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Ethereal

147.0K · Completed
Tricia Jean
51
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Summary

A storm clouded his gray eyes as he frowned down at me in obvious anger. Being pressed against a wall was irritating, but being cornered by this grumpy man made me feel fear. Something that I never experienced around him before. "I may be quiet and sometimes distant, but I love you. Is that not enough for you, woman? You know I'm no romantic shit and I hate doing stuff that I'm not comfortable with—but damn it! I did everything, and it's still not going to make you happy?" She's fire, and he is ice. The sun and the moon. The language of flowers is something that Terra Dawson has known for a long time. What to give to a customer who wanted flowers for his mother's funeral or an arrangement for your girlfriend. But after moving to where her mother grew up to pursue her big dream, her challenges are even tougher than in the city. Restoring an old flower shop and the old woman's glory is a huge task. But when Mrs. Xavier's grouchy grandson, Lucas Xavier, is added into the list of Terra's to-please list, she finds it harder to achieve the goals she has been setting ever since she stepped foot on Crimson Oak Grove. Will she regret this decision and leave? Or will a certain person make her stay? Will she achieve her dreams? Or will it all just crumble before her eyes? Does he even love her?

RomanceBusinessmanFemale leadIndependentGoodgirlPossessiveDominantbxg18+Mature

Chapter 1: Sunflower

Warmth, happiness, adoration, and endurance. Hence the name, sunflowers turn to follow the light. Their appearance symbolizes the sun itself. A ball of sunshine.

An almost bursting suitcase, a worn-out book about flowers, and crisp dollars that I earned in my wallet are all I have. The radio’s volume was low, playing old country music as we went down the smooth road. Tall trees with thick green leaves surrounded us. I continued to eye the running meter, making the taxi driver turn to me for a few seconds. His hair slowly thinned while white strands started to dominate. His gaze returned to the road, probably finding me odd.

“Is there a problem, Miss?”

Averting my gaze away from the numbers, I smiled and shook my head at the old man. “No, there’s nothing wrong.” It’s been two hours since we left the bustling city, down the road heading for Crimson Oak Grove. The sky was slowly turning into a dull shade of gray. Silently praying it won’t rain while I go sightseeing, I let out a small gasp of admiration at the tall trees that danced along the rhythm of the breeze.

“So, what brings you here to Crimson Oak Grove?” The driver questioned, watching me through the rearview mirror with his kind brown eyes. I held up the book for him to see, even if it was only a quick glance. It’s something I’m proud to carry and show around. Beneath the title was my name written in fine cursive.

Terra Dawson.

“I’m here to find a job,” I answered enthusiastically. Placing the book down on my lap, rubbing my finger on the spine. “Do you know any floral shops around here?”

“Oh, you’re a florist?” He grinned. “You must’ve heard about the flower farms in here. Especially how beautiful it is during the autumn, right? This town has been famous for it and their visitors gradually increase each year.” Recalling the pictures on the internet, I nodded.

“Yes, I’ve been wanting to visit it ever since.”

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, dearie. But why not work in the city?”

Expecting the question, I smiled. “I prefer to work with nature. Unlike in the city, I see flowers bloom and smell their scent in the air.” Living in the city is a dream, but there are times it doesn’t seem like it. Polluted air and traffic are something I don’t want to deal with every day.

The man softly bobbed his head at my words, silently tapping his long fingers against the steering wheel. “To answer your previous question… Yes, there are a few floral shops in this town. But I don’t know whether they’re hiring right now.” I lowered my head and gazed down at the book on my lap. The picture of flowers on its cover was animated, but the way I see it, it seemed realistic. Like seeing the flowers and feeling them against my fingertips.

“I see.”

Lifting my head, I stared at the road before us. Beyond, there were people and buildings. The sign greeted us, welcoming the people and bidding them farewell as they left. Butterflies, small and huge, fluttered inside the little cage called my stomach. The feeling of excitement and fear.

“You okay back there?”

I sheepishly laughed and covered my shaking hands. Uneasiness radiating through me. “Yeah, I’m alright. Just a bit nervous.” Maybe a little too much for my liking.

