Posted Mar 21 2012, 7:18 pm
The Trouble with Charley
Life on the outside, away from the sliding of bars and the monotony of routine, is so foreign, so alien, I’m certain I’ve entered another world. Another galaxy. They told me it’d be that way. They who imprisoned me in the first place. Once they figured out their mistake, ten years after the fact, they released me, but fuck them. Ten years is a long time to pay for something I didn’t do. Before I left they told me that because I went in so young I wouldn’t know how to navigate the real world once I got out. Everyday activities like paying bills and buying groceries would be a challenge. But I don’t need anything. Being the son of public enemy number one has its perks. I can live on nothing but water for months. I could move to Antarctica and survive without so much as a coat if I wanted to.
Then again, she isn’t in Antarctica.
And surviving in the real world might be a bigger challenge than I’d originally thought as well. I shower in a small, rundown hotel room. When I towel off, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the cracked mirror above the sink and study the dark red slashes that run from my right shoulder, down my torso, to my left hip. The gashes are compliments of a demon that escaped from hell. He found nothing but his own death here on earth, but the struggle to put him down was greater than I’d anticipated. The wounds will heal in a couple of days, but I don’t want her to see them. Not those or the others. I’m enough of a monster without adding disfigured to my résumé.
I look at my tattoos, at the intricate patterns of lines and curves and points. One band taken alone is nothing but a black mark on my skin, but all the lines linked together form a map, a key to the gates of hell—a gift from my father—and if I stare long enough, I’ll fall through. Since I was just released from a prison on earth, the last thing I need is to re-enter one in the netherworld. And I doubt I’m strong enough to escape that place again, so I avert my gaze. I look up instead. Study my face. My eyes are brown. I’ve never considered them anything special, but others, both male and female, seem particularly attracted to them, so I try not to make eye contact when I’m out. Still, their unwavering gazes, their inability to look away, to breathe, is disconcerting, so I blind them. Only for a few seconds. Only long enough to pass. And then their eyes are glued to my back. Hot. Wanting. Begging me to stop. To turn.
I never do.
I stop ogling my human form, so like my inhuman one, and leave my physical body, telling myself I’m just going to check on her. To make sure she’s safe. There are more of my former brethren out there, and they lust for nothing more than her. Than what she has. What she is. A portal. A gateway to heaven itself.
I travel above the streets of Albuquerque. Glad no one can see me. No one can want me more than they want their next breath of air. Their hunger is draining. Their disappointment when I ignore them palpable.
I pull through the walls of her apartment and feel her pulse quicken. She knows I’m here. Because I have yet to materialize, she can’t see me. A good thing, considering what I look like at the moment. She’s standing in front of her bathroom sink in a towel. Long legs spill out from under it like a waterfall of sin. The material concaves around her waist, giving me a glimpse of her hourglass figure. Her hair hangs in dark, wet strands down her spine. Her gold gaze lifts from the floor beside her, falls over a slender shoulder, and rises until she is looking right at me. But she doesn’t know it so she continues to scan the area.
I can’t help myself. I ease forward and brush my mouth across hers. Then I suck in a sharp breath when her tongue darts out to wet her lips, when her fingertips touch the pink fullness, testing it, exploring. She pulls her bottom lip through her teeth. Crosses her arms in that defiant pose she likes to strike anytime I’m near.
“You can show yourself, you know.” Her voice is like a husky wind over my skin.
She quirks a single brow and continues to look around. Waiting. Pretending not to hope. But I can hear the rush of blood beneath her skin, feel the flood of warmth between her legs. Her facial expression is one of slight annoyance, but her body speaks volumes. A betrayal of Greek proportions.
“I’m still mad at you,” she adds.
She props herself against the sink and I can’t help but press against her length. She gasps, tries to push me away, but to her, I am no more than thick, scalding air. I could materialize, but I won’t. Not now. After I heal, IF I heal. If I get the chance. There are more demons, and they want her. This beautiful creature standing before me. She grasps the edges of the vanity and basks in the warmth I’ve surrounded her in. Her head falls back and I lean down to kiss her neck. A soft moan escapes her lips, encouraging me, enticing me to materialize and bury myself inside her until I see stars.
No. Not now. Not like this. I grind my teeth together and step back. The instant coolness causes goose bumps to cascade over her radiant skin. She hugs herself, rubs her arms, and frowns.
When she speaks again, her voice has changed. It’s softer, less certain, and the hurt emanating from her chest makes me regret coming here. “Did you get what you came here for? Did you get the reaction you wanted?”
Since her reaction didn’t involve her screaming as she climaxed, shuddering in my arms, then no. Another time, perhaps.
The trouble with Charley is she stole my heart the first time I saw her centuries ago. Her smile glimmered like a bright star against the black silk of eternity. The universe shifted in her direction, as though all the planets and all the stars and all the moons wanted nothing more than to be nearer her. I knew exactly how they felt. I understood the depths of her attraction long before she was born on this earth. To this world. A world that deserves her almost as little as I do.
And here she stands. Her chin held high. Her large eyes pools of shimmering gold.
“So now that you’ve accomplished your mission, would you mind fucking off? I have a case to solve.”
She turns back to her vanity and runs a brush through the tangles at her back. I wonder if she’ll ever find out who her real father is. How amazing her ancestry really is. All reapers have families, but hers is bona fide royalty. She is a princess among thieves.
No, she deserves much better than the likes of me.
I leave. Reenter my body. Take a deep breath while imagining the demons that have entered this plane to take her. And with a renewed energy, I hunt.