe you can get some use out of it.”
“I owe you for this, Chuck. This is a nice laptop.”
“Not to me it’s not. I’ve all but worn out the backspace key fixing problems caused by my thumb dragging over that pad thing. Never mind. I use my big one and I’m happy. If you owe me, though, why don’t you keep me company for a late snack? I’ll buy and then get you back to the dorm.”
“Thanks, Chuck. I’d like that.”
“Anything special you like, or can’t do for a bite?”
“Mexican this late would be problematic,” she said, then laughed.
This girl was cute. “Come on, Lydia. Let’s print this other paper out off my thumb drive here, then we’ll go eat.” She brought it up, I pointed it out, and off it came through my big Brother laser printer. “Thanks. Looks like I have a world that turns once more.”
I took her to a late-night Wendy’s. She had a potato with extra sour cream and a Frosty. Cheap date.
“Lydia, are you seeing anyone? You are really cute, you seem to be a really nice girl, and I’d really like to get to know you better. Really.”
“Chuck, you seem like a nice guy, so I’ll finish my comment from the library. You asked if I was your library fairy. I’m not quite what I seem. I’m a girl, for the most part, but ... Chuck, I’m sorry. Forget it. I’m not your type. You need a woman, not a little girl like me.”
“Lydia. I’d like to have a chance to decide what I need. And what I want. You were about to tell me something and decided not to. That’s fine, but don’t, please don’t, prejudge me on what I might or might not prejudge you about. I’d like to see you again. That’s all. If you want to finish telling me then, fine. If not, I’ll want to see you again. And again. And again. Am I making myself clear?”
She nodded, and the movement shook the tear on her cheek loose. I wiped it up with a napkin, then dabbed her cheeks. A girl she knew stopped over by the table to check on her.
“Hey, Lydia, you OK, girlfriend?” I recognized the girl. She was a cheerleader and was in the engineering program at our university. “Oh, hey, Mr. Chambers. Is Miss Lydia OK?” As a TA, a teacher’s assistant, I saw most of the kids in the program at one point or another. She was a bright one. She was an African-American beauty, enrolled in the electrical engineering path on a scholastic scholarship through a charter school program. She was so athletic she also made some scholarship points as a cheerleader for our basketball team. They called her a flier, and threw her around like a rag doll, but she loved it. I think she loved it. She was always smiling, so it was hard to tell.
“Yes, Monica, I brought her for a snack after she fixed my computer. She was just telling me a little about herself.”
“Oh, God. Don’t tell me,” Monica said, putting her hand over her mouth.
“No, Monica, not yet. But thanks. After that display, I might as well tell him already. I’m sure he’s bright enough to put two and two together by now.”
“Let me do it. Mr. Chambers is cool, Lydia. Watch this.” She turned to me. “Mr. Chambers, Miss Lydia is not an engineering student, so she’s not off limits. She is, however, a dorm suite mate of mine, so I know a bit about her. She is a nice girl and doesn’t party or play around and drink and raise hell. She studies, has a four point oh average, is on the dean’s list, and has a small penis where most of the girls have ... Other things. She is more of a woman than I am, though, looks absolutely stunning in the one cocktail dress I’ve seen her in, has legs to die for, and is loved and admired by everybody in our building except Betsy Turner, and Betsy doesn’t even like her own mother. Oh, only about three of us know about Lydia’s physical attributes. We share a bathroom. The rest just love her for being her. Questions?”
“Will you ask Lydia if she’ll go out with me? She seems to think I’m looking FOR something other than what I’m looking AT.” I was talking to Monica but looking directly into Lydia’s eyes.
She turned to Lydia. “Lydia, this is way out of my wheelhouse, but since I’m an engineering student, and sucking face with one of your TAs is frowned upon, will you go out with Mr. Chambers and tell me all about it so I can live my love life vicariously through you? You’d be doing me a great favor, especially if you told me about it late at night with the lights off and...”
“Monica, shut up! God. How embarrassing. Good Lord. OK, Chuck, I’ll go out with you. If for no other reason, just to get this sex maniac out of my face about it. And Monica, what the hell? You’re a lesbian.”
