Aurora made sure to show up early for her first day of working for her boyfriend. She laughed softly at this situation and her mother always warning her that whatever job she was in, never get in too close with your boss. It could mean trouble. Well, this was a different situation considering they were boyfriend and girlfriend way before he ever offered her this job. After she walked into the factory, she noticed it wasn’t much bigger than the RV his mother set up near his smaller cabin. She passed his cabin and signed softly, missing the days when it seemed the two would enjoy a day without a worry in the world. Now, things were a little different, but she knew this day was coming. His success was sure to come soon, but she just wished it had taken a little longer before it happened. She felt selfish, but she couldn’t help the feeling of just wanting things to be a little simpler. That’s how it’s been her whole life growing up – simple. But it was now things felt more complicated than ever.
She could tell that only after her month absence, there was something different about Once-ler. He was much more brazen where he used to be so shy and sweet. He was more obsessed with his business and the priority shift was monumental, but she knew he still was just the marshmallow-loving goofball she fell in love with on the inside. He just needed a little time away from his overbearing work load to let it come through. She knew it was going to be hard, but she was determined to keep him levelheaded and keep his mind on what really mattered as well as building their relationship and letting it continue to grow.
Aurora smiled as she walked into the factory and was greeted by Once-ler. He smiled and didn’t waste any time in giving her a tight hug and a warm kiss on her lips. “You’re early!” he said happily . “It’s my first day of work. Gotta make a good first impression.” She replied with a smirk and a wink.
“Great. Alright, um. You’ll be sitting here.” Once-ler said, walking over to the main hall way where the splitting corridors opened. There sat a dark cherry wood desk with a bright red phone on its smooth surface. A pile of customer order forms in a small metal tray and a small truffula tree in a planter behind the desk. She looked around at the wooden floors and beautiful red paint of the factory design.
“Wow. I bet this was expensive.”
“Not too bad. Got some collaboration by offering a good deal on some bulk thneeds and other thneed clothing, they gave us a pretty good deal. Also, my mom did a bulk of the designing aspect of it, so all in all, it turned out to be a pretty good turnout.” He replied, walking over behind the desk and touching the tuft of the sapling truffula tree with the fingers of his dark green gloves.
“So, I just answer phones and take orders?”
“Yeah, you might have to fetch a few things for me now and again, but other than that, it should be fairly simple and self-explanatory.”
“Wonderful. Alright, if you need me, I’ll be in my office down the hall.” He replied with a wink as he walked down the hallway until he turned to the right and she lost sight of him behind the doorframe.”
Aurora walked around behind the front desk, her fingers touching the truffula’s tuft, not really wanting to question why Once-ler would dig up a truffula and plant it in a pot inside his factory’s front desk. As she sat down in the cushy office chair, she spun around once and laughed, not full realizing how quickly it would move on the freshly polished wood flooring.
“Oh, slacking off already, huh?” Isabella said, walking over to the young woman.
Aurora didn’t answer, just said a polite “Good morning,” as Isabella walked passed her desk and over to Once-ler’s office.
Aurora sighed after Isabella was out of sight. She shook her head at the woman’s blatant works when she heard the phone ring.
The day went by pretty slowly. She only took about a dozen orders by noon and the rest of the time she spent trying to stay awake among the humming of the bright lights above her head. As the day went on, she didn’t see a trace of Once-ler. His family sure was everywhere though. Bret and Chet would waltz pass by and ask her ridiculous questions while the Aunt Griselda wasted no time in even a hello. Uncle Ubb was a bit nicer, smiling and waving when he passed the desk. The worst to Aurora was still the Once-ler’s mother. Isabella would walk by and berate every little thing Aurora would do, even in the way she stacked the papers. As she spoke with a customer on the phone and wrote down their address and order information as they gave it to her. “You have a good day. Goodbye.” She said pleasantly before hanging up the phone.
Aurora stacked up the paper with the others when she heard someone walking across the room and her eyes lit up when she seen Once-ler walking over to her.
