To Kiss a Toad — Brandann R. Hill-Mann

This story made the rounds until I decided I would publish it here. It’s a fun story that I enjoyed writing after discovering a toad taking refuge in the cat shelter I’d put in our backyard. I named him Trevor, but for fairly obvious reasons, I changed it in the story. I hope you enjoy it!


Their eyes met over the threshold as Kahrin came up the entryway stairs, hers narrowed and suspicious, his focused and judgmental. Or she thought so. How did you know if a toad was judging you? They sort of made only the one face, with their mouths in a permanent frown, their lips pinched with that smidge of overbite. He looked like a little grandpa. Kahrin assumed anyhow, having never met her grandparents. 

“He’s been there how long?” Innes asked over the phone, his voice heavy with the fog of morning that followed a pleasantly stormy night. No doubt with the cute little redhead she saw follow him up the stairs to his side of the townhouse.

“Maybe since last night?” Kahrin couldn’t be sure. “I wasn’t exactly clocking his movements.” She crouched, getting closer to the toad’s eye level. “He was here when I went for my run, and he’s still here.”

“It’s your long day, too, isn’t it? Why didn’t you call me sooner?”

Why? Well that was an interesting question, wasn’t it? Things in their lives never seemed to require questioning until they needed to be questioned, and by then the questions were usually starting to answer themselves. “I didn’t want to interrupt your date.”

A rustle over the connection. The scrape of skin against sheets. The sound of moving legs and unused feet popping under first steps of the day. “You know that’s not a problem.”

“She’s still there?”


“You always let them stay.”

“You never let them stay.” 

She scoffed. “I let you stay.”

“Because you’re usually here. You can’t kick me out of my own bed.” Her best friend’s voice warmed with affection. “Did you try kissing him?”

“Who?” Weren’t they just talking about his date?

Answering for himself, the toad croaked and she heard Innes chuckle on the other end. “Maybe he heard you’ll kiss anyone.”

“Ha, ha.” Oh, wasn’t he so funny? “You know that doesn’t work with me.” She pouted at the toad, unexpected sympathy squeezing her chest. “Sorry, little man. If you’re looking for help breaking your spell, you’ve come to the wrong maiden.”

He laughed again. “Let me get my guest on her way, and I’ll be right over.”

“Bring coffee. I really need it right now.”

“It’s not made yet.”

“Are you sure? Because I reset–“

“–Reset the timer. Of course you did.” She heard the click of his closet light. “You should try this new thing called making your own coffee.”

“That’s my coffee maker.”

That stymied what she was sure was a brilliant retort. “If you’re not going to kiss him, at least keep him company.”

As if he could see it, she lifted and dropped a hand at her side as the call disconnected. 

Fine. Since the odds of this giant of a specimen being a prince cursed by an evil witch was unlikely, there was no harm in keeping an eye on him. Although, meeting a unicorn, or befriending a siren were also unlikely events in a young woman’s life, and she’d managed to do both of those things.

“Just as well for you, little prince, as I’m uninterested in being swept away to a storybook ending.”

He croaked, admonishing her for it.

“Would you rather I string someone along?”

The toad waddled closer.

“He’s huge,” Innes declared, jogging up the stairs from outside in flannel pants that hung low enough to tease at that cut ‘V’ between his hips, and a shirt that hung wide, showing his collarbones. He smartly had a mug of coffee in each hand, one he offered to her right away. “I’ve never seen one that big.”

“Said every one of your dates when calling home.”

He nudged her with his hip before bending to pick up the toad. The toad stumbled in his little hoppy gait out of Innes’ reach. There he stopped, resuming his staring contest with Kahrin.

“What does he want with me?” She threw her hands up and groaned.

“To come in?” Innes said it so casually, like a toad coming over for coffee was a usual Sunday morning. In fairness, they’d had more unusual Sunday mornings.

“Not happening.” She flicked four fingers as one, directing their visitor to leave. “Shoo.”



Jude Accorsi was like someone out of the storybooks that lined Innes’ bookshelves. The ones with cracked spines and foxed corners because he went back to them when he and Kahrin needed a pick-me-up. Jude had sparkling blue eyes the color of ocean water she’d only seen in travel brochures, creased at the corners when he smiled, like he had a secret. His dark hair was swoopy as if it just grew in a way that begged Kahrin to run her fingers in it. Jude Accorsi came from old money that probably didn’t start in this country and had buildings with his family name on them. Everywhere he walked another woman and some of the men found themselves at his side, and while he was mannerly and polite, he didn’t spend too much time with any one. 

