Open Book: Part I
Summary: As the Assistant Librarian for a small town in Florida, you find yourself intrigued with an extraordinary little girl and her charming uncle. As each day goes by, you teach the girl about adventure and mystery with your love of books. Little do you know what's in store for you next.
Pairings: Y/N and Frank Adler
Rating: PG, all fluff
Word count: IDK, failed at the assignment 2k+ lol. So I split the fic.
Challenge Prompt: Write a story about someone trying to find the perfect birthday gift.
A/N: Happiest of birthdays dear @a-little-counter-esperanto. You are the bees knees and really a true gem! I'm so happy we've become friends - we have so many things in common it's cray. I'm wishing you all the love and happiness, sunshine! May you continue to have a fantastic birthday sleepover and enjoy being loved by all! Hope you enjoy the fic xx - Cherry
"Did you get the flowers?" Mary asked as she sat on the couch flipping through the tv.
Frank patted his chest and then his jeans in search of his keys.
Mary kept changing the channels without a beat,"Frank. You're supposed to buy a girl flowers on the date."
Frank furrowed his brow, "Uh...no. Have you seen my keys? Really?"
Mary rolled her eyes, "She's not gonna kiss you goodnight."
He searched on the kitchen table and rummaged through old mail when a knock at the door interrupted his concentration. As he bee-lined to the door, Mary turned off the tv and hopped off the couch to grab her latest book she'd chiseled her way through for the week.
Frank swung the door open abruptly and started you as you stood at their doorstep.
"Hey! You made it, great!" Frank exclaimed. "Sorry, my head's a mess."
Mary now situated herself at the kitchen table and shouted over her shoulder, "It's because he hasn't been on a real date in over six months."
Frank turned red," What? No...I mean yes, but jeez, Mary. Remember we talked about how to read a room?"
He turned back to you, "Come in, come in. I'm just trying to find my keys."
You chuckled and nodded to the doorknob which held his set of keys and he smacked his forehead.
As you walked into the house, you noticed little knickknacks here and there on shelves. And books. Mountains of books everywhere. Piling on top of each other.
"Hi Mary," you smiled as she kept her back to you, nose deep in her book.
"Mary…" Frank scolded as he put his hands on his hips.
"Hi, Ms. Y/N."
You smiled as you approached her, "May I sit?"
She nodded in agreement and you pulled out a chair.
"I brought you something…" you say as you rummage through your canvas bag for your book on crabs. "Well, actually I was hoping you could help me...see…"
Frank smiled as he saw the two of you bonding. He caught himself admiring you more than he'd like to admit as he needed to head off to his date soon. He appreciated your assistance with babysitting Mary as the two of you first met at the local library. His date, Justine, was a waitress at the bar he would visit from time to time. While there was a chemistry between them, it was really just through vanity. With you, he had come to know you at a deeper level: the way you’d squint or furrow your brow when reviewing your clipboard. Or how adorable you’d look chewing on the cap of your pen when trying to finalize an email at your desk. He saw that you loved the color yellow, considering how many skirts and cardigans you’d paired together. And that you were a romantic at heart - the classics were your fave to read and how’d you get lost in historical facts when he had first asked you what your hobbies were. Seeing how a beautiful person you were, inside and out, he now regretted asking Justine out with you on his mind.
Mary's eyes scanned the books of quantum physics and mathematics. At first you thought perhaps she had another book instead, but as you watched her day in and day out, you were astounded at the tiny prodigy and her ability to ascertain such knowledge at her age. You'd correct the cataloging errors for the day and find her reading for enjoyment it seemed.
Then one day Frank arrived. Mary had always left on her own, but as if it were any old regular day, the handsome uncle came to retrieve his stellar niece. He had a warmness to him. His dark brown hair and beard complemented his face, one that was obvious in an overall attractiveness. And he was kind, he showed that by adopting his niece after her mother had passed away and truly nurturing her gifted talent. You learned he fixed boats for a living and lived not too far from the library. You smiled at the odd pair together, they somehow seemed to work however.
As you checked their books out, Mary tiptoed over the large walnut desk and glanced at you.
"You're pretty," she stated.
"Mary. What did we say?" Frank tsked, embarrassed, but didn't disagree with her observation.
"What? Frank, you told me that I need to state facts, rather than assumptions. And I am stating a fact that Ms. Y/LN is pretty. Do you think she's pretty, Frank?"
Frank coughed into his fist and blushed, you smirked, half wanting to know his answer, half laughing inside of how Mary was so blunt.
