Authors: Cynthia Austin
To the End
The bedroom was covered in dark patterned wall paper with equally dark curtains and bedding to complement the space. There were two large floor-to-ceiling windows with panels on each side. The walnut colored bamboo floors were scuffed with age. I noticed all of this stuff as I silently lay in Adrian’s bed safely protected in his arms.
What a feeling!
In a way, the room fit what my imagination had always pictured the inside of the McAllister house to be, dark and creepy, but somehow Adrian also managed to give it a look of classic Old World charm.
Turning to face him, I gripped his neck and snuggled into his chest. I was on Cloud Nine and never wanting to come back down. Adrian cupped my chin, tilting my face up as he plucked a kiss from my lips. Then we just lay there, staring at each other with the help of the hallway light illuminating through the cracked bedroom door.
I loved looking into his vibrant green eyes, searching for the thoughts buried deep within them. He was hard to read, but I still enjoyed trying.
“That was interesting,” I said.
“You’re welcome,” he answered, never moving his eyes from mine.
I brought the sheet over my head and covered my beet red face. He was the sexiest human being alive. “And what is it exactly that I should be thankful for, Mr. McAllister?”
“Me, for helping you to finally open your eyes.”
His response kind of threw me as the words sent me crashing back into reality and with it came the memory of Ray’s proposal only hours before.
“Actually…I think I could see better before. It’s kind of dark in this bedroom,” I joked, trying to see only the humor in this.
I was having trouble accepting what I had just done to Ray.
Of course Adrian didn’t find my comment amusing at all. With a very serious expression on his face, he stared into my eyes before finally breaking the silence. “Sidney, what if I told you I really wasn’t here right now, that you summoned me to you somehow. Would that make sense to you?”
Did he really just ask that?
Now I was thankful for the blanket of darkness. I didn’t want Adrian to see the struggle it took to gulp down the nervous lump in my throat but I’m sure he could hear it. I had never told Adrian about my dreams, and furthermore, I never intended to; unless I wanted him to make a call and send me to the loony bin.
But now with him asking such a direct question, it almost seemed as if he’d known I’d actually dreamt him up before meeting him.
“Like, I created you? That would be crazy, Adrian,” I scoffed, hiding my nervousness. “I can touch you so you
really here.” Reaching out, I traced my fingertips lightly down the hard curves of his chest. I continued to try and make us real. “I can kiss you,” I said, a little softer as I leaned down and brushed my lips against his.
Instead of closing my eyes and getting lost in the kiss, I looked at his face. He was so perfect. Complementing his oval countenance were those big green eyes with long, thick lashes that encased them, and a small heart-shaped mouth.
I was mystified how all of his teeth fit into that sexy, tiny mouth of his. He pulled me closer and I swear my heart stopped the instant his lips touched mine.
“How are you so perfect?” The words came out before I could stop them.
He just smiled, like there was some joke only he knew.
“See, you created me. I am the Mona Lisa of your mind.”
“You’re so weird!” I laughed as I gave him a playful shove. He gripped my wrist and pulled me in for another kiss. This was a much more serious kiss which caused all of the humor to be sucked right out of the room.
When I pulled away I felt him inhale sharply. I could feel his breath against my cheek. He smelled like mint and lemon water. Amazingly there was no trace of nicotine.
“What if I told you I loved you?” he whispered.
I could handle that a lot easier than I could handle his suggestion of him merely being a delusion.
Lost in the moment, I so foolishly repeated those words to him. “I love you too.” I may have meant them. It
like I meant them when I said it. But it didn’t change the fact that I also loved Ray. My heart was so screwed up.
And Adrian had no idea.
Closing my eyes as I rested my head on Adrian’s chest, I listened to the calming rhythm of his heart beating until sleep finally surrounded me.
When I opened my eyes I was in the place I’d often dreamt of many times before. I sat up and looked around. Somehow, it seemed different this time. As if everything was much clearer in vision and texture.