Not that Kahrin had been watching. She was bartending a party he hosted on the night after the toad showed up, in a beautiful gothic style banquet hall. She certainly did not have time to let her eyes linger too long when he walked past. He’d ordered his third Scotch before she figured out he was looking for an excuse to talk to her. Not that she’d been counting.

He ducked and peeked at her name tag, taking a stab at pronouncing it and getting it wrong. “Kahrin. I’ve never seen you before. Are you a new hire?”

She shook her head. Her cheeks burned mercilessly as she fumbled with tiny tongs in an attempt to fish the single ice cube requested for his drink. “I usually only do smaller venues.” She reached across the bar and set his glass on a cocktail napkin, then tipped up on her toes to close some of the disparity in their heights. “I’m not good at sharing.”

He smiled, lips crooked on a mouth that begged to be kissed and just enough facial hair trimmed around it that it might not be completely unpleasant. “Then why are you working my party? There’s half a dozen other waitstaff, all of whom I wager expect you to share tips.”

She lifted both eyebrows, inviting him to think on that before she answered. See if he could figure it out. “Do you know how much you’re paying me to be here?”

“I really don’t.” His laugh was rich, like the fancy wood you weren’t allowed to make furniture out of anymore. “Well, I’m glad to know I pay competitively.”

He looked at her as though he suspected she might turn into a mermaid, and it stole her breath. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish on a dock while she thought of something clever to say. “I don’t know about that,” she said with a grin that helped her feel less on her back foot. She wiped the bar for the third time since he picked up his drink. “But your HR didn’t question my erratic work history, so here I am.” She batted her eyes. “Enjoying the decor.” 

That smile lit up his whole face, and oh, wasn’t she a sucker for a pretty face? Flitting through them like a waiting room magazine until they were a blur of mornings and beds. “I’m sure we’ll meet again, Kahrin.” He said it right that time. 

Her tongue tried to poke between her teeth as she smiled. “I do know where they keep the liquor.” Leaning in conspiratorially, she added, “I hear there’s some stuffy rich guy drinking all the Scotch, so you’ll want to come back soon.” She swiped up the napkin he left behind, a little ivory square which almost joined the others in the waste bin. Until her eyes caught the phone number he’d scrawled across it.


Later that night, Kahrin had a roll of unreported tips in her pocket and a plastic to-go container that was nicer than some of the dishes she owned in her hands. It was stuffed with enough leftover party dessert to feed her for a week. She stopped halfway up the stairs to her side of the townhouse. There he was, her new gentleman caller, waiting on the doormat. 

“What do you want?”

The toad croaked, a little sound like he was choking on something. Probably his own tongue.

“You don’t want me,” she chided. “I don’t know how to take care of a frog.”

He croaked again in rebuke. He hopped a few inches closer to her door.

“Toad. Whatever.” She tried to shoo him once more. Unfazed, he remained, the bulbous pouch of his throat pulsing.

With a huff, she retreated back down the stairs only to turn up the matching set to Innes’ side of the townhouse. She didn’t bother knocking, letting the bounce of the door against the inside wall announce her entrance. 

“Do you know what pairs with leftover snooty rich people dessert?” she pitched her voice for him to hear as she closed and locked the door.

Innes, fresh from a shower, peeked over the second floor bannister. “I have half a bottle of pinot grigio.” He wadded and flung his bath towel at her. “Or pair it with naked best friend. What’s the lady’s preference?”

“Why is this an either or situation?” She toed off her work shoes, holding the container and rounding the kitchen island on the way to the fridge. Claiming the bottle of white wine, she backtracked, leaving a trail of clothes as she hurried up the stairs. “I already licked this pear brûlée.”


“What harm is it going to do if you just go out with him?” Innes’ arms locked around her waist hours later, pale against her brown skin, holding his mouth open expectantly for a bite of whatever was in a flourless chocolate cake that made it so damned good. Maybe it was the sex beforehand. Even though it was like that, they were never like that, and if you couldn’t scratch an itch with the best friend you trusted your whole life, then who could you?

Kahrin flew the plastic spork plane to the hangar that was his mouth, swooping it around to her own at the last minute. Delicious, and totally worth the poke to her ribs which was his retribution. This was more fun than a stare down with a toad.

