England,London, Mayfair 2000
It rained cats and dogs in the streets of London.
The weather spoiled the night for me even more than it already did.
Mayfair was brimming, full of young adults in fancy and chic evening clothes. They marched through the streets to the hottest clubs in the city,
As usual for Londoners, the majority carried an umbrella with them.
Not me. I am not from London. I was part of one of those sleepy little villages in the country, at least for this particular life.
Over the weekend Cassidy and Malory booked an overpriced and unnecessarily luxurious hotel room and got our names on the guest list of "The Cuckoo Club". One of the clubs in Mayfair that every youthful soul was longing for.
My host was full of enthusiasm and I was disgusted when they revealed the plans for my birthday.
My birthdays never meant anything positive in any of my lives. But to distance me from the personality of my host caused confusion. I learned this in the beginning.
"What the shit! Cassidy, I told you, umbrellas are a must!" Malory swore, squeezing her soaking wet blond hair.
"This is probably a shitty birthday for you." she pitied me.
If she knew…
"Will not be the first and the last." I smiled a wrong smile and crossed my arms in front of my low u-neck, which barely covered my breasts.
The rain and the chilling spring breeze made me shiver.
"Come on, that little bit of water. We'll be right there." Cassidy stooped forward in confidence, pointing to a bright violet neon sign on an Elizabethan building.
In its heyday, this architectural style was much more respected than it is today. In the old ages, signs were painted by hand and placed in front of a store. Horse dung on the streets was cleared away right at the moment.
Today Mayfair was filled with biting bad smells and impertinent store signs on the buildings, even though the quarter was one of the wealthiest in London.
In "The Cuckoo Club" I have already spent one of my birthdays. But at that time, loud trance music and unnecessary alcohol consumption were not yet in mind. At that time, when Maria Steward was decapitated, I sat here and waited for my own fate to happen.
"That little bit of water will be my death tomorrow." Malory bitched and wrapped her arms around herself. Her teeth chattered.
"You are welcome to drive all the way back tomorrow while I cough up my car because that little bit of water from up there will be the reason I get sick.“
I snarled and rolled my eyes at them.
"No one has ever died of rain."
Cassidy stopped, hooked up between Malory and me, and pulled us towards the club at a steady pace.
Her words had me biting my cheek.
In fact, rain was indeed the cause of a cruel death in one of my past lives.
Cassidy did a lot of work to get us into the club. While I was led into the building with them, she whispered to Malory and me how she tracked down the club owner's son on ICQ. Malory played her charms on him, aiming to nestle in his heart, only to then gently and carefully ask that she and her friends be allowed to join the nightclub's guestlist for one evening. To push the whole thing, she pretended I had cancer and that it was my biggest dream to go wild on my last birthday.
I found their trickery anything but morally justifiable. At other times she would have been sentenced to death for imposture. In modern times such a lie was appreciated.
With every life I had behind me, with every social change, people became scarier to me.
"The Cuckoo Club" has renewed its inner funiture.
It was no longer the small pub where people drank until curfew and were bribed to pay the bill.
But the long wooden and bulky bar resembled the one from my memories.
There were spotlights on the ceiling. The awful music pressed in my ears.
"Happy Birthday, Camille!" Cassidy and Malory cheered in my ear from left and right and jumped up and down like two excited little bunnies.
"Yes!“ I tried my best to play the role of the party girl I was expected to be in this life. I did not feel comfortable in this body. For six years Camille Harbour tormented herself in excess, from one party to the next.
She was a pain in the ass to her parents, her grades were never the best, although more was expected of her. Last year she was thrown out of her scholarship to Oxford University and the wealthy circle of her family.
I could not escape Camille's character. Whenever I opened my eyes for the first time in a new cycle, I was given a role to fulfil, whether I liked it or not.
I was immortal, to a certain degree, but my own choices did not happen.
I possessed the thoughts of my body, but not its fate. But each time I was to blame for their lives ending too early.
My two friends danced with me to the bar and placed themselves in the last three chairs.
"Three whiskies! Double!" Malory yelled to the blond bartender who turned his back on us.
"But Pronto!" Cassidy ordered demanding.
I crouched down between them.
The bartender triggered a familiar scary feeling in me.
His light blonde hair, the perfect curls, shimmered golden in the LED light of the bar. Through his white semi-transparent shirt I could see his slim, almost feminine figure shining through. This shape was no longer common for a young man today. His graceful, elegant aura was just as torn out of time.
My damp feeling was confirmed when the bartender turned to us.
