The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers

Sunlight winked through the lace of leaves fanning from the apple tree overhead. It slid, viscous, over the round, ripe fruits, and dripped into the earth, saturating and sweet. The heat of the afternoon sizzled in the soil, crumbling it so it was shovelled easily by swelling roots and released rich, heady fragrances into the air - thyme, lavender, honey. Rose and nuts made the mouth water for Turkish delight.

Jess lay back in the grass and let the sun pad light, sleepy kisses over his face. Over the past few weeks, he'd become essentially a ghost haunting Kerenza Hall. The public, old Elizabethan Manor was far enough out of the way not to get too many tourists, and he could always find a corner of the patchwork of gardens and orchards to be alone. He'd wander through the timber building, trailing his fingers along the thick beams holding up the sloping walls, breathing the oak and straw scent and the quiet, then into the cool, echoing kitchen and out of the narrow back door. The sunshine and the sugared perfume of flowers and the savoury tang of herbs spilled over him. That moment was a rebirth.

His life was noise - housemates filling the rickety warren where he lived, customers at the coffee shop pelting him with orders and complaints and passive-aggressive nasal sighs, crowded buses, crowded supermarkets, crowded messaging apps, crowded mind. This place, this secret garden, was his serenity.

He nestled his shoulder blades into the grass and let the white-gold of the sky dazzle his vision. He sucked on his tongue and the essence of apple and rosemary in the air. He flung one hand up to rest above his head and twisted blades of grass around his fingers until they cut into the flesh. He anchored himself in the hundred tiny physicalities so apart from everything he knew beyond the vine-laden walls. He'd let his hair grow shaggy, it nettled his face and neck. He huffed a strand off his nose. The sun sank behind a cloud and re-emerged brighter, lancing his vision. He winced. He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes and swam in the splotches of dark colour.


A voice pricked through the blur. He lifted his hands from his eyes and scrunched his face up against the burst of light. He blinked. A woman hazed into focus. She was short and slight, the high hem of a floral dress fluttering at the tops of her thighs, her hair bubbling around her face in ringlets dyed berry pink.

Jess blinked again. "Beg pardon?"

The woman smiled, slightly bucked teeth sneaking through bubblegum lips. She shook her head and her curls jostled and shone warm in the sunshine. "Just thinking aloud." Her eyes flicked away, then back to him, one shaded and one sparkling, as she cocked her head. "My grandma told me the meanings of different plants - you know, the old language of flowers - and she said whatever plant you first see someone near is what they will mean to you." Her dainty fingers played on the hem of her skirt, a ribbon of shadow between it and her skin. "Grass means submission."

Jess told himself he should sit up, but something about her gaze kept him on his back. He felt the colour rise to his face and his fingertips tingled. He pulled his eyes from the raspberry figure and searched her surroundings. The lush, green spines of a dragon tree fanned behind her in a dark halo.

"What does dragon tree mean?" he asked.

She glanced round and saw the tropical plant sprouting behind her. She looked back at him and the corner of her mouth twisted. "'You are near a snare'."

Jess smiled. "Lucky me."

"You don't look lucky," she said thoughtfully.

He raised his eyebrows. "I don't?"

"No." She perused him. He felt each spot her eyes landed on, as if he was being swarmed by fireflies. Her mouth quirked. "Collapsed in the grass, all dark colours and lanky limbs at funny angles, that screwed-up look on your face. You look sort of tragic. You look like Hamlet, but in some artsy, modern adaptation."

Jess' face heated. He pushed up onto his elbows and frowned at her.

"Now even more so." She smirked.

The back of his neck prickled. He couldn't tell if she was trying to goad him or irritate him or really just thinking aloud, with pretty strange thoughts.

You are near a snare.

"I am not that lanky," was all he could think to say.

She giggled behind her hand, then folded it over her mouth and lowered it, showing a gentler face, as if she'd just plucked the mockery from her smile to keep in her pocket.

Jess' lower lip slipped behind his teeth and he felt the blood rise to it. It flicked back, darker, and words tripped over its curve before he could stop them. "If I look like Hamlet, sit down, I'll speak you some poetry."

She laughed. The sound hummed in the earth. "Or drive me mad."

He shrugged. "Whichever, it's a Saturday."

"Madness isn't so bad on a Saturday, then?"

"Well, you've got Sunday to shake it off."

"That was Ophelia's problem, was it? No Sunday hangover?"

"I don't know, I never read it."

