Chapter 1:

Bold Decision

Fragrance of Love

AmaliaBookmark here

I stared at the opened excel sheet; the numbers sat still while talking flowers danced in my mind. My hands, itching to hold a paintbrush and splash colours on the white sheets in front of me. Ah, so boring; working in front of a PC was tiring.Bookmark here

"Amalia," a soft female voice disrupted my everyday thoughts, "Mrs. Blake is calling for you."Bookmark here

I looked at the pretty Maria whose smile never left her face, her red hair neatly tied in a bun. How could she keep on smiling like that? Was she not bored doing the same things all day every day? Oh, well, she might be faking it, like me. I smirked.Bookmark here

Oh, well, she might just love the job she's doing, unlike you.Bookmark here

In my head, I rolled my eyes at my inner self who always made annoying remarks. I returned Maria's smile and made my way to the lift.Bookmark here

I walked down the corridor, staring at my black Louboutin heels, not bothering to look at the people passing by me. My mind was at war- numbers versus colours. I have been working here since my graduation, regretting each day about the choice of career I've made. I wanted to make mom happy, yet this place didn't feel like home to me.Bookmark here

You should run away, it will serve her right for pressuring you to work.Bookmark here

Shut up. Is this how you want to make mom happy?Bookmark here

I sighed as the nicer inner me popped into the conversation.Bookmark here

Well mom doesn't care about my happiness, why should I?Bookmark here

A mom always cares about her child; you're just ignorant and selfish.Bookmark here

"Sto—" I swallowed my word as a man hurried by me, nearly bumping into me.Bookmark here

"Sorry," he muttered, an intoxicating rich fragrance lingering in the air as he scampered off.Bookmark here

Look where you're walking, young man.Bookmark here

Amalia should probably look in front of her instead of staring at her shoes.Bookmark here

I turned around to look at the man, ignoring both voices in my head; dark hair, dark suit with the perfect height— was he six feet or something? That were all I noticed before he left my sight. That scent, somehow, felt nostalgic; I knew that smell yet I didn't know.Bookmark here

"Such a nice scent," I murmured as I marched towards the personal office of Mrs. Rosalia Blake. I knocked at the door, twice. No response. I slowly opened the door, and peeked in.Bookmark here

"Amalia, my darling, come on in," she exclaimed in a bright tone as she removed a folder from her neat shelf.Bookmark here

"You asked for me?" I questioned as I took a seat on the swivel chair, my eyes visiting the whole room. The office wasn't new to me; the same white walls and wooden parquet. What I loved the most in that room was the client-seating area, a large window pane behind the white leather couches. Ah, how I wished to be outside painting the clouds.Bookmark here

"Yes, dear," she started, her almond-shaped eyes, vivid as the emerald stone in her ring, "I would have promoted you to the personal assistant of a very handsome young man."Bookmark here

"Wh-what does that mean?" I frowned.Bookmark here

"Now, now, don't worry about it. He didn't take up the offer," she laughed, "anyway dear, you have been here for almost three months now, what do you think about the job? Are you getting used to it?" she asked.Bookmark here

Tch, the same thing again, "I think it's okay but—"Bookmark here

She cut through my sentence, "don't you like it here? The atmosphere, the staff?" she beamed.Bookmark here

Why was she going on with that?Bookmark here

"I do, but mom, I'm not suited for this," I confessed.Bookmark here

The excitement in her eyes died.Bookmark here

Did I do the right thing?Bookmark here

You had to tell her, right, sooner or later.Bookmark here

"Amalia, what do you mean?" she scowled.Bookmark here

My heart was pounding fast; I clenched my fists, my nails piercing into my sweaty palms.Bookmark here

"Mom, I don't want to be an accountant," I stated, loud and clear.Bookmark here

"But you did your studies in accounting. What do you mean you don't want to be an accountant?" she queried, a frown on her pretty face, "Amalia, answer me!"Bookmark here

"I want to be an artist."Bookmark here

"A what?" her eyes were wide opened, "Amalia, an artist?" she questioned.Bookmark here

