tagRomanceWickedly Wilde

Wickedly Wilde

bysilverangel621©

Prologue

They were the perfect family. The two kids, one girl and one boy, always played nice with each other and kept the house clean. The mother and father were very affectionate and worked together to make a safe and loving home for their children.

The only thing wrong was that the son was missing an arm, the daughter an eye, the mother's head was held on by tape, and the father's face was scraped off on the left side. They wore clothes of different colors of tissue, although he was finding it harder and harder to make up inventive, masculine clothes for the males of the family. His little family of four lived in a two story house made out of six shoe boxes and they had clay furniture. They were his perfect family.

He reverently brushed the mother's pale blond hair, careful of her head. Her lifeless, plastic eyes looked right through him but he didn't mind. He thought that she might get pregnant again; the family needed a baby. As soon as his mother took him shopping again, he would buy a baby from Gibson's Toy Store and complete his perfect family. His birthday was coming up so he knew that his mother would give it to him for a birthday present.

He sat the mother gently down by her plastic husband, propping her up against the male doll. Out of all of them, his favorite was the girl. She was bigger than her whole family. His mother had told him she was made out of china, a family heirloom. This doll's remaining eye was a startling violet, and her silky blond hair was pulled into pretty pigtails with silk ribbons. Her dress was made out of pretty pink fabric, with lots of frills and laces, not like her family's tissue clothes that came apart every day.

He heard a sudden crash from below him. He cringed and held his glass doll tighter to his thin chest. His real family, his flesh and blood family was as far from perfect as can be. His mom and dad yelled a lot. It was lucky that they were miles from the nearest house. No one heard all the screams coming from his house most of the nights.

Ever since his dad came back home a year ago, there had been constant yelling and screaming between his parents. He could hear his mother cry a lot. His father was either angry or very tentative towards him. One second he would be laughing and showing him how to control his toy car and the next, his father would yell at him to get up from the dirty floor.

He once heard his mom talking on the phone to a friend of hers about his father, about how he had PTSD. He didn't know what that meant, but it was something that was making the whole family miserable. His father had overheard her indiscretion and ripped out the phone cord from the wall and threw it in the garbage.

He heard his mother screaming again and another crash followed her voice. In the past month, all the plates and vases in the dining room had been broken. He sighed and buried his face into his doll's fragrant hair. She always smelled like wildflowers because he sprayed her hair with his mother's perfume.

There was laughter from his father but it sounded mean and sent shivers down his spine. He sometimes wished he were deaf, just to block them out. He didn't understand half of what they said but it always made his mother cry afterwards. His mother would then lock herself in her bedroom and his father would take the truck out and come back the next day.

"ASHLEY!"

He stilled; his small body tensing. This time, his mother's scream was different. It wasn't angry or hurt, it was filled with fear. He dropped his doll to the floor and scurried to his door. Cracking it open a few inches, he peered out cautiously. He could only see as far as the landing and the front of the door. For once, everything was quiet and he thought he might have gotten his wish and gone deaf except he could still hear the hum of the generator, the buzz of the low lights. He heard the door slam and a moment later the roar of his father's truck pervaded the silence.

"Mommy?" he whispered, too afraid to raise his voice. His father had slapped him the last time he had yelled out for his mother. His father had been holding him too tightly, frightening him so he had called for his mommy. When she had had seen the purple bruises in the shape of his father large finger marks on his upper arms, he had lied to his mother about it.

No answer.

He crept back to his room, closing and locking the door behind him. He crawled into bed with his glass doll, curling around it in the middle of his bed and closed his eyes. When he woke, he would see his mother again and she would nervously laugh away this night's ruckus like she always did. With that naive and comforting thought, he soon fell asleep, albeit fitfully.

Later in the night, he didn't hear the rumble of the car engine as it heralded it approach, nor did he hear the ominous squeaks on the stairs. It was the heavy breathing that woke him.

And through the night, the only thought that went through his mind was that no one could hear the screams coming from their house that night...

20 years later

They were the perfect family.

Ashleigh watched a little boy kicking around a red ball and laughing with a black furred dog. Their older sister was sunning by the pool, almost naked and it made Ashleigh gasp when she saw all that skin. It looked like the girl wore only a bra and panties. Ashleigh herself wore even more than that under her clothes. Their mom and dad were laughing and cooking on a grill. Ashleigh smiled when she saw the dad put some sauce on the mom's face and licked it away, making her laugh. The mom playfully pushed him away and he gave her a little pat on the butt. Ashleigh was scandalized ... and secretly tantalized.

One of the boys kicked the ball towards her, where she was hiding behind the white picket fence, hidden by the bushes on her hands and knees. She stilled, willing the boys not to come near her. Small little pebble dug into the soft skin of her knees and a, small waxy leaf tickled her nose. One of them ran towards her and grabbed at the ball. She slowly let her breath out when the little boy turned his back to her and ran back to his mother.

"Woof!"

Ashleigh squeaked, and then quickly covered her mouth with her pale fingers. A large, golden dog had shoved his head through the fence and was staring directly at her. It kept barking at her and Ashleigh scrambled back, crab walking away from sure discovery. The lace edging her dress caught on the fence and she whimpered at she struggled to free herself.

