Chapter 2

Belle's POV

Nothing feels like living alone and free! The thought that I can do whatever I want to do without seeking my father's approval every time, makes me the happiest.

My father is as stiff as a dead owl while my Ma is quite the opposite. My mother is very sweet, delicate and affectionate. She can always influence my pa. One caress from her, you can be sure as hell that the old man will fold. This is mainly the reason why I was able to break free and live here. It took some time and maybe tirades of convincing and caressing from my mother for my Pa to let go of her only child but eventually, Pa gave in. And so here I am, living the dream. Freedom!

Don't get me wrong, I love my parents. I would never be who I am today without them. It's just that this time I want to do things on my own. I want to make mistakes without the fear of my father's overbearing heart of steel. I want to meet people. I want to share the overflowing love in my heart. Life is too short to be enclosed in the protective shell that they made for me.

I cringe every time I remember what happened yesterday. It was so embarrassing. My gosh! Thank goodness all this cleaning up and unpacking will keep me occupied.

I collected my hair into a messy bun. I'm wearing short shorts and a white crop top with the British flag printed in front.

I grabbed a sandwich leftover from my bag, took a bite and started to move some stuff. The basement apartment is spacious. It has two bedrooms facing each other, one is bigger than the other. I'm gonna be sleeping in the bigger room. It has a bathroom and a study table on the left side of the double-sized bed. The kitchen is on the right side a few steps away from the main door and the living room is right across the kitchen. The couch is all worn out and I think it's time for it to retire. Down the hall are the wash area and another bathroom.

I finished unpacking and cleaning the whole apartment at about 5 pm. I'm already famished so I quickly dialed pizza. It is not to arrive until thirty minutes so I still have time to dispose of the garbage. I'm carrying two garbage bags and dumped them into the dumpster right across the street.

"Damn girl! You fine!" Someone called from not too far.

The voice was from a teenage boy. He's wearing a baseball cap, baggy pants, and a shirt. He's with five other boys with the same "swagger". One of them is holding a baseball bat. The other one has a glove on while holding the ball in his other hand. They are sitting on the front stairs of the next-door neighbor.

"Sup girl?" Said the one in the middle.

I leaned closer to the one who seems to be the leader of the pack. "What's your name kid?"

"Matty, and I'm not a kid! I can prove that to you muh." The other boys chuckled.

"So you boys play baseball huh.."

"Yeah a little... Do you want us to teach you how to play ball bae?" Matty replied all too arrogantly then giving the other boy a hi-five.

I hissed at them and acted arrogantly as well. "I bet you 50 bucks, I can beat your ass to the curve."

"Oooooooooohhhh..." The other boys said in unison.

He now looks at me intently like I just flicked his ego nerve. "So what's it gonna be kiddo?" I taunt him even more.

"Next Saturday 3 pm, on the field." Answered Matty.

"Tell you what, if you boys win I give you 100 bucks if I win all of you will become my friends. Yes?"

They looked at each other confusingly. "Yeh, I think so..." Said Matty with a puzzled look on his face.

"Nope, all of you have to agree of course."

They huddled for quite some time. I was was just there smiling in amusement. When they finished huddling they nodded at me one by one.

"Great! See you then future friends!"

"Huh, you wish!" One of the boys said.

"Well, I guess we'll see about that on Saturday. Ciao!"


Pizza arrived just on time and I finished dinner after a few slices. I feel sleepy and so tired of all the cleaning and unpacking. I looked around and I figured I needed to go shopping for a new couch, maybe a small TV and bedding tomorrow. Dylan, my best friend's half-brother, will collect me tomorrow for a job interview he got me at St. Mary's School for kids with special needs. Dylan knows someone from the school so he was able to hook me up for an interview. I am actually not that close to him, in fact, I haven't met the guy personally. I just knew him from pictures Amy, showed me. She said Dylan is a good guy. He's two years older than Amy and I and that he's a model slash MMA fighter slash mechanic. Cool huh?! And I must admit, he's an eye candy but Amy warned me that he's kind of a player with the girls so that's a huge turn-off.


