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The Dream Boyfriend List

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Charlotte hated confessions.

Confessions were either horrible or romantic, and always highly unpleasant. If the confession was horrible, that meant she would be in mortal danger and must rescue herself like the independent woman she was; and if it was romantic, she would be forced to deliver her carefully constructed and never-before-used vehement rejection.

…okay, fine. Charlotte loved confessions. Confessions were the plot twists of life! They made life happen. One moment you were just sauntering along, thinking about how horrid poor people were, and then the next moment BAM! a brooding young man with windswept hair and agony in his eyes and full marks on the “dream boyfriend” list (brooding, sarcastic, kind of a jerk, penchants for crime and vowing revenge) was soulfully pouring out his heart to you. And suddenly Charlotte Bronte, writer of novels and sewer of dresses, was Charlotte Brontë, knower of the horrendous murders her lover committed in her name and planner of his escape from the law and their subsequent elopement (it would fail, of course; she would be shot in a fit of rage by a jealous constable and left to die gracefully in her lover’s arms as he vowed to avenge her sacrifice).

In a word, Charlotte liked confessions. Especially if it meant knowing something others didn’t. Extra-especially if so-called authors (was Dostoyevsky really an author if he wrote in Russian? Real literature was in English, with just enough gratuitous French to keep the lower classes from reading your books) were dropping dead all around you.

Charlotte had decided that four people were more than enough to capture Annabel (which was a waste of time, of course, though the others didn’t know that and Charlotte didn’t plan on telling them anytime soon), and was sitting in the kitchen helping herself to some wine. She was just pouring out her third glass when someone burst into the kitchen from seemingly nowhere.

She shrieked and threw her glass in the air; it landed with a crash on the tile floor as the newcomer hissed at her to be quiet.

“Be quiet?” she repeated, so loudly he winced. “You’re telling me to be quiet? Why don’t you try opening the door like a normal person?”

“Elevator doors are noisy,” he replied.

Charlotte rolled her eyes. “What are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be lurking about the house?”

“I was,” he said, lowering his hood, “which is how I ended up killing Annabel.” He held out his gloved hands and cracked his knuckles. “She is surprisingly brittle.”

A horrible confession! The writer in Charlotte positively quivered with excitement, though outwardly her only acknowledgement of his statement was a elegantly-arched eyebrow. “Killing Cinderella wasn’t ever part of the plan, was it?”

He shrugged. “Eh. I’m just going with what I’ve got.”

“So I’ve noticed.” Charlotte eyed the wine bottle and wondered whether it would be too plebian to drink directly from it. “Poe is going to be a nightmare after this, you know.”

“He already is a nightmare. Have you seen that lump of hair he calls a mustache?”

“True.” She decided that desperate times called for desperate measures and took a swig from the bottle. “What’s the point of all this, anyway? We’re going to an awful lot of trouble.”

“Are you complaining?”

Charlotte smirked. “Not at all. Thanks to you I can keep my family home. But you must admit it’s a little strange.”

He shrugged again. “I’m a strange person.” He took a step forward, took her free hand in his. “Do you think we might run away together when this is over?”

She looked him up and down, lips pushed out in thought. Here was a romantic confession (sort of), thus presenting her with the perfect opportunity to use her prepared rejection…but he really was her type. He checked off almost everything on the “dream boyfriend” list: brooding, sarcastic, kind of a jerk. He even had a penchant for crime!

Of course, it wouldn’t do to give in so easily, so she tossed her head and did her best to look unimpressed.

“That depends,” she said, and asked the one question that remained unchecked on her list. “Are you the type to vow revenge?”

His eyes glittered.

“My dear Charlotte,” he said, bringing her hand to his lips and kissing it, “what do you think this is all about?”