There I was, lying on my brand-new California-king, in the middle of the night, with the blankets thrown clear, enjoying the darkness and the crisp, clean, peaceful air that surrounded me in my new home. The house was out in a secluded area, surrounded by acres upon acres of land and trees. It was huge, really too big for a single person, but the more that belonged to only me, the happier I felt. This was a very old house, but new to me, so that was that.
Prior to my marriage, I’d been an occult writer. That ended when it was decided that I no longer needed to indulge my petty individualistic tendencies. Now, however, the keys to freedom had been returned to me, and I would utilize the ambiance of my new surroundings in an attempt to breathe new life into my suppressed essence. I would write again, but I didn’t know what. I was certain, however, that this old house would somehow provide me with inspiration.
I considered inviting some friends the next day to visit my new paradise. But for the time being, I would settle into a blissful, rewarding sleep. I lay cozily amidst the creamy sateen; my head gently supported by firm, smooth cotton; my arm tucked underneath as my mind drifted effortlessly, delightfully into the nothingness of dreamland.
All at once, my journey was halted by the sharpest, strangest sound I’d ever heard—and it came from downstairs. Stunned, I lay frozen, unable to breath. It didn’t sound like a person; it didn’t sound familiar at all. For the moment, I lay paralyzed with fear as I pondered what or who had caused that noise.
However shakily, I got my bearings and carefully slid out of bed. I inched silently across the cold wood floor to the open bedroom door. I peered out into the dark hallway to see what I could: nothing but blackness, total dark that was almost a pitch fog to my tired eyes. I was weak from fatigue, but adrenaline wouldn’t allow these lids to close, or even to flinch. Hoping to see nothing, but expecting to see much worse, I stood silently, listening for even the faintest sound. I could hear my own heartbeat thumping against my eardrums, but nothing else—not one solitary peep. I collected myself and began to tip-toe down the hallway.
I recalled leaving a wall fixture lit at the bottom of the steps to light the foyer. I was glad for that, as I was hesitant to turn on any more lights until I was better convinced I was alone. I slipped down for a look. It was probably nothing anyway. I lied to myself, first in an attempt at reassurance, and second because my body was eager to get back to the safety and relaxation of the bed. I had been drifting off when I heard the noise, so maybe, just maybe it was that auditory sleep start I’d read about in a magazine. Maybe it was just the pipes. In fact, it probably wasn’t quite as loud as I thought it was. Old houses, I’d convinced myself.
Having talked myself out of fear, I actually chuckled a little, and I gingerly made way down the stairs. Midway down, and in full view of the lit entranceway, I had to stop. I instantly clenched the railing because I knew I just heard a whisper. It was followed by deafening silence. I froze. The blood seemed to drain down my body, and I was overwhelmed by a painfully gripping numbness. Then I heard it again. My eyes stretched wide as a million horrible thoughts flooded my mind; one being, run like the gates of hell just opened up; another being, don’t fucking move.
The abrupt sound of knocking came from the library across from the bottom of the stairs. Three knocks, then silence. I knew I had heard it. I listened for a moment for any other sound, and then a sudden urge struck me. I dashed down the steps to literally run for the hills. A whisper again as I reached the door. One hand on the knob, the other on the deadbolt, I heard a louder whisper. “Don’t run, Myryna.”
An incredible chill clutched at my spine. My chest began to tighten. This is really happening. This person knows my name. And I did not recognize that voice. I had to escape this. I was at the door, but I would never make it out fast enough. This person was on me, he could reach me. There simply was no time.
Why won’t my hands work the lock? All I could hear were the deranged screams of panic crowding my mind; the rest of my brain wasn’t functioning. That simple damned deadbolt! My fingers moved across it, over it, fumbling frantically, but then I had a sudden urge to turn around and see what stood behind me—so I did.
After catching a glimpse, I quickly closed my eyes, my back against the door, my fingernails digging into its rigid frame. I’d just seen a figure in dark clothing standing not ten feet from me. He wore a hood that was drawn, and I didn’t see a face. Although overwhelmed with fear, I knew I must open my eyes. My lids slowly began to rise, and I saw that the figure had vanished. Silence consumed the house once more, and I didn’t want to know where the figure had gone. I turned quickly, faced the door again, and unlocked it. I was uninterrupted this time. I breathed a short sigh of relief and turned the knob. It wouldn’t open.
But it was unlocked! No, no, I just unlocked it! I pounded on it, kicked it, nearly tore the knob from it. I stopped quickly and questioned what in the world I was doing—the entire top of the door was a pane of stained glass! I quickly procured the small wooden chair from the corner and slammed it into that glass with all of my strength. Finally!
I put the chair down against the door so that I could stand on it and escape, and in the next moment, I felt a warm, soothing breeze come over me, almost embracing me. It wrapped around me and slipped gently away. Right before my eyes, the countless chips and shards of broken glass lifted from the ground outside, and returned to the empty space in the door. The window was restored to its original, unbroken form. I did not move. I did not think at all for a few moments. I’d given in when I began to feel the warmth of someone nearing, but I heard nothing. Tears of intense fear tried to break free from my eyes, but to no avail. Each of my defensive functions failed. I could not even turn around.
And then the voice; a deep male voice, spoke with authority. “Don’t leave, Myryna. I’d like you to stay.” It was a low, smooth, almost soothing voice… almost.
In my frozen state of panic I felt a hand embrace my right shoulder. The tears were beginning to fall slowly. I didn’t move except to be turned around. I could but stare at the ground, afraid to look at the intruder. I closed my eyes when I noticed that this was an enormous man, close to seven feet I guessed, just as my brother had been. I still did not look up at his face. My heart began to pummel me; my chest felt as if it would burst. I could not have dreamed what would happen next.
His hand embraced my chin. He lifted my face toward his. Softly, he spoke again. “Look at me, Myryna.”
I opened my eyes slowly. I now gazed into the deepest, safest looking green eyes. My would-be assailant had a hold on me. He was not simply looking into my eyes; it seemed as though he was looking directly through me—and into my soul. I could feel it. I could feel him. It was as if I knew him—well. My concern lessened and somehow, I felt safe with him.
In the dim light, I could hardly see his face, but his eyes were gently speaking to me. I felt an increasingly tender and loving energy exude from him. A power seemed to consume me, and a vibration surged through my body. Motionless in that space, it felt as though our souls were merging into one. But, as quickly as it had begun, the flood of emotion abruptly stopped.
The stranger gazed at me and then spoke once more. “Come with me. And please—don’t worry; you will not be harmed.”
Somehow, I was convinced and followed him farther into the old dark house. I was led down to the lowest level, the coldest level, the part that was under ground. I hadn’t even unpacked down there yet. I still held onto his firm, strapping hand. I felt that I was not myself, almost in a trance. My legs were very nearly numb as if I were gliding or floating; I strolled effortlessly. I was unable to speak, unable to really even think clearly. I just felt—willing.
My surroundings began to change. Instead of the dank, uninviting chill of the basement, a wave of warmth made itself known at the end of the basement hallway. There wasn’t anything down that far, no exit, nothing at all. I wondered why he was taking me there, and why it was suddenly getting even warmer.
Then, before my marveling eyes, a door appeared. He released my hand, and the fear began to seep back into my consciousness. I took two steps from the stone door, and instantaneously the cold returned. It chilled me, so I took a step forward, and it again became warm. I started to think a little more clearly just then. This door wasn’t here before. How did it get here? What is beyond the door? And lastly, who in the hell is this stranger?
As if he’d heard my thoughts, he smiled. “You’re about to find out.”
The man opened the door and we entered an enormous room, at least thirty yards long and twenty wide; the floor was created from the darkest and largest of stones. What is this place? He turned and looked down at me with a crooked smile and modestly chortled, obviously hearing my thoughts again. The walls held torches that lighted the room, and I saw, as we ventured closer, that the middle of the room was a pool. The water seemed to be black.
“It is not black, my beauty; the floor inside is.”
He can read my thoughts! I was taken aback and breathless at the realization. He did not respond.
We continued to walk and came upon another door. He reached for the handle. At last, my sense of speech returned. I was at that moment, even if a bit more calm, still very fearful of what awaited me. I resisted the step forward. With an anxious voice, I finally began to plead. “Who are you? What are you doing here. What is this place? Please don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever you want,” I lied.
He scoffed as if my feeble attempt at begging–and lying–hadn’t worked. “Just come with me,” he commanded. Something about his tone suggested he hid some sort of emotion. But it also seemed as though his need to reassure me had passed and it was back to business—whatever business it was.
He turned and opened the door. I grabbed his arm boldly and without thinking first.
“Before”–I paused–“you called me Myryna. How do you know my name?”
The stranger looked down at my hand on his arm. I quickly snatched my hand back. He said firmly, “Just come with me.” He then turned to enter the room, and, absent an ounce of prudence–that I knew existed somewhere in the far recesses of my mind–I followed.
The room was small and lit by two enormous oil lamps; each was a bronze figure of what appeared to be a Grecian goddess. In one hand, she held high a torch of flame to light her way, while the fingers of her free hand teased the hilt of a sheathed sword at her hip. Something about her look told me she wasn’t really teasing. This room was also warmed by a blazing fire in a marble fireplace; the carpet was red; the walls, a dark-colored stone similar to the floor that surrounded the pool. There were two suede-looking black couches opposite each other, each against a wall, and one ornately carved, medieval-looking arm-chair, fit for a king.
“Sit, woman,” he commanded.
“What do you mean ‘woman’?” By this time, I was more frustrated than I was frightened, but I could tell that my newfound attitude was not keenly accepted.
There he stood before me, towering, intimidating. He raised his hands and slid the hood back slowly, revealing long, lustrous, dark hair—nearly black. I caught a slight glimpse of auburn as the light touched it. For the first time, he was now illuminated fully. His face, expressionless, told so much: the nonexistent laugh-lines, his almost painfully piercing eyes the rich color of imperial jade. He was captivating. For several moments, I felt wholly inadequate in his presence. I was mesmerized, and entranced. He was more than attractive—magnetic beyond words.
He guided me gently to sit down, and when our eyes met, he looked as if he urgently wanted something, but didn’t say a word. He sat slowly into the chair, and I watched his face turn cold and hard. He watched me intently.
I tried to ignore him and to think rationally. He is probably a killer. He has intruded into my home and practically forced me to some unknown place under the ground—where I’m sure no one will find my body. But I’d also seen concern in his eyes—hadn’t I? I knew he must have led me there for a reason, but the more disturbing question was—why did I let him? He also said that no harm would come to me, and for some reason, I believed him. My judgment was clouded. I must have been hypnotized.
“Please calm your nerves,” he uttered, sounding somewhat frustrated and rubbing his temple with his fingers. “I can hear every thought that goes through your head. You never stop talking, do you—even when your mouth is closed?”
“How can you read my thoughts?” I spat. I was still amazed and very alarmed by his ability.
He turned his eyes to the floor as if he were recalling something. “It is something I picked up a very long time ago.” His eyes returned to me. “I did not force you to come here. I believe you followed willingly.”
“No. I–I was not in my right mind,” I stuttered. “You did something to me up there.”
“Myryna, I could never—” He didn’t finish, and actually had halted rather abruptly. I knew he was holding something back; something important. He shook his head as if to shrug off his thoughts and the austerity returned to his face once more.
