Chapter 06 | Butterfly
“Valerie,” my mother exclaimed as she stretched her arms out to take in the girl. “It’s wonderful to see you again, dear.”
My father extended the same warmth to her as he gave me a thumbs up behind her back. I shook my head, holding in a laugh.
“It’s great to see you two again as well! You have a wonderful home,” she gestured at the various pieces of decor that they’ve bought at the flea market over the years. For people who can buy a private jet without denting their net worth, my parents seemed to prefer seeing an item’s value in how it made them feel over it’s brand and such.
“Oh, you like it? Honey,” my father turned to his overexcited wife and suggested, “we should all go antiquing next time!”
“That sounds so fun!” My mother took Valerie’s hands into hers and squeezed. “I can’t wait!”
My parents led the way to the kitchen where they had a counter full of foods readily unpacked. Apparently, they had forgotten to buy some Italian sausage so that was why they went out.
Sitting by ourselves out at the patio table, we eased to the sound of the birds chirping and the winds through the leaves.
I cleared my throat and watched as she turned her head abruptly. The sun shined through her soft brown curls as they flipped along with her sudden movement.
“Yes?” Her expression was of amusement and I realized that I had been staring for too long.
“We should talk about what happened earlier,” I stated, nervous and unsure of where to take this.
“Right,” Valerie sat up straight and shifted to face me. “Alex, I understand that you’re not used to this, but what we did was just part of the deal. Sex is what most of your payment is going into.”
“I don’t want that,” I simply said.
“What?” She was clearly confused with what I meant, and I was determined to set the record straight.
“I don’t want sex to be part of the deal. I want you to have sex with me because you want to and because the moment lures us to it. I pay you to be here because not only because my parents have already met you, but because You’re the first woman in a long time that I enjoy the company of.”
“So you’re paying me to-“
“To date me, yes. I understand how pathetic that sounds, but if that’s what it takes to keep you around, then fine.”
She was speechless, blinking at me as my parents walked out to join us.
“What are talking about out here?” Mother had her casual clothes on as she rested a hand on Valerie’s shoulder.
“I was just telling Valerie how beautiful she is, don’t you think?” I smiled at them as they both agreed happily.
“Well I’m sure she’ll fit right into where we’re going today,” Father said. “A flower among many.”
“We’re going to the garden?” Mother nodded to my question.
Growing up, I had a garden that my parents both tended to. Over the years, it had grown in size and became more theirs than mine.
“The butterflies are really starting to spread their wings and we wanted to show your girlfriend around,” Father explained.
I blushed at the sound of girlfriend and from the corner of my eye, I bought Valerie biting back a smile.
At the garden, we stepped into a world of colors. My parents really did put some work into this place. The glass dome offered a beautiful view of the skies above the many trees that towered over the walkway.
I took a moment to rip my eyes away from the scenery to glance at Valerie, who looked around in wonder. Her eyes were wider than usual as they took in the beauty that surrounded us. It made her seem even more innocent than she sometimes already looks.
And then she turned to meet my eyes.
There are many moments in my life where I could positively say that my heart skipped a beat. This was one of them, and boy, did it catch me off guard. For the few seconds that our eyes met, I couldn’t breathe, or rather, I forgot how to. She was smiling at me, and I was so dazzled that I couldn’t find the right muscles to smile back.
As she looked away, I finally exhaled, but I was still lost in what I was seeing. Is she even human? Is it legal to look this divine?
“Keep an eye out for those butterflies!” Mother exclaimed right before locking arms with Father and walking off to leave the two of us alone.
We started walking in the opposite direction, and I wondered what was on her mind. She didn’t get a chance to respond to my words earlier, and waiting on her response was killing me.
“So,” I cleared my throat awkwardly, “Have you um thought about what I said earlier?” I tried to dodge a tree branch, but end up walking into another.
A soft giggle escaped her lips and I found myself smiling as well.
“Well, I’m not sure what I think of it yet,” she admitted. “Can I answer that by the end of the day?”
I nodded, but a million thoughts were running through my mind.
“They named this garden after you,” she noted as her eyes landed on a plaque. I was right behind her and as she turned around, our faces were inches apart. There was something about her scent that I found absolutely intoxicating. I couldn’t get enough of it. Without thinking, I reached up and tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.
“You know what that’s missing?” I heard my mother say from the side. She approached us with a red rose in hand and swiftly tucked it over Valerie’s ear. “Oh honey, you’re blushing red,” my mother said, resting the back of her fingers on the beautiful girl’s cheek, “And not from the flower, I’m sure of it.” She turned to wink at me and I felt my own face grow hot.
We all froze as a light white butterfly flutters its wings and lands on her head, near the rose. It held itself steadily and Valerie held a curious expression.
“What is it?” She had absolutely no idea.
“There’s a..” I stayed stiff, “butterfly on your head.”
“Oh,” she sighed with a smile, “that’s right. Butterflies love me.”
“They do?” Both my parents spoke in surprise.
“Yeah,” she simply responded as she lifted a single finger to welcome another butterfly, which, to our amazement, landed right where she intended.
From my side, my mother leaned in and whispered in my ear, “You better lock this angel down with a ring because by god, there’s no other girl like her.”
My anxiety grew as I remembered that she isn’t really mine, that this all is an act.
And now more than ever, I needed an answer from her.