My breath stopped. Like every time I saw his face.
His piercing milky blue eyes found me as if on command, but he never looked into mine, never. Always just at the skin between my eyebrows.
The narrow curved lips were adorned with a devilish smile, he had recognized me, had seen the face behind Camille, and felt my presence as I felt his.
Cassidy and Malory gasped for air, so different they felt at the sight of him. I was used to his mere perfection. I clenched my hands.
"That is not the fine British way, ladies." he cooed. His voice sounded as close as if he was standing right behind me. It cut through the noisy atmosphere between us like nothing. My companions shook and lounged on their stools, ready to spread their legs for him when he snapped his finger. His eyes rested on me alone.
I breathed out the air and leaned over the counter a little.
So this is how Daire would do me the honour today. As a charming bartender.
"Please. We'd like three whiskies, please." I corrected, resting my head on the palm of my hand. I returned his smile with Camille's thick lips.
Daire nodded, threw Malory and Cassidy an altered version of his stunning smile, and said goodbye with a winked "Comes right away" to the other end of the bar to fulfil our order.
"I think I should have gone for Sex on the Beach." Malory fanned to herself and looked at Daire with her mouth open.
"With him." Cassidy purred more poorly than right. They both started laughing, I felt forced to join in.
"We couldn't get him anyway. Seriously, the way he looked at you." Cassidy put one hand on my shoulder and winked at me ambiguously. "Like he wanted to run off with you to the storerooms and have a bit of fun."
I smiled and glanced at Daire. He kept a polite distance from the other bartenders and did his job with precise and delicate movements.
His high cheekbones glowed in the bright light, his ivory skin was purer than Malory's.
Daire's blonde hair was a little trimmed compared to our last encounter, but it accentuated his sharp jaw and pointed chin. The light of the bar surrounded his appearance like a halo.
"Two Sex on The Beach, albeit without me and a whiskey, the best the bar has to offer."
Daire slipped us the drinks and leaned relaxed from his side against the counter.
Cassidy and Malory pulled the glasses towards them dumbfounded and powdered. They were looking everywhere but at Daire. I was not surprised by his supernatural hearing. For his mission, he was blessed with all kinds of gifts.
Daire placed the whisky glass in front of my seat in an elegant hand gesture.
"It's on the house," he said, his eyes raking at me again like an eagle that had just set its gaze on its prey.
"Thank you very much." I got into the game he started, cheered him on, and took a sip from my glass.
"Where are you from?" he asked me teasingly.
Of course, he wanted to know about this life. That's what he always wanted. Small talk before the big out.
"From Grays. We are in London for the weekend." I answered, imitating his flirtatious tone.
Camille's voice was perfect for that. Daire would not be the first man she tried to wrap around her finger.
"Just for the weekend? For what? London has so much more to offer than clubs."
Malory tugged at her cocktail, almost choked, and then hastily took over.
"It's Camille's birthday today." She put one arm around me and smiled silly. "We gifted her that very weekend.“ Cassidy finished.
"If that's true, Camille, how old are we gonna be?"
I laughed and shook my head. "You don't ask a lady her age. It's not the proper British way," I countered in his own words.
Daire swallowed and nodded speechlessly. "Touché."
Malory and Cassidy whispered in excitement behind my back.
"What are you doing in Grays?" Daire asked. "Boring me to death," I muttered, bowing my head.
Daire broke out in laughter. "It's supposed to happen in small villages, but it's even more interesting here."
Daire bowed his head in my direction, tried to hold his eyes between my brows, and grabbed my hand gently and softly.
After he had stabbed me cruelly in the intermediate zone between the border of East and West Germany the last time and left me alone to die, he now made up for a lot.
"We could definitely confirm that." Camille's friends were staring at us like we were an interesting scientific experiment, with something blowing up every second.
"And while it's getting more interesting here, let's go and enjoy the evening." Cassidy pulled her best friend from her chair.
With the cocktails in their hands, they winked at me, giggled, and then rushed to the dance floor in their wiggly asses and tight clothes.
"So Camille." With one sweep, Daire's pretty face was a shade too close for my liking.
I pushed his face away from me and emptied my glass with the next sip.
"Cut the crap, Daire," I said to him.
He laughed heartily and was quite amused.
"Do you know how hard it is to get hired here, Adelaide?"
Daire grabbed a glass and a cloth on the side and began to dry off.
"You might just give me a little credit for this," he asked me.
I looked at him in disbelief. The last thing I would give him would be gratitude.
