A few days later and you were sat in your room, mindlessly browsing the internet for New Year's celebration suggestions. A few snowflakes trailed lazily outside the window as Gilbird flew from your desk and hopped about the windowsill eagerly as if attempting to eat them. You chuckled at his feather-brained foolishness and checked your phone for the hundredth time that day.
No New Messages. Since you sent the photo Arthur had made no further contact, and you were thankful the message seemed to have finally sunken in. Still, you couldn't dismiss the fact the texts had been your only connection to your past together, and though there was relief to have him off your case for good, it was also quite sad the link had finally been extinguished.
A knock at the door brought you out of your thoughts but when you turned around there was simply a plate adorned with steaming cupcake and a scrap of paper; no trace of the person who put it there, though it wasn't that hard to guess. There was only one person allowed to be the cook in this house.
You glanced sheepishly to your stomach as it let out a small wail. Since you had spent most of the day in your room and hadn't bothered getting any food, it was no surprise. Even the cake that had been brought up was now under attack from a ruthlessly cheeping canary. You shoed a persistent Gilbird away and picked up the note, intrigued. It read:
Look in your book of poems the last page. I'll see you at the Crescent Moon Restaurant at 7 O' Clock. I hope you enjoy your cake, consider it a taste of things to come ~
- Francis x
A taste of things to come?
You hoped that wasn't some sort of sick euphemism. Francis was very much into symbolism, so you couldn't entirely pass it off
You went back to your desk and retrieved the small hardback book, stroking the spine and flicking through till you made it to the last page. A couple of pressed rose petals fluttered out but other than that the book was empty, except for the final poem. The first verse had been highlighted a duck-egg blue.
Magic Of Love
My dear sweetheart,
It is you that I love
Under the stars above
Truly, with all my heart.
My dreams of you
Are dreams of Joy
Passion burns like a fire,
You're my only desire.
This magic that we feel
It tells me our love is real.
Right now and forever,
Our love will go on.
Author: Gabor Timis - Copyright 2011
You read the poem over, and yes, this was definitely a sign. Francis meant tonight to be a date. Butterflies tickled your stomach and a knot formed in your throat. It seemed like there was no running from the truth anymore. Still, better to get this over with before New Year.
A beep from the clock alerted you of the time 6pm sharp. You scuffled around the room and decided on the same dress you always wore for more formal occasions, the same dress you had worn all those months ago when you first met Francis. This time however you made sure to bring a thick-knit cardigan to keep out the snow and cold. Surprisingly it added nicely to your overall look and once satisfied, you headed downstairs, waving goodbye to the other two men who were seated downstairs, busily cramming their faces with some sort of takeaway junk. They only turned round from their food upon hearing the door snick shut. Typical.
You ran for the bus needlessly, more to distract yourself than anything else. You arrived promptly at 7 outside the Crescent Moon, the restaurant a glowing humdrum of human activity. To your surprise, Francis was not inside but leaning under the dim light of a nearby lamppost, in a smart blue suit which accentuated the rich blue of his eyes. His normally shoulder length locks were twisted back into a ponytail, but small strands had escaped and curled playfully down the sides of his face. He looked clean cut, and you had to admit, very handsome.
You straightened out your clothes one final time and pinned back an unruly scrap of hair before calling out to your friend.
"Hey Francis! I got your note!" You yelled. The Frenchman's face lit up when he saw you, and the knot of guilt tightened. It would have been so much easier to tell him outright that his feelings were not returned, but you couldn't hurt him like that
"Bonjour mon cher! ~ I was just wondering if you had actually got that note or whether one of the others had sneaked it away." He walked over and gave you a long hug, which you returned friendlily. Upon releasing you Francis brought a single rose out of his pocket and delicately handed it to you.
"You really do look beautiful tonight _____" he murmured.
"Thanks Francis! You look dashing yourself as always" You gave him a nudge in the ribs and he laughed. It was low and jerky but you liked it.
"Well, we should get going then, I doubt they'll wait too long
"You mean we aren't going in?" You quizzed nervously.
"In there? Heavens no, the food and service are FAR below satisfactory. No, tonight I have something else planned which you will just adore"
'My goodness, I hope so' you thought to yourself as Francis eagerly entwined his arm with yours and set a brisk pace going down the street. He hailed a taxi and the two of you sat for 10 minutes or so making light conversation. By the time the vehicle ground to a stop you were near a large park which was enveloped in darkness other than twinkling lanterns which scattered the darkness like stars. You attempted to ask what was going on but
Francis merely waved away any questions and winked slyly.
Eventually the lights panned out and you realised what you thought was overwhelming darkness was actually a lake. The water was completely still save for rippling every so often when silver fishes lazily emerged to catch flies.
