The Kiss of Death
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before. —
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus times eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
-Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Today was not my day. I pushed my way out of the bus and ran down the street in a full out sprint dodging people left and right, trying to get to the club in one piece.
I skidded to a stop a foot away from it, cursing. Nightcrawler’s was both a college hangout as well as an escape for those workforce people who needs time for themselves. Naturally there was a huge line-up of people waiting to get in. Definitely not my day, I thought to myself. One thing I knew with the utmost certainty was that I was not going to wait in that line. As I scanned the area my eyes fell at the alleyway beside the club. I felt myself smile, as I ran towards it. I opened the door to an even darker hallway, not thinking twice I ran inside only to crash into a really hard obstacle. As pain flashed through my knee, I let out another expletive. Today was definitely not my day. Fuming while muttering darkly, I scrambled up left the room and I crashed full forward to a very hard, very male chest.
“Oof! I am so sorry!” I said looking to the most sorrowful dark blue eyes I’ve ever seen. He smiled down at me and I saw a flash of dimples that nearly made me fall again. “Are you alright?” he asked in the deepest voice I’ve ever heard, it reminded me of the dark velvety silkiness of chocolate, sweet and slightly bitter. I felt my face turn red, and was suddenly glad for the dimness of the hall. “Yes, um thank you.” I said, embarrassed as I ran a hand through my curls. He chuckled, as he gave me a quick onceover.
“Judging by what you’re wearing, I guess you aren’t one of our normal customers.” He said with a hint of humor in his voice. I looked down at myself; I was wearing converse shoes, dark green pants, and a black button-up. “Er. I’m with the band, you hired for today.” I said cautiously wondering if I was already in trouble. The man grinned wider, “I did not hire you. I’m just the bartender. Which I should go tend, right now. Try not to fall on anyone else, now.” He said, turning and walking away from me. I gaped, looking at him and then immediately wished I hadn’t. You know the term ‘tall, dark and handsome’; he was all that and then some. I sucked in my breath, before I remembered that I was supposed to be finding the rest of my band. I opted to walk in the opposite direction from where the apparent bartender had gone, seeing as I could hear rowdy music coming from there. I walked down the hallway, looking at different colored doors before I finally came to a door marked ‘stage door’. I opened it, to find most of my band mates in the room all in a tizzy. There was George; his hair sticking up at all angles, gently cleaning his keyboard, Michael with his guitar around his neck, grinning widely from ear to ear at the singer and bane of my existence, the beautiful Roselyn Diamond who immediately saw me and shrieked. I squeezed my eyes shut at the noise that I swore could be counted as something super sonic.
“Where have you been?” Roselyn shrieked, as she attacked me in a hug. “Ack!” I said as I tried to detach myself away from her hug. “Let. Me. Go.” I said as I finally detached myself from her iron grip.
“Don’t be a baby, I’m just the drummer, its definitely alright if I’m late.” I said. Roselyn screwed up her face in a grimace. “That is not even funny.” She said as she ran a hand in her own reddish curls. She looked almost green, her usual vibrance gone, worry and fear replacing it.
I put my hands on her shoulders. “There is no need to worry about going up on the stage. You got this; you rock better than anyone out there. None of us would even be here if it wasn’t for you.” I said. Roselyn’s eyes went shiny. “You really think so?” she said her voice almost breaking.
“Of course I do,” I said, trying to ignore the impulse to roll my eyes at her as I wrapped my hands around her. “We all do,” Michael said, coming closer and putting his arms around both Roselyn and me.
“Never worry, we’ll rock so hard that the crowd will be screaming our name!” Michael said grinning like a hyena. I grinned, “Oh come on the lot of you! Group hug.” I said spreading my arms wide. Everyone came close reaching to hug the three of us. This was my family, three boys; Michael, Gabriel and George, and we two diamond sisters. That’s right, the bane of my existence, the singer of the group was also my dear sister, who has troubled me since she was three.
“YO!” we all turned at the voice to one of the waiters, who had popped his head through the door. “Y’all on in five!” he said in a southwestern drawl before popping back out. George gave Michael a clap on the back. “Are y’all ready for action?” George said in a extremely fake southern accent, we all laughed and took our respective places in the stage, Roselyn in the front with her mike, Michael and Gabriel just behind her in opposite sides of the stage, George at his keyboard, and finally me in the immediate back, I twirled the drumsticks in my hand as the curtain raised.
We all took our first glance to the crowd, a mass of Goths, and middle-class workers. I grinned, and counted a three stance hitting my sticks with each number before attacking the drums with fervor as Gabriel and Michael both strung their guitars. Roselyn’s melodic voice strung out weaving through the other sounds, I heard the crowd go crazy for her voice and for our song, a beating jam about love gone wrong, and then nothing gone right, something that seemed to be the norm for my dear sister, always in and out of love.
I moved my eyes away from her singing to glance out at the crowd; one of my favourite things to do while I was drumming was to see the crowd’s reaction to our music. Though when my eyes drifted towards the bar, I sort of wished I’d kept them towards the crowd. I cursed under my breath, as I watched the bartender stare at my sister as if he was entranced.
Of course, just my luck, the guy I like would be interested in my sister. It had always worked out that way. Even with her being three years younger than me. She was always the one that got all the boys, the one they all went crazy for. Me on the other hand, was always a wallflower. Always the girl that made friends with the boys but never had that one thing that could make them stay. Roselyn had it. And so did my mother. Just not me. I don’t know what it was about me, but it was like I was closed off from that world of love and beauty, of dreams of happiness. I felt broken when it came to the idea of love. Maybe it was because I was broken.
