“Sometimes I dance, alone, to music no-one can hear but me. When I dance I feel the beat of the earth’s own heart rise through my feet and legs, through my loins and belly and into my chest,… when I’m dancing, I’m dancing with you.”
Sarah Bower, The Book of Love
Cezar Lifted Alexandra’s blanketed body and felt the tremors of her fear set ablaze with desire. He carried her inside to her suite and placed her on the plush cushions of her couch. She watched him, never taking her eyes off of his face. Seated next to her, Cezar took Alexandra in his arms. She nestled against his chest and adjusted the blanket to appear inviting to her Viscount.
Ice cold fingers squeezed Cezars hand. The tremors in Alexandra’s head and hands brought sadness to Cezar, and he held her tighter hoping to give her the warmth she sought in him and to calm the fear and injury that shook her body with a chill he could not fathom.
Dari brought fresh, hot tea on a silver tray. Without speaking, she glanced at Alexandra to judge her mood. Her ice blue eyes never blinked as she set the tray down on the low table and left, closing the door behind her.
Suspended in their private thoughts, they watched the steam dancers lift from the cups. The gray-white columns intertwined, broke away, and melted into a funnel of mist drifting in the currents of their exhalations. Distant memories shared across their mysterious lives played in their mind’s eye.
“Do you remember the dance of the scimitar?” Cezar whispered, not wanting to disturb the quiet that settled on them.
“Of course, I remember. It was my favorite.” Alexandra replied.
The old confidence of the fighter emerged in the Duchess’ voice. She lifted her head from Cezar’s shoulder and sat up. Cezar saw the spark of life push through the glaze in Alexandra’s eyes as arms reached behind his neck, her face moving closer to his. He felt his loins surge and the liquor of desire flood his mind, giving him the feeling of waking from a dream.
They kissed. Cezar tasted the sweetness of honey and tannins from the tea. A touch of lemon and bergamot swept across his tongue as she sought to find the inside of his lips. He inhaled her breath and she his. They tried a more firm purchase with desperate fingers and starving hearts. How long had it been since they found themselves in the bloody path of their history together and in love again?
There was a pause as if by a command from an invisible authority. They sipped from their cups trying to recover a moment of sanity.
“Do you remember dancing for me in the Palace of Ur?” Cezar asked, his eyes searching Alexandra for some hint she remembered their eternal bond.
“Yes, the ancient city before the Sumerians and Assyrians, before the Greeks and Persians too. We lived near the banks of the Euphrates in a palace built by my father’s father.”
“I’ve dreamed of it. I was the king’s concubine, and the queen was not fond of the king’s bastard son or me. It was that dream of dancing with the scimitars that helped me develop my current style of dancing with knives. Are you saying that was you and me, it wasn’t a dream? Alexandra asked.
“It was a memory carried across many more lives than we can count. Do you remember what happened?” Cezar inquired.
“I’ve been haunted by these kinds of dreams most of my life. Master Cho said it was my ancestors speaking to me, but it felt too personal, too terrible to be anything but my own trauma.”
“Master Cho was right. We are our ancestors. Each life we live, we reunite and share our one cause to take back what we lost due to the avarice of others, to take back our love and our lives.” Cezar said.
“I feel it too. The first moment I saw you in Master Cho’s gym, I felt I knew you and ever since you have been in my dreams.” Alexandra looked alert, shaken from her inner thoughts, ruminations of her vulnerability and doubt.
Cezar saw her face alight with the recognition of what her dreams meant and why they occurred. It was the moment he waited for, yearned for in his own thoughts.
“You were so young and beautiful. My heart had no desire but for you. Your movements were the sublime feminine, and I thought you were a gift from Anu, the supreme god. When you gave me a son, I knew my life was forever bound to you.” Cezar paused to sip from his cup.
“I knew you were meant for me too. I practiced each dance until I was exhausted and when the guards took me to you, I danced to show you I was a woman in love and every dance was a love poem from me to you. The others danced because it was their duty. I danced because I loved you. When you finally took me to your bed, I remember how clean you were, how you smelled of the finest oils. You were rough, and I was afraid. I wanted you, and I began to like your fierceness, how you commanded my body and filled me with pleasure I had never known. You were my first and only man. What happened to us?”
Cezar welcomed Alexandra’s return to his arms. The more she remembered, the more she held on. She rested now on his shoulder, her warm breath on his neck sent visions bursting before his eyes like fireworks.
The Viscount held the woman who danced with knives, the one who danced her way into his heart. Her own fierceness was bred into her from eons of violence and love for the martial life. He held on tight as he recounted their experience in the desert lands along the Euphrates River.
Together, they slept under the stars of ancient skies as they traveled across his kingdom to meet his local Chiefs and view his subjects and how they prospered under his benevolent rule. The tent was a black pyramid that blotted out the star shine and hid them in night’s shadow. He felt her warm and soft under him, her enamored moans an erotic song that built the fires of lust into a storm that consumed them under the Milky Way arcing across the night sky and plunging into the mountains as the morning dawned.
“What happened is what always happens. Men came down from the lands across the desert to take what was never theirs to take. We were caught off guard, and the winds of change brought our civilization and our lives to a brutal end. We fought hard and won often, but our enemies are like the changing ocean tides; they retreated and returned ever stronger as we grew ever weaker. I suppose it is our fate, which is the fate of the world and all the empires of history. We are destroyed and come back again, always seeking what was never achieved.”
Cezar paused for the inevitable question he had no answer to. The question never came. Alexandra slept in his arms. Cezar lifted her in his strong arms and carried his Duchess to her bed where he placed her. He covered her in the quilt and kissed her forehead.
“Stay with me,” she pleaded.
Cezar stood over her for what seemed longer than just the moment that passed. He folded his clothes over the chair and slipped under the covers. Alexandra lay across his chest, nesting against him and throwing her leg across his body so he would not slip away unnoticed.
“Tell me again how you loved me under the stars.” Alexandra breathed her yawning request like a child fighting sleep to hear a bedtime story. She settled in his arms and the night stars bloomed in her eyes. Alexandra listened to the grunting camels and smelled the date palms in the cool breeze that flowed across her nakedness. Warm hands and teeth hurt her breast, and she winched with desire. She was reborn again.