The cafe was bustling; a pastel pink affair overlooking the beautiful canals of Venice. It was the height of summer, and love saturated the air. Couples young and old had flocked to the picturesque cafe to bask in the warmth of affection.
Alexandra sat at a table outside the cafe, close to the water. Flower petals drifted slowly past, vibrant pinks and purples and reds on the brilliant blue water that lapped against the concrete canal. She smiled shyly at her date, peeking up at him through her long, dark eyelashes.
"I'm really glad I got to see you again, Alex," he said softly, his eyes twinkling. He was good looking, with thick, chocolate brown hair and smooth, olive skin. His eyes were the colour of caramel and he had a wide, easy smile. He placed a strong hand over one of her small, dainty ones.
Her smile widened, crinkling up the corners of her big, grey eyes. "I'm glad too, Carlos. I've had a really great time today," she said. She had a soft voice, the kind that caressed the ears and made one lean forward in hopes of hearing more.
"It's just," Carlos started uncomfortably, his smile fading away. His eyes flickered down to the top of her chest. He cleared his throat. "I, uh... I couldn't help but notice the, uh... on your..." he trailed off.
Unconsciously, Alex's hand reached up to her chest. A huge, jagged scar that started at the base of her right ear ran down her neck to her chest, disappearing under the scalloped neckline of her white sundress. Alex was almost impossibly beautiful, with long strawberry-blonde hair and a slender, delicate frame. Her eyes were beautiful and intelligent, the colour of polished silver, framed by thick black lashes. Her lips were full and pink, revealing even, pearly teeth when she smiled. And she did, often, showing off the dimples in her smooth, tanned cheeks. Her only blemish was that ugly scar, like a gash in her chest.
Throughout the entire date, Carlos had been distracted by it, cutting himself off and glancing down at it with a worried frown before clearing his throat and starting over. The same frown now marred his brow.
"Did... did something happen?" he asked tentatively.
Alex was used to this. Everyone convinced themselves that the pretty little girl had gotten attacked, or had tried to take her own life. They always looked at her with pity, like she was a kicked puppy or something. She'd taken to wearing scarves and turtlenecks whenever she went out, anything to make the pathetic looks stop. But today she didn't care. Today was the anniversary, and she was going to honour the memory.
Come to me...
Aphrodite's footsteps pounded in the silence of the night, her bare feet slipping in the dewy grass. Dammit.
Come to me, love...
His voice was tortured, hurt. Dammit! Her lungs burned for air and her breaths came in short gasps. Pain lanced her sides, making her stumble. She swore as she scrambled back up to her feet, with tears in her eyes. Where was he?
I'm here... come to me –
His sentence was cut short by a groan, and Aphrodite broke into a blind sprint. Tree branches tore at her snow-white dress and snagged at her loose, reddish-blonde hair. She fell again and scraped her hands on a tree root. She ignored the burning sting as she pushed herself up again, leaving bloody prints on the ground.
Please... help me...
Just as she was starting to lose hope, Aphrodite stumbled into a clearing. Sunlight fell in shafts onto the grass; burnishing everything it touched a fiery copper colour. He lay on the grass several feet away from her, his top half illuminated by a shaft of light. She almost tripped over her own feet in her haste to get to him.
"I knew... you would find me," he whispered as she dropped to her knees beside him. Despite his wide grin, his face was ashen and his expression pained.
"Darling, what's wrong?!" Aphrodite asked in a panic, touching his face as her eyes skated over her lover's body. They came to rest on his stomach and she froze, her blood running cold.
His white tunic was torn and stained crimson and his hand, resting over a hole in the cloth, was covered in blood. With quivering fingers, she pried away his hand. A scream caught in her throat, coming out little more than a groan. A wound shaped like a rough circle almost three inches wide oozed blood, so much blood. Her eyes grew wide.
"Oh darling, who did this to you?" Aphrodite croaked, tears leaving streaks on her blotchy cheeks.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed depressions in the grass, leading back into the forest, footprints she'd come to know well over the years. Wild boar tracks. All at once, hatred blazed in her heart. She swore Artemis would die by her hand, no matter how gruesome it was.
Her lover touched her arm with his free hand, as if he could read her mind. "Please love... just stay here... with me."
She's – she's killed you!" Aphrodite said incredulously. "You expect me to sit here and not take our revenge?"
He shook his head, his thick brown hair flopping over his forehead. He was dying, all too quickly, but he still looked so full of life. His tanned skin was radiant and – in the dying light of the sunset – his grey blue eyes burned like fire. The corners of his lips lifted into a smile and shadows formed in his dimples. Aphrodite looked into his eyes, those burning eyes that seemed to reach deep into her soul, and they softened.
"I'm glad." He murmured, raising his free hand and clasping the side of her neck. His hand was bloody but she didn't care. His thumb stroked the skin at her jaw and his fingers wrapped around her delicate neck. She sobbed. "I'm glad... so glad I got to see you one last time... Aphrodite," he whispered.
"Adonis..." she murmured. His grip loosened and his hand trailed down her neck and chest before dropping to his side, limp. It left a streak of blood on her skin.
"My love, my beautiful goddess... I'm begging you, please don't cry," Adonis said. "For I die a happy man..."
Aphrodite looked down at the hand he had over the wound, which she was clasping so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Her hands were still bleeding, and her blood mingled with his. Binding them.
She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, her hair forming a curtain around them. Enclosing them in their own private world. She poured her heart and soul, her love and despair into that kiss, praying that her love would be enough to bring her soul mate back to life. And Adonis, he kissed her back with the same intensity, perhaps more, his warm hand tangled in her hair and pulling her closer. His kiss gave and it took, it worshipped and it bewitched, it was gentle and forceful, all at the same time. They kissed for an eternity and no time at all.
"I love you, Adonis," she whispered when she finally pulled away, her voice raw with sorrow.
He smiled one last time, and as the sun set, the fire in his eyes died and they turned grey blue once more. They were wet with unshed tears. His fingertips skated over the skin of her arm, making her shiver. On his last breath, he murmured.
"I will love you for eternity, my love."
Alex ran her fingertips down the scar. She could almost feel the warm pressure of his fingers there again. Her heart constricted with sorrow, even after all this time. She looked up at Carlos, who looked even more worried. Just then, she realised how much Carlos looked like him, and yet she felt nothing.
It was a shame. Perhaps, if she was another girl, they could have fallen in love. But she was who she was, and for that he could never love her. How could she explain who she was and all that the scar meant to her? How could he even begin to understand?
She shook her head wanly, knowing that their romance – like all the ones that had come before – was over. "No, it's nothing," she said, brushing her hair behind one ear. "It's just... a memento. Of a life I left behind in Greece."