Janie is back! In case you need a refresher on Part 1 or Part 2 you can find them here:
Later that morning Janie let Denise talk her into exploring the “downtown” area with them, if that’s what you wanted to call it. It was basically a two block area with a handful of shops, a coffee house and cafe combination, plus the usual Library/City Hall combination. Actually, none of that was usual considering she was used to major metropolitan areas, but this town didn’t seem to be either so it hadn’t surprised her much. Though it was small, it was as picturesque as the towns you’d see in movies, and everyone truly did know each other. Blending in and becoming invisible was a speciality of Janie’s, or it was back home in the city. Here she stood out like a gold tooth on a rapper, and she wasn’t too happy about it.
“Well now Denise, who’s this pretty young thing you have here?”
“Hiyah sugar! You new in town?”
“Whew whew. What’s a pretty thing like you doing around these parts?”
“Oh my, you sweet thing, welcome!”
Those were only a handful of the things that she heard in the first two minutes of being outside the bar walls. Hanging around with Denise probably didn’t help as she seemed to know absolutely everyone. Then again, part of why Janie had chosen to stay was to step outside of the life she’d always known and the rules she’d always followed. Who’s to say she couldn’t get to know people and stand out for a change? Maybe these people would actually appreciate all she had to offer.
“Hey Denise, I’m going to head toward the library and then wander around a little bit.”
“Okay honey, why don’t you meet me back here in a couple hours and we can grab lunch at the cafe?”
“That sounds wonderful, thanks.”
Janie began to wander down the street, taking in the small town charm that surrounded her. There was only one street of buildings, roughly the length of two blocks, that ended with a circular drive in front of City Hall. There were no cars and no parking spotsIt was March in Kansas so it was still pretty chilly, just past 50° outside, but the sun was shining and Spring was beginning to bloom. Everything around her was quaint and charming, enough that it might get mistaken for a Hallmark movie set. People were milling about the streets and chatting with each other, some carrying bags from the various shops and others carrying coffees. Smack in the center of the street about halfway down was an adorable fountain with a few benches and a sign that read “Cottonwood Falls, Pop. 902”. Wow. It’s a lot smaller than I thought it was. No wonder Denise seems to know everything about everyone!
At the very end of the street, smack in the center, was the City Hall/Library building, which was her destination. She’d loved libraries ever since she was a kid and her dad had built her these massive bookshelves that they’d stocked with every book they could find. There was nothing quite like getting lost in the pages of a good book to ease your mind of everything that life put on you. She hadn’t quite learned to use digital books and ereaders because there was just something about the pages that held all the appeal for her. She ducked her head slightly to avoid being stopped and made her way to the end of the block and into the library building. As she got to the building she stopped and looked up in awe. From this close the building was massive, towering over her in all its glory, like a King on his throne. The architecture was a cross between Renaissance and Georgian and was absolutely stunning. Walking up the massive stairs she opened the doors and went inside. Immediately she was hit with a blast of warm air, the smell of pine, and marble. So much marble. It was everywhere, including the sweeping staircase that was in the center of the room. This was easily one of the most beautiful buildings she’d ever been in.
“Can I help you?”
“Oh!” Janie said with a start. “You scared the daylights out of me.”
“My apologies, ma’am, but you looked a bit lost.”
“No, just in awe. This building is absolutely stunning.”
“It is indeed, and it dates back to the 1800s. Nearly everything is original, except the back rooms where we had a fire a few decades ago, but they’re restored as near perfect replicas.”
“Was this always a City Hall then?”
“Oh heavens, no. It was originally the home of the Mayor, but as the years passed we changed it for practicality.”
“Well, it’s stunning, and I can’t wait to see the library.”
“Of course! It’s up the stairs and to the right, you can’t miss it. Enjoy.”
Janie walked up to the staircase and took a deep breath, staring up at the world she knew was waiting for her. Every moment she spent in this town was another that she knew staying was the right choice. Ascending the stairs she turned to the right and headed toward the large double doors that clearly marked the library. Opening the door and entering really was like walking into a whole new world. There were books in every possible location you could imagine. Floor to ceiling and wall to wall held shelf after shelf lined full of them. There were stacks placed on every other surface around as well. The only clear spots were in the corners where there were large, comfy looking chairs and fluffy pillows. There was no doubt that this could easily become her favorite place in this town.
Wandering around she began paging through books, reading covers and collecting quite the pile to borrow. She found one book particularly interesting and sat down in one of the chairs to flip through the pages.
“Oh, I found you! Thank goodness. Yooohooo! Earth to Janie!”
Janie looked up and blinked.
“Hey Denise. What’s wrong?”
“Honey, it’s near dinnertime and I had no idea where you were. I’ve been looking everywhere.”
“Dinnertime? That’s not possible.” Looking down she realized she’d nearly devoured the entire book in one sitting. “Wow. I guess I got hooked and lost track of time.”
“Well that’s quite alright. I have to warn you though, and I’ve been looking, but honey – “
Janie leaned over and tried to peer around Denise, dread filling her body. It wasn’t possible. Why would he? No, it couldn’t be. What could he possibly want with me at this point?
Standing behind Denise, dressed in one of his finest suits, looking like he owned the place was her old boss, Jack.
“What the hell.”