Gerard is overwhelmed. Bob and Claire grow closer.
Gerard’s voice shook, “How do you know?”
“I can feel it.”
He shook his head still in denial. “That’s not possible.”
This was going to be so difficult to explain but she knew he needed to understand. “We have a unique ability that allows us to bond with another.”
He cut her off before she could continue. “Because of the blood?”
Anna realized he didn’t understand at all. “It is true that when we exchange blood there is an unbreakable bond but for us that is not the case. I have known about the tumor since it formed.” She struggled to explain, “I could sense it.”
“If that’s true why the fuck didn’t you tell me sooner?” He demanded.
“The location of the tumor in your brain makes it inoperable. Telling you sooner would not have allowed your medical science handle the situation any differently.”
He shook his head, “You’re not a doctor, you don’t know that. There are other options, not just surgery.”
“I know you do not believe me but there is nothing that can be done.”
“So I’m a fuckin’ walking corpse?” He spat angrily.
Anna accepted his anger. “No, that is what I am.”
Gerard lit another cigarette and took a deep drag. “Fuck.”
“Gee, I am well aware you will not believe me but my words are true. What you are not grasping is that I know these things about you because you are my soul mate. We are given what some consider a great gift. Once we meet our soul mate that person becomes one with us. All the their pain and joy, all of their struggles become ours. But not all experience this and actually many Healers reject this belief. It is said our kind can not feel the human emotion of love. They believe to do so is wrong. So many never find their soul mate.” She smiled sadly, “And in my case I met mine when he was a young boy. Years and years passed while I watched you grow into a man. Every struggle you encountered was also mine.”
He stared at her in disbelief.
“The day you climbed that tree to release the seeds?”
He nodded slowly remembering he’d told her the story.
“I can still feel the fear when, for a brief moment, you teetered high on that branch almost falling to the ground.”
His whole body shook, “I didn’t tell you that part of the story.”
Anna smiled sadly, “No, you did not but it was not necessary for you to tell me because I was there, watching over you.”
“You’ve been watching me? You’re saying that since I was a little boy you’ve followed me?”
“Fuck.” Gerard couldn’t believe this. “That’s insane.” His mind was still reeling. Suddenly something she said echoed in his brain. “You called yourself a Healer?”
“That is the name we have chosen for ourselves because our blood has the unique ability to heal humans. The blood of humans is what a Healer needs to survive but if we give our blood to one who has an ailment, then that person is healed.” She said in answer to the last part of his question, “And no, I was not there every moment of your life but you were always in my thoughts no matter where I traveled. Often I was conflicted. There were times I wanted to intervene yet I did not allow myself to do so. It was my deepest wish that you lived your life on your own terms to the fullest.”
"Why? What would that matter to you?”
“Because I am not a monster Gerard. I was well aware that just because I had a deep love for you did not mean you would feel the same towards me. Sadly as is often the case my kind will recognize their soul mate only to find that the one they love never recognizes them. That is why many of us believe the ability to find a soul mate is a curse we must endure. While a human may love and lose, for us that pain can go on for an eternity.”
He inhaled deeply taking in her words. “But why didn’t you make yourself known to me sooner? Give me a chance to know you?”
“As I said I wanted you to live your life. That was something I never truly had the chance to do.” She looked away, “But there were times when I found myself believing it was time for us to meet. Once….’ Her voice faded.
“I believed it was time. I was terrified of course. The fear that when we met you would feel nothing for me was devastating yet I tried to put that fear aside. You were at a place in your life where I truly believed it was time.”
He sat up in his chair, “When was that?”
“The first date of the PR tour. I had established myself as an author and believed that fact might possibly be interesting to you.”
Gerard’s mind was filled not with memories but of the dream. “I was standing on the side stage. I looked over and saw you.”
Anna nodded, “Yes for a brief moment our eyes met but you turned away and saw her. I could feel the attraction you felt watching her.” Tears filled her eyes, “So I faded back into the shadows of your life.”
Gerard heard the pain in her voice, “Fuck, if only..”
Anna shook her head, “I believe it was your destiny to be with her at that time in your life. It would have been wrong of me to prevent that from happening.”
“It would have been wrong for you to stop me from doing something that turned out to cause me more pain than I’d ever known?”
