When I first set eyes on him he was freshly over the threshold of manhood, his boyish figure fading in the grips of change and maturity.
His cheeks were flushed with exhilaration and excitement, his lithe, spidery limbs energetic and long golden-skinned fingers fluttered, moth-like, while he spoke. And his voice! His voice was extraordinary. It was rich and spicy; red satin cloaking lightning. The softness of it often disguised the striking steel of his meaning. When he pronounced to the crowded darkness of the arena, every woman’s heart skipped a beat.
Needless to say, mine did too. This young man – he wasn’t more than a boy really – wasn’t just beautiful to hear either; oh no, he was a work of art. Eyes of hazel, the flecks of green pronounced and so green that they could have been chips of glass, carved cheekbones of Adonis and tousled chestnut hair that curled to his shoulders, tied back with a blue velvet ribbon.
Like everyone else he had his imperfections; a glimpse of his purple birthmark splashed like spilt ink across his shoulder and neck here, a suggestion of his lips being a little too full as to threaten to make him look girlish there. Beads of sweat sliding down behind his ear, glittering in the hot lights, would remind his admirers that he was human, despite the captivating voice and promptly forgotten. These were his physical flaws and they attracted me helplessly to him. His Persian flaws. His name was Terence St Everets and, like many before me, I was completely and utterly entranced by him.
I began to obsess over him to – even as I hated to admit it to myself – an alarming extent. I went to every one of his shows, worshipping him along with hundreds of others from the dowdy shadows of the seats. As Romeo he broke my heart, as Banquo he aroused my protective fury and seduced me all over again as the awkward Orlando. Like a diamond among coals, like a swan among ducks, Terence St Everets shone brighter and bolder than any other of his contemporaries both in talent and looks. His name was on the lips of everyone in England and perhaps in Scotland too.
That was why I had to have him for myself.
So I began to watch more than just his shows. I followed him backstage and hid in stature paralysis as the other actors flocked around him whispering that he, Terence St Everets, was wonderful and that he had to teach them and show them the secrets of his craft. He would just smile and walk away from their pleading. It was utter nonsense of course, a talent like that could not be traded or taught. Not that he tried. He traded hints for secrets, sharing those appropriate for a little extra gold or guarding jealously those which were simply too good to share. I still followed him in the theatre, taking care to disguise myself because it was too soon, too close and he was so beautiful that it made my heart soar. Terence was a too common name to be the source of my fever of the heart and head. Adonis, Paris… or perhaps Narcissus was more appropriate. I still watched him intently, no matter what name I might bestow upon him. He was mesmerising, a thing from sunlight and the bright stars themselves.
Oh but he was arrogant! That I learned quickly. But his arrogance wasn’t blazing, obvious for any to simply discover like many others before him. My Adonis was sly, clever and my heart beat faster for him because of it. No, the only time that he revealed his cocky, brutal self was with his many, many paramours, woman that flocked to him like they were moths and he was fire fallen from the skies themselves, stolen from the myths’ foolish Gods. With these women my Adonis changed from a silky seducer to an animalistic beast demanding, taking, devouring! And the women, locked in pleasure, first admired and then reviled it. I did neither. It was the pain of those who did not deserve him. I was indifferent. Those conquests knew nothing, meant nothing, deserved nothing and were nothing. That was something I felt that Terrence and I both agreed on. There was no pity for them. His behaviour was a Persian flaw… nothing else.
I followed Terence St Everets for nearly three months, learning his habits, his home address, his hopes, his fears and his dreams. I learnt his desires for woman, what he preferred and what he detested. Slowly, methodically I drew my plans and waited for the opportune moment. Every second I waited I could already feel him in my arms, feel his lips against mine. It was agony, but fresh and sweet and I welcomed it. I had always been patient.
