HIGH ILLUSION from THE BASILEGATE

Alatha moved towards Marsippius as he rose. He was naked in the firelight.

When she reached him she examined him closely. Then she took her finger and began to lightly trace some of the many imperfections in his flesh.

“You have been often wounded?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she questioned.

“Duty,” he replied wearily. “Duty and manhood.”

“It is manhood to be often wounded?”

“In part,” he said flatly. “Any man without scars is no man at all.”

She stared into his eyes. They were dark like hers. Deep Greek eyes, full of inquiry. Proud Roman eyes, full of purpose. But to him her eyes were inscrutable.

“Perhaps,” she said quietly, “a man should be more than his scars.”

He reached up and took her hand, the finger of which still lingered upon the long jagged white line of an old wound on his chest. The wound of a much younger man.

“Perhaps,” Marsippius replied, “you are very wise among your kind.”

He glanced at the fire. To him the flames in the hearth seemed to burn immensely hot, yet almost entirely silent. He wondered if the fuel of this world burned differently.

When he looked back at Alatha she was once again staring deeply into his eyes. But once again he could not read her mind. He started to move forward to kiss her and then thought better of it.

She did not. Seeing his intent she moved forward and kissed him warmly upon the lips.

Then she leaned back slightly and traced her finger gently across the lips she had just kissed.

“There seem to be no scars here,” she said.

“Illusion,” he said. “There are too many to count. They are nothing but scars. So they seem untouched. Yet…” he added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, “there is room still for a few more, if you so wish.”

She laughed quietly.

“What is wish but High Illusion?” she whispered. So she pressed against him and kissed him again.

 

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A scene from my novel The Basilegate.

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