[3] Seven Deadly Cardinals – Charity/Greed

Streets of town are buzzing with life this weekend. The celebrations are soon to commence and everyone is working hard to prep for the town festival.

Young ladies and gents flocking to the corner flower shop to request more and more flower arrangements to put outside their houses. It’s lively inside with smiles and laughter.

The young owner of the place – Stella is on a mission to bring the happiness and joy to the locals with what she best can. From morning until late evening she is buzzing like bee to get things done.

Even today – she is mad in work with making it all before attending a requested meeting in local orphanage. She was looking for it for a while.

After lunch, as Stella left the flower shop for Barry to manage, she got in her car and was ready to depart when her mobile rang.

“Hello, Stella listening!” – She spoke in cheerful voice.

“Ah, yes, Stella!” – Orphanage director called, – “I apologize, but unfortunately there is no time for meeting today. I have to cover for the teacher and there’s no time to have a chat with you about the project. If only there would be a suitable replacement teacher.” – Old man sighed, as if mocking the intentions of the young lady.

“Oh, I see. But maybe I could be that teacher? I can give them a lesson or two, if that’s alright by you. Then we’d have some time to chat after.” – Stella knew the situation with the grown ups shortage in the orphanage and she was eager to get there. She truly wanted to make change.

The voice on the other end took a deep breath again. The man was too old to battle youngsters.

“Alright. So then, I’m waiting for you. See you soon!” – He softly spoke and cut the call.

“Sometimes that’s rude..” – Stella puffed out, as she put the phone away. Having a call cut off like that without her saying something really did frustrate her.

The road was not far, the journey took a bit of time nonetheless. Due to preparations there were part closures, some small traffic of people going to and from shops.

At another street crossing, waiting for green light she looked at the family scene. Small girl jumping up and down with doll, whilst dad is checking out what happened with her little bicycle.

Cute little moments like these were really making Stella give a small thought about making family.

Once she reached the huge gates she pressed the bell – hoarse voice of attendant madame spoke out:
“Who is this?”
“Hi! This is Stella. Here to cover for a lesson and chat with director.”
The shuffling on that end lasted for a moment, before the unhappy and hoarse voice spoke up:
“Oh yes, that IS you. Ehh, youngsters these days…” – The attendant madame began her murmur of nagging.

Just as madame was going on, the gates opened with a screech.

“Thank you!” – Stella said as she drove inside.

The orphanage was old. Built few good decades ago, having some paint chip here and there, the whites now quite gray and the air of decay. Stella knew that she had to help out. She just had to get the verifications from the director.

Old man awaited her at the stairs of entrance. His white hair, white beard really were putting him on same bench as the elderly you see in the movies. Just wondering how they manage to still be upright.

Old director greeted Stella and walked her to the outside garden on the back end. There was a playground where kids were having fun. By the looks of it they were somewhere in the age of 11-13, just when they start to be bit more insecure and pay more attention to selves.

“So this is your class for today. They just need to be looked after and given some fine new knowledge.” – Director spoke in a grumpy, yet soft voice. – “ I’ll go prepare some papers for us to go through afterwards. So, they’re all yours.”

He said as he turned around and walked inside.

Stella was baffled for a moment. He did not introduce her, nor stopped the kids to pay any sort of attention. He sure was old. But then again, these old people here were of such type of behaviour, so she knew she had to prove that she can do it. It can’t be tougher than being an owner of a flower shop.

There were few girls playing the skipping game – they got her attention, so she approached them to ask a little favour.

“Hi girls!” – her warm smile and soft voice were really a fine contrast to the adults here. – “Could you help me out, please? I am your teacher for today, but I need to gather everyone round for a class. Could you help me please?”

The girls were absolutely adorable. They agreed to help out. They darted around yelling that there is a person in need to get all them together.

In matter of minutes all the kids were sitting on the grass in front of Stella. Yet she noticed one little boy further near the tree, drawing.

“Is he coming? Did you ask him?” – She looked at the girls. They smiled in return.
“Na-ah, he’s always like that. Just let him be.” – girl with ponytail said and they all laughed.

“Well,” – Stella took a moment to give him another look, then took a deep breath and began lesson. – “ I’m Stella and I’m here to give you a short lesson. Today we’ll get to explore a little about the flowers!”

“Boo! Boring!” – One troublemaker booed her and tried to get up and flee, but she cut him off.

“Oh yeah?” – Her eyebrow raised, – “Did you know that there are poisonous flowers? Ones that were written about in the finest of the stories by knights and kings?”

Boy stopped in his tracks, his attention was hooked. Now he sat back down, although he made the face of “oh why didn’t you start with it then?” and was ready to listen.

“What kind of flowers?” – Another asked.

“There is such a fine flower that produces the worst of the poisons – Belladonna. The name is that of the finest princess, but the effect causes the worst of the symptoms lead by death. But that is not all – this flower was used a lot by witches and shamans. A dangerous and very mysterious flower.” – Stella was keeping the air of the mystery. With her story she drew everybody’s attention. Even the one boys who was sitting further out – he even stopped his drawing.

Stella went into depths of how the flowers were used, then gave into details of how over time people learned to use some flowers in medical purposes, how they scientifically started to extract the chemicals from the poisonous flowers and mixed them for a finest medicine. She also advised not to eat random flowers and absolutely be aware of them being beautiful, but sometimes deadly.

Everyone was absorbed by her stories. Each part not only included information about the flowers, but also the history, the myths and fairest of fairy tales that mingled with the flowers. Kids eyes were glowing. They never had anything faintly resembling the type of lessons that Stella just now gave them.

Madame attendant came around to cut off the lesson for today.

“That’s all for today!” – She clapped hands few times, – “Director is waiting.” – Her hoarse voice was absolutely killing it.

“Noo!” – pleaded the kids. They could not agree with finishing this fantastic stories.

“You’ll come again, right?” – Ponytail girl asked, looking sad.

“Ah, I think so.” – Stella stumbled in words, as she was pushed by Madame.
“Promise you’ll come again!” – Kids whined.

Stella took a look at these rascals following her as she was pulled by Madame. Her eyes wandered to see that boy who was further out – even he looked really worried.

 

Something snapped inside Stella. Determination spiking.

“I’ll come again. Promise!” – She said loudly so that everyone present would hear. Kids cheered. The boy at the back gave a sigh of relief, smiling.

 

Stella went inside the halls, following Madame Attendant.

“You sure have some temper issues if you dare to throw such promises.” – Hoarse voice full of dislike was echoing in the empty long halls. – “You ought to know better.”


Stella said nothing in return. She just thought about the moment this old grumpy lady gets her amount of happiness in life to stop being so sourly bitter.

Few floors up, few halls down – they reached the Directors office. Madame knocked on the door, pulling the handle and opening it without waiting for reply.

“Here she is. Kids are extatic. She did well.” – Madame glanced at Stella, squinting her eyes, – “Yet she promised something to them.” – She said, gave evil eye, then turned on her heels and went back to her chores.

Stella walked towards Directors desk. Not really happy about Madames remarks, but putting on smile anyway.

Directors glasses were thick, holding barely on the bridge of his nose. His bearded face was directed to the papers in front of him. Eyes glued to the top pages. He then flipped the pages, taking out the pen twirling it near the bottom of last page. He was mulling over something, then he put down the pen, pulled out pipe and only then his eyes looked up at Stella.

“So, you made them a promise. What sort of promise did you give them?” – His eyes piercingly cold, locked on Stella. Her calm demeanour was really new to him. He saw only few such calm people. All of whom ended up dead whilst fighting for the freedom of this country, or locked in up as “mental” patients.

