Eve couldn’t quite believe the situation she now found herself in. The night was young. The street below the hotel room was strangely quiet for the time of day, as though the whole world wanted to give them some privacy.
Tonight, she was sharing Villanelle’s bed and not for the first time, if Eve wanted to be wholly accurate. Eve wasn’t sure she wanted to be accurate. The phrase sharing a bed had double entendres she wasn’t totally comfortable with. In the past, the second meaning hadn’t applied. Tonight, however, there was no avoiding the truth.
The truth was that Eve hadn’t come here to fuck Villanelle senseless or to murder her. She couldn’t even say that she had come here with noble intentions of making things right with her or simply seeing her again, tying up loose ends. Eve wasn’t sure what the truth of her intentions was anymore. She knew that she wanted to meet with Villanelle again, on her own terms this time, and that was all.
She couldn’t say for certain why, but whys didn’t seem to matter much anymore.
Tonight, she had Villanelle exactly where she wanted her. It had taken some time, nearly a year, and a great deal of work, but Eve had finally gotten ahead of her little bastard. It had taken everything: all the money she had, every relationship, but she was finally one step ahead.
She knew she had taken Villanelle by surprise. Who would have guessed the former assassin turned freelance killer would spend a weekend in Barcelona getting punch drunk and taking poppers? If any of her clients found out they would kill her or else cut off all ties and leave her destitute, which essentially amounted to the same thing. But none of Villanelle’s employers cared what she did in her free time so long as she was available when they needed her.
None of them knew or cared to know her the way that Eve did. If they had looked hard enough, done the same mildly illegal digging that she had done and that they were certainly capable of, they would have found her too, drinking and swaying with party girls in tight dresses, their boyfriends who had had too much to drink, and tourists who found her alluring.
It was all too easy to slip a sedative into Villanelle’s drink. Nothing too strong, nothing to interfere with whatever toxins were already floating around in her system, just enough to make her tired, agreeable, and unconscious by the time they made it back to Villanelle’s hotel room.
When Eve finally approached her on the dancefloor, crossing the floor slowly, smoothly even through the crowd of dancing people, with the lights flashing in the dark illuminating faces for a moment before they were gone the next, she thought of that night in Berlin. She wondered if Villanelle had felt the same way she did now; a little breathless, a bit surprised, but so sure of herself that there wasn’t a doubt in her mind. There were certainly no whys.
When Villanelle finally saw her there in front of her and looked down into Eve’s face, she looked like she had seen the face of God, her eyes wide and innocent and her lips parted in an ‘o’. Blissed out on whatever she had taken, the liquor she had imbibed and Eve’s sedative slowly taking hold. Eve cherished the look on her face, took joy in it, especially as it faded it confusion and dawning horror.
“Come with me,” Eve said, guiding Villanelle by the arm.
“No,” Villanelle said, even as she began walking with her. The drugs had taken hold and she was Eve’s creature now.
Eve stood at the foot of her bed now. As planned, Villanelle was knocked out, sleeping peacefully. If not for the odd angle of her arms and the uncomfortable-looking position of her legs, Villanelle might have fallen asleep on her own, perhaps after one too-hard night too many. But the position was surely painful, even someone as far gone as all that would have rolled over and made themselves right again.
She wondered if she should fix Villanelle herself. Arrange her body on the bed, fix her hair, tuck her in. But the thought of actually touching her wasn’t she wasn’t really there was repulsive. Eve was glad to find a line she wouldn’t cross. She had thought that Villanelle had similar lines once, now she wasn’t sure.
The sedative would wear off any minute now and Eve wasn’t sure what she was going to do when it did. She held the knife in her hand not like a shield, as she once might have, but as though it were a puzzle to solve, something she wasn’t sure she had the answer to. The point of it made a shallow cut in her fingertips as she handled it and blood bloomed to the surface. Villanelle stirred on the bed even as she raised it to her lips to suck it.
She wasn’t awake yet, but she was coming to. Her body contorted slowly into more comfortable positions but couldn’t seem to find one it wanted to stay in. She moaned once and then twice, first so quietly that Eve had been certain that she had imagined it and then louder, a frustrated and petulant sound that made Eve wonder if Villanelle was cognizant.