"Yes, Ms. Y/LN is very pretty," he replied and gazed at your eyes. He licked his lips and you had to turn away feeling flushed. You closed the last book and placed it in Mary's backpack.
"All set," you replied. "These are due on the 23rd."
Frank zipped up the backpack and slung it over his broad shoulder. "Thanks, we'll see you tomorrow."
"Oh?" You replied as Mary looked at you both attempting to assess the flirtation occuring before her eyes.
"Well, yeah, she loves it here, I mean. And we have a few other books to return."
"Yes, we'll see you tomorrow. Bye, Mary."
"Bye," Mary replied and skipped off.
Frank showed up every day after that. You found it endearing, but not wanting to read into something that wasn't there, you focused your attention on Mary. That only seemed to peak his interest further. While he had a knack for attracting women, his heart was never in it for the long haul since the minute they found out about Mary, they'd either run away from the possible responsibility, or Mary would run them off herself. But with you it was different. You were genuine and kind to Mary. Knowing quite well of her mathematical abilities, you would challenge her in other areas: art, zoology, history. You found that while she could read more college level books than any person you met in the small town, she still was a child wanting to learn about all other aspects of life. You'd sit together at a table: you, reviewing inventory spreadsheets for the latest book fair and her, immersed in some book that would put you to sleep at night.
"Frank, you should ask Ms. Y/LN out," Mary stated one day as the three of you sat at a table together. Frank practically choked and you shook your head, secretly wanting to say yes.
"Aw, Mary. Well, I bet Ms. Y/LN has guys lined up at her door every night."
"No, she doesn't," Mary replied as she turned a page of her book. Frank laughed and placed his hand on Mary's shoulder, pretending to shake her.
"Well, actually Ms. Y/LN…" he said as your heart skipped a beat.
"Y/N," you interrupted. "You can call me Y/N. I feel we're on a first name basis now considering you're here everyday."
“Y/N,” he smiled. His hair was more combed today. You had noticed that he seemed to be disheveled when you first met him, however either Mary’s tactics were rubbing off on him, or it was your pure imagination.
“Yes?” you piped. You haven't been regularly dating lately. There just weren’t many prospects these days. Not ones that could keep up with conversation, let alone intellect. So instead, you found yourself immersed with your favorite fictional characters in the sea of books you’d grown to know and love.
His brow furrowed, he seemed nervous and he picked at the edge of a book as he attempted to gather his thoughts.
“Do you have a favorite book?” Mary interrupted as Frank turned to her, but seemingly glad she saved him from embarrassment.
“Do I have a favorite book? Hmmm...” you thought and a childish smile appeared on your face. “I have many favorite books, Mary...The Velveteen Rabbit, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe…”
“Yeah, but what’s like your most favorite book?”
You extended your hand out to her and she willingly accepted. Frank perked up his interest as he watched the two of you scamper off into the fiction area. Curious, he stood up and decided to follow. The two of you giggled quietly as you made your way around the columns, your free hand lightly ghosting over the spines of the books. The subtle scent of paper and dust permeated Frank’s sense of smell. He was more of an outdoorsy person nowadays as he had left behind his scholarly days teaching in Boston. It’s where Mary learned most from, his appetite to keep learning, vernacular, and wit . You slowed down and perused a row until you found your favorite book.
“Aha!” you exclaim and hid the book behind your back as Mary jumped up and down with excitement. “Now, I’m not sure if this is something you’d be interested in, it’s more for ten year olds in my opinion. However, I know you’re a very mature young lady and I find that you’d quite enjoy the story if you give it a chance.”
Frank smiled, perplexed as to what book could possibly be your favorite. You pulled the book from behind and showed Mary.
“Little Women,” she stated. “By Louisa May Alcott.”
“Yes. It’s a beautiful story, really. About sisters and the trials they endure during the American Civil War. There’s friendship, love, and growth.”
Mary bunched her nose, you could tell she was on the fence about whether she’d enjoy a story about fictional sisters and yucky love stuff. You started to pull it away, however she grabbed it from your hands. You laughed and looked at Frank who leaned onto the columns and folded his arms.
“Seems someone is wanting to expand their horizons,” he chuckled.
“So it seems,” you smiled back as Mary skipped off to return to the table leaving the two of you behind.
“I’m more of a Lord of the Rings man myself.”
“Really?” you responded playfully. “The Hobbit included, right?”
“Of course,” he scoffed. “I think I actually just read that one to be honest, I just wanted to impress you. I spent my time reading Calvin and Hobbes more, probably how Mary learned my sarcasm.”
