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Excerpt for Spiral of Crazy by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

SPIRAL OF CRAZY

















































PROLOGUE

You throw a girl out of the window once; you end up in a mental hospital.

It was not like it was even that high up; it was just from the first floor window.

Some people were just sissy’s, Roxy thought as she paced the room she had been assigned at Mathare Mental Hospital.

Five years she had worked her ass off to be among the best writers of her time and here she was in a mental institution, labeled crazy.

There was no difference between her and the man who walked around naked in the streets. One’s got to laugh at the irony of the situation.

“This will be good for you,” her mother had said just an hour ago. “Take some time to be yourself again, find yourself again.”

She got where her mother came from she just did not appreciate it. She could just imagine the news headlines, “Famous Author Roxy Moraa Gone Crazy” “Author Roxy in The Luni Bin”.

She could also imagine the news interviews, “So did you think she could snap like this someday?” Some faceless journalist would ask.

The “friend” being interviewed would reply, “Of course just look at chapter eight of her last book, the way she had Eva running around with a knife. It is just a spiral of crazy.” Except that ‘friend’ had known her about a whole thirty minutes.

Her actual friend Sabrina would be throwing things at the television; for despite her sweet disposition she was a fire cracker.

But who would care if the friend talking on television was an actual friend as long as she made the headlines.

“Friends knew that Roxy would one day snap.”

Yeah right.

It would not matter that the woman she had thrown out the window was her boyfriend’s latest squeeze.

Or that she found them banging on her bed, going at it like two wild rabbits.

Maybe she should have let the woman dress before going all Rambo on her ass. Those cardio kickboxing lessons had worked, Rafe her ex boyfriend as per this morning, had to call the cops.

Like he had not done enough damage already by breaking her trust; he should have let her pound out her frustration on his bimbo.

Too bad they had not gotten there before she threw him out of the window too. She was about to follow the bimbo over to finish what she had started when two cops restrained her.

Too say the truth she had not really loved Rafe, it was just the combination of the stress of working so hard on her latest book trying to make it a masterpiece that had gotten to her.

Seeing them together, she had just snapped.

It was like a dam had broken free and rage had flown out. Sweeping.

Maybe just maybe, all she needed was a break.

A new start.

She needed take the year in the Luni bin to formulate a new plan.

Seating down with a sigh on the bed with white sheets; she accepted her fate.

Or maybe this was not a break; she had finally just gone crazy.

Who knew?

















CHAPTER ONE

Blake loved his routine.

Working out, going to work, eating and sleeping at the same time every day.

As his feet pounded down the path he thought of a time when he let passion rule his life.

When he had lived for his desires before he had crashed and burned.

Now his life was predictable and he loved knowing exactly what he was going to do tomorrow those facts filled him with contentment and satisfaction.

His therapist had said, “develop a routine, it will give you structure, this will help your life get back on track.”

He had taken those words literally.

He came to a stop right outside his front door.

The running each morning helped him, especially on those nights he had nightmares and he could almost hear Mary’s voice.

Shaking himself out of it he picked up his newspaper on his way in. Many people now loved reading news from tablets or their phones; he just loved the smell of the newspaper. The smell reminded him of his daddy.

As soon as he opened the door his cat Mel ran to the door like he missed him. He knew better Mel was probably just hungry or wanted to slip out between his legs. He was not normally a cat person but when he bought the house, it came with the cat. He did not have the heart to throw him out and the company was not bad.

Being that Mel had been on his own so long he would sneak into the neighbors houses for food even if Blake fed him. The neighbors complained and it had to stop so he started locking him in the house. For the two days sleep was ruined for him as Mel went ahead to rip and knock everything over.

On the third day Blake locked him in the bathroom and that was when they came to an understanding.

As much of an understanding as a cat and man can get.

Mel makes noise, Mel sleeps in the bathroom.

Simple.

He picked up the phone to call his friend Nathan as he got the cat food from the top shelf.

“Hey lazybones, wake up,” he said as soon as he heard a grunt from the other end of the line.

That was met with more grunting and groaning.

“Waky waky the sun is up.”

“Go fuck yourself,” was the only answer he got to which he burst out laughing. Judging from the groan on the other end of the line or the look Mel gave him, his merriment was not appreciated.

“For your day to be right you have to start it happy,” the voice of his therapist rang out again and he pushed it down. He had faked a lot of happiness until now, but he was actually enjoying waking Nathan up.

“Hey language Mel is listening,” currently Mel was chewing down on his food and would not give a damn if they swore all day.

“You and that damn cat of yours,” Nathan said still grumpy.

“He loves me,” to which Mel released a sigh that sounded so much like yah right. “Anyway get your butt up today we are going hiking remember.”

With a sigh of realization that he was never going to get back to sleep, “You know I could just disconnect this call and go back to bed.”

“I have the coffee ready.”

Suddenly chipper, “Next time lead with that, I’ll be there in five minutes.” Then he was gone.

Placing the phone down with a chuckle, “Man he was easy.”

Exactly five minutes later Nathan burst in through the back door chanting coffee coffee coffee.

