The Sweetest Candy

In forty eight minutes and twenty seven seconds, it will be my birthday.

The anticipation physically hurt, it chokes at my throat and coils in my stomach. My nerves are giving me dizzy spells, but I keep pacing. The carpet is soft under my feet, the room barely lit. I knew from memory that the flooring was a soft shade of pink, complete with numerous coffee stains.

I have to pause and take deep breaths, in and out and repeat. Everything has been prepared for this moment. The phone lines are unplugged, my mobile turned off and every other resident of the home extracted. Everything's been prepared for this moment.

I resume my pacing and deep breathing exercises. My gulps of air take in the faint scent of lavender; it's always been my weakness. Lavender bathing oils, lavender candles, lavender scented letter paper, basically everything lavender I can get my hands on. The smell is meant to soothe, I daresay it's not working tonight.

A bird squawks at the open window making me jump back in shock. Releasing a heavy sigh, I turn towards the full-length mirror in the corner of the room. Even I know that I have checked more times than necessary, but my anxiety keeps me rooted in front of the glass.

A girl stares back at me. The image is slightly eerie; the girl has a worried expression and the dark washes the portrait in a light gray scale. Her short blonde hair is fluffed and curled, the ends bending inwards to frame her heart shaped face. Her forehead is abnormally large, perhaps attractive in another era but the girl is merely annoyed at this feature. Her nose and mouth both small and elegantly shaped have been powdered and glossed to perfection. She's wearing a simple sleeveless dress; the white ruffles beginning from her waist and ending at her knees, hug her figure nicely. This brings back the alarming fact that the girl is tiny, barely 5 feet and not a chest in sight. She isn't wearing any shoes; there really wasn't any need for shoes. But the most striking aspect of the girl lies in her eyes. She used to be called 'husky' due to her eyes, they are large and expressive and the lightest blue. The darkness wasn't even able to diminish that clearest gaze, but its rapture is broken by the image looking away.

I pivot from the mirror and jump upon my bed, I can feel myself growing more agitated. The strong urge to twirl my hair is forever present, but those hours of effort spent getting ready weren't going to go to waste. Just as I am considering throwing a fit, a scrapping noise and a boy's grunt comes from my balcony.

You would expect me to become more nervous, yet it only relieved me. I don't even physically feel myself rushing towards the window, can't control the way I fling my arms out and into a warm embrace, into his warm embrace.

"Bethaneh." He utters the name with such joy; it makes me feel completely at ease.

I used to despise my full name; it had always felt too old-fashioned, nothing cute like all the other girls. Then he came along and everything was right, every syllable and every emphasis in my name was right, even though he pronounced it wrong.

"Aiden." My voice comes out strangled, probably since I can't breathe from hugging him so tightly.

He releases me and pecks me lightly on both cheeks then taps my nose fondly. It's his little hello gesture and I adore it.

"We really should make a certain time instead of jus' havin' me show up like dis'. Bet you been waitin' ages." Aiden says this as he leads me away from the window; ignoring the bed and sitting us on the couch.

"It'll be too obvious that you're sneaking out if you're always gone by a certain time." He agrees to this and turns me around to rub my back gently.

I try to deny having waited for him but he quickly points out the messed up bed, the neatly arranged stationery upon my desk and a slightly frenzied look in my eye. I cherish him for his attentiveness.

" 'member when us two first met?" I lean into his massage and close my eyes.

How could I ever forget?

-xxx-

The mall had been loud and rowdy like always, I had been leaning against the counter, surveying the shop absently. The strawberry toffee in my mouth was almost gone, then again I wasn't meant to be eating the merchandise to begin with.

Three weeks into the job and I was already regretting this whole 'occupation' deal. I could be putting my time to better use, like studying for my college application or partying. Mostly partying.

Loud laughter distracted me from my reverie. I gasped, the sight before me had made me do a double take.

The man looked almost six feet tall, his wife beater was obviously worn to show off his bulging biceps, his legs were in a pair of tight skinny jeans that left nothing for the imagination and as he turned around, I was shocked to find this tanned god to be Asian? The guy smiled in my direction; it creased his eyes and displayed his amazingly white teeth. My jaw had come loose on its own accord, the strawberry toffee dropping on the counter. Real smooth.

