graveyards are so sad and not because there’re so many people that died and resting in one place, but because families eventually stopped visiting

the headstones are worn away by time or broken, there aren’t any flowers, some are hidden underneath fallen leaves and so many of them seem so lonely

i still don’t want to be haunted so that isn’t an invitation to terrify me in my own home tho

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First Choice or Second Best

Chapter 2: Doggy Princess

“You know, maybe I’d be less ashamed if I had a more erotic dream,” Michael muttered, wringing his hands and avoiding all possible eye contact.

Leanne shook her head as they continued down the streets of Lynn, Massachusetts. “Michael, you shouldn’t be ashamed about a dream where you’re surrounded by corgis. It’s okay,” she sighed, rubbing her temples.

“No! It’s not! I technically cheated on my princess! On my queen! I have betrayed her love and trust,” he cried, turning to face her. His bottom lip quivered as she continued to walk, leaving him behind.

His words stabbed her heart. Fredrik felt nothing when he hurt her but Michael was ready to beg for forgiveness. The Dane really should take notes from the American. However, hearing of this princess made her bristle. She had thought he was single. “I was unaware you had someone in your life, Michael.” She paused as looked back at him, waiting for an answer.

“Well, yea! She’s beautiful, you know? A really majestic Pomeranian princess I take care of-“

“Wait, she’s a dog?” Leanne asked, staring at him in disbelief. Millions of thoughts swarmed her mind, each one of a potential lover Michael could have.

“She is a puppy dog and what did you expect? I’m as single as a pringle and not yet ready to mingle.” He shrugged and jogged to where she was, hair bouncing and reminding Leanne of an energetic golden retriever.

“Whatever, flower boy.” She waved him off as he caught up to her and they both continued their nightly stroll. Of course, how could she think he would love anything other than a four-legged man’s best friend?

The wind breezed by, a rather welcome feeling compared to the winds in Denmark that cut through the body and coated everything in frost. Her boots clicked on the sidewalk, a sound much sharper than Michael’s padded footsteps. The trees rustled and cast shadows upon them, only for the street lights to shine on them at every odd interval.

Michael fidgeted, drumming his fingers on his thigh and biting his lip. The street lights flickered and on the left, a group of women stood, sending a seductive smile his way. He looked at her from the corner of his eye and cleared his throat.

“Are you going to rent one?” She asked, causing him to choke on his own spit and shatter whatever courage he had summoned henceforth. Her voice was threaded in steel coated in the most potent of poisons.

“N-No!” He squeaked. “I wanted to a-ask if you wanted to see Princess.” He maneuvered his body behind Leanne, attempting his hide his body behind her. It was rather difficult since she was a mere five feet to his nearly six feet self. He looked at her with a shy smile. “And um, do you mind if I hide behind you?”

That is it, Leanne thought, he is officially a puppy prince, a true cinnamon roll that must be protected at all costs. She fought the blush that threatened to coat her cheeks and nodded as he gave her another smile. Dear God, he was going to give her diabetes.

Walking past the women of the night, Michael tugged on her sleeve. “You didn’t answer my other question. Do you want to see Princess? I think she’d like to meet you.”

Her eye twitched as she thought of meeting his pet dog. Just why was he persistent in being around her? And he was a stranger she had only met a few hours earlier. She faced him and asked, “Why do you want me to meet your dog?”

“Because I think it will make you happy. I’m sure you’ll be sad as soon as I leave so why don’t I expand your circle of friends and show off Princess? Kill off two birds with one stone right? And uh- I just want to make sure you don’t do something you’d regret later.” There was a nervous ring in his laughter, as though she’d run off as soon as he finished and leave him in the dark.

“Oh, thanks for your concern.” She coughed out, shoving her hands in her pockets. “I’d um, I’d like to meet Princess. If that’s okay with you.” Though, she wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by regret. She had already drunk herself into a stupor as soon as she landed in American and cried her heart out into her pillow, which still had makeup printed upon it.

Her ears nearly fell off when he yelled in happiness and grabbed her arm. “Alright Princess! Here we come!” He dragged her towards the right of the street and pointed to the one of the many buildings standing. “Just a few more minutes and you can see my Princess! She’ll love you, I promise!”

His hazel eyes glimmered as a carefree laugh left his smiling lips. Leanne felt her own mouth curving up at the corners into a smile. His whimsical essence soothed the wounds on her heart, like aloe vera on sunburnt skin, or a parent’s kiss on a scraped knee. She joined in his laugh as he pulled her towards his apartment and his beloved dog, Princess.

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Astrid’s blue violet eyes contained worry as she gazed into Egil’s deep purple eyes. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles and smiled at her. “Don’t worry, litla systir1, we’re doing this for Leanne’s sake. Fredrik can’t stop us from helping her and, you know as well as I, that she needs us,” he said, reaching over to push a strand of silvery blonde hair out of her face.

“Yes, but storebror2, will Leanne want our help? What if we accidentally mess up? What if we lead him to her?” She bit her trembling lip, staring deep into his eyes.

“It is alright, Astrid. He can’t hurt us if we do. Father won’t allow it, you are his only daughter after all.” Egil chuckled as he thought of their father. The man treated women as though they were nothing but he doted on his daughter. Ah, how Egil adored the irony. Even more hilarious was how their father wanted a child from all Nordic countries; Fredrik from Denmark, Arnstein from Norway, Anders from Sweden, Aasta from Finland, Egil from Iceland, Astrid from Greenland, and Atli from Faroe Islands. He was only missing the Åland Islands in Finland’s territory.

Their poor mothers were nothing more than babymakers for their father to gather heirs for his name. Ha, bless his mother’s ambitious heart. She’d tried to get him to the alter more times than the other women had combined, yet she won’t be anything other than a mistress for Father to scratch an itch if he had one.

