No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 24)

“Three bookings already?” Stoik asked in amazement as he looked over the log book.

Carstella nodded sheepishly before saying something else to the board.

“And each of them had said they wouldn’t mind giving feed back for us to work with.”

“It’s a start, definitely.” Spitelout admitted.

“We have to start somewhere.” Carstella told him.

“Carstella,” Stoik started, “I would like to put you in charge, for now, of tourism.”

“I accept gratefully.” She replied meekly.

Stoik nodded, “We’ll add an extension to the town hall for that work.” He told her, “I just hope this will go as well as we hope.”

The door to the second floor slowly shut trying not to disturb the other occupant living there.

“You’re home exceedingly late.” Tuff commented as Carstella jumped hearing his voice, “What held you up?”

“Stoik made me minister of tourism.” She said softly as she put her bag down and slipped off her shoes, “I was at Miss Gothi’s cleaning up rooms with her, and making it presentable. Then I was drawing up plans for furnishings of luxury lodges.”

“It took you all night to do that?” He asked as he pulled something out of the oven.

Carstella shrugged, “We got three bookings already,” She told him as she brought her things into her office on the other end of the floor, “We are seriously considering building a hotel now.”

“I told you it would be good for you to put some energy into something good like this!” He called to her as he dished out a breakfast quiche.

“It is.” Carstella replied and entered the dinning room where Tuff just set down a large helping of steaming food for the girl who hadn’t eaten all night.

“Thank you.” The dark haired girl said as sat down in front of the plate.

“Eat up, you need your strength.” Tuff encouraged as he approached the table with his own plate.

The two tucked into their food in comfortable silence. When they were finished, Carstella cleared the table and started on the dishes.

“I have a couple of teenagers coming in this morning for interviews.” Tuff said as he leaned against the door frame.

Carstella nodded, “I’ll be down to man the cashier after I’m done.”

Tuff shook his head, “You should be getting some sleep.” He told her sternly.

It was Carstella’s turn to shake her head, “I can go a while without sleep and still be fine.” She assured, “Besides, I need to get ahead on my work for the government.”

Tuff just stared at her as she finished up the dishes, he let out a defeated sigh.

“If you’re sure.” He started.

“I am,” Carstella told the blonde with a reassuring smile, “But I appreciate your concern about me.”

Tuff stared at her for a moment before he took a few steps to close the gap between the two of them. His left hand wrapped around the shorter girl, resting his hand on the right side of her head, and pulling her closer to him. He pressed his lips against the other side of her head repeatedly as he gave her many loving kisses before he turned his head to rest his cheek against the place he had just kissed and wrapped his other arm around the girl.

“Tuff?” Carstella asked curiously unsure of how to react, she hadn’t seen him act like this before.

“Don’t push yourself, Stell.” He told her as he rocked them slowly back and forth, “You don’t have to be a superhuman anymore.”

Carstella reached up and grabbed his left arm since she couldn’t turn in his grasp at the moment and leaned more against him.

“I never was before.” She had told him quietly, “But the government needs the information from me to intercept other international criminals, distinguish between gangs, and now with tourism I need to be on the ball and doing everything I can to help you guys out. After all, you helped me when I was in need.”

“Stell.” Tuff started.

“Three hours of meditation a week and I’m always fine.” She assured.

“Really?” Tuff asked in disbelief.

“While going through therapy, I couldn’t sleep” Carstella started, “So, I meditated to keep my strength up, and it worked.”

Tuff and Carstella embraced each other for a while longer before Tuff reluctantly let the dark haired girl go. He turned to head down stairs to open up the shop, but not before placing a soft kiss on her lips.

Carstella watched the blonde go down stairs sadly. She knew he wanted her to be okay and that he cared for her more than anything in the world. She sighed sadly and turned to dry and put away the dishes.


“I think that’s everything.” Carstella told the employee she had just hired.

“I can take of it.” Freya told her with a smile, “You get to the town hall.”

Carstella nodded picking up her shoulder bag from the counter, “Tuff is downstairs if you need anything.”

Freya nodded and waved as Carstella left.

The red eyed girl sighed as she closed the door and hurried across town.

