April 28, 2010

Vol.2 Ch.1: Love inside the Cold Thin Air


Valentin has grown up. He's 18 years old, technically old enough to find a full-time job. There was no birthday cake or a party to celebrate the new stage in his life. He had so many thoughts of how he would undergo his life. The first step had been taken. He had applied for jobs at big and small companies and he also had considered to work in the army, but since he must leave to study at the Academy, he postponed it for a while -- at least until he was sure enough that he could leave Rosaline all by herself, especially when he found  Rosaline was sick for the last few days. She told him that she was feeling a lot better that Thursday and insisted on going to work instead.

"Wait! Are you sure you're feeling a lot better, Rose?" Valentin stopped her from entering the gate of Hotel Fleur Eternelle.

"If you got sick and wanna go home, just call me okay? I'll pick you up. Don't forget to eat your lunch and drink lots of mineral water. Did you bring your medicines? Don't forget to eat them."

"Okay, Val. Don't worry." Rosaline smiled. Rolling her eyes, she was so certain that a doctor's prescription was much lesser compared to her brother's instruction.


"Wait!" Valentin caught her hands before she entered the gate. "Take care, okay?" 

Rosaline nodded.  She could see dark circles under Valentin's eyes. He stayed up the night before only to make sure that her fever had come down.

"I'll go inside now.  Bye." 

Valentin let go of her hands as he watched her entering the gate.


That day, Rosaline put all of her efforts in her work. When she had a spare time, she did extra tasks like cleaning the guests' rooms and fixing broken sinks -- even though her superior had not asked her to. Lots of guests were very fond of her.  Some of the employees were quite envy of her for  thinking that she only did those to get the attention from their boss.
Even though, actually, she expected nothing -- not when her boss was someone like Mr. Shaw.



She only did her best since her father used to say that they have to work wholeheartedly and always finish what they have already started.

In her workplace, she met lots of people. Most of them were foreigners who went to France with their family to take a break from avocation and stress. That day, the hotel was honored to have an  important visitor from Sunset Valley.  He went to France for a diplomatic matter. Rosaline wondered why he chose this small hotel instead of a five-star one which has more luxury and comfort than Hotel Fleur Eternelle was. 


The man's name is Robert Matheson. A man who often be found gazing silently through the window in his room, looking at the view outside.

"Warm water has been prepared, Sir."

"Thank you," The man answered, not turning his head  away from the window.  Rosaline could see that he was getting absorbed in deep thoughts, probably he was thinking about his family back in Sunset Valley, or the job he had left there. 

Rosaline walked out of his room. There was nothing more that she could do in there. She had finished her duties, and now -she felt so tired.  Strange. It's probably  because of the fever.


When she was about to leave, she saw a figure which was so familiar to her, sitting in the lobby while looking at the fireplace. Her hair was long, brown, like the color of the hair  of a friend she knew.  Undoubtedly, the figure was a young girl.  The girl  turned her head once she noticed Rosaline was there.

"Rose!! I can't believe it! How are you?" Half running, the girl rushed in her direction.
"Annabelle, is it you?"
"Yeah, it's me." Annabelle opened her arms widely and then hugged her --  melting in one embrace.  
"How long have you been here? Are you going to stay here... in France?"
"No, I'm just visiting here. Oh, Rose, I miss you. You look so pretty. "
"Thanks Annabelle. You look beautiful too."

Annabelle looked so different. It's been one and a half years they haven't met. Now, she had become more feminine than before. She let her long hair hung loosely over her shoulder. 

"Are you working here, Rose?" Annabelle asked her when Rosaline was busy cleaning up the  room. Annabelle was preening herself in front of  the mirror - making sure that her dress was properly fit without any dirt or ruck on it.
"Yes, I've been working here for almost three months now."
"Three months? Why? Are you having financial problem? Shouldn't Valentin who work for both of you?"
"He's also working now. I'm only working part-time here. Even though-- if we're not having any financial problem-- there's nothing wrong to have a part-time job. This job is so much fun."

Annabelle observed her, admiring her cheerfulness and optimism. She remembered  in the old days when she called her a wimp. She realized now that Rosaline's a tough girl.   If only she could withdraw her words, but at least Rosaline had already forgiven her.

"And how is he now?" Annabelle thought. She wondered whether Valentin ever thought about her when she was away. Had he found a girlfriend yet? Or, perhaps,  he had he been seeing the girl who have made her heart broken. Annabelle was certain that  there's another girl that made him breaking up with her. But, instead of asking Rosaline about it, she asked another question.