“Storebror? Do you think Leanne is safe, wherever she is?” Astrid asked, her eyes large and watery as she imaged Leanne chained in a basement somewhere in America, begging for help. Her small body shuddered. “What if she was taken by Aidan? He does not like our storebror.”

“He wouldn’t involve himself with in an affair with someone who was a civilian. Give him credit, he won’t break the rules.” Egil scooted over to his sister and pulled her into a hug. “That fool Fredrik is who we should worry about. He’s risking everything for a woman he hurt.” Astrid nodded and wrapped her thin arms around his broad back.

From the doorway, Tait barked from its place as padded over to its mistress. “You should go to her, Astrid. Leanne probably trusts you more than any of our brothers at the moment.” Egil pulled back and grinned at the Greenland dog. “Plus you have a vicious warrior doggy to fend off unwanted suitors and overly obsessed Danes.”

“Storebror, please.” Astrid shook her head. Reaching out her right hand, she petted the dog, a sweet smile on her face. “Leanne hasn’t met anyone other than the three of us and Tait is a harmless overgrown baby. Isn’t that right, eskling3?” The dog woofed and rubbed itself on her hand.

“You love that dog more than half of our family don’t you?” Egil asked.

Astrid averted her eyes and uttered, “Lying is a sin, storebror.” She coughed as he burst into laughter. “W-Well now, how will we protect Leanne from her not so charming former prince?”

Egil wiped a tear from his eye as he shifted his body into a more comfortable position on the couch. “We’ll hide her away and get Freddy boy hooked on that woman he had an affair with! Or, something like that. I haven’t thought that far other than to sabotage his plan in getting Leanne back with utmost vigor.” His lips turned into a frown as he remembered his conversation with his older brother. “His mental state is starting to worry me. He might do something to that other woman in order to get Leanne back.”

“Should we protect that one as well?” Astrid asked, her brows scrunched up in thought. “We have no connection to her and storebror must view her as a disposable toy. She probably doesn’t know about his “work” or how dangerous he is. I personally feel no need to protect her. She’s like an ambiguous figure in this fight between Leanne and storebror. Is she aware of what’s going on? Is she a civilian or is she a member of another family?”

“We might have a war on our hands if the woman is related to gang or mafia. I’ll have her investigated. Well, there goes Freddy’s reputation of being the model heir for all the mobsters in the world.” Egil’s eyes flashed as his train of thought sped up. “Why did Fredrik have an affair in the first place? He’s always struck me of a monogamous man. Was he drunk or blackmailed?”

“Or is he turning into Father?” Astrid bit her lip. Getting up, she moved towards the window and glanced at the blizzard screaming outside of the well heated house they were in. “He inherited his looks from Father. What if he’s inherited Father’s personality?”

“We need to put him in therapy that’s what we need to do.” Egil waved off her concerns. “And I’m sure even Freddy doesn’t want to turn out like Father. One of him is enough.”

“I suppose.” Astrid relented as her other dogs came into the room and nudged her for affection. Her eyes widened as she sniffled and her body shook. The dogs sniffed her hands and licked, causing a small gasp to fall from her lips. “I have been chosen,” she whispered, leaning down to drown in animal fur and love. Her small body disappeared as she lay on the floor and let the dogs cover her in affection.

Maybe letting Astrid protect Leanne wasn’t a good idea, Egil thought. All Fredrik had to do was give the girl a puppy and she would be distracted for weeks while Fredrik would be able to capture Leanne within seconds. Maybe he should go instead.

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Contrary to Michael’s words, Princess hated her very presence and proximity to the man. The poofy fluff ball of arrogance had glared at Leanne every chance it got and clung to Michael like super glue. Right now, Michael cradled the demon spawn in his arms, cooing sweet words in its ear. “Who’s the most beautiful girl in the world? You are. You most definitely are, Princess.” He buried his face in its tawny fur and the bloody thing looked at her with the doggy version of a smirk.

“There can only be one alpha, Princess. One. Alpha,” she whispered, crossing her arms as she sat on the bronze4 sofa. The coffee table held her cup of hot chocolate, something Michael had insisted on as he ushered her in his home and took off her coat.

Dog toys were neatly piled onto a dog bed shaped like a bed from the Palace of Versailles. God, did he use his paycheck just to pamper that little monster? He didn’t even pay attention to Leanne as soon as he lay eyes on the pompous Pomeranian, scooped it up, and proceeded to worship it. The dog was clearly the master in their relationship.

“Hey, Michael, I don’t think your dog likes me.” Leanne stated, barely able to keep herself from hissing at the dog.

“Aw, she just needs some time getting used to you. Then you’ll be the best of bosom buddies!” He set down Princess onto her own sofa and perched on the only other human sized sofa. He missed her pointed look and aimlessly chattered about the history of Princess, how she was born, and etcetera.

Leanne tuned him out and examined her nails, the words flooding out of Michael’s mouth reminded her of Fredrik’s sister, Astrid. At first, she had been paralyzed with incredulity at the mere thought of such a sweet, innocence kitten of being related to the stone faced wolf she was dating. Then she had been told that Fredrik had a different mother and that Astrid had lived in Greenland with her mother.

Thank god or else the girl would have been corrupted. Egil was a perverted serial killer –okay, she didn’t know if he was a serial killer but he gave off the vibes of one- and Fredrik was being prepared to take over his father’s seat as the head. The other brothers had not made themselves known to her but the rumors circulating around them were as bright as the Marina’s Trench.

“-and Princess’s name isn’t really Princess, you see, it’s just a nickname. Her real name is Cerberus.”

She tuned back in to Michael’s words and blinked. “Wait, what?” She asked, staring at the dog that now gazed at Michael with what seemed to be betrayal.

