Kiss of the Boogeyman

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Convincing Phyllis Douglas to allow her only living son to attend a concert, alone, in Mid-town Detroit, on a Sunday night, was tougher then JJ had expected. Needless to say she was not cool with the idea. JJ employed his entire repertoire of parent whispering tactics. Vehement negatives followed. Every single one of JJ’s attempts to negotiate a favorable outcome that saw his mother satisfied of his safety and him at the clown show failed. A tempestuous hopelessness threatened to engulf him. To JJ surprise assistance came from an unlikely source. Here he comes to save the day: Kent the medic to the rescue once again.

“Phyllis, love, may I interject?” Kent chimed in sweetly.

Phyllis huffed and nodded agreeably. JJ glared at Kent unsure of the large medic’s motives.

“Sugar-butt your little boy, well, he just isn’t so little anymore darlin’. I know you’re not going to like hearing this, especially from me being so new to your two’s family dynamic and all. You need to let JJ go be a man, baby. If he believes he can handle all the responsibility that comes with an outing such as he has planned, I, for one, believe you can trust in his capabilities.”

JJ’s jaw hit the floor. Kent just stepped up to the plate for JJ like none of his mother’s beaus had ever done. Phyllis seemed at a loss for words. Her mouth just kept opening and closing like a haunted ventriloquist dummy. JJ saw a chink in his mother’s defenses. Now was the time to strike.

“Plus mom,” JJ tried to keep any mockery out of his tone. “It’s not my first show, downtown, at night, and there’s no school tomorrow. Please mom. The ticket wasn’t cheap.”

Phyllis unleashed a floodgate of inquiries: “Why must you go alone? How are you supposed to get there? For that matter, how are you going to get home? Why are you not going with Curtis? Did you boys have a fight?”

“No, mom, we didn’t get in a fight. Curt made other plans because he thought we couldn’t get tickets. And who knows mom, maybe there will be someone I know in attendance that I can hang with so I won’t be alone.”

“And transportation,” Phyllis demanded, crossing her arms over her ample bosom.

“I haven’t quite figured that part out yet?” JJ didn’t mean for his response to sound like a question. It did.

“Then you can’t go.”

The triumphant look cemented on his mother’s face was like a dagger to JJ’s belly. He looked to Kent for more support, but found none. The big guy only shrugged at JJ and mouthed the words “sorry bubba.” JJ saw no other option. He was going to have to tell his mother the truth. Well, as much of the truth as he was willing to tell.

“Fine mom, you broke me.”

JJ sighed deeply. All eyes were fixedly gazing upon him. However, JJ didn’t look his mother in the eye. Instead he chose to stare at the cracked tile beneath his foot. Thickly applying defeated frustration to his voice, JJ continued his half-genuine confession.

“I didn’t want to say anything just in case stuff goes south, but I also didn’t expect you to freak out on me either. I’m not going to the concert alone. I have a date; with a girl.”

The whole room seemed engulfed in a dense silence. Not even the tick of a clock could be heard. JJ’s words hung in the air, echoing in his ears. Kent, grinning like the Cheshire cat, was unsuccessfully trying to hide the fact he was smiling. JJ looked up into his mother’s face. The victorious expression that had hurt him so was gone. What replaced it was a look of relief.

“Thank you Jesus!” Phyllis exclaimed shattering the palpable silence.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” JJ and Kent asked in unison.

“Oh JJ, sweetheart, I thought you might’ve been a, you know—” Phyllis trailed off, blushing like a maid on her wedding night.

“No, mother, I don’t know. How about you enlighten us?” JJ inquired incredulously.

“Queer,” Phyllis blurted.


“Sorry sweetie, but you’ve never brought a girl home to meet me. Plus you’re always spending every moment with your friend Curtis. So I thought—”

“We were gay?” JJ finished her sentence rudely.

“Well-l-l-l,” Phyllis shrugged her shoulders, an affable look on her face.