“You could never what?” I demanded.
Before I could repeat myself, he interrupted me by placing his hand in the air to silence me. My eyebrow rose. I was staggered by his gruff and somewhat blasé demeanor. The tension bordered a comfort that only comes with familiarity. I was equally as surprised by my own candor. I’d only just met this dark stranger, and just a short while ago, I’d been terrified beyond belief. I began to accept that this was a fantasy of some sort, an unexplainable mélange of delusions parading around in my subconscious mind. I was definitely dreaming.
“Just listen,” he said in a firm, dusky tone. “You must be quiet and heed everything I’m about to tell you. And please, Myryna, don’t interrupt until I’m finished.”
I just sat there in silence and began to do as he’d asked.
“My name is Markus. Markus Cambridge,” he said.
For a time, I felt breathless as if that name meant something exceedingly dear to me. Yet, I knew I’d never heard it ever in my life.
The stranger continued. “Although I might appear to be like you, I come from a much different place. Or, rather the same place, but a different… landscape.” He seemed to search for a way to tap into my level of understanding, and it was warranted.
“Landscape?” I scoffed.
“I come from the seventh dimension,” he explained. His voice was deep, and imperious. He stared intently into my eyes when he said this, searching for some glimmer of perception. He waited patiently.
“Are you talking about a parallel universe?” I suddenly blurted.
His lips curved into a rewarding grin as if he’d been waiting for this moment and was made very proud. “Yes,” he answered, almost affectionately.
I was just about to dismiss this ludicrousness, when suddenly our eyes became fixed on one another’s. I was again enchanted by his gaze and instantly knew his every word was true. But he abruptly broke the yearning stare, leaving me winded as if I’d broken free of something.
“You live in the third dimension,” he suddenly professed.
“The third dimension?” I replied. I looked at the floor and tried to sort my thoughts. “Boy, this is quite some dream.” I shook my head then charily raised my eyes to meet his once more. He groaned.
His brow furrowed slightly as he came over and knelt to one knee before me. He raised his hand gently to my cheek. I didn’t move to stop him. On the contrary, I very nearly pressed my cheek further in to the cup of his hand. For a brief moment, something deep inside me longed to. His thumb stroked my skin and his face neared mine a bit more. He spoke very calmly now, almost passively. “All dimensions occupy the same space,” he breathed. “And yet the inhabitants of each are rarely aware of each other.”
I was drawn into him. His face was so near my own that I could almost feel the moistness of his bated breath.
“And here—” he continued, barely above a whisper, and tilted his head slowly to the side— “time goes by quickly, while in my realm, it passes so slowly—to some we appear to never age, never die.”
I could merely sit there, wanting something from him. I wasn’t certain what it was exactly, more of his explanation, his closeness…something. I was stunned by his story, yes, but not quite in total disbelief. And for the moment, I was overwhelmingly entranced by him, and I remained ever silent as he continued.
“All that is imagined is not imaginary, Myryna.”
I tried to pay attention and was somewhat shaken by his words, but I’m not sure I was consciously absorbing them. I felt that I was lost in a supernatural, somewhat surreal moment.
He placed his hands at my sides. “The mind’s only limits are those we create ourselves. Always remember this: the mind doesn’t play tricks, Myryna, it merely strives to be open and free.”
Incredibly, my staggered mind was capable of forming a thought, and I began to understand him. And although I felt sure this was a dream, I asked a question.
“Sometimes I see things—are you saying they could be real?”
His brow now rose approvingly. “Yes. It’s just that for a moment, your mind began to open. This often happens when you are tired. It is because your mind is not focused on—” he paused as he stared at my lips then finished slowly—“anything else.”
For a moment, it was as if nothing had just been said; we were simply focused on each other. My mouth gaped as if I were about to speak, but I could think of nothing to say. Once more, he abruptly turned away.
He subtly regained his composure and stood to finish his story. His back to me, Markus, as I now “knew” him based on my faltering compulsion to distrust him, turned his head slightly to speak to me just over his shoulder. There was much more to this, something more serious, something weighing on his thoughts. He spoke more quietly this time, slowly, almost hesitantly.
“I apologize in advance for this.”
I glanced toward him with trepidation. Even after all he’d already said to me, his next words caught me off guard.
“You were born Myryna Jacobs. Your older brother raised you. He was your closest friend, and you were his. After he died in a car accident, you were so overcome that you thrust yourself into a new life, and married someone you did not truly love. But things are not always what they seem, Myryna. Even death can be—deceiving.”
He became silent and turned to face me. I didn’t know what to feel, what to say. I was mystified. How could he know these things? I was truly at a complete loss. The torrent of confusion and disbelief was overwhelming. Is this really happening? Surely I was dreaming. I had to be. This topic caught me off guard. I had to wake up. None of this was true. As my eyes fluttered from side to side, everything around me stood still, but my mind began to whirl. I felt suddenly tired, weak. My psyche had boundaries that I would not cross. This was simply too much.
He quickly reached my side as I began to lie back uncontrollably. I wanted to close my eyes, to gain some composure, to wake from this dream. He swiftly slid his right hand under my head to ease the blow as my head landed on the couch. I began to drift to sleep. I could feel the warmth of his hand and of his body near mine. Behind closed eyes, I turned to escape from this folly and to make a dash for the safety of my reality, which was on the other side of the line I had allowed myself to cross.
As I ran, his whispers chased me. “You must absorb this before I can tell you the most important thing. Tomorrow night, I will return.”
I seemed to be running through a tunnel of blackness with no end, and no beginning. I felt the blood rushing through my body when, unexpectedly, the floor vanished and I began to free fall toward oblivion. Suddenly, it felt as if someone had caught me…
“Uh!” I sat up. I was in my bed. Was it all a dream?
Nine a.m. arrived in a hurry, and I’d already taken a shower, eaten breakfast and called my friends Asia Vincent, Candra Stone, Monae Lockwood, and Renee Caldwell—whom we affectionately called “Foxy”.
With Asia’s busy schedule as a magazine editor, I was thrilled she could make it at all. Foxy was a pastry chef and normally busy. Monae, however, didn’t work; and Candra, who built large sculptures from recycled metal, normally had a year to work on a project so was more available for get-togethers.
I invited them not only for lunch but also to see the house and to catch up on some much needed “friend time”. Although no one ever mentioned it, I really had neglected them too often during my marriage. I never thought my friends were terribly fond of my husband anyway, but still felt the need to sort of mend fences and make up for lost time.
I asked John Corbin and Darin Gates to visit as well. All of us were lifelong friends. I missed the guys terribly. I hadn’t seen them in a couple of months. John and I had somewhat of a past, but remained dear to each other even though that part of our lives was over. He was also my brother’s closest friend. Darin himself was like a brother to me.
I felt the familiar sting of tears as they wet my eyes. I missed my brother so much. The love never fades away. I never tried to repress my thoughts of him. I simply tried to carry on, and it worked for the most part. Somehow I always felt that he was near. Almost as if he were right there; standing next to me and keeping an eye like he had always done. Our parents died when he was twenty-two; I was fifteen. We had no other close family.
Aeden had also become quite the stone mason in those days. Although very humble, he was a truly gifted artist and his work was admired. He did very well and was able to provide for everything we needed and more. He’d even reached a point financially where he didn’t have to work so hard, but he enjoyed himself and was very proud. He wanted to stay productive, and to influence me to do the same. Aeden had taken care of me, raised me until adulthood. He was my father figure. He was also my best friend, and a fierce protector.
I wouldn’t deny the tears; they were for him. And so were many smiles and laughs that we would otherwise have shared together. So I would not hold them back. I would let them simply fade into a grin and the sense of peacefulness I often felt after I cried. And it was over. I’d sigh and tell him aloud that there was no need to miss him, because he’d been there all the while.
I thought we’d eat outdoors. Saturday barbeques were always a favorite event for all of us, and it would be nice to put the masonry grill to use. I took all of the steps needed to prepare this party, all the while denying my conscious mind the opportunity to recall the tumultuous dream I had the night before. I took a deep breath and grabbed the car keys. I needed to hurry to the store and get back before my guests arrived.
As I started down the long stretch of gravel driveway, I looked into the rearview mirror at the house. It was the strangest thing. I stopped the car and stared into the mirror. Everything seemed normal. I stared long and hard because I knew that at first glance it looked as though it were a different house, but only for a second. I thought to myself and began to recall that dream. The part where Markus said, “The mind doesn’t play tricks, Myryna.” That was a dream, wasn’t it? I just sat there wondering about it, almost worrying about it. However, I realized my mind was in fact playing tricks. I had to get to town. I couldn’t sit there all day.
At the grocery store, I purchased everything I needed, remembering the wine and margarita mix and the light beer Foxy could not live without. I then headed down the long country roads back home, enjoying the classic blues station. As the music filled the car, I was reminded of how my ex-husband Paul refused to listen to “my” kind of music. I immediately blasted it even louder!
As I arrived home, there was a moment when I gazed at the property in disbelief. I felt a sense of pride. The house was one that I would have built for myself. From the steeply pitched gables and ornately carved trim, to the faded wood that gave it character, it was magnificent. It had floral stained glass that drank in the sun and poured out transparent glimmers of color that beckoned one to come near. There were several gardens that, after a bit of tending, would flourish. And rolling hills and woods surrounded the old house, a sight that could not properly be told.
After hauling the groceries into the house, I started a fire on the grill right away. The crab-stuffed salmon would take especially long to cook. I turned the stereo to a decent volume in order to continue that blues vibe and sang aloud while I prepped the kitchen.
There were French doors that opened the kitchen to the patio, and a large oak table for ten. In lieu of a centerpiece, loosely strewn wild flowers with sprigs of thyme and lavender would dress the table. The lavender didn’t grow here, but every now and then, its fragrance would drift across the meadow when the breeze would quicken. Its source was a mystery, but it inspired me to purchase some at the market. There was also a large pool for swimming and the gardens were beginning to show signs of color.
After placing the final piece, I felt the odd sensation of what felt like breath on the side of my neck. I quickly turned, but I was still alone. I touched my neck with my fingertips and cautiously slipped back into the house. The music played on, and no person was in sight. Suddenly there were three bangs on the floor. A familiar feeling of anxiety washed over me. Did that come from the basement? I had never been an uneasy person, and I really didn’t have time for this, but decided to go and investigate anyway.
I ventured slowly down the steps. The only light in the entire enormous basement was an old pull-string bulb in the center of it all. At least a little sunlight from the upstairs windows guided me part of the way. At the eleventh and final step, the upstairs door slammed closed. The music was now muffled, and I stood in complete darkness. It had to be the wind, or this was some sort of joke. I stretched out my hands in search of the pull string. I couldn’t see a damned thing. While on my blind venture, I could almost feel the darkness. I squinted to see better, but who in the hell knew why—it was too damned dark.
