Women are mysterious creatures. Even Catherine knew that. She was the biggest mystery of all. Even to herself.
“Your energy. It has…changed.” Catherine tightened her fingers in Rogers’. His fingers remained mute; eyes looked to the same sky she searched above the cliff upon which they sat.
“I don’t know what you mean. Silly girl.” He forced a smile and turned his head to her.
She dipped her chin, gave a quick shake of her head. Her sad smile told him she knew. “You, of all people, know silly I am not. This is a sad day for me.”
“Darling. My dear—”
Catherine squeezed his hand quick, her voice hard. “No. Do not deny it. As sure as I feel your fingers entwine mine, your energy changed. Of course this means I shall die at your hands.”
His spine went rigid and his face, cold. “It’s not you I want to kill, Darling. It’s that I must kill and we’ve been isolated for so long and no other…opportunity has presented itself…” His voice trailed off and he gave a small shrug as if to say You understand, surely?
“Oh, yes. Yes. I understand. I am, if anything, understanding. But you knew that when we met, didn’t you? You knew I could — Would! Did! — forgive your sins as no other because I, yes, I am understanding.”
“Darling Catherine. You’re making me feel bad.”
At that she turned her face to his and laughed bitterly. “Bad? Bad, Rogers? You don’t feel bad. No one can make you feel bad. Do not, at the time of my death, lie to me. You owe me truth. You owe me truth. Me! The Understanding One.“
So used to looking inside himself and seeing the worst truth of his evil, such a tiny white lie, given to make her feel good, Rogers found it hard to dodge. “Yes, you. The Understanding One. Tell me, please, what truth do you seek?”
“At this moment, tell me…do you feel guilt? No. Remorse, then? No. Shame? Still no? Then in what way do you feel bad? That’s right. You do not.” Catherine leaned into him, laying her free hand over their entwined fingers. “What do you feel? Truth! Do not attempt to spare my feelings or gain my cooperation in order to make your…task…any easier.”
“Catherine, I love you. You know this. But I simply have a dark need. It must be fed. You are the only thing near.”
“So you kill me because I am a woman?”
“No, anyone would do, but we have been alone so long.”
“So, you kill me because I am at hand.”
“Yes! Yes, at hand. As our favorite detective would say, Exactament!”
“Ah!” Catherine smiled. “Hercule Poirot.”
Rogers laughed. “You could always say his name perfectly.”
“I did practice it a lot in my youth.” Her smile faded. His remained but became more difficult to maintain. It simply faded as her sad and oh-so-very understanding eyes stared at him. “Tell me. Truth! What do you feel now?”
Tiny white lies would no longer work. Telling the truth to this woman at this time was beyond difficult. He remained mute.
“Come on, Rogers. What do you feel now?”
From previously loving eyes, Evil stared at her. “Frustrated, my dear. Frustrated that you keep talking. Why do you do this?”
“Darling Rogers, it’s not my place to make your task easier. Besides, of the two of us sitting here at this moment in time, which has the bigger weight to carry? Why yes, dear little boy, that would be me.”
Rogers had never quite heard such hardness in her voice. He wondered what it meant. Meant for him. Meant for her. Women were mysterious creatures. This one more than any he’d ever met. This one he fell in love with. Yes, yes, yes! Fell head over heels in love and promised to himself that never again would he perpetuate such evil deeds as he had in the past.
Her voice interrupted his reverie. “Rogers!”
“Rogers, I have no illusions that somehow I will trick you into letting me push you off the cliff. I have no illusions that you will spare my life. You are too smart for any tricks I might vainly attempt. I’ve never had illusions about anything, including myself. I…I had tricked myself into thinking that, somehow, my love — my understanding — would bring you the freedom to cast your demons aside, but I can see that was only my ego talking. ‘Pride goeth before a fall.’ Isn’t that what they say? And here I am, ready to fall.”
“Darling Catherine. If there was any other way to spare you the pain, but —”
“There isn’t. I know. Part of what feeds you is my knowing that you know that I know I shall die. Ha!” Catherine’s sharp bitter laugh pushed into the wind. “I’ve always wanted to say that string of words. I know that you know that I know. Ha!”
“No, you are not.”
“Okay. I’m not sorry. Yes, at this time you are feeding the need in me. I like it.”
“Finally! Truth from your lips.”
“If there was any other way, you know I would do it.”
Catherine stood. “Well, come on, then. Let’s get this thing done. I do not like to leave to tomorrow what must be done today.”
Rogers stood. “Shall I push you?”
Catherine stepped toward him. “Rogers. Let us look one more time at the view we’ve enjoyed so much. And, my darling, will you please indulge me one last time?” Her body pressed against his. “Kiss me. Kiss me as you did that first time under the bridge at Krog.”
This situation was all new territory for Rogers. He was not used to such a thing, but damn it if he didn’t love the woman. If only this need of his could be contained. He looked into her eyes. He saw her want and her need. His love for her shone once more. She smiled, twined her arms around his neck, slid fingers through his hair. Her lips parted and her head fell back. He bent his mouth to hers.
Oh, yes, yes, yes. This was just like the kiss at Krog. He felt her knees buckle from passion. He bent over her body, holding all her weight in his arms. He remembered picking her up and carrying her into a dark recess in the tunnel where he took the love she offered so willingly. His passion rose. She gave a sharp tug. Yes, yes, she was pulling him into her. Memories…in the corners of his mind…misty water-colored mem—
But his scream was too late.