Miss Marian was utterly flustered when she realized what she had done: her slap had missed its mark and knocked poor Tommy Djilas to the floor, Zaneeta falling too as she tried to catch him. They had scrambled to their feet in time to see Professor Hill jauntily escaping the havoc he had wreaked, but Tommy was holding his jaw and Zaneeta was looking up at him in pity.
"I'm so terribly sorry, Tommy!" Miss Marian stumbled out, still a-flutter from recent events. "Are you all right?"
"Oh, I'm fine," Tommy lied casually. He claimed it didn't hurt too much but his speech was stilted by his sore jaw. It wasn't quite enough to convince Miss Marian, but she had more librarian duties to attend to than ever before, with books strewn about the place and none of her usual work accomplished. She hurried down the spiral staircase as quickly as she could. What had so recently been a scene of absolute chaos was now quietly pretending nothing had happened. The patrons who remained in the library were silently reading at tables or perusing the stacks, pretending it had been a simply normal evening at the River City Public Library.
Upstairs, Zaneeta led Tommy back to the shelf where they were reading before.
"How are you really?" she whispered.
"My ear's ringin' and my jaw hurts something awful," he confessed, slurring his words a bit from the pain. He chuckled. "Promise me you'll never hit me like that."
"Of course I promise!" she said in wide-eyed earnest. "Why would I ever hit you?"
He shrugged, wiggling his stiff jaw.
"Should you see a doctor?" Zaneeta asked, putting a hand on his jaw. Tommy felt like a lovesick fool, but her touch really did make him feel better. Didn't he hear that in a song somewhere? Probably from the schoolboard as they roamed about town singing romantic tunes.
"I'll be alright if you stay with me," he flirted with a wink. It was then she knew that he really would be alright, and she reopened the book she had been reading over his shoulder, holding it out for them both to see. Tommy had picked it out, preferring nonfiction, and it was about Edison and his inventions. Zaneeta knew Tommy was fascinated by the workings of machines, and though it bored her to tears, she dutifully held out the book and turned the pages when his eyes reached the end of the line.
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