…then she took my hands into hers, and she came to me. I cradled her so close that I could feel her heart beating and my senses came alive with the scent of her skin. It was a scent that she always wore…one that she had taken and made uniquely hers.
“You still don’t trust me, do you?”
She raised her head as she said it, and the way she looked at me said that she already knew the answer. Longing showed in her eyes, but it was held back by a certainty that tore at my heart. I had to turn away for fear that my own eyes would betray a truth I didn’t feel ready to admit to her.
“You don’t have to answer me. Sometimes I know you better than you know yourself and I can tell that you’re trying not to say it. I understand and I don’t need an explanation…but I want you to know one thing. I am not like them. I would never hurt you like they did. I wasn’t sure how I could prove it to you before but now…now I think I may have a way.”
There was something in her voice that compelled me to turn towards her and away from the blackness of the night. I had heard that tone only once before and now, as then, it sent a shiver through me. In it I heard the innocence and vulnerability of the child she was, but the intent was purely that of the woman she was becoming…the woman I had made her into. The wind had picked up a little and, as it whipped at her nightgown, I caught a glimpse of something in her hand. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed it before but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Whenever she was around I found myself drowning in her eyes. Nothing else mattered. Suddenly I understood…
“Non! Non, ma cherie, I will not let you do this. I will not curse you with my existence. Think…think about this.”
“I have thought about this for far too long. I am tired of having my courage fail me. It will not fail me again. This is my choice.”
“It is not your choice! Do you have any idea what you are doing? You, of all people, know the monster that I am. You know what this does to you. You will never be able to go back to what you are now…to the innocence that you have now. Je t’adore. Why can’t that be enough for you?”
I knew that I had gone too far, for this time it was she who turned away from me. I could tell from the set of her shoulders that she was trying to compose herself and I hated myself for causing her even one second of pain. Tears should never mar a face as beautiful as hers. I wanted nothing more than to run to her and take it all away. I didn’t get the chance. When she turned back to me, there was fire in her eyes.
“You of all people should know why it isn’t enough! How can I continue like this knowing there is a part of yourself that you refuse to give to me? How can you say you love me if you know what I am giving up to be with you and you cannot bring yourself to trust me? I could walk away from this right now, but I can’t imagine a life without you. I don’t want to. This is the only way I know how to keep the one thing that means more to me than anything else. Would you deny me that?”
The emotion in her voice silenced me. The look in her eyes drained all the will from me and I knew I couldn’t withstand her…even if I wanted to. I could deny her nothing. I helplessly followed the curve of her hand as she brought the blade to my chest and lingered there a moment, as if seeking permission. The metal felt cool against my skin and if I still had a heart, it would have been pounding against my chest. Then she slit the skin, and the pain was the sweetest I had ever felt…knowing that it came from her.
I could feel the trembling of her body and the coldness of her fingers as they once again locked with mine. She pressed against me and gave me quick kiss on the lips before lowering her mouth to the wound. My head fell back and a low moan was torn from my lips. I doubt that I will ever find the words to describe what I felt in that moment. For that brief eternity, we became one…one breath…one body…one heart. Then she raised her head and her lips were stained with blood…my blood. I gently wiped it away.
“Now I am yours and yours alone for the rest of my life…however long you deem that to be. When you need me, all you have to do is think of me. When you call, I have no choice but to answer.”
My eyes filled with tears as I truly realized the sacrifice she had made for me, and I cursed myself for fuelling her certainty that it was necessary. I tried to tell her but the words just wouldn’t come. It didn’t matter. The words just didn’t yet exist.
“Why did you do this, my love? Why did you give up your freedom for me?”
“Because I love you.”
I love you. They were just three simple words…but to me they were my salvation…my everything.