It was only then that Eve put the knife down and turned her attention to the rope she had brought with her. With the four lengths of it she had prepared, she bound Villanelle’s wrists to the four corners of the bed. Villanelle, not quite awake yet but on her way, struggled a little but not enough to make Eve stop.
When Eve had finished, she sat down in a chair in front of the window, facing the bed. She wanted to be ready for when Villanelle woke again. She wanted to see the way the moonlight from the open window illuminated her face when she realized what was happening, where she was, and who had done this to her.
Eve handled the knife again, still not sure what she was going to do with it.
The look on Villanelle’s face fell short of Eve’s expectations. She hadn’t considered the fact that Villanelle might be too tired and groggy for the surprise and shock that Eve wanted to see. Eve would have to content herself with that precious look she had gleaned from her in that moment at the club, when the lights had turned white and diffused and time seemed to stand still for the both of them.
“What do you want?” asked Villanelle. She sounded older, her voice raspy from cigarettes or amyl nitrate or the year that had passed between them. When Eve took the time to really look at her, not even the moonlight could change the fact that Villanelle looked older too. Perhaps that was the price you paid for leaving a nice job and a handler who cared for you.
“You,” Eve answered. She stood and frowned when Villanelle laughed at her.
Villanelle had the audacity to smile at her with bleary eyes. “You made it very clear that you didn’t want me. And that’s why I’ve left you alone.”
She tried to sit up in bed and learned her arms and legs were tied. With that strange sense of humor they now shared, Villanelle laughed harder.
Villanelle did her best to right herself but didn’t get very far. When she gave up, she relaxed into the sheets with a luxurious sigh, as though there was no place she would rather be. “I knew you’d come back to me. I knew you were mine.”
Eve stepped to the edge of the bed, knife held loose in her hand but kept out of sight. “That’s not true.”
The fatigue, the drugs, the hilarity of the situation she found herself in made Villanelle verbose. “Then why are you here? Why did you track me down? I’m nothing anymore, Eve, no one. If you cared about tracking down assassins and righting wrongs you would be anywhere else. But you are nothing too. Nothing without me.”
Eve might have tried to refute that, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t stop Villanelle’s words from being true simply because she didn’t want them to be. So she didn’t try to argue with Villanelle, she simply placed the knife to her throat.
The cold steel of the blade didn’t quite make the cut into the soft skin of her throat. The pressure was barely there, just enough so that she could know it was there and perhaps fear it.
Villanelle looked up at her, the faintest hints of ecstasy lined the features of her face. There was something innately Russian about this look, something about its familiarity with death.
“What’s this?” she asked.
Villanelle rolled her eyes. “And what are you going to do with it?”
She sounded almost excited, like they were about to play a game. It would figure that the kind of games Villanelle liked were played with sharp objects.
“I don’t know yet,” said Eve honestly. Her voice was flat and even, and though she was proud of it, her confidence and her precision, a small part of her still couldn’t help but be disgusted by it. She shouldn’t be calm, she was holding a knife. One false move and there would be blood everywhere; all over her, all over the sheets, and all over Villanelle. She knew how it felt, to have thick, hot blood on her hands, the way it never really came off and stayed under her fingernails for days, the way there was always more of it than ever seemed possible it just kept coming in a steady pour as she had failed to hit a major artery the last time.
She remembered what it felt like when the knife had gone in, when the muscles and tissues and the fibers of her clothes had given up their resistance and given in to the sharp contours of her knife on another day, in another place, on the same person.
Eve didn’t leave the knife pressed to Villanelle’s throat. Holding the knife there, at a weak and incredibly vulnerable point made Eve realize for certain that she didn’t want to kill Villanelle. So she moved the knife elsewhere, she experimented.
The only problem with experimenting was that Villanelle was wearing far too much. There was nowhere for the knife to go, nothing for it to do, no way to really get to Villanelle underneath an armor of couture.
The knife sliced through Villanelle’s blouse with ease, the gauzy fabric never standing much of a chance at all. She left it with a few knew sheds in it, not enough to take it off, just enough to mark it, to make it hers. The blazer she was wearing was a little bit more difficult to get through. It was made of a thick, luxury material that Eve couldn’t name. Brocade perhaps? She managed to hack her way through it, prizing it from Villanelle in rags and tossing it onto the floor.
