A collaboration between Phoenix Fiery & Keeper
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Enigma Mea Culpa
A shrill gasp escaped my throat as I read the note accompanied by a photo of my most precious gift, my son Nate. Nate was the product of a whirlwind romance with Peter, who I had believed at the time, all of seventeen years young, to be the love of my life. After the first week of what seemed like ceaseless hungry sexual exchanges, I had become pregnant and, with no thanks to my overbearing parents, had basically become their prisoner, prohibited from seeing Peter. Somewhere deep inside I had longed for that relationship with Peter back and the next five years were heartbreaking as I was not the one forbidding Nate from a relationship with his father, but his wealthy controlling grandparents. Upon laying the note on the mahogany dresser, another photo slipped to the floor. The second picture showed Nate sleeping and a mysterious figure with combat knife held close to his throat. The accompanying words eluded that my forthcoming decisions would, indeed, have severe ramifications and, if I declined to adhere to the terms, my precious boy would come to grave harm.
Not a single word was to be uttered and failure to comply would end this game instantly. Upon reading the terms, my heart sank, aware that my son’s fate laid just beyond the adjoining doorway. I wanted only to run from this infernal place and scoop up my child before any harm could befall him but knew in my heart that this was my only hope of saving his life. I lifted the dagger laid on the dresser and turned towards the alcove with a deep breath, heels clicked with what seemed an endless echo of determination. Approaching the partition into the adjoining room, with dagger in hand, I pulled the lever down and the dividing door began to ascend. Fighting the tremendous urge to run with every last ounce of my being, I adjusted my mask and prepared for the moment of truth. As the partition began to rise, a man’s shiny black dress shoes came into view. I could hear him clearing his throat and evidently he was just as nervous as I.
It’s funny how your body has a tendency of betraying you at the most inopportune of moments. Here I was, contemplating snatching another’s life away unceremoniously, yet still I couldn’t help but feel vaguely aroused. I certainly wasn’t exactly intoxicated by the prospect of what I was about to do to ensure my precious son’s survival, but I’d always been a sucker for a good mystery, never more so than when it presented in such an easy on the eye package. Had I been given the option for this masquerade, then I would have selected a similar creature to the one currently just yards away from my personal space. She had to be 5″3, plus another inch or so for those ruby heels and, though her face was obscured by her mask, seemed hand-crafted for the sake of my own intimate fantasy.
Clearly just as nervous as I, she appeared to be relaxing a little on account of my own awkwardness and that likely had something to do with the fact that she too held a blade, similar to mine. Whatever our connection, it was bound to be unspoken, but it didn’t take a great stretch to work out that her terms and conditions were likely just as unaccommodating. That said, how could I be sure that she was even in two minds? Perhaps her brief posed little challenge and I was about to be excised from festivities before I could so much as leave an imprint. We tend to take people on face value and that is all well and good but that painted veil was robbing me of any discernible currency. You would assume that, at times like these, one would not be willing to leave anything to chance but that wasn’t helping me to grip the dagger any tighter.
It just felt right to observe how this played out a little longer before committing one way or another. After all, a masquerade was what had been advised, and both of us were dressed for the occasion. Of course, my son’s safekeeping was beyond imperative but still I couldn’t bring myself to dim the lights on our rendezvous. If ever I had seen a sight for sore eyes, then she was most certainly it. Indeed, I could almost taste her sweet flesh, on optical reconnaissance alone. Neither of us seemed prepared to make the first move so the dance had already began in earnest. As the gentleman, I felt obliged to step forward, but this wasn’t to prove necessary.
Intrigue now replaced hesitation as I approached my opposite number. He was rather tall, around 6 feet 2 inches, and clad in a double-breasted black tuxedo with a black hooded shroud over his head and also wearing a mask, reminiscent of the Phantom of the Opera. This second room was identical to the one I had just vacated. On the dresser were two crystal sniffers and a decanter half-filled with brandy. Approaching the stand and standing no more than six inches from the cloaked man, I tapped on the decanter with the tip of my dagger. Without hesitation, he poured a generous amount of the dark liquid into each glass. Placing my weapon on the dresser momentarily, I grasped the tumbler and devoured its contents as my suitor commenced to do the same before pouring a refill. Looking directly into the blue eyes of this shrouded stranger, I suddenly felt overcome with a curious sense of calm. Forgetting about the task at hand for a moment, I then reached behind me and released the zipper to my crimson gown.
