Cecile’s florist boutique is located at the centre of the Inich town, making it easy for the rest of us (who live scattered around in different peripheries) to convene at her place. I’m here today to take Janet’s measurements to make her dress. After entering the shop, I see ‘Ben’ who's working here as a pseudo-butler. I still worry about his territory everyday.
“Good morning Miss Tina. Lady Janet and others are waiting upstairs for you.” He greets with an eye-blinding smile, the one responsible for 90% of the increased footfall to this shop from the female population.
He leads the way upstairs like a proper gentleman, carrying a plate of desserts to serve us. Upon reaching top of the stairs, I already hear the loud conversation ongoing in the room Janet, Cecile and Ruby are in.
“EH?! CECILE HAS SOMEONE SHE ALREADY LIKES?!” Is a loud voice coming from Janet, a clatter could be heard. Probably from dropping a porcelain tea cup.
“WHO?” Ruby’s loud voice interrupts the squealing Janet. “Do we know him? A noble? A commoner?”
“…… He’s a commoner.” I can imagine Cecile’s bashful figure even without entering the room.
I observe the man beside me who shows a hitch in his steps upon hearing this. That’s the whole deal of this world - drama from people overhearing the very things they’re not supposed to hear. His expression grim, but he realises my presence and regains his professional smile in no time.
When the door opens, a flustered and blushing Cecile could be seen, hiding her face in her hands. Ruby and Janet both had teasing looks while wiggling their brows. Oh fun.
With a stormy expression in his eyes, ‘Ben’ observes Cecile with a complicated look. When he sees her embarrassed face, it looks as if he couldn’t hold himself back from pushing her down to interrogate her. 'Who's the one making her show these bashful expressions?'
But he didn’t take a step forward, and instead leaves the room. In his thoughts, a calamity brews, trying to figure out the person Cecile has a crush on.
After entering the room, I sit on the remaining empty chair and observe Cecile. Under my gazing eyes, she fidgets in her seat. Looking at the closed door where Ben left, I lean into Cecile ears and whisper, “It’s Ben isn’t it?”
Her face flares red when she hears this. If she was a little pinkish before, now she resembled a tomato. She looks at me like I’ve discovered the secret behind the universe.
Of course it’s Ben.
The poor duke’s just overturning his brains being jealous of himself. ML overhears the FL likes someone, he doesn’t know it’s him and drama ensues from the misunderstanding. That’s one of the many very overused cliches in the stories.
After taking measurements, we discuss the dress designs together as a friend group, settling on a wedding dress with a trumpet-shape silhouette. With lace on silk mixed with hand-embroidered lattice for the sweetheart neckline, bodice and throughout the hips. Real golden threads and studding real diamonds (sponsored by Duke) down the hems - it’s a big project with lots of expensive materials involved.
“We will pay upfront. I can’t keep making my mermaid tailor work for cheap.” Janet pushes a small cloth purse which jingles with gold coins.
“Ahahahah you shouldn’t have…” I swipe the purse and quickly put it in my bag. When I lift the purse the unexpected weight made my hand pause a short second. It’s time for me to consider moving to a better house in a more centre location, maybe I’ll open up a small shop…
Jin squirms in my dress pocket, showing his enthusiasm at the thought of not having to sleep in a hamster bed.
When the discussion comes to an end, I stand up to leave the room. I’ve got too much money on my hand. I’ll have to stop by the merchant’s guild to deposit some in the bank. I'll ask around to see if there's any good properties available too. A two-storey house in the town centre. Opening a store on ground floor, living on second floor. A proper work station, a separate living room and kitchen… It’ll cost around 20 golds but surely the payment just now has more than twice that amount.
“Cecile.” A voice interrupts my daydream, but it wasn’t calling for me.
When I look towards the direction of the voice, I meet a face I hadn’t seen in a while - Cecile’s oldest brother. This guy, unlike the other flowery family members buried in multiple plants, is a tough muscular man who’s always looking for a fight. His expression stern and scary, but he always had a soft spot for his sister Cecile. He joined the military a year ago, now he’s back.
“Rupert! You’re back!” Cecile shows a big grin at the sight of her brother, running to him whilst dropping everything in her hands. She jumps to hug her bear-like brother and the scary expression on Rupert melts straight away. He twirls her around with a chuckle.
From the periphery of my vision, I see the pseudo-butler 'Ben' with a grim look… Of fucking course he’s here to see this. He misunderstood again, didn’t he?
He turns around and walks away from the scene, leaving downstairs with his boiling temperament. The stairs shook with every heavy steps he takes. Bro chill, the stairs are already wobbly as it is. Are you looking to stomp everything to the ground?
After talking to Cecile’s mother with a small frown, he leaves handing in the green apron (the shop’s informal uniform) he always wore. He walks away with a gloomy face. When I look out the windows, the clouds are forming with an imminent threat to rain. Soon there will be a poor heartbreaking scene with a man suffering under the rain.
But damn, I didn’t bring an umbrella with me today. I look down at the hamster who's also looking at the rolls of grey clouds in the sky.
Look carefully, little one. I'll show you how to fix this weather.
Jin twists his head and looks at me with an expression calling 'bullshit'. Oh you'll see.
“Ben!” I call, running after him before he walks out the store entrance. He looks back when he hears his name. Upon seeing his eyes full of sorrow, I feel… I feel… nothing.
Stop throwing tantrums like a kid, you’re a Duke for god’s sake.
“Miss Tina.” He answers with a nod, his voice shakes from holding back his frustrations.
“Are you quitting? I saw you hand over the apron.”
“Yes... I have something urgent I need to go back home for.”
Like managing your territory?
“I might not come back to work here.” He glances around the florist shop one last time, taking everything in. He spent a good amount of time working here alongside Cecile. It's a short-lived happiness, a temporary dream. No good things last forever, now it's time to return to his cold desolate office.
“Have you told Cecile?” I ask, turning to look at the happy girl chatting with her brother. 'Ben' follows my line of sight and his expression darkens upon seeing this.
“No. She doesn’t need me anymore.”
No. Literally, just fucking talk to each other instead of assuming shit.
“I see..." I nod feigning a solemn look. My face mirrors his dismal expression. "Her older brother’s just returned today after a long time and she’s happy. But she’ll be sad again if she hears her closest and most trustworthy staff member left without telling her.”
I’m sorry to everyone living in Cannes Duchy, and the aide who’s managing the land for this irresponsible Duke when he’s out here frolicking, but please understand my circumstances - I don’t want to get wet today from rain!
“Her older brother?” An incredulous confused look appears on Ben’s face.
“Yeah. Rupert is Cecile's oldest brother who's been away in military for a year.” I confirm. “Also… in regards to the person she likes…” I pause.
Wait, am I distorting their story if I disclose this? Maybe the story's romance blooms further through trials and tribulations - will they still treasure each other if they don’t go through difficulties?
“She likes?” He asks with an expecting look.
“Well, that’s a secret between us girls.” I pat his shoulder. This should be fine because he’s ‘Ben’. Don’t cut off my hand later, okay? “But you should stay a bit longer and find out for yourself.”
As if he understood the meaning between the lines, his expression immediately brightens. He walks back to Cecile’s mother (the shop owner) and asks for his apron back, explaining the urgent need to return home is now gone. I'm really sorry for his assistant slaving away in his territory far far away.
I look out the window, seeing the grey clouds slowly but surely subsiding. Bright sunlight pours on the street, reflecting the ML's emotions. Rain is no more!
I see Jin staring at me with a gaping mouth. Hahaha what did I tell ya? Call me weather god.