Chapter 1: First Meet
Jack's eyes rounded. He didn't recall anyone from Flower Bud Village except his late grandpa and a mysterious little girl he had forgotten about. He had come to his grandpa's farm ever since he is in primary school. However, he stopped coming after he enrolled in a junior high school, and he forgot his old friends. When he was a kid, he remembered playing with some children and animals there. Lived in town for a long time made him forgot their names. Back then, he was called "the farmer grandson" and leaving behind the rest of his information. The relationships with his "old" friends slowly had forgotten. Stupid, indeed.
Now, he stopped by the bar and tried to befriend the townspeople. Well, back in the town, a bar was a good place for him to meet people. Another reason to come to the bar because the mayor said this place had the best wine. When he entered the bar, a middle-aged man with fancy clothes welcomed him and introduced himself as "Duke." Jack thought his name suited the bartender's style really well, but not with his job.
However, he felt he missed something from this bar. This bar was full of young men around his age and some old men. He could not meet any girl that he can woo, except the only waitress there. Maybe, she was the only girl in that bar.
"You came all this way just to take care of your grandpa's farm?" said a brunette with blonde bangs who walked toward him. She brought a glass of wine and cheese and placed them on the table. Jack looked at her emerald eyes and smirked a bit.
Such a good-looking girl.
He had seen her before when he visited the vineyard. Jack was drowned into a pair of emerald eyes and back to his consciousness after she flicked her fingers. She worked on her uncle's bar just like Kai had said when he visited the vineyard to introduce himself. When he was at the vineyard, he saw Karen was fighting with her dad and then rushed to leave the vineyard. In fact. She hit his shoulder when she walked away and likely didn't realize his presence at all. No wonder she had not known the new farmer.
Jack nodded silently, felt something had gotten inside his head. A memory of his childhood. He saw his old self stood beside his grandpa and stared at the girl who just arrived from the beach. Somehow, the girl had a similar atmosphere with Karen.
"Yeah, I'm Jack," he said, then curved a genuine smile on his lips.
The brunette paused a bit with rounded eyes. "Oh," she mumbled. "I'm Karen," she answered and averted her eyes.
"Nice to meet you," he replied and smiled again, but she only looked at him coldly, turned away, and walked away did not reply to his greet.
Cold, he claimed. It's such a shame she is cold. He shook his head, trying to get rid of his bad thought. Stop it, Jack, stop thinking about her. Just drink the juice and go back to the farm.
The juice was sweet. It had a unique flavor. It was not like juices he ever drank in his hometown. The sweetness, sour, and also the nice scene mixed all well together. He licked his upper mouth didn't want to leave any drop of it. After finishing his juice, he rose and headed to the bartender, then paid for the juice, the wine. "Thanks for the drink," he said and walked to the doorway.
"Have a nice night," said Duke.
Jack laughed awkwardly and glanced at Karen, but she turned away.
"Oh," Karen looked at him, "welcome to Flowerbud Village," she said, then smiled a bit.
He didn't know why his heart skipped a beat and feel a butterfly in his stomach.
Chapter 2: The Delayed Goddess
"Who did you choose to be the Goddess?" Cliff asked. Strangely, he became so friendly after Jack gave him food at their first met. Within days, strangely, they become close. Cliff was standing beside Jack, and they were waiting for the Flower Festival to begin.
Jack shrugged and smiled. "That is a secret."
Cliff hummed and stared at the door that would be the way for the Goddess to come. "Since you're new here, do you know that you can not choose the Goddess as your dancing partner?"
A pair of brown eyes widened. "Wait, what?" He tilted his head. He remembered that he came to this festival when he was a little kid and saw how couples dance together after a girl was chosen to be the goddess. Thanks to Cliff, he regretted choosing Ellie as the Goddess. Jack groaned softly, hoping that he could turn back the time. However, at the same time, he really wanted to see how beautiful Ellie would be in the Goddess's dress. Also, he knew the girl really wanted to be one.
