It was a chilly day, winter had just begun and it seemed as if mother nature wanted to give humanity the cold shoulder. Abby stood there, head in her palm, waiting for anyone to come inside. She worked at Starbucks and since it was winter they were expecting a lot of customers. “So does no one want coffee today?” she thought, there wasn’t a single customer for the 2 hours she was there, it was a really slow day. “Bored again Abbs?” said Francesca Abby’s close friend and coworker. “It’s a slow day Fran, how can I not be bored,” Abby replied. ‘Ding ding!’ the wind chime above the door rang. Abby looked up, temporarily broken from her despondency to see a surprisingly well dressed gentlemen. From head to toe he was extremely dapper, he wore tan work pants with a long coat and hat all of the same color. A pair of black leather gloves adorned his hands and as he took off his hat, long black swept over hair was visible on his head, a bag slung over his shoulder. Topped off with crimson red eyes and a cold demeanor Abby was taken aback. He sauntered over to the counter, confidence dripping from his aura as Abby stared, his eyes sharp like knives. He smiled, “Hello there! Can I get a tall hazelnut latte with almond milk, 3 extra shots of espresso, a pump of vanilla syrup, and some whipped cream? Also 2 double chocolate brownies?“. Abby wiped the drool from her chin, “O-oh of course sir!” she grabbed a tall cup and a marker, “W-what’s your name?“. He winked at her, his scarlet eyes boring into her, “Johna”. Abby scribbled his name on the cup, making his coffee as quickly and efficiently as she could. Ever so often she would sneak a glance at him. He was at the far side of the café, sitting down and typing on a laptop. “You like him don’t you~” said Francesca, looking over at Abby with a knowing glare. Her face immediately flushed, “W-what gives you that idea?!” her voice quivering. Francesca chuckled and went back to wiping down the counters, muttering under her breath, “You’re so obvious”. Bagging his two brownies Abby decided to walk over and give him his order personally. “Here’s your coffee along with your two brownies sir!” Abby said in her brightest tone as she got closer. He looked up at her with a blank face, mesmerizing Abby with his stare. A chill ran down her spine and she was almost reconsidering her choice but as she got closer, his face softened. “Thank you...” he looked at her name tag, “Abby~“. Her face flushed bright red at the sound of him saying her name and as she passed him his coffee their hands brushed for the briefest of moments. Quickly walking back to the register Abby calmed herself down and waited for more customers. Unfortunately, they never came. When he was done, Johna came back to the register, “Thank you for your services, Abby”. Though they only had one customer, that day was a good one for Abby.
This cycle continued, day after day for about a month. Almost religiously, Johna would come in and order the same thing, so much so that Abby had it memorized. They’d become good friends because of this, indulging in casual conversation every time he visited until one day Johna gave Abby a slip of paper as he was leaving. He snatched Abby’s hat from on her head and spun it on his finger, flashing a friendly smile. “Thank you for the amazing service once more my personal barista Abby~ your eccentric at this job I must say,” Johna said, making Abby chuckle. He bowed and gave her hat back, spinning on his heel and walking out the door. Abby smiled and put her cap back on, but a piece of paper fell out before she could. “Huh?,” she said as she reached for it. On it was a number, a time and a place with “Call me (;” written over the top. After that, they started dating. Abby knew everything about Johna and as did he her. Johna was a food critic, he’d gone to several different restaurants around the world including in France, Italy, Morocco and many more to indulge in their cuisine, he even began to take Abby with him so much so that she started gaining weight. He was a bit different than other critics in one way however. He would have 3 meals at every restaurant, an appetizer, entrée and desert, but for the first 2 Johna himself would give the cooks meat to prepare from the previous location. So, he was a Hunter Critic? Abby herself wasn’t sure, and by this point she’d known him for 7 years. “How much ‘rare meat’ is their to even eat at any one place?” Abby thought, but she was happy so she didn’t care. While on most of these trips, she would also occasionally blog about the culture of each location and she’d gained somewhat of a large following from this. On their trip to Peru, Johna proposed and she said yes. Abby couldn’t believe how her life had changed so drastically so fast; from a simple Starbucks barista, to a blogger like the famous critic sitting in front of her with a 24 karat gold ring on her finger. “Abby darling, where should we go next?” enquired Johna, clacking away at his keyboard. Still flushed from the sudden proposal and also typing, Abby looked up at him love struck, “I don’t know dear~ we can go wherever you want to~“. His wine red eyes peaked over his monitor at his fiancé, “How about we go to India?“. Abby’s head perked up, “What part of India exactly?“. Johna smirked, “Varanasi~“. Abby’s eyes lit up, Varanasi was always on her list of places to go but she never asked Johna about it since she couldn’t think of any good reason for him to go. There wasn’t any particularly interesting food there so he would be quite bored. “So it’s settled then,” Johna spoke up, breaking Abby’s train of thought. “Wait... How did you know I wanted to go there?” she said, still pleasantly confused. Walking out of the restaurant with Abby following close behind he answered, “We’ve been living with one another for 12 years dear, travelling all over the world, and I know what you’d want to blog about over there. The cannibal cult right?“. Johan looked over at her to see her beaming up at him like a child in a movie theater with an extra pep in her step, “When are we going?“.
A month later after packing, the newly weds were on their way to India. From point A to point B Abby couldn’t contain her excitement. When they landed in Varanasi, she went to every place she could, asking questions eagerly with her notepad open. After only the first day, Johna was bored but didn’t want to say since Abby was loving it. She was laying on the bed typing up a paper with the notes she’d made that day and Johna went to sit next to her. Trying his best to sound interested, he asked, “What did you learn about the cult today dear?“. Abby’s face was enveloped in a bright smile as she began to talk, “WELL!! It’s not exactly a cult you know, its a religion called the Aghor and FUN FACT!! On every new moon they perform a ritual called the Puja! They chant mantras, and offer alcohol, and yes cannabis, to a sacred fire because their god Shiva used to do the same thing!“. She trailed off and ended up talking for 2 hours, half way through which Johna realized he’d made a mistake. After the conversation it felt as if he’d lost part of his soul. “Are you alright dear?” Abby asked, but when she looked over he was already asleep. The next day Johna had taken Abby to an old temple, one that the Aghor used. They set up camp and even started a fire outside. “This is AMAZING!! HOW DID YOU EVEN MANAGE TO FIND THIS PLACE?!” Abby yelled, bounding from wall to wall, drinking it all in. What Johna said next though, would shock her, “Oh! I’m good friends Baba Ram Mahesh and he agreed to let me use the place for the Puja! Cool huh?“. Abby froze, turning around perplexed, “I’m sorry Jo, I don’t think I heard you right... You said to perform the Puja?“. He was sitting at the fire, glaring over his shoulder at Abby, the shine of his cherry eyes menacing. He started walking towards her, a malice in his voice, “Oh come on dear~ Don’t look at me like that”, he covered his face in mock embarrassment, “I can’t even remember who I had for breakfast”. Abby repeated that last part, “Who?“. He walked over to Abby, holding her chin up, “Where did you think I got all those exotic meats from?” he said calmly, “Or why I haven’t commented on you gaining weight hmmm~? Baba said that I could do the next ritual since I’ve been away for so long and you were the chosen one! Isn’t that fun? Your life gets to have purpose now dear~“. Shocked, tears started to roll down her cheeks. Johna caressed her cheek, “Shh~ Don’t cry, it’ll all be over soon darling~“.