The rhythmic ticking of the fan started to feel like it was imprinting on my consciousness, and my pointer finger tapped the same tempo against the mattress as I stared at the ceiling.
whir tic tic tic tic
whir tic tic tic tic
whir tic tic tic tic
The sheep staged a rebellion, refusing to come in from the pasture to be counted, and I kicked off my sheets with a frustrated huff when I realized sleep simply wasn't coming.
"Really? Nothing at all? I don't even get a nap?" I asked aloud to my empty bedroom.
The cliche box-store watercolor on the wall seemed to mock my restlessness and I stuck my tongue out at it.
Finally, I resolved to go do some quiet mediation, slipping on jean shorts over my panties and a long-sleeve cardigan over my tanktop.
I hoped that repetitive prayer would ease my excitement for the coming day and allow me to get some rest, knowing if it didn't, I had an awful lot of caffeine in my immediate future.
I padded to the kitchen and put a mug full of water into the microwave, stopping it a few seconds before zero so the loud beeping wouldn't interrupt the silence of the house and wake the other three people sleeping down the hall.
One cherry blossom chamomile tea bag later, I opened the glass sliding door and stepped out into the fresh night air.
The ocean breeze immediately tugged at the loose strands of hair not pulled into the mass of silver waves piled on top of my head, blowing them across my face as my eyes closed to breathe in the silence and scent of the water before I crossed to the railing and leaned my elbows against the top weather-worn plank.
There was something so consistently calming about the sound of the ocean at night. Everywhere there was coastline, the gentle whooshing sounded the same - over shells, over pink sand, over black sand, over rocks, it didn't matter. The rhythmic lap of the tide always seemed to make my all-consuming stresses seem trivial.
I closed my eyes and inhaled the deep salinity of the ocean air, humming at the way it mingled with the sweet flavors in my tea and starting to feel the pull of relaxation deep in my limbs.
"Sa Sekhem Sahu...Sa Sekhem Sahu..." I whispered, reaching out to the divine energy that animated me, whispering to my goddess, concentrating on turning the chaos of my scattered thoughts into the harmony of restful sleep.
I was made to be near the water - oceans, lakes, rivers, puddles, I didn't care as long as I could get my feet wet.
And I was considering heading down the steps and doing just that when a quiet voice interrupted my thoughts, making me gasp and jump as my silence was shattered.
"Can't sleep either?"
I turned, one hand over my thundering heart, which almost stopped dead when I realized who had spoken to me.
He was so much taller in person than I'd imagined, standing at the opposite end of the deck. His hair was loose, cascading in pitch black strands down his back over his tshirt, which seemed to almost glow white in comparison.
The beach house we were in was a single structure divided into two separate sides, with a low wall partitioning one half of the deck from the other so for all intents and purposes it was two independent halves that shared a roof.
I'd been out all afternoon laying in the sun with May, and no one had made so much as a peep from the other half, so I had just assumed it was empty, not having been rented out for the week.
But now, as I realized I was clearly wrong, I was having a hard time wrangling my inner fangirl into submission.
GODS BUT HE'S HANDSOME ISN'T HE. LOOK HOW TALL HE IS.
"Ah, no, not really," I mumbled, pulling my sweater closer around me and setting my mug firmly on the railing before it fell from my shaking hands and shattered across the deck.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," he apologized, smiling over at me for a brief moment.
"Oh, no its okay. I just uhm... I didn't realize there was anyone else staying here. Did you get here tonight?"
He nodded, and turned back to the ocean.
Welp, so much for turning chaos into harmony. We're definitely wide the hell awake now...
I quietly grumbled at her that that was quite enough of her lip for one night.
"Yeah late though, they wouldn't let me sleep out on the beach. Threat of bodily harm or drowning or something like that," he joked.
I laughed, inhaling a shaky breath and smiling softly, trying to meet myself halfway between shrieking with delight and being overly coy.
"Well at least you can sleep, even if its not on the sand."
"Like a baby, clearly, as I'm out here in the middle of the night, same as you," he scoffed with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh...right..." We both looked out at the waves again, watching the white foam break up the endless blackness, stretching beyond the dark horizon.
"I'm Johannes, by the way," his head turned slightly towards me as the breeze floated his hair across his chest.
"Triste," I smiled, and my hand moved away from the rail, so used to being extended for a handshake that it automatically did it now, and by the time I caught myself, I didn't have any way to play it off.
"Shit. Sorry. Habit," I murmured, wanting to jump over the side of the deck and disappear as he laughed and grinned over at me.
The thought crossed my mind again with more gusto when he crossed to the low partition and extended his hand over it.
"Nice to meet you, Triste," he winked.
I felt like I was floating as my feet padded across the wooden beams of the deck floor. Did I imagine the electric shock that zinged up my arm as my hand touched his?
"I like your name," he said quietly after a moment, letting my hand go when he realized he was still holding onto it, "its...unusual. Sorry, ah, not in a bad way, I mean, not like weird unusual--"
"No, its fine, you just owe me a nickel."
"I've decided that I'm going to start charging five cents every time someone says my name is unusual or weird. Call it a side hustle."
He paused, then grinned, patting his pockets dramatically. "Do you take credit cards?"
"Uh-uh, we're a cash-only operation," I laughed, marveling internally at how comfortable I felt talking to him. My natural social anxiety seemed to melt away. Perhaps my brief moment of meditation had done something after all.
"And how many nickels do you have so far?"
"Once you pay up? One. And about a thousand IOUs."
He threw his head back and laughed, and I wanted to melt into a puddle on the floor at the sound - rich and happy, filling the salty air with warmth.
"Well I'll have to get it to you later," he grinned, "so consider this another official IOU."
"Don't worry, I'll be here all week," I giggled, "and eventually I'll be a very rich woman off this, I promise."
"All week? Are you here on vacation?"