She regarded him, laughter still playing about her face like a carp around the surface of a pool.

She stepped through the grass. Her floral dress fluttered around her, tugging his gaze to the parting of her thighs and its vanishing point under the restless fabric. His tongue felt too large for his mouth. The dragon tree reached for her as she pulled away from it. She sat by his side, her legs folded under her, leaning on one hand so her shoulder bunched up and nudged a ringlet to bounce. He folded forward to sit up with her, his knee rising and his elbow hooking over it. He didn't really decide to move, his body seemed to instinctively mirror her. As she came close to him, he caught a scent on her, something fresh and citrus, laced with icing sugar. Her eyes were intense periwinkle blue. There was a tea-stain tan over her nose and blushing her collar. It gave her a ripe look. The sudden urge to bite her bunched shoulder prodded the back of his mouth. He swallowed it back and looked down at a dandelion nodding between their hands.

She ducked her head and caught his eyes back up. The day went from comfortably warm to close and humid under her gaze. She surveyed his face, brazenly, as if he was a specimen in the rainforest.

"Actually," she said, "You've got more colour in your face than I imagine in Hamlet."

A single laugh whisked out of him in a relieving breath. "I'm here a lot, cooking out in the sun, like an idiot."

"Why here?" she asked.

He looked past her. Bees zipped manically around a spray of lavender, a thrush chiselled into the ground with its sharp beak.

"Madness hangover," he said.

She leaned towards him, bringing her body so close that static crackled between their clothes. His mouth went dry, heat stole up his spine. She reached past him to the flower bed he'd settled next to. A long, pink-painted fingernail snicked the stem of a bright, flamingo flower, with a cup like the mouth of a French horn. She leaned back, leaving him cool and tense, and held the flower between them.

"Petunia," she explained, "It means, 'your presence soothes me.'"

Jess hesitated, then nodded his head to smell the petunia's light nectar sweetness.

She traced the petals over his lips.

He started and snapped his head back up, his breath snagging and his heart kicking. Her hand retreated an inch. He almost shot his hand out to catch it and stop her leaning away. He resisted and curled his fingers into the grass. It tickled his knuckles. His skin was so alive. He could feel his clothes sitting on him, the sun flushing his back, every whisper of air like mosquitoes. A bead of sweat on the nape of his neck rolled down his spine like a scuttling beetle. His spine rolled under it and pushed his torso towards the woman. Her eyes dropped down to the scoop of his collar and he saw the small mounds of her breasts bob up and down in a quick intake of breath.

"'Your presence soothes me'," he echoed softly, "Is that me speaking to the garden or the garden speaking to me?"

"Or me speaking to you?" she suggested.

Jess' smile broke out warm and sincere. He gave her a quizzical look. "Do I?" He hoped so. He wanted to. That certainty surged to the surface of his bubbling reactions to this peculiar, magnetic creature.

She shrugged coyly and chuckled low, he felt it in the pit of his stomach. She reached up and tucked the petunia behind his ear. Her fingers brushed his hair as she withdrew her hand. "Would you like to?"


Anna pressed her lips together and felt anticipation well in her abdomen. When she'd seen this young man sprawled in the grass, like a shot-down falcon, curiosity had taken her over. He was long and lithe, all legs and crooked, nimble fingers. His hair was woodland brown, crinkled and tousled and flecked with grass. It fell into his grey eyes, ghost grey, dawn grey. There was an apricot tint to his skin, sun-drenched. He wasn't really dressed for summer; dark jeans and a black, cotton top with the sleeves pulled up to his elbows, showing forearms scattered with freckles. He was obviously too warm in it; feverish heat pulsed from his body and there was a cobweb-dew sheen in the hollow of his throat. The petunia flower sat snugly in his hedgerow hair, incongruous with his muted look. She liked it, it made her feel like she'd had some kind of effect on him. She wanted to have an effect on him.

"Would you like to?"

His eyes fluttered a little and she felt her chest rise toward him, her whole self drawn to his curious mix of shyness and allure, to his grapefruit and cedarwood scent. She felt a butterfly-touch on her fingers that crept up the vein in her wrist. She looked down. He had slid his hand around the dandelion between them and his fingertips were dusting around her hand - barely touching her, waiting for permission to touch her, but also not quite waiting. Her insides rippled. Impulsively, she fanned her fingers and interlaced them with his, catching him like a wasp in a web. He flinched, his fingers flexed hard. Then he relaxed, his fingers furling over her hand. Warmth spread through her.

