It’s been almost three years since I left him, and I still look over my shoulder daily. I was pretty much a gypsy, roaming from town to town until I got to Seaside, Oregon. So, here I was living a quiet life at the beach, and I’d even opened up a little candy shop. The girl who owned the building, Mara, was as sweet as they came, along with her best friend, Brenna. I’d also made a friend in the girl next door to my shop, Dana, who owned a pastry shop. She’s the best. None of them knew the gruesome details of my relationship with Stefan, and that’s how I needed it to be. They knew I had a bad past, but I’d left it at that. One day I’d tell them the truth, but that day was not today. Knowing that Stefan was still out there, and could find me, I’d never put anyone else in danger.
The candy shop, which I named Sweet Confections, has been my own kind of therapy. I’d always loved sweets of all kinds, so when it fell into my lap, I went for it. I worked out a killer deal with Mara, and that’s all she wrote. I spend most of my time there and make a lot of the candy myself. Some of it I order from other countries. I liked to have a wide variety of items to choose from, and people seemed to really like it, which made me happy.
It was almost Valentine’s Day, and I’d been up to my eyeballs in orders. As you might assume by now, I was not a fan of all things hearts and romance. Made me quite queasy, if I was being honest. I knew it was me and my jaded heart, but damn. It was Sunday morning, and with nothing else planned for the day, I decided to head to the shop. I was closed on Sundays, so it was a perfect time to get some last minute orders done. As I reached the front door, there was a sealed envelope taped to the front with my real name on it. No one here knew me by Cynthia, so needless to say, I was freaking the fuck out! I grabbed it, while looking around, and quickly entered the shop, locking the door behind me.
Opening up the envelope, my heart dropped. I literally stared at the floor, with the image of my bloody, battered heart at my feet. I knew there was a reason for me being extra paranoid lately. How the hell did he find me? I’d been so careful. Oregon was halfway across the country from him. This couldn’t be happening. I’d think it was a sick joke, but I knew that writing was his. There was also an article clipping from a travel magazine of me and Dana’s shops. It was featured in “Food Shops you should check out while in Beach Towns.” How the hell did I not know we were in a fucking magazine?
Hello, my sweet baby. My, my, you’ve been a busy girl. Now I see why you’ve been gone so long. I’ve waited years for you to come home, and now I’m tired of waiting. I’ll see you soon, my love.
I was numb. I felt defeated. I should’ve stayed hidden better. What made me think opening a public shop in a busy beach town would be a good idea? I’d slipped up. I’d taken my freedom for granted, and now it could all be taken away from me. Just like that. One little note and I was sentencing myself to death. Was I overreacting? Possibly. One thing I did know: Stefan was unstable—he always had been—and unstable people did stupid things in dark moments.
I needed to get home and figure out what this all meant? Should I run? Should I stay and fight for the new life I’d built here? Hell, I didn’t know, but I knew I wouldn’t get anything figured out just standing here like a scared little girl. Wasn’t that what I was though? I’d run from my monster, and now he’d found me. How did I fight back against what seemed to be a shadow?