“A man like Jude doesn’t dabble. I’m not a boyfriend girl.”

“Yes,” he said, using one arm to pin both of hers in place so he could take claim of the next bite of cake. “Handsome billionaires are well-known for their desires to settle down.”

“Shut up.” She wiggled in half-hearted attempt to escape his clutches. “They all marry and then pop out fat rich babies.”

“Prove me wrong. Go out with him. Just one date.”

Oh, now wording it like a challenge was just unnecessary. “This isn’t a fairy tale, Innes. This is real life, and things don’t work like that.” She surrendered the rest of the cake to him and just relaxed against his chest in the comforting circle of his arms. “Besides, he’s not my type.”

“You’re right.” Innes licked the spork clean in a distracting reenactment of something he’d done just minutes ago. “Handsome. I know how you hate that. He makes excuses to talk to you all night, while everyone else vies for his attention. Being center of attention always vexes you.”

She rolled her eyes, which he probably knew she was doing even if he couldn’t see it. “Are you so eager to get rid of me?” she flipped back to him. “Because if you’re tired of banging me, just say so. That’s not what our friendship is about.” Never had been. The physical element only existed as long as it made sense to them. They both knew that.

He laughed, rich and familiar, his bistre eyes dancing with mirth. Safe. Like a best friend should be. Never pushing too hard, except when she needed that push. Never holding her back, except when it came to life or death. But why was he pushing this particular thing? He’d never met Jude, and couldn’t know the way he looked ready to ride in on a horse and invite her to his castle, despite her never wanting a castle or a prince or a happily ever after, if such things existed. “Let your hair down, Rapunzel.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she grumbled, affectionately, sliding out of the bed. She wrapped the top sheet into a dress around herself, with a long train trailing behind her.

“This is not brand new information.” His hands raised as the bedding was pulled away, sending the spork clattering to the floor. “Where are you going with my sheet?” he demanded.

“Well, if I don’t do it now, you’ll never shut up, and it’s weird if I call him naked from another man’s bed.” She flung a length of the sheet over her shoulder, setting off on her quest to find her phone. 

Innes chuckled. “Oh, sure. That’s what’s weird in all of this.”


Five days and one date later, her eyes met the toad’s as soon as her vision crested the entryway stairs. She frowned, heeled shoes in one hand, an artfully wrapped tinfoil swan of leftovers in the other. “Don’t you eat? Have a little toad family somewhere, missing you?”

The toad wiggled closer and croaked. 

“I know, I know.” She imitated the little croaking sound, dropping her shoes to the doormat so she could pull her buzzing phone from her coat pocket. She already knew who it was before she answered. 

“Did he leave?”

She grinned, abandoning her mission of unlocking the door to turn and lean against it. “Innes Cameron! Are you spying on me?”

“Always,” came his instant reply. “It’s also hard to miss a car like that when your best friend gets out of it.”

She rolled her eyes towards the ceiling, the corners of her smile making her cheeks ache. “It is a little much, isn’t it? It doesn’t use a key. He just pushes a button.” She pushed away from the door so she could fit her key into the lock. Her eyes glanced from the toad and his admonishing gaze to outside where she could see the quiet street. “He offered to walk me up, but I said that wasn’t necessary.” 

“So, when I read those stories to you about courtly love, do you pay attention at all?” There was a hint of endearment in Innes’ rebuke.

“Maybe the magic of your stories just doesn’t work on me.”

“Now you’re making excuses.”

“I’ve forgotten what we’re talking about,” she lied.

“We were talking about Jude staying for breakfast.”

“Shut up,” she laughed, eyes rolling back under her lids. She jiggled the keys, finally getting the tumbler to turn. “I already have breakfast plans. With you. Like normal.” She swung the door inward, using a bare foot to kick first one shoe and then the other through it. “You’re out of cereal.” 

“That was your cereal; you left it here.”

“Yes, and you’re out.”

An exasperated sigh met her ear. “Look, you can still catch him. You never use your parking spot, so it’s not too late for him to come back. Invite him up. I’ll come over and make pancakes in the morning, and you’ll have to let me know if it’s for two or three.”

She groaned. Why was this so important to him? Her head dropped back as she took a breath, then lifted back into place. That’s when the toad made his move. “Hey! No! You can’t go in there!”