“I choose to be a lesbian. If the right man came along...” She looked at me and licked her fantastically shaped plump lips. “Just sayin’. You two be good, and Mr. Chambers, please don’t make her cry again. There are a lot of girls in that dormitory over there, and in big enough numbers ... Just remember the ants in South America. They kill and eat cattle. I’ll leave you with that thought.” She leaned down and kissed Lydia’s cheek, rubbed her fingers across my shoulder, giggled and walked over by a friend to sit.
“You could have told me, Lydia, but I understand why you didn’t really want to. To be honest, I think I understood what you were going to say long before. You are too feminine and probably have made an effort to be more of a girl than most girls will ever be. That’s something I noticed a long time ago. Trans girls seem to be more effeminate, more womanly, more willing to be desirable to men, than real girls. Sorry, I know you’re a real girl...”
“Stop apologizing. You told me you’d take me back to the dorm. You don’t mind? I can catch a late bus if you’d rather not bother with me.”
“No, I’d rather take you. It’s getting a little late, and I’d really rather bother. Really,” I told her. She giggled. She noticed my overuse of the word ‘really’. I didn’t want her, or any students come to think of it, running around alone this late at night. We left, saying goodnight to Monica and her friend on the way out. I hadn’t noticed, but I put my hand in the middle of her lower back on the way out. It was just a subconscious move on my part. She looked straight up at me and smiled. My library fairy was not a big girl. Once I had helped her into the car, I took her through the campus and stopped outside her building. I was in a reserved staff spot, but late at night, and with my stickers, I figured I’d be OK.
“Chuck, are you sure you’re OK with this. It’s scary for me. I had one bad experience, very recently.”
“He didn’t know up front, though, did he?” She shook her head. “I know. And knowing is half the battle.” I reached out for her cheek. She reached up and held my hand to it. “Look, I mentioned before about being feminine and all. I’m a lover of the feminine. I really am. Dresses, hose, heels, all that. Girls just don’t seem to want to do that anymore.”
“I do. I like them. I’m wearing slacks ‘cause it was supposed to be windy and cold today. I’m not studying meteorology or anything, but I know how to dress when the weather girl is calling for snow snakes.” She smiled.
“You look good in them. Very good. I’d like to see you again. You’re a pretty girl, Lydia.”
“Thank you.” She leaned forward and kissed me gently over the console. “How will you find me, Chuck? I don’t have a phone or anything.”
“You’re my library fairy. I’ll start there.”
“OK. Sounds good. Thank you again.” She kissed me again, then before I could get out to walk her over to the door, she was gone, through the door and on the elevator.
I sat down, relaxed, and sat there for a bit. The knock on my window startled me. I looked over at the Nubian Goddess, one Monica Maples, staring at me through my window. I rolled it down.
“You OK with Lydia, Mr. Chambers? I’d hate to see her get hurt again. The last guy was pretty nice, until he found out she wasn’t giving him any nookie, then really an ass to her when he found out why. He actually hurt her. She just needs to find a human being, sir. Keep that in mind.”
“I will, Monica. I will. See you tomorrow. Oh, if you see Lydia tonight, please don’t tell her I was down here daydreaming like a lovestruck teenager. It wouldn’t be good for my reputation.”
“Actually, sir, it would. About half the campus thinks you’re a hermit. Lonely by choice and beyond approaching or fixing.” She laughed. “Don’t worry. I saw the look on your face at Wendy’s. Your secret is safe with me, and every other girl that saw you look at Lydia. Be careful not to let her break your heart either, sir. See you tomorrow.” She wiggled her fingers and walked inside with her buddy.
I drove back to the house and started doing research on my new favorite subject. Oh, my, did I have a lot to learn. Bedtime brought fitful sleep as I kept wondering what I saw in her. She was a very pretty girl, though, and had a wonderful attitude and demeanor. And ... She could fix a computer. I needed to find out what she was studying. If it was computers, that would put her in the engineering school. Hmmm.
The alarm went off and my first thought was to be thankful for Lydia and my paper being ready for the old Battle Axe today. Even graduate students had things to turn in, and I was no exception. Even though I was about four months from landing my doctorate and being able to go home and take over our business from my father’s partners I still had work to do. Long story, but that was the deal. They were all bought out, a few years ago, but when Mom and Dad were lost in a ferry accident in Indonesia on vacation, the partners came back to hold down the fort until I could get through school and take over. It was close to happening. I had an MBA already, so I could probably handle the business side, but we’re a technology company, so they figured I needed to know what happened when an electron fell on the floor into the bit bucket. Sorry, terrible joke.
