Dani kept a death grip on the steering wheel and slammed his foot on the gas, trying to leave Rowan behind. She was the last person he wanted to see that moment and all because…Why was it that he didn’t want to see her? Honestly, he didn’t recall why they beat the shit out of each other; but damn, it must have been really stupid, he knew that much. But he was indignated and sore at the fact that she had kicked his ass and set him on fire. ‘I bet that bitch doesn’t know why we’re fighting either’
“Dani, m’dear, I haven’t a clue” a voice came from the back seat and Dani cringed and stopped the car abruptly, looked through the rearview mirror revealing whom he dreaded it would reveal – Rowan.
“I told you I’d see you soon, didn’t I?” Rowan reminded Dani of her last words.
“Shut up. If we ever want to get there, we should get a move on ‘cause it’s getting late” Dani grumbled in a low voice. He could make her get out of the car, but she’d do it again, so he decided to spare himself the drama.
“Well, get to it, Dan. You’re the one driving, babycakes.” She prompted him to get his ass in gear and drive.
“Are you always this bossy?” inquired Dani, kind of annoyed at her attitude.
“No, only if it irks people” Rowan said matter-of-factly.
“Whatever the hell we were fighting about; it must have been you who started it” Dani accused thinking it would start another argument, different but just as childish. She crawled to the front seat and answered Dani’s question.
“I’m sure I was. I’ve never been in an argument that was not started or instigated by me, so I probably was the one who started it. Sorry” She apologized. It was not the conventional apology, but Dani sensed that was as good as it was going to get, coming from her.
“Do all arguments end up with your opponent on fire?” He asked mockingly, but it was actually a good question for future reference.
“Sometimes, they suffer horrible deaths shortly after the argument in the comfort of their own home, or they lose appendages; and if I set them on fire, they usually burn to a crisp. I once ran over teacher” Rowan kept on talking about it as nonchalantly as possible, it was like hearing her talk about the weather or something dull like that, and it made him wish he hadn’t asked.
“Um, listen, all you told me is very charming but I’m going to apologize now because I don’t want to die so soon. I kinda like me alive and whole, you know. So, I’m sorry I hit you and for calling you all those names, but keep in mind you started it.” Dani apologized defensively.
“Apology accepted, but I thought we had already discussed it and I said it was my fault--” Rowan was interrupted by Dani
“I’m just saying…I just don’t want to be on fire again. It’s a very unsavory experience, to put it mildly.” Dani added quickly, making Rowan laugh. He stopped the car at the side of the road. They exchanged looks and they burst into laughter at seeing how beat up and bloody they were and how pointless and infantile the whole thing was. Rowan made inventory of the damage she had done to Dani while she raked her brain for a good healing spell. Dani looked at Rowan and felt ashamed of what he had done to her face and body; he had battered her beyond belief – her nose was bleeding, her cheekbone was swollen and looked broken, her lip was turning an ugly shade of blackish purple and was caked with blood, she was dirty, she had bruises around her neck, there were scratches on her arms, she was breathing erratically and had her hand on her midsection ‘fuck, I broke her ribs!’ he thought, feeling more like shit every passing minute. And she still looked good. Damn.
“Dan, let’s get cleaned up, get out of the car” she motioned him to get out; she opened the door and stumbled out of the car. He wasn’t as bad as her but he was pretty banged up – he was walking bent over from the pain in his kidneys, his jaw was bruised beyond recognition, blood was trickling from his mouth, his arms were scratched, he had a bump on his forehead. His body obviously could take more abuse than hers, but she recognized she went overboard with the punching and kicking. She said the spell out loud while she ran her over Dani’s numerous bruises, starting with his lower back. Lifting what was left of his favorite shirt, she put her hands over the bruise, focusing on repairing the marred skin and taking the pain away from him. She moved up, laying her hand on his torso, arms, jaw and face while reciting the spell. She finished reciting the spell and was satisfied at seeing the results, the bruising had gone away completely and there was no internal damage to worry about.
“Rowan, you should have sorted yourself up first, you’re more bruised and hurt!” Dani protested trying to hold her straight. She put her hand to her ribs and recited a spell to mend her three broken ribs. It was painful to set broken bones with magic – the feeling was far from pleasant, like having a hand grab your bones and ground them to a fine powder - and not fun at all.
Rowan squirmed and tried to resist the overwhelming pain and continue to recite the spell, but the pain was so horrible she could barely stay conscious. Just like the pain came, it was gone. She could finally breathe and continued to sort herself out.
She mended her fractured cheekbone (which was a close second to her ribs in terms of pain), the bruises on her neck and the rest of the body, her scratches and bruised knuckles. She was exhausted when she finished. They got back in the car and Dani pointed out to Rowan that she had forgotten to fix her lip. She started to recite the spell, but she was cut short by Dani who kissed her.
The kiss wasn’t rough or passionate or romantic. It was more of an explorative kiss, tasting and testing each other. Dani tried being gentle as to not hurt Rowan. He sucked on her lip softly making her breath catch in her throat. Her mouth felt wonderfully strange, foreign, but so perfect – the way it moved Dani’s, the way it didn’t fight Dani’s advances; she just seemed so perfect…the perfect weapon, the perfect machine. They didn’t see how the kiss made the bruise better, but it made them feel better. It was the final step to their weird apologies.
There were no hands disposing of clothing, no groping, no overwhelming passion, and no words exchanged, it was only a kiss and nothing else.
