By the time he'd straightened his cup, it was too late. He'd already spilled half his beer right into his lap, and onto his jeans. “Shit,” Kit swore loudly, grabbing for napkins and trying to blot dry his crotch. It was no use. He rose from the table and headed to the men's room to try and undo the damage, and make it look less like he'd just pissed himself.
When he got up, the woman he'd been staring at – who'd caused him to be so careless with his drink – was still standing at the bar. She had a massive, hooded red cape on, and ruby red lips. That much he could make out. And her eyes. The hypnotic stare as she engaged in conversation with another woman she was with. Kit groaned in disgust when he saw the dark, wet stain on the front of his jeans.
And it would happen the day he was wearing light blue denim. Not so easy to hide, and even less easy to explain to people why it looks like you didn't make it to the loo in time. He fussed and rubbed and wiped as much of the excess wetness from his jeans as he could, the rest would just have to dry on its own, and he'd have to pray no one noticed. Yeah, tonight would be a good night to stay seated for a while. He looked in the mirror, adjusting his shirt, which was black and would not suffer the same fate as his jeans.
It also would've been a good night to wear a costume, but seeing as he had to wear one for work, it sort of loses its novelty. He sighed and opened the bathroom door, heading out. If he'd been looking where he was going, he might have noticed the woman in the red cape headed in that direction, and not crashed into her.
“Oh! I'm sorry I didn't see you there..”
They both stopped and stared at each other. Him with the realization that he'd just collided with the lady in red, and her with a look of curiosity. She smiled, giving him the once over, and then her eyes stopped when she saw his crotch?
“Didn't wear a pair of nappies tonight, hmmm?”
Kit's face reddened, stammering, he tried to explain, “ah.. no nappies needed um, I was too busy looking at you actually, and spilled my beer.”
That seemed to delight the red caped woman, “ooohhh so you left your sippy cup at home, then?” she purred.
He laughed nervously, “no... no no... I- you were... I was drinking and sort of not paying attention to what I was doing I guess, and rather clumsy.” Kit paused, the woman raising an eyebrow, “I was just wondering what the rest of your costume was, I suppose.”
She leaned in, eye level with him, “would you like to see, what's under my cape?”
Kit was full on blushing, and not sure how to respond to her question, “I'm afraid to answer that, for fear you might trick me.”
“A man can only be tricked if he allows himself to be, by someone more powerful and clever,” was her reply. “So what's it going to be, pet? What's behind the red curtain or.... perhaps maybe back to your beer bath?”
She made him nervous. More nervous than he'd ever remembered being around a woman, and the way she stared at him was having a strange effect. This woman intimidated him, but he was also intrigued.
“What's your name?”
She grinned, “you still haven't answered my question.”
“How bout if I tell you my name?”
“What makes you think I want to know your name?” she asked, running her thumb and index finger along the seam of her cape.
“Uh... well I was just being polite. I'm.. an actor,” he blurted.
Quirking an eyebrow, she leaned back against the wall of the narrow, dimly lit hallway, “are you a very good actor?”
Kit reached up to scratch his head, smiling, “I guess I am, I mean I think I'm pretty good.”
Cocking her head to the side, she pushed off the wall, “so I take it by your dodging my question, that you would rather return to your beer and crotch, game.”
“No! I mean I would very much like to see the rest of your costume. Only if you want to show me.”
She smirked, pulling open the cape she was wearing, slowly, to reveal a matching long, loose fitting red gown with an empire waist, made of velvet and satin. Kit felt a jolt, and then a sigh of relief. “Oh, well that's very nice, your outfit.”
“But you were expecting... something else?”
He was certain he must be beet red by now, “no I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. I mean I wasn't expecting anything. Do you normally make men this nervous?” he asked.
Her smirk had yet to leave her face, and by this time he was certain she was toying with him. “If you're nervous it's no fault of mine. But if there's something more you wish to see, and you think you're man enough to handle it, you can meet me at this address, at 1:30. A.M. that is.”
She pushed the card into his jeans pocket, letting a finger trail over his belt buckle, smiling, before walking away and entering the ladies room. Kit stared at the card and then looked over the address, printed in gold lettering. And then he saw the name: Lily.
