I was staring at Aodac’s back. We were in a private room off of the main parlor in the front of the house. The silence hung thick in the air and I was deafened by it. Aodac turned toward me; his entire body was screaming at me in an unspoken accusation, and he turned away just as quickly as he turned toward me. The words on the tip of his tongue were left unspoken. He turned back to me and stared with pained eyes. I could see the torment within him written in every part of his stance as he turned away from me again.
I could not bear his silence any longer. “Forgive me, my love. We both knew the eventual outcome between Alan and me; it just happened sooner rather than later.” I pled with Aodac. My voice was strained and the loathing I felt for myself was engulfing as I tried to put my hand on Aodac’s arm and I watched him reject my touch.
“I know.” Aodac said as silent tears ran down his face.
“What happened between Alan and me changes nothing between us, my love.” I pled in quiet desperation.
“I know.” Aodac said with a sharp accusation in his voice.
“Aodac, my love, I am yours just as I always have been. You are mine, just as you always have been and always will be. We are together now; we are fused into one life. Siamo uno.” We are one. I said in a desperate cry.
“Yes.” Aodac said quietly.
“No one can come between us, Aodac. Even Cahol could not come between us now. We are here… now… This is our time. Alan will not come between us; he cannot destroy the bond that we have forged.” I said in a heavy whisper. The inflections in my voice revealed an array of emotions as strong as the pulling tide and Aodac heard every one of those emotions.
“Io sapere, mia dea. I know, my goddess. It is just so difficult to play out this farce; to know that you play the role of an enamored bed partner to him. It sickens me to my core to think of him touching you, of you touching him. I feel as though I will go mad as this charade unfolds.” Aodac said to me with flaccid anger in his voice and a defeated yet defiant stoop to his posture.
“This charade will end soon, my love. You know as well as I that I will only bed him until he has become obsessed with the sex. We can only hope that he will do something brash or stupid when he has been cut off. I want him to be so thoroughly encompassed in pursuing me sexually that he will drop his guard with me. Once that happens I will be able to probe into him, and wait for him to reveal his true self to me. I think in a few more nights he will be completely entangled in my web and then the fun will begin as we watch him spiral ever downward into madness.” I responded with a quiet and seething ferocity in my voice.
“We can only hope so, mia bella.” Aodac said in a grave voice.
“We can only hope what?” Alan said as he entered the room and interrupted our conversation.
“It’s nothing important, Alan. We were just discussing the servants and a few of the problems that have arisen as a result of bringing so many of them here with us from Egypt.” The lie fell from my lips easily, and quite naturally. He ate every word I said like poisoned honey.
“Oh… I’m sorry I interrupted your conversation. It must be bad if Aodac is this worried about them. I’m sorry I can’t help you with whatever the problem is.” Alan said with an almost realistic note of regret and sympathy in his voice.
I smiled sweetly to Alan. “No worries, Alan… everything will work out. Isn’t that right, my love?” I queried to Aodac in a silent plea for him to play out the charade of a lie.
“Yes, yes… everything will be fine. I am worrying about nothing, as usual.” Aodac said to Alan in a dismissive voice with a casual flick of his hand.
Alan smiled. “We all worry about nothing at one time or another, Aodac.” He said in mock understanding.
“That is true, Alan.” Aodac said with a smile that just touched his face. I could see the annoyance in Aodac’s posture, and I shared it. “Was there something you needed, Alan?” Aodac asked in an attempt to end Alan’s unwelcome intrusion into our conversation.
“Oh, yeah. I just stepped in to see if Francesca would like to accompany me out to the bluff.” Alan said.
I turned to Aodac for his approval or denial. I would follow him in all things. Aodac didn’t even look toward Alan; I saw him give me the slightest nod with his dead approving the walk. I met Aodac’s gaze and slightly inclined my head to show I understood. Aodac knew what was to come and agreed to continue with our plans. The silent exchange between us took less than a second.
