Every Last Kiss


Page 4



As I stared at the wood grain, I knew beyond any doubt that I hadn’t left it closed.So, the burning question was…who had closed it?

My heart started pounding and I pushed the door open.

Nothing.

Not a thing was out of place.My bed was made and my room was neat, except for the shoes scattered on the floor.Most importantly, though, it was empty. I almost took a deep breath of relief.

But then the whispering began again.All around me… raspy whispering with incoherent, foreign words, getting louder and louder. The room seemed to spin and suddenly I was moving again, toward my dresser.My hand didn’t even feel attached to me as it reached out, pulling open a drawer.

The bloodstone glowed wildly from among my panties, the veins pulsating.I couldn’t help myself- I reached out my shaking fingers and wrapped them around the stone. It felt like I was holding a beating heart in my hand.

The whispering stopped.

“All will be lost, Charmian.”     

I would recognize the scary man’s voice anywhere.Clutching the stone to my chest, I whirled around.

And screamed.Because that is what a normal girl does when she finds someone in her bedroom.And I’m normal.Damn it, I’m normal.

The man from my garage stood perched at the edge of my room, ominously out of place, like an overgrown vulture.His voluminous dark robes hung heavily around him and he stretched a gnarled, twisted hand toward me.As he moved, thick swirls of incense swirled around me and I froze.

Unbidden thoughts sprung into my head.

I was suddenly consumed with fear.Not for the obvious, sane reason- because a strange man was standing in my bedroom-but because it was rumored that high priests were actually cannibals.

Where did that come from?How the hell did I know that he was a high priest?

I wasn’t even in control of my own thoughts as unbidden memories that I didn’t even know I had rushed back to me, flooding my thoughts.Testing my sanity. 

High priests were cannibals.They ate the flesh of those they considered wise, hoping that they would gain that wisdom through ingestion.I didn’t know how true my sudden strange thoughts were, but the second they sprung to mind, it was all I could think of.

A cannibal stood in front of me with sunken cheeks, razor thin lips and a shaved head.I shuddered and he smiled at my reaction, his thin lips stretching even thinner across his gaunt face.

His terrifying expression was startling and my heart ricocheted wildly against my chest like a drum.The thick black kohl lining his eyes was smeared, making him seem slightly deranged as it streaked in murky rivulets down his sweaty cheeks.

“Do not fear, Charmian.I am only here to help.”

Why did he keep calling me Charmian?

He reached his twisted hand out to me once again.An invitation to grasp his talon-like fingers.I took a shaky step backward.  There was no way I was touching him.No. Way.

“Take it,”he insisted.“You must.You are the only one who can help.”

With a speed I wouldn’t have thought he possessed, he snatched my hand.And I dropped to my knees in front of him with the force of the visions that passed through me.

A woman was curled into a ball, weeping.With thin fingers, she frantically clutched at her chest, scratching at the skin, drawing blood.In my vision, she turned her head and stared into my eyes.Cleopatra.

I knew it just like I knew my heart was beating.

Vivid green paint swept across her eyelids and her plump lips were stained crimson.Don’t ask me how, but I knew that the stain was from henna and the green was malachite.She wore a short white shift and delicate leather sandals on her feet, the thin straps interwoven with golden strands and wrapping around her slender calves until they tied neatly behind her knees.

She rushed to me, her gleaming black hair as dark as a shadow.

“Charmian, they’re coming.I can’t bear it!”

She gestured through the open balcony doors to our left and then collapsed back into a heap, weeping inconsolably.

Gazing over the stone railing of the balcony wall, I stared into the harbor below us.Hundreds of ships were filling the glistening harbor.Rome.Rome had descended upon us.

How did I know that?

But I knew.Just as I knew that Rome had been closing in on Egypt for years, a suffocating, overwhelming presence that had creshendoed every day, a presence led by Gaius Julius Caesar.Otherwise called Octavian, with a bland smile and expressionless eyes. Perfectly polite and perfunctory, but seemingly inhuman and emotionless, the adopted son of Julius Caesar methodically worked to fell Cleopatra and acquire Egypt for his own.And suddenly, instead of asking myself how I knew any of this, all I could wonder was …How had I forgotten?

I turned from my stance at the balcony doors and caught my own image in Cleopatra’s gilded bronze mirror.I sucked in a ragged breath.

My own jade green eyes stared back at me, framed by my long, dark hair.Those things were the same, familiar.But my body was different.It was shorter, slighter, older. Exotically beautiful.  Golden skin, ancient clothing.Henna tattoos delicately curled down my arms and thick ornate golden jewelry adorned my neck and wrists.My lips were plump and my skin was perfect- not a single blemish or freckle.

But it was me.I knew it as surely as I was breathing and the knowledge was dizzying.


“What is happening?”I whispered desperately.

As soon as I spoke, the visions snapped closed as though someone had slammed a book shut. 

I was once again standing in front of the old priest.

Annen.His name is Annen.

“Annen,”I murmured.

He seemed pleased as he stared back, his obsidian eyes glinting.