Luckily he hadn't noticed, already turning back to his hoard of athletic friends. I had quickly swiped the counter and rearranged my shirt. The plan was to look nonchalant but that body and adjoining cocky voice had been hard to ignore.

Finally, I had my chance to initiate contact. "Hey you! Put that candy bar back." I pointed an accusing finger at him.

I watched him turn around and bat his eyelashes at me. "Who me?"

"Yes. Now put it back." He really was quite a good lifter too, if I hadn't been staring so intently at him even I wouldn't have noticed his sly tricks.

"Who me?" He swaggered over and leaned against the counter in a mimicking fashion.

"Yes sir. Now pay for the bar or give it back." I held out my hand and glared at his warm brown eyes.

I received quite a shock when he immediately grabbed my palm, flipped it around and planted a kiss upon my knuckle. This ruffian, who holds a lady's hand with such gentleness, whose lips were so warm and had such courtesy as to close his eyes as he kissed. I snatched my hand back and had felt the blush crawl up my neck.

"Why you accuse me of stealin' good lady?" He tapped the counter playfully.

"I've lifted every store in this mall since I was half your age. So return the candy now." I sighed and propped my head upon my hand.

"You been liftin' since you were seven?" He laughed and it made me draw involuntary breaths.

Then the full impact of his words hit me, this huge man is actually just...a fourteen year old boy?

"Please pay for it." I turned away from him with a frown.

"Later, name's Aiden." He struck me on the shoulder, a little rougher than he should but its friendliness felt nice.

I turned back towards him and held out the company phone. "I'll dial for security."

"Over a stinking piece of candy? Why you stingy..." Aiden looked me over and grinned when he located my name tag.

"Bethaneh."

"It's Bethany." I rolled my eyes and punched in the security number.

"Alright Bethaneh, take ye candy then." He pulled it from his pocket and chucked it on the counter. It was squished and definitely not very sellable anymore.

"Look. Just...go." I had mentally slapped myself for hesitating.

He chuckled as I cringed, stretched a large hand and petted my head. "Me sis Angie looks like dat when she's gots her period."

I don't know why I did it. Probably because my heart had already been pounding overtime and it just needed to release some energy. I lifted my unoccupied hand and slapped him across the face. His eyes displayed his shock, red fingermarks blazed across his left cheek and I began to shiver...I'm so getting fired.

Instead of the expected rage, Aiden turned back with a cheeky smirk.

"Ooh, a feisty one."

I opened my mouth to apologise and was punctually stopped by Aiden's mouth against mine...and his tongue inside mine. I yelped and shoved him backwards planning to grace his right cheek as well. He tapped my nose quickly before dashing out the store; his friends followed doubled over in laughter.

I had stared astounded after his retreating figure, eventually looking down at the counter resignedly.

The candy bar was gone.

-xxx-

In thirty two minutes and three seconds, it will be my birthday.

I lean back and kiss him gently on the lips, he takes it further and it's just what I want. By the time we come up for air, my dress is dishevelled, my lip gloss smeared and the carefully planned hairdo completely nonexistent. It's just what I want.

Kicking him playfully, Aiden turns around and I take up my role massaging his shoulders. I can't help but gaze mesmerised at his strong, muscular back. He seems to get me every time.

I search the cosy room for a distraction, coming across my walkman upon the nightstand. Nobody else knows that the whole player consists of Aiden's voicemail messages I had saved and play to lull myself to sleep each night. His rough accented voice, sometimes bright with humour, sometimes husky with emotion, and sometimes neutral in a way, that I could close my eyes and imagine every expression on his face. I crave everything about him.

My gaze travels to the balcony and it's as if I am yet again drowning in my most tender memories.

-xxx-

Rage, frustration and complete terror. I was completely terrified.

There was one freaky, dangerous stalker outside my window. There was one freaky dangerous, incredibly hot stalker, outside my window.

I had clung to the curtains for dear life, and prayed to god those masculine fists of his weren't going to test out the glass.

After a disastrous first encounter Aiden had returned to 'purchase' the candy bar he nicked and for the past month he practically lived where I worked. He admitted to truly not having anything better to do than torment certain 'pretteh blonde ladies' in his holidays, and asking me out every other minute.

