He was seated at a table, multiple pens at the ready. He didn't mind readings so much, but the book signings afterwards were always so draining. People wanted to share their stories with him, tell him how moved they were by his words. All he wanted to do was sit on his couch with a cold beer. Ah well, the lot of a published writer.
The usual suspects were qued up; middle aged ladies clutching a copy of his latest book. Some were reserved, some were down right vulgar in their demands. He always tried to smile and say something polite, but tonight it was warm in the store and his tie was tight and his throat was parched. That beer would taste so good right about now.
She stood out from the others, mostly because she was about twenty years younger than the rest, closer to his own age. She was pretty, he thought, in a gentle, non threatening way. She kept her eyes down on the stack of books in her hands. She must have been carrying at least five volumes; it looked like everything he'd written so far. He hoped she wasn't expecting him to sign all of them; he was very particular about what he signed. He didn't want to find his work on E-Bay, profiting someone else. He tried to make eye contact with her, but she kept staring at her feet.
Finally she was right in front of him. He looked up at her; she was quite lovely, with soft features, curly red hair. He smiled at her, and held out his hand for the first book.
"I usually only sign one volume per signing." His smile grew as their eyes finally met, his hand still held up expectantly.
"That's fine," she replied, her voice cool and low, "I'm not interested in an autograph. I'm returning them to you."
He stared at her, confused.
She looked at him, calm and collected,never raising her voice or giving in to emotion, as if she were rejecting a glass of wine, and not his life's blood.
"You should be. I'm returning these to you. You should be ashamed, calling yourself a writer. This is some of the most self indulgent and selfish writing I've ever read. I bought all these books, each time hoping to make some sort of connection with the author, and each time I finished one, I was left with the feeling that I'd just made love to a man who refused to take his pyjamas off during the act. You broke my heart."
She left the books on the table, turned and glided away. He watched her leave the store without so much as a glance back, his hand still up in the air in expectation.