“Oh, Princess is really named Cerberus. Did you know that in Greek it means Spot? Cause Hades totally named his three headed dog Spot. I mean, imagine going to the Underworld with all these dead souls crying and stuff when you hear a growl coming from a gigantic puppy dog trying to look vicious when a pretty lady and her nerdy husband comes out and he just calls the puppy dog “Spot,” and suddenly all the fear you feel fades away cause this god of the Underworld legit named his guard dog a generic dog name instead of being all mysterious and terrifying.” Michael guffawed, hugging his sides as the image manifested in his mind.

Leanne stared at him, eyes flicking to Princess and back to Michael. The dog mimicked her actions and before long, they stared at each other in silent agreement. Michael peeked at them from the corner of his eye and swallowed a bark of laughter. He knew they’d get along sooner or later.

Turning to look at Leanne, he asked, “Are you going to spend the night or go home? It’s pretty late now.”

“What?”

“Well, if you want to spend the night, you’re in luck cause I have a spare bedroom and if you want to go home, I’m okay with getting you a cab or walking you home,” He clarified, and motioned to Princess. “And you’re getting real peachy with my Princess so if you girls want a sleepover I won’t bother unless you want food. I make mean Samoas cookies, as good as the ones girl scouts sell, I promise. Unless you don’t like Samoas, then I can make cupcakes. Don’t worry, my friend Charles taught me his best recipes as long as I don’t sell them. He owns a bakery in England.”

“Not only can you provide comfort as great as a puppy, you can bake?” Leanne whispered, a hint of reverence in her voice. “You’re like the whole package.”

“The whole package of flower boy? Then yes, yes I am good lady. I can’t cook a lot of things though. My skills are in affection and baked goods.” He grinned. “And my utter devotion to Princess of course.”

“Have you ever dated, Michael? I mean, you have these great qualities. It’s kind of hard to see you not taken by now. Was it because of Princess?” Leanne’s eyes darted to the canine as Princess pawed her bed before resting and shutting her eyes.

“I have, if you count those dating sims. Plus, I’m not all that great, I have flaws you know. Mom’s told me that I’m too trusting and oblivious. Never could see the tension in the room or anything.” A nervous chuckle erupted from him as he scratched the back of his head. “I mean, you could be a serial killer posing as a heartbroken girl and I just invited you into my home with only a dog as the witness for my murder. Not that you’re really a serial killer but you know? Plus I’ve had a real boyfriend once. We kinda didn’t stay together since it was long distance and he started liking someone else.”

“I’m sorry it didn’t um, work out.”

“It’s alright. It was a few years ago and I’m over it. What about you?” He moved to her sofa and clasped her hands. It felt warm.

She paused and looked away from him. “I’m ready to settle down. Find someone I want to have a family with and stuff.” A mirthless smile made its way to her lips. “Fredrik bought a house for us to live in. He said it was perfect and I –I thought that he wanted to marry me. I had already met two of his siblings and his parents so I thought –He promised to let me meet the others and-” Her throat closed up as she began to sniffle.

“O-Oh, you don’t have to continue if you don’t want to, Leanne. I’m sorry for asking about it.” He used one hand to rub her back as she broke down into sobs. She turned and clutched his shirt, wet rivulets streaming down the cotton fabric.

They stayed like that for a while, Leanne continuing to pour out her feelings and Michael comforting her the best he could. He sung a soft Italian lullaby and hugged her tightly.

“Hey, what’s that song called?” Leanne asked, not looking up at Michael so he wouldn’t see her red and puffy eyes.

He stopped singing. “I think it’s called Ninna Nanna. I heard it when this guy came into the café. I liked it so I asked him to teach me the song.”

“You really asked a stranger to teach you a song?” Though, she didn’t really have the right to say a thing since he asked her to meet his dog and she agreed.

“Well yea, plus he had pretty pinkish red eyes. I’m sure they were contacts but who knows? I’ve seen lots of people with different eye colors but I think people aren’t very creative when they think that only blue eyes are pretty. Some blue eyes are scary and cold,” he mumbled.

Well, he was right about some eyes being scary and cold.

“Hey, are you hungry? I’ll make something to eat. It’s um, almost two in the morning but hey, food is the solution to everything and you need to rehydrate yourself,” Michael offered, a sunshine smile blooming her way.

“Okay, what about the hot chocolate you made me?” She asked, pulling back from his embrace. “It’d be a waste to throw it away.”

“Listen, it’s cold and I think you need something warm, but I’ll heat it up if you still want it.” He reached for the mug and got up, walking towards the kitchen.

“Oh, then what can you cook? And I still want the hot chocolate.” Leanne wiped off the remnants of her tears and fixed her clothes.

Michael placed the mug in the microwave and turned to face her. “Baked potato soup, lasagna, potato salad, homemade potato chips, shrimp chowder, baked macaroni and cheese, and fettuccine alfredo. That’s all I can think of the moment.”

Her stomach grumbled as she listened to him list the food. A light blush covered her face as she hoped puppy prince didn’t hear her stomach growl. “W-Which one can you make the fastest?”

“Um, the fettuccine alfredo takes ten minutes.” He replied, rummaging the pantry for ingredients. Since the kitchen was right in front of the living room, Leanne had a rather nice view of his backside. She’d rather die than admit it out loud but the back was as tantalizing as the front. “Leanne? Hello? Does that mean you want alfredo?” He called, turning his head around to look at her.

The blush reddened even more as she avoided his eyes a stammered out an affirmative. He blinked and turned back to cooking, briefly wondering about why her face was a red tomato. Oh well, he had feed to his prickly cactus after all.

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                                            killing you SOFTLY ?

no. this is going to be BLOODY,

this is going to be BRUTAL,

& most of all
THIS IS GONNA

HURT LIKE HELL.

 

First Choice or Second Best

Chapter 1: Consoling Café with a Corgi Man

Coffee, the most tasteful brew in all of creation with all of its fantastic and ever-changing flavors, could not warm her heart tonight, nor could it wash the utterly bitter aftertaste of humiliation and betrayal that had conquered her tastebuds. She curled her lips in disgust, sure that the taste would last for years to come. Even the blow to her pride and shards of her trust in others would need a miracle to recover –and maybe a bottle of booze or two. Her topaz eyes glared at the rapidly cooling mug in hand with a look that could stab an army.