Obviously I refused each time. He resolved that the next obvious thing to do was to chase my bus, all the way to my home. He had chased my bus and he hadn't fallen behind. I was convinced the man was a monster.

"Look lady, just lemme try somethin'!" Aiden was commanding and sounded quite agitated. Not wishing to aggravate him anymore than necessary, I gingerly stepped out onto my balcony.

His normally spiked hair was flattened from sweat and he was panting loudly from the run. The sight I looked down upon was nothing freaky, nothing dangerous, just a boy.

"...Aiden. What do you want?" I had been wary to communicate; afraid the barbarian would King Kong me spontaneously.

"Got me sis to help me with a little somethin'," Aiden had an extremely impressive frown upon his face, shuffling his feet nervously.

At the time I had just been frightened by this rare display of shyness, I should have known better than to judge him.

"Listen lady!" He had barked extremely loud and extracted a white slip of paper from his pocket. I watched curiously as he unfolded it with fumbling hands and stretched it violently till the sides tore.

"B-But soft. What light thr-through y-yonder window breaks? .. And Bethaneh is the s-sun." I believe my heart had missed a beat or two.

Aiden, silly little street slanging Aiden was reciting Shakespeare and precisely at that. I could only stare helplessly at his struggling form, understanding for the first time what it truly meant to have 'your breath taken away'.

"Arise f-fair sun and keel the en-envious...ah! Screw it." He looked up at me with that confused look in his eye but it quickly switched to worry. "Bethaneh? Why ye cryin'?"

I inhaled loudly and tried to suppress the hiccups, hurriedly brushed away the rapidly falling tears. "I-I just, I've never had something so romantic done for me."

This seemed to embarrass him further and he rewarded me with a half-smile half-sneer. "Its nothin'."

I felt the chuckle tugging at my lips and before I knew it, I was laughing. Laughing like he had said the funniest joke in the world, or more like the whole world was suddenly funnier.

"Shut ye trap!" He blushed such a vibrant red that his tanned skin seemed to glow. I had to bite my lip to stop myself. "Angie says, says, Romy and Julie get married."

My stomach quivered, my chest pounded and my whole body felt like it had been melted by the sun.

"So you want to marry me?" I couldn't wipe the large beam that appeared on my face.

"Nuh! Ju-Just..." He rolled his eyes to the sky and I had to bite my lip again.

"Come to the store tomorrow."

"Y-yuh..." I give him one last smile and step back into my room.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

-xxx-

In twenty minutes and fifty five seconds, it will be my birthday.

We're on the balcony, the cool breeze rushing through our hair. We would be cold, but our hands are clasped so tight I can't determine which fingers are my own; it's giving us warmth and strength.

I know that Aiden shouldn't be standing out here in the open for the entire world to see. He's my dirty little secret, my only true happiness and if anyone were to find out? It would ruin us. My brain tells me this but my heart just wants to stand here, in the cold and relive the moment. Have the wind wash my face, the air cleanse my soul and Aiden's affection? I could survive on it.

"Bethaneh, I-..." I turn towards him and he's got that confused look on his face again, it appears when he does something corny.

I squeeze his fingers tightly. "Yes?"

"Ha-Happy Birfday" He shoves a little black box at me.

For a second I panic, it's a little square black box and what happens if it is? Then I remember its Aiden, he probably doesn't even understand marriage, let alone think it's a good idea. I grin happily and take it, reluctantly releasing his hand to open the present.

Inside is a heart. Thank god it wasn't a bloody, fleshy human heart; Aiden mercifully is still a mobster in training. It is a little flat silver heart, attached to a simple black string.

It is so beautiful.

"Lo-look at da back." He's not looking at me, I know he's blushing hard because his neck is flaming red, but I let him off this time. After all, he did just give me his heart.

I flip it over and words have been etched upon it with an elegant scrawl.
Bethany
The sweetest candy.

Tears fill my eyes and I sigh in frustration. I'm not a weepy person, but ever since I met Aiden it seems all I know how to do is cry. He turns around worriedly and strokes my shoulder.

"Its bad?"