“Mom I, we, Curt and I. We are so not gay. Okay? Not gay. Now can we please get back on point? So mom, can I go on my date to the show? Please,” JJ added hastily, trying to make up for his rudeness a moment ago.

“Well, before I give you an answer, I have a few questions for you mister. What’s her name? How old is she? Where does she live? Does she go to your school? You will be home by two.” Phyllis fired off, her last statement most definitely not a question.

JJ’s mind frantically went to work expeditiously formulating rebuttals to his mother’s queries. He needed to come up with the best possible answers that would appease his mother without revealing too much. His thoughts started to jumble. It was like the left side of his brain was at war with his right side. RS: Come up with something! LS: I’m working on it! RS: You’re taking too long, she’s becoming suspicious! LS: Give me a second, will ya! RS: We’re blowing it! LS: Chill out, we got this.

“Her name’s Michelle. She’s old enough to drive and buy her own cigarettes. I’m not sure where she lives, but she said her aunt lives around here somewhere. Um, and yes she does go to my school. Everyday actually—she’s diligent that way.”

“Oh, well, okay.” Phyllis said in an agreeable tone that gave JJ hope. “But I don’t want you smoking—anything!”

“So I can go?” JJ only half pleaded.

“Fine,” Phyllis conceded. “You can go on your date, but—”

“I know I’ll be home by two am mom, promise.” JJ guaranteed giving his mother a huge hug.

JJ released his mother and ran to his room to get ready. Unlike his mother who never seemed to know what to wear at any given moment, JJ knew exactly what his wardrobe would consist of. First fresh underclothes were in order. Next his best pair of black Dickies and his brother’s old steel-toed boots. Finally the pièce de résistance, one of JJ’s most prized possessions. JJ slipped into his pristine OG purple on black Milenko jersey. JJ felt crisp, fresh in his fines. Wanting a look he took a quick glance at himself in the mirror. He winced at the sight of his battered face and then winced again at the pain caused by wincing in the first place.

Unable to stand the carnage JJ turned and stared at his unmade bed. The pillow which concealed hatchet-buddy’s resting place, his pillow, seemed to expand and contracted as though it breathed. He so wanted to take HB with him somehow. Tucked in his boot maybe, or stashed under his jersey. Alas, there was no possible way. Security at the Majestic was too tight to smuggle in such a weapon. Rest well homie, JJ thought as he exited his room, ready for his date with Mille. He bound down the stairs, skipping every other step. After a quick kiss from mom and a high-five from Kent, JJ was out the front door.

Nothing untoward awaited him. There were no evil birds in sight, just a beautiful twilight sky. JJ cut across his lawn and stopped as he hit the sidewalk. He checked up the block toward the old Johnston place. All seemed quiet. He gazed about Curt’s pad looking for signs of life. Finding none he turned his attention in the direction he was to traverse. To his surprise he noticed Millie’s car was already there. Picking up his pace he trotted briskly, arriving at is destination just as Millie was exiting her vehicle.

“You know, for a second there sugar, I thought I was being stood up.” Millie quipped as she closed her car door.

Breathless JJ said “I would never, ever—,”

His words caught in his throat. His capacity for speech had fled, not to mention the rest of his breath. Millie was literally—breathtaking. Her shoes were red Nikes with black laces. Her dress was skin tight, also red and peppered with oddly familiar black splotches. Her hair was braided into pigtails and her makeup wasn’t what JJ was expecting. She had already applied her black and white clown paint. The overall effect made JJ want to explode with passion. Worried JJ was having an aneurism Millie approached him and placed her hands on his shoulders. Her touch was electric, thrumming through his entire being.

“What’s wrong sugar? Are you having an episode or something?” Millie asked concerned.

“Or something,” JJ whispered. A little louder her added: “I really want to kiss you.”

“Oh JJ, sugar, you are just so sweet, but you can’t kiss me right now.”