"Ah I knew it," he smiled mischievously. "Let's hope she won't be the Goddess," Cliff said and chuckled softly.
"Crap …." Jack sighed and looked at the door. Being new here and didn't know festival rules made him regretted his choice. He wanted to saw her in the Goddess gown, but he also wanted to dance with her.
Thomas opened the door. Ann, Karen, Maria, and Popuri came out and scattered flower petals, and then Ellie walked out in the Goddess dress. She was wearing a pink gown with a flower crown above her light chocolate hair. Beautiful. Their gaze met each other, and both of them smiled shyly. Rose blushes appeared on her cheek, very beautiful. However, he felt a weight on his heart. He could dance with her next year, probably.
Jack heard a silent murmur from the man beside him. Cliff's face was red, so he followed his gaze and found Ann smiling at them.
He glanced at Karen, who stood beside Ann and was swirling her feet. She pouted and averted her eyes from everyone who came to get a flower. She was the one he thought like a rude person, now standing pouting like a little girl. The gaze that bewitched him in the bar now made him giggle.
Why does she put that face? Maybe she wanted to be the Goddess.
"This is the flow-," she said, forcing a smile at Jack.
A strange idea popped into his head. Even though he could not dance with a certain girl, he still could have fun. "Do you want to dance with me?" he asked and smirked. It was enjoyable to see her face that turned red in a second. Especially remembering how she pouted before and acted rudely when in the bar.
"Wha-what, why so suddenly?" Karen asked but reached Jack's hand shyly. Both of them turned away with the red face. He took a glance at Karen and smiled at her.
Why does my heart could not calm down? She is Karen, remember.
A memory flashed in his mind. A little girl and this plaza. The farmer saw his little self and was standing at the center of the town plaza. Wore blue clothes and a brown baseball hat. A pink-dressed little girl stood beside him, acted like a Goddess then dancing along with the other.
"Wha-what's wrong?" Karen asked with red cheeks. She growled at him, who was spaced out for a while.
Jack shook. "Nothing," he smiled while the girl lowered her gaze.
They danced along with the other couples. Dancing shyly and get embarrassed whenever their hand touched. Jack kept stepped Karen's feet, but that didn't make her stopped her steps. When the music stopped, Jack twirled Karen, and she fell on his arm.
"Sorry, I'm not a good dancer," Jack said and smirked.
"Your dance is suck."
Chapter 3: The Dog Lover
It didn't take a long time for Jack to befriend the Flowerbud villagers. However, the brunette with blonde bangs wasn't on his list. It was hard to befriend her as hard as he tried to tame Gray's horse. She had been avoiding him for some reason after the flower festival. Every time they met, Karen turned away.
From all of the townspeople, he was close with both Ellie and Ann. Ellie e was the sweetest girl in the Flowerbud Village. He liked how Ellie was full of curiosity, especially about the town where he lived in. Even though he just met her, but at the end of Summer, she told him about her dream to be a weather girl or work in a town hall. Ann was also as sweet as Ellie. They were sweet, even Ann with her tomboyish attitude, and he treated her like a sister. After all, he was the only child in his family, and it was quite fun to have a sister who always blushed whenever he teased her.
"Ah! You bring Rook here!" Ann said happily and ran toward Jack and his dog, Rook. "I haven't seen him in two weeks!" Ann laughed and patted Rook's head. She blushed when she realized Jack smiled at her, then averted her eyes.
Jack kneeled, leveling Ann's height. "I want to take a walk with Rook, want to join us?" He smirked.
Ann looked troubled. She glanced at her brother, Gray, who glared at them. Ann sighed. "I'm sorry, I think I couldn't even though I want to join." Ann rose and sighed again. "I can't leave my job, or else dad will mad at me," she said while rolling her eyes.
He smiled and rose. "Okay then, see you later, Ann." He glanced at Gray and smirked.
"See you, Jack."
