A Winter Story

Humming through the grocery store Shine's eyes glanced from section to section. She grimaced at the sight of squash, immediately picking up her pace to the carrots. Ignoring the immature giggle from the male worker who was freshening up the veggies, Shine continued her way down the aisle. She was very picky on what to buy for tonight's dinner. But how can she not? It was nearing Christmas, and not to mention very cold. She needed something warm to not only warm up her body, but her humble home.

Absent minded, Shine picked up a few more items, put them in her cart before wheeling it to the bread section. Some French bread sounded very nice. She smiled and went through the soup section, pushing a few cans of clam chowder into her cart.

So, what? She wasn't a good cook, so sue her.

Soon enough, she paid for her belongings, put them in the grocery bag and walked out of the store. The store wasn't far from where she lived, but at the same time it wasn't close. Shine moved to this friendly neighborhood with her Irish Settler, Karenina. The rest of her family lived in the next city from here. She didn't mind the distance, instead she quite enjoyed the silent house from her crazy family.

Coming from a family of three brothers and one sister, Shine was the second youngest of them all. And unlike her siblings, Shine did not have a Greek name: Ares, Cosmo, Nikodem and Athena. The tradition broke when her hippie grandma insisted that her daughter wanted 'Shine' to be the name of the daughter, and her mother high on pain killer drugs dumbly nodded in agreement and ordered the nurse to register the name.

And here she was: Shine Kanzantzakis.

Shine hummed a Christmas carol as she walked down the street. The weather was chilly, but her nice warm sweater kept the freezing wind from piercing her skin. She gripped the plastic bags tighter in her grip, feeling the prickling sensation of the bag cutting into her fingers. Shine huffed and shifted the bag so that it wasn't cutting into her tender skin.

As Shine walked through the street, there was another man walking towards her. She didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. She was walking through the clean and nice street; the sun was just setting so there was enough light to see through. The neighborhood was nice, clean-cut and friendly. She smiled at the man when she passed him and continued to walk onwards. She turned the corner, clambered down the cemented stairs and walked through the small house apartments.

Her ears did not miss following footsteps.

When she looked over her shoulders, her footsteps faltered. It was that man from the streets. Nervously, she licked her chapped lips and stupidly stared at him.

Those dark eyes of his were concentrated on hers.

He had a gray sweater on, hood placed over his head and his jeans were topped off with black converse. But that wasn't all. His posture was slouched, like a predator waiting to jump on its prey.

The night was on its way, coming closer to conquer the light. Shine cleared her throat nervously, her walk quickening. She looked away from those dark eyes of his and looked to the side at the houses (which were actually garages), pretending to admire them. Hoping that he would walk by her without any problems, Shine stared straight and increased her pace.

It didn't work.

The man grabbed her by the shoulder and roughly turned her around. "Give me your money." His voice was deep, gruff and just as dark as his eyes.

Shine's brown eyes widened when she saw a light shine off of the metallic object in his hand: a knife. She gasped and almost staggered back from him, but he was holding her by the shoulder. "I said give me your money." He ordered again.

The bag hit the floor, the cans of soup rolling across the cement and into the street. People would have no way to see what was going on. The apartment houses were designed to have the garages at the bottom and the rooms above it. Nobody would be looking down from the window to see boring cars, they would instead gaze up and stare at the beautiful scenery of the sky and sun, clouds.

Normally, a woman would both scream and try to run, or faint.

But Shine reminded herself that she grew up with rough brothers and a hectic older sister.

Adrenaline rushed through her veins. Shine quickly slapped the man's hand from her shoulder, side stepped and lifted her leg to knee him in the gut with quick speed.

The man gasped and staggered back while he bent down to relieve the pain.

Though she had the chance to run, she didn't. Instead Shine quickly reached in her bag to find any means of self-defense. Her fingertips brushed along something rough, bumpy and hard. She couldn't keep the grin off her face as she whipped it out and held it in front of her with a strong stance. "Don't move!" She ordered.

The man rubbed his stomach with a grimace on his face, straightened up only to falter and stare at the object in her hands. Without a warning, he threw back his head and roared in laughter.

"I said don't move!" Shine warned, her voice strengthening by the seconds. She fought the blush that tried to appear. "I will seriously hurt you if you take a step close!"

