He felt a genuine kindred towards this woman that knelt across the coffee table, pouring tea from a delicately designed pot into an equally exquisite cup. The teaspoon tinkled a lilting song as she stirred the hot liquid. The firelight played bewitchingly against the fine bone china. Shadows danced along the walls. He watched her every movement intently. Full of grace, she fluently performed a ritual that she had seemingly done a hundred times or more. Long fingernails painted blood red augmented soft hands that hinged on dainty wrists. Surprisingly void of any ornamentation, her fingers bespoke a heritage of royalty or perhaps a higher commission.
He noted how she had bent over at the waist, lingering for a moment to afford him a glimpse of the top of her ample breasts. The dirk had slipped from within the confines of her cleavage to dangle seductively from the chain around her neck; the way her tongue had glided over her pink lips, serpent like, the trace of a smirk curling the corner of her mouth. His heart had lurched as she tossed her long red hair over her shoulder with a subtle movement of her head.
In the muted light of the lamp, accented by a few candles and the flickering tongues of the fireplace, her long mane-like hair had taken on an auburn radiance that fanned around her head like a crown. It was like looking at an old photograph, the edges cracked and brittle by time but the image still very much clear. She had yet to tell him her name. He wondered what it might be. He was usually good at guessing, but not this time. She remained hidden behind a mask of mystery that intrigued him.
Taking the cup from her with both hands and bringing it to his lips, he allowed the hot tea to swirl briefly around his tongue before it flowed down his throat. Almost instantly, the heat radiated downwards and outwards, chasing away the chilly tendrils that had wrapped it's fingers around his frame. He took one more long sip and sat back.
"Thank you", he said, exhaling softly.
"How is it?", she queried. Her voice had softened. She rocked back on her haunches, resting on her heels.
"It is perfect m'lady. Thank you again". He took another sip. The bitter tannins and the sticky sweetness blended in a melange of comfort and simple pleasure. No one made tea the way it was supposed to anymore. Not until now anyway.
"It has been a very long time since someone has served me tea, even made it to my satisfaction".
He sat back, sinking into the soft sofa almost groaning out aloud as the cushions embraced him like the loving bosom of a mother holding a crying child.
He closed his eyes to savour the moment. It lasted but a moment. With an almost tangible percussion of a thunder clap, the tortured cries of a thousand wretched souls whose dying breaths had borne him for centuries, surged through him like a raging river, swollen and muddied by monsoon rains. It pressed down on him and his mind flayed desperately to surface, his chest heaving from the effort. He dragged in a deep shuddering breath. He was tired, he was weary. He felt alone. Mired in this ugly predatory will to survive his bones ached with a deep chill that not even the fires of hell could ever relieve. More and more these days it seemed that his own immortality was catching up with him. How much longer could he go on like this. How far could he carry this forsaken loneliness that gripped him with a scabrous knotted black claw . How it hurt more and more these days as it wrapped around his heart. It just seemed to draw the very life out of him. Some days he hoped that it would. There were days when he wished he could close his eyes and sleep forever. If only redemption was as sweet as the tea he sipped on.
He snapped his eyes open.
She was watching him closely, her deep emerald eyes unwavering as they gazed at him, her expression unreadable in the low light.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes I am", he whispered, leaning forward to place the tea cup on the table. He ran long fingers through his hair.
"What were you thinking?"
"Life". He was a man of few words.
She tried to change the subject. "What exactly were you doing lurking in the cemetery? Is this a regular occurrence?" There was an impish inflection in her voice.
"The truth is, I was relieving myself. Too much to, well...drink". He smirked adding his own insidious tone.
"Is drinking then a regular occurrence?", she countered.
"You ask too many questions, my lil' vixen". He crossed his legs. "My turn now. I think it's time you told me your name, isn't it? after all I haven't insulted your tea".
"When you told me your name was Dirk, did you just make that up?" Her hand went to her throat and a flicker of distrust had crossed her features.
"No I didn't. Do you believe in coincidences?"
"I believe in many things". She stared at him for a long moment as if trying to make a decision. Another shadow flitted behind her green eyes and she exhaled in a sort of hesitant trust - or was it acceptance.
She extended her hand. "Rebecca...and equally pleased to meet you too"
He took her hand then, so soft and cool to the touch. It was like holding a small wren. So delicate was her touch. Little electric jolts like the panic-stricken beats of it's tiny heart trickled from his palm, running upwards to beat a tattoo inside his head.
"Rebecca. A beautiful name.
"Thank you. I have a certain affinity to it too" Witty as well as beautiful.
"From the Hebrew word for 'captivating'. In Aramic it loosely means 'snare'. Which one are you?"
She smiled, the light dancing in her eyes, merrily infectious. She wasn't going to answer him. His heart thudded painfully within his chest. His mouth was dry. He took another sip of the steaming tea and patted the cushion beside him. "Please. I would rather you sit next to me. The floor is cold. And I don't bite". His smile widened. That charming little-boy grin revealing a glimpse of perfectly sculptured teeth.
"Well not on the first date anyway"