The only sound in the lobby on that late Friday evening was the clicking of Gabrielle’s heels as she crossed the marble tile and a wish for a good weekend from the security guard, Derek, as she reached the revolving door. The intensity of the wave of heat that greeted Gabrielle as she exited the cold world of finance onto the streets of Chicago was stunning. The isolation of hours at the computer analyzing spreadsheets in ice-cold air conditioning quickly vanished in the heated noisy crowds of downtown.  To escape the oppressive heat, Gabrielle decided to seek refuge in her favorite book sanctuary, Words and Pictures Book Cellar. The bells jingled as the door opened and Gabrielle was greeted with an oasis of bookshelves and Blake’s cat, Hemingway, gracefully walking around the wine barrel to swish around her ankles. Gabrielle passed by the counter as the owner, Blake, was talking to another customer about his latest photographs and recent exhibit.  Their eyes briefly meet and a shot of electricity runs through Gabrielle’s body as she thinks about last night and she can tell by the smoldering look in Blake’s eye that he was also remembering the evening.  As Gabrielle slowly walks through the bookstore waiting for Blake to finish with his final customer of the day, she passes many shelves filled with old friends and possible new acquaintances.  As her fingers trail along the books she smiles at memories of evenings spent with her favorite detectives, traveling through history with historical biographies, seeing the world through travel literature narratives and many weekends spent with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the Lost Generation in Paris.  The basement of the store contains the used book section where new treasures, memories and rare books can be discovered.  Glancing inside several books she notices inscriptions to loved ones and wonders about the lives of the individuals who held these books. Gabrielle closes her eyes and can picture a lifetime of memories of books held with love.  Gabrielle’s mother awakened in her a love of books at a young age, and while she was growing up they enjoyed many nights curled up in blankets on the couch, with their cat Puccini between them, as they read their latest discoveries.  Gabrielle clearly remembers days at grandma’s house lying on the floor reading her mother’s Nancy Drew and Sue Barton Nurse books as her grandmother sat nearby with her favorite shawl wrapped around her shoulders, her glasses slipping on her nose and delicate hands holding her bible.  The memories keep coming and she can picture summer days spent sitting in the window seat at home with a book of letters from her mother’s collection and glancing outside to see Sophie and Benjamin laughing and yelling as they jumped into the lake from the swimming dock.  Gabrielle is caught by surprise when she realizes that all the memories swirling through her mind are of happiness, love and laughter after so many dark thoughts since Sophie’s death.  She wonders if these memories of happiness are finally breaking through the sadness because the pain and confusion since Sophie’s death is becoming manageable or if her new relationship with Blake has awakened something inside her that has been hidden behind a solid wall of detachment for years.  Gabrielle hears the last customer leaving the store and heads up front where she notices Blake’s newly framed photographs of the Chicago skyline.  For the longest time the thought of Sophie had brought on only a flood of tears, but looking at this photograph tonight there is only memories of laughter shared during Sophie and Max’s last visit to Chicago on their sailboat.  It had been a perfect day for sailing, transitioning from beautiful blue skies to a gorgeous sunset.  The day was filled with wine, relaxation and laughter and quickly erased the last few years of distant conversations.  By the end of that evening, Gabrielle remembers walking away from the marina thinking that was the happiest she had seen Sophie in years and maybe the new medication was making a difference.  Continuing to stare at the photos with a smile instead of tears, Gabrielle suddenly feels the heat from Blake as his arms encircle her and his lips caress her neck.  For a brief moment, Gabrielle’s green eyes glance again at Blake’s photographs wishing she had dropped her guard years ago so Sophie could have seen her happy during their time together.


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