My eyes opened slowly. I saw white. My mind was fuzzy and my eyes were covered in a layer of gauze. I blinked several times to remove the cobwebs from my sight. I realized that the white I had seen was the wall across from the bed I lay on. I was covered in a black sheet. I slowly sat up and took in the sight of the room I was in. I was in a lair I had never seen before. The walls were white and covered in rich art. There was a floor length mirror off to the side near a vanity that was etched in gold trim. I stood and saw that I was naked. My mind was hazy. I tried to remember what happened but I couldn’t. I tried to remember where I had been but the memory was lost. I remembered Aodac and nothing else.
I walked to the vanity and looked for something to wear. I found a white robe that fit me well enough. I explored my new surroundings as I waited for my host to return. I was in a large house; one step out of the bedroom door revealed that much to me. The house was full of servants. I could see the shock in their eyes as I walked away from the bedroom. They stared at me with curious looks. I honestly didn’t think it was insolence; I just think they were curious about me. I didn’t yet know how long I had been asleep. All of the servants were looking worried that I would collapse any second, though I felt fine. I felt better than fine.
The inside of the house was beautiful. It had classic high ceilings with one of those beautiful entry ways with the staircases that forked half way up and a high crystal chandelier hovering over the entire staircase and entry way. Each room I entered was beautifully furnished.
I saw an elderly gentleman near the front door and asked him “Where is the owner of this house?”
“Master Aodac has gone out for a few hours and will return near daybreak.” The man said to me. I gave no hint to the avalanche of emotions brewing inside of me at the mention of Aodac’s name. Did he still hate me? Did he still want me? I couldn’t answer the questions and I had no idea where I stood with him. I decided to go back to where I had woken up and wait for Aodac to come to me. It felt like I waited forever.
I heard footsteps and I anxiously awaited Aodac’s appearance. How long had it been since I had seen him last? What would he think when he saw me awake? My anxiety grew until at last he was there coming in through a small door with another person in tow. His eyes held mine as he entered the door and turned toward the bed. He saw that I was awake. The relief I saw on his face was unmistakable, but I also saw the scorn.
“Aodac, where are we?” I asked in a quiet sweet voice.
Instead of answering me Aodac said, “Francesca, meet Alan. Alan this is my wife. I told you about her, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. You said you wanted me to fuck her while you watched.” His voice was deep, sexy, and powerfully hypnotic. His appearance was somewhat offhand. It looked like he didn’t care what he wore. He was a tall good looking man with black hair and equally black eyes. Staring into his eyes was like staring into empty abysses of black that never ended. It was as if I sank into them and I felt myself fall… fall into the abyss. I wondered if I would ever emerge from it. He had the palest whitest skin, and he looked well muscled beneath his baggy clothes. I knew that he wasn’t here for me. Aodac wouldn’t allow another man to touch me that way.
“Baby, can I talk to you for a minute?” I asked Aodac in a quiet whisper.
“If you must.” He said in a curt voice.
He led me into a parlor room that branched off from the bedroom. “What’s going on? Who is he?” I asked him in a demanding voice.
“He’s here for you to eat. I don’t care what else you do with him. I gave him that line about sex just to get him here so I could feed you. We can talk once you have eaten.” He hugged me, and then kissed me deeply. “I’m glad you’re awake.” He said in a voice that broke with the weight of his sorrow.
We quit the room and returned to our guest so as not to appear rude and we greeted him with smiles. I walked up to him with an outstretched arm to shake his hand; my smile was hungry. “Alan, I’m glad Aodac brought you to me.” I said as I led him toward the parlor we just left. “You appear to be exactly my taste. Please,” I said gesturing to a chair, “can I get you a drink?”
“Yes, Mrs. ………”
“Please call me Francesca, Alan.”
“Alright, Francesca. I think I will have a drink. May I have a vodka martini straight up with an olive.” Alan said.