Standing next to the kitchen island he watched his friend assault his coffee maker, “Good morning to you too.”

“Asshole,” was the only answer he got as he filled his cup up.

“Now that is so much better,” Nathan said after finishing up the whole cup in three gulps.

“You swear too much for a cop,” Blake replied, “and does the coffee not burn you? That thing was hot.”

Raising one finger, “first I swear the right amount for a cop to put up the type of crap I put up with in a day.” Pausing, “Second, I have developed a tolerance for hot coffee.”

Laughing, “So what has put you in an extra grumpy mood this morning?”

Filling his cup again he took a seat on the stool next to where Blake was standing.

“One word, Mrs. Iffy.”

Chuckling, “technically that is two words,” to which he got a murderous glare. “Okay what did she do this time?”

“She took a frying pan to Mr. Iffy for not putting the toilet seat down. When I got there she was running after him around the coffee table shouting about air bacteria and viruses.”

By the time he was done Blake was bent over laughing so hard. This was why he woke up Nathan in the morning there was always a funny story.

Chuckling Nathan added, “One day those two will end up killing each other, not from one hitting the other but from all the running around they do. They are eighty they should be seated somewhere knitting and chewing tobacco.”

Wiping a tear, “That would be the day.”

“Speaking of which I hear they have a niece coming to town this weekend,” Nathan said trying to look nonchalant, “Maybe you two will hit it off.”

He had not dated since Mary passed away five years ago and he could not blame his friend for trying to help but he was not ready. He still needed more time.

The easy mood lost, “Yah maybe,” he moved to the sink.

“Man it has been five years, it’s time to move on and maybe a stranger here for the holidays is just what you need.”

Jaw tightening he placed the cup down with more force than necessary, “Not interested.” For a minute or two there was silence and tension.

Trying to lighten the mood Blake turned around, “Maybe she is as crazy as her aunt and uncle.”

Chuckling, “Maybe even crazier.”

To that they burst out laughing.

Easy mood restored.

What they did not count on thou was Nathan being right.



































CHAPTER TWO

Roxy hated the village.

Maybe it was the dusty roads, the animals that were just waiting to bite her or just the lack of night life or anything interesting to do or the neighbors almost kilometers apart.

She hated the silence that came with the village which afforded her a chance to think about all the things in her life. That was why in the city she just immersed herself in the life. Following all her whimsy and tingling in her mind. Stopping and silence meant she had to reflect on what her life meant.

After the spectacle from one year ago she could not go back to the city yet. When she had been released from the hospital today the paparazzi were waiting. She had to give it time for the story to die down and people to forget.

In her mind they had all overreacted.

It was not like the girl had died, a broken wrist was the least she deserved.

Three months, she thought as she pulled up in front of her aunt’s house.

She was giving people three months to forget.

From the look of things around here if she stayed more than three months she was headed back to the mental hospital, this time voluntarily.

She never really knew her aunt even though she was her mum’s sister. They had met only one time when she had come over to the city and she could remember the tension between the two sisters. She remembered because her aunt brought her a doll she had loved, for an eight year old that was a big deal.

She was startled and jumped when someone knocked on her window. Her aunt was peering at her through the window so she rolled down the window.

“Hey,” she said as she got her backpack and got out of the car.

She was caught off guard when she felt arms around her. Her aunt was hugging her; this was weird to her because the only person who ever hugged her was Sabrina. After a few minutes of just standing their awkwardly, Mrs. Iffy let her go.

Undeterred by her non-response she went to help her with her bag; Roxy shifted just in time to avoid her hands.

“Suit yourself,” Mrs. Iffy said as she started towards the door.

That was the first time she noticed the slight limp in her gait.

“You came at the right time, the crazy man; my husband is out so he won’t bother you. Lunch is also ready so you can go in and take a shower, the join me for a meal. Then we can go sightseeing, do you love the river?” She asked right as they got to the doorstep and turned around as if she expected an answer. Blocking the door which was the only way in.

Truthfully, Roxy had clocked out when Mrs. Iffy started talking, but not wanting to seem rude she answered, “Yes.”

She did not even know what she had agreed to; maybe she was giving away her first child. The smile on her aunt’s face was worth it. She did not know her well but considering she was among the only remaining relatives and was letting her stay around free, making her happy felt great.

Appeased she stepped aside to let her in, like that was the password; it seemed that if she said No she would be shuttled back to the vehicle and sent back on her way with no goodbye.

The house was clean that was the first thing she noticed when she got into the room. As a writer she was programmed to notice a lot of details.

Green sofa that had white spread clothes with hand stitched red roses and lace all around. Two soft brown stools with a matching coffee table and a large rectangular television that looked like it had seen better days.

She could not help but notice the small details like the wear and tear on the coffee table, how everything was arranged in place like someone who lived here had a small case of OCD.

Mrs. Iffy picked up the purple thread of what seemed like a sweater she had been knitting from the chair.

“Come on. Sit down.”

She sat on the hard cushion and tried to make herself comfortable. This was going to be home for the next three months so she better get used to it. She hugged her backpack to herself because it contained everything she owned at the moment except for her bank account. Most important thou was the manuscript she had been working on that had made her go ‘crazy’.