“Good morning Mr. Chambers. How are you doing today?”
“Fine, Mrs. Chambers. And you?”
“We’ll see.” Six of us were in a morning seminar spearheaded, or I should say belt beaten by a nasty old woman who just happened to be my uncle’s wife of twenty-five years or so. He hated me, she hated me, and the world knew it. My uncle and my father parted ways about the time I was a toddler, and never made amends. Now, here I was, with her seminar, a couple of other classes, a lab, and a thesis defense away from taking control of our namesake, a company he and Dad started over thirty years ago. Chambers Enterprises, Incorporated. Dad bought him out, after a tiff between them involving plans for the future of the company, and then went on to make millions upon millions while my dear old uncle, scrooge that he is, went back into academia and met this wonderful (gag) woman. The deans of both the engineering school and the university knew me, and them, and the issues, and just told me to do my best and they’d make sure everyone played fair. Okayyyyy Fiiiiine.
The seminar was constructive. I listened, for the most part. The two points I wanted to make, another student, a really bright woman, made for me, so I got to listen to the battle axe tear her logic up, even though it would have been the right answer in everyone’s opinion, save auntie axe. Another day, another credit. I was feeling pretty good about going almost unscathed through the morning, so I decided to hit the library. I had a couple things to look up that would be easier in print than on a computer screen, so I headed over.
My library fairy was talking to a guy in a fairly animated fashion, and I thought seriously about making myself scarce, when she saw me. She waved and motioned me over, making it clear that I was wanted near her, quickly. So, I did my duty, as I saw fit.
“Barry, this is Mr. Chambers. One of Monica’s instructors. What can I help you with, Mr. Chambers? Barry was just leaving. BEFORE he said anything out loud he’d be sorry for.”
Barry was about two inches shorter and forty pounds heavier than me. I had a feeling none of it was fat. He looked like a running back for our school football team. I later found out I was right. Second string, though. No cheerleaders for him. He looked at me and smirked then turned back to her.
“Listen, you little queer. If I find out anyone else knows I went out with your stupid tranny ass, I’ll make you wish...” I’d heard enough. I grabbed the pressure point in his elbow and made him throw up in the trash can he was standing next to.
“Quietly, very quietly, I want you to walk with me to the men’s room. You aren’t feeling well and need to go there to clean your face up a bit and make sure you’re OK. Understood?” He tensed, so I made him throw up again. He nodded. “Good boy. Lydia, darling, I’ll be back in a minute. OK?” She looked at me in abject fear and nodded. “Don’t go away, hon. Please? I have a question I need to ask you. Come, Barry, bathroom.”
When we got into the men’s room I asked him what was going on. He told me that when he got his bearings he was going to kill me, but went on to say that he went out with that ‘trap ass sissy piece of shit’ and when he went ‘to do her’ she said no. Then he found out the ‘queer assed fucker was a guy’. He moved a bit to come around on me, thinking he had his footing, but wound up vomiting in a urinal. Another guy came in and seeing the commotion asked me if I was OK. Staff normally had badges on lanyards we wore, and at the time I did, so I looked all official when I told him we were fine and that old Barry there must have gotten ahold of some bad milk in the cafeteria or something. “OK, just wanted to make sure.” He peed next to Barry, flushed, washed up, then walked out.
“OK, Barry, we’re going to try this again. You’re upset because you found out that a really pretty girl you had the hots to bang was really a gender dysphoric teenager and although she was born with male parts was actually a girl and has been for some time. Right?” He nodded. He was about to say something when he got queasy again. “Here’s the deal. We’re going to go through this once, then never speak of it again. Deal?” Another queasy spell, then a nod. “Good. I am going to date Miss Lydia. If she’ll have me, that is. She’s pretty and she’s nice. She’s more of a woman than most of the women on this campus. You aren’t going to say anything to anyone about anything, or the entire school will know of your escapades and how you tried so hard to get into what you think are a boy’s pants. You see, Barry, I don’t care that she’s got an itty bitty clitty. I care that she looks good in a skirt and heels. Understood?” He looked at me funny. “She’s an attractive woman, dipstick. Even you thought so. I’m not asking her to have my children, just to date, have dinner, talk about fun stuff, and make fun of football players.” He tensed up again. Puke. “Back to the deal. More of a bottom line. You’re probably on a football scholarship. Right?” He nodded. “Think you can play if I do this to your knee for a while.” His eyes went wide open. “Got it in one. Speak in an unfriendly tone to her again and you won’t play football again. Ever. Not a threat, Barry, a promise. I mean that. You need to stop being a bully. And, young man, if you think you have friends on the football team, think again. I actually give some of the starters grades. Oh, and two of them are second cousins. Be careful. We done here?” He nodded. “Good. Bye.” He walked out, but when he looked back, I really doubted it was over. I’d have to talk to my cousins and ask them to keep their ears open. One thing Barry needs to know, Lydia, too, for that matter. I don’t lie. I don’t even bluff well. If I go all in, I’ve got something.