What was wrong with being an artist? It wasn't like I was stealing from people.Bookmark here

"Amalia, don't make me laugh please. You have done your studies in this field; your grades were good, so why an artist?"Bookmark here

Tch, I should have known. Mom would never agree.Bookmark here

"Accounting is plain boring!"Bookmark here

"Amalia," she exclaimed, "and you think being an artist is—"Bookmark here

A knock on the door cut the flow of our conversation. I was finally able to voice out.Bookmark here

"We'll continue this tomorrow; I'll be home late today."Bookmark here

I nodded. With my fists clenched, I returned to my desk to continue the boring tasks assigned to me.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The evenings after work were my favourite time of the day. Margarette had already filled the bathtub, put in petals of roses and lit the scented candles which gave off an exotic aroma- just like I love it. I put on a relaxing music on my phone, unzipped my black skirt and unbuttoned my white shirt. The petals danced as I settled in the warm water. "This feels so good," I said. I processed everything that happened at work. I couldn't believe I actually told mom that, guilt sitting on my chest.Bookmark here

Amalia, you have the right to voice out and make your own choice. It's your life after all.Bookmark here

Well, you should have known better before choosing the accounting field.Bookmark here

Amalie was right. It was my own choice that has brought me here today. I chose this field.Bookmark here

That's fine, your past choice doesn't determine your future.Bookmark here

You cannot hurt mom and dad as well. You can't be ungrateful to them.Bookmark here

Choosing your path, your happiness, does not make you ungrateful.Bookmark here

I sighed. I was fed up. I have been doing the same tasks since I've joined work, there was nothing new. I wanted to go far away; create my own path, make my own story. Wait! The personal assistant of a very handsome young man. What did mom mean by promoting me to a personal assistant? It wasn't like I wanted to be one. Ugh. Seriously my life was getting worse day by day. I pressed my head against the bathtub and closed my eyes. That pleasant fragrance of the dark-haired man filled my mind. A mysterious man with a mysterious scent. That scent? Where have I smelled this perfume before? A notification popped up on my phone, returning me back from my thoughts.Bookmark here

Noah: Coffee at six?
I typed: Sure thing. See you.Bookmark here

Thirty minutes of soaking in the bathtub, I got out; rinsed myself in the walk-in-shower, and returned to my room. I did a little dance as I pulled up my blue jeans, tucked in my white shirt and tied my wavy hair into a low ponytail with a white silk bow scrunchie; put on my white sneakers, grabbed my purse and ta-daa, ready to meet Noah.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

I entered Coffee Connect, the strong smell of coffee and the soft music playing in the background welcomed me. That place was not only cosy, but smartly organised and built. There was a section where you could socialise and another, for study and relaxation. I walked in the socialisation section and noticed Noah waving at me. I sat opposite him and the waitress came to us with one Belgian iced coffee cream, one cold chocolate and two croissants.Bookmark here

"Thank you," we said in unison. Noah had already ordered the usual.Bookmark here

"Hello miss who never comes on time," Noah said in his deep voice.Bookmark here

"Oh please. I'm not that late," I responded.Bookmark here

"Yes, yes; you're only fifteen minutes late compared to normally."Bookmark here

He made a silly face, making me roll my eyes at him.Bookmark here

"How's it going at work?"Bookmark here

"The same boring things," I said, stirring my cream into my coffee, skipping the conversation I had with mom.Bookmark here

He gave me a soft smile, not bothering to ask for more details as he knew I didn't like what I was doing. He was the only person I told I didn't want to be an accountant. Noah was my best friend after all. He has been my only friend— apart from Amelia and Amalie— since we were small. His father and mine were family friends, often having dinners together. Noah then told me how nervous he was for his very first surgery which, thankfully, was a success; and how the girl he has a crush on wouldn't even bother looking at him.Bookmark here

"Well, well, don't give up," I encouraged him, "you have to at least talk to her, else you guys won't even be friends."Bookmark here