“I promised them I’d return. And I plan to keep that promise.” – Voice soft and full of determination. Stella was not averting her eyes.

She knew that such old-school gentlemen were a sort who try to instil fear, before taking control. – “So, did you find my proposal to your liking?” – Her hand raised up a little, fingers pointing at the document in front of him.

Director kept on looking at her, as he raised the document up and waved with it.

“I did check it. Must say that it is absolutely new to me – to have young people with such devotion and determination to the cause. But I must ask you.” – Director lit up his pipe, as he put down the document, – “What makes you so determined to work here? We do not have any available positions, nor do we have money to pay for your tutoring. So why, at all odds, you still are here so eager to make it happen?”

Stella had a serious face, as she looked down at the papers.

“My grandmother told me a story once. Her sacred story that has its main root embeded in here – in this orphanage. So in her memory I want to be part of the place, that was once sacred to her.”

Director looked at her in slight surprise. He had no such memory of her relatives being anywhere near this orphanage, not hosted, nor adopting, not even somehow involved. And he did work here for a really long time.

“I also want to help.” – Stella now looked at really sceptical Director, – “I know how I can help. With kids, with their education and the place itself. I just really want this place to keep alive.” – Stella locked eyes with Director – “I know of the new directive from town hall about this orphanage. That is why I mustered my courage now to act. With my knowledge of work in shop and helping out – I am sure that I can give to this place plenty.”

Director was not happy to hear her say about that town hall directive. He was full well aware of how they were now eager to close this place up and sell it to some business empire. He knew that he had to do something. And then this lady shows up, persistent in her wish to have a talk, to have a chat. But he saw it in her eyes – she was really determined to help this place. Even though her reasoning might have been a questionable one, but the confidence in her own words was visible.

It took few good days of getting used to working as a tutor for orphanage and being the owner in the flower shop simultaneously. Although quite tough, but Stella was enjoying it.

The classes were for the kids that were in need of extra tutoring to receive better grades in public school. All the kids that were under this extra tutoring were of age between 11 and 17.

Stella was enjoying the time that she spent with kids. To give them a bit more perception on how to easier digest new information, to helping them recap the missed out things, to actually, boosting their confidence.

The kids began to like her, starting to turn to her for advice, or to just have some tea with her and tell her their worries. Stella would offer some advice here and there. That did a lot of difference in their coping with studies and more.

Few weeks in – Director called Stella up late in the evening.

“Must thank you for encouraging kids with studies. I have something to discuss. We have here few kids that are in need of an extra tutoring. So we organised a small group for tutoring in evenings. So I am calling you, to say that you’ll have four more evenings here to spend weekly.” – Director sounded swamped with paperwork, so it could be understandable.

“I’ll do my best to teach them well. I’ll come pick the papers tomorrow.” – Stella was closing the doors of Flower Shop.

“No need. I’ll send them to you tomorrow, so you can prepare for a day after. That’s when the classes will conduct.” – Director was puffing out smokes, as he spoke in receiver, – “There will be only few students of concern. But I think you’ll manage.”

He ended a call abruptly, as always. It’s not anymore that frustrating, as it was at the start, but still left displeasure lingering.

During next day morning the postman arrived with a package. The list of kids and the subjects Stella will help them with. Altogether eleven youngsters. She read their names for the first time.

“How come I haven’t seen them before?” – She muttered to herself.

“Stella! My dear workaholic! Do you even know the word “break”? A fantastic word! And the meaning leaves you so satisfied that it’s a dream!” – Maya waltzed in flower shop, with her witty remarks she made everyone laugh.

“Whoa! That’s a full cake!” – Jen clapped hands, standing behind counter, as she saw Mayas cake box in hands. – “Is that for us?”

“You guessed it right honey!” – Maya put the box on countertop. – “The great team of this flower heaven needs a great reward! As always, the finest delicacies of great patissier that is my slave master! But we still love him. So here is his masterpiece of a forest berry cake! Please enjoy!” – Maya was gesturing towards cake, as it seemed like a precious stone being sold by merchant.

These things were typical of Maya. But that is also why she was loved by everyone. Although she was quite the rebel.

“Maya, you are spoiling them rotten.” – Stella came out from the back of the shop.

“Oh! My sweet cherry pie!” – Maya came up to Stella, giving her tight hug, – “You are so goddamn lost in work, that I, the pinnacle of all creations, must descend to pull you out of that forever-work hamster wheel. You know how I love you!”

“Stop flirting. It hurts me too much.” – Berry came out.

“O-oh! The lone wolf!” – Maya made a face, – “You’ll find your love soon, don’t worry.”

“Before I do, could you cut it a bit? So that my poor heart does not come to hate you two?” – Berry was as witted as Maya.

The two colliding was the best ever show.

“Then, Ladies, Knights,” – Maya looked at staff, – “I’ll be taking this fine lass with me for today. Love you lots!” – Maya grabbed Stellas hand and pulled her along.

“Have fun you two!” – Jen laughed.

“Sure, go on a date! Make me even more jealous! Haha!” – Berry laughed.

A place is a hole-in-the-wall type of eatery that also serves fine brews. Stella and Maya sat at the table, as they finished food. Waiter brought to them pints of cider. A local best selling beverage.

“So, you silly putty, are you keeping up with this workload?” – Maya smiled warmly.

“I actually do.” – Stella snickered.

“Ri-ight!” – Maya exclaimed sarcastically,- “And you absolutely love all the time you spend checking their homework, assignments, all the literature and sciences, and on top of that you absolutely get in love with every arrangement flower shop deals with, because you love working with flowers, head buried deep in, with endless satisfaction from morning to late night!” – Maya looked at Stella, the sarcastic question hung in air.

Stella blew raspberries and started to laugh.

“But seriously girl, you better not stretch yourself. Working too much ain’t good for your health.” – Maya gulped the sweet booze.

“I get your worries, but I’m fine. Really. I enjoy what I do. And to me, all this time with kids is giving me more sense of fulfillment. Like I actually leave a mark in this world.” – Stella touched Mayas hand, entwining their fingers.

“Leave a mark, you say. Just make a baby to me. I’ll bear your child. No regrets. As long as you’ll be called the “papa” of the family.” – Maya squeezed the hand.

They laughed. Stella knew full well how overprotective and caring is Maya. They were, after all, together from childhood. All the quarrels about playgrounds sandbox not having enough buckets, to drinking together in strange places – they were by each others side through thick and thin.

Getting up to second floor apartment was tough. The stairs outside, the long open halls, the woozy eyesight that made them squint eyes in order to put key in keyhole.

Two drunkards holding onto each other, shushing each other as laughter pushed through, they managed to get into Stellas apartment.

Undressing, then giggling and stumbling to shower, as things fall down from drunken clumsiness.

“I’m coming in.” – Maya opened door wide, not minding Stella washing herself under steamy hot water. Maya pulled shower curtain and barged in. – “ Aww, so warm.” – She hugged Stella.

 

“Maya-a…” – Part giggling said Stella, – “You’re drunk.” – Stella hugged Maya back.

 

“So what? We’re both drunk. Whatcha gonna do? Scold me?” – Maya looked in Stellas eyes.

The two naked bodies hugging tight, water pouring over them.

Eyes locked on one another. Then slowly, as if magnet, pulled their lips together.

Kiss. Wet kiss. With a smile and giggle seeping through at first, then as breath was taken over, the kiss filleld up with passion. Hands softly, surely, fondling velvet skin, tongue tracing neckline.

 

In few moments they were in bed. Embracing each other, passionately, deeply, fully, as if the chain that held them back – broke.

Soft moans filled room, the pleading for more, the pleasure rose more and climax overflowed like euphoria.