"Kinda sorta? I'm...I..." I paused, wondering if it was going to ruin everything if I revealed that I recognized him, but eventually settled on the truth. If it ruined it, then it did, and I'd always remember meeting him here for a brief moment in the middle of the night.
"I'm working one of the bars at the festival tomorrow. Well both days, actually, for your set and Ghost's..." I tensed as I said it and started fidgeting with a loose thread on my sweater when he didn't immediately respond.
"You're a bartender?"
Ha! Didn't scare him away yet!
"Ah, not really. Well, I guess I am for a few days. But normally I'm a teacher."
"What do you teach?" He sat on the low wall, wide enough that I could do the same and cross my legs under me. I trotted back to grab my mug then sat across from him once more and took a sip of my tea.
I laughed when his head cocked to the side slightly with confusion and he blinked slowly.
"I definitely missed that class."
I found myself smiling sweetly at him as I laughed, enjoying his company and forgetting that he was famous and I was a silly fangirl.
"No, its not really a public school kind of program," I giggled, "I teach private classes about wine and stuff."
He glanced down at my mug and I held it out to him, still laughing.
"Just tea, I swear!"
He leaned down and sniffed it, making a playful narrow-eyed face at me like he was skeptical.
"But I can work magic too."
"Oh you can, can you? So you're a teacher, a professional collector of IOU's and you can do magic?" He indulged, leaning back on his hands and smiling at me.
My heart started to beat fractionally faster as the wind blew through his hair again.
"I can. See that door?" I nodded towards the door into the kitchen on my side of the deck.
"I do see that door."
"Its a magic portal. I take this mug full of tea through it, and I come back out with a cocktail!"
He laughed loudly again, his broad mouth curving up at the corners as he shook his head at me.
"That's quite a trick for someone who doesn't look an awful lot like a witch."
"You don't have to be a witch to do magic, Johannes," I smiled softly at him, wishing for the briefest of moments that he could understand what I meant.
I curved my arm behind my back, touching the tattoo in the center through my sweater, though to him it just looked like I was brushing something away.
I wasn't a witch, but I also wasn't lying to him when I said I could do magic.
Tricks far better than pulling rabbits out of hats or making coins disappear into thin air.
I'd been born into my first life in Upper Egypt thirteen hundred and fifty years before the start of the common era and had entered into the Temple of Sekhmet, training as a novice then living as a Priestess with all the rites and privileges that that lifestyle entailed. When the eventual downfall came, we found that we were reborn each time we perished, as a reward for remaining loyal to our goddess.
Johannes looked curiously at me, a hint of a smile curving one side of his mouth up a little higher than the other.
"What if I tell you I don't believe you?"
I feigned offense, pressing a hand to my chest and dropping my jaw.
"Oh, Johannes I'm wounded! Would I lie to you?!"
"I don't know, would you?" He grinned, immediately liking the way that I teased him playfully and more than liking the way his name sounded leaving my lips.
"Fine, then, I'll prove it to you," I smirked.
I stood, and paused as I looked down at him, the sudden, potent urge to kiss him almost overwhelming, and my fingers twitched against my leg, wanting to card through his hair.
"Why are you looking at me like that," he said, internally fighting the exact same urge as me and equally as surprised by it.
"I'm trying to decipher what kind of cocktail to make...uh, make magically appear, I mean..."
No you're not.
He kept his mouth shut and I hummed, stretching up for a moment, lifting myself onto my toes and sighing as the tension further ebbed away.
Damned if he wasn't actually making me relax.
I was glad for the deep steadying breath, because when I glanced back down at him, he was looking up to meet my eyes with a very very interested expression.
I turned for the door with an exaggerated huff, "fine then, don't help. I'm good at surprises anyways!"
A hand on my arm whirled me back as I took another step and I was suddenly face to face with him. Well more face to chest, as I had to tilt my head to actually look him in the eye when he stood to his full height and towered over me.
One of his fingers brushed a stray lock of hair out of my face as he looked down at me, really looking carefully for the first time.
"I like surprises," he said softly, shocking himself too at the boldness of his words as his hand fell back to his side after whispering over my cheek.
"Uhm...b--...be right back then..." I mumbled, mentally bashing my palm into my forehead.
That was your chance, you idiot.
I slid the door shut behind me quietly, taking a deep, shaking breath and pinching the bridge of my nose, willing myself to just go with it for the night.
What was the harm in seeing where it went?
At the worst, I got to have a drink with one of my favorite musicians, at the best...
I shivered hard.
Don't even go there, Triste.
I pulled down a muddler and a shaker and paused at the fridge door, unsure what to fish out.
I settled on peach, rose, and basil, digging the fruit and herbs out of their drawers and glancing over my shoulder before swirling my wrist and producing a fat, lush apricot colored rose from thin air.
"Witch, my ass," I laughed softly to myself as I plucked off the best petals and dumped them into the glass with the peach slices and basil leaves. I muffled the quiet squelching sounds as much as possible, lifting the glass to my nose to inhale the heady aroma of the macerated petals.
Every time I was reborn, I had the same powers. All of ours were different, but in my first life, as a child in her temple, I'd always brought my goddess offerings of lotus blossoms and papyrus reeds, bound together with little strands of grass from the shallows of the river. She loved them as much as I did, and as a reward for my faithfulness and loyalty when her cult was dissolved, I was given the ability to summon at will the greener elements of nature - plants, shrubs, flowers, vines. It was rare that I had occasion to use my gift in the twenty first century, but instances like this one sent a wave of adoration through me, and as an offering, I closed my eyes, centering for a moment before weaving a perfect blue lotus blossom with my hands, and leaving it on the counter with a whispered prayer.
*Thank you, my daughter*
I broke out in sharp goosebumps at the sound of her voice inside my head.
