Then, someone pries her hand from your arm. You look up and you see...
[[Armand saves the Day!]]
[[Marvin is tired... Stop pissing on his day]]“What do you think you are doing to her?” Armand stands tall, putting you behind him. You felt blood rushing to your cheeks. You were confused, you didn’t follow what was happening. “Get your hands off of me!” Silvie hastily took her arm back from him. She fumed, “Well, well. Is this your knight in shining armor?” You gave her a glare, “I don’t know where all of this is coming from nor how I became the center of your anger. I didn’t do any of your accusations. I was merely giving a customer food since obviously he was busy tending to all of you. Excuse me.” You stormed off while grabbing Armand’s hand, heading towards the cafe. You held your breath until you reached back to the door swing beside the cashier. “Thank you…” you breathe. Armand gently patted your head, as if to soothe you down. “It’s alright. I’ll make sure to have some arrangements with Brian for the girl there. We’ll catch up later, alright?” He gave you a sweet smile before disappearing towards the crowd again.
[[Closing Time]] The event finally finished with a blast. You didn’t see Armand for the rest of the evening so you concentrated on cleaning up at the cafe and analyzing the sales that went through today. You were quite happy that the cafe launch sold out all of your inventory for the next few days. Marvin was busy talking to your suppliers for tomorrow then went ahead to check everything else. While you were busy checking if the inventory and sales were matching, a guy sat in front of you eyeing your movements. When you looked up you let out a small shriek and fell on the floor. Villa beamed up, “Oh sorry! Here let me help you.” He reached out a hand as you took it gingerly. He apologized again, “I’m really sorry.. I didn’t mean to scare you like that.” You let out an exasperated sigh, “Geez.. It’s okay. You like to be awfully close to people huh?” He nodded, “Hmm.. A bit I guess? I’m a happy go lucky person to begin with.” You nodded, “Alright. Wait, do you need anything?” Villa shook his head, “Nah. Just wanted to see you before I get off work.” He then winked, before walking away. You went back to finish your work and closed the cafe. As you went out of Fully Booked, someone was by the entrance…
[[Maybe Villa isn't so bad?]]
[[Armand invites the trio to a celebration]]
[[All good here, let's head home (Marvin)]]Villa was waiting for you outside, on the bench beside the door. He seemed to be lost in thought so you gave him a nudge, “Hey, you alright?” Villa broke from his reverie and blinked, “I’m sorry, what?” you chuckled, “I asked if you were alright? You seemed to be lost in thought.” “Ah. My bad. Yes, I’m alright thank you for asking. I was just admiring the scenery.” He gave a sheepish smile. You nodded, “Well then, see you tomorrow.” He stood up, “You’re going home alone?” you nodded in response. “Elena, a lady such as yourself shouldn’t go home unaccompanied. Will you let me walk you home? I was on my way home also.” You hesitated, “It’s fine, I wouldn't want to impose.” Villa shook his head, “No, it’s not. Come on, I’ll walk you home, as a thanks for giving me coffee today and in the future.” You sighed and shrugged, “Alright then.”
[[8th Day Down]] Marvin stood by the door. You could see how tired he was. His hair tousled back and his eyes seemed dull. You made a face, “I thought you were going ahead?” Marvin looked at her and disagreed, “I told you I was only going to check with the supplier.” You chuckled hesitantly, “Ah. So what did they say?” You began to walk, with Marvin your side. “They said they’ll be able to provide extra supplies any time we need it. We’ve come to an agreement with how much it would cost as well.” You beamed. You were so happy that Marvin was there. “Really?! That’s great! I could always count on you.” Marvin angled his face away from you, but you could see the light pink tints on his ear. You smiled to yourself, you found it cute how soft Marvin could be despite his cold nature. “I’ll drive you home.” Marvin said in a cold tone. You nodded as both of you walked towards his car, heading home.
[[8th Day Down]]Marvin. A wave of relief washes over you as you saw his stern face. He quickly drags you out of the commotion and to the back of the counter. “Thank you...M-Marvin. I didn’t know what was happening with her sudden outburst.” Marvin sighed and grumpily replied, “Well, that’s what you get from getting close to a celebrity.” You sighed, peeking outside only to see Silvie glaring towards the cafe.
[[Closing Time]] You saw Marvin standing by the door along with Armand. It looked like they were talking about something serious, but they stopped when you approached them. “Is everything alright? You guys seemed tense.” You looked at the both of them with a smile. “Yes.” They both replied, looking at each other. You laughed, “Cute.” Armand smirked, but Marvin just looked away. “Anyways,” Armand paused and took you bag from you, “Shall we celebrate? I know a great place for a drink.” “Sounds great! We should definitely celebrate!” You cheerily said as you looked at Marvin. Marvin sighed, shrugging. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt.” Armand smiled, “Great. It’s not far from here, we’ll take my car. If that is alright with you both?” Your heart melted at the sight of it, you could feel yourself blush. “S-sure. Marvin?” You turned to him, seeing him nodding once. “I’ll drive my own car there.” He sounded grumpier, you thought it was because he was so tired. “What’s the place called?” Marvin turned towards Armand with a cold gaze. “Dolce Restaurante.” Armand replied sharply. He then gestured you to go follow him. You looked at Marvin, but he was already on his way to his car. You then followed Armand, wondering why Marvin was getting grumpier.
