Michael reached for the doorknob, paused to take a deep breath before turning his wrist and pushing the door open. Almost immediately he could hear the swell of Maria Callas singing, the dense tones of Medea filtering from the speakers in the living room. He smiled knowing how some things never changed, wishing he knew how to make it different.
In a world of change, things that do not change stand out, sharp and violent.
The windows were closed, filtering out the sunlight of dusk. The room was heavy with the scent of spices, curry and cinnamon. Michael wondered if there was something simmering in the kitchen but he chose to follow the one source of artificial light reaching beyond the bedroom, marking a narrow path down the corridor. Walking past the large antique furniture, the inlaid and ornate decorations collected and kept for so many years, he moved with an uncanny silence.
The bedroom door was slightly ajar and, taking another deep breath, he pushed against it, his eyes adjusting to the interior dimness. This room was lavish and lurid in color, deep reds, furious oranges, rich plums, dazzled with gild and gold. The fabrics lush with texture, velvets and satins, silk and brocade. The bedroom was seductive, a sensory stimulus reminiscent of womb like safety.
The scents of jasmine and cardamom that Michael associated with Lillith were thick. From the bed he saw a movement muffled by the satin quilt and sheets. Lillith’s slender hand curled on one of the pillows, her pale skin glowing as if lit from within.
Michael wanted to withdraw, to not disturb the stillness, to escape before Lillith became too aware of his presence but he knew it was too late. She would know he was nearby just as easily as he would sense her had she come to him.
Their hunger called to one another, dreams rapacious and relentless, making sleep a reinforcement rather than an escape. The fullness Michael felt was sickening. He felt overstuffed, bloated, yet famished. And he could feel her emptiness, the heat of her hunger grown to a feverish level, consuming her with need.
They were too bound together and it was this tie that drew him to her bedside in spite of his ambivalence. Lowering himself he sat on the edge of the bed, one leg folded onto the mattress, holding the quilt beneath him.
“Michael.” Even in a murmured whisper, Lillith’s voice was husky. A light and aggressive caress of sound that shivered along his flesh. “It took you so long to answer.”
“I’m here now.” There was no sympathy or patience in his tone.
Lillith moved again, her knee shifting the over-stuffed quilt away so that it fell from her body. She was still covered in a wine colored sheet, through which Michael could feel a wave of heat rising from her body. Beneath the jasmine and spice was Lillith’s hunger, a poison, a promise. He could feel it rippling in the heat of her flesh, taste it in her aroma.
His mouth watered.
“You made me wait.” More like a moan, her accusation moved against the walls of his resistance.
“I did. I hoped you would change your mind, stop calling me.”
Her sniff was dismissive and, as she moved to sit up, she opened her eyes, allowing the sheet to fall from her shoulders revealing the pearlescent swell of her breasts, the blush of her nipples, and the way her dark hair curled to cover and reveal with the fall and rise of her heightened breath. “You knew I would never stop.”
“I know.” He reached out to touch her hair but stopped. “Brunette again.”
“Your favorite.” Her slanted eyes widened slightly before drooping into a more languid glance. The hand resting on the pillow had grasped the fabric of her pillow. Lillith released her grip, reached toward Michael. “You’re so cool.”
Her palm was an inferno, her skin smoother than he remembered, softer than he could ever forget. Her touch stirred beyond his cheek as he pondered her statement. Michael did not know if she meant his flesh or his attitude. Which was cool? One or the other? Probably both. He did not ask. Instead, he raised his own hand to brush her hair back from veiling her face so he could look more clearly at her expression. “And you. You’re on fire.”
“I am famished.”
He did know. Michael too was hungry but his hunger was different from Lillith’s. Hers was an emptiness that needed to be filled, an insatiable starvation leaving her feeling hollowed while his was like the distended belly of famine victims, an illusion of fullness. She lay reaching out to him with the lightness of need; he felt weighed down with his desire, heavy and ready to explode.
Lillith’s hand was soft yet firm, grasping yet open, as contradictory as her nakedness and the obvious anger in her pale grey eyes. “I did not think you would come.”
“I always do,” Michael choked on the words, his mouth dry.
Lillith licked her already moist lips. “Yes. Yes, you always do.”
Michael could feel her voice and licked his own lips with a dry tongue.
Lillith arched back into the pillows that were piled along the massive headboard, stained dark and polished to a high veneer that reflected the lamplight, created a silhouette mirror against the wood grain. Curled on her right side, she unfurled her wings, the sheet falling further away from her now stretching body. Her ribs strained with the arch of her back, her narrow waist swelling out to the curve of her full hips. A shudder of energy moved like water along the white feathers and fluffy down, the furthest tip reached out across the room towards the wall and then up towards the ceiling, brushing the curtained canopy before lowering slowly back to the mattress.
The urge to satiate himself was stronger now and he reached down to remove his shirt. “I don’t want to be here,” he protested as he lay down beside Lillith, his own wings reaching first up toward the ceiling and then arching over her reclining form, hiding from his view the perfection of her body, the luminescence of her flesh, and buffering the heat of her hunger.
“Hold me, Michael. I just need you to hold me. Cool my hunger with your body.”