 

One more young child was left in the orphanage. Crying, sniffling in bed, restless. After being shushed few times, kid was told to shut up. Silent whining continued.

Louis was out in the late evening, sun had set a while ago, yet he had no wish of getting back to his bed in orphanage. Young new kids were not letting him sleep. He despised whining.

“What do I do…” – had finally brewed up in his head, as it was past 11 PM, – “I’ve screwed up curfew. Not like they care anyway.”

As he walked the streets of town, he saw his tutor, with a friend, wobbling out of taxi.

He watched them go up the stairs, fall down few times, then laugh, barely manage to open the door and stumble in.

“That drunk, huh?” – He mumbled under his breath, as he decided to walk to the apartment door – left open wide.

He silently glimpsed at the two drunkards, crushing all in their way, as they stumbled towards their goal.

“I shouldn’t…” – Was now battling in his head, as he held doorknob.

It was easy. They are drunk. From even out here it looks like apartment has few rooms. One definitely is guest room. Door open. They would not notice even if he’d slither in for the night. His hands sweaty. Fear of getting caught was rummaging.

Last drop was the sound of footsteps of person coming up the stairs.

“I might get caught, shit!” – Shot of adrenaline in an instant made a decision. He walked in, shutting the door behind him.

Footsteps passe by. Louis exhaled.

By the sound of the water – the drunken ladies were in shower.

Louis took off onto a check-out of the place. Entry hall lead to the sitting and kitchen. On the sides were two rooms. Bedrooms. Master bedroom had the bathroom, that hosted two ladies enticed. There was a toilet near the entrance hall, that was right beside the guest bedroom.

Louis checked kitchen, opened fridge, got out enough to make sandwiches and eat them on the spot.

“They sure take long in there.” – Thought Louis to himself, as ht heard dull thump of something o the bed.

Unsure of what happened he slowly and silently got closer to master bedroom door.

He stood stunned. His cheeks started to burn. His pants felt tighter, heat rushing down.

He observed them. Moment by moment, with each moan they let out it became harder to breathe. Hands reached down, as he unzipped his fly, pulling hot flesh out. He enjoyed them enjoying selves. Their loud moans filled the air, so nobody heard his grunt, as the hot liquid shot into his hand.

He turned, walked to kitchen, washing his hands and rest.

Moments later it was silent. Dead silent of the night. He walked over to guest bedroom, locking door.

His weakened body slumped onto bed. Sleep pulled Louis in – in a second.

Early morning came with chirping of birds outside the window.

Louis woke up, feeling still quite drained. He listened – but the rest of apartment was quiet.

Room unlocked, he came out, silently walked to the apartment entrance door, then left.

The lingering feeling of wrongdoing wrapped itself around Louis. The aftertaste of the air on his tongue from the apartment – the smell of their body heat, the sweat and moans that filled room – he felt as if it haunted him. Memory was burned into his mind with each detail he savoured.

Sitting in the classroom provided for evening tutoring, Stella was beet red. She read the message left on her phone by Maya, asking when will be the next day off, so they can enjoy more time together.

Stella now knew that such time together implemented more, than just chats, drinks and laughter. That evening at her apartment had bonded them in a new way – making them lovers. The friendship they had now grew to be more intimate in new ways.

Making way to the evening tutoring. Louis knew that he did want to apply to a better higher education establishment and for that he needed to improve more.

He has heard of the new teacher and new improved tutoring, as the Director had told. But he was unsure what this new tutor brings to the table.

The door opened and the students walked in. All eleven of them. The girls and boys of teen age. All in their 16-17s.

By the information provided beforehand – Stella knew that they all wanted to get into better universities and further higher education, which is why they all asked Director to help them out. But half of them have some behavioural troubles. Having an attitude of a really different sort, than others.

They all walked in, having a bit of a stop at the entrance to give the tutor look over. This was their first time having a session with her. Then took seats.

Stella gave introduction, then verified the subjects they need more help in and made the list of things for herself – to be fully able to help to the best of possible extent.

They then had a review of the subjects and past papers and lessons they had, so that the proper strategy built up on how to approach each of the eleven students.

Once the lesson finished – Stella thanked them, excused self and went on her way home.

To Louis seeing her being the promised tutor was quite the surprise. Yet years of poker face practise and emotional restraint did not give him away. Although the lingering memories caught him few times, so much so, that his pants became tight.

Just the memory of how his tutor, before his eyes now, but days ago was moaning and bending under another ladies body, squirming and pleading for pleasure – it was hard to put the idea down. To kick it to the curb of the mind, so that he could have some focus.

It was a hard time, keeping the cool, when the bulge in the pants wanted out.

When the lesson was over and she left, others rushed out as well. He had to take a minute to calm it down, before standing up and walking to his room.

It was late – everyone fast asleep. But the rummaging new feeling of uneasiness could not let go. Louis had no idea what to do, so he dressed silently and sneaked out for a walk.

“Just what the heck am I going to do with this goddamn situation?” – He mumbled to self, as he walked on the old pavement in the garden near old mansion, that was situated near the orphanage, now closed, as the attempts of making it a museum did not succeed.

He walked in moonlight, as the night gave chills. The autumn was getting colder.

As he approached the garden of flowers, still up-kept by the locals, known as the finest place for romantic endeavours, he heard voices.

“No Maya, not here. Seriously… Mmm..”

Louis recognised this voice straight away. Same voice that hung in air during tutoring.

He walked closer, being unnoticed.

The two lovebirds were in the gazebo. By now, with their coats off, having the shirts unbuttoned, skirts lifted, messy and kissing.

Louis hid behind a wooden gate which was at the side of the garden. But close enough to see the inside of gazebo.

“Seriously, just walk away. They have their thing.” – He turned around, with thoughts to walk off, but something just did not let him go. Body would not move.

Listening to the moans, hard breathing and wet sounds – he turned around to watch. His eyes glued, any sense of restraint was lost. His hands wondered to his pants, relieving the hot end, as he began feeling himself.

Stella was on her knees, as Maya stood. Her hands lowered Mayas panties, fingers sliding in her wet hole, her tongue feeling the heat of the Mayas rose bud. Lovers moans leaving lips, as the pleading and words of love were softly spoken out to Stella.

Then the loud gasp, Maya clasped her hands on Stellas head, pushing her into the private parts.

“Yes, yes! I’m coming!” – Maya let out.

Love juices flowing out, dripping onto Stella. She also was sopping from the pleasure giving. Own hand in panties, fingering self, as other is pleasuring lover.

As they both orgasmed, they giggled and kissed.

“Honey, your tongue does wonders.” – Maya smiled.

“Not so bad yourself. Although your sweet moans are the best aphrodisiac to me.” – Stella caressed her lovers cheek.

They then straightened their attires, walking towards the exit. As they passed by the wooden gates, Stella turned around.

“What’s wrong?” – Maya pulled her by the hand.

“I just heard something.” – Stella replied.

“Must be squirrel. Come on, we’re still in need of sleep.” – Maya laughed, as they walked, holding hands, towards the parked car.

As they walked, Stella turned around once more. This time seeing someone. In the moonlight. Like a prince with blond or white hair, tall. His cold appearance was quite familiar.

“Must be ghost. Or mind is playing tricks on me.” – She thought to herself as she turned back. – “Although he seemed really charming.”

Louis stood behind wooden arch, thanking it’s makers that it was wide enough for him to be unnoticed.

Although when he turned to look at them go, he saw Stella looking at him. Straight at him. Heart tightened. Fear made him break a cold sweat, but she turned around, pretending not to see him.

“Maybe she will brush it off… Although it would be a waste.” – He spoke words, in bare whisper, and the last bit made him smile.

