Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart, if they exist. I will still not have the power to forget you. ― Ovid
She awoke on a hard bed of sand, her bare breasts pressing into the rough grains beneath her. Stifling a groan, she shifted and opened one eye. And paused. Both eyes. Okay…weird. She pushed herself to her knees and rubbed her eyes before looking again.
The night blazed in a chaos of color. Twinkling golden sand stretched out to the horizon, emitting a soft glow that sparkled in random hues. Streaks of blue and violet raced across the sky to lose themselves in the depths of a starless void. And rising up into the violet ocean of night, above the warm blanket of golden light, was a massive moon that filled the sky, swirling in shades of red.
She started to scramble back, her eyes locked above her. Stop it. No panicking. Think. A nightmare? It didn’t feel like a nightmare. Her breathing felt too real. Her hands buried in the sand. The crisp air hardening her nipples. She shivered, dropping her eyes.
Particles of sand clung to her flesh, illuminating the smooth pale skin beneath. Firm, full breasts swelled above a slender waist and well rounded thighs, while a small patch of brown curls provided her only cover.
She leaned forward and crossed her arms over her breasts, shaking her head to let her hair cover her as she looked down. Nothing happened.
Her fingers crept up to find baby soft hair no more than an inch or so in length all over. Who would have done this? Tears stung her eyes. Stop it. It’s just hair. It will grow back. But her fingers clung to it as her gaze drifted to her right—to find a pair of sharp blue eyes watching her intently.
Christopher. Her mind went blank. Until he spoke.
“Josephine.” The quiet, controlled tones drifted across the space between them.
A blood red glow filled her vision. The air around her suddenly felt thick and cloying to her skin. She could hear nothing except the pounding of her heart and her rapid breathing, while a strange current coursed through her body. But as quickly as the sensations began, they vanished, leaving her quaking in the aftermath. She struggled to focus.
Josephine. No, that was wrong. Jo. Her name was Jo. She exhaled slowly and studied him.
He was naked as well, kneeling on one knee with an arm draped discreetly in front of him. His body was strong and lean with a light amount of golden hair on his gently muscled limbs and chest. Like her, his skin revealed no tan lines or other discolorations.
Her eyes began to wander lower, and she dragged them back up to settle more safely on the hair on his head. It was the same length as hers, but it curled into soft blonde ringlets that danced about in tousled abandon atop a face unlined by age. It lent a somewhat boyish air to his otherwise sophisticated, sober appearance. A golden angel with a sharp jaw and soft, tender lips. Lips currently set in a grim line.
She met his eyes once more—and stopped breathing. They were narrowed and calculating. Her arms tightened around her, and the sensation of skin gliding on skin reminded her of just how much he could see.
She fell back in the sand and pulled her knees to her chest, doing her best to cover herself. She didn’t quite know where to look, so she pretended to rub her forehead, hiding her eyes.
“Do you know…what happened to our clothes?” she mumbled, looking down to the left and right. She peeked back at him between her fingers when he didn’t respond.
He stared at her a moment more.
“That isn’t the most pressing concern right now,” he said and turned his eyes away.
A shiver went through her. She didn’t want to turn and look. Stop being a baby. Her head turned to follow his gaze.
The moon was impossibly large. And the color… A sickness rose inside her, and she unconsciously leaned closer to Christopher. He turned to her with a frown, and she stopped.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
She took a breath to answer. And nothing came out. It’s a simple question, Jo. Answer him.
“Jo…I’m Jo…” she said, thinking furiously. He narrowed his eyes.
“I’m aware of your name.” His voice was colder now.
“If you know my name, shouldn’t you know who I am?” She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Why did she feel guilty? Maybe because she was so stupid she couldn’t remember the most basic information about herself. Come on, think!
“If I knew who you were, I wouldn’t have asked the question.” Okay. His voice was definitely veering toward hostile now. Her knuckles covered her eyes, rubbing. Stall stall stall!
“Well who are you?” Brilliant. Sit and hide behind her fists forever.
She could feel him staring at her.
“You don’t remember me?” he asked.
“Your name is Christopher,” she said tentatively, dropping her hands and giving him a questioning look. He stared a bit longer.
“Yes.” He was very still, assessing her, before rising to his feet.
Jo quickly looked away, the blood rushing to her face—he seemed completely unconcerned with his state of undress. She couldn’t very well keep sitting now, so she stood as well, trying to stay out of his field of vision and figure out how to cover herself. God this was awkward. She forced herself to breathe steadily, wanting desperately to match his composure and sure she was failing miserably.
She settled for wrapping her arms around her upper body to hide her breasts and pretending she wasn’t completely naked on her lower half. If she didn’t look down, she could almost manage it. Thankfully he was about half a foot taller, so she could just keep looking up at him. She did so now, and followed his gaze to look around the horizon.
There was nothing but flat, oddly glowing sand everywhere. No plants. No rock outcroppings. No foot prints or tire treads. Not even a sand dune.
“Please tell me you have some idea of what to do,” she whispered. She may not remember who she was, but she was reasonably sure she had absolutely no survival skills. She only hoped he did.
He was quiet for a long time.
“Find water,” he said. He looked at her once more, his eyes dropping down her body and back up in a single glance. Her lips parted, and the heat climbed to her face as their eyes locked. She hadn’t realized how close she’d been standing to him. His eyes grew dark, but she couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. The heat from his skin bled into her as she stared.
When he turned away at last, she closed her eyes weakly, drawing in ragged breaths as quietly as possible. Who was he? A shudder went through her, and her eyes opened once again to see he had started walking. She would just keep a nice comfortable distance between them. For all she knew, he had brought her here. She looked around at the barren landscape. Okay, maybe that didn’t make much sense. And she did remember him, at least. Enough to know his name. That was something, right?
She drew a deep breath and stepped up her pace to walk close enough to talk. But not too close.