"So, who's the boy you've been seeing right now, Rose?Is it Pierre?" 
"Pierre? He's okay. He's  staying in Bali now to learn about arts and cultures there. He is a good friend."
"Rose." Annabelle chuckled. "I didn't mean seeing a boy as seeing your friend. So, if it is not Pierre, then who is he? "
"Eh,  if you're talking about a boyfriend.  I don't have a boyfriend."
"Really?!  How can it be? I mean... you're sixteen."

Okay... Now... Annabelle sounded like the old Annabelle again. Rosaline sighed, though, this time, she didn't take it too seriously.

"It's true. I don't have a boyfriend." 

"In that case,  why don't we go the theater tomorrow night? Someone at the airport asked me to go there with him to watch a movie. I'll ask him to take one of his friends. Who knows his friend will eventually have a crush on you." Annabelle winked at her.

"I- I don't think it's a great idea, Annabelle. "

"Why? Come on! Are you going to be a loner like that all of your life?" Annabelle took Rosaline's hands and then dragged her to the mirror. "You're sixteen. Life is not  only about working and school, you know? We have to enjoy our youth too. Sixteen only happens once and it cannot be rewind again." 


"See for yourself, Rose! You're pretty and don't tell me you only have two men in your life: Valentin and Pierre - and Valentin should be crossed out since he's technically your brother."

Rosaline stared at herself in the mirror. She realized that she had always been a nice little girl who would silently sit in her classroom reading her books and  then head out to a library. She had never gone to a movie with a boy- only had gone to a park with Pierre to do nothing than just enjoying the view. She had never done crazy things or sneaked out in the night with her boyfriend- except for going to the graveyard all alone in the night to chat up with her parents. Still, it didn't mean that she wasn't enjoying her teenage life. She really enjoyed it, but in different ways.

"Come on Rose! Do it for me, please?" Annabelle folded her hands, asking her to come to the theatre. "I don't  know about this guy yet. If you accompany me, at least I'll have a friend to talk to, especially when he becomes really annoying and boring." Annabelle rolled her eyes. Rosaline chuckled. 

"Okay, I'll think about it, Annabelle."
Even though Rosaline wasn't so sure about it, she eventually went to the theater to accompany Annabelle --  not to have a blind date, she must emphasize it. However, when they arrived there, Adrien, Annabelle's date had not arrived yet. "I hope you girls wouldn't mind. I'm here, though." Drew, Adrien's friend said.

Rosaline  searched for a phone to tell Valentin that she's going to be late for dinner. "I'm going to watch a movie with Annabelle and her friend."  Rosaline said to him over the phone.
"Her friend? Who?"
"I don't know. " Rosaline raised her shoulders. "A guy she met at the airport."
"A guy? What are you doing over there, Rose?  on them?"
"No." Rosaline rolled her eyes, even though she knew Valentin could not see her. "At least I'm not the only  one here. Her friend also invited his friend."
"His friend?" 
"Rose,  do you know any of them?"
Rosaline heard Valentin's deep sigh. "Why don't you just go home, Rose? You even barely knew them. What if something bad happens?"
"I'll be okay.  Don't worry. Annabelle is with me. Nothing will happen.  Oh, I have already run out of coins now. I must hang up. Bye."
"Wait a minute, Rose…" 
It's too late. Rose had already hung up the phone. 


It had been an hour since Drew told Annabelle and Rosaline that Adrien was going to be late.  Annabelle tapped her foot.  "I think you both should go inside now. I'll catch up. I'll wait for him here."
"I'm going to accompany you, Annabelle." 
"No. It's okay, Rose. The movie is about to start. You can't miss it and... " Annabelle leaned over, half whispering. "Drew will be bored if he has to wait for us here." 
"Come on!" Annabelle drew herself and patted her on the back -- so hard that Rosaline almost choked.  "Hurry! I heard that the movie is great. You should not miss this one!" 
"Wait," Drew interrupted them. "I think I see someone there. Do you girls know him? He's always looking at us."
"Where?" Rosaline turned her head around, looking in the direction Drew pointed her, "I see no one there."

"Maybe just a  guy who passes by. Come on! Hurry! Go-go-go!" Annabelle clapped her hands.
"Are you okay?" asked Drew. 
Rosaline and Drew were already sitting inside the theater. The movie had started. It was a romantic drama movie.
"Where's Annabelle?" Rosaline shivered. She forgot to bring a sweater with her and couldn't believe herself for being with someone she barely knew. 
Drew noticed her. 
"Hey, come here." 


