Adrien rested under the shade of a large tree of Mr. Millard’s vast garden. He was a wealthy man, and his wealth had been gathered and built upon by the previous generations of his family. The manor he lived in had been in his family for just as long, and so had been the garden. Thus it was finely developed by each of the previous owners. It had grown into the Millard’s own little Garden of Eden. Large and deep enough for Adrien to feel that he could leave the rest of the world behind. Not too controlled to feel the plant life was contained, but not too wild to feel he was in a forest.
Just an oasis from the busy life that waited outside for him to return.
He lay on his back in the grass, a book open and laying face down on his stomach. One hand still rested on the hard cover. The other pillowed his head for him as he laid there, eyes closed, but not sleeping. He could never sleep again. Not until death finally took him, and only a violent death would. However, he was not thinking about that at the moment. He was very relaxed and perhaps the closest he could be to sleep. His muscles were all completely limp, and he listened to the sound of the breeze in the leaves of the tree above him. His attention lightly drifting with the breeze, whirling around with the paradise inside his soul that mirrored the quiet garden. A meditation of a kind. Turning in so that when he returned to the world, it would all be a little easier to bear.
It had gotten difficult again. One of those rare times for him. However, it seemed not even this garden wanted him to rest with complete peace. He heard light foot steps. Ones that were trying their best to be stealthy. By the sound of the weight of each step, it was Cossette. Soon the breeze wafted her smell over to him, confirming the suspicion.
Apples and apple blossoms.
He decided to pretend to sleep. Perhaps she would grow bored and leave him be. She was not the person he wanted to see at the moment. Cossette, one of the key factors in his troubles. He had chosen this time to sort out the mess of feelings he was in. She only made that more difficult.
Her feet approached him cautiously; aware of the light sleeper he had always pretended to be. He heard her kneel in the grass right next to him. He felt the heat and energy of her body as she leaned over his, her apple breath breezing against his lips.
“Cossette, are you sure that is wise?” Well, he couldn’t carry on pretending to sleep with that kind of behavior. He pondered for a moment what other naughty deeds she might have committed on him if he had continued to feign sleep. He was fairly certain she would have continued anyway.
The startled lips froze still centimeters from his, holding in a breath by surprise. And then the warmth leaned away from him and he could almost hear the scowl on her disappointed face.
She made a noise of frustration. “Damn it, Adrien …” she growled, but lacked a deep or rough enough voice to really do so. “That’s rude, pretending to be asleep … It’s almost like you don’t want me around.”
Her tone was fairly light and playful, but it held the edge of her intention. Sometimes he wished Cossette wasn’t quite as bright as she was. Damn that perceptive girl. But that was no longer true. Time had passed and she was no longer a girl, but a woman.
“Perceptive as always, my dear. Though if you had been a little more perceptive, you might’ve considered that I had a purpose in seeking solitude. And is it not more rude to steal the kiss of a unsuspecting and not yet consenting person?”
He could see her smirk in his mind’s eye. How many times had he seen that heavy-lid gaze and lopsided quirk of her lips? It was that sensuous expression she always had when she knew she had the upper hand.
“Oh? And what great purpose is that, love?” She completely ignored his question.
Adrien tried to never lie if it wasn’t really necessary. Despite how tempting it was, he refused the idea. “You are so aggressive and cunning for someone so small.”
Cossette was a tall but narrow woman.
He already knew he would hear her flat and annoyed tone before he did, and he saw her expression without opening his eyes. He knew it all so well … and yet, why did none of it bore him?
“Ugh, please don’t echo my father, Adrien … of all people. You’re the one who made me so cunning and aggressive.”
“I did no such thing. I only helped you grow into the wonderful potential inside you. Who you are was all your doing,” he replied, and hoped he could deflect the conversation, but he knew she was far too intelligent for that. An old soul in a young form.
The previously mentioned young form, moved again. Cossette placed a knee over to press against the other side of his waist, and effectively straddling him. He could hear her satin skirt slid around her legs. Her hands rested on his stomach after knocking his book aside, and she sat on his pelvis. Adrien let out a long and soft sigh, and still refused to open his eyes.
“… This is rather inappropriate, Cossette.”
“This isn’t like you. Since when is Adrien Krest depressed?” Of course, she paid no attention to what he just said. Though, he had dodged her last question, so it was only fair … if she didn’t do this all the time. She always came on strongly, though he had to admit, today she was being more intense than usual. She had never completely straddled him so boldly before, but he wasn’t really surprised by it. He had never put it beneath her to do. There wasn’t much he could put there, when she had her mind set on something.
He sighed again and didn’t answer.
“I know something is bothering you.”
Again he didn’t answer.
“Ugh!” she exclaimed in frustration. “Why the hell do you have to be so passive?!”
She pulled his shirt up and slid her hands underneath it and stroked them urgently up his chest. At this, he finally opened his eyes, but other than that did not react. His eyes gazed up at the long but slim form of Cossette Millard. She was tall but with very slender and petite features, developed from all her 26 years of life. She had long dark hair, a natural black that was perfectly straight and reached all the way down to the small of her back in a nearly even cut all round. Her light chocolate brown eyes glaring down at him from a face that could have almost been that of a pixy’s, if it weren’t for that heavy, deep, and forceful gaze of hers.