"No! No! It's wonderful! I...I'm just speechless." I smile and kiss him on the cheek and then kiss him on the cheek again.

He pulls the necklace from the box, the heart shimmering in the moonlight as it's placed around my neck. Aiden ties the string; he's doing it slowly and carefully. I'm so fond of his tenderness.

I turn around and pick the heart up to admire it with him. He smiles at me, the one that creases his eyes and shows off his teeth. I smile at him, the one that tells him 'how did I survive before I met you?'

He pecks me on the cheek, and then pecks it again.

-xxx-

"It really wasn't me!" I gripped the counter and glared at the fat, old store manager.

"Well darling, if it wasn't you. Did the fairies take it?" He shook his head and refused to listen.

"Mitch works the same shift as me." My teeth were clenched tightly in anger and the words came out muffled.

"He's a family friend. I'm sure he wouldn't think of stealing from our register," He sighed and looked away, "I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go."

"You can't do that! I didn't steal it!" Hot angry tears had sprung into my eyes.

"Lady aint done it. Me and me friends did." It's Aiden; his hair spiked as usual, his biceps bulging with a livid glare upon his face. I was as sure of my innocence as I was of his; the manager took one glance at him and was convinced.

I bailed him out of detention. It was going to go on his permanent record and he hadn't even committed the crime, this time. I had still been filled with anger from such an injustice, ranting on about slaughtering everything I deemed worthy.

He ran up behind me and grabbed my hand, for some odd reason that had shut me up. This was the very first time I had held his hand. I marvelled at its size, warmth and softness.

"Why are you so stupid? It's just a job and you went to jail for it." I started to swing his hand, it was fun.

"Ye love dat job. Its ye hobby. Jail's nothin' if ye stay happy." He shrugged and had held my hand tighter.

I looked at Aiden and I saw him. Don't get me wrong, I never forgot about that hot body of his but I saw him. I saw that boy, who acted rough but didn't get angry easily, I saw his abruptness as chivalry, and could see that under all his manliness...he was kind, and very cute.

"Aiden Zee!" I pulled him to a stop and made him look at me.

"Yuh?"

"Let's go on a date!"

He smiled, eyes creased and teeth gleaming in the sun.

-xxx-

In eight minutes and thirteen seconds, it will be my birthday.

Aiden and I have finally been driven by the cold, back indoors. He holds me against his chest, rubbing my arms with his warm, soft hands and busying himself kissing my neck. It sends tingles everywhere in my body, here in his arms, it's easy to believe the world is perfect.

"Lets dance." He trails his hands to find mine and entwines them softly.

I laugh and try to pull away. "There isn't any music Aiden."

"No need." He grabs my waist with his other arm and lifts me into a spin.

I'm laughing loudly, hysterically and hoping the neighbours are having nice dreams.

As he takes me into another spin, I know what he says is true. Music is for the lonely hearts. Our song is right here. The beat in our chests, the melody in our memories, the dynamics in every smile, every hug and every feeling we've ever shared.

There is no need for music.

I place my free arm across his shoulder as he lets me down. Aiden has to hunch over as I go upon my tiptoes for our eyes to meet. It doesn't feel uncomfortable; it feels like our bodies were made to do this, made to waltz poorly to the sound of devotion.

He shuts his eyes and closes the tiny distance between us, his broad arms engulfing me. I repeat the motion.

Aiden smells like earth, like breeze and me. He feels like power, like certainty and completely mine. He looks like beauty, like imperfection and my God. He sounds like an angel, like the devil and the last thing I hear each night. He tastes...what he tastes like is for only me to know.

We dance. We dance like it's for the last time.

-xxx-

In forty seconds, it will be my birthday.

I know it like it's the first thing I've ever known, like it's going to be my last. I feel it like the blood pumping hard in my veins. The man before me has shown me more than anything I've ever learnt. The man before me has taught me the biggest lesson of all. I love him.

I love him like it's a soul binding curse.

There are only three more words to say now. Three words to prove just how much I love him.

"I love ye." Aiden's eyes twinkle with his passion.

"Let's break up." I reply with the same passion in my eye.

-xxx-

It's my birthday.

