Jessica Riley was going about her morning ritual of gym classes, shower, and lunch and then getting things ready for the evening dinner she stops thinks and decides to bake a delicious desert as well as the pasta dinner she is preparing. A distant sound of footsteps caught her attention as the door bell bursts into life and breaks her solitude: Slowly and with some trepidation she makes her way to the narrow pane of glass on the left hand side of the heavy cedar door. Moving the lace netting just a small amount she can see a young nonchalant delivery man standing with a small bouquet of red and white carnations wrapped in white plastic with red hearts. Moving to the door peep hole she scans his distorted features and sees a name badge and company logo, looking him over he seems unassuming in his late teens or early twenties with signs of acne on his orange peel face.
"Can I help you" Jessica said as she opened the door just an inch or so which was as far as the chained latch would allow
"Delivery for a Mrs Jessica Riley" his youthful voice said as he looked for the occupant through the gap in the door, holding the flowers out for her to see.
In a split second she had taken note of the delivery van and its driver drinking in all the notable features and subtle stand out points for both as a precaution. It seemed all clear and as she undid the chain and opened the door Jessica wondered who would be sending her flowers, but she hoped it was her new husband, surprising her for no reason other than he just wanted to and he loved her.
Jessica signed the electronic device the driver had and then retrieved the bunch of sweet smelling flowers from the young man's hands, noting the company he worked for was Interflora. As she turned toward the door she lifted the sweet smelling floral present to her nose once more and let the scent drift through her olfactory system and take her to another place in time. There was a small card placed in a small clear plastic trident central to the bunch of red and white floral room deodorisers, she removed the card, opened it seeing only a single phrase.
"All I have is yours".
She gave her new gift the hope of a longer life with a nourishing vase full of refreshing water and placed them in the centre of the dining table for all to see. The delightful aroma they left in the house was a special treat and she decided then and there to make a citrus tart for desert instead of a caramel pudding. Jessica pondered the flowers for a second and her brow wrinkled as she reached for the hand written note and jabbed at the buttons on her phone to dial her husband.
"Flowers what flowers?" Jake Riley replied to his now bemused wife.
He laughed a little and teased her saying "ooooo someone's got a secret admirer"
She hung up the phone after some more jibes and chat and settled into her routine for the rest of the day but every now and then she glanced over at the folded card and the flowers all the time wondering who sent them, or was her so called 'funny' husband playing tricks on her.
The dinner was amazing and her marital prowess was in full swing and her "arsehole of a husband" Jake as she had said when he made fun of the flowers she had received was his normal self other than making fun of her. The night trailed off into the dark shadows as they danced around the couple sitting in front of the television as they watched their favourite drama.
"Who do you suppose sent me the flowers Jake" she asked finally after all the fun was gone out of the occurrence.
"I have no idea babe, your mum, an ex boyfriend maybe?"
I just looked at him and then punched his shoulder playfully then kissed him and wandered upstairs to bed. It was a long day for me and I would have another day tomorrow of similar style but at least my day would be broken up by having lunch with the girls after the gym.
The next morning the day started as it always did with showers' and Jake leaving early for work and me tidying up and getting ready for my ten thirty workout. At nine forty five the door bell sounded and standing on my welcome door mat was the same delivery man as yesterday but this time he had a long carton containing 12 beautiful long stem red roses.
"Your one lucky lady, if you don't mind me saying" the young man said with a smile, as Jessica signed the electronic delivery machine for the second time.
"Thank you" I said as I walked inside and closed the outside world out and entered the kitchen with my prize. I wracked my brain trying to think of who might be doing this but with no idea springing to mind I opened the box and removed the note that was attached by red cotton thread.
The note attached had a small poem inscribed inside:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
You don't know me
But I know You!
Jessica sat and pondered for what seemed like hours as she stared into the blood red roses looking for inspiration as to who might have sent her the floral offering as a token of his love or affection.
In actual fact it was only about ten minutes but all time seemed to stop and her world melded around her. Getting up she went upstairs and continued her day as it was planned, she pushed the conundrum out of her mind and changed into her gym outfit, making sure to pack a jacket into her bag for after in case it came in fresh in the early afternoon.
For the first time in her life she was perplexed and just a little uneasy for some reason, and it was at this exact moment the door bell rang for the second time.
As Jessica crept over and glared out the spy hole, only to be met by yet another delivery man, this time from DHL with a parcel in his hand and an electronic note pad in the other that he would pass to her and ask in his best Hispanic accent for her to sign for delivery.
