The Dark Daxsensuous
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. --The Lord's Prayer

The wind howls and bites at me while the moon shines on the ice at an angle that gives the ground an eerie pink sheen. His hair was that color once. I'm reminded of blood-soaked rain curling down dark sewers. The color is delicious. His hair is dark now, blue-black like a bruise, almost clashing with those vivid hazel eyes. But he still carries himself the same way, like a cat that's been hungry too long. A feline familiar with enchanting eyes and a voracious soul. Irresistible.

I stand apart on the stairwell, secreted carefully against the old plaster walls that crumble like ancient bone in my grasping hands. I see him. He bends over his computer in the old library tower, scanning ancient books scented with centuries' worth of mildew. He looks bored, but still, he seems satisfied enough. His demeanor cries for attention even while his eyes stay perpetually downcast. I used to ignore him in the stairwell until…until it became impossible not to meet the lurking wait in his face. An accidental introduction one day and suddenly, I see a man. A child playing pirate. A cat dancing around a cornered vole. A smoldering boy's outrageous desire. So now I say hello each day. I let him in.

Bone-thin and dressed in a long black man-skirt, his pink cowlick sweeps across an angry smirk, making him seem awkward, shy, and magnetic all at once. I was struck. His masks glared in a painful and transparent way, revealing a hurt boy who spent his childhood as easy bait for bullies and pretty girls. I eventually learned that, despite his childlike glee in animals and attention, he still liked the usual things men find amusing-sex, power, and control. Months would pass before I fully understood the dark and sensuous power I had let inside.

He claimed the rings caught his fancy, made him want to know me better. Show me your rings he said that afternoon as my garnets glistened in dusty motes from the Tower windows. I held out my hands shyly, curious about this man. You wear an inordinate amount of jewelry. That makes you stand out in this boring place, he said, drilling me with dark green and brown-flecked eyes, making me blush and laugh. Indeed, I did wear a lot of rings. I loved them. The silver and stones weighted me down and gave me the grounding I craved. And he was pointing at one, the diamond.

From your significant person? He said, frowning, impossibly long, inky black lashes fluttering up to meet my gaze.

Yes, from my partner.

He nodded, mistaken. Ah. So you like girls, right?

No, I date a man.

Really? You don't date women? I just assumed…

Well, not anymore. It's been years since I last...I have a male partner now.

Oh. Yes, well, my girlfriend likes garnets as well.

I remember the feeling, like a weight had been dropped into my throat, strangling my breath. He lived with a woman. Any possibility of romance died in the air between us. I tasted ash. He was taken, I was involved, we were safe. Safe. His long stare stopped my sputter of relief. Hungry souls need more than flowers and poetry, expensive weeds and drivel. Neither of us wanted romance. Safe? No.

Each morning he appeared at my office door, slim fingers wrapping like tendrils around the glass and wood before his head would appear, a hungry smile on those thin, delicious lips. Always sensing, knowing. Some days he brought small gifts-a feather, some chocolate, two matching plastic rings. Other days, he brought himself-dry, languid, angry at something he kept hidden behind his eyes.

The day I walked up to him boldly, challenging him to look away, he laughed…a dainty, misplaced laugh that didn't match his dark smolder and came from someplace deep within. I resisted the urge to strike him and startle the smirk from his face. Feel the pain, bastard, I thought. I loathed having a hunger I couldn't satisfy. Instead of hurting him, of making his grin disappear into the same ache I carried, I instead leaned forward and pressed myself into a different destiny.

I fell into his eyes that morning for the first time. I swore never to go back. I saw graves there. Deadly visions. Trickster masks. Dogs ripping foxes to shreds.

And then I saw myself.

We met everyday, usually just to hold each other. The fire that passed between us, between our fingers, left us both hot and steaming in the cold and damp Tower stairwell. Work suffered as I chased glimpses of him in the hall. Anything to see his black-clad back walking through the Tower or down a flight of stairs. For a time I believed he didn't know what he was, didn't understand what he had done to me.

I felt inflamed, powerless, crazy. He often poured himself into my line of vision like liquid and then disappeared into the archives for hours, befriending dusty books that could hold his pain. As the soft slap of his shoes on the stone steps would gradually fade I would grip my chipped wooden desk, making my nails bite into the old, soft wood until the blood came. I told myself I could stop the deadly game, that I could walk away. My lies tasted like bile.

We made pacts and promises. All well-intentioned. All utterly useless. No kissing. No sex. No love. No commitment. I would step back into life at any time. When I felt scared or restless, I flung my power about, believing I knew who I was. Instead, his folly became my destiny.

I ran my hands down his sharp ribs each day, feeling each bone beneath my cold fingers, counting, wondering how any man could be so very thin, and still stand. Because he rarely touched me back, I devoured him cautiously, gently caressing his hands, arms, face, chest, back, jutting hip bones. Each piece of him gave me a secret breath. Every bone under my hands pulsed with a life-fire I couldn't recognize as my own.

I ran my hands across his flat stomach and imagined my head lying there, hearing his soul speak. I traced the cross made by whorls of pitch-dark chest hair between his shallow ribs and thought of my own crucifixion. His marrow ran deeply through him, pulsing. Three years passed, but the calendar told me it had been only five months. All of my control had ebbed away. I was left with foolish thoughts…ideas that I might tame his fire and embrace the inevitable burn. I forgot that fire feeds upon itself.

His apartment felt frigid that night, almost as cold as our forbidden stairwell, but the immense pull of his flame flared more strongly. Sitting on the floor, barely touching, the energy of lifetimes welded us together, my trembling hands touching his face. I traced his mustache, his chin, his goatee, over and over again. He closed his eyes, tilted his head, breathed in deeply. At that moment, I knew.

I am all knowing. I am time itself.

When he bent to me, I gasped at the heat of his breath. First his lips and then his teeth dragged delicately on my neck. I went rigid, breathless. His teeth moved more strongly, more deeply, creating heat between us, drawing tiny, sweet beads of blood from me. I felt him smiling on my neck, believing in the gift of craving he was bestowing.

His beautiful hazel eyes rolled up to the heavens as he bit once more, making me squirm and gasp before he licked the wound gently with his tongue, caressing the dip of my shoulder with his mouth. I choked on a sob while his slim fingers held my arms, refusing to let me fly apart.

I went home that evening proud, delicious…and hungry.

Glassy ice shards crackle underfoot as we step forward together, the Rhine river valley by St. Goar rushing mightily below us. My cranberry silk gown, dampened by the snow and wind, bleeds small pink wounds that follow us like footprints along the icy mound. Lorelei rock provides no shelter from the stinging winter blast, but we feel no pain. We trust the legend and believe. Breathing in huge gulpfuls of the frigid air, we look up to stars. The siren's beautiful death song howls, vying for our attention over the wind and sleet.

He stands besides me, arrow-straight, cold but protected under his cape. I touch him hungrily, feeling for his ribs under the heavy velvet. I count them and know who I am as my fingers run down them like so many solved mysteries. The old priest is impatient, displeased at the cold that bites at his rheumy eyes, his hefty payment already forgotten as he remembers the unholy task expected of him. The tavern had been comfortable and his mulled wine warm. The old man wavers for a moment, spitting a twist of phlegm into the wind, uncertain if he can still remember all the words. Then he begins.

And who takes this woman?

I do, says Dax, I take her. She is mine.

The Dark Daxsensuous