“What are you thinking?”
Oh, he would ask that. Robert stressed the importance of honesty in our relationship, regardless of how painful the truth could be. I decided to offer him a not-so-subtle cue, giving him a chance to retract the question.
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Penny, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t want to know.”
“All right. I was thinking how the ocean matches Trey’s eyes.”
He said nothing more, for which I was grateful. A part of me had wanted him to know, I realized. I didn’t want an argument, nor did hurting Robert appeal to me, but Trey’s presence in my thoughts deserved recognition. At least I’d spared Robert the details.
I couldn’t help but envision what came to mind, though. Half a world away from Robert’s and my Villa on the Mediterranean Sea, certain bed sheets emphasized this particular aquamarine. Candlelight even caused those facets to sparkle like the sun on restive waters.
The continuing silence hung as uneasily as a shredded flag. I didn’t know how to dispel my apathy, which had become palpable long before I met Trey Stone. Robert and I had come here in a last ditch effort to blow some life into the dying embers of our marriage.
I’d agreed to this trip with the same lack of enthusiasm that I brought into everything these days. Since breaking off my relationship with Trey, nothing seemed worthwhile. Even work at the veterinary clinic, however rewarding, failed to engage me.
It didn’t matter that Trey wasn’t human. My heart didn’t care that his lifelong career centered upon torturing mankind. In fact, that’s how I met my daemon, assigned to torment my mafia enforcer of a spouse.
The villa’s private pool rippled in a sudden gust and my hat flew off in the next instant as the same puff of wind reached my seat. Robert laughed humorlessly and surged from his chair.
“I’ll get it, Penny,” he offered. “I don’t want the sun to freckle that delicate complexion of yours or for you to spill your drink.”
What would have sounded like a compliment in another era struck me as a criticism of my Irish roots today. Robert appeared bronze, only slightly more on holiday than back home. It was his Israeli heritage, olive skin and piercing eyes above a hawk-like nose, that first attracted me. Overlaying his masculine form, Trey’s willowy figure appeared in my mind’s eye. My face flushed with the recall of my hands appearing almost dark against the pearl luminescence of milk-smooth skin.
Not really caring, I wondered if Robert would take the blood tingling my cheeks as a result of too much afternoon heat. Fairly soon, I planned on taking my customary afternoon siesta beneath the lazy spin of a ceiling fan.
“In fact,” I mumbled under my breath, “better late than never.”
More loudly, I thanked my husband for the return of my hat. Proud of myself, I kept the words free of bitter irony when Robert’s big hand smashed the article on my head, flattening my hair. He never had been gentle. I placed my unfinished cocktail on a poolside table.
“Time for your beauty rest, eh? I’ll join you in an hour or so.”
I knew Robert planned on waking me to make love, if that’s what one could call our mating. My husband took and I gave in his brutish idea of matrimonial bonding.
Whereas Robert considered the act his right upon my body, Trey had taught me the beauty and joy of sharing one another. Those days were gone, though, ended because continuing would have resulted in his banishment from Hell.
Trey didn’t belong anywhere else, despite his protests. And neither did I, apparently, deserve anything different than the purgatory of life as the wife of a serial killer. Perhaps I was paying for sins from a past life. Either way, this one held enough merit that I didn’t want to risk it by trying to escape.
Dire thoughts aside, I dropped my beach bag with an almost contented sigh. The air in the room, warm and balmy, carried a nice fragrance. The piquant odor proved illusive. I couldn’t place the scent, redolent of neither the exotic flowers on the nightstand nor the humid sea.
What was it?
I almost identified the oddly familiar fragrance as I stripped off my loose caftan and prepared to lie naked on the lush bed. Trey? Yes, only different, somehow.
Lying back, I thought that I had surely drunk myself into this olfactory hallucination. Then the wall to my right began to shimmer.
White sparkles appeared. I rubbed my eyes, promising myself to cut out the afternoon beverages.
I scrubbed my face hard. This had to be a dream. Feathers winged the ceiling from a background of sparks, a familiar face as pallid as parchment bent toward me with a benign smile.
“Yes,” I answered, feeling stupid.
“It’s Trey. Well, Treylek, now. I forsook my duties. Come to heaven with me.”
“Yes. You’re forgiven. The marriage is absolved. ‘Until death do you part’ is no longer an obstacle. Gabe finished my work.”
I willed my ivory wings to spread, relieved to feel them after so long playing as human. Home. Love. Treylek.