She was wearing a black satin skirt that hung to the curves of her body, slits up the sides where her bare knees poked out of them as she straddled his waist. Her top was made out of the same black material that clung heavily to her body, almost as if it were wet. It was sleeveless, and the front was designed to gather in a few waves before hanging to the curves of her small breasts.
He knew why she had chosen this outfit. In fact, she may very well have put it on before going to seek him out in the gardens.
“Cossette, you need to understand that this is very difficult for me. I have known you since you were a vulnerable and very hurt young girl.”
She glowered at him in a soft way, eyebrows not yet tensed together strongly.
“Do you see a vulnerable and hurt young girl on top of you?” her voice was calm, soft like her glare.
“Does wearing those clothes and fondling me make you any less vulnerable?” he countered. He knew what she was trying to make him see in her, and really … she didn’t know that she needn’t try so hard. He could already see it. “I doubt your father would appreciate behavior like this.”
She scowled at him, but she was not swayed yet. Her eyes stayed narrowed in that cool glower.
“My father would not mind. He’s already offered me to you in marriage.”
Adrien stared up at her, and the stubborn anger in her face lessened as the time passed between them. For a while neither of them spoke. He could feel the heavy solemn weight on his face and the mirror of his pain in her beautiful brown eyes. The more she stared, the more it seemed she stared into him, and the more was revealed to her. Cossette always seemed to understand more just from looking into his eyes, which might have been why he had avoided opening them for so long. Soon sadness was in her own features and she spoke.
“That’s why … why you’ve been acting like this.” Her voice was strong but just a whisper.
“You want to marry me,” she whispered, but her voice trembled now. “But you won’t.”
She stared at him, never looking away from his eyes as tears were staring to form in hers.
He nodded just once, his throat ached and words seemed more difficult right now. Adrien had thought he had gotten over the reality of it. That he could not have children and that he could not grow old with a woman. That he could not have a family. That he could not die.
However, his arrival at the Millard’s estate was greeted very warmly. It was almost as if he had never left. He and Anthony picked right up where they left off in their friendship. They chatted all day, and Anthony told him about how his business was fairing and all the gossip. He spoke mostly of Cossette though. How she had courted a few men, but never very long with any of them, never really seeming all that interested. Anthony was sure she only did it to please him and act like a normal upper class young woman should at her age. It wasn’t until that evening when Adrien bid Anthony a good and restful night, that his friend called up to him as he climbed the stairs to his room.
Asking him to marry his daughter, saying he could think of no other man he trusted with her, and he was certain she had been waiting for him all this time since he left on her 18th birthday. The one that cut most deeply was when Anthony said he wanted him to be a part of his family.
It was all he had ever wanted and all that he could never have.
Not just the family, but the woman as well. Cossette. How confusing his time with her has been now that he returned and found instead of a girl, a woman. Not just in body, but in mind as well. And what a mind. What a soul she possessed. He loved her bold and impolite ways, so different from his own. He loved her perceptive qualities. So intuitive she had potential for mysticism. She could challenge, force him to be true to himself, as she was right at that moment, doing and forcing out all that he had tried to push away in attempt to make the correct choice about this.
She gripped his chest and gasped, “Why? Why won’t you marry me, Adrien? Why do you always leave? Why do you always have secrets?”
He smiled sadly at her. “Why do you need to possess me? Do you remember nothing I have taught you? People meet, they love, and they often part ways when they have separate paths. We cannot possess each other or force each other to follow the same paths. The best we can do is love and part and remember it always, for leaving does not mean we stop loving.”
She looked down, sad and defeated. “I just don’t understand why … When this is clearly a path you want and yet you still …”
“I cannot lie and say it is not … but it’s a path I can’t follow. There is one already laid out before me, and I cannot merge them more than I can force oil and water together … Cossette, I can’t give you what you want—what you need, and I will not say why, so don’t ask me for answers I cannot give you.”
She stared at him for a long time with that teary solemn gaze. Her tears soon trickled down her soft olive toned skin, her nose turning pink and the edges of her eyes became red. She eventually spoke again.
“If … you can’t marry me … then love me, in a different way … love me.”
And she leaned over him, forcing needy lips onto his. Her hands were still tucked under his shirt, grasping and caressing his chest. He didn’t resist her, but he didn’t engage with her either. He still wasn’t sure about this. Her hands went up to his head, fingers soon combing through his hair and gripping it, pulling his mouth harder against hers. She kissed him desperately, tears still running down her face and mingling now with their kiss. She tasted like apples. Kissing her was like taking a bite of a crisp, sweet, and juicy apple. There was a tang of salt from her tears.
Her apple cider breath was forced into his mouth, into his head, and she forced the thoughts away, with leaving only one behind that had made the rest vanish. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her body against his and rolling her over, so that he was on top this time. His other hand gripped her exposed thigh as her skirt slid up her leg.
He thought too much.
And the moment was now and Cossette was beautiful and wonderfully temporary like all the little soap bubbles he knew. But to him, she was an apple blossom. He couldn’t make it last forever with her, but he was going to enjoy the moment while it lasted and cherish her in his memory always.