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The Last Bookstop Chapter Seventeen
After nightfall, David herded every last customer out with a broom, shouting at them with desperation to get out of his bookstore, then gratefully locked the door and leaned forehead first against it.
“My god, the crazies came out of the woodwork.”
“You mean the Internet,” said Austen. “Kicked off the Net, they had no place else to go.”
“But here…why here?”
“Because this is the last bookshop. Since crazy people can’t handle reality, they lose themselves in virtual realities.”
“For Christ’s sake, let them buy a VR pack.”
“They can’t afford them,” said Henry.
“No, no, no,” said David. “It cannot be that books are for crazy people.”
“We’re all here,” said Austen, but she wasn’t sure if that was condemnation or reassurance. “Books are for people for whom common sense explanations of life aren’t sufficient. Some find better explanations, and some find worse.”
“Then why did only the worse show up?”
“Because they were the ones kicked off the Web,” said Henry. “The nutters.”
David’s eyes narrowed with worried realization, then he leaned back up straight, stuck his hand in his pockets, and disappeared into the shelves, thinking about something hard.
Alone with Henry, Austen felt jumbled up inside. Within minutes of her blowing off his theory of seduction via violence, she’d watched him take down three skinheads with hardly any effort at all and felt the excitement. She could only imagine, with some glee, the short, bloody work he’d make of her asshole step-father if he every showed up, and all she’d probably have to do is say the word.
“She has to think he deserves it,” he had said, and she checked that off. “And it helps if she’s watching.” She’d definitely want that checked off. The only disappointing variable would be, “He has to think he can win, or he won’t fight.”
She was of the theory that men who bullied women didn’t have the guts to bully men.
But it wasn’t a hundred percent true.
Austen caught herself actually hoping her step-father found her, and set aside that fantasy for the nightmare it would probably turn into. Far more likely than the happily ever after would be the police arresting Henry, or her step-father harressing her with phone calls, or maybe hanging around to bother her but never crossing the line and giving Henry an excuse…a present excuse, anyway.
In the meantime, she really wanted to jump into bed with Henry, but he seemed infatuated with Sharly. His sudden interest in dance, how he became so tongue-tied when she’d mentioned his name, how he’d avoided her first advance…she imagined him, Sharly, and herself all in bed together. She didn’t want to share Henry with Sharly, but she couldn’t think of a more likely way to get to him.
She tried to fill her voice with sly humor instead of the attraction, even admiration, she felt. “I’d say you’ve earned a dance lesson.”
Henry’s lips tightened, but he managed to pry them apart. “Thanks.” He ran his fingers through this short hair. “I’m beat. Can we do it tomorrow?”
He did looked wiped out, more than physically tired, almost as if dealing with a sudden horde of crazy customers, all looking for off the wall books to support their out of this world views was more exhausting than fighting those thugs. “Sure.”
She followed him out the back, through the café, passing David who was staring into a glass of red wine. He sat at a table next to the door between them, too lost in thought to notice their passing.
Out on the street, Henry looked at her, puzzled. “Do you live… where do you live?”
“Usually I sleep on a cot in the store, before then a shelter. Sometimes I crash at Sharly’s. You?”
“Rinky dinky efficiency flat.” As he looked up and down the street, she wondered if he was going to ask to walk her home, or if he was trying to figure out how to say good-night, or if he even realized how close he could be to getting laid, if he only reached out for it.
Should I smile encouragingly? Take his arm? Play the trump card?
“Sharly hangs out at Hades. Want to go?”
“You mean that year round Halloween club?”
“They like to think of it as a paranormal fashion show.”
He shook his head with cynical mystification. “All fashion shows look like freak shows to me.”
“Is that a yes or a no?” When he didn’t answer, she shrugged. “Follow me or not. Up to you.”
She started walking away, and after only a moment Henry caught up. Inside she warmed with satisfaction.
“Sorry. I’m still wired from today, and I’ve been staying a way from clubs. I can’t afford them.”
He sounded more worried than sad, and she suspected he meant more than not having enough money. But she said, “Don’t you worry. There’s girls there who would buy a beefy guy like you a drink,” anyway, just to see his reaction.
He didn’t.
Austen suspected they were going to spend the entire evening pretending they didn’t have any feelings, playing a game of chicken to see who would break down and ask the other one to bed first.
She didn’t feel as good about her chances as usual.

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I think this is a pretty good chapter. I could not find any defect of it. The description of their minds are very vivid.
I am sorry that I post my last critics so late. Maybe this will be the last chapter I will read of the Last Bookstop. In my point, based on the chapter i have read, it is a very good novel. The characteristics of each character are very vivid. The plot and the background of the story are very original.
I believe that in the near future, your books will be published and your career as a professional writer will take off.

Thank you very much. I know it's been a long semester. Good luck and see you in class.

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