He realized he hadn't seen very much of her aside from her face, and the dress she wore under her cape, and she'd kept her hood on the entire time she'd been speaking to him. He looked at the ladies room door, and then walked up to it, knocking softly.
“Excuse me,” he said, there was no answer. He knocked again, and the door moved slightly, indicating it wasn't locked. “Hello? Are you in there?”
“Well of course she's in there, Kit,” he thought to himself. He pushed the door in slightly and peeked, making sure she wasn't indecent, or in the middle of relieving herself. There was still no answer, and then he noticed that he didn't see anyone sitting, or standing for that matter, near the loo. He pushed the door open all the way.
The ladies room was empty.
Kit looked up, and then around. There was no window in the bathroom that she could have crawled out of, and she certainly wasn't in the men's room, because he'd been standing in front of the door when he was talking to her. He stepped back into the hallway. There was nothing but a wall there, no other doors. Kit was puzzled, she'd disappeared into thin air.
He stayed at the bar until 1 o'clock, and then headed down the street, making a left in the direction of the address on the card. It was a solitary looking building with four stories. He opened the door and found himself in a small lobby, low light illuminating the space. There was a staircase to the right of him, he made his way up the stairs, all the way to the fourth floor.
A dark red door with a marble handle, and a strange, brass colored symbol on it, greeted him when he reached the top of the steps. There was no doorbell, so he knocked twice. Never mind how strange it felt to just come to a woman's home when you barely knew her name or anything else, the place had an eery feel to it, and Kit felt a chill go up his spine.
The door opened when he turned the polished, marble knob, and he walked into a one room flat, plush furnishings, a fireplace, and a large, red oak, four poster bed, with velvet bedding.
“It's nice to see you're punctual,” a woman's voice said from what he assumed was the bathroom in the far left corner. When she stepped out, she was still wearing her ruby red lipstick, but everything else had changed.
Now she wore a long, deep purple dress, that clung to her body, criss cross spaghetti straps, and a hemline that swept across the floor as she moved. She had long, wavy, jet black hair down to the small of her back, and a sun kissed, olive complexion. He noticed her eyes, as she came closer. He could have sworn they were brown, at the pub, but upon closer look, they looked almost like they had a reddish tint to them. An inky, dark color he couldn't make out.
He was so mesmerized by her presence that he barely noticed her holding the wine glass. Kit took it absentmindedly. It was a dark red, aromatic with notes of blackberry and chocolate, and something else he couldn't make out. “Thank you,” he said, taking a sip. His taste buds were even more confused regarding its origins, but whatever it was, he found himself greedily taking another sip, before he remembered what brought him here.
“You disappeared from the ladies room, before I could properly introduce myself.”
She watched him, seemingly amused, “you followed me into the ladies room?”
“Well no...” his voice trailed off, “I knocked first, and the door was open but when I went in it was empty.”
“Was it?” she quipped, thoroughly tickled by his account.
“I only wanted to tell you my name, since I now know yours is Lily.”
She smiled brightly, “ah... I keep forgetting that's on the card...” she turned her back to him and walked over to a velvet lined, claw foot loveseat, and sat down. “It's short for Lillith. Would you like to sit?”
Kit noticed Lily had a knack for averting his questions, but he decided not to give up, as he took a seat. “Thank you for the wine, now I don't want to seem like an ungrateful guest, but you keep avoiding answering my questions.”
Her eyes traveled from the glass in his hand, to his crotch, before meeting his. “I see you've stopped bathing in beer and wetting yourself.”
Kit laughed, his face hot with embarrassment, but stood firm on getting an answer, “could you please answer my questions? Please? For starters how did you disappear like that, in the pub?”
Lily draped an arm across the back of the couch, and crossed her legs. The hem of her dress slipping away just enough to reveal blood red toenail polish, and bare feet. She was the same height as him, he realized, looking at her toes.
“Maybe I didn't,” she answered. Eying him again as he took a sip from his glass.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Maybe you're seeing things, Christopher.”
He hadn't told her his name. “Please call me Kit. I am rather used to it and everyone calls me Kit. And how did you know my name if I didn't tell you? Do you... have you seen Game of Thrones?”
Lily raised an eyebrow, “Game of Thrones? Where does one watch this? And who wins this throne you're playing for?”
Kit was affronted, “the show, it's on HBO, you do watch tv?”