Jack waved at Gray, who shoved snow. "See you, Gray. Good luck with Popuri! She said she would help you to plant some flower after the snow melted," Jack said and then laughed as Gray screamed at him, but the farmer already ran away with his dog.
By the time he reached the town, he had found Karen standing before him, holding a bottle of wine, probably delivering it to Thomas.
He smiled. "Hi," Jack said to Karen and Kai.
Kai nodded and smiled.
Karen didn't answer his greet. She locked her eyes at Rook, who was running around Jack. Her eyes were sparkling, and her face went red.
"Karen, what's wrong?" Jack asked.
She kneeled and hugged Rook. "I've never met a cute dog as yours!"
Jack then stared at Karen and kneeled as he patted Rook's head. "I don't know you are a dog lover." He smirked at Karen, lowered her head, and hid her red face that was redder than tomatoes.
"We-well, your dog doesn't seem too clever!" She said and turned her head away.
"Huh?" Jack paused but then laughed at Karen.
"What are you laughing at!?"
He shook his head. "I remember a girl who used to play with my grandpa's dog."
Karen's eyes rounded, and blushes appeared on her cheeks. "Hu-huh?"
"If you like Rook so much, you are welcomed to come to my farm and play with Rook," Jack said and smiled broadly.
Karen averted her eyes but then took a glance at the farmer that made her heart racing, "O-okay."
Jack stood and stretched his body. "I'll wait for your visit, but now I must go," he waved at Karen, "since I've promised Rook to take a walk with him, later," he finished his sentence and ran with his dog to the town.
Kai, who was following Karen, looked at her. "Miss, what's wrong? You're all red!"
Karen snapped her eyes and shook her head. "I'm fine!"
Chapter 4: The Stalker
Jack glanced at the path on his field. He could sense something was standing there just a few seconds ago. However, when he turned his head, he found nothing. It happened since he took his dog, Rook, for a walk. He began to feel someone was watching him. Of course, it left the farmer an eery feeling.
The farmer entered his house as he felt something was not right. He took his dog with him. When he opened the door, he screamed when he saw Cliff was there, eating mochi with his falcon.
"You give me a shock, Cliff!" Jack slumped against the door and let go of Rook. "Oh my God, I thought you were the stalker." He raised his eyebrow. How could he enter my house?
"Someone is following you?" Cliff's eyes were rounded then he sat with his leg crossed as he clapped his hand. "I think I could find the stalker." Cliff then peered into Jack's eyes.
Jack sighed, "oh thank God, I really need that, who knows that stalker wants to hurt me or my animals."
Cliff hummed as he pressed a hand to his mouth.
Jack put his beer on while furrowing. He hummed and crossed his arms.
"Why with that long face, Jack?" Duke asked while wiping a glass and laughing.
Jack sighed. "I think someone is stalking me," he said as he rested his arm on the bar counter and pressed his interlaced hands to his mouth. "And I think the stalker is here too …. I can feel someone is stalking me right now."
Duke glanced at a brunette girl who served a drink. Duke grinned and laughed. "Maybe it is just your imagination, Jack!"
"I hope it is true but I feel someone is following me." Jack turned his head when Cliff called him.
"Hey, Jack, I know who the stalker is!" Cliff entered the bar like this place was his. When he found that the bar was crowded, his face flushed, then he rushed to his friend.
"So, who is the stalker?" Jack asked with a serious face.
"It is Ka-" a glass of beer bumped his face before he could finish his sentence.
"I'm sorry, Cliff!" Karen suddenly screamed.
Karen's face was red. She looked at Jack awkwardly as she wrapped her hands on Cliff's neck.
"Ka-Karen … I think Cliff is …." as much Jack wanted to stop Karen, Karen looked at him with her deadly gaze.
"Come with me, Cliff, we need to change your clothes!" Karen dragged Cliff outside.
"What is that …" The farmer raised an eyebrow while looking at those cousins.
"You often come here didn't you?" said Jeff, the head of the café which Ellie had worked even before he came to this village.
