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#harry edward styles
angelisverba · a year ago
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i’ll hold you so you don’t fall again
in which y/n is just really creative and harry writes erotica under a pseudonym.
pairing: interiordesing!y/n and eroticawriter!harry
word count: 21k+
note: i’m so freaking sorry this took so long. thank you for being patient with me, and i hope its what you expected :) also the formatting is all wonky i have no idea why.
Y/n wasn’t one to brag.
She knew what it felt like to sit and nod while someone else talked about their accomplishment. The itchy pull of heart strings; the yearning of wanting success, too. 
But, she also knew how awkward it was to go back and forth declining compliments. 
Which is why she never bragged about her newfound success. Or did the whole ‘oh you’re too sweet’ ordeal. She said thank you, and moved on. 
Because it definitely was one.
 A sudden change of no recognition to suddenly everyone wants her.
She had her friend, Lucy, to thank. Lucy had just opened up a coffee shop. One of those cute artsy ones on a street in West Hollywood somewhere, with money she had saved up over the years. It just so happened that her best friend was a talented painter, designer, and dabbled in all kinds of crafts. Y/n was known for always maintaining a tiny business of whatever it was she could come up with, and when her friend asked for help to decorate and set up shop, she jumped at the opportunity to go big. 
The store was a loft-y type space. A blank, grey walls and metal; an industrial room. The first time Y/n looked at it, her mind  flooded with ideas. Mirrors, art, frames, flowers, and anything that could be put up. Different themes and approaches to light up the room. But, before doing anything, she had a nice long talk with Lucy, about what she wanted to see. Had her set up a pinterest board with items for the shop. Color schemes, movies, plants, etc. From that, y/n took hold of the project, asking for Lucy’s opinion here and there, but taking most choices to her own judgement. 
The end result… well, it was the reason why Lucy was full all the damn time. Y/n had turned the lofty space into an Instagram hippie galore. Lucy’s mood board consisted of a weird mix of Madonna, pearls, and David Bowie. So, all over there were some of the most famous pop-culture posters. Streams of pearls. Mason jars lined with pearls. Velvet curtains with golden tassels; the stringy ones that tickled when you rub them all over your palm. There were light bulbs and fairy lights hanging in the wooden beams from the ceiling, that were turned on everyday 30 minutes after sunset, like the headlights on cars. Additional records were set to look through and buy in a corner, and opposite that a jukebox with records that both y/n, Lucy, and Lucy’s boyfriend, Mike, had picked. The labels were written in y/n’s writing, a mix between curly-cue and messy doctors cursive; clean enough to read, messy enough to enjoy. 
No plants. Or succulents, at least, but y/n had bought 5 dozens of roses from downtown. She’d hung them up to dry, left some where they were, and others she put in empty glass cola bottles that were in the center of each of the 10 booths. On the single, middle tables, y/n had placed leather table cloths. No flowers. 
And the menus? Oh gosh, the menus. They were y/n’s pride and joy. 
She’d closed herself in an entire day, to create the finishing look. With a copy of drinks (labeled like ‘Madonna’ and then the actual coffee order that star would’ve wanted)  and the small variety of sandwiches (& other finger foods) y/n drew portraits on blackboards, used different fonts, painting mediums, and at a certain point even incorporated glitter, to create these magnificent hand drawn chalk menus. 
Then the outside of the shop. This is what got her word out. 
A journalist of some sort had happened to stumble upon Coffee for Rockstars the day that y/n was painting the windows. 
You know, like with a brush and paint can. 
She’d blocked off her workspace with chairs and caution tape, jammed her newly bought airpods in, and pressed play to her music. 
The mural- Lucy labeled it, but to y/n it really wasn’t all that much, consisted of a the planet Saturn, with David Bowie, Elton John, Prince, Stevie Nicks, Freddie Mercury, and The Beatles prancing along the rings (all picked by Lucy). The window was a 5-or-so feet taller than her, so she had to use one of the chairs to reach the top half of the planet. 
While she painted Elton’s fluffy feather suit on, the journalist had approached her, his waist pushing through the tape y/n had put up. 
“Excuse me?” he called out to her, hands positioned on one of those Canon Rebel whatever they were called everyone seemed to be carrying around these days. 
And Wild Night by Van Morrison may have been playing a little too loud because y/n didn’t hear him the first time, and he had to call out again, leaning forward slightly to catch her attention.  
“Excuse me?” The guy says a little louder. This time, she sees him, and turns while removing her headphones, getting paint on her forehead and hair. 
“Oh!” she said, startled. “How can I help you?” Her cheeks flame a bit when he gives her a boyish smile, lips twirling up to the corner of his eyes. He’s cute, she thinks, floppy hair that’s sunbleached at the tips from the sun, and freckles in the bridge of his roman nose. 
“Yes, actually. My names’ James. I was wondering if I could take your picture for an article I’m doing. I work with the LA times, in the local business section, and there's a piece on West Hollywood’s hottest places. This one’s trending.” He lifts his camera in a ‘here it is!’ gesture. 
“Me?” she asked in disbelief. Her eyebrows raised high above their usually places, and her eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. “Shouldn’t you be photographing inside? You know, like the people?” 
“You worked on this place didn’t you? That’s what Lucy told me. You’re a big part of what makes this place hot ‘n trendy. Plus, this live painting action will look wonderful…” he trailed off, his glance drifting to the window and to the picture she was painting. “It’s really good. Deserves some recognition.” 
“Uhm…” Y/n looks around. There’s people on the opposite street staring at her, some that linger as they walk by. She catches a window roll down as the car goes by. 
She’s always been small. In size, in popularity. She’s never been in demand. If she said yes, there's a possibility that that would change. A small part of her wanted that… she could finally start her business, like she’s always wanted to...
    “Okay, how do you want me?”
    He laughed, and told her to just continue with what she was doing. So, she did. She added more paint to her glass palette, and unprofessionally used her bare thigh to rid the brush of the excess paint. Momentarily, the brush found its way to the bite of her teeth, so the girl could put her earphones back in and get back into the right headspace to work. 
The journalist, chuckled as he watched her, amused by her tactics, how she leaned back to look at the bigger picture. He was done in a matter of minutes, taking pictures of everything she’d set up in her closed off area. The tarp she’s laid on the floor.  The cans of paint; red, blue, yellow, green, white, and black. An uneaten sandwich and a glass bottle filled with pink liquid (lemonade and a bit of vodka, y/n’s choice of drink when she was painting, claiming it got her ‘creative juices flowing’). 
He has to get her attention again the same way, because she’d managed to lose herself in what she was doing. 
“You’re all done?” she asked him, once again plucking the earphone out with a yank. 
“Yep, got more than enough.” James said, placing  a black cap on the lens of his camera. “Can I ask you a few questions?”     Y/n smirked a bit, thinking back to her school days when smartass teachers would respond with ‘i don’t know, can you?’ and she nearly did as well. 
She didn’t though. She just said, “Go right ahead.” 
“Well, first thing’s first,” he reached into his front pocket, and pulled out his phone. Who keeps their phone in their front pocket, she thought. “Name, age, and what you did for Rockstar’s cafe?” 
“My name is y/n, I’m 21, and I was interior and, as you can see, exterior, designer as well for Rockstar Cafe.” She’s shifting awkwardly side to side, tugging at the ends of her large,  orange Garfield shirt nervously. Flashes of her jean cut-offs peeked where her shirt lifted. 
“Tell me a little bit about the process of creating the entire ‘astro-70’s’ vibe you got going on here are the shop.” James doesn’t look up at her, because he’s furiously typing away at his phone, noting down what y/n says. 
    “Well, that was really Lucy’s doing. She provided me with pictures of things she wanted, kinda like… uhm.. that aura? I guess you could say that she wanted the place to have. I worked side by side with her, to make this happen. This was her vision, I just helped it....” she struggled for a moment, to put her thoughts into words, “come to life.” 
He looked up at her then, a small smile on  his lips. “What’s your favorite thing about it so far?” 
“I’d say, the way the menu is set up. An artist’s name, and the drink they’d get. Lucy did her reasearch, and found out like, I guess you could say, their ‘regulars’. So, what’s on the menus are what the artist actually would like.” Subconsciously, she points to the inside of the shop, referring to the menus. 
“Last question, have you ever done anything like this before?” 
Y/n stammered for a moment, then said, “No. I haven't.” She taps the tips of her shoes together, all paint splattered and scuffed. “Nothing at this level of big. I’ve always kinda, worked on crafts. In highschool I had a small business, where’d I’d sell personalized things.  I think that’s why Lucy trusted me so much. Because I have a history of reaching to the stars when it comes to paper and pencil.” 
“That was great. Thank you so much, y/n. It was interesting to hear about you, and the cafe.” James places his phone back in his front pocket, and hooks his thumbs onto the straps of his camera as if they were suspenders. “Is there a website or business card you’d like me to reference in the article, after your name and all that?”  
“I don’t have anything like that actually. Just that I worked with Lucy, I guess you could say.” She puckers her lips at the end, shaking her head slightly. 
“Okay, well then. I’ll leave you to it. It’s coming along amazing.” James nods politely. “Have a great rest of your day, y/n.” Then walks away. 
“Bye, James.” She twiddles her fingers at him her way of saying goodbye. It doesn’t take her long to get sucked back into her work. In fact, as soon as she puts the earphones back in, she’s gone off the face of the earth, and doesn't notice when a green-eyed stranger stops to stare at her, right by the tree that she’d wrapped the caution tape around. The man pinched his lip as he watched, eyebrows furrowed with the same concentration y/n had for her work.
Except that he was watching her. The way her wrist flicked, how she tilted her face to look at what she was doing. How she stood like a flamingo, with her ankle pressed against her calf. The way she blew the wisps of hair off her mouth. 
He watched her intently, wondering who she was and how did she get there and what her name was.
And then, 
Brushing those thoughts out of his mind, he walked into the shop and didn’t look back. 
.
.
“Y/N!!” Lucy yelled from the counter. 
Y/n, covered head to toe in sparkly purple fabric, rushed out with a bit of hummus on toast in her mouth still. 
It was Halloween, and Lucy had demanded they both dress up as part of the uniform at Rockstar that day. Y/n, had decided she would go as Selena Quintanilla, and had crafted herself a halter top-style romper with purple cloth she had bought at the fashion district earlier that week. She’s woken up early too, and gone to her mom’s house so she could do her hair, and make up (given she’d lived at the same time Selena had). 
Lucy, ever the creative one, teased her blonde hair, spray painted it with a cheap can of green hair dye from the dollar store, and bought a pinstripe tux. TA-da! Beetlejuice, beetlejuice, beetlejuice. 
“Y/n!” Lucy was hissing now, impatient and demanding. It was a busy day at Rockstar. Social media influencers had come out for photo-ops and the like. Also, Lucy had a deal going of buy one get another iced coffee half off, and a free cassette with the $20+ purchase. 
“I’m coming, Luce! I’m coming, Jesus Christ,” y/n finished off chewing, tugged on the halter top to make sure nothing would pop out of place and washed her hands in the sink to help Lucy at the register. 
After she finished, she took place along side the three baristas, Kelsey, Tilly, and Kim. Kelsey was a broke college student, Tilly an Asian girl who doubled as a pole dancer on certain nights (she wore a mask to make sure her identity stayed secret), and Kim was a 30- year old who lives in his parents house. Bit of a creep if you asked y/n. 
“Y/n, you wanna take order 48 or 50?” Asked Tilly while rinsing a measuring cup. 
“I’ll take 50 and start on 52.” Y/n responded, tying the apron straps behind her neck. She didn’t tell Tilly that she picked order 50 because she hated making espressos, and order 48 consisted of three espressos. Order 50 was only four iced coffees. 
After she finished decorating Lucy’s coffee shop a month ago, Lucy didn’t offere y/n a job, but she was always around to help, and Lucy paid her for it. After class, y/n would stop by the shop, and that would lead to her working as a barista. Which she didn’t mind, the money helped and it gave her something to go. Otherwise, she’d be at home with her nose stuck in a regency novel and a buzzing feeling of want in her crotch at the cue of poetically beautiful yet smutty words. 
“Order number 50!” She called out. She set the plastic cup on the pick-up counter and plucked a stray from the jars to place alongside the drink. Seconds later, the drink was picked up by a tall and tanned man with green eyes; nails painted black; rings adorning each finger; soft, pink lips and a scruffy jaw. Curly strands of brown hair peeked out of a green beanie. 
He smiled at y/n. The way you smile at the cashier in the market. Polite. A bit disconnected in the eyes. He said, “Good morning, Selena. May I have a cup holder please?” 
In a British accent made heavier by the morning gruffness in his voice. Scratchy, deep, manly. And incredibly sexy. 
Of course, y/n took a moment to take in and drink the image presented before her, but after she felt her cheeks heat up like the fire underneath a witches feet, she cleared her throat and responded with, “You recognized who I was! Kudos to you, sir!” with a grin on her red lips. The man chuckled, and took the carton cup holder y/n gave him. 
“Have a great rest of your day,” was the last thing he said before he walked away. Y/n stared after him, watching the way his thighs filled in the fitting yellow pants he where, and how his biceps looked deliciously muscular; bulging in a white tee. 
“Y/N!”
“Sorry, Lucy!” Y/n skipped back to her post in front of the screen,and began reading off orders for Tilly, and Kim to make, and picked one for herself. Two iced coffees, one heated croissant. She was in the middle of measuring the milk when Lucy called her name again. 
“Lucy, I’m doing it, okay?” Y/n responded, frazzled. 
Lucy sucked on her teeth. “Y/n, come over here.” When y/n looked up, she saw that not only was Lucy looking at her, but a tall skinny blond with a sharp cut bob and a long white silk dress. 
Confused, y/n dumped the milk into the mixing cup and handed the order over to Kelsy for her to finish. “Yes?”
“This is Karime, and she wants you to help her decorate her store.” Lucy held a palm out towards the woman. “Karime, this is y/n.” 
“It’s so nice to finally meet you!” Karime said, and y/n had to restrain from cringing at her nasally, high-pitched voice. “I love what you’ve done with this place! My store could use some re-camping, and when I saw the article I just had to come and see if I could hire you.” Karime makes gestures with her manicured hands, and titles her head in ways that makes her hair shake like sheets in the wind.
“Oh! Um…” 
“Why don’t you go ahead and talk with Karime, we’re all covered back here.” said Lucy, an extra-pleased tone in her voice; the voice she used with customers to keep them happy, y/n had recognized. Oh so now you don’t want me to work? y/n thought to herself, but gave the same smile the green-eyed stranger had given her, and walked out through the waist high swinging door to meet with Karime.  
“So, I wanted to know if it was possible to hire you on a month to month basis. Ou could come in the first week of every month, decorate, redecorate, while I suggest and give you a picture of what I want, like you did for Lucy.” Karime had a bamboo handle purse, and they clacked together every time she moved her hands in ‘here’ or ‘there’ gestures.  
They’re both standing at the start of the record shelves, and Y/n is awkwardly shifting her weight from foot to foot and fiddling with her hands. She’s sweating, too. This was huge. Big. Is this what networking was? Getting the word out? Expanding? If she said yes, it’s possible that it’d create a cycle. Someone else would come in, asking for help, to hire, to contract. It was a rush. She was giddy, excited. But most of all, nervous. One, because she’s a bit clumsy in the social aspect, and Two, because she had a standard to meet. 
Despite all this, she said, “Of course, when do I start?” 
Then, Karime had given y/n the address of her shop (a weird mix of aromatherapy, kale smoothies with books), and they decided on a day to meet up (the second day of every month starting November, two days from that day). 
Karime left after that. She hadn’t bought anything. Lucy congratulated y/n, squealed over it even, and Lucy never squeals. Kim looked over at them when he heard Lucy, and tried to ask what all the fuss was about. Lucy demanded he go back to work, and y/n ignored him. 
When closing time came, the girls did the bare minimum, and rushed out to pregame at Mike’s apartment. Like crazy teenagers, Lucy and y/n shared three bottles of a Stella Rosa bottle that had been on sale at the grocery store at the corner of Mike’s apartment complex. Inside, Mike was 2 beers in, and claimed he wouldn’t drink anymore since he was the DD. 
“You guys go on and drink yourselves black.” he said, sitting on the couch with a water in his hand and Lucy in his lap.  Mike, a slender punk rock kid who proved his mom wrong in the fact that his like for the color black is ‘not a phase’ is the sweetest guy y/n had ever met. He wasn’t afraid to show his love for Lucy, always doting on her, and if she asked, would rip out his heart and give it to her. 
Y/n was jealous. She yearned for a relationship like theirs, and no matter how long she waited, how hard she tried, Prince Charming never showed. Instead, she was stuck with watching Mike and Lucy rub into her face what she wanted so badly. 
Affection. Love. Companionship. 
Cheers to that, y/n thought. Her bottle of Mango and whatever the heck the flavor was called, was nearly done and she could still walk in a straight line. The wine was juice in her hands. Child’s play. Water. It had no effect on her. Not until she was three bottles in. It took an entire bottle of Smirnoff vodka shots to get her going once. Only then could she completely let go. 
“A lonely soul drowns in Stella Rosa, Mike.” Lucy, her hair sticking up like Einstein from the re-teasing she’d done in the bathroom. “There it stands, taking the shape of Selena. Poor, poor, Selena.” Lucy giggled. A teasing jab that made y/n pout, and y/n heart to clench because she knew Lucy was right. A lonely soul she was. 
“That’s not very nice of you, Lucy.” Y/n pointed at her friend, bottle in her hand. “First you yell at me at work, now you make fun of my love life?” Shes joking, too, but there's a bit of truth to her words. Meaning, Intention. 
“Drink up, lonely soul, and prepare for the battle that lies ahead: the making intercourse with an attendee of the club.”
“Blah,blah, and screw you.” grumbled y/n, finally, finishing the bottle with a final drink. 
.
.
Not that y/n had anything against it, but fuck the club. She hated it. She only ever went because Lucy or Mike or whoever else begged her to go with them and promised something in return. (Lucy promised she wouldn’t ask her for help the following day). She hated the lights, how load it was, and how much she was being touched. Sweaty men and women alike, rubbing up on her in places where she didn’t want to be, it was too hot, and her toes always got stepped on. 
“The usual for you, y/n?” Mike was yelling. His mouth was at her ear, but even then, only some of what he was saying made it into her ears. She simply nodded, and lifted up to fingers. Two gin and tonics. One part water, three parts gin. 
Lucy and y/n had managed to snatch a tiny booth when they walked in, and this was the place y/n was planning to spend most of her night. Not out on the blue-lit dance floor, not standing at the bar. Sitting at the dark booth, glumly sipping at her two gin-n-tonics. 
“You are not gonna sit here sippin’ glumly at your drinks, got that?” Luccy pulled at the lapels of her suit, popping her collar so the tips touched her jaw. 
“Lucy, please.” Y/n’s bangs were deflated and her lipstick was smudged, at her friends comment, she sunk into her seat and pulled her head around.  
“Let’s go.” 
Lucy tugged her onto the dancefloor just as some song by Cardi B or Nicki Minaj (y/n couldn't tell anymore) blared through the speakers, and the bass beat thrummed in her chest. They stayed for a few minutes, and in those few minutes, y/n’s toes grew numb with how much they’d been stepped on, and her hair was beginning to stick at the back of her neck. Lucy’s black and white makeup was gleaming with her sweat, and her hair dropped with condensation. 
It looked a bit funny really. Selene and Beetlejuice together on the dance floor. An odd pairing, but a parenting nonetheless. Lucy led her back to where Mike was when she got tired of dancing, and like an obedient puppy, y/n trailed behind her. When Lucy ordered y/n to chug her drink, she did it.
She couldn’t say not. Not to Lucy. Not to Karime. Not to James.
She couldn’t say no. 
And because she couldn’t say no, y/n woke up the next morning and couldn't remember a thing. She had a Katy Perry Last Friday Night moment. Sadly, there was no really hot guy next to her on her bed, and thankfully, she hasn’t wearing headgear. 
What woke her, was the pain behind her eyelids that started when the light hit her. With a groan, she hid in the crease of her elbow while she scraped her thoughts together. Y/n was still in her Selena get up. She itched, smelled, and had a headache that hurt like...well, it hurts so much that she didn’t even know what to compare it to. She felt on her nightstand, and there it was. Bless his heart. 
Mike had left her a glass of something cold, and two pills. She didn’t know for sure because she didn’t have the energy to peek and see, but the class was probably pedialyte. The hangover cure. The pills were Tylenol. They had to be, because he knew ibuprofen doesn’t do shit for her. 
“Fuck, fuck,fuck,” y/n mumbled. Her tongue felt like sandpaper against the dry roof of her mouth, and when she swallowed, there was a dangerous taste of gin to her spit. Pressing her fingertips to her aching temples, she curses Lucy for making her go out last night, and Mike for letting y/n chug alcohol. 
    Unfortunately, she makes the stupid mistake of rising quickly from her potition on the bed to ‘get it over with’ and not even a full second goes by when she feels her stomach contents worming up her throat. She had to clamp her lips together and rush to the bathroom with her blanket wrapped around her ankles so she doesn’t barf all over her floor. 
    She doesn’t make it in time, and she spilled her gut on the toilet seat, before she’s made it so that her head is positioned right over the toilet bowl. She heaves and heaves until her chest hurts from the muscle contractions and her throat burns from the amount of acidity her bile holds. Tears drop from the corner of her eyes to where her thumbs grasp the seat because it fucking hurts and she’s gotten throw up in her hair. 
    The pain in her chest seems to have gone deeper, and wrapped its sharp talons into her heart. Her tears become purposeful; there’s a reason behind them not. She wishes there was someone there to hold her hair. To rub her back and tell her it was all going to be okay. To bring her the glass of pedialyte of her bedside table and coax her to drink it because she’d forgotten it. 
 Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, y/n gets up and flushes the toilet, wiping down the toilet seat with paper from the roll. The blanket, still curled around her ankles, she picks up and hoists it over her shoulders. She gurgles water from the sink before heading out, avoiding making eye-contact with the horrendous image in her mirror. 
Pedialyte goes down like the gin did last night, and she throws in the pills when she drinks, simultaneously pulling the strings so her blings flip downwards and cut off the light coming in from the outside. Quickly, she strips from the itchy Selena ensemble, and slips on a red t-shirt with the Kool-Aid man’s face on it over her head. Y/n has learned that its worse to go to bed and not eat, so she doesn't get back into bed, even though she really wants to and instead throws the blanket on top of her scattered pillows, and turns to make breakfast in her impossibly tiny kitchen. 
She lives in a little lofty space in the downtown area. The cheapest of all her options, and the best kept compared to the rest. The windows were blackened around the edges, and her air conditioner didn’t work, but hey, at least she had a roof over her head that she didn’t have to share with her parents. And she liked the window wall, too, and how the windows propped open on hinges. The way her brick walls looked during golden hour. It was very pretty. Relaxing. 
