"Just who is this heartless monster?"
"-as of right now, all party venues have been shut down-
"We aren't safe here anymore. Restaurants, schools, public transits- nothing is safe."
"-irst they let him steal our money, and now the mayor's gone? What is going on?"
"Yesterday it was the mayor, today it may be the presiden-"
"I lost my son! Because of the police's incompetency, my-"
Every single news channel was flooded with headlines about the explosion. Pictures and video clips of the aftermath were plastered all over social media platforms. All the reporters, news anchors, and mourning inhabitants of the city had only one thing to talk about; Blue Swan Banquet Hall.
What was a small distraction from a small research session, turned into a moment of self reflection for her. Genevieve continuously clicked the back of a pen out of agitation, and her eyes were fixated on the T.V screen hanging from a wall. She could barely hear what it had to say since the murmuring and hustling of other officers in the room drowned it out. But, the furious look on the citizens' faces told several stories.
She felt as though the comment about the police's incompetence was a direct attack to her, and it seemed justified. After all, it was a huge failure on her part.
Genevieve squinted her eyes to read the moving headlines at the bottom, but she couldn't finish the sentence. The screen blacked out as if someone had shut it off and she looked around for the person responsible. Her scouring came to an end when her gaze landed on none other than Samual, who stood right beside her desk with a remote pointed in the T.V's direction.
"Don't do this to yourself."
He set the remote down on Genevieve's table and knelt downwards, so she wouldn't have to crane her neck up to look at him. A sad but reassuring smile rested on his lips, which did soothe her to some extent.
"Beating yourself up won't bring their lives back." Samuel said gently, and upon noticing her nervous grip on the pen, he took it from her grasp and placed it onto the desk as well.
"You did what you could to the best of your ability."
There was something so oddly comforting about him. Genevieve felt like pouring her heart out in his presence, and she had a hunch that he'd listen to every single concern of hers without a problem. At one point she did consider letting it all out, but the idea that they just recently met stopped her.
Genevieve thought of putting up a half-hearted smile and telling him that she's fine, but it was far from the truth. Besides that, she didn't want to lie anymore. Whether it was because he was a good person, or she was, Genevieve didn't want to deceive him out of all people.
She pulled her legs out from under the desk and shifted in her seat to face him.
"For?" His brows furrowed and he eyed her face out of sheer perplexity. Samuel didn't think he did anything to receive any form of gratitude.
"For switching that off." She admitted with a small shrug. A sigh left her mouth, and her gaze darted around the room before it settled on him again.
"It wasn't exactly... helping with my self loathing."
"And why would you be self loathing because of something that wasn't in your hands?" Concern replaced the confusion on his face, and he brought an arm up to rest his forearm on his upright knee.
"Genevieve. You're making me sound old, Mr. Anderson."
A slow smile spread on his lips and effectively took over the worried look. He let out a huff of laughter, before shaking his head.
"Is humor your coping mechanism?"
"Well aren't you observant?" Genevieve poked with a faint grin, and he laughed again.
"I've been told."
The two became immersed in their playful conversation. So much so, that they didn't see Alec enter the space. He paused his steps to let his line of sight sweep all over the room. It landed on Genevieve, then the man knelt before her. He resumed his sauntering and swiftly passed by the other desks in the area to approach hers. It wasn't until he dropped the stack of files in his hands from a certain height, that they landed with a loud thud onto her table and pulled their attention towards him.
The two snapped their heads to look at the newcomer. Genevieve raised an eyebrow, whereas Samuel stood back up to right himself. He stepped away from her chair and turned towards Alec, all the while dusting his trousers.
Alec's reply was immediate, almost too immediate, and it would seem like he cut him off on purpose. His uninterested gaze flickered over to Genevieve and observed her mildly infuriated expression.
"I brought a copy of those files on Shadow, so you don't have to come over and annoy the hell out of me." He murmured gruffly, just as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his pants.
"If you figure out something useful, then and only then bother me."
'Well what crawled up his ass and died?'
As much as Genevieve was enraged at his rudeness, she was also beyond confused. Of course he had shifted back to his cold demeanor once again, but what was the need to behave that way with Samuel? She pondered over making a timetable of his attitudes. At least this way she'll be able to cope with him a little better.
Alec didn't wait for her to reply. He whirled around in a second and took long strides to leave the area, leaving behind a confused pair of officers.
"Don't mind him, he's always mad." She muttered as she stood up, with her eyes trained on the male's retreating form.
"I'll go check up on him."
The lack of response from Samuel made Genevieve look at him, and she did a double take when her eyes stopped on him. An amused expression was clearly splayed on his features, and she narrowed her eyes in a questioning look.
"You don't see it, do you?"
A chuckle slipped from Samuel and he waved a hand to dismiss his statement.
"Never mind, go check up on him."
Genevieve pursed her lips and she watched him for a few seconds, as if waiting for him to explain himself. When he didn't, she stepped out of her chair.
"Men are truly something." She mumbled upon turning away and speed-walking in Alec's direction. Nonetheless, an involuntary smile crept onto her face when she heard Samuel's laugh from behind.