"You think?" he tilted his head.Bookmark here

"Of course, do your best," I gave him an approving smile.Bookmark here

Noah was handsome; his messy blond hair was pushed back, revealing his thick eyebrows and baby blue eyes. Any girl would like him given his kind personality and his handsome features yet he was a loner; he wasn't the type of person who'd do the first step— that's the more reason Alex and I were his only close friends.Bookmark here

You're a loner too.Bookmark here

Yes, yes, I knew that. I finished my croissant and coffee quietly, dreading the thought of returning home.Bookmark here

"You okay? You look pale," Noah queried.Bookmark here

"Yes, I'm fine, just tired."Bookmark here

"Shall we head back? You can relax at home, it will be less noisy today, right?"Bookmark here

"Uhhun, only Alex will be home," I agreed.Bookmark here

Amalia, let's run away.Bookmark here

What? What were you talking about?Bookmark here

Let's. Run. Away. Before mom returns home.Bookmark here

Seriously? Was that even a good decision?Bookmark here

Definitely; we'll be able to create our own path.Bookmark here

Nope, nope, no­Bookmark here

"That's good then, let's go," Noah said, bringing me back to reality.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The chirpings of the crickets accompanied us as we walked back home.Bookmark here

"Will you miss me if I go away?" I asked.Bookmark here

He stopped and stared at me; the street light made his hair look more golden.Bookmark here

"And where are you going, lil miss?" he asked, hands in his pockets.Bookmark here

"Running away—" I placed my hands on my mouth to prevent the words from coming out on their own.Bookmark here

Amalia, you fool.Bookmark here

That seriousness on his face spelled trouble. I had to laugh it out.Bookmark here

"That was a joke, no need to take it seriously," I chuckled and walked forward.Bookmark here

"You want to run away?" he asked, a frown on his handsome face.Bookmark here

"Noooo," I replied, "I was joking."Bookmark here

"You okay? You want to talk?" he kept at it.Bookmark here

Now I've done it. He won't let me be at peace. I sighed. If it was like that, I might as well tease him a bit.Bookmark here

"You'll help me escape?" I asked playfully.Bookmark here

"Then you're serious?"Bookmark here

Seriously Noah?Bookmark here

"No, that was a joke," I persisted, rolling my eyes.Bookmark here

He stared at me, his blue eyes confused and concerned. That boy. Stupid me; I knew how he was yet I opened my damn mouth.Bookmark here

"Noah, that was a joke," I said again, calmer, to assure him.Bookmark here

His eyes were fixed on me for a good few second, "okay fine! Just have to make sure cause you're a bit crazy," his tone didn't sound convincing, though.Bookmark here

"As if I have the guts to do that," I chuckled.Bookmark here

Oh well.Bookmark here

Several steps further, we reached my home.Bookmark here

"See you, take care and good night," he stated.Bookmark here

"You won't come in?"Bookmark here

For the first time, I was hoping he wouldn't as I had plans to make.Bookmark here

"Nope, I have something to do, see you later."Bookmark here

"Right, see you, bye," I waved to him as I placed my right thumb on the lock to open the entrance gate.Bookmark here

The lights in the garden were on. I went towards the garage to see only Alex's car. Mom and Damian were still at work as it was Friday. They always come home late on Fridays. Dad was currently working away from the country and Camelia was probably at her boyfriend's place.Bookmark here

The perfect opportunity, Amalia. No one's home.Bookmark here

Well, Alex was here but I could still make it after he slept. I ran to my room; took my bag and put in it some clothes and my purse. That would be it; I could buy any other things I needed later.Bookmark here

Amalia, this is not a good decision.Bookmark here

I ignored Amalie's voice. All that was left was wait for Alexander Blake to sleep. I walked to his room, slightly opened his door, looking for him. No one. Where was he now? I descended the stairs slowly. I proceeded to the kitchen where the light was on. Found him.Bookmark here

"Hey sis, already had dinner?" Alex asked, as I entered the kitchen.Bookmark here