“Miss? Are you alright?” The waiter must have come over in fear she was contemplating on crushing the mug with her bare hands.

“Yes.” Her left eye twitched when he didn’t leave. Relaxing her grip and taking a deep breath, she twisted her lips into a smile. “Is there something you need?” Her tone was as sweet as cotton candy sold in gas stations; disgustingly sweet with a hint of premature death.

The man pulled the collar of his uniform and stuttered, “I -ah, I thought that –um, you needed a shoulder to cry-” Her left eye twitched again. “-lean on! Yea, just if –uh, need a friend to talk to?”

Hm, she didn’t think this café had bar consoling perks. But what did she have to lose anyway? Her honor was already blemished. He, on the other hand, was rubbing the back of his neck and had averted his gaze to the clock near the register.

“Why are you curious about my dilemma?” She let go of the mug and crossed her arms.

He winced before replying, “Well, when a pretty lady comes into your café with heartbreak written across her face and then proceeds to strangle her cup of coffee with murder screaming in her eyes, you get worried for the innocent mug, you know?” She raised an eyebrow. “Er, w-was that too forward? I’m sorry,” he mumbled, his face a darker scarlet than before.

“No, it’s just that you didn’t stutter that time,” she said. “Anyway, I broke up with my former lover. Things were falling apart and he did something I’d kill him for.”

He blinked. A few seconds later, he mouth opened. “I thought your dog died and you were cursing God,” he sighed.

She stared at him, face shaped by disbelief. Then she shook her head. “I don’t even believe in God,” she muttered, brushing back her brown hair.

“What’s your name?” He asked. She paused and tilted her head. “O-Oh, um, we haven’t introduced ourselves rights? My name it’s ah, Michael.” His laughter was awkward enough for her to consider it cute.

“Well, my name is Leanne.”

He leaned forward, hazel eyes twinkling. “You know, I didn’t think you’d tell me your name.”

“Why is that?”

“You are –were- like a wounded cat drenched in water. When I waited to talk to you, you were practically ready to rip my face off if I said something to fuel your temper. Plus that smile scared me senseless.” He took care to whisper that last part to himself.

“I was angry and I wasn’t really to talk just yet.” She flourished her hand with a roll of her eyes. “Life was testing me today.”

“I noticed.” He drawled. He shifted in his seat and placed both arms on the table, hands cupping his face.

Leanne huffed, “You ruined the shy coffee boy image you had going on.” Her lips had, however, quirked into a near smile.

“I am not a coffee boy, I am a delicate flower who loves dogs.” His voice cracked as the blush now turned deep red that put tomatoes to shame.

She continued to stare at his blush, making note of the way it stained his ears and crept down his neck –at least, the part of his neck that wasn’t blocked by his arms and collar. It was kind of cute, puppy dog cute. Then again, he was a human puppy, eager to play and interact with others, but also determined to cheer up others. He was a warm ball of fluff and kindness.

Snap.

She jolted back to reality and faced a tanned hand snapping in her face. “Earth to Leanne! Time to downgrade and come back down,” Michael called. His tomato face was fading.

“Sorry, I was having an internal monologue. Did you need something?” She asked as a saccharine smile plastered itself on her face.

He pouted, pulling away his hand and turned his head away from her. “Forget angry kitty, you’re prickly. Like cactus prickly.”

Throwing back her head, she laughed, the bitterness in her mouth fading. Michael reached across the table and grasped her shoulders as her laughter shook her body. “Woah there, don’t fall off your chair while laughing at me,” he warned. Leanne relaxed and the laughter slowed to a stop. “Feel better, Leanne?” His lips curled into a grin and he let go of her shoulders.

“Much better, Michael, thank you.” This time, her smile was genuine, full of brightness and glee. He returned the smile and leaned back in his chair. They sat there smiling for a few more moments when another customer came in.

“Excuse me for a second. I’ll get you more coffee too. A little bit of cream and two sugar cubes, right?” He stood up and collected her cold mug.

“Yea, thanks.” She nodded and took out her phone as he left their table. Their table. Leanne tested the words on her tongue. It has a nice ring to it, she thought. Her eyes softened as she remembered how he tried to cheer her up.

Then a text message popped up and her smile morphed into a scowl. “Can’t he take a hint,” she hissed. However, she read it anyway, even as her conscious screeched at her not to, and her scowl lessened in lethality. She had forgotten how persistent Fredrik could be.

She glanced at Michael’s back as he took the other customer’s order and scribbled it on his notepad, his cheerful smile radiating warmth. Fredrik rarely smiled. The man was as cold as the winters in his home country, Denmark. His blonde hair was pale, almost white, and his eyes were gunmetal blue, sharp and cold.

Michael turned towards her and winked before resuming his previous actions. A timid blush broke out on her cheeks and she looked away with a small indignant huff. The soft yellow wallpaper stared back at her.

Her body relaxed as she continued to look at the wallpaper, following the pastel green vines dotted with budding roses. It reminded her of her mother’s house, a full-sized replica of a dollhouse, complete with antique furniture and decorations. If she closed her eyes, she could smell the coffee brewing as her mother sat in the living room, taking her time to sew clothing. Nostalgia wormed its way into her heart and the face of her mother lingered in her head.

A mug of coffee clinked as Michael placed it before her, startling her from her memories. He took the seat in front of her once more. “Hey again,” he greeted, resting his arms in front of his body on the table.

She nodded back. “Hey,” she whispered. Her hands reached for the mug, wrapping around it. The heat of the beverage seeped into the cold chill in her hands.

“You aren’t going to strangle this one, are you?” Michael asked, eyes flickering to the mug and then back to her face.