He didn't step closer. If anything, he kept laughing.

Shine was getting annoyed. Here was a man who tried to hurt her, rob her and probably cause her even more harm, and he was laughing at her. Maybe it wasn't at her, but at her choice of weapon; but that wasn't the choice! She took in a deep breath and widened her stance just in case he tried anything funny.

The man shook his head, still laughing as he waved his hand at some bush.

Shine's ears perked when she heard muffles of laughter. Soon enough a teenage boy crawled out of the bushes, his muffled laughter clear and loud. Her brown eyes glanced at the camcorder in the boy's hand and they narrowed suspiciously. "What the hell is going on?"

The teenage boy couldn't stop laughing. Soon enough his face turned red, choking and gasping from the lack of air.

The man strode to the boy with a wide grin on his face and smacked his back hard. The boy coughed before standing up straight. He then grinned at Shine with an apologetic expression. "Sorry, but that was pretty funny." He motioned to the titanic cucumber in her hand. "Now you are definitely going to be in my psychology report for that dildo veggie."

"Glad you got something worthwhile, Rain." The man patted the boy's shoulder before turning to Shine. "I'm dreadfully sorry, but this is part of a college psychology report for my kid brother. He needed to observe how women would react if a man was to try and rob her if she were in a dark place, like so, or in an open neighborhood." He said perfectly and efficiently, as if he had done this more than once in the same situation. "You were the unlucky one and just got the dark place." He grinned before taking a step towards her with an extended hand. "I'm Cloud Worthings, and this is my-"

"I told you not to take step!" Shine shrieked before launching the titanic cucumber from her hand.

Cloud's breath was cut off when the cucumber came in contact with his crotch. He grunted before doubling over and falling on the ground.

"Holy crap, Cloud!" Rain dashed to his fallen brother.

Without waiting for another second, Shine whipped around and darted out of there like a bat out of hell. She barely heard cries of surprise and pain as she continued to run as if her ass was on fire. Nothing of that mattered. She didn't understand what the hell was going on and there was no way in hell she was going to wait and find out.

When she reached her small house, she jumped over the fence, ran for the door, fought with it with a key and slammed it. Shine plastered herself on the door, breathing in deep and even breathes. A wet nose made contact with her leg, but she did not pay attention to it.

"What…what the—wha-what just happened?" She questioned, blinking a couple of times as reality hit her.

It was a…prank?

"A…prank?" She hissed, narrowing her eyes. What was wrong with them? Shine grunted, pushing off the door before stalking into her living room. A hard, fast pace was set as she walked on the Persian rug with her dirty shoes. Her fingers twitched and flex. "Oh, wait till I get my hands on them. I'll—I'll…"

She'll wring their necks! Throw them in the gutter and slice their testicles off with a rusty knife, a rusty knife or a jagged rock. Shine wanted blood, she wanted revenge, she wanted -

Her stomach growled loudly.

Karenina sat three feet away, cocked her head at the familiar sound. Letting out one bark, she bounded over to Shine and rolled on her back, bouncing her paws in the air.

Defeated, Shine dropped to her knees and scratched Karenina's stomach. "I'll…I'll just cook some food for the both of us." Tired and exhausted from what she had just gone through, Shine turned around to grab the groceries when she stopped dead.

That was when she realized that she left every single plastic bag full of food with the idiotic morons.

Shine grunted, peeved to a point where she felt that her head was going to explode. Her refrigerator was nearly empty. Today, she went shopping to have a nice, small Christmas dinner and movie along with her loyal companion.

But now all that was ruined by those two idiotic fools.

Wailing, she staggered to her kitchen, throwing open the cabinet doors and drawers. "Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing!" She cried out until she fell to her knees once more. The tiles did nothing to hurt her like the agonizing twist in her stomach. Shine pushed back her hair, getting up on her feet. The only things in her kitchen were the types of food that didn't mix: cereal, corn, spices, rice, etc.

Pretty saddened upon this, Shine poured Karenina a bowl of newly bought Chef Michael's Canine Creations. Karenina panted excitingly before swallowing everything by whole.

Shine merely walked away, poured herself a bowl of Special K to sit on the couch and watch television. Before she turned it on, she got up the couch to turn off the lights before returning. "Might as well make it a movie night."

