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The Book Cafe

Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.

I'm a 30 year old woman. Single, to the dismay of my parents, but not so ready to mingle! I own a Book Cafe which I look after myself during the day and work as a home tutor post lunch, because that's when all kids come back from school and it pays well too. I'm not from around here. My home, my parents and siblings are in a village about 3 hours away. So, someone always comes over during the weekend with some homemade eats my mother specifically makes for me. I do miss home but I love what I'm doing right now! Being in the village school wasn't so bad but I yearned to spread my wings and fly! I dreamt of doing something on my own someday. Well, I didn't know exactly what but I knew it would revolve around books! My love for reading and for books was well known in the village. The school staff was always encouraging me and students were inspired by my determination to make a mark in life. But I always felt that no one really understands me, my dreams, my aspirations... My parents were always worried about my getting too old to marry well and I wanted to marry when I was ready to. It was important for me that the person didn't misunderstand my determination for ambition or my self love for vanity. Getting married wasn't my priority, being myself ( no matter what!)was! Yes I was completely self made and confident. I was also a romantic at heart and believed the right person would walk into my life through the door of my Cafe. I honestly had no time to go looking for the perfect man! It seems like everyone around was more worried about my marriage than their own uninteresting lives! So, here I am in my Book Cafe which is my pride, my joy and my 'mark in life'! It's neither huge nor fancy, but it's my hard work. It's my blood, sweat and tears! It's my dream come true. It's my happy place! I'm glad I can help out my family financially because I'm doing much better than I expected to. When my friends were partying,dating or getting married, I was studying hard to be a librarian. No drinking binges or other addictions! I was only addicted to and attracted to books!!! I worked in many big and small libraries all over the city, so I had enough knowledge about books and about libraries. But I call it a 'cafe' because I do cater for some coffee, homemade cakes and cookies ( which I bake myself!)for the hungry. Reading is a dying habit and libraries don't attract crowds. I thought Book Cafe sounds more chic than a 'library' and I'm catering to those who just want to read books as well as serious or casual buyers. I'm not a book seller, I'm a connoisseur of the fine art of reading and that shows in every single detail of the interiors and the collection of rare books I possess. Today is a big day for me. A well known you-tuber wants to interview me because my Book Cafe has been recommended as one of the 'must visit' places of the city! I'm quite tech- savvy because it's a requirement nowadays. I'm active on social media and popular too, courtesy my regular clientele. I'm very happy and very nervous about the interview.... I just don't know what to expect. My Book Cafe is located close to most of the schools, colleges and posh residential areas. Clean, green and safe. I inherited the Cafe from the previous owner who I was working for and she was extremely grateful for my love for her precious library. When she passed away, she left her prized possession to me because I shared her love for books. She understood me. The cafe is actually a pretty little cottage with the big library facing the road and a small room with an attached bathroom and kitchenette at the back- good enough for me! It saves me unnecessary travel and rent! I stay here and work here! This is 'my space '! I made some inexpensive but noticeable changes to the interiors and added a coffee machine as well as some personalised accents which enhanced the effect. It was so ME- bold and subtle, quaint and trendy- all at the same time!

The bell chimed as the door opened and a boy walked in, looking around. "Good morning.May I help you? Are you looking for something in particular?," I asked with a smile. "Not something but someone. The owner. Can you please call her?," He sounded irritated and looked like a grumpy teenager forced to run an errand by his mother! "I'm the owner. Is there an issue? You want to return something or lodge a complaint about..." I was cut short by the boy as he looked at me and said," Really? You look too young!" "Well, does your mother know you're skipping school and roaming around? " I retorted, annoyed. "Actually I'm JK and I have come for the interview. Sorry about that. You look err.....different in your Facebook photos!," He said, aiming a radiant smile straight at me.(Did my heart just skip a beat!!) "Oh, please sit down. I expected a girl somehow... Older than you... You look like a high schooler!," I said, making a mental note to change my pics on FB. He sat down and arranged his stuff while I got him a glass of water. He sipped the water and said," I will take that as a compliment, thank you. But I'm 24 and self employed, just like you. I think you spoke to my assistant. She is definitely older than you! Shall we start?" He looked around and complimented me on the interiors saying it showed a lot of my personality and good taste. Apparently he had been here often when the previous owner was alive, so he noticed the changes. He took his time to ask me meaningful questions and to listen to me patiently as I rambled on about my family, village, school and college life, work, my dreams....Two hours just flew by. He had clicked photographs of me and the Cafe and also taken video shots as I showed him all around the Cafe. I was impressed with his knowledge about my precious collection of rare books. In fact he even offered to donate and add some books to the collection. He surprised me by brewing us both a cup of coffee each. Like all good things, this too came to an end. We exchanged numbers and he said he would let me know when my interview will be available online. He left. He left the Cafe but he entered straight into my heart. No, he's too young! I tried so hard but I couldn't help thinking about him. My mind replayed his entry this morning- exactly the way I imagined! Wearing jeans, tee and boots- just like every other boy his age would wear. A backpack on his shoulder and a mobile phone in his hand. Nothing extraordinary or different about him. Then what was it that made me notice him? Oh yes, those eyes! Beautiful, black, big, sparkling and full of innocence ! And that smile, like he was genuinely happy to see me! I tried to picture the rest of him. He was tall enough and looked very fit and agile. Honestly, never have I ever been interested in a man's physique, but he is different... I realised that this was the first time in all these years that I had actually noticed a boy and even thought about him. "Grow up, girl! Don't think about him too much. People will call you a cradle- snatcher!!"I mentally scolded myself as I looked at the time. I have about an hour to have lunch and leave to meet my new student. On the bus I glanced through the details of my new student. Sorry, students! Siblings- sisters actually 14 and 10 year old. Should be manageable, I thought as I got off the bus and walked towards the house. The address shows that they are quite rich and the cavalcade of cars parked inside the gate proved it! I stopped to admire the beautiful, expensive rides when the door of one car opened and I saw a familiar face. The face which I thought about all morning!

