"Why do you hurry so?" a honey voice spoke low . "Why do you leave again?" Her eyes demanded an answer that I knew not. "Why do you tease me and deny me what I want? When only you can please me? All these years I have begged. Each incarnation of you refuses me all over again. Each night I come for you, you flee ahead of me, as if you sensed me near. How cruel you are. How long must I wait? How I have loved you all these years."
There was nowhere I could turn , her face before me no matter where I looked. And only sorrow and need was apparent in her eyes that melted my resolve to escape.
"Who are you?" My voice sounded loud in the hush of night.
"You can't say you don't remember me." Her voice held hurt and reproach as she paused to study me.
"Tell me your name."
"Tell me yours." There was a hint of mockery in her barely whispered reply.
"So many names, and still the same face. The same eyes. Still the same beauty. The name hardly matters. I have lost track of them all."
"How do you know me?" Why was I talking to this madwoman, this dangerous apparition? Her words were like a puzzle, or utter insanity. Still I could not walk away. She held me there before her now with just the intensity of her gaze, as if I were held by a magnetic force.
A laugh broke the silence between us.
"Really, my dear, you are refreshing. And your naivety reigns still, foremost in your psyche. " Her eyes slowly moved then from my face, raking down my body, inspecting me in a proprietary fashion. What was she implying? How dare she look at me so intimately? Make me feel so vulnerable? Worse was that everywhere her eyes traveled felt as if she caressed me with fingers and lips. I had to move away, sensing rapidly that I was loosing control of my will. I was mortified to feel sexual yearnings blossom under her sensuous onslaught, carried out only with her eyes, her nearness.
"I have to go." The fright I felt at her effect on me was evident in my voice.
"Where will you go that I won't find you?"
"I don't know. Please. I have to leave. I don't want this."
"You don't know what you want, sweet."
I stepped back suddenly, and moved to walk around her as she stood in my path.
"Wait. A kiss. "
Without my permission, without giving me the opportunity to refuse, her lips were on my own, her hand touching my face. If such was a kiss, I had never had one before. Though cold her lips, still were they soft, compelling. A sudden heat diffused through me, a heat of unexpected arousal and passion. My lips opened on their own accord to the slow caress of her tongue teasing my mouth, gliding languidly against my own. She acted with certainty , as if already familiar with every inch of me. I could feel myself getting weak, melting with a surge of desire that left me as breathless as her insistent kisses. I could not help but kiss her back, this woman who seemed to own my flesh.
I had never kissed a woman before. I would never kiss another man. What had been only awkward social maneuvering, the clumsy and intrusive kisses from the few men I had dated, became with her heavenly pleasure. Part of my mind demanded I stop, aware that what I was doing could not be real, that I could not feel so much in my very depths, from her pressed against me. Yet I did not stop her advances.
She herself finally moved slowly away, and left me standing there like some fool, my eyes closed, my lips parted, suddenly needy, deprived of an essential element like air, when her lips were gone. I opened my eyes as if coming awake, to find myself alone on the gravel road, with my home merely twenty steps away.
"What in the world?" I touched my lips that still tingled from her kisses, tasting her on my tongue. I spun around, but was very much alone. Only a faint scent of musk lingered in the night air. And my hardened nipples and the thrum of blood in my sex made me convinced that I had not imagined this most unsettling encounter.
So began the end of the life that I had known for twenty eight years. I had always been a studious bookish girl, an outsider, a loner. I had become a writer by trade, successful in my adult years. The fact that I had never experienced most of what I wrote, adventure and love, did not seem to matter to the public or my critics. I was a resounding success. Even if alone. I had resigned myself to be just an astute observer of the human condition, to never know love or pleasure and passion. I had found my own peace. Until that night. Until she kissed me.
She had disappeared as if she never happened. Still she remained with me. As the remnants of her visit, I was left with a hunger I had never felt before that had taken possession of me. Something so primal to my being had surfaced, that all I could think about was this dark haired woman. Her odd words should alone have frightened me off: talk of incarnations, claims that we had know each other, that she was searching for me. She was either mad, or I was. Or something had befallen me that I, in my rational mind, would not acknowledge as possible.
Perhaps she was just a dream? Was I ill? Had I succumbed to some bizarre mental illness that resulted in vivid hallucinations that I had experienced that night? I could not help wonder how long i had harbored desire for a woman. I shook my head at the notion that I had always been a lesbian. But then, why not? Perhaps my subconscious had chosen a dramatic way to demonstrate the obvious explanation as to why no man elicited a drop of passion, let alone interest, from my female body. There was, however, no doubt in my mind that what this woman, this apparition, had evoked from me was desire and arousal. And done with just one kiss. I was still reeling from the feel of her lips on mine, her breasts pressed against my own, the perfume that teased my olfaction. Her memory as well as her presence clearly had overcome whatever drop of common sense I ever possessed.
