Authors: Roxy Harte
Tags: #Romance, #Adult
I remember being new, wanting to make friends. I smile, my keeping-myself-alive smile and make excuses, laughing, faking a stumble, pointing to my sloshing half-empty flute of champagne. “Too much champagne! I’ve really gotta piss!”
My smile sticks, not even wavering when I recognize her, knowing already that the day after tomorrow she will be dead. It is inevitable. The day after Christmas, she will leave for Istanbul with three others. She will die because I choreographed the mission and selected the team just moments before joining the party. A team put together based on the perimeter forecast—a one-in-ten survival rate for the operatives. I selected the most expendable units from a computer-fed printout—ID numbers, photographs, and experience profiles. Face to face, I remember her from the photos. Her picture ID doesn’t do her justice, being grainy and dark. The woman standing before me is beautiful, glowing with the radiance of hope. I turn away, quickly, ducking into the nearest stall before my keep-myself-alive smile fails me.
She is living, breathing—expendable.
Hiding in the stall, I bury my face on top of the soft roll of paper hanging from the door, wishing just this once tears would come. But they won’t, I stopped crying a long time ago. Today deserves tears. Get away from the insanity before you die, kid, because either way this job kills you. Whether the body dies or the soul—either way you’re dead.
God, I have to get out of here. I’m going to be sick.
“Eva, wait! Please,” she shouts, rushing to follow as I race from the stall and through the exit.
I duck into the stairwell reserved for upper-level operatives and management, knowing she’s not going to follow here.
“Eva! I just wanted to invite you to lunch sometime,” she shouts into the stairwell, not stupid enough to follow, but brazen. “I’m new. I have so many questions for you. I know I’m being too forward, but I really admire you!”
I have to get away from her voice. Her innocence.
“My name’s Carrie! Call me!”
God no! She did not just tell me her name. I don’t want to know! But it’s too late. I already heard. Carrie. Carrie will die in Istanbul. Not agent XDJ275, but Carrie.
I rush headfirst into the brisk night air, exiting through a side door of the popular L’Auberge Café, the upper-level cover for our below-level bunker. Deep breath, just breathe. Don’t think, breathe. I gulp in great lungfuls of air before I can acknowledge that I am free, at least for the moment, from the claustrophobic bunker with its stale machine-ionized air. Fresh, icy air fills my lungs. Night has descended on Old Paris, and my non-thinking mind grasps the vision of the dark city rising above the thick fog that blanketed the sidewalks and streets while I was deep below ground.
I am not dressed for the weather, the day turning frigidly cold since morning, but I refuse to go back inside, preferring the curb and the sting of painfully gulped icy air.
It must be almost midnight, judging by the height of the thumbnail moon. It is a relaxing moment, just me and the moon; the day’s events and Carrie’s comments temporarily blocked from my conscious thoughts. I concentrate on my breaths, remembering who taught me to relax so long ago … Luka.
Because of him, I can smell the intoxicating perfume of Paris’s night air and appreciate the beauty of exhaled white puffs. Midnight has always been my favorite time of day, the magical three hours, midnight to three a.m. It is the hours for dreaming and hoping and remembering. It is the time of day I can walk about town without fear of being seen, recognized, or photographed, the time of day when empty streets allow me the delusion that the majestic city lights, glittering as priceless gems against the ebony sky, sparkle just for my pleasure. The smog and mud of the day hide in the shadows of misty mauves and plums.
“When you see the lights, think of me, and know that they represent how many times I’ve thought of you this day.” It’s what he promised me the night before he died. Luka.
“You would think of me so often, Master?”
“Evaevaeva, do you doubt your Master? Then know this, I promise to think of you as often as each blink of light against this night sky and more each and every day. I promise, I always will.”
Tears sting my eyes with the memory of his promise, my walk turning into a blurry run as reality settles into my heart. Carrie will die. Christmas is tomorrow.
I am alone. Alone.
December 24, 2002 11:57:42 p.m.
Le Cimetière du Père
The cemetery is a cold lonely place on Christmas Eve, but I can find peace nowhere else. And so, I come here to be with him. Even though I promised myself last Christmas Eve it was the last time I would visit his grave after facing my own insanity upon awakening on the frozen bank of earth that covered his grave, not able to remember how I’d gotten there. I would move on, force myself to forget his insanity and the pain he’d taught me to love.