Merely a week after the complexities of my plan had been nailed in place did I see and seize my chance. It was late, the clock hand hovered at eleven, and the backstage was swathed in velvet shadows. I felt at home. I waited outside his dressing room clothed in a silver strapless dress, my hair falling glossily down my back and my face almost completely free from ornamentation save two points of blue glitter at my eyes. His favourite image: a slightly desperate, lovesick girl. After a quarter of an hour my Adonis emerged, cheeks flushed and chestnut hair plastered to his face. A see-through white shirt was fully unbuttoned and hanging open revealing him in all his glory. I waited until the woman fled, weeping silently, from his room before I approached him. Appraisingly he glanced at me, not even bothering to do up his shirt. “Yes?” he asked smoothly, tantalisingly.
I licked my lips and whispered, “I came to see you.”
My Adonis smiled mockingly, “Have you, little bird? Well, I’m afraid I’m just finished.”
“We have time.”
“Do we little bird?” he stepped closer, a hint of a tooth showing over his lip; a flash of ivory offsetting his dusky glow. “You only speak for yourself. I am tired. Come back tomorrow, little bird and we’ll see.” There was an edge to his voice, inviting me to play the game if I recognised it. I recognised it.
“Just a kiss…” my voice was pleading. “Just a little kiss…” Terence moved closer until I could feel his heat burning my skin. I welcomed the uncomfortable tingle against me. His arm snaked around my waist, pulling me towards him and trapping me in his embrace. His face leant towards mine. A hand stroked down my hair and I shivered with desire. My Adonis can’t resist the taking of another pretty heart, especially one so obviously lost.
“All it takes is a kiss…” he warned me, his breath soft on my neck as he moved to plunder his reward.
Just before his lips met mine I whispered back, “I know.”
Then we kissed. At that exact moment, I released my venom. His eyes widened in shock and terror for a brief moment and he attempted to pull away before his eyes glazed and the irises flooded with my golden poison. I broke away, panting and smiled at him. Terence St Everets swayed momentarily and then pitched forwards into my gleaming, scaly arms. As he slid into my embrace, I carefully lowered him to the floor and shed the illusion of the petite beauty completely. “Shh…” I soothed him, trailing a hand across his jaw, “you must allow it to work.”
In moments he would be mine. My lover, my Adonis.
I grew bored of my new toy mere hours later. He was a fantastic lay, utterly obedient and keen, but incapable of any troublesome thought or will. My slave as he was always destined to be. But it was the thrill of the chase and the euphoria of the hunt that had fuelled my lust and this mortal, all too human body, no longer satisfied my desires. I shoved him away from me and climbed out of the bed. Adonis made a whine like a tiny animal and trailed after me, whimpering. Still smiling I turned around. Cupping Adonis’ face in my tiny hands I planted a kiss on the tip of his nose, enjoying the melt of pleasure on his features. He had been betrayed by his own body, helped by the infection of my venom. Pathetic. “Come with me, Adonis.”
He nodded like a puppy lost in adoration. I helped him up, my Adonis wasn’t tall but he towered over me. I led him through my bower; silver bones not quite hidden among the leaves glittering as we passed. By comparison, my beauty was a dull stone, rough and battered. Unquestioning and uncomplaining, he followed me down into my dungeon and into a large dark room. As we walked through the heavy doors he grew fearful – I could see it in his eyes – but still he followed. It wasn’t like he had a choice. I took his hand and guided him to the corner. “You must stay here, Adonis,” I told him, “and you must not move until I get back.” The blissful loyalty on his face was wiped away in an abrupt flow of anguished tears. My Adonis dropped to his knees, pleading incoherently that I mustn’t leave him, that he loved me and couldn’t live without me. I just smiled and then locked the door behind me. I stopped in the corridor, sensing new movement in one of the other worlds, a girl acrobat taking to the stage. She was sublime. A flutter of excitement warmed my body. But she could wait. Lazily, I turned back to the heavy, forbidding doors. It would be a shame to miss this.
Watching through the peephole I saw the rest of my troupe approach my Adonis in the dark. He did not move from the spot I had indicated, even though I saw the terror grip his limbs. Strewn on the floor around him were the perfectly preserved corpses of his predecessors, all lovely and talented creatures.
All with beautiful golden eyes.