It seemed as if I’d looked at the scene through a dirty mirror before and now the mirror was sparkling clean. For the first time, I could smell the beauty of it all and see every detail. I took an invigorating breath and laughed out loud when I realized I could actually smell the scent of sweet jasmine flowers. Before, I was nothing but a spectator in this other world, but now I was a part of it. I gazed up and admired the blue sky full of puffy white clouds. I felt the sun beating down on my bare arms, radiating its heat into my skin. It was like everything was in 3-D. It was exhilarating.
The scenery seemed to stretch for miles; row upon row of corn and wheat fields with line after line of perfectly placed fruit trees. The untouched earth beneath me had all sorts of stunning wildflowers sprouting from the dirt. Deep back behind the cornfield was a wall of eucalyptus trees, their heavy leaves swaying back and forth in the wind.
Golden hills swallowed up the entire valley, giving me a sense of serenity. The land reminded me of my childhood when I had been as free as a soaring eagle to explore the undeveloped areas of my neighborhood. That same sense of freedom was here with me now.
Suddenly I saw a giant shadow cast upon my face as a figure stood in front of me and held out his oversized hand to me. I was baffled. In all the times I’d visited this place, no one had ever been able to see me.
I took his hand without hesitation. It was warm and welcoming. The sun blazed behind him, darkening his figure and allowing the rays of sunlight to beam off his body. The bright light made it impossible for me to see the details of his face other than a shadow profile of a man, but I could feel his peaceful aura and knew he was here only to help me.
As I stood up, the sun sank below him, and with the glare out of my eyes, I could now see him clearly, and I gasped at the sight.
Immediately, I retracted my hand from his grip. “I know you. You’re Samael’s father.”
His voice boomed, “I am. In a way, I am everyone’s Father. At least I like to look at myself in that eternal sense.”
I snorted at his arrogance.
He lowered his voice. “I’ve brought you here to warn you.”
I folded my arms and looked at him in disbelief. “Warn me?”
“He’s not as he appears, Sidney.”
Didn’t my mother say the same thing?
I was afraid to say his name. “S-Samael?”
“You know him as Adrian,” said the shadow Father.
I was stupefied, and suddenly scared. “They’re the same person? How is that even possible?”
“The Devil wears many faces.”
His answer was as shocking as a slap to my face. I may have not been the most religious person in the world, but I did know of the Devil and Adrian was far from the monstrous villain humanity had painted Satan out to be.
Besides, the Devil existed as much as God did and I wasn’t sure I believed in either one. I sputtered out a response. “Why would you say that?”
Samael’s father stood erect, arms folded as he gazed into the distance, staring at nothing in particular. Then he turned and his next words sent a chill through me. “He’s an evil one, that child of mine; both he and his sister. Death has followed them ever since they exited their mother’s womb only seconds apart.”
My head was spinning with confusion. I was trying to wrap my mind around this information that had slammed my senses into a wall of stone. There was no way I could accept what this man was saying to me. Adrian wasn’t evil and he didn’t even have a sister. No, this was all wrong. Adrian was not Samael or the Devil or any of those things.
He is my friend…and maybe my lover.
I stood up verbally to the giant figure looming over me. “You’ve got to be mistaken. Adrian is not Samael.”
I took a step back. I felt my instinct to run beginning to kick in as I visually scoured the land, seeking out the quickest escape route. But being unfamiliar with the land, I had no idea where to go. Besides, if this guy was truly God, where could I go?
Panic was setting in. “This is not real right now…this is a dream!”
I pinched my arm, forcing myself to wake up from this nightmare. But Samael’s Father continued to speak as if he had not even heard my scream.
“Her poor body could not withstand their torment. She died moments after giving them life.”
I put my hands up to my ears, refusing to allow these lies to enter my brain. “Adrian doesn’t have a twin sister! No, you must be confused. Adrian’s mother did not die during childbirth. His parents died together last year in a car accident,” I shrieked, begging him to acknowledge he’d made a mistake.
But he wouldn’t budge. His eyes were hard and emotionless. There was no give and take in his manner. He wouldn’t accept my version of the story.