“I know, because it would be inappropriate.” JJ sighed crestfallen.

“No. It’s because you’ll smear my makeup. I worked hard on it. Don’t you like?” Millie inquired striking a pose.

JJ took a moment to answer. He was lost in admiring the supple curves of Millie’s sensuous frame. The way her dress hugged her was the same way JJ wished he could: Full body wraparound. JJ turned his attention on one of the black splotches for a second. As his eyes focused JJ realized he wasn’t just staring at an incomprehensible splotch after all. It was a Hatchetman: the mascot for the Psychopathic Records label. Fearing he was taking much too long to answer, JJ blurted the first thing his mind put in his mouth.

“JJ likes red.”

“What was that sugar?” Millie feigned confusion. “Did you say you like my dress?”

“I love your dress.” JJ corrected.

“Why, thank you sugar. It’s one of my favorites, but I never get to wear it.”

“Yeah I can only imagine what Principle Thomas would say if you came to work wearing such attire.”

“Oh I’m sure he’d say plenty, the lecherous old goat, after he was done drooling all over himself.” Mille concluded with mild disgust.

“Yeah,” JJ uttered absentmindedly. He was staring again.

“Speaking of work… JJ you have to do me a huge favor.”

“Mmm-hmm,” JJ hummed, now admiring the cleft of her cleavage.

“JJ, please pay attention. I need you to be serious.”

Her tone snapped JJ out of his reverie. He shifted his gaze up to Millie’s painted face. The look of concern he found there almost broke his heart. If he lived to be a hundred years old, he never wanted to see her look at him this way again.

“Sorry, sorry,” JJ apologized sincerely. “You have my undivided attention. What can I do for you?”

Taking a deep breath she said: “JJ I love my job, I really do. I think, no. I know I’m beginning to have feelings for you. I just can’t let what’s in my heart ruin what my head has strived to achieve for years. So here’s the deal: I need you to keep your mouth shut about our date. Please JJ. Don’t go bragging to your buddies or it could mean my job and my freedom.”

“Millie,” JJ began, tenderly taking her hands in his. “I love you too much—to condemn you.”

“Oh JJ,” Millie squealed. “Thank you. I did—did you just quote Bram Stoker’s Dracula to me?”

“No,” JJ fibbed. “I don’t believe I did, no.”

“Whatever you say sugar; so you’ll keep a lid on—us?”

“Of course I will, sweetheart. You have my word.” JJ mimed crossing his heart.

Makeup be damned, Millie shrugged off propriety and kissed JJ for the first time. It was just a simple, quick peck that left a smear of black across his lip. However, it was a kiss JJ would never forget. Every cliché he had ever read about or seen in the movies happened to him all at once. Fireworks exploded. Bombs detonated. Canons blasted. Rockets launched. Flowers bloomed. And not just for JJ. Millie experienced thrilling sensations as well. They gazed longingly into each other’s eyes.

Unbeknownst to the budding lovebirds, they were being watched. Eyes had been on them the entire time. Snooping eyes that peeped and peered, gazed and gandered, that sighted and stared. Eyes that glimpsed this sickly-sweet scene with contempt. Familiar, spying, prying eyes—a door opens severing the couple’s connection.

“Hey darlin’ you gonna stand out there gibberin’ or you gonna come in here and give your old Auntie a squeeze!” A voice crowed shattering the odd silence that hung in the air like smog.

“Be right there Aunt Missy!” Millie called over JJ shoulder. “Come on sugar. I want you to meet my aunt Missy.”

“Aunt—Missy,” JJ asked stifling a laugh.

“Yeah, so,” Millie huffed as she tugged JJ behind her up the walk.

“Nothing,” JJ said, mocking a defensive tone. “It’s just, you know, Millie, Missy; it’s funny.”

Millie stopped their forward progression at the base of the steps. She turned to face JJ. Throwing her arms around his neck, she pulled him close to insure he heard her every whispered word.