“That’s not a promising start to your night.”

Kahrin hustled in the door, holding her phone between shoulder and ear. “No, the toad! He just hopped into my house.” She tossed everything–keys, purse, tinfoil swan–onto the counter. 

“Now you have an excuse to call him back up.”

“What?” She stopped, eyes sweeping through the room, not finding the toad. She could, however, hear him. 

“Pretend you’re a hapless maiden who needs help catching a scary toad. Everyone knows that’s an invitation for sex. In this case, it also happens to be true.”

“That cannot be a thing.” Surely she’d have heard of such a ploy!

“My hand to God.” 

She pulled the door closed behind her and dropped to her knees so she could peek under the furniture. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

Innes imitated a sound like a crowd cheering. “He’ll get past the threshold, gentle audience,” he cheered in an announcer’s voice, their small town burr taking over his words. “But! Will he make it to breakfast?”

She wanted to be irritated, but all she could manage was resigned amusement. “I need two hands to handle this.”

“You said as much when we were seventeen on your davenport.”

“Hilarious.” A flit of wrinkly legs flashed from under one chair then disappeared. “I’ll call you back.”

“You better not. If you can work the phone, he’s doing something wrong.”

“Good night, Innes.”

“Good night, dear.”


“Is there really a toad?” Jude asked, walking around her living room with the mindful expression of someone trying not to step on something.

Before Kahrin could answer, the toad chirped out his creaky croak. She gestured in the direction of the sound with both hands.

“Okay.” He laughed. A nice sound she wanted to hear again, so naturally her mind went completely blank. “Let’s find a toad.”

Kahrin righted herself, pulling the hem of her stretchy dress back to a more dignified level of her thighs. “Why wouldn’t there be a toad?”

Jude paused in his search, now on hands and knees, and leaned up until he could see her over the back of the sofa. “You know?” She shook her head ‘no’. Except Innes had already explained it. She waited for Jude to explain it, just to make sure. “A woman who’s too shy to invite a guy up, so she makes up an excuse to need his help. Everyone knows there’s no mouse or bird or,” the toad let a long ‘ribbit’ that sounded like he was auditioning for the role he already had, “toad. You pretend to look for it for a little bit, then give up and start making out.”

Dammit! Innes was right! How did she not know this? Oh, because Kahrin was always direct and didn’t need to make excuses when she wanted to climb someone like a beanstalk. But Jude made her feel different with his slightly old fashioned manners and gentleness.

But that meant… “Wait,” she said, head tilted in curiosity. “So you didn’t think there was really a toad, but you came up here anyway?”

Using the back of the sofa, Jude pulled up to standing, his face a charming shade of cinnabar. “Maybe.”

“So… you thought I was inviting you up for sex.”

He lifted and dropped a shoulder, impossibly blue eyes watching her as she crept closer. “I wasn’t going to assume, but I was hoping I’d get a goodnight kiss.”

Wherever he was, the toad stopped chirruping, and was promptly forgotten. “You want to kiss me,” she teased in a singsong voice. “You could have just asked.”

“I know.” He was all toothy grin and crinkled eyes once more, reaching his hands out to her. “This seemed more fun.”

She nodded, letting him draw her to him as she tipped up onto her toes. “Yeah. It is.”

Somewhere, unseen, the toad croaked again.


The sun shone through the kitchen window, casting glimmering shadows about the room as it bounced off the drips of water sluicing off the overhanging icicles. It danced on Innes’ prematurely silvering hair as he sat at the breakfast bar, chasing bits of cereal through milk with a spoon. 

“All I’m saying, Kahrin,” he continued his lecture, lifting the bowl in both hands to his lips to tilt the milk back for a swallow, “is that it’s not so weird for people to take their boyfriends to social events with them.” Another sip found its way into his mouth, quieting him for a blissful moment. “Like their friends’ weddings.”

“First of all,” Kahrin crawled along the floor in her running bra and tights, “Jude is not my boyfriend.”

“The guy who’s had your parking pass in his car for three months and has his own coffee creamer in the fridge?” Innes pointed with his spoon. “That Jude?”

“He’s going to hear you!” She clambered forward, dipping her head down to look under the big armchair. The Prince–jokingly named by Innes–wasn’t in his tank. Two weeks after he’d stormed the gates, she’d bought him a perfectly good tank and made it all nice for him. Hhe never stayed in it. Every time she caught him, he would only escape again.