Isabella looked from behind a doorframe at the young woman sitting at the desk. She watched as Once-ler left his office and walked over to her desk, placing his elbow on the wooden surface and leaning over close to the young woman. A conversation began between the two that she couldn’t quite hear the words but watching as Aurora placed her hand on his hand before leaning over the desk, she could understand the content pretty easily. Not being able to stand their flirtatious behavior any longer, she quickly came out of her surveillance spot and walked quickly toward the desk.
“Oh, hello, Oncie! You done with those blueprints already!?” Isabella announced loudly as she walked over to the two.
Once-ler visually jumped as he was backing up from the front desk. “No. Not yet.”
“Then why are you out here dawdling, honey? Our customers aren’t going to wait while you just waste time, Oncie.” “Mom, I’ve been working on them all day! I needed a break!” Once-ler replied, taking a deep breath and sighing at this mother words.
“Yeah, he’s a hard-worker. He deserves a break once in a while.” Aurora interceded, making sure to defend her boyfriend.
“And who asked you, secretary? Get back to work! This doesn’t concern you!”
“Don’t you talk to her like that!” Once-ler said, his voice rising slightly, shocking everyone around including himself.
“Fine.” Isabella said after a few brief moments of unbearable silence.
“Wait. Where are you going?” Once-ler asked.
“Leaving. Packing up the family and going. I don’t want to be sticking around here with a child with no respect for the woman who gave him life.” She said emotionlessly as she walked toward the hall.
In a flash, Aurora watched as Once-ler sprinted to her side and apologized at least half a dozen times, begging for his mother to stay and help. Aurora sighed, watching Isabella play her son like a fiddle. He didn’t stand a chance. Aurora sighed, happy to hear the phone ringing and answered it and began taking the customer’s information as Once-ler and Isabella walked by. It appeared as if Isabella decided to stay after she heard Once-ler promising to finish the blueprints by nightfall.
As they walked past the desk, Once-ler glanced at Aurora. An apology apparent in his sad blue eyes, and after Once-ler turned his face back to where he was walking, Aurora’s eyes fell on Isabella, who just smirked at the redhead. Aurora didn’t return it, she just watched and wondered just how strong of a hold she had on Once-ler and just became more determined to break it.
Once-ler sat in his office, eyes tracing over his finished factory expansion blueprints, subconsciously undoing his tie and let it rest along his shoulders as he undid a few of the top buttons on his white button-up shirt. He sighed deeply as he peeked over at his window and noticed the sun quickly falling to the horizon. He glanced at the clock on his wall and the hands pointed to ‘6:55’, just a few minutes before closing time. He also looked out the window again and watched as his mother was walking to her RV and closing the door behind her. Once-ler smiled at this newfound development and quickly rose to his feet and walked out of his office.
Aurora sat at the desk, answering the last few calls coming in before the company hours were set to close while simultaneously sorting out papers to keep them organized before they got a little too bit out of hand. She was on the phone with a customer and taking down information when her neck snapped up after a shadow was cast along her desk and she looked up to see Once-ler sitting on her desk, crossing those gorgeous legs that seemed to go on for miles, and pushing his glasses on top of his head. She audibly peeped when she felt him hand grazing her face. Her cheeks burning a bright pink hue when she felt the weight of his hat fall on her head.
“Ma’am?” the customer asked over the line.
“Oh, yes, sir. We’ll get it to you as soon as possible.” Aurora said, finally regaining control of her voice and avoiding Once-ler as he leaned down and played with her hair.
“No problem. Have a goodnight sir.” Aurora said before quickly placing the phone back on the receiver. “Can’t you see I was busy?” she said, a bit stunned and not at all sure what to say to her adorable boyfriend.
“No, not really.” He replied coyly, standing back to his feet before continuing, “So… how was your first day?” Once-ler asked leaning his hand on the desk and placing back on the at after she handed it back to him.
“Bearable, I suppose.” Aurora replied, a forced smile on her delicate features as the pressure of the day was apparent on her face. Once-ler watched as she finished sorting out the papers and piled them neatly into the metal bin.