For the first time ever Jessica did the exact opposite of her nature. She brought this new parcel inside and placed in on the kitchen counter next to the new roses from only minutes previous and the beautiful bunch in a vase from the afternoon previous.
She left the new gift and packed her bag grabbing her jacket and keys then leaving the safety of the house for her workout and lunch with the girls.
The workout was intense and it drove any and all thoughts from her tired mind, and it wasn't until after that she opened up to her small group of friends as to what was happening.
"I'll have the Turkey wrap please with a side salad please" she said to the young man at the counter at the Lakeside cafe'
"So Jess, what's with all these 'goings on' you have at your place the last two days" Alice her friend asked.
So Jessica explained the flowers and then the two deliveries today before she left. The girls were all giggly and making up stories of lost love or a lover spored, but to Jessica it seemed wrong somehow sinister, but she could not get a handle on it at all.
"So what did you do with the last one you received this morning" Monique said excitedly.
"Nothing I left them on the counter in the kitchen and I will open it when Jake gets home" she looked down at her cappuccino and drew it to her nervous lips.
"Have you called the cops yet hun?" Louise said the obvious but the answer was in my eyes I had no proof of foul play and there was at this stage no reason to involve them.
"They would only laugh at me, and tell me that they can't help until something happens" I said.
The mood chilled and the girls tried to brighten it up with a jibe at one of the trainers at the gym questioning her sexuality and the afternoon drifted off into mindless fun and frivolity.
I drove home and slowly entered the front door looking for anything out of place and without realising it I left the front door open so I could make my escape if necessary. I then realised I could also be allowing someone easy access and turned shook my head and locked the door as I made my way to the kitchen area.
Sitting next to the roses was my unopened parcel and although tempted I quickly undressed and placed my dirty clothes in the wash basket and ran upstairs enjoying the brisk air on my naked body. I stopped as I hit the top of the stairs and noticed my bedroom door slightly ajar and I was sure I left it closed this morning. I grabbed a towel from the closet close to the stair way positioned next to the bathroom and made my way to the door. My heart was racing and I saw all manner of way that I was going to meet my maker in this scenario. I shook my head and slowly pushed the door open and as I did I was greeted with a voice.
"Hi there sexy"
My heart hit the floor and it felt as though my lungs were on permanent exhale as all the air in the room rushed past me and out into a void but not my lungs.
"Shit Jake, what in the hell are you doing home, and why are you naked with a rose in your mouth" I said as I dropped the towel on the floor and jumped on top of him.
Kissing my neck he said "I finished the project early and thought I would surprise you babe so, shower with a friend then?"
It was the biggest fright I had ever had but I also forgot everything as we enjoyed each other in the warmth of the flowing water. Longer than we should have!
After we were cleaned and ready to resume our lives I told Jake about the two parcels that arrived today and as she did a shiver ran down her spine.
"What's wrong?" he said softly as he kissed her neck and hugged her in an embrace she never wanted to stop.
"I don't know it's just wrong is all." And she pointed to the roses which he had found earlier and the unopened parcel next to it that was heavy.
"This is getting a tad out of hand babe, do you know who's sending all these things to you yet" he asked in an inquisitive manner.
"No but I received the roses this morning with a note and now this" she said as she pointed to the cardboard box. Jake read the note and his demeanour changed slightly as he pondered who would be doing this! After all she was his wife.
Slowly and deliberately they opened the box together and held deep inside was a wicker basket full of chocolate and a now warm bottle of Moet champagne with yet another note:
Roses are Red
Violets are blue
I sent these gifts
To share with you
"Do you think we should call the police" Jake commented as Jessica lifted the bottle of Moet from the container letting liqueur chocolates fall as she did. She was still trying to figure out who could be doing this, no-one had taken her eye in years and she could not recall anyone who could have reason to.
"No darling I have no idea who this could be, and so far its harmless so I dint think we have to worry at this stage" she offered with a small chill darting up her spine causing her to intake a fast breath and shiver out aloud.
The two spent the early evening as couples do making dinner, talking settling in for a cosy night when at about eight pm their night was interrupted by an incessant ringing of the front doorbell.
Jake moved slowly and deliberately to the large wooden structure and the safety behind it as he peeped out the spy hole and switched the front light, illuminating an area around the entry. Looking from side to side and then out of the side window he saw no-one and nothing of any consequence and decided to open the door slightly which revealed to him a small foam ice box with a note attached to it written in red felt tip pen, badly.
"For my darling Jessica".
