It was almost nine a.m. when Sonny unlocked the glass door to his shop, ready to start the day. He glanced around his livelihood, his store - Bello Fiore. It was a little humble, a little rustic, but so wholly his. He had spent years saving, studying, working himself to the bone, all for this.
Being a florist had never been the plan. His dad had pushed for him to follow in his footsteps, to become a cop. Sonny had even taken that path for a while, making it all the way to being a detective. But the job was cruel, harsh. It cut Sonny down, slowly but surely. The day he watched a man -- no, not a man. A vile specimen, who murdered both this children… the day he watched that man get off scot-free, was the day Sonny handed in his resignation. It was too much.
A place filled with beautiful flowers, bright colours, and something for every occasion.
With a deep, satisfying breath, Sonny stepped behind the counter, picking up his takeaway coffee cup as he did. Sure, he loved his job. But that didn't mean he couldn't wait for the day to be over. He gulped down some of the bitter drink, begging it to give him some energy.
At nine o’clock, on the dot, the front door bell rang as someone pushed it open.
Sonny nearly groaned. Normally his day didn't get too busy until around eleven, even on a Friday, but today was clearly going to be one of those early starts.
He lifted his head, ready to plant a winning smile on his lips, when the air left his lungs, and the whole world stopped, just for a moment.
The customer was absolutely stunning. In his dark charcoal suit, fitted so perfectly in all the right places, he stood out amongst the rainbow of petals surrounding him.
“Can I help you?” he croaked out before he could stop himself, instantly cringing at the high-pitched tone of his voice. Sonny didn't think his throat could get any drier. That is, until the man turned around to face him.
That's all Sonny could think as he tried to comprehend all that beauty. His eyes auto-focused onto the striking green of the strangers eyes, curious and amused.
“I certainly hope so.”
His voice was low, distinctly captivating. Sonny fought to hide the shiver that ran down his spine.
“Are you looking for anything in particular?” His next breath was filled with relief. His voice had calmed down somewhat, though the nerves were making his accent even thicker.
It was ridiculous. He had been in this stranger’s presence for not even half a minute, and he felt like the ground had split open beneath him.
Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, the man's lips quirked into a smirk, and Sonny felt his heart stutter and stop at the sight.
Oh fucking shit.
“Flowers would be ideal.”
The surprised laugh that escaped his lips was breathless, and a little too much.
“Alright, I'm sure I can help you with that,” he powered through, recovering somewhat quickly. “Who’s it for?”
The beautiful stranger faltered a little, letting his confidence slip for a split second.
“I… a man I'm seeing.” The man gritted his teeth, his jaw clenching, and it really shouldn't have been so captivating to watch.
Sonny stepped a little closer, gaining a little courage in himself, allowing himself to be close to someone so beautiful.
“Just a guy, huh?” he pressed, hoping to gain a little insight into who this mysterious partner was. “Gonna need a little more than that. Don't want to give roses to a daisies man, after all.”
The stranger sighed, and turned back to the flower display in the corner. Sonny couldn't help but notice just how wonderfully lit up the man was, the sunlight streaming through the window bringing out the flecks of grey in his hair, the golden hue of his eyes. Once again, Sonny's breath left him for a moment, his head felt dizzy and grounded all at once.
“We're going to the opera tonight. I was hoping to give him something… something that represents him.”
Sonny wondered for a moment if perhaps he should feel jealous of the guy who had this man's heart, who got to hold him in his arms and know he had brilliance.
Quit jumping the gun, Sonny.
“Tell me about him,” he coaxed.
The small smile that graced the man's lips was a work of art. The pure affection in his eyes was something akin to love, an absolutely stunning portrayal of everything Sonny wanted to find in a relationship. He couldn't help but sigh as the man turned to face him, and for a split second he let himself believe that the love was for him.
“He's… he's beauty,” the stranger began, averting his gaze, killing Sonny's fantasy instantly. “He's the most beautiful man I've ever met, absolutely exquisite. I look into his eyes sometimes, and I… I can't believe he wants to be with me. I want him to know that, you know? Words are my life, but when I'm looking into those damn eyes, I'm speechless.”
Sonny swallowed thickly, his heart thumping wildly. That was devotion. That was affection. That was love.
“There’s this idea that certain flowers have special meaning,” Sonny started, softly, managing to bring those green beauties back onto him. “Happiness, loss… beauty.”
At that, the man's eyes widened wonderfully, before softening. “Beauty,” he murmured. “I like that.”
Sonny glanced around his shop, before he spied the bouquet he was looking for. With three long strides, he lifted it carefully out of its place. He turned, only to nearly collide with the stranger, who had clearly followed him.
“Oh, sorry, I didn't--” Sonny started, feeling the heat rise up in his cheeks as he realised just how close they were.
If the stranger noticed, he didn't say anything, instead his eyes raked over the flowers in Sonny's hands.
“These are stunning. What are they?”
Sonny cleared his throat. “Amaryllis. It's said that the red petals represent passion, beauty…” he trailed off, avoiding the word 'love.’
The man bit his lip, and Sonny swore his knees nearly gave out then and there.
“They're perfect. I'll take them.”
Mostly out of fear of what he might say, Sonny wordlessly brought the flowers to the counter, and began to wrap them up.
“So this is your place?” the man questioned, eyeing the shop with an unreadable expression on his face.
“Yeah, had it for a few years now,” he mumbled, returning his attention to the task at hand.
“I've always walked passed here on my way to work.”
“Oh? You work near here?” Sonny asked, the excitement just a little too evident in his voice. If the man worked close by, there was always a chance he'd bump into him around the neighbourhood. It was almost pathetic how much Sonny enjoyed just the idea of that.
“At the courthouse,” he replied, flicking through the card options near the front counter. “I'm a lawyer.”
Sonny stopped in his tracks, frozen for a second, before he slowly lifted his head.
“You're joking,” he half-laughed, the coincidence too great.
The man almost glared at him, clearly not appreciating the implication that he would joke about his career.
“No, I'm not.”
“I'm sorry, it's just… I graduated from law school last year.”
The shift from confusion, to shock, to respect was so quick it was almost hilarious.
“You… you own a business, and you graduated law school,” he commented incredulously.
Sonny shrugged. “Passed the bar and everything. I mean, it was night school, Fordham Law, but still.”
“Booyah, Fordham Law,” the man muttered, returning his gaze to the cards before him.
“I always appreciated the law,” Sonny continued, pushing through the sting of being dismissed, applying the finishing touches to the bouquet. “When I was a detective, I always struggled with the idea that once I made the arrest, I had no control over the outcome. I don't know if I'll do anything with my degree, but it was so interesting to learn about--”
“I'll take this,” the stranger interrupted, placing a card on the counter.
Sonny faltered, shaking his head slightly. His ability to overshare had probably just put him out of favour with the beautiful man.
He silently rung up the purchase, watching as the man signed the card using a gold pen, clearly his favourite. Before he tied the card to the bouquet, Sonny spied the name that was signed at the bottom.
When Sonny handed over the flowers, and the man -- Rafael -- gave him a muttered thanks, he almost didn't say anything.
He almost let Rafael walk out the door.
But as he watched the bronzed hand reach for the door handle, his heart screamed for him to say something, anything.
“See you around, Counselor,” he called out. He watched as Rafael turned back to him, and Sonny knew he must have been blushing furiously, enough to match the exquisite flowers in Rafael's hands. “Stop by anytime.”
Rafael eyed him for a moment, curious and suspicious, before he nodded. “Perhaps.”
With that, Rafael left.
The ring of the door bell pounded in Sonny's ears, long after Rafael had gone, matching the rapid beating of his heart.
There was something about the stranger that had taken a hold of him, something that told Sonny that this might only be the beginning.
You're in too deep, Sonny.
He tried to ignore the rational voice in his mind, but it was no use.
If this was being in too deep then Sonny was ready to drown in Rafael.