“Smile. At least pretend you love me.”
Her icy blue eyes pierced straight through him, and a forced faint smile crossed her pale face. His hands shook but he managed to reach for her, pretending he hadn’t noticed the sudden chill engulfing the room.
“Come sit by me baby,” he said, “I’ll pour the wine.”
Walking toward him, the lovely Annabelle held out her hands. He reached toward her, clasping her hands in his. They were warm, soft, and delicate; he couldn’t resist her. Giggling like a teenager, she sank down onto the leather couch; tucking her legs up under her she patted the open spot next to her.
He didn’t need her to persuade him; sinking into the cushion next to her, he placed his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him. Her hands grabbed his sweater as she inhaled his scent. It pleased him knowing she enjoyed the simplest things about him. So refreshing. It was simplistic, uncomplicated love.
Daniel poured a bold red and handed her a glass. Annabelle took a sip and nestled back into his warm body. He made her happy; she was so full of life. She was mesmerizing; intoxicating, and without a doubt, he was addicted to her company.
“Are you close enough?”
He didn’t respond.
Annabelle’s delicate hand reached up and stroked his sandy blond hair; she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. Sipping her wine allowing his hair to run through her fingers an inch at a time, she realized how blissfully happy she felt. Her touch was gentle, warm, sexy, but not necessarily nurturing, and oddly he liked that.
“What are you staring at?”
Annabelle continued to sip, finishing her glass before Daniel had finished half of his. He smiled, reached over, and topped hers off again.
“Good wine?” The question was sarcastic, “My favorite, of course.”
The wine was good; Annabelle made a mental note to self to write down the year. As she nuzzled the back of Daniel’s neck, he closed his eyes, losing himself in her soft kisses. Her lips were warm, moist, and every now and then her tongue traced where her kisses had just been. Daniel turned his head and kissed her mouth gently. She kissed him back, losing herself in the moment.
He ignored the question. His tongue continued to search for hers. Ah, sweet Annabelle. She reciprocated, kissing him softly, yet intensely. His hands moved slowly; intentionally skimming her body with the softest touch. Her body instinctively responded, writhing, begging to be closer than they already were. An icy chill filled the space between them, and noticing the drop in temperature, Annabelle shivered and pulled away.
“Are you cold sweetheart?” Danielle asked.
She nodded, “So odd. It’s as if someone walked over my grave.”
Daniel grabbed the blanket hanging on the back of the couch and wrapped it tightly around her. Her long brown hair peeked out from around the edges, as her green eyes, practically hidden from the hooded blanket she now wore, sparkled from underneath. Daniel couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She looked exceptionally beautiful, especially since the shadows from the fireplace danced around the room, and her face shone in a particular light that he hadn’t experienced before. Though she laughed at herself, declaring she must look hideous, he insisted she looked stunning.
“You are wrong baby, you look beautiful, the lighting, you look amazing.”
“I think I’m going to vomit.”
Daniel ignored the comment.
Annabelle kissed his cheek, loving him even more than the second before; such a compliment given the nature of how she must truly look – blanket, flat hair, make-up eliminated due to their heated moment. But it was true, she was a vision of natural beauty, at least to him, and Daniel loved her. He pulled her closer and held her tighter than he had before. Wrapping a leg around him, she continued to sip her wine.
“Why so tight?”
He didn’t release his hold, he held Annabelle as close as he could.
“I love these moments, don’t you?” asked Annabelle.
“Of course you do!”
Daniel lips kissed Annabelle’s forehead, but his eyes stared across the room in disgust. The pale-faced women with the icy blue eyes stared back. Eyes narrowing, wearing a look of betrayal, she paced the floor around the room.
“Yes baby I do. I love these moments too,” he responded, pulling her close to his chest. “You know I do.”
“You can’t continue to do this!” The woman snapped, but Daniel didn’t acknowledge her statement.
Annabelle giggled. “I’m not going anywhere,” she wiggled and loosened his grip. “It’s as if you think I’m going somewhere, but you know I’m not, going anywhere I mean.”
Daniel watched her sip her wine. So sweet, he thought, as she licked the rim of her glass.