[[Questionably Siblings?]]A few months flew by, you became close with all of the people at Fully Booked. Every morning became lively the moment you arrived at your cafe. You’d always see Villa waiting near the entrance, begging for your coffee while Marvin prepped the cafe. You saw Marvin already prepping up the pastries at the back, being fast as meticulous with every pastry. Marvin then looked at you, catching you staring at him. His brows then crossed, breaking you away from your reverie. Marvin shot you a look, probably asking why you were staring at him. You went to the back of the counter quietly. Marvin stared at you, “What’s wrong? You don’t look too well.” He wiped his hand off, placing the back of it on your forehead. “I- I’m fine, I’m fine.” You stuttered, flushed by his sudden gesture. He then took a step back, “Alright.” Then continued on prepping.
Today was busier than usual. More customers were pouring in, even though there were no events and discount sales, it wasn’t even Christmas time. You hurdled through a lot of customers, until you saw your “cousin” giving you a reassuring smile. “Good morning. You seem busier than usual.” You took a breath as you prepared his usual, “Good morning. They’re pouring in. I don’t know if I could keep up.” You whined. He laughed lightly, “I know you can do it. You’re Elena Buenaventura!” That remark made your heart beat faster, as she gave Armand’s cup of latte. “Take care~!” He waved as he rushed out of the cafe.
When the day ended, you were dead tired. Before going home you checked the sales. Villa was there as the usual while Marvin was beside you. When you finished, you jumped out of your seat. You don’t know what happened today, but your sales shot up thrice the usual! In disbelief, you hugged the two guys. “We should celebrate~!” Villa chirped as he hugged back. Marvin tried to get away, but Villa was strong. The three of you broke away when your phone vibrated. You saw that it was Armand and skipped away from the two.
“Hello!” You beamed. You heard Armand chuckle at the end of the line. “Hello! Did something good happen?” Armand sounded pleased. You nodded, as if he could see you but you just couldn’t hide the happiness you were feeling. “Definitely! Our cafe is booming!” You gleefully told him. “Splendid! Say, would you like to have dinner with me? It’s been a while.. I was hoping if you wanted to?”
[["I'd love to!"]]
[["Wish I could... but I can't.."]]How can a table for 4 feel like there are 10 more chairs empty and separating Marvin from you two? “Oh well it probably isn’t anything.. Hopefully…” You think to yourself, reassurance is what you need. You leave your thoughts and go back to the discussion. The night goes on and on and by the end of it Armand drives you home. You enjoy his company and security as he drives you home… but.. “Is Marvin okay..? He seems lost… or out of it… or.. Distant from us..?” You turn to Armand for confirmation. “Ah Marvin? He’s… fine.. For the most part… he just needs time alone okay? Now play some music! Make the ride home fun!” You turn away from Marvin’s gloom and choose the music to color the mood. Black and Starry isn’t the only color tonight.
It’s as if you two are playing catch up for lost time.. Armand became a regular spending his mornings at your cafe. “Good morning to you!” He greets you lovingly as he always has. “What’s the special for today?” “Haha, you know very well that isn’t a thing here! We do everything special!” You joke back. Weeks have gone by where the two of you share such an exchange. Armand may just give in to being called your cousin… or level up to being your “older brother”
Armand comments on the cafe. “Looks like you got your work cut out for you.. And you picked a nice dream to act on! I’d love to stay but I must be off to work now.” He waves and says his goodbyes as he walks to leave the cafe. You wave back and focus on the task for the day.
Just as when you were going to close for the day, someone approached you, “Excuse me, Ms. Buenaventura? May I speak to you?” You looked at the tall man with wavy black hair and brown eyes. “Yes? Who are you?” You sounded stern. The man looked around, “I’ll get straight to the point. I want to buy this place. In exchange, I’m going to offer you another place as well as pay you half of the amount of this place.” You were stunned. Marvin went out from the counter, “Elena? What is it?” The man turned to him, “A Mr. Tully, I was just offering Ms. Buenaventura a much nicer place.” You looked at Marvin who was, well what you think you were seeing, filled with rage. “You what?” You could feel the rage in Marvin’s voice. As if on cue, Armand arrived. You approached him and told what happen. He looked at the man, whom immediately recognized him. “M-Mr. Nicolas! W-what a pleasure to meet you!” The man stuttered as he stood up. Armand looked at him with a stern face, “What brings you here?” The man gulped, “I.. uh… my boss..” Marvin butted in, “Well you can tell your boss that your offer is declined and that would be non-negotiable.” Armand wrapped around his arm around you as he added, “You can tell your boss that this place is off limits to her from here on out.” The man nodded and hurriedly went out of the building. Armand’s arm left your shoulders and turned towards you, “Are you alright? Did he say anything else? Did he touch you?” You felt the alarm in his voice at the last sentence. You felt a cold gaze upon you but you shrugged it off, “I’m fine. I’m fine. I was just stunned and scared. When this happens in movies, it doesn’t go well.” He gave you a warm and reassuring smile, “It won’t. I promise you that. I won’t let them take away your dream.” He then paused, looking hesitant. You looked at him as he fixed his composure. He took a deep breath, “Will you go out with me to a formal dinner?” You were awestruck. You then replied, “What for?” Armand smiled shyly, “Something… important.” You smiled, it’s rare to see the intelligent Armand become bashful. He looks so cute! You thought. You gave a smile, “Sure.” Armand’s face lit up, “Great! Let’s go!”
