It's the end of the world that I know. No more internet, people on televisions, people on social medias, even people on the streets. What changed were the hordes of undeads roaming aimlessly, reacting to the tiniest of sounds and tearing the flesh of those unfortunate enough to meet that end. It was a battle every day, trying to survive with my body unscathed. But oddly enough, it wasn't so bad.
Because I have a reliable man on my side, which kept me sane in this mad world.
Chapter I - Miracle Pill
“Hey Maddie girl, did you hear about the latest product of R Pharmaceuticals? The internet is going crazy at how effective it is! And you know the catch? When you take it, you get more productive and you wouldn’t need to sleep. Isn’t it amazing? It’s only been a week but a lot of people have been using it. I tried it myself yesterday and I haven’t slept for twenty eight hours now but I still feel great,” my friend, Leah Ahn chattered excitedly.
I diverted my gaze from my monitor to cast her a withering look.
“Get "more productive", huh? Then most of you here badly need it then,” I exclaimed bluntly. She’s already so used to my cold demeanor that she didn’t even flinch from my remark. She easily brushed it off with a teasing grin.
“C’mon, don’t be like that. Just look at your eye bags! Girl, you really should try one of those miracle pills. There’s minimal side effect of mild dizziness but you won’t even feel it after two to three hours,” she insisted. I pushed myself away from my desk with a loud scoff and went to the pantry. She followed like a loyal dog.. but I should probably not mention that to her.
“Geez, are you a marketer? You’re supposed to finish the documents by five p.m. so you should start working,” I told her as I brewed myself some tea. She tutted as she made her own coffee.
“Nag, nag, nag. That’s all you do. No wonder your blind dates doesn’t work out,” she said with a deliberate sigh. I shot her a baleful look and she snickered at me as she sipped on her mug. It was my turn to sigh.
“My love life is no business of yours. And you should really start that document I asked you about. I can’t send what I finished without those.”
She pouted and quickly downed her coffee and rinsed her mug in the nearby sink.
“Y’know, girlie, stuff like this doesn’t often come around. Say, I’m supposed to have a blind date by eight at Rosie’s. You don’t have plans later, do you? Can you go in my stead?” she asked while batting her fake eyelashes, thinking it would sway me.
“No,” I replied bluntly. She frowned and clicked her tongue.
“Please, it would be rude to the guy, y’know? And I would really appreciate it if you could go. And, you like the food at Rosie’s, right? It takes months to have a reservation in that restaurant, so you shouldn’t really let this chance slip,” she said in a convincing tone. I glared at her and she gave me a triumphant grin.
“Eight p.m., table five, wear something sexy. Thank you,” she said with a wink and walked away without turning her back.
“I’m just going there for the food, bastard. Don’t think I’m doing you a favor,” I said aloud but she just waved her hand trying to act cool. I shook my head and slowly sipped my tea.
Chapter II - The Bizarre Date
It’s almost seven p.m., and I’m standing in front of my mirror wearing my robe, contemplating on what I should wear.
I mean, I’m just going there for the food, so I shouldn’t try the “dress to impress” look.
After a short deliberation, I picked the little black dress and paired it with my low-heeled pumps. The dress was modest, the length reached my mid-thigh, the sleeves were wide enough to cover my shoulders, and the neckline wasn’t too revealing. I fixed my ash blonde hair into a soft bun, letting a few strands of hair spill on my shoulders, and adorned it with a silver pin that a Chinese friend sent to me as a gift. Aside from my small wristwatch, I didn’t bother to wear other accessories.
I only applied light make up and sprayed my favorite perfume, which, according to most males in my workplace, was too strong for them. Works for me. They stay as far as possible from me. It wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if “my” date would be so repulsed by my scent and excused himself.
All that preparation was done in ten minutes, and the restaurant was just a fifteen minute ride via car, but I wanted to eat and be done with this “date” that I decided to arrive there earlier than the appointed time. I grabbed my purse and car keys and after making sure I locked my doors, I went to my car and started to drive.
I got there by seven forty since there was a light traffic, but still, I’m still early so I don’t see any problems. I was greeted warmly by the attendant and asked if I had a reservation.
“Yes, Leah Ahn,” I said smoothly. She smiled cordially as she checked on her logbook, furrowing her eyebrows ever so slightly. I could feel my heart starting to thump wildly on my chest. There was a man in an expensive looking suit standing nearby, and I subconsciously balled my hands into fists.
“There is no reservation under the name Leah Ahn, Ma’am. Are you certain you have a reservation?” she asked politely, but I could see the annoyance in her eyes.
Damn that Leah. She didn’t tell me that name of the guy! She’s so dead when I see her.
“Miss Ahn? I couldn’t recognize you from behind, I apologize for that. Let’s go inside?” the guy in Armani suit suddenly spoke, making both the attendant and me to jump in surprise.
“Mr Williams!” the attendant gasped in horror and suddenly turned to me with an apologetic gaze.