She twirled a lock of black hair around her finger, “not much for televisions, no.”
Whoever she was, she was enjoying the range of facial expressions Kit displayed as he tried desperately to figure her out, and what had drawn him to her. Normally he would never just show up to some unknown home in the middle of the night, to see a woman he'd only known for five seconds. But he had come here out of curiosity, and maybe something else. He looked around and noticed the lack of a tv, or any other electronics for that matter.
“I take it you're not much for computers or internet, either?” he asked.
Lily stared thoughtfully at his hands, and then shrugged, “I've never understood the human preoccupation with computers and those fancy little image projectors you call tv. Then again I've not had a need for them. More wine?”
She'd done it again, she hadn't answered how she knew his name, and then she'd distracted him. Lily stood up and took his glass from his hand, sauntering over to a small table with a menacing, tall, dark bottle on it. He could faintly make out gold lettering etched into the front of the bottle, similar to the lettering that had been on the card she gave him.
“How do you know my name?” Kit asked, watching her pour him another glass, and then herself one as well. “If you don't watch television and you've never heard of thrones. How do you know me, and who are you?”
“So many questions,” she purred, making her way back to the loveseat and handing him his glass. “You are such an inquisitive young man. I suppose that's good, that you pay attention. Yet you still seem to be missing something is that it?”
“Tell me,” he asked, taking the glass from her, “what am I missing?”
She watched him, amused by his puzzlement, almost as if it gave her great pleasure. “You like the wine?”
He nodded, taking another sip, “yes, it's probably the best wine I've ever had in my life. And I've had a lot of wine.”
Kit stared at her, “what... what do you mean by that?” He watched her put her own glass to her lips, never taking her eyes off him.
“This wine... is a very old family tradition. You aren't going to find it anywhere. Not in any vineyard or wine shoppe. Of course you're welcome to try.” She ran her tongue along the rim of the glass, closing her eyes as if in bliss.
“I don't suppose you would tell me where exactly I might get a bottle, and what it would cost me for such a thing?” He was feeling more relaxed, buzzed but aware of every tiny detail of the room, of himself, and of her. Then he heard her laugh. A soft, sultry laugh that denoted there was much more to their being here, than perhaps even he was aware of.
“It would cost you nothing, in the way of money... but for this wine, I would need something else from you, in exchange for a bottle, and my secrets. Or maybe I should say... answers to the questions you seek.”
Kit looked at her, then down at his glass, cautiously. “There's not human blood or something in this, is it?”
More sultry laughter, “oh you silly boy, you've been watching too many horror films.” She took another sip, entertained by his bewilderment. “No, no human or other type of blood at all. Only grapes... special ones. You don't have any objection to grapes, do you?”
The wine had not only made him more relaxed, but also more bold with his tongue. “You are a very, very unusual creature. Woman... but... I can't figure you out, and you won't answer my questions, but I will ask where you're from, because you're not English, that's for certain.”
She gave him an “Oh really?” look, and put her glass down. “Well perhaps you're not so clueless, after all. But you should finish your wine.”
And he did, without another word. And when he was done, she took his glass, placing it on the floor next to her own.
“You were watching me in the pub.” It wasn't a question, she was stating that which she knew was true. He nodded, acknowledging as much. “I was thinking maybe you were red riding hood, but now I'm not so sure.”
She chuckled softly, “I'm not afraid of wolves, Kit. But you were watching me, which is why you weren't paying very good attention to the beer you spilled on your crotch. And then you tried to dry yourself off to no avail, and you came out of the bathroom and crashed into me, and we chatted, and you wondered what sexy little thing I was wearing under my long cape, and you were sooo disappointed when you saw what was actually underneath.”
Kit gulped, and started to open his mouth in protest, until she lifted a finger, holding it to his lips. Her hand smelled like jasmine flowers, and something else he wasn't familiar with.
“I gave you my card, and here you are. Because you wanted me. You're here because of the desire in your loins, because you want to know what's under the cape; because you want what's between my legs. So it doesn't really matter where I came from, or how I know your name, or how I vanished into the ether when you came to the ladies room looking for me. You wanted me, and so I came, to answer your call. Your desire.”
She released her finger from his lips, then. “But I've never met you before, we've never.. I don't even know you.”
“Since when has a man ever needed to know someone, to want them?”