I was awakened by my phone vibrating, "Hello" I answered, my voice still husky.

"Hey, Belle?"

"Yes, this is she."

"Hey, this is Dylan, Amy's brother."

"Hey Dylan, good morning!" I replied enthusiastically.

"Oh hey, good morning! I'll be there in an hour. Something came up so ill just drop you off at St. Mary's and pick you up after your interview if that's fine with you?"

"Oh, yes sure Dylan."

"Great, ill see you then."

"See you!"

I decided to wait outside for Dylan. I'm wearing a printed yellow and black Sunday dress and wedge shoes. A guy in a black motorcycle pulled over in front of my apartment. He took his helmet off and saw the familiar face. It's him.

"Hi, Belle?"

"Hi, Dylan?"

He lets out a sweet smile. Omg. Dylan is even hotter in person! Damn Amy! Why did you have to corrupt my mind toward this guy, your own brother?!

He looks like he came straight from a magazine cover. He is every inch a model but still looks manly. His brunette hair is a little wavy and looks like a mess but a hot kind of mess. He's wearing a leather jacket, a white shirt and faded jeans.

"Yup, hi Belle." He extended his hand and I shook it back.

"Hi. I have heard so much about you." I said as I look at Dylan's beautiful face.

"Yah? Well damn, I'm dead."

A chuckle escaped my mouth in response.

"For the record, my sister exaggerates stories sometimes. You know just to spite me."

"I'm sure she did."

"So shall we?"

"Yes. Sure." I replied a little bit hesitant.

Had I known that we would be riding a motorcycle, I would have worn a more appropriate outfit. I stared at the bike as I try to figure out how to ride without exposing my soul just like what happened the other day.

"Hey, it's okay. You can sit on your side and clutch your arms around my waist. You'll be safe. Trust me." Dylan said trying to make me feel at ease.

He placed the extra helmet on my head and locked it in place. He then taps the helmet twice and lets out a beaming smile.

The ride to St. Mary's was surprisingly enjoyable. Dylan is an adventurous biker. He would sometimes cut other drivers which made my heart jump a little but other than that it was a smooth ride.

Dylan introduced me to the school director who happens to be his friend's father. Dr. Riley Thomas is a big man who smiles and laughs a lot. The kind of person you easily get along with.

He read my CV and after a few questions, he asked me if I can start next week. I graduated college with flying colors. After college, I took my masters degree in special education and shortly afterward I began my volunteer work at a public school for special children. I really love kids. I don't have siblings, maybe that's the reason why I really like being with children, especially children with special needs.

Dr. Thomas asked Lilly, one of the teachers, to introduce me to others and give me a tour. St. Mary's is a charitable and educational institution for children with special needs. It is located right inside the compound of St. Mary's Church. The pay for teachers is not the same as those in other schools but it would be enough for me. This is actually a win-win situation. I get to do the thing that I love the most while getting paid. One can never complain.

Lilly and I are in the cafeteria when I received a text from Dylan asking about my interview. I texted him back and said that he can collect me if he's done with his thing. It was almost lunch so I asked him to have lunch with me. I waited for him outside St. Mary's church.

"Whats up Belle? Did you get the job?"

"Yes! Thank you very much, Dylan! Really, you are an angel."

"I know. I know." He acted arrogantly.

It just made me smile even more. He and Amy did really come from the same mother. When I'm with him I feel like I'm with Amy. It's weird. He's like Amy with a dong. If only he could read my thoughts.

Dylan brought me home after lunch. He agreed to help me go shopping for some stuff for my apartment tomorrow. Aside from being hot, he is also such a darling.

