deceptive fragrance of betrayal (michiyo & cada)

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    • deceptive fragrance of betrayal (michiyo & cada)

      Click here for the presentation of our characters... Deceptive Fragrance of Betrayal [Cada & Michiyo] - Vorstellung - ღAnime-Rpg-Cityღ
      ----

      It was an extraordinary cold evening that very day, chilled wind moved across the country. Spring waved it´s goodbyes but not without making a final impression. Warmer days were yet to come, and still... Gemma experienced warmer weather over the last few years, especially in May. Nevertheless she opened the shop door for one of her most loyal customers and felt the cold breeze lingering on her palms. "Thank you for your purchase, Miss Salvatoni... I really hope those Hyacinths will brighten up your garden once again this year...", she smiled down at the old lady, owner of those wise grey eyes and tucked one single strand of her dark hair behind her left ear. "Mia bellissima Gemma... they are simply perfect... those vibrant blue colours will be outstanding, I am sure about that! Like Lily always used to say... the beauty of life and everything it gives us, still is in the eye of the beholder... Gracie Mille my love and rest up.", with those clever words, Miss Salvatoni descended the stairs, gifted Gemma a broad grin in her wrinkly face and headed home... well, as fast as she could, obviously. The young lady giggled in silence and watched the old friend of her grams strut away, the bulbs of the flowers overgrowing her grey haired head. Maria Salvatoni... an 87 year old, rustic italian Lady, widowed but still fun-loving. She and her Grandmother shared a similar destiny after the war... both of their husbands died in the war and left the two women alone... Elizabeth often told Gemma the story about how they met... and still, Gemma didn´t quite understand why Miss Salvatoni never joined the shop and be a co-owner of it. Maybe it was because of the fact, that Maria preferred the flowers to be a kind of art... and not something you would earn your money with. But well... It is what it is... she shrugged her shoulders and finally closed the door with that ringing sound of the little bell above it. One, two, three times, she turned the key inside of its hole and let a little sight escape her mouth. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, turned around and reached for her waterbottle, that remained quite untouched over the day. With greedy gulps, she nearly emptied the whole bottle. Gemma sighed again. She clearly could need somebody that reminded her to drink, otherwise she forgot about it all the time. An infuriated growl down from her stomach smacked her like a bad omen in the face... like, did she even care about herself? Remorseful her weary eyes glanced at the bagle topped with creme cheese, who, offended, had taken a seat on a small plate between the seeds around noon. She might have taken two bites and than ignored it completely and now some flies got the best out of it. The blue eyed woman threw her head back and placed her crossed forearms over her face. By times, this business really eats her up half alive.

      Turning her back on the day, Gemma was about to turn off the lights on the ground floor and to go upstairs on the spiral staircase, as her mobile phone made an pleasant little chirping noise. Surprised the brown haired woman reached into her pocket and saw a notification from her best friend Anna, which she opened instantly...

      "Hey Gems! Would you like to grab dinner together in about an hour at Toni´s? I haven´t seen you in forever and I have some gossip to talk to you about! :-)))"
      Intrigued Gemma typed her answer...
      "Annabananna fefifananna the first! I would looove to go out, but the shop kept me busy the whole day. I am sweaty and grumpy and an imposition for humanity."
      ... ...
      "Oh COME ON! Take a quick shower, glam yourself up a bit and MEET ME! I miss you dumbass... also stop calling me that stupid name!"
      ... ...
      "Ugh... fine, I´ll hurry. Get me a glass of Merlot when you arrive before me. See you there!"
      ... ...
      "Yeeesss... I am all hyped! See ya!"...