"Mother," I whispered, pressing my forehead to the counter in acknowledgement, feeling her presence, letting it steel me with a quiet confidence.
I spooned my muddled concoction into a shaker, dumping a healthy amount of my favorite gin in too. One of the botanicals in it was the butterfly pea blossom, which made it a lovely royal blue except for when it was mixed with tonic water, when it turned pink.
I turned the shaker end over end quietly until I felt it ice up, opening then straining the drink into two glasses, finishing each with a dash of edible glitter that made the whole thing shimmer like the galaxy, and a floated rose petal on top.
I poured tonic water into two smaller glasses and took a deep breath before carrying all four outside.
Johannes had settled back into one of the couches on my side of the deck, his long arms stretched out over the back, his face tilted up to the sky, eyes closed.
I worried for a moment that he may have fallen asleep, but his head lifted when he heard the quiet whoosh of the sliding door.
I smiled softly, glad that he seemed to feel as relaxed as me, and crossed to sit next to him.
"Wait," I tucked my legs underneath me, facing him and sitting as close as I dared without actually touching him.
I motioned for him to slowly pour the tonic into his cocktail, and he mimicked my movements, laughing when the whole thing turned pink in his hand.
"Ta Da! Told you I can do magic," I grinned, clinking my drink against his and setting our empty tonic glasses on the deck floor.
"I'm sorry I doubted you," he laughed with me, looking approvingly down into his glass and glancing at me over the rim as he sniffed its contents.
I buzzed with anticipation as he took a sip. His eyes were a beautiful clear blue - that kind of bottomless color that you want to drown in - and they closed as he took another sip, humming his approval.
"Damn, that's good. What is this?" He swirled it slower, watching the glitter shimmer and sniffing at it again.
"Oh your basic gin and tonic."
"This is not a basic gin and tonic," he laughed, rolling his eyes at me.
"Hmm, then take a guess." I settled back against the cushions in my corner, letting my sweater fall open slowly, almost casually.
He adjusted his angle too so he could relax and look over at me, watching the moonlight illuminate the swells of my breasts and the way my lips curved up at the corner in a perfect, teasing little smirk.
"Teach me, Triste," he said lowly, countering my comment with a teasing one of his own and making me shiver hard in the process. He cocked an eyebrow at me, seeing the movement for what it was and I buried my face in my glass, taking a big drink.
Somehow, as electrically aware of him as I was, I missed the subtle way his stare traveled up the lengths of my legs, lighting over my waist, my delicate fingers wrapped around my glass, the exposed tops of my breasts, moving with every breath of sea air I took.
When his gaze met mine there was heat in it, and I involuntarily bit my lip, pressing my legs a little tighter together.
"Do you want me to just tell you?"
Johannes shook his head slowly.
"No, I want you to teach me," he let his gaze lock onto mine, keeping my eyes trained on him as he bit his bottom lip a little too.
The breeze off the ocean blew my bangs into my face and made my light floral scent that I'd always naturally had waft towards him. I nearly missed the tiny sharp exhale as it swirled around him, igniting his senses.
"Its only three steps really...the first one is always to look," I said, glancing up from my fingers knotted into the fabric of my sweater.
I was drowning in his stare and somehow also burning from the heat it held.
"I'm looking..." and he was, just not at his glass.
He wasn't smirking, he wasn't grinning, he was simply looking, watching, learning every detail of my face and my voice, unable to stop himself.
"It can tell you all sorts of stuff about...about what to expect."
"And...and then you smell it. N-not like a super deep inhale," I realized I was starting to babble but was powerless to stop it. My nerves were back, and they had returned with a vengeance.
"I-its more like just trying to get familiar with it, you know? Just looking for things that you recognize - flowers, fruits, spices, that kind of thing, and, and..."
He raised both eyebrows at me. "Are you okay?"
"Ahem. Yes. Sorry, yeah. All good," I took another big drink, feeling the gin starting to do its thing and touching a hand to my cheek, trying to figure out if the warmth was from the booze or me blushing.
He smiled, seeing that I was lying and was obviously nervous, and wanting me to go back to being teasing and relaxed.
Johannes sniffed cautiously at his glass, swirling what was left around so the ice clinked against the sides.
"Tell me what you're experiencing," I said softly, watching his mind start to work, running through different scents, trying to pin the familiar one. I instantly loved the little lines that ran between his eyebrows when he was concentrating, staring at the far wall of the house.
He glanced at me again.
"Well, that was the easy one."
He sniffed again, "fruit..."
"What kind of fruit?"
"Same in English," I smiled, slightly taken aback by how much I liked the sound of him speaking to me in a language I didn't know.
"Do you speak Swedish?" He asked with both eyebrows raised.
"Uh-uh, its French or English with me, sorry pet," I giggled, feeling tipsy and a little more playful as I relaxed once more.
He gave me another once over, waiting for my answer.
"Oh, no sorry, nectarine isn't right," I teased.
He made a dramatic motion, pressing the back of his hand to his forehead, "I think I need extra help after class," he laughed.
"Give it another try, you were close," I urged, scooting a little closer to him.
The couch was wide, more like a daybed than a couch really, designed to lounge comfortably under the lasting rays of the southern sun.
I loved watching people put real thought into what they were tasting or smelling, picking apart their sensory memory and trying to land on the right thing.
"Peach?" He guessed, without taking his eyes off me, and I nodded with a grin.
"Very good. So roses, peaches...what else? There's one more thing."
"I don't know," he said, "tell me."
I let a sigh full of mock-resignation slide from my lips, "I think that's cheating...guess you'll have to try harder on the next one then."
I stood, reaching a hand out for his now-empty glass with a little smirk.
"Ready for round two?"
He considered me for a moment, not bothering to hide the way his eyes roamed over me again, and he stood slowly, looming over me.
"What was the last step."
My brain was stalling out at how intimidating and domineering and just fucking tall he was.
