The necklace she had gotten from her mom fell away from her neck and dropped to the carpet. Her neighbor dropped the knife he had been holding and stepped back to watch with a smile.
She was frozen in shock. She saw now what had been hidden inside the necklace and wished that she had spoken to her mom when she had the chance. She had never been close to her.
Daisy Shaw had a troubled childhood. Born in Little River, California, her parents divorced when she was only three.
She and her mom moved into a studio apartment in Los Angeles. Daisy’s mom, twenty-nine at the time, fell into severe depression and substance abuse. Sometimes her disorders deterred her from being the best mom in the world.
Daisy used to report to school malnourished and tired. When it became clear what her mom was doing to her, Child Protection Services moved her into a foster home.
She grew up a shell of her bubbly seven-year-old self. The only reminder of her old life was her mom’s antique locket. She blamed herself for the family tragedy, and soon the blame became something worse.
Daisy developed an intense hatred toward her mom for ruining her childhood. She saw kids with their parents enjoying boat rides and picnics. She watched families go to fairs, and girls her age attend prom.
She felt nothing when news of her mom’s passing reached her. Her childhood was a blur, and she loathed her mom for it. This hatred burned hotter every day, but it wouldn’t stay for long.
Daisy met Klaus, a young London author, on her twenty-seventh birthday. Klaus lived next door, and every night, the aroma of his cooking made Daisy wish they were friends.
Klaus was a fascinating guy. He constantly walked around in a leather jacket despite the Los Angeles heat. Daisy knew she liked him. But if she knew better, she should’ve kept her distance.
As someone shaped by the aftermath of a nasty divorce, Daisy had sworn off all kinds of intimacy. But with Klaus, she wanted to risk everything.
Klaus described her necklace as an enthralling piece of jewelry. Daisy told him it had stayed around her neck since she was three. She felt at ease talking to him. But she didn’t know he was slowly burrowing into her head.
That night, Daisy dreamt of Klaus. She had never connected with someone the way she had with him. She wondered if this existed between her mom and dad before they divorced.
She bumped into him in the hallway in the morning. “Can I take you out for some tea?” Klaus asked. Daisy laughed at the invitation, telling him no one in the 21st century drank tea. How did he feel about coffee instead?
Daisy enjoyed her first date so much that she asked Klaus for another. The second date blew the first out of the water. The many that came after were past perfect.
Daisy was falling for Klaus. He would say anything, and she would laugh. He would be sad, and Daisy’s heart would crack into a million pieces. She remembered she’d once sworn off intimacy. She was in big trouble.
That night, Daisy assessed her feelings for the boy next door. She’d known him for a year now, yet those twelve months felt like a lifetime.
Daisy had seen what her parents’ divorce did to her mom. She feared history repeating itself. She hoped Klaus would give her more time to think things over, but he surprised her with a question that left her cornered.
Although Daisy and Klaus had been going out for more than a year, the two never really sat down to define the parameters of their relationship. Daisy knew what Klaus wanted. Deep down, she shared the same feeling.
But at the same time, she’d seen what commitment could do to a person. She sat through the day trying to figure out the best way out, not knowing that Klaus was onto her.
For the longest time, Klaus had talked about wanting to have a serious union with someone he felt close to. Although he never tried to pressure Daisy into anything, it was clear that he was talking about her.
But Daisy was still stuck in the nightmares of her past. What if she accepted to build a life with Klaus? That would be one step away from suffering the same fate that her mom did.
Daisy was still thinking things through when Klaus came to her door. His knock was gentle, as it had always been through the many months they’d been together.
He called out when she didn’t answer, a palpable panic in his tone. He knocked again, and when Daisy kept mum, scared by the prospect of surrendering herself to another person, he let himself inside the house. What he found made him take a step back.
Since moving from London to Los Angeles, Klaus had experienced the best year of his life. He came from an ordinary family, with his dad working as a butcher and his mom a doctor. Some of his siblings were all married and working, and others were still in school.
After finishing grad school, Klaus wrote contemporary fiction that won him several awards. He decided then that he’d forge a career out of writing. But the road wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
Klaus spent many months in London trying to write an excellent sequel to his first book. But everything he put out never made it to publication, with his editors claiming he didn’t quite capture the magic of the first novel.
A loner and introvert, Klaus felt he needed to find new experiences in the world to fuel his stories. It had been a while since he traveled out of the city. This would be the perfect chance for him to kill two birds with one stone.
Klaus consolidated all his projects into a work-from-home model, renewed his passport, and left London. He’d always heard great things about Los Angeles and knew something special awaited him there.
But although he’d leave on the premise of finding a great story to propel him back to stardom, he’d find something more: a beautiful dark-haired American girl with the most stunning necklace he’d ever seen.
The meeting between Klaus and Daisy was not a chance meeting. He’d seen her on the second stay in his new apartment. She was a quiet girl who was always alone.