I simply wanted to see her again to understand her claims, her hold over me. She filled my dreams, teased me with arousing touches, tempting me with heights of pleasure I had only read about. Nights filled with thoughts of her left me exhausted by the morning, distracted such that my work suffered. What I imagined she could do to me became the subject of a few stories and poems, and only stirred my desire to understand what was happening to me even more. I found myself looking for her in the shadows at night. I laughed at my lame excuses to take late strolls by the lake. I was tempting danger. I was daring fate to prove to me if she were real or the product of an overactive mind. I was frustrated that she was nowhere to be found. Or was even her absence part of her scheme to make me bend to her will? Was she so confident that I would allow her further liberties, acquiesce to her demands?
It was late on the sixth night of my obsession with a woman I did not even know. Halloween was approaching. The trees had long ago shed their leaves, looking like gaunt skeletons in the moonlight. The chill in the air made me wear a woolen pea coat. Even my flannel slacks and sweater did not prevent the cold from seeping into my bones as I made my way back from town. I was in the habit of walking and found myself reflecting on my current life. The freedom of the country, with no long commutes in cars, trains and subways, the lack of crowds, the fresh air, the simplicity of life near the coast was all that I had dreamed of . The last months had been productive, peaceful here. Why New England had appealed to me was a question my family had asked me, when I left Baltimore alone for the small towns of Maine. Of course the ocean and the barren rocky cliffs were the focus of much of my childhood daydreaming, my imagined future home from which I would write wondrous novels. I had realized my wishes, being financially independent, an author of some note, free of social ties and obligations. The home I purchased beside the shores of a fresh water lake ringed by pines had delighted me. Life was perfect. I was more content than I had ever been, until she happened upon me. Now I was only alone.
I admit I was feeling sorry for myself, unaccustomed to such discontent. The house, as I approached, was lit for the night with yellow tones of welcome. My last few steps were quick ones, eager as I was to be warm. I closed the door securely behind me, rubbing my hands to improve circulation against the unseasonable cold. My coat was shrugged off and dumped unceremoniously on the hall chair. My attentions were turned to getting a fire started in the living room. Kneeling before the fireplace, crumbling paper and kindling, stacking cut dry wood, I was aware only of someone else in the room. I dropped the matches I held in my fingers as suddenly disconcerted I found I could not perform even that simple task. I did not need to turn around to know it was her. I could feel her eyes on me, and in response my mouth was suddenly parchment dry, my heart racing.
How long had she been here? What did she really want with me? How dangerous was she? There was no one I could call for help. In the heart of me, I knew there was no one to help me against whatever she represented. I was even more cold as I closed my eyes, waiting for what would happen next.
Long thin fingers stroked my hair gently to finally touch my cheek.
"Are you afraid of me still?"
"What are you afraid of?"
I did not like to be kneeling, defenseless on the floor before her. I rose slowly, braving myself to turn and inspect this woman who had invited herself into my home. My breath vanished as she met my eyes. Before me stood the most beautiful woman I could have imagined. In the lamplight, there was nothing frightening about her, except that she was in my home, looking at me as if she had every right to be doing so. She was elegant, tall and willowy. She was dressed in dark slacks and a loose silken shirt that hugged her body. Her face was etched with strong lines and dark coloration. It was her eyes that drew me most, old eyes that held knowledge few would achieve in a lifetime. There was sadness there as well, and the need I had sensed on the darkened path when I first saw her.
In truth I was not afraid of her. More was I resigned to the inevitability of what seemed to be happening to me. My reaction to her was as odd as anything else about these encounters.
She seemed to be able to read my thoughts without me speaking them. She smiled then for the first time. And with the smile, her eyes softened, making her even more lovely.
"Youd best light the fire. You are cold."
"Yes, I am chilled." I turned away to do as she bid, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for me to do. Somehow my hands worked the matches, and the tinder crackled briskly. A roaring fire was burning almost as if by magic, and I paused to rub my hands gratefully before the flames.
When I looked up, she was beside me, her face colored with orange gold, her hair shinning in the firelight. I sensed no menace from her.
"What do you want with me?"
"I dont want anything with you. I simply want you."
"You want me?"
"You arent surprised."
"Only puzzled as to what all this can mean."
"You still dont remember."
"Tell me who you are."
"I have tried so many ways, so many times. Nothing I have ever said made you believe me. Or convinced you of the rightness of what I ask. This time I do not want to talk."
"I want you to talk. Explain what this all means. Your words so far have only confused me."
"Exactly. So no more words. They have never been sufficient to convey what I must, all that I feel."
"Then what? Words are all that I have."
"So you have said."
"You dont know what I have said."
