The carriage halted as they arrived at Flower Street with lines of flower shops in business next to one another. Then there came a knock from outside as the horseman said, “We’ve arrived, Anika.”
As soon as she got off from the carriage, she felt everyone’s eyes were now on her. Looking dignified, Flora tried to not be conscious of her surroundings and went into a flower shop which firstly came into her sight. She was of course escorted by the guards along the way.
“A bunch of those and also that.”
“As your wish, Anika.”
Now that she was in the shop, she ended up buying a lot more than she expected. As she came just in time after a fresh batch of flowers were in, she had her fun choosing among a wide variety of flowers. With flowers stocked full in the back of the carriage, she got on the carriage again.
“Anika, shall I take you back to the house?”
Flora didn’t feel like going back this soon. She also came to regret her impulsive purchase of the flowers. She felt disgusted at the thought of her mother playing the hypocrite and pretending to be effusively thankful for the flowers, although she’d later grumble about her wasting all the money for nothing.
Flora wondered who she could probably give those flowers to without any burdens.
“Pardon? Shall I take you to the Arse mansion?”
“Ah…yes. To the Arse mansion.”
Before long, the carriage arrived at the destination. Flora stood and stared at its main gate, greatly overpowered by its magnificence. This was where she used to frequent herself as if it was her second home. Flora remembered just how much she had wished here was her real home.
Truthfully speaking, Flora was envious of everything Jin had come to own from the moment she was born. Jin literally had everything she had ever wanted, including this grand mansion, a pair of loving parents and also her two handsome brothers. Jin’s life couldn’t be more perfect in Flora’s eyes, to the extent that she would gladly exchange her Ramita for it.
All those years Flora frequented herself to the house as Jin’s friend, she behaved in her very best manner to get along with Jin’s family. Flora firmly believed she was becoming a part of their family. She thought they would still keep in touch and invite her over sometimes even when Jin was gone. However, they must have thought of her as no more than a friend of Jin’s despite all her efforts to blend in.
Without Jin, she practically had no excuse to make a visits anymore. This was her first time visiting in a very long while.
“Miss… Miss Flora?”
Flora, who was absentmindedly staring at the gate, turned as she heard someone calling her name. When their eyes met, the butler of the Arse mansion recognized Flora and bid a pleasant greeting as he went up to her.
“It’s been such a while, Miss Flora. How have you been?”
“It’s so nice to see you as well.”
“Please come inside. May I ask who you have come to see today?”
“Oh, it’s actually not that. I just happened to buy too many flowers as they were so fresh. Hence, I just wanted to share some of them.”
“Ah, then you must have come to see Lady Arse. She’s been working in the glasshouse since this morning.”
“Wouldn’t I be a bother to the lady?”
“Of course not. I am sure her lady would be glad to see you too in such a long while.”
Flora declined the butler’s offer a few times to make her appear polite and accepted his persistent invitation in the end as if she had no other choice. He then promptly ushered her to the glasshouse. After a moment of waiting outside, the butler, who had gone into the glasshouse to inform the lady of her visit, had come back out and said “The lady says come in.”
“All right… thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure.”
The butler smiled approvingly as he watched Flora entering the glasshouse. He thought to himself how Flora had turned out as a fine polite young lady compared to that someone…
As he was reminded of the young lady of the family, he felt his lips stiffen into a hard line. He shook his head as he still finds it a mystery as to how the two Anikas became friends when they practically had nothing in common except for their significant black hair and eyes of an Anika.
Flora slowed her pace when she spotted the figure of a middle-aged woman, who was gracefully engrossed in trimming one end of the long flower stalk. Though it was only a plain movement, Flora could see the lady’s natural elegance was radiating from her.
Lady Arse turned over to face Flora.
“Welcome, Anika Flora.”
The lady, whom Jin would resemble after many years from now, was smiling back at Flora. If only she had a black hair, it wouldn’t be easy to distinguish the mother from the daughter as they looked so much alike. Flora was quick to lower her gaze and bid her greetings to the lady.
“Thank you for approving my sudden visit. I hope you have been well.”