I turned to the full bar stocked at my left. I made him his martini and handed it to him. I gave Aodac his usual bourbon, and we all sat down with our drinks to make small talk.
“Are you single, Alan?” I asked innocently enough. I was starving, but I wasn’t stupid. I must take my time with him. I must probe him to see if he will be missed once I kill him; probe him to see if I should kill him.
“Yes, I am.” He said in a quiet way. “I’ve always been a loner and I always will be. Sometimes I think about settling down and getting married, but I know I could never really be happy that way. I am a free spirit and I would suffocate if I were to be tied down too long. I have tried several times to commit to something permanent and it just never works out for me.” He told us.
“Well, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find a woman like Francesca for yourself, Alan. We’re both free spirits, wild spirits, and we were lucky enough to find each other. Maybe one day you’ll be as blessed.” Aodac said.
“Don’t be so presumptuous il mio amore.” I said in a playfully chiding tone. “Perhaps he does not wish to be tied down to a woman whether she is a free spirit or not.” I commented as I lifted my glass to my lips.
“I did not mean to presume anything il mio bello un ‘my beautiful one’. I only meant to say that Alan sounds as though he would enjoy a woman of freedom to share his life with. Please forgive me Alan if I presumed too much or if I offended you with my comments.” Aodac apologized with mock sincerity.
“No offence taken, Aodac. You are quite right, actually. I would enjoy finding a woman with a restless heart to share my life with; however they are very rare and I am not so lucky.” Our guest responded with quiet sorry in his voice.
“So, you don’t have family of any sort? Children? Brothers? Sisters? Parents? Anyone somewhere waiting for you?” I probed further.
“No. I was an only child all my life. It was very lonely growing up not having anyone to play with or to get in trouble with.” He said a little nostalgically. “My parents died in a bank bombing eleven years ago. Some nut set the bomb because he had just been medically discharged from the military after taking heavy shrapnel in the leg and the bank denied his request for a loan. There are days when I miss my parents, but they are gone and I am still here. No, I’m alone.” I had found a raw nerve in my young prey.
Though I was pleased to hear that Alan was the perfect prey for me I had taken a liking to him and I did not wish to kill him as Aodac had suspected I would. I think that Aodac may have wanted me to kill him; however I had other plans for this young man before me. I wanted him to experience the wonders of this world; I wanted him to drink in the richness it had to offer and to awaken within it. Perhaps I wanted to seduce him. I had no desire to have mere sex with him. I had no desire to have any hold on this boy’s heart; I already had one heart to deal with and I was on tender-hooks enough as it was with that heart. Aodac may have brought Alan here as dinner for me but I would have no dinner from his veins tonight. He had sparked my curiosity and I wanted to know more about him.
“Did you ever have anyone who was close to you in your family? A favorite person? Uncle? Aunt?” I asked him.
“Yes I did.” He said as he gazed into his past.
“Who was it?” I asked sweetly.
Alan looked at me then and replied “My grandfather.” A slight smile touched his lips as he spoke. “He used to tell me these wonderful stories filled with mythical creatures that almost jumped out at you. He was convinced they were true stories. He would swear every time he told them that they actually happened.” He said with the laugh of an adult who was placating a child’s fantasy creation.
“What kind of stories?” Aodac pressed. I think he was curious as well.
“Oh, vampires, murders, true love, revenge. His stories were full of a lot of nonsense.” He said in an offhand voice as he started to laugh again.
At least he didn’t take those stories seriously, I thought. Many minutes of silence and thought followed Alan’s revelations about his grandfather. My own thoughts centered on what I wanted to do with this young man in front of me. “Alan,” I said as I reached my decision about his fate. “I want you to stay here with us as our guest. You will be well provided for as long as you remain in our house; however I will not sleep with you until you are ready for me. You are not there yet, and I do not want you hurt in any way… at least, not yet.” I said in a sweet voice as a rueful smile touched my lips and anticipation danced in my eyes.
