Touch of a Vanished Hand

Oberon: Book Five


It was time. 

Adam Sasso poured an offering of wine into the stone bowl that stood at the entrance of the antique Lare Shrine.  The shrine, a small house-like structure, sat on a 16th century Venetian refectory table, centered along the northernmost wall of Adam’s private sitting room.

“Bring her to me now, O Taga,”  he addressed the Watcher of the Northern Gate.  “She will be as the Goddess to me, the source of all that is good.  And I vow that I will hold fast to her, as roots cling to the earth.”

It’s past time.  All the signs were present--had been present for quite awhile now.  He’d expected her two weeks ago.  Why hasn’t she come?  He turned away from the altar, and settled himself on his knees on the floor before the hearth.

“Bring her, Settano,” he murmured as he lit the candle he’d placed there, at the southernmost point of the room.  “My love for her burns steady as this candle.  Bring her now.  Kindle her heart with love for me, and I will tend that flame forever.  I swear it.”

He had spent most of the last two weeks preparing for this spell.  He had chosen peach for the candle--color and scent--for peach was the fruit of eternity.  He had encased it in a thick coating of white sugar scented with rose water, to symbolize the sweetness and purity of love.  He had adorned it with a string of pearls, and set it upon a bed of dragonfly wings.

He’d purchased the pearls as a Valentine’s present for his lady.  But she had not arrived, and now they must go to serve another purpose; they would form a part of the offering that would accompany the spell he was attempting to weave tonight.

Where is she now?  he wondered as he watched the candle burn.  The pearls and the glistening wings glimmered in its light.  And the scent it gave off, a mixture of roses and peaches and melting sugar made him want to cry with longing.  The smell reminded him of summer.  Of love.  Of completion.  Of her.  Of everything he’d been waiting for and dreaming of for so long.

How much longer must I wait?  It was way past time and he was lonely.  He was almost forty years old.  True, it had been his own decision to put off any thought of marriage or a family until now.  Until this winery, his grandfather’s unwilling legacy, was finally in his possession.  It was his now.  All of it.  Everything his grandfather had tried to keep from him.  His inheritance, his home, his name, his pride.

He glanced around the room, and felt satisfaction unfurl within him.  This had once been his grandfather’s study.  Now it was his.  In truth, he had made very few changes to the room.  The crystal chandelier that hung from the ceiling had been here as long as the house had stood.  It shed a soft glow upon bright Oriental carpets Adam remembered from his childhood.  The thick velvet drapes at the French doors were the same ones his younger self had once hidden behind, to escape his grandfather’s wrath.  His grandfather had tended to keep them open, day and night, and they had not been drawn tonight, either.  The night pressed into the room through windows black as obsidian.

Though the changes he had made to it were slight, Adam knew the old man would never have approved of what he’d done with the room; and would like even less what he did in it.  And that, perhaps, was the sweetest part of all.

Not that he had chosen it for that reason, of course.  He had picked this room because it fit his purpose.  With the fireplace of glistening white Italian marble on the south wall, and the balcony on the east, it had been easy to conform the rest of the room to meet his needs.  All it had taken was the installation of a decorative fountain on the western wall, and the setting of his altar to the north.

He had almost everything he needed in his life now.  Everything he’d dreamed of having lay just beyond his grasp, waiting to be claimed.  All that was missing was the woman with whom he would share it.

But not just any woman….

That was the mistake his mother had made--over and over again.  Confusing the heat of the moment with love’s eternal flame.  It was a lesson Adam had learned well as a child.

He had learned many things from his mother and grandfather; and though he honored the past, he’d vowed a long time ago that he would not make the same mistakes they had made.

But he’d grown so very tired of waiting.  So tonight he would attempt to force the hand of fate with this spell.  This summoning.

It was a cry from the heart.  A call from soul to soul.  Come to me, my beloved, my own.  Be here with me now.  This is where you belong.  I’m waiting.  Come home.

Through the windows, he could hear the wind begin to moan as the storm which had been threatening all day drew closer.  The night was as impatient as he.

At last the flame guttered and went out.  Adam stirred.  The candle had burned away, taking the string that bound the pearls together with it.  Leaving both pearls and wings scattered upon the hearthstones, coated with sugar and wax.  He collected them, before they had a chance to harden into a solid mass; and went quickly to the French doors that opened onto the stone balcony.

Wind and bitter rain assaulted him as, naked, he stepped into the storm.  The cold stones bit at his feet, but he was too intent on his mission to pay the discomfort any mind.  He had been cold for most of his life, he would not know real warmth until she brought it to him--like Persephone, bringing sunlight into Hades.

The wind rushed at his back as he stood at the edge of the small terrace and began to scatter his offering into the storm.

“Alpeno!  Meana!” he called into the wind. “O, you Spirits of Air and Sea, by these, your tokens, I charge thee: Bring her to me!”

Thunder pealed in the distance.  The rain fell harder.  As the bits and pieces of his offering flew from his fingers and disappeared into the night he felt as though a tunnel had opened in the sky above--a swirling cloud of energy, a portal into eternity--it reached downward to engulf him.

He lifted his arms beseechingly.  “Come to me, my darling,” he whispered into the maelstrom.  “Tesoro—my treasure--hurry!  I’m waiting.  I need you.”

As the last of the pearls left his hands he heard a sound from far in the distance--like the howling of wolves on the hunt.  Was it the throbbing of a car’s engine out on the highway that led to the coast, that he was hearing?  Or was it just imagination?

And the whispered words that seemed to hover in the air around him--were they imaginary, as well?

“Beloved, I will come.  I will come to you.”

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