Sunday, March 11, 2012

Some time later....

"That was intense."

"Yeah." I grin crookedly. "I guess we just answered that age-old question."

"Which is?"

"How much fun can you have without having sex?"

She laughs throatily, causing some interesting movement on her upper torso. I watch appreciatively till it passes. Then -

"Damn, I want you. This isn't going to be easy, is it?"

"No, it's not. I don't suppose you'd consider 'friends with benefits' on a renewable basis."

"I think we'd just end up renewing over and over. That wouldn't solve anything."

I sigh. "Does it help if I tell you that it's very hard...? not throwing caution to the winds and making love with you right now?"

She smiles weakly, her voice tremulous. "That may just be the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me." Then she looks down and grins. "Looks likes that's not the only thing that's really hard!"

"Awww, you noticed!"

"Well, it's really kinda hard to miss...."

"Yeah... I kinda expect it to be like this so long as we lie here like this."

"Unless we do something about it...."

"Well, yeah, there's that...."

"Jack, we have to do something about this. We have to either make love or get dressed and do something else. What do you want to do?"

"Eira, I want what you want. The real question is, what's the right thing to do?"

"Is this a private conversation, or can anyone join in?"

I jump. Beside me, Eira jumps too.

Kathy slowly materializes, grinning. Even a guy who can see ghosts can be startled if he doesn't expect them, and I generally don't expect them to show up in my bedroom when I'm entertaining a lady. She's wearing a minidress and matching pumps... nice to see she's kept up with the fashions.

"How long have you been watching us?"

"Since you stumbled in here looking like a pair of drowned rats."

Eira rolls her eyes. "Kathy the Friendly Voyeur."

"Hey, be nice! What else do you think there is to do in Ghostland, join self-help groups?" She looks at us curiously. "Looks like all the parts are there and functioning... why aren't you guys doing it?"


"What? You're young - well, you are, Jack's really old but everything still works - you're healthy, you're horny. What's the problem?"

Eira shifts uneasily. "Maybe we should get dressed... this feels really weird."

"I can fix that," Kathy says, and a second later the minidress disappears, leaving her in nothing but pumps and ectoplasm. "There," she says, "now we're all even. So, getting back to the point - what's the problem?"

Incredibly, Eira blushes. "The problem is that I don't want to be just one of Jack's girls."

"You're complicating things. Do you love him?"

The red deepens another couple of shades and I begin to fear that we're moving into exploding-head territory. "Well? Do you or don't you?"

Eira damn near chokes, but she manages to say, "I think I'm starting to."

"That's a good thing - so let's talk about love for a minute. You can love different people in different ways. Love for your parents is different from your love for your siblings, which is different from what you feel for your lovers - but it's all love, and it's all equally real. Jack here has a problem with love because he's lost a lot of people he loved. You don't stop loving someone because they're gone - and it hurts. A lot." She smiles. "I've been dead for more than two hundred years, but Jack still loves me."

"Is there a point in there somewhere?"

"Absolutely. Jack doesn't do casual sex. It may seem that way - but in fact, Jack cares for everyone he's shared a bed or tabletop or whatever with."

Now I'm the one that's blushing. "Hey, I'm sitting right here!"

"Lighten up." She continues as if I hadn't spoken - story of my life. "Jack does care; he cares intensely, maybe too intensely, and the proof of that is that he's denied himself a real relationship for more than sixty years because he can't stand losing someone else he loves."

"Are you telling me that on some level, he loves Patti? And K'thyri?"

"He's sitting right there. Ask him."

Eira turns inquiring eyes on me and I suddenly feel like a charter member of the Foot-in-Mouth Club. There's no way to win this one... so I bite the bullet and tell the truth.

"Yeah, it's true. I feel something for everyone I have sex with. For that matter, I feel something for most people I don't have sex with. The exceptions tend to be the bad people. What I feel for them is best left unsaid."

"Do you love me, then?"

"You have to ask?" And then we kind of just come together, kissing with real passion while Kathy claps and cheers.

We still don't end up having sex, though Kathy wheedles and pouts for all she's worth. What we did do was to have a long earnest discussion about this thing that's between us. We talk about Eira's forthcoming trip to Salem to learn the tips and tricks of mediumship from one of the best... Mortuis will cover the cost of a first-class round-trip ticket and reimburse Sibyl for any expenses incurred while she's training Eira. We exchange cell numbers and email addresses and, in short, start to behave like this is a relationship instead of a one-night stand.

I'm scared - really scared. You can shoot me, stab me or disembowel me; hang me, drown me or set me on fire. I'll walk away from it, and I'll heal; but break my heart? That never heals.

So yeah, I'm scared; I'm fucking terrified. I'm getting ready to offer up my heart again, knowing how it ends. I wonder... is that brave, or just really fucking stupid?

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