He raised his gaze to her face. She felt his penetrating eyes on her mouth. She parted her lips and her tongue swelled forward. She stirred between her legs, as she saw his pupils dilate.

"Well?" she prompted.

He met her eyes. His smile was small, pensive, tucked into his mouth like a secret message. He swallowed, his throat springing. He closed his hand on hers and leaned forward, nuzzling into her hair. His breath tickled hot on her ear. His whispered reply sent a tremor from her scalp to the soles of her feet. "I want to do whatever you ask."

It was bolder than she expected, stirring her curiosity stronger. She dropped her head so they were temple to temple. She felt his pulse go through it. "Why?" she murmured.

He turned his face and spoke against her jaw, the hint of his lips on her skin seizing her with a sudden ache. "I don't know, it's a Saturday."

She beamed, impulse and laughter gurgling in her belly. She lost the definition between the heat of the air and the heat of her flesh.

She whipped back and snared his mouth.

His kiss was something unleashed. His withdrawal dissolved and he met her force and hunger so passionately that it cascaded through her. She whisked up his tongue to twine and dance and snake with hers. She gasped into his mouth and a quiet, yearning groan slipped from his chest. He crushed his mouth to hers, wanting and fervent, pleading for her with every beckoning scoop of his tongue, every snatched breath between their lips. Her blood rushed. She pushed forward in the grass. Her skirt scooched up higher, her knee bumped his leg. She grasped his top and pulled on it to rise closer to him. He received her easily, gratefully. His arm looped around her waist and she felt as if she was floating, this man her only anchor to earth. He rubbed her back, unknotting her. She wondered if he could tell how hard her heart was beating.

Her clit pounded once. Its momentum pulled her to his lap. She straddled him on her knees and nestled against him, closing her thighs around his hips, denim grazing her bare, supple skin. He folded her into his arms and wrapped her tight, pouring kisses into her mouth as she gorged on them greedily. His eyes closed, his brow creased helplessly. His hands moved like dragonflies skimming the surface of a pond, fast and light, feeling all of her, her back, her neck, her hips, her ass. She clung to his tousled hair and pulled herself against him, the heat of his body searing her front as the sun singed her back.

He whimpered sweetly as she teased his scalp. "Christ..."

"Oh My God, your kiss..." she sighed, her lips not truly leaving his, sighing again as she sank back for more.

"We..." He lapped her tongue. "We can't go too far, we could get caught." He sucked on her lower lip.

She drew her head back to pull her lip slowly from his teeth, their eyes blazing into each other. She pecked the corner of his mouth over and over between words. "How far is too far? It's a quiet day. Most people are in the cafe."

He groaned again. "That's true." He ran the tip of his tongue along her jaw. "I guess, no need to stop before we want to."

There was a droplet of a moan in his voice as he said the word "want". Her pussy flooded with heat. She twisted her fingers in the roots of his hair and squeezed him between her thighs.

"Still..." He closed his fists on the fabric of her dress and hugged her tight, their noses brushing. "Should we at least be quick?"

"Absolutely not." She smiled, hearing the insistence in her reply. She gazed into the slice of amber shadow between his top and his collarbone. His skin looked divine, his caramel mouth was addictive. "I want to enjoy you," she breathed.

He shuddered and it fluttered down her body.

"Fuck it," he panted, "Whatever you say, Flower Girl."


Jess' eyes opened a sliver and flooded with colour. The garden whirled around him in poppy, fuchsia, bluebell, sunflower yellow, lily white, deep iris purple, succulent green. Just past the woman's coil of wine-spill hair, a hydrangea bush over-flowed in a bubbling fountain of ice blue and marshmallow pink, giving him the strange feeling of soaring among sunrise clouds. The soft rustle of distant footfalls plucked a nervous thrill behind his sternum. The hum of bees lulled him and he rocked in their rhythm. His body was waking to her, calling to her. Her clutch in his hair fizzed across his skin. His clothes felt inches thick, like layers of course, dense wool, barring him from her sweet skin. His cock stirred and thickened and his jeans felt like cruel armour, like a cage.

He smothered her small frame close. He was afraid this was a dream, that she would melt into the hypnotic haze of colour, if he didn't cling to her. He pulled his lips from hers and skimmed them along her cheek and sank to her neck. She tasted of orange blossom. It filled his senses, as he delved his tongue into the hollow of her throat.