What was I thinking or, more importantly, what had I been drinking for the past few days? There has to be a reason why my sanity seems to have deserted me. I must be out of my mind, plain and simple. Here I am, a twenty-nine year old writer with the world at her fingertips, and I find myself out on a lonely road chasing ghosts. Not literally…at least I hope not. I am chasing my past. I am chasing a memory that has burned its way into my mind. I am chasing a face that haunts my dreams. The hairs on the back of my neck rise every time I think of it…of her. I wonder if she is real or if she’s just a figment of my imagination…nothing more sinister than a mere specter brought on by fear and a lack of sleep. I am not sure which one I want her to be.
I shouldn’t be out here this late. Last night I was safe and sound in the extremely beautiful, and extremely expensive, townhouse that my latest novel had so generously afforded me. Early this morning I was on a flight headed to the childhood home I had not visited in over ten years. A few hours ago I had picked up my rental car and driven to my Aunt Jess’ house, which was thankfully in the same place I had left it. Little had changed in the time I was gone. There were tears in my eyes as I hugged my aunt. A few phone calls couldn’t take the place of seeing her in person. Needless to say she was surprised and elated to see me.
Now I’m on some lonely road that I can barely remember, reminiscing about things that scare the living daylights out of me. Common sense should have told me this was a bad idea. Common sense is evidently a trait that I did not inherit much of. I cannot explain it…something compelled me to be here.
The moon is high by the time I reach my destination and, not for the first time, I feel like I cannot go on. I slow to a halt and shut off the engine. There is nothing to break up the monotony of the silence other than my own shallow breathing and the slight rustle of leaves from the gnarled trees that line the road. I think they’re oak but then I think everything is oak, since that’s the only name I can routinely remember. From here, I can just see the house…the Mirele House. That’s how we thought of it in our childhood…with a capital H. There are lights in the windows and for a moment I am speechless, not that it matters because there is no one here to talk to. That house has been deserted for as long as I can remember and as long as my parents could remember. I wonder why Aunt Jess didn’t tell me that someone lived there now (maybe because I hadn’t told her where I was going?). I wonder who would want to.
I’m not sure whether I am disappointed or not…after all, as far as I know, ghosts don’t live in such well-lit abodes. I suppose I should turn around and go back the way I came without disturbing some innocent inhabitant with my presence. Undoubtedly they are not used to such late night visitors, perhaps even choosing this as a reason to live way out here. Still, something draws me and I put it down to having to lay my demons at rest. Maybe if I go there now (when there are other people around of course), I can finally see that it no longer holds any terrors for me.
I start the car again and slowly make my way up the road. The house disappears for a moment as I round the bend and, although I convince myself that I am resolved in my actions, I have a fleeting hope that it will not appear again. No such luck. I cannot see much in the darkness but my headlights illuminate well-kept grounds and a wide-open gate. ‘You must be expected’, my traitorous mind supplies gleefully and I stamp down the thought. I can feel the tightness in my chest ease, just a little, as I pull up to the house. There is nothing frightening about it. It is nothing like I remember it. Gone are the peeling walls and clinging vines. In their place is a home where a mere house used to be.
Should I keep on going? My curiosity gets the better of me. I shut off the engine for the second time tonight, get out of the car and make my way up to the door. The crunching of the gravel sounds too loud to my uneasy ears, as if I am afraid of waking up whatever lies in the stillness. The overhead light in the narrow porch shows a new brass doorknob and a doorbell, which I waste no time in ringing. Almost immediately I hear creaking inside and I surmise that someone is coming down the stairs. A latch is pulled back and my ‘hello’ dies on my lips as I look into the eyes of the woman who has haunted my dreams.
She is beautiful. Her black hair rests about her shoulders, in stark contrast to her pale skin, and a piercing grey shines from her eyes. She is barefoot…clad in jeans and a white, silk shirt. The top two buttons are open and I can catch a glimpse of the top of her breasts. I chastise myself for looking down a strange, and quite possible straight, woman’s blouse until I realize that I am not looking down at all. She stands almost five inches taller than my 5’6” frame and is looking at me with a mixture of curiosity and amusement. At least it’s not pity or revulsion. It takes all my willpower but I finally find my voice.
She shakes my offered hand in introduction and I can swear that I feel a spark of electricity shoot up my spine. I shiver and I notice that she is looking at me intently.