Slowly but surely, she’s built herself a little home that she feels comfortable in. In her tiny little space, her favorite thing was her radio. An absolute steal at the thrift store: a really old radio with big knobs and the red line that moved left and right when you tried to pick a station. She went to it now, and turned it on at a soft volume. The song that always feels like it's about a one winged dove by Fleetwood Mac came on, and she hums it softly while she turns on the stove. It click, click, clicks on when the gas catches flames, and she pours oil into a pan to crack an egg over it. The white edges sizzle, and bits of oil jump up and splash onto her skin. It happens so much it doesnt hurt her; she doesn't even flinch.  When the egg begins to turn golden, she turns down the knob, and goes back to her fridge in search of an avocado. Call her a trend follower, but she’d be damned if egg and avocado didn’t hit the spot. Plus, she makes an ace toast. 
Surprisingly, the smell of egg (her dad likes to say eggs smell like ass) doesn’t upset her stomach, no. Actually, her stomach grumbled when she smelled it, and the ache that had begun to spread across the lower region of her abdomen made her hurry to cut open the avocado, and pop in a slice of sourdough bread into the toaster. She fore-went mayo that time, instead just wanted to get something into her burning stomach because she was so hungry. Her eyes blearily while she does all this. 
By the time she’d spread her avocado and egg of the long slices of bread, the radio was playing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun By Cindy Lauper and y/n is doing a little happy dance on her way to her wicker table by the window, next to the bookshelf resting against her wall. Before she sat down, she reached for a novel on the shelf, and set it alongside her plate on the table. 
Biting into her toast, she opened the book. 
    Dani’s cheeks blushed a wine-pink color. She looked away.
“You confuse me so,” she mumbled just loud enough for him to hear. 
“How?” He grazed her jaw with gentle fingers, enough to turn her so she’s looking at him.
“You say that what we have, this spectacle we put on, is simple only to convince the people you will be a good king, but them you look at me… like that.”
“Like what? Like I want to kiss you?” he whispered, smiling faintly. “Because I do.” 
She seemed not to know what to say, and resolutely, she turned so she sat facing forward between his spread thighs, back to him. 
He realized then, that her shyness had caught up with her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and set his chin on her shoulder. 
“I’m no expert in etiquette, Your Highness, but I’m sure this is high;y improper.” She sait, stiffly and primly while he cuddled her.
“Proper? They call me Rafe the Rake. I’d say, my little peach, that we passed proper a long time ago.” 
“Don’t call me that,” she mumbled. 
“What do you wish I call you then?”
“Dani.” 
He chuckled at her response. “It’s a hellions name. It suits you well, all right. You can call me Rafe, if you like.”
“I do not wish to call you Rafe.” “No?”
“It’s a scoundrel’s name. I wish to call you Rafael. Like the angel.” 
“An optimist, aren’t you?” Rafael began combing his fingers through her hair, sifting through the silking
strands then massaging down her neck and shoulders.
She sank back into his chest with a sigh. “That feels wonderful.” 
“I should probably warn you,” he leans forward so that his lips are pressed against the shell of her ear. “I’m rather gifted with my hands.” She tensed again when he leaned down and nibbled on the skin of her neck, but Rafael left her melt in his arms when he continued his sensual massage on her shoulders. “Are you uneasy with this?” He paused to take her hands into his own, feeling as if he were young again with the first girl he had taken a liking towards.
“No,” she said quietly.
“Good.” With fingers still threaded through hers, he drew her hands back, and pinned her arms ever so gently behind her for a moment, gazing down her neckline at her creamy chest. Her breasts her small, but awfully perky and firm. He wondered if he could fit the entirety of one in his mouth. He bet that she’d like it if he did. 
Y/n paused for a moment, and clenched her thighs together. A buzzing feeling was starting to form on her clit, and she felt the space where her thighs touch grow warm. The Kool-aid man’s eye popped with hoe erect her nipples were. She was aroused. And she knew that the feeling would only grow more intense the longer she read, which she planned on doing. So, she picked up her plate, placed it in the sink, and took her and her book into her dark room. 
    Her novel, Our Sign of the Times by Lemus Knox was tatted and bent this way and that from all the times she’s cracked the pages open for a steamy read. A painting of a bodacious woman and handsome prince posing in front of a castle adorned the front cover (one of the main reasons why she bought it). The was was strong, with raven hair and a strong jaw that portured strongly as he kissed the brunette woman in a lilly gown that he held in his arms. The castle was cottage like, with ivy covered walls and stone hedges; complete with a moat and bridge wrapping around the area. The author, Lemus Knox, painted the image himself, as he say so in the acknowledgements. No one knows who he is, how old he is, where he lives, or anything else about him really. A pseudonym, he says. A way to keep his life private life and still do what he loves to do: write.Y/n stumbled upon his book two years ago, in the best sellers section at Barnes and Nobles, and has been slowly falling in love with him and his characters ever since.
    When she settled back into her blankets, y/n opened her book, and placed a single hand on her tummy, over the Kool-aid man’s mouth.
    “It’s getting dark,” she said rather breathlessly, “don’t you think it’s time we head back?”
    “I like being on the water at night. You can’t see. You can only hear the wares and you have to feel,” he teasingly brushed his fingers over the tops of her breasts, “your way back to shore. Feel your way through the dark.” He whispered into her ear,one of his hands splaying on her stomach and pushing back up, up, up to her breasts. “A man has to know exactly what he’s doing.” 
    She arched against him with a soft catch in her breath as he finally cupped her small breast in his large hands; her generous nipples turned hard underneath his circling thumbs. 
    “Rafael,” she moaned breathlessly, arms wrapped against his neck as she pushed her swollen mounds against his roaming hands. “We can’t. We’re not married yet.”
    “Oh, my sweet love.” Rafael’s hands slid back down against her belly and began stroking her thighs. “I don’t plan on deflowering you yet. I simply wish to learn what it is you like.”
    “But… I do not know what I like.” Her words were gasps of dreamy pleasure. 
    “Then I guess we’ll have to find out, won’t we?” 
    Knowingly, y/n’s hand began to follow the same path that Rafael’s had. Thumbs circling against swollen nipples, fingertips teasing the insides of her thighs.
    Her head was cushioned against his chest, and she turned her fact to him, seeking his mouth in innocent yearning. He lowered his head, and parted her lips with long strokes of his tongue into her sweet mouth, savoring the way she tasted. She reached up, and caressed his cheek as they kissed in slow, soulful agony. 
While she ran her fingers through his unbound hair, Rafael deftly inched her skirts upward over her exquisite legs. His heart pounded as she let his hands roam under the gathered layers of silk gown and muslin petticoat. He groaned into her lips when his fingers came to the edge of her white stockings, and found tenderly warm skin. His groin flooded with heat and his body turned rock hard in an instant. Unwilling to push her beyond what she was currently willing to give him, Rafael fought to keep his needs in check. 
Having been with many of the calculating damsels of the court, he knew that Dani was unlike them. She was soft, fragile, small, so precious in his arms. And while she may think herself independent, Rafael wanted nothing more than to hold her close and protect her, as much as he wanted to give her glimpses of what was in store for the night of their wedding. 
Under her dress, he took his time exploring, kneading, caressing her belly, her hips, all the while devouring her mouth. Behind closed eyelids, he smiled to himself when she began to writhe and twist in his hold, virginal madness getting the best of her. 
“Rafael, Rafael,” her voice grew drunk with urgent need. 
When he stroked her at her ore, he was more than pleased to find she was soaked with silky wetness, throbbing under his fingertips with pure female invitation. 
“Dani,” he mumbled against her earlobe, as her took her skirts with his empty hands and raised them higher and higher. “Would you like to watch?”
“NO! I couldn’t.” Her chest heaved. “Don’t make me.”
“Watch me touch you.” he murmured as his fingertips began to circle. “There’s nothing to be ashamed  of, my darling. I only want to fulfill your desires. Watch me pleasure you. Look at how beautiful you are , your sweet body. My wild, virgin love.” 
“Oh , Rafael!” she turned and kissed him ardently. A burning moisture inexplicably rose behind his eyelids, and quickly fled as their kiss ended. 
    He kissed the curve of her neck, moved by his shy uncertainty as she lowered her heat to watch as he touched her, panting slightly. She was so ready, he thought in pure agony as his hardness chafed against her back through their clothes. It would have been easy to take her then and there, on the warm glossy planks of the deck, but her repeatedly shoved that temptation aside, vowing to prove his respect for her by making their wedding night her first time.
        Y/n, too, was panting as she continued to read, her vision growing blurry with pleasure and need. 
    His thumb deftly teased her jeweled center, while his middle finger gently stroked inside her tight, fluid heat ,and as he kissed her ear and the back of her neck.
    Y/n threw the book aside, letting her own hands take the pace it needed to to bring her to her high. HEr slender fingers deftly pumped in and out of her slick hole, the hand that was holding her book now rubbing fast circles against her swollen button.  Wet mewls left her swollen lips, and her chest arched to meet hands that weren't there. The feeling of clenching in her abdomen and a squirming need something increased. 
    She left herself clenching on nothing, pinching her pert nipples with damp fingers as she rubbed faster and harder circles onto her mound. 
    “Fuck, fuck fuck,” she gasped under her breath, a long groan escaping her as she felt it instenifsy; anticipation of water nearly spilling. It hit her like a splash of cold water, her head thrown back against her pillows with her mouth open; a scream and no sound. Her body felt electrifies, her veins fueled by fire. 
    And when it died out,
    She fell back like a ragdoll, limp and tired onto her sheets. Y/n was all droopy eyelids and noodle limbs after her orgasm. 
    She fell back asleep with sticking fingers on top of her red Kool-Aid man t-shirt.
.
.
“... you know what I mean?”
“So… you don’t want a beach theme?” y/n asked. Karime, dressed in another silk dress, but this time in floral red pattern, was having a very hard time identifying the theme she wanted for her Aromatherapy cafe/library. 
“No, but I just want like, beach-y vibes. Airy? Ooopen. Yes, open.” 
“So plants,” Y/n jotted bulleted notes into her planner, in a blank section under ‘Karime’. “White and green color scheme. Open, clear room.” 
The two are standing at Karime’s shop, three streets away from Rockstar; an alarmingly vast space with plain walls and counters. Y/n has a lot of blank canvas to work with, and much to improvise because Karime wasn’t being exact with her vision. She hadn’t even set up a moodboard like she said she was because ‘an LA girl has a wild life you know, hun?’ 
Y/n truly wished she didn’t know. 
“Okay now, what’s your budget?”  she asked, her tone businesslike but full of warmth and interest. 
“Um, how much do you think you’ll need?” Karime wasn’t looking at her, no, she was picking at her cuticles, and pushing them back with her thumbs; her nails had grown and blank space separated the polish from her skin. Karime was across y/n, behind the quick-serve counter where smokey machines and masks where all lined up; one for each stool. 
“Plants are expensive. If you want big and already grown plants, they’re expensive- ranging from $20 to, I don't know… maybe $80?” Y/n taps her pen on her chin. “Furniture, and other wall decor I can craft and thrift, so that right there is maybe $200? $400 tops.” 
“Okay.” Karime said, shrugging her shoulders with a crescent moon smile on her pink lips, “I’ll write you a check for $3,000 to start. I don’t want anything from second-hand like Goodwill or anything like that. I’ll give you addresses to pre-selected antique stores and the likes. Now, you mentioned something about measurements?”
“Yes! Thanks for reminding me,” she’d forgotten all about that, and it truly is a key process in the decor department. “Do you happen to have a measuring tape?”
“Actually, yes. There’s one in the back, I’ll go get it.” Karime pushed herself off the granite table top, and turned on her heel to walk through a golden confetti curtain, leaving y/n seated at the counter.  
For a moment. She fiddled with the tubes coming from the humidifying machine in front of her, an opaque purple bowl with two tubes sticking out from opposite sides that connect to facemasks that cover your mouth. They’re cool to the touch, but warm when her fingers linger. A humming sound emits from the machine when she accidentally presses the start button, and she pushes it again in a panicked state to make it stop. She decides it’s best if she stops messing around with expensive machinery, and instead turns to looking at the small amount of people that are in the shop.  
There’s no one really up and about at 10 in the morning on a Sunday. The few that were, came with laptops to do work in the library section of the shop, with coffees on their tables, or some kind of breakfast, which had to be from somewhere else because Karime didn’t have a menu for food. Just drinks.
One of these really risers, a man who hunched over a sticker covered Mac, looked strangely familiar. Y/n was staring at his choice of clothing (a worn down Brittney Spears shirt with jeans and rolled at the ankles and pristine white vans) when he turned to look at her. It was then, looking onto his dazzling green eyes and watching his taffy pink lips curl into a smile and a hand coming up in a small wave, did y/n recognize that it was the stranger that recognized her Halloween costume a few days ago.  
Cheeks heating with clear embarrassment, y/n raised her own hand and timidly twiddles her fingers. She mouthed hello and tried to keep from cringing when he raised a finger to rub under his nose to hide the way his lips twitch upwards. His nose scrunches and wiggles, and his eyes wrinkle at the corner, a cheeky gleam in his look.
“Y/n!” Karime, reappearing, held a ruler in her hand. A ruler. “This is the best we’ve got, babe.” 
Her head snaps from the familiar stranger to Karime, who smiled as if she’d just solved all their problems when she’d really just created more because measuring with a ruler? Seriously. Y/n curses at herself for forgetting to bring her own measuring tape. 
She has no other option than to nod, smile, and take the ruler, and start taking measurements.  
Like the hand-over-hand motions of steering a car, y/n has to place the ruler, mark where it ends with her nail, and repeat the process again and again. 
The walls, the patio, window space, countertops, tables, and the one she’s dreading to do: the dimensions of the room the stranger is sitting in. Karime’s place was split in two and a half. A small outdoor patio, the man space with tables and machines, and the library lounging space. The library lounge space, a doorway cut into a small cozy room to the left when you walk in. 
    She’d yet to go in there and measure the walls and bookshelves, putting in on to last in hopes that he’d leave because measuring with a ruler is really embarrassing and it’s possible that she’d be shuffling around him. 
God.
    Getting a grip, she pulled her shoulders back and walked into the room, counting how many steps it took to walk through the door frame. She felt like fingers trapped in a Chinese finger trap, constricted. 
Walking into the room, the stranger didn’t look up, instead he looked even more immersed in his work than ever. Eyebrows furrowed and fingers tapping away on his keyboard. He was even leaning into his computer screen, like he couldn’t get whatever it was he needed to type onto the screen fast enough. 
Sure enough, staring at him, lost in whatever it was he was typing, y/n stumbled on her own two feet, and an absurd noise escapes her lips when she tried to catch herself. 
She doesn’t turn to see if he’s looked at her (he did, with a grin that showed off his bunny-like teeth) and instead hangs her head and makes her way to the opposite wall. Great way to be inconspicuous, she thought to herself. 
The wall opposite the stranger, was tall, like the others were. And even though she was sure that it was most likely the same dimensions, she wasn’t going to take any chances. Pulling up a chair so she could stand on it once her arm couldn't reach anymore; huffing because Karime had those really heavy metal chairs that screeched if you didn’t pick them off the floor. Seven feet later, y/n had to step up on the chair, wobbling on her legs while she hiked up, pressing harder on the wooden ruler to make sure it’s place didn’t move.  
Her nail pins into the wall, at the end of the ruler, before using her other hand to move up the start of the ruler where her nail left off. When the ruler reached her hip, y/n stumbled leaned forward and effectively knocked out her balance so she was left flailing, falling, fa- 
Not falling. 
No, not falling, because two hands grip her hips, and pull her back on the chair to make sure she doesn't fall flat on her face. Her eyes are pinched un closed anticipation, waiting for the smashing of knees against the cold, hard floors but it never comes. 
“Gotcha!” says a deep british voice. A warm gust of minty wind flutters in y/n’s nose, and when she opens her eyes. Glittering green eyes, wispy strands of hair, and petal pink lips.
Right. In front. Of her face. 
“Selena, you’ve really got to be more careful,” he says, chuckling as his speaks so his words are broken with sounds of laughter. He’s even lifting her up from her leaned position off of the chair, and settling her down on the floor, biceps tightening and a humming noise coming from his throat as he does so. 
She’s flabbergasted. Doesn’t know what to say because she doesn’t think she’d ever been picked up before. Its ridiculous really, seconds away from eating shit on hard ass surface and all she can think about is how she was picked up. But jeez, who could blame her, the man was hot. 
    All sharp jawline, clavicles peeking out of his shirt, and the column of his throat such a nice pretty color. Quite handsome, really. 
    “Shit,” y/n finally manages to get out, her eyes wide, shoulders tense, and instinctively, her fingers are digging into his shoulders (though she’s not aware of it yet).  
    “You alright?” The man says, when he notices the way she’s gone rigid. He doesn’t say anything about the way her fingers are gripping at him.
    “Uhm, yes. I am now. Thank you…” Y/n’s voice comes out in breathy spurts, and her forehead glistens like she’s just run to catch the bus. That’s when she noticed where her fingers were placed; the way the white cloth dipped in from the amount of pressure she was exerting onto his skin. Cheeks turning a darker pink, she cleared her throat and avoided looking at him when she removed her hands. 
    “Harry” He mumbled. “My name’s Harry. Yours? Not quite sure if it’s Selena or not…”  
    “HA!” A loud exclamation, a bit too loud that it was awkward. “No. Not Selena. Y/n.” She looked into his eyes them, raising her chin the last inch to move from Brittney Spears face to his eyes. Eyes the color of light streaming through a tree leaves in a forest on a spring forest. Y/n sucks in a breath.
    “Well, wonderful to meet you, y/n.” He leans towards her, a ringed finger pointing jeeringly at the stick still in her hands. “I gotta say, measuring with a ruler?” 
    “Very efficient. As you can see,” She shakes the hand the ruler is in, and then uses the ruler to point at the seemingly innocent metal chair “You should try it sometime.”
    “Only if you catch me.” Harry grabs his own wrists behind his back, his shoulders hunching forwards and head shaking side to side a bit as his speaks. 
    It takes a moment for her to drink in what he’s said, to fully react with a scoff and a smile. “Catch you? I’ll hold you up on my shoulder’s myself.” 
“Then we’ll both end up sprawled on the floor, all roughed up and bruised.”
They both laugh at their jokes, and Harry even goes as far as to clap his jean clad knee. When it gets quiet, their laughs dying down, Harry speaks again.
“Saw you in the paper. Helped decorate Rockstar didn’t you?” 
Y/n’s jaw drops. Her lips opening and closing like a fish eating crumbs at the water’s surface. “The paper? What paper?” This was news to her. She was aware that the article James would write would be like, online or something. But a physical paper. That’s a little bigger. And him having remembered. Having identified her. 
“The local paper. WeHoVille.” He quirked an eyebrow at her, one side of his lips pulling up in a confused manner. “Was picking up a sleepy time tea and honey at the Wholefoods, and you painting was a feature next to the counter. Didn’t show your face, but I walked past that day and remembered.” 
    “The paper… wow. I didn’t know. But yes,”Y/n twirls the ruler on in circles with her fingers, putting all her weight on one hip so on of her feet could tap loosely on the floor. “I decorated Rockstar.” After a beat, “What’d you think about it?”
    “The place is amazin’!” A strand of Harry’s hair flops down to the space between his eyebrows and eyelashes, tickling his skin. He had to brush his fingers through his hair to comb it back.  “Love the feel of it. Gotta stop myself from going in everyday or might blow all my money on Stevie’s usual.”
    “That’s my favorite too! Next time you’re there, give me a wave down and I’ll have you covered.” Y/n’s offers had Harry’s eyebrows raised in seconds. “Least I could do, given you saved me from a concussion and all that.” She tried to explain, words coming out in a flurry from her mouth. 
He chuckles at her flustered stare, the same repressed smirk that he’d given her when he caught her staring. “I’ll definitely keep that in mind.” Silence and then, “What do you plan on doing with the place?” 
“Turn it into a greenhouse,” y/n said bluntly. The two were still standing next to the wall y/n was measuring, and Harry leaned one of his shoulders against it, moving his hands from behind his back to his front, wrapping one around the other one’s wrist.
    “That’ll be nice. Even more uh, how do you say, therapeutic? I guess more relaxing than the place already is. Karime said plants?” He asked. It didn’t quite settle with y/n that he knew Karime on a first name basis, that he was interested in knowing she picked plants, and she wanted so badly to say: Karime doesn’t know what she wants, but instead pushes that feeling away and goes with,
    “Well, she gave me a scope to work with. A color scheme. A gist. Certain decorations she wanted to see. So on and so on. Plants is just what I took from it. And it goes with her place because it has to deal with aromatherapy and all that. What do you think?”
    “I think you’ve hit it right on. Can’t wait to see what it’ll look like.” He raps a knuckle on the wall. “Did you still need wall measurements? I’ll hold you so you don’t fall again.” 
    Timidly, she responds, “Okay.”
    “Up you get, then.” Harry pointed to the chair, and y/n raises her leg to hike up, this time with Harry’s hands placed on her hips, steadying her. 
    A tiny dash on the wall where her nail slid off marks where she was at when she nearly fell off the metal chair, and this is where she places the ruler. She left off at 7 feet, the ruler at her hip. Resuming the same positions, she starts to wobble again, and Harry's hands tight, holding her straight. 
    She guesses he hears her gasp when she feels herself wobble because he says “I’ve gotcha.” 
    Y/n moved the ruler up one, two, and three more times, and then her arm can’t stretch anymore and pinches one eye closed to cry and guess how many more feet are left. She guessed four… ish. On a whim, she tries to push the ruler up once more, and her shirt rides up on the left side of her hips. Warm sequential breaths hit her skin, and a shiver drops down her spine when she realizes what’s happened. 
    Harry, ever the gentleman, doesn’t waste a second, and slides his pointer and middle finger over her skin, his warm fingers splaying over goosebumps to pinch her shirt and pull it down for her. 
    “All done,” she squeaks. “Coming back down.” 
    Harry released her, but offers her a hand and she takes it, holding on to his as she comes down, his palms warm and rings cool; a nice contrast. 
    “Thank you so much for h-”
    “Y/n?” 
    Booth Harry and y/n tun to the doorway that leads to the main room, where Karime stands with a checkbook in her hands. Y/n turns back to look at Harry. The curls behind his ears, the blonde hairs on his top lip. He turns to look at her, and gives her a closed lip smile. She smiles back and twiddles her fingers, mouthing a bye bye.
    Karime walks away when she sees that y/n is following her, and takes them both back to their position on the counter. 
   “Here’s the check. Two thousand dollars. Deposit it into your account, and use it for gas, furniture, anything that has to do with Aromareads you can pull from this.” She opens the book and tears out the slip of paper. “I will need receipts. And your name?” 
   Karime glances up at y/n, only to see that she’s busy looking back through the door frame at Harry. The manager is slightly irked at the fact that the person she’s hiring to reshape her business isn’t paying attention, but following her line of gaze, Karimer can’t blame her. Harry, a usual in her store, is a very very handsome man. Towering, with broad back and a neck Karime would love to bite into if she wasn’t gay. He sat at his laptop, thighs spread and eyes hard and stern, pondering with a pout. Karime is sure that what caught my/n’s attention is the way Harry’s thighs and crotch looked at that very moment, enticing, strong, sensual. 
    Clearing her throat, “Y/n. I need a full name to address the check.”
    Y/n’s neck snaps towards Karime, her hair getting caught on her lips at her velocity. “Uh- yes, sorry it’ll be Y/n Y/l/n.” 