I scanned my schedule for next week. My classes will only be on the mornings of Mondays to Wednesdays. Yay! So I would still have time for some other things. I'm thinking to enroll in culinary school. I want to be able to learn how to cook. Since I live on my own now, I'm sure I'm gonna miss my mother's cooking. I tried to cook once and I almost died from it. I swear, even our dog got sick after I fed him with it.

I just realized I still have plenty of sweets from home. Ma told me to give these to my future neighbors. I took three bags of assorted sweets and went first to my upstairs neighbor. A woman in her forties opened the door.

"Hi", she smiled.

"Hello, my name is Belle. I'm from the basement apartment."

"Oh hello Belle, please come in."

"Thank you." I went in and took my shoes off.

"Oh, no need to do that Belle. It's okay. Please come in." She gave me a sweet and sincere smile. She looks tired but still pleasant. Her eyes are like my mama. I already can feel that she's a good person.

"I'm Loraine, I live here with my son Sawyer." Her phone vibrated while in the middle of our conversation, "I'm sorry I have to take this. Please make yourself comfortable."

"No problem. Please don't mind me." I replied.

I sat on the couch in the living room. The apartment is really nice and pleasant. The walls are mainly painted white and some shades of black and blue. Curtains hang on glass windows, a fireplace and a staircase leading to the second floor. There are white lilies displayed around, placed in light pink vases.

I can hear Loraine's voice from where I was sitting. She sounds upset and worried.

No, no no Rosa. You know that I would be needing you for a week. No one will take care of Sawyer when I'm away. I'm sorry. I understand Rosa. Bye.

"I'm sorry that was Rosa. She helps me with Sawyer but she said she has to go back home for a family emergency. Anyway, what can I do for you dear? Is there something that you need?"

"Oh no, I'm just here to give some sweets from back home. I hope you like it."

"Wow, Thank you very much."

"Uhmm...about Sawyer, I'm free this week. I won't be starting my teaching job at St. Mary's until next week. Maybe I can help out if you want?"

Loraine really looked surprised. "Are you sure? I mean, I would really appreciate it Belle."

"Yah, I would love to help. Is Sawyer here? I love kids. In fact, I worked with kids all my professional life so it won't be a big deal really."

"Oh, Belle. Come with me."

We walked towards the first door down the hall. "Sawyer honey, can I talk to you for a second. I just need you to meet someone."

When the door was wide open I see a guy in a wheelchair. His brown hair is tousled. He's wearing a white shirt and black shorts. He has a cast on his right leg down to his foot.

"Yes?" He replied.

"This is Belle. Our new neighbor. She lives downstairs."

He looked at me like he was examining me from head to foot. "Hi!" I muttered, "I brought some sweets. Maybe you'll like it."

"Thanks. Nice to meet you." Sawyer replied faintly. "Mum, may I be excused. I'm not feeling well."

"Of course baby. Just call when you need anything okay?"

"Okay." He gave us a faint smile and closed the door.

Loraine and I went back to the living room to continue our conversation. She told me that Sawyer was a college football quarterback. He studies in Boston. He figured in an accident while driving his car. He was in the hospital for three months and he is now recovering but it would be a gradual process. There's a little chance that he can go back to playing football and that made Sawyer feel depressed.

Loraine asked me if I still want to offer my time. You see I'm really not that good at saying no to people and besides, I would be needing the extra cash. So here I am, a sitter of a 20-year-old grown man. I will be taking care of Sawyer for the whole week this week and whenever I have free time from school. Loraine was so thankful and I told her I was glad to help.

I still have two more bags of sweets. I tried to ring the next-door neighbors to my left and right but nobody seems to be at home. So I decided to go to Lariza's, one of my most favorite spot in the block, minus the face slamming incident the other day of course.

A small bell rang as I entered the flower shop. I was greeted by a man perhaps in his fifties. He is wearing a green apron and a hat embellished with small flowers.

"Hola!" He greeted gleefully.