Her moan was soft, but he heard it with his whole body. He felt it snake through her vocal cords under his lips. He lost lucidity, he felt himself turning liquid, a river of dream and want.

"What did grass mean again?" he whispered, kissing her ear, breathing in the citrus scent of hair, with a faint undercurrent of woodsmoke.

Her fingernails teased his scalp and trickled down to his shoulders and massaged his tension. "Submission."

The word sang in his blood. He felt like he'd wandered into the Underworld, cradled in a strange space between sleep and vibrant life, Adonis in the lap of Persephone. Maybe he could stay here forever. All he had to do was surrender, all he had to do was eat, or die.

He let the thought take him. He caught her lips once more, then collapsed backwards and sprawled in the grass. He gazed up at her, a garnet silhouette against the piercing sun. He dragged the backs of his hands through the dry soil to rest over his head. He felt for the embroidery of ground ivy, threading from the foot of the nearby apple tree. He wormed his hands into it and it curled around his wrists. Its long, clever, velv

et vines wound down his forearms and drew tight, locking his hands crossed, binding him in place, lashing him to the earth like a rose to be trained up a trellis. The feeling of bondage caressed him.

He smiled. "Like this?"

Her grin was radiant, delighted and wicked, a sprite spying mischief. She wriggled her shoulders and the strap of her dress slipped down. She leaned forward over him and sneaked her hand under the hem of his top. She circled her fingertip just under the waistband of his jeans and glided her touch up to rest her hand over his heart. He knew it was thudding, knew she would be able to feel his wild longing.

"Just like that," she purred, "Let me take care of you, Sunshine Boy."

His eyes rolled back, something fleeing from his body. The sunlight caught the white petals of a tuberose behind his head, like a spray of stars. "What does that one mean?" he asked distantly.

She folded over him, her seat pressing to his hardness and sending a pulse of lust down his legs. She murmured in his ear, "'Dangerous pleasures'."

He chuckled and their lips met again.

"Wait right there." She pecked his cheek.

She slipped from his body, his blood curdled and his flesh turned to stone. He twisted in the ivy. Even just having coiled into it himself, he felt utterly secure - he could thrash like a python and stay held down. The grass tickled the back of his neck, the sun washed him warm, somewhere a dove was trilling. He arched his back and craned to see where she had gone. He caught glimpses of her pink pumps pattering around the flower beds, flicks of her skirt, flutters of her fingers. She bobbed down and plucked things out of the earth, like she was collecting sea shells. She snapped sprigs and bundled fruits and released bursts of scent into the air, tearing leaves from flourishing herbs.

"I don't think you're supposed to do that here," Jess teased.

She scurried back to him with her spoils hammocked in her skirt, drawing it up. He glimpsed a flash of lilac lace. She nudged his cheek with her toe in reprimand and settled back over his crotch. The returning pressure on his cock flushed him hot and tense, but was also a wonderful relief. He sighed and nestled into the ground.

She tipped her skirt out beside him, dusted off her hands and pinched a few lavender leaves from the pile. He could taste it on the air between them, as she crushed them between finger and thumb, and rubbed the essence on the inside of her wrist. She floated her hand to him and the lavender erupted in his senses. He darted his head up and lapped at her wrist like a starving vampire, sucking on the vein. The soothing tang of the herb prickled in his mouth and sinuses, enveloping him.

He pushed up his hips and smiled against her skin, as she moaned high. Her pulse drummed on his lips.


All of Anna's blood rushed to the point on her wrist where he sucked. She could feel him rising to her, pressing into her furrows. His hunger cantered through her, his tongue turning her skin so sensitive she almost stung when his teeth clipped her. She pursed her lips to stifle her moan, but it escaped her, as he scooped his hips and ground his mound into her clit.

She toppled forward and caught herself on straight arms either side of his face. His eyes were dreamy. The smile webbing his mouth was more tempting than honey, even sweeter with the petunia still adorning his hair, and the ivy binding him into compliance. He nudged the ends of her curls falling over him with his nose. She felt a giggle pop in her chest.

"Lean forward a little more?" he murmured.

She warmed and tingled and obliged him, swinging forward until her breasts hovered over his face. He bobbed up and caught the dropped strap of her dress in his teeth and pulled it down. She was bra-less, his eyes flared as he peeled away the fabric from one pert, round breast, and the peach tip of her nipple appeared. He trailed his lips over her exposed skin. Flame welled in her belly.