Genevieve had reached the hallway just in time and was but a few steps away from Alec. She called out his name once or twice, to which he didn't respond at all and that frustrated her further.
"Damn it, what is your problem?"
"And what is yours? I told you to bother me after finding something useful."
Alec didn't stop or look behind him to reply, he carried on with his trudging. However, that changed abruptly at Genevieve's next words.
"Then give me your number."
His steps skid to a complete halt. A mixture of emotions took over him, with disbelief being the dominant one. He waited in his position for a second of contemplation, before turning around cautiously to finally face Genevieve.
"You heard me."
His surprise only doubled at the confirmation, and he took careful strides in her direction to stop right in front of her. The proximity wasn't like it was at the bank, but even so, they were still standing close to one another.
Alec's eyes bolted around Genevieve's countenance. For the first time, her expressiveness was nowhere to be found and the only thing that greeted him back was a serious face.
"I understand that you're falling head over heels for me, but that doesn't mean I'll-"
"Just shut up. Please, shut it."
Genevieve massaged her temples as a sharp exhale of exasperation left her. She directed her gaze away from him and towards the floor.
'Lord, give me strength to resist the urge of caving his face in.'
"If you're done with the self praise, let me talk." She looked back at him and removed her hands from her head.
"How am I supposed to bother you when I can't contact you? I need your number for that, do I not?"
Genevieve was more than glad that the sky had fallen dark, since it signaled the end of the day. The idea of collapsing onto her bed and sinking into the mattress sounded more than heavenly.
A wave of relaxation washed upon her when she pulled into her driveway. But instead of climbing out of the vehicle immediately and heading for her house's door like originally planned, she stayed inside.
The darned memory refused to leave her mind, and a stupid grin threatened to form on her face. She leaned forwards to rest her forehead against the steering wheel as her smile finally took over.
A moment of silence ensued afterwards, but the atmosphere was not awkward. Rather, Alec had become preoccupied in trying to figure her out, and vice versa.
"Give me your phone." He commanded softly, and Genevieve could have sworn his eyes glimmered. Was it amusement that twinkled in his eyes? Or was it suspicion? Perhaps a bit of both.
Her gaze never left him, even as she held the phone out for him to take and he punched his number in. Alec handed the phone back to her and his eyes found hers to return the intent look. They said nothing for a while, but maybe it was because they didn't want to.
He leaned further down, almost as if he was about to tell her a secret.
"Don't save my contact with a nickname like 'Future Boo'-"
Genevieve didn't let him finish, she shoved Alec with all her might. Her face decided to heat up due to a combination of both anger and embarrassment. And the last thing she wanted was for the egotistical male to see that, so she spun around to stomp her way back inside.
A crooked grin erupted on his face when she turned away, but little did he know, she was having a hard time with suppressing a smile of her own.
The car keys twirled around her index finger as Genevieve made her way towards her doorstep, with the subtle smile from earlier lingering on her lips. All the thoughts about diving into her fluffy blanket dissipated when she nearly tripped on an object.
It was a rather large gift box. The outside was encased in a beautifully patterned wrapping paper which consisted of a floral design, and a bow sat on top like a bright red cherry. Genevieve looked around to see if anyone nearby had dropped this. The last time she checked, it wasn't her birthday, and a secret admirer was a far fetched guess.
"That's odd." She bent down to pick the box up and held onto it with one hand, just so she could unlock her door with the other. It wasn't too heavy, but it wasn't the lightest either which made her even more curious.
After entering her home, she headed straight for the dining table and set the present on top. Instead of ripping it open like some savage, she carefully unwrapped it to reveal a cardboard box which was sealed neatly with tape. However, there was a letter stuck to the top. The paper was of pink color and Genevieve snorted at the idea of it being a love letter.
Upon picking it up and having a better look at it, her blood froze after having read nothing more than a couple words.
I am delighted to inform you that you successfully failed the test. Not only did you defy me, but you also failed to save the poor mayor even after finding out his location. I'm utterly disappointed in you.
As promised, there will be consequences. And while I do plan on making you and this city live through hell, consider this a small gift from my part. I hope you like it, because I certainly did.
Lot's of love,
Genevieve felt weak. It was like the wind got knocked out of her when she made sense of the letter. Her mouth ran dry, and she sucked in a deep breath to delay the upcoming hyperventilation.
What horrified her even more was the fact that Shadow knew where she lived. If it was solely up to him, he could get her killed with just the snap of his fingers. But he was letting her live.
She didn't know what he could possibly gift her, and perhaps she didn't want to know. Her curiosity got the better of her and before she knew it, her shaky hands were reaching out towards the box. Genevieve used her keys to cut the tape of the box, and she pulled the flaps open to peer inside.
The lifeless eyes of a decapitated head gazed back at her. It looked like it belonged to an elderly woman, and Genevieve's hand flew up to clamp itself onto her mouth. A sob of immense sorrow left her and got muffled against her palm, but it wasn't the strong and metallic odor that elicited such a reaction from her.
No, it was the uncanny resemblance between the head's features and those of Amber's that shattered Genevieve.
'He said if I didn't kill you, he'll kill momma.'