Cursing under her breath, Aoife began scampering through the streets of Granor, side-stepping and hopping over the large puddles that were forming as the rain pelted down on the city. It seemed that the sky had suddenly gone dark and then, without warning, the heavens had opened.
"Just my luck," she thought as she ran, tucking some loose strands of red hair under her sodden flat-cap. The ankles of her trousers were sopping wet and the loose clothes that usually made her appear far more masculine were hugging her figure so that, even if her hair was hidden, the feminine hour-glass figure that could be seen clearly gave away she was a woman.
The redhead groaned to herself as her foot landed in a deep, muddy puddle, causing large droplets to fly up and drench her leg. The rain was getting heavier and heavier now. Without another thought, Aoife span round and dashed into the first shop she clapped her eyes on. Sprinting into cover, the redhead slammed the door behind her and stopped to catch her breath. Her hand reached for her cap and she pulled it off, letting her damp curls fall out. Green eyes glanced around the room, taking in all the bright colours of the store.
"A flower shop?" Aoife mumbled, smiling slightly to herself as she began strolling around and admiring all the plants. The splashes of colour had suddenly brightened her mood from the grey, wet that was just outside the door.
Mei had been coming back from a delivery when the sky had clouded up. Huffing good naturedly - for rain was good for flowers, after all - she hurried her pace and managed to get her more delicate arrangements back inside just before it started to rain. And rain it did. She watched from the front window as the drizzle became a shower and then a downpour, and the people in the streets scurried for cover. Well, she'd made it inside, at least, and didn't have to worry about catching a chill from damp clothes.
On the off chance someone did come in that hadn't packed an umbrella... she lit a fire in her small fireplace, and put on a pot of tea. There was no reason not to be hospitable to any guests, whether they be shoppers or not. No sooner than she'd moved the whistling teapot off the hook to rest on the hearth, the door opened and then shut quickly.
Mei straightened and brushed off her hands. "Welcome to Mei's Flowers." Her smile was bright as she greeted the other woman. "Is there anything I can get you? Flowers of any sort...? An arrangement? A towel and some tea?" There was nothing but amusement in her voice.
Aoife sighed as she began strolling around the quite shop, relieved to be somewhere dry. However, the sudden voice of someone else caused her to jump slightly. The redhead looked up and returned the bright smile the young woman was giving her. Aoife looked up the woman up and down, having found an instant likeness for her polite and cheerful demeanour.
"Ah, thank you," she nodded as she stepped forward and held out her hand for the women to shake. "You must be Mei, then. You have a lovely shop here. I'm Aoife and... yes... the towel and some tea sounds perfect right about now." The woman chuckled as she briefly glanced at her feet. She had dripped water across the floor when she had entered and left a few small puddles. "I'm sorry about that. Would you like me to clean that up for you?"
She nodded. "Yes, I'm Mei. Pleasure to meet you, Aoife." The compliment to her shop had her smiling with pleasure. She was proud of this little shop and what she had accomplished with it - what she accomplished every day. "Here, come sit by the fire, I'm sure you're cold, what with the way it's pouring out there. I'll be right back with that towel." She moved away through the arrangements and into a back room, returning with a soft green towel that was (remarkably) clean.
"Don't worry about the water on the floor. I'll mop it here in a bit. It could use it..." Her nose wrinkled elegantly. "Though perhaps I can talk one of the boys into doing it for me... I hate cleaning." Even if her house and shop were generally spotless... the shop was oftentimes cleaner because of the ministrations of her assistants than her own.
She reached a teacup down from a shelf beside the hearth while she spoke, and poured tea for her guest. "Do you care for any sugar or cream? I've got both, if you'd like them..." Personally, she preferred green tea, but she'd found that very few of her clients did as well, and so she'd taken to having black teas here at the shop.
The redhead returned the Asian girls smile with a small nod of the head. "Pleasure to meet you," Aoife replied brightly as she ran a hand through her sopping curls and made her way over to the fire to dry off. She sat down by the fire, holding her hands out ahead of her to warm herself up. The soft heat and pulsing glow of the fire was pleasant; the Hibernian woman found as she dried off she became more relaxed. "Thank you so much for your hospitality," Aoife glanced over her shoulder just as Mei returned with the towel and her smile grew in warmth and size. "You really are too kind." The redhead took the towel graciously and began to dry off her hair.
Aoife paused for a moment and turned her head to face Mei, staring up at her with a slightly surprised look as she ran the towel through her red locks. "There are boys who do the cleaning for you?" A small smirk spread across the Hibernian's face. "You're lucky. Where I... work... I'm stuck doing all the chores."
Aoife sat upright when the other women put the teacup down by her, letting the towel hang round her neck like a strange scarf. "Cream, please." The redhead's expression relaxed again as she rested her hands in her lap, still a little surprised yet enjoying Mei's kindness. "Thank you again." She gave Mei a warm smile as the dark haired girl got the tea down.
"Meiyou, it's my pleasure. I can't let you sit and take a chill." Mei stated, shaking her head. That was not allowed. What sort of shopkeeper would she be, if she let a potential customer (or potential friend, either way), get sick on her watch?
"Shi~!" She laughed. "I do... Two boys who work part time. They come when they want and leave when they want, but they are helpful while they're here. They can reach the tall shelves." Why she'd agreed to have merchandise put up where she couldn't reach it, she wasn't sure... she'd have to find a way to reconfigure the shop. Maybe Sweetie would have some ideas when he was here next... though more likely, he'd just pout at her and ask whether she didn't like him helping, and she'd coo over him and forget the entire idea.
The Asian girl quickly fixed the other's tea for her, then offered her the cup. "Here you are. I hope you enjoy it." A moment later, she fixed her own with sugar, then settled to a seat. She doubted any other customers would come in at this point, in this downpour. "Will you tell me about yourself? If you'd rather not, that's fine too... I enjoy stories... but I don't mind telling them, either."