It appears insane, I know it must, as I lower myself onto his snow-covered grave, spreading my body out over him, knowing that he is below me, so close, so far away.
This time, I promise myself, I will remember that I chose to come here … to be with him.
I close my eyes, wanting to sleep, but my mind has no intention of sleeping. God, I want him still … so much so that I awake each night burning, my body craving his touch. The touch none other can provide, though I’ve let many try.
“Please erase the memory of him!” I pray the words with desperation each time I willing join with another.
Eyes tightly closed, I remember him, calling him to my mind so that the power of him will force out all the other junk I hold onto—the guilt, the screams, the tears, the curses … the blood. Especially the blood … so much spilled blood over the years. I allow him to stretch in my mind, pushing thoughts out of the way until only he remains.
“I am here, Eva.”
“Don’t leave me, Master.”
I see him in my mind as I saw him the first time, his shoulder-length brown-almost-black hair framing his face. His beard and mustache accentuate rather than detract from his mouth, his smirking lips. He has an unholy countenance; I should fear him, I don’t. I am six feet, he’s taller than me by several inches. I don’t mind, his height put me eye level with his perfect mouth. His tan upper body is covered only by a black leather vest, revealing a thickly matted, heavily muscled chest and tattooed armbands of red flames circling each wide bicep; however, it is the black leather pants that make a true statement—tight as skin, each defined muscle stands out in stark relief beneath the well-oiled, shiny material. Hung like a stallion came to mind and I immediately wanted to see him exposed, wanted to hold him in my hands, and slide my fingers down the length of him. I wanted him in my mouth, just to see if he would fit down my throat.
I manipulated the moment in order to meet him and manipulated the man to ensure we ended up naked by night’s end. That is where my control of the situation ended. I became naked; he remained clothed.
Funny how a memory can make a person’s heart pound in the exact staccato rhythm as was true when experienced. Sliding his arm around my waist, he encouraged me to watch a spanking scene already in progress, whispering against my forehead, “What will you let me do to you, Little One?”
I was his in that moment, having not been little by any description of the word since I was twelve. For him to use ‘little’ as an endearment made my heart race and my pussy all the damper. He slid my wrists into handcuffs that night, just for fun. So long ago, but when I think about it, I still feel that first cold bite of steel tightening around my wrists.
Because in that moment, in that steel, I found answer to unrequited need.
I should be frozen solid, lying in the snow as I am, but I am so hot, so very hot. In my mind, I see his smiling nod of encouragement as I unzip my leather jacket and lift my Kevlar turtleneck and bra above my breasts in one smooth swipe. Memory remembers the taste of the steel nipple clamp, in reality I cause the pain, pinching my nipples cruelly until I draw a cry to my own lips. It is not enough to chase away the demons from my mind, as Carrie suddenly appears, pushing Lord Fyre out. She will be dead the day after tomorrow.
“Lord Fyre!” my mind screams out in frustration and desperation. My French-manicured artificial nails dig a deep trail over the peaks and valleys of my ribcage, lifting the level of pain enough to draw his face back into my mind, scratching raised, bloody welts over my stomach keeps him there, front and center. I pinch one of the welts, just as he would have, and feel his smile spread through me, warming me, a slow-kindled blaze ready to unfold. Unzipping my pants, I wriggle my hips free, the feel of wet snow a welcome new sensation against my bare ass, as my palm cups around my shaved mons.
My clit is a damp, radiating heat in the center of my palm. My fingers lightly test my folds, and, finding dampness, refuse restraint. Two fingers slide into my vagina, as deep as I can push them. The heel of my palm presses into my clit, rubbing hard, creating a rhythm as my fingers slide in and out, fast, hard, harder, my palm now slapping into my clit with each stroke. Pounding, slapping noise, wet sloshy noises as my orgasm flares. I pinch a welt cruelly with my free hand.
In my head, I hear his command to wait.
I pinch another welt, pounding my pussy harder, thinking, “Oh God, I can’t wait!”
“Come for me now, Little One,” the voice in my head whispers, “come for me now.”