“I think I would like that, Alan.” I said in my sweetest voice; Alan was beside himself. He believed every word I said like a puppy. He ate the poisoned lies too willingly. I took Alan’s hand let him lead me away from Aodac and toward the front door.
Our walk toward the bluff was relatively silent. I was lost in my own thoughts. They led me up down and around every aspect of the game we played with Alan. My thoughts returned to the wisdom of allowing him to live, but my curiosity always got the best of me. I could not forget the words Cahol had said to me, “revelations unmatched…” What revelations? I kept wondering. That is why Alan lived. I needed to know whatever truth this boy kept hidden within himself.
The silence hung between Alan and me. I was lost in my own thoughts and paid little attention to the center of those thoughts. The bluff was cold that night. The wind whipped around us like a hurricane and the arctic wind cut me in two. God must be displeased tonight. Why? I pondered on that. What in this vast open world could displease my Lord? The thought made me shiver. I was not so sure I wanted to know the answer to that question; for I was sure it had something to do with my own house. Thoughts raced through my mind so fast I wasn’t sure if time even elapsed as we stood on the bluff. Is God displeased with the game I play with Alan? Is He displeased with Alan in my house? Is He displeased with Aodac and me? Is He displeased with my total betrayal of Cahol’s love by giving myself to Aodac? Was He displeased with the actions I had taken against that traitorous servant girl? Is He displeased that I brought Alan to my home in Scotland?
I was so lost in thought as I stood on the bluff that I did not hear Alan come up behind me. I didn’t notice the air currents around me as Alan leaned into me. Arms reached out and encircled me. I was brought back to my surroundings at the first touch. The smile in Alan’s eyes danced with the smile on his lips. I remembered the role I now played only a second before he leaned down to kiss me. Alan must have believed me to be so wonderful and majestic; almost like a goddess from the ancient texts come to life in me. Alan believed that I loved him. Alan believed I would do anything for him. I could imagine in his foolish mind that he thought of us as a new Cleopatra and Antony. How foolish he was. He was wrapped in my illusion. He was tangled in my web.
Alan’s kiss became deeper and more passionate. His hands grew more demanding with the passing seconds until they were roaming all over my body and he was pulling them off of me. Alan became ever more focused on me and the passion he was intent upon getting, and the more passionate he became the more uneasy I grew. My mind still pondered on the enigma of my Lord’s displeasure and I was sure that this was part of that displeasure. My mind barely registered what Alan was doing to my body; I was completely fixated on the mysteries I had been given to solve. I didn’t register what Alan did to me and the pleasure he received during our time together was only mirrored by my own feelings of disquiet. I was edgy and uneasy. The sensations were not pleasant, and yet they never once sent a shiver down my spine or a chill to my heart. There were no warning signs of what was to come.
Alan lay next to me on the bluff. His insatiable lust was sated for a brief moment. His arm held me tight to his side as he babbled on about the cosmic meaning behind his chance encounter with Aodac in Cairo only a few weeks ago. “Do you believe in destiny, Francesca?” Alan asked me.
“There is a fine line between destiny and chance.” I answered him.
“What do you mean?” Alan asked me.
“People often mistake things that happen by chance as destiny or fate and likewise people often mistake things that are destined to be as mere coincidence.” I explained.
“How so?” Alan asked me with a hint of arrogance in his voice.
“Take Aodac and I for example.” I said to Alan.
“What about you and Aodac?” Alan asked me.
“When you first met us did you believe that Aodac and I were destined to be with each other or that we were merely passing time together until destiny arrived?” I asked Alan.
“From what I have witnessed when you two are together I would say that you two were destined to be together.” Alan said to me. “Why?” He asked.
“That is my point, Alan. Would you believe that Aodac and I are together by mere chance?” I asked him.
“No.” Alan said.
“Why wouldn’t you believe it?” I asked him.
“The way you are with each other. It is as if you were made to be together and no one else could ever come between you. Not even me.” Alan said in an attempt at modesty.