There seemed to be something else red on the container but Jake did not take too much notice as he lifted the light foam container from the ground. Jessica joined him now at the door and pushed passed him starting to peer and look out into the balmy night air for clues as to who had left the new gift on her doorstep.
Jessica turned and followed her husband inside and quickly closed the door and double locked and latched the heavy structure. Jake quickly turned and looked out the side window as if he sensed something as he surveyed the area one last time. He also checked the locks again for good measure.
"Babe don't open that it looks like there is blood on it" Jake insisted but Jessica was so intrigued she had blocked the sound of his voice out and all she could hear was the sound of her own heart beat in her ears and the rushing whistle of her breath as it was drawn in and forced back out.
She gently lifted the lid and peered inside, it was then that she realised she should have heeded her husband's warning, as placed neatly inside on a layer of white tissue paper was a pair of perfectly placed lips, fashioned into a pucker as if they were meant to be kissed, that were cut raggedly from a wanting mouth, and as usual there was a poem attached which read.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
These lips of mine
Are now for you
Jessica screamed and Jake held her tight as he franticly dialled 999 into his phones key pad.
Jessica waited as days flew by with the police no closer to finding who the mystery sender of all her gifts was. Apparently all the transactions were paid cash and the perpetrator was clever to never allow himself to be caught on film.
It was getting worse and Jake was concerned for her mental state as she was now on prescribed sedatives to ensure she was getting the rest she required. It was lucky that Jake had an understanding boss and he allowed Jake to stay home with her but this would not go one much longer as he was needed back at the office.
It was day five and Jessica was sitting on the large and over comfortable lounge chair nursing a hot cup of camomile tea. Jake was next to her and as he stood and kissed her on the top of the head, booming sounds erupted from the front door that shook the foundations and created an air wave within the confines of the house itself.
The jolt made its way seemingly through her bones and the hot tea spilled from the porcelain container onto her lap making her startle now from the burning sensation as well as the foreboding sound from the door.
An overwhelming feeling of despair crept into her as she and Jake both made their way to the door once the banging had stopped, and a quick look found no-one yet again present in the vicinity of the dull yellow light.
That the light did reveal was yet another foam box and this time Jake did nothing at all and he closed the door as he dialled detective Makepeace mobile number and Jess locked the door.
Standing in the lounge room the two held each other tight and waited in silence as the officer raced to their house.
Detective Donny Makepeace arrived before his forensic team, but once the surrounding area around the house was cordoned off for evidence and photographs taken the detective lifted the new parcel gently and motioned to the occupants to open the door and let him inside.
The box again was white foam and it was cool so there was obviously something on ice in the container. Looking at both Jake and Jessica and then the coroner, Steve Jackson who had entered now, he slowly lifted the lid as he exhaled softly. The fog inside the box lifted to reveal a single eye looking straight out at the four spectators, staring as if taking in all the faces as they stood admiring the perfectly formed orb.
The blue eye full of love and terror stared mocking them as the police detective removed the note with his gloved hand containing yet another poem that was almost completely covered in blood and mucus from the sightless gift.
Roses are red
Green is the tree
Now and forever
I can look at thee!
Days passed by with no news, and all the forensic tests in the world the police examiners tried came up empty handed, Jessica was called in to the station and almost forced to try and remember anything that could have triggered this level of tribute and twisted love, but there was nothing, well almost nothing except for a young man who was sitting in the road in front of her car outside her local gym some weeks before. He told her that he was waiting to die, suffering depression and hate for a life spent loving a woman who had betrayed him. Jessica remembered doing what she always did; she helped the young man, told him it would be ok and even offered to give him a lift somewhere that would help.
The police traced the young man from descriptions and canvassing people in the area around the gym to a house not two blocks away from Jessica's own house. The young man James Dennis was well known in the area as a troubled young man, and at twenty one he lived alone and often spent time in the Telford hospital as a patient for schizophrenia and depression.
The hospital records they found stated he would place himself in care for months at a time and that he suffered a fixation on individuals to the point where he would build up a fantasy world around the individual as his true love and once rejected the cycle would stop and he would be back in care yet again.
Detective Makepeace informed Jessica and Jake that they had a solid lead on their stalker and to stay in the house until he dropped by with information in just a few hours.
Detective Makepeace made his way to the residence of the young troubled and possibly overtly deluded man and found the front door unlocked when he knocked.
With care he removed his issued nine mm pistol from its holster and took up his well trained stance as he moved over the threshold and inside the dark house.