Eventually, the kiss ceased. Dani smiled and Rowan smiled back. It was 7:30 pm and if they didn’t get a move on quick, they would miss dinner and the devil in hell only knew what would happen if they missed Suzanne’s appointment. She was hungry and tired and she didn’t want to hear her mother bitch.
“Oh shit, we’re going to be late! Dani, it’s seven thirty, we have half an hour to be there” Rowan almost screamed. Dani didn’t see the harm in arriving a bit late, but apparently Rowan did. So he pushed the gas and drove at breakneck speed trying to make it on time. With good conditions, they’d be at Suzanne’s place in an hour; at the speed they were going they would be lucky if they got to Suzanne’s alive.
“You are late” Suzanne pointed out.
“Oh mother, we are five minutes late, big deal…we almost killed ourselves to get here on time. Besides, the food is not even here yet” Rowan reasoned with her mother while a maid brought dinner to the table.
“Food!!!” Rowan bellowed like a hungry lumberjack and threw herself on a chair and began to shovel all the food her plate would accommodate. Suzanne and Dani laughed and sat down to eat before Rowan ate all the food and the table that displayed it.
Suzanne poked fun at Rowan’s hunger and Rowan ignored her mother’s comment. Dani just shut up and ate the food in front of him- turkey, roasted duck, lamb chops, salad, and vegetables of all sorts, fruits, desserts and red wine. They ate and made small talk, mainly about things that had happened while Rowan was away – like the world trade center tragedy, iPods, Hybrid cars, music, books and all sorts of recent events. Rowan was taken aback to find out the queen was still alive, Dimebag was dead, Ozzy was still alive, MJ was still sleeping with children, those damn Americans were playing Jesus over in Iraq, Leland had joined his father Clay and his mother Rita in the family law firm, a friend of Suzanne’s had opened a burlesque house down the street, Bowie was still married to that supermodel, Grand mere was still alive; so many bands had formed, split, reformed, and so many other things. She felt like those people in the movies that wake up from comas to find that the world has changed completely. It was very strange and mind boggling. Some things she was pleased about (mainly about the Pope’s death), some others surprised her (Marilyn Manson still held the title of Antichrist), and others were very outrageous (like the fact that Leland had joined the family “business”, read witch hunt). The news about Leland had been the ones to really upset Rowan and made Dani wonder what his part was in Rowan’s ordeal.
Leland Rosenthal was Rowan’s once-favorite cousin and former lover. Leland and Rowan were brought up together despite the family’s differences – Rita, Clay and the rest of the clan hoped that Leland would keep Rowan from following Suzanne’s footsteps. The family disapproved of Suzanne’s doing, but since she held a prestigious position in a big corporation and was married to the CEO, they could not touch her. What Rita and Clay didn’t see was that Leland was attracted to the dark side like a moth to the flame. Everyone in the family thought Rowan and Leland were the perfect couple and most believed they would get married and settle down like they all had done, Even Rowan and Leland thought so, but what was thought of as a Barbie and Ken perfect couple became more and more like Sid and Nancy.
Rowan and Leland started dating in their late teens and like all young wealthy couples they partied, dined, and enjoyed themselves. Almost every night they went to pubs, strip clubs, clubs, upscale parties, and all sorts of events involving all kinds of debauchery – sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Those nights that were spent at home were full of black masses, rows and rows of cocaine, heroin, hookers, Bauhaus records and alcohol. Ironically enough, Leland brought out Rowan’s wild side and Rowan took the fall later on when their wild partying, heretical activities and substance abuse got to the family’s ears and it was all blamed on Rowan.
For twelve years they dated and they got engaged on Rowan’s thirtieth birthday amidst private dancers and gallons of Jack Daniels. The year after their engagement Rowan suffered the lowest blow: Her own beloved fiancée turned her in to the family to be put away in a madhouse. Rowan wondered if he ever regretted betraying the only person who was on his side, and if he ever loved her like he had told her countless times over the course of their drug induced romance. Their ‘romance’ was never really a romance and it was never conventional, average or dramatic. He had been all the friend, lover, mate she needed. He had been more than a lover –he had been her equal, and it was that little fact that had made her cry every night for years in the solitude of her padded room and restraint jacket. She hated Leland for doing what he did, but she also felt sorry and disappointed in him for not being man enough to stand up to his parents, and the worst was, she still loved him. But all the hate was directed toward Clay and Rita. Now that she was free, she was going after them with a vengeance; and while she was at it, she would show Leland a thing or two. Clay and Rita were going down, whether Leland was going down with them depended upon him.
Dinner eventually came to an end, but the chatter continued for a while until Suzanne excused herself to go to bed.
“Children, I’d love to stay and chat, but this old lady has to rest. Rowan, Dani, your rooms are ready. Dani, you know where your room is, Rowan you too. Good night dears.” Suzanne hugged both Rowan and Dani and went upstairs to her room. Rowan and Dani stayed quiet for quite some time, until Dani broke the silence and asked Rowan the tough questions.
“Who’s Leland?” Dani had told Rowan about himself and it was only fair that he knew something about her too. Besides, he was very curious to know everything – the whole ‘perfect strangers’ thing was getting old really quick. Besides, he did own her.
‘Hopefully she didn’t hear that last part’
Rowan remained quiet, but just when Dani thought she would not tell him, she began her tale.