“Listen, I’ll talk to her about being a bit nicer. She’s just not used to seeing her little boy grown up, owning a company, having a ravishing girlfriend… It’s all new to her.” Once-ler said after a few moments, leaning over closer to her face before pushing forward and kissing her on her lips.
Aurora was in a bit of shock at first, but gladly closed her eyes and returned the affection as she felt his gloved hand behind her head pulling her deeper into his kiss. Her left hand grasped his bicep as they pulled away. Aurora quickly moved her hand to her face and fixed her now smeared lipstick and laughed when she noticed a trace of the coral lipstick on Once-ler’s smiling lips.
“Oops.” She said with a giggle as she pulled a tissue from the box underneath the desk and wiped it away.
“Thanks.” He said, leaning in to give her a ghost of a kiss before pulling back and continuing, “Want to join me for dinner?”
“What are you making?”
“Making? Nah. I haven’t cooked in weeks. Let’s just go out. I can afford it now” Once-ler suggested with a laugh and an incredible toothy smile.
Aurora hesitated momentarily before saying, “Sure.”
Once-ler smiled, taking her hand and pulling her from behind the desk where she was still seated in the office chair. She laughed softly as he took her other hand and pulling her to her feet. She looked up at his tall figure and bit her bottom lip as she felt his hands rubbing circles in her back. She closed her eyes and laid her head against his chest as her arms linked around his waist.
She stood back slightly feeling his skin against her face and realized his shirt was undone. “We can’t go out like this. Here.” She said, slowly buttoning his shirt back up and fixing his tie. Once-ler smiled softly, his hands resting along her shoulders
“Thanks. Now, Come on. Let’s go before it gets too late.” He whispered as she pulled away and she happily took the arm he offered and they walked out of the factory.
The two conversed as they walked along the familiar forest. Isabella looked out her RV’s window and irritably watching the two walk farther in the distance. She shook her head at the sight before closing the blinds.
Isabella walked over to the kitchen table where Griselda was sitting and eating an overcooked TV dinner. “Where those two going?” Griselda asked.
“No idea…. Ugh, that girl…. She’s just so…”
“Dreamy?” Chet swooned walking through the kitchen and grabbing a soda from the fridge.
“Shut up!” Griselda said, leaning back and aiming to hit her son on the back of his head, but he dodged it and ran back to his bedroom.
“Really, we need to do something about this girl, sis!” Isabella stated angrily as she calmed herself by rubbing her hand along the fur of her fox scarf.
“What is the problem? Aren’t you happy Once-ler found someone? I mean, at least this way, it keeps him out of our hair.” Griselda said, standing up after finishing the dinner and throwing away the tray in the trash before sitting back down.
“You just don’t get it do you?”
“This girl is going to make him lose his business.”
“She digs her claws in him, takes him away from his work, and before we know it, he’ll lose his customers, which means, we’ll lose out on all that money! She needs to be stopped!” Isabella said, standing to her feet and hitting her fist angrily on the table.
“Well, what are we supposed to do? Once-ler will never dump her and I don’t think she would either.” Griselda replied.
“I don’t know…” she said, glancing out the window and looking at the truffula trees swaying in the warm evening wind. “Then again…” she continued, an evil smirk appearing on her face as her mind began putting the plan into motion.
Norma and Aurora sat outside their apartment on a picnic table in the afternoon. Aurora sat quietly as Norma conversed with a few friends from her college classes. She took a deep breath and looked down at the glass of iced tea in her hand. Aurora smiled at her fellow classmates as they enjoyed the lunch her and Norma had prepared earlier that day.
“Come on, Aurora. Don’t tell me you’re not hungry! You haven’t eaten since last night.” Norma said, nudging Aurora.
“Oh, all right. Twist my arm, why don’t you?” she said, picking up a cob of corn. As soon as she was about to bite into the yellow kernels, she paused, and instead just placed it down on the plate.
Norma looked sympathetically at her best friend as she watched her push the plate away from her. “Hey…” Norma said, placing her arm around Aurora’s thin shoulders. “You need to stop thinking about him is it’s gonna keep bothering you! Come on, just have some fun! Everything will be alright. You’ll see.”
