I pressed Connie to me and tried to will the warmth back into her cheek as it lay against mine. How could a dead man bring the life back into her body? She was always the one who made me feel alive again.
I knew how Romeo must have felt when he entered the tomb and saw Juliet lying dead. If I had some poison on me now I would drink it. As if that would kill me.
William and Melaphia said nothing could be done and surely that was so. I knew they would have helped her if they could have. I guess the powers of good decided to keep her in the heavenly place I could only see through squinted eyes like someone looking at a total eclipse of the sun.
Why, oh, why did she have to be taken away from me now, just as we'd truly found each other? I thought about the night we'd spent together, and I yelled out in pain. I held her apart from me and gazed into her face, searching again for some sign of life, but there was none.
I studied her lips, her eyelids, her cheekbones, chin, memorizing her while I could. As painful as it would be, I wanted to be able to remember the lines of her perfect face if I lived to be a thousand.
But I didn't have to live to be a thousand. I didn't have to live at all.
The vault had no windows, but I sensed it was daylight outside. I didn't need poison like Romeo. All it would take to end this pain would be to step out the back door, feel the sun on my face one last time, and it would all be over.
With Connie in my arms, I stood. "We're going now," I told her. "I love you. Goodbye." One last kiss, I thought. One last kiss.
I lowered her feet to the floor and clasped her to me tightly. I put my lips on hers, for once as cool as mine, and kissed her long and hard, pressing her body to mine. She still smelled like lilacs, and I pretended that she was there with me, alive and well again.
I brushed one thumb across the soft skin of her throat and stroked her long, ebony hair. I gathered some of the silky mass into my fist and rubbed it against my cheek, savoring the softness. Her every curve and texture was everything a woman should be. She was a goddess indeed.
I thought about how we had slow danced at Werm's club and began to sway with her, playing over and over again in my head the Elvis Pressley song we danced to. Wise men say, only fools rush in. I'd been a fool to think that falling in love with a mortal would lead to anything but disaster.
I'd had too many relationships with human women to count, but only this one had lead me to forget myself, and to become reckless. I'd never loved any woman the way I loved Connie, and never would.
I should have left her alone. She'd still be alive if it hadn't been for me. But true to my nature as a demon, I had only thought about myself and what I wanted. And, my god, had I wanted her. I saw my red-tinged tears fall onto her gown, staining it, spoiling its pure whiteness, and I cried.
I cried for myself and I cried for Connie. My body shook with sobs. The music in my head stopped and I stood still, hugged her, and gave in to my emotions. At least I thought I'd stopped dancing.
But Connie had other ideas.
I felt what I thought was an intake of breath against my chest. In my grief I was imagining things, becoming delusional. Then I saw Connie's head move. In another moment she was looking up at me.
"Jack," she whispered.
I covered her face with kisses, pausing just long enough to cup her face in my hands and stare into her eyes to reassure myself that I wasn't dreaming. Then I kissed her some more, her nose, her brows, her cheeks. "Thank god," I said. "You're really alive."
"I feel like I've been on a long journey but I can't remember what it was all about. Wherever I was, you brought me back, though, didn't you?" she asked.
"Yes. Everything's going to be fine now."
"But I can't remember what happened. I think I had a job to do. Something important. Did I do what I . . . set out to do?"
"Yes," I told her. "Everything's all right. You can put all you sorrow behind you." I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a squeeze. "Pinch me so I can believe we're both really back."
Laughing, she reached around me and pinched my butt, and I laughed with her. Then we looked into each other's eyes again and the laughter died on our lips. It was as if I was seeing her for the first time. I saw the same wonder and awe I was feeling expressed on her face. She flung her arms around my neck and I kissed her again like I'd never kissed anyone beforeor been kissed in return.
I carried her to the chaise lounge and sat her down, kneeling in front of her. She cupped my face in her hands and lowered them to my shoulders and chest, stroking her way to my waist where she grasped my shirt and pulled it out of my jeans and over my head. I reached beneath the white dress and swept it up and off in one smooth motion. She was naked underneath, glorious and perfect. If I hadn't already known for sure that she was a goddess, I would have felt it in my bones. She lay back and I began my worship of her.
© Raven Hart