Thorston boutique had two new part timers, Freya and Bjorn. They both worked on the weekends together, they had two for sure days on during the week after school and alternated on Wednesdays. They were good kids in the middle of their highschool careers. They did good, hard, honest work. And Carstella felt right with leaving one of them in charge of the store when she had other work to attend to.

The brunette was just exhausted. On top of trying to organize, plan and update the tourism she was trying to push, she was researching heavily the tourism industry to gain a better edge. And the F.B.I had just sent her an even larger work load than she had before which she needed to keep up with. There were days when Carstella wouldn’t even make it to bed because of how busy she was, and it was beginning to take its toll.


“Hi, Ruff.” Carstella greeted with a tired smile as she entered the building.

“You look exhausted.” Ruff commented, “When was the last time you slept?”

“Couple days ago.” The brunette replied, “Where’s Stoik?”

“His office.” She said slowly not fully understanding what had been said to her.

“Thank you.” Carstella said and hurried to his office.

The dark brunette pushed open the door and entered to see the red haired man reading over papers. He looked up, his green eyes meeting her red ones. Before he had a chance to say anything Carstella dropped a very large file folder on his desk and said;

“These is everything I have gathered so far, for the program. You requested copies when I was done.”

Stoik said nothing for a moment as he looked at the girl, “You look exhausted.”

Carstella shrugged, ignoring the question, “I hope everything is up to the standards of Berk.”

“I’m sure it will be.” Stoik said leaning back in his chair and looking at the brunette in front of him, “Have you been sleeping well?”

“As well as I can.” She told him, “I believe we should also market a special travel pack during Thawfest time, Christmas, and when the Arvandil’s Fire occurs. But I wanted to speak with you about it first.”

“I think these are fine ideas.” Stoik told her, “I will present them to the committee later today, for now you should go home and get yourself some sleep.”

Carstella said nothing as she nodded and turned to leave the office. However, she did not go directly home. They needed groceries, and she needed to double check with the farmers about the hay rides, and several other people about guided tours, boat rentals, fishing expeditions, etc.

By the time Carstella got home it was almost 8 pm.

“I thought it would be a quick thing.” Tuff said as she entered, bags in her hands.

“Quick with Stoik.” She said toeing off her shoes and walking into the kitchen to put away the groceries, “Had other things to do.”

“Like what?” Tuff asked as he started putting food away.

“Double checking on things mostly.” She admitted as she put groceries away too.

“You look exhausted.” Tuff told the brunette.

The red eyed girl shrugged but didn’t say anything as she finished putting everything away.

Tuff eyed her suspiciously.

“You know there’s a difference between good and bad stress, right?” He asked her.

“I have good amount of stress right now.” Carstella smiled at him, “Some things are just taking a little longer than I hoped they would have.”

Tuff scratched the back of his head, not really believing her but not wanting to call her out on her bluff either.

“If you say so.” He shrugged.

 

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No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 23)

It was opening day. Tuff was outside cutting the ceremonial ribbon and allowing the people outside in. It was being covered by a local newspaper, and just about everyone in town was there.

Carstella was sitting behind the counter, she wore a black apron with ‘Thorston Boutique’ embroidered in lime green on the chest.

The doors opened and people began to flood in. Carstella greeted them all with a cheerful,

“Welcome.”

Everyone was looking around and picking out items.

Carstella got up and asked a man who was standing near the counter with a couple of items in his arms if he would like a changing room. He nodded and the red eyed girl put him in one at the end. Many other people where lining up to try things on.

Tuff was at the front of the store talking to the reporter and Stoik, who was officially the mayor again. He glanced over to the dark haired girl many times, he was concerned she was soon going to be over whelmed and tried to hurry the interview along, with the reporter and Stoik wouldn’t really allow.

He glanced back about five minutes later to see the girl taking things calmly and happily; making change, taking down appointments for tailoring, setting aside a couple of items with names on them on the bags, bagging up items, cleaning out the change rooms and moving the lines along in a clean, orderly, and well timed manner.

When the majority of the crowd began to calm down and there were only about twelve or so people left in the store, Carstella started returning items to their places on the sales area.

Tuff was still busy with the reporter, but was more than surprised to see how well she took care of the situation. She was used to high stress and deadly situations after all, something like this probably wasn’t even going to faze her at all.