“I am deeply sorry for this, Ma’am. I didn’t know-”
“It’s okay, Ana,” Williams said with a kind smile. I flinched when he lightly touched me by the elbow. Seeing my reaction, he quickly withdrew his hand and smiled at me.
“Shall we, Miss?” I nodded and he ushered me inside without actually touching me, which I found very thoughtful. He made me sit first before he sat on the other chair. I licked my dry lips and tried to gulp discreetly.
“It’s okay, Miss. I’m not mad at you or Miss Leah. I was quite expecting her to stood me up, but I didn’t expect her sending a proxy,” he said and chuckled to himself. I found myself fiddling with my fingers, so I placed them on the table and stared directly at his eyes, which was so dark that it suited his tanned skin and aristocratic looks.
“I apologize, Mr Williams. I didn’t know what possessed me to agree to this,” I said with as much sincerity as I could muster. His lips quivered in amusement and he nodded slowly.
“There’s nothing to forgive. After all, we both don’t consent this marriage meeting. You coming here is a sigh of relief,” he told me and thanked the waiter that poured wine on our glasses.
“Do you want me to take your orders, sir?”
“Ah, yes, John. I’d like the usual. What about you, Miss..” he trailed off and blinked in realization before he cocked his head to my direction. He gave me a small apologetic smile, and I smothered my own as I turned my attention to the owner.
“I’ll have the Lotus Bloom, please, and Tulip Buds. Thank you,” I said without opening the menu book. John jot it down and repeated our orders before he took the menu books and slightly bowed at us.
When the waiter thanked us and left with the menus, Williams turned to me, a slight smile on his face.
“You seem familiar with the menu. Are you a regular here, by any chance?” I blinked in surprise at the sudden question before laughing lightly.
“No, I just went here twice. It’s been too long and it’s hard to get a reservation so I kinda missed those dishes. I hope you don’t mind a date with a large appetite,” I joked and laughed nervously when I realized I just said what I just said.
Why am I getting comfortable with a stranger this fast?
“I don’t mind at all. On the contrary, I would love to have a company as yours,” he said softly that I felt a blush creeping to my face.
Stop, Maddie. This is so not you.
“Oh, I don’t think we’ve properly introduced ourselves. I’m Dylan Williams, and I work at R Pharmaceuticals as a lead researcher. That’s only temporary, though, since my dad wants me to take over the company. Also, this restaurant is my mother’s restaurant, so you’re free to come here after this.”
Oh wow, a big shot guy. This was a whole other level than that Canadian guy who owns a clinic. I feel so insignificant now.
“Ah, I see. That’s great,” I said with more cheerfulness than what I really feel. But he seemed to caught on because he suddenly look concerned.
“Ah, did I perhaps say something that might have offended you? If that it so, then I apologize for my carelessness,” he said gently. I quickly waved him off.
“No, no. That’s ridiculous. You did nothing of the sort. It’s just.. you’re amazing. You and Leah both.”
I should probably just jump to some cliff.
“No, not at all. Tell me about yourself,” he said gently, that same kind smile on his face. His eyes seemed to be genuinely interested so I stated my boring life.
“I’m Madison Gregory, Maddie for short. I’m already an orphan, and I work at Leah’s company as an auditor. That’s just about it,” I told him with a shrug.
“I’m so sorry about your parents,” he murmured softly, and I couldn’t help but notice just how freaking thick and long his eyelashes were.
“It’s okay, they passed away when I was twelve years old,” I quickly blurted aloud and gave him a quick smile. He nodded knowingly for a second before he flashed me a playful grin.
“So, what are your hobbies? Do you play any sports?”
He saw that I was uncomfortable about that topic. How perceptive.
“Well, I’m good at shooting. Basketball, archery, and the likes,” I confessed with a nonchalant shrug.
“Wow, now that is awesome! I tried archery before but I just couldn’t hit the target. But hey, I quite excel using guns. Nothing illegal, though. Have you ever gone on a firing range?” I quite liked the enthusiasm in those dark eyes.
“Yes, several times for my self-defense class.” I quickly scrunched my eyebrows together when I realized I disclosed this much information to practically a stranger.
“Self-defense, huh? Do you know any hand to hand combat?" he asked excitedly.
“Um, I know a little bit of hapkido and mixed martial arts. I’m not too good on those, though,” I said quietly and chuckled softly to myself.
“No way, that’s awesome!” he exclaimed and quickly apologized to the other diners when they threw sharp glances at our table. I couldn’t help but laugh, trying my hardest not to be too loud.
“Hey, if you don’t have plans this weekend, is it okay if we meet? I’d love to give you a tour on my club’s firing range. Some of my members are official military and/or policemen. There are also gyms suited for sparring. What do you say?”
He looks so excited, and it’s quite surprising how I find him tolerable.
The conversation halted when the food arrived. I actually drooled when the waiters set the plates on our table. Dylan all the while looked at me with tender eyes whilst to my knowledge. He quickly averted his eyes to the food when I glanced at him.