      Gemma let out a deep groan... it´s true... she hasn´t seen Anna in about 2 Months... she was busy as a Lawyer and relatively rare to find in town. Her life now centered in the main city, about an hour away... but something has to be going on, so that Anna is in town... maybe a birthday or somethin. Without any hesitation, Gemma headed upstairs, took a quick but refreshing shower, blow dried her long silky hair, threw herself in an elegant dark green onesie, put on some slippers, packed her purse and off she went. Toni´s was a little but excellent italian restaurant. Funnily enough, the owner was the grandson of Mrs. Salvatoni and tried to bring some of that mediterranean flair of the european country in the small town. With fast steps Gemma pushed her tired body down the cobblestone road until she found Anna waving at her, outside beneath the street, looking gorgeous as ever. Her long, golden hair shimmered in the small lights from the candle at their table and the damp lightbulbs from the fairy lights. In her left hand she already was holding a glass of white wine, a fine Muskateller, if Gemma was right. "I am sorry, I tried my best to be punctual...", with hesitation in her voice, the young lady let herself fall down into the wooden chair and looked at the blonde apologetically. "Oh it´s alright! I already orderd some mussels for us..." - "What... you know I don´t like them... why would you do this to me..." - "Just a little lesson for being indecisive...", Anna nipped at her white wine and her lips formed a grin. "Got you.", she snickered and left Gemma shook, until the waiter came with her glass of Merlot and two meal cards. "Yeah, you got me again...", she grimaced over that bad joke and then opened the card. While she was scanning the meals for something appealing, some lost words came over her lips: "What´s the gossip you wanted to talk to me about?" With her eyes glimmering of curiosity she fixed Anna, who looked like she had already chosen a meal. Her face brightened up. "Well... just don´t freak out okay... You know about me having all the informations due to my work and my connections to the government and blah blah blah... So... I heard some rumours about an unknown young man, who wants to settle with his small business here... and now guess, what he´s about to do...", she left it a secret and her grin even widened. Snubbed Gemma shook her head slightly and got irritated. "I... I don´t know..." - "Then guess!" - "Anna, I don´t have the patience for your plays ..." - "Maaaan, alright... he-!", the waiter came and interrupted her little chit chat. "Have you already chosen your meal?", he pulled out a little white block and a pen. "Yes, I would like to have the Pizza Tonno, but without the onions, if that´s possible." - "Si si. And for you, Madame?" - "I´ll have the Brodetto, with a side of garlic bread, prego." - "Con piacere!", the black haired waiter took the meal cards and rushed away. "So, what´s this guy´s plans? What´s he about to do?", as soon as the young man was out of sight, Gemma couldn´t resist and asked again. "He will open up another Floristic. Isn´t that awesome? Maybe you guys could cooperate and you know... "cooperate"...", with a dirty laugh Anna grabbed her glass again and took a sip. But Gemmas stomach threw a tantrum. He... what? "Ah.. ahaha... very funny...", with an artificial laugh she tried not to let it be known that pure panic rose in her. There already was a Floristic... it was her.

      ---
      @Michiyo

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


    • “You thought that you were the boss tonight, but I can put up one good fight. I flip the script like I can, take a beating and when you start to feel the rush, a crimson headache, aching blush and you surrender to the touch, you’ll know - I can put on a show. Don’t you see what you’re finding? This is heaven in hiding.” [Halsey - Heaven in Hiding]

      As the early morning light streamed through the windows of Jardin Caché, Alaric Montague surveyed his domain with a satisfied grin. His fingers traced over the polished counter, lingering on the edges of rustic wooden crates filled to the brim with vibrant blooms. The intoxicating scent of roses and lilies permeated the air, mingling with the earthy aroma of fresh greenery. Rows of vases adorned the walls, their porcelain surfaces glistening under the soft light. Each one cradled a bouquet more magnificent than the last, a testament to countless hours of meticulous labor. It was an Eden of his own making, a garden tucked away from the world, teeming with life and color.
      Moving towards the back of the shop, Alaric checked the garden. His hand lovingly brushed over the petals. He had put so much work into his little getaway. A secret hidden behind vibrant color. The shop was ready, filled with blossoms waiting to brighten someone's day. Today marked the beginning of a new chapter. But for Alaric, it was more than just a grand opening. It was the start of a delicate dance of deception, a carefully laid plan behind the charm of Jardin Caché. Taking his place behind the counter, Alaric cast one last look over his shop. His eyes took in the rainbow of flowers, the neat rows of potted plants. Everything was in place, the stage was set. Lights. Camera. Action! With a deep breath, Alaric reached for the sign by the door and flipped it to 'Open'. The charming florist was ready to greet the unsuspecting townsfolk with a warm smile and a glamorous bouquet. Yet behind the enticing facade of Jardin Caché, the gears of a more intricate operation had just started to turn. The game of hide and seek had begun. As the first customer walked in, Alaric’s eyes flickered momentarily to a hidden panel in the back wall. It was cleverly disguised as part of the décor, a safe hidden in plain sight that held ledgers filled with figures and transactions that had nothing to do with the sale of flowers.
      While waiting for his first real customer to arrive, he hoped for his special gesture to introduce himself to the town to bear fruits. Beautifully printed notes, each pinned to a single stem of a stunning Lathyrus Odoratus, more commonly known as a Sweet Pea, were prepared to be sent out. These blossoms, with their delicate petals in hues of purples and pinks, were perfect for the month of May, their intoxicating fragrance a testament to the onset of spring. The notes read: "Welcome to Jardin Caché. We look forward to brightening your day!" However, there was one delivery that held particular importance. For this special package, Alaric selected a stunning, rare bloom, an Angelique Tulip with its soft blush pink petals that curled delicately at the edges. It was unique, striking, and elegant, just like its recipient. He penned a personal note, his handwriting fluid and graceful: "To Gemma McArthur, looking forward to blooming in your neighborhood. - Alaric Montague." His message to Gemma was a warm yet challenging declaration that he was here to stay, setting the stage for their rivalry.
      A heart's a heavy burden.

    • It was a gruesome morning the brownhaired lady experienced. The rendez-vous with Anna lasted longer than she expected. Her conversations went deeper than imagined. And the night took over time and sent her home far too late. In the end she drank more than her body was capable of and woke up to a piercing pain in her head, reinforced by a nervewrecking beeping noise. "Mmmmh...", murmuring she crawled peeking out from under her blanket, her hand reached over to the little white nightstand, fumbling for her mobile phone. She must have forgotten to turn off her alarm clock, which always goes off at the same time, around at 7:30 in the morning. With some tip taps on the screen Gemma managed to turn that little stupid tone off and tried to wrap herself up again, but the striking head pain and an urgent need to see the restroom executed her will and so she found herself up on both legs, rather unsteady than safe, stumbling out of her bedroom right into her bathroom. Once she got there her mind cleared up, so the blue eyed beauty followed her morning routine... she took a pretty cold shower to shake of the demons of last night, brushed her teeth rather unmotivated and tied her wet hair up, just to strut into her small kitchen. There Gemma longed for three glasses of cold water and one glass full of orange juice... it was her to-go recipe to banish her filthy hangover, even tough her tired, bloodshot eyes said otherwise. "Man what a night...", shaking her head she emptied the glass and prepared her mocha for a cup of fresh coffee. As the water boiled up in the little reservoir, Gemma opened the doors to her little balcony, where the dew of the passing night lingered on the white lacquered railing. Even up here, too, the splendour of the flowers did not stop and testified to her grandmothe´s love for her profession. Small trumpet flowers, clematis and ivy had strayed up here. Perhaps the wind carried them here, or Lily deliberately planted her in the grooves of the eaves, so as not to be separated from the splendor of flowers that she loved so much. The young lady took a deep breath of the fresh morning air and let yesterday evening pass her by again. Anna found her way back into hear head, with that... worrying news. A new Floristic in this small tows... someone else wouldn't have made a big drama out of it, but with Gemma, her whole purpose in life, her existence, her raison d'être was at stake. It's not as if there was a lot of competition here in suburban life and now to be razed to the ground so easily was like a confession of the dead. A deep sight came over her rosy lips, as Gemma heard that gurgling sound from her mocha pot. She hurdeled inside, took the little machine of the hotplate and poured herself a cup of the soothing drink. She was about to go back to her little balcony, when the doorbell was ringing all of a sudden. Confused by the fact that mail was probably also delivered on Saturday, she put the cup aside and hurried to the ground floor. She couldn't remember placing an order or expecting anything via express delivery, so this had to be an private operator. But when she reached the door, the so called post man was gone and she found herself picking up a little envelope, decorated with a Angelique Tulip. "Huh... what´s this? Hello!?", intrigued she stepped outside to find the bearer of the letter but Gemma found an empty street. "Some kind of bad joke maybe...", the eyebrows contorted thoughtfully her fingers opened the envelope carefully. More like that, she was surprised to find a little card inside. She became more and more curious... whoever was the sender of this ominous letter, he had her attention. Her eyes widened in disbelieve, as Gemma found out, who was behind the message, holding the bulb of the precious flower in her hand.

      "To Gemma McArthur, looking forward to blooming in your neighborhood. - Alaric Montague."
      Gemma had a hard time, not to crush the delicate little plant in her hand, which began to twich uncontrollably. The shock was written on her face, while her gaze was fixed on the name of her appointed adversary. Not only did he have the audacity to introduce himself to her about such a manner and whiteness, but this statement was basically a declaration of war. Her mind boiled, and again she raised her head to look around and perhaps recognize a face behind a corner of the house, a figure that she could blame for this charade.

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


      Dieser Beitrag wurde bereits 4 mal editiert, zuletzt von cada ()

    • The morning at Jardin Caché started with a rush. The locals, having received Alaric's charming token of introduction, were eager to see the new florist in town. He had been greeted with an enthusiastic response. The tinkling bell above the door announced their entrance as they flooded in, their eyes wide with awe at the sea of color that greeted them. Laughter and friendly chatter filled the shop as Alaric bustled around, his hands full with vibrant blooms and his heart buoyed by the promising start. It was exactly the kind of cover Alaric needed – the more successful the front, the more he could do behind the scenes. Meanwhile, curiosity tugged at him, a silent whisper he could no longer ignore. Alaric knew he needed to see what he was up against. Slipping a 'Back in 15 Minutes' sign on his door, he took a moment to brush off any petals that had clung to his shirt before stepping into the warm sunshine.
      Down the street, nestled between a bakery and a boutique, lay Gemma McArthur's flower shop. From the outside, it exuded a sense of homely charm, with hanging baskets of geraniums swaying gently in the breeze and the soft fragrance of fresh flowers wafting out from the open door. Unlike the modern flair of Jardin Caché, Gemma's shop had an old-world charm to it. Walking in, Alaric adopted the guise of a traveler, just passing through town. The shop was smaller than Jardin Caché but had a certain coziness to it. Every nook was filled with carefully arranged blooms, and the air was heavy with a mix of floral scents. Behind the counter, a woman with radiant charisma and sparkling eyes worked meticulously on an intricate arrangement. There was a calm serenity to her, a peace that was contagious regardless of the tired blue under her eyes. As she looked up to greet him, Alaric realized he must be facing Gemma. Her fingers moved with a practiced ease, weaving together stems and blooms into a masterpiece. Noticing a new customer, her warm smile welcomed him. Although her eyes never really left the bouquet she was arranging. Alaric admired the single-minded dedication, the quiet passion she exhibited.
      “You have quite a variety of flowers." His heart pounded in a rhythm that was both thrilling and terrifying. His competition was strong, passionate, and talented. Yet, instead of discouraging him, this realization only fueled Alaric's resolve. "Your shop caught my eye. Can’t pass a gem without admiring its beauty” His smile grew as he reached out for a single flower, yet looking her dead in the eye as he purred his flirtatious accented words.He strolled through the shop, taking his time to admire the different flowers, asking occasional questions about certain exotic varieties, and throwing glances towards Gemma. There was a captivating rhythm in her movements, a pure joy that reflected her love for her work. The visit was proving more informative than he had expected. After lingering in Gemma's shop for a while, Alaric found himself drawn to the counter where she worked. A particular arrangement of tiger lilies and peonies had caught his eye. He took a moment to appreciate the artistry, the way the vibrant orange of the lilies played against the soft blush of the peonies. Slowly, almost absent-mindedly, he moved closer. The fragrance of the flowers was stronger here, mixed with the scent of fresh greenery. Leaning forward, he placed his palms flat on the counter, the cool surface grounding him. Alaric pointed towards the lilies and peonies. "Could you make a bouquet with these?" He asked. His voice was calm, even as his heartbeat echoed in his ears. As she began crafting the bouquet, Alaric watched her, admiring every move. Once the bouquet was ready, the brunette reached for his wallet. He handed over the payment, their fingers brushing slightly in the exchange. "You have a lovely shop here, Gemma. I hope our paths cross again someday."
      A heart's a heavy burden.

    • A few hours later Gemma found herself back in her business. After she came to the conclusion, that, whoever was the bearer of that note, maybe was just joking around. So she told herself, not to focus on that prank and better get back to work. After a rather small but nutrious breakfast, she opened her shop at around 9:30. Best thing about working independently was the fact that you got to set your working shift up the way you needed it. And today was such a day. Normally her shop was closed at saturday, so that she had time to study for her next exam, behavioural psychology. But to her chagrin, sales had plummeted a bit this month, which left Gemma no choice but to make up for the lost days. About five minutes ago, a loyal regular customer, placed an big order for a open air wedding at tuesday. They needed 20 handcrafted bouquets made out of the finest summer growing flowers, Gemma could offer. So she chose daisy hybrids, myosotis, better known as the delicate little forget-me-not-flower, wild cornflowers and roses, in a washed out white. Without any hestiation she began working, her trained fingers weaving the tender plantlets together. While worrying about the space back in her cooling storage, to keep the bouquets fresh and clean until the get picked up at tuesday, her ears heard the sound of her entrance door. It was a little screeching noise, but over the time, Gemma got used to it. She was able to remember , when that sound freaked her out as a child... now it was just a horrific, but lovely memory of past days, when her grams used to walk in, bringing croissants from the bakery next door. Followed by her drifting thoughts, she recognized slow footsteps, entering the salesroom in the ground floor. A strange, engaging presence flooded the white tiles on the floor and layed down in every corner of the room. Whoever this strange person was, he had a seldom strong appearence. Nevertheless he was an potential customer, so Gemma sent her most beautiful smile to her lips and welcomed him. "Is there something I can help you with?", was the first question to ask everyone who found the way into her little shop. With a short glance, the blue eyed lady took a look at the statue of a man, that roamed in her presence. He was tall, his slender back was turned towards her, his broad shoulders tensed thoughtfully. First he remained in silence, than... his mouth formed a warm compliment about her shop and so he turned his face in her direction, holding a little peony in his hands. The brown eyes with a touch of amber pierced her face over the few meters that layed between them. Than, he came closer, a charming smile on his neat, curved lips. Here and there he asked a few question about the plants and flowers she owned, which sorts she was selling and who her distributor was. "Oh... thank you... I inherited the shop from my grandma... it was her, who taught me everything I need to know about this profession... and to honor her life and all the work she put into this little building that I call home, I carry on her dream... A littly cheesy, I know.", kindly Gemma answered opend hearted and stood a bit overwhelmed behind the counter. That had never happened before... an evident tourist, asking her about her profession. It didn´t took long, when her instincts spoke up. Something was not right... she could feel it in the way this captivating young man was acting. He was a little bit too... calm. So she kept up with her work, and left him be. Jaggedly, her practiced fingers interwoven the flower heads into a solid bouquet before she could now put the first one aside. "I haven´t seen you before in town... are you passing trough?", just as she lifted her head to start the next one, asking him a rather personal question out of curiosity, she recognized the stranger standing just a meter away from her. His face burned demandingly into her gaze, and he asked her, with such a ghostly calmness in his voice, if she could tie him a bouquet, with the flowers of his choice. Shook, Gemma opened her mouth and couldn´t help but stare into his luring eyes, that seemed like they could devour souls. "Lilies and peonies... good choice. Some say, their looks don´t match, because of the softness of how the peony opens her bulb and the sharp, angular looking petals of the lilies... but I think they do. An unlikely couple, but nevertheless beautiful.", she underpinned the braiding process with poetry and after another five minutes the bouquet was ready to go for the gentleman. He thanked her, paid the required amount. The little touch that happend, his fingers brushing over hers, Gemma hesitated for a moment. Finally he addressed a farewell greeting to her. Besides selling him the bouqet, she presented him a warm smile, that cracked in the middle of the words that this unknown man addressed to her. Her face frozen in shock, Gemma wasn´t able to move, to breathe, to think clear... her incredulous gaze followed the dark brown head of hair until it was out of sight. Now she finally understood who had stood in front of her. Why hadn't she noticed it much earlier?

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


      Dieser Beitrag wurde bereits 1 mal editiert, zuletzt von cada ()

    • With the distinct fragrance of peonies and lilies blending in the air, Alaric made his way back to Jardin Caché, but his thoughts lingered back in Gemma's shop. With a soft motion his fingers brushed over the petals of the bouquet.The silky softness was quite a contrast to the raw thoughts within him. He had witnessed many things in his life, had seen the best and more often the worst in people - the purity of Gemma's spirit was something he hadn't encountered in a long time. She was disarming. "The unlikely couple," Alaric murmured, glancing down at the flowers in his hand. He smiled faintly, amused by the comparison. Wasn't that what they were, after all? The rogue and the innocent florist. An unlikely pair, yet there was an undeniable connection. The undercurrent of tension, the unspoken curiosity - it was intoxicating.

      As he recalled the fleeting touch of their fingers, the way her smile had faltered, Alaric felt a thrill rush through him. It was subtle, yet dangerous. He relished the game, the chase, but this was different. This was personal. Despite his initial intentions, Alaric found himself intrigued by Gemma. Her radiant spirit, her unabashed devotion to her work, and her candid words had left a mark on him. Perhaps, it was the way she spoke about inheriting the shop from her late grandmother, or how her eyes sparkled with determination and fond memories. There was an almost poetic beauty in Gemma's connection with her grandmother and the shop. A legacy carried forward with love and devotion. It was touching to think of how a young woman chose to honor her grandmother's memory by keeping alive the dreams rooted in flowers. He had stepped into her shop as a competitor, yet walked out as an admirer. It was a strange twist of fate, but Alaric Montague, alias Vermain, was no stranger to life's unpredictable games. For the first time in his life he found a place where he could finally belong. A place that echoed with life and beauty, in a world so dark and rough. Alaric couldn't help but wonder how their paths would cross again. The anticipation of seeing her again was an unexpected sunlight in the shadowed garden of his existence. As the sun set and painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, this ordinary Saturday afternoon had unfolded into anything but ordinary. Letting his emotion cloud his judgment was not an option, yet Gemma seemed to have found a way into his mind. Her innocence, that radiant smile of hers - one that was far too dangerous for a man living his life. An attraction that went beyond mere appearances. There was a strange pull that he felt towards her like gravity bringing him to his knees. She was more than just another face in the crowd. No, she definitely was a force to be reckoned with. Vermain had spent his life building walls around his heart, a shield against the emotions that could leave him vulnerable. Yet, it threatened to fall apart with the simple snap of her fingers. He could not allow it. Not when his stakes were so high. Since gemma became a chink in his armor, Alaric knew he had to do something before it was too late. A soft spot was a luxury he could not afford. He knew what had to be done… A man like him knew when to make hard calls. He couldn't afford to let her become his downfall, not when he was so deep into his world of shadows. So he planned to become her downfall instead.
      A heart's a heavy burden.

    • Her rage overflowed her body. Left with a single peony in her fingers, that she didn´t need to braid the bouqet for the visitor, her hands began to cramp and with a silent crackle she broke the delicate flower inside her palm. Alaric Montague... Recalling his name inside her head, her gaze dropped onto the counter where his hands laid, just a few moments ago. His presence still lingered devilish inside her shop, left traces of his eau de parfum, which were elegant as well as fiery. Something you should handle with a slight precision as soon as the true power of his temperament came out. And Gemma was for sure, that this was going to happen. "So it´s you who I am competing with...", she squeezed the words out of her mouth with such caution, fearing that any louder noise could summon the demon that he embodied... Left with no other words Gemma glanced down at the mushed little flower inside her hand and twisted her face into a disgusted expression. Gettin rid of the now useless plant, she kept excusing to it, while wiping up the mess and washing her hands. There was no way that she could keep up with her order now, she had been way too upset by this encounter. There was something on him, that loosend her mind, drove her crazy just by the thought of it. She felt pushed into a corner, like a wild monster, ready to get killed through the coup de grace caused by his captivating glances. He was a mere parasite, an nightmare coming to life... and there was no such bad timing than right now. As if he knew that her sales stagnated, he walked in with so much self-confidence that it took her breath away and left her back suffocated. More and more of this chilling feeling flooded her spine, her arms, her neck... followed by an outburst of anger and determination. What was she even thinking? Since when was she someone who gave up so easily and allowed herself to be ceased? He got the looks, that was for sure. Alaric was above average... never had she laid eyes upon a man, that was both, intimidating and desirable at the same time. His amber coloured eyes popped up in her head and how they lured her into his web of perdition. A caught snap of her tongue sounded and she sent her gaze down to the side, followed by a deep breath, that filled her lungs with the sweet, hypnotic scent of her flowers. The situation went to her head. It wasn't even noon yet and her day was over. With a quitting sight, she let herself back into her stool, reached behind her into the little shelf, where Gemma stored her to go cup of coffee and the obligatory creeme cheese bagel. Discouraged, she took a few bites and took a small sip. She wasn´t able to keep up with the neat and good work she stood for, as long as this, charming yet dangerous deathangel was roaming her mind. So she decided to take a brake... for at least the next three hours. A walk. A walk would be the best thing right now. And... a trusting companion. Gemma drew her mobile out of her pocket and opened the messenger...

      "Anna hi, are you still in town? I have something to talk to you about and I need your help... it´s URGENT, so don´t think about turning..."....

      As soon as she was about to send the SMS, her fingers stopped writing. Sure, she was her best friend... but someone other made her way into her mind. Furios about herself, that she hadn't thought of that person right away, Gemma packed the bagel and her coffee, closed the shop and off she went. Another 15 Minutes later her legs reached her point of destination. She hadn´t been here for quiet a long time now and for that she hated herself. Leading her steps over the crunching pebble, her fingers twisted the tops of the tall grass and stalks, that sprawled here everywere. Surely the garden keeper was on vacation, because normaly every inch of the green lawn was meticulously cut at the same height. With a deep sight, her eyes were the first ones to see Gemmas target. Just another few steps later she stopped and looked down on grey marble and small bushes of violets and lilys of the valley. "Hi Grams...", with a sad smile, the blue eyed woman got down on her knees and sat beneath the grave of her grandmother. "How are you? I see you still keep your love alive...", with a short glance at the healthy small flowers, Gemmas face light up, but lost itself in wearyness again. "Listen... a lot has happend the last days... you know...", and so she began to recount her latest news... and her worries concerning the young man, that stumbled into her life.

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


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    • The air felt light, and he breathed it in deeply, a touch of her floral essence still lingering around him. A smirk appeared on his face as he thought about the look she'd given him. Gemma was certainly fiery, and he admired the pride she clearly had in her work. She hadn't been what he expected. His original plans were purely business - he'd always been the sort to know his competition, understand their strengths and weaknesses - but this was different. Shaking his head in amusement, he reached his shop. Alaric paused, looking at the neat exterior. His shop was a contrast to Gemma's cozy, homey establishment. He stepped inside, the chill of the air conditioning hitting his skin immediately. He found himself strangely unsettled, like he'd never experienced before. The scent of lilies and roses usually offered a calming comfort. Today, they paled in comparison to the wild medley of blossoms he'd experienced in Gemma's shop. His heart seemed to have developed a strange rhythm, beating faster at the thought of her. Alaric Montague had always been a man of composure and precision. He was methodical and strategic, a planner. He was used to analyzing his thoughts and decisions carefully. But Gemma introduced a chaotic element into his otherwise organized existence - like a wild storm out at sea, ever-changing and impossible to predict. No matter how skilled a sailor, no matter how adept at reading the skies, a storm could always shift in unforeseen ways, creating whirlpools in clear waters. A smile played on his lips as he realized that he was looking forward to this competition. He found himself hoping to see her again, sooner rather than later. As he sat in the back of his shop, a plan started forming in his mind - one that involved more than just the success of his shop. It was a dangerous idea, full of unknown variables and unpredictable reactions. He should have been terrified, but instead, he found himself excited at the prospect. Gemma McArthur, he thought, his fingers tracing the edge of a white calla lily. This would be an interesting game, indeed.

      Alaric decided to host a grand opening for Jardin Caché, an event that would attract all the locals, including, he hoped, Gemma herself. It would be the perfect opportunity to display his talents, challenge Gemma's stronghold on the local floral market, and possibly even fluster her. An outdoor event with the theme of a Midsummer Night's Dream, a touch of enchantment filled with exotic flowers from all over the world, displaying them in ways they’d never been seen before in their small town. The brown haired would, of course, need invitation cards to send out again - twice the charm one could say. Alaric hoped that his plan would intrigue Gemma, stirring her competitive nature and leading to more interactions between them. The game was on, and he was looking forward to seeing how it played out. Having spent half the night immersed in preparations and making arrangements, even going so far as to order a new suit to ensure everything was top-notch, Alaric found himself dwelling on all the ways he could make her life a living hell.
      A heart's a heavy burden.

