She squeezed his hand, but Kale was still too shocked, still confused. He’d believed that she wouldn’t know him. Wasn’t that how it worked? Souls didn’t carry the memories of their past lives to their new inhabitants.
Hélène leaned against Kale, placing her nose into the crook of his neck and inhaling deeply. “You smell the same, yet so different.” She moved away a bit, leaving an inch between them. “It’s hot as the dickens out here, yet you still carry the scent of fresh snow on a winter’s night.” Lifting herself onto her tiptoes, she placed a small kiss on his lips.
“I’ve missed you so much.” Her warm breath caressed his face as she embraced him.
Kale could do nothing but give in. He placed his arms around her and squeezed. She gasped. Unsure if he’d squeezed too hard, he started to release her.
“No! Hold me one last time,” she begged, and he heard tears in her voice.
“Oh, Hélène. Don’t say that; please don’t say that.” Kale pulled her more tightly in his embrace. He didn’t care if she couldn’t breathe—he wanted to feel her, taste her, and hold her.
He refused to believe that he’d never have a chance to do it after this. His last memory was of falling asleep in the snow only a few feet from her home, but he wouldn’t believe that this was a dream. It felt too real.
Hélène’s warm body responded to his touches, and her lips melded with his as he kissed her. Kale wouldn’t allow reality to steal the sweet taste of her lips against his, the feel of her delicate fingers as they combed through his hair, the allure of her pulse as it beat faster.
He deepened the kiss. She was his. He’d died for her, and his rebirth had been for her—only her. How could he let her go? How did he continue to live without her now?
She pulled away, breathless, but Kale couldn’t let her escape. He’d breathe for her if he could, but his lips belonged nowhere but on hers. His hands had no home but on her skin. She’d stolen his heart and now that she was there, he could feel the rhythmic thump in his chest that signaled that he was alive.
He’d waited for this moment, and he would not be denied. He pulled at her shirt and pushed it up until his hands made contact with her bare skin. She moaned against his lips. Her skin burned his in the most decadent way. She felt so good that Kale thought he’d weep. He’d share the tears he’d held all this time.
She pulled away again and smiled as she gulped in puffs of air. “I never thought this moment would come.”
Though her face was Ella’s, he could see Hélène so very clearly in her eyes.
“She needs you,” Hélène whispered. Her lips were so moist and plump from his kisses that he couldn’t take his eyes off of them.
“Someone else will save her. I just want you now here, please.” Kale wasn’t sure what he was asking for. All he knew was that he didn’t want to wake from this dream. If he did, then it would truly be the end of his life.
“I’m safe where I am, but she needs you.”
“No. I live for no one but you, Hélène. Leave me again, and I will surely die.” Kale had begged only once in his life, and that had been for Hélène’s life to be spared, the night she’d died.
He fell to his knees. The sharp pain sent shocks up his spine, and the tears flowed down his cheeks as he stared up at the unfamiliar face with the hauntingly familiar eyes. He held back the sob that threatened to leave his throat. She reached for him and stroked his cheek, traced his lips, and wiped his tears.
“Love, I am gone. I have been for so long and it’s time—”
Kale launched to his feet, grabbing her shoulders. “Never!” He bellowed so loudly, it surprised even him. She had to understand the torture her absence had put him through.
No more was he the strong man who could bottle up his emotions and hide them. His heart constricted in his chest, and his vision blurred. “Please tell me that you will stay, Hélène! Do not leave me again. I won’t survive it, not this time.”
He sobbed no longer playing the part of her savior, but playing the part of a lover begging for another chance, a man who would claw out his heart and hand it to her if it made her understand. He held on to her as if she were his last lifeline—because in a way, she was.
His last hope for happiness, sanity, and love had been rolled up and placed into the stranger in front of him.
Light glittered around them, and Kale glanced about. The scene changed from the college campus to the middle of winter-burdened woods. The moon was white and high in the sky, casting shadows over her face.
Kale knew the site. The cemetery where he had been sleeping sat not far from them. “Hélène, what is this?”
“She needs you,” she whispered again.