Replete, I lay huddled against his tombstone, so far past cold that I cannot feel the fingers tracing his name, the dates etched in cold white stone. I force myself to remember that he is gone.
Luka Stavros Papakirk
July 15, 1969—December 25, 2000
Beloved of Eve
It shouldn’t be so hard to believe; after all, he died in my arms, the victim of a sniper’s bullet. It was a bullet meant for me. Why else? Not many terrorists along the waterfront, fewer still on the back alley of their secret warehouse.
He’d died immediately, a single bullet.
It shouldn’t have hurt so much, I’d known him such a fleeting time, months. It shouldn’t hurt so much still, and yet each day without him, I feel myself dying … a little more each day. I hope the end comes soon.
I had hoped the last assignment, it just wasn’t meant to be. He was too freaking slow with his trigger finger. Maybe I was too fast. Hell, so many agents have died working alongside of me, an inch this way or that way and I could have been dead already, so many times, too many to count.
Why do I keep living? Why did he have to die?
I knew so little about him—Greek, philanthropist, sadist.
God, please, bring him back to me, just give him back.
How many times have I begged, knowing how impossible this miracle would be for God to perform? And God still hadn’t sent him back. Crueler still his refusal to let me join him on the other side … no matter how hard I try.
I refuse to believe in a God who is so cruel.
I refuse to believe in a God who will let Carrie die the day after tomorrow.
Midnight bells toll from atop the hill, Mass starting … he’d promised me a Christmas in Greece. So many promises unfulfilled. I can’t stop the flow of tears that decide to fall onto my cheeks. I’m not a crier.
“Merry Christmas, baby.”
Hello, Eva. A gentle breeze, passing through the tops of some barren ancient oaks, seems to bring his whispered response back to me, and I close my eyes, listening harder for the longed-for conversation.
“I fell in love with you, you know.”
I know Evie, I know. God, I’ve missed you.
“It makes it hard now.” I sigh. “No man ever measures up to the memory of you.”
And no woman to the memory of you, Eva.
A flock of nightingales startled, flee en masse from their barren post in the tops of the ancient oak. I jump, more from the sudden hair-raising on the back of my neck than the startled birds. Someone watches.
I felt it earlier, at the party, someone was there watching … and now here. It stands to reason that if they wanted me dead, I would be so already. I look in the direction of the watcher, lifting my chin in silent challenge.
“Come out, asshole.” I scream into the night, pulling my 9mm from its holster beneath my arm and, holding it out for him to see, toss it into a snowbank far enough away that I wouldn’t have a chance of retrieving it.
“Kill me already!” I wish it, body ready, waiting hopefully for the attack, but no feeling of animosity or threat comes from the watcher’s hiding place. I shiver, knowing I will not die today. Shivering long after the thought, the heat from my daydream spent.
I turn back to my mental conversation with Luka, our annual Christmas Eve tradition
… a friendship borne post death.
The first year I came filled solely with rage … so much rage. I cursed and kicked the new tombstone, breaking two toes. At that time it was marked solely with name and dates.
The second, I made snow angels on top of his grave in celebration of my Christmas present to him—the new etching, Beloved of Eva.
Over the years, snowmen and snow forts, complete with an arsenal of snowballs at the ready, have been built. Flowers have been abandoned along with tears on top of the aging carved granite. Each year, I promise myself that it will be the last time I come. I always fail miserably. Ditto on trying not to remember our last night together…
“Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” he’d announce.
Smiling, his eyes held all the joy and mischief of a young boy as he pulled open the heavy door. He’d wrapped it in red foil topped with a gold metallic bow, a grave contrast to the paint-chipped exterior of the warehouse. Before leading me into the building, he kissed my hand, lingering appreciatively over my wrist, inhaling my scent as he pressed his lips to my pulse. “I want to remember this scent forever.”
“I’m not wearing perfume tonight,”
“I know, I want to remember the scent of you,” he’d answered, then placed a blindfold over my eyes.
An eternity passed as I stood on trembling legs, robbed of sight. Only an occasional whisper-soft step clue that he remained in the room. He walked around me in a slow, steady circle. I imagined that he was assessing me, checking for flaws. A shiver ran down my spine with that thought.