Authors: Aidan Willows
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The author is in no way affiliated with any brands, songs or musicians or artists mentioned in this book.
Cover image by Bezikus (Andriy Bezuglov) from www.stockfresh.com
Edited by Dawn Yacovetta
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To My Incredible Friends/Squad/Unofficial Idris Elba Appreciation Society Members,
Always stay your wonderfully unique, awesome, funny selves.
Seriously. I need more material for future books.
To My Beautiful and Weird Cousins,
I look forward to growing old with all of you in our Spinster Compound.
“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
― Dr. Seuss
2 months ago…
I sighed deeply as I curled up on the couch, holding the envelope I had put off opening for over two months. On the front was my name, written in Aunt Trudy’s barely legible scrawl.
I pulled the letter out and opened it reluctantly.
Dear Chatty One,
If you’ve got this letter, it’s safe to say I’m six feet under by now. I’m not sad about this, hopefully I’ll finally be at peace and reunited with the one I love.
I’m sure you and Malinda will be sharing the letters I’ve written both of you with each other, so I’ll keep my story here brief, I’m sure she’ll blab it all to you sooner or later.
When I fell in love I was too scared to express my feelings in public, afraid of being shunned for being different. I hurt the person I loved the most in the world by doing this. You know that Mary-Anne and I ran the bakery together, but what I never told you is the story of how I fell in love with her. Even though I’m not proud about how I handled our relationship, falling in love was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Falling in love with someone was scary, it was unfamiliar but when I finally accepted love, I felt whole and happy. Why do you deny yourself love, Niki? Do you think yourself undeserving of it? If so, how very wrong you are. You are one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, Niki. On the inside and the outside.
You’re denying yourself one of the most wonderful feelings in the world and denying the chance for someone out there the joy that your sweetness and warmth could bring into their lives. You need to start acknowledging your worth; you have so much to offer.
Start putting yourself first, child. You worry too much about everyone else and neglect yourself. You matter too, never forget that. Focus on finding your happiness. I don’t know what happened to turn you into this apprehensive, anxious little mouse but I can see that there is a fire hidden inside you; don’t be afraid to unleash it.
The house is yours, Niki. Mary-Anne and I made many happy memories in that house, it’s your turn now.
Be brave, be bold, take chances, put yourself out there and stay your sweet, loving self.
Take care of Shadow, Freddy, your sister and yourself sweet girl,
Don’t run my bakery into the ground. I’ll be watching.
I looked up from the letter and stared up at the ceiling, as Shadow, Aunt Trudy’s beautiful black cat
jumped up on the couch next to me before he curled into a ball on my lap. I wiped away the lone tear that had fallen down my cheek as I stroked his soft fur.
“Okay then, Aunt Trudy. Message received.”
How is he still talking? He hasn’t stopped for the last twenty minutes.
Does he remember he’s still on a date? Does he realise I’ve not actually spoken for the entire conversation?
He has lettuce stuck in his teeth.
Should I tell him?
There’s not even any lettuce on his plate… How long has that lettuce been stuck there?
Oh, damn. He just asked a question… Focus!
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get what you just said. Could you repeat the question?” I asked taking a sip of water, in an attempt to regroup and see if it was possible to salvage this disaster of a date.
“I said,” He paused to let out a burp that near enough shook the table, “I’m not usually into bigger women, but you looked hot enough that I said ‘why the hell not.’ Your rack is great by the way, are they real?” he added with a self-satisfied smirk, as his eyes hovered over the small amount of cleavage exposed by the neckline of my dress.
And I’m out. Emergency escape phone call it is.
“Would you excuse me for a moment, I have to visit the restroom,” I said with a fake smile, nearly tripping in my hurry to leave the table.
I brought up my sister’s number and dialled it as I walked to the bathroom. Maliya answered on the third ring with a laugh. “Caleb! Stop it! Someone is going to see. Niki? What’s up?”
“Liya, are you having sex in public again? You remember Sherriff Turner said that if he catches you guys again, he will have to arrest you this time.”
“Well, I’m trying to avoid jail time, but I think my boyfriend is a bit of an exhibitionist,” Liya said and I heard her trying to slap Caleb’s hands away.
“Fiancé! Get it right, baby!” Caleb called out in the background.
Liya huffed at him, “Whatever. You know I hate that word. It sounds so phoney.”
I cut her off before an argument could begin between them and I would be stranded in my nightmare date all night.
“Hey! Sister in need here! Call me in five minutes and say Shadow is ill or something.”
“Wow. Hasn’t it only been like fifteen minutes? That has to be some new kind of record. Where is he on the scale from Mildly Creepy to Serial Killer?” Liya asked, as I heard loud kisses echoing in the distance.
“I would say he rates about a Complete and Utter Sleazeball on the scale,” I said with a sigh.
“Eeep. Okay, sweet sister. Help is on the way,” Liya said, and just before she hung up I heard Caleb tell her how beautiful she would look naked in the moonlight.
I didn’t think the moon was actually visible in the sky tonight, but I had to applaud his tactics.
My sister and her fiancé Caleb hadn’t always had the most straightforward relationship, due in large part to Liya’s issues. But looking at them now, my heart melted at how sweet they were together.
Though, I refrained from sharing this opinion with my sister as it usually resulted in something being thrown at me.
Liya hadn’t had the easiest of lives and neither had Caleb, if any two people deserved a chance at happiness it was them.
Seeing my sister having the courage to work through her own issues persuaded me to do the same, hence the reason I was currently on Disastrous Date No. 3.
I paused to stare at my reflection in the mirror. Oval face, button nose, creamy light brown skin, wide almond shaped light brown eyes, and black hair cut in a long bob.
I resisted the urge to check under my side fringe and make sure that there was no sign on my forehead that said, “Now available for dates! Only freaky losers need apply.”
It has to be me. I’m like a beacon in the dark for all creepy weirdos, drawing them to me from far and wide.
I sighed again when I realised that hiding in the bathroom would be too pathetic, even for me, and geared myself up for returning to Weirdo No. 3.
He smiled sleazily as he saw me wind my way through the tables back to where we were seated by the window. I gave him a small, very fake smile as I sat back opposite him.
“This place is pretty fancy, I don’t often do fancy for first dates. You seem kinda worth it though.” He rubbed the thinning spot at the back of his head. “I’m thinking after we split the bill, we should head back to mine for dessert?” he said waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Good God, no. Hurry up, Liya. Call my damn phone.
I stared at him blankly and shook my head. “Uhm. No, I don’t think so. I’ve got to be at work early tomorrow.”
I picked up my fork and pushed around the limp lettuce leaves on my plate.
I’m sure I had more grilled chicken than this on my salad…
Oh my God. Weirdo No. 3 stole chicken from my plate while I was gone.
He frowned at my refusal and was about to respond, when my phone rang.
Thank the heavens.
“Sorry, it’s my sister. I need to get this,” I said in an over-exaggeratedly apologetic tone as I tapped the flashing green button on the screen of the phone. “Hello?”
“So, I’m thinking you make the worst decisions when it comes to choosing your dates. It may be time for an intervention,” Liya’s amused voice said.