I walked out and saw Lydia watching Barry walk out of the library without even looking at her. Oh, Lordy was he upset. He was probably thinking of a way to kill me as he walked out.
“Lydia, sorry for the display. He upset me. I’m sorry for butting in but he almost violated the school’s policy on inclusive behavior, and I didn’t want him expelled. Who knows? Someone on our team may get hurt and they might need Barry to do something silly like play football or something. Are you OK?”
“Yes, just a bit scared. He let go of my arm when you walked up, but he had it pretty good.” I looked at it and knew a bruise was coming. So did she. “Yep. Yuck. Long sleeves for a couple weeks. At least it’s cold this time of year.”
“Lydia, I need to know if he confronts you again. Just don’t mention to anyone that he tried to (I made airquotes) ‘do you’ and we should be OK.” She giggled. “Now I was going to ask you ... What is it you are studying?”
“Promise not to laugh?”
“Heck no. If you were to tell me Library Management or something like that, I’d laugh my ass off.”
“And at this rate when you’re done you’ll weigh about thirty pounds. So much for the nice engineer.”
I chuckled. “Are you serious? I made fun of library studies and you got caught in the crossfire?”
“Yes. I’d say ‘Yes, Asshole’, but I don’t know you well enough. I was actually hoping, like Monica intimated, that you might want to ask me out, but now I find out you are library phobic. Out of the pan into the fire. A transhomophobe to a libraphobe. I just can’t effing win.”
I looked around, and seeing almost no one, and certainly no one looking at us, I took her in my arms and kissed her. I whispered in her ear, “I think librarians are sexy. Books, glasses, skirts, heels. Sexy.”
She pushed against me, creating some space and looked up. “You think you can win me back with a kiss and a line like that?”
“Maybe. Another kiss and we’ll see.” We did. Then she hugged me around my chest. “Thank you so much for being here. He’s such a bully. I was actually afraid he’d hit me again when no one was looking, and the place was almost empty. My shoulder still hurts from the last time. Really, Chuck, thank you.”
“You’re working here aren’t you, hon?” She nodded. “I should have picked up on that last night. When is lunch, anyway?”
She shrugged. “Pretty much anytime, if we’re not busy. Wanna go somewhere and talk?” I nodded. “Let me go tell Mizz Bailey.” She went into an office and came back out then led me across the street to a little coffee shop bistro operation.
“Order for both of us, doll. I’ve never been here before.”
I watched her walk, more like a sashay, up to the counter and ordered. She looked like a million bucks in her skirt, dark stockings, and plain black stiletto pumps, bringing back a Pepsi with two straws. I looked at her funny. “You kissed me. We can share a drink.”
“Got it. Understood. Makes perfect sense.” I was kidding, then I thought about it for a second and told her. “Actually, I guess it does make sense. Cool. OK. Lydia, to what end are you studying Library Management?”
“Library Sciences, actually. Chuck, every company worth its weight in regulations has a filing system, a storage system, and a retrieval system. From the smallest drycleaners to the largest aerospace firms. Mom and pop to the military. They need organized people to organize. That’s me. I’m a sophomore now, taking the minimum qualifying workload and working my way through school. Four and a half years, both taking classes and working, even in the summers, for my bachelor’s, then I can sell myself to the highest bidder. I plan on doing my Master’s part time and work full time.”
“Wow, you’ve got it all figured out, don’t you?”
“Summers, school and working?”
“That’s the plan.
“Tell me about Lydia, please?”
“No. You first. I’ve said too much.” She got up for our tray when they called her name. “I want to know who the nice man is that gave me such a nice computer. You know that thing’s almost new.”