Villanelle watched her as she worked, making hardly a noise of protest. When Eve had first started upon her, she had asked what Eve thought she was doing, but when Eve hadn’t answered she simply watched, mesmerized, perhaps afraid, and in awe of her.
When the jacket came off and the bare skin of her arms was exposed, Eve knelt over her on the mattress, gazing down at all that she had done and all that was still left to do. She was breathing a bit harder by now, from the effort it took to saw through the rich material and the excitement of it all.
“Go on then,” Villanelle said when she saw that Eve had paused. “Do it.”
The ambiguous wording should have left Eve confused, but she knew exactly what Villanelle meant. They spoke the same language now, perhaps a tongue only the two of them knew.
She leaned down, nearly laying on top of her, trying to figure out the right angle for the job. The soft mattress moved underneath her, but she was careful to steady herself.
Villanelle could have moved any time she wanted to. She could have kicked and screamed and Eve would have stopped, perhaps she would have even been caught. But Villanelle didn’t do any of those things. She sighed when the knife bit into the pale skin of her upper arm. She flattened that part of her as best she could against the bed and tried not to move.
The first stroke wasn’t deep, none of them would be. It was about as thin and light as Eve could make it, but hopefully enough to leave a scar. After the first downstroke of the knife, she looked at Villanelle and caught her eye. She was breathing through her mouth just like Eve, as though they were two souls connected and their bond was realized physically in their synchronous breathing.
Villanelle nodded when their eyes meant, telling her to go on. She rolled her bottom lip in her teeth and in that moment Eve thought she looked so desperate for it, so needy. There was nothing else for it but to kiss her.
Her lips were soft even if the force behind it was hard. Villanelle still tied to the bed had nowhere to go, no leverage to use to pin Eve down or push up against her. She was totally at Eve’s mercy when it came to just how much to give her, how far to take things.
Eve wanted this and wanted it badly, but she also wanted to hurt Villanelle, to leave her aching and wanting more.
Her fingers fisted in Villanelle’s hair. She pulled it back so that Villanelles chin lifted, her neck arched back. Villanelle grinned, feral and beautiful thing. Not completely comfortable at the thought of being at the mercy of another human being, but ready to see where Eve wanted to take this.
The next three strokes of the knife came in quick succession. Villanelle hissed in pain as the last went a little too deep. Eve turned to look at her, suddenly feeling caught in some primal state, drinking water cupped hands by a stream or gnawing on a bone. But Villanelle smiled at her, and that instinctual fear fled.
Eve wiped away the blood with a clean white towel. She didn’t need it everywhere, on the sheets and getting in the way of her work. The next few cuts happened less quickly and more carefully. Eve took the time to dab at each one before moving on to the next.
She couldn’t be sure if the cuts would scar. They were deep enough to leave a mark, but not deep enough to cause lasting pain. Perhaps in order to really leave a mark, she would have to repeat the process, once the arm began to heal.
“Am I allowed to look?” asked Villanelle.
“No,” said Eve, still staring at what she had done and what there was left to do. Then she looked at Villanelle. “No peeking.”
She gave her right arm a break and stole another kiss. This one was slow and gentle. Villanelle moaned deep in her throat, a sound that turned to a growl when Eve pulled away for the second time.
Villanelle’s expression was caught somewhere between baring her teeth and pouting, she couldn’t seem to decide between anger and petulance. “Are you almost done?”
“Almost,” Eve murmured.
The last four cuts were slow and precise. In the second half of her work, Eve tried her best to make everything even and symmetrical, or at least as even as her handwriting and shoddy knifework allowed. Still, when she leaned back from it and gave it another wipe with the bloody towel, she knew it was perfect.
“Do you want to see it?” asked Eve, already aware of the answer.
Eve untied Villanelle’s left arm allowing her to prop herself up and get a better look at the brand on her right arm. Eve moved to sit on the side of the bed as Villanelle sat up and examined her arm.
Villanelle ran her fingers along the letters. Her index finger pressed down lightly along the lines drawing new blood from the fresher cuts.
“E-V-E,” she spelled out as she traced each letter. She couldn’t take her eyes away from the new marks on her arm and Eve couldn’t take her eyes off of her.