The way he observed them in the gazebo, he was picturing Stella on her knees below Him, not that lady. He wondered how that tongue would roll on his skin, how he would pleasure him. The moment when they orgasmed – he came. Shooting it out in front of him.

Now the realisation kicked in – he wished for her. New feeling of possession swelled inside him. Soft, mellow madness.

The lessons were going on as planned, the work in flower shop was without a doubt the best. As the autumn came and went, the winter began with it’s chills and darker nights, shorter day, new selection of cakes in Mayas workplace and fine new teas.

The winter was great – Christmas and New year were spent with dear lover, the amount of happiness just kept accumulating. It all resembled a great dream of pleasure and happiness.

Yet once the spring rolled around, the air somehow changed. Maya started to keep something from Stella, making it harder for relationship to progress. The nights spent together shortened, as Maya said she has to stay with her parents more. She would not tell why. But with all the issues about her fathers health, Stella knew that it was most likely the case. “The father of my lover was getting worse” – she assumed.

Yet rolled in February. And the first week of it, usually full of anticipation of St.Valentine’s day, with preparations and the neat arrangements, had become the worst week in whole history of life for Stella.

In her apartment, she and Maya were having lunch, when finally Maya got on with her struggle and decided to tell what was so bothersome.

“Hey,” – She began, her eyes locked on Stella, – “we have been together since forever. I know, and you know that I wish to marry you and have kids, family… But…” – Mayas voice quivered – “My mum had found out about us. Not that we kept it much like a secret.” – Maya once again pulled her strength together, but her eyes were tearing up, – “My mum, had shared the issue with aunty, and the family said that it would be disastrous.  They stared to pressure me, and eventually presented to me the arranged marriage papers. Mum said that I should not devastate fathers heart, as he is wishful for the man in family and me to be with husband.”

Stella was awed in shock.

“Arranged marriage?!” – She finally managed to pull out of herself, breath losing it’s way, heart beating madly. – “Why didn’t you say anything about it?! Why do I find out about it now?!”

Maya let out a sigh, her voice trembling, as she spoke.

“I truly wished for us to be together. But you know my parents – they are not the accepting kind. I tried. God knows I tried hard to fight them back, but they just arranged it all. My wedding is in months time.” – Maya began crying, unable to hold sorrow.

Stellas fury was put out by the despair she saw in front of herself in her lovers face. This was the face of a person who genuinely loved her, treasured her and knew of the struggles of their love in real life.

Stella got up, walked up to Maya and hugged her, Mayas face buried in Stellas chest, her crying whimpers made Stella break in tears.

Stella never thought of possibility of losing her dear lover. Not once she pictured hr beloved in hands of another person, let alone a random man of arranged marriage.

The pain struck heart full force, the feeling of part of her being ripped by society, by other family, after all she devote to them…

“I wish I could run away, I thought of that too, but you know my family – they’d find me even if I would run far-far away. They have connections everywhere. Mum says that as a successor I must abide the the traditions and take up the duty.” – Maya muffled cries resonated in the body.

Stella knew the full extent of how difficult was Mayas family. She had heard of the endless preaching from her family about taking up the business and keeping traditions. They did remind her that her fun life, the way she has it now – would not last.

But having her lover taken from her was truly the worst. Yet Stella knew – she had to support her lover, her friend, because things could not have been changed, no matter the effort. It’s the “family traditions”. Stella knew she had to be strong for her friend and beloved, so that eventually they could be together.

“How about I keep being by your side? Even after you marry, you’ll still be here, right?” – Glimpse of the hope was in Stellas eyes, all directed towards her.

Maya got up, placed her palms on Stellas shoulders. Her eyes full of sorrow.

“I was told that I’m leaving with him, right after marriage. They don’t give me any time to stay longer with you. And by the requests – I must bare child soon after. I won’t be able to come. Not in near future.” – Maya knew her sentence. Like a prisoner bound for the fate.

“I… I get it…” – Stella walked towards window.- “I get it… I’ll do all the flower arrangements for your wedding. Let me at least have that.” – The voice of a dead man. All hope left her.

Maya knew and so did Stella – there could be no escape.

The same day evening – there had to be tutoring. Thankfully, due to the balanced out way she did her tutoring – she was with students one-on-one. That helped her to do better at giving undivided attention to every single student doing their best at studies.

Today was the day when no matter the effort – Stella could not fake a smile, could not keep concentrating.

Louis sat beside his tutor, completing assignments. He stole a glance at Stella, who kept sighing throughout most of the lesson. It as an hour and a half long, but for an hour straight – Stella did nothing. She barely managed to pay any attention, forgetting what was in front of her.

“Alright, I can not take this sour face of yours any more.” – Louis turned to face Stella. – “I absolutely see that you have no idea what is going on in here right now, as you are far away someplace else.”

Stella looked at Louis in surprise.

 

“Yeah, I’m not a kid, I get that you’re in some trouble. How about we go off for a walk and you tell me all about it?” – Louis eyes, the most exquisite type of turquoise were staring directly into Stellas widened eyes.

She shook her head.

“Oh no, no, I’m sorry, but you’re a student and as a teacher I should not imply such worldly dread upon you.” – Stella was trying to get out of this moment, but at the same time, the calm demeanor in this boy was making her think twice.

“I’m not that young, I am already 17, as far as I know, you are barely 24, so it’s not much of the age difference. And also – I know a good place with fine drinks, served even to me.”  – His eyes dead locked on her. Determination in his calm, but stern gestures were gentlemanly. – “Unless you pour it out, it will not stop hurting.”

Louis put all the belongings in his bag, then stood up and stretched his hand onwards his tutor.

“Well, I’ll be an excuse for an adult today.” – Stella muttered, as she took his hand to stand up. – “Shall we then?”

The really calm, yet determined way he spoke and held himself were quite remarkable to Stella. She knew him as the most quiet student who’d not answer, unless asked to, who is the one completing tasks at best and he is really smart for his age. She liked to tutor him. But today as the first time she looked at him directly – at him, as a man.

“He sure seems all grown up.” – She thought to herself.

They made their way to a really old pub, it was not too far from the orphanage, but due to the location being in the back streets – you’d never find this place, unless you knew where to seek.

The old metallic sign dangled in front of the entrance. The building itself looked like it popped from the history book, where the houses are made of stone, not brick and windows are small. The chimney was having smoke rising from it. The one storey pub was quite the eye-catcher.

As they went inside – the bartender, old grumpy man, lit up in a smile for a moment – as he saw Louis.

“Oh, my boy!” – Then the old man saw Stella, – “ ‘That a friend?”

“Yeah,” – Louis walked to the bar, – “Two of the “Melfior Forest”, please.”

The old man moved behind the bar counter, then put on top two chalices foaming on top.

“We’ll be in garden.” – Dropped Louis, as he took the chalices and walked towards the back door. – “Come on!” – He looked at Stella.

She speedily walked towards Louis, feeling like a kid. This boy was acting way too grown up.

The outside garden was magnificent – it was on the edge of the cliff, guarded by the fence, but still it was possible to fall down – into pit of darkness and forest, that stretched below. The view was picturesque. The forest merged into the vast sky, stretched all around them.

“This was once an old tavern. The old man here is a new owner. He decided to keep it as close to original look as possible, he just loves the drinks – that‘s why his pub is best at the most odd drinks and the names of the drinks. It’s like we’re back to the times of sorcerers and witches. He just loves this theme.” – Louis put the chalices on the wooden table. He looked at Stella and gestured for her to take a seat across.

She sat down, he pushed one chalice towards her. The odd green foam was really interesting. It was not thick, but fluffy. And the brew seemed the oddest dark green she has ever seen.

