A/N: For any Red Riding Hood readers, hello again! For any Non-Red Riding Hood readers, hi for the first time!

This is Chapter 1 of a story that is already complete. It's quite a beast (200,000+ words) but I'm thinking of posting it here for feedback as I've had an unsuccessful run at getting it published through the traditional publishing-mill. What can I say? Publishing houses are quite picky. I'm pretty excited to see what you all think, but also nervous as this is definitely my baby. A few disclaimers - I'm quite unoriginal with names, so be prepared to see character names that you may have already seen in Red Riding Hood. Also, chapters are short, but there are a lot of them, so if anything I'll be updating once or twice a week. Lastly, this isn't an erotica like Red Riding Hood but there is romance. So Red Riding Hood readers, it may not be your cup of tea - or it might be. The main man is quite a doozy ;) I think I've said enough. Here goes!

Chapter One

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
- Albert Einstein


"Aurora, turn your god damn alarm off before I come in there and smash it against the wall!"

Aurora sleepily cracked open an eye as the threat was followed by a series of harsh knocks against the wall. Commotion, as always. She groaned, rubbing her eye with one fist and fumbling for her 6AM alarm with the other.


"I'm doing it!" She yelled back and finally smacked the siren off. Half her body dangled off the bed as she flopped her head onto her pillow again. This was the problem with living in a house with four boys, all of whom were her cousins. Initially, it had seemed like a brilliant idea. They were all attending the same university, they all needed a place to rent and best of all – they'd all grown up with each other.

The honeymoon phase had lasted a day.

She fumed into her pillow. Sure, she'd set her alarm to wake her up anyway, but she still needed an outlet for her anger at being awake at this ungodly hour. Minutes passed, and she'd just about dozed off, before another harsh set of banging woke her up again.

"Isn't your midterm exam at eight?!" The eldest cousin William yelled through the wall, and she jumped at his voice, the words setting off alarm bells in her head. She glanced at the red digits on her alarm clock and the moment the numbers 7:47 registered in her head, her body reacted on autopilot.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit." Legs scrambling out of her bed and into a pair of sweatpants, she dashed around her room to pull on a t-shirt. "Shit."

"Do you need me to put on a cup of coffee, Aurora?" Alex asked from his adjacent room, while Nathaniel walked down the hallway and opened her door to peek in.

"I made a smoothie for you to chug while you run to campus."

Ok. Maybe living with her cousins wasn't so bad. They were pretty awesome, when they weren't clogging the toilets, forgetting to throw out the trash, piling up the dishes and yelling in each other's faces.

"Thanks," she said as she hopped on one foot to put on her socks. "Do you know where I put my bag?"

"Ernie! Where's Aurora's bag?" William yelled downstairs, to her youngest cousin that was currently waking up on the couch. There'd been a football game the night before and it had been Ernest's aka Ernie's turn to clean.

"I shoved everything in the shoe closet," was his garbled response.

Aurora shoved her hair in a messy bun, glanced in the mirror to make she didn't look too homeless and then dashed out of her bedroom.

She'd made it down the stairs, through the disastrously messy living room and out the door when she staggered to a halt. She turned back to see Alex leaning out of his door in his pajamas. He was holding something entirely too crucial. "You'll need this," he said sleepily.

"Thanks!" She grabbed her pencil case and calculator before turning around and dashing down the street to campus.

It were moments like these when she was entirely too grateful that she lived only a five minute walk from campus. Aside from the fact that her lecture halls were basically in her backyard, the student grotto was a far cry from anything remotely desirable. Or habitable, even. She had quickly learned in her first year that weekends weren't the only days for late night parties and bad mistakes. According to everyone around her, Mondays, and Tuesdays were party nights as well. Wednesdays and Thursdays too.

Her phone was buzzing in her back pocket, probably Emma who was wondering where the hell she was. The University of Toronto, CCIT Building sign flashed by her and she breathed a sigh of relief as she caught a glimpse of an overhead clock that read 8.03. She was only three minutes late. Her chest was searing with pain from her sprint, which was a huge indication to her that she needed to go to the gym more often. She'd only been running for three minutes.

She made her way to the second floor quickly, turned off her cell phone and walked through the doors into her lecture hall. Grimacing when more than a few heads turned to see who the rude intruder was, she mouthed the words 'sorry' as she squeezed through a few tables and panicked students until she finally found one that was empty.

Aurora caught Emma's eye, who let out a sigh of relief at the sight of her and both gave each other an encouraging smile before turning back to their papers.
Her chest was still pounding from her run, but after seeing the words "CALCULUS 200" in large bolded letters, it began pounding for another reason entirely.


Two hours and twenty minutes later, Aurora and Emma were sitting in the Davis building's food court. Packed like usual, the smell of butter chicken from the new Indian place wafted through the quarters in a suffocating smog. The Tim Hortons line was so long that it curved around the stairwell and the Subway line was moving at Internet Explorer speed. Having forgotten her smoothie at home, Aurora had settled for the next best option: a KitKat bar and a Milk To Go from the vending machine across the gym.

