Henry woke to the sound of a motorcycle rumbling outside and squinted at the digital clock, grumbling,
“2 a.m. on a Tuesday. Don’t the neighbors know I have to work in the morning?”
He rolled over pulling a blanket with him when he heard knocking at the door. For a moment he hesitated but urgency propelled him from his bed. It was an uneasiness he hadn’t felt in months. Henry fought to surface from his dream-laden sleep talking to himself, attempting to recall,
“Not since I was seeing,”
He cut short his thoughts and pulled the door open to find Kit leaning against the door-frame wearing a familiar look; one that seemed to say, “What took so long, asshole?”
He smiled despite himself. She was the only woman he couldn’t read but even entirely disheveled, with her hellfire-hair wind-blown and tangled, she was a vision.
Kit incited feelings in him that were utterly endearing, if somewhat disquieting. She was woman and child; part fully grown, tougher than nails, strong in her own right, temptress and vixen, yet part playful, silly, wide-eyed, innocent, coquette and wild child. He studied her wondering whether to fold her into his protective arms or pin her to the wall and ravage her. He could never quite discern what was veiled with practiced stealth behind her eyes.
When they lived together briefly, he surmised that she meant to send no obvious message, intentionally leaving him to wonder whether she wished to appear mysteriously alluring or had, perhaps, arranged for his early demise. Her turbulent sea-storm eyes, and lips that only turned up slightly at the corners could mean one of two things, his greatest joy or worst fear realized.
Had he been Superman, she would have been Kryptonite. Kit loved with intensity that left him gasping in astonishment, and in the space of a breath, she could be the embodiment of tornadic wrath swirling around it’s entirely too attractive eye.
You may be the death of me, he thought, remembering that she had always been a volatile creature, albeit an enticingly beautiful one. He was certain she had been a mythical Siren in a past life. She had certainly lured him with her charms and left him in emotional peril with his hopes dashed.
Even entirely disheveled, Kit was stunning with fiery locks framing her angel-face. He had nicknamed her “Hell-cat” for the riotous red waves she could never quite tame. Merged with her given name, she was his “Kitkat.”
Henry shook his head clear and steeled himself,
“Kitkat! What brings you here?”
“I can’t believe you remember that,” She laughed.
“Of course I do. You never forget a moment of your first love. It seems appropriate now. You’re stunning. Wow!”
Henry froze, certain that her heart slammed shut the moment he said ‘love.’ It was a hard and fast rule for her. Kit couldn’t handle love.
Ironically, by way of reply, she flew into his arms kissing him hotly, ardently pressing her slight frame to his and raking her nails down his back.
Instinct urged him not to question his good fortune as all reason deserted him, but there had to be more to this picture, more he wasn’t equipped to handle at this hour. Henry struggled to extract himself from his hormonal cocktail, feeling as though he were in the vice-grip of something much stronger than himself. After a heated moment locked in passionate embrace, he managed a step back and rummaged his thoughts for a plausible excuse,
“Kitkat, this is a very welcome surprise,” he informed her, “but I have company tonight.” He glanced toward the stairs holding his breath.
She paused, smiling at the nickname he’d given her, and immediately called his bluff. With one eyebrow cocked and eyes sparking challenge, she flatly said, “Get rid of her.”
Again, Henry wondered if her eyes flashed lethal lightning or promiscuous promise. He loved Kit, always had, but he wasn’t going to hand her this ‘win’ on a silver platter,
“Why,” he questioned, feeling every inch the liar he was.
Kit felt his defenses weakening and stated with calculated deliberation, “Because I’m more.”
Henry understood what she had short-handed and knew it to be true. She was more of everything he wanted, needed and desired whether it was best for him or not.
They were thrown together years ago. She was forever in his heart and he in hers. Their lives were irrevocably entangled. Together they were a force to challenge Heaven, though the match may have been the design of hell.
Without waiting for reply, she marched through the house and into the kitchen. By the time he caught up, she was pouring Coke into glasses and asking where he kept the rum. He stood behind her smiling, enjoying the sweetest derriere he had ever admired, lost in a flood of memories. He could never accuse her of a single dull moment. With his libido barely in-check, he relented,
“Okay, I give. Be quiet and I’ll go get rid of her.”
“K,” she acknowledged with off-the-cuff nonchalance, as if there hadn’t been another option.
Henry climbed the stairs and pretended to gently remove the fictitious suitor from his bed and escort the figment out the door, then remembered to place a noisy kiss to the back of his hand for effect.
Kit had perfected her ‘Whistler’s Mother’ smile long ago. Her countenance gave nothing away. Her expression could be infuriatingly ambivalent. On more than one occasion he couldn’t have guessed if she’d just won the lottery or totaled his car.
Silently, he laughed at himself, knowing this was the source of his unease; her unpredictability and capacity to touch him profoundly, without physical contact.