“Nina…a beautiful name. Isn’t it a bit late for you to be out this way Nina?”
She has a slight accent and I try to place it, but I cannot. There is something so familiar about her but I know I haven’t seen her before. Not her. She looks to be only a few years older than I am. It could not have been her.
“I…uh…I-I used to live in town and I’m back for a few days. I just wanted to…um…to see this house again. It’s been a long while.”
I feel as though her eyes are boring holes through me and I am suddenly overwhelmed by a need to leave. I need to get away before I can embarrass myself further. I mutter a goodbye, not caring how stupid I look and, for the second time in my life, I find myself running…running down those stairs as if my life depended on it. I reach my car and fumble for the keys. I spare a glance backwards and see her standing there, propped up against the door. My God…she is so damn sexy. What must she think of me…this strange woman who has shown up at her door in the middle of the night and is now acting like a crazy person? I wonder why she hasn’t locked her door and called the police.
Hello? Brain to Nina? Concentrate. I get into the car, turn the key and…nothing. This must be some kind of cosmic joke. I try again and the engine sputters…and dies. I stifle a scream when I hear a tapping at my window, and I see her there. She is smiling at me and I feel very foolish. She must think I am some kind of freak. I would if I were in her place. I roll down my window.
“I’m afraid I’m hopeless with cars and the phone hasn’t been connected yet. Why don’t you come inside? You’re welcome to spend the night. Sorry to sound clichéd but I don’t bite…not unless you want me to.”
She smiles again and winks at me. Is she flirting with me? I cannot tell and I surely cannot hope. Women this gorgeous just aren’t interested in me. Surely there must be two long ears sprouting from my head because I feel like such an ass. There has to be a perfectly good explanation why she looks like my dream woman. Maybe I’m just wishing that she could be. She doesn’t seem threatening and certainly I don’t feel like spending the night in my car. This is ridiculous. I really need to get over the boogieman. I get out of my car, making sure to lock the door behind me, and I follow her. She closes the front door and I get my first look at the inside of her house.
It is beautiful. She has restored everything and I feel like I am stepping back into another time. I wonder how much effort and money must have gone into doing this. I can almost imagine that this how it used to look all those years ago when Angelique Mirele was its sole inhabitant. I turn right and there is a lazy fire going in what must be the living room. There are no other lights and the flames reflect off of the dark furniture and faded portraits. For a moment it is silent and all I can hear are my breathing and the slow crackles from the fireplace.
“Can I get you something to drink? Maybe something to eat? It’s a long drive up here and you must be hungry.”
It is an embarrassing coincidence that makes my stomach growl loudly at that exact moment. She laughs…a rich throaty laugh…and disappears directly across from me into what I assume to be the kitchen, only to emerge a few minutes later with a heaping plate of food and two glasses of wine. White for me. Blood red for her. As I sit to eat it occurs to me that I don’t even know her name.
“Um…this is embarrassing…but…”
“My name is Angel…Angel Mirele. It is my pleasure to meet you Nina. Now eat.”
Angel? Angelique? It has to be a coincidence. I don’t think about how she knew to answer my question before I asked it. I don’t think about how similar her name is to a woman long dead. I don’t think about the way her face mirrors the large portrait over the fireplace. I prefer not to think about these things. I’m too afraid of where my thoughts will lead me.
She sits and watches me eat, occasionally sipping from her wine. My eyes are drawn to her full, red lips. I wish I could be that wine. I assume that she has eaten already and that is why she does not join me in my meal. When I am done she takes my plate back through the doorway at the foot of the stairs, waving off my offer to do it myself. Aunt Jess must be worried by now. Trust me to leave my cell phone at home. I get up and take the opportunity to study the portrait that called to me. It is so much like her…only not her exactly. It is Angelique…but it may as well have been Angel. I do not hear her return and jump nearly a foot into the air when I hear a voice whispering into my ear.
“She is beautiful, yes?”
“Yes, she is. She looks so much like you.”
“You are not the first to tell me that.”