    Karime repeated her name, and asked for her to spell it, which she did while stuttering mildy. 
    “Here you go.” Clicking her pen against the marble countertop, Karime handed the check to y/n. “Listen, by no means do I wanna pressure you, but if you could get this down before the holidays are in full force, I would love that.” 
    “Oh, don’t worry. It won’t take me that long.” 
    .
    .
    And it definitely didn’t. 
    On Monday, y/n spent the entire day (and part of her night) driving to most of the places Karime had sent her through a text. She spent a few minutes googling the places and looking through the pictures that came up and cursing every time it would redirect her to yelp- because really who has yelp? The antique stores were all spread out in the Los Angeles area.
    There was one in Long Beach. The pictures showed a really big warehouse with chair lying on top of each other and tables littered with little statues and the likes. Here she bought baskets. Tons of them. Gus (the owner) has dedicated an entire isle to them. When he saw y/n’s cart, the laughed then asked her “Why dolly, whadda ya need all them baskets for?” And when she told him it was for business, he offered her coupons and package deals. 
    “Tell ya what,” he scratched the scruff on his chin, the only hair he had because he was bald, “You buy all these baskets,” he pointed to her cart, “I’ll give you a twenty pa’cent discount on ya purchase, and if ya want, you can pick anathin’ ya want from over there because no one wants tuh buy them.” Then he pointed to a pile of books that lay haphazardly next to a stove and a turquoise refrigerator. She paid one hundred and fifty.
    She walked out with wicker baskets, one being a picnic basket she snatched for herself, lined nicely with red patterned cloth and a lid for it to close, and that same picnic basket full of regency novels from the 90’s.
    There was another in Laguna. A beachside thrift shop, where she paid for (very overpriced) frames of painted lighthouses and beach landscapes for that ‘beach’ factor Karime wanted. By this time, she drove back towards Hollywood to drop the items back at Aromareads because her car was getting full. She didn’t go inside, just unloaded the tings in the back and Karime took them inside. If she had, she would’ve seen Harry.
    Y/n then took to the shops in the downtown area. One being, a swapmeet type place where you walked through and looked at all the furniture. They set up different sections for different themes. Victorian, regal, animal skin themed, and a hall full of mirrors. Y/n bought a large 8x8 mirror for five hundred dollars. It would be delivered the following day.
    One of the sections was retro-themed, and she snapped a picture of a hip-height lava lamp and sent it to Lucy. Lucy then proceded to beg y/n through to text to please buy that I fucking need it. Will pay u back. So she bought it; $100 that she knew would be no big deal for Lucy given all the business she had. 
    Her final stop, were the flowers and plants district. There, she placed a large order for 30 succulents, and an assortment of nearly 100 leafy plants to fill the baskets with. She blew $1,000 there. 
    By the end of the day, she’d wasted nearly all of Karime’s check; a measly two hundred remaining after she refilled her car with gas (give or take some). Y/n met with Karime at around 6, in the back parking lot again, and left everything she’d bought. 
    “Oh! And the mirror should be delivered tomorrow before closing time.” 
    Karime was wearing a caramel turtle neck and black slacks tucked into latex ankle boots, her hair pinned back and tied into a spiky ponytail. Her ears were adorned with pearl earrings, and her fingers were jammed into golden rings. Y/n felt embarrassed in her measly purple jumper and paint splattered mom jeans.  Her accessories consisted of a fanny pack full of nails and a hammer at her waist.
    “Good, good. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow-” Karime was already turning back and returning into the shop when Y/n said:
    “Actually I was hoping I could start now.” Her words lifted into a question at the end, half suggesting half stating. 
    Karime’s face morphed into one of confusion and surprise, but in the end she agreed, and told y/n to do as she pleased.
Upon first entering, y/n is disoriented. 
    She walks into a frenzy of… nothing. It’s like an industrial kitchen, but completely empty. Occupied only by the things she had brought in. She remembers that she walked into the back and not the front, and it made sense because Karime doesn’t offer anything that would require use of the kitchen. Everything she has is done at the bar by the barista outside. 
    Karime leaves y/n in the back, where she asses her items. The baskets. The frames. And well, that’s really all there is. It would be more with all the plants coming in. She realizes that she doesn’t really have much to work with and there really isn’t much to do than hang picture frames, and there’s only five of them. 
    Nonetheless, she goes outside with the first frame in hand. A soft blue painting of a lighthouse on an island with light from a hole in a cloudy sky shining on the building. When she picked this one up, she knew exactly where it would go. By the wall next to the sliding door that lead to the patio. She sauntered over to the spot then, dodging a woman on her boyfriend on her way there. It was packed, and rightfully (it was a tuesday).
    She reached the spot, and lifted the picture on the wall, lifting and tilting so it would fit naturally. Eventually, she found the sweet spot, and reached for the hammer she had stuck into her belt loop and the box of nails she’d placed into the fanny pack on her waist. 
    Without hesitation, she put the first nail on the wall, and started banging. Three taps in, and she hung the wire on the nail, balancing it so it looked the way she envisioned it. After she was done, y/n stepped back to admire her handiwork, and tilted her head to the side the way one does when their looking at a picture that’s upside down. 
    Perfect. 
    She walked around the shop then, with the purpose of noticing empty spots on the walls, anything that could be filled up with artistry. The simple tables? No they had to stay that way. Placing something on the tables would clutter them and tarnish the ‘relax’ mode people came in for. The window that faced the street? Yes. Y/n planned on lining them with hanging droopy plants on the edges, not obscuring but not leaving a clear view either. She’d have to buy shelves to place baskets on the walls. Hooks to hang them. This she would do with what was left from the check.
     Yet… something was missing. The alternative-ness she knew should be there. Something ‘hippie’ and ‘aesthetic’, off the minimalist side of things. 
    Looking into a corner where the walls met, a light bulb went off. She knew exactly what was missing. Letters. Y/n had seen an image on Pinterest not even less than a month ago. A picture of a string of letters. Or rather, a message. It said something along the lines of  ‘You are my light’ or something edgy like that. Each word had been hand cut and strung onto a piece of- she didn’t know, string? Tweed? A wire?- and hung in a corner of a room where walls met. It knocked off every box on the checklist. Minimalist. Crafty. Aesthetic. And cheap, considering how low the money was.
She knew she’d have to brainstorm phrases and pass them by Karime, but she’d worry about that later.
    .
    .
    It was Friday. One day after the plants had been delivered, and y/n was set to work full force. Sure, she’d have to work amongst customers, but no matter. It would get done. 
    She started in the back. With the plants. 
    Y/n had bought a plastic-type lining at the Home Depot to place soil in the baskets. She lined then all first, securing the material with tape around the edges. After, came the transfer and placement. She decided this would be a better method, and if there were extras she could have Karime sell them. This way, she wouldn’t overcrowd the place and stop when she saw an adequate fill of green. 
    The first, a circular basket with no handle the color of a waffle cone. Because it was one that would go on a shelf, she placed one of the droopiest plants in it, a green stream of vines and shrubby leaves.
    Last night, y/n had given Karime the benefit of the doubt, and allowed her to place shelves where she’d liked them So, before she opened at 7, Karime had decorated her store with wooden slabs for y/n to decorate. Taking the first plant, she walked out. 
   As expected, Aromareads was bustling with energy.     Women with mojitos in their hands, burnt out college kids hooked up to masks, older men and women laughing like tinkling bells. 
   She’s walking towards the first row of shelves she sees on the wall across from her, besides the sliding doors, basket held gingerly with both hands, when she hears:
   “Y/n!” 
   Looking to her left, she sees a sleepy, just-rolled-out-of-bed looking Harry. He’s wearing a black hoodie with the words ‘Treat people with kindness’ in a gradient rainbow color, and… and grey sweatpants. Grey. Sweatpants. 
   Grey sweatpants. 
   Y/n tries not to visibly swallow him whole as he walks towards her with an innocent smile on his face because god if she isn’t all hot and bothered right now. Her eyes seem to be magnetically attracted to his crotch, trying but failing to grasp and image of what may be lying underneath. 
“H-hey, Harry,” she smiles at him meekly, her voice cracking when she speaks. She cleared her throat and said again, “hey, Harry. S’nice to see you.” 
   “Nice to see you too.” He bows his head towards her, and endearing mannerism that has y/n’s heart pooling down to her ribcage. “I see you’ve brought out the green guns today.” A teasing grin on his extra red and shiny lips. Perhaps it was chapstick. It was rather windy outside.
   “You see correctly.” She giggles at his joke, at the same time, rolling her eyes at how cheesy he was being. “Today’s the day it all comes together.” 
“I’m excited to see how it all turns out. Don’t go falling on any chairs today alright?” He wags his finger at her, mocking a mother shunning her child.
“I’ll try not to. But if I do-” she said, coquettishly. 
“I’ll catch you.” 
“You better.” Laughing at him, she repeats his actions and lifts her finger up to point at him. 
   With a final laugh and a shake of his head, Harry walks away and into the working room. 
   Y/n watches him walk off, and walks off her own way as well, resting the basket against her hip as she went. When she reached the wall with shelves arranged in a checkered pattern, she placed the basket on top of the wooden plank, and tufted leaves so they look naturally messily placed. Unintentionally intentional; they way one teases their hair so it looks nice. 
   She went back to her work station: the now full kitchen, and repeated the process. Picked a basket, filled it with a plant, and took it outside. She left the hooks for last, wanting to leave of being in the way of people until she had too. Almost effortlessly, y/n filled Karime’s space with greenery. Cacti on shelves, large leaves and vines on walls, frames of beach paintings on nails. Once, she pricked her finger because her it had accidentally slipped inside the glass globe in which the succulent was in. 
    When the time finally came to walk into the room Harry was in, the outside was looking rather… forest-y. She liked the way it looked; a calm type of chaos. One that showed relaxation and no care for anything. Which was the point of the entire place. Come in. Relax. Breathe in from diffusers to get that extra push to decompress.
   Harry sat in his usual spot, directly in spot of the doorway, in one of the middle tables. Hunched over his computer with fingers flying over his keyboard. He had earphones in this time, white buds tucked right into his ears, stray strands of hair looping and covering them. His lips were placed in a puckered pout, the scrunched pink skin twitching from left to right.
    Humming to herself, y/n forces herself to walk past him, forces herself to not turn back and glance at Harry even if she can feel his gaze burning into her back. She makes it seem like the hook and plant in her hand are the most interesting things in the world. Turning it over in her fingers, and even going as far as to lift the basket (this on with a handle and curved bowl bottom) to her nose and smell it. 
    “Need a hand with that?” Harry says from behind her. She feels his presence from behind her, standing close enough that she can feel when he reaches to her front and takes the basket from her hands.  Y/n’s heart starts beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Closing her eyes to get a hold of herself, all she sees is green. Green, the color of his eyes.
   “Yes, please.” Her voice is small, shy.
    Harry, feeling bold, nudged the tip of his nose on the hair behind her ear. Enough to make her notice, but not enough to make her completely sure that it was there. “Where do you want it?” He says, breath hot on the shell of her ears. Her eyes widen, and her body goes on full alert. She’s suddenly aware of the closeness of his hips on hers, the brushing of the fabric on her the back of her hand.
    “Up…” Y/n steps forward, towards the wall. She places her finger on the smooth surface, and traces it over to where she wants it, doing loopty-loops to her desired spot. “...here.”
  He places the nail on the wall, hits it with the hammer that y/n gives him and hooks the basket as well. He turns to her when he’s done.
  “Got any more?” He asks, placing a hand on his hip.
  “Yeah, in the back. Wanna come help me?” Y/n points with a thumb to the doorway, half of her body turning as well.   
    “Lead the way.” 
    So they leave together to the backroom, y/n holding open the golden curtain for Harry to walk through. He looks around endearingly, his neck stretching and eyes darting from place to place as he takes in his surroundings. Y/n is stuck at the expression on her face, her heart strings pulling when her ears listen to the soft giggle that escapes his lips.
So they leave together to the backroom, y/n holding open the golden curtain for Harry to walk through. He looks around endearingly, his neck stretching and eyes darting from place to place as he takes in his surroundings. Y/n is stuck at the expression on her face, her heart strings pulling when her ears listen to the soft giggle that escapes his lips.
    “S’very nice back here.” 
    “Wanna grab a few baskets? Place ‘em in the lounge?” 
    “Sure thing.” Harry wraps his hand around the handle of three baskets at the same time, and with the other, he grabs the still-packaged hooks and wait for y/n by the doorway. She hurried to grab two succulents, and met Harry at the doorway. They had an awkward moment of deciding who’s going first. A huffle of backwards and forwards until eventually, Harry held his palm out to allow her to go through while biting his lip. Y/n ducked her head and felt the tips of her ears go warm. 
    “So, I tried Elton John yesterday.” He said, trailing behind y/n into the lounge like a little puppy. If he had a tail, it’d be wagging. 
    “Oh? How was it?” She replied, juggling the two glass casings in her hand, and then pricking herself again. She flinches, but doesn’t make any noises. 
    “Think I might have a new favorite,” he said, bashfully ducking his own head and peeking at her through his hair. Her heart fluttered, and if it could, she was sure it would bust out with the dreamy sighs she suppressed.
    “It’s that serious?” She asked. 
    “It’s that serious.” They reach the lounge, and y/n sets the succulents she carries in her hands down on a table.  “Have you had it yet?” Her stretches her hands out to Harry, signaling for him to give her his items. 
    “No, not yet. Should probably give it a try if its changed your mind. Can you pass me a hook?”  Harry gives her all four packages he holds in his one hand. When she wraps her hand around them, her finger brushes against the chubby part of his hand. 
    “Here you go- I only drank it ‘coz like, I’m on this diet thing and needed a drink with oat milk in it. Elton’s was the first one I saw. Woke me right up, too.” 
    “Diet you say?” y/n took the hammer and walked over to her desired stop, a few feet away from the one Harry had put in. 
    “Some altered version of keto. Had a really bad bug, had me feeling icky and ‘just decided it was the best.” He takes place next to her, watching as she positioned the nail and hit it a few times with the hammer. He held out a basket on his finger when she was done. She was a whirlwind, he thought. Busy little bee, never stopping. Harry nearly feels bad because she’s so full of energy, bouncing back from the table to the wall and arranging plants before he could even blink. “S’not fair. Not letting me do any work.” A pout appears on his lips, eyes teasing.
    “You just stand there and look pretty. I’ve-” she points to herself, finger at her chin. “Got this.” 
    Harry grumbles something that she doesn’t catch with his chin tucked into his neck. 
“What was that?’ she hums. 
    “‘Said, can’t exactly be pretty ‘coz you took that job too.” 
    Y/n’s hands still. Immediately, she feels her chest grow red roses blooming on her cheeks. She’s not exactly… embarrassed, per say. No. The familiar feeling of ants running wildly in her lower stomach began to burn, her ribcage tickling as butterflies try to creep out with beating wings. Pretty. He had called her pretty. 
    “Uhm, thank you?” 
    “You’re very welcome, darling.” His tone of voice is smug. And when she looks over at him with eyebrows raised, he’s biting his lip and his looking at her through his eyelashes like he had before, but there was no childish play in it this time. 
    “Say,” she picks up a succulent. “What’s it with you?” 
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He shrugs.
“Lovin’ all up on me.”  She puts the succulent back down.
“S’nothing wrong with lovin’ all up on a pretty girl.”
There it is again. Pretty girl. Y/n is on fire her entire face pink, color concentrated on her cheeks and nose as if she had taken a walk in the brisk wind. 
“Stop it,” she said. 
Harry’s face turns concerned, brows kissing and lines appearing on his forehead. “Am I making you uncomfortable?” All work is forgotten, and instead they stand facing each other. 
“No! No, no,” Y/n’s eyes widen and her hands waving back and forth to eradicate the thought of her being disturbed by him. “S’just,” she sighs. “Not used to it, is all.”
Upon hearing this, Harry’s face breaks into a smile. “Well then,” he starts. “Better get used to it.” 
“Oh, you.” She playfully slaps his shoulder and picks up the succulent again, this time actually going to put it on a shelf adjacent to the window; a little alcove Karime has placed in a weird spot.
“When do you get a break?” 
“I think I get to take it whenever I want, why?”     “Wanna head down to Rockstar? Craving a Madonna right about now.”
“Never pegged you as a Madonna guy,” (the Madonna was a sweet caramel iced coffee with whipped cream and chocolate chips; not actually what Madonna would drink, and the beverage itself being one of the few inaccurate ones). “Let me finish with this, and I’ll let Karime know.”
So she did, much faster with Harry’s help. He handed her nails, hooks, and the plants she asked for. He asked if he could leave his stuff in the back, and he followed her back there once again, ticking his bag into an empty cupboard next to y/n’s things. On her way out, she said a quick goodbye to Karime who she was sure didn’t even hear what she said. 
Harry and her walked the short block side by side, with him playfully knocking his shoulder into hers and smiling like a mushy schoolboy when she pushed him back. They made small talk about drinks and the weather, shoulders hunched up and chins tucked in because it was a little cold.   Y/n’s frayed highschool sweater wasn’t doing much to keep her warm, and she had half the wind to pull her hood up the way Harry had his. 
Looking over at his, his nose was going a bit raw. Pink and the skin around it a little pale. By the time he noticed she was looking at him, they’d reached Rockstar, and he was opening the door for her. Murmuring a small thank you she walked through, and stepped to the side to wait for him to step inn as well, given he’d held the door open for the few people that had been walking behind him as well. From inside, she could see him nodding and smiling at everyone who stepped in. 
“You wanna grab a table and I’ll get the drinks?” she says to him when he appears next to her with hands in his hoodie pocket; she’s craning her neck to meet his eyes.
    “Sure. I’ll be in the records?” He takes one hand out to point over to where the records are.
    “Okay.” Y/n nods and head to the counter, where Lucy is busy taking someone’s order. She only see y/n when she walks behind the person and makes a silly face at her. Lucy laughs, but continues taking the order, and y/n pushes through the doors to put on an apron and make her and Harry’s drink. 
“Well if it isn’t y/n!” Says Kim.
“Y/n! Girly its been forever,” Kelsey bumps her hip when y/n get to work alongside her at the steaming machine.  
“Yes, yes, I know. Missed my favorite baristas.” she giggles, bumping her hip a little harder and making Kelsey gasp in faint shock. “Where’s Tilly?”
“Called in sick. Poor think could barely speak.” replied Kelsey. Y/n hummed a response, and made her drink first, a hot chocolate, and set it to the side to allow it to cool down meanwhile she made Harry’s. When Kelsey noticed her reaching for another measuring cup after just making her own she says,
“Two drinks?”
“Got a friend waiting for me in the records.” Y/n explained, pumping an extra pump of caramel into the cup. She puts in less ice too, and extra chocolate chips and whipped cream. 
    “The records…” Kelsey craned her neck out of where customers pick of their drinks to peek tp the records section. “Wait, wait, the one in the hood?”     “Yep,” said y/n, unbothered as she capped Harry’s drink.
    “Y/n!” Kelsey hissed, “He’s hot!” 
    “Yes, Kelsey, I am aware.” Y/n rolls her eyes and picked up both drinks, turning on her heels to walk out but nearly bumps into Kim, who stood not even an inch away from her. She backs up instantly.
    “So are you and he a thing?” He asked, leaning in closer to y/n’s face,his breath smelling on the ramen he always ate during his lunch break. 
    Y/n, uncomfortable by his closeness, tried walking around him but he stepped to the side. “It’s none of your business Kim.”
    “You never accept my dates, but you’ll accept his?” Kim’s tone is angry, and when he takes a step towards her, Kelsey steps in front of her.
    “Kim, leave her alone.” Kelsey says, turning back to y/n and nodding her head in the direction y/n was heading. When she pushes past the swinging doors, she catches a bits of what Kelsey says to him in a harsh whisper, “just wait until Lucy hears about this.” 
    “Haarryy,” Y/n says in a sing-song voice, dodging people as she makes her way to the records. Harry’s standing with  a record in his hand, legs spread apart and leaning back a bit with  his other hand tucked into his opposite armpit. “Here’s your John.” 
    Harry takes the plastic cup from her, giggling as he looks at her. 
    “What’s so funny?” she asks, genuinely confused.
    “Still wearing your apron,” Harry wraps his lips around the straw, tongue poking out to lap at it and take it into his mouth as y/n tries really hard not to stare.
    Looking down at herself, y/n shrugs, and leaves it on, taking a seat on the nearest loveseat and wrapping her now empty hand around the warm cup. 
    “What did you get?” He asked her. 
    “Willy wonka.” She brings the cup to her lips, tilting it up slowly and her mouth waters when she catches the scent of the foaming chocolate. Harry takes a seat next to her, his thigh touching her jean-clad one. He sits with them spread, leaning back in an eased position, and y/n eyes jump down to the bunched grey fabric at his crotch. And… well, there’s a larger than normal bulge through the fabric, drawstrings bending over the imprint, and y/n chokes on her drink. Some of it sputters out onto her apron. 
    “Still hot?” She nods. “ Gotta be careful, love. Who picked the names?”
    Y/n looks over at him, head tilting to the side with eyes squinting. “Picked what?”
    The cloudy skylight streamed in softly, casting a soft grey glow on Harry’s side profile. “The names for the drinks. Who picked them?” He holds his drink in one hand, straw near his face so all he had to do was maneuver his wrist to the plastic tube was in his mouth. 
    “Lucy did. Well, for most of them. I picked Andre 3000, Madonna, Willy Wonka and made the drinks myself. They’re not accurate though.” She sipped from her drink. “The rest of them are.” 
    “How much of this decor did you do? Like, concepts and stuff.” Harry takes out the tucked hand to wave around, and then tucks it back in. 
    “Concepts? Hmm…” she trails off for a moment. “All of them. I don’t want to say that I made this place myself, because I wouldn’t have done it without Lucy’s guidelines, but I went out, bought the furniture. Everything you see me doing at Karime's, I did here… ‘cept Karime’s is just plants and this,” she waves around her in a gesture and leaves it at that.
    “Do you decorate apartments?” He asked.
    “W-what?” Y/n, in the middle of a sip, and very surprised at his question, stuttered at his 
    “‘Coz mine’s looking kinda bland right now, was thinking maybe you could help me put some life into it.” 
    “Harry, I-”
    “Kinda like the Rockstar vibes, but like, a little less on the trendy side? I dunn-” Harry isn’t looking at her, his eyes wandering and landing on everything but her. 
    “Harry.” she said a little more sternly, putting a stop to his little rant. He looked at her then, his expression  unreadable. “I’m not sure you want me to help you decorate your home.”
    “Why not? You’d be helping me is all, and I love the way you’ve made Aromatherapy and Rockstar look.” He licks his lips, moving his head to the side and bringing the straw into his mouth with his tongue (that y/n stare at for longer than necessary).
    “But it’s your home.”
    “I am aware. Help me make it more me.” He shifts his body towards her then, his knee bending so he chest is to her. “Please?” He makes the face Puss in Boots made in that one movie, y/n couldn’t remember then because Harry looked much cuter than that dumb cat did.