"Tommy, honey, go free Sugarcoat. He's got his head stuck again." The mother's voice only further urged Ashleigh's struggle with her dress, with no avail. She pulled on the fabric, not caring now if it ripped and she got into trouble with her father. Suddenly, the barking dog was pulled away, only to be replaced by a chubby, impish face.

Ashleigh brought a finger to her lips, her eyes silently imploring him to keep quiet. The little boy looked at her in awe, and then grinned. He was missing a front tooth, which only made him look all the more adorable. He nodded enthusiastically and she took that to mean he understood that he was to keep quiet. The young boy brought his chubby finger to his lips and echoed her actions. Ashleigh offered him a tentative smile. He backed away slowly, never letting his eyes leave her.

Ashleigh gave her dress a final tug, ignored the ripping sound, and clambered onto her feet. She looked back and saw the boy had disappeared. She ran back the way she came, going into the forest that surrounded the little family's home. She had traveled through this forest for the last five years, coming to visit and spy on the family. This was the first time she had ever been seen and Ashleigh hoped the boy told no one. Her heart was still pounding as she ran over the rough tracks. Her thin slippers did nothing to protect her feet from the hard rocks and twigs scattered on the ground. Ashleigh slowed down after she almost twisted her ankle. It wouldn't do to have her feet swollen or her father would ask questions that she rather wouldn't answer.

Today was town day, when her dad went into town to get groceries and new books for her. It was also when he picked up new orders and delivered the ones he had finished. He was a doll maker and he sometimes let her help make the doll's pretty little dresses, so much like her own clothes. They made anyone who wore them look like a princess, not that she had seen anyone but herself dressed in them. Her father always told her she looked like a princess. Ashleigh stopped and looked down at herself.

She was too old to be a princess. Her twelfth birthday had passed last month. She had asked her father to take her into town for her birthday present but he had, for the first time in her life, raised his voice at her. He had yelled at her, told her that there were evil people in town, people who would take her away. She didn't ever want to be taken away from her father so she hugged him and hadn't brought it up again.

But she so wanted to. Her father went into town and he came back perfectly safe. So why couldn't she? What made her so susceptible to the danger her father warned her against?

She walked slowly until she came in view of the blue and white house that she lived in. It had been a slow five miles from that other family house, but she didn't mind the long walk. By the time she changed into another dress and washed away the streaks of dirt on her legs and arms, her father's old station wagon came into view. She went outside to greet him with her customary hug and kiss.

"Did you have a nice day, princess?"

Ashleigh thought about that little boy, his little smile at her and she nodded her head vigorously. Outside of her father and an occasional dream, that was the only contact she had had with another human being. She wanted so badly to tell her father about the little boy and his family but she feared his reaction. So she lied.

"I had a wonderful time reading Alice in Wonderland. I think it would be amazing if that happened to me, don't you think father?" Ashleigh was imagining going down a rabbit hole just like Alice and falling into that other family's life. Oh, how different and wonderful it would be!

Benjamin Unger frowned at his daughter's words, hearing wistfulness in her voice that bothered him. With a gentle finger, he tilted her face up to his.

"And if that happened to you, would you stay down there in that rabbit hole?"

Bemused, Ashleigh pulled back and twisted her hands in the pastel fabric of her skirt.

"Of course not. Alice woke up after all. It was just a dream, right? You always have to go back to real life right?"

Benjamin narrowed his eyes but nodded in agreement. "Yes, just a dream," he echoed.

It was foolish to long for a family like the one the one she had seen today. She had a wonderful family of her own but she longed for a little boy and a dog to play with. She longed for a mother that moved and talked like her and her father.

"I have a surprise for you," Benjamin said with a smile. Pulled from her turbulent thoughts, Ashleigh looked inquiringly at the closed doors on his station wagon.

"Why don't you come have a look and say hello?"

Her curiosity piqued, Ashleigh peered through the darkened passenger window and saw a beautiful blond woman. Benjamin reached over her shoulder and pulled open the door, then helped the woman get out. He kept his arm around her as he guided her left hand to Ashleigh.

Ashleigh took her cool hand and shook it, keeping her eyes lowered.

"Say hello to Marylyn, your new mother." Ashleigh took the woman's cool hand and shook only once before pulling it behind her. Benjamin smiled in approval. "Marylyn, this is your daughter Ashleigh and this is your new home," Benjamin said as he turned his new wife around to face the house. He talked to his new wife as if she could understand, or even reply.

Ashleigh kept quit as she followed the couple, absently listening to her father familiarize his wife to her new abode. This was her fourth "mother" and Ashleigh knew she would be just like the previous ones. She even looked like them; blond hair, glassy blue eyes, the same delicate features that faintly mirrored her own. This one would act like them too. Always still, always silent; nothing like the mother from that other family.

After a short tour, Benjamin seated his wife at the dining table. Ashleigh took the seat opposite hers. Benjamin told them that it would take only a few minutes to get dinner ready and he exited the room with a parting smile.