Inside my heart was racing wildly but still I felt strangely relaxed, so much so, that I turned my back to the masked man and consumed my second tipple in one long swig. Just as I did, I felt his warm hands on my shoulders as his fingers slid down both straps and my dress gave way, pooling at my feet. This, in turn, ignited a hunger that had been pent-up for a great length of time and, apprehension now subsided, I turned slowly to face the stranger. I was totally exposed, left only in crimson stilettos and garter belt, but still felt no desire to cover up. Stepping over my discarded shroud, I moved closer, reached up and released the tie holding his cloak together, relieving the dagger from his hand and placing it on the stand. As our eyes met once more, I commenced to tear open his shirt, sending the buttons clattering to the floor. Whoever had arranged this rendezvous were likely observing our every move but the fact is that I found the notion somewhat intoxicating.
Even though I had every right to feel vulnerable given the fact that I no longer possessed the required tool to conclude our masquerade, something had me feeling decidedly at ease. Whatever nerves I had felt previously had now disbanded and I liked the way our dynamic was playing out. Whilst clearly timid, she took control where necessary, which was one of the things that first attracted me to Betsy funnily enough. Indeed, it wasn’t the only similarity. If I didn’t know better this could have actually been her as she certainly fitted the profile. I dismissed this consideration immediately but one glance at her bare shoulders and it was right back on the agenda. Light freckles, so faint that they barely even registered, and just the same neckline I had kissed so many times before we were so callously separated. I didn’t let her spot this double take as our association was already on a knife-edge but inside my head I was processing data frantically.
Then it hit me and with some force I might add. Why wouldn’t this be Betsy? I mean, it made perfect sense to pit us against one another, particularly given the stakes. She was just as trepidatious as I at the offset and unwinding with the same velocity now that we were standing mere inches apart, her practically naked and me well on my way. Whomever had arranged this engagement would benefit more by offering both parties kindred purpose. It was all starting to make sense and this left me with emphatically mixed emotions. Familiarity wasn’t the issue here, but then, it was actually the most pressing one. To my knowledge, she hadn’t quite arrived at the realization part as yet, and I was happy for it to remain that way for a little longer. Should I have been correct in my presumption, then this would be our last masquerade and that nullified a great deal of the urgency.
No sooner had I eased off the gas as that red stiletto touched metal and the game was on once more. She began leaning in, tentatively but steeped in foregone conclusion. This was two things to me. It was precisely what my throbbing member had been suggesting ever since the partition lifted. Kissing those lips one final time was a dangerous proposition and therefore utterly galvanizing. It was also a critical blow to my solar plexus. Finality. This final embrace would condemn one of us to untimely closure and the other to eternal purgatory. Hardly a win-win situation. When our lips last parted, I had to come to terms that they would never again reconcile. That was the most bitter pill I had ever been forced to swallow but not half as sour as the one I would soon find stuck in my throat. At least before there was hope, albeit fleeting. So why was it that blind faith kicked in as those blushing lips hovered with intent before me? Autopilot perhaps? No, I knew precisely what I was doing.
As our lips finally locked in ravenous embrace, I was struck like steel by the instant realization that the man in front of me was none other my heart’s desire, Peter. The threat of losing my son suddenly become shatteringly real but still I remained composed. Reaching up and grasping his throat while placing my other hand in his, we commenced our masquerade. I followed his lead as he span me around and we glided gracefully across the floor. Pulling me close, his tongue probed between my lips until it met mine and I reciprocated fully, feeling the soft skin of his navel beneath my nails as I unfastened his trousers and reached inside to locate his throbbing member. This provoked an instantaneous response and he laid my back against the cold pine floor, sliding his scimitar of sin inside me. I bit my lip as each thrust reached deeper inside and sent me into ecstasy.