    • As time went by, Gemma poured her heart out, infront of the steady, cold grave of the woman who meant the most for her. She was able to see her, the grey hair which layered curly over her narrowed shoulders... even though the body of her late grandmother was only a scheme, the soft smile on those wrinkly lips never seemed clearer. Gemma let out a deep sight, as a short gust blew away, that greyish smoke builded figure, build up in her inner eye. "Thanks for listening...", the brown haired murmered with a rahter unsteady smile and stood up. She still had a lot of work to do and my oh my, how time flies by, if you enjoyed the company of someone you love. With gnashing steps over the white pebbels, the young woman made her way back home... never getting the catchy face of this lurking predator out of her mind. Maybe she should just leave it for good, just for now and make some other plans. Her refrigerator was crying out to be filled with groceries, her bathroom could use a nice little clean up... all for all, her flat was a living mess... surprising, that Gemma, who loved an organised work space, still was able to live there... "Like a damn caveman...", an amused grunt escaped her lips, which lead her eyebrows to curle. Nevertheless, her work always comes first so that it was an indiscussable decision, which of the waiting tasks she would work through first.

      It took her another 15 minutes, until she arrived at home. It was late afternoon already and her stomach told her with an protesting growl, that it was time to eat. Her slim and smooth seeming hand found her way into her face, holding her cheek while her eyes searched the shop for the bagel until she remembered... it was already in her pocket all this time. What was happening with her? She didn't know herself so absent-minded and disorganized. Was it really the fault of this young, charismatic man who threw her off track like this? It did´nt matter in the end of the day. She had to get her work done, at least today, she would take advantage of the time she had left.. "... and better get going, madame. This bouqets won´t tie up by themselves!" Clasping her arms on her hips, Gemma nodded resolutely, put the bagel in her mouth and started working. The hours passed, one bouquet after another was finished, and when the clock showed half past 3, the brown-haired woman trotted up the spiral staircase, tired but proud of her progress.

      The next day she awoke to the humming sound of her mobile phone... it wasn´t her alarm clock, for sure, because Gemma learned from her mistakes and turned it off even before she fell down into her bed. The weary grey eyes searched half opened for the little electronic device, until her long fingers reached it. Her gaze was still blurred as her delicate body stirred under the blanket and lifted up. It was 10 o´clock and she had 5 unseen messages, one from her mum, two from Felix and three from Anna. Rubbing her left eye, she overflew the SMS from her family members but got stuck with Anna's. What... what was she writing? "Mh?", a sleepy growl fleed from her throat, as she comprehended the information in the message.

      "... he want´s to host a party because of opening his shop! Check your mailbox, you should also have an invitation already!"

      Gemmas bloodshot eyes widened. "The hell... he really wants to make this a competition... alright... then I´m in... sucker." With no more words left to speak, the sporty lady got up, no trace of tiredness left in her startled body. He had her attention... now that he was going to be such a showman, the brown haired beauty took the invitation for this so called contest. She had mainly good intentions... for the first few minutes... also she thought about maybe pushing him a little bit, she knew how hard the world of business could be. But now... Alaric challenged her, and damn, how ready she was to put him in his place.

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


    • Oops, I got your blood on my hands. You should run as far as you can. Do I sound psycho? Where did my mind go? Used to be red hot guess we went ice cold and I know, I know, I know you might misunderstand. Don't misunderstand me - I love you, but I don't like you.
      [Molly Moore - i love you but i don’t like you]

      Alaric stared blankly at his mobile screen. As though he'd been rocketed into the soundless void of space, everything had been abruptly muted, reality contracting until all that existed was the neat string of words pulsating on the device in his hand. He was reading the text, over and over again, as if repeated readings might make more sense out of the words. "Gemma accepted your invitation," it read.
      His face was furrowed into a frown as he put the device away, his mind troubled by a stormy sea of thoughts. Leaning back against the wood of his desk, he folded his arms across his chest, while letting out an almost inaudible grunt. Alarics gaze drifted to the window, watching as the golden sunlight reflected off the glass from the buildings of the city. He could almost picture Gemma in front of him. Her radiant blue eyes behind the gorgeous locks of chestnut hair. His fists clenched unconsciously, feeling a twist in his gut. Why was this woman invading his thoughts at the most inappropriate moments?

      His lips pulled into a thin line, as he remembered the way her features softened when she spoke about her grandmother. It was touching, humanizing in a way, and it made him strangely uncomfortable. Alaric knew his business world was a ruthless one, and vulnerability was not something he could afford. It was easily taken as a weakness, one that he could use to his advantage. Pushing away from his desk, he strode over to his office door. He shook his head, the taste of confusion bitter in his mouth. This wasn't about emotions, it was about business. He had to remind himself of that. And he would watch her every move. Gemma was up for a challenge, was she? Well then, he would be more than willing to give her one. Game on.