“Is this still too tight, baby?” he asked softly. “I’m sorry; just trying to keep you warm, that’s all.”
“I like it,” she assured him. “I’m just playing with you. I love being close to you, don’t you? Being close to me I mean?” She laughed at her self; the wine, must be kicking in.
He didn’t have time to answer Annabelle’s question, the other woman present in the room had heard enough. Becoming irate she screamed at him. Daniel closed his eyes and hoped against hope that the blue-eyed woman hadn’t broken through – Annabelle surely hadn’t heard her voice. He glanced at the beautiful woman in his arms, she didn’t budge, a sure sign she hadn’t heard a sound.
“I’ve had enough! I can’t stand this nonsense anymore. Make her leave! She needs to leave.” The blue-eyed woman stood in front of Daniel, an inch from his face. “Make her leave now!”
Daniel shot the woman a cold look; hard and distant, one she’d never witnessed before. Without warning she appeared in the chair on the opposite side of the couch.
“I’m still here.”
He pretended he didn’t see her sitting in the chair, worse, that he couldn’t hear her voice. Ignoring her presence amongst them infuriated her. Her anger boiled from within and her poison spewed into the room.
“Don’t ignore me Daniel,” the woman screeched. “You know I hate it when you ignore me!” Jumping to her feet she screamed at the top of her lungs. “I always hated it when you ignored me, Daniel, you know that! I hated it! Hated it!”
He didn’t react.
“So soon…really?” she hissed. “Daniel, so soon!”
No answer. He closed his eyes. Annabelle finished her second glass of wine. He took the glass out of her hand and set it on the table. His hand was visibly shaking, but fortunately Annabelle hadn’t noticed. She kissed his lips and stood up. Pulling him to his feet, she pointed to the bedroom.
“It’s late, you’re tired, let’s go to bed babe.”
Nodding he placed the fireguard in front of the fire. The woman with the icy blue eyes, stomped her feet in retaliation, but the lack of response fueled her anger.
Daniel felt the color drain from his face as Annabelle’s head turned and shot toward him. He slid an arm around her waist and pointed to the room. She opened her mouth to speak, but he kissed her before she could ask him the question; he knew what she was about to say.
The woman with the pale skin and icy-blue eyes kicked the fireguard moving it three inches away from the fire; Daniel didn’t turn around, walking toward the bedroom, pushing Annabelle with his body, he pretended nothing had happened. Annabelle grabbed Daniel’s arm, but he shook his head and continued to push her toward the room. He kissed the back of her neck, trying to distract her, but it didn’t work.
“Daniel,” something about the way she said it, he knew she needed an explanation.
“It’s an old house baby, the floor is uneven, things move.” He still didn’t turn around and acknowledge the blue-eyed woman’s presence; he instinctively kept herding Annabelle toward the bedroom, he whispered sweet things as they walked.
“Baby please listen to me, please, and let’s go to bed.”
She seemed to think his explanation was reasonable; nodding, disbelieving his words or anything he said, wasn’t in her. Slipping out of her clothes, shivering as she did so, Daniel pulled back the covers and she jumped beneath the cold crisp sheets. Her body still took his breath away, though he’d seen her naked more times than he could count. Not daring to glance out of the corner of his eye, he slipped out of his clothes too.
“I’ll be right there,” he said, as he ran naked toward the bathroom.
His heart suddenly jumped into his throat, there she stood, but he managed not to scream out loud. Her icy breath suddenly fogged up the bathroom mirror, a long wiry finger inscribed one word in the center of it… NO.
Daniel still didn’t respond. It took every ounce of courage that he had for fear of alerting Annabelle, but he didn’t erase the word, acknowledge her presence, or even ask her to leave. The woman spoke again with such bitterness, prevalent anguish in her voice, that his body went numb.
“Get her out of my bed!”
Daniel shook his head and reached for the bathroom door. The door slammed shut in his face, as the woman walked right through him and disappeared. Annabelle screamed.
A piercing sound filled the air, Annabelle screamed again, but Daniel was already by her side. Her scream had pierced his soul, a sound he’d never forget, the hopelessness of fear!