"The last step." he moved closer towards me, until our bodies were so near one another I could feel his heat, "tell me what it is."
"T-taste," I stuttered on a whisper.
"Taste," he repeated, his voice low and raspy, still a whisper but full of something wild as he tipped one knuckle under my chin, keeping my face turned up to him.
His mouth brushed mine at the exact same moment that my lips opened fractionally in a little gasp, making them settle together in an impossibly delicious way against each other.
Johannes kept it brief, trying to control the sudden overwhelming urge to pick me up and collapse backwards onto the couch with me on top of him as his brain went haywire.
"Hmmm...rosemary?" He breathed into my lips when he pulled back, still keeping his knuckle under my chin, neither of us opening our eyes yet.
"Uh-uh," I whispered, "try again."
Two giant hands cupped my cheeks and he kissed me again, meeting me as readily as I met him, and moving his lips to pull me into his kiss.
I couldn't stop the sigh of pleasure that left me any more than I could stop the changing of the seasons, and my back arched as his tongue gently traced my lower lip, asking permission.
I tangled my fingers into his hair, drowning in the softness, breathing a little gasp as his tongue slid between my opened lips, gliding against mine as his arm hooked low around my waist, pulling me close, still cupping my cheek with the other hand.
I'd never been kissed my a stranger and found the entire experience perfectly intoxicating as I pressed closer, wanting more of the softness of his mouth, tasting faintly like the quinine in his drink.
He pulled back with a soft groan, pressing his forehead down against mine and clenching his jaw tight as he kept his eyes closed and listened to the sound of my ragged breathing as my fingers slipped out of his hair, resting against his chest.
His heart was beating faster than normal.
I opened my eyes and blinked hard up at him when he said it, reading the telltale smirk that spread across his face as his hand lingered hotly at my waist for another moment, giving it a little squeeze before disappearing.
"Did...did y--did you know that the whole time?"
He threw his head back laughing, "possibly."
Johannes smiled down at me, as I put a hand on my hip and quipped back with a sassy smirk, "if you wanted to kiss me, you just had to ask, Johannes."
I dramatically high-fived my inner fangirl at both my snark and the way I all but purred his name, but we both started to cower at the look that crossed his face and I felt myself clench as I took one step back, then another, each one followed by him as he started to stalk me like prey.
"Triste," he said my name on a soft growl that was so nearly my undoing, taking another step and smirking when I backed myself straight into the wall rather than the door like I'd meant to.
He moved right up against me, daring to be bold, to risk rejection if I didn't want more.
"Will you let me kiss you again," he whispered, his lips hovering over mine as he leaned in. I immediately stood up on my toes to close the distance between our mouths and was greeted by a low moan from him that almost made my knees buckle as his hips pressed forward against mine, pinning me to the wall as his fingers curled against the sideboards of the house, searching for something to grip that wasn't my skin.
Our tongues danced along each other, tangling and fighting for dominance as he started pressing me harder into the wall until I could feel the way his body was reacting.
He finally pulled back with a gasp, fighting himself for control, challenging the inner voice that was telling him to tear my sweater back off my shoulders and run his hands all over my skin.
We breathed for a moment, coming back to reality, getting acquainted with the new side of the line we'd just hurtled ourselves over together.
"You taste nice," he whispered, leaning his head down to me again, gently parting my lips with his tongue, tasting me purposefully, more slowly, making me whimper.
I reached back up for more, hardly able to believe the current situation I was in, but also unable to stop.
"Mmm, sorry, do you want any help with glasses?" He asked between kisses as he pressed me back into the wall gently and the glass cups in my hand clinked against the siding.
The small part of my brain not completely drowning in lust and impossible want was thankful that he didn't make any assumptions about where this was going.
I'd always imagined that he was sweet and reserved, and he was proving to be no different; the cheeky streak was unexpected, but I loved it.
I touched his face softly, loving the shaky little laugh I got in response.
"No, I've got it thank you. Are--are you going back to bed?"
He shook his head maybe a little too quick.
"I--I mean, I don't want to keep you up if you're tired," he backtracked, "if I'm distracting you from meditating or whatever, I'm sorry, I--" I smiled softly as he babbled, finally touching a finger to his lips.
"I think I'm wide awake now."
"Me too," he smiled shyly as he took a step back, letting me make my break for the door, and watching as I opened it with a shaking hand.
"Be right back," I said over my shoulder as even as I could manage.
I disappeared inside and collapsed back against the kitchen wall just as Johannes collapsed backwards into the couch cushions, throwing an arm over his eyes and trying to will the beginnings of his erection away.
He could feel the effects of the first cocktail, but it was only serving to make him more adventurous, to stoke the low fire that he was already feeling for me.
I tasted sweet, like fruit, and my lips...he took a deep breath. They were just as soft as he'd wondered if they would be.
None of those thoughts helped make his half-hard cock anything less, so he just shifted and pulled a pillow over his lap, twining his fingers into the fringe and thinking about tomorrow as he listened to the lapping of the waves.
I immediately shed my sweater and dropped it on the floor, feeling more than hot and bothered by those kisses - damn, but he did know what to do with that tongue.
I shivered hard, rubbing both hands over my face as I realized that in addition to being completely flushed, I was also very very wet.
"Christ," I mumbled, wondering if I should go change but not wanting to take a risk and stay inside too long, lest he think that I was escaping for good.
I tried to pick recognizable flavors again, sticking with gin after a moment's consideration.
We both were going to have a long day tomorrow as it was, and mixing liquors didn't seem like a wise addition to that already daunting prospect.
I quickly washed my used tools, drying them and loading my glass with rosemary leaves, lavender buds, and a splash of gin, dancing around kitchen silently on my toes to the music in my head as I macerated them with a wooden muddler.