There—I’d found it! With the light now on, I searched for the sound. There it was again. Two bangs this time. I started down that long hallway that I last saw in the dream the night before. Maybe it was the house after all. It really is old, I rationalized. Maybe old pipes or something, I had just run water. Of course, it was only for a second… no, it was just pipes. Yeah, that’s it—pipes. Then the banging began again, much louder than before and right above my head. I threw my neck backward to witness the pipe banging against the floor. It was old and rust-covered and had a galvanized strap hanging near it. One side of the strap was missing a screw. I imagined that someone had strapped the pipe before to stop the banging and that it had eventually come loose. That would be easy enough to fix. I was quite relieved to find the source of this unnerving sound.
I stood there for a second and realized that it was a bit warmer down at that end of the hall than it seemed in the rest of the basement. That’s certainly odd, I thought to myself, bearing in mind the dream. “But it was a dream. See! There’s no door here,” I said, humoring myself aloud.
I began to recall just what a dream it had been. Now that I realized it in fact was only a dream and that there really was no intruder here, I found it safe to think about how seductive the guy really was. A smile crossed my lips. It really is too bad men like that never cross my path. I shrugged. Then I was snapped out of my impious trance by a very quiet whisper.
“Use your mind, and see the door.”
I shut my mouth fast and widened my eyes! “Who said that?” I demanded.
No one answered.
I figured it was about time for me to get back upstairs, and then realized something. The music had stopped. Could things get any more bizarre?
The doorbell rang. My heart nearly stopped. “Geez, that scared me.” I laughed to myself and raced through the basement and back up stairs. I didn’t realize you could hear the bell from down there.
When I answered the door, I was elated to find Asia, Foxy, and Candra. It would be a joy to be around other human beings, and even more since it was them, my girlfriends—my sisters.
They looked great as always. Asia—tall, blonde, and slender—had sharp dark eyes that could see right through you. She had come straight from work in her skirt suit the way we usually saw her. Candra was casual, as expected. Her sandy hair was tossed into a sloppy twist; she wore weathered, baggy jeans and a black tank that showed off her slightly fuller figure and gorgeous skin. She had light blue pools for eyes and wore no makeup, but she didn’t need it. Foxy’s hair—a messy updo of natural brown curls—was both elegant and trendy. Her lips shined of clear gloss, and she wore a baby-doll polo with shorts and canvas wedge sandals. The aroma of the sunscreen she used to polish her sienna skin always made you feel like you were in the tropics.
After our greeting, Asia immediately asked, “How was last night?”
I was taken aback by the Socratic question until she persisted.
“The first night in your new house with no man?”
“Oh! It was wonderful. However, I had an unbelievable dream. It was so realistic, yet impossible. You know what I mean?”
“Not really,” she replied.
All of them grinned. Candra chimed in, “I’ll bet it was just first night nerves. You do live way out in the boondocks now—Ms. Jacobs.”
“This is true.” I ushered everybody in and realized what she just called me. “How did you know—?”
“It showed up on my phone that way. Girl, you’ve been out in the country too long already! When you called me the display said plainly, ‘Myryna Jacobs’. So I knew you were already using your maiden name.”
“Well, I wanted to be myself again, Candra. And besides, my brother would want that.”
“I know he would,” she replied. “And he’d be proud that you’ve made this change in your life and got rid of that asshole Paul!
“Here’s to that!” Foxy exclaimed, already downing a frosty mug of beer. It was hilarious.
After a hearty laugh, we decided to get going on that salmon, and get the margaritas in the freezer. “Did it take you guys long to get here?”
Asia, who drove, answered while slicing strawberries. “No, not at all; even though I maintained the exact posted speed limit the entire trip.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you were.”
“You know my code,” Asia retorted. “‘Always obey the rules of the road’.”
Foxy and Candra nearly choked.
“I think you mean your own rules of the road,” I joked. “But nevertheless, I’m so glad you could make it.”
She grinned. “It’s a great house, huge too. Is all that land yours?”
“Heck yes. And Paul said I couldn’t make it without him. Ha!”
That sparked another round of cheers and colorful language directed at the ex as each of us remembered how arrogant he always was.
Foxy looked as if she was hesitant to say what she was about to, but she said it anyway. “I still don’t know how you ended up with a creep like that. But that’s okay, because Corbin is single again too!”
All of the women seemed in agreement.
“Ladies, we are just friends. I love him as a very close friend, but our relationship won’t ever go further than that again. We value our friendship so much that neither of us would want to risk it by dating again.”
Foxy played a mock-fiddle. “Whatever you say, but I know he still wants you!”
“Anyway, stop talking like that— he’s coming here today!”
“Oh, really now?” They seemed to say in unison.
“Stop giving me that look! You know we’re close friends! Anyhow, I invited him; and he’s coming with Darin and Monae. They should be here shortly. So watch what you say out loud. He could walk in!”
I ended the subject, but they women still shared sly half-grins. I pretended not to notice and shook my head.
“I’m so glad you came, Asia. You said you’d try, but I didn’t think you could get out of going to that seminar with Dwayne today.”
“He knew I would rather not go,” Asia responded. “And that I hadn’t seen you for a while. He’s so sweet about things like that. He really doesn’t mind. So tell us about the big dream.
“You know, I am still confused by it. It seemed so real. I know it couldn’t have been. But, as the day goes on, I’m becoming less and less sure.”
“What do you mean?” The girls gathered around the island where I stood pouring wine in order to get a better listen—and a drink.
“Well, it started that I was lying in my bed in the dark. I heard a loud noise and went in search of it. I remember hearing whispers and trying to escape through the door. I broke the glass in it…”
“Well, the glass isn’t broken, so it had to be a dream.”
“But that’s just it. A man in a black robe and fixed it with magic or something. He led me through my basement to a secret place and told me about different dimensions, and he knew things. He knew about Aeden... he knew my name. It’s just so bizarre. He even said that he will return tonight.”
“What did you have to drink before bed last night?” Asia smiled.
“Or smoke,” the other two responded.
“Nothing at all. What’s more is that things have been occurring today, weird things. One of them happened just before you came. I followed a noise downstairs to the basement. When I got to the end of the hallway I heard a whisper— and it didn’t sound like Markus.”
“Yes, that’s his name.”
Asia looked around the room, studying it. “Maybe I should meet up with Dwayne after all.”
“Girl, I don’t have ghosts!”
“Well, it sounds like something! And come on, we’ve all seen ghosts before.” Asia looked at every one of us until we each agreed.
“That is true,” Candra recalled. “Remember the Shadowman, Foxy?” Candra teased. “The one that walked in front of the TV that night when—”
“I know! I know! I know!” Foxy spat as the rest of us laughed. She loathed that memory. She’d been so scared by it that she had slept in Candra’s room for a week.
Asia stood slowly and carefully examined the room. “You know, stuff like this really happens. What if that Markus is the ghost of some guy that used to live in this house! I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up right now, just to prove me right!”
Every one of us froze in silence. Then the doorbell rang. It gave us all a start. Candra ran to the window with Foxy clinging to her shirt. “It’s safe.” She laughed. Relieved, Asia went to check on the fish, and I to answer the door.
I was ecstatic to see Monae. She’d been somewhat withdrawn in the past but was a devoted friend. Her face was cool and natural; her beauty was muted but could not be ignored. She was delightfully demure. She had shoulder-length tresses of chestnut pushed back from her face with a scarf. She was modestly dressed in a soft gray cotton shrug over a pleated maxi dress. She was practical, yet extraordinary, and had a genuine smile that lighted the room.
“Myryna!” She exclaimed and we embraced. “How are you?”
“I’m doing really well. What about you? It’s been a while.”
“Same ol’, same ol’,” she admitted. “Actually, I’m doing okay, but it does feel nice to get out of the house. By the way, this place is great! Not too shabby at all!”
“Thanks. I think I’m really going to like it out here. Say, where are the guys?”
“They’re out there. I drove myself, but they were right behind me on the road.”
“Oh, good. The girls are out back if you want to go see them.”
I walked out the door and saw John’s Jeep. Everyone else called him by his last name, but in tender moments, I always called him by his first.
As the guys exited the vehicle and ambled up the walk, I was overcome. Seeing them reminded me of how important this day was, how much we’ve always meant to each other and still do. Darin made the last few steps toward me quickly and lifted me off the ground in a spiraling embrace.
“Lady, it’s been too damned long.”
“Never again, Darin. It’ll never be this long again.”
He was sorry that I had to go through a divorce, but elated to see me happy again.
John was last. After everyone else was inside, he pulled me close to him and we hugged. He knew that inside I had pain that I’d never show. We held each other tightly, and he whispered in my ear, “Are you okay?”
Never shifting from our embrace, I replied feebly, “Yes, of course I am.”
He caressed the back of my head with one of his hands. “Those enchanting dark-brown eyes, and flowing hair to match; you’re beautiful, you know that?”
He could always make me smile.
“You know I’m always here for you, Myryna, always.”
I raised my head just enough to meet his eyes. “I know that, John.” I kissed him on the cheek, and we went inside, his hand on my lower back as we walked through the door—and it slammed behind us.
“What was that all about?” John bellowed, then laughed.
I was shocked too, knowing full well that there was no breeze, but replied that it must have been that “old country wind.” He looked at me strangely knowing that there was no wind as far as he could tell.
“Twenty minutes to chow time!” Asia yelled from the kitchen. Foxy turned on some music, Candra passed out nearly virgin strawberry margaritas, and the dancing began. It was like the good old days. We were all having an incredible time. How could it get any better than this?
Night had fallen. After we’d eaten, danced a lot, and run through a few card games, my friends and I sat in the living room relaxing. Foxy sat in the recliner, John and Darin on the couch; all three were drinking beer. Asia and Monae lounged on the loveseat, and Candra and I sat on the floor near the fireplace.
Candra turned to me. “Hey, why don’t you tell the guys about that dream you had last night, Myryna?”
Darin looked genuinely interested. “What dream? Tell us.”
“I don’t know about that. I don’t want you to think I’m crazy.”
Darin chuckled. “We already know you’re crazy!”
“Pardon me; I’d forgotten that you were so sane!”
He grinned, and I began to explain. When I finished telling them everything, and they wanted to know every last detail, I was surrounded by various looks of confusion and surprise. Mostly, they were not sure what to think.
“Woman, you are crazy,” Darin said with a smile. The comment broke the silence.
Monae, however, looked dismayed. “Uh, I don’t know about you all, but that scares me to death.”
I stood. “What Monae? What scares you?”
“Everything about what you just said, it sounds so realistic. And nobody remembers dreams in full length; never to such a degree. How could you recall it word for word? I’m nervous about it.”
“I concur,” Asia added, “and would like to point out all of the things that have happened to you today. And we all saw that door slam.”
Foxy moved to the edge of her seat looking frightened. “It’s–it’s probably ghosts.”
Darin looked amused. “You girls kill me. You know it was all a coincidence.” He chuckled. Darin was usually the initial skeptic, but all of us had some belief in the paranormal; it was one common bond we shared as friends.
Then John stood up and walked over to me. He slid his arms around my waist. “Yeah, and besides, I’m here if you need any protecting.” He winked devilishly.
Right at that moment a tremor moved up the walls and the lights went out!
“Ah!” One of the women screamed. Miscellaneous mutters began all over the room.
“What was that rumble?”
“Somebody must be playing around!”
“Where are the fricking lights?” Foxy yelled. The switch won’t work!”
“Shh, everybody Shh. Myryna, is this a joke?” Darin asked sincerely.
“No, Darin. I swear it’s not.”