“Pain is a part of life. Through that pain you grew whether you realize that or not. All through your life pain has fueled your creativity.”
“Fuck that.” He said angrily. “I didn’t need that shit.”
Anna remained silent.
“Wait.” He said suddenly remembering something else she’d said. “You established yourself as an author?”
She nodded, “Yes. And before you ask I will answer. “The End Of Me” was written for you. All the pain you were feeling I released on paper.” She looked down again in shame. “I hope you are not angry with me for making sure you were aware of my writing.”
“How’d you do that?”
“I am able to slip ideas and thoughts into humans minds. I knew that if Mikey recommended a book to you it would be read.”
He gave her a shocked look, “You made Mikey read the book?”
“I did not make him read it, I simply slipped the suggestion into this mind that he might enjoy the book.”
“Holy fuck.” Gerard shook his head. He took another deep drag off his cigarette, “And I thought I was crazy all the times I told myself that the book seemed like it was written about me. It was like someone had crawled inside my head and poured out all my thoughts.”
“It was written for you.” Anna whispered. “I used all the pain you were feeling because I too felt that pain. However the ending was written in hopes that it would help you realize you could move on.”
“I don’t know what to fuckin’ say. I just keep thinking I’m gonna wake up and find out this was all some fuckin’ nightmare.”
His words tore at Anna’s heart. “I am sorry.”
Gerard realized how his words had sounded. “I don’t regret knowing you it’s just shit, I don’t know how to explain this.” He snubbed out his cigarette angrily, “Fuck, I don’t want to die.”
“It does not have to happen. I can heal you but there are things you must understand if you accept.”
He narrowed his eyes, “I will become like you?”
She shook her head, “No, you do not understand. It is a rarity now for a human to be turned and frankly it is frowned upon. I am considered very young and would be held accountable if I turned a human.”
“Accountable? You mean you’d get into some kind of trouble?”
“Yes,” She admitted, “I would be called on to answer for my actions.” She couldn’t help but shudder at that thought. “Simply by being seen with you I have drawn attention to myself and there are many who are not pleased by my actions.”
“You are known to many. As I have said it is frowned on when we draw attention to ourselves.”
He saw that she looked very upset. “When you took off that was because of me wasn’t’ it?”
“Yes that is why I was summoned by Jacob. He was concerned about my welfare.”
“Because you’re with me.”
“Yes.” Anna admitted. “In doing so I have drawn attention to myself. Others like me can sense you are dying so they assume I will do something to prevent that from happening.”
Hearing her say he was dying again caused his body to shudder.
“So you can just heal me and that’s that?” He wanted to believe she could truly stop it from happening.
Anna sighed, “I wish it could be that simple. I wish I could just heal you and nothing between us would change.”
“If you heal me something is gonna change?”
“If it is your decision that I should heal you there will be consequences for both of us. I will be bound by our laws to control you.”
He pulled out another cigarette but stopped short. “Control me?”
She had to make sure he understood. “What I have told you must never be revealed to another human. You can tell no one. If you spoke of this it would be my duty to silence you. Then I would face punishment for your actions because you were one of my own.”
Gerard lit the cigarette quickly and took a drag, “So if I told anyone any of this we both would be in trouble.”
“That is putting it mildly but yes.”
“I think I’m missing something. You heal me and I keep my mouth shit. Then there’s no problem, right?”
“You need to understand completely what it would mean. If I heal you there will be a very deep blood bond between us. You will belong to me just as I belong to Jacob. Just a Claire belongs to me.”
“Claire? She’s like you?”
Anna shook her head, “Claire is mine because we share a blood bond. I found her when she was a small child. She had been beaten and was fading but I was able to save her. Up until a certain moment we can stop death. I did not turn her she is quite human. Yet because of the bond she is my responsibility. She knows the truth about me and would protect me just as I would do anything to protect her.”
“Whoa you found her when she was a little kid?”
“Yes, for years the relationship we have shared has been like that of a mother and daughter. At first I took her into the home I shared with Jacob. Later as I traveled she was always at my side. She has grown up knowing the truth about me.”
“Holy fuck.” Gerard uttered. “And Bob don’t know any of this?”
“He can never know. Claire understands that. Her silence protects not just herself but Bob and me. When she was in her early twenties I granted her freedom. She has stayed with me by choice. However I can sense her feeling towards Bob and I know in my heart that soon she will leave me.”