      Alaric stepped out of his shop, the scent of fresh greenery still clinging to his nostrils. He'd been fine-tuning every little detail, obsessing over the imperfections only he could see. His party was only days away, and while everything seemed to be going according to plan, something nagged at the back of his mind. It was only when he saw her that it all clicked. Anna was walking on the other side of the street, deepened in her phone as always, her fingers flying over the screen in a rapid-fire text conversation. He hadn't intended to invite a plus-one, but there was a strategy to it - a way to throw Gemma off balance. Anna was the perfect choice. Crossing the road, he called out for her. “Gorgeous woman, long time no see,” extending his hand out to her with a small, charming smile playing on his lips. His voice rolled off her name in a way that made it sound more precious than diamonds. They knew each other from the good old days, when life wasn’t about learning how to swim in an ocean of piranha. “Have you heard about the opening down the street?” he added, falling into step beside her. The sidewalk was bustling with people, but his attention was focused on the woman beside him. "I was actually hoping to find someone who could accompany me to the event." Alaric said with a teasing glint in his eyes. He was close enough that she could make out the flecks of gold in his irises, and there was something exciting about their closeness. She smelled like a wave of freshly cut coconut with a sweet undertone to it, possibly one of her beauty products rather than her actual eau de parfum. "Would you mind if I join you? I could use some company, and you seem to know the ins and outs." Alaric threw his head back and laughed, the sound rich and genuine. The amount of disbelief on Gemmas face would be priceless.
      A heart's a heavy burden.

    • On the other side of the small town, a blonde haired woman made her way through the masses of the crowded sidewalk. Her high-heeled shoes clacked across the paved pavement, blind to all the people who had to dodge her in the last moment. "Come on, Jeff... just give me the case...", her voice, dipped in an outraged hiss escaped through her pearl white teeth. The deep green eyes pinned down at the little screen of her mobile phone, impatiently waiting for a response. Her eyebrows curled up and seemed to express an unknown concern until a deep sight of relieve escaped her lips. "Finally...", her voice resembled more a gasp than a serious word and she wrote her answer. It was more of a wonder, how this woman was able to handle her mobilephone, while her spared fingers held an iced coffee, a little paper bag filled with a croissant, her jingling car keys and a black purse. She was too engrossed in her conversation on her cell phone to perceive the young gentleman approaching so quickly from the right. Just in that moment in which his voice reached her ears Annas attention was drawn of the shining screen, quickly examining the guy to her side who smiled down at her. She needed a second or two to comprehend who was standing beneath her until a broad grin overlaid her lips, tinted in the most bright red she could possibily find. "Alaric Montague... what a coincidence to see the self-proclaimed bon vivant here in this little town. How have you been?", Anna seemed to be truly suprised to find a common face in this pool of strangers and couldn't avoid taking a close look at the handsome next to him. A conversation was quickly established and Alaric pointed out the main core of this conversation. So, he knew about the owner of this new floristic that opened two days ago. To relieve her of the greatest stress of the moment, the blonde beauty rummaged in her pocket, fished out a cigarette, put it between her full lips and lit it without further ado.


      With no hesitation, she sucked the air greedly through the smoldering stalk and let out an relaxed groan afterwards, letting the white smoke escape from her nostrils. For a short period of time, there was silence, as the two of them turned left and walked alongside an lesser crowed area. Her romanced gaze, out of her dark rouged eyes found a way into the fields of his golden brown irises, speckled with dots of this dark calendula orange, that exploded like a little firework inside those dunes of sand. "Sooo... you got an invitation too? Interesting... what is your relationship with the owner? Is there something I should know, before saying yes to this deal? Besides, I have someone in mind, who you really should get to know...", she set out a trap and waited if he would fall for it, but stoped teasing her old flame with an amused laugh, that brought her long silky curls to an attractive dance. "Nevermind... sure, why not... we could light up the past few years with a little bit of... conversation...", Anna smirked auspicious. She has never been that kind of woman that was hiding her thoughts... more, she liked to play with them and sometimes fluster her choice of interest. She shared a fleeting past with the tall man and rembembered the nights, that were full of parties, laughter... and other ways to have some fun. An amused giggle left her throat, thinking about the old times, when it came to her mind, that she owed him another answer. "Well yeah... I was heading to the branch of my law firm. I need to drop some documents... but after that... I am all yours...", another ambiguous wink to his direction and her pact was sealed.

      Gemma on the other hand was back at work, still tieing up the bouquets for the customer. If she maintained the speed of binding them, she should be ready by late noon and would be able to care about her flat and all the little things that she left untouched for the last week. As she carefully added one stem after another to the complete work, her gaze almost got hypnotized by the way her hands worked on the unfinished sculpture of transient life. Alaric... Alaric... the name of this self-proclaimed nemesis echoed in her mind, up and down his ghostly figure haunted her thoughts. Gemma could feel his piercing gaze out of those deep, luring eyes, even though his person was absent... the smirk of his light rose lips, the scent of his being. STOP IT! Banging the palms of her hands down on the countertop, a shivering breath found the way into her lungs. Glancing over to her entrance door, her petrified gaze was underlaid with sheer perplexity. She needed to find some kind of laisure time that would stop her thought from circling around this... occupying demon. "One more bouquet... than I am done for good. Time to lock him out...", reassuring herself, that she would find a way, anything to distract herself from the night of the welcome party, Gemma started to work on the last bouquet... anything, really anything. Even if she would have to take a run.

      Am I no good?
      Am I made of wood?
      Am I just dead wood?


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