“Okay then—the first thing we do is check the circuit breaker. It’s in the basement right? Come on Corbin.”
“No! Don’t leave us!” Monae screamed.
Just then the lights came back on.
“Hey, did anyone hear that?”
“Hear what? All I heard was my heart stop,” Monae whispered, eyes wide as half-dollars.
Asia stood desperately clutching the front of her shirt. “I don’t know, but what do you say we get the hell out of here?”
“That did trip me out a little, but you know old houses,” Darin managed to say. However, he seemed less than confident as he looked around.
I went over and looked out the window at the back of the room. “Do you think it started to storm and we just didn’t notice?” I leaned on the window ledge, puzzled, as I stared out into the darkness. No rain. No heavy wind. I was beginning to believe in Markus. I closed the drapes and turned around.
Everyone stood around the room silently, trying to think what could have caused the light problem. I pondered the supposed dream, when it suddenly felt as if someone entered the room. There was light movement of the floor, and an energy shift as if someone walked right in. It suddenly seemed as though the temperature went up as well.
“Does anyone else feel as if we are not alone?” Candra muttered.
“I do. I don’t like this,” Asia answered. “And by the way, do you guys feel warmer all of a sudden?”
“Yeah, it’s weird.” We all agreed—except for John.
“Actually, I feel cold, very cold as if it were winter.”
Everybody looked his way. I went over to feel him. I touched his hands. “John, you are freezing!” I put my left arm around his waist and held his hands close to me.
He looked down at me. “Thanks, honey; you always could warm me up.” I was used to him saying things like that to me, but it still made me blush. He smiled, knowing that, and then leaned down and kissed my forehead. Immediately we heard a loud slam as if someone had punched the wall. Everyone jumped that time.
Asia turned her gaze straight toward John and me. She had a stern, but very frightened look on her face. She narrowed her eyes. “Everyone, quiet! I don’t know about you all, but I am starting to notice a pattern here!” She focused on us still, and continued. “Every time Corbin touches Myryna, shows any affection at all…”
“Something happens—” Monae finished with wide eyes.
They all looked intently at the two of us now, realizing the truth in this.
I believed her. I believed Markus was really here, and I was not afraid. I felt a rush of intensity fill my body, almost an excitement, a longing to see him, to be in his presence. I tried hard not to show these feelings. I turned to my friends. “I’m certain now that what happened last night was not a dream. Is anyone else still unsure?”
No one said a word. I think they all knew that either the dream was real or there was a poltergeist; the only two logical explanations.
“Then I think I know what to do. Please don’t protest; everyone just do what I say. Understood?” The ladies agreed, and the guys nodded their heads half-heartedly. “All right, here is what I want you to do. I want everyone to stay right here. I’m going to close these doors behind me and go through the house to see what’s going on. No one follow or open the doors until I come back.” I spoke firmly, as if I were telling small children what to do.
“If you insist!” Foxy exclaimed quickly.
Monae nudged her arm. “We can’t let you go alone. It could be dangerous! Darin, go with her!”
“No, you guys, I’ll be all right. No harm will come to me.” I said, recalling Markus’s words from the night before. “I’m not afraid.”
John looked at me, not happy with my decision, but he knew that I would not give in. “Just be careful.”
“I will be careful, but I am not afraid. I have a feeling that I should go alone.” I walked into the dark foyer and began to close the doors to the living room.
Foxy was concerned. “Maybe you have the wrong feeling.”
“I hope not,” I answered and closed the doors in front of me.
I didn’t know why, but I thought I’d try my bedroom first. I felt that I was being drawn there. As I walked up the stairs and down the hallway, it was very dark. The only lights I’d left on were the lights in the living room. I was compelled to stop. I knew that I was not alone. All was silent, but I could sense someone near me. I closed my eyes remembering this situation from the night before. Fear returned.
From behind me, I felt a warm breeze approach and move slowly through my body. It was heavy as if someone just walked right through me. Don’t be afraid—just don’t be afraid. I tried to convince myself. I completely relaxed my mind and visualized my brother Aeden holding my hand. I smiled peacefully. He was grinning back. I began to feel as though I was no longer on the earth, but on a spiritual plane. I felt completely content, joyful. I was holding on to my brother, my best friend. I was very jubilant as if no time had passed. The end of his life had not yet come. The chance to tell him how much I’ve missed him was a reality. Aloud, I spoke. “I’ve missed you so much, Aeden.”
“I’ve missed you too, my dear sister.”
I suddenly opened my eyes and saw him! But I blinked and he was gone. I knew I’d seen him standing right in front of me. Moonlight shone through a hallway window onto him, now he’d gone and so had the light. It was dark again. I knew he had been real and begged for his return. “No! Aeden, no!” Tears started to fall. “I didn’t imagine that, I didn’t! Oh, please no! Please come back!” I fell to my knees and began to weep the loneliest tears I had ever felt.
A hand firmly embraced my right shoulder. “Aeden?” I turned quickly. It was Markus. I swiftly backed away from him, but then felt a sudden rush of relief that he was there. “Oh, Markus! What is happening to me? What is going on? I am losing my mind. Please stop this, I beg you.” He stood tall and strong. He wore no cloak this time, but was dressed in black.
“Come with me, Myryna. You are ready now to find out exactly why I am here.”
He took my hand and led me down to the basement once again. When we arrived at the end of the hallway, I felt the warmth and we stopped. No door. “Markus, last night…”
“Myryna, we stand before a portal. There are many in the universe. It is the easiest means of travel to another plane. If you visualize a door, it helps guide your mind into another place. But you can’t see the door if you don’t let yourself. Last night I opened the door for you. Tonight you’ll open it yourself.”
“Myryna, upstairs you started to become afraid. To overcome this, you removed yourself from this level of mind and placed yourself on a higher one. You cleared your thoughts and were able to perceive another dimension. That’s where you saw your brother Aeden and that’s where you’ll find the door.”
Markus didn’t have to say another word. I understood, and he knew it. I took his hand in mine and gazed into his eyes telling him telepathically that I knew what to do. I let go of him and closed my eyes. Then I inhaled deeply, smoothly, reaching deep into my soul and forgetting all that was around me but visualizing the door. I opened my eyes. There it was. Markus smiled at me, with a proud and caring look. We both touched the door and it opened. The place was still wondrous, very intriguing. I’d never seen anything like it. It was dark, but very peaceful.
“Markus, what is this place?”
When we arrived at the door to that smaller room, he turned to me. “It is simply a meeting place, safe from outside influence, and easy for us to enter together. Come inside; I’ll explain everything now.”
I did as I was told, and this time he guided me to the chair.
“Do you remember that I told you of my dimension and that you appear to never age there for time seems almost still?”
“Then understand that although most are born there after having lived and died in the sixth dimension, a small number arrive by other means. You can be brought.”
I listened to him intently and with sincere attention. Every word his lips formed seemed to speak directly to my soul.
“In order for someone to ‘bring’ you into another dimension,” he continued, “you must be in the most vulnerable state possible in human life. That is, near death. And those in earlier dimensions might never know you again except in visions or meditation. Are you following this?” he asked empathetically.
“Yes, I think so. But why do you tell me this?”
“Myryna, listen. Back in what is some ninety years ago to you, my greatest friend fell deeply in love with a woman from your dimension. It pained me to lose him, but he chose to give up his abilities and near-immortality to reenter her dimension and live and die with her. And so he did.”
My heart was still somewhat anxious, but at the same time, almost afraid to hear what he was about to tell me. He stood and walked toward the fireplace and then turned back to me, a look of concern on his face. This scared me a little. And he could hear my thoughts.
“Myryna, don’t be afraid of this. What I have to tell you is very important.”
“Yes, Markus.” Tears threatened to come as my subconscious may have already known what he was about to say.
“My friend’s name was Dante Aedenvos. Some years after he died, his essence did not move on to the next dimension but stayed in the third. He was reincarnated as the son of two honorable and very numinous people, Declan and Myrrine Jacobs. He was your brother, Aeden.”
The tears broke a little bit right then. There was a pause, just silence between us for a few moments.
“He was my friend, and so I kept watch over him in his new life. When he came to his most vulnerable time, I could not bear to see him die again… and so I didn’t let him.”
My eyes widened; my heart was still. Had I just heard what I thought I heard? In no way could it have been real. No, no. NO.
“I brought him to the seventh dimension. He now lives there, alive and well. The body found in the crash site was not his own. It was the product of magic.”
“No! This isn’t true! How could you say these things to me?!” I stood and screamed at him, pounding my fists into his chest, tears pouring heavily down my face.
He grabbed my arms. “Myryna look at me. You felt him upstairs; you saw him. Look into my eyes, and you will know I speak the truth!”
I stopped raving and swallowed, hard. I couldn’t help but look deep into his eyes. Feeling confused by this situation and surprised by my feeling for Markus, I gazed into his soul. He couldn’t be telling the truth, but I knew somehow in my heart that he was.
“Myryna, you were not drawn to this house by chance. This place that you are so captivated by; you were connected to it subconsciously. The man you bought the house from, Ned Moody, may seem like a simple, kindly old man, but he is also an intuitive friend who is familiar with many dimensions. He lives just down the road. The house and land did belong to his family and has long been unoccupied; however, in my realm Aeden lives very near.”
I began to cry, partly because his words burned into my soul. I was both tormented and torn. I didn’t know how to react, and I didn’t fully understand what he meant.
“Myryna, I know this is difficult to hear, but it’s not impossible to understand. You’ve noticed that this place is everything you’ve ever wanted: an old family home that needs loving care, a woman’s touch. But there is more. The beautiful glass, and old fountains—Aeden created those things for you.”
The tears stopped as I began to comprehend what he was saying.
“I think it’s time for you to see your brother.”
I gasped. “Please let this be true.”
Markus took my hand. I look at him and choked back my tears. I was trying to prepare myself for whatever was about to happen. His touch was so gentle. I was anxious, but my fear of him continued to wane. How could I feel safe with him, knowing how we’d come to meet? I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to think at the moment, except that I hoped I wasn’t crazy. It all seemed like a dream, and as every restless moment passed, I was less eager to wake from it. Please be Aeden.
He led me back into the large room. We stood still. I was exceedingly nervous. My breathing almost ceased. He let go of my hand and left my side. He’d gone somewhere behind me, but I couldn’t muster up the strength to turn my head and look. I could feel a light, soothing breeze wash over my skin and hair. I didn’t know the source. It brushed across the dark pool; ripples formed before my eyes and danced across the water. I did not move, but my eyes studied the room in front of me. The wind grew slightly stronger. The weight of my hair lifted up as the long strands blew behind me, but I remained ever still. Suddenly, my gaze fell upon a dark figure that approached from across the room. My heart began to race, my breath to slow.
The figure got closer, taking long, heavy strides. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and silent tears started to flow. I could feel him. I couldn’t look, couldn’t open my eyes. The tears flowed beneath my lashes uncontrollably, and I could feel him standing in front of me. This isn’t real.
Someone grasped my shoulders gently.
Aeden, is it you?
“Myryna, open your eyes.” He spoke softly and so considerately, the sound of heartache in his voice.
I opened my eyes slowly. “Oh, Aeden! Can it be? Is it really you?”