“Well she won’t find it funny sugar, not at all. Her birth name is Misericordia. Only I couldn’t pronounce such a mouthful as a child, so she said I may call her Aunt Missy. She’s the one who first started calling me Millie. She is very particular about the whole name business. Missy/Millie it’s special to her sugar—to the both of us.”

“My apologies,” JJ whispered back taking in the scent of her perfume.

“Come on then.”

Millie released him and led JJ up the steps. They crossed the porch in silence. As they crossed the threshold into Aunt Missy’s home JJ couldn’t help but ask: “What kind of name is Misericordia?”

“It’s Latin for mercy, you nosy fella. And I got such a handle from my parents, so I did.” Aunt Missy barked.

The woman who greeted them was not what JJ was expecting. Standing at five foot nothing and weighing a hundred and nothing, she was dressed in some funky pants suit circa 1970. Her gray hair, a mass of light perm curls, bobbed lazily. She also seemed to be missing the lower half of her left arm. JJ couldn’t believe such an opposing voice could come from such a petite lady. That is, until he met her gaze. Shrewd, bronze colored eyes of steel glared at JJ from an extremely wrinkled face.

“Any more questions before I hug my niece, huh, Curious George?” Aunt Missy quipped.

JJ was surprised at her strength as she shoved her way past him with her stump to embrace Millie with her intact arm. The little old lady actually succeeded in knocking the strapping young man off balance. He smiled at Millie and shrugged. Millie returned JJ’s grin before embracing her aunt with all her might.

“Oh my girl, my sweet girl, I have missed you so. How has the big, mean world been treating you darlin’? No worse, no better.”

“No worse Aunt Missy, but maybe better.” Millie answered casting a quick glance at JJ.

“What? Who,” Aunt Missy looked around melodramatically, finally focusing on JJ. “Are you smiling like a schoolgirl because of Curious George here? Robbing the cradle with this one aren’t you darlin’?”

“I’m old enough ma’am.” JJ offered with a smirk.

Deadpan, the quick-witted old woman asked: “To do what, tiger, wipe your own ass?”

Silence followed. No one spoke. Millie stared at her aunt in shock. Aunt Missy glared at JJ awaiting a response. JJ looked to Millie for assistance. Finding none he met the old woman’s glare with one of his own. He liked this nutty old lady, she was clever. So he wanted to hit her with a zinger. However, before JJ could conjure up a suitable reply, both women burst out laughing. Millie made introductions between giggles.

“JJ, please allow me to introduce my dear aunt Missy Clark. Aunt Missy, this is my date for the evening JJ Douglas.”

“Pleased to meet you ma’am,” JJ took a step forward offering his hand.

“No, no, no, enough of this ma’am business, tiger, you hear? It’s Aunt Missy to you. Now give me a squeeze.”

The old woman slipped her good arm around JJ’s middle and squeezed. Her arm was a small band of iron wrapped around him. JJ was again surprised at her deceptive strength. He returned her embrace genuinely. Feeling a bit left out, Millie stepped in to make it a group hug. After the trio untangled themselves from one another Aunt Missy offered refreshment, which they had to respectfully decline.

“Sorry Aunt Missy, but we really can’t stay.” Millie assured her aunt. “We have to get on the road if we are going to make the line before the doors open.”

“So where are you off to in such a hurry? No wait I can already tell by your painted clown face. You all are going to one of those clown concerts.”

“You guessed it auntie.” Millie said enthusiastically.

“Good. I always liked them boys. Glad to see they’re making hittin’ the big time. But what about you tiger, aren’t you going to get painted up too?”

“I can do mine in the car on the drive. No big deal.” JJ shrugged nonchalantly.

“In the car,” Aunt Missy inquired incredulously. “What are you some kind of girl or something?”

“Or something,” Millie answered before JJ could speak.