"As you say. But I have always been one to advocate action, not rhetoric."
"How else can two understand each other?"
"What is there to understand, that you would believe as true? You have not even imagined half of what exists in this world."
"I am not a fool. What I have not known personally, I have read about. And if not yet, I have wit to determine whether something is fact or fiction, if your intentions are good or evil. Tell me who you are."
"My intentions are best demonstrated. And they are very evil."
"Evil? You mean to harm me?"
"I mean to take you."
" Take me? And I have no choice? No place for free will between us?"
"You have had too many chances to deny me, to frustrate me, to keep me lonely and aching. I cannot allow it to happen yet again."
"Why do you talk of the past, when we have only just met?"
"I want you with me. An eternity without you, just a glimpse of you to taunt me, then to be cast off again by your principles, your willfulness...such torture for me. I cannot allow it to happen, I say."
"You know what is best for me?"
"You have me talking again. I will not engage in conversation. Not when the solution is so simple, so straightforward."
"What do you want? My company?" She laughed out loud at my question. I found myself becoming angry. "Sex? Is that what you want? You would force yourself on me?"
"I have never forced myself on anyone, least of all you. You want me to make love to you. You want to experience all that I can show you, give you. I have seen your dreams. Dont deny it."
"You know what I want, how I think, what I dream. And I know what? That you are at best a beautiful misguided woman. At the worst, you are a threat to me. You have insinuated yourself in my life, in my thoughts, in my soul. You have no right to trespass in my house or my body."
"I have the power to make you do as I say. I have the right to take what I want and need."
"You have no rights to me, not my time or my person, let alone my affections."
"So nobel. You have always been so nobel. So naive. So young."
"You look all of ten years my senior. Surely you overestimate your own insight."
"Ten years? I am tired of arguing with you. Undress. I want to see you."
"Go to hell!" I moved away from her and the fire.
"An entirely overrated destination. And empty of satisfaction and company without you beside me."
"Now you try to frighten me. Leave me. Go back wherever you come from."
"Not without you, sweet. I am tired and hungry. If truth be known, I am weary. I need you. Undress and bath yourself. Come to me in your chamber. I will be waiting."
"You will be waiting a thousand years before I do your bidding."
"Not another thousand years."
"Stop talking in riddles"
"Stop talking. I will take you here. It matters not. I was only thinking of your pleasure with my suggestion. "
"Dont touch me. Dont come near me. Or I will call the police."
"Woman, no police, or any man in this life can help you. With me you will experience pleasure not of this earth. You belong with me. You belong to me."
"I belong only to myself." I found myself shouting at her.
I had angered her with my questions, my challenges. In less than a blink of my eyelids, she was at me. My clothes were torn from my body, and she was pressed against me, her weight upon me. The cold of the hardwood floor made me hiss in anger and shock. I struggled against her, until I forgot everything I had ever known. She simply overwhelmed me with skillful caresses, knowing better than I did where to kiss and touch me. Her words whispered in passionate phrases of love and devotion left me spinning, intoxicated.
Finally there was only her mouth, her hands claiming me, driving me ever higher. Until there was only what she made me feel. My will seemed mute against her attentions. My flesh betrayed me as I found myself begging for more of everything she did to me. I was on fire. I was alive when before I had been sleeping. I knew then what an addict must feel when the first rush of heroin floods body and brain. There was nothing else that could ever give such pure pleasure and my inexperienced flesh reveled in the drought of her that poured through me like a drug. I would never be content with anything else.
When she finally pushed me over the precipice to fall trembling into her arms, I felt as if I had been reborn, and now existed in some other plane of time and space. I could no more refuse payment than I could refuse air. It did not shock me somehow when I felt sharp teeth puncture the skin of my neck, or her lips suck against my flesh, nor did I resist the slow drain of my strength as I sank deeper into her arms. Even the cold that claimed me seemed insignificant in comparison to the the warmth of her pressed tightly against my body, that wrapped me in a cocoon made of her flesh and will and need.
I was leaving this world. That one moment of pleasure and passion was enough for me. I was content. I only wanted to see her one more time, this woman who gave me life and death with only her touch. I wanted to say goodbye, to thank her for what she showed me before there was no strength in me to do so. I laughed at the ironic fact that no words could have conveyed everything she had made me feel and know. She was right after all.
My laughter startled her. Prior to my outburst she had been lost in drinking her fill, in the pleasure she gathered from making love with me. I could see her eyes focus on my face. The vacant look of lazy satiety, pure sensuality and carnality were replaced then with a cool determination.
"Thank you, love. But you are not leaving me. That was never my intent."