I dumped the contents into my clean shaker, giving it a squirt of lavender simple syrup, a splash of grapefruit juice, and a healthy pour of gin before turning it over, end over end, quietly.
One giant square icecube sat in the center of each glass, and I strained the mixture over top, appreciating my handiwork and pausing by the door as I looked at the material on the floor.
I bit my lip as I remembered the way he moaned at the feel of his tongue slipping into my mouth.
For good measure, I set both glasses down and shook my hair out of the bun on top of my head, letting my silver curls fall down over one shoulder, standing out starkly against my black tanktop.
I took a deep breath and stepped back outside, shutting the door with my foot before turning to him. He was watching me with that little smile again, and I felt perfectly drawn towards him, like I was on a leash.
I settled closer to him than before, so my knee touched his thigh when I curled my feet underneath me again and handed him his glass.
"Hey," I smiled.
"Hey...I wasn't sure you were going to come back out," he smiled softly too.
"Yeah? How long were you going to wait?" I clinked the rim of my glass against his.
"All night," he said lowly, making me almost choke as I sipped my drink and caught the flash of desire on his face.
Gods but there's a lot of gin in this.
We stared at each other and I could feel the tension ramping up, like one of us was turning a volume dial.
"Are you going to give me honest guesses this time?" I teased, trying to alleviate some of the intense heat of his stare.
He lifted the glass to his nose without looking away from me.
"Grapefruit and Lavender."
I nodded, thoroughly impressed. Clearly he'd been exaggerating his ignorance before, and I got a little thrill at the idea that maybe he'd done it to get to the point where he could make his move.
"And?" I asked with a cocky little smirk, "there's always a third."
He sipped it, grinning at me with a little shake of his head as he laughed.
I clapped and he made a mock bow, closing his eyes and humming as he took another, larger sip.
"Woah," he blinked hard, pausing for a moment, "gin...lotta gin...are you trying to get me drunk so you can take advantage of me, Miss Triste?"
I settled back against the cushions comfortably, quirking an eyebrow at him over the rim of my glass.
Where was this confidence coming from?
"Do you want me to?"
He snorted a laugh, but didn't reply otherwise, though his brain was screaming one word on repeat.
We sipped in silence for several minutes, and I laid my head back, looking up at the stars. They were hard to come by usually with all the lights from the beach town, and this night sky was no different from the countless others I'd seen - a dull, matte black with just the moon and Venus, everything else too obscured to shine.
Johannes was surveying me as I drifted away with my scattered thoughts, watching me stretch one leg out at a lazy angle, resting my toes on the deck floor, and leaving the other tucked underneath as my hands absentmindedly twirled my glass, tilting it this way and that to make the ice cube melt and water it down.
He moved a little closer, mimicking my position, feeling his want for me growing.
I was a perfect stranger.
"What are you thinking about?" He asked softly, drawing my attention as I lifted my head up for a moment, and laid it down against the back of the couch sideways, so I could look at him.
"How strange life is sometimes. You?"
One corner of his mouth twisted up into a little smile as he chuckled, looking down into his glass. It was like he kept volleying back and forth between wanting to push things further and wanting to stay out all night just talking and learning everything about me.
"I won't argue with you on that."
I hummed, looking back up with a sigh.
"So you're going to the festival tomorrow? Did you go today?"
"Mmm, working," I corrected, taking another sip of my drink, "no, I took today to just..." I gestured around us, "be here."
"And you're serving these?" He swirled his glass, receiving a nod from me.
"Well I imagine you'll be very popular."
It wasn't a big festival like the European ones, and there were only three places to get drinks. In order to keep the lines moving, the organizers separated the beer and wine and cocktails.
"We'll see - they're strong, but they're expensive," I laughed, smiling over at him, letting our gazes lock again.
I wondered where he imagined this going, if anywhere. I certainly had no idea, but I'd committed myself to just going with the flow, so I tried not to make plans in my head.
"Its just these two?"
"No," I stretched out both legs, flexing my muscles, and taking a deep breath at the pleasant stretch, "we've got two more. The event staff said they want choices, so choices they're getting. Plus there are strange creatures out there that really really hate gin," I joked.
"Hmm? Oh. Yeah...uhm..."
Big mouth 1, getting laid 0.
"My friend May is going to help me. Well her and Van. They don't have insomnia though, so they're all probably dead to the world. And I'm sure Mat's reading if he's up...though I doubt he is either."
I didn't miss the way his face shifted into an impassive mask as he hummed noncommittally.
After a moment of not saying anything and me mentally bashing the heel of my hand into my face, he spoke again.
"This is all a lot of work I imagine...getting all the stuff ready, I mean," he shook his glass.
"Ugh," I groaned, "gods, you have no idea. That's probably what I should be doing right now," I said on a laugh, swallowing the rest of my drink as he did the same, "but you're very distracting, do you know that?"
I didn't want him to get the wrong impression about my situation, and I was trying to figure out how to tactfully tell him that Matt was gay as the day was long and Van was an asshole without sounding like I was expecting him to make some sort of move on me again.
I'd meant my comment as a harmless joke, but the look he gave me almost set me on fire as he slowly turned his face towards me, pulling his hair down over one shoulder.
"Am I," he said lowly, setting his glass down on the deck and shifting, suddenly moving closer, looming over me, one hand on the back of the couch behind my head, the other on the armrest, effectively blocking me in.
He dropped his lips closer, not touching me, but speaking lowly, sending a hard shiver through my entire body and drawing a tiny gasp from my lips.
"Perhaps I should let you get back to it, then...so much to do, Triste..."
I tried not to pant for breath, but my brain felt like it wasn't getting enough oxygen and my fingers involuntarily gripped the cushion I was angled against, my back pressed into the pillows as I found myself laying back underneath him.
"Or..." he said just as softly, looking down at me, watching my pupils dilate and my lips part in anticipation.
"Or?" I whispered.