Grumpily, she grabbed the remote and pressed down on the red button hard enough to have it squeak like a mouse. The television blinked, humming and slowly glowed as the sound ascended with the pictures. Changing channels with a speed to challenge a cheetah, Shine crunched on her grains and tasted her strawberry. "Ugh, there's nothing on."

Coming to a channel of Animal Planet, Shine watched in boredom as a lion neatly and quite savagely tore its prey into chunky pieces. She continued to chew and did not feel bothered about the blood and gore. "Oh, well, the gazelle was too weak." Changing the show, she shrugged, heightened up the volume and left the television the horror movie.

"Help me! Oh, god, someone please help me!"

Shine watched as a teenager streaked across the street, screaming bloody murder as a man chased after her. "Oh, geez, what did you do to the poor man? Flashed him? No wonder he's chasing for more." Putting her empty bowl on the coffee table, Shine cuddled into the couch, petting Karenina when she jumped up.

"Oh, no, please! For the love of god, leave me alone!"

The teen darted across someone's yard, broke a window and was inside someone's house in a matter of minutes. She got up her feet, ran up the stairs and into a random room in a matter of seconds. The bimbo panted heavily, leaning against the door as she tried to quiet her breathing. The noise quieted down, low and soft violins playing in the background.

Shine continued to pet her dog, watching with more interest as the intensity of the movie rose within every square inch. She wasn't aware that her surroundings were exactly like the movie: dark, quiet and spacious.

Creaks echoed throughout the house. The teen broke out a sob when she heard the stairs echoing with movement.

Shine was leaning towards the television, completely unaware of her actions as she started to get more into the movie. "Come on! Just jump out the window or something. Kill yourself before he kills you!" She hissed, clutching onto Karenina's fur. "Come on!"

The actress did not listen to Shine. Instead, the teen moved away from the door, staggering to her feet, facing the door with a mortified expression.

"Oh, god, please don't come inside. Please, please, please, don't come inside the room."

The whole house, the room was silent with dread.

On the television screen, the door burst open, splinters of wood flying in the air as the murderer made his appearance. It caused the teen to scream and rush to the window as the killer sped after her. And at that exact moment, the door next to the Shine's television opened non-too-gently.

Shine screamed bloody murder, eyes wide open as she literally plastered her body against the couch. There was a dark shadow standing in the midst of her door, wearing a sweater (hood up) and pants. Her hand clenched quickly onto Karenina's fur, making the dog whine before speeding off into one of the rooms. Shine continued screaming, grabbing her cereal bowl and launched it at the imposter.

"Wait! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" A man's voice grunted through the house.

The lights immediately turned on, but Shine didn't look. She jumped off the couch with skill, ran to the kitchen and came out with a couple of knives in hand. "Get out!" Screaming, she glared at the intruder.

"Wait, wait, oh, god, you hit me in the balls again." The man panted, grunting as he slowly leaned down. "Aw, Jesus, I pray to god that I can still have kids." Placing his hands on his knees, the man let out a hard, heavy sigh before looking up at her. "Do you have something against men? The need to kill off our babies?"

Finally recognizing who it was, Shine's hands came down, still holding the knives with a death grip. "What the hell are you doing here? You can't just come inside someone's house!" Placing five of the knives on the counter, Shine held tight to one just in case.

"Look, I'm sorry that we scared you back there, but you left your groceries." Letting out one more and last grunt, Cloud stood to his full height and held up the bags in his arms. "I followed you-"

"You followed me?" She gasped in exasperation. "Are you some kind of stalker?"

"No, no, I followed and asked your neighbors for you. My brother and I felt bad that we scared you. We had to return these." He held his hands up, showing his defenselessness before placing the groceries on the coffee table. "I figured you need these by today, because," He laughed, gesturing to the bags. "because that's a lot of food for a small woman to carry."

Labeling him as defenseless, Shine placed the knife on the counter with the rest before cautiously making her way to the coffee table. Giving a suspicious glare, she went through each bag and checked for missing items.

"I didn't touch or take anything." Cloud said, moving away from the table to look around the house. "Neat place you got."

Satisfied, she nodded and grabbed the items to brew something delicious to eat. "Thank god, else I would've castrated you with these knives." She placed the knives away in the drawer.