Although she occasionally smiled, primarily to herself, Klaus couldn’t help but wonder why he never saw her with anyone. His fascination and curiosity would threaten to eat him alive.
Among the first things the Londoner noticed about the girl, alongside her square jaw and exquisite neck, was her antique necklace. She always wore it even if it didn’t match her outfit, and it didn’t take Klaus long to realize it held a sentimental value to her.
But although he wanted to talk to her, make friends, and perhaps get close to the necklace, he didn’t know how to begin. But fate had already set things in motion.
Klaus used to wake up each morning at six and prepare a full English breakfast. Before toasting his bread and tomatoes, he’d start with black and white pudding, beans and mushrooms, sausages, and eggs. He’d follow with a fresh cup of brewed coffee and finalize with some squeezed orange juice.
The apartment would be a fusion of mouthwatering aromas, all mingling with each other as the early morning sun shone through his windows. He had no idea he was the only one smelling the fantastic food.
One fine morning, Klaus heard a knock on his door while handling the coffee-making potion of his breakfast marathon. He wiped his hands and hurried over to open it, almost falling back when he saw her.
She was still in her pajama bottoms and a pink Hello Kitty shirt, and her hair was up in a messy knot. She waved at him with a scowl and walked into his kitchen.
That dramatic entry was when Klaus knew he needed this girl in his life. He didn’t even know her name, yet he felt suffocating at the thought of not seeing her again.
She started talking to him, her hands animated as she complained about something. His ears were ringing and his eyes blurry. What was going on? Had he done something to anger her?
The girl wrapped her fingers around her necklace and held it around her lips. She stared at Klaus for a while before asking, “Well, can I?”
“Excuse me, what?” Klaus finally found his words. The girl explained that she was tired of waking up every morning to the smell of great food, which she couldn’t enjoy. She was here to put an end to it by eating everything.
“Of course,” Klaus fumbled, hurrying to serve her a generous plate. “Gorge yourself,” he added with a smile, still trying to wrap his mind around everything happening.
He expected the breakfast to be awkward, especially since he rarely hosted anyone. But the girl, whose name he learned to be Daisy, was the easiest person to talk to. He had to ask her out.
Daisy heard Klaus knock on her door, panic in his voice as he called her name. When he walked into her apartment, he found her trembling on the couch, her fingers wrapped around her mom’s necklace.
He hurried to her, asking what was happening. But Daisy couldn’t speak. She tried to form words, but her tongue couldn’t move. She felt like her lungs and heart were suffocating. That’s when Klaus sprang into action.
Klaus rushed to Daisy, wrapping his arms around her. He soothed her until her panic attack abated. She still held her mom’s necklace in her hand. It felt heavier than usual.
She held it close to her chest, wishing she could talk to her mom. The hatred she’d once felt was replaced by loss. But when she settled down, Klaus came to his feet and left without saying a word.
Daisy sat alone for minutes, thinking about how the last year had meant so much to her. The man next door had given her everything, happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging. He’d shown her he was ready to build a life with her.
Although it was late at night, she marched to Klaus’ door. She knocked, and he opened. “We need to talk,” she whispered.
Daisy stepped into Klaus’ apartment. He had lit a few candles around the living room and set the table for two. “Sit,” he urged.
Daisy sat, and Klaus went in and out of the kitchen. A knife gleamed in one of his hands. On the other was a red velvet cupcake. “What’s this?” Daisy asked.
Klaus pointed at Daisy’s necklace. She trailed her finger against its warm metal. “Open it,” he said. “What?” asked Daisy. “It’s a locket. Lockets hold gifts, no?” Klaus answered.
He slid the knife down the cupcake, bringing it to Daisy. “I know it’s not your birthday, but I’ve had these candles lit for hours now, waiting for you to come,” Klaus said. He cut the necklace off Daisy’s neck.
The cake-stained knife tipped out of Klaus’ hand. It landed next to the opened necklace. Beside it was a sparkling ring. Klaus went to his knees, “I hid it in your necklace on our last date.”
His doe eyes gleamed beautifully in the candlelight. “Daisy Shaw, will you marry me?” he asked, his lips curling. Daisy was left without words.
She stood frozen for minutes. She didn’t blink or take a breath. She’d come here to tell Klaus she wanted to build a life with him. She’d fallen in love with him.
And here he was, on one knee. He was a step ahead in this dangerous game they were playing. “Will you marry me?” Klaus repeated, worry flashing across his face.
Daisy remembered her parents. Her past ruined her life. Would she let it wreck this happiness she’d found too? She’d found someone who cared for her as much as she did him.
She took a step forward, her heart pounding in her chest. Her knees felt weak, and she almost stumbled. “Klaus,” her voice was small. Tears covered her sight, “Yes. Yes, I will.” Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.