Johannes leaned in further, his lips almost touching mine, the ends of his hair trailing over my breast.
"Something entirely less productive?" he breathed, wanting my consent before he lost control altogether.
"Yes," I gasped, grabbing the front of his shirt and yanking him down to me.
His tongue immediately filled my mouth as our lips crashed together and his hair fell around us like a curtain, silky and dark like raven feathers as he shifted and settled between my legs, kissing me deeply, slowly, making me whimper under the intensity of his attentions.
I lost all track of time, of everything really that wasn't him slowly lowering his hips into me, pressing against my core, seeking friction as he got harder with each burning kiss.
My fingers slid through his hair, down his shoulders to his torso, running my palms down his back until they reached the hem of his shirt, already pushed up a few inches by the angle that he was holding himself up on.
I started working it up his back, touching his skin, trying desperately to hold myself back and not give into the familiar burning need just yet.
As temple priestesses, we'd communed with Sekhmet through sex rites, using the sudden endorphin rush that accompanied an orgasm to thrust ourselves into her divine presence. As a result, even in our lives millennia later, we had a sex drive which could politely be called ravenous when triggered.
Johannes' lips left mine as he pushed himself up, tearing his shirt off over his head and tossing it over the back of the couch before looking down at me, breathing heavily but running just the pads of his fingers on his right hand up the outside of my thigh, still spread apart to accommodate his hips.
He growled lowly, breathing through parted lips as his eyes rested on my breasts and those fingers still worked a slow, torturous trail up my side, so soft they almost tickled my skin.
They danced over the side of my breast, just missing my nipple which I was sure was clearly visible, and landing at the strap of my tanktop.
Johannes teasingly hooked one finger underneath and pulled, letting it snap back against my skin.
"Fairs fair," he said lowly.
Everything was on fire, and I was doing my best not to explode into an atomic bomb of an orgasm just from his bare caresses as I sat up to meet him and his hands immediately dropped to the bottom hem, working the material up my torso, running the heated flats of both palms over my skin, exploring, touching the goosebumps that raised under his hands.
Him thumbs worked over the bottoms of my breasts as he lifted the soft cotton further, and a low, sharp exhale left his lips as he finally just gave in and pulled it off over my upstretched arms.
His eyes roamed over my body, my exposed breasts, my skin pale and almost blue in the lingering light of the moon.
But Johannes paused when he saw my tattoo - six symbols in a line a couple inches below my left breast.
Five alchemical and one grucifix.
"I expect he would like knowing you have that if he ever found out," he chuckled, and I was thinking about squeaking something like 'don't you fucking dare' when his lips crashed against mine and he threw himself down on top of me, moaning heavily into my mouth and grinding his hips against my core, drawing a sharp cry from me as I felt his erection.
My fingers dug into the skin of his back, soft and smooth like silk as he started pressing heated open-mouthed kisses down my jaw and my neck, slowly slipping his knees towards the floor the further he went, pulling me so my hips were at the edge of the couch as his tongue swirled around each of my nipples.
I gasped his name as my fingers tangled into his hair and he flicked his tongue over each one, glancing up at me and catching my gaze.
Giving me an idea of what was coming.
My fingers clamped shut over my mouth, trying to keep in mind that there were three other people sleeping just inside as my other hand gripped his hair down to the roots, holding him to me as he got rougher and teethed at each nipple.
"Your skin smells like lavender," he murmured, trailing kisses down my torso, and running his nose in a sensual line back up, chuckling lowly when he watched the goosebumps break out over my skin as he breathed softly across it.
"I-its my--my favorite f-flower," I stammered, and he pulled back with a hint of concern furrowing his forehead.
"You're stuttering...if you don't want to--"
I shook my head with a breathless laugh, "I do, you just make me nervous..."
"Don't be nervous, Triste," he said softly with a reassuring smile as he ran his hands up and down my sides, reaching up to press another kiss to my lips, "we don't have to do anything you don't want to..."
"Gods, I do though," I moaned, sitting up to follow his movement and kiss him hard, pushing his hair back from his face with both hands as he settled on his knees on the deck floor and wrapped his arms around my back, running his hands all over my bare skin and sliding me further to the edge, closer to him, so my legs squeezed both sides of his hips.
He pulled back with a low moan full of desire as his index finger traced my raised tattoo in the center of my back and he gave me a questioning look.
"Is this a brand?"
I shook my head, "tell you later," and I surged forward again, anchoring his lips to mine, tasting every part of his mouth, slowly, carefully until I was crazed with need.
"Ohh, gods, lay back," he groaned into my lips, cupping both breasts and rubbing the pads of his thumbs across my nipples.
I followed his instruction, leaving my hips where they were and settling my shoulders back into the pillows, propped up at an angle so I could watch him.
"You look so good like this," he smiled tenderly at me, running his hands up my shins to my thighs, "you're like a painting..."
My mouth twitched with a smile that quickly devolved into a gasp as his deft fingers smoothly pulled the button of my shorts, slipping the denim over my hips, down my legs, and off over my feet, never dropping my gaze.
Johannes dipped his face, kissing up the top of my thigh, feeling the way my muscles quivered and twitched under his lips and breathing a low laugh as he repeated on the other side, inhaling my scent, smirking up at me when he reached my core.
"Well well well," he purred, smoothing his hands over the navy blue lace band covering my hips, "aren't these pretty..."
The look he shot me was intimidating and his eyes dropped to the base of my throat, watching my pulse hammer.
"Almost too pretty to take off..."
I felt like a lit firework as his tongue slithered from his mouth, sliding forward from that menacing grin as he bowed his head forward, keeping eye contact with me as he ran just the tip of it over my clit, lightly flicking at me and I stifled my shriek into my hair when his whole mouth covered me, running the flat of his tongue over the delicate material, tasting me through the soaked lace, and pressing his forehead hard against my hip when he pulled back, almost as overwhelmed as I was.