"I don't doubt it."

"Better not." Shine shuffled through the bags, placing them away and to the side to cook. As she placed them away, she looked up to see Cloud was still looking around. "Well, what are you waiting for? Aren't you going to leave?"

He grinned at her, his blue eyes twinkling. "Nahh, I think I'll stick around."

Too hungry to feel angry and annoyed by him, Shine ignored him and filled up a pot with water. She turned the heat up on the stove, placing another pot upon it. At the smell of rare, fresh meat, Karenina darted from inside the room, panting up at Shine with excitement.

"Oh, now you come." Shine rolled her eyes. "You suck as a guard dog, Karenina." At her whine, Shine gave Karenina droll stare.

"What a beautiful dog." Cloud bend down, clicking his tongue. Karenina bound to the newcomer, welcoming him with very wet kisses and licks to the face. "What a nice, clean, beautiful-"

"Hey, hey, hey, don't get so excited. I don't want you raping her." Shine said, putting the raw ground meat into the heating pan. At the sizzling sound, Shine turned, grabbing the onions, green peppers and mushrooms.

"Golden Retriever?" Cloud asked.

"Obviously." She stirred the meat around, smelling the delicious aroma. A small smiled spread across her face as she watched the meat grow darker and succulent.

"Are you always this painfully sarcastic?" Cloud asked, frowning at Shine as she continued to cook. He petted the dog, craning his head down to see her name tag: Karenina.

Shine laughed, dumping the chopped up vegetables with the ground meat. "A hungry woman is very much like a man who can't find the remote."

Cloud laughed, standing up as he nodded. "I'll keep that in mind." He walked around the counter, watching as she cooked. "So, you live alone?"

"Why? Planning to murder me?" Shine asked suspiciously.

Cloud chuckled darkly, making Shine pause for a second to stare at him with worried eyes. "Don't get your panties in a twist. I won't kill you." He stopped midsentence, turning his head to the television to hear the blond teen scream in horror. "Yeah, uh…"

Karenina barked, bowing to Cloud with her rump in the air, tail wagging furiously.

"What was with the video tape and scaring harmless women?" Shine asked when the silence was getting to thick and long. She scoffed at herself. "Thick and long, pfft."

"Excuse me?" Cloud stared at her.

Her face exploded with redness. "Uh, nothing. I asked about the videotaping."

Cloud shrugged. "It's a psychology report. My younger brother needed to observe the way a woman would defend herself if she was attacked or robbed in either an open space or a closed space." He sat down on a chair, staring at her fluid movements as she literally glided through the kitchen. "Are you a chef?"

"No," She said with a smile. "But I do love to cook and eat." Once the meat was dark and the veggies glistened, she poured in the Preggo sauce (tomato sauce) into the pan, covering it and allowed it to sit there. She then grabbed the straws of noodles and dumped everything inside the boiling pot.

"Isn't that a lot for a small woman?"

She turned to him with an arched eyebrow. "I may be small, but I'm the one that nearly killed your testicals." Laughing when Cloud winced and held his balls, Shine turned around, took off the lid and stirred the sauce. "I have a lot of containers to put the spaghetti inside."

"Might as well serve me a plate, too." Cloud grinned, leaning against the counter towards her. "I'll eat and keep you company."

A frown was placed on her face. "Why? You're practically a stranger."

Cloud shook his head. "I can say that you've been well-acquainted with my balls."

"What balls?" She asked with a sarcastic smile.

"Hardy har har, you're so funny I forgot to laugh."

The smile continued to play on her face as she moved about. But who can blame Shine? It's close to Christmas, her dog abandoned her when the supposed robber broke inside, she ate a measly bowl of Special K, and did she mention that she was hungry? A hungry woman, especially her, was a demon.

When everything was ready, Shine hummed a small melody, working around the kitchen. She stiffened and looked at Cloud with wide eyes when he was right next to her. "What are you doing?"

"I'll prepare the table." Without even asking where the utensils belonged, Cloud worked his way around the kitchen, making himself comfortable as he sought to make things right. It was only right since he did scare the woman out of her wits…twice. "So, where's your boyfriend or your family?"

"No boyfriend, and they're in Mars." Shine responded, taking out two plates to serve.