[[Family Turned Family]]
“I’d love to.” You smiled. His voice sounded enthusiastic, “Great! I’ll pick you up at 6 pm at your house. See you!” He hung up. You’ve never heard him this excited before and this would be the first time you’ve received an invite from Armand after a long time. You were itching to tell him about every single thing that has happened ever since he went away. You went back to Villa and Marvin, whom were talking casually. “I’m sorry but can we schedule the celebration on another day? I have something important to attend to.” Villa smiled, “No problem! Well, Marvin and I have somewhere to go to as well. See you tomorrow!” Villa then dragged Marvin away, who was confused. You waved good bye, glad that Marvin was opening up to the people at Fully Booked.
[[Woman turned... Best Man!?]]
“I’m sorry, I already had plans with Villa and Marvin… You can join us, if you want?” “Ah.. no no it’s okay. I wouldn’t want to impose.” Armand sounded shattered. You felt your heart sank, “Oh, is it important? I can-“ Armand cut you off, “It’s okay. We can go some other time. Have fun.” Then he hung up. You felt bad, and wondered why he sounded heartbroken. You shook off the thought, then went to get drinks with Villa and Marvin.
[[Leaving on a Jet Plane]]It’s as if you don’t want the date to end… Time always fights with us… doesn’t it?
You hesitantly take the last few bites out of your fancy, once in a lifetime meal and sip the last sips from your drink. You never thought it would end like this. “Soooo… does this mean you’ll stop calling me your fake cousin?” Armand smirks and leans in. “Well I will call you something else family related anyways so what’s what? Hah!” You wrap your arm around his neck and pull him slightly closer. “I always did like you Elena” My how those words rushed from his lips up to your cheeks… “How… how would you feel if I said I always felt that way for you… too...” Your Rudolph'd cheeks are slurring your words.. “I’d say why have you been wasting our time?” He jokes to lighten the mood. “Well either way I’m glad we can start this new chapter together...” You cupped his cheek, feeling his feverish skin on your soft palms. “I love you.” He smiled, the gentle smile you’ve always loved. He leaned in as he whispered, “I love you too.” Your lunch break definitely turned up a surprise… from two… men?!
“Way to almost return our surprise by spraying us with piping hot coffee! Hahaha!” Villa laughed “Well it would be a nice reversal. Remember how we met?” Villa went from laughing to confused in an instant. “Uhm… no… how did we meet?” Marvin interjects, “You jumped her when she gave you a cup of coffee… weirdo..”
The conversation drones on…
...“ So when is the wedding and when do I start helping?”...
Who knew Villa could make you drink so much?!
You fell asleep the moment you arrived home. Thankfully, Marvin was still sober enough to drive you home safely. You woke up with sore limbs. Villa made you drink too much.. ending up with a hangover. You went downstairs to cook some hangover soup and did some stretching afterwards. You then took a long shower, then headed outside to your mailbox. You skimmed through your mails until one stunned you. It was from Armand. You quickly dropped the rest of the mail and opened Armand’s. He could have sent you a message through various ways, but an old fashioned letter?? Thoughts ran in your head as your shaking hands opened the letter. You read:
“ Dearest Elena,
I wanted to let you know I was flying out of the country again, to Italy. But I couldn’t bear to bring the sad news to you yesterday since you were so happy.By the time you read this, I might be on the way to Italy, or have arrived there. Anyways, I’m sorry to say it through this. I wanted to be sincere as much as possible, even more so I want to say it in person. I’ve always seen you as a lady. I’ve always felt that my love for you is eros and not storge or agape. You are the one that melts away all my fears with your smile. The vibrant color of your eyes gives me reassurance. Your laugh is an addicting melody in my ears. I’m in love with you. I love you more than anything else. Yes, more than my books. My books give me solace from this world, but you… you give me hope. I’d drink your sweet coffee even if it gives me shivers from the caffeine. I’ll return to you, soon I hope. But until then, wait for me.
With all my heart,
Your world stopped. You didn't know what was happening but you had the urging feeling to go to him. You took your keys, and valuables and headed to the airport. Armand left once, but no. Not this time. You won’t let him disappear again. You won’t let the only man you have ever loved disappear for years again.