Emma was still in shock at what the two had just experienced.

"Do you think we can sue?"

Aurora looked up from her KitKat bar, semi-absorbed with the fact that her make-do lunch was entirely counterproductive to the new diet she'd mentally committed herself to halfway through the mid-term she'd just survived. "What'll we sue for?"

"Trauma. Abuse…" Emma looked at her squarely, through her circular, tiger-print glasses. "That wasn't a midterm. That was torture."

Aurora snorted, as she unwrapped the chocolate bar. "I don't even know why I bothered to show up. I'm going to get the same mark I would've gotten if I had just slept in."

"You didn't do that bad."

"Out of the two questions, I left one blank and wrote please pass me, I need to graduate, in the other."


"Ugh," Aurora sighed. "I'm not going to survive Commerce. I should switch to Film. Do they do they math in film?"

"You're not switching majors," Emma always had a knack for being optimistic when it came to anybody but herself. "We're going to dye your hair, eat like pigs tonight and by tomorrow we'll be back on track."

"I'm not dying my hair."

"Your hair's too dark, it doesn't look good."

"Your hair's too blonde, it doesn't look good."

"We're not talking about my hair, Aurora."

"Weren't we talking about suing the university?"

"No, now we're talking about your hair."

Alex pulled up a chair beside them, promptly ending their conversation. "Hey ladies, how'd the midterm go…" he trailed off after one good look at their faces, "never mind."

Aurora took a swig of her milk as Alex began to fill Emma in on last night's football match, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona; el clasico. Usually, watching her cousin hit on her best friend would have been nauseating. But Alex had been failing miserably for the past two years and at this point, she had to give him brownie points for being persistent.

She had met Emma on the first day of first year and for some reason, the two had hit it off immediately. Emma was blonde, gorgeous and an unapologetic nerd. Unlike herself, the girl was born with a 900 point IQ, while looking like a 50s pin-up model as she went at it. Aurora, on the other hand, had ended up in the program after watching too many episodes of Suits, convincing herself that she was destined to be the next Harvey Spector on Bay Street.

After Frosh Week, where the two had discovered that their program was cutthroat, brutal and it was every (wo)man for themselves, the two had stuck together like glue to make sure that they'd survive first year. It had worked – they'd made it through the first cut, where the class had dropped from 500 students to 200.

Their friendship had lasted despite the fact they were nothing alike. Emma was optimistic; Aurora didn't have that term in her vocabulary. Emma was social; Aurora's best friend was Netflix. Emma had a swathe of men after her; Aurora didn't understand how to prioritize her love life over her McDonalds. To summate, Emma was likable. Aurora, from her own understanding, probably wasn't.

They didn't question it. If it worked, it worked.

While Alex continued to chat up Emma, Aurora pulled the textbooks he'd dropped onto the table closer to herself. While the rest of her cousins had ended up in something related to science or business, Alex was the only one in sociology – a Mythology major to be specific. Right now, anything besides Commerce sounded good.

Alex was still trying, "So, what are you doing tonight, Em?"

Like always, Emma chattered on obliviously. "I was thinking of running to the vintage store to get a new vanity.

"Oh, cool. Very cool."

"Do you two want to come?"

"Course! Aurora?" Alex looked at her, so desperately that she kept back a laugh.

"Yeah, sure," she muttered without any real degree of interest. She was flipping through his textbook, skimming through pictures of the occult, of rituals, witches being burned at the stake, and NC17 group "activities". She tilted her head to the left at one picture, trying to understand how all the pieces were fitting.

She heard them decide on meeting at 7PM, by the Starbucks near the library. They talked for a few more minutes before she heard Emma pause.

"Alex, please convince your cousin that mythology is not the major for her."

Emma knew her too well.

"According to this," Aurora was on page 273, and pointed to a picture of a woman sheathed in white robes, "a dwizozona was a female swamp monster who targeted young men and husbands. Emma, do you think if we found one, it'd help us get boyfriends?"

"For you, it think it's the only way," Alex pulled his textbook back. "Aurora, don't switch to Mythology. I don't want you in my classes."

"Oh shut up," she cracked a smile. Forcing her horrible midterm exam to the back of her mind, Aurora braced herself for the rest of her lectures. She was desperately due for a shower, her room needed a good cleaning and she had half a season of Dr. Who to catch up on.

She figured she should probably squeeze in some studying in there, too.


Aurora thought back to that day, wondering if she'd had even a little bit of an inkling, a suspicion of sorts – a feeling that something was out of order. That the world had just tilted off its axis, untethering the ropes that kept the stability of her life in place. Damn it. She wish she could say yes, that she'd known, so that she could brace herself for the whiplash.

But in all honesty, she had no god damn clue that it was the last normal day that she'd have before her life did a complete U-turn. Someone should have given her a warning, a two-week notice or something of the sort. For God's sake, she would've done something better than watch Dr. Who for half the night.