Shaking her head, she chuckled. “No, I won’t.” The coffee swirled as she lifted it and took a sip. Michael had gotten her order right.

“That’s good.” He cleared his throat and studied her. Unlike before, there was no tension in her body, her eyes were clear and the aura around her was lighter. Her forehead weren’t creased with worry lines and her mouth was no longer snarling. “Um, if you don’t mind me asking, what did your ex do that upset you so much?”

Leanne set down the mug and stared at him. “Curiosity killed the cat you know.”

“But satisfaction brought it back.” He replied. “Listen, if you talk about it, maybe you’ll feel better. Plus, you can plot revenge that most likely will end in murder and I won’t tell the police.”

“Tempting,” she said, mulling over his words. “Well alright, his name is Fredrik. And he’s from Denmark.”

“Wait, Denmark? We’re in America, how did this happen?” Michael asked, with his eyebrows furrowed.

She shrugged off his questions. “It’s easy. I went over there to study Astronomy and I met him. I stayed over there afterwards until Fredrik made a mistake and I came home filled with anger and hurt.”

“How long ago was this?” He wanted to ask how old she was too, but felt as though she’d hit him for asking.

“A few weeks ago.” She muttered, averting her eyes.

“You certainly hold a grudge.”

“What can I say?” She crossed her arms, hugging herself as she sighed. “He cheated on me and demanded I stay with him even after I caught him. He told me he didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

He cringed. “Oh, um, that’s harsh.”

“Read this.” She threw her phone towards him.

“Sure?” He fumbled as he caught her phone and held it before him.

From: Unknown Number

Sent 10:17 p.m

You know it is impossible for you to get away from me. I won’t give up on you. However, I know you are upset, Leanne, and I will give you your space, but you need to get over your little tantrum. You are mine and you always will be. You will see that soon enough.

“That’s creepy,” Michael muttered, shuddering as he handed Leanne back her phone.

“I’m lucky I left before his goons caught me. They were searching all night. But he probably knows I’m in America anyway.” She sighed, placing her phone next to the mug.

“Are you going to be alright? I-I mean, he sounds like one of those super nice boyfriends that turn into stalker exes with murderous capabilities.” He grasped her hand in a tight grip. “Listen, you need the cops or something. I don’t want to wake up only to see your face on the news because you’re missing or something.”

She offered a faint smile at his concern. “It’s better if you don’t associate with a mobster’s ex-girlfriend you know.”

“What?” His face was a combination of a blank stare and a fish mouth, the one fishes make when they open and close their mouths repeatedly.

“Fredrik is a mobster. He’s the leader of his own gang. He also likes to laze around the house eating Danishes while his lackeys look for me in every inch of Denmark. Very caring, I know.” She laughed without mirth, unshed tears gleaming in her eyes. “I screwed up so bad. I should never have gone out with him.”

“Why did you ever go out with him?” Michael asked, his free hand reaching into his apron pocket for napkins.

“I don’t even know. All I knew was that he was in some shady business and I never asked for specifics, you know? Plus, I was convinced that he loved me. He would take me out to these dates were we’d have fun. Fredrik once rented an entire seaside restaurant just for me. I thought he was so romantic. Oh god, I’m going to die.” She pulled her hand from Michael’s grip and hugged herself. “I was so stupid. I thought with my heart and not my brain and now I’m going to die because of what I thought was love.”

“H-Hey, calm down. I don’t think you’re going to die.” He stood from his chair and moved to Leanne’s side.

“No, Michael. I first met him when he was in a shootout with a rival gang. Oh man, I should’ve paid more attention back then. But I was so scared and he promised he’d protect me. I can’t believe I thought he was my white knight in a business suit.” She chewed her lip and curled further into herself.

“Oh no, Leanne. Um, it’s not your fault? I mean yes, it is totally not your fault and I am but a small potato rolling towards the stew of life and I don’t think I can save you from bad memories or stalker exes with mob connections that could take me out with a snappity snap or something and -please don’t cry that is my weakness and like, it’s not even a cute weakness -I mean I’m not saying you’re not cute it’s just that I can’t handle crying women cause then I start crying and Jesus Christ, why aren’t I shutting up? Oh man, okay, um, police. Police, we need the police.” Michael babbled, his words rushing out of his mouth in a stream of stutters and half-baked attempts of consolation.

From the other side of the café, the other customer glanced at them, muttering about the youth these days. He shook his head and returned to his jelly filled donut and coffee.

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The biting frost of Denmark’s winter permeated the meeting room, but it could not compare to the icy aura surrounding Fredrik as he set his gunmetal blue eyes on the faces of his many underlings. He rested his chin upon his fist, and crossed his legs as he sat at the head of the mahogany table. “You are telling me that you allowed her to escape to America?” He snarled, baring his white teeth at them. “I consider myself far more merciful than my father. I will not kill a man for incompetence. However, you trample my kindness as though it were nothing more than dirt.”

The men stayed silent with their heads bowed down. Fredrik threw his hands up in the air. “And nothing? All you know is that Leanne left for America but you don’t know where? Leave. You are all dismissed until you find her whereabouts.” The men filed out, not daring a glance back at their boss.

Groaning as he leaned back in his chair, he looked up at the ceiling. He ran a hand through his blonde locks. “Where could she be,” he murmured. He shut his eyes as he thought of her, his Leanne. His muscles relaxed as a memory bubbled up from the dark recess of his mind. A small smile crept upon his face. Such a lovely smile she had. It was one of his favorite things about her.

His phone rang, blaring out like a trumpet playing at an ungodly hour in the morning, and shattered the brief moment of peace he had. “Hello,” he answered. Snickers erupted on the other side, too loud for Fredrik to keep the phone next to his ear. He grunted as he glared at the screen. “Egil, hush, you don’t need to be cackling that loudly like a blasted witch.”