Her words were followed by an action that made my fading consciousness stir for a moment. She had cut her own arm with a sharp nail. Her blood welled up to the surface, shimmering in the firelight. She pressed the open wound to my lips. The taste of warm metallic liquid was on my tongue and lips. I knew I did not want any of her blood. My head turned weakly away from her, but her will was again dominant. Her blood filled my mouth, and her own lips sealed my lips shut.
Blood ran down my throat against my will. I struggled but I did not have the strength to resist. I was weaker than an infant. My body felt the remedy to my sapping life, and swallowed what she fed me. I knew it was wrong that I would live. That part of me demanded I simply die. What could be the point of going on? To be with her. To make love just once more with her. To give her back the pleasure she had shown me. That we were meant to be together, as we always had. My vanishing sanity told me how wrong all this was. And that the images of her filling my mind were not my memories but hers, those glimpses of her living thousands of years, changing only in garb and hair style. And that the women I saw throughout time, those who had been stronger than I was now, who had refused the love of the dark haired she devil, were me born again and again. So many times she tried to convince me of her love. And the rightness to join with her for all eternity. Always I had refused until now. I sensed her sadness and loneliness for so long. I felt her love for me. There was satisfaction and peace suffusing her as she felt me swallow her blood.
I must have slept. When I awoke, the fire was out. I was laying on my bed, wrapped in her arms. She was naked beside me. My mind slowly oriented me to my surroundings and what had happened. With my alertness came the awareness of a new strength that coursed through me. I felt powerful, and all knowing. I felt hunger stir in my loins. I wanted this woman. But I wanted more than just to ravage her. I was thirsty.
I inspected my hands and arms, my legs wrapped around her thigh. I looked the same. But I was forever changed. I was now controlled by my flesh, not my will, my ethics, my conscience.
I wondered how she had resisted taking me all those centuries, when my own body demanded only once that I drink of her. And I obeyed. My hands moved of their own accord to caress her long legs. My fingers found her apex, tangled in her curls, and not gently slipped into her wetness.
I felt her wake, respond to my touch. The smell of her arousal was tinder to my wild desire. To feel her move against me, moan at my invasion of her flesh, pull me deeper inside and without words beg my mouth to follow, to lick and suck her. She was so close to release. My own orgasm flickered and grew near.
But I did not need her touch, the press of her thigh into my sex. Just as she had, I found my release exploding as she did, as I sank my fangs into her femoral artery, sucking the sweet metallic sustenance from her, as she trembled around my fingers that pushed deep inside her.
And just as her magic touch made me flood with heady intoxication so did her blood. I was so thirsty. Nothing had ever tasted so satisfying, so rich and full. She finally pushed my head away with her own waning strength.
"Enough. You will leave me drained, and dead."
I looked up at her, so pale, so weak, so beautiful. All her memories were mine now. I understood everything. I felt all her loneliness ended, and the pang of regret that filled her at the same time, looking at me now. Because of her need, her lonliness, she had taken from me my humanity. So many years she had fought against forcing this, had tried to convince and persuade and tempt. She had been desperate at my refusals. She had wished for death so many times.
Never had she asked for this heinous transformation from the woman I had loved so long ago, into a beast of prey. That this cruel fate had befallen her as she was defending me
was of little absolute significance. I could not love her as she had become. Not then. I could not join her in a life that was not human. I had refused her in countless lives. Until she had finally weakened, abandoned her principles out of desperate loneliness. She had made me like her, when I was most weak and unable to resist her. What did a twenty-first century author know of such things? We all live such sterile lives now.
But I owed her so much. For all the love she had given me when we were together before she was transformed. I owed her for all the chances at life I had in each incarnation, the freedom of choice she had allowed me over and over. I would reward her
for saving me finally in each life, first by defending me in her selfless sacrifice to spare me against the beast that had attacked me, and then again in each life by not forcing such a cruel fate on me at her own hands. I forgave her her final weakness. She loved me, no matter what she had become. I would repay her the only way I knew how.
I moved up beside her, kissing her lips gently, cradling her head against my breasts for a long moment until I felt her relax into sleep. Then I bit her jugular artery, and drank of her until she was lifeless and cold. So did I release my love from an eternity of pain and violence and bitter loneliness. It was my turn, after all. Justice for us both. Who knew what or how I would end my own cycle of killing to live. Perhaps it would be her some century far in the future to return the favor. Perhaps the cycle would end some other way.
But not today. Today I needed to sleep, to settle the memories of all her victims into some order, to write in the future their stories and preserve them for all time, when they themselves had been unable to leave their own legacies. I would have many decades to tackle this job of expressing with words what could not be done adequately. And the lives of the countless many I would use to feed would be recorded as well. It would be my payment to them, small though it may be. Until I was rid of the curse gifted to me out of love.
But for now I would sleep before I needed to hunt, and dream of her as we once were: simply two women who loved each other more than life itself.