Chapter 7: A Solvable Puzzle

The girl at the service counter was about to leave.

Beatrice had been glancing at the girl and her distractingly full-figured body every chance she could get for the past several minutes, but the girl seemed to be looking off very intently at something else every time she took a glance… And now, after all this time waiting for a book from Beatrice’s father, she was exiting the library.

Wait, she couldn’t leave, not this soon! This was like some sort of puzzle for Beatrice. She saw an unknown but instantly-recognizable character at a sudden but crucial moment. That instantly-recognizable character was departing, but Beatrice wanted nothing more than to make her presence known to her. She needed to to seize the opportunity to chase her down before she disappeared from her life, possibly forever. And she only had one moment remaining. What should she do, what should she do… How could she solve this…

“Hey,” Beatrice said.

 The girl stopped right in her tracks. That wasn’t exactly a difficult puzzle.

She turned around. Their eyes met once again. Dark, deep brown, inviting and warm. Beatrice was having a hard time keeping eye contact, but she persisted. 

“Yes?” the girl asked, finally.

What did Beatrice want to say? What could she say?

“Come here often?” She immediately regretted her choice.

The girl took more than a moment to respond, saying, “Yeah, any chance I get.” She pressed her teeth to her lower lip, then added, “How about you?”

“Me too.” This was very strange. “And we’ve never… met before?”

The girl took a few steps closer towards Beatrice’s desk. “I really don’t know. Are you…”

“The girl from…”

“The marketplace?” They both asked in unison.

Wow, what a weird coincidence. The Gods worked in baffling ways sometimes.

The girl blushed and backed away a few steps. She fidgeted around like she was pained with discomfort. Was she about to leave after all?

“Do you want to, uh, read at this table?” Beatrice asked. “I feel awful taking the whole thing up by myself.” She tried to ignore the fact that almost none of the tables in the library were occupied.

“Of course,” the girl said. “I, uh, love reading indoors. I’m just going to–” She sat down in a chair across from Beatrice and sat down a book about economics. “–sit here and do some studying.”

“Okay, me too.”

Beatrice glanced over at the book that the girl had in her hands. It was Economic Theory, by Popoclous. Economics, eh? This girl was some sort of properly-educated type. Probably went to one of those really fancy private schools where they didn’t even have to wear uniforms.

Well… Now Beatrice was sitting right next to the most beautiful girl she had ever seen in her entire life. This was certainly happening.

She sighed, and then took a deep breath. The girl even smelled great. Some kind of faint perfume. A scent Beatrice couldn’t place, something sweet. She was a rich girl, that was for sure. But she was reading at the public library, for some reason. Didn’t rich girls have libraries at their own homes? They do, but as Beatrice had rarely encountered real wealth in her life, she didn’t really understand it. That was soon about to change.

She attempted to continue studying her book about magical rituals, but she realized very quickly that that was a lost cause. She was right here next to her, and Beatrice was just… going to study?

It is a well-known fact that you do not study with someone you are attracted to. It is a law of nature, part of the harmony of the Gods that, when you are with someone you fancy, your mind no longer possesses the capability to absorb information, to retain anything you have learned. Beatrice was understanding that fact right at this moment.

She was tall, elegant, wearing a fancy dress as if it were a casual shirt-and-trousers combo. But, as much as she looked the part, she didn’t carry herself like a princess. Biting her lip, hands clutching her books with an all-too-tight grip. She had an aura that snared Beatrice and refused to let go. Surely a creature had shape shifted into the object of Beatrice’s desire in order to take her away and suck her life force dry. But if this was how such a creature would do it, she knew for certain she would be too weak to resist. 

Beatrice’s only hope was to pray to the Gods that this wasn’t an illusion that sat next to this girl at the desk, because if this girl was real, it was quite possibly one of the best days of her life.

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