“Do you see her?” Annabelle screeched pointing toward the woman. “Right there, Daniel, baby can you see her?”
He stood between Annabelle and the woman. Annabelle was terrified, trembling. The woman stood at the foot of the bed. She stared at Annabelle, looking her straight in the eye. Annabelle, frozen with fear, couldn’t move.
“You can’t have him,” the woman stated coldly. “He’s mine.”
Daniel’s eyes flashed toward Annabelle. He grabbed her hands; her hands clutched his as tight as she could. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak. He stroked her hair and assured her that he saw the woman too.
“I see her baby. I know she’s there, I know that woman.” He looked Annabelle in the eye, “Baby, please breathe. ”
The woman slapped him across the face as hard as she possibly could. Daniel didn’t move.
“Of course you know I’m here Daniel. I’m your wife. Your one true love, remember?” She laughed out loud. “You made a promise you piece of garbage. Do you remember that? To me?”
Turning toward Annabelle she snapped, “Although I’m sure with her here, that promise has surely slipped your mind. I’m the woman of this house.” She smirked, pushed past Annabelle and continued to spill her venom.
“You built this house for me, did you not? In fact, I paid for it, didn’t I?”
Daniel’s face turned red with anger.
She turned toward Annabelle. “You’re laying in my bed, you stupid girl! The one I paid for, with my blood actually. Get out, get out now!” Turning back toward Daniel she added, “At least in the end, did I not? My blood, when you killed me?”
Daniel jumped to his feet. Grey as a ghost himself, and Annabelle could have sworn he’d aged ten years before her eyes, if not more as he addressed the pale, icy-blue-eyed woman.
“Now I’ve had enough!” Daniel yelled! “You must leave; you have to go, you’re done! This is not your house anymore!”
The woman scoffed. “As if I’d leave so soon. My home, my life, my bed.”
Daniel sat down on the bed and placed his hand on Annabelle’s leg. She was trembling as massive tears ran down her face. She placed her hand on top of his. She couldn’t talk, but the gesture was all he needed. Giving him strength and courage, he continued.
Daniel addressed the woman once again. “You have to go, you have no choice. You aren’t welcome here anymore! You, my love, have been dead for over fifteen years! I didn’t kill you; you killed your self, and while we’re at it, our unborn child.”
The woman acted as if she’d heard the news for the first time. Her mouth dropped open, she shook her head and Daniel kept talking.
“It was an accident, a terrible, terrible, accident. But it was you, dear, that caused the accident that took your life and our unborn child.”
Annabelle’s mouth dropped open, her hand covered her mouth for fear of gasping too loud. Daniel continued, though this time his voice had softened.
“Sweetheart…you have to go…I don’t love you anymore, not like that. I love Annabelle.” He stood up and looked the cold pale-faced woman in the icy-blue eyes. “You don’t own me anymore. I am free and so are you.”
The icy-blue eyed woman sank down to her knees. Silent sobs filled the room. The chill left the air as she glanced at Annabelle. Her hand reached out and touched Daniel’s hand one last time. She managed a slight smile; he smiled too.
“I love you,” she said, “My love for you was true.”
“I know,” Daniel, whispered, “I loved you once too, but not anymore, not like that.”
“Goodbye,” Daniel said softly, “Don’t hate her. You never knew her.”
“I still hate her, but I do love you.” She sniffled and stood up tall and straight, not once looking at Annabelle. “You are wrong. You are owned.”
Her eyes glazed over and Daniel was certain tears were about to fall. “You just don’t get it, you are free from me, yes. But if you love her as much as you say you do, you are already owned.” She touched his hand, but withdrew it when he shuddered. “You’ve moved on Daniel, but I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do….”
Daniel spoke softly but firmly. “Find some peace Laney; own your freedom. Let go and find peace.” He picked up a photograph, faded with time, “Your eyes are the same, they’ve never changed, still a beautiful blue.”
She stared at the photo and he continued, “Laney, this is the girl I remember, not the one tortured here. Go home, no one is owned.”