“Alan… Aodac and I are together by mere chance. If my first love hadn’t been murdered I would not be with Aodac today. I would still be with my first and truest love.”
“What happened to him?” Alan questioned quietly.
“Aodac killed him.” I answered in a quiet and sardonic voice.
“What? Why did he do that?” Alan exclaimed in surprise.
“Aodac killed him because of me.” I said in a whisper as silent tears fell freely from my eyes.
“Tell me about him.” Alan pushed.
“Cahol was amazing. He and Aodac practically raised me together and when I grew older I started looking at Cahol differently. I was attracted to him; I wanted him. But, more then that… I wanted to know him. When I was growing up there were so many secrets in the house, and I thought that I would never be old enough to know those secrets. They kept telling me ‘when you’re older’. I wanted to know him in a way that I was never allowed to. And then one night I got my wish. Cahol laid a claim to me that Aodac couldn’t break and for a short time Cahol and I were happy together. Then one morning Cahol was dead when I woke up. It was years later that I joined with Aodac. Our bond together may seem to have been destined but it was only chance.” I said to Alan.
“I disagree.” Alan said to me.
“What?” I said in mild shock.
“You say that it was chance, but everything happens for a reason. Cahol was killed so that you could be with Aodac.” Alan said to me. “It was destiny.”
“Destiny did not kill Cahol. Aodac did.” I spat in contempt.
“The killer is only the tool of destiny here. Aodac was the one that killed him which left you free to follow your destiny to be with him and not Cahol.” Alan pushed his point.
“If Aodac had not killed Cahol I would still be with Cahol.” I snapped at Alan. “There was no destiny in what Aodac did. It was a choice that he made and we have both lived with it since.” I said as I forcefully shoved myself away from Alan. My anger burned hot in my veins and I was ready to rip this boy’s head off.
“Forgive me, Francesca.” Alan said in a sincere voice as he slowly sat up to face me. “I did not mean to disrespect the dead. I only meant to point out that things happen for a reason. Cahol had to die so that you could be with the man destiny had chosen for you.” Alan said.
“I have said all that I will say about Cahol, Aodac, and me.” I said to Alan in admonishment.
“Please don’t be angry with me.” Alan begged of me.
“I am not angry, Alan.” I said a little too quickly. I could feel my throat tightening and the impulse to rip Alan’s head off was becoming difficult to ignore. I imagined sinking my teeth into Alan’s throat and drinking him dry.
Alan placed his hand on my shoulder and tried to lean in to kiss me as he pleaded with me again, “Please don’t be angry with me.”
I brushed Alan’s hand away from me and stood up quickly as I hurriedly excused myself from his company. “I have some chores to see to, Alan. I will be back in a few hours and we can talk more then.” My voice was harsh even to my own ears and I knew that Alan would not attempt to follow me. He sat on the ground at my feet looking like a wounded puppy and at that moment I felt nothing for him. I prayed that this game would end soon, because I couldn’t stand Alan’s touch any longer.
Alan did not need to know that my excuse about chores involved feeding. If I didn’t feed soon I knew that I would drain Alan dry. I had not fed in several days and I knew that I needed fresh blood coursing through my veins. I took my hasty reprieve from Alan’s company more quickly and harshly then I had meant to, and I headed toward the nearest village.
I knew that Aodac had already gone to feed; I saw through his eyes as well as my own, and I knew that at that moment he was already drinking his fill from the veins of some poor lost soul. I felt the blood he was drinking run down my own throat, and I knew that it would not be long until I had a bleeding throat to my own lips. I raced down the street towards the village. My thoughts were lost in the long forgotten past.
Long ago when I had lived here after the death of Cahol rumors circulated around this area for a hundred miles of a witch that lived on the high bluffs; this witch would come down from her lair in the darkest hours of night to steal the souls of men. The only trace of the men that could be found with the light of dawn was a small spot of blood on the ground where they were last seen. The witch left no other traces of these men for the living to find and the rumors of the witch spread further and further from the bluffs.