For one year when she had been locked up in the luni bin she could not get herself to write it, now that she was out she had to try again. She had the feeling that this was going to be the best book she ever wrote.

It did not matter that she had the same feeling about all her other books.

Ignoring her Mrs. Iffy went about dusting and whistling out of tune. She then disappeared down the corridor and came back with a white chipped bowl covered with a matching lid. She placed the bowl on the table then disappeared again this time she came back with plates. Then she went back for spoons. Still whistling out of tune she went back for the salt shaker.

Roxy just sat there feeling like she was watching a movie on theatre, from the outside looking in.

Mrs. Iffy stopped and started counting all the utensils, definitely OCD, Roxy thought.

With a cheerful clap, “well let us get started, that man of mine will have to help himself when he gets back home.” Shaking her head, “Damn bastard does not even know when it is time for lunch,” there was no heat behind her words. “Back when I was a child by lunch time you start hanging around the kitchen. You snooze you lose.”

She continued to regale her with tales of her childhood as they enjoyed a meal of rice and beans. The food she could live with the stories thou would drive her crazy.

No way was she staying here; with all the money she had she was sure she could find a temporary place to rent.

How she was going to tell Mrs. Iffy that without pissing her off was still a mystery.







CHAPTER THREE

The only thing Blake loved about coming home was the silence.

He loved that for months he did not have a neighbor who would pester him or play loud music. It was also a blessing because he did not really like people and the silence it afforded him was divine. The only people he liked were Nathan and his little sister Carly who was not currently in the country. With other people he had to pretend to be chirper and happy about everything. Or explain why he was grumpy and then apologize for it. With Nathan and Carly he did not have to pretend because they understood him.

So saying that he was a little irritated when he got home one evening to see a welcome mat on the neighbor’s door was an understatement. As it was pink in color, he hoped his neighbor was not some chatty lady who would want to get to know him. If they both stayed on their side of the house and maintained boundaries they would be fine, he thought as he opened the door.

After Mary’s death he had moved away from the city and was lucky to find a job as a mechanic at one of the garages in town. His job as a mechanic was perfect as it did not require him to interact with anybody while working. Only small talks during breaks with other mechanics were the requirements from him.

He had been sad to close his shop in the city, especially when it was doing so well but there he was drowning in memories. Finally he had sold out for quiet a substantial amount and walked away from everything. He did not get the job because he needed the money; he worked because if he stayed at home he would be depressed. Working on his cars gave him something familiar to do and he was damn good at his job.

As soon as he opened the door Mel came running. He wanted to think it was because he missed him but he knew better. He bent down to scratch behind his ears and Mel purred stretching out.

Smiling, bad mood forgotten, he took of his coat and went to get a bottle of water from the fridge.

He could not hear anything through the wall so maybe he would get along just fine with his new neighbor.

Maybe she was not even a she.

Chuckling, yeah right like a guy would have a pink doormat.

He was in the middle of his evening nap when he heard it. At first he thought he was just dreaming of partying in a club, but it had been such a long time since he partied so he knew that was not right.

He woke up fast.

There was music, loud music, coming from across the wall. No way in hell was he going to keep up with this.

The new neighbor had something to learn.

Steamed up he stormed out of the house and banged on the next door.

Ooh this was going to be good, he thought banging some more.

He was mid banging when the door was jerked open. Stunning was the only word that came to mind.

Everything he had wanted to say just disappeared.

Fumbling for words he felt like a teenager again.

He felt like a teenager boy who did not how to talk to a girl.

“Yes, can I help you?” She asked.

He still had not recovered his voice.

After a couple of minutes she banged the door on his face and could actually hear the lock click shut.

Well, that went well.

















CHAPTER FOUR



“This is not funny,” Blake repeated for about the fourth time.

It was not like Nathan listened to him now or even the last three times he had said it. Since he had told him about everything that had happened last evening it seemed like Nathan could not stop laughing. He did not know why he had told him in the first place, he could have just shut up and no one would have known about it. It was like it had just slipped when Nathan called him last evening and up to date he could say that was his biggest mistake. They were in Blake’s kitchen for their morning rendezvous before work.

This morning he did not even have the pleasure of goading Nathan awake, when he got back from his ran Nathan was there waiting for him. He was seated on the single stair patting Mel who seemed to enjoy his company more than he did Blake’s. When Mel saw him coming he walked away, his tail sticking proudly in the air.

Damn traitorous cat.

“So you just stood there like an idiot,” those were the first words Nathan uttered from his laughing fit.

“Kind of, but if she had not slammed the door on my face I would have come up with something to say eventually,” he tried to defend himself.

Wiping the tears that had leaked out Nathan snorted, “Yah right.”

Banging his head lightly on the kitchen counter, “I have never felt so speechless. I guess it has been a while since I noticed a beautiful woman, seeing one just sent me into a tailspin.”

“Yeah after Mary died you buried yourself under the rock, it’s about time you crawled out of it.”

Speaking of Mary turned the mood somber.