“She looks sad.”
“She is. She lost the one thing that meant more to her than anything else because she was too blind to see what was right in front of her.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You don’t know her story, do you?”
“No. I’ve heard her name but not much more.”
“How can that be? I thought she was something of a local legend? Come…let me tell you of her.”
She leads me back to the couch and takes a seat next to me. I can feel the heat radiating off her skin and I wonder if she knows what she is doing to me by just existing. Why am I feeling these things? I do not know her, and yet I feel the strangest longest to be wrapped up in her arms. I see her lips move and I am brought out of my reverie to find that she has already started her narrative.
“This town has existed for a long time Nina. It was by no means flourishing, but it was prosperous enough. The lands around here have always been very rich. Little by little, what started as a small settlement grew into a bustling area inhabited mainly by farmers and their families. It was into this that Angelique arrived.
No one really knows where she came from, or where she got her money but her name belonged to a very old and very important family so much was assumed. She had this house built because she wanted to be away from the town and all its confusion. She kept pretty much to herself, paying to have supplies delivered and never venturing out except at night. Gradually the rumors started to spread.”
“What rumors?” I am engrossed and not just because of the story. I could listen to her talk all night.
“That she was a vampire. That she had left a neighboring town out of fear that they would find out what she was. That she survived and thrived on the blood of others. Some believed…some didn’t…but most of them just stayed out of her way, as she stayed out of theirs. They didn’t see the point of tempting fate. That was until she fell in love with Adele, a small slip of a girl and a farmer’s daughter.”
She does not notice the look on my face when I hear that name once again.
“Adele was absolutely smitten with her from the start, despite her being a woman, and somehow she managed to tame Angelique’s wild heart. Adele knew what she was…what she truly was. You see, some of the rumors were true. Angelique was indeed a creature of the night as it were. Adele found out but instead of fear there was only love.
The girl used to run away at nights…to Angelique…despite how far she had to run. She thought she was being so careful…but eventually she was caught. When the townspeople found out where she was going there was an uproar. A few of the men accused her of whoring herself to a monster…of losing her virtue to a sick, evil creature. They were troublemakers and bullies. No one dared stand in their way when they did what they did.”
I am forced to recoil at the anger in her voice and I see that her eyes are alight with fury. It is with a sick taste in my mouth that I ask her to continue.
“Angelique couldn’t stop it…it was daylight. She knew something was wrong with her love but she was forced to wait until dusk to seek her out. They told Adele that they would show her what it was like to be with a man so she could see what she was missing out on. They raped her over and over until the ground was slick with her blood. By the time Angelique got there, Adele was almost gone. She begged Angelique to turn her…told her that she wanted to be with her forever…but Angelique hesitated. She knew the hell that she lived in and didn’t want that for Adele. She was forced to look on as Adele died in her arms. She could hear the men laughing even as she wept.
Maybe they didn’t believe the rumors. Maybe they just thought they were men and stronger than any woman. No one knows. Angelique went crazy…she demanded vengeance. There was no stopping her. Every single man involved in Adele’s death paid with his life that night. She tore their throats out without an ounce of remorse. Angelique swore that one day Adele would return to her…that she would wait a hundred lifetimes for her. Nothing has been heard about her ever since.”
I don’t need to look at her to tell that there are tears in her eyes. There are tears in mine as well. I have heard sad stories before but there is something so heartbreaking in this one, even if I am sure it is fanciful. I want to comfort her, as I am now sure that she must somehow belong to Angelique’s line, but I am not sure what my body will want if I touch her. God…I am lusting after a stranger.
“So, are you going to tell me why you tried to run away earlier? Do I really look that scary?”
‘Scary’ is the last word I would use to describe her. I think of stalling…but something makes me want to tell her the truth, and I am tired of analyzing my compulsions.
“Um…it’s a long story.”
“I have the time Nina. I have lots of time…and besides, I did tell you a story of my own.”