You laugh and touch his forearm as a reflex, but quickly realize and pull away. The spark that you felt when you connected was undeniable. You felt butterflies with him standing next to you and you hoped he hadn’t noticed your inability to remain calm.
“Y/N…” he started to say nervously. “Would it be alright if I called ya? Maybe we can get together sometime?”
“Oh, umm,” you replied, caught off guard. While you definitely had caught feelings for the handsome man, you never would have thought it’d be reciprocated. You stuttered, trying to gather your response.
Your hesitation threw him off, and he quickly replied, “I mean...like to sit for Mary or whatever. She really likes you.”
“Of course...yes,” you reply defeated in hopes that he would have asked you out. Instead of asking why he didn’t, you started to walk back to Mary. Frank scrunched his face in frustration in knowing he missed his shot with you and blurted out the most platonic question instead. He realized as well and quickly shoved his hands into his jeans pockets and followed your lead.
Frank watched as you comfortably plopped yourself next to Mary on the couch, dreading that he had to meet up with Justine. He’d much rather relax on the couch with you and the rugrat, enjoying some silly kids movie together.
You peered over the couch, “Is it okay if she has popcorn?”
“What? Yes,” Mary said flatly and jumped off the couch to the kitchen.
“Okay, miss. But not too much sugar. Bedtime is still at 9,” Frank replied as you shrugged your shoulders.
“It’s the weekend, Frank,” Mary called out from the kitchen.
“Will you be late?” you asked.
He looked at you in surprise, “Um, no. Probably before ten?”
“Okay, have fun.”
“It’s Y/N’s birthday,” Mary replied, carrying two coke bottles and a bag of jelly beans.
You shook your head in regret of ever telling the child when your birthday was. She was so inquisitive that day, asking about all your favorites: food, animals, books, and now birthday.
“It’s your birthday?!” Frank asked.
“Yeah, no big deal.”
“How old are you?” Mary asked as she set the drinks on the coffee table and then remembered how Frank would scold her about leaving water rings. She grabbed the coasters and placed them under the bottles.
“Mary!” Frank detested and placed his hands on his hips.
“How old do you think I am?” You tease, waving off to Frank that it was okay.
“Older than Justine, that’s for sure. She said she was 24, but looks 34. But she acts like she's 12. She hasn't even read anything on quantum physics, she thought wave mechanics was something Frank was working on with a boat,” she said coolly and popped a few jelly beans into her mouth. She nestled herself back into the couch cushions and wiggled her feet.
“Mary Elizabeth!” Frank’s voice boomed as he entered the living room.
Mary leaned over to whisper to you, “Frank says I'm not supposed to correct older people. Nobody likes a smart-ass.”
“And a busy body,” he huffed.
You nodded and laughed quietly, entertained at his expense.
“Well I am 32,” you smiled and looked at your watch, “As of one hour ago as a matter of fact.”
“That’s good. You’re much more mature than Justine and a better fit for him. Happy Birthday.”
“Mary…that’s it. You’re on your last warning,” Frank bellowed. “Don’t make me let Y/N go home and then you’re stuck with me tonight.”
“What? No! Okay. I’m sorry,” she lamented and folded her arms.
Frank’s demeanor changed as he turned to you, “I hadn’t known it was your birthday. Don’t feel pressured to sit for her tonight if you have other plans.” Secretly he wanted to cancel on Justine and spend the night celebrating you instead.
“Oh it’s okay! It kind of appeared out of nowhere. I usually go back home and celebrate with friends and family, but my schedule didn’t permit it this year. Next year, perhaps.”
“What’s your favorite dessert?” Mary asked as she chewed on another handful of jelly beans.
“Red velvet cheesecake,” you smiled. “I have a sweet tooth.”
Frank couldn’t concentrate on his date with Justine. His mind was elsewhere. On you. Justine grazed her hand as they sat next to each other at the bar. He seemed unfazed by her gesture and looked at his watch, 9:14pm. Would it be too obvious if he cut the date short that he was into you? He coughed and took a swig of his beer.
“Do you wanna come back to my place?” She cooed and bit her lip in anticipation.
“What? Oh actually I was gonna head out. The sitter needed me home by 9:30,” he lied.
“Yeah, Mary. Remember? My niece?”
“That’s right. How old is she again?”
“Seven,” He said, annoyed. He recalled they had met once before. The bartender approached them and handed Frank the receipt.
“Hey, do you have any desserts on the menu?”
Justine’s ears perked in curiosity of where he was going with asking about dessert.
The bartender grunted slightly and threw a mangled tri-fold menu and Frank grabbed it quickly.
“Buddy, ring me up for the red velvet cupcake.”
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