Many times angry mobs of men and women would come to storm the house where the witch lived. They would break the door down and storm the house breaking everything in sight, but they could never find her. There were no traces of a living soul within the walls of the house the villagers would storm. The villagers tried again and again to find and kill this witch, and each time they grew ever more frightened and angry when they failed to find her. They became ever more superstitious and medieval with their outlandish claims… they claimed that the witch existed between the night; they claimed that the witch was a cloud of mist that would steal a man’s soul if he were out in the night alone.
If only the villagers had known that I was the witch they had hunted and could never find. The villagers could not find me when they attempted to storm my house by the light of day because I was never awake then. I kept myself hidden far below the house in my lair, and mercifully the villagers never found the entrance to my dwelling place. There were days when I would remain in the house and watch the water from the darkest corner of the house, but I was lucky to always be underground when the villagers arrived at my door.
I liked this village for my hunting ground for then as well as now there were many homeless men and women there. They were the dregs of village society that everyone fed, but no one acknowledged in their “decent” circles. Why would anyone care if one of them was found dead in the morning? It was a cold night. They would be sleeping on the cold ground behind a building. It is expected some of them would not live through a night as cold as this. I was pulled from the passing memories as I approached the village.
My approach was quick and I made no preambles about what I was there for. The thirst burned in my throat and I felt as though I had never fed before. I grabbed the first man I saw on the street and pulled him into a small alleyway. My attack was quick and fierce. The man had not even registered the fact that he was being attacked when I ripped his clothes off down to his waist and wrapped my lips around his neck. The man didn’t have time to comprehend what was happening as I drank deeply from his vein. I killed him within mere minutes of the first touch. He never fought back and he was not enough to sate my thirst. I left his body in the alleyway. The villagers would find him in the morning and the whispers of the witch would start again.
I moved down the alleyway and followed an intersecting back road for a few miles until I found a second victim… a young woman. I attacked her the same way I attacked the man… in a split second I had grabbed her and pulled her behind a lively and loud pub to mask her screams. She tried to fight me off and I broke her arm as I yanked it up behind her back. I tore the bodice of her dress off in my haste and left her exposed from the waist up. My lips found her neck and though I took more time to drink from her than I did with the old man; I sucked her dry all too quickly.
I let the body of the girl fall to the ground. I stared at the figure of the girl I had just murdered for my dinner and wondered what her life was like. She was young… not yet fully mature. I could not call this girl a woman in any sense of the word. I wondered what her parents were like and why they allowed her to roam around the village late at night on her own. I felt pity for her. In a quiet act of shame I covered her chest up with the remnants of her torn bodice and turned away from her.
I was still thirsty. The girl’s blood did not sate my thirst and my hunger was still powerful; though it was not as consuming as it had been a few minutes ago. I decided to take my time and be cautious as I found my third victim of the night. I roamed the village casually as I looked for a likely candidate. I found him lurking behind a pub only a mile away from where I had killed the young girl. I walked toward him nonchalantly. I saw him grin as he looked me up and down. I did not falter or change course. I walked nearer to him. I know he thought that I did not know he was there, and in the instant I walked close enough he grabbed me and pulled me into the shadows behind the pub. It wasn’t hard to know what was in his mind. He thought to rape me. He thought to take pleasure from my body. He covered my mouth with his; I felt him stick his tongue down my throat. I bite his tongue as he tried to pull my clothes off of me, and I sucked his life’s elixir out of him as he attempted to kiss me. He started to struggle against me as his attempted pleasure became pain. I held him hard against me and in two minutes he was dead. My thirst was properly satisfied then. I left his body sprawled behind the pub.
I walked around the front and entered the pub doors to drink some local whiskey for a while. There was no hurry for me to return home. I was not expected for a few more hours, and I thought Aodac could keep Alan occupied for a short time. I needed to be away from him. I was weary of the game I played with him. The strain of keeping him entertained was becoming taxing on my self restraint. I wanted nothing more than for Alan to be gone forever and for Aodac and I to be free of the demons in our past.