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Alla had been floating on cloud nine in the past weeks. She’d finally met a lovely man, Anton, and ever since, her life has seemingly been on an upturn. Anton was as deep as he was mysterious. He didn’t talk much of his day job, only to say that he worked in the dirt, but came to her to play within the clouds. It was the little things he did for her; flowers spontaneously being delivered to work, a email telling her that she was on his mind. Every now and again after they parted after a date he would drop a butterscotch with a small tag with his initials on it in her coat pocket before he left, for her to discover later. It was both of their favorites and what had started them talking in the first place. Almost childlike giddiness infused her days. Her friends remarked on her changes both congratulating her but also cautioning her on not falling for the gentleman too fast lest she scare him off.

Anton alleviated her worries. She’s had more than her fair share of creepers hound her; both at work and socially; but he was different. A brunette colored tress curled around her finger as he focused on the wall in front of her. Her dress, which he bought for her just before arriving at the restaurant, was a red princess cut with matching heels. His approach back to their table drew her eyes to feast on his visage. Alabaster skin contrasted slightly against the dark grey colored suit. His dark eyes were the only rebellious thing he clung to; using black colored contacts to hide true colors. While it wasn’t something she would normally be attracted to, it did add a touch to his mystery. Her red lips parted as her mouth turned upwards when he took his seat. “I didn’t miss our waiter did I?
” His voice was a soothing tenor; deep enough to draw the image of a coarser man but his intonations seemed to wrap his words in satin. “I ordered water as well as your usual wine.
” His smile was subtle. Like it was a secret that he shared only with her. “Thank you. Now, tell me of your day.

He listened to her with his attention undivided as she talked of things ranging from her current work projects to the current gossip running about her office. It shocked her how he took an honest interest in everything she brought up. She paused in her recanting of her day long enough for the waiter to take their order and accept a small note from Anton before he took hold of her hand. It still shocked her when his cold digits entwined with hers. He apologized after feeling her diminutive hand tense, but she quickly waved it aside; she was just used to being the cold one!

She looked over as her waiter and another were rearranging tables as the band in the far corner began a new song. She felt him pull on her hand before her attention returned to him, only to see him pull her to her feet and move out into the open space and pull her close. He moved with a practiced grace and confidence that forced her to merely follow along his lead, almost like his touch and hungered desire that radiated in his eyes placed her in a bedazzled haze. Soon the music, the attention of the staff and guests watching them, all other distractions and worries that she held within melted away as she lost herself in the flow of his dance.

The meal and the rest of their time ended too quickly for her liking and once again he excused himself from accepting her invitation back to her apartment. It was polite, as always, but tonight it was different. “Maybe I’ll join you while you sleep tonight.
” He spoke as if it were a promise, but still she knew that he could only mean in her dreams this night.
The taxi ride home was dreadfully tiring. As usual, her outings with Anton left her with little energy, as if he made her wait on their dates with shallow breath. Slowly, the euphoric wave she was riding on was slowly returning her to reality.

It was now that her fears began to arise once again. For the past few days, she had this feeling she couldn’t shake. She paid and exited the cab and walked briskly towards her building. Unseen eyes began to look at her, the lights that lit up the sidewalk offered her little in the way of comfort. The hairs on her neck began to straighten; goosebumps raced down her flesh as she spun around, mace in hand only to spray empty air knowing without a doubt that whomever was after her was mere inches away from wrapping their hands around her throat. She finally remembered to breathe after a moment of watching and listening for her stalker but she only listened to the empty darkness that seemed to close in on her. She could hear her heart beating in her ears and soon the sounds of her rapid breathing and racing heart were all that filled her ears. Sweat dotted her brow as her fear began to consume her.

It took her moments that seemed like eons to start moving again. The clanking of her heels reminded her of reality and that there wasn’t anyone following her. She began to use the coping tools her therapist taught her to calm her fears; focus on her breathing, slow, deep, and calming and she allowed her legs to move swiftly, burning the adrenaline coursing through her body. Of course. The elevator, she found out as she entered the building, was all the way at the seventh floor which was naturally at the top of the building and her very own floor. She took the time at the stair well to take off the heels and glance behind her. She didn’t hear anything to alert her of anyone entering, but still she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being followed.

Grateful for the carpeted stairs, Alla wasted no time hustling up the flights of steps and soon found herself entering a hallway that was… off. There wasn’t anything apparently wrong as she inspected the decor of the hallways. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was missing, but it all just reeked of being wrong. As if she were on the wrong floor. Finally. She knew she’d feel safe once she was in her own home. Her keys rattled against one another, filling the hallway with their tinkling sounds.

The opening and slamming of her door gave her little in the way of relief. She placed her keys back into her purse and dropped it only to hear it hit the floor. She paused for a moment looking at the black spot that she heard the sound coming from. She never missed placing her purse there. Flicking the light switch didn’t help either. Switch must’ve finally given out. There was a floor lamp at the direct opposite of the door and she moved to it. The way should’ve been a clear path but she found herself bumping into the couch and stubbing her bare toes on the end table before reaching the lamp.

What the hell…” She muttered to herself. Even the damn lamp didn’t feel right. As the light clicked on she inspected it but to no avail. She knew that it was the same lamp but it wasn’t hers. She began to feel herself losing control, panic soon started pushing all other rational thoughts. Alla retraced herself back to the door, searching her pockets for her phone. She felt before she held the crunching sound of wrapping in her pocket. Soon, and gratefully, a surge of ease moved through her as she began to unwrap the familiar golden candy, savoring the flavor of butter-scotch as well as the return of Anton and the safety she made him feel.

Her mind simply stopped thinking when she opened her eyes once more as a figure, pale skin, large black eyes and a permeable hunger emanating off him smiled with pointed teeth, with a near glee like feeling. Her scream resounded off the walls as she ran towards her bedroom after the man switched the lamp back off. Her heart raced frantically as she hurried to shut the door. Tears poured like the rain that began to pound on the windows. What the fuck?! The light shed by the lightning outside illuminated the room momentarily, but her body made her take in every detail. Including the man, not quite the same clung to the corner of the room, giving off the same sense of hunger, watched her as she realized just what was reality for her.

With each flash of lightning he drew closer to her. Her heart was nearly beating out of her chest, so hard that even through her labored breathing,she thought it could be seen through her breasts. Her hand moved towards the light switch. Her breath froze in her throat as cold but hard as iron fingers gripped her wrist and moved her hand to the switch that she was searching for.

As the light came on and shown her the terror that she feared a voice; a tenor that could’ve belonged to a coarser man but wrapped in satin, spoke the words she always wanted to hear from her husband.

Welcome home.

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