“I’m free this Saturday. But I haven’t touched a gun in a while so I might be a bit rusty,” I told him shortly after the waiters left us alone with our food. His eyes were sparkling when he whipped his head to face me.
“It’s okay! You can’t go back on your word, okay? We’ll have a date this Saturday,” he said like a child talking about presents on Christmas.
Date, huh? It’s been a while since I last went on a date without Leah’s persuasion. I hope it works out well.
Chapter III - Shopping Spree
After that bizarre date, the days went on a blur. Before I knew it, it was already Friday and my co-workers are already starting to clock out. Leah stopped by my station, as usual, and unrelentingly teased me when I told her that I exchanged numbers with Dylan and had a date with him tomorrow.
“We need to go shopping, Maddie girl. You can’t go with the most eligible bachelor wearing worn out clothes. I found a newly opened clothing just a few blocks from your house, we should definitely go there.”
I sighed as I turned off my computer. This girl had been going on about this for three hours straight, only stopping when she went to the pantry and devoured anything in there. She even ordered pizzas thrice, and in extra large sizes. She ate them without a care about her calories which I found odd, because usually she’s conscious about her weight and picky on her food. She ate the pizza. All. By. Herself.
“Okay, fine. I need to buy shoes anyway. Do they sell rubber shoes there?” I asked dumbly and I kid you not, this kid just freaking chortled. I mean, sure, she’s a bit rough around the edges, but I’ve never heard her make this kind of sound.
“Of course, silly. Oh, and let’s go to that chicken house you keep mentioning me before. The one where you had a team dinner. I get hungry just thinking about it,” she babbled on.
“Ah, Rickie forgot to send me the files I need on Monday,” I said with a sigh. Leah laughed and playfully slapped my arm, which was stronger than usual.
“You’re so silly, Maddie girl. Rickie and three others were on sick leave. Food poisoning, from what I’ve heard,” she said nonchalantly.
“Really? That sucks,” I said sympathetically.
“I know, right? Let’s go.”
The clothing store she found was bigger than what I initially thought. It was practically a mall, but with just clothes and accessories. And since it had just opened, the prices were so affordable that I was already on a shopping spree. When I came back to my senses, I already bought ten shirts, three slacks, five shorts, three fitted jeans, a tracksuit, four hoodies, two skirts and a little black dress. I also bought thwo rubber shoes and an elegant pair of stilettos.
Leah just laughed at me as she lifted, or at least tried to, lift her hands and showed multiple bags she carried. We both had a good laugh over that. When we went on our separate cars to put away our purchases, she lightly grabbed my arm and handed five shopping bags.
“What are these for?” I asked her quizzically, but all she offered was a mischievous smile. I know that gaze, so I glared at her. She laughed and I noticed something..weird on her mouth.
“Just open them, Maddie girl,” she coaxed and rubbed her hands together in anticipation. I rolled my eyes but did what she asked, and it took me all of my self control not to smack them at her smug face.
“Really, Leah, really?” Inside the bags were three lingerie that were too skimpy for me to wear, a sexy night gown that seemed to ran out of fabric, and a bikini that seemed too revealing to wear on public,
“What? You might need those,” she replied defensively.
“Who the hell do you think I am?” I fumed, and she quickly hugged me to the point of suffocation, her own way of showing affection.
“I was just teasing you, Maddie girl. But I would be glad if you use those,” she said, a tinge of amusement in her voice. But what greatly bothered me was the stench. It was coming from her mouth. I quickly untangled myself from her and gripped her shoulders.
“Just how much did you eat? Your mouth stinks,” I said, not even feigning my disgust. She looked hurt for a second before she playfully shoved me away.
“Wow, Maddie girl. But back to your question, I don’t know. I’ve been feeling these pangs of hunger for days, y'know? No matter how many times I eat, the hunger doesn’t seem to really go away. It’s like I have an insatiable hunger and it’s unbearable unless I eat,” she explained while giving some distance.
“Are you pregnant?” I asked bluntly. Her eyes were wide as saucers and she nearly slipped on the floor.
“Ah, I tend to forget how blunt you can be. And no, I am not. But man, I sure had some wild sex last night with some guy. He was so kinky that he actually bit my shoulder! That crazy dude, really. A really hot, crazy dude,” she said as she let out a wistful sigh.
“Ugh, I don’t need to know about your sex life. And I’m getting cold. You can eat by yourself, I’m tired from all that walking.” And my credit card can’t take it any more.
She pouted in dismay but didn’t make a move to stop me.
“Fine, I’ll go there and eat to my heart’s content before I hit the club and bang guys,” she said childishly. I rolled my eyes at her playfully.
“Just don’t get pregnant. Or catch some disease. You’re a goner if you do,” I told her as I secured my seat belt.
“You’re such a nice friend,” she remarked sarcastically and I just blew a kiss at her before driving off.