Tales From the Bookshop (new story series!)

The neon sign hanging above the door read “First Avenue Books.” Corey looked in the window. The small shop was dimly lit and almost empty, but the displays of mismatched books caught her eye. She picked up the camera around her neck and took a few photos through the glass. A boy in a blue flannel shirt looked up, but then went back to sorting books.
A little silver bell on the door tinkled as Corey entered the shop. The walls and carpet seemed too modern for a used book store, and the shelves looked like the ones in Corey’s living room. As she approached one of the displays, she realized that the books were a mix of various historical fiction novels with shiny, new covers. She picked up one titled “An Orphan Boy,” and flipped it over to the back. The description seemed fairly typical of historical fiction: a boy who had lived his whole life in an orphanage was suddenly thrown into adult life, with no idea how to handle it. It was written by Katelyn Jones, an author that Corey had never heard of.
“You like that one?” Corey looked up to find the boy in blue flannel staring over her shoulder.
She shrugged. “It seems pretty cliche as far as historical fiction goes.”
“You only read the dust jacket,” the boy said. “Never judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes.”
Corey slid the book back onto the shelf. “I’m not much of a reader anyway,” she explained.
The boy’s brown eyes widened in surprise. “Then why are you in here?”
Corey pointed to her camera. “I’m a photographer. I thought your displays would make a good picture.”
“I can’t believe you don’t read,” the boy said. “How do you live?”
“Photos tell all the story I need.” Corey turned her camera on, and flipped it so the boy could see the back. He bent down to watch while she flipped through the pictures she had taken earlier. They were images of the busy city street: cars, neon signs, pedestrians with shopping bags. After a moment, he straightened back up.
“Photos don’t tell the whole story,” he stated. “A photograph is just a freeze frame!” He pulled his phone from his pocket to illustrate his point. Corey stared while he flipped through his camera roll.
“Here!” he said triumphantly, turning the screen so Corey could see the picture of a laughing girl with braids.
“Is she laughing because I told a joke or a story?” he asked. “Is she laughing at me?” Corey looked a little harder at the picture. The girl’s eyes were blue and crinkled at the corners, and she rested her elbows on the table. The picture was a little blurred, which made Corey frown. If there was one thing she hated, it was blurry cell phone pictures. The only thing she hated more was Snapchat.
“I don’t know,” she admitted.
“Right!” the boy said triumphantly. “Because there isn’t any context. If this were a book, you would know that I told her my friend’s dog was afraid of farts.”
“Oh,” Corey said. “Every photograph needs context, I suppose, but sometimes you don’t need the specifics.”
“Why not?” the boy demanded. “Nothing compares to the mental picture you get from a book! Nothing!”
Corey couldn’t think of another argument. She supposed that maybe she would take the book and they would both go their separate ways. She picked up her camera.
“Can I take your picture?” she asked the boy. He scowled and brushed his bangs out of his eyes. She started to lower the camera, but suddenly his expression lightened.
“Are you any good at photography?” he asked. Corey gave him an offended look.
“Of course!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t spend a thousand dollars on a camera to take blurry cell phone photos like yours!”
The boy frowned. “That was uncalled for. But I thought you might like to join my writers’ group. It meets tomorrow at one, and maybe I could convince you to read something.” He smiled.
Corey shrugged and turned to leave. “I already said I’m not a reader,” she said. “I doubt I’d be a good writer.” The boy grabbed her shoulder and turned her around.
“Hold on!” he protested. “You’ve got a choice here.” He grabbed the book off the shelf and shook it for emphasis. “You can go on with your boring photographer life, or--” He pushed the book into Corey’s hands. “Or you can become someone who matters.” He smiled encouragingly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Corey awkwardly accepted the book. She hadn’t agreed to anything! This boy would not take no for an answer.
“I’m Rose, by the way,” the boy added.
“I’m Corey,” Corey said. They shook hands. Rose went back to shelving books, and Corey walked away feeling as though she had made a contract with a demon. She was home before she realized that she had walked out with the book in her hand.