“Francesca…” Aodac’s voice cautioned me. “What are you doing?”
“Aodac… hush.” I said in my playfully chiding voice again. “I think it would be best if Alan stayed with us for a time. You can always leave if you wish, Aodac. I will not force you to stay with me. Have you decided, Alan?” I said in my sweetest voice of venom.
Alan leaned back with a look of apprehension on his face. “I don’t want to come between you two.” He said quietly. “I don’t want to be a cause of trouble in your lives. I was offered a wild night of sex with no strings. I wasn’t planning on a long voyage.” He answered.
“Do not worry about that, Alan.” I said in a sugary voice. “You have the promise of a wild night to look forward to, but it is not tonight. We would be happy to have you here with us until then.” I preened. I wanted this boy-man to stay at any price. I smiled sweetly to my prey as I got up to embrace him. I saw the look of jealousy on Aodac’s face and I silenced his protests before he could speak them with a dangerous look of my own. Aodac followed my lead for only a moment and took up my game.
“Yes, Francesca, you are right. Alan should stay with us for a while.” Aodac’s voice was polite but curt. It surprised me to hear Aodac give in to me so easily. I had expected opposition from his jealousy and I got none.
“Alright.” Alan said slowly. “I will stay for a while.”
“Eccellente!” I exclaimed as I smiled even wider. “Aodac will show you the way to your room.” I said in a casual dismissal of my prey. “Aodac, please come back once our guest has settled in.” I asked in a quiet voice knowing that there would be no more stalling before the storm came. “Please do not hesitate to ask any of the staff if you need anything, Alan.” I said as I gave Alan a wide smile full of illusions.
Aodac looked at me with murder in his eyes. I knew how dangerous that look could be. “Come with me.” He said to Alan as he turned away from me and led Alan out of the room.
Aodac took him to a room upstairs and within five minutes he had returned to me in a rage. I had used the time he was gone to compose myself and gather my thoughts. I was ready for his attack when he returned.
“Francesca! What are you thinking inviting that man to live here?! Why didn’t you drink? I know your hunger; I feel it with you. Why didn’t you quench the thirst?” He shouted at me as he shook me by the shoulders. “Francesca, why are you doing this to me?!” he cried in a pained voice.
“I couldn’t kill him, Aodac.” I said in a quiet voice. “I heard my own story as I listened to him tonight. I saw my own life. Killing him would be killing myself. I just couldn’t. If I do drink from him one day then it will be when I seduce him into my bed and finish my plans for him, il mio amore.”
“You dare to call me your love as you plan the seduction of another man, tu puttana?”
“I will seduce him my love but I will never love him. You know that I am incapable of loving him. You know that I will only love two people in my life.” His eyebrows rose in question but with a knowing that he wouldn’t like the answer. “I’ll only ever love Cahol and you in my long and endless life, Aodac.”
“You still love Cahol after all these years?!” Aodac screamed into the air. “Why will I always be second best to a corpse, and worst of all a corpse by my own hand?!” he screamed in exasperation. His voice lowered to a barely audible and dejected whisper, “So be it…” His frustration and anger had drained almost instantly.
“Aodac il mio più dolce amore ‘my sweetest love’ you know that I love you as well just as you know that I always will. Now please tell me where we are?” I asked him quietly.
“We’re in Cairo.” He said quietly. My face lit up, and Aodac knew why. “I brought you here a year ago. I knew that there was no other way the past could be put behind us when you awoke. The only way this can finally end is if we both go to Cahol’s grave and beg his forgiveness for this mess we both created and for the past that led to it.”
“Aodac, do you mean it? We can seek Cahol’s forgiveness?” I asked in wonder. It was too much to hope that there was forgiveness to be found in my cursed life.
“Come.” He said gently. “We will go now.” Aodac held his hand out to me.
I took his hand gently and Aodac led me away.