There were only about three or four people left in the store at about four in the after noon, excluding the mayor, reporter, owner and sales woman.

“Thank you for your time.” The reporter said, “Would you mind if I took a look around?”

“Be my guest, please.” Tuff told her.

The reporter started looking around the store, specifically the dresses.

Stoik nodded approvingly at the blonde. Tuff swelled in pride. His parents, sister, friends, fiance, and now mayor were all proud of him, he should feel accomplished.

“How’s things going back here?” He asked Carstella as he stood behind the counter next to her.

“Good.” She said looking over at him, “Sales have been even higher than we first expected, and we have fifteen tailor jobs as well, I told them to bring by their garments tomorrow, is that okay?”

Tuff nodded and smiled at her as he brought the dark haired girl into a side hug and kissed her head.

“You’re amazing.” He told her as he looked over the numbers that they had right now. In between transactions Carstella had been recording the amount earned.

Carstella stood up as Tuff continued over the numbers as she got another customer into a fitting room.

Tuff whistled as Carstella came back over.

“A lot more than we expected.”

She nodded, “I don’t think every day will be as busy as this one.”

Tuff nodded, “Berk doesn’t really get anyone who doesn’t already live here, is visiting family or the delivery men from the main land.”

“Maybe we change that.” Carstella said.

Tuff looked at her weird.

“Every Thursday night is town meeting, no?” She asked, he nodded, “Are suggestions not taken during these?”

He shrugged, Tuff had admitted to not paying any kind of attention during the meetings if his parents ever even took him.

The store closed at six.

Tuff locked up and counted the money in the register as Carstella started putting the cloths back on their racks and cleaning out the fitting rooms, sweeping, and wiping down the glass and counter.

Carstella put enough change in the register to break money the next day.

Tuff brought the rest of the money downstairs to his work shop where he kept his safe.

They were done for the night, and were glad they got through it together.

Thursday night had rolled around, the meeting didn’t start until eight. Carstella and Tuff closed up and ate dinner before bundling up and heading out to the town hall.

It was about an hour and a half into the meeting Tuff was getting restless. But just as he was about at his wit’s end, Stoik asked if anyone had anything that they wanted to say.

Carstella stood awkwardly.

Stoik asked her to proceed.

“I might be new here.” She said slowly, trying to enunciate her words to be fully understood so her Russian accent didn’t show at all, “But I have come to the realization how wonderful this place is, and that it is almost completely self-sufficient. I was thinking, that maybe, we could launch a campaign to make Berk something for tourists.”

“And how might you suggest we do that?” Another newsperson called to her.

She swallowed hard before continuing, “Marketing local stores with their unique products, the restaurants. We can offer the ability to stay on a farm or take hay rides, we can turn part of the forest into a camping ground, offer guided tours around the mountains showing the tourists local plants and teaching them about it. There are options, but I’m not sure I can come up with a lot of them on my own.”

“I think you have a wonderful idea, Carstella.” Stoik told her, “There are options here in Berk, and there are many things we can market, Berk has more history, culture, and far less crime than a lot less of the world. We’ve been almost completely self sufficient for over eighty years now, I think it is time that we may break the mold and start a tourist industry. If any of you have ideas please leave them in the suggestion box near the door.”

Carstella then sat down, her point being heard.

“And if you aren’t too busy, Carstella.” Stoik called to her, “Maybe you would like to head the movement.”

“I’ll think about it.” She said slowly as she tried to disapear into her chair.

“I think you could do it.” Astrid said as she sipped on her tea while sitting next to Carstella behind the counter of the shop, “You have a lot of ideas and creativity along with a lot of prior business experience.”

Carstella shrugged as she wrote down the meaning of a snake tattoo down beside it.

“I don’t know.” She said unsurely, “I mean I still have a lot to do for the F.B.I., and then the store and Tuff on top of that, I mean we are getting married.”

“I know, and I can’t believe he actually asked you!” She exclaimed.

“But with the new store, and if the tourist plan does go as we want it too you guys could hire some part timers, the teenagers around here are always looking for some part time gig to save up and buy stuff of their own.” Ruff encouraged, she was on her lunch break and decided to pop in and say hi to Carstella and Astrid.