“Ah, you remember, my lady.”

I gulped.He was right.I remembered.I knew him.I had known him centuries ago.Oh, Mary Mother of God.This couldn’t be happening.This is a dream.This is a dream.This is a dream.  

But it wasn’t.

“Please,”I whispered.“Am I going crazy?How is this happening?”

“You’re not crazy,”he assured me.“Give it a moment. Trust me, you’ve been through this hundreds of times.Focus on your bloodstone.Everything will come back to you.”

He sat back patiently, his crooked fingers clasped in front of him as he waited and I clutched the cool stone in my fingers.The source of all of my recent problems somehow didn’t seem separate from me- it suddenly seemed a natural part of me.And I realized that it hadn’t just been given to me… it had just been returned to me.It had been mine all along.

Annen’s ancient face swirled together as the room began to spin around me and nausea boiled in my throat.My cheeks flushed as heat washed over me.It was almost too much sensation to bear. It literally felt as though every emotion ever felt by any other human being was coursing through me right this second.The sheer force of it threw my head back.

Fragmented images of people, places, colors and even scents assailed me and I gasped to breathe.Water, ships, horses, gold, statues, children…. So many things flew in front of my eyes in just a mere matter of minutes, puzzle pieces fitting together and then ripping apart to be replaced by new ones.It was maddening, dizzying, sickening…

And then, abruptly, it was over.I slumped limply forward, still on my knees.This couldn’t be happening.But. It. Was.

The magnitude of what I knew now was making me feel weak and shaky.But my mind was filled with knowledge…. Knowledge that hadn’t been there before.Knowledge that was irrefutable.

“You have remembered who you are?”Annen probed expectantly, his black eyes missing nothing as he crossed the room to me.His claw-like fingers were suddenly gripping my arm and I flinched, not from pain but because he made me uncomfortable.High priests had always made me uncomfortable.

I raised my head and nodded.

“Yes,”I whispered.“I know who I am.”

I lightly fingered the bird-shaped birthmark that hovered directly over my pulse-point. Why had I not wondered about it before? It marked me for being exactly what I was.I had possessed many names over the past hundreds of years; many faces, many bodies.But my soul has always stayed the same, as well as my fate.

I belonged to the ancient Order of the Moirae.As a Keeper, my sole mission in every life has been to protect and lead my charge, my Daedal, through the annals of time, gently guiding her into staying on the path laid out for her by the Fates.   

Because every person in life has a predetermined destiny and unfortunately, there are those who have a more difficult journey in every life.We call them the Daedal.

A Daedal…a catalyst, a complication, a change.A Daedal changes the world in some significant way even though their very significance generally causes a tragic end to their lives.They are fated to be something great- something important, in every life.Because of that, I am what I am.A Keeper, marked as such by the phoenix birthmark.

And right now, I was Charmian; handmaiden, confidante and advisor to Queen Cleopatra VII, my Daedal.

I had been raised with the queen in ancient Alexandria, running and playing with her through the ornate halls of the stone palace as we grew up.I had served her, offered her my advice and became her closest friend.And I had died with her when we were both 39 years old. I could remember every painful detail with bone-jarring clarity, just as though it was yesterday.

I stared into the all-knowing eyes of the priest.He nodded, recognizing the realization he saw reflected in my own.The gravity of who I was settled down around me like a heavy cloak and the colors in the room started to run together.

And then I fainted.

CHAPTER THREE

Scorching, smoldering eyes.

The familiarity they held mocked me as they glinted in the light, framed by lush dark lashes.A strong jaw-line led to soft lips which parted to reveal even, white teeth.And then his face was unveiled to me in its entirety, as though murky clouds in my consciousness had faded away.I gasped in recognition.He was mine.

Hasani.The man from my dreams.Bronzed skin, brilliantly white smile, shiny black hair pulled into a leather clasp at his neck.He reached for me with strong hands, his long fingers beckoning.His was the most beautiful face I’d ever seen.

“Come to me, my love. I’ve missed you,”he murmured in a deep, husky voice and my heart stopped.

I sat up with a gasp, opening my eyes. 

“Hasani,”I breathed.

“Ah, you have returned to us, Charmian,”Annen murmured smoothly.Seated across the room from me on a golden chaise, his dark robes were spread around him like a fan.

And this was not my bedroom.

I looked around quickly.Polished marble floors, elaborate silken draperies, onyx statues, glittering golden accents.Ebony balcony doors were open, allowing the lush, fragrant seabreeze to blow in, gently ruffling my hair.This was impossible.Utterly impossible.This was my bedroom.But not my bedroom in Pasadena.This was Charmian’s bedroom.In ancient Egypt.

“We’re in Alexandria,”I muttered uncertainly, eyeing the priest with suspicion.“I don’t understand this. This has never happened before…”

There was no way I should be here.This was the past, not the present.I had never moved through time before.Not ever. There was no need.My job was to ensure that my Daedal’s plan unfolded perfectly.There was never any need to return to a life, because I was very good at what I did.But my surroundings didn’t lie.I had definitely returned.

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