“Everything out of my son’s mouth is deceit. He’ll twist your vision of things until it’s an ugly distorted mess. He’s already gotten his claws into you. You’ve allowed yourself to question your judgment of what you know to be right. With the help of his evil sister he’s been able to get you to push away everything good in your life.”
That one word was all it took to send the memories of my last dream crashing into my brain. Just as clear as my dream was now, apparently so were my memories. And as the memory of the inappropriate sibling dream flooded my brain so did the images of Lilly and Adrian.
“That’s impossible,” I whispered. I shot the old man a revolting look. “You’re doing this to me! You’re putting these images in my mind. You’re the one trying to make me believe things that aren’t real!”
“You’ve lost your faith, Sidney,” he replied with a calm reverence.
Now I felt nothing but anger. This man had to be tricking me, distorting my memories to see facts that weren’t real. Adrian and Lilly didn’t even know each other. This whole thing was ludicrous. I fought back. “Faith in what…faith in God?” I snorted. “I never had faith in something I couldn’t see.”
“Look around you, Sidney. What do you see? Where are you?”
I closed my eyes, refusing to comply with his request and instead willed myself to wake up, “I’m dreaming,” I said through gritted teeth.
Wake up, Sidney. Open your eyes!
I could almost feel my heavy sedated body back in the other world. I closed my eyes and tried hard to make that Sidney lift her arm or turn her head. I tried to make her move something that would jolt her back into consciousness.
But it was no use.
The impudent man would not stop his torture. “Why the same dream? Why is your dream written in Adrian’s book? Why does it correlate with a religious book if religion is not real? Who is Adrian and what does he want from you? That’s what you need to ask yourself. If you can answer that question you will be freed from your torment.”
Finally, the connection from my brain to my nerves seemed to plug back in and with a spark, I could move my arm. I flopped myself so hard my entire body came crashing off Adrian’s bed and hit hard against the wooden floor. My eyes shot open. I was finally awake, but those final words lingered in my brain.
Freed from my torment…what torment?
Awake and released from my dream, I looked about the unfamiliar room and all at once the memories of last night came rushing into my head.
Denying what my memories screamed to me, I reached over and grabbed my blue dress, hugging it tightly.
Shit, Sidney. You’ve really made a mess of things now.
I cursed inwardly to myself as I quietly collected my belongings from all over Adrian’s bedroom. How could I have let this happen? Why couldn’t this have happened yesterday
I had received Ray’s package? So much could have changed in that short span of time. Now it was too late.
I had wanted Adrian for months, so much so I finally found the courage to call him out on it and what had he done? He had shut me down. Then, the instant Ray came back into my life he finally unloaded his feelings and made me his lover.
I glanced angrily at Adrian, who was still sleeping soundly in the bed. But once I saw his peaceful face, I could no longer pass the blame on to him. This was my mess. He was just a casualty of Ray’s and my war. Images of last night kept playing in my mind. Our kisses, caresses, and the words we said reverberated in my mind.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
I closed my eyes and willed the memories away. Last night, in the heat of the moment, Adrian said he loved me. And like a big idiot I told him I loved him too. This was not a total lie, but a lie just the same. Yes, I did love Adrian, but I loved Ray too. Ray asked me to marry him last night.
What was I going to do
Not wanting to answer that question, I continued searching the room, reassembling my wardrobe by picking up my scattered articles of clothing. This was not helping erase the memories of our erotic night together. I dressed as quickly and silently as I could. Then, I began the hunt for my shoes. I think they fell off somewhere mid-stairs while Adrian was carrying me up to his bedroom…
Shaking my head, I grabbed my purse and exited the room.
One heel lay just where I suspected, but the other was still a mystery. Tip-toeing down the wooden stairs, I felt like Cinderella searching for the missing slipper.
But if I was Cinderella, who was my Prince?
I saw it lying in front of the double doors to the library.
I scooped up the shoe and in a flash; I was at the big red door and ready to fly away.
But something stopped me from taking another step. I turned back around and headed deeper into the McAllister mansion.