“I’ll talk to Tuff about it.” Carstella said quietly as she closed the binder of tattoos and opened a file of incriminated letters in order to decode them.

“It looks complex.” Astrid said looking over Carstella’s shoulder.

“Not if you know it.” She told the blondes, “It’s one of the most sophisticated systems in the world, but when you familiar with it, it almost second language.”

“Here’s your chance.”Ruff said as she stood up, Astrid following suit and they exited calling back good byes.

“What’s their problem?” Tuff asked bringing up three or four paper bags with orders stapled to them up from the basement.

“Can we talk?” Carstella asked as she cleared up the tea cups.

“I don’t have a problem with it.” Tuff said to her as they sat behind the counter, “I mean I know it’s important to you.”

“But this is important to you.” She told him, “I want to be part of it.”

“And you are.” He assured her, “But I think you should focus on maybe getting the tourism plan in motion. I mean, you still want to write those books on the gangs and mafia, right? I think this could be what you need, and if we hire a couple more part timers you could have the time for it.”

“What about the wedding?” She asked meekly.

Tuff kissed her forehead gingerly, “We can get married when ever you want too, but I think I can say that we need to focus a little more on our careers first and getting completely comfortable before we do get married.”

Carstella nodded and smiled to the ground, Tuff had raised multiple good points. It would be good for her to put her energy into something productive like that rather than just her government work. And when they just opened it wouldn’t be a very good idea to start planning a wedding. It wasn’t that they were moving too fast, but the timing wasn’t exactly right.

“If you’re okay with it.” She said after a moment.

“I am, you need some positivity after all the negativity you do for them.” He told her, refering to the government.

“Alright.” She said with a shrug and pulled out her cell phone. Carstella sent out a quick text message to Stoik saying she would take over as the leading act for the plan as soon as they got a couple new employes.

Tuff smiled at her as she looked up from her phone and nodded saying she had accepted.

Carstella took a seat next to Stoik in the board room, she shifted a little in her seat feeling uncomfortable.

As everyone was starting to enter the room, Carstella looked over the suggestions that the people had for bringing in tourists. They actually had a lot of good ideas, but the thing was, most of them were seasonal.

“Have you had enough time to look them over?” Stoik asked the brunette when everyone had come in.

She nodded, Stoik sat down at the end of the table and motioned for her to stand up, she did.

“They are all very good ideas.” She said slowly, “They can bring in a lot of tourists and money. There is just one real concern, and that is that all the suggestions are seasonal, taking place in the short summer we have here.”

“That’s really all the time we have.” Stoik told her, “It can be very hard to get ships in during the other seasons.”

“What about ice breakers?” She asked, “They are really just large drills that are attached to the bottoms and front of a large ship that would need to go through the ice once a day to keep the way open. It might be a large sum, but it would be worth it, maybe.” She explained seeing the confused looks on some of their faces.

“How much is a lot?” Stoik asked.

“Fifty thousand.” She said with a shrug. The entirety of the board just looked at her in disbelief.

“If we don’t want to shell out that amount of money,” She continued, “How thick is the ice usually?”

“I good foot and a half on average.” Spitelout told her.

She nodded, “That would be safe enough to walk and even ride on.” She said, “Dog sleds and snowmobiles could be a good alternative, even yak drawn carriages to and from a port on the edge of ice. It’s do able.”

They all thought for a moment.

“Fernhilda!” Stoik yelled out to his secretary.

Ruff came bounding in and stood straight in her spot at the door waiting for Stoik to continue with what he wanted.

“Do you have the reports of animals on every farm from last year?” He asked her.

“I’ll grab you that right now.” She said and closed the door, she came back about five minutes later and handed the file over to Stoik.

“Thank you.” He said to her as he accepted it.

“It’ll be speedier when I finish fixing the filing system.” She told him and took her leave.

Stoik looked over the numbers before saying.

“Mulch, do you think that you and the rest of the farmers would be willing to share four yaks each to give the rides?”

Mulch thought for a moment, “I don’t think any of us would have a problem if it would produce a higher gross income.”

Stoik nodded, “Early fall and late spring would be the only harder times for transportation.”

“About how long are we talking for that time?” Carstella asked.

“Two or three weeks each season.” Stoik said.