Aurora looked up at Norma, who slightly adjusted her glasses. “You’re right.” Aurora replied. “I need to start being a little selfish too. I just can’t let him control my life.”
“Good for you. Now, eat up!” Norma said, pushing back the plate to Aurora.
“Thanks, Norma.” Aurora smiled.
The day passed by quickly. One by one, their college friends left and Aurora and Norma were sitting out on the picnic table in their apartments with a few other people in their apartment complex, a few of whom were starting to set off fireworks in the midst of the night sky forming around them.
Aurora smiled at the bright fireworks exploding with sparks of color and smoke. Her eyes widened when she felt a hand placed upon her bare shoulder. She looked up and her eyes grew even wider when her face fell upon Once-ler, who had a sad smile on his face.
Norma looked up at the unexpected visitor questioning what she was going to do if Aurora starting giving him a piece of her mind – but it didn’t happen. She just watched as Once-ler sat down on the bench next to her. His arm wrapping around her shoulder as he spoke but Norma couldn’t quite hear the exchange.
Aurora sighed deeply, she couldn’t look at him and flinched at his arm around her shoulder. Her eyes remained on the sand under her feet as she wondered what exactly to do. She then remembered her words to Norma last night – “I can’t be the person always going to him. I need him to know he still loves me and is willing to give up just a little bit of power to keep me…” with that thought, she heard the words she never imagined she’d be so happy to hear…
“I’m sorry.” He said vying to get her attention. He felt horrible for what he said yesterday, and as much as he wanted to make it up to her, he felt more like it was too late. “Please, look at me…” he asked, reaching over with his left hand to touch her face.
Aurora hesitantly allowed him to turn her face toward him. Her eyes remained indifferent as he looked at her still not exactly sure how to form the words he wanted to. At his company, he had control. His destiny was his own and he had control – but now he felt as if he was losing grip in a relationship with the girl who meant the world to him. He knew he’s been wrong about spending so much time obsessing with his company. He knew he couldn’t continue if he hoped to keep her – and was just trying to find the words to fix whatever he’d done wrong.
“What?” Aurora asked coldly wondering if he’d finally gained back his senses and was being cautious not to fall for those eyes so easily this time around.
“I made a mistake. I put my company over you and I shouldn’t have. I know I need to work on that – so please, can I get another chance. Please?” he asked.
Norma looked on at scene wondering if it was wrong to stick around and watch the scene unfold, and against her better judgment, decided to stick around.
Aurora sighed looking in front of her and her neighbors looking back and motioning at Once-ler and talking amongst themselves. She knew it was only a matter of time before they figured out who he was and about to fawn over him like all the other women at Once-ler’s television appearances. As she sat there feeling his arm loosely draped around her shoulder, she thought if she really wanted this to continue. The piece of him she loved was still around but she questioned for how long. She desperately wanted to believe he would remain the same. She looked into Once-ler’s eyes and searched them for an answer.
Once-ler smiled softly as his fingers absentmindedly played with a few strands of her red hair. “Come on… What do you say?” he continued, nudging her softly with his hip.
“You know what I hate about you?” she asked, a smile still absent from her face.
Once-ler was taken aback by her question but wanted to know the answer, “What?” he asked.
To his surprise, he saw a smile tugging at her lips as she replied, “That you’re so darn hard to stay mad at…”
Once-ler smiled back brightly as he felt her leaning against his chest and hugging him around his ribcage.
Norma smiled at the scene and was just so delighted for her best friend. “Aw! That’s so sweet!” Norma gushed as Aurora blushed, pulling away from him.
“Come on. It’s cute.”
“Hey, Norma. Nice to see you again.” Once-ler said acknowledging the brunette and tipping his top hat at her.
“You too, Once-ler. Nice clothes.” Norma complimented him on his green attire.
“Thanks, and guess what they’re made from?” he asked, offering is gloved arm to her to feel the fabric.
Norma rubbed the fabric softly and guessed, “Cashmere?”
Once-ler just lifted his brows and said, “Nope… Looks like you ‘thhhhneed’ to guess again.” He continued with a slight chuckle accenting his voice.