When I was able to step closer, his lips parted while looking at me with a surprised expression. Oh my gosh, did he identify me from the other day when I slammed my face on the glass window?

"Hello." I replied coyly.

"Uhh...What can I do for you? My name is Gonzalo. I own this humble place." He said while clearing the table from stems and leaves.

"My name is Belle. I live a few doors from here. I came over to give some sweets from back home and maybe buy some flowers." I answered while handing him the bag. "That's mango tart. Try it."

"Oh wow, thank you very much. I, uh apologize for the mess. Here let me just clear the table."

"It's okay Gonzalo, no need to do that. I'm not gonna stay long anyway."

Perhaps he was able to sense my uncertainty, he tried to act normal but he obviously failed, "I am so sorry Hermosa if I'm weirding you out. I'm just overwhelmed, is all."

"Oh, well would you want me to leave for now? I'll just go back--"

"No, it's okay. Please stay for a while. I'll brew some tea. It would be a perfect match for these delish treats."

I decided to stay since I have a lot of time in my hand. Plus meeting new people in the neighbourhood whilst being around flowers is not bad for the new girl on the block.

After several sips, Gonzalo and I are having a few laughs here and there. The man is quite the character actually. And he's not ashamed of his fascination with the male reproductive organ. I almost spit out my tea a couple of times in shock at his bluntness.

"Uh darling Belle, may I just ask one question?"

"So long as it does not involve you asking me about a man's penis." I retorted as a matter of factly.

"Hahaha. Okay, I promise."

"Go for it."

"Okay. Are you in any way related to my darling Yelena?"


"Yes, she lives across the street. I mean she lived in that over the top, classy building across the street."

"I don't think so Gonzalo. I arrived here in New York the other day. I don't know anyone named Yelena and I don't recall having relatives here at all. Why?"

"Oh, don't mind. I was just curious. That was a silly question anyway."

Customers are starting to come in the shop so I decided not to ask further about Yelena and maybe continue the conversation next time.

"Darling Belle, please... please... choose any flower you like. On the house. Come on. Don't be shy."


"Yes. Yes. Please. Do you like roses? Here, I'll give you a dozen. These are fresh from Ecuador."

"Wow, these are beautiful Gonzalo, but can I have those daisies instead?"

Once again, Gonzalo's surprised and almost utterly shocked expression is back again. What is going on with this man?

"Daisies?" He asked.

"Yes, the red ones."

"R-red daisies?" He asked, almost teary-eyed.

Well, now I'm kind of freaked out.

He took a dozen of the red daisies from the green container near the glass window while still looking like he was drenched in cold water.

"Are you okay Gonzalo?"

"Uh, yah. I'm fine Hermosa."

"Are you sure?"

"Well, at this point I don't know what's sure anymore. Can you give me a hug?"

Gonzalo is on verge of tears so I stepped closer to him and gave him a tight hug.

"Come over whenever you can darling, okay?"

"Of course. Thank you so much for the cup of tea and the flowers Gonzalo."

"I said a hug, not a smother. Girl sure is pretty but cant take a hint. Gosh!" He said playfully.

A fit of giggle escaped my mouth in amusement. He is such a character.

I stepped out of the Lariza's flower shop somehow feeling cheery. It's nice to surround yourself with naughty people from time to time. I giggled.

Look at these red daisies. They are very beautiful. I inhaled while the daisies are in front of my nose.

I feel content and happy. I landed another job. I found new friends and a new life in New York City. What more can I ask for? I am overjoyed. I might as well be the happiest, most content person in the whole world right now.

I still have one bag of sweets. So where to next?

Right after I asked that question. The most beautiful man my eyes have ever--like ever-- set into is just standing like a god right across the street. Tall guy with a perfectly ripped body, not too big but definitely not too skinny either. He has dark brown hair brushed to the back. He's wearing a navy blue suit with pinstripes pocket square. He has this scruffy beard highlighting his perfect jawline. Oh god, this man is breathtaking.

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