Every Last Kiss

Page 34

He grinned in response, an ear to ear smile that lit his entire face, another trait of Hasani’s.I breathed deeply, trying not to hyperventilate and look crazy. I definitely didn’t want him to start screaming and run in the opposite direction.Right now, he strongly reminded me of the young guard who had picked me off the floor when Auletes had backhanded me across the room.Young, fresh-faced and sweet. Hasani.

“This is going to sound crazy again,”he began, “and I know we just met, but would you like to get some lunch? My treat, of course.I don’t know anyone here.”

He had no idea what crazy sounded like.Crazy was magic bloodstones, time travel and insane eunuchs.He sounded perfectly normal and shockingly beautiful.

I smiled in a relief that I hadn’t even realized I felt.I had found Hasani.Or he had found me.Whatever…either way, I was staring into his face at this very second.His beautiful, darkly handsome face.

“Absolutely,”I agreed.“Someone needs to show you the best places to eat,”I grinned.

“Not here?”He raised his eyebrows.

“No, not here.Although it’s passable.My mother likes this place.Which reminds me- I need to take her a sandwich for lunch.But then I’m free.”

“So am I,”he grinned cockily in an oh-so-Hasani way.“Free, I mean.”

“Good to know.”

I smiled back, unaffected by his swagger.

It was all show, it always had been.Hasani was arrogant, cocky and had the heart of a warrior.But he was also kind and exquisitely gentle.He was a good soul, through and through.

My soul had recognized his.We stood here like magnets, drawn to each other.Time, it seemed, was not our enemy after all.It was just air and space and hours.Anything worth having was able to withstand it.

I smiled up at him as he held the door for me, still a perfect gentleman.My heart raced with anticipation.I found myself anxious to get to know him all over again, every single facet of this new person that Hasani had become.As I slipped past him, I caught a whiff of his masculine scent. Clean, tangy, outdoorsy.He smelled the same.Unbelievable.

I couldn’t help myself. I stopped in my tracks right in the middle of the lunch rush and stared up into his dark eyes.This was Hasani.I had known him for so long, even if he didn’t realize it.He was mine.

Reaching up on my tiptoes, I kissed him softly on the lips. His lips were just as soft as ever and he definitely didn’t pull away.I felt his hands lightly graze my back and I pulled back a few seconds later to find an expression of utter surprise on his face.

“Wow.California girls are friendly.Um, did I mention that it is so nice to meet you?”His handsome face was a comical combination of shock and enjoyment.

I nodded happily.“Yep.And it’s so nice to meet you, too.”



The Palace of Queen Cleopatra VII

Alexandria, Egypt

August, 30 BC

The priest seemed to float down the lushly adorned hallway, breezing past the Roman guards with ease.They had seen him many times before, consulting with Charmian before her untimely demise.It did not seem out of the ordinary now that he enter her abandoned bedchambers, so they offered no resistance.

Closing the doors behind him, Ahmose stood silently for a moment, scanning the room around him.Still and quiet, the room possessed the eerie silence of someone departed.The scent of Charmian’s perfume remained in the air and he breathed it in deeply.He had been with her a long time, too long to even remember.He knew her.

Kneeling in front of a deep chest at the foot of her bed, he rocked it backwards.The weight was difficult to move, so he braced his entire body against it.Supporting it with his shoulder, he slid one hand underneath.His gnarled fingers grazed against papyrus and he closed his hand around it, pulling it out into the light.Easing the silver chest back onto the floor, he perched himself on top of it.

Her elegant script flowed on the page.

There is a legend, whispered from generation to generation, of a bird with iridescent crimson feathers and brilliant azure eyes.It lives in a secret, far-away place and feeds only on air, never harming another living creature.Incredibly gentle, it is saddened by the despair of the human race and weeps tears of human torment.     

After a thousand years pass, it builds its own funeral pyre, lining it with cinnamon, myrrh and cassia.Climbing to a rest on the very top, it examines the world all throughout the night with the ability to see true good and evil.When the sun rises the next morning, with great sorrow for all that it sees, it sings a haunting song.As it sings, the heat of the sun ignites the expensive spices and the Phoenix dies in the flames.  

But the Phoenix is not remarkable for its feathers or flames.It is most revered for its ability to climb from its own funeral pyre, from the very ashes of its old charred body, as a brand new life ready to live again once more.Life after life, it goes through this cycle.It absorbs human sorrow, only to rise from death to do it all again.It never wearies, it never tires.It never questions its fate.

Some say that the Phoenix is real, that it exists somewhere out there in the mountains of Arabia, elusive and mysterious.Others say that the Phoenix is only a wish made by desperate humans to believe in the continuance of life.

But I know a secret.

We are the Phoenix.

Ahmose sighed as he stared at her words.She did this in every life.Dutiful to the very end, she carried out her duties to pristine perfection no matter how bereft she felt.

But her soul was a dramatic one.  And since she didn’t feel comfortable talking with him, she always released her sorrow onto paper, hiding it where she thought it wouldn’t be found for generations, until the paper it was written on had crumpled into nothing. 

But he knew they couldn’t take that chance.Instead of chastising her and reminding her once again of the need for secrecy, he simply searched her belongings after she died each time, always knowing exactly what he would find.

Holding the fragile paper in his palm, Ahmose uttered a few low words and the paper burst into flame.Dropping it to the stone floor, he watched it until it had turned completely to ashes, turning a spot on the floor black.The Roman guards could think what they may.It was no longer of concern to him.

For now, he was content to allow her this one breach, this one slip of decorum.In every life, she earned it.Standing to his full height, the ancient Aegis disappeared, leaving only the scent of incense behind.

The End

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