“March-April, and September-November?” She asked.

“About.” Stoik told her.

“We can market as open the rest of the year then.” She told them and marked down the approximate time that they wouldn’t be open, “It isn’t that uncommon for attractions to be closed during certain times. The next thing would be lodging. We can either go with home stays, or build a hotel as I suggest we do, eventually anyway.”

“I think home stays would be the best idea for the first little while anyway.” Spitelout suggested.

“Are there any empty houses we could maybe use as luxury lodges?” She asked.

“There are four empty houses last time I checked.” Stoik said, “I think Gothi said that she wouldn’t mind turning her house into a bed and breakfast, so right there are a good ten or so more rooms.”

“We should then take the year as an experiment,” Carstella suggested, “From there we can see if we should build the hotel or if the lodges and bed and breakfast that will do.”

They nodded and we all wrote something down.

“What could be used as winter tourism?” She asked.

The conversation continued on about what to advertise, what attractions to have, booking information, ways to contact, and how to advertise.

It was almost ten at night when they had gotten a good start.

Carstella said she would go home and try to come up with more ideas and way to perfect and polish their ideas.

Papers, note books, pens, and coffee were strewn over Carstella’s desk, a large plate of Shepard’s pie in her lap as she read over everything she had written and considered everything.

“Still working?” Tuff asked from the doorway.

Carstella nodded and gave a sheepish smile.

“Coffee?” He asked.

She nodded and handed him her cup. Tuff took it and headed into the kitchen to refill it for her. He came back and placed it onto her desk.

“Come to bed when you’re ready.” He told her, he was going to kiss her on the cheek but she moved her head so they ended up kissing each other on the lips.

“Sleep tight.” She whispered.

“Don’t stay up too late.” He whispered back.

Carstella turned her attention back to the ideas in front of her.

Tuff was right, she admitted to herself. It was good for her to put some energy into something positive like this for the community. She only wished that she could keep her promise to him.

 

 

No Way Out(A HTTYD Love Story Part 22)

“Careful.” Carstella told Tuff as they worked together to put the counter on the stand for the shop.

They lined it up perfectly and then Carstella Got down to drill the counter top in place.

“What would I do without you?” Tuff said as she got up from finishing her task.

Carstella shrugged and put the drill in her belt before telling Tuff to bring over the shelves for under the counter.

He did as she asked and watched silently as she did her work. They had decided that the store should be the last thing that is completed. They wanted to move out of the apartment as soon as they possibly could.

They got the basement and the second floor done completely before they started moving things in. When the third floor was completely finished they were completely moved in. The only things really left to do was build the stairs to connect the street to the actual house, change the lock and add rubber insolation to the boarders of the main door, and finish setting up the dressing rooms and the clothing racks for the sales floor.

“How ’bout we take a break, Stell?” Tuff asked leaning against the counter.

“We’re almost done though?” She said sitting up and looking at him.

He shrugged before saying, “We don’t have much left to do.” He told her, “Why not take a little break and eat something?”

Carstella looked at the floor for a moment before she looked back at Tuff and shrugged, “Alright.”

“Great!” He exclaimed and shot up grabbing the red eyed girl and all but dragged her up the stairs after him.

He quickly sat her down at the dinning room table and hurried into the kitchen.

Carstella pulled her tool belt off of her waist as some of the tools were digging into her. She knew he had made something earlier that day while she was down stairs marking down and drilling the holes for the counter.

Tuff came back in with two steaming plates.

“Pelmeni?” Carstella asked in surprise.

Tuff smiled as he sat next to her, “It’s a ground yak filling, I hope you don’t mind.”

Carstella smiled and laughed lightly at it before picking up her cutlery and digging in. She loved Tuff’s cooking and hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she smelled the food.

“Done.” Carstella said as she drilled the last of the shelves into the floor.

Tuff as sweeping the dust up and wiping down the shelves.

The only things left to do was to reinstall the doors, wipe them down, and make the stairs for the outside which they would need to rent a ladder for.

Tuff tossed the last of the dirt in the trash bag.

“I’ll get started on dinner.” He told her and headed up stairs.

Carstella went through the tarps covering the front door and then tacked them back in place.