“This is the best drink here.” – Louis took a sip from own chalice. – “So tell me, what is going on? Why do you look like you died inside?”

He was so calm – it was contagious.

Stella looked at chalice, thank took it and drank the concoction. The taste was peculiar. It was like she magically would have a sip of coniferous forest. She even looked at the chalice in surprise. That made Louis let out a small laugh, as he smiled.

“I have never tasted anything like it.” – The awed surprised look on Stellas face, just like in her soul, just yanked fer for a moment to the world of new. As if letting her forget about the pain. – “What did you say it was called?”

Louis looked at the amazed Stella in mischievous way.

“It’s “Melfior Forest”. A kind of memory of old wizard who tamed dragons – Melfior. He usually resided in forests. Therefore the name is the way it ended up.” – Louis kept observing Stella. She was twisting and turning the chalice, trying more of the brew. – “So, what troubles you?”

Stella looked at her company – his eyes could undress the soul bare, truly. His blond hair and tall, good build – were ones of the prince. And having this scenery, his brew in this place – did the most at highlighting how he could be a knight of a prince, if he were to be born back in the days.

She looked at the chalice, inside the green drink swirled.

“A person I love is being taken away. And there is nothing I can do, but to accept it. Circumstances made it so, that nor I nor that person could make it work. Although it pains me to know that…” – Stella looked at the forest, – “It pains me to know that we’ll never meet again. And all this – all this ceases to exist. It’s so unfair.”

Moment of silence hung.

“Life has a tendency to be unfair.” – Louis spoke, – “My life is unfair as well. Being in orphanage, fighting for my place in school, clawing it, so that nobody dares to bring me down. It’s always hard. Nobody said for it to be easy. Maybe your lover too – thought at some point that all could be mend, changed and forgotten, but reality has a different plan, a different face.”

“She is a… She’s like a captured being and me… I have to keep on going, although now it feels like I loved her more, than she did me. I feel like…” – Stella had held her cry, sniffling nose, rubbing eyes.

“She, just like you – enjoyed it together. Just keep in your heart the good times. And then you too – you need to find somewhere to divert yourself. You can’t keep on going this sour on other lessons. Others are unlike me – they’ll fail you. Even if you are good tutor, it does not mean you have a chance for a mistake. Not like that.” – The tone became colder, his voice now really enticing, – “You can use me. As long as it helps. Not that I can stop the events unfolding, but I an be there for you. It’s not that you can tell to anyone that your lover is another girl.”

Stella silently gasped. She just realised her slip of a tongue – that she unveiled the information that is so judged in this time, about self and her lover. Her eyes, teary looked up at Louis, awaiting for something horrendous to follow up, she froze.

“I can be all, but not judgemental. It’s not my business whom you choose as your lover. It’s love – you’re free to love whomever. I don’t care.” – He brushed it off with ease, leaving Stella relaxing in her seat, as deep breath is taken and she downs all of the chalice in one go.

“Another one!” – She exclaims, as the feeling of being at ease warmly wraps her.

“Sure” – Smiles Louis, as he stands up, takes both chalices and disappears behind the door.

The evening progressed into night, Stella was on with drinking the sweet and really mellow drink that was magical and reminded of forest. She told stories of her and Maya. She told it all. Somehow being like this, having someone listen to her – lightened her heart. And weirdly, alongside Louis she felt at ease. Like he was someone she knew for a long time.

“You’re drunk. I’ll call taxi.” – Louis said, as he got up, but Stella jumped at him, grabbing him by the arm.

“No. No-no-no-no-no. You have to walk me home. Yes.” – She said that with absolute conviction. – “I won’t take any taxi. You walk me home.”

“You are drunken mess, you know that?” – Louis sighed, as he held her hand back, she clinging to him, not to fall.

“I’m a bad drunk! Who cares!” – Stella laughed, as they left the pub.

She guided him, with the directions that she knew, but after one more time she got lost, he told her to stop being loud and yelling directions. He pulled her along – knowing exactly where to go.

“Did you get some magical powers from that booze, that you know where I live?” – Stella was slightly perplexed, but once she stood at the apartment door she happily exclaimed – “Sweet home!”

Then as Louis was about to excuse self, Stella grabbed him by the arm and pulled inside.

“No-no-no-no-no, tonight you’re staying here. You said you will help me – so you keep me company. No buts. Coz I am your teacher! Ha!” – She giggled, as she took off coat and shoes, sitting in the entryway, barely having sense of direction.

Then she took herself towards her bedroom, as on the way she took off clothes.

“I’ll take a shower. Be right back..” – She mumbled, as she stumbled towards her bathroom.

Minutes later the sound of running shower commenced.

Louis took a deep breath. Having to deal with drunks was not new. But dealing with this drunk was a whole lot of different matter. Once he heard of Maya leaving the picture, he was happy.

He walked to the bathroom in master bedroom. He stood watching Stella wash up clumsily, as his hands were crossed on his chest, he smiled.

Her body exposed, yet no awareness of anyone around her made the the sort of oblivious.

Then she turned the water off.

“Pass me towel, will you?” – She said reaching her hand out, as she stood with her back towards Louis.

“As you wish.” – Louis said merely, as he took towel and gave it to her. – “Anything else?”

She wrapped self in a towel, then turned around, glaring like she was about to give a lecture, then her eyes darted around – her fantasy faded. She looked like she was expecting somebody else to stand there, yet that person was no longer within her reach.

She looked down, got out and hugged Louis. Her wet hair soaking his shirt, her breath on his chest. Then she began to weep. Her cries were muffled against Louis chest, tears completely soaking the rest.

He hugged her back. His warmth was what she needed, although, she thought that any warmth will do, but somehow it was different.

His soft voice calling her name, saying it’ll be alright and that he’s there for her – were making her cry more, until she was dried of tears. Sniffling her nose, her hair partly dried, the boy in front of her – drenched.

She looked up, and it was like she saw a saviour. The feeling that she can rely on him was there, warming her anew.

He asked her to wash her face and dry her body, put on clothes, while he makes some food for them. She agreed. She too out the hair dryer and walked with it into the kitchen.

Louis took off his soaked shirt, so his fine body was quite the sight. As he was Stella walking in – he took up the dryer, asked her to sit and said he’ll do her hair.

She sat down. Warm air against her skin was feeling good, his fingers, his touch – it felt like he had done this before. But it was a gentle touch.

Exhausted mentally, Stella received the late night dinner made by Louis. It was delicious.

He did the clean up, he took her to the bed. She grabbed his hand, as he was about to walk out.

“Stay with me.” – She said, voice husky from crying.

“Can I use the bath?” – He was calm. Unwavering tone. As if nothing could shake his demeanour or character.

Stella nodded. He used her bath, as he got out, his wet hair brushed back by his hand, towel wrapped around his hips – Stella had a slight squeeze in her heart. He was unbearably handsome – idea shot through her head. Maybe it’s the amount of sadness she felt, maybe it’s amount of booze that she had, but right now, after this long evening – right now, standing in front of her – he was painfully handsome.

He walked out, then got back.

“I’ve put my clothes to wash. I’ll wait until i can use my boxers again, so that I don’t feel this uneasy.” – He gave a faint smile, as he stood in the room.

“Come here” – Stella pat on the bed beside her.

He let out a sigh, then came over and sat down. Stella rested her head on his shoulder, wrapping her hand around his torso, as she breathed in his scent.

She knew that the body aroma of each person is different. But even after he used her shower toiletries, he still has this unique aroma. So warm, calming.

She fell asleep in a moment.

Next morning she woke up still hugging Louis. He had his boxers on – conveniently enough, so that Stella does not panic.