"You'll get it when you leave me alone." I spat and drove my hand through the pitch-black hair of my host.
"You know that's impossible."
The playboy look from Daires eyes disappeared and suddenly my best friend from ancient times stood before me, no stupid flirting bartender in sight anymore.
My eyes squinted past him and inspected the countless high-quality spirits behind him.
"Then at least tell me why you are doing this to me? I am tired of it. I want my own life."
I hit the counter with my fist. I fixed my gaze on Daire. He avoided me and started to dry the second of the glasses at his place.
"Perhaps one day, Ade..."
"Please..." Desperately, I blinked at him.
"I just want an answer to my question, Daire."
Daire shook his head in confusion and took my glass off the counter.
"No. For your own good."
How could this contribute to my best to die over and over again?
I had so many lives behind me that needed more before I could cope with what happened.
I was done. I wanted to live and die for myself, as a human being has to at some point!
"And that consists of what? Do you actually know what I have gone through? Do you want to change for a century?" I said to him.
Daire turned away from me, picked out one of the bottles on the shelf behind him, and filled my glass with it.
"It's to protect you." he put the bottle back, despite the loud music I heard him clearly "I don't want to imagine all this, Adelaide," he answered my second question objectively and strictly. "And as much as I'd like to relieve you, I can't."
He pushed back my glass, which this time was filled to the brim with crystal-clear vodka.
Murmuring and without thinking about it, I tipped the vodka down my throat in one go and regretted my action to the second.
I coughed terribly.
He laughed. "I didn't think the poison in there would work so fast."
"There's nothing in there. You always hesitate when you give me something."
Daire smiled. "You know me pretty well."
"Better than I should." I sighed over the burning of the vodka inside me.
"Will you let me drink to death this time?" I tilted my head and turned the glass.
Daire looked out onto the dance floor behind me. "Not here, too many witnesses. "Besides, your girlfriends are watching you very closely." He winked at me.
I moaned in annoyance. "They are both horrible and the reason that this body has been in the hospital puking more than once. Not to mention the embarrassing party crashes."
Daire laughed out loud. "Sounds like the best of friends to me."
I stared at him with narrowed eyes.
Daire automatically tilted after me. "Drink. I like it when you get so light."
I laughed. "Only if you join me." I challenged him.
As much as I hated him for what he symbolized for me, I enjoyed the rare and regular time we spent together. Too long ago we were friends, after all. That can't be time-barred even after centuries.
As expected Cassidy and Malory left me alone at the bar. After a while, they were not to be seen in the club anymore. That calmed me down. Then Camilles' disappearance wouldn't immediately attract attention.
Daire and I changed our place from the bar to one of the seating areas, where he supported me and laughed about how little I could stand myself after all these years.
I rammed my elbow into his side and would have fallen on my nose if he hadn't caught me and pushed me into the next best seating area.
"I miss your brother." I slurred with a melancholic breath and leaned against Daire's dainty shoulder.
He stiffened. Colten and he had not been separated in a good relationship.
"I... me too," Daire stammered and sounded admirably sober.
He had not been drinking. His glass changed its contents, but if I wasn't careful, he would pour it out and refill it.
"Do you think he died old and wrinkled and normal?" out of big innocent grey eyes I stared at the one next to me.
Daire looked somewhere and nowhere and nodded. "I think so."
Drunk, I snuggled up against him. I closed my eyes and remembered the last time I saw Colten, talking to him, just before I died.
"If we die sometime, will we see him again?" My voice sounded rough, hoarse as if all the vodka of the last hours had attacked my vocal cords. "At some point. Maybe." Daire replied briefly.
He tenses up even more next to me, driving through his angelic curls and turning his eyes towards me. "You shouldn't have done that back in the days, Adelaide. Then we wouldn't be here now either," he accused me dryly.
I straightened up and everything turned multicoloured and intermingled.
"I... I... I..." Then I broke out relentlessly and through the reaction of my host into a cruel crying fit.
I couldn't help it at that time. I didn't even know what I was doing, only that this was the beginning of my cruel infinity.
"Never mind. I'm, uh... I think it's about time."
Daire helped me up in a swing and gave me a few moments until everything stopped spinning.
"Time for what?" With alcohol, the knowledge of what was ahead of me disappeared.
"Shit," Daire growled. "Your girlfriends are still here watching us," he growled at me as he walked me through the club.
"They're not my..."
Before I could realize, which Daire did, he pressed me against a wall and kissed me.
I tore my eyes away, tried to push him aside, but the sudden warmth that trickled through my body stopped my plans. The first closeness in this life that I really enjoyed.