Overwhelmed by his presence, I stood paralyzed, my eyes fixed upon his. He was very real. It is him. He wrapped me hurriedly in his arms and we held each other tight. I would never let him go again. “Oh, Aeden—I love you so much!” I cried into his chest.
He let go only for a second and grabbed my hands in his. He dropped to his knees and looked up at me, studying me. His beautiful face; tears streamed from his own eyes. I wrapped my arms around him again and proceeded to hold him forever.
Markus reappeared and spoke to my brother. “Aeden, I will leave now and allow you some time together. And Myryna—” He paused and took my hand. Aeden let go of me and stood. I turned to face Markus, and he continued. “You have handled all of this very well. You are stronger than I had imagined. I–I must go, but I will see you again.”
There was so much feeling in his eyes as he stared into mine, as if there was much more he wanted to say, but didn’t. What’s more, I didn’t quite understand my feeling of loss knowing that he was leaving. He lowered his head to me, his lips neared mine, but he turned his head slightly, as if to stop himself, and kissed me gently on the cheek. Then he disappeared.
I turned to my brother. I still couldn’t believe all of this, and it had happened so fast, but there he was. “Aeden, I don’t want to think about anyone else but you right now, but my friends—our friends—you must come and see them!” I was eager to share my joy and this miraculous experience with them.
“Not yet. They will have to be prepared. You should go to them in a moment, but I have something to tell you. Now that I am here, I will live and die just as any other person in this dimension.”
His words echoed within me, and for a moment, I felt as if the oxygen had been bled from the air. I understood him but couldn’t fathom those thoughts just yet. I’d felt such loss before this; and now, literally in an instant, my entire scope of reality had been trumped. I didn’t want to think about the future; all I wanted to do—all I was capable of doing, was to live in this moment. For in this moment my only reality was that he was here, and I was filled with an elation that couldn’t be described as anything but all-consuming.
One question, however, did penetrate my thoughts. “Aeden, why didn’t you come back before this? Why did you wait so long?” I asked this as if any explanation would comfort me.
“You were not ready. I promise you will understand in time.”
I simply gazed at him, memorizing the vividness of his features that had faded in my memories of him. “I’m just happy to have you in my life again.”
“I never left,” he said smiling; then he searched my eyes as if in question. “There is something else on your mind, isn’t there?”
“Of course not, I am just shaken by all of this. It is so hard to believe.”
“No, there is something else, deep in your mind. Tell me what it is.”
“It is nothing,” I responded. And for the moment, it truly was nothing. I didn’t want to think of anyone but him, but he pressed on.
“All right, it is Markus. There is this feeling, one of familiarity, longing when he looks at me.”
He tilted his head a little and looked at me strangely, almost as if he wasn’t surprised. He then looked down at the ground. “I was afraid that this would happen. There is something you should know. It may not be my place to tell you...” He paused. “But Markus has some feeling for you as well.”
I could barely respond. “What do you mean by that?”
“He will deny it. He has denied it to me, but I have seen the way his demeanor changes when I speak of you, or when you’re near.”
I couldn’t look my brother directly in the eyes.
Aeden smiled. “If I ask him about this, he’ll say, ‘The strain of transferring dimensions overwhelms me at times,’ or devise some other excuse.” The thought prompted a chortle from the both of us.
“Myryna, Markus is a feared man where we come from. He is a great leader and has many powers. Did he tell you that?”
“Only of having powers that most others do not possess.”
“Yes, and he is truly great. I also believe with all of my soul that his feelings for you run deep. It’s almost as if he knows you; there is some form of attachment. But I fear he fights it for a reason. He could never stay here. That would mean giving up his powers, giving up his leadership; he is an extraordinarily proud man, and he has reason to be.”
I felt a little saddened by those words. I did feel intense feelings for Markus, but was unsure what they were. Even so, I wondered, how he be that way. I guess that I should understand. I guess that I do understand. I knew it would be for the best if I choked it up and forgot about those “feelings.”
“Myryna?” Aeden snapped me out of my thoughts. “Our friends—you should go to them now. And trust their level of understanding; they are ready to hear the truth. They will believe you.”
I rushed to him and clutched him into my arms. “Aeden, I am so glad that you are here with me. Please say this isn’t a dream.”
“It isn’t, little sister. I promise that it isn’t.”
I reluctantly let him go, and turned to go upstairs.
When I arrived, I could see my friends through the small part in the doors. I was slightly out of breath because I’d flown up the stairs at high speed. As I tried to compose myself, I could hear them speaking.
“What is taking her so long?”
“hell if I know, Candra.” Darin replied.
Asia noticed Monae sitting alone in a corner chair staring worriedly at the floor. She walked over to her. “Monae, what’s the matter?” she asked sensitively.
“I’m all right. It’s only that…well it’s only that all of that talk about Aeden—and then all of this. I don’t understand what’s going on. I hope we’re not all going crazy believing in this ‘dream’ of hers.”
Asia knew that Aeden was a touchy subject for Monae. The two were lovers and very close. When he died, Monae took leave into her own world for a while. It was very difficult for her. She became stronger, but remained steadfast in love with him.
“Monae, we’re not going crazy. We couldn’t all be seeing and hearing the same things! I know that this is all pretty messed up, but maybe Myryna will come back with some answers.”
“If she comes back!” Foxy, still very frightened, corrected Asia.
Candra shook her head. “Will you stop carrying on? She’s a big girl. She’s not afraid of some old ghost!”
“Ghost?” Foxy was more scared than ever.
John looked at Darin. They were both on the same page. “It has been an awfully long time.”
Darin nodded his head. “Let’s go.”
The two got up and headed for the double doors, so I slid them open.
“Myryna!” Everyone shouted.
Everyone began hounding me with questions of my whereabouts and findings.
“You guys, I’m all right.” My mouth curved into a smile and tears begin to fall; tears of joy and happiness. Oh, how in the hell will I explain all of this?
A deep voice from behind me responded to my thought.
“You don’t have to explain it alone.”
I turned instantly. “Markus!”
Foxy stared at him stunned and blurted, “Well son of a bitch!”
I think the mouths of every person were already on the floor, but we turned our eyes to her. Did she just say what I think she said? Foxy’s choice of words surprised us, but they were, in fact appropriate. We were all shocked by Markus’s sudden presence.
He flossed a casual smile at me, and my heart skipped a beat. I knew that he could read my mind, so I compelled myself to ignore the mysterious feelings that were stirring within me. And I remembered what Aeden told me. Let it go. So I changed the subject.
“Everyone… this is Markus.” Well that took a real genius to figure out didn’t it—my friends were looking at me as if to say. Darin’s hand was firmly planted on John’s arm as if in restraint as they looked hard at Markus and then to me. Both men’s looks were severe. I knew I’d better hurry with my explanation, and that it had better be good.
“Let me explain—”
Markus placed his hand gently on my shoulder. “I’ll explain.”
“Please take a seat and listen. Myryna has told you a lot, and so you know who I am. You know ‘what’ I am, and I know that all of you believe her. That’s good, for I am about to let you in on something else.”
I slowly began to cry joyful tears again, anticipating his next words.
“Aeden, your friend, Myryna’s brother”—he turned to me tenderly and finished softly—“is not dead.”
Gasps filled the room. Darin and John lunged forward, John toward Markus, and Darin between he and me.
“What kind of game is this?” John shouted.
Markus stood firm and went on to tell them how this all came to be. My friends looked at each other unsure of these words, but remained silent. John turned to me in question. He looked as if he were beginning to believe it, but just couldn’t let himself. He came over to me and took my shoulders in his hands, staring into my eyes. “Myryna, this is insane. It can’t be true.”
“Yes John. It is true, every word.”
He quickly embraced me in his arms, and we held each other tightly. “Oh, Myryna.”
I happened to raise my eyes to Markus, who looked a little dismayed at the affection I shared with my close friend. What is this? He turned away as if in response to my question and I let go of John. He really does hear my every thought. I pondered the potential in that, but set it aside as I was more than ready to see my brother again.
Markus turned back to me with a wink. Everyone gathered around, for we could hear footsteps coming from the foyer. All eyes were fixed upon the doorway. Markus slipped off to the side.
The footsteps stopped–silence. We waited. Then he appeared.
“Aeden!” Asia screamed.
I ran to him, holding him as tight as I could. I knew he couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t help myself. He squeezed me back. Foxy’s eyes were huge! And suddenly…there she went. She passed out. Candra ran to her and tried smacking her face, but she couldn’t help but stare back at Aeden with astonishment. “Oh my God! It really is Aeden!” She looked back down at Foxy and smacked her cheek a little harder this time. “Foxy, wake up!”
Darin and Aeden embraced, the old feelings of brotherhood renewed, and it seemed John could hardly believe any of it. At first he looked weak and faded as if he might collapse, but he surprised me. All of them did. The situation wasn’t as difficult to accept as I would have dreamed, and that may have been the most fantastic part of it. This was an inconceivable phenomenon, yet so far, none of us cracked. We were actually handling it.
Everyone became silent as Monae and Aeden gazed at each other. Her hands covered her mouth as a flood of emotions engulfed her. “How could this be?” Her tears begin to fall uncontrollably.
We all shed tears for them as well as for ourselves.
“Aeden? Aeden is it really you?” She was about to collapse just as he rushed to her and wrapped her in his arms.
“Foxy! Foxy you must wake up!” Candra continued.
Finally we all ran over to her; someone placed a pillow under her feet, and after a few moments, she came to.
“Someone better damned well stop smacking my face.”
Candra grinned from ear to ear. “She’s back you guys! And what a ray of sunshine!”
The day had been very long and very eventful. I put my friends up for the night. The good thing about having a house this size—lots of rooms. I basked in the darkness of my bedroom once again. Only this time my thoughts were of my brother and of Markus. I sat on the edge of the bed, my feet firmly planted on the floor, my hands melded into the ripples of the bedspread.
“Aeden has come back to me,” I had to say aloud in an attempt at some lasting reassurance. “Aeden has come back to me.” My brother, my best friend. I would never take advantage of him again. The pang of tears burned my eyes, and when a moment had passed, there was a knock at the door. I heard a soothing male voice coming from the other side.
“Aeden.” I knew it was and felt at peace. “Come in.”
When he entered, I still felt as if I were in a dream. I knew that this was real, yet a part of my mind still clung to a safety net of preparedness for disappointment. I felt as if I were in an ocean and didn’t believe I could swim so I kept one hand on the side of the boat while everyone tried to convince me to let go. They insisted that if I let go—I would see that I could in fact swim.
“Could I talk to you for a moment?” he asked.
I reached over and turned on the lamp. “You can talk to me forever.”
He was very tall just as I remembered; much bigger and stronger than me. His hair was a bit lighter than mine and shorter. But we had the same dark eyes and the same warm tan skin. I recalled the many times that strangers could guess we were siblings. “Sit here, Aeden. But before you begin, there is something I want to say. I don’t want you to worry about a thing, least of all money. I collect a few royalties, and I’ve been able to save a little bit of—” I could’ve rambled on, but his contented look of affability told me that he would wait patiently for me to finish, however was not there to discuss our finances. “What’s on your mind, brother?” I said gently.
“My-J...” He paused.