His laughter echoed around the car. “It’s alright to be nervous, but don’t let it get to you. I’m sure they would hire you. I mean, you seem like a sweet girl.” I couldn’t help but feel comforted by his words.

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Passing by a few structures, I gaze at the homey beige town hall with neatly trimmed bushes around. The tiny fountain sprouts water, creating a peaceful atmosphere. Next to it were other important structures, such as the firehouse and a hospital. There were at least two restaurants and a café lined up in one corner. Beside it was the local library.

I’ll definitely visit it.

However, the ride soon ended once I arrived at my destination. Opening the door, I got out. Feet planted firmly on the ground and eyes glanced at the white two-story hotel. Two tall trees stood firmly at the sides, the shade of green pleasant in the eyes. It was exactly the same in the picture. Behind the glass window, the lobby was empty apart from the man behind the desk. Unlike the huge hotels that towered above one another in the city, it didn’t surprise me that they would have a smaller one. In fact, I read somewhere that Crimson Oak Grove, despite being an old small town, was proud of their accomplishments over the years. The mayor was also well-known and friendly. Bonus, he was a proud environmentalist.

Fishing out the exact amount for the fare in my wallet, I watched as the driver placed my suitcase down after retrieving it from the trunk.

“Thank you,” I smiled and handed the cash over to him. Accepting it, the old man stared at me as if he was troubled. I raised an eyebrow at him in concern, “What is it?”

“If you change your mind, I can take you back to the city– free of charge.”

I can’t help but laugh. The words expressed reminded me of my father. “I’ll be fine here, Sir.” When he didn’t respond, I gave him a small wave and grabbed the handle of my suitcase. “But thanks for the offer,” I added.

The driver nodded silently and retreated into his taxi.  The car made a turn back to the city. The feeling of forlorn crept into my heart until I pushed it far away, not wanting it to overrun. This is what you wanted Terra, no turning back! Straightening my posture, I headed towards the entrance and pushed the door open. A loud jingling disrupted the silence, making the man behind the desk look up from whatever he was busy with.

The wall was painted beige, and pictures of lavender and sunflowers decorated the spaces. A two-seater brown couch sat a few feet across the desk, beside it was a figurine sitting above a wooden table. A clock ticked above the man, beside it was a sign ‘concierge’. A vase filled with bright yellow daffodils suddenly reminded me that springtime is close to ending, paving the way for summer. I moved my gaze and cast the man a small smile before sauntering my way to his desk.

His steely eyes scrutinized me from top to bottom as if there was something wrong with my outfit.  I stared down at my white blouse, a long light pink skirt with a brown belt, and ankle boots. Is there something wrong? Once I glanced back up, his gaze was already back on his crossword puzzle.

“Yes?” Ignoring his bored tone and impolite tone, I continued to smile. “Hello, I’d like one room, please. I’m staying here for two days.” Until I find a job and a permanent place to stay for two days, that is. With a deep sigh, the man set his puzzle aside, took out a logbook, and began scanning the pages noisily.

I bit my lip and waited, wondering if he even heard me right. When he looked up, a smile – that looked forced – decorated his face. “I’m sorry Miss, but there are currently no rooms available right now. I request you find another place to stay.”

My eyes widen a fraction at his words. “I-is there a chance that one of them may check out later?” There has to be one…

When he gave me another creepy smile, I took a small step back. “Unfortunately, they’ll check out later this evening. I’m sure you can’t wait that long– “

“I will.”

My answer didn’t surprise him though, which I expected. Instead, he nodded curtly and gestured to the couch. “You may sit and wait. Approach me if you need something.”

Sitting on the hard couch, I shifted a few times before finding a comfortable position. It wasn’t as soft as it looked like at first glance. I flipped the book I’d been carrying open and reread all the words down to the vivid images that I’d memorized through time. Even the texture of the page is familiar to my own fingers.

This continued for several minutes. The lobby was blanketed in deafening silence. I read quietly in my seat, not bothering to look up at the busy man. I guess solving his crosswords was his top priority rather than entertaining the guests. After a while, I ended up playing games on my phone. The dullness and silence slowly got on my nerves.