Aunt Missy erupted in peals of laughter. Her mirth was so contagious the entire room was laughing like a pack of hyenas in seconds. JJ thought he was going to bust a seam he was laughing so hard. Struggling to contain her amusement Millie bade her aunt farewell. Missy hugged her niece as Millie exited and playfully nudged JJ with her stump as he slide past. When they were safely out of ear shot JJ couldn’t resisting asking Millie about her aunt’s missing appendage.

“So how did Aunt Missy lose the arm anyway?” JJ inquired delicately.

“A gator bit it off,” Millie answered nonchalantly.

Astonished JJ exclaimed: “Whoa, what! Did you say a gator bit off her arm?”

“That’s right. When she was about my age, I think.”

“How; what; really?”

“She used to own an alligator farm down in Florida many years back. She wasn’t paying close enough attention one morning during feeding time and snap,” Millie snapped her fingers in JJ’s face, “Aunt Missy can no longer cut her own steak.”

“Wow. I mean, just wow.” JJ turned back for one final glance at tough old Aunt Missy.

“Hey JJ, now I know you’re not going to let my favorite niece open her own door. Am I right?”

“Wouldn’t dream of it Aunt Missy!” JJ called as he sidled around to the drive’s side to open the door.

“Good man!” Aunt Missy hollered as she disappeared back into her home.

JJ carefully closed the door and hurried over to his side. He couldn’t help but smile as he slid into his own seat, ready for their date to officially begin. Millie slid the key into the ignition and gave it a brisk turn. Cara the Cavalier revved to life. Much to JJ’s surprise and delight one of his favorite songs came blaring out of Cara’s speakers. The lovebirds looked at each other and sang in perfect harmony: “Ima be down with the clown!” Buoyed by the pounding beat Millie steered Cara onto Woodward Ave and the route that would take them to their destination.

As luck would have it JJ and Millie never made it to the clown show that night. A wayward finishing nail, liberated from the confines of a handyman’s toolbox by an errant imperfection in the road, intruded on the evening’s festivities. Sinking deep into the meat of Cara’s right rear tire, the fiendish little nail crippled Millie’s beloved car.

“What was that?” JJ exclaimed as he accidentally smeared black face paint across his brow. “Whatever it was messed me all up!”

“Oh no, I think Cara’s gat a flat tire.” Millie said, worry in her voice.

“Pull over, I’ll check I out.” JJ offered as he stared wistfully into the vanity mirror at his ruined clown paint.

“Thanks you, sugar.”

Just as Millie had feared JJ found that Cara indeed suffered from a flat tire. He could clearly see a nail protruding from the rear tire on his side. He had Millie pop the trunk for him so he could begin the laborious job of exchanging the damaged tire for the spare. A vicious melancholy threatened to overcome his senses upon discovering that the spare was flatter then a pancake. JJ replaced the jack and unusable spare tire. He closed the trunk and trudged over to Millie’s window. Bending over her peered at Millie and mimed cranking the window down. Millie quickly acquiesced to his request.

“Tire’s flat and so is the spare.” JJ stated blankly. “You got triple A?”

Millie uttered a painful moan as she reached over to rummage through her glove compartment. JJ straightened and stretched his lower back muscles. This is not how I pictured our first date playing out, JJ thought. Traffic was surprisingly light on Woodward Ave so JJ ventured a couple steps into the street. He looked left, right, and then left again. His thoughts turned to the old hobo. JJ hoped the old man was in a better place. Satisfied with his look-see JJ returned to his seat within Millie’s car just in time to catch the end of her conversation with the AAA guy. Unfortunately it was more bad news.

“Thanks see you then. Jerk,” Millie added as she flipped her cell phone violently closed.

“What’s the matter babe? Can it be so bad?” JJ asked trying to sound hopeful.

“Yes, yes it can sugar. And don’t call me babe, please. Anything but babe; I’m not a pig.” Millie reprimanded JJ harshly; she hated being called babe.