He used to call me that on occasion, but no one else did. I’d nearly forgotten. I started to ease my hold on that safety net just a little bit then.
“What is it, Aeden? Is something wrong?”
“No, no. Don’t you worry. I just have something that I want to tell you. Again, it’s about Markus.”
I looked away shyly and unknowingly started to play with a lock of my hair. “Markus? What could you possibly want to tell me about him?” I hoped to screen my true thoughts.
“Myryna, I had a talk with Markus just a few minutes ago. I knew that he would deny it, but I just asked him—point blank—‘What are your feelings toward my sister?’”
“You did what? Aeden, what if he has no feelings for me?”
“Myryna, I know you’ve only just met him, but he has known of you for much longer, and I have known him for a long damned time. I know him well enough to surmise that there is something there. And tonight his reaction to my question just confirmed my suspicions.”
“What do you mean?” I was, probably noticeably, listening a little more closely all of the sudden, but I was still taken aback.
“His exact words were, ‘if you truly love someone you must give to them all of yourself. That is something that I cannot do’. And then he left.”
I died a little.
“Myryna, I only wish him to be happy, and I know that he is not. I also know that you feel something for him, and I only wish for you the absolute best. I cannot bear to see either of you agonize over what might have been.”
“Aeden, I’m a big girl. Don’t fret over me. And besides, I like it on my own. I feel free. I think it’s the way I was always meant to be.” Wow, that sounded good. Maybe it’s true. “Say, why don’t you go to Monae? She needs you.”
“It’s too soon.” He looked at the floor.
“No, it’s been too long. It’s never too soon to tell someone that you love them.”
“Thank you. You’ve always shown how much
you care about me; even when I wasn’t…”
“Stop—” I cut him off. I couldn’t endure those words now. “Anything for my big brother. Now stop before I cry again.”
“Are you telling me what to do?”
“As a matter of fact I am.”
“Well, I guess I’ve been told,” he remarked in jest.
Suddenly, Monae appeared in the doorway. Aeden’s back was to her, but I could tell that he instantly knew she was there. His back straightened; the humor left his face and was replaced by anxiety. Then, to my perplexity, he inhaled deeply and mouthed to himself, “Midnight rain and calla lilies”. Curiously, Aeden had remembered her scent. It was the lotion she often wore.
Monae spoke softly. “I was just on my way outside for some fresh air. Do either of you want to come?”
“Um, Aeden can go; he wanted to talk to you anyway.” I feigned a yawn as Aeden half-glowered. “I think I’ll try to get some sleep now.”
He did walk out the door with her, but turned back just before closing it. “I suppose I’ll thank you someday,” he whispered.
And I replied with the same thoughtful words he’d given me. “I only wish for you the absolute best.”
It was dark in the room, but the moonlight shone through the windows above my headboard, and onto the bedclothes. I stared at it, not really seeing it, for I was lost in my thoughts. I was unable to sleep, and it had been an hour since Aeden left my room. My thoughts inevitably drifted to Markus. There were emotions I didn’t think I could contain. They were just too strong. How could it be that my soul is broken without him, a man I’ve known but two evenings.
Sleep finally began to summon. My lashes fluttered and lids slowly closed. I felt a gentle breeze dance delicately across my cheek and through my hair. Then a touch so lissome, and yet familiar…it was his hand. I opened my eyes. “Markus?” I whispered into the darkness.
“I’m here. I’m sorry for waking you.”
The moonlight seemed to be drawn to him as he neared the bed.
“I had to see you. Forgive me for intruding again. I’ll go if you wish.
“No!” I exclaimed a little more anxiously than I’d intended. I climbed out of the blankets and reached for his hand. “Please, Markus. Please don’t go.”
He took my hand and stepped a bit closer. The moonlight seemed much brighter suddenly. The room was illuminated almost completely. He wore a long sleeved black shirt, unbuttoned to his waist; and black slacks. I let go of his hand and boldly placed my hands at his waist. They were black jeans, not slacks; a fact that revealed a more human side of him that I’d not seen until now. This made me smile. The beautiful hint of auburn in his hair glistened in the light as it draped across his shoulders. He absolutely took my breath away.
He stepped back. “Myryna, listen. We need to talk.”
I stood and went to him. “Please, Markus come and sit with me.” He hesitated. His face told me that he was holding back. I beckoned him to sit on the bed next to me. He did.
“Markus, I know what you are going to say. You are going to tell me that you’re leaving, and this time you are not coming back.”
“No, don’t say anything yet. I just want you to know that I understand your reasons. And since I’ll never see you again, I feel compelled to express what I’m feeling for you.” I steadied myself and inhaled deeply in effort to continue. “I know it doesn’t make sense, but none of this does. I feel drawn to you. There’s a familiarity between us that I can’t explain. I don’t know where all of these emotions are coming from, but I just—I don’t know what else to say—so just—Oh, hell—”
With those last words I knelt on the bed, wrapped my hands around his head and kissed him. I could no longer resist. This was it. And it felt so incredibly right—until at last I set him free of this madness that clouded my judgment.
“Markus, I’m so sorry I don’t know what got into me.”
The instant my mouth closed, he swept me into his arms and laid me gently on the bed, he pressed firmly against me, and gave me a part of himself in the most passionate, loving kiss that anyone ever felt.
During the throws of what blissfully seemed would last an eternity, Markus unexpectedly raised his head and spoke in a somewhat shaky voice. “I must leave Myryna, or else I will not be able to stop myself.”
“Markus.” I could scarcely breathe. “I don’t want you to stop.”
His hair hung down around his face; it tickled my own. He slid his hand over my eyes, forcing them to close and then slipped it away. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. Have I been dreaming? The room instantly felt so incredibly empty, and I was tangled in the sheets. I suppose it had been a dream, a very vivid one.
A New Day
Aeden’s familiar bellow from downstairs warmed my soul. I was ready to throw away that safety net. I really didn’t care at this point whether I was crazy or not, but this was a new day, and his voice was confirmation of my veracity.
“Are you coming?”
I raced through the hall and down the stairs. I jumped down the last two steps right in front of him. He just shook his head. It felt like old times. “Here I am! Man, you’re so impatient!”
“No, you are just slow!”
I laughed a little then lowered my head and took a deep cleansing breath. Then I raised my eyes to look at him. “Aeden, your being here, I–I just can’t find the words.”
He smiled the comforting way he used to do to cheer me up. “Let’s just live for today and forget the hard stuff.”
“Okay. I can do that.” I really meant I’d try to do that. But I think he understood. I knew there was still much more for me to learn, but I think we both realized it would take some time. This would also be true for our friends.
“How is everyone?”
“Better than I expected. I think most of them bunked together, though, and couldn’t sleep. But now they’re beginning to come to grips. They’re pretty amazing.”
“I’m so relieved. But it must be so surreal for them–and Monae?”
“I think she is doing okay. We spent a lot of time together last night. She vented a lot of emotion. It’s difficult for me knowing what she has gone through.” Aeden was suddenly slightly withdrawn. He was feeling her pain. “But she seems so at peace today, and happy. She’s accepted this.”
I put my hand on his arm supportively. No words could be said. We walked through the kitchen to the patio and joined the others.
“Hey,” Darin greeted me as he put his arm around my shoulders. “How are you doing today?”
“Better than I have in years, Darin. I feel tremendous!”
He squeezed me closer and kissed the top of my head. It was true. I felt truly blissful today. My brother had returned, and my friends were here to share this unbelievable experience. The truth was they were all more than friends to Aeden and me. They were family. Our bonds were solid, and unique; and their compassion and open-mindedness obviously resolute.
“Well, I’m going with Aeden and Corbin. We’re going down the road to see Ned.”
“Yeah, the guy who sold you the house.”
“Aeden wants to see him about something. Are you coming?”
“Uh, not this time.” By this time, Asia had joined us and I really needed to talk to her apart from the men. “I’m feeling a little bit of a headache so… I’m just going to sit here and relax.” I hoped he believed that, because I sure didn’t. Asia, however, got the message loud and clear.
“All right then; I’ll see you in a little bit.”
He’s leaving without another word? Huh, Men. Asia and I both shook our heads.
“Anyway, Asia, come inside.”
We entered the house and I went to the window to watch the guys leave. Aeden entered the driver’s side of John’s Jeep. My heart began to race. Flashes of his accident suddenly flooded my thoughts.
“Aeden!” I have to stop him! I ran as fast as I could. “Aeden, wait!” He leaped from the car to see what the matter was.
I rushed to him. “Oh, Aeden—you can’t…” I couldn’t quite talk just yet. I closed my eyes and locked my arms around him.
He soon realized what was wrong. He held me as his chin rested on my head.
“Aeden, the last time you…”
“Myryna, I am here now. Don’t worry about me. Everything is going to be fine. You stay here with Asia and I’ll be right back. We’re just running down the road for a minute. And anyway, you need the rest—” he pulled back from me and looked down into my eyes “—because you do have a headache, don’t you?” He smiled charily.
I glanced at Darin who patiently awaited an answer. “A small one.”
“Sure,” he whispered.
I smiled in defeat. I punch his arm lightly as he turned toward the car. “Get outta here you.”
“Now be good while I’m gone, little sister. I’ll be right back.”
“I’m always good!” I shouted as they pulled away. I heard the sounds of their laughter mingled with the rumble of the gravel as they drove away. Hmm. I wondered if that was the echo of sarcasm, but when I turned to Asia I was definitely staring into the face of it.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Oh, nothing,” she answered. “It’s just that I’ve never heard such a lie!”
“That was not a lie! I’m always good, and always tell the truth.”
“Oh, girl—let’s get inside before lightning strikes you down!”
“I know, but let’s go in anyway so you can tell me the real reason you wanted to stay!”
Asia and I sat on the big couch in the living room. She got very comfortable, and impatiently waited. The other women joined us. It was hard to believe that so much had happened in the last two days. I think it was a comfort to all of us that we had each other for support.
I wasn’t sure how to begin so I jumped right in. “I have feelings for someone that I can’t explain and I definitely can’t ignore.”
Asia became noticeably more eager. “Feelings for…”
My heart suddenly fluttered at the thought of him. “Markus.” Breathing his name was blissful and unexpectedly filled me with rapture. Foxy and Candra gasped with surprise. Asia yelped.
“Uh! Who? Oh my goodness! Markus?”
“Why are you surprised?” I was taken aback. “Surely you could have guessed.”
“I had a hunch, but I wasn’t one hundred percent sure until now,” Candra replied. “I knew something was there.
“I thought it was Corbin!” The other two exclaimed in unison.
I was dumbfounded. “What—after all this time? And haven’t I already made it clear that there is nothing between John and me but a loving friendship?” I rolled my eyes with disbelief.
“Yes, but you can never be too sure,” Foxy responded. “Especially when you were all over each other yesterday.”
“All over each other? Be real now.”
“Well, that’s what it looked like to me. And speaking of that—I guess now we know who was causing all of the incidents around Corbin now, don’t we?”
“As a matter of fact…” the others agreed.
“Hey, I hadn’t thought of that.” In fact, I had forgotten about those things until now.
Foxy recalled something. “Girl, he is so intimidating. And I never thought I’d see another one as big as Aeden. What is he, seven feet?”
“Enough with the tall talk,” Asia blurted. “What about these ‘feelings’?”
