I starred at the cart of books I had left to shelf, I sighed and I checked my list for reference of where they were supposed to go. I had just placed my hands on the handle of the cart when the gentle whoosh of the front doors opening came from behind me. I glanced around; it was an odd time of day for somebody to be visiting the library. I saw a Black Dragonborn man step in, he wore a dark blue shirt with a light grey vest and a pair of black pants. His eyes were a bright green, they scanned the room before settling on me.
“Can I help you?” I said turning to face him.
“Hello, yes, I’m looking for everything you have on the Celestial language?” He said, glancing down at my name tag, “Ms. Euphemia?”
“Please, just call me Ephie, and sure right this way,” I said as I began to push the cart in that direction. I heard the gentle clicks of his clawed feet trying to catch up. He soon walked next to me, and I flicked my wrist.
“Watch out,” I said as dozens of ghostly hands reached into the cart and grabbed books and began shelving them.
“Whoa,” I heard him murmur, and then a moment later the scratching of pencil on paper. I glanced at him and saw him jotting something down in a notebook.
I guided him to a corner of the library where we kept our books on language.
I turned to him, “let me know if you need help finding anything.”
He nodded, and I saw him wander over to the shelves. Filtering through the books he seemed to be search of something specific.
I left him in his search and headed back to my work. I don’t know what compelled me to, but I circled back around to him about thirty minutes later. He had his head buried in a book and I looked him over. He was about two feet taller than me, so kind of short for a Dragonborn. He had shiny black scales and a bit of spike on his head. He glanced up at me and smiled.
“Hey what’s your name?” I asked.
“What?” He looked surprised.
“Your name, you know, what people call you instead of just saying ‘Hey you!’” I said sitting at the table across from him
“I know what a name is, Ephie,” he chuckled. “My name is Drolter.”
“Pleasure to meet you Drolter.”
“I guess since I plan to become a regular you knowing my name isn’t a bad thing.”
“I guess not,” I mused.
We ended up talking for almost two hours, he told me about his job and research, how he worked with a group who believed knowledge should be freely available to anyone. Gods that was music to my ears. When he eventually did have to leave he said he looked forward to coming back tomorrow. I smiled and waved him out.
Thus began our routine. I started getting all my work out the way before he arrived just so I would be able to talk to him when he arrived. I admit, I had developed a bit of a crush on him. He was just so smart, and funny without realizing it. I remember the first time he touched his hand, it was so unexpectedly soft on his palm, our hands reaching out for the same book. So, after a month of almost daily interactions, I found myself talking without thinking.
“Are you busy tonight?” I said, the words slipping out as he took notes on one of the books scattered on the table.
“No, I was just planning to go home and eat something. Why do you ask?” He glanced up at me, and I was his green eyes piqued with curiosity,
“I was wondering if you’d like to go out, with me, on a date?”
He looked surprised. Fuck.
“It’s totally fine if you say no, I shouldn’t have asked I’m sorry—“
“Ephie I’d love to,” he said reaching out a hand towards mine and squeezing it.
“Yes really, I like your company and I have developed a bit of a crush on you, but I was too afraid to ask you out. So, thank you for being the one to make the move.”
I laughed, the nerves washing off me.
“So, I’ll meet you outside at seven thirty?” I asked.
“It’s a date,” he said grinning. “I better get home and get ready, it’s nearly six.”
“Dress casual, I know this great restaurant nearby.”
“I can’t wait,” he grinned, and I saw his cute little fangs.
At seven thirty on the dot, I saw Drolter approach the front steps. He wore a casual blue button up, with a vest and jacket, along with a nice pair of slacks.
“You look nice Drolter,” I said as he approached.
“I look nice? Ephie you look incredible,” he said his eyes wide. “How did you have time to go home and change?”
“I didn’t I carry around a pocket dimension where I store some extra clothes and food and such,” I said brushing off my skirt. It was a deep burgundy that faded into a pale pink near my ankles. On top I wore a white blouse with puffy sleeves that went to my elbows, and a long cape like jacket decorated with floral designs.
“That’s really cool,” he said as we began walking towards the restaurant. “I have a portable hole that I use similarly!” He patted his breast pocket where I saw what looked to be a pocket square.
“I’d love to see it sometime,” I smiled looking up at him. We chatted casually as we made our way to the restaurant, when we got there we found a corner table and sat down.
“So, you’ve been here before?”
“Yeah, I found out about it when I started school. So, I’ve been coming her for about…8 years now?” I counted out the years I’d lived in Kama on my hand.
“Well then I trust your judgement,” he said grinning, those cute little fangs peeking out.
We approached the front entrance and the host sat us on the patio, after serving up some glasses of water the waitress left us be.
“So, tell me about something I don’t know,” I said as I sipped on my water.
“Well, I’m really good at reading people, seeing if they’re lying and how they feel about the people they’re talking about,” he said as he took a glance around the restaurant. “I’ll show you after we order.”
The waiter arrived a moment later and we placed our orders, immediately after he left I turned back to Drolter.
“Alright, show me,” I said a tad more excited than I’d expected to be.
“Let’s take a gander at them,” he glanced over at a couple of guys seemingly arguing.
“Now, not that I’m saying you aren’t a brilliant performer, but in dancing I have you beat,” the taller, Orc man chuckled. “Moves are my specialty.”
“You're always the one to have moves, I'll have you know I have moves too. I am a Bard," the smaller Triton man retorted.
“He’s lying,” Drolter said glancing back at me.
“He’s not a Bard?
