“Where do we go from here?” Lila asked as they spooned on the couch, her chest to his.
He nuzzled her neck, “I would love to stay by your side and make you the happiest woman alive. We should go up from here.”
“I’d like that. Together we could be happy, and nothing will keep us down.” The warmth of his body enveloped her and kept her captive.
She had missed Azrael too much and she didn’t want to let him go. Now that they were together again she wanted to learn everything she could about this man, since she planned on being with him for the rest of her long life.
“Tell me, what’s your favorite movie?”
His eyebrows knitted together as he thought, “Dracula, the one with Bela Lugosi.”
“I took you right. A man about the horror flicks. Mine is The Notebook. I can’t help loving those cute romances.”
“I took you right, as well.” He laughed softly.
“Lebanon Hanover, you?”
“Steak, Brussel sprouts, beer, whiskey, pizza, spaghetti, and Twinkies.” That beautiful smile of his cracked wide open when he tacked on Twinkies.
Lila’s insides melted at the sight of it. “Alcohol isn’t food, silly. I prefer any pasta, as long as it doesn’t have seafood. I hate seafood.”
“I could make you a mouthwatering pasta. I have an old recipe from long ago that you will absolutely love. Oh, the foods I can make you.” He kissed her forehead as she played with his fingers.
“Mmm, I’m a sucker for good food. Favorite season?”
“I love the fall, but I prefer Winter. It’s so beautiful.” She smiled a little at the thought of snow.
“Like you.” He wrapped his leg around hers as he leaned in to kiss her lips, taking command of her mouth.
“You’re too kind.” She playfully flicked his chest when he pulled back, ending the kiss.
“You’re ruining my game of twenty questions.”
“Go on, love.”
“What was it like? What do you remember seeing when you were born?” timidly, she looked up at him, worried if she had asked something too personal.
Azrael was taken aback.
No one had ever asked him that before.
He hadn’t even thought to tell anyone much less talk about it. It had been so long ago, but it felt just like yesterday. The memory still burned strong within.
“Did I ask something too personal?” the worry in her voice had him shaking his head.
“No, it’s just that no one has ever asked me that before. You really would like to know?”
“I wouldn’t have asked you if I didn’t.” her eyes met his, a small smile floating on her mouth, barely there.
“Well, I remember it like it happened yesterday. I felt this odd sensation, like when you surface to breathe air after holding your breath underwater. My body felt alive and sensitive to my surroundings, which were very bright until my sight adjusted. I stood atop a mountain where there was nothing but grass for as far as the eye could see. The world was young and barely leaving the period of pre-humanity. Animals roamed free and everything was at peace. I wore nothing but a black robe, the very same one I don when not wearing street clothes.” he paused for a breath.
“When I was born,” he continued, “so was my tool. It is both a weapon and a tool. Somehow, I knew what I would have to use it for. There was no one to tell me what to do but somehow I knew where to start off in my journey to where I am now.” Azrael gazed into Lila’s eyes, staring blankly as he spoke while she listened.
“You see, back then I looked vastly different. Before humans, I wasn’t human. There wasn’t a need to. When humans finally came around to how they are now, I changed with their arrival. I had to don their appearance when harvesting souls and completing the tasks I was born to do. Humans were, and have always been frightened, by what they don’t understand. To humans, the deity who took their soul wasn’t a human but a creature in disguise. Humans have always been smart, except when they chose ignorance. Over time, as time went on, the world drastically changed from that young wild Earth to this dark crazy place where a fellow man’s blood would be spilled over nothing. When I was born, I wasn’t so complacent. I eagerly did the bidding of the Source, without mercy, and I still have no mercy.”
He watched her face for something that showed fear or disgust, but he found nothing. She watched in awe, entranced by his tale. Those beautiful grey eyes of hers gazed into his, like an eager child hungry for knowledge.
“I don’t remember when I was born. It’s too far for my brain to remember. What do you mean by being in disguise? You can change your appearance?” like the curious kitten she was, she probed deeper.
Sighing, he answered carefully. “Deities, they’re all human looking by nature; except for me. I was born first and pre-date humans by six thousand years, Lila, which means I wasn’t born looking like I do now. I was the reason humans created horror stories of creatures which seemed to come from the worst of nightmares. When I was young, I was uninhibited with no sense of right and wrong. It’s why all of the deities avoid me. They remember and know.”
He couldn’t keep this from her. Scaring her was his biggest fear but so far, it had gone well.
Somehow, he had started to come out about his biggest flaw. Over the centuries, he had grown ashamed of his appearance and rarely ever stayed in his natural form for long. Eighty percent of the time, he was human.
Lila yawned softly, catching his attention. She sleepily gazed at him. Looking up past her, he saw it had grown dark outside. It had gotten late, and he would have to work soon.
“You talk too bad about yourself, but if you saw what I saw, then you would think differently. I’ll take and love you anyway I can, no matter what you look like. When I’m not so tired, I’d love to hear more about you.” Her lips met his, causing his mood to lift.
He kissed her feverishly, their breath colliding in the passionate interaction.
Azrael was mesmerized by this woman.
She was full of strength, love, and courage; unlike anyone he had ever met. Her true test would come when she would finally see him for what he truly was, in the flesh, without a human body but his own.
What if she rejected him?
Time would only tell.
Helping her up from the couch, he carried her to the bedroom where she dressed down to a t-shirt and panties before climbing into bed beside him. He stripped down to his boxers and held her close to him, their legs wrapped around each other beneath the covers.
“Sleep well, beautiful.” He whispered as Lila dozed off in his arms.
In the darkness, he listened to her breathing as it slowed.
Even when she was asleep, he laid there letting her scent wash over him, easing the darkness that crept within. Being near her, kept the darkness from overtaking his sane self.
Too bad, he had to go out away from her for the night.
Once an hour had passed, he carefully left the bed and stood up, stretching slightly. In a flash, he donned the black cloak and wielded the ancient wicked blade.
His human form also faded, his natural body taking over. The period where he couldn’t hold his human form hadn’t ended yet and he nearly collapsed from the pressure release of having to use all his strength to hold it for Lila’s sake.
Yes, he had told her, but he didn’t think she understood like he hoped. She was intelligent but with this, she really had no ground to stand on.
Hiding in the darkness, he watched her sleep, his night vision clearly seeing her.
If she were to awake, she would find two golden eyes watching her and a hulking figure beneath the cloak. In his true form, he stood 7’ 3”, compared to the human 6’8”.
He loomed over everyone, a monster indeed.
Azrael vanished from the room and appeared where his first reaping of the night was.