“No way! You’re kidding me!? You make clothes out of thneeds now?! Since when?” Norma asked, her eyes wide.
“Well, not for production, but we’re still working on it with the manufacturer. They’re gonna be available soon. I’d be happy to give you the first set at discount.” He offered with a smile.
“I’d love it! Wow, thanks, Once-ler. Hey, um, would you like a glass of tea or something? There’s plenty of food left over too. It’s in the fridge back at the apartment. Come up and help yourself to as much as you’d like.” Norma offered as she stood up.
Once-ler hesitated momentarily before shrugging his shoulders. ‘Sure. Why not?” he asked.
Aurora smiled as she stood to her feet and Once-ler joined her after a moment as the two headed into the apartment.
Norma lagged behind and their three girl neighbors walked over to Norma. “Is that Once-ler? That dreamy businessman from those commercials and magazines.” their blonde neighbor asked.
“…yes…” Norma replied.
“OMG! He’s even more gorgeous in person!” she continued turning to her friends who were as equally excited.
“Sorry, girls. He’s taken.” Norma said before running up the stairs into the apartment after Aurora and Once-ler.
Once-ler smiled looking around at some of the pictures hanging on the wall of Norma and Aurora’s friends and family as Norma and Aurora were heating up some of the leftovers. “Here.” Aurora said as she walked over to Once-ler with a glass of iced tea. “Thanks.” He said before looking back at the pictures.
“Once?” Aurora asked, touching his arm.
“Yeah?” he asked looking at her as he took a sip of the cold beverage.
“I gotta know – what the heck did your mother say when you said you were coming here tonight?”
“Oh, yeah. I bet she had a cow.” Norma commented from the kitchen.
“Well, I’m sure she would have – if I told her.” He said with a laugh.
“You didn’t tell her?” Aurora asked in shock.
“Nope.” He replied.
Aurora just smiled at his comment before walking back over to the kitchen with Norma to continue warming up the food.
The night went on and the sky soon became dark. “Come on, Once-ler!” Aurora said, pulling him from his seat on the couch and pulling him outside behind Norma.
“What is it?” he asked as he followed the two girls down the stairs.
Once-ler looked down at his girlfriend, the only light reflecting off her ivory skin was from an apartment window. The rest of the night around them was pitch-black as he felt her take his hand and looked up at the sky. Once-ler squinted his eyes slightly in question but looked up at the sky nonetheless. A few cracks of what he thought was distant thunder turned out to be an incredibly vibrant fireworks display. The showers of the colors of the rainbow lit up the sky as the bright different sized circles of light lit up the dark sky.
Once-ler smiled softly when her grip his hand tightly and scoot closer to him.
Norma looked over at the two and gave Aurora a ‘thumbs up’ and Aurora happily returned it.
After the light show, Norma suggested a movie and popcorn. Once-ler absentmindedly glanced at his watch and knew he should be getting back soon and actually should have been back already. He let out a breath he didn’t even know he’d been holding as he glanced over to Norma and Aurora who were in the kitchen cleaning up and getting the popcorn started. Aurora caught his gaze and smiled softly at him. Once-ler returned it and knew if he left now, he might as well kiss his relationship with the redhead goodbye. He imagined his mother’s face when she realized he wasn’t home. He knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant interaction tomorrow, but knew it wasn't anything he couldn't work out.
As the night went on, the few hours past midnight showed on the small clock on the wall. Norma smiled at the two. She stood up and stretched, her shirt lifting slightly off her curvy figure.
“Heading off to bed?” Aurora asked.
“Yeah. I’m beat.”
“Maybe I should be going too.” Once-ler said while standing to his feet.
“Nonsense. Stay as long as you want. You can even crash on the couch if you want.” Aurora suggested.
“No. I don’t want to impose.” He said, reaching for his hat.
“Aw, come on! It’s really dark out there. You don’t want to go home in this.” Norma said, putting her hands firmly on her hips.
Once-ler was about to refuse and head for the door, but he caught Aurora’s eyes and knew he had no other choice. After a few moments, he said, “Okay.”
