Chapter One: Preheating the Lovin'
Angelique was a Scrian girl of simple tastes; she liked a good laugh, she loved her Intes and Vaspis, but above almost all else, she loved a party. So when she'd had the chance to throw an improptu one at her house in order to celebrate a friend's birthday, she'd leapt at the chance. Granted, immediately thereafter she'd found that she didn't have a lot of the stuff she needed to prepare the party food, but she wasn't about to let that fact ruin her fun, or her friend's special day. If she had anything to say about it, her friend was going to have the best party, and the best food, anyone could ever ask for.
Once she had acquired most of the things she needed, she headed to Relcore and into the market there. She needed to pick up the last few supplies she needed for that evening. Today she was dressed quite casually, in a cloud-decorated top and silver stardust skinny jeans, with a silver Wyrae beanie placed atop her head for good measure; she was fond of cute accessories such as that. And of course, she had with her one of her many dear Creatu friends - today, it was Honeybunnies, a magenta Vaspi with an especially affectionate nature. The kneecap-high insect scuttled along close by Angelique. Soon, the two came to a stop outside the shop they were looking for, and Angelique took out a scribbled shopping list out of her pocket.
"One cooking pot and some flour..." she softly mused. "Yep, that'll do it."
"Gonna be a fun night today, ain't it?" Honeybunnies piped up in her adorably high-pitched voice, raising a forelimb to straighten her antennae. She seemed to have a thought and jumped up excitedly. "Oooh, are you gonna make gingerbread cookies again? I love gingerbread!"
Angelique laughed and slipped the list back into her pocket, before affectionately patted Honeybunnies' head. "Don't worry, I'll definitely make some just for you," she assured her pet, to which the magenta Vaspi vibrated with excitement and wrapped her forelimbs around Angelique's leg in a hug. She chuckled and gently prised the insect off of her before walking into the shop. It was exactly as you'd expect a cooking supplies shop to be - well organised, but homely, with pots, pans and other supplies lining the shelves. For a few moments there didn't seem to be anyone else in, so Angelique wandered over to look at a few of the cooking pots on display. As she cast her eye over them, however, she heard footsteps coming from behind her as someone emerged from the back room.
"Oh, hello there! Sorry I wasn't here to greet you... I had to put something in the oven," a light and pleasant voice chimed up. Angelique turned around to face the one who had addressed her...
And there he was. As unexpected as Reiflem snow.
The sweetest-looking young man she had ever laid eyes on.
He was her age, or thereabouts, with youthfully smooth skin and eyes as deep-red as freshly polished garnet gems. His hair was a similar color to her own chocolate-brown locks, if a little darker, and adorned by bright green streaks. In the mere second it had taken to look at him, Angelique felt a blush rising to her cheeks; she coughed softly to clear her throat and finally spoke up, inwardly hoping the shopkeeper hadn't noticed her blushing.
"Oh, don't worry about it. Time waits for no man, and food is much the same," she assured him. She saw his adorable face light up somewhat and his own smile brightened a touch.
"I agree!" he replied, cheerfully. He walked over to her. "It's nice to meet someone who values food and cooking as much as I do. My name is Louie - might I ask what yours is?"
"My name's Angelique," she responded, holding out a friendly hand to him. He smiled and shook it in polite greeting; his own hand was especially warm, most likely from having put something in the oven shortly beforehand. That would also explain the light vanilla scent that seemed to be lingering in the place. Angelique then gestured over to Honeybunnies; the Vaspi had become distracted by her own reflection in a cooking pot, and was grooming her antenna once again. "And this is my dear friend, Honeybunnies - I hope you don't mind a Vaspi in your shop, Louie."
Louie chuckled and waved it off. "It's not a problem at all. Anyone and everyone is welcome in here, regardless of species, or number of limbs," he assured her. Angelique giggled a little.
"I'm glad to hear it," she replied. "I'm quite the Vaspi fan, you see. They're such sweethearts, after all... It's just a shame that so few care to look past their more 'unique' looks." She sighed softly. It was quite true, unfortunately; when the Valentine's Day season rolled around, Iluvus were adored and collected by many, but much fewer seemed to love Vaspis in the same way. She adored the literal lovebugs, however, hence why she had taken to collecting them. It took a brief moment for Angelique to recollect her thoughts and remember the reason why she had come here in the first place. She chuckled lightly at her own silliness and looked back up at Louie.
"Ah, excuse me, I got a little distracted there," she apologised. "Anyways, I just need to pick up a few things... You see, I'm hosting a party for a friend of mine tonight, and I've volunteered to cater for the event as well. Silly me, though, I forgot that I need a new cooking pot and some flour."
"Don't worry, that happens to us all," Louie responded with an assuring smile. He gestured to the shelf of cooking pots just above the one with which Honeybunnies was preoccupied. "Seeing as I'm guessing you'll have a fair few guests around, I'd recommend a slightly larger pot..."
Angelique watched Louie as he glanced over the various cooking pots in the same manner in which a chef picks out the perfect ingredient for a special dish. Fitting enough, given his occupation. She felt a blush rise to her cheeks once again and, in an effort to hide it, she raised her hand and pretended to gently scratch her cheek. After another moment or two, Louie tapped his finger upon a cooking pot and took a hold of it, taking it down from the shelf.