Gerard sat back in the chair and thought for several minutes before asking. “So if you heal me we become bonded.” He was thinking out loud, “I will stay human but I will know shit I can never tell.” He saw Anna nod slightly. “I still don’t completely understand this I will belong to you shit. Are you saying you will be in control of my life? You will call all the shots?”
Anna was offended, “Do you really believe I would do such a thing?”
“Shit I don’t know. I mean I just found out you’ve been following me around since I was little. You are not the woman I thought I knew a few hours ago.”
“The woman you believe you had fallen in love with.” Anna’s voice was laced with pain. “I understand this is all a shock to you. I never wanted it to be this way. I wanted you to love me for the person I am. Now that is all gone. Your words speak the truth. I am not the woman you thought you knew but I am the woman who can save your life.” She suddenly stood then started for the balcony door.
“Anna, wait.” He was on his feet. “I didn’t mean it to sound like that. I just need some time to think about all of this.”
She spoke without turning, “Yes, I understand. You have a very important choice to make.”
“What happens if I refuse?” He whispered.
“You will remember none of this. I will erase it all from you mind. You will go to the doctor tomorrow and learn you have a brain tumor.”
“You can do that?”
Anna closed her eyes, “Yes. I have that ability.”
“So why didn’t you just heal me without asking?”
Anna took a deep breath, “I could have healed you without your consent. You would never have known about the tumor and we would be bonded. Perhaps that is what I should have done.”
“Why didn’t you?”
She turned around and he saw the tears in her eyes. “I knew if I healed you your emotions towards me would be strong.” She paused as a single tear rolled down her cheek, “But I wanted you to feel that way without the bond. I just wanted you to love me. It was foolish of me but I just wanted to believe that you could love the woman I still want to believe I am. The girl who was born in Colorado, loved her family, that human part of me is gone forever but at times the memory is still so strong. That girl died in a alley and the woman you see now is an empty shell.”
He watched her in silence as she walked back inside her shoulders slumped. Part of him so badly wanted to follow her, he knew she was hurting. Yet he just couldn’t. He sat back down and closed his eyes.
Claire walked back into the kitchen her face completely devoid of makeup. She moved to the kitchen island and took her previous seat.
Bob had just finished transferring the fried ground beef to a bowl. He smiled when he turned to her. “Hey, you gotta get those tomatoes done.”
“Yes.” Claire nodded and picked up the knife. She was relived he was acting as if nothing had happened.
Together they finished the dinner than sat down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Claire took her first bite of her taco and moaned, “This is so good.”
Bob laughed, “Yeah, we did good. Tacos are one of my favorite foods.”
Claire took another bite, then another.
It pleased Bob to see her enjoying herself. Looking across at her he was amazed how different she looked. Without makeup she had a fresh wholesome look he found very alluring. “So tomorrow we sightsee then stop by my moms.” Not wanting Claire to become nervous about the visit with his mom he added quickly, “And then, if you’d like, tomorrow night for dinner I’ll grill us up some steaks. I grill a mean steak with a secret seasoning.”
“That sounds excellent.” Claire answered reaching for another taco. Suddenly she stopped, “Oh we forgot about the nachos.”
“I figured we’d have them while we watch the movie.”
She brightened, “Oh good idea.”
“Course I gotta admit I am sorta hoping since we picked out a horror movie you’re gonna wanna snuggle.” He saw her confused look, “You know so I can protect you during the scary parts.”
“Horror movies do not frighten me.” She answered honestly. Her life up to this point was responsible for that. She knew true horror like he would never know. A moment later she realized her answer had been wrong. “But I look forward to snuggling anyway.”
Bob grinned, “Good cause I’ve been wanting to touch you all day.”
Claire wasn’t expecting that comment. She almost dropped her taco. “You have?”
She smiled then looked down slightly embarrassed. “I have felt the same way.”
Bob knew if he didn’t change the subject the desire he was feeling was going to become painful. “Uh, want another taco?”
“No.” Claire looked up. “I want you.”
He wiped his fingers on his napkin. “Now?” He whispered.
She nodded. “Yes, now.”
The remains of their dinner sat forgotten on the table as they walked hand in hand towards his bedroom.