There was no reason at all to expect violence but then in situations were you are dealing with drug induced or delusional individuals not all are normal. He moved through the house with the speed and agility his training and experience had imparted onto him, to find the kitchen with a single light on and blood on the table with a small serrated carving knife and a tea spoon on a paper towel that had remnants of blood and tissue. Holding the contents of his lunch inside his now retching stomach the revolted detective looked closer at the debris and muck on the table and the only explanation he could determine was that the trails were the fibrous tendrils of the eye ball as it was popped out with the spoon and then cut free from the socket.
The next fifteen minutes were spent searching the house and the arrival of the fore4nsic team meant he could now make his way to see the terrorised couple. As he sat in his Ford Taurus an ice cold blanket fell over his mind and he started to shake uncontrollably as he urgently started his vehicle and plunged the 'T' bar handle into drive and sped on his way as fast as possible to the Riley house not two blocks away.
"Where are you?"
Jessica stood silently in the shower as the warmth enveloped her as she tried to get herself into a mind set that would allow her to feel normal again. She washed and lathered the soap into frenzy as she contemplated why anyone would do that to themselves for the love of a stranger. Turning the taps off she dried down and was willing the phone to ring with news of the poor young man's capture.
Jake was downstairs preparing a healthy dinner for two, a salad mixed with grilled chicken pieces tossed in a garlic and herb dressing that Jake made himself by infusing the olive oil with garlic, pepper corns, thyme, coriander and basil with a hint of chilli.
As she stepped into her track pants she heard a shallow thud from downstairs that made her think that Jake had dropped the heavy cast iron grill again. Dressed in only a light t-shirt and track pants with her favourite pink bunny slippers, Jessica slowly made her way downstairs as the sound of "The Price is Right" drifted from the TV. All she could think of was how amazing her life was, and how lucky she was to have a man like Jake in her life as she made her way toward the kitchen and her love.
"Is the salad ready................" Jessica stopped mid sentence as she tried to take in the horror of the scene that was unfolding in front of her. A stifled scream was swallowed by fear and her mind swam as if she was placed in a vat of treacle.
A dark hooded figure was standing at the head of the small distressed wooden kitchen table holding her now beautiful dead husband by the hair, a gash that ran from ear to ear and a bib of blood that covered his chest and the table in front of him. Jessica was dumbfounded and in shock her limbs could not obey her fight or flight response and she stood staring at her dead man.
It was almost like he had two mouths that were open simultaneously in a dead smile. Jakes eyes were now dead and lifeless and she looked up at his murderer trembling stuck to the spot with horror as her eyes met that of his single blue orb, he let Jake go and his now lifeless body slumped and hit the table sliding forward.
The figure standing before her slowly unzipped the hoddie and let it fall revealing a permanent bloody morose grin that repulsed her to the core of her being, an eye that was bright blue stared at her with love and longing and the dark empty socket that was next to it bled and wept puss from infection and neglect.
Jessica was frozen still with fear and hysteria taking over her mind and body as she fought to regain and hold onto the last ounce of her sanity.
"Why" she whispered thru her trembling tear soaked lips.
The figures face muscles moved and she thought it must have been him trying to smile, but with no lips to move the scab encrusted skin flaps opened and poured fresh blood into his orifice and down his chin. The eye looked at her with sorrow and sadness as his mind fought with the gravity of what he had done.
He looked directly at Jessica and then to the knife he used the almost dislodge Jakes head from his shoulders. He moved the blade over his bare skin under the opened clothing and came to a stop at a point in the middle of his chest. He looked back to Jessica that awful blood soaked teeth smile beemed at her as he started to carve a heart shaped image through his skin, all the time not making a single sound.
Jessica could not take her eyes from the spectacle that was enacting in front of her, was it fear, loathing or the sheer horror of the spectacle that kept her routed to the spot was unclear. James Dennis started to peel the skin from his body filleting the flesh as he went uncovering the rib cage over his heart.
The pounding orb was beating furiously and just visible as he tore at the skin and fat, opening it further for Jessica to see.
"My heart belongs to you Jessica" he slurred thru his lipless mouth spitting blood and saliva as he did so. Then he started reciting a new poem.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Now and forever
My heart belongs to you
The words slipped out of his ruined cavity as he held the knife against his opened chest cavity trying to remove his still beating heart for her.
The front door burst open and in the blink of an eye, a hollow point nine millimetre bullet entered the damaged and ruined eye socket and exited the size of a large grapefruit from the back of James Denise's head. His brain matter and viscera exploded behind him against the back door as what was left of a demented and deluded life exited his still loving and longing blue eye.
In slow motion the knife fell from his grip and Jessica noticed that at last his heart was no longer beating for her.