"Hi! What are you doing here?" He asked me. "I'm the home tutor for the two girls here. What about you? Are you working here too?" I replied. "No, I live here. You will be teaching my sisters." He said as we walked inside the huge mansion. I was totally mesmerised by the beautiful artwork on the walls and delicate showpieces on the centre table. Every corner, every piece of furniture screamed classy (and expensive too, no doubt)! " Very beautifully decorated house," I said to him. He mumbled a thank you and led me to the study where my students were waiting for me. The girls were pleasant and well behaved throughout the class. I was happy and satisfied that the day had gone so well! As I walked out of the house, I saw him again. " Let me walk you to the bus stop," he said. "It's okay, I'm used to being on my own," I replied. Of course he ignored my words and walked with me towards the bus stop. I thanked him and boarded the bus. That night, for the first time in years, I couldn't fall asleep on time. A day of many 'firsts'! I was dead tired and sleepy, but he was on my mind and in my dreams....Even in my dreams,I was telling myself not to think of him! I had a headache in the morning and red eyes. I was so drowsy that despite a cold shower and a hot cup of bitter coffee, I wasn't fully awake! " All because of you! All your fault!" I was talking loudly to myself as I unlocked the main door only to see him laughing hysterically! "Am I dreaming? I think I have gone crazy! You're done for, girl! " I still kept talking as the laughter got louder. " What's so funny?"I asked, annoyed as I turned towards the laughter. My eyes went wide and my jaw dropped. It WAS him! It was really him, laughing his head off! Oh God! It was him who heard all my nonsense just now!!! Oh no! I ran inside the Cafe and he followed. I covered my face, as I sat down on the floor, so he couldn't see how embarrassed I was. "Is it really because of me? Is it my fault?," He asked as he helped me to stand up. I could feel my blush creeping up my face as I looked up at his amused face. "No, it's all my fault.... I'm going crazy thinking about things I shouldn't.... Dreaming about something I can never have and wishing for the impossible to happen!" I sighed sadly. " And who said so? Your dreams, your wishes,your thoughts are your own....Don't fear them or run away from them! Own them!," He held my hands and my gaze as he spoke. " What if I say you aren't the only one feeling this way? What if I say I'm going crazy thinking about you? What if..." "But it's not right... I'm 6 years older than you... I'm sorry I couldn't help myself! It's the first time I have ever thought about anyone this way.... First time someone made me feel like this....I'm so confused," I cut him off mid sentence and freed my hands from his grasp. He stood there looking at me as I made some more coffee and said," Your interview will be online today at 10 am. Do watch it. I think you will see me in a new light. I see you and understand you like no one else does.... A feedback would be great! See ya!" He left. It was only 7 am. He really came all this way to tell me that?!! I had 3 hours to kill, so I looked up his you tube channel- wow! He's famous! And judging from the comments, people love and respect his work. In the next 3 hours I learnt , through various articles on the Net that this young man is considered a marketing genius. He took over and transformed his bankrupt family business into one of the most profitable ones today, which he looks after alongwith his cousins. Besides that he is into videography, photography and music. He is an avid reader and collects rare books. He loves cooking and is a fitness freak. Humble, down to earth and well mannered, unlike most rich brats, he is the most eligible bachelor around it seems. I'm impressed. My interview garnered an insanely high number of views and comments. He was right. He understood me in a way nobody did; my dreams and aspirations, how much the Book Cafe meant to me.... He made me feel valued and appreciated for being ME. Marketing genius indeed! I picked up the phone and dialled his number and said,"Thank you so much. You made an ordinary person like me feel like a star! Words can't express my gratitude enough. How do I thank you for this?" There was a pause before he spoke," I should thank you for giving me this chance, otherwise I'd have never met you! I only showed what I saw- a woman who believes in herself and her dreams, a woman who is proud to be herself and never tries to be someone else, a woman who made a cynical businessman like me believe in love at first sight! If it's alright I would like to cook lunch for you today, at my place. The driver is outside in the red Benz." I ran to the door and saw the car. He really thinks I'll show up just like that? Hell, yes! I will! I quickly got ready and sat in the car, ready for the ride of my life!

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