“Knock it off Eric.”
My lover’s annoyed tone did not match the want I could feel emanating from her. She enjoyed being in my arms. Being pressed against my body.
The feeling was mutual.
Sighing, she disentangled herself from my hold and immediately dislike pulsed through her over the distance she put between us.
That feeling was also mutual.
Without meeting my gaze she asked, “Why are you acting this way? If it’s a joke, it’s not funny.”
“Am I normally funny?” I asked, still confused over why she would assume my affection for her was something to be joked about.
“Oh…sure…you’re a fricken riot most of the time. Not so much right now,” she mumbled. Looking up from whatever had held her interest about her shoes, she asked, “You don’t remember your name? Or me?”
My grouchy lover was tired and still feeling the residual fear from her near accident. But more than that, she felt hurt. Overwhelming heartache. When her eyes had moved to stare up at my own, equal parts of longing and grief pulsated through every fiber of her being. I wanted to know why. And while I abhorred the few inches that now separated us, I could not move closer. I could not offer her any words of comfort because staring back at her and hearing her questions brought with it a realization.
I did not know her.
And yet I did.
Perhaps not her name, which was odd. Odder still, I did not recognize the name she had proclaimed to be mine. But absent any other memories prior to the last few moments, I could not refute her claim. A small part of me wanted to panic over the unknown. My survival instincts flared with the need to protect myself against the strange and unfamiliar situation I found myself in, but it was impossible to act upon. Her close proximity made me feel at peace. Safe. She was my home, so I at least had no doubt as to her station in my forgotten life.
Taking her hand, I placed it over my un-beating heart and replied, “I know you here. You are my lover.”
A statement. Not a question. Akin to saying her eyes were blue because it was an obvious truth. She smelled like me. She had had my blood. She felt both desire and affection for me. Her joy at seeing me, after saving her from a gruesome end with the branchless tree had made my own chest nearly burst with elation.
Logically, she must be mine.
“We never made it to the Super Bowl,” she denied regretfully, her words only serving to confuse me more, while she took yet another step back. Without waiting for a reply, she asked, “Is this a bait and switch? A snuggle and slaughter? A cuddle and kill? I’m tired. I’m soaked. My everything hurts. I’m not in the mood to play any games. You wore your killing jeans for a reason, so if you’re gonna make me sleep with the fishes, just do it already.”
She’d ended her tirade with a half-hearted slap to my chest. Instead of a sting, I felt a jolt at her touch. Even with her chastising and confusing words, her hand lingered with her fingers lightly tracing over my skin. She enjoyed the contact. As did I. So I placed my hand over hers to keep it there and asked, “Why would I want to make you sleep with fish? I do not believe they sleep and you have no gills to breathe underwater.” Despite her beauty, I did not believe her to be a mermaid, but now that she wasn’t pressed directly against me, I caught the faint traces of another odor. My nose wrinkled as I looked down at the source.
“Is that why I smell like fish? Perhaps I went to see you where you normally sleep?”
Maybe my lover lived on a fishing vessel? The thought brought with it a familiarity that stayed just out of the grasp of my consciousness.
“I don’t smell any fish,” she countered. “And I don’t recall seeing the Gorton’s Fisherman in your list of contacts, but is that what that is?” Pointing at the dark red stains on my pants, she grimaced and asked, “Fish blood?”
“It smells like fish, but different.”
I could not place the scent.
“It sounds fishy, so not atypical,” was her only response.
I was brought back into the present when she pulled her hand out from under mine. It came into view again just as she tilted my chin up to meet her unwavering gaze. Her eyes stared hard into my own and after a long moment she asked, “You really don’t know me?”
I could feel her disbelief falter, with worry and remorse slowly replacing it. Understandable.
I would not like for my lover to not remember me either.
Hoping to appease her worry, regardless of my current altered state, I affirmed, “You are mine.”
Of that I was sure.
Her lips quirked to the side as I felt a disturbing amount of denial move through her. Disturbing because she did not believe my assertion. Instead of contradicting me, she asked, “You don’t know who you are?”
“I am yours,” I shrugged.
Of that I was equally sure and it was enough for me to know right now.
And it was also something she could not contradict.
Concerned, but exasperated she said, “We’re not pronouns!”
Confused by her declaration, I repeated my earlier conclusion. “We are lovers.”
“Fuck me…” she sighed out into the gale force winds.
I was on her before she could register my movement. Her mouth opened with her shocked gasp and it was all the invitation I needed. Having her in my arms. In my mouth. Everything felt right. In spite of her surprise. In spite of her denials, she only faltered for a moment before she returned my kiss.
The wind and rain seemed to all but disappear because all I knew or cared to know was contained within my arms. She was all that mattered. Her need to breathe also mattered, so when I felt her lungs burning for oxygen I released her lips from my own. Licking the rain from the skin of her neck, I heard her mutter something about a sweetened baby Jesus, but I could detect no discernible hunger in her. My hunger however was growing and I lifted her body up my own, with her legs automatically wrapping around my waist. Before I could learn any more of the mysteries that lied beneath her clothes, she gripped my shoulders in her hands and pushed herself back. Her eyes dropped to my fangs and she seemed to shake her thoughts free of the lust that had ensnared us both, as she softly smiled and said, “I didn’t mean that literally. Do you know you’re a vampire?”