I knew it all along. I knew it, forty eight minutes and twenty seven seconds ago. I knew it was the end. Our end.

"Wha?" It must have hurt like nothing and everything; I knew it hurt me that much.

"We're over." I love you.

"I-I, ye aint bein' funny Bethaneh!" The shock was turning into fury. He clenches my wrists until I let out a whimper of pain. He let's go, even in this state he can't bear to hurt me.

"Can't you understand English? We're over!" I love you.

"Beth-Bethaneh! Whatcha playin' at?" He laughs awkwardly, tears sparkling in his eyes.

"You're just my adolescent fling! I'm eighteen now, I'm an adult. I don't need you anymore." I love you so much.

Aiden stops laughing, he isn't showing any expression and it petrifies me.

I shove him hard. His solid frame keeps him rooted in exactly the same spot.

"Leave." Please stop loving me.

"Why Bethaneh?" He tries to touch me but I sprint away from his grasp.

"I'm going to college soon. I can't deal with you anymore." You'll be so much better without me.

He pleads, I block out what he's saying. I force all my sadness to be released in a horrible shriek, I pretend its anger. I pretend the tears pouring down my face are from contempt.

I race across the room and grab the phone. It's disconnected but Aiden doesn't know that.

"Go n-now, or I'll c-call the cops." Leave me before I break.

He tries to walk towards me, I scream loudly again. Lights are turning on in the street; neighbours are stirring and wondering why someone sounds like they're dying. Wondering why I'm dying inside.

He stays put looking at me in disbelief. I realise humourlessly that this is how we first met. I have a phone in one hand threatening to call for the public security system. While Aiden's on the defensive and just like last time, he's stolen something.

He's gotten even better at lifting than I could have ever imagined.

He's pilfered my heart; my willing, easily surrendered heart. Sadly, this time there isn't a counter to chuck it back on. I don't even want it back. Keep it, treasure it, ruin it, without Aiden it's useless anyway.

"Go away! Go away! Go away!" I punch 911 into the phone and hold it to my ear.

I act as if I'm talking to someone on the other end and act like I don't notice Aiden's one final despairing glance.

I collapse onto the floor. I tell myself, he's young, he's barely 15, it's wrong, he'll forgive me and then tell myself he won't. I hope he won't.

The mirror in the corner is capturing my complete agony.

A woman stares back at me. The image is immensely eerie; the woman seems to have committed something sinful and the dark only enhances her heartbreaking complexion. Her hair is wreaking havoc to her appearance, making her look insane. The woman's tears have run black streams of eyeliner down her cheeks. She's hunched over, her dress just a heap of messy, meaningless fabric. The soles of her feet blackened from moving around outdoors. Her eyes are bloodshot, the lightest blue that seem to be crying of the greatest misery. They are transfixed upon a spot on the image's neck. It's the place where a silver necklace glimmers upon the woman's throat.

I flip over the heart and can barely make out the words, those engraved only for my eyes.

Bethany
The sweetest candy

---

Woot! This is actually a birthday present I've written for me, since I haven't worked on writing in so long. My birthday was yesterday (25th) and yeah, I hope it was entertaining...or rather slightly bitter. After rereading, I find it a really short and fast-paced read, I might come back someday and edit it...or not.

This is actually a spinoff. It can be completely read alone but these are two characters that have appeared in one cameo scene in my series (Her Putamen; His Insula) and yeah, I had been talking about writing about them so...here they are! When I actually started writing this story, it wasn't meant to be so...depressing. Yeah, depressing is the word but it ended up like that. Please still love it; I do really adore these two characters (especially Aiden).

If you read, please review. It really just makes my day, plus it'll be a much better b-day pressie for me if I get some interest, yeah? X33

Thank yous to everyone who read my story before I published it and helped me get it on track. Jamie for Aiden's slang talk (can't do accents if you killed me) and Amy for being an awesome bestie and awesome beta and awesome...encourager? (check out her series, Storm Clouds and Blue Skies)

Oh, & my darling Ami actually got me a silver, heart necklace. Totally didn't plan it either because I started writing that part before my party. Then I got the necklace and it was just really awesome. Thank you darlings!

Love to all my readers/supporters/haters rofl,

Mrs Prince Charming