“I hate it. I hope it makes you happy. It’s like a cat. Won’t sit in my lap but goes to yours. Oh, never mind. That’s too close to real life.”
“I did notice the cat, but it didn’t come to me.”
“Just wait. When you’re not busy throwing tools and shiny CDs around like a Ninja, he’ll check you out. OK. Chuck Chambers. Charles. Only child of Charlie and Annie Chambers, of Chambers Enterprises.”
I held my finger to my lips. “Shhhh. Not done. Close, but not yet. Ascension trust requires I finish my education before I take over. I already got the MBA done, but they wanted me to have a PhD in electronics. Hence, engineering school. I did a few years in the military, too, but that was when everyone was happy, healthy, and OK with me goofing off. I wound up doing a special assignment with some special people who showed me a lot of things, not the least of which was how to make a jock vomit.”
“Chuck. Stop. We’re eating.”
“Sorry. In any case, in four months, I’m out of here. Done having fun and back to what will surely be my undoing. It killed my grandfather, my father, and now, it is sure to kill me.”
“Charles Chambers, you are full of shit. Everyone in this state knows your grandfather was killed trying to stop a bank robbery and your father died in a shipwreck. That company never killed anyone.”
“Aha. Grampa was depositing money for the company.”
“Don’t joke. He was a hero.”
“More so to me. OK. Done. What about Lydia?”
“Lydia Evelyn. Born Lloyd Everett Preston. I guess I was about four when mom and dad started seeing me for what I was, and it wasn’t a little boy. I was very carefully pointed back in the ‘correct’ (she air quoted) direction but it never took. At nine, a psychiatrist told them I was a girl, and my life began anew. My father actually accepted me as a girl. Most fathers don’t. I had two supportive parents. A miracle in the arena. Medicine, both before and after puberty, an operation here and there, and voila, a girl who feels more at home in skirts, hose, and heels than in slacks. Except when it’s really cold, and yesterday was a bit chilly. Now, Chuck, I know you have questions. You can ask them, and I’ll do my best, or we can play it by ear.”
“Yes, Lydia Evelyn Preston, I have questions. I have answers, too. You like Mexican, you know more about computers than I do, and you are my kind of girl when you dress. Can you dance? That’s one of my questions. The other, is a bit personal, but since we’re sharing a Pepsi...” I raised my eyebrow.
“Yes, somewhat. I like it more than I’m good at it. The dancing. Now, ask away. If it’s answerable, I will.”
“Stockings or panty hose?”
“You cad. Stockings. Panty hose only when needed. Hot pants and slacks included. Think you can get any more personal than that?”
“Garter belts or thigh highs?”
“That’s too personal. For now. Finish your sandwich. I need some fresh air. You are a dirty young man.” She reached for my hand as I set my napkin down and put it on her thigh. I could feel the tabs on the garter belt and the stocking welt on her thigh. Then she took my hand, kissed it, and put it back up to my napkin. “Way too personal. Second date material, at least. Maybe third. Something to think about.”
“Lydia, will you go dancing with me Saturday night?”
“I need to close the library. Can you pick me up there at eight?”
“Done. Thank you for lunch. That was a good sandwich. I had good company. I’m having a good time.” We got up and went to the register where I paid, and we walked out.
“I am, too, Chuck. Please tell me if anything needs discussed. Please. I’m scared to death. You know. I know you know. You’re still acting like a gentleman and I’m still feeling like a lady. What happens when the other shoe drops?”
“I kiss you again.” I did. “Stop worrying, Lydia. You’re a beautiful girl. I’m proud you’d be seen with an old fogey like me.”
“Chuck, how old are you, anyway? I’m thinking twenty-nine.”
I kissed her again. “Not quite. Close. Thirty-Three. I was in the service for quite a while. You? I’m thinking nineteen.”
“In May. I graduated early and all.”
“Whew. Legal. Barely. That was close.” She slapped my arm, then hugged it to her as we walked back across the street. It was February. Cold. Snow snakes were the most prominent form of wild life.
“Can I see you tonight, Lydia? Even if it’s just to talk while we study?”
“I’d like that, but I do need to study. I have a paper I’m doing for an angry lib lit professor. Where are you recommending?”