Cloud smiled in response before grabbing both served plates to place on the dinner table.

Once both were ready, they sat down with utensils in hand. Karenina sat next to Shine's heel, looking up at her with soulful, apologizing eyes for a piece of the delicacy she created by hand. When she realized she wasn't going to get anything, Karenina trotted over to Cloud and sat down next to his chair, using the same puppy eyes she used on Shine.

Cloud laughed. "Sorry, girl, I'm hungry as is."

Karenina whined, turning heel and laid on the floor, head on the paws. She glanced at both humans with the same brown eyes: begging and apologizing.

"Cute dog." Cloud commented.

"You already said that." Shine merely said as she continued to eat.

"Cute dog." He grinned at her.

She only rolled her eyes and continued to eat.

"So," Cloud started, ever so slowly spinning his fork within his spaghetti. "I sense that there is no significant other."

"Is that a question or a statement?" Shine asked, looking up at him as she ate a mouthful.

"A statement. I can tell that you like the dominant male." Cloud winked, laughing out loud when her face reddened quickly. "So, I am right, aren't I?"

"Yes, you are. There is no significant other." Shine spat.

Cloud nodded, continued eating. "Interesting." He murmured.

"How so?"

He waved his hand in the air as if that question wasn't important. "I would like to make it up to you. You know the whole video scaring thing." Cloud grinned at her, leaning forward a bit with excitement glowing in his eyes. "Let me take you out on a date."

"A date?" She repeated blandly.

"Yes, a date." He said, the small grin on his face.

Realizing that she would be getting free food, she nodded. "Okay, fine, but you're paying for the food." Yes, when it came to hungry-hungry-hippo Shine, she was a huge whore for food.

"And for more…?" Cloud asked, amusement playing in his eyes.

That was when she paused. "Are you…" Her face blushed prettily, making her stutter from embarrassment. "Are you asking me to be…in, uh…a relationship with, ahem, with you?"

Cloud smiled, clearly adoring her change of her personality. "Yes."

Her whole neck and face went into a deeper shade of red. Shine forced herself to look down at her spaghetti, but this time she was pushing around the noodles, unable to find some way to respond. How the hell did he manage to get her tongue-tied? Where had all her painfully sarcastic remarks gone? She glanced up at him to see that he wasn't disturbed that he lacked a response. He acted as if she was going to say yes, as if she wanted to be with him. When she opened her mouth to speak, he interrupted.

"Tomorrow, we'll go eat at Tony Romas and have more dates afterwards. When it's Christmas Eve, we'll visit my family and on the day of Christmas or New Years, I'll visit yours."

So, confident. It just made Shine blush harder. And he was definitely right: dominance was a turn on. Trying to cover up her quietness and shock, she replied to him with equal flirtation. "Fine, but I will tell the truth of how we met. There should be a punishment of some sort for scaring a poor defenseless woman." Shine laughed at the image of her brothers kicking Cloud's ass and her older sister sawing his balls…actually that was quite disturbing.

Cloud laughed, knowing that this was the confirmation of the relationship. "Oh, yeah? I'll just tell them that you defended yourself very well." He replied with a smooth grace. Cloud placed his fork next to his plate, holding his hand up and at Shine. "Cloud Worthings."

Smiling and chuckling, she did the same. "Shine Kanzantzakis."

And before she could do anything, Cloud got up from his chair, leaned over the table and landed a kiss right on her lips. He licked her lips once and sat back down, eating as if he didn't do anything out of the ordinary.

Shine blinked a couple of times, confused by his actions. "Uhh…"

He merely smiled up at her. "You had some sauce right there." His finger came up and pointed to the edge of his lips. "Gotta clean it up for you somehow. You know, what's the word…guest courtesy, guest responsibility?"

"You're feeling very brave, aren't you?" She said, leaning back against her chair, placing her fork on the edge of the plate.


A laugh erupted from her throat. "Why?"

"Because, baby, I'm a professional chef. And I know I'm going to stay by your side for a long time." Cloud replied with a grin.

Shine grinned back, obviously excited and admiring of his career. "Damn straight." She continued to eat, reveling in the silence until he broke it with something a woman never ever wants to hear.

"It needs more spice."

The End