In the Pages of a Book – Chapter 4
If you haven’t read any of In the Pages of a Book yet, you can start here with Chapter 1!
Trigger Warning: Topics of abuse
Chapter 4 – Janette’s Story
The man in the dark jacket was now hovering around the bookstore more boldly. The man was harassing the boy, Lucas, outside the shop. Janette had seen him many times, but even more so lately. With a sour taste in her mouth, she watched him try to convince the boy to hand him the book. She was just beginning to make her way over to them, gulping down her fear, when Lucas’s mother walked up and the man hurried off. Good.
Charles was meeting her soon so they could discuss their next steps. Charles had become a confidant and close friend over the last few weeks. He had been there for the last two customers who needed the book desperately, just like they both needed it at one point. Today, she would finally fill Charles in on who that man was, and why he was around so often now. After helping Lucas pick out a new book and he and his mother were on their way, Charles came through the door, the bell ringing comfortingly.
“Charles” she stated softly, “I am glad you’re here”. She let out a sigh as he approached.
“Janette!” He beamed at her, but upon getting closer and seeing her face, his expression softened. “What’s wrong?”
“I am just getting a little worried, that’s all,” She returned his original smile. “Lucas was just here though, and the book helped him just like we thought it would! He even picked out another book to read.”
“That is wonderful, I am thrilled to hear that, and even more thrilled to be a part of helping many others.” Charles smiled again, “This book was exactly what I needed in one of the darkest points of my life, reflecting on how it has helped me stay strong through this battle, I am imagining many other people getting the same help, and it brings me even more courage.”
Janette held the recently returned book close to her chest in a protective manner “That’s just it Charles, I want to help as many people as we can, but that man…” She trailed off for a moment in thought. “That man is starting to frighten me and become a problem. I know he is after the book. He even had the audacity to approach Lucas while he was alone.”
Charles nodded solemnly “He is getting more bold. What were to happen, do you think, if someone with the wrong intentions got ahold of the book?”
“That is my concern,” Janette responded “I am not certain, I have been very careful about who I let borrow the book, only if someone truly seems to have a good heart, and I know for a fact, this man does not. I am not sure if the book will help him with his deepest desires, whether vile or not.”
“There is also the chance he destroys the book, isn’t there?” Charles inquired.
“Oh yes, that is a very real possibility, and what I think is his intention. Even if the book shows him a story that would help change him into a better man, he may get infuriated and destroy it then too.” Janette’s eyebrows furrowed together in frustration.
Charles gently continued, “How do you know, if I may ask Janette, that he is a bad man?”
Janette took a deep breath. “I have been meaning to tell you, it fills me with fear and regret, but I think you should know what we’re up against.”
Janette returned home after a long day of preparing to open her new bookstore, her dream. She could hear the shower running and knew she had a moment of peace before Roy came out. She poured herself a glass of wine and pondered over the day’s events. A kind, frail old man came into the store today. She kindly told him that they were not yet open for business, but hoped to be soon. He waved dismissively and told her he had something for her.
Curious, Janette paused what she was doing and approached the men. He looked into her eyes for a long moment, then mumbled to himself something like yes yes, this is the right place. The old man handed her a book with shaking hands, it was leatherbound and clearly had seen better days. The old man suddenly looked younger, less weighted, after he handed the book over. There wasn’t much more to their exchange, except for the parting words from the man. “Please, take care of this book, it is magic.” Then he left without a trace.
Janette sipped more of her wine thinking. She left the book at the store, where it was safe. The book was puzzling to her, when she opened it and began reading it it was a tale of a woman in a horrible situation with a man, and how the woman was finding the courage to leave. How did this strange old man know her situation? Janette didn’t have time to finish reading it, yet, and she didn’t want Roy to see the book.
The shower cut off. Janette downed the rest of her wine, rinsed the glass, put it away, and began cooking dinner.
Roy stepped into the kitchen dripping wet with only a towel around his waist. Janette flinched instinctively, preparing for the onslaught.
“Dinner isn’t ready?” Roy said annoyed. “You know when I get home I shower and expect dinner to be ready.”
“You’re not even fully dressed yet, by the time you’re done it’ll be ready,” Janette said sternly.
“Are you talking back to me, woman?” Roy’s anger flared up as he stepped towards her. Janette felt the panic rise in her chest, her vision started to blur as her instincts took over.
“No, Roy, I am telling you it will be ready soon, okay?” She mustered up every ounce of strength to make her voice sound normal and hide the internal fear and panic.
Roy sighed and went into the bedroom to change. Janette rubbed her still-healing bruise on her shoulder as if telling her body it won’t get hurt again today. She avoided Roy as much as possible the rest of the night, by the time he ate, and downed a bottle of whiskey, he was fast asleep before Janette was even out of the shower.
The next day Janette spent the entire day at her store reading the rest of the book. The last few lines left her speechless, and ready to finally leave Roy.
“Do not judge yourself based on what others have done to you. Find yourself, find your courage, it is there. Treat yourself with love and respect, especially in the face of someone who is doing all they can to kill that part of you. When you have found that strength, that courage to leave for yourself, share that strength and your truth with others, that way they know they are not alone.”
To Janette’s astonishment, after soaking in the last words, the words disappeared and the pages were all blank.
I have to protect this book.
“After that, I left Roy, I got a restraining order that lasted for three years. But that three years is up, and he knows about the book’s powers.”
There was a fury in Charles’s eyes that Janette had not seen before, the rest of his demeanor was calm. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner it was him?” He asked gently.
“Truly, you have become a dear friend, Charles, and I did not wish to burden you.”
Charles light-heartedly chuckled at this “Burden me? Janette, I burdened you with my struggles the day we met, yet you are still here for me. The least I can do is help you now.”
Janette reached up and squeezed Charles’s arm, and soft tears welled in her eyes. “Thank you so much, you have no idea what that means to me.”
Charles returned the squeeze and pulled Janette in for a gentle hug.
“We’ll figure something out, I know we will. Have you called the police?” Charles asked.
“I have, quite a few times actually, but they told me since the restraining order is expired and he is not actively threatening anyone’s life there is nothing they can do.”
“That’s bullshit!” Charles exclaimed, “I mean, this is how it always goes until someone does get hurt.”
Janette nodded solemnly, Charles was right. “So, what do we do now?”
What did you think of Chapter 4? Are you enjoying this collaborative story? Let us know in the comments below! Keep reading with Chapter 5 here.
Thank you so much for reading!