The old superstitions... what are they really for? Do we know anymore? Do we know why we do the things we do each October as the calendar rolls 'round to the 31st?

Why do we decorate our homes with the symbols of death? Carved pumpkins spilling candlelight like fiery blood. Spider webs. Gravestones. Witches.

Why do we dress up our children as goblins and monsters and send them out door-to-door seeking handouts? Little ghosts and ghouls laughing in the night, a night often cold with the early dark of autumn. Clouds scudding like pale wraiths across the black, a moon sallow and bloated as the face of a corpse.

Why? Why do we do this? Why, on this night of all nights?

To keep the dead away.

To frighten the spirits by mocking them.

And so, my love, my one, my only... you will not find these customs carried out at my house. You will see no cardboard cutouts of black cats and grinning werewolves in my windows. No jack-o-lanterns glow their orange grins from my porch. No bowls of candy wait inside my door.

Not tonight. Not this night of all nights.

Instead, I wait for you here in the stillness. I wait as the clock ticks away each solemn minute, as the chimes toll each later hour, as midnight closes in.

Uncostumed... no devil's horns for me, no vampire's pallor. No masks, no wigs, no teeth, no claws. Only myself, alone. Waiting.

Is that a step I hear? A longing sigh?

Or is it the stealthy mischief of some trick-or-treater, seeing the lack of decorations as both an affront and a challenge?

It is neither. It is nothing.

Where are you, my darling?

See how I have the fire banked low the way you like it, the coals a muted scarlet bed. See how I have the wine poured, glimmering ruby-red in crystal. The music turned low. It is as it was before, on that other night. That special night. That night we first showed our love to one another.

I can still see you now as you were then. I can still feel your touch. It was so warm. So hesitant at first, almost shy. Reverent. As if you could not believe it was finally true. And my kisses, how you stirred to them. How your caress became sure, and then wanton. Seeking and hungry. Discovering.

Do you remember, my love, how tenderly we undressed? Revealing in slow, even teasing glimpses? How we embraced?

I can still taste you, the musky-salty-sweetness of your arousal, the milk and honey of your passion. I can still feel your skin beneath my fingers, recall the swift thumping of your heart.

And the way you spoke my name... all the love and all the desire in the world brimming in that single word, telling me that you were mine, that I was yours.

And now I do hear a step, a sigh. A whisper that might be my name again. The chills down my spine are born of wonder, not fear. I have nothing to fear from you, not you, never you.

I feel your presence. I sense your arms reaching out to me. Yes. Come to me, be with me, be mine and let me be yours. Hold me and let me hold you, let me feel how well our bodies fit together.

The night must be colder than I thought. Here. I will warm you. Sit by the fire with me.

How I have missed you, my love. Have you missed me? I know that you must have. But we are together again. This night of all nights. This night when the walls are thin, the doors are open, the barriers are down. This night, when I knew we would be reunited.

Where have you walked, what dark and lonely roads, since last we kissed? Is it painful? Is it sad? I know how I have suffered in your absence.

But let us not think of that. We are here and now, you and I. And your kiss is as sweet as in my memory. Your touch is as gentle.

Yes, my love. Yes.

Trembling? Tears? Now is no time for fear, no time for sorrow. This is joy. To be with you again, to have you in my arms, to be in yours. I have wanted this for so long, needed it, more than life itself.

Ah, warmer now. Skin flushed with a rising heat that comes not from the fire but from within... the blood's fire pulsing quick and hot. A gasp, a moan, the wordless murmuring melody of our love.

Oh, my love, how well you remember me! How well you know what delights me, and as all reticence falls away, how you pleasure me with your clever fingers, your mouth, your tongue. Kissing, suckling, probing... coaxing me to the heights I only ever knew with you.

And your response, so eager, when I devote my attentions to you. How I adore the sounds you make, the way you move to my touch. Here, let my fingertips brush their way from your knee to your thigh... let me kiss your lips, your neck, your nipples, your navel. Let me lick your skin and blow cool breath over you, making you shiver in that way you like so much.

Lie back, my darling, and... yes, what you want, what you always loved for me to do... what I always loved to do, thrilling to evoke such sensation, thrilling in my power over you... even as I am yours, irrevocably yours.

They say orgasm is like dying.

They say death is like sleep.

They are wrong on both counts.

Aren't they?

We know better.

And in the throes of your climax, you are alive... so alive. Your hands on my head, grasping firm, guiding, urging, begging. I feel it shuddering through you, and your ecstasy is echoed in my own even before you move to reciprocate.

Now it is you, my love, and my surrender as you push me back. Your smile and the knowing light in your eyes promise me bliss in that moment before your head dips, your mouth opens.

Bliss, yes, it is bliss, and I writhe there before the hearth, as much in your power now as you were in mine only moments before. I feel it building within me, this orgasm-that-is-not-dying-that-is-not-sleep, how wrong they are to think that.

Then it overwhelms me, and I hear myself calling your name, telling you how I love you, how I have always loved you, how nothing else matters but this one night, this one time. This chance to recapture what once was ours. Let our mistakes of the past stay dead, let that one unforgivable night be forgotten. True love is stronger than any of that.

Despite our climaxes, we are both still ready, still yearning for more. We have the proof of it in this rising erection, and this slippery-moist heat for it to fill. When we kiss, we each savor the mingled juices of our desires.

I want you beneath me, I want you atop me, I want you in all ways and every way. And now at last, the final reunion takes place in a single unhurried thrust, until we are fully joined.

Oh, my love. To feel you like this again...

I could forgive you anything now.

Can you forgive me?

Mmm... I'll take that as a yes.

I should never have doubted you. I knew that you loved me. I knew that you would never be unfaithful. It was the jealousy. The rumors and the laughter.

You must know that I would never have wanted to hurt you.

Slowly, now, my love. Move with me, slowly. Just the way you like it, the way that we both like it... each movement ever so slow, ever so sweet.

And I know, too, that you never wanted to hurt me. You were only trying to stop me, stop what you feared I would do. That's why I've waited for you to come back.

Feel it climbing again, the gathering storm of passion... and it is impossible to maintain that deliciously slow pace... we are melting together, we are liquid-fire-gold.

I was blinded in my jealousy. I wanted to scare you into telling me the truth, the truth that I should have known in my own heart if I hadn't been so afraid of losing you. I never really would have hurt you. Or myself.

Can't you feel how much I love you? Can't you feel it in my every touch? Can't you feel it, now, in this vibrant heat of our climax? Oh, my darling... my dearest one... yes... let it be quick now, let it be wild and frantic.

I never meant to kill you.

At least we have tonight. This hallowed night, this night of all nights, we are finally together again.

And I forgive you, my love, my darling...

I know you didn't mean to kill me, either.

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