She knew what I knew. I knew that. This wasn’t simply two individuals caught up in the moment, raging pheromones alone didn’t fuel this kind of transaction. We were always good at communicating, never more so than when making love, only then we did so through every surging fiber and with no necessity for words. Said filaments were igniting like never before and each subsequent wave caused us both to shudder. However, I knew this was only about to intensify further. You see, surrender was never her strong suit. I was deep inside her, deeper with every thrust, and starting fires that were clearly out of her control. But still I felt resistance. Resistance to accept perhaps? Resistance to commit? Resistance to let go? I wasn’t sure at this point but knew that the answers were coming. Betsy had a name for my penis – the scimitar of sin. Right now it was the rapier of desire and probing its intent with just the same precision. Then it happened.
Unable to shake the feeling that this was to be our final embrace, I surrendered completely to seduction, curious as to whether our hidden audience were enjoying the show. Every fiber was blazing as we reached climax together then, once any fluids had been exchanged, he placed his face on my chest, looked up into my eyes, and mouthed two words gently. “I’m sorry”. With that, I felt the icy steel of his dagger as it began to infiltrate my right side and nestle into my kidney. I knew right away that my wound was to prove conclusive but, if this was going to secure our son’s safe passage, then I was fully prepared to offer my life to make it so. Right now all I wanted was comfort in my dying moments and Peter granted this willingly by pressing his lips against mine once again. He didn’t seem fazed as I bit down on his lower lip, causing his warm blood to trickle into both of our mouths.
I truly was sorry. Moreover, I knew that my apology had been accepted. One of us had to die. Those were the terms. They were made more than clear at commencement and we had both signed this tryst regardless of ramification as Nate was the only priority here and we knew it. Granted, identity was no longer a riddle, and that cast a light on things that neither one of us would have considered. But nothing had changed. Betsy being more stubborn than I, she would never have taken the plunge like I just did. Not this particular plunge anyway. She blamed herself for us drifting apart as ultimately it was her that extinguished our light when it became impossible to continue. Giving up on something that she never ceased believing in was the hardest thing she ever had to do. She never told me that but eyes don’t lie when your soul is invested. Had I opted to take the fall then she would never have forgiven herself and likely been dead too in a year. Not that I was feeling particularly preppy about killing her softly. But I had more to lose on this occasion and we both knew that.
With tears flowing freely from my flickering eyes, I wrapped my legs around his back once last time, forcing my wound to open further. He slid his sin inside of me once again, this time thrusting ever so delicately in precise synchronicity with the music. There seemed to be no better way of this concluding than the way in which it began. With my heart’s last effort to compensate for the loss of blood, I looked in his eyes I mouthed my parting gesture. “I’ve always loved you”. With tears visibly welling in his eyes too now, his firm hands reached up and cupped my face and he kissed me longingly one final time, before reaching for his dagger again. The second incision was just beneath my rib cage and he continued to navigate his blade until the dagger tip pierced my heart. It was safe here, held tight in my true love’s arms, where I would remain until my final breath had been spent. I could feel his own heart thundering as he held me close and, sheathed in my blood as it pooled around him, he wept.
What had I done? Needless to say this was the first question I asked myself as my one true love went limp in my arms. I had adhered to the terms of my cruel contract to the letter and knew there was gratuity for services rendered. So why did I feel nothing but desolation? Seems like a no-brainer when you consider the woman I loved was gone but this wasn’t just a simple case of not knowing what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Right up to the final twist of metal, I cherished her very marrow. Somehow continuation no longer felt compulsory or even the slightest bit attractive. I knew what she would say if she were here now. Live your life, smile and love, nurture and grow, reach and grasp. Honoring that should have been sufficient not to do what I did next. But that is where I failed her most. As I gripped that dagger and plunged it deep into my own beating heart conclusively, I desecrated our love forever, even though love was the only reason why I did it. Regret never interested me greatly if I’m honest. I guess I always knew it would pay me a visit eventually. As my own breathing became labored and I began slipping in and out of consciousness, the only right thing to do seemed to be resting my head against her chest one last time. For the first time since I had met Betsy and basked in her glow, it simply wasn’t there and I was left dancing with myself.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill