Chapter 13- Perfect Girls Help Pick Wedding Rings
When Issac first approached Cat about picking out wedding rings, she was sure she was misheard it the first time, until he repeated his request and then waited a few minutes for it to finally sink in. She stared at her attendant with unblinking eyes and her mouth agape, the concept of time was foreign until Andrain snapped her out of it.
“Are you okay Catty?” His hands went to her shoulders and she remembered how to move again.
“Hey hands off, buddy.” She forgot Issac was still there.
Andrain took a step back from Cat and grinned at Issac, the blonde snarled.
“Down,” Cat glared at him and he raised a brow at her. “I mean you don’t want me telling Vera now would you?”
This got his attention. “NO!”
“Telling Vera what?” Now Andrain was suspicious. Great.
“Oh, you didn’t hear just now?” Cat smirked. “Issac here was planning on proposing to-”
Issac panicked to the point that he threw his wallet at Cat’s face, it missed, Issac may be good with swords, but wasn’t known for his aiming.
“Oh... thanks! I was running low on cash.” Andrain picked up the wallet and opened it with a large smile on his face as if Christmas came around all over again.
“Give it back.” Issac requested, defeated, Andrain obliged.
“What were you talking about just now?” Andrain arched a brow at Cat. “I didn’t catch anything.”
She was fully aware that Issac was probably having a panic attack behind her, still, didn’t Andrain deserve to know? He and Vera were so close and although Cat personally thought 4 months was too soon to be proposing, she has seen how Issac acts around her, when they were together, they didn’t care how anyone else saw them. A perfect match, what can she complain about?
“Issac wants to propose to Vera and he needs help picking out a ring.” She heard a loud thud behind her and guessed that Issac probably fainted.
“Is he okay?” Andrain looked past Cat’s shoulder to see Issac picking himself up, that was fast.
“Peachy.” Her attendant choked out, his eyes set on her, the redhead laughed nervously.
“Now what do you have in mind?” Andrain was already talking about the ring design, knowing her attendant, he probably doesn’t even know where to start. “I’m sure Vera has already told you how good blue looks on her.”
“Doesn’t she wear a lot of black?” Cat tilted her head.
“Too much in my opinion. Maybe something that would really make her eyes pop.”
“I always thought purple was good on her.” Cat and Andrain turned to Issac, they completely forgot they were still outside and Dan was getting irritated since the door was open for too long, he stalked out of the living room to seek warmth in Cat’s room.
“If you really plan on getting one today,” Cat looked around for her purse, once she spotted it, she grabbed it and checked for her wallet. “We should get going now. Speaking of which, where is Vera?”
“She’s taking down all the decorations leftover from Christmas, she says it’ll take a while since we kinda went overboard.”
Andrain also decided to tag along, Issac didn’t complain, he needed all the help he can get. Along the way, Andrain made comments on what to look out for when searching for a diamond especially if you’re on a budget.
“You need to have a diamond guy, all the big stores sell their’s super expensive,” Was one of the points he brought up. “They don’t need to be flashy or anything, just pick a design and see what it’ll look like first,”
By the look on Issac’s face, Cat could tell they were thinking the same thing: How the hell did he know so much? Still, they didn’t want to doubt the words of the ‘expert’ and also they had no idea what to even look out for, Cat knows Issac didn’t wanna admit he was glad to let Andrain come along and bestow knowledge.
When they finally found a store, it looked sorta suspicious at first, the surrounding was kinda run down and in need of a maintenance while the store itself lacked a name and just consisted of a glass door and a white empty banner above it. Andrain entered without any hesitation while Cat had to drag Issac since he was insistent on leaving, still, Cat always knew she was stronger than him.
Andrain was the one that frantically looked around and occasionally grabbing Issac along to see the ones he thought were ‘perfect’, Cat just watched as the younger man acted like a tour guide to her attendant while the worker was too absorbed in his phone, he probably didn’t even notice them come in. Her roommate was going all out as well, he looked so enthusiastic when he pointed out the diamonds to poor Issac, she suspected he was just really happy for Vera.
“Thank you for your purchase, have a nice day!” The worker waved goodbye as the trio left the shop, with the ring in a velvet case contained in a bag, while Andrain was still energetic and bombarding Issac with questions, the blonde ignored him completely and Cat smiled as this continued.
She loves how Andrain could act like a child sometimes, reminds her that she doesn’t know that much about him after all, he acts nice to her, wants to be closer to her, yet, there will always be a wall between them since Cat can’t tell him her true past. She didn’t want who she was, what she was entitled to, to make Andrain see her any differently.
“How do you plan to propose?” This got Issac’s attention.
“Umm... I just plan to ask her at home?” Was his nervous reply.
Both Cat and Andrain gasped dramatically and shot him the ‘wtf’ look.
“You can’t do that!” Andrain was going into drama queen mode, that’s right, he had one.
“That’s right! You have to take her to a romantic setting, like a fancy restaurant to be cliche.” Cat seconded and Issac looked at them as if they’ve gone mad.
A few minutes later...