“I should have done more for her,” he said and Nathan knew exactly what he was talking about. “How could she think that the army was more important than her? She was everything to me.”

Placing his right hand on Blake’s hands that were on the counter, “she knew how much you loved the service and how much those you served with were like family. She did not want you to choose.”

“I just wish she had given me a chance.”

Silence fell in the room for about a minute the Nathan spoke up, “You noticing a woman for the first time would be good for you at least we know some parts of you are still alive.”

Blake gave Nathan an edgy smile, “Yah we will see about that.”































CHAPTER FIVE

He was a runner, Roxy thought as she ran after her neighbor.

The ease with which he took each stride and breath showed that he was comfortable with running at this hour of the morning. She did not know why she had followed him this morning after banging the door on his face yesterday but it had just felt right. She could not sleep all night trying to run through book scenarios in her head and coming up empty again. She needed something to get her out of her funk and start writing again. So when she heard the next door open and shut at four o’clock in the morning she had hurried to the window. When she saw her neighbor come out of his house in his running gear she knew she had to follow him.

That meant running around the house looking for comfortable tennis shoes and throwing a pink polka dot sweater on top of her pajamas. She was out of the door when she remembered that running entailed a lot of bouncing boobs so she went back for her sports bra. By the time she was out of the door he was done stretching and a good ten minutes ahead of her. This meant she had to make a dash to catch up with him. It had been a while since she ran so that was not easy by the time five minutes had elapsed she was breathing like a horse and her legs felt like lead.

He had his earphones on so she assumed he could not hear her huffing and puffing behind him like an old rhino charging.

She did not see the reason why people put themselves through the torture of working out. She had been born with an amazing figure; flat stomach, big ass and as long as she ate right she did not have to go through exercising. When other kids were running outside she was busy sneaking one of her mum’s books and reading it on a tree branch somewhere. In high school when it was time for sports she would hide in the Muslim prayer room and just read. The only one month she ever worked out was when Sabrina got it into her head that they needed to live a fit life. Escaping had not been an option as they lived next to each other and Sabrina could be quite persistent. That had been the longest month of her life, longer even than the year spent in the mental hospital.

That was what made running this morning after him among the stupidest things she ever did. Yet it had been her gut, after being locked up for a year, being able to do what she wanted, when she wanted was great. Even if her lungs and legs did not agree with her new found independent thinking.

As she tried to keep up with him, her chest started burning, and she felt like she could not breathe, yet it was exhilarating at the same time. She did not even realize when she fell, for some reason in her head she thought she was still moving. Then she realized that she was moving towards a night filled sky, which seemed odd. It took some time and a couple of deep breaths of fresh air for her to realize she was actually on the ground, on her back facing up. Weird indeed.

Well, that brought the end to running, she thought as her breath returned back to normal. There was no way she was getting up any time soon so she made herself as comfortable as she could. Wiggling her butt on the ground a little to settle in better, she closed her eyes for a nap. She had been so concerned about her comfort she did not realize that she had company, so when a shadow fell over her she felt her heart hit her throat.

This was the end for her, she thought as she opened her eyes slowly, instead of going back home she had stayed to sleep on the ground to sleep. Now she was going to be food to some wild animal, the price people had to pay for little comfort.

“Do not make any sudden movements,” she remembered a narrator of some wild television show on Discovery Channel saying, “Move back slowly, and do not spook it. Get as far as you can then run like an animal was after your sweet ass.” Okay so maybe the narrator did not put it that way, but at the moment the message was what was important not how it was delivered.

The first thing noted when she opened her eyes was the fact that there was a penis pointing at her and a really naked man standing above her. Forgetting all about the advice to move slowly and not spook the animal, self preservation kicked in, she scampered to her feet and ran so fast she was sure she could win the Olympics. This time round she did not feel the shortness of breath, the burning of her lungs or the distance home. She did not stop until she was behind a locked door. She collapsed on the door and slid to the floor and placed her hands around her bent knees.

A wild animal she was ready to deal with, but a naked man in the middle of the night? No way was she ready for that sort of crap.



Nathan came over like usual and plopped himself onto the kitchen island stool, looking like he had been through the ringer. Technically Nathan was not the only cop in the village but the administrative police was so old, he slept through everything. That left every aspect of security to Nathan who took his job way too seriously. He looked after everybody from Brody the village drank to the old woman who lived in a leaking hut at the edge of the village.

Two years ago, coming over for breakfast every morning had been a ruse to check up on him, make sure he was okay. At first it was Nathan who used to make breakfast but as Blake got better, he took over and it became kind of a tradition to have breakfast together.

This morning Blake was in a really jovial mood, the show he had gotten this morning was more than he had bargained for. As soon as his neighbor had started watching him from the window he knew. He had been on the edge of danger too many times he had developed a seventh sense of knowing when he was being watched. When she had gotten out of the house to follow him, he was curious to see what happened so he had kept his mouth shut. That combined with the fact that for some reason he was still speechless around her. When she had gone back to the house he had been a little bit disappointed. Only to feel her again a few minutes later and she was not a runner.