“All right.” I put my hand on my heart and inhaled. “There is just something about him. It happened the first night….”
“What happened the first night?” Foxy’s eyes were wide with wonder.
“His eyes, they saw right through me; they drew me in. A part of me has wanted him ever since. When I thought he was a dream, it was easier to try and shake the feeling, but now—I need him. There is no sane reason to feel this for someone so soon and under these circumstances.” I lowered my head.
“But I can’t let it go. The fact that he’s gone is causing me physical pain.”
“You have to do something about this.”
“Does he feel the same way?”
“Aeden thinks he does.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“There are many. He’s gone. He’s probably never coming back. I could never go to him. And besides, he has another life; one that does not include me.”
Asia had tears in her eyes. I put my hand on her shoulder. “Don’t cry for me.”
“I’m not. I’m crying because you haven’t gotten to the good part yet. Haven’t you even kissed him?”
I snatched my hand back and put it on my hip. “What?”
She was just trying to lighten the mood, and it worked. The four of us burst into laughter and couldn’t stop until we had to for a drink.
“Whew. Does anyone else need a drink?” Candra offered. “All that laughing made me thirsty.”
Between the four of us, we agreed on iced tea and water and left for the kitchen. Once there I opened the refrigerator and retrieved the pitcher of tea while someone else grabbed the glasses. When I turned my back to the sliding glass doors and placed the pitcher on the counter, I noticed my friends staring past me with looks of astonishment. It instantly made me nervous. I turned around. Markus had just walked through the sliding door with at least four dozen red roses draped over one arm.
“Fifty seven,” he mouthed softly, sweetly.
Fifty seven roses? I was beside myself. His words swept over me as if he’d touched me. I wanted to savor that feeling. And I did hope they were really for me. I didn’t want to have to kill any of the women standing behind me. We were close friends.
Markus grinned as he knew what I was thinking. I was in a daze. He stepped closer to me. “Yes, they are for you,” he answered as he neared me. “There is one for every time you’ve looked into my eyes since we met. But their beauty in no way could compare to the vision of loveliness that stands before me.” He placed his hand under my chin. I could scarcely breathe. He had taken my breath away. I hardly noticed my friends slip out of the room.
“Oh, Markus,” I managed to whisper.
He slid his hand across my cheek and through my hair, gently. He stared at me intently as he did this, as if he were memorizing my face. “I wanted to give you something,” he spoke slowly. “I’ve put you through so much, and I don’t know what I can ever do to make up for that.”
“Markus don’t apologi—”
He placed his fingertips softly to my lips to hush me. To have his skin against my mouth was nearly overwhelming. I couldn’t focus or muster a thought. Then he slid his hand away gradually to my shoulder.
“Myryna,” he began, but still held something back. “I owe you so much for the strain I have caused you.”
“You owe me nothing,” I said, correcting him. “You have given me everything.”
He turned slightly and laid the flowers on the island. His gaze then returned to me. “I wanted to give you something. This flora is a simple token, but I remembered that the softness of your skin is much like the touch of a rose petal.”
We now breathed in unison. Intense warmth radiated from his chest as it neared mine. He lifted my left hand to his lips and closed his eyes as he kissed. My legs weakened; my pulse trembled. I wanted to fall into his arms. But when he opened his eyes he looked troubled.
“Markus, what is it?”
“I must leave, Myryna.”
It hit me like a thunderbolt. My lips fell open but failed to speak.
“This place is weakening me. Your dimension, it ages me.”
Suddenly I became protective of him. My wish for him to be safe eclipsed all other desires. It was an awakening. And I knew that it would happen. Aeden told me to expect this. I just didn’t want to fully consider it.
“Markus, will you ever return?” I was hesitant to ask; I didn’t really want his response if it was anything but yes. I fought hard to keep from begging him to think of a way for us to be together. It was a ridiculous notion. I was foolishly filled with a wanton need for him, even though I was unsure of his feelings. I wanted him to stay, yet my heart bade me let go. My mind swayed from one opposing wish to the other: Beg him to stay, or let him go. Then I decided. That’s it. I won’t lose myself in reckless abandon. I cannot be utterly selfish. On this I shall remain resolute. I will not stand in his way.
I was lost in my thoughts when he suddenly took me into his arms and kissed me. I was completely overcome. His mouth was succulent and warm; his passion fervent and strong. The sweet taste of him filled my entire being with a rapturous torrent of pleasure. This was no ordinary kiss. Our souls seemed to intertwine as they danced an endless waltz across the shadows of a distant wind.
Gently and slowly, he broke the kiss, but his mouth remained close to mine as he whispered, “I will return to you.” I felt his words flow through me as he slipped away and disappeared.
When he was gone and I could begin to catch my breath, I answered aloud, “No matter how long it takes… I will wait for you.”
I spent the next hour somewhat bemused. I’d returned to the living room to discuss what had happened. The four ladies seemed nearly as bewildered as I was about Markus, about everything. This had certainly been an extraordinary and really almost absurd weekend. It was a tale none of us could fully believe, yet we were smack dab in the middle of it.
Was it possible that our already open minds, presented with these circumstances, had easily become enlightened to such an extent that allowed us to accept all of this? There was no other explanation. The seven of us: John, Darin, Asia, Monae, Renee, Candra, and I had already unlocked the corners of our minds which enabled us to see the truth as it stood before us and to accept it. Over the years, we’d hypothesized; we’d half-joked about these types of things. Dimensions, parallels, life after death, or something like it. None of us ever truly imagined a day that we would actually experience any of it.
Aeden was here, and Markus was more a part of this than I was. I felt I knew him. He was a part of me. I could feel a burning familiarity from deep inside me. I had moved out here to find the missing part of myself, and as of the first night it seems I’ve begun to.
Candra’s back stiffened, breaking my train of thought, as she looked out the window from her seat. Unexpectedly, she bolted out the door. Asia, Monae, and Foxy leaped to the window and stared down the driveway.
“What’s going on?” I questioned nervously aloud.
“Not what, who?” Foxy answered.
Suddenly Candra seemed to be shouting furiously. We dashed out the door. It was Paul. He stood there smugly in his tailored suit while Candra sized him up.
I darted right past her. “hello, Paul.”
“Myryna,” he answered somewhat relieved that he was no longer alone with my irate friend. “I just want to talk to you.”
“She has nothing to say to you, Kingston,” Candra retorted. She had no patience with this man, and further knew that addressing him by his last name infuriated him.
“It’s all right, Candra. I can handle this.” Asia, Monae, and Foxy stood nearby. “Why don’t you guys wait inside for me? I’ll only be a minute.”
“We don’t think so,” Foxy informed me and returned her eyes to Paul.
I almost rolled my eyes, but I knew the women would be unmoved. They knew that Paul had a minor temper and liked to intimidate me. However, I had the situation under control.
Paul antagonized them. “Yes, why don’t you girls scurry along and leave us alone?”
The four of them took a step forward. “Don’t try us, big boy.” Asia was referring to his massive height and frame, and she was not intimidated. He smirked, but did not otherwise respond. It was almost as if he knew better.
“Paul, what do you want?” I was already somewhat disgusted.
“I want you,” he replied.
“What?” I was floored by this nonsense. “Is this a joke?”
“No it isn’t.”
I turned to my friends and asked them with my eyes to please excuse us. They reluctantly obliged.
Paul continued in their absence. “I think that we can work this out. I know the divorce got ugly. I just don’t understand where everything went wrong.”
I raised my eyes to his. “You cheated!” I blurted. “You’ve already forgotten?”
He sighed heavily. “I have never loved another woman the way I love you.”
I just shook my head. “Paul, there was so much more than just the cheating. We’re not compatible. I cannot believe we’re having this conversation!” My voice rose involuntarily at the end. Every second that he wasted on his so-called plea, I was more sickened by his presence. I glanced and saw my friends standing in the doorway; they were observing intently.
“Paul, I don’t know what you expect me to say.”
“Just listen. We were together a long time. Can you say that you don’t love me at all anymore? Can you actually look me in the eyes and say that?”
“Paul, stop this. Please leave.”
His face darkened and I could tell he gritted his teeth behind his tightly pursed lips. He couldn’t believe his ears. “You can’t do this to me,” he stated as he snatched my upper arm. There was that arrogance I remembered and utterly loathed.
I shrugged him off and turned abruptly away. “Just leave!”
“Myryna, you are being irrational! Don’t do this,” he warned.
“I am done talking to you. Leave now and never come back!” I snapped as I stormed up the walk.
He rushed toward me and tried to grab my arms. I pushed his hands away.
“If you could stop being a bitch for one second, we could work this out!”
Then I’d had enough. “Oh, Paul, I’m so sorry. Your sweet words have suddenly convinced me.”
“I’ve had it with your attitude! Come here!” He grabbed my arm and pulled me toward him.
I kicked him and yanked my arm away. “Don’t you ever put your hands on me again!”
My friends sprinted toward us. He slammed me into the truck.
The loud rumble of the gravel alerted him. As my friends were nearing us and about to pounce, the Jeep slammed to a halt and Aeden, John, and Darin sprang from it. The girls heaved me out of the way in time for Aeden to rush and grab Paul. His movement was so fast I scarcely saw it all happen.
Aeden slammed Paul onto his hood and growled, “You’ve made a grave mistake putting your hands on my sister, you son of a bitch!”
The blood drained from Paul’s face; his eyes were frozen wide. He didn’t breathe. The only brother he knew I had was dead. He was scared to death.
“If you weren’t about to piss your pants I could enjoy kickin’ your ass,” Aeden spat.
I hurried over to them as Aeden, Darin, and John were about to go in for the kill. I held my arm tightly. I was hardly hurt, but I could still feel the tension from his cast-iron grip.
“Please, it’s all right. Let him go. I just want this to end,” I pleaded.
Slowly they backed off, but shoved him to the ground. They actually listened—however reluctantly.
I turned my gaze to Paul. “I think you’d better leave now, for the sake of your health.”
The only sound was the exasperated breathing of my friends, and the low growl emanating from within my brother’s chest.
He hurriedly entered his truck, never taking his eyes from Aeden; and he fumbled with his keys. But alas, he felt the need to say one last thing before speeding off. “I’m not finished with you, Myryna. If I can’t have you no one will.”
Aeden lunged toward the vehicle, but Paul drove away like lightening.
Later that night, everyone had gone home except for Monae. Aeden came to me in the library where I’d just put some roses. I took one out, closed my eyes, and inhaled its sweet fragrance.
“Aeden, I was lost without you. And now I’ve gained so much so quickly. A tear slipped down my cheek and I smiled, looking away from my brother. He came over to me.
“I too have gained an immeasurable amount.”
“But don’t you feel any regrets? That other realm… it just seems like you have given up so much,” I acknowledged.
“Myryna, everything I need is here. This is my life, you, Monae. My life here is consummate, and beyond compare. There are no regrets.”
“For being here, for being you.” I hugged him tightly and then turned to go upstairs. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
When I reached the foot of the staircase, Monae had just come down them. She looked incredibly content. I looked back at Aeden once more to make sure that this was all as real as it felt. It was.
“Goodnight,” she answered warmly.
I went upstairs to bed.