I should have known, he chided himself; we have always been connected somehow. I’ve always known when she was hurting or when she really needs me.
Kit broke her silence and his train of thought,
“Hi, Henry, I’ve missed you.”
Her affectionate lilt sent him reeling headlong into his own hard-won defenses, like a wrecking ball into walls it had taken years to erect.
For a half-second, he wondered if she could hear the noise; the explosion of brick and mortar walls, the racking sobs that rivaled cumulative wailing wall cries, the rending of woven fabric into separation, his shredded heart screaming its’ excruciating pain, the shattering of personal safety; an illusion that lay in quivering, bloody chunks of self; of labor, heartache and tears whimpering in the spaces between them, with the illusion of self-protection now thrashing on the floor, dying at her feet …and he wondered,
Does she know? Can she feel it, hear it, or is this a one-way connection?
He swallowed around the enormous lump in his throat and fought for composure,
“Hi Kit, how have you been?”
Henry was well aware that being raised by wolves would have been preferable to the rearing she had received. It was the pink suede elephant perpetually in their personal space. She had spent too many years trying to escape what was done to her in the name of love, family, relationships and obligation.
He had no doubt that she loved him but was fully conscious of the fact that she had no acceptable definition of it. She had only a few diseased examples for comparison and all of them made her feel sick, trapped and suffocated. If she couldn’t avoid the feeling, she had certainly stricken the word from conversation.
“I’m fine. You?”
“Kit, you always say ‘fine’ when you’re not. What is it?”
He hadn’t meant to blurt it or care as much as he did but she was here, and in her presence, he was suddenly invested again.
“You know, just stuff. Life happening.”
“Yea, I hate it when that happens,” He laughed, trying to lighten the moment.
“I’ll drink to that,” She quipped, relaxing into the overstuffed couch.
Jack checked the time already knowing he would never make it to work as expected and there would be no untroubled sleep tonight. He went to replenish their drinks asking over his shoulder, “How about we have another and we’ll watch your favorite comedy? I can play hooky tomorrow.”
“Sounds heavenly. It’s okay to crash on the couch?”
“As long as you don’t mind if I pull out the sofa bed while we do.” He held his breath wondering if she had just changed her mind or would change it now and he remembered, Kit can downshift faster than the speed of light.
With so much of her youth being lost to mental enslavement and emotional blackmail, she had sought out the only love she could relate to. At eighteen, she left home and became involved with several abusive men.
Later, she took refuge in a motorcycle gang. They were warm, welcoming safety in numbers, able and willing to abuse anyone who mistreated one of their own. They ‘had her back.’ Ultimately, they were the family she never had.
A precious few had been lovers but all afforded her protection; gave her a semblance of stability, shelter and succor. They accepted her unconditionally. She belonged solely to herself and with her chosen family. As long as she owned what was left of her battered mind and body, they were balm to her wounded soul. She understood love only in that context. She was safe with them. Anything resembling obligation or commitment made her want to run screaming into the night.
Kit studied him with an expression that could fill with infinite affection, guileless innocence, or wanton lust as quickly as she could drop an iron curtain veiling malice, venom and murderous intent.
Henry risked a timorous guess, testing the waters, in making the couch bed into a comfy sanctuary. Kit seemed content, and thankfully, ill-prepared to bolt. He sensed she needed a cozy hideout in a formidable fortress. She came to him for consistency and stability.
He loved her more than the salvation of his soul, and was wholly convinced she had been a mythical Siren in a past life. She certainly had the capacity to lure him in and leave him in emotional peril with feelings raw and hopes dashed. With certainty, he knew they could climb to ecstatic heights of incomparable pleasures founded solely in genuine love, as certainly as he knew she would be gone before he woke.
He had wanted to give her the world but she already had her world on her terms. What he learned the hard way, and only just realized, is that he wanted to give her his world, on the condition that she share it. He would ask her to bend after a lifetime of bending and breaking. His idyllic view of family would be her certain death. Finally, he accepted that clinging to her freedom was no more selfish an act than asking her to love him in the fashion he would visit upon her.
How could I expect her to conform to my definition of love and family? She comes from her own little war zone; her own personal hell with that exact prerequisite.
He had wanted to give her the love she longed for and so obviously needed, but in a flash of understanding he realized that the kindest, most loving thing he could do for her is let her go, no matter how many times he would have to. Bikers were her family and for the foreseeable future, he was her home.
As they rested spooned together, safe in the night with all other appetites satisfied, her words came back to him, “Because I’m more.” She was absolutely right and wrong. He closed his eyes slipping into sated sleep, whispering, “Because you’re everything.”
Kit smiled softly. With her need of affirmation and acceptance; with her craving finally fulfilled by the only man she ever truly loved, she fell into a more peaceful sleep than she had ever thought possible. She was home.
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