xx ╒═══════════════════╕ there's a saying that goes: ❝matched hearts are connected by a thread.❞ and maybe they are?... sometimes you have to tie the knot yourself. ╘═══════════════════╛ ..1x1 between growl and katkami.. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ xxxxxLily typed a quick message to Mrs. Malloran: I've got Max! We're headed home now. She hit send and glanced over her phone at the chubby-cheeked seven-year-old. "Okay, Max," she said, "Let's go home. Do you know the way?" xxxxxThe boy nodded and grabbed onto her hand, tugging her away from his school with surprising force. Lily had already been to the Malloran residence before, but she was still rocky with the directions. She shrugged her bag back onto her shoulder as they speedwalked past the park and made a turn onto a different street. She'd only picked up this babysitting job because once she split up the money from her night shifts at the music store between all her college student expenses, she was left with just enough cash left for a cup of instant ramen every night. At least the kid didn't seem all that bad. They made another turn, and Lily frowned. She was familiar with this road, and she was pretty sure this wasn't the way to the Malloran's. xxxxx"Um, Max? Where are we..." The boy didn't pause, just squeezed her hand and continued dragging her along. Well, he seemed confident in where he was headed. Lily observed their surroundings. Yes, she was quite sure she had passed through here multiple times. A pair of elderly women walking in the opposite direction smiled thinly at her before bending their heads towards each other. She couldn't help the feeling that she was being judged. Oh god, did they think she was Max's mother?! xxxxxThere was no time to worry about this because when she looked further up the street, realization dawned on her. The boulevard where her music store was located was just the next block over, and this was definitely not the way to the Malloran's. "Max, where are we going?" Lily repeated, her tone harsher this time. Max turned and stared up at her with innocent eyes. xxxxx"We're going to get cake." xxxxx"Max! Your mother wants us to go home so you can do your homework!" xxxxxLittle Maximus Malloran shrugged, not once breaking stride. "I can do it while we're eating cake." xxxxxLily wrestled with arguments in her head as Max pulled her onward, oblivious to her plight. Max's mother probably thought they had arrived safely at her home by now! She had just lied to her employer! But Lily was going to be spending every weekday from three thirty to six forty-five with this adorable kid, and she wanted him to like her. Besides, fifteen minutes at a cake shop wouldn't be that risky, right? They were well within the boulevard now, and nearing the music store. Lily was surprised when they stopped right outside Beatflection. But no, they were on the wrong side of the street. Max looked up at her again, saying, "I went here on my birthday!" Lily craned her head back, only catching the word Marcie's in gold lettering above the shop before she was inside, and the door swung closed behind her. The smell of confection sugar and coffee hit her right in the face. Max finally let go of her hand and ran up to the counter, pressing his forehead against the glass. She wiped her hand on her jeans and followed, her short heels clicking against the floor. There were pretty baked treats lined up in rows for you to choose from, and she had to admit that they looked appetizing. Max touched her arm and pointed vigorously at some small cakes with drippy yellow icing. She sighed and dug out her wallet from her bag, turning to the clerk with a weary smile. xxxxx"Can I have one--" Max touched her arm again and held up two fingers. "I'm sorry, can I have two of those please?" She motioned at the cakes that Max was still pointing at.