The Invitation

November 4th, 2006—Election Night

Richmond, Virginia

I begin to strip the moment I step onto the roof.

I can’t think. I can’t feel. I can’t. I can’t breathe.

I rip off the suffocating cluster of pearls and black diamonds that choke my neck. Diamond teardrop earrings fall silently onto the black tar that coats the surface of the roof. My wrap disappears next, lifted from my shoulders and snatched away by the cold fall air. As I make my way towards the ledge, I drop my purse, absently kicking away the contents as they scatter from the broken clasp. Jeweled pins are yanked from my head, as I robotically pull several thick brown strands of hair along with them. I lose the battle with the zipper on the back of my dress, and in my desperation to part with it, I wrench the stretchy velvet material off of my body.

By the time I reach the railing I am physically free from him. Free from every gift he bestowed upon me. Free from the smell of his breath. Free from the touch of his hands.

But he won’t get out of my head. I feel numbness and then I hear his words and then I’m numb all over again. It’s an angry, unyielding storm that rages in me. It terrifies me.

Placing my hands on the painted white barrier, I breathe deeply, in and out. I can see the puffy clouds of air but his words cycle their way back into my head again and once I feel nothingness but the suffocation has returned. I can’t think. My body is trembling, yet it has nothing to do with the twenty degree temperature. A bead of sweat slides down my temple and is kissed away by the blustery wind.

I can barely feel my heart beat.

This isn’t enough.

The railing is only waist high. Now dressed in my strapless bra, a black satin thong, and four inch heels, I maneuver each leg to the opposite side, locking my heels on the base of the railing. I entwine my fingers around the iron barrier, close my eyes and angle my body towards the bustling street below me. I am careful with my grip.

This isn’t a suicide mission after all.

I just need…to feel clean again. To breathe again.

To feel alive again.

He won to tonight. Not just the election; he won everything. My family. My country.

My identity.

As I lean over a bit farther, I start to feel it some. A bit of pain from that first crack in my armor. I want to wail as the wind whips loudly around me, the obstinate cacophony on the busy street below me a low constant hum of screeching tires and blaring sirens.

The sound is now muffled, the only noise seeping in is the rapidly erratic beating of my own heart and the faint thud of the door behind me.

I knew I wouldn’t be given much space, but it’s only been minutes. Even given my current “predicament”, this seems a bit intrusive.

Needing some fight in me, I push my limits, trying to force some fire in my belly before I have to turn around and confront him. I want to weep because still, it’s not enough.

As I right myself up, I can feel the air around me change. Without having to turn around, I know that it is a woman that approaches me from behind. It’s not the sound of her heels against the rough tar or the complex feminine fragrance that overpowers the urban air. The atmosphere changes around me. A charge of electricity hovers and settles over me, raising goose-bumps across my flesh, making my hair stand on end.

She says nothing until she stops behind me, slightly to my left and peers over the edge. “Something to ponder, my beauty: when you greet death, it should be with such pride that he trembles to take you.” She peers over the ledge onto the busy street below before meeting my gaze. “Can you honestly say that you’ve led such a life?” Her eyes blatantly roam across my body before catching my eyes again.

I noticeable shiver as this woman’s turns to me and lightly strokes my cheeks with a manicured nail. This stranger’s touch sends a flush of heat racing throughout my body, temporarily deafening me, except for the incessant pounding of my own heart.

And it’s too quickly that she takes her hand away.

I shake my head, trying to break whatever spell she’s cast over me. “It’s not high enough.” I don’t recognize my own voice. It’s numb. Empty. Devoid of emotion.

The woman stands close enough behind me that I can feel the heat radiating off of her body. She brushes away a hair that falls past my shoulders, exposing my neck. She leans closely, her tongue practically caressing my ear. “Not high enough for what, sweetheart?”

Her words are heavily accented, and though I understand her, she repeats the phrase in French. I answer in kind. “La ruée.”

She chuckles softly and moans against my ear, her finger slipping between the clasp of my bra and the frozen skin beneath. “Why do you need a rush, my goddess?”