“Okay. Like I said before, I used to live here. I moved away to go to college and I haven’t been back since. Everyone used to be afraid of this house you know. They used to say that it was haunted. Not me. I was full of fire and I didn’t believe in ghosts. Then something happened to change my mind.
It was our last weekend before we headed off to college and a bunch of us decided that we needed to go out with a bang. We convinced our parents that we were going to a party at a friend’s house but we all ended up here…not in the house, just on the grounds. It was to be our big send-off…a night of debauchery with no consequences. Why here if everyone was so afraid? We wanted bragging rights. Hell, no one we knew could say that they had sex up at the Mirele House.”
I blushed at the admission, and at the memories of how the night had started off. My mouth starts to get a little dry and I glance over at my host. Her eyes are on me and I see something in them. I think it is desire…but then it is gone and I am left believing that I imagined it.
We started fooling around…playing Truth or Dare. Someone dared me to spend a night alone in here. They were planning to camp out anyway, but I had to stay inside the house by myself…not all night, just a few hours. Well, being the incredibly competitive non-believer that I was, I accepted. It wasn’t anything big in the beginning. I had food and a flashlight and I knew that there were other people right outside.
“Well, to make a long story short, I spent most of my time exploring. It was dusty and cobwebs hung everywhere. I tried to imagine what it must have been like, living here all alone. It was something I could never do. I remember thinking that Angelique must have been a very brave woman. Then I started getting an odd feeling…like someone was watching me. I tried to tell myself that it was just nerves but I couldn’t shake it. It got worse and I became convinced that I was seeing stuff moving out of the corner of my eyes. But when I looked nothing was there. I thought that maybe my friends had followed me in and were trying to scare me. They would have to do better than that. There was no way I was going to lose the dare. I continued exploring upstairs and came to what must have been the master bedroom…well at least there was a bed in it…and a full-length mirror. That was when it happened.
I could have sworn I heard a voice call out. I’m still not sure but it sounded like ‘Adele’. I thought again that it was one of my friends in the house…but when I turned, she was there. She looked like you…exactly like you. For some reason I looked back into the mirror and I couldn’t see her. She had no reflection, but she was there in the room…looking straight at me. I ran…I don’t remember much after that. I think I fell and hit my head on the stairs. I don’t know. I don’t know if what I saw was real. I just know that her face…your face…has haunted my dreams ever since. She calls to me. She tells me that her arms long to hold me. That’s why I came back here. I guess I wanted to know if she was real or just something I imagined”
“And that’s why you ran? You thought I was Angelique?”
There is really no point in denying it. I doubt that she would have missed it. I can’t believe that I have told her all of this. If she wondered at my sanity before, what must she think of me now? Maybe she regrets inviting a lunatic into her house. I am almost afraid to look at her. I am afraid to see the ridicule in her eyes. I am surprised when I see none. Instead I see understanding…and something else. She looks like she is struggling with something.
“Many people think that Angelique’s face is my face. This house has been in my family for years…for generations. Some say Angelique’s spirit still haunts it. Perhaps. I believe that you saw what you saw. I have seen enough in my life to not scoff at anything.”
Her reassurances calm me and we spend the next hour getting acquainted. Later, I would realize that we spoke mostly of my life. I still knew very little of hers. In the firelight I cannot help being moved by just how attractive she is. I know that a part of me wants her and I am not sure whether it is just because of her or because of my dreams. Either way, she has not made any real move towards me and I have no reason to believe that she would be interested. Finally, it is time to go to bed and she insists on walking me up to the room that is to be mine for the night. A shiver runs through me when I realize that it is the same room that I saw her in all those years ago. Still, Angel is behind me and her presence comforts me a little.
I turn to bid her goodnight and then make the mistake of looking into her eyes. I see it. I am sure now that I was not mistaken before. I see the longing there…the longing that is mirrored in my eyes. It is just another thing I can’t explain in this whole situation. I am not the type who would even consider falling into bed with someone I have just met. But there is something about this woman that has been drawing me to her all night…something so safe and familiar…something that sets my very soul on fire. I want her. I need her. I will have her.