Slowly advancing towards you was a delicate, carved wooden boat gliding silently with the grace of a swan. It was laid out with heavenly looking food including a large cake decorated with puffy frosting. Spider lilies and violets amongst many other flowers had been woven carefully around the edge of the bow. It truly was a breath-taking sight.
The boat finally clunked against the bank, and you attempted to step onto it but the Frenchman had other ideas. Instead he made use of your linked arms by swinging you around into his grip.
"______, I've waited so long for tonight. And before we do anything I just want you to know, I understand your feelings for Antonio."
Your eyes widened at this confession. HE KNEW!?
"What? How did you even!?-" You gabbled wildly, trying to think of some comprehensible answer.
"Ohonhon, it's not hard to guess. I see how you look at him like you do, and wish he would notice you. I admit, I share your feelings, but for someone else entirely
." He trailed, slowly bringing his eyes level with yours, before closing them.
"Je t'aime, truly, with all my heart ~" He whispered, quoting the final poem, as it finally clicked in your mind just what he had been planning.
"Francis wai-" You tried to protest, but it was too late.
Francis smiled, almost cat-like, and pressed his lips against yours. You tried to pull back, face screwed up and grimacing, but there was no escape. His kiss was tender and soft, like he demanded nothing other than to share his heart with you. He didn't press any further than necessary and to your surprise, you didn't mind so much at all.
Your heart pumped faster as a flush of emotions took over and suddenly, to your amazement, you kissed him back. A pause reflected his surprise also, but within a second he was back to business, lips sliding smoothly from your mouth to your jaw, as one hand slid expertly from your waist upwards. The second arm guided itself around both shoulders and the former crept onto your breast, squeezing gently as he closed in on you.
You flinched from his touch and struck out an arm, separating your body from his. A wide gap was formed and you stared at each other for a second, Francis eyes widened, opened mouthed like a wounded animal.
Damn, things shouldn't have gotten so out of hand. Why the hell did you kiss him back!? Now he was left confused and alone, when he had gone to such effort
"Francis, I'm so sorry!" You cried, trying to make some gesture of apology. The Frenchman's face retained its shock appearance for a few more seconds. Then he just closed his eyes and breathed out one, long note.
"No, it's my fault _____. I was wrong to force that on you
. I just thought, well, I hoped, there may be some way of changing your mind. I just wanted to show you how I really felt"
The heavy truth of his tone made you feel guilty that you couldn't properly return his feelings. There must be something there why else would you have kissed him back? It was just your brain was so overwhelmed by your consuming love for Antonio which meant you couldn't share your heart with Francis so easily. Or at least, that was what you HAD thought.
You couldn't think of anything else to say and shuffled from foot to foot uncomfortably. Francis took this as a sign to leave and you abandoned the lakeside, making your ways back through the park in silence.. Oddly, he hadn't seemed too fazed by the whole experience, as though he knew it might have happened. You never really could tell with him though, for his flamboyant gestures were often a cover for feelings more serious deep down. It didn't bear thinking about that you had genuinely truly upset him.
You eventually got to the house and hurried in, slamming the door shut and shrugging off your cardigan, anxious to conceal the shameful blush plain on your face, though you could have passed it off as windburn from the winter air. Francis followed and gave you a final sweeping brush on the shoulders before disappearing upstairs. You said nothing.
Gilbert and Antonio (who were both stripped to the waists and brandishing their dart guns) immediately sensed your unease and stopped whatever mischief they had been up to. Toni threw his gun aside and scrambled over the makeshift sofa-fort, placing a caring hand on your shoulder. He bent his head and tried to make eye contact, but you just gazed down as if the floor was suddenly interesting.
"Chica, are you okay?" He asked softly.
I'm fine." You replied, pushing this evening's event's to the back of your mind.
Truth be told now Toni was near you did feel heaps better than before. He just had one of those calming qualities about him that put you more at ease. Gilbert merely shrugged where he was standing and fired a final, traitorous dart which rebounded off the back of Toni's head. The Spaniard took no notice, all his attention on you.
"Well, I have an idea to cheer you up. How would you like to spend New Year's Day with me? Then we can come back in the evening and celebrate as a house! What do you think?"
"You mean like a date?" You asked, secretly ecstatic you would have Toni to yourself for a whole day. That is, if HE considered it a date too
"Umm sure, why not? You've got it, it's a date!" He laughed and gave you a playful pat before returning to the dart contest.
You smiled, and raced upstairs to retrieve your dart gun. All your awkward feelings from this evening had been pushed aside for now, as you tried to forget what happened and thought excitedly about what New Year's Day could bring. ~