“Oh no!” Innes stood, clapping his hand to his mouth, his eyes wide with faux disbelief. He put his bowl the dishwasher. “What if he finds out you like him?”

“Oh my God,” she groaned as she rolled to sit back on her heels, whacking her head on the coffee table in the process. She rubbed at the sore spot and laughed, despite how pissed off she wanted him to think she was. “Will you stop?”

He crossed his arms over his chest, stroking his chin with thumb and forefinger. “You’re right! Maybe he hasn’t figured it out yet. I don’t want to give it away. I bet sleeping here every night for the last month, even though he has his very own floor in a condominium building, really threw him off.”

“You’re supposed to love me!” She sent a balled up sock arcing through the air towards Innes’ stupid handsome face, only for him to dodge it. The Prince croaked from the other side of the room and she scampered on hands and knees towards it before flopping flat to the ground to peek under the sofa. “If I take Jude to the wedding, who’s going to go with you?”

“Don’t make this about me,” he chastised, affection obvious. “I do love you. That’s why I don’t want you to be scared of this.”

“Aha!” she called out, her hands around the toad’s fat bumpy brown body, his legs flailing about to get traction on nothing. He croaked, choking on the sound. “I’m not scared.”

Innes’ dark brows rose, his disbelief obvious. “Then why haven’t you told him how you feel about him?”

She glared. “Because then they would be called ‘talkings’, and not ‘feelings’, wouldn’t they?”

The flick of Innes’ eyes to the stairs told her Jude was coming down. “Kahrin, I can’t find my keys and I’m running late.” She chose to take that as a compliment.

“Did you put them in the key spot?” 

“Of course I did.”

In her haste to turn about, The Prince wriggled free from her hands and leapt to the floor. He hopped the space to Jude, the bubble of his throat fluttering as he chirped, and veered away from his bare feet at the last moment to dart under the sofa once more.

“Maybe he’s jealous,” Innes suggested, nodding towards the space where the toad had disappeared.

“Why?” Jude leaned across the counter and took a sip from Innes’ coffee mug. “Because I get to kiss the princess and he doesn’t?”

In that moment, something clicked into place in her mind. Would it be so bad, having a boyfriend? After all, Jude already seemed to fit with the most important person in her life, as if they were old friends. Wasn’t that the goal? To find someone who fit the life you already had?

“The only reason to kiss frogs,” she called from the floor once again. Under the sofa, The Prince croaked, “Toad. Whatever. The only reason to kiss one is if you want to fuck a toad. Plus, I’m no princess.”

“That is a matter of opinion, right?” Jude said to Innes, who threw his hands up in the universal signal of don’t involve me in this. 

Her eyes fell on the dongle of Jude’s keys near the foot of the sofa, which she could swear was not there moments ago. The toad hopped neatly into her lap, forfeiting the game of hide and seek.

“He’s not jealous; he’s helping.” Proving her point, she lifted the toad to face level and planted a kiss upon his grumpy little old man mouth. “Still a toad! Now, Jude, what are you doing Saturday? We have this dumb thing to go to, and Innes is too good to be my date.”

“Are you inviting me to that wedding with you? I didn’t think that was part of our arrangement.” The slight narrow of his eyes conveyed his teasing.

“That sounds like something you do with a boyfriend, hm?” Innes added. So helpful, her best friend!

“It really does,” Jude agreed.

Kahrin rolled her eyes, conceding the argument. “Fine. Yes, Jude. You’re my boyfriend and I’m inviting you to a wedding. Whatever. Don’t make a big thing of it.”

Unfolding her legs to stand, Kahrin walked to The Prince’s tank, passing both insufferable men. The toad let a choked croak once more, this time expelling a smooth, dark brown stone from his mouth.

No one spoke for several heartbeats, and a panicked look flitted from Kahrin’s eyes to Innes’. The next thump of her pulse, she forced a laugh. “Well, that’s gross.”


“It’s a toadstone,” Innes announced, that confidence of authority on the topic built over years of reading fairy tales and folk stories clear. He leaned forward, looking at her over his reading spectacles, sliding what was essentially a children’s picture book toward her. A creepy, old-timey print of an engraving showing a man pulling brown stones from the head of a giant toad took up the top of the page.

“Oh, of course. How silly of me.”