“Yes. And I know that you smell like sunshine and honey.” Yet another reason why I had chosen well. My lover might not be a mermaid, but I had no doubt she was just as mystical. A numinous beauty sent to me by Odin himself. The rest of the answers to the questions flitting through my mind could wait. Her name. My identity. That could come later. For now all I needed to know was in my arms. Leaning forward, I ran my tongue along her beating pulse and entreated, “Feed me, lover.”
Her body shuddered.
Her pulse quickened.
My cock throbbed.
“Nnnoo…not…not here,” she softly stuttered out.
While I was disappointed by her temporary refusal, I had to agree with it as well. My hunger was more for her than the actual need for blood and there were much better places to feed from than her neck.
I intended to visit them all.
It was with that thought that allowed me to set her down when she released her legs from my waist and I followed behind her until she motioned towards the other side of her car and said, “Get in.”
I hadn’t paid attention to anything other than the fact my lover was nearing a gruesome end when I first came upon her. Now, however, I could truly see just how much danger she had been in.
When we were both seated within the small confines, I turned to her and asked, “Are we poor?”
I did not like the thought I had not been able to provide her with more reliable transportation. The vehicle was old and had seen much better days. The tires lacked sufficient tread and it was one of the reasons why her car had been hydroplaning her towards her all too early entrance into the afterlife.
How I knew that when I did not know my own name, I did not know.
“Huh?” she asked, fiddling with knobs that made hot air blow through the small slats in front of us and she leaned forward attempting to dry her face and hair. With the doors and windows shut, I was immediately engulfed by her sweet scent. “I…uh…get by okay, but you’re a Daddy Warbucks. Why?”
“Huh?” I repeated her earlier sentiment.
It was unavoidable. Concentration was impossible. Not when all of my thought processes were currently being rerouted through my other head.
Feeling her regret and remorse pulled me back from my lustful thoughts. Enough so that I could finally understand her words, making me ask, “Why do you speak as though we are not one?”
Out of everything, that was what confused me the most. Her continual denials, both spoken and unspoken, that we were not one.
“We’re not.” Her reply was simple, but her emotions were complex.
It only confused me more.
“If you could remember, then you would know,” she huffed out.
Well that explained everything.
I could feel the topic only brought her more pain, so I kept my queries to myself for the time being. Without another word she shifted the car into drive and pulled back onto the highway. I could feel her uncertainty, but feeling my own made me remain silent until she asked, “What do you remember? What were you doing before you Superman’d me?” At my continued silence, she turned and answered my raised eyebrow, explaining, “Before you swooped down from the sky and saved me from surfing into a telephone pole.”
A simple question and yet one I could not answer. I thought about it long and hard before finally saying, “Nothing. No images, at least. I remember feeling a pull…here,” I explained, putting my hand over my chest once more. “It led me to you. But there is nothing but darkness until I arrived. You are my first memory.”
I agreed with her sentiment. Huh…
While I was curious as to the circumstances that made me forget, I was more concerned over what I could not.
That we were not.
Even without any memories I knew it to be untrue. And yet I felt nothing but conviction with her every denial.
Given she seemed to have no memory loss I had no choice but to defer to her reality of our circumstance.
“Do you have any idea, why?” she asked. I did not understand her meaning, so once again she explained, “Why you felt a pull? To me?”
“You have had my blood,” I replied.
I was happy she at least did not refute that, but I was still left clueless when she replied, “I have, but I don’t know…anything. I know it healed me…”
“You were injured?” I interrupted. My fangs were still down, but now they pulsed for a different reason.
I would rend the offending creature limb from limb.
“By another vampire,” she nodded absently. Her eyes only flicked my way hearing my low snarl, but she seemed nonplussed by it and only said, “You already killed him, so calm down. Do you know what else it does? Me having your blood? Is it like some sort of radar? Or is it more like a string between two cans? You said I called you.”
How had I not explained before now? Now when I had no memory of anything. Was that the cause for the hurt I felt within her?
Had I been duplicitous?
Thinking over her questions, I found I could only answer what I knew. What I felt to be the truth and responded, “I can feel your every emotion. It was your grief that pulled me to you and your overwhelming fear that hastened my arrival.” Looking back at her, I waited until her eyes met my own and asked, “What causes you to feel such sorrow?”
My question only managed to bring that lingering emotion back to her forefront, along with a healthy dose of desolation, but her only explanation was a soft spoken, “We’ll get to that…later.”
And just like that, ominousness settled in and became our unwelcome third passenger.
And so we sat in silence. Her concentrating on the road and me concentrating on her profile. I memorized every line. Every curve. Every lash and strand of hair, filling my head with new memories to replace the ones I had lost.
I had a feeling they couldn’t best what was right in front of my eyes anyway.