"Ah, yes, this one will do nicely, I think," he mused, half to himself and half to Angelique. He took it over to the counter and placed it down for her to look at. Its size was most serviceable, big enough to cook something for several people but small enough to not take up too much storage space. To top it all off, the pot was decorated with a tiny rose-pink heart. Inwardly, Angelique thought it was absolutely adorable.
Though, in honesty, it wasn't quite the cutest thing present at the time. That distinction went to her new aquaintance.
Angelique was a little baffled, though not necessarily in a bad way. It was an unexpected thing, to suddenly find yourself faced with someone to whom you found yourself inexplicably attracted to at first glance. But that was the case here. Her heart was a'flutter, there was sweet warmth playing upon her cheeks as she gazed upon Louie's gentle eyes and adorable expression.
Was this what love at first sight felt like...?
"You wanted some flour, as well, is that right?" Louie asked her, snapping her out of her thoughts. She blinked herself back into the here-and-now and nodded, smiling once again.
"Yep!" she chirruped. "I need it for my gingerbread cookies."
Behind her, Honeybunnies immediately whipped around and quickly scuttled over. She clutched at Angelique's leg and excitedly asked, "Did somebody say...gingerbread?"
Louie smiled and couldn't help but laugh a little. "My, your gingerbread cookies must be good if you've got such an eager fan!" he joked, as he turned to grab a bag of flour from a shelf behind him. Angelique giggled in an attempt to wave off the compliment, but inwardly it took all of her strength to not break out in a blushing mess.
"Oh, I don't know about that..." she began, a little bashfully. "But I have been told they're quite tasty. My secret is to sprinkle them with a pinch of vanilla sugar once they're done. You'd be surprised how much a little thing like that can improve them."
"The tiniest change can make or break any dish," Louie said over his shoulder, grabbing the flour and bringing the bag to the counter for her. "So I can understand where you're coming from on that one. I'll have to remember that tip."
"Well, in that case, here's another one for you," Angelique went on. "You'd be surprised how well sweet chilli sauce goes with a lot of things... Try mixing a little of it in with pasta sauce, for example. Gives it a nice kick. Nothing too drastic, but still tasty."
Louie blinked in surprise, then smiled brightly back at her. "Really?" he asked. "I never thought of that... Well, I'll definitely have to keep that in mind. Thank you!"
Angelique smiled and waved it off casually. "No problem at all. Always a pleasure to share culinary tips with fellow enthusiasts," she responded. If she didn't know any better, she could have sworn Louie's adorable smile had brightened even further thanks to that remark... Hang on a moment. Was that... No, it couldn't have been.
For a brief moment, Angelique thought she had witnessed a tiny blush on her new friend's cheeks. But, surely, she must have just imagined it.
Angelique paid for the flour and cooking pot in due course. Louie packed them up into a box together and handed it over; thankfully it wasn't too heavy, and Angelique was able to carry it herself. With her hands full, though, she wasn't able to open the shop door again... Luckily, though, Louie took notice of this and, before she could ask him, he walked over to the door and opened it himself, holding it open for her and Honeybunnies to pass through. Taken a little by surprise, Angelique smiled and nodded in gratitude.
"Why, thank you, sir," she jokingly said to him, making him laugh. Whilst holding the door, he went along with her joke by playfully bowing in an overdramatic manner.
"No problem at all, m'lady," he joked in reply. Though it was clearly a joke, it took all of Angelique's strength not to blush profusely upon hearing it. Instead she smiled and walked on through, with Honeybunnies scuttling along in tow. Angelique lingered outside for a moment and turned to look back at Louie.
"It was nice meeting you," she said to him, sincerely. "I'll have to swing by to visit sometime... If you don't mind, of course."
"Not at all!" he chimed in reply, beaming adorably. "Feel free to stop by any time!"
Angelique smiled cheerily back at him and waved; amusingly, Honeybunnies did the same, waving one of her spindly pink forelimbs in an oddly cute way. Louie waved back at the both of them as Angelique finally managed to draw herself away, and head back home. It was funny to her, how a simple visit to a cooking supplies shop could prove to be so unexpectedly enjoyable...and that she could leave with her heart all a'flutter thanks to someone she had only met just now.
She got back to her Scrian home not too long after that. After all, she had a party to prepare for. She hurried through to the kitchen to unpack the cooking pot and flour from the box she had been carrying. Setting it down on the countertop, she opened it up, and lifted each of the items out in turn...then stopped, as she spotted something at the bottom of the box. A small piece of paper... What was it? A receipt? A label that had come loose?
Honeybunnies noticed her human companion's hesitation and came over to investigate, clambering up onto the countertop to peer into the box with her. "What's up, friend?" she asked, curiously. "Something wrong?"
Angelique reached into the box and picked up the piece of paper. She turned it over to read what had been written on one side... And she froze, completely silent. Honeybunnies tilted her insectoid head in confusion.
"Well? What is it?" she asked. Angelique remained silent for a few moments longer. Then, gently, her lips parted and she whispered the words that had been written upon the note.
"Feel free to brighten my day with your cute smile anytime..." she whispered. Honeybunnies looked up at her, almost incredulous, then raised her claw-like forelimbs to her face and giggled.
"Oh my, oh my, looks like somebody likes you!" she chirruped. "Congratulations, friend! I'll bet he..." She stopped, trailing off into silence as she looked up at Angelique. She cocked her head to one side.
"Angelique... When did you dye your cheeks rose?" she asked.
The first chapter of a special lil' ship story between my HA - I named her Angelique - and Louie, the cooking supplies guy. :3 I hope you liked it!