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New to this story? Start with Chapter 1, Broken Heart, here.
Scent Notes: Salted dark chocolate truffles with spiced caramel cores, and a shot of whiskey.
Jade looked through the window to the dreary, rainy outside world. Her long, artificially blonde hair with purple tips was pulled back into two high ponytails. Her phone was shuffling between her favorite emo and punk bands: MCR, ETID, TBS. It seemed only fitting that on this Valentine’s Day weekend she was in the grey world of her room, listening to music, alone, with only her cat and her black heart for company.
Not that she wasn’t trying to find company, but it was tougher for her to come by. She lived out in the country, the nearest neighbor a mile or so down the road. She was an artist with her own business, and mostly worked from home. Her car had just died, and she was saving up to have it fixed, so for the moment she was pretty much house-bound. Thankfully she lived in the age of the internet and apps, so she could have groceries and art supplies delivered or picked up and dropped off by friends. Or they could pick her up and take her places if there was no Lyft or Uber around (and there usually wasn’t in such a rural place). There were apps like Tinder, which, if she set her filter to a large radius of miles, could yield some occasional results. She didn’t really like to have people over; she was a very private person, and liked to be alone. Today, however, she was craving a certain kind of companionship she hadn’t had in a while.
Her phone pinged with a “new match” notification sound, followed quickly by several “new message” alerts. She’d just matched with a new guy, Dylan, on Tinder, and he’d sent her a series of awful pick-up lines, followed by an apology. He just “didn’t know how to talk to a woman as pretty as you,” apparently. It was corny as shit, but hey, he was apparently less than 5 miles away, which was promising. She sent back a series of emojis, including several black hearts. It turned out they actually had a few things in common, which was a pleasant surprise. He was only in town for the weekend to help settle his grandfather’s estate, and would she fancy having a drink somewhere that night before he left town in the morning? What the hell, she thought, and made plans to meet him at the Broken Heart, her favorite bar, less than three miles from her place. She could easily walk there and, worst case, she’d be closer to town and some kind of transit home. She texted a few friends pictures from his profile and snippets of their conversation. “Be careful,” one of her friends said. “He looks like a ladykiller.” Jade laughed. “Maybe, but you know my heart is withered and black. I’m not worried.”
A few hours later, bolstered from the flask of whiskey in her pocket which she heartily drank from on her walk, the knowledge that her hair AND boobs looked amazing at the same time (a rare feat, but a truly proud accomplishment), she walked into the tavern. “Jade!” the bartender yelled immediately. “What are you having, sweetheart? Interested in the Bleeding Heart special?”
“Nah, my heart doesn’t bleed,” she announced, making the bartender laugh. “I’ll take a mudslide please; feeling the need for something decadent and chocolatey. Extra whipped cream!” It wasn’t everyone’s drink of choice, but she was never one for the conventional. She’d taken a few sips when he walked into the bar. Her breath caught in her throat; crikey, he was handsome. And he was there to see her. She wished her heart wasn’t so decayed, or it probably would have skipped a beat. He recognized her immediately and slipped into the booth across from her. “Hi, Jade,” he said, smiling a megawatt smile.
“Hi, Dylan,” she said casually. “Buy me another mudslide, then come back here and tell me about yourself.” He did as he was told. By the time they were both several rounds in, everything was easy. They’d talked about music, movies, TV shows, high school, what they wanted to do with their lives… it all seemed so perfect. He was a few years younger than her (okay, like ten years), but neither of them seemed to mind, really. And then he had to ask the question. “So, Jade, tell me about your last relationship.” Her grimace was instant and uncontrollable, and he noticed it immediately. She apologized, downed the last of her cocktail, signaled the bartender for another one, and sighed.
“Patrick was a great guy; a really great guy. We got along well. But, I, I ruined it.” She willed the tears to her eyes. “I ruined it with my cold, black heart. I mean, neither of us was perfect. We were both young and naive and wanted to believe the best of each other, you know? But good intentions only go so far, and then real life steps in. There have been others since, but, you know, he was The Big One.”
Dylan nodded, moved by her emotion and her tears. “I’m sure you just made a mistake. It’s so hard when you’re young and trying to be serious with someone, right? But you’ve clearly matured, if you know what I mean. And I like your black heart. I have a black heart myself, or so I’ve been told” he said with a grotesque wink. That was when she decided: yes, I’m ready.
“Did you drive here? Do you wanna come back to my place?” Dylan didn’t have a car here, but he would split the cost of a Lyft with her. Unfortunately, nobody was out driving, so she suggested they walk. “It’ll be good for you! Plus, I have a little treat for all the effort,” she said, taking out her flask and waving it, the whiskey splashing softly inside. Dylan grinned. “I’m so game. Let’s do this.”
The walk took almost no time, or so it felt. Intoxicated and aroused, they walked hand-in-hand, singing punk songs and stopping for long air guitar solos. Halfway home he kissed her, hard, and she almost fell over from the surprise. When they made it back to her place, he’d already taken off his shirt and was undoing his belt as soon as they walked in the door. Jade pulled off her shirt. “Let’s do this, indeed.”
Several hours later, he was dozing in her bed, naked and exhausted. Jade got up and ate a couple squares of her favorite Ghirardelli dark chocolate and caramel squares by her bedside before heading into the en suite bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her. Dylan woke at the sound, startled, to realize where he was. Suddenly parched, he spotted a glass of water on a bookcase across the room, and got up to grab it. Why was his head so sluggish, and his mouth so dry? He’d had a couple drinks, but nothing crazy. He held out an arm and leaned onto the wall for support. It was then that he saw what was next to the water glass. Inside a small glass cloche on top of the bookshelf was a shriveled, decaying black heart. Was his vision compromised or was that heart… was that heart beating?! He got closer, convinced this was some kind of weird, leftover Halloween prop. Instead, he saw a tiny plaque inside the cloche, inscribed with the name “Patrick.”
He dropped his eyes down. There was another one; this plaque said, “Frank.” And another one, “Paul.” And another. And another. There were at least a dozen black, decaying hearts on display. In the middle of the bookcase, there was an empty cloche, complete with a newly-finished tag that said, “Dylan.” He saw Jade in the reflection off the empty cloche, and turned around to see her smiling so widely her face looked like a mask. The demonic glint in her eye was terrifying. His tongue was cemented to the roof of his mouth; he couldn’t even scream for her to stop. It was too late. Another black heart for the collection.
Want to keep reading? Check out Chapter 3, Bleeding Heart, here.
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