I do not launch myself into her arms as much as I melt into them. I see a flicker of uncertainty and silence her with a brush of my fingers on her lips. I hear a sharp intake of breath, but I know that she will follow me now. I lead her to the bed, stopping briefly to turn off the lights. Our passion needs only the moonlight. I push her back and then lie next to her. I want to feel her body next to mine.
It takes only a few seconds for me to want more than just lying next to her. I can tell that she is holding back…letting me dictate the pace and I love her for it. Did I say love? Where did that come from? I push the thought to the back of my mind and will myself to concentrate on the task at hand.
I kiss her…gently at first. I want only to taste her lips…the rest will come in time. They are so soft…so sweet. I lose myself in the feel of them. I pull at her lower lip and I am rewarded when her lips part and she lets me in. A flicker of her tongue and I know that I am becoming addicted to this feeling. I am top of her now and I know she can take my weight. I want to taste more of her…so I do. She will not stop me. She needs this as much as I do. I make my way to her ears, tugging gently. I plant soft kisses along her neck and then graze my teeth over her skin. I hear her moan and it spurs me on.
Her hands have not been idle. They have made their way under my shirt and her slender fingers are stroking my back. I feel a trail of fire everywhere that she touches. My skin is raw. I have never wanted anyone so much. I need to feel her skin…now. I push myself up and see a question in her eyes. Can she really think that I will back out now? She smiles when I pull at the buttons of her shirt and make a face when my shaking hands refuse to work. She puts her hand over my trembling fingers and moves them away. Then the room is filled with the sound of tearing clothes and flying buttons as the first barrier is removed. Her pale skin is revealed in the dim light and I can tell that she is either very cold or very aroused. My ego makes me think the latter.
I unhook her bra, and she is bared to me. Her breasts are perfect and eager for my touch. I comply and take them into my hands. She cries out and I know that she wants this. I take her into my mouth and her back arcs into me. She falls back onto the bed, her hands tangling in my hair. I tease her, alternately sucking and biting. I know she likes the feel of my teeth. I know she likes pain with her pleasure. It is of little consequence to me. I will give her whatever she needs.
She is writhing under me now and I hasten to remove her jeans and…nothing else. It seems my mystery woman doesn’t approve of underwear. Neither do I and I prove it by removing my own clothes. Her eyes are large and dark and she drinks in my naked body. Oh God…she is so wet for me. I can see her desire glistening on the insides of her thighs. It is she who needs to feel me now. I will not keep her waiting anymore. I make my way back up to her lips and kiss her hard as I run my fingers through the velvety wetness. She gasps into my mouth and I can see that her eyes are closed. I want to see her eyes. I enter her, and I am not gentle. She no longer needs me to be gentle. She needs me to possess her…to make her mine. Her nails dig into my back, drawing blood, as I pick up my pace. Harder. Faster. I feel like I cannot give her enough of myself. I want to hear her screaming my name. And finally she does. I feel her walls tighten around my fingers and she is screaming my name into the night…over and over. I do not stop until she begs me too.
I hold her close as the last shudders run through her. I smooth the hair back from her face and wipe away the beads of sweat from her forehead. She recovers quickly it seems. And then it is my turn. The things she does to me…with her fingers…with her tongue. Soon I am screaming her name. She doesn’t let me stop until the first rays of sunlight have greeted the day.
I must have fallen asleep in her arms for it was almost midday when I finally stir. I stretch my arm out, but find no one there. There is no one next to me. Perhaps Angel is regretting our night together…regretting succumbing to a stranger. I truly hope not. I open my eyes slowly and then I bolt off of the bed. My heart is pounding against my chest so hard that I fear I may have a heart attack and I shake my head, as if hoping that it will make what I am seeing go away.
There is nothing there….nothing but a dusty bed…nothing but a trail of cobwebs…nothing but one pile of clothes carelessly tossed aside. What happened here? What is going on? I am filled with a sense of dread and I hastily yank my clothes onto my trembling body. I am afraid and my fear quickens my footsteps. I flash back briefly to the first time I was forced to run down these stairs in terror. It is a terror I feel again….and I am running again. I don’t care if I fall. I must get out of here. I cannot get the door open fast enough and as I spare a glance backwards, I see two wine glasses sitting on the table amongst the grime and the dirt.