Daire put his hands on my face and took his lips from mine. Then he looked around.
"Now they are gone for good. I think they saw what they wanted."
I blinked at him in bewilderment as he dragged me on.
With my free hand, I grabbed my lips and missed his sudden closeness, which mostly triggered Camille's longing for the comfort of Daire.
"Daire..." my voice was a breath before I grabbed him by the shoulders and pressed my lips on him. I lost the last rough control I had over this body and left it to Camille, who was more than turned on by Daire's sudden move to get rid of her friends.
"Ade..." he whispered in shock against my lips. His eyes half-closed, showing that he was drawn by my appearance. By the end of the day, he was just a normal young man.
I clung to him kiss by kiss, touch by touch as if my life depended on it. In the end, it did, but essentially all that mattered at the moment was that comforting, familiar feeling of closeness that Camille craved for the night after night and party after party. No one could give her that, no one but Daire, and Daire had had a soft spot for me ever since I could remember.
In the middle of the kissing, Daire paused.
"Stop it, Adelaide..." he pleaded and leaned against me.
Camille tugged at his hair and made herself caress his neck with kisses. Forced and enjoying, he groaned.
"I can't. She won't let me," I ejected, driven by lust and a desire that did not belong to me.
I closed my eyes, I had lost control over everything else and knew what it was doing to Daire and that he hated it to be a slave to this body, knowing I was in it.
Camille bit Daire's neck. That did so not support his hesitation.
"Damn." he hissed, took the weight off me, and dragged me through the club.
Camille jumped over with delight that she had now achieved what she wanted. I tried to force her to succumb to me again, as she did when she was sober when I could control her to a greater extent.
I was so busy rebuking my host that I did not realize that Daire had found a quiet room. Far away from the terrible music and the dancing masses.
Again he pushed me against a wall. I vaguely recognized a storage room behind him.
Without much hesitation, he kissed me as hard and pleasure-driven as Camille wanted him to.
She kept the upper hand over me, touching Daire, tugging at his clothes, trying to get rid of them.
In the back of my mind, I closed my eyes, hoping Daire would finish this encounter quickly and let me move on.
But as a natural man, as he was, he seemed to have given up fighting. He must have been so needy of Camille that he went for his own pants.
I managed to make Camille turn her eyes up. Inside her, I covered my eyes, closed them, and screamed to put an end to it all
Then, two seconds later, I felt a violent sting in my chest with which heat spread over the fabric of my dress.
Camille's life disappeared from her body in a second. My hard-wearing soul remained in it.
I reached for the silver dagger that was right in my heart and dropped me against Daire.
He had been looking for it in his trousers.
Almost relieved, I sighed up as he led me to the ground and held me in his arms. Swearing and with a trembling hand I removed his dagger out of the dead body.
"Unexpectedly, it hurts the least."
"You..." I gurgled and tasted the blood that came up and ran from my mouth.
"I actually still have a touch of respect for myself after all these years," he smiled and pushed Camille's black hair out of my face.
I have rarely seen one of my deaths so chaotic and harmonious at the same time.
Camille's last piece of her still working mind tried to process what happened while her life faded away.
I waited for the pain that was numbed by all the alcohol. Then it came in a jolt. In Daires arms I flinched and lowered my eyelids.
"I don't touch drunk women. You should know me that well, Ade."
With the waning strength of my body, I smiled.
"A gentleman does not tell lies... but neither does... for thousands of years."
Cold crept up inside me and the call of death grew louder.
"I'm not lying, I'm just keeping knowledge from you."
As always, Daire cried after he took another life and led me into another.
His tear dripped down my cheek.
"Until... until the next..." life, I wanted to breathe, but the body took away the time for my last words.
Death welcomed me with open arms.
It was always the same. I dwelled in endless emptiness until, with the first heartbeat of a random newborn baby, I opened its eyes and took its life.
But this time I was welcomed by death in a cosy finite fireplace room. By a man with long bottomless black hair and a round face that seemed ominous and fatherly familiar to me. He ran directly towards me and stopped a few steps in front of me. His eyes were as brown as freshly dried blood. They bored themselves into me and looked at me in the same way as my foster father had looked hundreds of years ago, only that it was not him.
"See you in the next life, Adelaide." He greeted and said goodbye to me in a voice that felt so velvety soft and eerily deep, so incredibly close and indescribably far away from me.
The next moment I found myself in a new life. This time I felt different when I looked into the eyes of my new parents for the first time.