Three seasons. It was already three seasons he always came to here in his lunchtime after he didn't have time to make it himself. Time passed as he didn't realize it. Indeed, he was too busy to check the calendar for farming, took care of animals, and made friends with villagers, yet he had not figured out who the stalker was.
"Yeah because I like Ellie's cake. It filled up my stamina," he answered and then laughed cheerfully.
Ellie blushed like tomato hearing things that came out from the farmer. She was trying to hide her face with a round tray she was holding. "Thank you for the compliment."
"I said the truth," he said brightly.
"Bu-but thanks to your work so you can burn all calories that you've got from these cakes," she said and pouted, "You know, I'm kind of jealous that you didn't get any fat from my cakes." She let a sigh and held the round tray in front of her tummy. "I'm the type of people that will get chubby for just a slice of cake."
Jack gaped his mouth and smiled.
She was scratching her cheek with her index finger while the eyes looked around, too embarrassed to look directly to his eyes. "I'm kinda worried about it because some boys prefer a skinny girl like Ann, right?" She questioned him, giving a hint to him although knowing he wouldn't be aware of it.
Jack smiled and smirked. "Don't worry about it. You're beautiful just the way you're."
Ellie blushed again and turned away. "O-oh okay. I think I'll go back to work, and thanks for coming."
Jack stood up and waved his hand to Ellie and Jeff. As he went out of the café, Ellie called him.
"This is your scarf, isn't it?" Ellie asked and handed the red wool scarf that Jack usually wore in winter.
"Thanks," he said and wrapped the scarf around his neck.
"Please don't work too hard in winter," Ellie said.
"Ya, thanks. Then, I'll go. Bye," he smiled.
When Jack rushed to Ann's place to bought some fodder stock, he glanced at the sight of Karen that watching him from the Lilia's Flower Shop. Karen turned her head and skipped stones.
Is that my imagination?
The farmer then entered the store.
"So, you want to buy some stocks for winter?" Doug asked while he was counting some golds in his hand.
"Yea, this winter is rough and I think there will be a blizzard tomorrow," Jack stated as he gave some golds to the orange-haired life-stock dealer. "Didn't you feel it too, Doug? The temperature is lower than last weeks as weather-forecast said."
Doug sneered. "Yea, then don't make Ann work on your farm."
"I didn't. It was her who offered help," Jack stated as he picked some bags of fodders.
"Then just decline her offers," Doug said rudely.
Jack laughed awkwardly. "I'll try it." Then he smirked.
The door opened and two of them looked straight away to the doorway. That was Gray, stood with some mud in his shoes and smelled bad because of manure.
"Done with work, Gray?" Doug asked.
Gray nodded as he glanced at his dad. "Ya."
"Have you seen Ann?" Doug asked.
"No, maybe she is in the cave with Cliff or making some chocolate." He answered and put a big fork, then went outside.
"Ck, that son."
Like father like son, I guess ...
Jack went outside with fodders in his hands.
There she was again. Jack glanced at Karen, knowing that she was kind of stalking him from the early day. She was hiding back at the small house beside Doug's store.
Just ignore it, Jack.
When he heard steps behind his back. He turned back. "Found ya!"
"Wha!" Karen screamed as he stepped back.
"What are you doing? Are you stalking me?"
"No! Don't full of yourself!" She answered with a high voice. "There is no way I'll stalk you!"
Jack raised one of his eyebrows and then pointed to Karen's hiding place before. "Then, what are you doing there?"
She blushed and clenched fists. "Wha?! So you know that I was hiding there from the start!"
"Uhmm yea ..."
She ran past Jack on the way to her home-vineyard.
"Don't talk to me!" She rushed and didn't even look back at him.
"What's wrong with her?"
"Tsk, girl," said the voice behind Jack. He knew very well the voice, he turned back and found Gray was walking toward him. "She was there since you entered the store."
"So, you've watched it all?" Jack asked.
Gray nodded. "From the very beginning."
So … is she the stalker? The farmer was unsure. He looked at the path to the vineyard then laughed.