I manage to make it to my Aunt Jessica’s house without sending myself careening down a hill by some miracle. God knows I kept driving on mere adrenaline alone. I knock on the door, although frantic banging would be a more apt description, and I fall into my Aunt’s withered arms, sobbing. Aunt Jess will keep me safe. She may not be of my blood but she is family. I am almost expecting her to be right behind me.
“Oh my God. What happened? Where were you last night? Do you have any idea how worried I was? I was just about to report you missing.”
I know that she is alarmed by my sobbing but I can’t help myself. I am hurt, scared and confused. I find myself wishing that I had never come back. It takes a while but eventually I am in control of myself enough to talk. I tell her everything. I don’t care if she thinks I’m crazy. I don’t care if she thinks that I would jump into bed with the first woman who beckons. I need to tell somebody. When I am done I see that she is looking at me thoughtfully and I cannot read what is in her eyes. She tells me that she has something to show me. I can hear rummaging in the next room and, when she returns, she is holding what looks to be a torn and tattered photograph. She holds it out to me without a word and I reach for it with shaking hands. I do not know what this is but I can sense that it is important.
The image is black and white, and its edges are faded, but the face is one that I am intimately familiar with. I see it every day when I look into the mirror. I am looking at myself, but it cannot be me. My voice drops down to a whisper and I struggle to form the words.
“What is this?”
“That is Adele Marchande…one of the very few surviving pictures of her.”
“Adele had a younger sister…Isabelle. You’ve been told the story already. Angelique swore that Adele would return to her one day and charged Isabelle with keeping this tale, and that picture, in her family until the time came. Many people were against their union, but Adele’s family was not. Adele had always been a sad child and they saw her smile for the first time when she met Angelique. I never quite believed it until I saw you grow into the woman in this photograph. Your parents were bitterly afraid that you would be taken from them. That’s why they never fought your decision to go away to college. They thought that she couldn’t come for you if they kept you away from this place…but she has found you.”
“This is ridiculous. I’m not going back there.”
“She will not rest until she has claimed what is hers. Rest. Rest tonight and tomorrow you can decide what you want to do. You have a lot of thinking to do Nina.”
I do. I am fed, I am clean and I spend the rest of the night and most of the next day thinking. I believe her. I wish that I could think that this is just the first sign of senility in my otherwise sprightly aunt. I wish that I could think this is just an old fairy tale passed down through the generations. I cannot. I believe her. She would not lie to me. She has lived by herself for as long as I can remember. She took me in as her own child when my parents died when I was in college. She has no one else but me. She would not lie. I know that I saw love in Angel’s eyes. I must be crazy but I believe her. The question is, what do I do about it?
Aunt Jess doesn’t seem to be surprised when I say that I am going back. I see sadness in her eyes and I am not sure why. I will see her soon. She is keeping something from me but I don’t know what it is and I don’t press the issue. She hugs me tightly and walks me to my car. The sun has set an hour ago and it is a bit chilly. I give her one final kiss on the cheek and then I am off. I do not see that there is someone standing in the shadows as she turns back to the door.
“She’s yours now Angelique.”
“It’s been so long. I didn’t think it would take this long. I was beginning to give up hope.”
“You have gotten back what was meant to be yours all along.”
“No, through your love. I am glad that your blood has kept me alive all these years so I could see her again.”
“I cannot thank you…”
“You can…love her, take care of her and do one thing for me?”
“I am tired now and I know that she is in good hands. Let me see my family again?”
Angelique smiles a tired smile and reaches up a hand to caress the cheek of the woman before her. The smooth, soft skin has long been replaced by lines, but she has held true to her promise.
“Of course. I will take back that which I gave to you so many years ago. I am forever in your debt, my brave one.”
“Anything for her. I did not mean for her to die. I was jealous of her…that’s why I told them where she went at nights.”
