The first time the finely dressed young man came into her candy store, Bella didn't really know how to react.
Dressed in a suit that probably cost more than she made in a year, the brunet really looked like the kind of guy who'd have employees buying candy for his undoubtedly secret sweet tooth.
Catching her staring, the brunet smiled self-consciously, almost shyly, and offered by way of explanation, "Was on my way home from work when I discovered this place."
And Bella just smiled, because honestly, it wasn't really her place to judge. Anyways, he seemed kind of cute.
The guy bought more than a hundred dollars' worth of candy that first time, and by the time he'd left, he was Bella's new favourite person in the entire world.
And apparently, he'd liked what he'd brought, because he came back not more than a week after, this time dressed in much more casual clothing.
"What, finished all that candy already?" asked Bella in a teasing tone, and the guy blushed brightly.
"I-umm-no , that wasn't-it was for my younger brother," he replied, tripping over his words, and Bella couldn't help thinking how absolutely adorable he was.
"For you brother?" she asked, quirking a disbelieving eyebrow at him. "I see."
This made the guy's cheeks flush an even darker red, and he stuttered out, "W-well, some of it was for me too. Sugar has always been better at keeping me awake than caffeine."
This little tidbit intrigued Bella, and she tilted her head to the side, asking, "I'm guessing you have a pretty stressful job, then?"
"Oh, God, don't even get me started," replied the guy as he began browsing around for candy, "All that paperwork gives me nightmares sometimes. You'd think being your own boss would mean having it easy, but in reality, it's just signing stack after stack of contracts and bills for things your guar-ahem, employees broke."
Raising her eyebrow at the little slip, Bella wanted to ask what he'd been about to say before employees, but if the guy had wanted her to know, he'd have told her, and she knew when not to poke her nose into other people's business.
"If they cause so much trouble, why not fire them?" she asked, not even fazed at learning that this guy was the boss of some probably gigantic company. His clothes the last time he'd been here had said enough.
The guy looked up at her, surprise showing on his face for a second, as if he'd never even dreamed of firing anyone, and the fond smile that graced his features stretched from ear to ear, crinkling up the tribal sun mark that graced his left cheekbone.
"They're childhood friends, and since I have a lot of people out for my neck due to my line of work, there really is no one I trust half so much as I trust them. Anyways, it's not like a few thousand dollars here and there would put even a dent in our finances."
Bella knew she shouldn't be so surprised. She'd known he was rich. But still.
No wonder he didn't find any problems in spending a hundred dollars on sweets.
By the time he'd brought his armload of candy up to the cash register, Bella had been able to hide away her shock, and calmly took the items to scan them.
As the guy was handing over his money, though, she couldn't help but notice a mark in the palm of his hand.
It was a small grape candy, and Bella couldn't help the amused smile that stole across her face when she saw it.
Making a mental note of the brand name, Bella turned her gaze back up to her client as she handed him his bag of items, and his receipt for almost three hundred dollars' worth of candy this time.
Later that night, Bella sat at her laptop, having researched the origins of the candy she'd seen on her favourite customer's hand.
It was a little known brand, apparently only sold in a small town in Japan called Namimori, and was, not at all surprisingly, rather expensive.
Deciding to do something she'd never even dreamed of before, Bella took the risk and bought one small crate of the candies in three different flavours; grape, green apple, and blue raspberry. Bella was sure the young man would be returning to her store sometime soon, and she couldn't wait to see his reaction when he saw what she had.
Displaying the candies in a small box near the cash register, Bella really wasn't so surprised that she didn't sell very many of them; they were insanely expensive, and since no one really knew what they tasted like, they weren't willing to waste so much money on something they might not even like.
It really was all worth it, though, when her favourite customer returned to her store about a week and half after his last visit, a thirteen-year-old boy trailing after him.
The guy gave her a small wave the moment he stepped into the store, but his younger companion didn't even give her a glance, too busy ogling all her merchandise, his eyes as wide as saucers.
"Go ahead and pick out whatever you want, Lambo," said the older male, ruffling his younger companion's curly black hair once. "But so help me God, if it's all done before we even reach home, you will be in so much trouble."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, Tsuna," said the boy absently, waving his hand dismissively at the older male, Tsuna, before going off on his own to explore.
Tsuna, meanwhile, came up to the cash register instead of browsing around for candy, like he usually did.
"That the little brother you were talking about last time?" asked Bella in a friendly voice, and Tsuna responded with a nod, smiling fondly over at his charge for a second.
"He's been bothering me for a long time now to bring him here, since he loves the candy from your store so much. The very second I mentioned I had a bit of free time, I found myself being dragged out to the car by him."
Bella laughed a little a this, finding the bond between them absolutely adorable, and she was about to mention the new candies, but Tsuna beat her to it.
Almost as if he knew what he'd find, the brunet turned to look at the box of candies she'd ordered after his last visit, and his eyes grew wide.
When he looked back at Bella, there was a question in his eyes, and Bella just tapped her palm.
When he glanced down at his own palm and saw the candy on there, he was quiet for a second, as if surprised she'd noticed it, before he let out a little laugh, and looked up at Bella with thanks in his eyes.
Then, to her great surprise, Tsuna looked over at his young charge, calling him over.
"What is it, Tsuna-nii?" asked Lambo, tacking on the Japanese honorific by force of habit.
Tsuna pointed out the candies to him, and the moment he saw them, Lambo let out a loud squeal of pure excitement, and dove for one of the grape candies, unwrapping it and popping it into his mouth faster than humanly possible.
Bella watched, slightly shocked, as Tsuna laughed fondly and ruffled Lambo's hair again.
Turning back to her, he said, "We'll buy your entire stock of those candies, please."
Nodding mutely, still more than a little shocked, Bella told her customers to, "wait just a second, please," before turning to her back room to get the rest of the candies.
"-ndies you used to give me when I was younger to make me stop crying!" was what Bella heard when she came back, catching the tail end of Lambo's excited rant.
Tsuna was listening intently, giving Lambo his complete and undivided attention, as if what Lambo was saying was the most interesting thing in the world, and Bella almost wanted to coo at how utterly adorable it was.
"Candy's actually a rather surprisingly good way to make friends, isn't it?" asked Tsuna, and his words seemed to be laced with a hidden meaning.
Lambo nodded solemnly, and once Tsuna had paid for the candy (all six hundred and fifty-three dollars of it), the young teen gingerly took out one of the grape candies, which Bella had a hunch were his favourites, and handed it to her.
Bella stared at it speechlessly for a moment before looking up at Lambo, who was smiling brightly at her.
"A thank-you present for you! Candy is a very good way of making friends, you know."