Return to Me
Seventeen days had passed. Aeden was spending more time with Monae. She was living on an inheritance, so didn’t work, and had spent more than her share of lonely nights due to dejection in the past. I was elated that the two of them were able to reconnect. She explained to me that, on one hand, it was as if he’d never left, and on the other, there was so much that was new and difficult to understand. Her mind had taken her to other places that defied explanation. She decided this would be easy. It would take them some time, but it was obvious that their love had endured everything thus far and would continue to flourish.
Tonight, Aeden had gone with Monae. I locked the door and turned my back to it. I leaned against it, recalling the last time I stood like that in my house alone. I wondered where Markus was. I closed my eyes and breathed calmly. I stood for a moment remembering him—remembering his firm embrace, his gentle touch, his warm lips—his fervent kiss. And I still felt bound to him somehow. I couldn’t shake the feeling, and couldn’t decide for certain whether it was because of some unknown connection—or if I simply didn’t want to let go.
For the moment, I was forced to disregard those thoughts. I would utilize my time alone in an effort to begin writing again. To my right was the door to my office. It was set up, but I hadn’t used it yet. After cutting the lights throughout the house and dimming those in the kitchen and foyer, I entered that room and turned on the lamp next to the computer. The room was cool and dry, yet remarkable in all of its dust-coated glory. I found it humorous in an analogical sort of way, as my office was similar to the part of my mind that I tapped to write fiction—cold, dusty, and lately—largely unused. I didn’t even know what to write; it had been so long. But I figured the best thing to do was to just start typing.
I turned on the desktop, and began spritzing the keyboard with the can of compressed air that sat nearby. The desk faced the northern wall temporarily. This meant that my back would be to the door. I would have to move the desk at some point. I never liked sitting that way but had left it there just until I could decide where it would look better. I was never any good at snap decorating decisions, which meant the desk would remain there for an undetermined extended length of time.
The first words I typed were knock-the-dust-off. I wasn’t sure what my muse had been before, or where it had gone exactly. And then I thought of all that had happened in the recent past. Parallel. Love Parallel. Aura in Parallel. The wheels began to turn rapidly, and over the course of the night, a full-fledged novelette began to emerge. I typed away, churning out ideas impulsively, choosing to make sense of it at a later time. At moments my fingers stroked madly; the world around me did not exist—until the faintest resonance caught my attention. I paused suddenly. I looked slightly over my shoulder in response. The sound had scarcely been there; it sounded merely like a breath of air. I turned back to the monitor but had lost my stream of thought. It was nothing, but I do need to stretch my legs. So I decided to get up for a bit.
I turned toward the dimly-lit foyer and, of course, saw nothing but the glow of amber light as it gleamed across the stone tile entryway and the redwood paneling. I peeked out of the door cautiously, but tittered to myself because the coast was in fact clear. However, just as I passed the dark living room, I thought a figure walked through it, something blacker than the darkness. I slid my hand along the cool wall inside to try for the light switch. When I flipped it on, no one was there. “Girl, get a grip.” I laughed.
After I got my bearings, I went to the kitchen, partially filled a snifter with elderberry brandy and went out to the patio to enjoy the cool breeze and the sparkling midnight sky. As I relaxed in the lounge chair, the combination of tranquility and the warm velvety wine must have taken over me. I fell swiftly to sleep.
Some time had passed, and my eye lids gingerly quivered until they were fully open. I was lying in my bed, comfortably—and I was not alone. He had indeed returned to me, and this was no dream. Markus stood with his shoulder pressed against the window frame, his arms folded as he gazed outward into the night. The moonlight accentuated his magnificent frame, and when he turned to me, it glimmered in his eyes. He smiled.
“How did you sleep?” he asked nearly in a whisper.
I was astonished to see him and so pleased that I nearly didn’t think to respond. “Uh, very well,” I managed. “How did I get to my bed?” I began to wonder aloud.
He approached me as I stood to greet him. I was a little disheveled. He gently brushed my hair from my face. “I carried you. You were sleeping so peacefully, I hadn’t the heart to wake you.”
I felt a slight blush sting my cheeks. He had a way of making me feel less experienced, vulnerable in an instant. No man had ever made me feel that way. Although his aura was somewhat ominous, and part of him seemed quite dark and foreboding; he also seemed incredibly warm, almost sympathetic. I didn’t know which part of him I was attracted to more. I was once again swept away by his presence. “Thank you.”
He grinned slightly. “Myryna, would you take a late night stroll with me?”
He should have known that I’d have gone to the end of the universe with him, and I would never look back, never ask any questions. “Yes, I would love to.”
He took my hand.
Markus led me through the sliding doors and into the darkness. We followed a path to a clearing in the woods where there was a narrow water fall that poured into a pool lined with rose quartz. The rich color of the stone gave the illusion of pink water. The pool was surrounded by lit candles, and white and lavender orchids were placed near each. There were flowers floating in the pool and the moonlight danced among them to the cadence of the water. It was a beautiful sight.
Markus must have planned all of this for me. I knew that he could perceive my thoughts, yet I could tell that he deliberately wasn’t doing so; he left me to ponder privately. Tears stung my eyes as I recalled something Markus told me the night my brother returned. He said that Aeden had created all of this for me. In retrospect, this pool had been the final asset that sold me on the house. I could almost hear my own voice as a child when I’d told Aeden, “Someday I’ll swim in pink waters with my true love and kiss him under the moonlight.” I used to tell Aeden all of my dreams, but I never thought that my older brother really listened. Now I knew that he had. Words could not have expressed how I felt at that moment.
When I returned my eyes to Markus, he was staring into the darkness as if he too were lost in recollection. But he must have sensed my gaze upon him, for he turned to me and smiled. I strode to his side and took his hand into the both of mine. His eyes lingered upon my grasp.
“Markus, thank you for bringing me here. It’s breathtaking. And it means so much.”
“You have no idea,” he breathed.
We stared at each other for several moments. It felt as though we were absent from Earth for a time; we were simply absorbed in each other’s essence as we stood on an invisible plane. Slowly, he lowered his head and captured my lips in a kiss.
I was taken pleasantly by surprise; I wanted him. I needed him. He tangled his fingers in my hair, and I slid my arms to his back, forcing myself against his hard body. I didn’t want this kiss to end; our mouths crushed against each others’ with vehement passion. I’d longed for the taste of his sweet kiss, and even more so I hungered for everything else he had to offer. Never breaking the kiss he forced me against a tree, not too violently, but just enough that I craved much more. I reached up; grabbed hold of his broad, strapping shoulders; and hoisted myself up so that I could wrap my legs tightly around his waist. He pressed into me as if he would move right through me. I began to lose control and tore his shirt open, bursting the buttons. I simply had to feel his warm skin. I glided my hands about his chest; his potent energy charged through to my core.
Simultaneously we broke the kiss; our breaths heavy, our hearts chanted in unison as we stared deeply into each other’s eyes. I slipped the shirt over his shoulders and down, revealing the captivating collage of medieval inked portraits that adorned his beautiful arms. He was fiercely intimidating—yet he stood there, motionless but for the deep muscular heaves of his chest, and allowed me to do to him whatever I pleased. I don’t know what came over me, and I don’t think he read my thoughts because he seemed as surprised by my next impulsive move as I was. I’d made an impetuous decision. I released the hold my legs had on him and returned to a standing position.
“Do you want me?” I whispered.
He raised a brow and cocked his head to the side with suspicion and surprise.
“If you do,” I continued, “you’ll have to catch me.” I swallowed hard as if my conscious mind suddenly realized what my subconscious had just instigated. I dashed away, flung my clothes onto the grass and dove into the pool.
He was much quicker than I’d imagined.
In no time flat, my pursuer slid up from under the water and overpowered me with little effort. I was startled even though I should have been prepared. He was somewhat menacing and I was glad this chase was for pleasure. I had indeed achieved the thrill I must have been seeking when I first asked for this. It gave me an incredible rush. I couldn’t help but yelp and then laugh when he’d caught me. But, after a few moments, something distracted me. As we stood in the pool, the moonlight glistened off his soaking hair. The intense green of his eyes was even more brilliant than I’d seen them before. And then I had an epiphany.
“I know you, don’t I?” I mostly stated this rather than asked.
“Of course you do.”
“No… not now… but from another time—Markus, have we met before this?” This had to be true. Every ounce of him screamed familiarity to my very soul. I wanted, needed to be with him as if I’d known him my entire life.
“It is possible.”
“Is it more than possible?”
“Wait. I’m sorry, Markus. I didn’t mean to question you or to imply—”
“Myryna, never apologize to me.” His look was very serious but also concerning. He stared intently into both of my eyes.
“Markus,” I began but did not finish.
He knew what I wanted to say. I knew immediately that he’d already heard me say it, and he knew why I hesitated.
“You don’t ever have to be afraid of me, Myryna. You don’t ever have to hesitate to tell me your feelings. And for the rest of your life I never want you to wonder for one second how I feel about you. With every modicum of my being what I feel for you is exceedingly greater than the deepest of loves.”
I stood at first silently as his words intoxicated me. And then my thoughts echoed what my body was screaming, I want you to make love to me.
He raised his head. “I thought you’d never ask.”
I watched as Markus closed his eyes, inhaled, exhaled and opened them again. A smile graced my lips, because the candles had gone out. I had momentarily forgotten about his “other” powers.
We kissed as the moonlight swathed us. It was just as my childhood dream had foretold. Yet in the present, I could feel considerably more. I could experience things that my young mind could never have fathomed. His lips were cool and wet from the pool, yet his mouth was warm and pleasing. Every moment that we touched, my body panged with ecstasy.
Soon, he lifted me until I was sitting on the edge of the pool; he lifted himself next. We made our way a few feet, and he laid me down gently amongst the soft grass and lush Irish moss. As he gazed over every inch of me, the featherlike wisps of his fingertips melodiously strummed my body like the strings of a Celtic harp.
He looked down into my eyes, his hair hung low around his face. The magnificent dark strands glistened in the moonlight.
“Markus, you are beautiful.”
When his eyes met mine, it was as if he couldn’t believe I was real. I reached up and gently traced his lips with my fingertips, memorizing the contour of them, and met his eyes once more. He moved his hand to my face, fixing my gaze upon his, and whispered, “Look into my eyes, Myryna. I have so much to show you.”
Instantly we were transfixed on each other. Staring into his eyes, I saw them change. It was as if they’d become portals to another place or time. They were black, and I could see the stars in them. In them, I seemed to move forward; advancing quickly through space; past nebulas of brilliant purple, green, and gold. Suddenly they changed again. His eyes became blue as the summer sky, and were deep—deep as if you could walk into them. There was again movement inside them, vivid white clouds breezing by. And a meadow, rolling hills of green prairie grass. I seemed to glide just above it at intense speed catching up with a couple racing on horses into a field of lavender, their robes of white flowing in the wind, streams of color left in their shadow.
Markus and I were joined in every way. I closed my eyes as we made love, and I could still see the prairie, the couple. They laughed, and smiled. They were in love. They were we.
As we plummeted into the throws of harmony and ecstasy, our surroundings became that meadow. The warmth of the sun bathed us; the tepid wind enveloped us. The boundaries of our passion transcended time, and space, and every dimension.
Continued in This Old House Book II: Old Ghosts