She hurried to the far side of the property and inside a small shed a few meters from the house. Carstella had ordered a four inch thick, two by five foot board form the lumber yard.

She had drawn out patterns and words on it. Over the past couple days she had started chiseling away at it. The sign was going to be done today. Within an hour it was done.

‘Thorston Boutique’ Was written in the center with intricate lines, swirls, flower petals, and a needle and a spool of thread connected to the needle along the bottom.

She was happy with it, the only thing left was to show Tuff.

Carstella dusted herself off and hurried inside and up stairs.

“Almost done, Stell.” Tuff called back, “It just has to set up.”

“Good.” She said to him, “Then I can show you something.”

He turned around and gave her a weird look, before he complied and followed her down and outside.

Carstella opened the door to the small shed and stepped aside so Tuff could fully see the sign.

Tuff’s jaw dropped.

“Did you?” He asked unable to finish his sentence.

She nodded and smiled, “Is it okay?” She asked, “We never agreed on name, but you said you wanted it to be a boutique. I just thought”

“It’s perfect!” Tuff exclaimed And pulled the red eyed girl into a hug, “You outdid yourself, Stell. Thank you so much.”

Carstella returned the hug and buried her face into his shoulder.

“It’s not problem, I just hope you’re ready for the demand.” She told him.

“You keep out doing yourself.” Carstella said to Tuff as they were hanging up clothes.

“Just doing one of the things I love.” He told her.

There were dresses of many different colours, sizes, patterns, skirts of every kind, blouses and sweaters of every kind. Many different kinds of button downs, jeans and dress pants, sweaters, jackets, vests. Just about every kind of clothing item someone could imagine was out on the shelves and racks.

Day after tomorrow would be the grand opening. Everything was set up, only thing really left to do was finish the railing going upstairs.

Things were going better than either of them could ever have thought. Tuff had been making more cloths every day after work back in L.A. and again when they started renovations here. Carstella had kept up with her translations, decoding, and explanations. She was actually working on books to decode gang letters, the differences between gangs and mafias, meanings of tattoos and their placements, origins of gangs of mafias, their beliefs and hierarchy systems. But the books were put on hold because she was busy helping with the renovations.

Carstella had suggested that Tuff could be downstairs in his workshop working on new pieces and tailor jobs while she ran the tills, she could use that time to work on decoding and explanations, she might even get ahead on her work load and start her books around the gangs and mafia. Tuff was unsure about it, but knew he would eventually need the time she was giving him for work.

Tuff stared at the dark haired girl as she finished up hanging the garments. He knew there was something he had to do before they could actually call Berk and the store their new life.

The moon was full and a light chill filled the air. Summer was coming to an end, and the long winter was about to hit.

Carstella and Tuff sat on one of the cliffs looking out to the ocean and night sky.

They had spent that evening at Gobber’s restaurant with the rest of the gang and everyone else, their parents, Stoik, Spitelout, Mulch, and Bucket.

On their way home they decided to watch the moon for a while before heading inside.

“Are you okay, Tuff?” Carstella asked the blonde, “You’ve been really quiet all night.”

Tuff swallowed hard before he turned to face the dark haired girl next to him.

Tuff reached out and grabbed her left hand as it was closest to him.

“Stell,” He started, “I love you, more than anything else. And I can’t picture my life without you. I know you’ve had a hard life and had been abused and hurt, but I promise if you choose to stay with me I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and happy, because that’s all I want. Carstella, I talked to Stoik and Spitelout, and they said they were okay with it because they know I wont hurt you. So, Stell, would you marry me?”

He pulled out a blue velvet box and opened it to reveal:

large-blue-sapphire-engagement-ring-wm8903e

“Tuff?” She said in surprise.

“I know it’s not a traditional engagement ring, but it belonged to my great great grandmother and my mom wanted me to use this to ask you, if you want to.” He added quickly.

Carstella lunged forward and wrapped her arms around him tightly.

“I would love to!” She exclaimed as she started crying into his chest out of sheer happiness.

Tuff laughed loudly and pulled her away slightly so he could kiss her lips lightly and then slid the ring on her finger. It was a little too big on her finger, but it didn’t matter. They were both more than ready to continue their life together. It was their new life and a new chapter to add to their stories.