He placed Blake’s coffee and omelet in front of him and went ahead to make one for himself chuckling under his breath.

“So what has got you in such a jovial mood this morning,” Nathan grumbled after he took his first sip of coffee. Blake did not answer he just chuckled again as he went on to make his breakfast. Blake mumbled under his breath about him finally losing his marbles and being a teenage girl, but no way was he just going to talk about it when he was cooking. This was too good he might end up burning himself.

After a few minutes he placed his plate and cup down, took a seat next to Blake then finally spoke, “My lovely neighbor met Stephen today.”

Nathan who was just about to swallow his eggs, choked on it and Blake had to pound his back to help him breathe again.

In between breaths, “And he was..?” Blake asked.

Nodding his head yes, “mmmh, scared the crap out of her.”

Now feeling normal again, Blake chuckled, “poor girl.”

Laughing, “You should have seen how fast she ran back home. I wanted to go after her but I felt like I would just spook her some more.”

Nathan then went ahead to narrate the whole story to Nathan who seemed to have perked up considerably. When he was done they were both laughing so hard, they had to hold on to the island so as not to fall from the stool.

When they resumed eating, Nathan brought something up that Blake had not thought about, “You know during the scare maybe she did not see Stephens face.”

Still not catching up, “So?”

“So she thinks you and her were the only two people out there.”

Finally getting it, “So she thinks I stripped out of my clothes and was about to do some horrendous stuff to her?”

Blake nodded.

“Ooh crap.”

Mel who had jumped onto the kitchen island seemed to agree.























CHAPTER SIX

Since Roxy did not have a job, she had the whole day to herself.

No boss waiting for her to finish some assigned duties.

No minions looking up to her to give them their matching orders.

She was free and frankly it was boring. At first when she had started out her writing career, she had been living with her mother. As her career picked up she had moved out but still had no job, all she had to do was meet the deadline by her publishers. She got to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. After her stint at the institute, she felt restless like she needed something challenging to do. Something that was new and exciting. Hopefully help her get her mojo back from wherever she had gone hiking.

So at about ten o’clock that morning she kicked off the blanket and climbed out of bed, determined to find some kind of job. There ought to be a diner somewhere looking for help, she did not need to get paid. What she needed was something to do and some inspiration.

She hunted down some jeans and top that smelled clean, threw on a pair of tennis shoes and she was out of the house five minutes later.

Let the hunt begin.

#####

When she came back in the evening, it was to find her aunt Mrs. Iffy waiting for her at the door. She was surprised it had taken her this long to come over, she had expected her yesterday. Convincing her aunt she should move out of her house had been a struggle to put it lightly. At last when she had finally convinced her that her being around would just cramp their style, her aunt made sure to look for the house she would live in herself. She called a friend she knew who had a friend who had a sister whose husband had built some rental houses. Her idea to go out to house hunt like normal people was met with stoic looks of “You do not know what you are doing” and a speech on houses with bad vibes.

When she had finally moved, Mrs. Iffy insisted on accompanying her with her church sisters and a few household items. Which surprise, were pink. Her doormat looked like Disney channel had puked all over it. To disagree would mean she had to stay at her aunt’s house, so she had swallowed the pink pill and moved on.

It was a small price to pay.

She went to say hello and her aunt pulled her in for a hug. For such a petite woman she was strong and resistance was futile as she was enveloped in a big hug. The more she resisted in returning the hug the tighter the hands around her got until she gave in.

So much for greetings being optional.

Stepping back her aunt examined her, “You look like you are not eating. Come let’s get you something to eat.”

Then she marched towards the door assuming Roxy would follow and open the door to let her in. After a second of contemplating of ways to get rid of her aunt she decided to go with the path of least resistance and opened the door. It was not like she had a choice in the face of her aunt’s determination.

When they got into the house her aunt went directly for the kitchen. Roxy winced as a pan was banged onto the counter. She had not done the dishes for several days but that was no reason to manhandle her dishes, she thought as she headed for the bedroom.

The days efforts had been futile, she had not gotten a job by just asking around but she had managed to take a walk down the river before she got back. She loved how calm it made her feel hearing the water rush by.

She wondered how long her aunt had sat out there waiting for her, but knowing how relentless she was that might have been a while. Why did she not just call me on the phone and I would have come right back, she though as she headed to check on the noise that had somehow increased in the past five minutes. Digging her flip phone from her pocket she checked if she had missed her call. Seeing none she tucked the phone back into her jean pocket.

When she got to the kitchen she found her aunt hard at work cleaning up the dishes. That reminded her of Sabrina and she almost cried she missed her friend so much. But Sabrina was now so happy with new love, she would leave her be for the time being and catch up with her when she got back to the city.

Shaking herself off from the funk she picked up a dish towel and joined in drying and arranging the dishes.

They worked in sync but in silence each lost in their own thought. She did not know why he aunt was here, probably to check up on her, but at the moment she was happy she was not alone. After they were done she cleaned up the house as her aunt made some milk tea.

When she was done she was pleased with how good the house looked so she joined her aunt at the kitchen island.

“Now this looks like the house of a lady,” Her aunt said and she silently rolled her eyes. Nobody ever died from a disorganized house before.