It was late morning. Around 11 o’clock.

Although she expected her body to have hangover with painful stomach, headache and more, but none of such was in presence.

“Magical brew it is” – she thought to self, as she sneaked out of own bed.

To make up for her bad behaviour – she went to make breakfast. Today was a day off anyway. So she was in a way lucky. If there was work – she’d be overboard late, scolded by staff in flower shop. Which would be embarrassing and troublesome.

At the stove, making omelette, having salad prepared, she put on the coffee maker. Brewed coffee was the best in the morning.

Louis woke up to the sound of kettle boiling and smell of breakfast. He rubbed his eyes, still feeling tired from all that taking care of a drunken mess from the previous night.

Although it was his initiative to make her talk – the amount of cleaning he’s done was tremendous.

He got up, put pants on, stumbling sleepily into the kitchen, yawning as he did.

“Good morning! Breakfast is ready. Coffee will be done in a moment. I was about to go wake you up, actually.” – Stella was slightly nervous, as her mumbling was quite too fast for the sleepy Louis to understand this early.

“Uh? Oh… Breakfast. Than you.” – He sat down at the table. Although he has this manliness and adult air, but right now – this morning – he looks like a teenager. Sweet, young, still barely functioning in the morning, case of bed head, still rubbing eyes, yawning, as he covers his mouth. A sweet kid.

Stella put the plate with breakfast in front of him, got own plate in front of her, leaving coffee aside on same table.

“Do you have your coffee with milk? Sugar?” – Stella asked,as she reached out to cupboard.

“Both please.” – Louis looked at her, focusing his eyes.

“Sure.”  – Stella got the sugar, then reached into the refrigerator for milk. Pulling both out on the table.

“Bon appetit” – Stella said, as she sat down to eat.

“Thank you.” – Louis said, as he began on his omelette. He smiled, as he devoured the food.

They enjoyed the breakfast, and as they sat to enjoy morning coffee – Stella turned on TV.

Luckily they were watching some interesting show about the traveling people. How they had been around the globe, checking new places, talking to new people, experiencing cultures. It was nice.

Louis then got up, after he finished his coffee – to grab another one. Stella found it cute, as right after having half of another cup – he looked fairly awake.

“I must go back, or they’ll… Although they don’t give a damn.” – He took a glance ot the window.

“Spend the day with me, relax here. I do feel like I imposed on you a lot yesterday.” – Stella felt more alive, more up, unlike yesterday.

It truly, to her, felt like he somehow lifted that feeling of sadness, letting her cope with the decision she made. He was kind enough to listen to her, to give her some advice and just be the only person – who noticed that she was off. Not on her way there, nor during meeting with Director and other staff in orphanage – no one noticed a thing, and she thought that she as good at playing it cool. He was the only one.

“I was wondering, how come you still are not… with family?” – Stella asked out of the blue.

Louis gave her a glance, eyes looking for the reason why she asked, but seeing that it was at random, with no other thoughts behind it – he took a breath.

“You see, that place has the high priority and low priority people for adoption.Not to mention that it’s harder to put in care of new people a kid with attitude, who won’t play it the way they want. Also – the families, couples no longer visit us, as often, and most request the younger kids to raise. I was put in their care, in orphanage, when I was 13. To put it shortly – accident with… And then I was ditched in the orphanage. For me that environment was not new. I was most of my life – being alone. So that was alright. Then the couples coming – did not wish to take a kid with enough knowledge to stand off with them. I’m not an idiot – I see the grown ups who lie. Which is why I did all to not be adopted. I just could not see anyone I could trust enough. That’s why I just wish to finish studies and go off on own terms. One year left for me to get there – to freedom.” -Louis unfazed and calm, told the story as-a-matter-of-factly, like it did not really make any difference, or any point at all. Like it was nothing.

Such openness made Stella give a thought. She wanted to help him – a lot, and having him in that position… She was sure that she’ help him with all she can – to get him in best school of his choice. She even decided to pay his schooling. But she said nothing.

The day commenced at a slow pace – they had a stroll in the park, then they went out to buy groceries, he helped her carry them over. They then had made a dinner and ate it.

Finally Louis said goodbyes and went back.

Stella was in her apartment alone. Looking out the window on her neighbourhood house passages.

She knew that she could change nothing with Maya, she knew that full well. Heart was still in pain. But at the same time, this motherly love started to spring inside her.

Stella took her phone and dialled a number.

“Maya, hun…”

The next days were filled with work. Stella started to pay more and more attention to details at work – both as a tutor and as a shop manager.

The flower shop took over the arrangements for Mayas wedding. Each detail. Stella full-heartedly wanted to give to Maya best flowers, best view and the greatest happiness one can have on such day.

Tutoring was now divided into one-on-ones and group classes, all spread out throughout the week. She began paying more and more attention to Louis. Started to notice more of his small habits. From how he handles pen, to how concentrated he’s during assignments.

Throughout every day that lead to wedding – Stella and Maya had calls, met up. And throughout all this time Stelle genuinely was wishing Maya the best, was convincing her that all will be fantastic and they’ll forever will be friends, how Stella will keep supporting her and this new relationship, how she will do her best, how Maya will be the best boss and the finest mum, because Stella is eager to be godmother of the greatest kids ever!

On the day of wedding Stella kept her smile, kept Mayas smile on, and really did make that wedding the best day a couple can have.

She gave Maya the believe that all will be superb, that all is for the best. And no matter what – Stella will be there every step of the way.

Then Maya left.

Phone calls were few times a week. Stella still continued pushing Maya to believe in self, to believe in her new husband, to trust this new family and be open.

Summer was slowly progressing, with the warm air breeze, birds songs and the new wave of the events that was typical of the summer. This place, this town, had a lot of events during summer. From the “Harvest”, to many “Song and Dance”, to “Flower” and many other shows and events. It was pure madness. Every week there would be something to celebrate, or to prepare for something.

This time it was easier for Louis. Due to the Maya leaving, he had Stella on him all the time. She got him a cellphone – to text him, call him and know how he is and where he is. She eventually did something he did not really expect – she managed to persuade Director to give Louis in her care, so that he lives with her.

He guessed that the old fart was actually really happy to get rid of an extra mouth to feed in the orphanage.

So right now it was his third week living with Stella. And it was – pure madness, to say the least.

Louis started to have his walks to the pub, then some further – to the old wooden abandoned shed. It was an old bus stop, but it was also a miniature shed. Louis figured that many were staying here to hide from rain, when they were waiting for bus.

This time round – he left his cell on silent mode, prior to that just texting Stella that he is out with friends and will be late.

He found out that this overprotecting control was being too much on him. Like, Stella was giving him all that love and attention, which Maya fled.

It was silent in here, the view of the road, where no cars passed by, with not too big piece of land with flowers grew and then – everywhere around was forest. It was really calming. Louis would come here every second or third day. Just to have some peace for himself.

“Oh, you’re here again?” – Voice filled with childish remark reached Louis ears.

Louis looked up to find this friend of a stranger. A girl who’d also come here once in a while. First time they met – she gave him a bit of nagging about this place being hers and how she’d not like to share it with anyone. But eventually gave in, because Louis was not a chatty type, and they both enjoyed silence.

“You again.” – Louis looked at this girl. Short hair, green eyes, in a dress, – “Oh my.” – Louis remarked with surprise once he noticed the dress – she usually wore pants or shorts with shirts.

“They made me. I hate it as it is. That’s why I managed to slip out of there.” – She breathed out, her annoyed tone lingered in sentence. She was a tomboy. – “So, you what? Also – slipping out and away again?”

