Ark of a Love Affair II: Love in Blooms
I had another dull afternoon ahead of me. Wolfe is up in the plant rooms again, and as there's no case, he expects me to be bored.
Well, no, he expects me to find some alternate way of entertaining myself, but it's a bleak-ish day outside, and a scan of his bookshelves produced no titles which I hadn't read yet-- that is to say, no titles of interest which I hadn't read yet. He reads a lot of genius stuff, so I really didn't expect much to appeal to me.
As I had this afternoon open, and nothing to fill it with, I returned to my room - what *had* been my room, and still was if anyone asked - and to the box of mementos which characterized the most unlikely and un-romantic romance of my life, and certainly the greatest.
I gently set the note from the very top on my pillow, gently pushed a roll of silk to the side--most of my ties hung up on a rack, but as this one had somewhat of a story behind it, I kept it in the box.
There, at the bottom, was a single pressed orchid, between two sheets of tissue paper. One of the yellow ones, plucked in a fit of whimsy one day and worn in my buttonhole, flattened afterwards, and kept. The incident which inspired said fit of whimsy is as follows:
It was an afternoon not much different from this one, only the day was brighter, and as Wolfe was with his babies, I was out. In fact, up until the start of the incident, I had been sitting alone in a diner booth looking out of the window.
"Hey." Saul appeared at my elbow.
I deftly managed to turn my jump of surprise into some form of greeting.
"So..." He said.
"What?" He sounded confused. Not half as confused as I was, and I wondered briefly whether he'd been conked on the head, or just had something important on his mind.
"It seems to me," he said after a pause. "That this conversation did not start out as well as it could have."
"You shoulda been a detective." I said dryly. "Shall we start over?"
"Let's shall." Saul took a deep breath before re-conversing. "How is Lily?"
This turn in the conversation-that-almost-wasn't took me a little off guard, as it wasn't the type of question I'd counted on Saul to ask. In fact, it was pretty far from anything I'd been expecting.
"I wouldn't much know, I'm not into lilies anymore. Oh, sure, I see the lovely Miss Rowen from time to time, socially, but... let's just say I'm interested in a different type of flower nowadays."
"Ah." He nodded, giving me a conspiratorial nudge. "Say, one of those rare hothouse blooms."
"It might be." I shrugged, non-committal. At least, to most people it would be, and I hoped it would withstand his scrutiny as well, but he'd taken me aback bringing up an old occasional flame. "Some vibrant and elusive jungle blossom, seen by few and plucked by fewer. Or it could be some crummy weed you find comin' out of a crack in the sidewalk. I ain't talking."
"Aw, come on, Archie." He nudged me again. "You know you can trust me."
"I'm going to say it is one of those jungle hothouse flowers. Rare. That's just the direction I see you going in."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Could be. Could be anything." I shrugged, but I was starting to sweat.
"A yellow one," he added pointedly.
"Maybe it is. Maybe it's one of those other flowers they got in the jungle, three feet across with big squishy petals, and they smell like rotten meat, but that's a heck of a thing to compare a person to, don't you think?"
He snorted. "I'd love to see the look on his face if you..."
"Look on his face?" I arranged my features into what was, in my professional opinion, a shallow mockery of innocence. "Saul, I would like to know: How much of this is pure conjecture on your part, and how much of it is being circulated in the baser tabloids? And if the answers to both parts are similar, should I be blaming you?"
"To the best of my knowledge, no one else suspects it." He shrugged. "But I wouldn't call it conjecture, Arch. I *know* you and he are... are."
I said some very unflattering things under my breath about Saul, witchcraft, sneakiness, and his own dubious heritage. He only laughed.
"I wouldn't tell a soul," he promised, clapping me on the shoulder and disappearing.
I should think not, as his better meals are provided by the man in question. But despite the un-secret-ness of my secret, I felt pretty light-hearted after the encounter. After all, Saul I figure I can trust with this, and it's a little easier not having some tremendous secret boiling inside you all the time.
So it was with the aforementioned light heart that I returned to the brownstone, skipped up to the orchids and Wolfe, gave him a showy peck on the cheek because I knew Theodore had to be out of town that day, and affixed one of the bright yellow orchids to my lapel.
Wolfe, of course, thought I had gone completely insane, and I can't entirely blame him. He got over it, though, mostly through the virtue of having a really good dinner than anything I might have contributed. If you asked him, he'd probably tell you I'd contributed enough already.
I placed the dried flower back in its home, rearranged all the other things around it, and closed the Ark for the day. It was almost six, and if Wolfe and Theodore aren't in the same room, I can probably get away with doing it again.
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