“Thanks for helping me clean up,” She said as she helped herself to some bread, her aunt must have found some she had leftover from breakfast.

“Welcome,” After a bit of silence, “This place looks nice.”

It really was fantastic; the view from the kitchen window was that of the rolling hills. She was not an artist but she felt like painting it, especially in the morning when the rising sun cast a soft glow over it washing it in a soft yellow, almost like butter.

“Yah it does,” she said and they just sat there in silence enjoying their tea and the view.

After they were done they cleaned up the dishes and went to watch news in the seating room chatting about everything and nothing all at the same time. The weather, the buildings blocks, the rivers and basically the life, it was just meaningless talk to fill up the time.

By the time the darkness had set in she was just content to sit there and listen to her aunt talk about her childhood. How adults always thought that everybody wanted to hear about their childhood was above her but she was not rude enough to interrupt. She let her thoughts drift to this morning’s incident as her aunt went on and on about walking to school barefoot.

Granted she had no right to follow her neighbor as he went on a run but still that did not give him the right to strip naked and scare the crap out of her. The more she thought about it the more she came to the conclusion that it was not her neighbor, the body build was different but it was dark so she was not really sure.

As a writer she had learned how to ask the right questions to get the answers she needed for her books. Most of her work was completely fictional but once in a while when she needed more information she went into full journalist mode. Which was a weird because she had never studied journalism; she was just good at finding out what needed to be discovered.

Interrupting her aunt’s story as she enthusiastically compared her life then and life now, “So today morning I ran into a naked man.” Sometimes being blunt yielded the best results and it served to shut her aunt up.

After a minute of silence, “explain.”

Of course she was not going to tell her aunt that she went to follow her neighbor for a run in her pajamas after not running for almost one year.

“I was not sleepy so I went for a walk at night outside to get some fresh air,” yes that seemed plausible.

Quirking her eyebrows like she did not believe her yet she was thankful she did not ask a follow up question.

“You must have run into Stephen.”

“Who is that? And how do you know him?”

With a smile, “He is our resident night runner and our MCA.”

Ridiculous.

“People elected him to be the MCA? Did they know that he was a night runner?”

“Yah being a night runner is in his bloodline, it was something passed down from generation to generation, we do not let it define him. He is actually a really good man.”

Again ridiculous.

People passed down names from generation to generations hell some even passed down a weird ear or nose but she had never heard of running outside at night naked being passed down from generation to generation.

For the first time since she started interviewing people almost ten years ago she did not have a follow up question. Her aunt obviously did not need one as she went ahead to explain how Stephen was different from other night runners because he did not cause any chaos he just ran.

He even had the decency not to throw stones at people’s roof when they were asleep or take a dump on someone’s door or steal food as it was cooking outside.

This were apparently things other night runners did but since Stephen was on patrol all night he made sure that all the houses were safe from stones and flying poop. The number of chickens, goats and cows being stolen around had also reduced significantly since Stephen Patrol.

He was like their own resident superhero.

The naked Batman.

Utter madness.































CHAPTER SEVEN

Life came and went by so fast; Blake was a witness to that as he watched his wife waste away everyday being eaten by cancer. He was okay now but at first the guilt of not being there for her when she was diagnosed had eaten him up. By then he had been deployed and did not know until the cancer was at stage two, Mary did not want to worry him so she had never told him she was sick.

When he came home for breaks she just pretended like everything was okay. All was explained and attributed to job stress from the loss of hair to the loss of weight. One of the breaks he was about to go and confront her boss when she finally broke down and told him she was dying.

That was the worst day of his life.

He regretted not being there and after she was gone the guilt consumed him even though she told him not to be guilty. Even when he promised her that he would move on with life nothing ever felt the same again.

But now he had started healing, he thought as he put on his running shoes and tied the laces.

Then when he tried to run he fell right down on his face.

*****

She had tried really hard not to laugh as he put on his shoes. For a moment he had looked so pensive and thoughtful she had thought he was going to go back inside. During that moment he had let his guard down and it was like she could relate to him. She felt what he was going through just by looking at him, the air around him was pretty pensive.

Then he had cleared up and started putting on his shoes.

She had thought he would start by stretching and realize his shoes were glued to the ground yet he started out in a full run. Before she could run out and save his ass he was face down on the ground.

Running out to ensure he was okay she found him lying and groaning on the ground.

He looked okay but his ego was probably bruised for life now.

The shoes had dislodged from the ground when he fell, she went to help him seat up on the veranda.

“Stop being such a baby,” she told him as he groaned when it was obvious it was just to be dramatic.

“Great you bobby trap my shoes and I cannot complain when I fall on my face,” he asked rolling his eyes.

Chuckling, “rolling your eyes like a twelve eye old girl really proves you are such a grown up. Let me check if you broke anything.” She tried not to notice how he was in his prime when she looked at him, he filled out well. If she was writing again he would have been the perfect lead character.

Defined jaw line, eyes set deep in his socket which made him look like he was focused on someone even when he was not, like now. He watched as she perused him for any injuries and came up with only some few scrapes and bruises that he would live with.

