My only excuse for the tardiness today is the ten-hour work day and the fact it was just one of those days where anything that could be a pain in the ass was and it made me a smidgen cranky. However while avoiding doing anything productive at work I was on Tumblr and came across this post and I was just like, “YES!”. It was a hella cute idea and little things just kept coming to me (including a fanfic idea for a couple I ship but who knows if I’ll ever get to that). Think of it as a little bed time story if it’s around that time for you. :)
Leonard brought in a new bouquet everyday, always of the dead ones they were ready to throw out, he had a soft spot like that. The floral shop had been there when Staci and Leonard opened their tattoo parlor three years ago, she had laughed at the irony of two such opposing things brushing up against each other daily but Leonard thought it was poetic. She had only been in the store a handful of times but she had to admit she was impressed with some of the arrangements and variety of flowers the store kept. On occasion a customer had come walking through the door with a single elegant flower in their hands they had found next door to better showcase the art they wanted permanently put on their body. Staci had to admit it was helpful to have a living example to sketch than just an internet print out or through the screen of a smart phone. However with the presence of Bellus Flos always came talk of the owner, Nolan. The drop-dead-gorgeous man with eyes the exact blue of a cloudless day and a smile that will knock not only your socks off but wipe away any polish your toes have.
Even Bonnie, their third artist, who was happily married to her wife Zoe could give Nolan a half hour of praise talk. Staci had only seen him a few times, once while she was in his shop and the sporadic times he walked past the front windows to and from wherever he was going. He was good-looking, Staci wasn’t obtuse enough to argue that, but what she liked most about him wasn’t his perfect eyes or smile but the imperfections she caught on him. The way his ears were just a hair to small for his head and the way his teeth were slightly crowded in the front but not so much they looked mangled, and his eyebrows. It was no secret eyebrows were Staci’s kryptonite, and Nolan had these dark as night, to match his hair, brows that were a thick band arching over his, admittedly damn blue, eyes. They perfect except for the few at the ends closest to the bridge of his nose that stood straight up instead of flowed perfectly over like the rest. Staci had told nobody but she’d dreamed about staring up at those eyebrows and tracing their path.
But she’d never held a conversation with Nolan, the only one in a four block radius apparently, so she had no idea if he was as charming and romantic lead material as she’d heard dozens of times. She would kill to hear what got him into the floral business though, that has got to be one hell of a story. That and the story behind the black and grey lines that inched out of the sleeve of his short sleeve shirts he wore in the summers, the bulk of the tattoo was always covered but whenever she could she tried to glimpse clues as to what it was exactly. It was a purely professional curiosity of course.
“Whose work is this?”a deep, but not obnoxiously deep, voice spoke over the bell that was still chiming over their door. Staci looked up from the anchor design she was working on for her afternoon appointment to see Nolan himself closing the distance to the counter and holding up a phone. He didn’t seem angry, but determined for an answer.
From the side Leonard popped over to look and even with his back to her Staci could see the smarmy grin spread across his face. “That’s definitely a Staci piece Nolan,” he turned to look down the store and catch Staci’s eye with his own wildly excited ones, “Staci come here.”
She could see Nolan lean on his left foot to see around Leonard and take her in, his face didn’t react much, at least not like everyone else did when they saw the few tattoos up and down her left and the sleeve on her right. The closer she got the more Staci could make out the image on his screen, it was an ornate tiger lily she had done a few weeks back on a woman in her mid-twenties. The girl got it for her parents, they used to call her tiger lily given her carrot colored hair and birth name was Lily. Staci smiled at the conversation she had shared with the girl and her friend as she worked on her piece.
Finally she reached the counter and she stood beside Leonard and stuck out a hand dark with marks from sketching, “Hi, I’m Staci.”
In quick succession his hand grasped hers, warmer than her own and large enough to almost totally engulf hers, “Nolan. I own the…”
“…floral shop next door.” He gav e her a surprised look with those eyebrows raising almost halfway to his hair. “So nobody tells you how often you frequent conversation in the neighborhood?”
Behind her she can hear Leonard snort into his hand and Bonnie squeaking like Staci had broken some sacred bond, and maybe Staci felt a little sorry for slightly ratting out her friends and all of the neighborhood but it was worth it to watch a flush the shade of a Coke can scamper up Nolan’s neck and into his cheeks and ears. To save him trying to gather a response she just shrugs her shoulders, “It’s all good stuff I promise,” they share a nod and she turns her head towards the phone in his hand that has now gone back to a black screen, “I did do that though, anything I can help you with?”
Nolan fumbles with the phone again to awaken the screen and when it flashes to life he smiles as his eyes travel up and down the flower petals. “It’s beautiful.”
“One might say bellus.” Staci answered unable to not be quick-witted, but he laughed, damn that was truly a nice smile, and then turned his head up.
He tapped the screen again and cleared his throat to speak, “The girl is on my staff, she said she brought over a flower and you sketched from that to create this.”
The tone was one of someone who mostly believed what they were told but isn’t sure if it’s smart to do so. Staci wasn’t sure if she was offended or humbled by that though. Putting both her hands on the glass case counter between them she nodded before answering, “Yeah, and it’s not the first time. I’ve had people bring in everything from daisies to roses to orchids from your place to help better show me what they want. It’s really helpful for me, and also fun because you have some gorgeously weird flowers in there.”
“Gorgeously weird?” Nolan barks out of the side of his mouth as he locks his phone and puts in back in his pocket.
Shaking her head Staci keeps eye contact and Bonnie shouts from far back in the shop while is doing a piece on a customer, “It’s a compliment Nolan trust me.”Without looking over her shoulder Stacie points back at her co-worker and continues to nod with an easy shrug.
Back and forth his eyes travel a few times, even once over to Leonard, trying to gauge the authenticity of them all. “Right, well..if I brought in a flower and maybe some garnishes do you think you could work up something for me?”
Not what she was expecting but Staci likes that once in a while, first she wonders what kind of flower he’d bring and then before she can even think about it she starts to look him up and down trying to figure out where he wants the piece. When he clears his throat she is brought back and she notices a subdued version of the flush back on his features. Biting her lip she grins, “Yeah I could probably do that. I’ll need a little direction and story on where you want me to go with it but I assume you have all that if you’re over here asking questions.”
A full body nod comes from him, “Yes. Do I…ah…make an appointment?”His hands are waving in the air pointing at random books on the counter top.
Staci leans over and grabs her book, a purple leather-bound beauty, and lifts the string marker to the current day. “Sure, how soon do you want to do this? I have an appointment later this afternoon scheduled for three hours, means I’ll have an hour before my next one. Would three work for you?”
Nolan is leaning into her space to look at the book and it’s enough to let the smell of his aftershave waft over. It’s good, musky and spicy but also light, maybe even floral, somehow. He takes a moment and then gives a single, firm nod, “Okay, yeah let’s do that.”
Letting her red lips spread over her own teeth Staci grins and pulls a pen from her hair and scratches his name in the open space of her day, “Alright, it’s set. Just bring in the flower and other visuals you have and be ready to describe what you see in your head and where you would like it and we can go from there.”
His eyes follow her hand as it reaches up and places the pen back in her mess of blonde hair and then they drop back down to meet hers. “Okay. I’ll…I guess see you at three. Thanks Staci.”
It’s cheesy but she really digs the way her name sounds in his timber of voice, but before she let’s that thought wander she gives a slight nod, closes her book, and pushes it back towards the pile of others. “No problem Nolan, see you later.” He quirks one last grin and then backs out of the shop and to his own place on the right.