A/N: Woohoo! I'm back! I have to warn you guys though, the updates won't be as fast as they were for First Glance, because, well, school takes a lot of my time. But fear not! I want to finish this story, no matter how long it'll take!
Well then... I think that's it.
"The first time I saw him, he scared me."
"The first time I saw her... well, I barely noticed her."
It just had a nice sound, didn't it? The sound of melting snow, brighter days and winter coats thrown in the closet to be forgotten for the next months. But mostly, it sounded like nature coming back to life. Birds came back from the south to color the sky with their beautiful feathers and stunning songs, people were finally leaving the artificial warmth of their home to go and breathe some fresh air... The dreadful silence of winter was quickly destroyed by cheery voices and the repetitive, soft sound of footsteps. And the trees! Leaves were finally growing back, all green and healthy, to sweetly rustle in the wind. Not to mention the flowers...!
Flowers meant overtime at the shop.
Now that the snow had melted and the ground was soft enough, it was time to replant the flowers in the garden behind the flower shop, Manson's Petals. Last year had been a real nightmare; there wasn't nearly enough employees to take care of both the garden and the customers. Who would have thought spring also came with the desire to buy flowers for no apparent reason? Hopefully, this time around, her boss would ask her to take care of the human beings instead of the plants; one ruined pair of jeans was already enough.
Anna Vinson got ready for work as soon as she came back from school. Unsurprisingly, the house was as empty and cold as it was big. The wooden stairs remained completely silent as she ran to the second floor, where her bedroom was. Bedroom... More like a refuge from her sister's bad moods, or from the silence of the house, or even from the unpleasant, clean-chemical smell the maid always left on the first floor when she came to work on Wednesdays. Honestly, this was probably the only place in the world where she could really relax.
The green numbers on her alarm clock told her she didn't have time for a shower, not caring that she had P.E. today. Great... She changed clothe, going from a pair of jeans and the cutest blouse she owned to a skirt and a black shirt. She checked herself one last time in the mirror.
She was lucky...
She was lucky and she knew it.
She didn't need to be told. As narcissist as it made her sound, she knew she was pretty. Her large hazel eyes were surrounded by thick and dark eyelashes, her skin was fair and pale and she was thin without even trying. Her long black hair refused to be curled or even tied for more than five minutes, but it perfectly surrounded her round face, so no complains there. But her luck didn't stop at her beauty, not at all; her parents could afford the best for her, and they did; private school, nice clothes, the best food in town... Looking at her reflection, alone in her bedroom, she reminded herself she should be thankful for everything she ha—
"ANNA! I know it was you!"
...thankful for almost everything she had.
"Okay, I don't know why you keep stealing my cell phone, but it's really getting old, so give it back!" yelled her fourteen years old, annoyed and annoying, sister. They looked so alike, like she was only a younger version of Anna... and it made them both sick beyond words.
"Lisa, why on earth would I take your cell phone?"
"Uh, to piss me off?" Lisa guessed with a ticked off look all over her face. "And it's working! So give it back before I tell mom and dad!"
"I'd love to return it, but I don't have it, so get out of my room."
"God, you're SO immature! Sometimes I wonder who's the oldest here!" Lisa stomped down the corridors and slammed her bedroom door as hard as she could, just to make sure the sound of the impact would resonate around the whole house. As if it wasn't enough, Anna could still hear her muffled, pissed off teenager's voice through the walls.
The joys of sisterhood...
Which is exactly why she got a job in the first place. She didn't need the money at all, but it was far enough from the house to satisfy her need of personal oxygen. She'd never see Lisa around the shop either; the area was way too poor for her shopping taste.
Without taking the time to brush her hair like she had intended to, she silently walked down the stairs, hoping Lisa wouldn't hear her leave. If she was lucky, her little sister would think Anna was still in the house and wouldn't dare to enter the eldest's bedroom. As soon as she twisted the door knob, she spotted her sister's purple cell phone on the coffee table. Well, let her look for it. There was no way she'd bring it to her if she was going to get accused of stealing it anyway.