“Great. I’ll go get you some blankets.” Aurora said, standing to her feet and headed for her hall closet.
Norma just reached up and pat him on the shoulder. “You’ve made her really happy you know.” Norma said softly. “I haven’t seen a smile like that on her in quite a while.”
Once-ler just smiled at her comment before Norma headed off to bed.
Aurora was taking a while when Once-ler decided to see what she was doing. He walked over to the direction she went and glanced into her room where he saw her paintings. “Wow. You paint?” Once-ler said when he noticed her stacking a few paintings on top of one.
“Once-ler! Oh, um… Yeah. Here’s the blankets. Have a goodnight.” Aurora said quickly walking to meet him at the doorframe before he walked further in the room.
“Come on, let me see them.” He said with a tsk in his voice.
Aurora felt her face flush before hesitantly stepping aside and allowing him in her room. “Oh, and some of them are still wet. I wouldn’t touch them with your gloves on if I were you.” Aurora said nervously.
“You really have a gift… Since when do you paint?” he asked turning to look at her.
“It was just a seminar I took, but I’m really drawn to it for some reason. I’m planning on getting a degree in it actually.”
“I don’t even think you need one. You’re so good already. Wow. I – I really am impressed, Aurora… Hey… Is that me?” Once-ler said incredulously as he pulled back one of the paintings and exposed one she had done of him.
Aurora just blushed and meekly replied, “Yeah…”
Once-ler smiled when he turned to her. “Why are you embarrassed?”
“I don’t know…”
“You shouldn’t be.” Once-ler said walking over to her.
Aurora looked back up at him into those blue eyes and smiled.
“Goodnight.” Once-ler said before bending down and kissing her cheek and walking back to the living room.
Aurora just smiled and sighed. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this way and felt more positive than ever that everything was going to be okay. Maybe even better than she ever imagined.
Once-ler sighed softly as he took off his clothes until he was down to his undershirt and boxers and lay down on the couch. He looked up at the ceiling and clicked off the lamp behind him before falling asleep.
Morning came quickly. Aurora got dressed in a pencil skirt and green strapless top and made her she put up her hair before she walked into the living room where Once-ler sat on the couch and sleepily putting his pants back on. He stood up and zipped them before putting on his white work shirt and buttoning it. He only halfway tucked it in when he picked up his tie and noticed the knot had been undone. He groaned inwardly because he had no idea how to do a tie and usually just let his uncle tie it for him. Oce-ler struggled with the stripped black and lime green tie when Aurora walked over to him.
“Need some help?” she asked.
Once-ler just smiled and said, ‘sure’ before handing her the tie. She draped the tie over his shoulders and tucked it in under the collar of his white shirt.
As she worked on tying it, her eyes remained on the task in front of her. She felt the blood rushing to her cheeks before whispering, “Thank you… you know, for coming over… I know you’re busy and I just wanted to let you know I was happy to see you and to thank you for taking time away from your busy schedule to see me.”
“Thank you for inviting me.” He whispered, his fingers on the rim of his hat before placing it on his head.
“There you go.” Aurora said, her hands still straightening out the now knotted tie.
“Thanks.” Once-ler replied.
Aurora swallowed a lump in her throat before she looked up at Once-ler and without further hesitation, gripped the black and green fabric tightly and pulled his face down until his lips met hers. Once-ler eyes widened at her actions but he quickly returned it.
“Get a room.” Norma commented as she sleepily walked into the kitchen to make coffee.
“Norma!” Aurora said, her face red as she glanced over at her smiling friend.
“You guys headed out to work?” Norma asked as she was filling the coffee pot with water.
“Oh, yeah. I’m gonna be late. Ready to go?” Once-ler asked, throwing on his glove and jacket.
“Yeah.” Aurora said walking over to her high heels that were still littered in the corner of their living room. After putting them on, she grabbed her purse and unlocked and opened the front door.
“See you later, Norma.” Once-ler said, waving at the brunette before exiting the door.
Norma just waved back and smiled. “Bye you two! Have a good day!”
“See you tonight!” Aurora said before giving her friend a quick wave and shutting the door behind her.