"Don't worry. You're cold, right? My body can warm you up."
"W- warm me? I- I barely know you." Rosaline jumped from her seat and ran off. Drew followed her. He grabbed her hands, but someone shoved him away. 
"Take your hands off her!" 
"What? Who the hell are you?"
"I'm her brother."
"Her brother?! "

Valentin pulled Rosaline's hands, dragging her out of the theater. He could hear Drew yelling at them. "Yeah, right, just take her! I don't want to have a date with a dorky girl anyway!" 

"Let go, Val!" Rosaline pulled her hands from him and then shook her numb fingers. "Why are you dragging me like that and why are you here? " 
"I've told you to come home. Why did you still go?"
"I- I couldn't see if there's something wrong with it."
"Rose, you're here with strangers.  It's not safe. I thought I told you not to."
"Why? Why shouldn't I? And why? Why are you following me here?"

"I was just trying to protect you.  Why are you so upset? Couldn't you see that he was being a jerk?"

"I could see that, but I could handle him just fine. I'm not a little girl any more and stop acting towards me as though you're my father!"

She  ran after having said those words. Her high voice startled her. All of her life, she had never yelled at him -- that was the first time. 

Rosaline and Valentin remained in mutual silence in the next morning. She regretted those words came out of her mouth,  but still following her to the theater was already crossing the line.

Rosaline sighed, but then she occupied herself with the tasks in the hotel to get rid of those thoughts.

"Mr. Matheson, do you want to come down to the dining room? Today we have served our best menus."
"No, I'm going to eat in my room today." Mr. Matheson answered in his usual flat tone.
"All right, Sir, but if you need something, just call me."

Outside, she heard noises.  She turned around and found Annabelle and her father, James Trottier, were arguing.

"No, dad! I'm enjoying my life with Mom now. You have that woman by your side. You don't need my presence here."

"But..." James Trottier lowered his shoulders. Nothing could change his daughter's mind, but herself.

"I saw that you were talking with your father." Rosaline said after they sat quietly on a bench in the hotel's backyard. At first she felt hesitated about it, but it seemed Annabelle really needed a friend to talk to.
"Yeah. He wanted me to stay with him again."
"Really? He must have really missed and cares about you." 
"No, Rose. " Annabelle shook her head, turning her head to another direction. Rosaline could feel the tension in her.  "If he cared about me, he would not have married that evil woman."

Rosaline smiled, but she could understand her. "It must be really irritating, but ometimes we cannot understand all the things in life or why people did the things  we think they shouldn't have done. I wish my father is still alive. No matter what, he's your father."
Rosaline threw Annabelle  into silence for a while. 
"Rose, can we talk about something else?" 
"Oh, okay. What are we going to talk about? Hey, have you read a book about Vampire Fish?"
Annabelle sighed. "I'm not interested in that kind of stuff. By the way, what happened in the theater yesterday? Why was Valentin in there? He looked so upset. He even acted a bit rude at me."


"Oh, that. Nothing… it's just a misunderstanding."
"Really? I was hoping that at least he was going to be happy to see me." 
"Eh, what did you say?"
Photobucket "Nothing. " Annabelle rose from her seat. "I'm feeling tired. I will go to my room now."

Rosaline pursed her lips. It seemed that her efforts to cheer her  up had really failed. "Okay. See you tomorrow, Annabelle."

Annabelle went inside her room. Something on the floor caught her attention. 

" Ginnie, what are you doing here?" She held it.
It was a teddy bear -- a gift from his father when she was six. Her father must have put it in her room.
Her eyes stared blankly at the walls. Even though she acted quite rude and full of anger, she  did really miss her father.
When she walked outside, her father's new wife, Mary Ann, stood in front of her door --  was being  panicked over something.

"Annabelle! You must go and see your father!"

"Huh?" Annabelle tilted back, jumping from surprise.

"Your father. He- he fainted. I-I told him not to go outside, but he insisted. He said that he missed you and wanted to see you. He's unconscious now, but always delirious and is mentioning your name. You must go there! Now!"


Annabelle stood in silence.  It must be a joke, right?

"Annabelle, why? Don't you believe me? Even if you don't believe me, at least go see your father."


Rosaline took a mop and  then carefully cleaned all the windows in Mr. Matheson's room. Her body froze, looking at the view outside. The Eiffel Tower stood sturdily. The memory of her quarrels with Valentin slipped back into her mind.

All the while, she had not realized  that Mr. Matheson had already awaken and was standing  behind her.




