After a long and gruelling battle with writer's block, I've finally found what it takes to carry on writing, after many cancellations and unsatisfactory oneshots. This story is a sequel to Star Shirt, if you feel like hunting that story down to read first, but you won't miss very much if you just continue reading this story instead. Enjoy!
As the door was pushed open, it struck against an ensemble of chimes that hung from the ceiling. A harmonious arrangement of ringing emitted from the chimes, signifying the door's opening. It was 7:55 am; the store wasn't open yet, but Sable knew at once who had appeared.
"Hello, Tom" she called as she turned around to see her boyfriend, Tom Nook, standing at the door. Tom Nook, dressed in his suave business suit, opened his arms, welcoming Sable into them, kissing her on the cheek as she wrapped her own arms around him. The pair had been a couple for a good few months, having been brought together after many years of silence. Tom Nook had never been happier in his life; Sable had filled the large chasm of suppressed sadness that had been dominating his life ever since his return to town. Sable had similar feelings: being with Tom Nook finally made all the turbulence of their past relationship worthwhile. The two could be seen as matching halves of a whole, completing one and other.
Letting go of Sable, Tom readjusted his suit, prim and proper.
"How are you this morning?" he asked. Sable rubbed her quills back with her hand; she smiled as she readjusted her apron. Their embrace had ruffled both of their uniforms, and that wasn't good for business.
"I'm well" Sable replied. "A little rush this morning, Mabel overslept so I've been worrying myself with trying to get her down on time for opening" she explained as she busily worked on her appearance, her hands flying about her like bees, working away at any unkempt areas. "You never know when the busiest hour will be, MABEL!" she called, halting her hands.
"I'm coming, let me just do my hair!" Mabel complained, her muffled voice booming from upstairs.
"Five minutes, okay?" Sable hollered. Both she and Tom Nook could hear Mabel grumbling away to herself incomprehensibly; the two started to giggle.
"It's good to see you running things so ship shape around here" Tom Nook noticed, glancing around the shop. "I've never said it until now, but everything here is in such neat order" He strolled towards the shirt display. "Your shirts are in a perfect line…" He then knelt down and rubbed the wooden floor planks with his finger. After a long, tough wipe, he lifted his finger and inspected the tip of it carefully.
"…Your floors are spotless, too" he commended, rising back up to full height. Shooting swift glances around the room, he walked slowly back towards Sable.
"And the homely atmosphere here is just…addictive, to say the least!" he finished, resting his eyes back on the now orderly Sable. Sable blushed a little at the compliments, giggling a little.
"You give me too much credit" she said, wrapping his arms around Tom Nook's waist, partly hanging off of him. "Your store is better than mine; the size of it is quite something"
Tom Nook waved his hand slowly as if to swat away the compliment, snorting a little.
"Oh no, size doesn't mean much" Tom grunted. "It just means you can fit more stuff inside. I might have the space, but the floors could use with a good clean. I might set Timmy and Tommy onto them with a mop and broom: they could use with some manual labor"
The two chuckled quietly before sighing, resting their eyes on each other again. Tom Nook then broke away gently from Sable, lightly holding her cheeks and kissing her on the mouth.
"I'd best be getting to my store then" he said quietly, moving away. "How about dinner at my house tonight?"
"Sure, do you want Timmy and Tommy to stay here the night?" Sable asked. "Mabel can babysit again, like before"
"Sounds like a plan" Tom Nook agreed, resting his hand on the door, opening it. The chimes sounded once more as he stepped one foot outside. "See you tonight!" he called, closing the door on a waving Sable.
A couple of hours passed in the Able Sisters store. Business went by as usual; a few people came in to see the clothes and accessories on store, and Mabel had succeeded in selling a couple of dresses whilst Sable busily worked away at the corner of the shop, creating new clothes from the rolls of cloth that she had.
"Okay, have a good day now!" Mabel called as a happy customer left the shop. As the door closed, Mabel slumped slightly.
"Whew" she said, exhaling deeply afterwards. "It's only 10, and I'm already tired!"
"It's because you overslept" Sable murmured above the noise of her machine, her head unflinching from her work. Mabel grumbled slightly.
"Well, I'm not perfect" she muttered.
"Do you want me to cover for a few minutes while you get some rest?" Sable asked. Mabel pondered the decision, starting to feel a little guilty about shirking her duties.
"Is…is that okay with you?" she asked. Sable shut her machine off, looking up to her sister before standing with a faint smile.
"Of course" she replied. "Go and have an hour. You'll be less tired then" she suggested.
"Okay" Mabel hummed, removing her apron and folding it neatly, placing it upon the desk near the sewing machine. She started to make her way for the door to go upstairs, but before she reached it, she turned around slowly.
"…Sure now, sis?" she asked again.
"If you really don't feel up to it, then it's important you rest properly. Make yourself some coffee upstairs and take the time to properly wake up, hm?" she asked kindly.
"Okay, sis…" Mabel said quietly, opening the door. Stepping through, she turned around one last time. "If you need anything, just give me a shout and I'll be down" she explained, before fully shutting the door.
At the same moment the door closed, the door to the outside opened, setting off the chimes once again. Sable wore her smile and turned around, ready to greet her customer.
That was all she could manage to say. She came face to face with a man a head's height higher than her. He was a grey furred wolf, who wore a buttoned shirt, with the top buttons undone, revealing his billowing fur. His long, powerful legs were hidden by sleek jeans and a large pair of boots, slightly reminiscent of a lumberjack. His short sleeves revealed his large biceps and his intimidating forearms; his left hand was adorned with a large, gold signet ring on his middle finger. He had spike ears, almost sharp; his eyes were red and fixed with a steely gaze. His mouth was large and two of his fangs just about crept out from underneath his top lip.