“Fine. Be droll.” He poked his tongue at her. “They’re protective charms. People thought they cured effects from poison.”

Kahrin leaned her chin on both fists. “Did you learn that in medical school?”

He poked his tongue at her. “Not exactly. That’s not really standard practice anymore.” 

“Thank goodness for that. I bet you have to believe in them for them to work.” She drummed her fingers against the counter and let her eyes fall upon The Prince. He chittered away in his enclosure, throat bulging with each sound. His tank now boasted a brick on the screened lid to thwart his escape artist tendencies, though Kahrin could not explain how he still escaped. “That doesn’t clear up what happened.”

“I think you broke a spell.” Ah, yes, these were indeed normal conversations all friends shared over beer at night, weren’t they?

She sipped her beer. “Right. Silly of me.” Her lips pressed into a tight smile. Magic, fairy tales, charms. That he believed in them so ardently was part of what she loved about him, even if she could not see the proof herself.

“Usually. Maybe it was a charm that you broke.”

She frowned. “A charm for what?” Why this toad? Why her?

“Maybe the toad is a metaphor,” he offered.

“I think it’s a toad.” She rubbed her finger against the glass of the tank and smiled at The Prince. 

“Maybe the universe wants you to be more open to new things.” He chucked her under the chin. “Or maybe the toad opened the door for someone else.”

Kahrin considered a moment, pushing the variegated stone around with the tip of her finger. She supposed it was pretty, and there was no harm in playing along. She looked at the toad. “Did you, and not my clever tongue, lure Jude here?”

The toad just continued croaking. 

“Maybe I’ll take it to my Dad next week and see if he can help me make it into a keychain. For Jude,” she added, hastily, and flushed, with an abashed smile. “You know, so he doesn’t keep losing his keys.”

“Right,” Innes agreed with the sage nod. He played along with her need to do this little dance. “For his keys.” Darting forward, he brushed a kiss to her brow. “Early day tomorrow. Movie, then bed, I think.”


“You look nice,” Innes cooed the next morning.

“I look pink.” Bridesmaid’s dresses were universally awful.

Innes chuckled, throaty and warm. “You know you can look nice in pink, right?”

Kahrin rolled her eyes and hopped off the last stair. She had to admit she didn’t look bad, but she was biased and aware she did the work the dress could not.

Innes stepped back, stroking his chin thoughtfully, his bowtie still undone and hanging about his neck. “I couldn’t be seen in public with you, but since I’m not your date…”

“Shut up.” She swatted at him, though any fierceness she attempted to put behind it was undermined by the dusting of pink across her brown cheeks. 

“I can’t! It’s my duty as your best friend to tease you for having a boyfriend!” He drew the final word out much longer than necessary, stretching it to far too many syllables.

She stepped forward, giving the ends of his tie a sharp and playful yank to get him to sit on the bar stool. She circled around behind him and draped her arms over his shoulders before she started to tie it at the only angle she knew how. “You’re lucky you’re pretty.”

“Ruggedly handsome,” he corrected.

She completed the task in silence while her stomach roiled with nerves. The word boyfriend sounded odd enough without adding Jude’s wealth and recognizable face to the newness. Though, she liked new. She liked exciting. She liked thrill. But this was all of those. Right?

Speaking of Jude. “What’s the time?”

Innes slid his phone from his tux jacket pocket. “Quarter past. He’s picking you up, right? If not, Emilia won’t mind giving you a ride.”

She left his tie at an angle just rakish enough to be adorable but not ragged. “That’s not necessary. Besides,” she hopped around in front of him, working to keep her concern from her face, “he has my flower crown.”

“I’ll give you my turn to choose the movie if you can get him to wear it without drinking.”

That wasn’t even a challenge, and she sealed it with a chaste kiss. “He has to show up first.” What if Jude changed his mind?

“Did you feed The Prince?” Innes asked.

“No! Thank you!” She hurried to get his grubs from the produce drawer as her phone started vibrating across the counter. “Can you get that?” She pulled a dish glove onto her hand before opening the toad’s tank. Far off in the distance she heard Innes answer the phone and she froze in place. Her eyes rested upon The Prince, sunny-side up with his feet in the air. Dead.



Their voices overlapped as she looked up to see her best friend holding her phone towards her. The grim look on his face answered her unspoken question. “There’s been an accident. Jude is… he’s dead.”

Copyright: B.R. Hill-Mann 2019

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