    Y/n tosses this idea around in her head. Helping Harry decorate his home. She was scared, not only because Harry was cute, but because home was a personal and private space to be calm and safe. What if she screwed it all up and then Harry was uncomfortable in his own home? What is she did such a shit job that, that- well such a bad job that a horrible result came out of it again. This thing with Harry, a budding friendship? She barely knew the guy, just that he had an affinity for showering her with compliments and he made her turn more red than that really bad sunburn she got in the 10th grade after she refused to put on sunblock on a trip to a pool resort. What her point was, is that decorating someone’s home- a place where the heart is pure- is a really big job. 
    “Of course, this would be after you’re done with Karime’s place. Don’t wanna stress you out or anything like that.” A nike shoe, white and crisp looking like it had come straight out of the box, pressed into his thigh when he wrapped a hand around his ankle and pulled his bent leg in tighter.  “Whadda ya say?”
After hemming and hawing a few times, y/n finally says, “Okay. But you’re gonna have to be one million times more specific okay?” She elbows him, his position causing her elbow to poke at his pec instead of his bicep, and y/n elbows into hard muscle. 
    “Heyyy, can’t go hurting the girls now,” He rubs over where he poked her, and pouts childishly, even going as far as sticking his tongue out at her. “Do you need to head back? I don’t wanna get you into any trouble, y/n.”     The use of her name makes her heart skip a beat. “Yes, we should probably get going.” She moves to get up, and accidentally places her hand on Harry’s thigh. Before she would say sorry for touching him, he says,
    “Alway using me to hold yourself, huh? Sneaky thing, I see what you’re doin.” 
    “You offered! Said it yourself, I’ll hold you so you don’t fall again,” she deepened her voice, and faked a british lilt as best she could. 
    “I do not sound like that,” He whined. 
    He got up right after her, grabbing her hand to ‘pull’ himself back up, but he was really just holding it. His hand was cooler than hers (because he’d used the hand that had been holding his iced coffee) and enormous around hers. If he tried, he could close his finger tips and they’d be overlapping. When he was fully stood up, he reached around her neck, and lifted the black strap over her head, transfering the cloth over to the hand that held his cup, and then reaching again, this time around her waist to undo the knot. His front, not even a full step away from hers, and y/n got a whiff of detergent and something else she could only describe as ‘clean man’. If she were a shark, this would’ve been the moment her eyes turned black and rolled to the back of her head. 
    “There you go, no longer look like a little barista.” He hung the apron over he shoulder, and walked alongside her to the exit. Y/n split from him for a short second to return the apron, but then resumed her place next to him and they walked out together. She was hyper alert the entire way, taking notice of when their hands brushed, or when he pressed his bicep against hers. They walked a little stumbly, walking against each other almost. Had it been Lucy, she would’ve already yelled at y/n, and y/n would’ve walked near the sidewalk to avoid bumping into her again. But Harry?
Harry takes it like a champ. Giggling and pressing back against her, and he even placed her on the inside of the sidewalk when she walked to the side closest to the passing cars. 
    “So, tell me.” He starts, tossing his empty cup at a recycling bin as they waited for the light. “What kind of premeditated preparations should I take to be- as you said- extra specific?”
    Y/n still nurtures her cup in her hands, the coffee lid resting on her bottom lip. “Moodboards. Magazine scraps. Room inspiration on pinterest. Make a list of things you like. Anything really.  Anything that you like and would like to see in your apartment. Also, you need a budget.” 
    “Don’t worry ‘bout a budget. I’ll work on everything else. You want it done by a certain day?” He asked, gallantly placing a hand on the small of her back as they crossed the street.
    “Preferably within the next week or two. I’m pretty much done with Karime.” She straightens up when she feels Harry’s hand on her, a warm feeling spreading from where he pressed, unlike the nastiness Kim made her feel. 
    They’re three shops down when he said, “Gotta give me your number so I can send you everything then. You can keep me updated and I’ll keep you updated.” They pass by a tree whose branch is just low enough to graze Harry’s head, and it hooks onto the hood on his head, effectively pulling it back as he walks through. His hair looks incredibly soft. Wispy strands the color of the drink in her hands, billowing up and around his face, a ringlet falling in front of his right eye. 
    He licks his lips, using his fingers to push his hair back and raise the hoodie over his hair again. HE looks over at her as he does, waiting for her response. 
    “Oh, oh, yes. Sure thing. Got your phone on you?” Harry jams his hand into his pocket and pulls out his phone, the latest model, sleek and looking incredibly small in his hands. He placed it into her outstretched palm, unlocked but not on the contact app. Y/n has to swipe through shamefully, scared he’s gonna think that she’s snooping. She puts her number under ‘y/n :)’. 
    “Thanks, love.” He took the phone from her, his fingers sliding against the back of her hand. He hisses when he does so, saying, “Y/n your hands are so cold,” and then proceeds to take her hand and squeeze it between his own two. 
    She giggles sweetly, “Aye! Trynna hold my hand now?” she teased. 
    “No, trying to hold your hand would be this,” He grabs her hand with one, and lets it wall between them. They walk into AromaReads like that, with him holding her hand and the both of them laughing like they’d heard the funniest thing in the world. 
    Karime, standing at the counter and welcoming everyone as they come in, catches y/n’s eye and she smiles at herself knowingly. Y/n shakes her head while still laughing with Harry, and they both head to the back. Harry to get his stuff, and y/n to continue her job. Just when he’s walking between the isle and cabinets, his phone dings and he takes it out, his jaw dropping and palm slapping his forehead. 
    “SHIT! I completely forgot. I have a lunch meeting with my friend today. Fuck,” Y/n, this being the first time she hears swear words coming out of his mouth, rases her eybrow at him and chuckles. “I’m so sorry. I wanted to keep helping you, but-”
    She raises her hand, silencing him. “You do what you have to do. This is my job anyway. Just don’t forget to text me.” Basket handles fill her hands, wicker patterns pressing into her pals, and she tucks one of the last two frames under her hand too. 
    “I won’t. In fact, I’ll do that right now.” He types into the phone that’s still in his hand, and a few seconds later Y/n’s back pocket buzzes and chimes. She doesn’t pull it out to check. “Now you can text me if I forget.” He says finally, swinging his satchel over his shoulder.
“Bye, sweetheart!” He called out, turning back over to smile at her. Y/n’s  lips pulled up at the corners, gazing at him with a certain look in her eye as he walked out. 
    “Sweetheart, huh?” Karime stepped into her direct line of vision, snapping y/n out of the daydream in her head where she’s the housewife and Harry her husband leaving to work, calling out bye, sweetheart! as he walked out the door. 
    Karime’s looking at her with a smirk and a single pointy eyebrow raise. 
    God, what had she gotten herself into?
    .
    .
    Y/n had saved Harry under “H.”
   And received a text from him that same night.
    She’d been in her bathtub with cucumbers on her eyes when she heard her phone chime. Chin pointed upwards and wrists perched on the edges of her porcelain basin, she lay unbothered and unmotivated to even move. Arms aching and the soles of her feet tired from walking from place to place and lifting she did at Karime’s earlier that day. Tealight candles were the only source of light in the tiny bathroom, a soft yellow glow cascading on the skin of her neck.  The valley of her breast peaked out everytime she took a breath, her mind drifting off into thoughts of green eyes and warm hands, all she’d been able to think about that day.
    She planned on staying there 30 more minutes, but her phone dinged again. After she thought it was the two minute thing the phone does after receiving a message, but when it dinged again, she huffed from her nose and removed the soggy cucumber sliced off of her eyes. Should’ve turned off my phone, she thought to herself, grabbing the towel she left on the toilet seat across from the tub, and wrapping it around her torso. The phone screen a blaring white light in contrast to the dimness of the candles. 
    Y/n, eyes cloudy with sleep and limbs saggy with fatigue, is very much surprised to see that next to the app icon on the display screen, is ‘H.’ Hey eyes pop out of her head at the realization, and her heart shakes up the fatigue to beat up a storm for the boy she’d been thinking about all day since he’d left her. 
Standing in her bathroom, on bare tiles with water still dripping on her, it hit her full force. She liked Harry. Liked the way his cheek squished against his shoulder when he shrugged. They way he looked at her through his eyelashes, and they way he made sure that she was walking on the inside of the street. Liked how he smiled at her and said her name. She was obsessed with him. 
So i think i know what i wanna go for
Was thinking maybe italy in the 70’s 
What do you think :D ??
    And attached were varying pictures of vast rooms with big windows during golden hour and white flowy curtains with art pieces on the wall. It was minimal Even more minimal that what Karime asked for. This is what he wanted help with? Not to mention, the pictures he sent were of rooms far bigger than she’d ever seen for an LA apartment. Hell, those rooms might as well have been in Italy, one of the windows had a view of a pretty pink sunset and orange tree branches littering the way. 
    However, she couldn’t argue that they were very pretty rooms. Sweet and plain, easy for the eye to absorb and just the place you’d be able to melt on the floor with a book. 
    Or the kind in which you have slow, hazy afternoon sex, but who was she to say what harry would use his rooms for right?
    Disclaimer: if this is the look you’re going for
    Like
    This exact look? You’re gonna have 2 have a really big apartment   
        Not even a full minute goes by until the grey delivered letters turns into ‘Read at 10:15pm’ and the grey typing bubble appears at the bottom of her screen. Her palms begin to sweat and her breath hitches. She doesn’t realize she’s been holding in her breath until she releases it after his message comes through. 
        are you doing anything this weekend? 
        Y/n is confused, brows furrowed as she reads his message. Why does he want to know?
    No. why? she responded.
    so you can come and take measurements of my apartments. that way i know how to tweak what i want
  and I have a measuring tape don’t worry
Y/n rolled her eyes and giggled at her phone screen, turning and resting her bum on the edge of her sink. 
    Saturday? 
        Seconds later,
see you Saturday
sweet dreams. H.x
The idiot. Of course he’d sign off a text message. Scoffing, y/n let the towel drop to the floor, and reached into the tub to unclog the drain. As soon as she felt the pop of water flowing down the pipes, she took out her arm and walked out. 
.
.
On Wednesday, y/n laid in bed until 12. When she got up, it was only to brush her teeth, pee, and eat ramen with rice and egg like the asian lady in the liquor store had taught her to make. When she finished, she went back to bed. Maybe she masturbated to get herself to fall asleep again.
Maybe.
.
.
On Thursday, she went took Our Sign Of The Times and took it out to read in her car on signal hill. She finished it. 
She cried. 
When she went home, she started another one. Rogue Lover. This one with a really pretty purple flower on the front, and the first page when you open it is a raven haired man with shoulder length hair who’s propped up next to a busty redhead. Her nipple is in his mouth, and her head is thrown back in pleasure. Y/n fell a little more in love with 
Lemus Knox upon finding the dedication was a note rather than a name. 
It said:
Whoever reads this, I’ll be waiting for you where the stars and clouds meet. My heart is yours. Lemus.
.
.
Friday. 
She helped Lucy at Rockstar. A bald man with a blue beard came in asking for her. He has a boutique in Long Beach. Doesn’t want to come off overbearing. Will he help her? 
She said yes.They were set to meet next week. 
Also, Harry texted her asking if they were still on for tomorrow and come ready to eat because I made Italian food for a few friends I had over and there’s leftovers. 
.
.
Saturday. 
Y/n woke up with an appetite for Italian food. She didn’t have to be at Harry’s house until 12-ish. They hadn’t really clarified. And with it being 8 am and all that, y/n decided to take some time to shower and prep herself all nice and delicate. She spent 15 minutes lathering herself in her tub, letting her skin absorb berry scented bubbles that made her mouth water, and if she didn’t know any better she’d scoop up the bubbles and eat them.When her skin shriveled, she stood and drained the water, letting the stream from the overhead wash her off, and stepped out onto her heart shaped mat, the kind with little stubs that felt really nice against the bottom of her feet.
A little while back, she’d bought a lemon face scrub from a really expensive skincare place that had a sale, and meanwhile she put on her clothes, she put some on her cheekbones and forehead to sit for 15 minutes.  It required extra care when slipping her floral dress over her head. Once she managed to poke her head through, and the material rested all bunched up on her neck, the rest was a breeze. With a careful yank, the light material cascaded down her body, dropping just below her bum. Checking herself in her mirror, she smiled at the way she looked when she swayed her hips side to side. Cheeky flashes of her bum glint at her teasingly. Humming contently, she took off to wash off her face in the restroom. She was eager to find out how Harry liked the way she looked; her dress a low neckline, and she wasn’t wearing a bra because it was one of those dress in which the fabric bunched at the breasts to create a makeshift cup. The patter was a nice pink that looked nice against her skin, dainty little bows at the sleeves and in between her breasts accentuating her features.
Y/n opted for nothing other than a dark shade of lipstick, and let her hair flow down her back. As she was putting on her shoes, a pair of those recycled shoes that sent some of the proceeds to charity, she noticed that much of what she was doing felt like what she would have done if she were getting ready for a date. 
And… and Harry had food waiting for her at his place (apartment? Loft? She didn’t know specifically). Was this a date? She definitely wouldn't mind if it was.
She finished, and grabbed nothing other than her keys and shoulder bag, hesitating at her door whether she should grab the measuring tape, but deciding against it after remembering that Harry, quite teasingly, had said he had one at his house. 
In her car, she scrolled up her and Harry’s text to find the one which contained his address, tapped on it when she found it, and set in on the small mount on the headboard of her cart. Huffing, she set off to Harry’s house.
It didn’t take her long to get there, about ten minutes, and she parked in front of a much nicer version of her own apartment complex, but in Beverly hills.  A beige building that have the similar structure of a hotel, with turquoise patios and green roofing. Palm trees making a walkway to the entrance, which guarded by a security guard who asked who she was there to see.  
“I’m here to see Harry…” she falters, realizing she doesn’t know his name. 
The security, an old man with a limp and scrutinizing eyes, looked her up and down and said, “Ya one of dem girls das always botherin’ him ain’tcha? I suggest you turn back and go home. Mr. Styles won’t see you.” 
Y/n, with her jaw dropped, stood stunned in the middle of the pathway, not sure what to respond. Surely, he was confused. And whichever “girls that came around bothering Mr. Styles” she wasn’t one of them. 
“Go on and git,” he said, crossing his arms and standing possessively in front of a keypad. 
She hurried to reach into her bag for her phone, walking back to her car while she punched Harry’s “call” because she didn’t want to stand while an agitated security man watched her. 
He picks up the phone, and doesn’t even give her a chance to talk before he says, “is Felix giving you a hard time?” His voice gravelly and knowing. 
“The security guard? He said that you won’t see me.” She whines into the receiver. 
“Ah yes, the strict old man. Gimme a second.” He hangs up on her, leaving y/n clutching the strap of her bag so hard her knuckles turn white. 
“Ms. Y/n?!” Felix calls from behind her. She turns around, surprised to see that his face was completely transformed with a smile. His front tooth is gold and he’s missing a molar. “You can go on ahead, dolly. Mr. Styles just called and said you was a nice ‘un.”  He said, punching a thumb into the keypad behind him. “Sorry, bout that Miss. Enjoy the rest ‘ur dey!” He touches the tips of his fore and middle finger to his gleaming forehead and salutes her as she passes him, giggling and blushing. 
“Thank you, Felix. You too.” 
She walks through, and is greeted with a fine lobby. It really does look like a hotel lobby. Carpeted floors, a receptionist, and a door leading to a pool just outside the elevator. Before she can even wonder where to go, she hears her name being called by a familiar voice, 
“Y/n, over here!” Harry calls out, standing in front of open doors to the elevator to her right. He’s wearing a burgundy turtleneck and black slacks that are cuffed at the ankles. Yellow tortoise shell glasses and his hair is parted down the middle making him look like MiloThatch. A lavender towelette is in the grasp of his right hand, and he’s waving it at her like soldier girlfriends saying goodbye on the platforms. 
Stunned at his etherealness, y/n felt the roof of her mouth go dry. Staring at the way he filled out his clothing, she walked to him hypnotized, transfixed by his appearance. His chiseled features, boyish grin. She gravitated towards him. Enchanted.
“H-hi, Harry.” she said dreamily. Harry’s eyes raked her up and down when she came to a stop in front of him. 
“Why, hello. You look exceptionally lovely right now, darling.” He rasped, looking down at her sternly, all traces of a sweet smile gone and replaced by something a little more serious. A little more sinister.  His light green eyes turning a darker shade, y/n’s lips parting and knees weakening. 
She musters the words to say, “so do you,” and Harry’s lips turn up at the corners. 
“Shall we head up. Pasta and salad is waiting for you.” He turns away from her and presses the circular button that goes red when he pushes it. 
“How was-”
“So, you-” 
They both say at the same time, laughing and stopping to let the other speak and Harry says, “You go first.” 
“I see you’ve a few fans that bother you, and Mr. Felix has taken to guarding them off,” y/n commented. Her eyebrow quirked at him. 
Harry laughs, a single loud ha! “Felix just takes his job very seriously. That’s all.” 
“Doesn’t change the fact that you have women-” the elevator rings and the doors open, “lined up on your doorstep.” Harry steps in first, and uses his hand to stop the elevator doors from closing in on y/n. 
She steps through, and they both stand side by side in the metal encasing. Glancing up, she sees the ceiling is covered in mirror panels. 
“Well,” Harry shifts his body so his front is facing her, and takes a step, shoulders taking turns on tilting forward with every slow, torturous step he takes. “Does it,” Y/n takes a step back, breath hitching in her chest, “ bother,” her back collides with the cool wall, the floors on the meter above the doors keep going, 5, 6, “ you?” 
He’s a needle away from her nose, his mouth ghosting over her own and his chest rising up and down slowly while hers is an erratic mess. She’s breathing out of her mouth, her eyes shifting between his own two that are fixed and straight on hers. 7, 8,  Harry’s hand comes to rest on the right side of her face, caging her between the elevator wall and his bicep, his palm cupped her jaw and running a thumb tenderly over her cheekbone. 
“I-I,” she stutters. 
“Cat got your tongue, petal?” His breath smells like mint and coffee. The tips of the curls that hang in front of his eyes tickle y/n’s forehead and down the side of her temple and eventually her cheek when he leans in to put his lips at her ear. “Look so pretty right now, y'know?” HIs british drawl is heavy because his tone of voice is low. 
8, 9, “Harry,” she gasped, involuntarily tilting her head to the side when he noses at the back of her ear. “What are you doing?” 
The elevator comes to a stop at 10, and Harry retracts, leaving her a red, heated mess  and slightly panting. He takes the few steps to stand in front of the elevator doors, and clasps his hands behind his back. “Nothing. Nothing at all. Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He smiled at her sweetly, his demeanor innocent as if we weren't just going to ravish her in an elevator like Robet Patterson for that one Dior commercial.
The doors open to a long hallway that turns sharply at the end to the right, a door where it would’ve turned on the left side. The right wall is a window that looks out onto the middle of the building, where y/n could see the pool that had been behind door. The flooring is a green colored tile, the same as the roofing, and the walls are a flattering soft yellow bordering on white.
Harry’s shoes, expensive looking-black heeled boots that have a rainbow pattern on the, making clacking noises against the floor with every step he takes. Y/n can’t help but feel awkward while walking alongside him, but  Harry, humming along to the tune of Maneater, by Hall and Oates, doesn’t seem to share her opinions. At the end of the hall, he makes a sharp turn to left, and she bumps into him. Mumbling a sorry she steps back to allow him to open the door. 
It’s not locked, and with a quick turn of the brass knob, the door opens and the smell of tomato and basil hits them both in the face. 
Y/n’s stomach grumbles, and she places her hand over her bell and looks over at Harry with wide eyes, embarrassed. 
“I take it you’re hungry?” He steps through, holding the door open for her.
“...yes…” she mumbled, stepping through. 
“Just in time then because I…” Whatever Harry says is drowned out. Y/n is amazed. Harry doesn’t have an apartment. He has a goddamn penthouse suite. His living room wall is a window, his kitchen open and blending in with the rest of the space. There are no walls, just turns where the building walls connect. Tall and wide walls painted with angles of shadows and lights that stream in. No furniture other than a long, wooden dinner table and three white chairs, and his bed. A mattress and a white comforter messily strewn over pillows. Before the walls turn to the streetside view, Y/n catches glimpses of cedar wood bookshelves arranged in the middle of the room; just like in a library. 
“Y/n?”  Harry appears in her line of peripheral vision, a knowing look on his face.
“Sorry, sorry. What was it?” 
“Said, do you want spaghetti and meatballs or fettuccine?”
“Mmm,” She scrunches her face like she’s thinking real hard, “fettuccine.” Then she adds, “please.” 
“You got it.” He said, walking away while playing with the collar of his turtleneck. Y/n follows after him, to the kitchen isle and utilities placed in a little alcove underneath the stairs that lead upstairs. To what, y/n didn’t know. 
Then she sees the pots and pans that are still steaming, the cutting boards with chopped lettuce and other vegetables and realizes that-
“Hey! You said you had takeout,”
“I did.” He picks up the knife next to the tomato, and continues chopping the lettuce.  “But I left it out, and it went bad. I promised you Italian so I made it myself instead. Much better than Olive Garden, anyways.” He shrugs, looking up at her and pointing with the knife to a chair across from him. “Sit.”
“NO!” She said, exasperated. “Let me chop something, too.”
“Darling, this is finished. I’ve got it. Sit, the fettuccine is almost finished. Just,” he twists his neck to look behind him, at the clock above the stove, a cat with a swinging tail. “Five more minutes.” 
Y/n slides the bag she carried off her shoulder and hooks it in the back of the chair he had told her to sit on, which she still wasn’t.
“Harry, that’s not fair.” she stomped her foot, a flat slapping noise of her sole against his wooden floors.
“Oh sit, or I won’t give you any food.” He tuts his tongue at her, shaking his knife and turning to turn down one of the knobs on the stove.
Pouting like a child, y/n sits down with a plop and a screech of the chair sliding against the floor.
She sat and watched Harry as he took plates out of his cupboards and placed food on them. The only noises being the quiet bubbling of pasta sauce, the tapping of his heels, clinks of plates against each other, and y/n’s grumbling stomach. Her face was still puckered in a pout because Harry hadn’t let her help him, but it slowly eased off as she focused more and more on the way he looked in his fitting black pants. The way the fabric was tighter on his ass, how his thighs flexed with each stride. Suddenly, y/n got the urge to bite into them, and she felt herself blush at her own thoughts, especially when Harry turned to her with a sweet smile of his lips.
He placed a plate in front of her, complete with salad and garlic knots. 
“Would you like some wine? Got this really nice one the other day and I haven’t opened it yet. Figured since we’re having Italian, it fits.” Harry was holding a dark wine bottle in his hand, that he had just pulled out of his silver fridge. 
“Harry, I would love some, but-” Y/n tried to explain that she felt bad because she came here for take out and had cooked her a meal.
“NO buts. Have some.” And instantly, there was a cup of red wine next to her plate.
Even though he had a table for eating, he placed his own plate next to her, and sat down to eat. Y/n looked at him, deflated and with a pained look on her face, while he forked spaghetti into his mouth and raised his glass for a drink. 
He froze when he saw she was looking at him. Looking her up and down, he said, “Moppet, eat your food. We have work to do.” 
Y/n rubbed her palm down her face, her lips pulled down. With a groan, she picked up her fork, sulking, and twirled it in her pasta.