Michael knew better but obliged, reaching around her as she curled her wings back into her body, nestling herself beneath the tent of his own span. She nestled her head beneath his chin, the silk of her hair falling over his own shoulders and chest. Her palm was pressed lightly against him, feeling his heart beat.
“What is wrong with you?” Lillith turned her head turned toward the wing that engulfed her. Her fingers were brushing gently, caressing the feather free flesh, tracing the web of veins that she could see there.
Michael had no answer that would suffice and said nothing. Her hand moved along the elbow of his wing, as if seeking evidence that would contradict her eyes. “You can not do this to me, Michael. You must not do this.”
“What? You do not like me like this? You prefer I cloak myself in ugliness, hide what I am?” He shoved himself from the bed, pushing her away as he did so, and stretched his wings out until he was brushing the opposite ends of the room, his back to the window. Without his own plumage the skin on his wings looked raw, like a bleeding wound. Even in the fading light of the room, the pulsing flow of his blood was visible, the strain of the manus, the radius, the humerus apparent. “Is this better, Lillith?” He folded his wings with a snap and again reached them outward. A shiver of feathered growth, like an echo of Lillith’s own stretch, followed, filling the angry pink of his flesh with furry down before feathering out in black feathers, glowing with an slick rainbow of pastel colors.
“Is this how you want me, Lillith? Is this how you would have me?” He reached toward her, grabbing her by the neck, gripping with a force that bruised red in her iridescent skin.
“Yes, Michael,” she heaved as he pushed her back onto the bed. “This is how I would always have you.”
She smiled, unafraid and confident. Her hands did not push away. Instead, Lillith moved with the dexterity of practice, removing Michael’s clothing and the only thing separating his flesh from her own. Michael was past the point of resistance, sank his arid lips into Lillith’s moist mouth, his tongue swallowing into her throat as she wrapped first her arms then thighs and finally wings around him. He entered her with familiar force, the humidity of her body engulfing him and Lillith cried out, her teeth scraping his before reaching to his shoulder, biting down to stifle the ice of his embrace.
The rhythm was almost immediate as they fell into memory of one another’s bodies. He held her down, her wrists fragile but strong beneath him. With her hips, she shifted his weight and they rolled until they were side by side, legs wrapped around hips and waist, wings fluttering and feathers enmeshed. Lillith rose to straddle him, her hands pressed into his chest, pulling away from his grasp, controlling them both with a new, slower pace. Her hair fell across his face, into his mouth, and Michael felt her body warming him.
With little force, he shifted them both again, her head now falling over the edge of the bed, one of his own hands on the floor for balance as he thrust into her, her body now damp with sweat. Her arms were wrapped around him, holding herself so that she would not fall to the floor, her feet wrapped around his thighs. Michael had forgotten her weaving, the way she could hold, but it was the ease of communication, the natural need for her flesh fed that made it easy and impossible for him to hold back.
He kept moving, now with a forceful slow motion, gliding out and sliding in, staring into her eyes. He could feel the sweat trickling down his back between his shoulder blades, Lillith’s nails digging into his wings, the arch of one foot sliding along his calf. Her own intense gaze never left him, her breath steady and rising, kissing his face with her groans. Lillith looked up at him, her fierce eyes mocking him, daring him, urging him until he could not resist his own fullness any further and exploded into her, shoving as deeper, nearly dropping them both to the floor. Lillith cried out, her body shaking, eyes rolling back in ecstasy, her climax feeding on the fury of his orgasm as her voice faded into a sigh of satisfaction.
Only then did Michael allow himself to fall against her, empty and no longer cold. Lillith released him but kept him wrapped in her arms and wings. He heaved her up and onto the bed, their feet pushed into the pillows. Their breathing was in perfect sync, panting and heavy, then slowing down to a normal pace, soothing as a lullaby.
“Will you sleep here?” Lillith whispered into the swell of his neck just beneath his jaw.
“Yes,” Michael paused. “I won’t be here when you wake up.”
“I know.” Sitting up, she reached down for the fallen quilt and pulled it over both of them, lying as close as she could, not minding the sweating that was still clinging to his body.
“I will not come the next time you call.”
“Mmmm. You know you will. You always do.”
He pulled her against him, his fingers enmeshed in her hair. He inhaled her scent, could feel the wetness of her dripping onto the thigh he had pressed between her legs. “Not anymore, Lillith.”
She made no move to push him away, to distance herself from him. Instead, she sighed, her breasts pressing into him as she inhaled. “You will come.”
“I am going away.”
“I can always find you.”
The urge to shudder was hard to resist, knowing the truth of her words. In dreams, their hunger called most fiercely, and he had also used their connection to call her to his side when he had let too much time pass between them. “When I leave, I will not be found.” It was a foolish argument, untested but he had to believe.
“I can always find you.”
“Not if I won’t let you.” His words were insignificant even in his own ears.
When Lillith woke up, she was covered in her sheets and quilt. Reaching across her bed, she knew that Michael would not be there. Only the scent of him remained. She smiled, stretched with a feline luxury.
“Ahh Michael. Sweet brother. You will come back to me when I am hungry for you and you for me.” Lillith knew that the desire they shared would not abate unslaked.
Wherever he might try to hide, her desire would find him just as it had done this time and every time before.