This post is part of one story lasting the whole challenge.
If you're just joining me, please start with A is for Abby.
H IS FOR HORROR
"You will stay at this table, read the books or whatever, but you will not bother me while I'm working." Abby hissed out the words, glaring down at Demetrius who only infuriated her further with his lazy smile. She grit her teeth and repeated, "Stay right here."
Abby turned and marched over to another table in the library where twin twelve-year-old girls sat. They whispered and giggled, stealing glances at Demetrius. They leaned on the table in unison as Abby sat down and took her texts out of her satchel.
"Is that your boyfriend, Miss White?" Amber asked. Her twin Violet added, "He's really cute." This set them giggling again.
"No. He's not my boyfriend. He's..." Abby searched for a proper cover story. "My cousin. Visiting from out of town." Her neck ached as she willed herself not to look in the fae's direction. She knew he heard that, knew he was grinning. She tapped the book in front of her. "Down to work, girls. Algebra today."
Abby spent the hour tutoring the girls, but her mind kept drifting. It was a good thing math came easily to her and that the twins weren't paying that much attention. She would've cancelled all her appointments, but she still needed to pay rent and, more importantly, tutoring let her communicate with the children. She would hear stories about kids having problems with nightmares or, a few of them already knew she could help them with monster problems and would pass notes to her through their friends. Other adults never believed them, but she did. Were there a few false calls? Yes. Lately, though, every one was real.
As they were collecting their things after the session, Demetrius sauntered over to the table. He grinned at the girls. "Hello girls. Did you enjoy your lesson with my lovely cousin?"
"It was good." Violet flushed and giggled.
"Though I bet you'd rather be reading those books of yours." Demetrius motioned to the books they currently held in their arms and sat on the edge of the table. Their math books were already stuffed in their knapsacks. "What are those about?"
"Oh, this is the new one by M.T. Burrows. Her stories are awesome scary." Amber gazed up at Demetrius with big dreamy eyes.
"I like a good horror story. Maybe I'll pick them up. Thanks for the recommendation." Demetrius made a small noise as he was pushed off the table and straightened up, still smirking.
"Go on, girls. Your mom is likely waiting for you out front." Abby shooed them off. The twins walked away, giggling and peeking over their shoulders at Demetrius. Abby frowned at him. "I told you not to talk to the kids."
"No harm done." He shrugged. Abby couldn't help but notice the t-shirt he was wearing stretched across his chest as if barely containing him. At least it wasn't as distracting as his tattoo.
"It's creepy. Did you actually do any research while you were sitting over there? I didn't see you open more than one book." Abby sighed and hooked her satchel over her shoulder.
"Not all knowledge of value can be found in books. Though it is books that I'm interested in. Especially those ones that the girls were reading. The Burrows books."
"They're just some silly stories. Fiction. Why? Do you like to read children's books?" Abby shook her head. She hoped he would be some help with her research, but she shouldn't have expected it from one of the wild fae. He likely never read a book in a life.
"No, but look." Demetrius put an arm over her shoulder and turned her in a slow circle. He spoke in a quiet voice near her ear. "I've been watching the children. Almost all of them have a copy of the book."
Abby scanned the library. There were a lot of kids since it was after school and just before dinner. What he said was true. It was a popular series.
"So?" She was very aware of his arm on her and the nearness of his mouth to her ear. It was difficult to think about books when she could just turn her head and press her lips to his.
No, no. None of that. She took a step away from him.
"I saw that book in the room last night. The gorilla room." He dipped his head to her, seemingly awaiting something. When she didn't reply immediately, he continued. "A scary book. Awesome scary. All the children are reading it. It's breeding the monsters."
Abby was about to protest, but then it clicked. She could have kicked herself for not seeing it sooner. It didn't take much to fuel a child's imagination. She had been going too deep, researching old folklore and history. She never saw what was there all along. She hadn't been thinking like a child. There were always horror stories and films. What was different about this one?
"Let's go buy a copy."