She didn’t know what she was expecting, but definitely not the mini piece of heaven that was in her mouth. Harry had managed to create the perfect blend of cheese and cream that glazed her tongue like silk. It was so good, she moaned, her fingers pressing against her mouth and head tilted back. 
“S’good,? Harry questioned, wiping his mouth with a napkin to hide his laugh.
“Very,” she said, shoving more of the pasta into her mouth.
“Good.”
They eat quietly, Harry snickering at her whenever inhumane noises of pleasure left her mouth.Y/n practically cleaned her plate with the garlic knots. She only remembered about the glass of wine when Harry set his down empty, lips stained, and eyes droopy if she looked at him hard enough. After she’d cleaned her plate, she reached for the thin stem of the g;ass and drank it like it was grape juice, only slightly wincing after it had gone down, the tart acidity washing down the sweeter tones of cream. 
“Slow down, Moppet. Don’t want you to get a tummy ache.” Harry said, patting her hand tenderly and pushing himself off the seat to place her plate in the sink. At this, y/n jumped from her chair and took the plates from Harry. 
“You cooked, not I wash the dishes.” She stuck her tongue out at him, the tip red from the wine.
“But-” Harry protested.
“No buts. Go,” she bumped her hip against his, and walked the last few steps to the sink, picking up the sponge and turning on the water. She washed the dishes, and like always, got the front of her dress wet, water splattering onto her chest. Sucking on her teeth, y/n used the towel hanging on the handle of the oven to pat off the water. Harry watched this from where he leaned against the isle across from the stove; a new glass of wine half empty.
Returning to the table, she grabbed her now full- no thanks to Harry- glass of wine and sipped from it. It settled nicely in her stomach, warming down the path it took to settle.
Clasping her hands, she said, “Okay, Harry. Let’s talk decor.”
Harry untucked his hand from underneath his armpit, and smacked his lips together, “Follow me.”
He started walking out to the living room area, and into the bookshelves y/n had seen. Up close, they were actually taller than her, just about Harry’s height. He walked past them, and stopped again at a corner where one building face meets the other. Here, he had pictures upon pictures laid out on the floor. He even had scraps of fabric.
Y/n stared, and nodded approvingly. “You did your research. Good job.” Looking closer, she saw what the images were. Albums (David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, The Beatles, Prince). Pop culture pieces (Andy Narwhal, Pulp Fiction, Sixteen Candles). Fabric patterns, colors, and a lot of velvet. About half of the pictures were shots of other room like the pictures he’d shown her. 
To her left, Harry tapped onto his phone, and seconds later, that song he’d been humming in the hallway, Maneater, played with clarity on speakers hidden from the eye. When he was satisfied with his queue choices, he knee and sat next to his big circle of inspiration, legs splayed out in front of him looking infinitely long.  Y/n noticed he had taken off his boots, and his feet, knobby and lanky, had toes painted blue and pink. He had black markings on his big toe, but she couldn’t see what it was.
“Look, sit sit, I was thinking…” Harry began, patting the area next to him and grabbing a few of the papers he had spewed on the floor. Y/n, inexplicably endeared, sat with her legs crossed to the side next to him, feeling her butt press onto the cold floor, and listened to him go on and on about his vision. 
Hours passed with them just talking about images, why Fleetwood Mac would go better than Prince (because Fleetwood Mac is more of an afternoon in the meadows, and Prince is a night going down the highway in Malibu) and fabric choices for the windows (i’m sorry Harry, y/n had argued, but unless you can find a near translucent velvet its not gonna work. If you want the summer in italy during the 70’s look, you need transparent curtains).
They sat long enough that the way the light filtered in at an angle according to the sun, changed completely (it was at a harsh slant with the morning light, now its at a soft bend with golden light). When the light made Harry’s face look a golden pink, he fell back onto the wooden floors with a groan and said,
“How do you do this, y/n?” He blew hair out of his lips to move the few strands that had fallen in front of his eyes.
“Dunno, its just second natur- heeyy,”
A midst the mess, she guesses they missed it. Underneath a picture of a fruit bowl and flowers, was a picture of a naked woman, with birds eye view from the bot of her head, so you could see the tips of her breasts with they way she arched her back, and the head of hair in between her thighs. Her mouth was open in a silent scream of pleasure, eyes closed and a hand fisting her own hair like she was doing to the man in between her thighs.
Her cheeks burn upon her discovery, and she feels a familiar buzz in the place where the woman in the picture had a tongue pressed against her. 
When he heard her little gasp, Harry shot straight up and when he saw the image in her hands he said, “Ah, I see you’ve finally found it. Was wonderin’ when it would come out.” Reaching across her, his chest smushed againt her shoulder, he plucks it from her hands and look at it, smirking.
“You didn’t tell me we’d be doing x-rated work.” 
She says it teasingly.
But maybe it was the way she was looking at him then. She couldn’t help it. The roots of his hair looked blonde in the light, and his eyes were clear, almost see through as light passed them. His lips looked particularly tasty, having been tinted red from the wine, glinting from his own spit, and swollen from how he’d plucked at them while he was thinking about her suggestions. The juncture of his throat was partly hidden, but she could still see every time he swallowed, hos his adam’s apple bobbed up and down. And… and it wasn’t her fault that black pants looked good on him either. The material stretching taught over his muscles, flexing with every, single movement he made, no matter how small.  
So, maybe she had been looking at his provocatively, and her comment had… fueled Harry. Tuned him in on what had been on her mind.
He lifts himself with one arm from his indian-style position on the floor, up to his knees, and crawls to her. Eyes looking with hers, y/n’s chest starts to heave, her breaths growing bated; shorter; faster. 
“Do you want to do x-rated work?” He said, his voice dangerously low. His rings clink against the wooden planks, and brush against her thighs when he comes close, hands bracketing her hips, his nose nudging hers.
She’s gupping, like a little guppy fish, her lips opening and close, but nothing comes out of them.
Harry’s nose moves to her cheek, pushing back her hair. “It’s okay, pet. I can ask you again. Do you want,” his lips are at her ear for the second time that day, except that she thinks maybe they’ll actually gets somewhere this time. All she has to do is say,
“Yes.” Her voice is small, an airy squeak when Harry presses a kiss to the back of her ear. Her hands, sitting dumbly on her lap, move tentatively to his chest, searching from something to hold onto. She clenches the soft fabric in her hands just as Harry starts to lean back, his palm falling into her naval, and pushing her back, back, back, until she has to stretch her legs out to lay comfortable on her back, staring up at him with bleary eyes, glossed over.
“Yes? Course you do, pet.” He moves his knees to straddle her hips, leaning down close so he’s almost talking into her mouth, and one of his hands smooths down the shape of her waist. Y/n feels herself grow wet when Harry dips his thumb into her belly button, and she’s whining because she hasn’t done anything with anybody in so long and she wants him to do something.
But, if he’s not gonna do anything, that she might as well. She stretched her neck the last of the way, flattening her lips against Harry’s. The relief is instant, she quells her desire of being closer to him, and Harry responds almost immediately, swiping his tongue on her bottom lip and licking into her when she lets him. Harry groans, because she still tastes like wine and a sweetness he can only credit to her. His kiss becomes urgent, smashing his against her soft, malleable mouth.
Y/n whimpers, hips jutting upwards when Harry takes her lower lip between his teeth, and bites down on it,hard enough to where the pain was pleasure. Although her mind is swimming, she knows that the bulge she feels through the flimsy cloth of her dress is Harry’s cock. Elated and driven mad by her need, she arches up into him, needing any friction she could.
Harry pulls away from her, their lips separating with a wet noise, and tuts his tongue at her. “Ah, ah, ah. You’re not getting my cock tonight, y/n. Not yet.”
She mewls, her eyebrows dipping and red, puffy lips pouting, “Harry, don’t be a tease. S’not fair.” She doesn’t care is she sounds pathetic, the space between her thighs aches, and she’d like him to very much sate it “Do something, please.”
He coos at her, pressing wet kisses along her neck, his hand sneaking past her waist, to the start of her dress, and slipping underneath it. “Whining like a little puppy, aren’t you?” His hand glides of her thigh, the shill of his rings sending a violent shiver up her spine. His nail scratches a path near the place where she’s most warm. Most needy, and she moans when he feels how close he is to touching her, the splotch on her panties expanding every time he spoke. “You’re alright puppy, I’ll take care of you.”
Y/n’s breath hitches when his finger hooks onto the strap of her underwear, snapping the material twice with a chuckle at the cries he elicited from her. 
“Harry, harry, harry,” she’s half mad with need, her eyes squeezed shut with anticipation, and when Harry sees the desperation in her slack mouth, his own features go soft, and he takes out his hand from underneath her dress to cup her cheek. 
“Puppy,” he said, and when she didn’t open her eyes, he said again, “Puppy, look at me.” his thumb rubs over her cheek, ignoring the imploring whines that leave her lips, and instead leaning down and kissing her to shut her up. “It’s okay, its okay. Do you want me to keep going?”
“Yes!” She shouted, eyes going wide, amazed that he’d even ask that. “Do something.” She ruts up again, the head of Harry’s cock nudging against her hood. Harry groans, noticing how fucking hard he is. He’s leaked through his pants, a darker splotch where his head it.
“Fuck, baby,” he said, more to himself than to her.
His hand makes the same trail it had before, flipping up her dress this time to see her clothed center. Her panties make him want to cum on the spot. Baby pink cotton with a bow on the center of the band. Biting his lip, he uses a knee to spread her thighs, and then he sees just how much she needs him. 
“Oh puppy. We’ve made a mess of your panties haven’t we?” He looks at her with amusement, “Guess they have to go, don’t they?” 
Y/n hums desperately, her hips writhing up to meet his fingers. Pressing a last kiss to her lips, Harry scoots back so his knees are by her feet, and he and slip off the material all the way off. Suddenly aware of how bare she is, he clasps her thighs sht, obscuring Harry’s view of her pussy. 
“C’mon now, honey. Don’t be shy,” with a strong hand, he pries her knees apart and lays himself down in front of her, his breath hot on her swollen clit. From that angle, he can see how much she glistens, and how her juices spill out of her every time she clenched her hole around nothing. “Look at you, just begging to be stuffed.”
With a single finger, he slides up and down her slit, collecting her wetness, and then slipping into her. 
Y/n bleats, his intrusion stirring her heat up more; she wanted more. Wanted to be filled than more with just his finger, but was scared to say. Instead she said, “another,”
Harry slid his middle finger inside her, scissoring his fingers and leaning down to lick a stripe on her clit. Y/n arched her back, and moaned loudly, her eyes squeezing shut and hands touching at the area around her, looking for something to hold on to and settling to clenching at her own dress.
He hears the sound of her hands colliding with the floor, and looks up to see her knuckles going white with hoe hands she was fondling her dress.
“Y’can pull my hair, puppy.” he said against her slit, the vibrations of his words sending prickled of pleasure to the building orgasm she feels in the pit of her stomach. The second her muddled brain comprehends what Harry said, her fingers jam themselves into her his hair, just as he suckles on her. Y/n’s eyes roll to the back of her head, and her gasps come out in staccatos.
Harry’s fingers are still pumping in an out of her, twisting every time he pushed them back into her. He’s looking for the spongy spot inside of her, when he hears her say something incoherently.
“What was that?” he asked her,his fingers stilling inside her.
“Said, what about you?”
Her voice is faint and weak, her voice and comment sending pin-pricks of satisfaction to his throbbing member. His heart clenches at her considerations, so touched by the fact that she’s so lost in her own heat but she’s still worried about him.
“This isn’t about me. It’s about you. Y’gonna cum for me, puppy?” He feels the pad of his middle finger slide against something that has a different texture that the rest of her, and when her breathing hitches and she lets out a long moan, he knows hes found what he’s looking for. Y/n’s pussy clenches around, her fingers tighten in his hair, so hard it makes Harry yelp. “Clenching m’fingers, puppy, I know you’re there.” 
Y/n feels the familiar slow burn of her orgasm twisting in the pit of her stomach, her entire body hyper aware of Harry and what he was doing to her. How he pressed a hand on her navel to keep her from lifting her hips, the harsh sucking of her clit, and then finally the flick of his pointer finger curling inside her.  The build-up unravels, and her mouth opens up in a silent scream like the women in the picture, her body going taught, and then falling limp when the wave calms.
“That’s it, love. All better now isn’t it?” Harry slowly takes his fingers out of her, reveling in the way she’s still squeezing around him. She’s sensitive and jerking from her orgasm when He lick his fingers clean, kissing his path up her body. Her thighs, her exposed navel, her clothed valley of her breasts, her collarbones, and up her throat, behind her ear where he’s taken a liking to kissing.
“Jesus, Harry. Where’d you learn to talk like that?” She titters sleepily.
“S’my job, puppy.” He nibbles at her earlobe and down her jawline.
Alarmed, y/n’s eyes pop open, and she sits up, pushing Harry’s chest and holding him at arms length. “What do you mean, it’s your job?” She’s scared she’s just been used or something along those lines.
“I mean it’s my job. Learned a few skills from writing erotica, pet.” He responses calmly, diving back in to continue his assault on the skin of her jaw. His voice warped against her, he adds, “write under a pseudonym. Lemus Knox.” 
Lemus Knox. 
Harry was Lemus Knox. Harry was Lemus fucking Knox.
“You’re…” she’s still. Almost like that fight or flight instinct. 
Harry stills when he realizes she has. He knows, simply by the tone of her voice that she knows who he is. Who Lemus Knox is.He withdraws to look at her, grinning fro  ear to ear.
“You know who I am?” he said slowly.
“Harry, I’d even go as far as saying I’m in love with Lemus,” she blurts, reddening as soon as the words leave her mouth, but Harry just smiles fondly at her.
“That’s okay, puppy. Lemus and I aren’t the same person. You have a right to love him,” he nuzzles into her neck, kissing down her shoulder, “Just as long as you save some love for me.”
And lying there, completely stunned ant with Harry’s hard cock pressing into her hip, y/n bursts out laughing. She laughs because she’s happy. Because she likes Harry. Because she loves Lemus Knox.
She laughs because for the first time in a long time, someone is laughing along with her, kissing her, holding her.
She laughs because she can’t wait to see where Harry will lead her.
3K notes · View notes
angelisverba · 5 months ago
Text
thinkin’ bout you
in which harry owns a flower shop and has a major crush on a girl who comes in to buy flowers every once in a while (and he’s too shy to ask for her number) 
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word count: 17.3k
paring: florist!h and y/n
warnings: just some pinning and lustful yearning. m for mature...
author’s note: i’ve been working on this forever. not to pick fav’s but i think florist!h comes second to sl23... hes just so.......well, you’ll see!!
*    *    *    *    *    *
When Harry was given the option to go on a playdate with his car-loving and dirty-nailed schoolmates or spending the weekend at his nan’s house, he would often pick the latter. 
He preferred to spend his afternoons frolicking with her Siamese kitty in her wild-flower filled garden, sunbathing in the open grass, or napping on a quilted blanket under the large, round oak tree, with the kitty nestled into his tummy, keeping him warm. When he woke in the arms of his nan as she carried him inside the house for a glass of cool lemonade, he bore a band of pink sunburn over his button nose, and the blue and white striped Mickey shirt was sticking to the areas where his furry friend had provided an extra heat. 
So, it was safe to say that from the start, Harry’s tastes weren’t what could be considered ‘average’ or ‘normal’ or ‘straight’ for a heterosexual male of his age in current society. 
Not that he ever valued those opinions, but their impressions rang in the back of his loving head when the women who he brought to the comfort of his home made hurtful ‘joking’ comments on how ‘peculiar’  his choice of decor was or giving him prolonged strange looks before shaking their heads and yanking their clothes off so that they landed in a forgotten heap in some unimportant corner of his room. 
Granted, he still got a good shag, but it wasn’t enough to fulfill his desires regarding any actions associated with relationships. He wanted someone warm and soft and kind. Someone who wouldn’t judge his home, his music choices, his clothing, or anything else about him. A girlfriend, not a fuck. 
Long ago, he’d stopped caring about what others said about him. Adopting this mindset had given him some of the happiest and healthiest moments of his life (albeit occasionally, doubts merged with the ghastly shadows of his loneliness). Business at his flower shop increased as his charm increased with positivity, and a new life within him bloomed like a baby rose bud when he accepted that being single was okay. The ribbons of his bouquets bouncing with an added umf and the mist that landed on his skin when he changed the water in the flower buckets only enhanced the golden hue of his skin. 
Harry even took to renovating his home a bit. 
 Coincidentally, his apartment was located on the floor above his flower stop, and contained a significant amount of singular flowers in vases or bouquets in empty corners to prove it. An array of pastel colors smeared on the once blank walls. Bambi pink in his bedroom, sage green in his kitchen, and a French blue in his living room. The couch was a suede papaya three-seater with black and white checkered pillows, and the coffee table was an emerald-tiled piece standing on top of a geometric lavender carpet, a soft contrast against the dark oak of his floorboards. Harry’s taste in pop-culture, art, and literature was displayed on the frames hanging off his walls. Pictures and posters of his favorite pieces like Matisse’s Blue Nudes and Goldfish and The Dance II. An enhanced, enlarged photo of maraschino cherries and a raven haired pin-up girl. Another glass table by the end of the couch held a silver candlestick and a small statue.
Sometimes, the miniature Greek statue he bought at a thrift store of a man with his nakedness pure and unobscured to the viewers' eyes made his dick bloat against the seams of his pants. If he stared at it for too long, his eyes drawn to the softened cock between thighs that looked so flesh-like even though it was carved out of some clay or ceramic material, his mind would travel to sensual, honey-red places that he hadn’t been in so long. Harry’s imagination explored- as cheesy as it sounds- the sexual aspects of the male genitalia, and therefore his own sexual expeditions and how much he missed giving or receiving a good fuck. More often than not, he ended up with himself in his fist, forehead sparkling with perspiration under the candle lights in his room as his thighs and abdomen clenched with every buck of his yearning hips. 
The doorknob of his room was in the shape of an eye, the iris colored a brilliant blue. His king bed- no, frame, just a minimalist white base, pushed up against the wall with two tables on either side, both of them loaded articulately with vintage trinkets and ceramic ring trays shaped like seashells to hold his jewelry. His bedsheets were a stylish combination of pastel colors; lilac comforter, mint and sky pillows. Previously, they had been snow white sheets with strawberry print, but a woman he brought over said they looked like the sheets her five-year-old niece had. 
He changed them the week after that.
On the windowsill, a pot in the shape of a white, blue-eyed kitty with vines of string of hearts kissing the floor. A mirror in the shape of a heart with a pink trim besides the lightswitch, above his brown dresser. In the corner, a bookshelf stuffed with books that spilled over the seams, and perpendicular to it, the home of his pet chameleon, Owen (he wanted a cat, but when he went to the pet store and saw the dehydrated creature, he couldn’t leave him there). A 16 x 16 x 30 inch tank filled with a branch that cut across halfway. It was full of all the things he might need, maybe even too much of it, but it didn’t matter because when Harry was home Owen spent most of his time hanging off the collars of his shirts or snuggled in the ruffles of his hooded sweatshirt on his shoulder. The small, color changing friend adored his owner, and only morphed into a mild red color when Harry didn’t feed him more mango. 
The renovations occurred in his bathroom; a cherry-red covering the walls because it looked boring before (at least in his opinion).  The gold piping of the sink accentuated nicely with the darker color, and the sun seemed brighter when it streamed in through the window above his ceramic claw-footed tub. Owen particularly liked the misty showerhead stall in the corner, and as long as he kept his eyes to himself, Harry didn’t mind it if his green friend wrapped around the showerhead and enjoyed the mimicked tropical atmosphere. 
For awhile now, it had been just him and his chameleon (and maybe his mum’s cat if she was going out of town and needed a sitter) but he didn’t mind it. 
He got to meet new people everyday within the parameters of H’s Garden, and they all tended to overshare when it came to buying a bouquet. ‘My wife just had our son, want to see a picture?’ or ‘my boyfriend and I have our anniversary on Saturday’ and even ‘my sister had plastic surgery so me and my dad need something that says ‘congrats you look like Kim Kardashain now’ how ‘bout it?’ 
Stories ranged from sweet, to grotesque, to sad, to funny, and sometimes even evil- Harry didn’t like customers that gave flowers as a ‘fuck you’. He thought it was a waste of beauty and sacrifice. Flowers were living things that had their lives cut short in order to provide momentary satisfaction and life long memories to the receiver, not bitter feelings of revenge. Although it was still business, it pained him that such a pretty arrangement be misused. It was one of the cons of his work. He created what he considered to be masterpieces, and had no control over where they would end up, whether it be as a centerpiece for a candlelit dinner, or in the trash after the apology for a strong argument hadn’t been enough. 
However, Harry couldn’t deny that he didn’t love his job, because he did. 
When he turned 16, he’d determined that he wanted a peaceful life with a job that wouldn’t bore him. He wanted to be as stress free as possible, with his spirituality as a prominent highlight in his lifestyle. When he turned 18, he had determined that he wanted to be a florist, and began to save up to open his own shop with the occasional help of his friends and sister. He refused to take anything from his mother because he wanted to be the one giving her gifts and money and everything good after all of her sacrifices in raising him. Call him a momma’s boy. Harry loved his mother. 
Online seminars and college classes became his best friend, teaching him everything he needed to know about accounting, stocks, and how to keep his business going. He was a businessman first, florist second. During the slow seasons (the start of winter and an awkward half-week between summer and spring) he relied on his investments to triple-ensure that he had enough money to stay afloat. 
On his 22nd birthday, as a gift to himself, he signed the lease to the building that housed all of the pretty plants in temporary buckets full of flower food and water, and hired a graphic designer to design the cursive, golden letters that spelled out the name of his shop above the front door. 
 Now, three years later, he lived as happy as can be. 
And he wasn’t lonely anymore. 
Well, if you wanted to be technical, his relationship status was still a checkmark over the box labeled ‘single’, but his heart couldn’t be fluttering any harder at the sight of one of his regular customers, and she was there, creeping around in his brain to keep him company. 
She was the complete opposite of every girl he’d ever been with. She was sweet, kind, funny, and didn’t judge him for the way he dressed, or his profession. In fact, they bonded over things that previous women had… slyly berated him for. The color of his nails, the lace of his collar, the pattern of his flared pants,  and even the sheep on his baby blue sweater vest.  
She stole his heart the moment she walked through his door with a soft smile on her face, a sparkling gleam in her warm eyes, and placed it in her pocket the moment she said, “it smells lovely in here!”
Harry, awestruck and blushing because well, she was pretty and wore a shade of purple that somehow made her hair look so soft. Two strands of hair were pinned at the back of her head, essentially keeping the rest of it away from her face save for the few baby wisps that rested gently against her cheeks like a lover’s caress. The stuttering, stumbling cupid’s-bow-struck fool replied with, “thank you. It would be my pleasure to help you with anything you’d like,” and that had been his name, signed on the dotted line of a soul contract. Only she was not the devil. She was an angel. 
But even then, it wouldn’t matter. If she was the devil, if she was an angel, something in between or something new entirely he wouldn’t care because he was half gone for her already. 