"Just came from the coffee shop."Bookmark here

"You guys went without me again," he complained.Bookmark here

"You were at work," I rolled my eyes at him.Bookmark here

"Well whatever," he smirked and continued stirring his juice.Bookmark here

"Want juice?"Bookmark here

"If you're making, then definitely," I said as I sat on the bar chair, my face resting on my palm, looking at him; a wavy hair strand fell on his eye. Alex and I had the same almond shaped green eyes; not as bright as our mother though.Bookmark here

"This brings back memories, remember when mom and dad used to return home late when we were younger?" he reminisced.Bookmark here

"Uhhun, we would play hide and seek at night."Bookmark here

"Ah good old days. Want to play hide and seek tonight?"Bookmark here

Uh oh. Seriously Alex? Tonight? I had plans bro.Bookmark here

"What are you? A child?" I laughed, "I have some works to complete."Bookmark here

He smirked, "well okay, can you switch on the TV then, I'll bring the juice and snacks. You can complete your work after we have the snacks."Bookmark here

"Huh? Why do I have to switch it on?"Bookmark here

"Because you have to," he chuckled, "else I'll make you do the dishes."Bookmark here

"What? Nooo. Dorothy will do it tomorrow morning."Bookmark here

My brother raised his eyebrows.Bookmark here

"Fine, fine. I'll switch on the TV," I pouted.Bookmark here

"Serves you right," he laughed as I exited the kitchen.Bookmark here

Stupid Alex. I went to the living room and put on the TV. Sitting on the couch, I realised how much I would miss him. Alex was closer to me than Damian and Camelia. We were just three years apart after all. I remembered how I would sleep in his room when I was sad and he would tell me a story— the same story every time. I chuckled. I could do anything for him. My heart stung when I realised Alex might hate me for what I was about to do, but I was doing it for me. The first time I was actually thinking of doing something seriously.Bookmark here

"Here you go," Alex handed me the glass of juice, and placed a tray full of chocolate cookies on the table.Bookmark here

"Thank you."Bookmark here

We spent our time together— laughing and reminiscing about our good old days.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

It was now or never. The clock showed 11:30 PM. With my bag on my back, I peeked out of my room. So dark. All the lights were switched off. Mom and Damian haven't yet returned— didn't hear the car. My head was slightly throbbing, my palms were sweaty and my stomach was churning.Bookmark here

"Tch, maybe I'm too nervous. Calm down, Amalia, calm down," I murmured, rubbing my palms against my jeans.Bookmark here

I walked slowly towards the backdoor and got out on the patio. The warm yellow lights, the cosy couches and the fireplace— the memories I have from here would always remain with me. My heart sunk, but I have to do it because mom will never approve of me being an artist. She would be ashamed that her youngest daughter wasn't a lawyer, doctor or accountant; but an artist. I had to get away from here before she returned back.Bookmark here

Amalia, calm down. You have to talk to them. This is the worst option you can choose right now.Bookmark here

It definitely is the only option, unless you want to sit in front of that PC again, complaining throughout the day.Bookmark here

"Amelia is right, I have to go. I'm doing this for me, not for anyone else."Bookmark here

I made my way to the small gate in the backyard, unlocked the door and got out of the Blake Mansion. I was finally free— out of the bird cage.Bookmark here

We were living in the suburb of Iris City, the biggest city in Freesia, mainly renowned for its beautiful purple lake which could be seen from our terrace. The road was quiet at that time though, only the sound of the night could be heard. The pounding in my head became more severe with each step I took. Black spots appeared in front of me. My body felt weak and my eyes became heavy. I dropped my bag on the ground, leaning against a wall to support myself as I fought to keep my eyes open. I was unable to move a step forward. What was happening to me? The world was spinning faster. I couldn't force myself to stand up anymore. My legs gave up, ready to hit the ground when a strong arm was wrapped around my waist and another under my legs. I didn't have the strength to open my eyes to see who was carrying me. I was conscious yet I wasn't— I was slowly fading away. Was I in the hands of a good person or a bad one? I didn't know...Bookmark here

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