“Yeah. Never thought that it could become so strangling.” – Louis replied.

The two had a tendency to speak vaguely. They never even exchanged their names. Nothing concrete was there. Just two strangers at time exchanging bits about life.

She laughed at how Louis looked tired. He was looking in front – onto the flower field, mind wondering places.

“Never thought I’d be this discouraged about what I meant.” – He spoke, eyes still glued to the scenery.

Her back against the wall, staring out into the field and how it merged with forest further.

“Then how about you just hm…” – She paused, – “…tame the snake? Unless your wish is to be strangled and eaten alive.”

The wind whooshed the leaves, the sun dancing with shadows. Air filled with scent of warm pine and grass.

“You might be right.” – He let out.

She glanced at him.

“I’d be sad to lose company here, but it’d be great to have it all to myself again.” – She mischievously smiled.

He looked up at her, not able to hold back smile of his own. It’s like they had this odd bond. Not that they’d really ever been attached to each other, but truthfully, this weird company was not troublesome. It somehow was like – he needed this company.

He stood up, walked towards her, then being right in front, looking in her eyes, smiling.

“Don’t worry,” – She said, – “I know you can tame and own that monster. Not like you need me to tell you that.”

He shook his head.

“No, not really.” – He pulled closer, landing a soft kiss on her lips, – “I might not be the same after that beast.”

“Not that I care.” – Her soft fingers brushed his cheek,- “I’d rather not see this smug face in my sacred garden.” – She waved the hand, looking up at the sky, – “Even you here – that’s already too much company.”

“I’ll come back. Just so I can see this annoyed mug of yours, when you hate seeing me here.” – Louis hand reached back of her neck, pulling her into deeper kiss.

The taste of her tongue was that of strawberries. She was like a fine dessert for him. Something to fill him in, when it all seems like madness. She hugged him back, in sweet embrace. Kiss was the sweetest kind he ever had in his life. His eyes hazed with this desire to eat the sweet in front of him, but she yanked him back by the hair. Getting out of his grip.

“You better get that beast tamed.” – She said, as she began walking away in direction opposite to one he uses. She turned around, her eyes mischievous, just like her smile, – “You better not fall into the beast trap, becoming pray. Good luck, pretty boy!”

She walked off.

Louis licked his lips – yes, strawberry taste it is. His breath hot, his heart thumping.

“You sure know how to pique interest.” – He said under his breath, turning back and walking home. – “But you sure know how to make me not doubt self.” – He grinned.

At home he met Stella – having a box prepared for him. “A gift” – she said.

She keeps on making presents to Louis, keeps on asking more and more that his time, free time – should be spent with her.

“I know that I might be a bit rude, but Louis, I really want you to spend more time with me. I’d not be able to keep going, if not for you, so I really want us to spend more time together.” – Stella was talking during dinner. – “You know, why don’t we go on a trip together? It’s summer after all. Although there are a lot of work in shop, and the teaching and all – but I can manage to get a week or two off, so we can go somewhere nice, to enjoy time together. I still can’t thank you enough.” – She smiled, as she looked at her food, – “I truly think you have become a big part of me.”

Although Louis knew that is was his goal to have her in his hands, but this was a bit hard to maintain. So he thought of the best way that would allow hi to tame this “best” – trip was a good chance for it.

“So, trip…” – Louis gazed at Stella, – “Where would you like to go?”

Stellas eyes lit up, the great happiness and the oozing of the enthusiasm – she began counting off the ideas of where they could go, what they could do and eventually one idea was a good enough idea for even Louis – the resort in mountains.

He agreed to it. She was ecstatic to build plans with him. Now she was consumed with preparations and ideas on what they could do there.

During the night, as it became a custom – Stella would cuddle up to Louis and they’d sleep together on her bed.

New morning comes.

Stella gets ready for work, Louis is making breakfast. They eat together and then walk off in directions towards their work or school. Midday she sends him texts asking how his lunch went, then they meet on the way home and go to shop for groceries for dinner, then off they go home. She keeps asking him how his day went, then mentions multiple times that she remembers him throughout the day few times, thinking about him. He keeps to himself the new level of frustration that she is becoming more and more obsessed with keeping all his time to her, making it sound that her world revolves around him and he is supposedly likewise.

Then at home they make dinner and eat together, watching something on tv, or most likely have it as a background sound for when he does his homework, and she does her checking of the students works, paperwork from work and more.

Then time is spent on bathroom and they go to bed.

An hour later – Louis takes out his phone to go into kitchen and call someone. He’d spend about 5-10 minutes on it and go to sleep. That is when he’d smile and really feel like the day went well.

Such days continue on for few weeks. Until the changing point.

The day of the trip arrives. They pack up the resources, get into car and drive off to the mountain resort Stella was so eager to get to.

Louis enjoys the changing view in the passenger seat – the typical town scape transcends into fields and that merges into forests, until they reach the mountain road and go upwards through the picturesque pines and beautiful sunny day sky.

The picked up resort consists of big hotel with many rooms, the lake nearby, and even outdoor saunas and hot tubs.

The two reserved a spacious room, with balcony overseeing the view of the forest and lake.

“Let’s go eat! I’m starving!” – Stella rubs her belly, as she calls out to Louis who’s unpacking his things.

“Sure.” – He says, as hands place the shirts in drawer and close it.

They walk to the restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. The wooden design throughout the whole place makes it seem like they are in a really warm and old-school building. The restaurant surprises them with aroma of fresh made food – mouthwatering.

As they order food from a well-mannered waiter, they check out the surroundings.

Restaurant has open wall – apparently during summer this glass balcony is opened up fully, so that the freshness of the air merges with the aroma of the food – making this experience unforgetable.

View is remarkable – the trees of mountainside, then the cascading waterfall in distance – it is truly fascinating.

The food arrived soon – making them both realise how actually starving they are. Louis did not think that he wanted to eat that badly.

As they enjoyed food, a family walked to the table near them. The mother and father with three kids – two older boys and one younger girl.

Louis was surprised – he even stopped his fork midair. There was her – his companion from the bus stop.

Stella noticed the look on Louis face, slight concern and jealousy stabbing heart.

“What is it?” – She asked Louis, trying to sound as calm as possible.

Louis then turned to look at Stella, giving off a smile. He sensed daggers that could fly his way, if he will not manage this.

“I just thought she looked like the girl from school. Made me think of why she’d be here, but it’s not her.” – He brushed this off, then dug into his food.

“I see” – Said Stella as she once more gave a look-over to the girl.

The lunch finished and they enjoyed local made tea. The rare type made only here. A fine tea of locally grown flowers and greens with berries.

Once they finished and they were on their way back to the room, they passed by the family. Louis looked at the girl once more, she merely glanced at him for a moment. It’s like she knew – she pretended not to know him either.

Like a stranger, he went by. This was warming his heart – she was here. It strangely gave him more and more courage. Like invisible support to his strategy, his plan that he was soon to execute. He was happy.

Something was not right with Stella. She felt like something slightly changed about Louis from the moment he saw that girl. “Who is she?” – Was in her mind. – “From school he said. Bollox. I know all students who go to his school and the summer school. There were no new students. What the heck is he hiding from me? Maybe she is from the part-time work in pub? She doesn’t seem like the type to be working there. Acquaintance? He is not the chatty type, not to mention I know all his friends. His phone? Have not seen any differences in the contacts, no messages there either. What the hell is she??”

The rummaging thoughts about the new disturbance were not giving her much of a mental break.

Stella went out with Louis to check the lake, they even rented a boat to cruise along lake.

The quiet demeanour of the area, the lake water being almost see through, the singing of birds – it reminded of a type of paradise. Evening crept up – the chill from the water began to rise, the air started to fill with mist that raised from farther end of lake.