“Of course I need to cackle, brother. You screwed up and you know it.” Egil crowed, glee running rampant in his smooth voice. “Leanne certainly won’t come back to you.”

“She will come back. She is not capable of loving any other.” He retorted, a vein popping on his forehead.

“Are you sure about that, Freddy? I have no qualms about wooing her to prove you wrong. I mean, she is quite attractive and we’re only half siblings. She won’t have to see you, the man who didn’t have any problem betraying her.”

God, how he wanted to strangle Egil. He grit his teeth as his younger brother continuing laughing at him. “Stay away from her. She is mine.” He growled and his grip on the phone tightened.

“She was a good woman and you let her go, unintentional or not. She will not come back to a man who does not love her.” Egil quieted as he continued to speak. “You could have had it all, Fredrik. A marriage with love when men in our line of work usually marry for family connections and alliances. I like Leanne and she does not deserve what you did to her.”

“I know, Egil. I do not regret sleeping with that woman, but I do regret letting Leanne knowing of it-”

Egil’s laughter boomed and bounced against the walls of the room. “I can’t believe you. It would have been better if you hadn’t slept with that nameless woman anyway. Leanne would have found out sooner or later even if you have managed to hide it from her that night. Do you think she’s an idiot?”

Fredrik’s voice was dripping venom as he responded, “No, and I expect her to use her brain to realize that that woman meant nothing to me and return to my side. I understand she is angry, but she knows her place. Unlike a certain someone I am currently speaking to.”

“Very funny, Freddy. Are you even planning to apologize to her? It seems that you simply expect her to calm down after a few months and run into your arms, filled with love and trust like before.” Egil tsked, “A shame I have to ruin your blind fantasies of love, brother dearest, however she most likely is seeking comfort in another and you are as delusional as the teenage heroines in young adult novels who are in the middle of a make believe love triangle.”

“Then what do you expect of me? Buy her flowers? Invite her to dinner? Threaten to kill her family if she does not come back?” He asked, blotches of red painted on his face.

“What was that saying Astrid always mutters? Ah, yes. “If you love them, let them go. If they come back, then that love was meant to be.” Wise isn’t it, Freddy? Though, a bit odd when our baby sister uses it whenever her dogs run off on her daily walks. They do come back when she starts to cry, however.” The heated discussion evaporated as Egil rambled on about Astrid and Fredrik tuned him out.

He could wait for Leanne. It would be a show of his patience. Yes, he could do that, but how long until her anger cooled? Maybe he should prepare a gift for her, like Egil said. But what kind of gift? She was never one for flowers and clothing rarely did a thing to make her smile. It usually made her uncomfortable when still attached to the price tag.

A slow smirk slithered onto his lips. Surely, she would enjoy seeing the mistake being erased from existence. Then she will happily be back in his arms and they could continue as though it never happened in the first place. Yes, that would make her forgive him. Ending the now one-sided call with Egil, he punched in a new number. He needed to make his gift perfect.

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Michael stared at Leanne, who had grasped his hand when he had reached for the phone. Her face was now contorted in fear as she pleaded with her eyes for him to not call the police. He could understand why she would fear such a thing. If the police were alerted, her location would be known and she’d have to run again. He bit his lip, eyes shifting from the phone in hand to her. Surely this Fredrik did not have the American cops in his ring. America was too far away since Leanne had run here.

“I don’t want to go back to him, Michael. Don’t call the cops or he’ll know.” She begged, tugging his hand away from the cellular device. Her body shook when he did not move or acknowledge her attempts. “Michael, please, you don’t know what he can do.”

Michael hesitated for a moment and then withdrew his hand. “Fine, but you need to keep yourself safe. Take some defense classes and buy some mace spray.” He turned his body to look at her fully. “Or maybe run for another country and plead for asylum. Canada sounds nice. They have lots of maple syrup for all your pancake needs.” He schooled his features into a smile.

Leanne relaxed, letting go of his hand. She glanced around the cafe. The other customer had gone, his table held nothing more than a tip for Michael. “Thank God that guy wasn’t a spy,” she breathed, relief flooding her veins.

“Leanne, did you hear me? And why would he be a spy?” Michael asked, his brows drawn together as he tried to imagine that man making a shady –and expensive- call to Denmark. “You need something to make you chill. Something like pictures of puppies.”

“My life is in danger and you want to show me pictures of puppies?” Leanne mused, “You sure have your priorities straight.”

“That’s the only straight thing about me,” he snickered.

Cupcake Love

Chapter 1:

Do you like cupcakes?

Prologue:

Murder was a source of amusement. It gave him a sense of euphoria as he watched the life bleed from the eyes of his victims. The way his victims screamed was simply delicious, just like cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cupcake. From those very sounds, he could taste sweetness that rivaled sugar. Cutting into the flesh, while those screams filled the air, made his slim body shudder in absolute ecstasy. He moaned. To think such sin could bring him so much bliss and pleasure. His breathing quickened into pants as he carefully moved his knife, skin peeling from muscle as blood reached up and kissed the blade. He paused and smiled at the face twisted in terror and pain. Bringing up the knife, he gently caressed the wonderfully defined cheekbones, giggling as blood left the cold blade for the faint heat of life.

*C*U*P*C*A*K*E*L*O*V*E*

Chapter 1: Chrysanthemum

The rain pelted the sugar-spun windows and slid down the marzipan windowsill before resting on the gumdrop bushes. All around, the buildings were coated in dreariness, except one. The owner of the sugary windows stood tall with pride in all its pastel glory, flourishing its white accents and puffing out its minty green front door, decorated with a single wooden sign painted in baby blue beckoning the passersby with the word “open” written in cursive. The windows glowed besides the door and held intricate displays of sweets upon white stands with dark yellow ribbons and recently cut snapdragons wrapping around the stands.