For a moment, the spell, the dark magic that had compelled her to do this was broken, waiting for Villanelle’s reaction. All of her doubts, the innocence that had left her in the past year came flooding back. Had she done the right thing?
Eve didn’t know how she expected Villanelle to act, she couldn’t even say for certain how she wanted Villanelle to act. But when Villanelle angled her head down to kiss the injured skin along the inside of her bicep, Eve felt her heart grow within her.
She leaned in to kiss Villanelle, with one hand resting along her jaw, supporting and keeping Villanelle right there with her. Her lips tasted of salt and iron, the few drops of blood she had picked up from her arm.
Villanelle reached for her too, with the one arm unbound, free to touch Eve, pull her hair, dig her nails like claws into Eve’s back.
“Thank you,” said Villanelle, coming up for air. Her face was wet with a few tears and when Eve noticed, she almost stopped completely. For the first time all night, she was in horror of what she had done.
Then Villanelle leaned in close again, attempting to continue, and Eve knew that her work was not yet done.
She crawled on top of Villanelle again. Her hips on top of her hips, her knees placed on either side of her waist. Eve helped take her blouse off as best they could with one arm still tied to the bed frame. Then Eve moved back, between Villanelle’s legs with her own feet now on the floor, her fingers working at the button and zipper of Villanelle’s trousers.
Villanelle’s knees moved closer together almost instinctually, allowing Eve to slip the pants farther down her legs. For the panties, Eve brought the knife out again, the blood along the blade already dry. They gave way even easier than the blouse had.
Then Eve spread Villanelle’s legs apart again. She just barely caught sight of Villanelle’s eyes and the top of her head from down here, but she knew what Villanelle wanted. The free left hand that grabbed the hair Villanelle loved so much and pushed Eve’s head closer told her exactly what Villanelle wanted. And she always had been a spoiled brat.
This was not Eve’s first time with a woman. There had been others in the year since they had seen each other. They were women Eve was attracted to, she had thought them pretty, or powerful, or enticing. But none of them was Villanelle, a fact that had led Eve to Barcelona, to Villanelle all over again.
The bed creaked as Villanelle moved against her restraints. Her back arched with the right flick of Eve’s tongue, her hips reached skyward as she tried to heighten the sensation. Eve’s tongue wasn’t enough, not now that she was so far gone.
“You still think about me,” said Villanelle in gasps.
Eve didn’t answer. She didn’t have to, what a ridiculous thing to say. Of course, Eve still thought about her, this stupid, brilliant woman every day. Her thoughts of Villanelle had become a constant companion over their year apart. In the morning, she thought about what Villanelle must be doing; where was she, was it morning where she was, was she eating breakfast, having a lie in, was it night, or the afternoon, had she been working, what was she doing now, had she just killed someone, is she thinking about me to, has she forgotten me already, does she miss me?
Villanelle said that as though she didn’t know that she had embedded herself in Eve’s soul and grown there, planted a seed inside of her and let the roots take hold. She was a kind of dark and evil flower inside of her, one that Eve loved and watered and despised all at once.
When Villanelle was hot and wet, Eve pressed her fingers inside, they curled up towards the sky and curled back towards her. At first, she let the sensation speak for itself, withdrawing her mouth and letting Villanelle’s clitoris rest for a moment. Villanelle, above her, was sweating and aching, her hands grasping at the sheets.
Then Eve brought her mouth back to Villanelle and sealed everything, this whole blessed and wicked night with a kiss.
Villanelle shuddered against the mattress when she came back down. She looked lovely with a sheen of sweat and her hair in disarray. Eve liked her better this way. Too often in her experience with Villanelle, the assassin had arrived looking flawless, her clothes, hair, and make-up a perfect armor against the world. It was better to see her like this, without artifice.
Eve gave her one last kiss, something chaste but meaningful on the top of her forehead. Villanelle’s eyes opened and looked up to see her too late, too late to stop her from leaving, too late to make Eve kiss somewhere else, too late to kiss Eve somewhere else, or to get Eve to take the rest of the ropes off and give Villanelle a turn.
She had almost expected Villanelle to make a fuss, throw a tantrum to make Eve stay. But Villanelle sat up halfway, as far as her bonds allowed her to go, and she watched Eve go.
They would see each other again when the time was right. They belonged to each other now, after all.