Both in their room, already after the dinner.

Louis said he’d go out to grab a bottle of fizzy drink from vending machine downstairs, as Stella put out a huge bottle of wine on the table.

“I feel left out due to your wine.” – He said.

“Then drink with me!” – Stella cheered at him with a glass.

“I will, but I’ll need something for later, so I’ll go grab some Sprite or something from downstairs.” – He laughed back.

“Don’t take too long!” – She smiled and downed the glass.

Once out and downstairs, he stood near the vending machine. He knew what he had to do to finally achieve what he wanted for so long.

“Hey there, stranger.” – Voice from behind made Louis jump in surprise. He turned to face her.

“You… I must say, as much as I am glad to see you here, I am not sure how you ended up here.” – He raised his eyebrow.

“You’re saying it in a way that I was stalking you. Seen my folks? I was dragged along. Not that I’m particularly happy about it.” – She rolled her eyes. – “Anyway, I’ve seen her. So that’s the planned beast, m?”

Her absolutely relaxed straightforwardness was something remarkable – Louis liked that.

“Yes, that is the one.” – He walked towards her, once again, like before, standing inches away.

“Knew it.” – She turned her face aside. – “Once you get sullied by her – don’t bother seeing me again.” – She looked him in the eyes. – “I’m dead serious. So, make your last time worth it.”

Louis pulled her in for a kiss, once again tasting the strawberries, deeply kissing her. She wrapped her hands around him, closing last of distance between bodies, pressing self against him.

His eyes hazed, hungrily he kept on kissing, tongues bound, hands tracing her body. The feeling of her body against him – was drug-like, he wanted to pin her right here, in this dark farther corner of open veranda where all the vending machines were. He felt drunk with her kiss. Then they pulled apart, he gasped for air.

That’s when she pushed him off, softly. He looked at her, eyes voicing the question “Where?” is she going…

She smiled, her fingers brushing through his hair, she pressed her lips against his – gingerly, then pulled away for good.

“You better succeed. Or your sacrifices aren’t worth the effort.” – She said as she walked off.

“I’ll still come searching.” – He said to her back.

She did not turn around to face him.

“You better not regret. But, as  I said – I won’t take you, once you’re sullied. So make it work with that beast.” – She waved hand, as she walked away.

He stood there for a moment, getting his heart back to normal, as she, this little lynx, was making him lose all sanity – once her lips touched his. Even her touch – mesmerized.

He was now perplexed. Should he really reach his goal, or should he follow his heart and this wandering soul?

He got back to the room. Playing it at his best – like nothing took place.

Stella was third glass in – all happy and talkative.

She kept on drinking and even poured a glass for Louis. She felt like he too, had to drink. So he did slowly consume the glass of wine. Then another. In no time the two were no longer sober.

“So, you tell me, have you ever fallen in love?” – Stella began the typical drunk talk.

Louis looked at his glass – the picture flashed in his mind of the girl that left him behind on the veranda downstairs.

Stella frowned.

“You’re not thinking of me.” – Statement from her lips fell out, making air heavy. She did not smile, nor was she making a joke. She said it with disgust in mind.

Louis looked her in the eyes – she was indeed angry, like feelings reached their demise. He still kept silent. But then the words were in his head – the words that lynx left, as the taste of the strawberries were lingering on the tip of his tongue. He smiled finally.

“You are right. It’s not you that is on my mind. But I am grateful for all that you’ve done. Aren’t we family now?” – His words seemed to pierce through the others defence. Stella shifted her body, as she changed how she sat.

“So, family…” – She smiled. – “Louis, do you have secrets from me?”

“I can tell you one. But for that,” – He looked at the bottle, – “You have to down another glass now.”

Intrigued by the secret – she poured and downed glass of wine. Louis got up to take a seat next to her lap.

“Good.” – He said, as his fingers brushed through her hair.

Stella blushed at the touch. It was a while since he himself would be this close to her.

His lips near her ear, as he whispered to her the secret she wanted to hear.

“I saw how you had sex with Maya. How you moaned in pleasure,” – His fingers slowly tracing a line down her neck, to her breasts, – “how you pleased for her to give you more,” – His fingers going lower, as he undid her bathrobe, her naked body at his mercy, – “how you bent like a serpent around her, in ecstasy gasping and crying for more.”

Stellas breath became heavy, as she looked at his fine fingers on her body. She lately was expecting more skinship from him, but this was beyond expectations.

“That was the day you both came home absolutely drunk.” – He continued, as he shifted to sit behind her, his hands touching her, fingers slowly, teasingly moving down to her hot slit, – “Oh my, you’re so perverted,” – he whispered in her ear, – “Not even wearing underwear. So did you want me to go here?” – He pushed his fingers inside, she gasped, moans leaving lips.- “You were there, in the bath, held by your friend, then on bed, squirming from pleasure, like everything else was dead.”

Louis fingered Stella, other hand fondling her breasts, then tracing up, to shut her mouth, as his fingers are inside, playing with her tongue.

“You were perverted enough to actually see me there, in the door, wanking hard at you and your partner.” – He pushed her face down, making her raise hips up, – “You saw me, didn’t you?” – He fingered her from behind.

Her moans shook the air, she was being pleasured by her favourite person, face down, feeling his fingers roam around.

Mind clouded by booze, she wanted more pleasure, for her to come, even if it was him she used.

“Yes, I saw you. Although I thought that it’s my imagination gone wrong.” – She managed to push words through the moans.

“So you knew…” – Louis took empty wine bottle, pushing the neck of it up her hole. – “You perverted piece of…” – He fucked her using bottle, she came hard, squirting all over the floor.

“Don’t you dare constrict me anymore.” – He said to her in stern tone. – “I’m not yours to control.”

Stella, exhausted and drunk, sad and desperate, fell asleep on the spot. Louis cleaned up, changing her bathrobe he put her in bed. Then he left.

He washed hands outside in a lake. He thought that’d cleanse his hands of the traces of Stella on them. He did not like the feeling of her.

Over the long period he got to know here – he began to not feel this urge of sexual frustration towards her. No longer she was the same sexy beastly maiden – she was obsessed beast of darkened pit that gives endlessly, yet can’t manage to satisfy greed – for gratitude, for time spent on her, for the love she receives and so much more.

He decided to accept her, but as a stepping stone. To later give her back financially all that he owes. He does not want to be shackled by her affection any more.

He sat on the lake side. Mist wrapped all surroundings. It would not scare him if the witch or a warlock came out of the shadows, near edge of the lake.

“So, you decided to mend the mistake?” – Her voice made his heart flutter.

“You came…” – He muttered.

“You doofus, like I could not guess what you’d do.” – She sat next to him. – “You knew that I’d come rescue you.”

Louis turned and hugged her tight. He began to cry.

“Don’t you dare leave me.” – He murmured under his breath. But she heard him well.

“You silly.” – She kissed him on cheek,- “I’m here, does that not say everything?”

He looked in her eyes, as he kept holding her tight, not loosening his embrace, he reached for the kiss, deep and hot, heart began to race.

Soon after, they went to her room, as she apparently had requested to be alone, having her privacy to self to own.

He fell asleep next to her. Exhausted. Mentally drained from all.

She ruffled his hair, as his breath was steady, deep asleep he were.

“You truly are remarkable, my dear.” – She glanced out the window. – “Louis, this commences the new chapter of upcoming nightmare. But don’t worry,” – She brushed her fingers against his cheek, his lips, – “I’ll make sure that you’ll never get out of this.”

3 thoughts on “[3] Seven Deadly Cardinals – Charity/Greed

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