Tapping my gallery, I pressed my lips tightly together as I stared at the picture I saved last night. It was the map of the town. Soon, I began to check my appearance through the front camera of my phone. Fingers tucking a stray strand of my strawberry blonde hair behind my ear, I brushed my bangs to the side. I had my haircut a few weeks ago, my hair is now neck length unlike how it used to cascade down my back. Still, I could ponytail it if it gets in the way.

It was only a matter of months before it’ll grow longer once again. I stared at my hazel-colored eyes, checking if my mascara was smudged without my knowledge. To my delight, everything was alright.

Oh! I forgot to text Papa! He must be worried already…

To Papa:

Hey! :) I have arrived at Crimson Oak. The town’s wonderful, just like Mom said! I’ll call you later tonight.

Unable to take the dreariness, I reached out and pulled the suitcase close. Unzipping the outside compartment, I fished out the brown manila envelope containing my resume. A sigh of relief escaped my lips, seeing it wasn’t crumpled. Reminding me of the night I spent making it. Placing the book inside the safety of my bag, I zipped it back once again.

“I’ll be back in a while,” I announced as I stood up from my seat. The man behind the desk remained uninterested, attention solely on the puzzle.

Seriously… I silently walked out of the hotel with my phone, wallet, and resume in hand. The least I can do with my free time is walk around town and find a flower shop offering a job. Breathing in the clean air, I smiled to myself and walked down the sidewalk. This is more like it! I shouldn’t let that man dampen my day with his boorish self.

A candy store, a bakery where the scent of freshly baked bread lingers in the atmosphere, a post office, and a laundry shop are what I passed by. Across the street were the restaurant, café, and library. Adventuring further, I discovered a clothing store and a pet shop. The gold fishes swimming in the tank display and the cute puppy wagging its tail made me laugh in adoration.

The grocery store sat across and I ventured further. Soon, I ended up in front of the town hall and other establishments I’d seen while on the way. A frown of confusion made its way to my face, my mind thinking back on all the buildings I went by. It wasn’t the same layout as the map I saved on my phone.

Pushing back my frustration at the realization, I deleted the picture and let out a huff. As I thought, some information on the internet is misleading.

I stared at the town hall in deliberation. They might have a map. There has to be one in here, right?

Catching a glimpse of a map, I ran towards it and began searching for a flower shop. So, here I am in front of the town hall… I’ve been here and there… My eyes scanned the map until they landed on the far top corner. Beyond this town were the farms, including the tulips and carnation farm.

I heave a sigh, “I’ll definitely visit… But right now, I have to find a job.” I couldn’t help but gasp in delight once I found three flower shops. I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the town map before deciding to go to the nearest flower shop in my vicinity.

The beating of my heart grew louder with each step I took. It felt and sounded like a huge drum was playing a song for soldiers, preparing for war. Walking past stores and people, occasionally waving at some in greeting, I soon arrived in front of the flower shop.

Anita’s Flowers.

Judging by the name of the shop, she’s probably the owner. A few flowers were already on display, a variety of roses and tulips. Gathering my courage, I went into the store. The flowers were placed in separate containers that were filled with water. There were also samples of arrangements in wooden baskets or bouquets. It was the usual flower shop you’d find in the city. Nothing out of the ordinary.

“Hello?” My voice resonated across the store, hoping that it would reach whoever was behind the counter. That was when I spotted the shiny trophy placed on top of a shelf. She won the award of ‘Best flower shop’ in town.

Pitter patter. The sound of footsteps grew louder and soon, a blonde woman emerged from a door in the corner with a huge smile. “Hello, pretty lady! What can I do for you?” Just as I was about to inquire, she gestured to the red roses neatly arranged in a bouquet. “Do you want a bouquet for a friend? Or is it for a dead relative? A gift for your mother?”

I shook my head, “No. Actually, I’m here to ask– “

“No? Then what about those in little baskets? I just got a fresh batch of yellow daffodils and white lilies!” She suggested quite energetically. “If you need anything, tell me, darling. You entered the right flower shop in town, the best of the best!”

Once she stopped talking and was waiting for my reply, I smiled at her. “Uh, actually… I’m here to inquire if you have any job offers?” Please say you have. Please say you have!

“Oh? You’re a florist?” I nodded vigorously with a wide grin. The woman giggled and suddenly, her smile dropped. “I’m sorry but no.” Her answer made me frown slightly, especially when her cheery demeanor disappeared and was replaced by a serious one. Her eyes raked my body as if I was an insect. “I’m sorry darling but it’s just business, you see? My shop is named after me and it’ll be unpleasant if I don’t live up to it. I own the shop and I run it– no more, no less.”

Trying to keep my annoyance to myself, I slowly backed away. “Alright, I understand.” Anita smiled sweetly and gestured to the door. “Yes, run along my dear. I’m sure that old woman would take you anyway… Well, if she still wants to run that business of course.”

Her haughty laughter resonated throughout the shop until I stepped out of the door. Like a volcano silently simmering, I counted to ten before heading to the next flower shop. Praying that the others weren’t like Anita, who’s obviously proud of her achievement and doesn’t want to share the glory.

Sad to say, the last two flower shops didn’t offer any jobs or had their hands full. At least they weren’t like Anita, who straight out rejected me. With slumped defeated shoulders, I quietly walked down the sidewalks, hoping to avoid people.

This is just great… How will I be able to get a job when they keep rejecting me? I mean, they didn’t even bother to let me show my talents.

Opening my phone, I began to find my way back to the hotel. The sound of screeching tires almost made my ears bleed and I looked up to see a red car roaring down the street before making a sharp turn. Its tires made the dark water on the side spray all over the unsuspected sidewalk, including me.

A gasp in shock was all I could give as the driver rudely drove away without hesitation. Not knowing what he or she just did. My skirt was a cute thing, buying it at an affordable price, but right now it looks really eye-catching. The dirty water sticking to the cloth – even felt it on my legs – followed a jagged pattern. It took all my willpower not to scream at the top of my lungs and embarrass myself further.

That man behind the desk will surely laugh at my face if I come back looking like this!

Gritting my teeth together, I continued on my way back to the hotel. Hands trying to hide the hideous foul stain. I felt tears of anger begin to form in my eyes but I fought them back, not wanting to show any weakness.

Maybe this is a sign? A sign that I don’t belong in this town. Maybe Papa’s right… That I shouldn’t have come here. What if I’m better off working in that little flower shop where I just store the flowers? Where I’m just an assistant and won’t be able to make arrangements that fit my style. Will I be able to live with myself? Just doing that?

Coming here made me gamble a lot of things. Considering that Papa is far away and all of my friends are in the city. And here I am, a beginner in this small but beautiful town where I don’t know anybody. But if I stayed in that flower shop… Every day will be the same boring routine.

This is what you wanted Terra. No turning back.

I lifted my head, staring at the dark clouds swirling above me. The air felt strange, yet it wasn’t unfamiliar. Strong winds blew against trees that danced gently. It’ll soon rain, unleashing its fury down the buildings and living beings.

Hurrying down the sidewalk, not wanting to be caught up by the rain, I went down a shortcut to the hotel. It was when I felt the drop of rain against my head and arms that I sprinted to find the nearest shelter.

Shaking off the droplets in my arms, I stared at the sky crying above me. “Thank goodness,” I mumbled at the unharmed manila envelope. My body shivered at the cold, hands rubbed my arms to produce warmth as I waited for the rain to stop.

Glancing at the dark store behind me, my eyes went wide in surprise. It was a flower shop. A sign indicated it was closed, the counters empty and it looked like it was for a long time. Nearing the glass, I squinted to make out the interior before backing away. Inside, it was spacious yet dust collected everywhere.

“Rosette.” I read the words above the shop and furrowed my eyebrows in realization. All the owners of the flower shops I’ve visited didn’t have an old woman working. Was this the shop owned by an old lady that Anita talked about?

Then, thanks to my lucky stars, my eyes didn’t miss the paper taped on the corner. My feet took a step forward to read it, not believing what it was.

Now hiring!

If you are seeking a job, call and find Matilda. We want a florist who is hands-on and a great worker.

Below was the telephone number and I couldn’t help but cheer with happiness. My hands were raised in fists with a huge grin on my face, thanking the heavens that they heard my prayers.