I stare back at myself in the reflection of the window, tucking a stray thread out of sight.
This is the first job I've ever applied for, and it shows. I've managed to pull what appears to be a formal outfit from the depths of my closet, having struggled earlier to pull my thick hair into a tidy enough bun. Today could be the day I finally gain financial independence. No longer will I have to rely on anyone other than myself.
Through the window, I meet the silvery eyes of the shop's owner, who smiles warmly, motioning for me to come inside.
The bell jingles above me as I step inside, greeted by the scent of old books and lavender incense. My friend comes around the counter, tugging his apron off and he looks me over, noting my choice in formal-wear for this interview.
"You don't have to do this, you know," he reminds me, leaning against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. Leven and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, and as soon as I could, I worked at his family's bookstore. For so long I've owed him everything, and now I'm going to apply at a local mental institution in hopes to start a real career.
"Working for you is nice, but I need my own job," I remind him, watching him tilt his head, thick golden waves brushing against his brows.
"That's the thing, you don't," he comments, raising a light eyebrow. "I can look after you."
I narrow my eyes at him playfully, picking a random book off the shelf before flipping through it. I knew that stopping in here from the small apartment Lev and I share before heading off to my interview would be a mistake. Since last night when I announced it to him he has been trying to talk me out of it. If he had his way, I would be working at the bookstore forever.
"You're my friend, Lev. I'm not going to do that to you," I tell him firmly, falling back onto the plush couch that is a part of the designated reading area.
He joins me, knowing there aren't any customers in the store to watch on. "But I want to look after you. Working in a prison doesn't suit you."
"It's a care facility for people who have been through a lot more than you and me," I remind him. My research has proven that most of the patients there have magic related injuries that have rendered them unable to participate in our society here in the Harmony Pack. Here, society demands perfection, and if you're not close enough to that, you're thrown into a place like where I will now find myself working.
"If you don't get the job, the position is still open for you at my shop," Lev offers, that grin he offers me so characteristically him it warms me from the inside. I sometimes forget he has no officially inherited this store from his parents.
I used to have the biggest crush on Lev when we were younger, but once we came out of school and have been living together as friends, I've decided it needs to remain platonic.
"I appreciate you. I'll let you know how it goes," I promise, standing up to give him a hug before quickly pushing through the bookstore door, dodging customers as they breeze.
Lev casts one more look toward me. If he wanted to say anymore to me, he decides against it.