Eventually I felt her mood shift. She seemed to force down her emotions to just concentrate on wherever it was we were going. I still monitored her every mood. My seat at her side still felt miles away from her, but I said nothing and felt when her concentration shifted from uncertainty to victorious when we rounded a grove of trees and a large house stood out in the distance. We’d long since left the highway and had followed a winding road to reach this place, but I remained quiet until she pulled up to stop near the front door. Turning towards me, her smile somewhat eased the growing ache I felt with the realization she was not mine, as she said, “I knew I could find it.”
The ‘it’ I assumed was the stately manor before us.
“Whose house is this?” I asked with trepidation. While I was more than comfortable in her presence, I did not relish the thought of adding someone to our fold when I still had so many questions left unanswered. The later she had spoken of. The one I could feel her holding onto as a lifeline when she had given her promise of answers, I suspected lay on just the other side of that door.
And I did not want an audience consisting of more than just the two of us when they came.
“It’s your house,” she replied, still feeling triumphant. Why she felt triumphant, I did not know.
Yet another answer I hoped to find out.
But seeing the house. Hearing it was my own brought with it conclusions.
Some I liked.
Some I did not.
I was wealthy. I must be in order to have obtained such a grand home. But seeing it caused me to wonder why then had I been so stingy with my means. I could obviously have afforded to have replaced her car with something nicer. Something safer. Something more reliable.
But I obviously had not.
Had I been just as stingy with my affection towards her?
Was that why she refused to be mine?
It left me feeling unsettled. If I had been such a bastard when I had all of my memories, then I had no wish to remember that life. I did not want to be that man. The one who held no esteem for the woman who now sat at my side. The one who had not treasured her – not shown her – by making my true desire known to her. The one who must have treated her so poorly she might not even want to be mine. The longing I had felt coming from her, while for me, could have been for a version of me who would do right by her.
And so I vowed that I would.
Her smile was quickly replaced with uncertainty once more when she looked down at my lap and asked, “I don’t suppose you have any keys on you, do you?”
Drawn back from my own thoughts, my eyes mimicked hers and dropped down, with my hands patting my pockets as I affirmed, “No.” My eyes glanced to her key ring as I asked, “Do you not have a key to my home?”
“No,” she quickly denied. “I uh…was only here with you once.” Pain radiated through her, but her expression gave nothing away as she said, “Like I said, this is your house. One of many, I’m sure, but you mostly stay in your penthouse at your casino. New Orleans is too far away and with everything…well…it’s probably not a good idea to go back there right away until we figure out what’s wrong with you.”
You are not mine. That is what is wrong with me.
It was only her use of the word ‘we’ versus ‘you’ that made me keep my composure. Both her words and emotions led me to believe she had no intention of leaving me anytime soon.
And I had no idea of how I would react if she tried.
I suspected, not well.
She was all that I knew. All that I felt. I could tell she was the only being to have my blood flowing through her veins, so I resolved I would do whatever was necessary to right whatever had been wronged. She obviously cared for me. I could feel that she did and yet she denied being anything more.
All I knew was that she knew me.
And not in the biblical sense I had hoped for.
Her explanation only caused more questions to come to mind, but I silently followed her out of the car and to the front door. Watching as she attempted to peer through the stained glass windows on either side of the entryway before she noticed the lack of a lock above the handle. Her only response was a soft, “Hmm…” as she studied the arched wooden door when she locked her sights onto the ornately carved wooden square at the center where a large round iron ring hung as a doorknocker. Sliding her finger along the wooden borders, I heard it unlatch right as she flipped it open and with a happy squeal leaving her lips a moment later, she turned to me and said, “You and your James Bond bromance sure comes in handy.”
Was that why we were not lovers?
Was I already romantically attached to this James Bond?
Did we live together in this house?
I did not believe so. My reaction to seeing her for the first time only reaffirmed the fact I preferred a female lover. Her in particular, but I did not have the time to ask because she reached down and took my right hand in her own. Pressing my fingertip against the concave sensor located underneath the iron knocker, I heard the near silent whir of the machine and felt it prick my finger as well before we both heard the click of the door a second later. She pushed it open and turned to me, saying with a mixture of joy and sadness, “Welcome home Eric.”
So she said.
But it did not begin to feel that way until she too walked in and shut the door behind her.
We stood there shrouded in silence once more, now even quieter with the storm raging behind the door. But there was a storm of emotions raging through both of us as well when I took a step forward and slowly pulled her back into my arms. She allowed it, but still I could feel her hesitation.
And I could not ignore it.
Her hesitance. Her refusal to believe who I knew her to be, despite not yet knowing even her name, gnawed away at my very core.
Perhaps I was now paying a penance.
Perhaps I had needed to lose my memories in order to bring me to her.
Perhaps it was my own doing that had precipitated my memory loss, if I had known the outcome of my actions.
Perhaps I was being given a second chance to right however I had wronged her.
And I would.
Because I knew.
This was right.
Taking the first step of what would likely be many to instill in her how I truly felt, I knew I was on the right path when I felt a tiny spark of hope light up within her as I tightened my embrace and murmured into her hair, “Now, lover…I am home.”