Inside of the bakery, creamy tiles and peachy walls added on to the quaint charm as the plush Victorian chairs surrounded light oaken tables in a warm embrace. Display cases were on both sides of the cash register that stood in the center of the back. The display cases held macaroons, Danishes, fruit tarts, pies, and other sweets that glistened with temptation. On the back wall, large menus contained several drinks and specials in chalk.

Hanging from the ceiling were fairy lights shining down on the creamy tiles with a soft light as gentle songs played by music boxes floated in the air and danced with the aroma of freshly baked goods. Two doors, one in the rightmost corner and the other left, were the color of candy cane. The door on the left led to the restrooms while the door on the right led to the kitchen.

Humming along to the song twinkling from the speakers overhead, Charles busied himself with the arrangement of his confections, deciding which color ribbons he should use or which flower would best compliment his sugary concoctions. He would glance out into the street every so often, in search of a familiar face, only to sigh when it did not appear. His mop of unruly red curls was encompassed by a fiery halo, courtesy of the lights shimmering above, while his brown eyes dulled with disappointment.

Taking out his pocket watch, the glass reflected his smooth face, the color of light beige with freckles sprinkled predominately across the bridge of his nose. Nearly 3 o’clock and his poppet had yet to come by. He put away the watch and fiddled with his lavender bow tie. “Poppet always comes at this time,” he bemoaned, sniffling as time flowed past and his poppet did not come in.

Outside, the rain lightened and the sun peeked through grey clouds. People began to fill the streets and Charles attended to those who came into his bakery. At least he could drown his thoughts in work. He scampered around to take orders and deliver the requested items with a smile pasted on his face. Dragonwell with a slice of cheesecake and Darjeeling with a slice of pumpkin pie for table three while table eight desired Assam with a lemon cupcake with vanilla frosting. He really should hire some employees.

The door opened as he placed down table eight’s order. Straightening, he wished the occupants of table eight a good meal and hurried over to the newcomer. “Welcome to Confection Connection,” he exclaimed, “Please take a seat anywhere. I’ll be over in a jiffy!”

“Grazie,” the man waved off Charles and sat in the corner. Charles shrugged his shoulders and continued to work.

The man watched, magenta eyes containing amusement, as Charles moved around, a scrawny pastel blur of merriment. Brushing his brown russet locks back, he glanced at one of the many display cases. A beautiful tiramisu cake sparkled underneath the lights. Charles soon blocked his view of the beauty. “Sorry for the wait, dear. Now, what would you like?”

“That tiramisu cake right behind you,” he replied. “Maybe in a box to go?”

“Alright, please meet me at the cash register,” Charles moved to get the cake. The man got up from his chair and stood before the register. He watched Charles place the dessert in a box and pushed the brass buttons on the register. “Your total comes to £49.72.” He took out his wallet and paid, glancing at Charles’s smile with indifference. Charles’s brown eyes shone with unhappiness. Oh well, not his problem. He took the cake and left, humming to the tune of Ninna Nanna.

Charles continued to work and heaved a sigh when the bakery was empty of customers. It was ten, the time to close shop. Poppet hadn’t showed up at all. “Perhaps something came up. She did tell me that her mother was in the hospital,” he muttered. “Poor thing, I hope she’s alright.” He walked up to the door and flipped the open sign to close. “I might as well check on the special ingredients.”

*C*U*P*C*A*K*E*L*O*V*E*

The tree leaves were shades of gold and copper as they fell to the chilly earth. Fall had finally set in after months of rain and now, the sun was peeking out from the grey clouds. Soft breezes swept by and Evangeline smiled as she heard a rather satisfying crunch underneath her boots. The sidewalk’s normally grey hue was now coated in warmer and livelier colors.

Ahead, the Thames River hospital stood, gazing towards the sky as if reaching for heaven. The large glass windows reflected sunlight, giving it a celestial glow, as the shadows curved around it, giving it a rounder shape. Evangeline hurried towards the entrance, noting the increase in cars in the parking lot. “There’s more than it used to be,” she mumbled, pulling her coat tighter.

The interior of the hospital was brighter, blindingly so with the fluorescent lights beaming down on the pale white tiles and walls. Steel bars encased the windows and glinted, while the doors were pitch black. Ice-cold air blasted from above and it looked more like a sanitarium than a hospital. Maybe this is what the ninth level of hell feels like, Evangeline thought, her body shivering and trembling every moment she stayed in the hospital.

She continued her journey and followed a path that had been long ingrained into her mind. Room 444 was past this corner. Before long, door to room number 444 materialized. Evangeline opened the door and light spilled out, gentler and kinder than the ones overhead.

“Lina? Did you come to see your maman?” A serene voice filled the air and Evangeline felt the familiar lump form in her throat.

“Oui, I’m here, maman.”

Her mother sat on the bed, her long brown hair pooling by her side, and green eyes twinkling with mirth. However, her white skin seemed paler than the crisp sheets of her bed, bags settled permanently underneath her eyes, and she was not as vibrant as she had been in Evangeline’s childhood memories.

“Come, come, take a seat.” Her mother gestured to the chair that never left its place by the bed.

“Yes, maman,” she murmured, sitting down and smoothing out her pleated black skirt.

“You never wear anything above your knees.”

“Hm?” Evangeline paused, clasping her hands above her crossed legs.

Her mother sighed, “You were always so proper, so polite, so private, and so very obedient. I suppose it was because we raised you to be a lady.”

“Father says that I am you, just more ladylike.” It was true. Evangeline and her mother were physical carbon copies, to the tips of their wavy brown hair, to the tips of their small feet. However, while her mother smiled with a brilliance that rivaled the sun, Evangeline did not display any emotion other than a faint polite smile of a doll’s. It was much easier to say that Evangeline took after her mother in looks but took after her father in personality.

“There have been a string of disappearances lately. It’s near the bakery you like so much,” Evangeline announced.