"Almost," he growled to himself, not giving me any time to respond before dipping his head and gently taking the lace between his teeth, sitting back and pulling it away from my body.
The way his hair framed his face and his lust reached his eyes sent another surge of wetness between my legs, and I started to feel like I might not survive what was coming as I gasped for air.
He paused halfway down my thighs, looking up at me and silently drinking me in before using his hands to slide my panties down and off my feet.
His heartbeat was thundering in his ears.
Why was he so drawn to me?
He'd met thousands of Americans just like me.
But not just like me at all.
What was it?
That draw, that connection, the overwhelming need he had to touch me and feel my hands on him.
He wanted my orgasm more than he wanted his own.
"Triste," he moaned lowly, unable to wait any longer as he leaned forward and buried his face in my pussy, not caring if he was putting on enough of a show for me or not, running his tongue through my folds and crying out against me as my flavor exploded across his senses.
I was more intoxicating than the drinks, and Johannes found himself becoming more and more desperate for my release, using every trick he knew to drive my pleasure further, the friction of his cock against his pants almost too much to stand.
He wrapped his arms underneath my legs, tilting my hips up a little and spreading me open with his hands and he rapidly flicked his tongue over my exposed clit, growling as my hips both bucked into his face and shrank from the potent sensation.
"Johannes, Johannes Johannes Johannes," I cried out his name over and over again, pulling my hair across my mouth to stifle the sobs of pleasure that I could no longer control.
His mouth was perfect and I pushed harder into his face, chasing my high, sinking into the pleasure that threatened to overwhelm me.
The sound of his name leaving my lips as my eyes screwed shut drove him crazy and he plunged his tongue inside me, growling as my back arched off the cushions, my mouth open in a silent scream, smothering him into my core, needing everything he was giving me.
His mouth covered me, licking and sucking at my folds, my clit, drowning in my taste and my warmth, feeling like he could happily spend the rest of the night between my legs, sleep be damned.
"Ahh, gods don't stop," I begged, rapidly approaching the edge, my release so close I could taste it as my fingers dove into his hair, the soft strands spilling over my thighs making everything more erotic.
He slid one long finger into my pussy, effectively shattering me as my body went taut with the potent heat of my orgasm and he all but snarled as he watching my pleasure unfold, blooming through my body like a lily unfolding in the sun, latching his lips around my clit and sucking hard as his finger fucked into me, curling to explore where I was most sensitive.
Black spots danced at the corners of my vision as I gasped for breath and he finally tore his mouth away from me and slowly pulled his finger out, listening to the sounds it created slipping out of my pussy.
My whole body was trembling when he lifted off the floor and gathered me up into his arms, pulling me to stand on my feet against his body as he kissed me slowly, in an almost familiar way now, the taste of me still on his lips, his face wet with my arousal.
I hooked both arms up around his neck, half to hold him closer and half to hold myself up as his hands roamed down over my hips, gripping my ass hard as he pushed his tongue further into my mouth.
"All of you tastes nice," he murmured on a low chuckle and I laughed breathlessly, still shaking with the endorphin rush.
We stayed that way as long as we could, until my body started to flare up again and I met his gaze as I worked his pants down off his hips, biting my lip as I glanced down at his generous arousal.
"Fairs fair," I smirked, pushing him hard until he fell back onto the couch with a surprised look.
I dropped slowly to my knees, mimicking his position just a few minutes earlier, running my hands up his thighs and feeling myself start to drip at the prospect of tasting him too.
To say Johannes was proportionate to his height would have been an understatement, and he watched me bite my lip as his cock twitched.
His breaths were uneven, shallow as my head bent, my hair spilling down over his hips, the soft floral scent of my shampoo overwhelming his senses.
"Triste," he moaned softly, threading his fingers through my hair, throwing his head back and crying out into the early dawn light as I teased my tongue against the head of his cock.
He panted through parted lips, eyes laser focused on every movement I made as I wrapped my lips around him and played with varying degrees of pressure.
"Oh fuck," he gasped, "oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck," his hand on my head pressed fractionally harder, and I let him push me down onto his cock, taking him back into my throat and loving the raspy moan I got that was his surprise that I could take all of him.
I closed my eyes and concentrated for a moment, doing my best not to choke as I held him there and then pulled back, moaning softly at his taste and bobbing my head slowly up and down.
He pulsed against my tongue.
"Ahh, please, Triste," he pulled sharply on my hair until I released him, licking my lips slowly with a little grin when I looked up at him and he let go of me.
The look on his face told me everything he wanted.
"Please," he whispered again, sitting up to kiss me hard, letting the taste of each other mingle between our mouths.
His hands gripped both my hips, so large that they wrapped around to my back, and he pulled until I rose and settled down into his lap, one leg on either side of his hips.
His tongue teased against mine and I cupped his face with both hands, angling it up as I dominated our kiss and lowered my hips to slick back against him.
I was all but panting with need, the thought of him inside me sending wave after wave of wetness to my entrance, and I braced my hands back against his knees, keeping up the slow rock of my hips against his as he lavished both my nipples with heated attention and my head fell back with a pleasured gasp.
I tugged hard on his hair and he released my nipple with a wet pop before devouring my mouth, growling lowly into me as I started to slide harder against him.
"So wet," he murmured into my lips, drinking down every sharp gasp and sound of pleasure as he gripped both my hips, setting our rhythm.
"Please," it was my turn to gasp the word into his lips, nearly overcome with pleasure already as one of his hands reached around to squeeze my ass.
"Whenever you're ready, little witch," he breathed.
"Ohh, that mouth is going to get you into trouble," I nipped at his bottom lip, still slicking back and forth against his cock, letting him feel how ready I was for him.
