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chapter 1

First Down: LoveBY tombradylover | PUBLISHED 11/3/2013 | UPDATED 11/3/2013 | IT'S A WORK IN PROGRESS

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Sophie was helping the little girl pick out a book when the bell clanged again as a new customer walked in.

Sophie, who was kneeling to be at the girl’s height, quickly glanced up at the customer. It was a man; he had his back turned to her, looking at the bookshelf display in the corner by the entrance. Sophie distinguished his broad shoulders, and the dark blue baseball cap he was wearing.

“I like this one!”

Sophie returned her attention to the girl, who smiled at her with her choice, a pink journal that came with a set of pink pencils and erasers.

Sophie smiled. “Great choice. That’s a pretty pink, isn’t it?”

The little girl nodded in agreement. She looked up at her mom. “Can I get it?”

“Of, course.”

Sophie stood up. “Miranda can help you up front.”

Hearing her name, Miranda walked over and brought the two to the counter.

Sophie smiled to herself. She remembered when the decision of which notebook to buy was so very crucial. It still was, in a way. The design of the cover was important, as well as the line spaces on the pages. And let’s not forget if the pages were perforated or not.

Brushing off memories and her knees, Sophie walked up to the man, who was still at the same display. He was holding a book about unicorns and fairy dust. The small, pink book looked misplaced in his large hands, which, Sophie noticed, were rugged with use.

She smiled. “Can I help you with anything?”

The man turned toward her at the sound of her voice. He was, as far as Sophie could tell, only a few years older than her. Maybe two or three. He had a strong chest and muscular arms, which were covered by a gray shirt. His hat that she had noticed earlier, bearing the New England Patriots logo, hid his brown hair. His face, however, was clearly shown. He had deep blue eyes, and a little stubble across his face.

Sophie was taken aback by his good looks, but tried to hide it as the man started talking.

“Actually, yeah. It’s my niece’s birthday coming up, and she likes to read. So I thought I’d get her a book.”

Sophie nodded. She had to look up when she was talking to him; he was a few inches taller. “Okay, how old is she?”

“Six.”

“And what does she like to read? Anything specific?”

The man thought about her question, turning the book over in his hands as he thought.

“I know she’s into princesses; Disney things.”

Sophie’s heart swelled at the sound of that. She loved it when children, especially little girls, read Disney fairytales, getting lost in imagination.

“Well, over here,” Sophie said, gracing her hand to another book display, “we have a great selection of Disney Princess books.”

The man followed her over. Row upon row of books of every little girls’ dream filled the shelves. He picked up one, quickly glanced over it, then picked up another one.

Sophie could tell he was still lost. “Would you like help picking one out?”

The man laughed. He looked at Sophie. “Is it that easy to tell?”

Sophie smiled. “Just a little.”

Sophie reached across and picked out a book. It was about Rapunzel, one of her favorites.

“How about this one?”

The man looked it over. “Rapunzel, huh?”

“She’s my favorite princess.”

The man gave a small, friendly, smirk. “You still read Disney stories?”

Sophie didn’t flinch. “Yes, because I’m still looking for my happily ever after.”

The man didn’t respond right away to such an answer. He quickly glanced through the book to hide his surprise.

He closed the book. “Do you think,” he asked, after much thought, “that you’ll find it soon?”

She hesitated before answering him, but then nodded. “Yes,” said Sophie, giving a small, sad smile, “at least, I hope so.”

The man nodded. He held up the book. “Thanks, I think I‘ll get it.” He looked closely at her, slightly squinting his eyes. “You’re not from Boston, are you?”

Sophie blushed at his reading of her. “How‘d you know?”

“You don’t have an eastern accent.”

“No, I’m actually from Minnesota.”

“Oh, really? Why’d you come out here?”

Sophie pointed at his hat. “Because I love football, and I love the Patriots.”

The man gave a surprised look, but hid it quickly.

“You moved across the country so you could be closer to a football team?”

Sophie smiled big and nodded at the acquisition, laughing at the absurdity, because that was exactly correct.

He placed a hand in his pocket. “This sounds like a great story.”

“It is.”

“I’d love to hear it sometime.”

Sophie blushed. She fumbled on her words. “Then you’ll just have to stop by again.”

The man nodded, his face unreadable. “I think I will.”

Sophie gave him a small, polite smile, unsure of what to say. She nodded at the front counter. “If you’re all done, I can check you out.”

He nodded. “Alright.”

The two both walked to the front of the store. Sophie went behind the counter, where Miranda was filling out some inventory orders. Sophie gave her a look, which said, Look at this guy!

Miranda silently answered her with big eyes and a devious smile as she returned to her work.

Sophie managed to check out the man without any hiccups, thank goodness. She wrapped the book in tissue, then carefully placed it in a bag. She handed it over the counter.

“There you go,” she said with a smile.

The man returned the smile. “Thanks.” Sophie assumed he would immediately leave, because, you know, he was done shopping, but he didn’t. Instead, he leaned across the counter. “And, if you happened to be wondering, I’m Aaron, by the way.”

Sophie coyly smiled, resting her elbow across the counter. “I wasn’t, she said, “but thanks.” This actually meant, Yes, I was, and now I have both a name and face for when I’m dreaming about you.

The man (now Aaron, apparently) seemed to know this. “And yours, is?”

“Oh,” Sophie stood up straight, “I’m Sophie.”

Aaron smiled. “I’m serious about hearing your story, Sophie.”

Sophie smiled, too. “Then I hope you come back soon.”

Aaron nodded. “It was nice to meet you,” and he turned to walk out.

Sophie watched his back. “You, too.”

The minute he walked out, Miranda stood up.

“Look who’s making more than just friends.”

Sophie blushed and whipped around. She tried to downplay the situation. “We were just making conversation.”

“Yeah, right,” said Miranda, folding her arms, “Admit it, he was flirting with you.”

Sophie turned even more red. “No, he wasn’t,” she said, shaking her head in disagreement, “He was just…”

“Really interested in you?”

Sophie sighed. It was useless trying to argue with Miranda, stubborn as she could be. “Believe me, these kind of things don’t happen to me.”

“You mean finding love and happiness?”

Sophie sadly nodded. “But really, he’ll just forget about me and probably never come back.”

Miranda dropped her jaw in disbelief. “Hello! Did you see his body language just now? He was hanging onto every word you were saying!”

Sophie stomach twisted at the notion, secretly glad that she wasn’t the only one who saw it. But she kept this to herself.

She shrugged. “Yes, he seems nice and is good looking, but like I said, handsome guys like him just don’t go after plain girls like me.”

Sophie returned to her work, ending the conversation. Miranda just stood there.

“I guess so,” she said to herself.

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