“You’ve been to my house and have left unscathed and unsullied. I’m sure we can make it two nights in a row. Pick you up? When are you off?”
“Five. Chuck, are...”
I kissed her. “Yes, Lydia, I’m sure. Five. I’ll be here.”
I went to a department store on the way to my house and went looking for a salesgirl in the women’s wear department. I found one. About Lydia’s size. “I need some blue silk pajamas and a matching robe and slippers. Conservative.” I looked at her and held my hands out to frame her. “About that size.”
She laughed. “Sir, conservative AND silk? Wow. Hmmm. mmmHHMmmOh! I know! Back here.” The girl led me to the edge of the lingerie department. They had the perfect set. Oriental pattern. Silk. It just flowed. You could hardly hold it without it running out of your hand. “Perfect.”
I took them home and put them on the guest bed. Bill was going to be gone for a couple more days. He was due back Sunday, this was Thursday. All should be well.
I took a shower, brushed my teeth, shaved, everything, and changed undies, but put the same clothes back on. I didn’t want her to know. I didn’t want to look pathetic. Bad enough being pathetic without looking pathetic. I walked into the library at five. She was checking some girl in or out, shooting books with a laser gun. She looked at me with that smile. Like the sun rose. Pretty girl. When she was done, she grabbed a backpack and her laptop case and walked toward me.
“Lydia, hon, do you have what you need for your homework?” She nodded. “Let’s go. I’ve got a surprise.”
“I don’t get to change?”
“Yes, actually, you do. Come on. Trust me. Please.”
At the house, I took her bags and made for the office area. It was really the dining room, but the house we bought near the university was turned into a crash pad and the dining room an office slash study room. There was a desk, a table, both with desk chairs, and a loveseat easy chair to curl up and read in. It was really a nice set up, and to be honest, I’d miss it.
After I put her things on the table, I took her hand and started toward the hallway. She hesitated. I stopped. “Sorry. That must’ve looked and seemed terrible. I’ll stay out here. Go. Second door on the left. Guest room. Something to change into and get comfortable. Lock on the door. I’ll stay out here. I didn’t mean to scare you, baby. I’m sorry.” She went back and came out in the pajamas. Crying. “Baby, you’re beautiful. Why are you crying, honey?”
“I was scared. I didn’t trust you. I was stupid. I’m so ashamed. I’m sorry.”
“No, never. It was my fault. My fault completely. I just ... I need to be more careful.”
“Not anymore. I’m fine. I ... I’m fine. I’ve never been better. Hold me, Chuck. Please accept my apology. You were being so nice, and I was ... I was being a bitch.”
I did hold her. She felt amazing. She had nothing on under the pajamas except, I think, some type of panties. I took her chin, pulled it up, and kissed her. “Do your homework. We didn’t come over here to make out like hormone crazed teenagers. The pajamas, honest, were just so you could relax. OK?” She nodded. “You write, I’m going to read, right after I throw some junk in the oven.”
“Thank you, Chuck. Remind me to ask you something later.”
“Baby, whatever it is, ask me something later.”
“JERK! Later, remind me to ask you something. MEN!” She giggled, kissed me and sat at the table with her laptop and all her papers out. She was really going at it a million miles an hour. Girl could type!! That laptop was perfect for her.
We took a break around seven, I took her into the kitchen where we sat and shared some leftover lasagna and garlic bread. She was very appreciative.
“It’s later. Why me, Chuck? Why me?”
“Oh, I thought you were going to ask me a hard one. OK. Let’s see. You are pretty. You are nice. You are friendly. You dress the way I like to see women dressed. I mean except now. You’re comfortable, though, and that’s important. I just think you’re different, Lydia. Special. You are my kind of woman.”
“Yes, doll. Even though you’re special. Even then. Lydia, darling. I’m going to use a phrase that is so over used, it’s not funny, but mark what I say, because it was never more true than in this instance, with you. It’s not what’s between your legs that turns me on, baby, it’s what’s between your ears. OK? You need to understand that. I am enamored by Lydia Evelyn Preston. All of her.”
She got up and came around the table to sit in my lap. Not a word was said for about five minutes. “I have homework to finish. Did you make the lasagna?”
“No. I made the bread, though. I turned on the oven. I’m worth something.”
She laughed. “It was all good, Chuck. The lasagna was great. It needs something, but I can’t put my finger on it. It was really good, though.”