“OKAY, I GET IT!” He exclaimed after constant guilt tripping from the two, let’s just say they weren’t very nice about it. “What do you suggest I do instead?” He groaned.
“Oh, how about a picnic at sunset?” Andrain looked at Cat and the redhead nodded, approving his idea.
“Does she like sunsets?”
“How would you not know that? You know what, I’ve got to do all the work around here, I think I have a picnic blanket and like an empty basket and I also recommend a lot of cheese, Vera loves cheese.”
Andrain then explained that all those stuff was in the Crowne manor and he had to go back there to gather the equipment that he said Issac needed. When Cat first set her eyes on the manor, she immediately thought of her castle, it was certainly not as big as her palace, but it was befitting for someone of Andrian’s standing. Still, it was a big house in comparison to the rest of the buildings, it was anything but settle, maybe that was why it was on the very outskirts of town.
The building was two stories tall and the front of it was practically made out of glass, there was a large metal gate that the three had already passed when Andrain inputted the code, which had to be done again when he reached the front door. The walls were cream while the white tiled floors are covered by carpet’s resembling the patterns of peacock feathers, an older man around his late forties strolled towards Andrain with a welcoming smile on his face.
“Mr Andrain, what brings you back here? Is there something you need assistance with?” He had a British accent and was dressed as a butler, so Cat automatically assumed he was one.
“Yes Harold, I need to pack some things for when I return to the dorms later, do you mind serving my guests while I search for those items?” Andrain gestured to the pair behind him, Cat waved and Harold flashed another smile at her.
“Certainly Mr Andrain.”
“Feel free to explore guys, really, my parents are never here so there’s nothing here that I can’t easily replace. See ya soon!”
“Ah, I’m so glad Mr Andrain finally branched out from his normal group of friends, you two must be new. I haven’t seen either of you around, maybe I should get out more,” Harold let out a hearty laugh and Cat joined in while Issac was nervously fumbling with the strings of the bag. “Would you like some tea? Or any kind of snacks? Our chef, Ruth is in today,”
“Tea sounds great, and maybe some cookies as well, thank you, Harold.”
“Very well Miss...?”
“Cat is fine Harold, there’s no need to add any honorifics.”
“Very well then, Mi- Cat.”
Once Harold leaves the room, Issac immediately deflated and became calmer when it was just the two of them, he looked as if he was about to explode just now. They were on a red leather couch in the large living room in the manor, the street outside was visible through the glass.
Cat could obviously tell Issac was still slightly nervous as his eyes were looking everywhere but her. “What’s wrong?” She finally inquired. “You’re going to marry Vera! You should be happy! I’m going to be a Godmother! I am the Godmother right?”
Issac chuckled a little at her humour. “Well, I didn’t have much time to make friends when I’m always with you, so yeah, your gonna be a God Mother,”
“Can cross that off the bucket list now,”
“Since when did you have one?”
“Since Andrain told me about his!”
She’s talking about him again, I’m really happy for her, if it weren’t for Cate, I would never have found Vera, the woman I’m undeniably attracted to, she doesn’t even realize how much she talks about Andrain. He really opened up a new world for her, I guess I should stop acting like the overprotective big brother huh? I’ve probably scared the poor guy enough.
“I’m going to have to tell her, you know?” There, I dropped the bomb, this is where Cate freaks out.
“I know,” He raised arched a brow and she continued. “I understand, she’s going to be your everything, not that she isn’t already. You sure she’s the one? Cause if you break her heart I swear-”
“Got it, Cate, you’ve gotten really close to Vera after all,”
“She’s taking me shopping! Of course, I like her! Still, this is a big decision, are you sure you want to propose during New Year’s?”
“I can’t explain it, Cate, she bought a whole new meaning to my world, no words can begin to convey my emotions. I don’t want there to be any secrets between us, she has taught and shown me so much, I want to be able to do the same,”
“I trust her enough as well to know she wouldn’t think differently of us, I think I would like to tell Andrain too, maybe not now, but, definitely one day. I want to be the one that tells him, so I need you to make sure she doesn’t tell him either, even though she will be tempted,”
Harold soon returned with the tea and cookies Cat had asked for, even if she had been away from the castle for a very long time, she still acts very much like a royal. She’s no longer the small girl that would fight me over small arguments now, it’s about time I give her room to grow.
Cat picked up the tea and took a sip of it, her face lit up with a bright smile as she thanked Harold and requested that he also pass her compliments onto Ruth, the butler seem overjoyed at her praise and politely excused himself.
That’s right, time to start acting like an adult. “He’s taking a while isn’t he?” Cat was nibbling on a cookie when she looked up at him. “Why don’t you go find him? Don’t worry, I’ll save you the cookies.”
Her eyes softened and she grinned at him, without needing to convey her thanks, she left in search of Andrain. She noticed how the halls seem to be lined with flowers, all well attended and different. Cat took a moment to admire one that caught her eye, each was a rainbow, with roses, tulips and forget-me-nots, all placed and cut with an expert hand.