For some reason, Ashleigh had never felt comfortable around her mothers. Well, not since that incident. She supposed there had been a time when she hadn't noticed or cared that none of her mothers ever moved. Like the plastic dolls her father bought her, Ashleigh remembered playing with her mothers. When her father left for town, she would move and position her mothers like she did her dolls. Play tea with them, make up stories with them and even cuddled up to them when she was feeling sleepy. But gradually she became bothered by the leathery softness of their skins, comparing it to her own skin. Their blank stares haunted her, seemingly looking through her and at her at the same time.

When she was eight years old, she had been cutting flowers with a real scissors. Her father had forbidden it, but she had figured with her mother there it would be okay. One careless snip and Ashleigh had cut off three of her mother's fingers. Horrified, Ashleigh braced herself for a scream but everything stayed quiet as always. There had been no blood either, like when she got paper cuts or scraped her knees. There had been a weird substance inside of her mother's skin but Ashleigh hadn't lingered in her bedroom long. Her father had found her that evening with tears streaming down her ashen cheeks, sitting out on the porch. He had muddled through her incoherent babbling but once he saw what she had done, he had locked her in her room and taken her mother away.

For the next month, he wouldn't speak to her about what happened to her mother. Then out the blue, he came back one day from town with her second mother in two. At first, her childish eyes had seen her mother whole and healthy until upon closer look she saw it was an entirely different woman. Her father expected her to treat the new woman the same as her previous mother. He had explained that her other mother was broken and couldn't be fixed, so she had a new mother.

The next two mothers had also broken. Well, that was the story her father told when the old ones disappeared. Ashleigh hadn't spent much time with her new mothers after that incident so she assumed her father had accidently broken her mothers. She wondered if that other family got a new mother every few years. But, unlike the women her father brought, that other mother moved without any assistance and talked, too.

"Well, I put together some spaghetti and meatballs. I hope you two like it." Benjamin came in bearing a large platter of steaming spaghetti in one hand and a bowl of salad in the other. Ashleigh quickly hurried to help him set the table and he smiled his thanks. Her father served the food, placing a large amount on Ashleigh's and Marylyn's plate before serving himself.

"Time for prayer," Benjamin intoned as he took his wife's still hand in his right and Ashleigh's warm on in his right. Ashleigh reached over and took her new mother's other hand to complete their circle. Ashleigh peered up at the woman as her father finished with an Amen.

Only Ashleigh's voice echoed the Amen. She ate in silence as Benjamin talked to his wife. He talked about Ashleigh, what she liked and what she didn't like. He talked about how happy he was she was here, completing their family of three. He told her how lovely she looked and how much both he and Ashleigh were going to love her. Ashleigh couldn't help but wonder what that other family was doing right now. Having dinner, maybe. The mother and father would be talking like her father and mother, except the mother would respond back. She would laugh at something one of sons did and maybe feed that dog.

After only a few bites, Ashleigh pushed her chair back and stood. "Father, I'm full. Can I go to bed now?"

Benjamin nodded, waving her away. Ashleigh walked to her father and kissed him goodnight, then walked over to her mother. When she kissed Marylyn's soft cheek, she whispered "Goodnight mother. I hope you stay longer than my other mother," in a manner so that Benjamin could not hear.

She quickly dressed for bed in a white night rail with lace at the throat and wrists. Feeling a little hot and stifled, she pulled open the only window in her room and breathed in the cool night air. She looked down, gauging the distance from her window to the ground beneath her. What if she were to climb down and head back to that house? She felt her breath stutter in her chest and her fingers twitch, almost as if her body were reading itself to jump and run away from here. She just wanted to see them again, see that little boy again.

Her ears perked when she heard the low murmurs of her father outside her door and she quickly sprinted to her bed. Crawling under the covers, flopped on her stomach and hid her face in the pillows. The door creaked open and a moment later she felt her father's hand brushing through her hair.

"Goodnight Ashleigh. She looks so innocent, doesn't she Marylyn? So beautiful. Just like the doll I used to have when I was younger."

Ashleigh let her breath out slowly and then breathed back in, trying to maintain a steady rhythm. She didn't know why she played this game, but she just did. She felt another hand on her hair but it just passed over her hair. The fingers didn't curve around her skull like her father's did and it just exerted a limp pressure on the back of her head.

Ashleigh left her father move away and she cracked open her eye to see what he was doing. His shadowy figure moved to the open window then carefully closed it. She frowned when he reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. A little frown marred her face when he used the key to turn the small lock on the window. He had never done that before.

She closed her eyes again as he stood over her again, looking down at her prone figure.

"Always come back to me from the rabbit hole, Princess."

With that whispered command, he pulled Marylyn from the room and left.

As soon as she heard the door to her father's room close, she jumped out of bed and went back to her window. Her thin arms struggled with the window, but it didn't bulge. Letting out a frustrated sob, she rested her hot forehead on the glass window pane. Catching sight of her flushed reflection, she saw a pretty little girl, with curly blond hair and porcelain skin. Looking out, she wondered if anyone else could see what she saw: a pretty doll trapped in her dollhouse.

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