“In that case,” she smiled, and Harry’s heart sang a melody it never had before. It was like the sun beamed from the spaces between her teeth and tickled the fuzzy spot beneath his earlobe. She had the most amazing voice, tranquil and clear and ethereal. “I just moved into a new apartment and wanted the place to feel like home. I thought maybe flowers would give it a little life.” 
He vividly remembers that the color of her cheeks changed to that of what is called a ‘blush’, but he didn’t know if it was a trick under the light, or a product of his wistful imagination. Her fingers gently skimmed the petals of a rose from it’s bucket near her hip, and one of the straps of the tote bag on her shoulder disrespectfully dropped away from her shoulder. He wanted to simultaneously rush over and fix it for her, and yell at the inanimate object for not being grateful of the fact that it had the opportunity to cling to her shoulder.
But, before either of these inner-conflicts met a sound resolve, her delicate fingers righted what was once wrong, and Harry cleared his throat, embarrassed because he’d stared for a little too long. He wanted so badly to ask for her name and how she liked her eggs in the morning, but instead he said, “there’s nothing like a bit of something pretty to brighten your day. Did you have something specific in mind?”
He hoped that the meaning of his words wasn’t caught on her, or that would be totally embarrassing and ‘loser’-like. 
When she walked out the door with a content smile on her lips, his own heart was beating faster than the flapping of a hummingbird’s tender wings. He was sure that he had never laid eyes on a pair of lips like hers, neither the feeling that blossomed in his chest at the thought that she might be smiling just for him to see and enjoy. 
Of course, it was a silly crush. One that clawed and gripped onto his sweaty palms with no sign of letting go. Maybe, Harry thought, it was because he hadn’t wet his wick in so long, and the interaction he’d had with her had sparked irrational, poem-inspiring feelings within the love cavern of his ribs. Because how could he fall head over heels with someone he didn’t even know? Surely, the swarm of hormone-pumped butterflies in his stomach was the beginning of a dead-end infatuation. 
Right? 
Harry went that entire day, appalled at the apparent angel he had the fortune of being in the presence of in her short fall from the tender heavens. He wondered where she placed the flowers she bought (an arrangement he was particularly proud of, full of lilac, delicate stems of lavender, and puffs of baby’s breath wrapped with a white bow) and where that tiny extension of him was. At the entrance of her home, right below the place she rested her hand against as she tugged her shoes off? At the center of her table? Maybe besides her bed? Where she would see the purple petals and white of him as he wrapped it every time she woke up or went to bed? He hoped- as much as it was a romantic thought- that it wasn’t the last one. He’s been so awkward, so pink. A blush on his cheeks he hadn’t remembered being there since the time he yelped, startled, at the unexpected pain of a tattoo needle, the artist pointedly peeved. Acting like such a boy. 
Right before crawling up the steps of his apartment, heart still bleeding with love-blood from the deadly tip of Cupid’s arrows, he made himself a mini version of the bouquet he’d made her, and placed it at the center of his tiled coffee table. 
*********
A few days trickled by, and the memory of her face drifted in and out of his mind like a giant sway of fabric slowly billowing in the wind. He was just so… struck by a slab of awe, stunned by her kind of beauty. Natural, the kind that hooks you in it’s purity, like the golden beams streaming in through transparent curtains on a warm spring afternoon. 
Her strawberry lips curved elegantly under her nose, and displayed a smile that leaked some sort of heady drug into the air because the air was sweet when he breathed it in. And when he handed the bundle of flowers over to her, the pads of her delicate fingers skimmed the rough ridges of his knuckles. He wondered immediately what kind of moisturizer she used, and if it smelled like honey or lavender or peaches. She smelled sweet. Sweeter than all of the flowers in his colorful soul shop put together. The colors that belong to her, on her person and worn by her, were more captivating than any of the tones that painted the petals on his plants. 
Owen got a kick out of this whole ordeal, though. Harry’s passionate mood had him divulging in munching and nibbling on things that tasted the way he felt; ambrosial, fresh and pure. It resulted in the purchasing of endless amounts of fruit, with many bites given to the tiny chameleon. Mangoes, strawberries, oranges, grapes, pears (Asian pears, if the store carried them, they were Harry’s favorite), peaches and guavas. The sudden craving for fruit might be explained as just a casual craving, but deep deep down inside, Harry knew that it was because he wanted to replicate the feeling that coursed through his golden veins when she giggled at something she happened to find funny. 
He wished that he had caught her name. The girl had paid in cash (and left a five dollar tip Harry fawned over), so he couldn’t have read it on her card, and he was halfway between charming and awkward that he didn’t even think of asking for it until the minute the door closed behind her, bells tinkling in announcement of her exit. He wished for a hundred different things, but he was not the type to live in regret. Not anymore. So after about a week of floundering in her memory, he meditated for an hour, tropical incense on one of his bedside tables, and cleared his mind as best he could. 
The next morning, he did the same thing. Woke up with heavy limbs, plopped himself down on his blue mat and stretched in various positions, his white boxers hanging low on his hips. His lips and eyes were sticky with sleep, and the back of his nose ached with cold air that he must’ve breathed in throughout the night after forgetting to close the window (again) but the pleasurable twinge of stretching aches between his joints were the perfect way to start his day. They urged his mind to transform into the still surface of water, clear and collected from any unproductive-pinning thoughts towards a girl he would most likely never see again. 
Even his clothes reflected his refreshed mindset.
Harry donned his favorite pair of flared  trousers in an earthy brown color, nestled snugly on his slender hips and around his thighs. The tight fit accentuated the way his back tapered into his waist, glutes shapely and sculpted. A maroon sweater vest that had a teddy bear embroidered on the middle of his chest, the small latte-toned stuffed animal seemingly childish, but on him it only directed attention to the spotlight daze of the velvety heart sheltered underneath his breathless plate. Underneath, a mustard long-sleeve shirt with tiny cherries printed on them. Some straight, some tilted or lopsided. His shoulders and biceps were hidden in the floofy bunches of cloth, anonymity given to the true thickness of his ink slathered skin. 
He looked like a corduroy dream. A thick milkshake of patterns and colors, but he managed to pull it off.
A tiny gold hoop on his right ear gleamed under the morning sun coming in through the windows and a pearl necklace rested against the downy skin of his throat. Slender fingered tipped with a coat of pure white, with his ring fingers accented in a shimmery pink. Chunky rings adorning the base of his digits; a silver rose, a band of dancing teddy bears (a running theme with him), two gold rings with his initials H and S on one hand, and a simple ruby stud from his graduating class. 
He looked good, he knew that he looked good, and was ready to begin a bright, healthy, non-pretty-girl-thought-polluted day. Even the old woman had pinched his cheek whom he had been assisting- a regular-had said he looked like a proper ‘nice boy’ along with ‘when are you going to her a lovely girl to help you run this place, Harry?’. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he had momentarily sworn off women until his broken sentiments healed, and they had a long way to go. 
In the middle of wrapping a smashing set of tulips and fern stems with a cherry red bow, the bells adorning the top of the door frame dinges, announcing the entrance of another pleasant customer and giving passage to a gust of chilly air. Harry looked up to greet the customer with his usual pleasantries of ‘welcome! I’ll be with you in a moment!’, but the words died on his throat in a desperate hussle, just as the little mermaid had given up her voice to meet her gallant prince.  
It was his own personal little slice of heaven presented to him on the black and white checkered floors of his shop. Hair loose against her shoulders again, eyes cast downwards to inspect a bucket of fresh daisies that tickled the space above her bare knees. How she could wear a skirt in this biting weather, he didn’t know, and it partially prevented him from continuing his pursuit of admiring her because the first thought his caring mind jumped too was, ‘is she cold? And if so, does she need a sweater? Because I will gladly give her one.’ His second thought, however, was ‘how could someone be that beautiful?’. The third was something along the lines of ‘all my yoga has gone to shit, and I’m okay with that’. 
He cleared his throat, tightened the bow around the stems of the flowers in his hands and said, “I’ll be with you in a moment, love!” His head bowed, looking at his work because he wasn’t sure he could afford the medicals for the paralysis that was sure to take over his meek self if they made eye contact so soon. Harry needed a moment of homeostasis, his soul adjusting to her dulcet presence. 
The woman he was assisting, Edna, spoke, drawing him out of his daze, but he had been so deeply in thought that he had not heard what she said. 
“What was that?” He asked her. He grabbed Kraft paper from the roll by the register to wrap up her arrangement. 
“The girl. You like her?” She was smiling at him, wagging a finger the way his nan used to do when she caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. “Don’t lie to me, I recognize that look. I’ve given and received that look many times throughout my life.” 
The woman was not wrong. With age, comes wisdom, Harry thought, smiling to himself at being caught. A dimple carves itself into his cheek, nestling onto the space above the corner of his mouth as if he had no choice in the matter. The apples of his cheeks were shadowed with a dusky pink, and the tip of his nose was twitching like a rabbit when it stood on its rear and sniffed the air, only he was coy after just being caught and wanted to avoid the question as much as possible. 
“I’ve got no idea what y’talking about,” he chuckled, keeping his voice low so that the intriguing stranger in the store didn’t hear that their topic of discussion was her. He moved over to the register to ring her up, and even slid in a discount he applied to customers he liked. 
“Next time I come in,” Edna said, passing Harry her debit card, “I hope to hear that you got her number, dear. Don’t let these opportunities pass you up. Life is short. And who knows? She could be the one.” Harry gave her the card back after charging her, and handed her the flowers, too. All the while Edna was grinning at him, shaking her head like she knew something he didn’t. 
“Take care, Edna. And don’t forget to change the water every 2 days with the flower packets I placed at the stems,” he reminded her, sweetly wiggling his red-lacquered nails at her retreating woman as butterflies awakened in his stomach in a furious flood of nerves. The girl was looking around, her hands hovering over the up-turned faces of a bundle of lively sunflowers, browsing and quietly humming to herself as she waited. 
There was no backing out of this, even if he wanted to. And he didn’t! He didn’t want to back out. The girl was a customer, and he would have to approach her no matter what. But she was so pretty it was also intimidating. He doesn’t remember ever being this nervous while approaching someone, especially one he harbored feelings for. His heart was pounding so loud, he was sure it was audible. 
“Hello,” he wanted so badly to add ‘love’ at the end of his greeting. “Are y’finding everything a’right?” He asked her, his hands wringing themselves, palms moist with sweat from his unyielding need to impress her. The pink tip of his tongue poked out to swipe across his full bottom lip, and soon after that his teeth sunk down into it, nibbling with uncertainty. Harry made sure that he was standing straight, body aligned to face hers because in that psychology course he took once, he learned that it was a subconscious tactic to engage interest and pleasant replies to attempts at wooing another. 
At the sound of his voice, the girl jumped, startled at the sudden vibrations of Harry’s husky voice. Her delicate feet, he noticed, skittered on the floor from her tiny jump, and her doe eyes widened, shouldered rising and falling at a quicker pace than before from the new rush of light fear. When she realizes that it’s just him her hand flattered over the base of her neck and her collarbone in attempts to soothe her racing heart. 
“M’s sorry,” he whispers, his hand clamping over his mouth, and then lowering to his chin when he speaks again, “didn’t mean to scare y’love.” This time he can’t restrict himself. It comes so naturally, like the endearment was meant for her, and when a flush covers the bridge of her nose his first instinct is to coo at her for looking so cute. The second is a surge of guilt for having scared her to such an extent. 
“It’s okay,” she says, a little out of breath. The blush on her face was partly because she was embarrassed at her own reaction, while the other was that she had let herself act so freely and uncoordinated in front of someone that looked like him. Handsome and sweet and eyes so green they refreshed you upon first glance. Like the cool burn of water going into a mouth that had just chewed a stick of minty gum. “I want to buy these flowers.” 
God help him. Her voice alone was enough to make him melt. The lilts and melodies of her voice swarming all four of the ventricles in his heart with warmth, and every blood cell that passed contained a glowing heat, buzzing with her energy. 
She points to the sunflowers, her gaze lingering on them with longing. A soft smile toying on her mouth, and Harry could see the tendons in her throat stretch as she inhaled to add another thought to her sentence, “Do you sell vases by any chance?” The girl looked at him shyly, her eyelashes almost twinkling as she blinked, and his heart soared, “I had a really nice one in the shape of a big Coca-Cola bottle, and I accidentally knocked it over, so now I have nothing to put them in.” 
Harry is incredibly enamoured by subconscious gestures that take over her hands as she speaks, fiddling as if the vase she spoke about was in her hands, all in one piece before it was broken. He’s quiet throughout her tiny ramble, listening and taking note of her enticing antics. She’s looking down at the floor or the flowers or her hands, and when her eyes dance over to his steady gaze, “I’m rambling aren’t I?” she murmurs bashfully. 
“No, no it’s a’right. I can look in the back for something if y’like?” He suggested, arrowing a thumb to the ‘back’ he mentioned. “Did y’want anything in particular?”  
“Oh, I don’t wanna be a troubling customer!” She squeaked, concerned with becoming a nuisance she didn’t want to be. 
“Y’not a bother, love. M’promise. I’ll go look f’you. What color did y’have in mind?” He asked her, tone calm and soothing to reiterate his sentiment. She was not a bother. The only thing about her that bothered him was the fact that he did not know her name, and even that was his own fault for not asking her. 
His hands rest on his hips, tattooed cross momentarily hidden by the bunch of his sweater vest  as he waits for her to respond, his eyes locked on her mouth, her own tongue subtly licks her lips, adding a sparkly sheen to it that only drove him crazy. Ever the jilted fool, his mind jumps to what it would feel like to kiss her, or what it would feel like if she kissed him in other places. What fruits she tasted like, and what kind of kisser she was. A timid one? With a patient mouth waiting to be broken open with the force of his own? Frugal? Opening her mouth and giving him everything she had to offer. 
“Something pink, please. If you have it.” That smile again. One that told a million apologies it didn’t owe, with her eyes pinching at the corners with whatever nonsense culpability she felt. Her voice was sweet, Harry thought, like wind chimes on a summer morning. 
Feeling guilty for allowing such dirty thoughts to gallop through his mind when she was so… so pure. Like an angel. Even her way of presenting herself was shy and sweet, yet he was thinking about kissing her. Was that perverted? She was a customer he had seen twice, and his mind was already running wild with luscious assumptions; a sunday topped with a red cherry of sensuality. How awfully dirty of him. 
But! But those were not the only thoughts he had. He wanted to ask her what happened to cause her to drop her vase, and where she had bought it. If it was vintage, considering it was a Coca-cola bottle, and if she had any accidents while cleaning up the mess of broken glass. He wanted to hear her thoughts. No, better yet, he just wanted to hear her talk. He wanted to get to know her. To know if she was as nice as she looked. 
“‘Course,” he mumbled, his eyes shamefully downcast to the floor. “Be righ’ back.”
Harry stalked off to ‘the back of the store’. Truth was, there was no back of the store containing vases. There was only a small closet with boxes of items he might need around the store, like flower food, rubber bands, and decorative paper for the bouquets. A crate of bottled water for when he got too lazy to climb up the back stairs and into his home. 
His home. 
Plucking the keys from his pocket, a ring that held a ceramic swan his closest friend Mitch had gifted him with a humble admission of ‘saw this at a thrift store and thought about you, H, I had to buy it’, and five keys: one to the front door of his shop, one to the cash box in the register, one to the mailbox, another to the front door of his apartment, and one to his car. The one to his front door was painted at the head with pastel pink nail polish, so it was easy for him to pick out when he was dead tired after a long day of being on his feet (spunky shoes that he liked to wear sometimes didn’t help ease the ache on his back, and neither did his posture). 
The back door that led to the stairs had locks on both the inside and the outside. A deadbolt and chain on matching sides of the door to ensure comfortable sleep at night, and peaceful work time during the day. Not having to worry about curious children opening doors or nosy customers relieved him. It was a little amatuer, but the door made a loud noise when opened because it wasn’t quite level, and he had a tiny key so he could lock it from the outside, too. 
A loud shucking noise resonated through the store as he pulled the door open, and then again when he closed it behind him. The delicacy of his dainty yet large hands were nearly comical around the tiny golden pin stud that hung from the chain, almost slipping from his hands with nerves as he slid it in place. Harry didn’t think that she was nosy or anything like that, bit if he was going up to give her a vase of his own personal collection, he didn’t want her to find out and feel even more intrusive that she already did. 
He was a huge giver, and upon hearing her say that she broke her flower pot, his mind was already thinking about the perfect one to replace it. It just so happened to be sitting on his shelf with a bundle of dying lavender. Climbing up the stairs (the ache in his thighs was a mere twinge compared to what it was when he first moved here), Harry huffed and thought to himself all the ways he could ask for her name and number. 
Listen, I really like y’and would like to have y’number?”
Do y’wanna have my number so we can go out sometime if y’feel like it?”
“Is it alright if I get y’number so we can go out sometime?”
“Hey, love. What’s y’name?”
Nothing’s making sense to him. The pick up lines he had stored in his head for the rare times he would flirt with a girl were slipping from him. None of them seemed worded right to use with her. Too abrupt or too brisk. Not sweet enough. He wanted to treat her gently and to be worthwhile of her time. Plus, it also had to be smooth enough that it made her forget she was paying him for flowers or it would be awkward. He was a twenty-six man for crying out loud, not a twenty-one year old smile at the bar looking for a good time. This wasn’t a ‘good time’. This was… a courting. An inquiry to a relationship. A rose rose in a candlelit room. 
Harry opened his front door and moved in a quick jog to a table besides his hi-fi that held a translucent pale pink glass, fat at the base before twirling and widening a few inches at the lip. An image of a nude mermaid puffing out at the front like an engraving. Cuddling it into his breast, he grabbed the lavender, speed walked back to his kitchen where his toe banged against the metal of the trashcan as he pressed on the lever to open it. He hissed fuck under his breath and shucked the dead lavender into the bag before turning back to his door, closing it behind him, but not locking it because he didn’t want to keep her waiting. His feet moved quickly down the stairs, the one hand not holding onto the vase cupping a hand over the side of his hips that held his keys so they didn’t make much noise. 
The button on the chain slipped from his fingers a few times from their repeated clamminess, and when he was ready to finally twist the knob, he paused to take a breath and collect himself. Harry ran a hand through his hair, fixed his collar, and dusted off his pants legs. He wanted to look perfect for her. 
“Don’t be stupid,” he murmured to himself. He had a good feeling about this. About her. And if he messed this up because he looked bad or said something weird he would kick himself into a muddy ditch. 
Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and calmly walked back, “I’ve got the last one,” he said, tapping the tip of the vase with his pointer finger. It was a lie, right through his teeth, but he was happy to tell it in return for the way she was looking at him in that moment. His eyes rounded out as he approached her, like the curves of hearts that made up the heart-eye emoji, or the puppy-dog face. Just another physical display of his growing affinity towards her. 
“Oh my god!” She said,  “It's so pretty!” The trapped crystals in her irises twinkled with bewilderment at the treasure Harry’s presented her with.  She’s got a smile on her face, and he can’t help but think, ‘wow, she looks like a freshly bloomed white lily’. 
There’s a vintage print hanging in his corridor, a ‘flower language chart’ with different types of flowers and a sentence beneath them describing the messages they send. For example, red carnations= my heart aches for you. The description beneath white lilies reads ‘my love is pure’. 
She asked him if it wasn’t too pricey, and he made up some fake sale he had going on about a hybrid BOGO in which if she bought an arrangement she would get a vase included in her purchase (he added “I’ve got a shipment of new ones coming in an I need the space cleared out before they get here” just to make sure his fib is believable.) And he explains this so shyly. Harry can’t keep his eyes locked on hers because she’s staring at him with an intensity that lets him know she's really listening, and it makes him squirm.  The tips of his fingers tap against the vase, and he’s tripping over his tongue, which is ridiculous because he already talks so slow. 
“I guess I was right in waiting then,” she said casually, waiting for Harry to finish ringing her up. 
His finger froze over the touch screen of the sleek, modern device (he wanted nothing but the best for his store) and listened to the exciting roar of blood through his eardrums at her words. I guess I was right in waiting then? What did that mean? That she was planning on coming back to see him and didn’t? Of course, it could also mean that she was going to buy something else somewhere else, but he couldn’t stop the vine of ripe hope that swelled around his chest. And she looked so apprehensive while saying it. As if she was walking on glass and was looking for cracks as she stepped. As if she was waiting on him to catch on to something.
Harry cleared his throat and looked at her through the corner of his eye, trying to be as discreet as possible as his fingers continued their deliberate work on the screen, “What d’you mean, love?”
“I was going to stop by sooner, but I just got in my head about it,” the girl shrugged, and adjusted the ends of her cardigan so they wrapped around her torso. She had a different bag this time, one of those reusable market bags that was made up of holes, and it was filled with two books and a can of green tea from the vegan store down the street. Harry thinks he can make out one of the titles on one of the spines, which looks suspiciously similar to something that he has on his own shelf. 
“Why would y’get in y’own head about coming to m’flower shop, hmm? It’s hardly that intimidating,” he chuckles to play off the dashes of pink and red that are painting themselves across the bridge of his twitching nose, “I don’t bite, either.” 
And he hopes that his wistfulness isn’t meddling with his vision because he swears that he can see a matching reaction on her own doll face. “I know! I know, it’s just that I can’t help it sometimes. Talking to other people makes me nervous.” 
Harry could coo at her right now. He doesn’t, though. He nods and smiles at her before reading her total out to her, “That I get, too. But y’doing just fine with me, love.” 
Waiting patiently as she digs through her bag for cash, he tries to not stare. However, it’s impossible. His eyes had a mind of their own dragging against the forces of his will to feast on her image again. Her hands and the tip of her nose. The base of her neck and gentle swell of her clavicles. The swoops of hair that hung in a curtain from her shoulder as her head tilted in search, and the how her teeth bit down into her lip in concentration. Harry counted the amount of times her eyelashes met her waterline in those few seconds of comfortable silence. Three. 
“I thought I had cash on me today,” something in her bag clicks, and she pulls out the rectangular card Harry’s become familiar with, holding it out to him between two deft fingers, painted with red hearts on a white base. “I guess I used my last twenty at the organic food store down the street,” she said. 
“It is pretty easy to get lost in there, isn’t it?” He took her card from her, and tried not to make it obvious that he was eager to read her name off of it as he inserted it into the machine. The embossed letters into the plastic read y/n y/l/n, and when he turns back to look at her, he can’t help the smile that spreads across his boyish features.
Y/n. 
Y/n, y/n, y/n.
This is what it must feel to be let in on a secret that’s worth millions of dollars. It must, because Harry’s heart is soaring with a closure he didn’t know he needed. Y/n, y/n. Her name tickled him. Stroked him. Lathered him with the honey smoothness of the beeswax shampoo he bought at that fateful organic store. It was a fitting name. Sometimes, one could tell a person ‘you know, I actually thought you were a Amy or a Jessica’, because their looks and style just didn’t match the strength or modesty of their name. But not y/n. It fit her like a glove. There was no other way to make sense of the way Harry’s brain was thinking. The name was her. 
“What?” Her lips quirk up into a smile and her eyebrows dip in confusion. Why was he looking at her like that? Did she have something on her face? Here she was, opening up to a cute stranger and she had something on her face? This, she thought to herself, is humiliating. Her finger dusted off non-existent crumbs from the corners of her mouth, “do I have something on my face?”