The next afternoon, Corey found herself in the back room of the book shop. She had intended to return the book that she had accidentally shoplifted, but instead, she passed the counter and headed to the back of the store. The shelves back here were a little dustier, and she stopped for a moment to inspect the books. She was surprised to find a dust-covered copy of The Hunger Games. She looked for a reading room, but the only door she found sported a sign reading “Employees ONLY!!” in blue marker. She pushed the door open tentatively.
Someone opened the door from the inside, yanking the knob out of her grasp. A tall man with dreadlocks and brown eyes looked down at her.
“Employees only,” he said. ”Can’t you read? You’re in a bookstore.”
“Uh,” Corey sputtered. The man’s scowl was quite intimidating. “Rose sent me?”
The man nodded. “Do you really want to be here? Or were you just lured in by his handsome charm?”
“I don’t know?” Corey asked. “I mean, uh, something about photographs?”
The man’s face softened. “You’re a photographer!” he exclaimed. Corey nodded.
“In that case,” he held out his hand, and Corey shook it. “Welcome to the First Avenue Author’s Group. I’m Michel.”
“Corey.” Michel stepped aside to let her walk in. Rose and an older woman sat at a folding table in the center of the room.
“Corey!” Rose exclaimed. “I knew you’d come around.”
Corey sighed. “I just wanted to return this,” she explained. She pulled the book out of her purse. The paperback cover was a little bent. She hoped they wouldn’t mind.
“Did you read it?” Rose looked so hopeful, and Corey hated to disappoint him. Then she reminded herself that she hadn’t wanted to buy the book in the first place. It wasn’t even her choice to take it. She shook her head. Rose’s face fell.
The woman cut in. “Rose, how many times have I told you not to give away my writing for free?” She reached for the book in Corey’s hand, which she happily gave up. “We’ll go out of business like that!”
“Sorry, Mom,” Rose mumbled. So the woman was Rose’s mother, and the author of the book. Corey wondered if she should lie and say she thought it sounded cool. She didn’t want to offend the writer, after all.
She settled on asking, “You wrote that?” The woman nodded.
“I’ve written seven books, actually,” she said. “That one’s the least popular, but it’s Rose’s favorite because I wrote it for him.” Rose blushed.
“That’s awesome!” Corey exclaimed. The most she had ever written was a short story for school, but she wasn’t particularly proud of it. It must be hard to write seven books.
“What genre do you write?” the woman asked her. “I’m partial to historical fiction myself.”
“Oh, I don’t write,” Corey explained.
Rose shrugged dramatically. “She’s a photographer. Supposedly they tell a better story.”
“Stop twisting my words!” Corey protested. “You are the single most frustrating person I’ve ever argued with.”
“Well, I am single, but I don’t know about the other stuff.” Rose winked.
“Are you flirting with me?” Corey shouted. “I am so done with you!”
“No reason to raise your voice,” Michel chided. Corey was already headed for the door. Rose grabbed her arm, and she yanked it out of his grip.
“At least take the book,” he begged. Corey sighed, snatched it from his hand, and slammed the door behind her. She was thankful the bookstore was empty. She stared at the book in her hand. She had half a mind to stick it back on the shelf, or better yet, throw it in the nearest garbage can. But maybe, since it was Rose’s favorite, she should read it. Even if he was the single most frustrating person she had ever met. Maybe there was a little fate involved.
She passed the trash can outside McDonalds, and tucked the book back into her purse. It would give her something to do this weekend.

To be continued...

I hope you enjoyed! Tell me your thoughts! The next part will be up next week, and it should update fairly frequently after that.
By the way, if you ship Corey and Rose, you can stop now. Things will be taking a different turn in the rest of the series. There will be romance, but not between them.


  1. The names are quite intriguing and, the setting is fantastic A BOOKSHOP LLI!!
    Bookshops are like my most favorite place in the world. awesome. I want to see where this is going.
    the tired writer

    1. Hopefully the setting will get more interesting. I have big things planned. ;)

  2. like I said....A BOOKSHOP!! Wow...big things I'm gonna explode with anticipation! :)
    but really, awesome.

  3. Nice! Can't wait for the next episode 😊

  4. I WANT MORE! Good thing I wasn't shipping Rose and Corey. Interesting name choices, by the way. Very Nice.


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