We played two more sets before we got offstage. The boys high-fived each other while Roselyn ran off somewhere in the back, most likely to have a lie-in. The singing I knew took a lot out of her, even in some cases made her drained and sleepy. I moved away from the boys needing some time to myself, the club, was jumping with girls in various states of undress and men in different variations of suits. Everyone was laughing, dancing and singing along to the music.
As I pushed my way through the crowd I bumped into someone, he was tall, with dark curling hair just above his eyebrow, and the stormiest grey eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. He looked at me startled; his arms held me close his eyes searching my face. “Lena?” he said his voice breaking. I shook my head, stepping away from his embrace. “I’m sorry, but I’m not.” I said my voice firm. I watched his face fall, and I wondered who exactly Lena is, and why the name gave him such pain. I knew that look; it was the look of someone who had lost another most dear. He blinked, wiping off any emotion on his face. “Of course, I’m sorry.” His voice was soft and cultured. I grinned up at him, “I get it, and I remind you of someone.” He smiled softly and ran his hands through his hair.
“You don’t have to explain anything to me. It’s none of my business.” I said smiling at him. He shoved his hands in his pockets grinning at me. “Coming from someone who knows.” He said. My heart stuttered, as I watched two dimples form on either side of his cheek. “Knows? Knows what?” I managed to get out. He smiled, and twirled me so I fell into a slow dance with him. “Like someone who has loved and lost.” I flushed my hands at his hips, as I was much too nervous to raise them any higher on his torso. “I don’t know much about love, but I know of loss.” I said in a soft voice. He spun me around putting his arm at my waist, my back to his front, while his chin rested on my shoulder. “Whom, might I ask?” he said, his voice speaking softly in my ear. My eyes closed, “My mother.” I said my voice even more quiet. He spun me around, and suddenly I was much too close to him. Close enough that I could smell the spicy musk that he wore, could see the sheen of sweat on his forehead. “You won’t be lonely forever.” He said softly, as he brought my hand to his lips, and then he turned and left vanishing into the crowd. I stared after him mutely wondering how he could’ve possibly known, that my greatest fear of all, was being alone.
“What do you mean he’s gone?!” I found myself thundering, early on a Thursday at my first lieutenant. I clenched my jaw as I watched Sloven tremble under my anger.
“Sire. He seems to have been gone since early this morn.” Sloven said in that whispery voice of his. I glanced down at his reptilian form, a side effect, from a battle lost from my half-brother’s slave Dorian Grey.
I growled, “Terry belongs here. What would the point of defeating my father be, if he isn’t here to witness my victory?” I said, kicking out at the shadows clustered in the corner.
The creatures within them squealed at the intrusion before slinking across the wall to the ceiling. I rolled my eyes, the dark shadow creatures were truly annoying.
“So you are angry, not because he left but because he won’t be here to watch your triumph?” a silky feminine voice whispered behind me. I turned to see Arabella, one of the spider witches that lived within these walls.
“Why are you here, Arabella?” I said narrowing my eyes at her. She smiled at me, her eyes sparkling. “Oh my naïve son. You don’t even realize the opportunity you have here.” Arabella said, her mouth curling into a devious smile.
I crossed my arms, “And what opportunity is this?” I said curiously. It wasn’t often Arabella decided to give advice, but it was always good when she did.
She grinned showing razor sharp fangs. “Terry isn’t the first child to leave Vemos without a word.” She said smirking. I narrowed my eyes at the reminder of the lost princess. My lost princess. Then I realized what she actually was saying.
“So, I can make a point to the council about him.” I said, slowly realizing just what opportunity I had.
My dad had always been known to be a just ruler. But as a king of Vemos he needed to be cruel as well. If I made the point of him letting two of his wards escape. My jaw tightened as the plan slowly formed in my mind.
“If he can’t handle his own kids how can he handle a kingdom?” Arabella said grinning even wider, showing her pearly fangs. I smirked; one of the great things about Arabella was her handy ability of knowing every little detail of everybody else’s life in the palace, and the finest way to use that information in the very best advantage. I looked at her now, Arabella with the many beads in her hair, dressed in a solid black dress that looked like it had its best time sixty years ago. She had always been a constant in everyone’s life in the palace. Not quite taking sides but helping everyone equally. But from my experience with her, she generally helped certain people because she knew something. Especially when it came to my family and me. I leaned closer to her, narrowing my eyes.
“Arabella, what do you know?” I said pursing my lips; her eyes widened her hands going dramatically going to her chest. “Why do I get the feeling that you seem to be suspicious of my actions,” she said blinking innocently at me.
I rolled my eyes. “Anyone would be suspicious with someone acting that innocent. You know everything. Spill.” I said putting an edge in my voice to get my message across. She smiled and put a hand on my cheek. “You remember when Lauri first came here? And you sought out a way to claim her power for your own?” She said looking at me closely. I moved her hand holding it in mine. “I did find a way, you might remember, she just left before I could bear the fruit of it.”
Arabella dropped my hand. “Because you refused to sleep with her for so long.” She said shaking her head, putting her hands on her hips. “Anyways, that’s not my point, there is a power greater than even that of the lost princess of Vemos. And the answer to what that is lies in the book that you stole from Zaphira, for the fun of it. Go look for it.” She said pushing against my chest making me stagger back, while she walked away moving swiftly and silently across the floor. I blinked, and then sprinted back to my room, crossing to my bookshelf frantically searching for the book that held the answer to my problems.