“Leather Bound Babes?”
He reads the title and laughs like a mad man, utterly unable to ignore the contorted figure on the cover. She just chuckles and pulls another book from the book store’s battered gunmetal grey shelves.
In that quiet back corner of the book store they were surrounded by bodice rippers and rippling bare chested cowboys. Titles with subtly obscene and obnoxious names surrounded them, and reminded them how many innuendos included the words “come” and the phrase “Doing the”. For all the joking and the laughing, they shared a mutual love of the romance section. Their gentle jabs and riffs arose from a place of pure affection, not petty scorn for a genre. Her life had been where the book had been her one constant companion in the face of scorn, and of course she read those silly titles to feel a love once deemed impossible for her to find. His love of the genre came from sneaking in his mother’s stack of books from the library or thrift store after he blew through his own. He read page after page not caring about it being “kissy kissy stuff”, as he told her.
“Sometimes I wonder if these male models have faces or anything else besides chests.”
She laughed. “What more do they need…well-” she whispered, “besides fourteen inch dicks?” They both chuckled and glanced around to make sure no wandering youngsters could hear them. “Apparently that’s all women want.”
“Is it true?” He teased.
“Oh god no, but it is a nice thought. Just…” she motioned towards the field of covers surrounding them from the front and flank. “very ultra common.”
“Well, it sort of suits the genre, no?” he said.
“The books aren’t bad. The covers often are, but that makes them more fun.” She picked a bright purple cover with a couple leaning against a ranch fence from the shelf. As she scimmed the pages she saw, from the corner of her eye, him watching her closely. “What’s on your mind?” As she spoke her eyes fell on the phrase ‘engorged rod’. For some reason that one always tripped her up and made her laugh. Something about it seemed so retro and so visceral and yet so not descriptive. She just found it…oddly hilarious.
“It’s cool that you’re cool with this,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“A lot of people would give me shit if they knew a big burly guy like me liked this stuff.” Sadly, she agreed that people would be so stupid.
“People are shitty, but you are perfect.” She leaned up on her tip toes and placed a soft kiss against his full and soft lips, which curled into a smile as they pulled away. She lived to see that smile.
Her boyfriend looked like a friendly neighborhood lumberjack with the beard and broadness to match. For the New Year, he’d begun working out regularly, pushing himself to the limit and then farther. The result was his natural broadness gained tone and got a bit broader, a bit harder, and he really looked like one of those men of the mountain. But he didn’t play any B.S games about what he should do as a man. He could fix a truck and then drive it to craft store, would be the first to suggest salad for dinner, and ,dare she say, he cried at the same points in movies she did. The night before they had watched Beaches. It was a mess and they ran out of kleenex. Actually, that was why they’d gone out and they decided on the way to get more books.
Like they didn’t have enough books.
“I’m not perfect,” he said as he turned to the covers. Dozens of chiseled bare chests stared back at him and his face knotted a little. She wrapped an arm around his own, a small comfort in the face of his own insecurities. He never wanted to be jacked, but she’d sense he’d been somewhat unhappy with his build. He didn’t lose a shit ton of weight, and replace it with lean muscle Chris Evans Captain America like muscle. He gained muscle and it just layered under his chubby bits. He wasn’t as fat as he thought he was. He had a bit of tummy, a nice butt(which she grabbed often), and the sort of meatiness she found comforting. Why didn’t he see it that way? His eyes absorbed those cover images with half covetous jealousy, and she pulled him closer. Through their winter pea coats she felt his warmth surround her and she nuzzled against him.
“Do you know what I like about you?” she asked.
“My charming wit and lackluster personality?”
She shook her head, then beamed up at him with all the love in her heart.
“You’re very real. You aren’t a ken doll. You have meat, and substance, and a unique feeling. I like you in my arms, and on my body and…in my body.” She watched his cheeks beam firetruck red, a better sign of how effective her words were than anything he could say. “Truthfully very few of these guys do it for me, but you…you’re real to me, for me, and your flaws are perfect.”
He couldn’t think of anything to say, and so he kissed her again, sealing his mouth to hers. In seconds a deep meaningful kiss descended into raw meaningful passion. They were consumed by each other, breathing in a moment in time that would never be exactly repeated. A quiet couple solidifying one part of their love surrounded by books that often subverted the cozier notions of love like reading together, shopping together, or simply not being those perfect people.
“Ahem?” A voice startled them.
The couple instantly parted, both flustered and feeling a tad exposed as a store clerk rounded the corner. As she struggled to say the socially appropriate thing he cleared his throat then said “Sorry, this seemed the best section for romance.”
“Well,” the clerk chuckled, “Romance is the section not lust.”
“Judging by the look of it, ” she said glancing around them. “Not exactly.”