“No... I mean I... no how can you say that you came to the pub because of me? That's what you're saying isn't it?”
She tapped an index finger to her temple, “now he gets it.”
Kit sat up, shaking his head, “I don't understand it. How does that work?”
Lily stood up, taking in his confused expression and how rigid his back had become. “I only answer those who call me.”
She pulled the straps off her shoulders. Even though the dress clung to her body, the straps slipped down her arms, the dress pooling at her feet as if she'd willed it to do so. Kit looked up at her, blinking in disbelief. She was beautiful, and a complete mystery to him. She held out her hand, and he stood up, without a second thought.
“So.. what happens now?” he asked. Lily only smiled, pulling him into her embrace and whispering into his ear. “What brought you here?”
He turned his face to hers, “you. I.. I wanted to see you.”
Her fingertips caressed his face, “then what is it you think is going to happen?”
She kissed him then, and all his thoughts seem to fuse together into one. He felt like he was floating, as she undressed him, kissed him, and led him to the large oak bed in the shadows.
Kit woke up hours later, alone. He pulled his clothes on, silently looking around to see if she'd left any trace, but there was none. He left, that eery feeling returning that he couldn't put a finger on. When he finally got outside, there was a chill in the air, and he felt like someone he couldn't see, was watching him.
“Mate, something weird happened to me the other night.” Kit was at his friend Nick's house, having a whiskey on the rocks and re-telling the events of the night before. When he told him about the woman, and the address he went to later that evening, Nick gave him an odd look.
“Kit, man I think maybe you should start cutting back on the drinking.”
Kit looked at him, shocked, “I'm serious! I woke up and she was gone, no note, no nothing, I haven't got any way to reach her but I'm telling you that's what happened. I wasn't drunk... I know what I saw. I mean I wasn't that drunk that I wouldn't remember.”
That was only half true. The time between Lily kissing him, and him waking in her bed was a complete haze.
“Kit, no one lives at that address, is what I'm trying to tell you,” Nick began. “No one's lived in that building for over 20 years.”
“That's not possible, that's where she was, the top floor.”
Nick shook his head, “maybe she drugged you, man. You said she gave you some funny tasting wine right? Well there you have it, she drugged you and had her way with you. You sure she wasn't really a man or something? Were you sore when you woke up?” He tried to keep a straight face, but burst into laughter. Kit's face was the equivalent of drinking soured milk, “piss off, Nick. You know what, I'll prove it, let's go I'll show you.”
It was still light out when they hopped into the bmw and headed over to the address he'd been to only a night before. By daylight the lonely building looked completely different. And when they got out of the car and stepped inside, all of the lights in the lobby were busted out. The place looked dusty, like it hadn't been lived in for ages. Kit pressed on, taking Nick up the steps. “I don't know why they never just sealed this place off or tore it down,” Nick said, following Kit upstairs.
They got to the fourth floor and Kit froze. The door was cracked, and from what he could see of the interior from where he was standing, the place was laid bare. He shook his head, “no..”
Rushing to the door and pushing it open, confirmed his deepest fears. The place was stripped of its furnishings, no bed, no carpeting or plush living furniture. And it looked just as it did downstairs. Dust and cobwebs everywhere, not a trace of a living soul in sight. He looked to Nick in horror. “This isn't right... I don't know how, but I'm telling you she was here.”
Nick saw the troubled look on his face and knew whatever happened, he was sincere. He scanned the empty flat, with Kit, and even looked in what once was a bathroom. Nothing.
They got back downstairs, Kit badly shaken, trying to make sense of what he'd just seen. He drove Nick back to his house and decided it'd be best if he didn't drink anymore that evening, and went home. Seeing as something had happened that he couldn't remember, that he needed to piece together.
He made it home, tossing his keys on the table when he got inside, and then pausing at the door, after locking it. He recognized the scent immediately, jasmine, and something else intermingled. Was he hallucinating? He shook it off, swearing to never again follow some strange woman home. He turned and went through the mail he'd left on the counter earlier that day, the scent returned, as if wherever it was coming from, it had been in the house, or maybe still was. Something drew his attention to the far corner of the dining room, and he dropped the mail that was in his hand.
There on the small magazine table his mother had given him – that he'd never found a use for – was a tall, dark bottle of wine, with gold letters etched into the glass.