"I know you're overjoyed to see me, but please contain your happiness," snickered Erin behind the counter.
Unlike her home, Manson's Petals' air was warm with smiles and flowers. True, the building was small, a bit old and they just couldn't get rid of the dirt on the floor, but those things were just details when compared to the smell, the colors and the people.
The place was owned by the nicest couple she had ever met, both in their 40's; Mrs Manson, who had the sweetest smile Anna had ever seen on a human being, and M. Price (though she hadn't seen him in a while, probably because of his back problems.) Their son, Andrew, also worked there until he'd find something better. He kept saying how he'd go back to school and do something with his life, but it was just to hide his passion for flowers. Everyone knew he was here to stay.
Then there was Erin.
They didn't go to the same school, but if they did, they'd probably be together 24/7. Anna had never met someone like her, someone who just understood everything and knew exactly what to answer. Short brown hair pulled back in small pigtails, big green eyes and the biggest smile she could possibly have; that was Erin.
"I mean, I know your day was probably horrible and your teachers are all sadistic bastards; but hey! Look on the bright side of life; it's Friday!" the brunette giggled.
"It's not about school," she sighed.
"Oh, really? What a surprise. Look, look, I'm really surprised right now," she said with the blankest voice she could manage.
Andrew walked down the creaking wooden stairs with enough flowers in his arms to completely hide his face. Sweet pollen rose in the air like an explosion when he dropped everything on the counter, right in front of Erin. "There, it's ready. The clients said they'll be here in 10 minutes I think." He threw a glance at Anna. "Oh, you're here? Great, that means I'm done for today. See you!"
He took off his apron and threw it at Erin before grabbing his backpack behind the counter, and a second later he was already out of the shop. The two girls rolled their eyes and giggled. Typical. For a guy so (secretly) passionate with flower, he sure escaped the place in a hurry. Erin had this theory that he had a secret girlfriend, which didn't sound so weird after all.
Just when Anna leaned under the wooden counter to grab her apron, she felt her cell phone vibrates in her skirt's pocket. She immediately recognized the number...
"Don't forget 2 call me 2night. Miss you 3 -Matthew"
She giddily sighed like the high school girl she was. It was just a two weeks old relationship, but for now, it seemed perfect.
"Hm, what a sudden change of atmosphere around you. You're blushing, in case you want to know," smirked Erin, earning a half-hearted glare.
Of course she was! Anna wasn't used to this boyfriend thing and all the lovey-dovey stuff... not that she minded of course, she loved it. It wasn't the kind of love where people wrote their names in badly drawn hearts in their English books over and over again, or fantasized about their dreamhouse or their wedding, and how they'd name their future kids... It was the kind... Well, the kind that just might last.
"You're still blushing..."
"Oh, shut it," Anna playfully answered, shoving the phone back in her pocket. She'd call him tonight, no doubt about it.
Miss Manson loudly walked down the stairs, holding a pot of flower in her gloved hands. Her lips stretched in a motherly smile as soon as she saw Anna. "Oh, you're here already?" she noticed. The woman quickly looked around the shop, trying to find her son. "I'd better tell Andrew he's done for today."
"He's already gone," Erin informed her while handing Anna her apron.
"Without saying goodbye? Oh, what am I going to do with that child..." she sighed, leaving the pot on a table near the door at the back of the store, along with a dozen more plants. "Oh, now that I think about it! I got someone to help me with the garden tomorrow, someone with experience. So no overtime for you girls."
"Oh no," worried Erin, "please don't tell me you got the guy who helped at Edith's Flowers. I saw their garden and it's a mess!"
The woman chuckled at her employee's worry. "Don't worry, dear. I saw it too... No, no, no, M. Johnson had major renovation this week, and he strongly recommended me the boy he found. Lucky for me, they don't need him after today, so he's all mine!"
