It is because of both of these facts that her assistant Kazit spent some time each week attending to correspondence from his contacts in rare books and publications. (He never told her he what he was doing, or that he charged it as overhead on his timecard.)
Boss Mida's office was sparsely decorated, but Kazit knew that in her home she had, hidden behind a frankly alarming display of taxidermied bears, an impressive collection of steamy romance novels. He had first become aware of her hobby when Passionate Azeroth began arriving monthly at the office, followed soon by Goblins and Gears in Fiction. A closer peek at the bookshelf had revealed titles like Outlandser, Emerald Dream Man, Hyjal's Mountain, Silverleaf from the Maelstrom, and seemingly everything ever published by Julix Sparkwood. Many of the volumes came with dust jackets printed with fanciful images of shirtless men, orcs, and even gnomes gallivanting on sunset beaches with swooning women, trolls, and dwarves.
For the most part, Mida didn't need help acquiring books. She had the means to maintain a personal library, and her periodicals kept her up to date on current publications. Her biggest vice was collecting the extremely limited edition works of an author known only as M. J. Robb. Mida had confessed to Kazit that her greatest dream was to own a complete collection of the author's works, and so Kazit had gone quietly to work.
No one seemed to know much about the mysterious author beyond the neatly handwritten manuscripts that she or he would send to the publisher once or twice a year. Popular consensus said Robb was human, likely located in Elwynn Forest or Redridge. By funding limitations or by design, Robb's works were printed sparingly and hard to find new. However, Kazit was nothing if not determined, and he managed to scare up used copies of Big Brass Bombs, Blue Moon, Forbidden Love, and Northern Exposure in Common and Orcish. He even found a special edition printing of Big Brass Bombs in Gnomish, which Mida had actually framed and hung above her headboard.
When Kazit received the hastily-written note announcing a new novel from a goblin correspondent in Theramore, he simply put the requested amount of gold in a pouch, mailed it off, and marked the release date with a star on his calendar.
Now the book, wrapped in innocuous brown paper and without even so much as a mailing address, was waiting patiently for Mida on her desk. She breezed in at her usual time, half-drunk cup of coffee in one hand and handful of reports in the other, and passed Kazit with her typical cheerful hello. Kazit smiled slightly to himself as he heard his boss put down her papers and unwrap the package. There was an audible intake of breath, and he imagined her running her fingers over the pristine cover, the glossy lettering Shatter My Heart embossed over a full moon.
There was the rustle as she reverently thumbed through the pages, appreciating the heft of the book, and Kazit allowed himself to recall the passage he had read when, in a fit of curiosity, he had cracked open the book before re-wrapping it.
Hesitantly, Marcus followed his guide into the basement. The air smelled dry and musty, and dust swirled lazily at their feet. Although Marcus peered in vain into the gloom beyond the circle of firelight, Sophia appeared to see just fine in the dark.
At the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and turned to face him without a word.
"Shouldn't we be hurrying, in case there are still worgen about in these old houses?" he asked.
Sophia pursed her plump, juicy lips and quirked her head. "Are you really worried about that at moment like this?" Her hand closed over his on the torch, slender fingers warming his wrist before pulling the shaft from his grip. She moved to hang the torch in a nearby sconce, and Marcus saw her wicked grin.
"My, what big teeth you have..."The book shut with a click, and Mida leaned out of her office. Kazit looked placidly at her, as if he had nothing to do with the appearance of the book.
"Cancel my appointments for the day. And," she grinned knowingly, "take the rest of the day for yourself."
This post has been brought to you by Big Bear Butt's writing challenge, in which he tasked writers with creating a short story using the following words: juicy, slender, vain, shaft, torch, star, hidden. (Find all seven!) Check out his roundup post here for more responses!