I picked up my phone and said into it. “Hey, Olive Garden, my girlfriend says your lasagna sucks. My bread was good, though! Neener, neener.”
She laughed. “Is that true?”
“Yes, doll, I made the garlic bread with a fresh loaf of Wally World French bread, and the lasagna was a big order from Olive Garden a long time ago. I’m amazed it was edible. It was in the freezer for weeks.”
“No, Chuck, I don’t care about the food, it was great. I meant the girlfriend part.”
“I hope, so, Lydia. I really do. I like you. A lot. Go. You have homework to do. I don’t want your parents mad at me.” She kissed me and padded off to the office. She was barefoot. Even her feet were pretty.
This time, Fred came out. She was barefoot, and I guess that was his cue. He rubbed up against her feet and ankles a couple times, she spewed forth some baby talk, reached down for an ear and a tail rub, and off he went. She was just the woodwork now.
She was back at it, turning to look at me every ten or fifteen minutes. I could see her checking me out, but we were looking at each other. I read, she wrote, we worked. It was nice. It was easy.
About ten, she started cleaning up. “Done. I think it will work. Can I print it out? It’s like eight pages. I have my own paper.”
“Let me check the paper tray.” I did. “Go for it, hon. I just want to say, paper, lasagna, even crappy lasagna, pencils, pajamas, honey, don’t worry about providing your own. As long as you’ll grace me with Lydia, I’ll take care of the little stuff. Please let me do that.” She kissed me and pulled her paper off the printer.
“I don’t want you to ever think I’m taking advantage. That’s all.”
“Please do. It’ll make me feel more like your man. Your boyfriend. Let me, Lydia. Let me.” The subsequent hug was dangerously close to assault with a squeezing weapon.
“You know, if I use you that way, you know, take advantage ... That makes me your woman.”
“By golly, Fred, I think she’s got it.” Another slap on the arm and another kiss. “Do I need to get you home, baby?” She nodded. “Go change. I’ll get you back to the dorm.” She went back to the room wiping her eye and came back looking like a sexy librarian again. “My librarian?” She nodded. We kissed, gathered her stuff and I took her home.
Again, in the car, outside the dorm, “You’re sure?” I nodded. “Kiss me.” Soft and gentle. Lasting. “Walk me up?” I nodded again. We walked up to the room. Monica was in the hallway talking with a gaggle of girls.
“Hey, Mr. Chambers. Hey, Lyds. S’up, girlfriend?”
“Hey, Monica. Lasagna and garlic bread. Foods of the Goddesses. Aphrodite and Venus, specifically,” Lydia told her. The girls, about five of them in the hallway all laughed and made cat calls. Lydia opened her room, took her stuff from a blushing man, and set it on one of the desks. She came back, thanked me, kissed me and told me ‘thank you and good night’. She whispered, “Tonight was comfortable, and I hope it happens lots. Thank you, Chuck.”
I walked away, again, to cat calls, Lydia and Monica telling them to hush. Before I got to the elevator, though, I turned around and went back, knocking on the door. She opened it, hugged herself to my chest, and cried a bit. I stepped in the room and closed the door.
“Lydia, I want you to take my phone. Just for tonight. I have another, and I won’t call you on it or anything, but if you get a call from Charlie, go ahead and answer it. It’ll be me. I’ll get you a phone tomorrow. I want ... I need to know you’re OK. I don’t want to intrude, and if you want, I won’t ever call you or bother you, but I need to know you can call me. If you need me, just say ‘OK Google, call Dad’ and it will call the other phone. Not yet, though. Give me a half hour or so, but then it’ll work. I’m so sorry I’m moving so...” She put her fingers on my lips.
“Shhhh. You’re rambling. I’m crying. Go home. Come see me tomorrow. I get off at six tomorrow. Come see me then. Or before. It’s a library. You can come in there. I’ll keep the phone by me. Call Dad. Your father’s old phone. Got it.” She kissed me. “Chuck, we’re both moving fast. I think if we hold hands, we’ll be OK. GO.” One more kiss and I was on the way.
I made the elevator this time. The lobby door. The car. Home. I made it. Shit. I was done. Cooked. Way too soon to feel like this. Days. It should have been months. It was months with Beth, and it wasn’t like this. And she was a g ... Don’t say it, asshole. Lydia is a girl. All girl.