"A professional?" asked the pigtails girl.
"No, he's from the Orphouse."
Oh no... not from there...
If whoever-this-M.-Johnson-was employed someone from there, then he was crazy. And surely, Mrs Manson couldn't be naive enough to listen to him! Everyone knew they were just a bunch of trouble maker who would stop at nothing to get what they wanted! Did anyone in this town really believe shoving more than twenty kids in a single house would magically transform them into perfect little citizens? Of course people thought it was a good solution...
But they were wrong. It just turned them into a bunch of thieves.
"Um... I don't think that's a good idea... I-I could help you tomorrow, I don't mind—"
"Oh no, don't force yourself, I know you didn't like doing it last year." True, but she was willing to make a sacrifice this time.
"What about Andrew?"
"He's good at arranging flowers, but getting dirty isn't his forte... Don't worry, I'm sure he'll do a great job!" By the look in her eyes, she truly believed the words that had just left her mouth.
Could this get any worse?
"Hey Anna? I don't think the flowers outside will survive the wind... Can you bring them inside for me?"
True, the wind was a lot stronger than expected. She should've predicted it; the weatherman was always wrong anyway.
There was still something cold about the wind as it hit her face mercilessly. If luck was on her side, then maybe the weather would be awful tomorrow too, and she'd have enough time to convince her boss to get someone else to help her. She didn't like the idea of spending two days straight planting flowers, but she'd jump on the occasion if that saved her from an Orphouse kid's visit.
"I'm on it!" yelled a masculine voice from across the street, catching Anna's attention.
The only thing she could see was a pair of legs sticking out of the back of a truck, but soon enough the rest of the body appeared with two buckets fresh of paint. He looked... young, at least from where she stood. Probably just as old as she was. His thin body turned for a short moment to close the truck's door, giving Anna the occasion to see his face a bit better. Most of his dirty blond hair was pulled in a small ponytail; the rest fell in locks around his face and over his forehead. He had an ever-so-slight tan, but it couldn't cover the redness on his long nose and his ears—
He turned his head her way.
From across the street, she couldn't see the colors of his eyes, but she could feel how tired they were, and maybe even... angry.
Her imagination got the best of her, and for a moment, she was afraid he would throw the buckets on the ground, stomp to her and punch her square in the face. But a second later he was already back inside the shop without caring about her existence.
Well... that was uselessly scary.
She breathed in, trying to erase all the possible scenarios she had just made up in her head, and brought as many flowers inside as she could in one trip.
No rain. No wind. The perfect day to start a garden, as if the sky had decided to try its best to make her miserable.
On that day, she didn't bring any personal possession, for fear it would be stolen by whoever-this-Orphouse-Kid-was. No money, no cards in her wallet, not even a coat. Maybe Mrs Manson was naive enough to believe he was a good kid, but Anna wasn't going to be fooled by him. Who cared if she could replace any stolen possession? She just didn't want to give him the satisfaction of a prize by the end of the day.
The little rusted bells suspended above the door hit the glass when she entered the shop, forcing Erin to notice her. She greeted Anna with a carefree smile and a comfortable silence... that probably meant the Orphouse kid wasn't there yet.
She nervously walked to the counter to get her brown apron, hoping he would just never show up. The wooden stairs complained under careless, heavy feet. A pair of old black and white shoes was the first thing she saw at the top... those didn't belong to Mrs Mason.
Then she met a pair of tired, angry eyes under dirty blonde locks. Dangerous eyes.
Nevermind. He was already there.
A/N: There you go, friends! Hope you guys enjoyed! Please leave a review if you did, it would help me out a lot and, well, it motivates me to write faster ;)
By the way, I reread First Glance, and dang I saw all the mistakes I hadn't seen before... Don't be afraid to tell me if you see anything, and I'll gladly correct it!
Have a nice day!