“You look as good as new,” she said as she sat up from where she was kneeling in front of him.

His focus never shifted from her. For a moment it made her feel uncomfortable like he actually saw her.

After a second, or was it a minute, “I am Blake.”

Taking his outstretched hand into hers, “Roxy,” she felt the jolt of awareness running through her.

He did not release her hands and she was in no hurry to release his enjoying the roughness of his hands against the softness of hers. They just sat their staring and lost in each other for what seemed like forever. She thought he was going to lean in and kiss her which was ridiculous.

She did not like that he could read her like that.

Standing, “Okay since I am solely responsible for your downfall then least I can do is make you breakfast.” She said breaking the spell.

Standing also, “Yah I guess I better go for that run now.”

“Try not to fall on your ass again,” she said as she headed for her house.

“How will you know when I come back?” He asked as he started walking away.

“We have already established that I spy on you, I will know,” she answered with a chuckle as she got into the house and closed the door behind her leaving him standing there smiling like a fool.

Why he was happy on being spied on, he did not know.

*****

When he came back from his run it was to find Nathan and Roxy seated outside talking like long lost friends and he would have to admit the first feeling he felt was jealousy. Which was ridiculous since Roxy was not his to claim in any way. That did not affect how he felt anyway.

He had taken longer than usual on his run because he was distracted and twice he had almost fallen again from not looking where he was going. This made his pissed because she had easily gotten to him when he was still trying to be immune.

So it was not a surprise that Nathan was already here, the man had a nose for trouble and would most likely be poking into his business before the morning was over.

He could not help but notice how his friend leaned towards Roxy like he was hanging onto her every word. He also noticed how beautiful Roxy looked with the sun rays making her skin feel like it was glowing.

They had not noticed him all the time he had been heading towards them so he started stomping his feet louder the closer he got. Let them try and ignore that.

When they looked up and they just smiled at him like they knew what he was doing and were riling him up all along. That annoyed him so he did not say a word just stomped past them to open his door.

Baby, he heard Roxy whisper behind him then Nathan chuckled.

He did not have to look back to know that they will follow him in so he headed directly for the shower in his bedroom. Let them make themselves comfortable.

When he came back the smell of coffee encompassed him but there was also another smell in the room that for some reason he thought it was supposed to be pancakes. When he got to the kitchen it was to find Nathan drinking his coffee and trying not to laugh at Roxy’s concentrated look as she tried to flip something on the pan. For some reason he thought it was supposed to be a pancake but he was not really sure.

He did not say a word just poured himself a cup of Joe and went to take a seat next to Nathan.

A second later Roxy set a plate in front of them with whatever it was she was cooking with such a triumphant look they did not want to hurt her feelings by asking her what it was, but they pushed their chairs a step back.

Looking up she noted the look of terror on their faces, she released a sigh, “That bad?” she asked.

“Woman are you trying to kill us,” Nathan was the first one to speak.

Thankfully she was not hurt but she tried to look offended, “hey I worked really hard on that.”

Trying to appease her a bit, “yah they do not look that bad,” Blake said but he moved his chair back a bit more.

Smiling, “they are really that bad, I won’t make you eat them,” she said as she threw them out onto the dustbin. Both Blake and Nathan released a breath they did not even know they had been holding. Turning around back she said, “I am still counting this as making you breakfast thou.”

He slapped his hand onto the kitchen island with a little more enthusiasm than warranted, “done.” Then he stood up and shuttled her to his seat, as long as he did not have to eat her cooking he was okay to clean up later.

They continued to banter over coffee as Blake made them a peanut butter sandwich. They both complimented her on her coffee brewing skills and she went ahead to inform them that was basically the only thing she could cook without burning it.

An hour later she was seating in her house bored out of her mind with nothing to do when her phone rang.

“Don’t do it,” she smiled when she heard her best friend’s voice over the phone.

“Do what?” She tried to sound innocent.

“Whatever it is you are thinking about.”

Her friend had a knack for trouble, it was like she was tuned such that any time Roxy thought of getting into trouble she would call and warn her off. This time it had taken her longer for her to realize she was up to mischief, marriage was making her loss those skills. For that she was thankful.

“Don’t take that tone with me, I know you too well and am not buying it,” Sabrina tried to sound stern with her.

She laughed, she did not mean to but it felt good talking to someone who knew her well, “You are too late I already made my neighbor eat dirt this morning.

Laughing, “Poor guy what did he do to deserve that?”

“He set a naked man onto me,” she said dramatically.

She laughed at her friends shocked silence then went ahead to explain to her about Stephen and his queer hold on the people. Then she went ahead to tell her about this morning, not the almost kiss, just about meeting Nathan and the breakfast together.

“I cooked for them,” She said at this her friend laughed.

“Did they try it?”

“No you should have seen the look on their faces when I served them pancakes,” she said smiling. “Then Blake made us all sandwiches.” She said the last statement with a dash of whimsy and her friend who was too observant for her own good noticed.

“Who is Blake?” She asked.

