Monika Drevis never expected her evening to start with her back against a tree and a knife against her throat.

He had asked her assistance towards collecting various herbs for the clinic's botany program. It was winter, late in the afternoon, and the sun was already long gone; nonetheless, she had thought nothing of it and agreed. Now look what she had gotten herself into.

He was new in town, seen as a loner by most. He was young - in his early twenties, just as she was. He was unknown, mysterious, and undeniably attractive. And now here he was, this quiet young medical apprentice pressing a sharpened butcher's knife against her throat with a wild glint in his eye.

She was speechless with surprise, her breaths rapid and her heart pounding, the knife pricking her skin with every beat of her pulse. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, the natural fight-or-flight instinct striving to kick in. Her eyes were wide with fear-


It wasn't fear.

It was thrill.

Excitement was rushing through her body; not the fear of staring death in the face, but the thrill of being nearly nose-to-nose with a madman, his lips quivering in a thinly veiled smirk of satisfaction and his eyes that of a feral beast. He was dangerous - and she liked that. The young woman had always been one to savor danger, always been one to deliberately put herself in harms way - call her a thrill seeker, reckless, a maniac - but she adored the adrenaline rush, the screams of urgency that it sent flowing through her body like a shockwave.

Right now, the warm trickle of blood down her neck, the proximity of the blade - they made for a better evening than she could have ever dreamed of.

Slowly, she controlled her breathing, and slowly she mimicked his morbidly satisfied smile.

"Well, that was unexpected."

Instantly he faltered, and the knife wavered as he furrowed his brow. His smirk faded, replaced by a look of utter confusion, but hers remained.

"I suppose you've never had someone react this way, hm? Because you have killed before, haven't you?"

Her voice was breathless, the words enunciated in short gasps; she sounded nearly as deranged as she looked, grinning in the face of death. There was a long hesitation, Monika's steadying breaths and the whisper of the wind providing the only sound. Slowly, the madman lowered the blade, coming to rest the tip in the hollow of her collar bone. His other hand, gripping her wrists together against the tree and above her head, slackened ever-so-slightly. He seemed to be in thought, his expression shifting from confusion to interest and back.

Finally, he released her.

She slid to her knees, gasping for air and running her hand over her throat as if to make sure it was still there. She stared up at him, her eyes still alight with glee. He was standing with his profile facing her, his head turned away slightly, tapping the butcher's knife absently against his palm.

Another long pause.

"Well? Aren't you going to finish what you started?"

He looked down at her, adjusting his glasses with a forefinger.

"As far as we are concerned, I started nothing."

A flash of disappointment crossed her features.

He caught it and the corner of his mouth lifted in a brief smile.

"Tell no-one what has transpired, or I will finish what I started."

She liked that answer. It sent chills down her spine.

He stalled, as if making a decision, before turning and starting to walk away.

"Will I ever see you again?"

He froze, turning his head to the side. Then, he began to laugh, an erratic, melodious sound that both filled her with warmth and chilled her to the bone.

"You are a strange one, aren't you? Simply fascinating."

He paused, and her skin itched with anticipation for his answer. She continued to stare at him expectantly.

"My name is Alfred. You know where to find me, and that is all you need to know."

With that, he turned and walked briskly into the forest, leaving her sprawled on the ground.

"Alfred," she murmured to herself. She smiled wistfully.

He was quiet. He was shrouded. He was a madman.

He was beautiful.

This would not be the last he would hear of her, and she would make sure of that.

He was danger incarnate.

And if there was anything in the world she loved, Monika Drevis loved danger.