“Oh really? I suppose it has been in the news as of late. Do be careful the next time you visit Charles –though you should bring him over so I can chat with him too.” Her mother began to grin, wiggling her eyebrows.

“I suppose I will ask. It will depend on his schedule.” Evangeline shrugged and glanced at her watch.

“Is it time to go already?”

She nodded and stood, before waving to her mother on her way out. “I’ll see you sometime soon.”

*C*U*P*C*A*K*E*L*O*V*E*

The chill in the air had gone up and once more, Evangeline pulled her coat tighter across her body. The streetlights glowed in the dark of night, as she walked. Footsteps sounded on the frozen cement, footsteps other than her own. She paused. The footsteps continued. Relaxing a bit, she continued to walk to Charles’s bakery.

Her focus shifted and she thought of how to ask Charles to visit her mother again. Was it even worth the inescapable embarrassment? Was she even close enough to Charles to ask him? The first visit was entirely coincidental; she was going to visit her mother when she bumped into Charles, who at the time was visiting his younger brother.

He had insisted on seeing her mother, because he had “wondered where his best customer had gone.” It was odd, even if her mother had frequented his shop. She remembered nodding and leading him to her mother’s room. His enthusiasm had irked her. He had bombarded her with questions and banal topics, never-ceasing his chatter even when they had arrived and greeted her mother. If anything, he merely added the older woman in their one-sided conversation and he positively beamed when she answered one of his infinite questions in a poor attempt of shutting him up.

Why did she even try? Other than the fact that the woman she called mother burned a hole in her head and sent a message with her eyes; be a lady and stop ignoring the bloody chipmunk. Dratted woman sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. She should have learned to keep to herself long ago.

Evangeline paused in her thoughts and looked up. The door to Charles’ bakery gazed back at her, making the hair on her neck stand up. It was unnerving to be near him. Bracing herself, she reached for the door and walked in.

“Charles,” she called, eyes flickering to the childish decorations littering the building. It looked like a Rococo painting mashing with reality in a god-awful bakery. Not that she say that to Charles’ face, she valued her life for the time being.

He had yet to appear like the small pastel devil he usually was. Her body stiffened when she heard humming. Humming would be considered cute in a way but the way it rang up to her location was creepy. It was as though it came from one of those horror story monster children as they skipped down the hall, covered in blood and bits of pink tissue.

Pushing the thoughts of horror movies to the side, Evangeline seated herself on a plump chair near the door. She might as well wait for Charles to come to her. Tapping her fingers on the unnaturally clean table, she glanced out of the window, watching as the streetlights flickered on. “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin. You never come out the way you came in. You ask for water, but they give you gin. The girls say no, but always give in. If you’re not bad, they won’t let you in. It’s the damndest city I’ve ever lived in. Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin. You never come out the way you came in,” she muttered, flashes of women dancing underneath similar looking streetlights in another time.

“You know, poppet, it’s not polite to curse.”

Her body jolted as she swung her head back, eyes widening a fraction as she gazed upon Charles. He stood in front of right beside her, the faint lights casting shadows upon his face. Lord, his eyes seemed like coal-burning with hell fire. Heady and dark, yet aflame with determination.

She straightened her back as she schooled her features into a blank stare. “I’m not interested in being polite or heterosexual, Charles.”

The flame in his eye was extinguished in seconds. His shoulders sagged as he cleared his throat. “Er, is there something you needed Evangeline? My bakery has already closed.”

“Mother wants you to visit her,” Evangeline stated and stood up from her seat. A vague sense of victory filling her as he took a step back. She moved around him and went towards the entrance, not giving him a glance back. “That’s all.”

She exited the bakery of pastel hell and strolled down the street, careful to not walk underneath the street light completely. A soft chuckle left her mouth as she thought of Charles’ shocked face when she had left. It was amusing to see his Cheshire smile wiped off his face and replaced with that human expression instead.

Then she bumped into a rather warm torso and her chuckling stopped. “Mi scusi, bella. Are you alright?” The voice was deep and velvety, caressing her very cheeks with those words. A rather olive colored hand lifted up her head by her chin as the other hand rested on her waist. She said nothing as a smirk curled on the man’s lips. Narrowing her green eyes, she gazed into his own, the color of magenta. His eyes twinkled as he swept his thumb over her bottom lip. “Oh? Not saying a single thing, bella? Am I so good-looking that you’ve become speechless?”

“I’m not interested in men who use cologne,” she huffed, shoving him away. “I am sorry for bumping into you. Goodbye.” She waved him off and quickened her pace. The man laughed at her retreating form before muttering about an Italian nightclub and a dancing fox.

The words were most likely rubbish, she thought. Evangeline turned the corner and let her feet carry her home.

*C*U*P*C*A*K*E*L*O*V*E*

A vase of white lilies sat on her coffee table, bathed in the light of the television buzzing with news. Evangeline tied her robe and perched on the arm of the ivory couch. Her eyes glanced from the news reporter to the clock. It was almost three in the morning. She slid into onto the cushions and relaxed as several infomercials appeared.

Eyelashes fluttering as a salesman threw a blender out of the window, Evangeline yawned and curled up.

Click.

Her eyes were shut even as her brain registered the sound of a camera going off. However, she thought nothing of it. It could have been just another infomercial after all. Her breathing deepened and Evangeline was in the world of dreams.

Upon the television screen, the news reporter cleared her throat and gestured to the audience. “And written in the victim’s blood was a chilling message; Alice found the White Rabbit. It seems that the killer has an obsession with the Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice in Wonderland. Yet, who could this “Alice” be? Is it the killer? Or is it a game where the killer retells the tale in a string of murders? Stay safe everyone and goodnight.”

*C*U*P*C*A*K*E*L*O*V*E*

 ~The first step to any murder is to have fun and be yourself~

Follow the White Rabbit?

Yes        No

Hybristophilia: sexual attraction towards psychopaths