“My neighbor,” she said trying to sound indifferent but her friend did not buy it. Also the fact that during her whole story she had tried to make him seem unimportant made Sabrina more suspicious.

“Mmh neighbor tell me more about him.”

Rolling her eyes, “I just met him.”

Knowingly, “Mmmh, so you say.” After a moment of silence, “You like him.” It was a statement and at first she wanted to deny it then she realized she would just be lying to herself and her friend.

“Ooh hell,” Sabrina swore at her silence.

They talked for a couple of minutes about Sabrina’s marriage and her happy bliss with her husband and her little niece. Theirs was a romance story worth all the struggle and pain they had been through but in the end they had made it out a live and in love. She could write about them in her next romance book as a romantic thriller that ought to make everybody happy.

As soon as she started writing again and avoiding her agent’s call she would deliver.

Now she needed something to do and get motivation for her next book or she was screwed as her contract stipulated she had to deliver three books in the next year yet she had not written a word since about a year ago.

Yippee.

Going out to look for something else to do that is what was on the agenda for the day.

If trouble was not coming to look for her she was going out there to look for it.

Let the games begin.

























CHAPTER EIGHT

You cannot do this to me, you cannot do this to us; you have to give us a chance,” Isabella begged trying to pull up the sheet and look decent. As decent as a person who has just been fucked and turned over and over could look.

With a tortured look on his face Matt pulled up his pants looking guilt. He did not know what he should feel guilty about more, ravishing his friend’s wife while his friend was out fighting for the country and enjoying every second of it or hurting the woman he actually liked a lot.

They had been fighting the attraction between them since the day they first met when his friend introduced her to him as his girlfriend. The first thought he had when he had seen her for the first time was, wow, so angels do exist and they are fucking beautiful. That was right before he had spilled his drink on himself then spent the whole night looking like he had pissed himself and he did not care about that fact.

He was man enough.

The next time she had actually taken his breath away was when she was walking down the aisle to marry his best friend and he was the best man. She looked like a vision from his dreams of the perfect woman. He had almost taken a full step to her when he realized what he had done and backed back pretty quickly with a sheepish grin. So that was how he had spent his last three years, pining after another man’s girl. Not any other man, his best friend’s girl.

That was until today when he finally got a taste of his desires and realized just what he had been missing and man was it a treat. That could never happen again he actually loved his friend Brad, they had been friends since childhood and no way was he losing him over her. No way.

Buttoning up his pants, “Darling there is no us, you belong with Brad. This was a mistake he loves you and you two will end up making beautiful babies and living happily ever after.” He smiled ruefully at her. Then he sat beside her bed taking her small delicate hands into his, “Nobody has to know about us.”

She pouted as she looked at him still trying to convince him, “But that could be our forever after, we could make beautiful babies,” she came to her knees letting the sheet fall to expose her breast. Damn she had really good breasts, just big enough for his hands and the dark areola just calling out for his mouth. “I can make it real good for us.”

Almost caving, sleeping with her one more time would not hurt, “We would both loss Brad,” he said kissing her neck. He could not loss Brad, he was the only one who pulled him from his dark place.

Breathlessly, “who cares about Brad, he does not treat me right.”

Suddenly the boner he was nursing vanished and he was filled with rage. “I care, Goodbye Isabella.” He would leave the country for a year and when he came back everything would be back to normal, Brad would be back and they will be living happily ever after and he would not love her anymore.

Tired he turned to leave, “I could always just tell him and then you would loss him for sure,” Isabella spat out angry at being used and dumped.

He did not say a word just left and headed straight for the door as she kept yelling at him.

He almost opened the door to leave when it hit him and he started to panic, what if she told Brad for sure, and then he would loss his best friend and his childhood friend over a mistake that should have never happened to begin with.

He had to silence her.

He turned around and saw the knife they had cut fruits with earlier on the kitchen island now clean and shiny. The light reflecting from it made it shine and he knew that he had his answer right there.

She would not tell anyone.

She would never tell anyone he screwed up.

Brad was his nobody was taking him away from him.

He smiled.

Roxy was startled out of her writing stupor when she heard someone knocking on the door. She listened again when she realized that it was not her door that someone was knocking on but her neighbors. They were so close together and the doors were made of steel that she was confused at first but just for a moment. Irritated that someone had jolted her from her writing when she had just got to the best part she stood to go check it out of curiosity of course. It was not Nathan that she knew for sure, from their conversation this morning she knew for a fact he had a key and the back door was never locked so he would not knock.

She was not being nosy, she deserved to know her neighbors visitors in case one of them was a deranged serial killer. She wrote about them so she ought to know one when she saw one. Nothing more.

She pulled back the curtain to look out only to be met with quite a sight. There was a woman, in her early twenties quite pretty except for the excessive amount of makeup that made her look like a clown. Red lips and excessive blush she did not think even a person with fair skin would pull it off and look good. As if realizing she was being watching the she stopped knocking and turned to look at her window only to find her staring. She was met with eye pencil filled eyes, and the first thought on her head was abort spying mission, abort. Target has been compromised.

She ducked to a crouch and rolled her eyes, she had been watching too many spy movies lately.


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