“Ah, yes, this is my favourite as well, Master Andrain hasn’t named it yet, but, I can say it is by far one of his best work.” Cat didn’t turn, it was Harold.
“Andrain did this?” Her eyes never left the vase.
“He has been earnestly studying and practising almost every day until he moved, you can hear it from him directly, he is currently in the gardens.” She tore her eyes away to find that the butler had already vanished, the glass door that led to the gardens was at the end of the hall.
Andrain was standing in the field, all kinds of flowers adorned the gardens, no wonder he could afford to practice so often, he had large resources. In his hand was a basket, he was staring off into space still unaware of Cat’s presence, his eyes were distant and... sad, although he wasn’t crying, she could sense his despair.
“Andrain...” Her voice came as barely a whisper, despite that, it managed to snap him out of his thoughts, why was he still sad? “Are you alright?”
He forced a smile on his face, how she hated it when he did that. “Of course, I’m sorry I got distracted for a moment... Issac is probably cursing me for being so sl-”
“I need to ask you to stop doing that,” She said without thinking, however, she refused to see Andrain be in such turmoil and just cover it up with a smile and his cheerful tone when he didn’t have to keep up his image around her. “You don’t have to act like that, just tell me everything’s fine when it’s obviously not!” Her eyes were filling up with tears. “You tell me it’s okay for you to help shoulder my burdens, what about yours?”
“You should be able to tell me everything too! People are complicated creatures, we don’t keep our promises and sometimes we push away the people we love, even if you tell everything will be fine. That doesn’t mean it well! It doesn’t mean you will confide in me so I have to force you!”
“How about we go back inside first? It’s really cold...”
“I refuse to move until you tell me what’s bothering you! It makes me so mad that you can’t seem to care about yourself like you do for others! You don’t make any fucking sense!”
Her eyes were a vibrant blue, swirling with all kinds of emotions that he cannot decipher, he always thought that as long as he appeared to be the stable one, he can convince himself he is. Still... Catty was a force of nature, her cheeks were flushed red, her eyes overflowing with tears as she continued to reprimand him. She was beautiful.
He dropped the basket and cupped Cat’s cheeks in his hands, she stopped sobbing and glanced at his brown eyes, she was stunned by what she saw, admiration. How could this be? She was practically telling him he was a coward, he should be yelling at her.
He used his thumb to wipe the tears away and started in a soothing voice. “I can’t tell you if you won’t listen,” He took her hands in his and he noticed how soft and small they were clasped in his, he turned his head to look at the garden, so full of colour, so full of memories. “That’s where my Grandmother’s workhouse used to be.” It was as if he was able to imagine it standing like it did when he was a kid, it was a greenhouse, made of plastic glass, it held his fondest memories.
“My Grandfather had it built for my grandmother, she wanted a small space where she could continue to do her flower arrangements, she never did want to give it up. My father had the main house torn down and renovated when my Grandfather passed before I was born, we could just have easily moved but no, my father wanted to always have a home here. To remind himself of his roots I guess, he and Mother were never home, my grandmother came down with a sickness when I was ten and was bedridden, that’s when Vera came in. She understood how my Grandmother is a touchy subject and never brought it up, heck I never told anyone,” His voice was cracking.
His eyes were downcast and Cat squeezed his hand to make sure he knew she was there, he took a deep breath before continuing, he had to tell her.
“My Grandmother had Alzheimer and often when little me visited her, she wouldn’t even remember me. She never forgot her love for flowers though, somehow that woman was still able to name me all the different kinds she had in the garden. She had an album of her best works, she forgot where she placed it, the day before she passed...” He paused.
Andrain could still remember it, he was overjoyed when his grandmother called his name when he came to visit her that day, her wrinkly face lit up with a radiant smile, Harold called his parents and they returned in the afternoon.
He took a deep breath and continued. “She said that she wanted me to have it, then she reached into her pillowcase and retrieved a key that opened the cabinet at her bedside, she kept the album there and handed it to me. I started picking the flowers and trying to arrange them like how my grandmother did and the next day I went to show her, only to be informed she was never coming back.
“My father was devastated at this and wanted the greenhouse to be torn down and I wasn’t able to stop him from doing it, he was grieving in his own way I guess. But, I should have voiced my protests, anything, for him to leave that place alone. They started leaving the house more regularly and eventually, even Vera had to live her own life, I hated being alone here, so I started having the parties that blurred together and I no longer give a fuck about.”
There were no words that could comfort him because words weren’t needed, he just needed to know that someone was there for and that girl was standing right next to him. No more of those, no more meaningless parties, meaningless booze, meaningless nights of forgetting, he wanted to remember, remember all the moments he would have with her. There was no rush in trying to find the culprit that framed him, heck who cares if he got expelled?
Something cold touched the tip of his nose and he shook his head to get rid of it when he looked up and realised what it was, snow. Cat seemed fascinated by it as she took it all in, her eyes filled with wonder, she opened her mouth and caught a snowflake on her tongue.
“I always wanted to do that, there’s no snow where I used to live, oh, I’m sorry if I’m making light of the-” She stared into his eyes as he instinctively leaned down and captured her lips