He moved towards her. “Please, I live only for you Hélène. Please do not make me go to her.”
“I can no longer deny you what you desire, but it will be the last gift that I can give you.” Allowing him to see her true face, she left the shadows. “I’m here, Kale. One last time, I am here for you.”
Kale reached her faster than he’d ever moved in his life.
It was her. Her face, her lips, her eyes—Hélène.
She stood in front of him in the same dress she’d worn the night of her death. Kale grabbed for her, not caring if he was too rough. He pulled her against him and kissed her. He’d vowed that he would die before he allowed another woman to own his heart as she had, and here she was, begging him to go to another, to save her and to ultimately love her.
Kale wouldn’t. He would show her tonight that it was always her. He’d live the rest of his lonely miserable existence alone, if it would prove to her that that there could never be another.
Could she see him from the heavens? Did she see how he suffered?
Kale eased her onto the ground. The snow around them nipped at his skin, and he wondered if she was cold. Before he could ask, she wrapped her arms around him and deepened their kiss.
If this were a dream, then the cold would not affect her. If this were a dream, then Kale prayed to whatever deity or holy man there was that he never woke up.
Still worried about her being cold, he removed his lips from hers and looked around. Using his Chorý strength and speed, Kale ran to the cemetery that was only a few feet away and tore the mausoleum door away. He fetched Hélène and placed her gently on the ground inside the mausoleum. No more snow.
Soft and sensual words floated between them as they gently kissed and touched each other. Kale, memorizing every inch of her with his hands, gently slid between her legs. He couldn’t look away from her eyes. He was lost drowning in them, and his lungs that never needed air before begged him to take a breath, but he didn’t dare.
He’d die here tonight, here with Hélène in a cemetery where he’d long belonged. He’d been walking through the world soulless, and now here it was beneath him—his soul and heart.
“I belong to you,” he told her, meaning every word. “My soul, my heart—everything that I am, and everything that I could ever be.”
Hélène placed a finger over his lips. “I love you and I give you this because I have nothing else to give, Kale. If I did, I would give it to you, but I can’t. I’m—”
Kale refused to let her finish her sentence, making his lips crash down on hers. Not tonight—he wouldn’t allow her to admit her death to him tonight. He’d seen it; no reminders were needed.
He kissed away the words that would separate them—kissed away reality, the pain and suffering, the tears she’d shed for him, and the tears he would surely shed for her.
In the stages of mourning, he was at “bargaining,” and he’d trade his life again to have her back, body and soul.
Kale removed his shirt and closed his eyes while Hélène put her hands on his stomach. He kissed her as he removed his pants, pushing them past his knees and kicking them from his ankles. He slid a gentle hand up her thigh and to her panties. He hooked his thumb in the waistband and pulled them down past her thighs, knees, and over her feet.
He faced her again. “Don’t leave me,” he whispered. He could do nothing but beg and pled. He hadn’t felt so defenseless since the night Laurent had stolen Hélène from him.
“Promise me,” he quietly demanded, pleading with his eyes, hoping that the sorrow and pain would convince her that he could not breathe without her. He cupped her face in one palm and used his other hand to pull her dress from her body.
“Kale.” Her voice was steady and calm, as if they would share a million more nights like that one, while his heart knew the truth: She was leaving him, forever. They both lay there, each staring at the other.
Kale saw in her eyes the freedom that he’d been searching for and was certain that when he woke his humanity would be gone again. His heart would no longer beat, he’d no longer need to breathe, and she would truly be gone. He steadied himself above her.
Kale knew she had an answer for his question before it even left his lips. “How will I live without you?”
She smiled. “You won’t. Your soul will always find me.”
She lifted her head and kissed him. Wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him closer to help him complete their connection.
Kale gasped as every bit of air escaped his lungs. Convinced that nothing in his lifetime or the next would ever feel so good, he gave himself to her and the moment.
He’d give Hélène whatever she asked for—and when the dream was over, he’d save Ella from whatever plight she’d found herself in, and then he’d go away. He’d shut himself away from the world and dream of the love he’d lost.