“Sorry Millie, no problem sweetheart.” JJ apologized.

“See, sweetheart, I prefer that so much more so then babe.”

“So what did the AAA guy say?”

“He said he couldn’t get to us for just about two hours give or take. He went on to say that he couldn’t do anything for us here. He’s going to have to give us a tow. To his shop which, by the way, is about another hour away, where his tire guy Louis will fix us up and get Cara back on the road. This operation will take about another hour if I want both tires repaired. Plus another thirty to forty minutes to get from his shop back to the venue. I’m afraid we’re totally screwed out of going to the show.”

Millie put her painted face between her hands and started to cry. JJ scooted over a bit and pulled her into his arms. He whispered soothing, encouraging words into her ear hoping to ease her suffering. Sure, JJ was disappointed they were going to miss the clown show, but Millie seemed downright crushed. JJ continued to talk Millie down, speaking only encouragement and love. Eventually her crying ceased and she wrapped her arms securely around JJ. Not long after they were both asleep in each other’s arms. However, their brief siesta was soon rudely interrupted.

“Y’all call for a wrecker!” the big, burly, barrel chest tow truck operator bellowed.

The deep thrum of the tow truck driver’s voice startled the sleeping couple to consciousness. The terrified twosome looked at each other and burst out laughing. They looked ridiculous. Black and white clown paint joined together to create a grey mess all over their face, neck, and torsos. Millie reached into the backseat and grabbed a towel. She vigorously wiped her face mostly clean of makeup and handed the towel to JJ.

The name on his grease stained shirt read Sly, and Sly was massive. He looked like the incarnation of the Nordic thunder-god Thor. Only covered in grime and dressed like a tow truck driver. Instead of a mythical hammer, Sly wielded a large wrench. Every muscle in his arm seemed to ripple as he clenched the wrench in one enormous hand. Even this ninjas muscles have muscles, JJ thought as he stared through the windshield at the gargantuan.

Sly, as it turned out, was a gentleman and professional of the highest caliber. He hooked Cara up swiftly, and with care had them to his twenty-four hour tire shop in a jiffy, where he regaled them with stories of the road. At the shop they met Louis. A squat, broad shouldered Hispanic who was as competent as he was congenial, which translated into the work taking a bit longer than advertised. JJ didn’t mind though. He found Sly’s stories to be most amusing.

Sly was just finishing an X-rated tale about scoring some tail—as he put it—when Louis announced that his job was finished. As fate would have it the Cosmos didn’t completely give JJ and Millie the bone that evening. Millie was astonished by the bill when Sly passed it to her. Expecting to have to pay a hefty sum her itemized bill read: Tow - $50, Parts - $0, Labor - $50, Total - $100. Have a nice day. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth Millie paid graciously, and said their goodbyes to Sly and Louis.

The drive back to Driftwood Heights was relatively quiet. Nothing untoward happened. They detoured by the Majestic for a look-see and found it already deserted. JJ rested his left hand on Millie’s right leg as she captained them back onto Woodward Ave and on home. They rose with the music turned low choosing instead conversation and to entertain one another. At some point their confab turned to their nemesis and how they were going to stop him.

“We have to find Boogeyman’s man on the street as you called him,” Millie rationalized. “Convince this person to revoke his deal and renounce Boogeyman altogether.”

“Or kill ’em.” JJ said solemnly.

“I don’t want to kill anyone,” Millie responded sincerely. “Either way though, we’re on our own JJ.”

“No we’re not; we’re not on our own. We’ve got Curt on our side—I hope” JJ said with a not-so-confident smile.

“Though you still need to fix things between you two?”

“No. I still need to apologize.”

“I think he should apologize to you, JJ.”

“He’ll probably do just that, so—”

“So until he does, we can’t count on him, JJ.”