"Mr. Matheson,  good afternoon. I'm here to clean your room."
"Sunrise, don't leave! Stay! Stay with me!"

"Mr. Matheson, what are you doing?"
"Sunrise, I've waited for you. Don't go!"
"Mr. Matheson. Don't do this or I will scream!"

Rosaline  stomped on Mr. Matheson's foot and then ran to the door.

Outside, her body bumped against the warmth of a man's chest. "Rose, why are you running?" 
She knew that voice and the warmth of his body.  


"Val!" Rosaline hug him and cried.

Valentin took her out to a park. His right hand held her left hand while the other was holding a teddy bunny. The teddy bunny was their friend. It got lost in the house,  trapped within old boxes. Valentin found it. It was filled with dust, but he had cleaned it so Rosaline could hug the teddy bunny again.

"Where did you find it?"
"I found it in a box in mom's closet. Looks like Mom has stitched its eyes and nose, but forgot where she had put it when we moved here. Teddy bunny, say hi to Rose!"

"Hi, Rose!" Valentin made funny voices while he was holding the bunny.  "Why is she not answering me, Val? Is she angry with me?" Valentin talked as though he was the Teddy Bunny.

"No, she isn't angry with you, Bunny. She's angry with me. "


"It's because... I behaved wrong that night - following her to the theater. I was worried of her, but I hope she will forgive me now."

"Rose," Valentin turned the bunny's head toward Rosaline." Would you please forgive him? He was just being worried of you. He promised not to do that again. Hey, if he breaks the promise, you may pinch his ears."

"Bunny, why did you promise her that?" Valentin said to the Teddy Bunny. "Ssh! Don't you want to be forgiven or not?" said the Teddy bunny.

Rosaline laughed.

"Teddy bunny," Rosaline waved her hands to the teddy bunny. "Say to your master there that I have already forgiven him. Actually, I didn't really mean what I've said and thank you for worrying about me."
"Val, did you hear that? She has forgiven you! Yippee!  Rose you owe me a kiss for reconciling both of you."
"Ha-ha.. okay then." Rosaline said. She lowered her head and kissed the teddy bunny.
Those two finally made up.

Valentin put the Teddy bunny on the ground. He took Rosaline's hands and lead her to the swing.  They sat there, enjoying the quiet night under the moonlight.

"What are you thinking, Rose?" Valentin asked her as he saw her closing her eyes.

"Ssh, did you hear that?" 
"Heard what?"
"The whispers of the trees. They're talking to each other. Their voices are so thin that we cannot hear them with our ears, but only with our hearts."
"Really?" Valentin chuckled. "What did they say?" 
"Love. They told me that they felt the warmth of love embraced them in the cold thin air."


"Yeah, love. Don't you know that trees can feel sad and love too? If one die, others will fall off their foliage onto the ground. If we abandon them, they will decay quickly. They will no longer give us delicious fruits or beautiful flowers. They are depending on our love as we depend on them too. If we cut them too many, the ground will become dry and pure water will rarely be found. If they all die, we'll die too, so what we should do now is to love them."

"Wow,  you amazed me, my professor." Valentin smiled. Rosaline always  manages to impress him with simplest things. 

Rosaline and Valentin continued to enjoy the night, feeling the cold wind  brushing against their skins and seeing the stars shining in the sky. If he could only pick one and gave it to her, to the loveliest girl on earth, but then, he noticed a boy in front of them. "What is he still  doing here late at night?" he said as he arose from the swing and walked toward the boy.

"Hello, my name is Teddy Bunny. What's yours?"
"Zach, shouldn't you  go home now? Where's your home? Your mom maybe worried of you." 
Rosaline giggled. She could see how sweet Valentin was. 

Valentin and Rosaline took the boy home before they went home.  In the morning, in front of the Fleur Eternelle hotel, Mr. Shaw had already waited for her. 

"You're fired!"
"Don't you know that Mr. Matheson is one of our important guests?! I almost lost my richest visitor. Even your three months salary could not afford the cost."

"But, Mr. Shaw, I did nothing and I had to do that to defend myself."

"He's lucky that I have yet to report it to the police. I have a right to defend myself."

However, no matter how hard she tried to convince him, Mr. Shaw did not change his mind and even refused to pay her last salary.

Rosaline left the hotel with tears at the corner of her eyes - not because Mr. Shaw had fired and scolded her, but because she was beginning to love her job. It was so hard to find a part- time job those days and she lost it.


Meanwhile, Annabelle finally decided to visit her father.

 She had never guessed that her father would have a heart attack recently.

To Be Continued….