“No, he’s a Bard. He just doesn’t have any moves.”
We listened to their conversation again.
“Ha! Good one, listen I’ll teach you some moves,” he took a swig of his drink. “If you go on another date with me.”
“Wait, you call this a date?”
“Seriously? You call yourself a Bard and you can’t even notice people seducing you?” The Orc man chuckled.
“I-…Bearson I swear to the gods. I’ll shove my bow up you’re a –”
“I think that’s enough listening in,” Drolter said drawing my attention back, chuckling. “Let’s try those two,” he glanced over at a pair of Dragonborns on a date.
“Toriko based on how you’re scarfing that down would lead me to believe this is your first meal today,” the Blue Dragonborn woman’s tone conveyed exasperation.
“Technically I’ve eaten,” the Gold Dragonborn sounded defensive.
“A handful of granolas-covered chocolate dipped banana’s is not nearly enough to sustain you Toriko,” she sighed.
“Lorally, my spark of joy, aren’t I eating now?” He groaned.
“Yes, and I’m going to cuddle you till you pass out when we get home.”
“That’s an adorable threat,” the man named Toriko said nuzzling himself against the woman.
“I’m very intimidating you know,” she said.
“Let’s um, leave them be,” Drolter was blushing now. “They’re very clearly deeply in love, but I think anyone could see that.”
“You’re right on that one,” I chuckled, my cheeks flushed. I glanced away, suddenly awkward. Our food arrived soon after that and we ate in silence for a few minutes. Every time I glanced at him I blushed again, and I caught glimpses of the green tint on his scales. I could still hear the couple nearby being affectionate, which spurred my awkwardness even further. They left before us, and I saw them holding hands.
I reached for the salt, and I realized his hand was on it just as mine touched his. We looked each other in the eyes, blue met green and crimson competed against emerald.
“You have very small hands,” Drolter finally said.
“Thanks, I’m a halfling.” Great, that was such a smart response.
A startled laugh came from Drolter, he took my hand away from the salt and held it. Our fingers interlocked, and I looked down at them.
“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed,” he said as took a bite from his meal with his free hand.
“So are you,” I said taking a sip of my drink. We finished our meals still clutching hands, his thumb stroking the top of my hand once we paid and left. We casually strolled down the street hands clutched, but soon we started to feel drops of rain and soon enough there was a downpour. We ducked into a little covered area, barely wide enough for the two of us.
“Want to wait it out here?” I asked, looking up at the sky.
“Probably best,” Drolter said sitting down. I took a seat next to him and we ended up shoulder to shoulder, our hands clutched between us.
I leaned my head on him, and I felt him tense for a second before relaxing once more.
“This has been, really nice,” I said glancing up at him.
“Yeah, it has,” he said smiling. He paused for a moment, “Can…can I kiss you?”
My face may as have steamed off the raindrops on it, “s-sure!”
His hand settled on my jaw, and I felt him tilt my chin up a bit. I looked into his eyes for a second before closing mine and kissing him. His mouth curved around mine like a missing puzzle piece. I felt his fangs pressing against my bottom lip, as his hand slid from my chin into my hair and gripping the back of my neck. I reached a handout tentatively and touched his arm.
The kiss didn’t last very long, but it was something I’d always remember. The rain chorusing behind us as his lips pressed against mine. I blinked slowly as we separated and looked into his eyes. We laughed, and he pulled me into a hug, our foreheads pressing together.
“You’re really something Ephie,” Drolter grinned as he looked me in the eye.
“I aim to please,” I chuckled.
“Do you want to come back to my place and we can have some coffee or tea?”
“I’d love that,” I said as he stood up, extending a hand to help me up. I brushed off my skirt as he pulled off his jacket so we could use it as a makeshift umbrella. We giggled like maniacs as we ran through the street, Drolter leading us as we made our way to his apartment.
Once inside, I saw it was cozy. Most of the furniture was made of plush blues and browns, with the odd silver or green accent. A large bookshelf lined with volumes of books, a desk with pages of writing and an open book I recognized as being from my library.
“Your place is really nice,” I said as Drolter headed for the kitchen.
“Thanks, I get a decent wage from my work, so I figured I should at least be comfortable when I’m home.”
A few minutes later I heard a clatter of cups, and he brought out some coffee for us. We settled on the couch and drank our coffee in comfortable silence. As I drained my cup I glanced over at him, he quickly glanced away as he blushed.
“We can kiss again if you want,” I said as I placed my cup back down on the coffee table. He seemed startled, green blush, greener eyes wide, and frozen. “You know I worry I’ve given you a fever with how much you have been blushing tonight.”
“You’re one to talk,” he finally said. I glanced down embarrassed at being called out, I stood up. “Wait, Ephie I-“
I stood in front of him, leaned in, and kissed him again. I placed a knee on the couch between his legs as his arms embraced me. This kiss was a bit longer than the first, and I felt him open his mouth just a smidge. Slowly I felt my mouth go numb, and I pulled away.
“Everything okay?” He asked as I pulled away.
“Mah Tumg es Num,” I said as I tried to get the words out.
“What did you say? Your tongue is—” A look of realization dawned on him. “Gods I’m so sorry, I got a little heated and some my mouth secreted some acid. It’ll wear off soon I promise. I usually can control that, guess I got distracted though—”
I chuckled; it sounded a little odd.
We ended up cuddling for a good portion of the night, and I just ended up sleeping over on the couch. We agreed that we weren’t ready to share a bed, and as I laid curled up on the couch I smiled. Drifting off with my heart fluttering.