“I know…I forgive you…it is over now.”
“Thank you Angelique.”
There is a smile on Jessica’s lips as she dies, content to know that the wrongs of that fateful night have finally been made right.
“Thank you Isabelle, for giving her back to me.”
There is no sign of habitation when I get there. The grounds lie abandoned and the paint on the house is peeling. The grass is overgrown and there is a lump in my throat as I get my flashlight out and make my way up the stairs for the third time. There is still enough moonlight that I do not need it, but it makes me feel safer.
The door is halfway opened, almost as if I was expected and it creaks a little as I push it all the way. If this were a movie, I would spend my time looking around and being startled by mice and other such absurdities. But this is not a movie…and she is there waiting for me. She is wearing what I think to be the same jeans but has exchanged white for dark blue. I prefer this on her. Her eyes are on me and she follows every movement. I look around and there is only a hint of what I saw last night. There is no fire and the furniture is rotted. I should run. I should be afraid. But I am not. I am strangely calm. I know she will not hurt me.
I go to her and she holds me. There is a scar on her chest and I wonder how I could have missed it when I was exploring every inch of her precious body. I put my fingers to it and I am brought to my knees. Memories come flooding into my mind, memories that are not mine but yet are mine…my cutting into her skin and tasting the copper of her blood…our lovemaking on the nights that followed…my death…her pain. It all comes back to me. I believe. Once again, I am Adele and I am home and I am crying. She is with me again. I am in my Angel’s arms. The face that I thought I would never see again is right here before me.
“Darling…my sweet darling…I have taken so long to come back to you. Can you ever forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive, ma cherie. It is I who should fall at your feet and beg. I let them hurt you. I let you slip away from me. I was so caught up in my own pain that I did not think of yours. It was a fitting punishment to make me wait for you.”
“Hush, there was nothing you could do. I understand why you couldn’t take me then. You thought you were sparing me. But this…how? How did you do this? How did you bring me here?”
She falters and I wipe away the tears that have formed and are leaking from her eyes. I know this is hard for her. If my darling had a heart, it would be made of gold.
“When you died, your mind was still linked to me. The bond was never broken. Your soul cried out to me and promised that you would return…that you wouldn’t leave me alone. It was that promise that kept me from following you into the daylight. I waited have all these years for you to return to me. I knew when you did. I bided my time until I called to you and I made you see what I wanted you to. I shouldn’t have come to you all those years ago. You weren’t ready. I was weak. I wanted to touch you so much. I have spent so many nights just wandering around this house.”
“My poor Angel…how I have hurt you. We have hurt each other…but I am here now. They will never take me away again.”
“No…they will not. I could not bear it.”
“Then make me yours. Give to Nina the gift you could not give to Adele. I will not be taken away from you again. I will not grow old and die, knowing that I am leaving you behind.”
She draws me close and whispers her love over and over again. I do not need to hear it. She has waited over a hundred years for me. She has proven her love to me. It is my turn. All I want is to belong to her. She kisses me, and it is full of promise. My gift to her was my return. Her gift to me is her eternity.
Her mouth is on my neck now and I can feel her teeth. They are much sharper than mine. I know there will be pain and she cannot stop apologizing for what is to come. I will have none of it. I want this. I know what she responds to. I know that she likes to be possessed…controlled. I wind my fingers through her hair and hold her head firmly in place…making my demands clear. I will beg if I have to, but I know it will not come to that. She will not deny me. She will not make me beg. I feel her teeth as they sink into my throat and the pain is unbearable. Yet I feel my arousal grow. There is something so undeniably erotic in this…in giving my blood, my everything, to her. She is holding me, as I grow weak. I am not afraid. I close my eyes. I feel something warm and wet pressed up against my lips and know that she has opened her wrist for me. She drinks from me even as I drink from her. I feel myself falling towards blackness as she picks me up into her strong arms. She bundles me into the car and starts the engine. I do not know where we are going. I do not care. I will awaken eventually…and I will be hers forever.