Sable was in utter shock. Her mind begun to draw blanks as she gazed upon this man, who stood in the doorway, almost filling it's entire area. The head's height in difference made her feel dwarfed.
Upon hearing the man's voice, the blanks started to fill inside Sable's head. The voice was a surprise; hoarse and low, unexpected from a man his size. She started to remember the voice, the husk of his tone brought a shiver to her spine. Everything begun to feel dream-like; it had to be a dream, she though. It just had to. There was no other plausible explanation for his appearance.
"...M-Mark…" Sable uttered, too shocked to arrange her own sentences. As the big man let the puny door swing shut behind him, he started to walk towards her, a cocky smile emerging from his lips. His steps made clomping noises on the wooden floorboards; Sable could swear the entire store was slightly shaking from his steps.
"What are you doing here?" Sable said sharply, stopping herself before she collided with her shirt display. The man snorted a little, opening his large, muscular arms for her.
"Hey, that ain't no way to greet an old friend now, huh?" he joked. "Come on, baby, gimme a hug" He advanced, Sable started to love closer to the hat display, trying to keep an acceptable distance between the two. She attempted to treat him like a normal customer, but it was too much for her to bear. The only thing she could do was keep her voice down; if Mabel were to see this, the explanation was going to be difficult.
"Mark, answer my question" Sable said, trying to keep her voice low. It quivered with uncertainty; his size was intimidating her. She felt weak to allow herself to feel scared, her emotions were running riot in her head as her recollections started to piece together, creating a past story that flustered her considerably. Mark stopped, confused that Sable was acting this way towards him.
"What, I just came to see my baby again" he moaned playfully. Taking a step forward, he bent down a little so he could see eye to eye with Sable. His red eyes were almost unnatural; Sable slightly averted her gaze. "What's gotten into you? Don't you remember me?"
"Don't call me baby, please" Sable uttered, sidestepping to put space between the two again. She was now advancing towards the wall; she felt relieved to know she could consistently put distance between the two by traversing the circle around the item displays. "I don't understand, you can't be here to see me…not after so long!"
Mark shrugged his shoulders, slightly annoyed. He spread his large, strong hands out, emphasizing his irritated state.
"I missed you!" he said strongly. Sable looked wildly at him, quickly shooting a gaze to the ceiling.
"Shhh!" she hissed. "Keep your voice down"
"What, who's upstairs?" Mark asked, calming down slightly, his hands lowering. "Is your sis here too? I haven't seen her in ages!"
Sable had had enough. If this man was to stay any longer, things could start getting difficult. She felt emotionally overwhelmed; her legs were weakening, wobbling. She had to be rid of Mark, at least out of the store, out of her sight.
"Look, this isn't a good time" she pleaded quietly. "Can we talk later?"
"But I wanted to talk now, hon" Mark hummed, stepping towards her again. Sable went towards the door, opening it slightly, just past the chimes.
"I'm working" she retorted quickly, sweating a little with panic. "What if a customer comes in and sees this?"
Mark stood there, considering for a few seconds before sighing. "Fine" he admitted. "I'll leave you here to work. When can we talk?"
"We can talk…" Sable begun quickly. She was about to say 'tonight', but suddenly realized that she was spending the night over at Tom Nook's residence. The thought of Tom nook brought a wave of despair and comfort at the same time; what would he think if he discovered of Mark's existence? Many questions related to love and trust popped in her head; she blotted them out as best as she could, opening the door a little more.
"Tomorrow night" she said.
"Why not tonight?" Mark replied quickly.
"I'm with a friend" she parried back, just as quickly.
"Oh yeah?" Mark growled, taking a big step towards the door and her. He leant down again, slamming the door shut with his hand, keeping it on the doorknob. Sable was petrified; his strength was almost controlling. "What friend?"
Sable's eyes darted for a safe place to go; moving would have been a big mistake. She had to stand by the door; it was the only way she could convince Mark to leave the store.
"J-Just a friend of mine" she said quickly. But Mark inched closer.
"You haven't been cheating on me behind my back while I've been gone, eh?" he spat, his eyes flaring. Sable felt like wilting: she felt like telling him to shove off and never come back…but that was not an option. Mark wasn't that kind of man. Could he tell him that she was in a relationship with Tom Nook, the local shop owner?
"A friend…a lady friend" she confirmed quietly.
"Lady friend, eh?" Mark hummed, moving away slightly. "You didn't have any of 'em before…"
He stood up straight, opening the door and taking a large step out.
"Fine" he conceded, only slightly turning his head to her direction. "Tomorrow night. I'll give you a call" As he did, he reached out for the small stack of business cards that was by the door. He aimed for one, but his hands took five instead. Without exchanging another glance, he walked out of the store, the door closing slowly behind him, setting the chimes off once again.
The door behind her opened, and Mabel emerged, looking slightly worried.
"I could hear something from upstairs" she noted, walking to her sister. "Did you get a nasty customer?"
"I…I did" Sable uttered, turning around. She looked very upset; her eyes were glistening. Mabel gasped upon seeing the state of her sister and hugged her at once.
"Oh my, what did he or she say to you?" she said, frustrated. "Why I ought to…to box their ears!"
Sable let go, still holding her tears back.
"Mabel…I don't feel like I can continue with the day today" she admitted. "Could you take over?"
Mabel nodded her head vigorously, helping Sable to undo her apron before putting her own on.
"Leave everything to me, sis!" she comforted. "I'll take care of everything"
Sable wanted to say thanks, but she was completely stunned by what had just happened. Without a word, her head hung low, she slowly made her way to the door, opening it and slinking her way upstairs, completely deflated. What seemed like a normal day had just turned out to be the worst day of the whole year. And it had the potential to get a lot worse.