Thought You Should Know
Look at him. Smiling. Flirting. Serving dinner. He cooks for them. Cooks! That skunk-haired bitch is there. His girlfriend. They must be fighting again. She refused to eat his gumbo. Fool. Don't you know what it means that he cooked it at all? It means he gives a damn.
He is a prince. My prince. The thief who stole my heart and burnt it to ice-cold ash. I'm not even sure that I hate him. But the wreckage of my wedding-night still burns with ice-blue flames, flickering when I close my eyes. Giving me snap-shot memories like an old silent movie. Mocking me.
He doesn't know he could come home if I choose to let him. The Assassins are mine now, not my father's. We did manage to get both guilds to agree on something, that Jean-Luc's Diablo Blanc is banished. I mourned my brother, don't get me wrong. I loved the sick bastard, but I know why Remy killed him. I know it.
To protect me. From my own brother. My brother who thought he should marry me. Who thought it was okay to watch me in the shower. Or touch me when he thought I was sleeping. No, I don't miss him.
But he killed my husband when he died. If he hadn't been given the elixir. If Candra hadn't chosen to favor him. "Ifs" will drive you mad. There's no way to change the past.
He's cleaning the kitchen. Can't stand to be in the same room with your lover, Husband? Time for a little fun. Pick up the phone.
"Belle." Isn't that sweet. He still says my name with reverence.
"I remember everything."
He gasps, but tries to muffle the sound.
"Things look so comfortable. Sorry to interrupt dinner. Do they even notice when you don't eat?"
"Non. They assume I eat when I'm out."
"I'm in town. Your new bitch is looking good. Do you think of me when you're screwing her?"
"Think of me? I'm hurt."
"Screw her, Belle."
"Really?" I can't stop the bitterness in my voice. The sharp, medicinal taste of poison. I can see him wince on the security display I've spliced into. No one else must be able to see him. Good. "Don't you run her hair through your fingers as you touch her?"
"Can't touch her, chere. No skin contact."
"That's only a barrier if you let it be," I purred. "Remember the movie theatre? It took me weeks to get all the gunk off of my knees." He's running his hand through his hair. "Doesn't she indulge your kinks? I would. I'd touch you and taunt you and tease you until you begged for me. Spanish moss. Remember that? Remember the rough-soft feel of it and the relief of the river water pouring over that poor abused skin?"
"Do you?" I demand.
"I remember," he whispers, his voice a honeyed purr against my ear. He's perched on the counter now, towel over his shoulder. He's facing the center of the room so he can see both doors. The coiled cord is stretched across the room.
"What does she do?"
"Tell me!" He's chewing on the end of his ponytail.
"Nothing , chere. We watch movies. We walk by the lake. We fight. Nothing, chere. Nothing."
"Liar. Does she know about me?"
He hesitates. "Chere, she was there when I got the elixir. She... she stole your memories, Belle. That's why you didn't remember me when you woke up."
"And you let her live?" I'm angry. He knows it. He's tensed, as if I could hurt him without warning. As if I'm standing right there with my knife in my hand. "Is she your normal life, then, Husband?" I spit. "Two children, a dog and a house?"
"Some dreams die. I'll never have that. We both know that." I smile to myself. I can still hurt him. He's jabbed that knife into his own side. All I'm doing is reminding him that it's still bleeding.
"Remember rocking to sleep on that Huck Finn barge, Husband? Remember the rich earthy smell of the swamp? Remember the stars? You said you'd love me until you died."
"Je t'amour, Bella. Always."
"When you close your eyes do you see me or her?"
"I see blood, Belle. I see blood. I watch people dying because of me. I hear their screams. I see a world awash in red and pink and black and orange. That's what I see. I don't have dreams," he snaps.
"Blood and pain. It must be me," I tell him. "Remember lingering on that edge of ecstasy, right before it becomes too much to bear? Do you still have my scar?" Automatically, he touched his chest over his heart. I wonder if he's figured out that I'm watching him. "Good," I whisper. "Next time she touches you, remember that. Remember that you are mine, Husband. Remember that I can touch someone else. You'll bleed a little. Right there." He pulls one knee up and hugs it to his chest.
"And every time you call her name in the middle of the night, I'll hear it. And you'll bleed out a little more inside. And every time you tell her you lover her, she'll know it's a lie. I'm inside her head. She knows what you are. She knows she'll never have your heart. She knows I own you until the day you die!" My voice never raises above the low, cold whisper of anger. He's resting his forehead against his knee now. All he has to do is touch the disconnect button and he'll be free of me. But we both know he won't. "Did you see me in her eyes the last time you kissed her? Did you see blue or green there?"
"Green. Just before the world blinked out into shards of sapphire and ruby. We aren't even dating. She's got a new beau." He's getting desperate, but a quick glance shows me he's not lying. The bitch is smiling and flirting with someone new. I've been too busy to keep up full time surveillance. The silence lengthens, starting to take on a life of its own. I can hear his breathing. It's a deliberately calm rhythm. I must have him on edge. I wish he would look up at the camera so I can see his eyes. "Wife?" he asks when he can't take the stillness. "You're in New York?"
"Oui," I admit.
"Have you eaten?"
"Non. Meet me at the Plaza Hotel in two hours. We'll get a late meal."
"Au revior, Thief."
"Au revior, Assassin."