“No! No, no.” Harry’s careful beam simmered down from it’s previous brightness, and his hand nervously filed through the swoop of chocolate curls sitting on his head like a cinnamon roll. “I just think y’name is pretty thas’ all.” 
He murmured the last part so that it was practically incoherent, and lowered his gaze as a searing heat stretching like saran wrap around his head and the divot on the nape of his neck.  Oh, God. He was fucking blushing. Great Harry. A normally favorite among the ladies had been reduced to murmurs and thick, uncoordinated movements. 
Like dropping her card when she piped up again. 
Voice as small and quaint as his had been, "you think my name is pretty?” Her fingers are wrapped around the frail straps of her bag, tight enough that her knuckles were white and Harry was scared that she’d bury her fingernails into her palm. 
“I think y’very pretty.” He whispered back. He can’t even bear to look at her in fear that he’s totally fucked himself over once and for all. His logic was this: what girl wants to be told by the guy they’re buying flowers that they’re pretty after he reads her name from her debit card? Especially one who (if outside female sources are to be believed) dresses “the way my mother did when she was a girl in the seventies”? Jesus, fuck. He must’ve looked ridiculous. 
Harry opened his mouth to backtrack and apologize for being so unorthodox in his workspace, a breath sitting on his tongue with words ready to spew out, but the bell began to chime and it yanks his head from the register to the front and instead he said, “welcome! I’ll be with you in a moment.” 
Flustered and full of regret, the flower connoisseur returned his wired gaze back to y/n, who… was smiling at him? The kind of smile that said ‘oh my god, I can’t believe you just said that. Now please say it again’? Was he… dreaming? Did he have to pinch himself in order to verify that he wasn-
“Thank you... what’s your name?” Y/n looked at the card from his hands and sunk her hand- carefully, as to not get her fingers stuck in any of the tiny holes- and there was another clicking noise before she took her hand back out. That angel-like smear of girlish happiness was still on her, decadently radiating positivity and secret affection. Goodness leaked from the seams of her bones; through the cracks of her breastplate, radiating from her chest to Harry’s. He could feel it now. He could feel that his previous assumptions about her nature were true. She was altruistic and tender, like the inside of a bird’s wing. 
“Harry. M’name’s Harry.” This time, he didn’t hide his happiness. Even his eyes shone with a heightened, clear and sparkly shade of liquid evergreen. The joy that bounced inside of him like ricocheting metal balls in a pin game machine. His slender hand, fawn-skinned and graceful like the legs of a deer, stretched out between them. His mother had taught him that along with the first introduction of his name, a handshake must be present, always. Dipping his head slightly, and his words spongy with love-ditz, Harry rumbled, “Nice to meet you, y/n.”  
She placed her hand in his, and was practically swallowed by only his palm. He curled his fingers around her, thumb and middle finger overlapping around the clammy center of hers. So she was nervous, just as he was. Y/n was trained on their embracing limbs, and he could feel a spot on his neck where the skin palpated from the rush of blood as she observed their entwined digits. Their hands moved up and down, up and down between them for longer than necessary until her chin twitched back up to meet his, and she blinked mawkishly, slowly, like the videos of rehabilitated barn owls Harry sees on his Instagram. 
Then, suddenly, as if she remembered she was not the only one present, y/n jolts upright and shakes her head dazedly. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Harry. I like your nail color,” she added. 
He’s cheesing. A shit-eating grin too big for his face and it carves dimples into the flesh of his cheeks. His name on her tongue had never sounded so appealing, like it was made for her and only her to say. Not even the turtle-doves that cooed outside his window in the mornings sounded as beautiful as she did saying his name. And she complimented her nails! She hadn’t scrutinized him like others had, instead, she displayed her admiration for them. No one- well, actually he can’t say that without offending Mitch- no female of his age had ever received him with such open-mindedness as hers. If he didn’t have any self-restraint, he would giggle. Instead, Harry pulled his hand back so that their perfect moment wasn’t sullied with bouts of bad timing, “thank y’love. I like yours, too. You’ll have t’come over sometime and paint mine, yeah?” 
Y/n laughed, and he breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn’t been too bold, “I’d love too!” With glee frozen on her, she turned to look over her shoulder at the customer who was browsing the flowers Harry had in buckets, “I don’t want to hold you back from a customer for so long. I’ll stop by again soon, Harry. Thank you so much for your help.” 
The moment her hands reached for the wrapped bundle of sunflowers and the mermaid vase, a metaphorical grey cloud of rain and thunder manifested in the space above his head, and blocked all of the sunshine from spanning across his toned, lithe body. Did she really have to go? He wanted to whine. Maybe even wrap himself around her ankles like a child that refused to leave the park. They were only just getting to a mutual spot of comfort! Forget the other customer, he wanted to shout. Harry would kick them out and flip the sign to ‘closed’ if it meant only a few more minutes in the presence of her candy-coated charisma. 
But he knows that’s unrealistic, and settles with, “it was my pleasure, y/n,” a flirty wink (at least he hopes it is), “I’ll be waiting f’your next visit.” His taffy lips wrapping effortlessly around his smooth words, fueled by her welcoming receptiveness to his advances. It would be easy to be himself in the future, a little smoother and eloquent in his language and feeling. He was usually clear with what he wanted from anyone, and made it a pleasurable experience in all aspects for both parties involved (once it was three). Harry wanted to sweep her off her feet, and he wanted it to be an enjoyable experience for the both of them. Revel in that feeling of blooming emotions in a new relationship. A healthy one, in which he wasn’t receiving back-handed compliments all the time. 
He wasn’t superficial enough to push anyone off the table based on looks alone, but it did help that y/n had the disposition of an angel. An ethereal voice, supple lips that looked so silky and soft they had to feel that way, too, and hands that felt so tender in his. Perfect for holding on a late night stroll, or over the center console of his car when -if they go out on dates. 
What really hooked, reeled, and sinked him, though, was the fact that she was so nice to him. From the start, she’d been nothing but polite and sweet with him. Don’t even get him started on the way he swooned at the tone of her voice when he said that her name was pretty! So quiet and velvety, careful and calculated like she wanted him to know that it was okay. That she wasn’t thrown off by his comment. He nearly toppled over, clutching his heart with his legs jutting straight up into the air like a frightened goat. 
It wasn’t until the bells stopped ringing the sad notice of her exit that Harry realized he passed up the perfect opportunity to ask for her number, and as he kicked himself over it, he walked with the perfect customer service face he could muster to help the other person in his store. 
***
Harry was having a shitty morning. 
Not the kind of morning where every aspect of his routine is a terrible mishap, but like the water being too cold and the stove not working or the bottle of oat milk in the fridge being empty so he couldn’t make coffee. No, everything was fine and rolling smoothly, as it should. 
His water was the perfect temperature and ran down the toned bumps and divots of his muscles like the relaxing thrums of a lover’s caress in the midst of prowling heat. As soon as it hit his back, he released a sigh of contentment, his shoulders hunching and head rolling back and his hands roamed his shoulders and the back of his neck, rubbing away any aches that existed. The branch of eucalyptus that hung from the golden pipe of his showerhead fused a thick minty scent into the steam that fogged the glass wall, and the calming aroma helped the tendons loosen like the deflating limpness of untied shoelaces. He spent a few minutes just standing there, inhaling and exhaling deeply and feeling his lungs open and stretch beneath his rib cage. 
It almost made him wish that he’d opted to use his tub for a hot bath instead. 
He was able to cook an egg just fine on his stove, with dashes of Everything Bagel Seasoning with a side of avocado and a slice of toasted cranberry walnut bread, the same thing he had every morning. The carton of oat milk was brand new from his trip to the market the day before, and his coffee tasted the same as it always did. But… he was just... sad. An melancholy soreness that eroded against the insides of his body, consuming him slowly but surely and leaving him with a lost feeling of emptiness and unimportance. 
He thinks he might know why he’s feeling this way. 
While he’s stirring his scrambled eggs, he’s wondering how y/n likes hers. Over easy? Sunny-side up? Scrambled, like him? Did she even like eggs in the morning? What did she eat in the morning? He knows that some people ‘aren’t hungry’ in the mornings, though that’s only because they’ve gone hungry in the mornings before for an extended time period, and after so long of not feeding their growling stomachs, their brain discontinues the signals of hunger. Harry hopes that isn’t the case with y/n, and that she’s eating the proper three meals a day every day. 
And while he dipped a mini vegan chocolate croissant that he got at Whole Foods, he also wonders what she likes to dip chocolate croissants into, or if she even likes chocolate croissants. If she was a person who likes sweet treats, like strawberry tarts with powdered sugar over them or something lighter, like fruit cut into small squares in a bowl. When Harry was younger and would visit his nan on the weekends, she would pick fresh strawberries from her garden and cut them up for him when he’d woken from his nap. Sometimes, she would even sprinkle half a tablespoon of sugar over them. He wonders if she’d ever eaten strawberries like that. 
It’s been a week and a half, he still hasn’t seen her, and his heart is yearning. 
Harry knows he’s not in the correct headspace to assist other people with a cheery disposition about an hour before opening time, and decides it’s best if he writes a note on the door about how the shop wouldn’t open that day because he didn’t want to taint the reputation of his business by snapping at a customer for the only bundle of sunflowers he had, or dissolve into a puddle of love-sick tears in the middle of ringing someone up. Though really the notice just says ‘H’s Garden will not be opening today. Sorry for the inconvenience!’ followed by a frowning face and a lopsided, filled-in heart. 
Harry drags his feet back up the stairs, his lower lip jutting out in a discreet but depressing pout, and grabs Owen from his tank so that the chameleon could curl into the shoulder of Harry’s hoodie while he moped on the couch to sappy rom-coms that would only make him think about her more. At least there was someone there with him, even if his small green friend only used him for mangoes and papaya. They sit together for the entirety of Romeo + Juliet, and when it’s over, Harry’s sniffly and standing up to return Owen to his enclosure and to clean because the riotous emotions that whirl within him are too much to process while sitting down. 
Cleaning wouldn’t help him solve his problems, but it would help him cram all of his worries into a tight corner at the back of his mind- sort of like when dirty laundry began to overflow in the hamper and it requires extra force to shove it all in, only to come all back out like a memory sponge. His tormented thoughts on y/n could be compared to a dramatic inner monologue, very similar to how Romeo feels about his Juliet. But, soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and y/n is the sun. Harry has the play on his book shelf (the one with the side-to-side modern English translation because he was never quite gifted in the English department) and as he reaches for a bandana to tie his hair back, he finds himself resonating with a particular line: parting is such a sweet sorrow.
There was no need to change any of his clothing, since he was already dressed in one of his more impromptu outfits; grey sweats and a white t-shirt that read ‘women are smarter’ in black across his chest. He tied the red bandana into a knot at the back of his head, and lifted it over his chin so that it settled on his forehead, sweeping his hair back with a final push back. It doesn’t get in his way when he crouches to clean his various tables, spraying cleaning products with his shirt pulled over his nose, another organic product that’s supposed to be less harmful and smells like cinnamon and sandalwood. His shoulder blades begin to ache because he’s being a little more aggressive than he has to be, but the green tiles were sparkling so he was content. 
He washes the dishes, mops the kitchen floor, vacuums the carpets, cleans Owen’s habitat, and tidies the mail that piled up on the table when he finally calls it quits. Scouring his brain for something to do, to keep him busy- his brain busy, Harry settles on the floor with his back to the edge of his bed. He’s shirtless now, and is in need of another shower but he’d rather not because he knows he might end up crying over the possibility that he’s scared y/n off. There’s a book in his hands and a Frank Ocean record playing softly in the background that mentions something about ‘I've been thinkin' 'bout you, do you think about me still?’ and it’s not helping his case at all.    
It’s no use. 
There’s a plague of darkness buzzing like cicadas in his ears. He fears rejection and criticism. That maybe, she was only pretending in order to make the situation more pleasant so it ended sooner. Most of all, he feared that it would always be this way. That he would never find someone who embraces who he is as a person. Always met with mean side-eye glances or second looks of displeasure and confusion. It isn’t always that way, though, because then that would mean he gets absolutely no action, and that isn’t true. 
Harry is very… well-educated in matters that concerned sexual intercourse, but it was always a one-night stand ordeal. It was never ‘I really like you we should go out sometime’. In fact, he noticed that only time his approaches were well received were those in which he was dressed in a calmer manner. Simple, solid colors with sneakers or a t-shirt. Girls would flirt back, make good conversation, allow him to buy them a few drinks, and when he’d take them to his apartment they’d ask why he lived on top of a flower-shop, and if it was his sister or female-friend’s palace that he was crashing. Sex would ensue, but his heart wouldn’t be as present and engaged as he wanted it to be. 
Wrong. It was always so fucking wrong, and God, if he didn’t get out of this apartment he’s going to breakdown and cry and there’s no one to call to come over because Mitch is on a trip with his girlfriend, Sarah, and his other friend Jeff is on his honeymoon in Sweden. They were the only two on his mental speed dial list during the rare occasions he had a crisis, as they were the two that Harry had ever really opened up to. Mitch was a bit closer to his heart. They’ve known each other since their school days and practically grew up together (at one point they had small crushes on each other, which were confessed years down the line). Jeff was the owner of Winsome where… where y/n had mentioned spending her last twenty dollar bill. He didn’t have an issue opening up to them. He liked opening up to them, but he didn’t understand why they were the only two that ever truly opened their arms to him. 
A walk, he decided, would help him… air out his brain. Calm down. Breathe a little deeper, a little easier. 
He threw his white shirt back on, and a forest green sweatshirt that donned the emblem of the school he went to earn his business degree that fit him wide around the shoulders and felt like a marshmallow. Putting on a pair of beat up shoes, he shoved his keys into his pocket, hobbling and nearly losing his balance because he was moving way too fast. The door closed behind him with a slam, and even though he was still wearing the bandana around his head, wispy stray curls framing his face in a wild mane, his distress palpable through his appearance, but he doesn’t care. He just needs to get out and feel the cool air against his skin. 
There’s a backdoor behind the stairs that will take him to a small alleyway that leads to a back parking lot where other shop owners that live at the top of their stores on the same side of his street parked their cars. He unlocks it from the inside, and throws his shoulder into it, desperate to her out. When it shuts behind him, he doesn’t turn back because it’s the kind to lock from the outside when closed. His fingers curl into the ends of his sleeve so that the tips of his fingers (nails now changed to a sparkling silver color) are the only parts of his hands visible. 
Rounding the corner, he whistled the cheeriest tune he can muster. His lips are puckered and his cheekbones high with the extension of his mouth. He’s not very happy on the inside, though he remembers reading something somewhere that if you pretend to be something long enough, you’ll eventually become it. If he pretends to be happy, then he’ll actually be happy. 
Right?
Harry rounds the corner of the parking lot and turns on to the main street. It’s only two in the afternoon, so there's people crawling in and out of shops anywhere. He even sees a man and a woman peeking into the window of his store, and he would feel bad if he wasn’t in a shitty mood already. He’s so out of it, that he nearly yells ‘get your hands off my windows!’. He doesn’t though, because for a moment the woman becomes y/n and the man becomes him, wrapping a ringed hand around her waist and whispering in her downy ear ‘they’re closed, darling, let’s go somewhere else’ and she straightens dejectedly, pouting playfully and standing up and her tippy toes so that she could press a quick kiss to his lips. 
That image fades though, and the couple continues with their stroll, hand in hand, and his heart is wrenching, writhing and trying to yank itself free from it’s place in his chest because it hurts too much to stay. 
Cars whizz past, and he skirts in and out of people on the sidewalk, keeping his pace fast and focused. There’s no intended destination, he’s just moving with the intent to forget the pretty girl who haunts him. Her voice is all he can hear. Her smile is all she can picture. And the rest of her is all he can imagine, which is exactly what hurts the most. Imagination only goes so far, fulfils so much with uncertainty of what the truth was and what wasn’t. Harry could imagine her with her feet up on the lip of a bubble filled tub, a glass of wine in her hands, but then…what kind of wine did she like? Or did she even like wine? And did she even have a bathtub to stretch out in after a long day? 
He curses the crimes he may have committed in past lives to deserve this torture. This unbearable pain that felt like he was being dunked in a slow-acting acid. He can do nothing about it but keep walking with labored will power. He passed his shop, and a bakery and a small thrift store that sells used clothing for way too much money. At the propped open double-doors of Jeff’s Winsome, he decides to talk in and browse. There’s so many items that smell good and taste good, that it was fun to just walk in and look. 
“Back again so soon, H?” 
Spinning on his heel, Harry comes face to face with Niall, a brunette, fit, Irish bloke with a chummy smile and a killer sense of humor. The two have brokered a sort of friendship, considering the amount of time (and money) that Harry spends there. Niall has even started calling him ‘H’ in silent homage to his flower shop. 
“Y’know I can’t stay away,” Harry attempted to joke, his lips pulling up in a weak smile, “plus, I think I needed s’more of the peppermint essential oils f’my diffuser.” 
“‘Course ya do! You're worse than the bloody vegan mums that come in asking for gluten free baby powder!” Niall cups a hand over his mouth and loudly whispers to so that only Harry catches his verbiage. There was a woman in the back of the store, looking through soaps in the limited kid’s section, the same exact kind that Niall was speaking about. “Go on and look around then, I’ll be here when you’re finished.” He said. 
Harry only nodded his acknowledgement, and moved in between wooden walnut shelves. The entire store had a caramel brown color scheme, with only the inventory adding color to it. Macramé potted succulents and plants added to the natural, outdoorsy feel. Winsome had an interesting mix of smells from all of the aromatherapy based products it housed, but it only added to the appeal. 
Currently, he held a packet of four lip balms that advertised to be ‘100% all naturally derived ingredients with no artificial additives' infused with ‘healing power of crystals’, two of them ‘citrine cherry' flavored, and the remaining ‘garnet guava’. The brand name is something in Italian that he can’t read, packaging thick and a triangle made of arrows in the corner signaling it can be decomposed and/or recycled. He had the same exact ones at home, only they were all misplaced and- 
“Harry?”
A small, timid voice called his name from behind him, and he froze. He knew that voice. It was the same one he had repeated over and over in his head for the past week, waiting for her promised arrival with a hopeful heart. 
His eyes go wide with recognition, body still and stiff like a deer caught in headlights. His heart begins to rump at a furious speed, loud in his ears like a million stampeding hooves. The packaged products in his hands shake, and then she speaks again, “Harry, is that you?” 
Is this really happening right now? He’s embarrassed at having been caught with lipstick in his hands of all things, but he can’t put them back now. It was too late for that. He lets them hang at his side, and turns around. He hopes there isn’t perspiration dripping from his temples because all of a sudden he wants to yank his sweater off. 
Harry turned, slowly. He feared that if he moved too fast she would fly away like a startled dove. 
“Y/n…” He’s breathless, but he manages a pitiful quirk of the corner of his mouth, which he licks over right after, “hi.” 
She’s wearing a dress this time, frilly at the hem which fell just above her knees. It’s pink and covered and lined with blood red trim at her forearms. A string of pearls glistens at the base of her throat, and her lips are covered in a sheen of lipstick. Her hair, however, is a tousled mess, pieces of it framing her face and untucked from her bun as if she had been jostling around. Her cheeks are flushed with the cold, and clearly that thin beige cardigan hanging off her elbows is doing nothing to keep her warm.
Y/n smiles at him, with the same shakiness, “f-for a second I thought I was talking to the wrong p-person.” 
 It’s quiet again, and they’re both fidgeting. Y/n’s knees knock together as she shifts her weight from foot to food, and Harry idly rubs his finger under his nose and sniffs boogies that aren’t there. She’s staring at the ground and rocking back and forth on her heels and he can’t think of anything to say because he’s so paralyzed by the fact that she’s actually standing in front of him, and looks as gorgeous as ever. Had he somehow manifested her presence? 
While she’s hiking up the ends of her sweater so that they’re situated properly on her shoulders, he says the first thing that comes to his mind. “Aren’t y’cold?”
Her head snaps up and she peeks at him from under her lashes while flattening a hand at her thigh, “a little bit.” 
Harry watches her tuck her hair behind her ears and wonders if she came walking from her apartment again. In the cold. Dress as she was. Not that he had a problem with the way that she was dressed! He understood that sometimes when people grew bored they used the smallest occasions to dress up and have some fun and get out of their homes. He did it too, sometimes. To clear his head. Hell, isn’t that what he was doing now?
“D’you need a ride home?” He stumbled over his tongue to backtrack, not wanting her to think that he was a wierdo or anything like that, “t-that is if y’walking, I wouldn’t want you to get sick or anything like that. S’bit chilly out today.” 
Y/n smiles shyly at him, a blush on the highest points of her cheeks, and rubs the side of her face against the fabric of her cardigan, “thank you, for the offer, but uhm… it’s my friend’s baby-shower-gender-reveal thing today and I came with my other friend to some last minute gifts and some flowers. I was going to buy some stuff from here because she’s crazy about the whole ‘no preservatives’ and all but, and I was also going to stop by your shop to buy some flowers, but I saw you were closed so I…I’m rambling again.” She sputtered out the last bit, and pressed the tips of her three middle fingers to her lips to stop the words from coming out. 
Harry smirked at her antics, but it’s more of a repressed smile, and the rest of his humor gleamed in the sea-glass of his eyes like a message in a bottle. 
“S’alright, love.” He’s still holding the lip balms in his hand, and he can feel the moisture that’s collecting on his palms dampening the Kraft like material as he gestured to her dress with the tip of his chin. “Y’wearing pink. I take it y’want the baby to be a girl?”
“Actually, I know it’s a girl. She told me,” y/n pips, shrugging smugly. 
Harry laughs at her this time, “Did you finish with all your purchases here? I can make an exception and open up f’you.”
“Oh, Harry, I don’t wanna bother you! Because if this was your day off then-”
He lifts a hand to get her to stop, and uses the opportunity to twist around and put back what he had in his hands. The conversation is flowing so smoothly now, that all of his previous worries are gone. He can only focus on her and the way her eyelashes fluttered and the crystalline sparkly in her voice. 
“Y/n, it’s fine. D’ya finish here? We can head over to the shop now if you’d like.” Harry points a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the door. 
“Uh, no. I just got here so I still have to go grab some things,” she said, pushing her hair past her ears again. He thinks that she can probably tell the disheveled state her hair was in, because she begins to pop off a pin in her hair to readjust it. He doesn’t mind it, though. He thinks she looks cute. Angel-like. 
He nods, rolling his hands into fists within his sleeves so that the cuffs hang over his knuckles, and tries not to trip over his legs as he backs away. “A’right. I’ll wait f’you in the front, then. Take y’time, love.” 
“‘Kay,” she gleams at him, biting down on her bottom lip, and Harry turns away fully before he starts whining about how cute she is or before there’s a dent in the heather grey fabric of his sweatpants.  
At the front, Niall has his chin at the palm of his hand, and as he gets closer, Harry lifts his head to see that the brunette is wiggling his eyebrows mischievously. There's a shit-eating grin on his face that clearly points to a mountain of teasing in the near distance. 
“A little love-struck, mate?” He said, as soon as Harry was within hearing distance. At least he had the decency to keep his voice down, he thought. 