"I didn't hear you complaining when my mouth was getting into you," he growled back, sucking a mark into the base of my neck, moving my hips fractionally faster as I braced one hand against the back of the couch, "I'm sorry, unless those were complaints you were screaming, I was a little distracted."
His smirk was cocky, and I looked down at him with one of my own as I shook my head a little.
"Speaking of," I whispered down into his ear, quickly shifting back and letting him split me open as I slammed my hips back onto him.
His cry of mingled pleasure and surprise was so sharp, his voice almost gave out as his fingers dug into my ass, pushing me down harder as he yelled and gasped at the sudden overwhelming tightness and heat that surrounded him, grinding his forehead into my collarbone.
"Oh fuck, oh you feel so good," he gasped, rolling his hips into me as I fought for breath, feeling almost torn apart.
Our lips crashed together, my fingers tangled into his hair and his in mine, both of us trying to share oxygen and breathe, but unable to stop the movement of our bodies, the desperate search for more friction, more contact, until finally I couldn't take it anymore and lifted off him before taking him back inside me and gasping at the sensation of being filled again.
The sun was barely approaching, turning the black ocean waters gray with the anticipation of dawn.
Our sounds were muffled into each others lips, and I felt like I couldn't stop kissing him, couldn't stop feeling his tongue sliding against mine as he started working my hips on and off his cock.
"So fucking tight," he moaned, rolling his hips up to meet me every time, trying to last longer, to feel me longer, to make me come over and over again, but unable to withstand the overwhelming waves of pleasure wracking his entire body to the point that his toes were curling against the deck floor.
"You...you need to come again," he moaned, slipping one hand between our bodies to rub his middle finger against my clit, "come for me again..."
An exhausted final cry left my lips at I buckled forward against him, my pussy almost suffocating him as I came hard, dragging him with me, forcing my name to fall from his lips as he fought for each gasping breath, moving my hips up and down for me now that I was incapable.
I collapsed against his chest, wrapping my arms around his neck as his snaked around my waist and he held me to him tightly, silently, absorbing my warmth and inhaling my scent as we caught our breath together, processing what just happened.
I kissed his cheek softly, trailing my lips down to his, feeling sated and overwhelmed and exhausted as he kissed me slowly, no longer urgent or filled with a need he didn't understand.
"Hi there," he smiled, meeting my eyes.
"Hi," I whispered back.
"You're shaking...are...are you okay?" His concern touched me, and I couldn't help but kiss him softly again as I nodded.
"Yeah...I am, I think."
"That was very convincing," he teased.
"I am, I promise," I laughed softly, "I just...didn't expect that."
"What, you didn't expect to fuck a perfect stranger in the middle of the night?" his tone was only half joking.
"Well no, I mean...I mean no...I was just planning on coming out and meditating and...ah..."
I glanced down at where we were still joined.
He shifted me off his lap and groaned lowly as he slid out of me.
"If it makes you feel any better," he said, collapsing onto his side and stretching his legs out along the couch with another pleasured groan before beckoning to me, "I'm glad I rudely interrupted your meditations."
I took pause, looking at his outstretched hand for a moment, before glancing back to his face, chewing my lip to hide my smile.
"I see that look for exactly what it is, Miss Triste, get down here."
I settled next to him, letting him adjust us until he was satisfied that enough of my skin was touching his and our bodies were comfortably intertwined.
My brain had a hard time keeping up - I hadn't expected any of what had just happened, and now on top of it all, I was on the receiving end of one of the tenderest looks I'd ever seen one human give another.
Johannes seemed to be studying my face, the soft curve of his lips drawing me in repeatedly, like I couldn't stop myself from kissing him.
"You don't have to stay," I whispered, hoping like hell that he would though, "i-if its weird, or whatever."
"It is weird," he laughed softly, reaching over to kiss me again and lingering this time, letting his tongue separate my lips slowly until I was pressing closer to him.
"But you know what else is weird?"
"Hmm," I hummed.
"You. And me, also, but mostly you," he teased, chuckling at the blush that flamed my cheeks, and running a reassuring hand down my side.
His skin was softer than I'd ever imagined, and he seemed to radiate warmth as the cool night air wrapped around us.
"But good weird. Interesting weird."
"I think that we're up to a quarter now," I giggled, and he rolled his eyes with a laugh, shaking his head down at me and pausing again with a contented sigh.
"You're so pretty," he murmured, using the tip of one finger to brush my hair back off my face before dropping his hand down the center of my back, spreading his fingers wide to feel as much of my skin as possible, and to pull me closer.
"Will you tell me what this is now," he said between kisses, brushing his fingers over the lines of my tattoo.
"Its a cartouche. A name."
I smiled at him, propping my face up on my hand as I leaned up on my elbow and he laid back flat so he was looking up at me.
"You're not going to tell me, are you."
I giggled quietly and shook my head, letting him pull me into his arms as he adjusted us so I was nestled comfortably against his chest and one of my legs slipped through his involuntarily.
"Uh-uh. But if you figure it out, I'll tell you why I have it," I chuckled.
"Such a little tease," he growled with a hot, lingering kiss, a suggestion of more that was only ruined by my gaping yawn.
"Oh my gods. Fuck, I'm so sorry," I covered my face with my hands, pressing them there tighter when I felt his body shaking with a silent laugh.
"I'm, ah, actually kind of thankful, because I'm fucking exhausted," he chuckled.
I took it the wrong way and tried not to sound sad when I shifted and sat up, telling him that I should let him get back to bed anyhow, and it was almost morning.
As soon as I stood, there was a hand on my arm, pulling me back down, yanking me against him, two eyes staring into mine without any reservation or worry about the way his thoughts would sound out loud.
"No no no, don't go...please...stay with me..."
The dawn was announcing itself more fully by the time he pressed his lips to my forehead and drew me closer, wrapping me up in his embrace and thanking all the gods he could think of that insomnia was a real thing.