“Look, Millie, despite his faults, Curt is the toughest guy I’ve ever met. He’s strong, not afraid of a fight and, most importantly, he’s my best and oldest homie. We’ll patch things up before tomorrow, just you watch.”

“I know, JJ, that’s good. It’s just—”

“What,” JJ asked incredulously.

“Nothing,” she answered.

They rode the rest of the drive in silence. Thankfully they were almost back to Thomas Avenue. Not thinking about what the consequences might be, Millie pulled up to JJ house. JJ didn’t care. He felt he was blowing it big time. He wouldn’t be surprised if she kicked him out of her car and never spoke to him again. Millie surprised him when she opened her door and stepped out into the night. JJ quickly followed and hurried to her side. Her back was turned to him. Gingerly JJ placed his hands on her shoulders, urging her to turn and face him.

Millie turned and, standing almost nose to nose with JJ, leaned in and kissed his pouty mouth deep and hard. Her heartbeat quickened. A shudder of pleasure sent a shockwave through her entire body causing her womanhood to moisten. JJ, too, was on the brink. His senses felt heightened. His lips felt like they were aflame. As they leaned into one another, giving themselves over to their burning passion, the all-too familiar blast of Curt’s annoyingly loud car horn brought the two lovebirds back to reality. However, upon searching for the source of the interruption, neither Curt nor his’68 Roadrunner was anywhere to be seen.

“That’s odd,” JJ commented, gazing up and down the street. “I could’ve sworn that was Curt’s horn and it sounded like it was right on top of us.”

“Yeah, that is weird. Perhaps it was him, but like a couple blocks over maybe,” Millie offered, as she took a step away from JJ to catch her breath.

“Did we just have a moment?” JJ asked.

“Perhaps,” Millie answered slyly. “Almost, but if there was a moment it’s passed, JJ—for now.”

“Millie, sweetheart, I’m sorry for being such a jerk earlier.”

“You’re forgiven sugar.”

“Can I call you later then, after I have my talk with Curt, maybe?”

“Of course you can, JJ, anytime. I think it’s a good idea to exchange numbers anyway. Just in case, you know.”

After exchanging phone numbers and a quick noncommittal embrace goodbye, Millie hopped in her car and drove away feeling a gambit of confusing emotions. JJ, in turn, stood staring at Curt’s empty driveway. I could’ve sworn, JJ thought, shaking his head. As he turned to go back inside, maybe to give Curt another call or maybe only leave a message this time around, JJ felt like he was being watched. Suddenly feeling like he was in a dream, but knowing he was not; JJ cast a cursory glance back over his shoulder as he closed the front door behind him.

Pulling into her driveway, Millie’s thoughts were still focused on JJ. She smiled in acknowledgment of some of the more lurid thoughts bouncing around in her grey matter. She exited her car, Cara, the stack of sensitive material she had shared with JJ forgotten in favor of JJ’s endearing qualities. She admitted to herself that during the course of their conversation that afternoon and subsequent date that evening, she realized that they have already developed closeness. A deep ardor that she had never achieved with another man thus far in her life accompanied this feeling. Maybe he’s my forever, she thought. The way she felt when she was in JJ’s presence was a feeling she had never felt before. JJ’s sincere sensitivity and untold courage appealed most to her lofty, civilized sensibilities; while her baser, primitive side appreciated the way his pants conformed to the contours of his rear-end. That thought made her giggle as she fumbled absentmindedly with her keys.

Being lost so deeply within her happy place and only halfheartedly inserting her house key into the front door lock, Millie never even remotely noticed the shady, muscular figure swiftly approaching her from behind. Even as he plowed her roughshod through the barely open door, Millie hardly had the time to gain her wits before he was upon her, his hands clasped rudely around her neck. She tried to focus, to scream, but panic refused to let her operate her own body. She thought she recognized the voice whispering terrible promises in her ear as darkness—blacker then the deepest, darkest depths of any ocean—washed over her consciousness.

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