Harry flips him off, “oh, bug off.” 
Silver glitter sparkling on his nails, and his gaze strays to the floor, bashful of how clear his affection was. He turns to rest his bum against the counter and pulls out his phone to appear busy as he waits for y/n, mindlessly opening Instagram to have something to do (and to stop him from glancing at her ever two seconds).    
“Yup. I knew it. Have y’asked her out yet?” Niall doesn’t stop to let Harry refute his question, “y’know she comes in sometimes, after stopping by your place? And she just will not stop talking about how nice yeh were to her.”
Harry’s head snaps up from his screen so fast, something at the back of his neck creaks with the force. Instagram is long forgotten.
“What? Are you fuckin’ with me right now?” He doesn’t mean for his words to come as aggressive as they do, but the thought of her speaking to someone else about him is… well, it’s thrilling. 
Alarmed, Niall’s hands come up near his face in the motion of surrender, “no, man! Dead serious. Think she likes yeh, honestly.”
He can only say: “Fuck me.”
Niall is about to respond when a quiet voice breaks their stares, “I’m all finished.” 
“Already, babe? I’ll rig ya up, then!” 
He’s quick to slide the few products over the scanning square, and y/n and Harry stand beside each other silently, their height difference laughable. Niall’s gaze flickered between them with no commentary, and his lips pucker with a wiggling smile when he finally announces her total. A bit too much for a small changing blanket, oatmeal-based baby lotion, pacifiers with a lavender infused towel attached to ‘aid with goodnight night’s sleep’, and a bamboo hairbrush with a tuft of soft bristles. 
Nonetheless, she provides the money with a pleasant smile. Harry can see a bit of tightness around her eyes that suggests discomfort, but he doesn’t say anything. Niall hands her a paper bag with her purchase, “there yeh go! Have a good day now, y/n! And be good, to Harry!” 
Harry’s eyes widen at Niall’s last comment, and it takes every bit of self-restraint in him to not reach the other counter and whack him in the back of the head. Instead, he shakes and ducks his head in near shame.
Y/n, however, quips back with “I’ll be nice only if you’re nice,” and bumps her shoulder against his before walking towards the door, looking over her shoulder at Harry who’s smiling wide now, and trailing after her with no regard to Niall at all. 
He shouts something after them about being rude lovebirds, but Harry doesn’t care. He’s floating after this heaven-sent like cartoon characters being led to a freshly baked pie with their nose on the scent. His rump high in the air like the Lorax disappearing into the light in the clouds, utterly ignorant to everything else. 
When they’ve both stepped outside, they speak at the same time, 
“Let me just-”
“Do y’wanna put-” 
Harry and y/n giggle at each other, 
“You go first.” 
“Y’speak first.” 
And then they laugh again. Harry pretends to zip his lips and throws away the key, and she says radiantly, “I’ll drop this off in my friend’s car really fast and we can walk to your flower shop.” 
Watching her approach a car parked two spots away, a girl with blue, pink, and brown hair leans over to the passenger side, seat belt straining against her throat and when she sees Harry, she waves and it makes y/n push her back to her spot behind the driver’s  side. Whoever this girl is, she and Niall have to meet, seeing as they can’t mind their own business. He chuckled and waved back, that girl laughing along with him and it made y/n cover her face with her cardigan covered hands. 
“I’m sorry about Charlotte,” she said when she got back, “she doesn’t know how to mind her own.”
“A bit like Niall, it seems.” Harry said. He waits for her to catch up before beginning to walk down the street. Side to side, shoulder to shoulder. They’re so close, Harry can feel the warmth of her body heat through the fleece of his sweatshirt. It’s cold, and she’s still this warm? 
“Maybe,” her eyebrows raise, and her head tilts towards him, “they should meet.” 
“Tha’s exactly what I was thinkin’!” His voice rises with his excited agreement, and the tip of his nose wiggles as he scrunches his nose. 
As they get closer, to H’s Garden, Harry reaches into his pocket for his keys, fingering through them so that they wouldn’t have to stand in the cold for so long. He didn’t want her to get sick. 
“I’m sorry, Harry. I feel really bad about this,” she whispered beside him, looking up at him with doe eyes as she worried her lip between her teeth, the sheen of gloss adding an extra allure to her image at that moment. “It’s your day off, and I’m bugging you.” 
They stood in front of the door now, underneath the green umbrella cover that extended from the top of the door and down the side of the window. Harry waited for her to step into the little alcove created by the indent of the door before stepping in after her and jiggling the key into the lock. He resisted the urge to pull his lips down into a cooing frown at the look on her face. She really was worried about disturbing him. If only she knew that he spent the entire day moping (and nearly crying) over her. 
He sucked on his teeth, “oh, love, please worryin’ about it. Don’t wanna see that frown on y’pretty face anymore okay?” His confidence was slowly coming back, “s’not my day off, I just didn’t feel like speaking to customers today.” 
Shrugging, he opened the door, and took a step back to allow her to step through first. Y/n ducked her head as she passed him with a murmured ‘oh, okay’, and he followed right after her, wanting to get away from the cold too because he knew that his nose was probably pink at that moment, but what he didn’t anticipate was for y/n to stop right after breaching the threshold, and bend over at the waist to pick something up from the floor, causing Harry to bump into her at such an awkwardly sexual angle with all of his momentum. 
Considering he was half twisted away from her and in the middle of pulling out the key from it’s slot, the amount of force in Harry’s push from behind was enough to cause her to nearly fall forward, a surprised whimper slipping from her lips. Harry, determined not to see her fall, lets go of the key and reaches out just in time to grasp her hips on either side, pulling her back towards him mid-fall so that she doesn't collapse on her face. 
However, in the midst of all of this Harry forgets himself and uses a bit too much force. Not to mention, the implications of their position makes him hyper aware of every single place their bodies touched, her small frame against his lithe, tattooed body. 
This moment only lasts for a few seconds, but he can feel everything. 
He can feel the easy give of the skin of her hips underneath each finger that touched her, the softness of the flesh on her thighs against his sturdy knees. The fabric of his sweatpants is suddenly non-existent, and it’s almost as if he felt every taught tendon of her legs, frozen with efforts of helping catch or brace herself. The heat of her groin is flush against his, and it makes him want to scream with a sudden sensitivity. Her ass is practically seated on him, full and malleable against the points of his laurel covered hip bones. Harry’s semi-hunched, as her weight also pushed him back, and the position is doing nothing to help his frenzied mind settle. He feels like shit because he’s being a horny, pubescent kid instead of asking her if she’s okay, but then y/n moves back into him to straighten fully and their centers grind. Her dress is semi-bunched at the halfway point of her bum, and he can feel heat emanating from her, radiating back on his bloating cock. He has to stifle a moan when she pushes herself up with the tips of her fingers. 
Just as quickly as it started, it’s over. Y/n is dusting her bum off so that her dress falls and covers her modesty, and she’s beet red in the face, not looking at him. Which was fine by him, he was too ashamed to look into her eyes. 
He clears his throat (something he’s doing a lot around her) and asks if she’s okay. 
“Yes. Yes, I’m okay. This was on the floor,” she squeaked, holding up a neon yellow notice sheet in her hand. That damned thing was what caused all of this?
It’s a notice from the delivery men that said, ‘sorry! We missed you!’ with a time and date messily scrawled on the dotted lines. Harry had forgotten that he was getting a shipment of several plants that morning. 
Cursing, he takes it from her, “t-thank you. Now how ‘bout those flowers?”
It’s awkward, obviously, but y/n is severely silent. Harry’s still stuffy in his pants, but he ignores it and doesn’t add any fuel to the fire because there’s more pressing matters at hand than a boner. Y/n is the most quiet she’s ever been around him, considering all of her word vomits and ramblings, and he’s suffering. Definitely beating himself up in his head for having ruined the moment. He held onto her for a second too long, frozen. She must feel so embarrassed, and he was self-endulging like a fucking asshole. 
Harry asks her questions on what flowers she’d like, and she answers by pointing or bringing a stem to him, laying it on the counter without a word. A mixture of dahlias and baby’s breath with a handful of feverfew to make the pink in the dahlia’s stand out. He lays them out on his work table, cutting the ends at an angle where they need to be cutted and laying them out on a sheet of clear, dusty rose paper. Three packets of flower food are strewn at the corner, and y/n busies herself by fidgeting with them. He grows concerned when he makes a comment on the kinds of ribbons he had stored and she doesn’t say anything. Not even a nod or a hum. 
Eventually, he decides he’s had enough of her neglect, and pauses his work to devote her some attention.  
“Love, I’m sorry about what happened,” he said softly, trying to catch her eyes, “I know it probably made y’uncomfortable, and I didn’t do much to make the situation better, but I just didn’t wanna see y’fall.”
Y/n’s head is already dipped, so he can’t see her face, but when her shoulders begin to shake, he knows he’s utterly fucked. She starts to sniffle, and his eyes go wide. The paper crinkled as he set down the baby’s breath he’s holding in his hands. He hates seeing people cry, not because he didn’t know how to deal with it, but because he often ended up crying along with them. Also, he just didn’t want to see her cry. Harry wanted her to be happy, glowing, and smiling. Not dull with dollops of woeful distress in liquid form.
He rounds the corner and spares a look out to the street, wanting to make sure that there is no strange onlooker eavesdropping on their interaction. His hand reaches out to stroke her back or shoulder comfortingly, but he thinks better of it and drops his arm. She most likely would not like to be touched, considering what just happened between them. He drops his head, seeking face-to-face interaction, and speaks as gently as he can, “y/n, what’s wrong?” 
She avoids his search, and turns the other way while sniffling, “you probably think I’m weird now or something after that.” 
“No!” Harry exclaimed, jerking his head back as if he’d been struck, and her words practically had. He can’t believe that she would think that and even go as far as verbalizing her thoughts when he worshipped the ground she walked on and didn’t even know her that well, yet. “No, no. I don’t think that. Y’tripped, that’s all. Happens to everyone. If anythin’ I’m the weirdo for grabbin’ y’the way I did, and I’m really sorry about it.”
Y/n dig the heels of her hands into her eye sockets, “that was so embarrassing, I should’ve told you I was gonna stop or something. I always embarrass myself in front of cute boys and I never know what to do. I just-” 
Harry interrupts before she can dig herself further another hole. He highlights a segment of her words, dropping everything else in hopes of changing the conversation and taking her discomfort away, and mostly because he was bursting with relief and happiness. She had said that she thought he was cute, just how he thought that she was adorable, and nice, and everything good. They were on the same level, their minds in sync. Did that mean…
His voice is airy and light because of what she had just admitted, “y’think I’m cute?”
She stills with awareness of what she’s just said, and a puppy-like noise seeps from the back of the throat before her hands sink further into her eyes, embarrassed. Harry tenderly wraps his fingers around her small wrists and pulls her hands away from her face, murmuring about ‘don’t rub y’eyes anymore, love, y’gonna hurt’ with nothing but kindness. A millisecond of distraction speeds through his mind at the softness on the inside of her wrists. 
There’s a trickle of blubbering in her part, her bitten lips bumping against each other as she attempts to backtrack, “I mean- I- I-”
Harry decides that it’s now or never. It was a bit inconvenient, perhaps, but with her revelation his confidence soared and he was more prepared now to ask than he ever had been. So, he goes for it, “can I have y’number?” 
A moment of semi-uncomfortable silence as the unknown tips the scale. Would she say yes? Would she say no? His head was spinning and he hoped his nose didn’t start bleeding or something because y/n nods slowly, smiling, and then, “okay.” 
He’s elated. He was the polar opposite of what he had been that morning. If only Owen could see him then. He doesn’t waste any time reaching into his back pocket and handing her his unlocked phone. They don’t share any words, only coy glances and flirty quirks of the lips as the tips of her fingers move on his screen. Harry can’t believe that he’s finally getting her number, after nearly a month of pinning. 
When she’s finished, she clicks it off and sets it next to him with an added pat to the back of his suspiciously clean white phone case while he’s tying the flowers together with a loose rubber band at the ends to attach the food packets. He’s fine with working in silence now that she's not crying anymore. He throws occasional glances in her direction, and catches her watching his hands while fiddling with her own. Her brows were furrowed and her mouth was twitching. 
“Will you text me?” She asked him. 
He’s careful not to bruise any of the petals as he sets them down again, pausing with his ministrations to pick up his phone. He wiggles his eyebrows at her and types a quick ‘Hi. It’s Harry :)’. He hits send, “until you’re sick of me.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” She shakes her head, and Harry’s reminded Rachel McAdams in The Notebook while she’s in complete denial of her feelings for Noah. The comparison makes his heart flutter, considering the romance of the onscreen couple. “How much do I owe you?” 
Harry waves her off, “it’s on the house.” She begins to argue, but Harry stops her before she starts rambling again, “y’better go or you’ll be late, love.” He holds out the arrangement to her, tufts of baby’s breath poking out from between the vibrant dahlias like fluffy clouds, the feverfew looking like miniature white daisies in the center. 
She looks at it, and back at him before huffing, “fine, but you’ll have to let me return the favor.”
“Of course,” he smirks, “with dinner, maybe?” 
They’re both gleaming at each other now, “okay.” Y/n takes a step back, her body half twisted as she walks away, but it remains like that for a moment as her eyes rake him up and down, a murmur following, “bye, Harry.” 
His veins charge with electricity, and his dark taffy lips part at her actions. Had she just checked him out? He doesn’t recover quick enough to return her goodbye because the previous swirl of arousal in his navel was bristling back to life at the implications of that look. Calm, slow, steady, and her eyes remained doe-like and innocent. 
She had to have known exactly what she was doing, whispering his name the way she had, looking over her shoulder and under her eyelashes the way she did. Deviously provoking his thoughts to begin a new with a reinspired fervor. The space in his underwear was growing tighter by the second, a blissful ache swelling. 
Before any other customer stepped in after her, Harry locked the door, and jogged up the stairs to prepare himself a nice, hot bath, simultaneously cursing and thanking the stupid fucking delivery men.  
********
Harry can’t stop thinking. 
Obviously, this is a huge issue for him. He was constantly thinking, and well, who wasn’t? The process of thoughts wisping around in his brain was one that he often put an unnecessary amount of energy into because he had no one to filter these thoughts onto, releasing them through a conversation to prevent the exhaustion of his brain and heart. A prime example of these mishaps being the depressing slump that occupied his demeanor that very morning. 
This?
This was different.
As soon as the apartment door was shut behind him, Harry pulled the suffocating sweatshirt off of his upper body, fingers hooking in at the collar and yanking it off with a swift tug. It landed somewhere on his kitchen floor, and he didn’t stop to take note of its final destination. Instead, his legs instinctively took him to his bathroom. 
Chest heaving, Harry walked to the small window leaking sunlight and rolled the stick between his fingers to close the blinds. His thumb dipped into the waistband of his boxes and dragged them down lopsidedly, the tiger tattoo roaring as it became exposed. When the blinds are fully closed, the white extension clangs against the shutters from his aggressive release. His body was slowly being consumed by a raging fire stoked by the illicit images his brain conjured of the innocent, unsuspecting y/n.
His inner turmoil consisted of guilt for using her image that way and justification from the conspiring rake of her eyes along the upper half of him that was visible behind the counter. He was so fixated by her, that her look alone felt like a tempting caress along his skin. And it all happened in a matter of fucking seconds. That’s how gone he was. That’s how fucking gone he was. Harry guesses that the easy excitement also had to do with the fact that he hadn’t gotten laid in a while (he only ever gets lucky when he goes out to the bars with Mitch or Jeff, and they’d been gone for a significant amount of time) and the strong affinity he had for the girl who bought flowers from him.  
Explanation or not, he had to do something about the problem in his pants. He was painfully hard, and when he shucked his pants off fully, his underwear dragged with the movement and pressed against the tip of his swollen prick. A darkened patch of moisture bloomed where the head was, and he saw stars at the short pressure. He wouldn’t take his pants off just then, though. He liked to stall his pleasure as much as he could so that when he finally did cum, his stomach muscles contracted and his toes remained curled for more than ten seconds. 
He twisted the golden knobs of his tub so that the water would come rushing out at a borderline scalding temperature, and opened the small cabinet above the toilet for a bottle of almond and coconut shea butter bubbles. He uncapped it and bent over the edge of the tip, the cool, porcelain lip touching his crotch and provoking a choked whimper to leave him. Jerking his hips back, he poured the soapy liquid into the spot where the water cascaded, and retracted his hand when the beginning of froth formed along the surface. 
The heady sweet smell permeated the air with the rising levels of bubbles, and Harry couldn’t wait any longer. Because he liked to torture himself, he closed his eyes and slowly dragged the hell of his hand over the outline of his cock, a groan ripping though the silence. It’s so painfully good, that he does it one more time, and he jolts forward. He removes his hand, slips his thumbs underneath the waistband of his boxers, and lugs the fabric down his hips at an excruciatingly slow pace. The head of his member smearing precum all along as he moves and when he gets caught in the ripples of his boxers the muscles in his thighs flex at the ripple of pleasure that zips into his nerves. 
“Fuck,” he hissed under his breath. His mind was a spinning vintage reel of slideshow images of y/n. Y/n on bruised knees, her mouth wide open and her own drool on her tits, the tip of his cock flat on her tongue as she pleads with weepy eyes for him to cum down her throat. When he finally springs free of his underwear, a hefty slap rings out as his dick collides against his abdomen, right on the space underneath his belly button. 
There’s a stripe of liquid on the trail left by the mushroom head of his prick, and Harry’s eyes roll to the back of his head, throat straining as he hovers over the bathtub. He doesn’t remember the last time he’s ever been this hard over a girl before, and it’s driving him crazy. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to last as long as he usually does. As he swings a leg over the edge of the tub, the hot water encasing his calf, he’s thinking about how soft she is. The inside of her wrist and the palm of her hand. If she’s that soft on an external part of her body that’s used everyday, he can only wither away at the idea of what the inside of her thighs feel like. 
Bubbles are swarming up now, swathing his thighs and buttocks as he sinks into the sloshing water. When he’s completely seated and satisfied with the belly-button level of water, he clumsily throws a hand in the direction of the knobs to shut them off, and reclined his head against the curved end of the tub with his eyes shut. 
He hikes up his knees so that they’re resting against the porcelain walls, and mindlessly ruts up into the water at the filthy images he’s picturing, white foam collecting in sparse clouds over the math on his chest. He doesn’t know what’s gotten into him. It’s as if his body is being transported back to the moment his hips clashed with y/n’s. At the recollection, his mouth drops and his eyebrows pinch in a silent moan. The feel of her flesh underneath his fingertips has him bobbing in the water, and the next ideation has him gripping the base of his cock. 
Vividly, he pictured her on all fours, keening back onto him as her pussy enveloped him in warmth, a warmth that is almost replicated by the temperature of the water, dripping and making a mess of him but what’s turning him on most of all is the easy flushness of their bodies. He had felt the way her bum gave way under his hold, and he imagined the bounce of her flesh as he thrusted into her. 
He moaned a broken call of her name with his eyes still shut, and heard the trickling of water as his fist rolled up his stiff prick, squeezing at the tip so that a few more droplets of precum dribbled out. With his thumb, he rubbed over the red mushroom head and lathered it in slow, leisurely circles, a throb pulsating with the beat of his heart as he returned to flicking his wrist over himself. 
The way that he looked at him and the sound of his name on her lips seared into his memory. Airy and willowy, similar to it resonated in his brain with the fantasy of sinking into her for the first time, stretching her and having her preen and arch with desperate whimpers of his name for more. Harry considered himself to be ‘well-endowed’ and his size was a factor of what sent him careening over the edge as girls mewled over his size after he’d bottomed out. He wanted y/n to mewl under him, both of them falling apart at the seams at the mutual pleasures because if Harry’s this broken over just the thought of her, then he’s sure he’s going to lose himself beyond recognition after he’s buried himself into her velvety walls, slick with her arousal and so fucking warm. 
Just as she had been earlier that day. There had been two layers between them- the fabric of Harry’s pants and her panties- yet, he was still able to feel an immense heat from the apex of her thighs against his cock. He needed more than this. He needed her, not just his hand driving him closer to the edge. 
His jaw clenched as he bit back on a particularly loud moan, for no reason other than he enjoyed self-sabotage from time to time, and the speed of his jerking hand increased. His other hand gripped the side of the tub, and his legs flexed as he began to thrust up into his own fist, a trail of bubbles sticking to the tanned muscles. The cut rectangles of muscles of his abdomen glistened like freshly chopped cubes of apricot with the droplets of water that remained clinging to him. His breath came in labored, strained puffs as the palm of his hand twisted, tightening at the tip and loosening at the base. 
For a moment, he paused and cupped his balls, massaging them as the fantasy in his head continued. His mouth wrapping around y/n’s nipples, her eyes glazed over from previous orgasm that he wanted so badly to give her. She’d whine something soft and quiet to match her personality, ‘please, Harry, please I want more. Need another Harry, please’, and he’d speed up the movement of his hips, driving deep into her and cooing into her ear about, ‘c’mon, darling. Give m’another then. Y’want it so bad, yeah? Give me a’fucking ‘nother’, and she’d release a peircing moan that explodes in his eardrums while arching into him. She’d squeeze impossible tight around him, gushing with her own cum. 
The water in Harry’s tub sloshes around his ankles, and the muscles of his abdomen clench so that he’s closing in on himself, sputtering on an outrageously loud cry that he can’t contain and his hand increases the speed of his filthy ministrations because he’s right on the edge. He’s about to fucking cum and the back of his eyelids burns with the possible variances of y/n’s face in ecstasy provided by him with his nose deep in her cunt, lapping at the sweet honey that spills with every whimper of, ‘please let me cum, Harry. I’ll do anything, I’ll be good, please let me cum. 
He tensed violently, his face contorted painfully as white ropes spurt from the tip of his cock over his fist and onto his chest, blending with the white almond foam. His feet are braced against the edge of the tub and his head falls back and his stomach tenses even further, the final leaks of his cum dribbling out. 
With the fuzziness that comes after an orgasm, his body melts back into the water that’s still warm, and his jerks with a pant as he allows his softening prick to sink into the water. The head on his hair is matted in a chocolate smear across his forehead, and his lips are a raging heart of cherry blossoms, parted with arduous gasps of recovery breath. His hands fall into the water at his sides, and with the lapping movement of the liquid against his sensitive member, he ruts into nothing again. 
Reclined with his eyes closed and heartbeat slowing, Harry murmurs a final, “fuck me,” at the extreme sensations that had raked through his body. 
Somewhere in the muffled distance, his phone dings with the notification of a text message, and with a tired noise of resentment, he sits up and reaches for his sweatpants that lay in a messy puddle besides the tub. His fingers drip darkening spots onto the grey material as he rummages for his phone, and then he finally clicks it on...
It’s her name, lighting up his screen, and the text reads: 
y/n <3 : so… dinner? 
Harry doesn’t think he’s ever crushed on a girl this hard before because even though he’s just completely physically spent himself, there’s something stirring in the depths of his tummy just at seeing the heart she put next to her name. 
He couldn’t be happier. 
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and here he is!! what do you guys think?? pls pls pls leave your feedback in my askbox! i’d love to hear your thoughts! and if you really really loved it, don’t be afraid to press that reblog button <3333
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