I sat on the dingy hotel carpet, in the path of a small beam of sun that was streaming through a foot-wide gap in the curtain. My dress was short-sleeved, so my bare arms coruscated in the intense beam. The previous day's storm had given way to a bright October day, without a cloud in sight.
As a result we were stuck in the confines of the hotel room, while the city bustled outside. I'd been staying in this small, stark room for a month now, as I spent day after day waiting for Jasper to show up in that greasy little diner across the street. We'd headed back to this odd little space that I called home after sitting for several hours on the river's edge, soaked through.
Jasper needed time to process all that I'd told him before he tried hunting the way I did. He was still a little overwhelmed by it all. He'd never admit it, I knew, but I was giving him that time.
My cheek rest in the crook of Jasper's neck. He leaned back against the rickety headboard. My knees were wrapped around his waist, as he held me up with his for arm curled under my bottom. One of my arms circled his waist, my other hand rest flat on his chest. He held me tightly, his long arm easily wrapping all the way around me.
I smiled at the thought. That looked like a lovely way to spend the afternoon. I looked toward where Jasper sat at the desk. I was not surprised to find him watching me. Frequently, I looked up from a vision to find him staring at me silently. I grinned at him.
"Did you finish the paper?" I asked. He'd been looking at it for several hours now.
"I'm working on the crossword puzzle," he answered, looking back down at the newsprint on the desk. "It's hard."
I was off the floor and leaning over his shoulder in a split second. "Ooh. I love those." I peered at the paper. "Five across is jai lai. Five down is jolly--"
Jasper put his large hand down over the page, and looked up at me with an amused expression. It wasn't quite a real smile, but it was closer than I'd seen yet. "You're cheating."
I shrugged, trying to make out some of the clues between his long fingers.
He shook his head. "How long does it usually take you to do the crossword puzzle?"
I bit my lip. "Two minutes."
He chuckled softly. "Now where's the fun in that?"
"I like to win." Winning at things was my key to getting by in this human world that required money. I had never taken to stealing.
He squeezed my hand. "Would it be okay if tried to finish this without your help?"
I pouted playfully, but kissed his forehead and crossed the room to perch on the radiator under the window. My fingers curled around the edge of the drapes.
I threw the heavy brocade curtain open as far as it would go. Brilliant sunlight streamed into the entire room. My skin glittered in the bright light. I heard a noise behind me, and turned to find Jasper now sitting on the floor beside the bed, curled tightly to make himself as small as possible, trying to fit in the last remaining patch of darkness in the room.
I frowned, and released the curtain. I certainly didn't want to upset him like that. I turned to watch him for a moment. His focus was still on the paper. I turned back to the window, trying to see more of that particular vision, but nothing would come. My brow furrowed, as I concentrated.
"What's bothering you?"
I spun to face him, lower lip firmly trapped between my front teeth.
"Something's bothering you." Jasper stood, and leaned against the desk, remaining out of the light that bisected the room between us.
I hesitated, and then decided to ask about it indirectly. "Would it be okay if I opened the curtain all the way?"
Jasper lowered his eyes. "Aren't you worried that someone out there might see?"
I shook my head with a soft smile. "We're on the tenth floor."
He considered this for a moment, finally nodding almost imperceptibly. His eyes remained on the ground. I tentatively put my hand on the thick curtain.
I threw open the heavy brocade curtain as far as it would go. Brilliant sunlight streamed into the room. My skin glittered in the bright light. I turned back to face Jasper. He had sat back down in the desk chair. His head was buried in his knees which were drawn to his chest with his hands tucked between.
I blinked as my eyes refocused. Jasper was at my side, looking down at me, concerned. I smiled broadly, fakely.
He shook his head. "What did you see? It bothered you."
In his worry he had crossed the barrier of sunlight that he had been avoiding. While my focus was elsewhere, I realized. He stood now with his back against the curtain, safely out of the sun. I reached out of the beam of light to take his hand.
"You don't like the sun."
He shook his head. "Is that what's bothering you?" He sunk to sit on the edge of the radiator.
I nodded, squeezing his hand. He looked down at our joined hands. "I don't want to upset you. You were upset during your vision." He tried to release my hand.
The door closed with a soft click. I sat curled into a tight ball on the radiator, rocking back and forth, all alone in the room. The sun continued to stream through the gap in the curtain.
As I refocused, the first thing that I noticed was that I was no longer sitting on the radiator. My cheek lay against Jasper's chest, and I nestled closer. He crushed me to his body, his nose buried in my messy hair. My hands slid along his back, and I ran them up and down, trying to soothe him. We sat in this embrace for a long time before his anxiety finally eased some.
"I hurt you again…" His voice wouldn't have been audible if not for my keen ears.
"I saw you leaving." My own voice wasn't much louder.
"I thought about it," he admitted softly. "I'm sorry…I never want to cause you that much pain again." He kissed the top of my head over and over.
"Please don't leave me." I tightened my grip on him, taking his hand in mine. "I've waited for so long."
"I don't want to," he murmured into my hair. "I'm no good. I just ruin everything. You were sitting there glittering like an angel in the sun—"
"I thought you didn't like the sun?" I looked up at him, curious.
"You," he began, stressing the word, "are beautiful in the sun."
"But you don't like it yourself?" I was trying to put together the pieces.
In a second he was standing, keeping me securely in his arms as he threw open the curtain. He backed up, sitting us on the edge of the bed. I was surprised, but waited for him to make his point.
He held our joined hands up in the bright light. "Your skin sparkles like a diamond. Mine is more like a broken mirror." His voice was full of disgust.
I studied his hand. The sun glittered on his skin, as it did on the skin of all of our kind. Each scar sent the light refracting in a new direction. The effect was mesmerizing. I found it beautiful, even if he didn't.
"I've seen it before you know," I told him, looking up at his face. The smaller, less prominent scars there refracted in a similar way. I kissed a scar on his jaw line, and he tensed. "Sorry."
He scooted us back on the bed. My cheek rest in the crook of Jasper's neck. He leaned back against the rickety headboard. My knees were wrapped around his waist, as he held me up with his forearm curled under my bottom. One of my arms circled his waist, my other hand rest flat on his chest. He held me tightly, his long arm easily wrapping all the way around me.
"They stand out more in the sun…it used to be a punishment…I don't really want to talk about it. That…that is my issue with the sun."
I kissed him softly on the lips. "I think you're beautiful—" he started to cut me off, but I continued. "And I know you don't agree, but please don't be scared about what I think."
He didn't say anything, leaving his mouth pressed to the top of my head. I continued, "I know that I'm not going to change your mind now. I know that. But together, one day at a time…"
"Together," he echoed, inhaling deeply into my hair.
"Love comforteth like sunshine after rain", Venus and Adonis