It is the difference between tasting a peach out of season, and that first bite into sun-ripened fruit.

The difference between seeing only in black-and-white, and a life in full-color film.

That first time, it is a kind of fight, neither letting down their guard, each watching for the telltale glint of some hidden blade seeking flesh.

When they finally collide, it is with all the force of bodies kept too long apart.

It is a battle waged on bedsheets.

And in the morning, the whole room shows the signs of their war.

“It’s been so long,” he says, “since I haven’t wanted to leave.”

She looks at the window, the first thin edge of light. “Then don’t.”

“I must,” he says. “I am a thing of darkness.”

She props her head up on one hand. “Will you vanish with the sun?”

“I will simply go where it is dark again.”

Addie rises, goes to the window, and draws the curtains closed, plunging the room back into lightless black.

“There,” she says, feeling her way back to him. “Now it is dark again.”

Luc laughs, a soft, beautiful sound, and pulls her down into the bed.

Everywhere, Nowhere



It is only sex.

At least, it starts that way.

He is a thing to be gotten out of her system.

She is a novelty to be enjoyed.

Addie half expects them to burn out in a single night, to waste whatever energy they’ve gathered in their years of spinning.

But two months later, he comes to find her again, steps out of nothing and back into her life, and she thinks about how strange it is, to see him against the reds and golds of autumn, the changing leaves, a charcoal scarf looped loose around his throat.

It is weeks until his next visit.

And then, only days.

So many years of solitary nights, hours of waiting, and hating, and hoping. Now he is there.

Still, Addie makes herself small promises in the space between his visits.

She will not linger in his arms.

She will not fall asleep beside him.

She will not feel anything but his lips on her skin, his hands tangled in hers, the weight of him against her.

Small promises, but ones she does not keep.

It is only sex.

And then it is not.

“Dine with me,” Luc says as winter gives way to spring.

“Dance with me,” he says as a new year begins.

“Be with me,” he says, at last, as one decade slips into the next.

And one night Addie wakes in the dark to the soft pressure of his fingertips drawing patterns on her skin, and she is struck by the look in his eyes. No, not the look. The knowing.

It is the first time that she has woken up in bed with someone who hasn’t already forgotten her. The first time she’s heard her name again after the pause of sleep. The first time she hasn’t felt alone.

And something in her splinters.

Addie does not hate him anymore. Has not for a long time.

She does not know when the shift started, if it was a specific point in time, or, as Luc once warned her, the slow erosion of a coast.

All she knows is that she is tired, and he is the place she wants to rest.

And that, somehow, she is happy.

But it is not love.

Whenever Addie feels herself forgetting, she presses her ear to his bare chest and listens for the drum of life, the drawing of breath, and hears only the woods at night, the quiet hush of summer. A reminder that he is a lie, that his face and his flesh are simply a disguise.

That he is not human, and this is not love.

New York City

July 30, 2014


The city slides past beyond the window, but Addie doesn’t turn her head, doesn’t admire the skyline of Manhattan, the buildings soaring to every side. Instead, she studies Luc, reflected in the darkened glass, the line of his jaw, the arc of his brow, angles drawn by her hand so many, many years ago. She is watching him, the way one watches a wolf at the edge of the woods, waiting to see what it will do.

He is the first to break the silence.

The first to move a piece.

“Do you remember the opera in Munich?”

“I remember everything, Luc.”

“The way you looked at the players on that stage, as if you’d never seen theater before.”

“I’d never seen theater like that.”

“The wonder in your eyes, at the sight of something new. I knew then I’d never win.”

She wants to savor the words like a sip of good wine, but the grapes turn sour in her mouth. She does not trust them.

The car pulls to a stop outside Le Coucou, a beautiful French restaurant on the lower side of SoHo, ivy climbing the outer walls. She has been there before, two of the best meals she’s had in New York, and she wonders if Luc knows how much she likes it, or if he simply shares her taste.

Again, he offers his hand.

Again, she does not take it.

Addie watches a couple as they approach the doors of the restaurant, only to find them locked, watches them walk away, murmuring something about reservations. But when Luc takes the handle, the door swings open easily.

Inside, massive chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, and the large glass windows shine black. The place feels cavernous, large enough to seat a hundred, but tonight it is empty, save for two chefs visible in the open kitchen, a pair of servers, and the maître d’, who drops into a low bow as Luc approaches.

“Monsieur Dubois,” he says in a dreamy voice. “Mademoiselle.”

He leads them to their table, a red rose set before each place. The maître d’ pulls back her chair, and Luc waits for her to take her seat before taking his own. The man opens a bottle of merlot, and pours, and Luc lifts his glass to her and says, “To you, Adeline.”

There is no menu. No order to be taken. The plates simply arrive.

Foie gras with cherries, and rabbit terrine. Halibut in beurre blanc, and fresh-baked bread, and half a dozen kinds of cheese.

The food is, of course, exquisite.

But as they eat, the host and servers stand against the walls, eyes open, empty, a bland expression on their faces. She has always hated this aspect of his power, and the careless way he wields it.

She tips her glass in the direction of the puppets.

“Send them away,” she says, and he does. A silent gesture, and the servers disappear, and they are alone in the empty restaurant.

“Would you do that to me?” she asks when they are gone.

Luc shakes his head. “I could not,” he says, and she thinks he means because he cared for her too much, but then he says, “I have no power over promised souls. Their will is their own.”

It is cold comfort, she thinks, but it is something.

Luc looks down into his wine. He turns the stem between his fingers, and there in the darkened glass, she sees the two of them, tangled in silk sheets, sees her fingers in his hair, his hands playing songs against her skin.

“Tell me, Adeline,” he says. “Have you missed me?”

Of course she has missed him.

She can tell herself, as she has told him, that she only missed being seen, or missed the force of his attention, the intoxication of his presence—but it is more than that. She missed him the way someone might miss the sun in winter, though they still dread its heat. She missed the sound of his voice, the knowing in his touch, the flint-on-stone friction of their conversations, the way they fit together.