I shake my head and swallow thickly, unsuccessfully hiding the shivers that ripple throughout my body as her fingers graze across my back, heating every inch of flesh along the way. “He made me feel—“I choke on those words because he didn't make me feel. If anything, he took that away from me. “He made me feel as I though I’m nothing. I let him get in my head. I allowed him to do that to happen.” I breathe in deeply, the cold perfumed air coating my lungs, but I can’t stop the words from flowing. “He took everything from me. He stripped me down and now there’s nothing left. I can’t feel. And I need to feel something. This isn’t right, whatever 'this' is. I’m not alive. I need to feel it again. To feel something. To feel that—“


I nod, feeling suddenly drained and exhilarated from confessing everything and nothing to a perfect stranger. I suddenly tense, wary of who may have sent her after me. “Who are you?”

I have to fight from closing my eyes as one of her arms encircles my chest, just below my breasts. Her other hand caresses the goose-bumps that line my flesh, down to my shoulder, to my elbow. Invisible sparks explode at my fingertips. “I am Siddhartha,” she whispers, her grip surprisingly firm as her soft lips leave a trail of kisses up and down my exposed neck.

“I’m Niko,” I whisper breathlessly.

She presses to my neck and inhales deeply, a strange sound stuck within the recesses of her throat. Her tongue traces the outer shell of my ear. “I know who you are, sweet girl.” Siddhartha loosens her grip slightly before whispering. “I promise never to never let you go. Do you trust me?”

Inexplicably, I nod the affirmative as this stranger grips the clasp of my bra tightly. “Then let go, Nikoletta.”

My heartbeat accelerates, my breath quickening at the mention of my full name and without ceremony, I release both of my hands from the railing.

Siddhartha’s grip is strong, my blind faith and her confidence in the flimsy 3-eyelet clasp that keeps me from plummeting over the edge is both terrifying and exhilarating. This is what I've been aching for: I feel alive again.

I can finally breathe.

Still I am greedy and unashamed when I plea for more.

My arms splayed wide open, the flashing city lights below me. Siddhartha indulges in my childish whim, allowing the wind the proper time to kiss away my tears before pulling me back towards her warmth.

I try to turn and face her, but her firm grip keeps me faced towards the overflowing parking lot across the street and the twinkle of lights that illuminate the night sky. Holding me tightly so that I won’t slip, her tongue trails long, deep kisses up and down my throat. She frees one hand and it slips beneath my bra, cupping my breast. I involuntarily moan has she grips hard and squeezes my nipple. Unable to control my reaction, my knees nearly give out. If it weren't for her quick reaction and strong grasp, we both would have tumbled over the edge to meet death, whether he fears us or not.

My body shakes in both fear and ecstasy. I twist my neck around, meeting her gaze, taken aback by the beautiful creature who has taken me to such heights. “More,"I demand.

Much to my chagrin, she stops her sensual ministrations, causing me to whimper in protest and frustration. I am ashamed to admit that I am near tears at the loss of her touch. “How did that make you feel, my goddess?” she whispers against my ear. Turning me gently away from her, Siddhartha allows her hand to leisurely wander over the minute scrap of satin that covers my hip. I bite my lip before responding. I don’t need to lean forward to feel it. She’s already taken me there. “Like I’m flying.”

I can’t see her, but I can feel her smiling. “Good girl,” she hums against my ear, allowing one delicate finger to push aside the satin barrier, stopping just at the center of my core. “Do you want to feel like this forever, my goddess? Do you want to fly forever?”

Afraid of losing my footing, I have to force myself from pushing against her finger. Unable to answer her, she punishes me with her withdrawal.

“Fucking tease,” I swear, gripping the railing again, struggling to regain my composure as she pulls back, stepping away from me. My knees nearly give out again but she does nothing to assist me as I fight to steady myself. Heart thundering, body trembling, I turn back towards this breathtakingly beautiful woman.

Siddhartha asks again: “Do you want to fly forever?”

I would give anything to feel that way again. I don’t need forever, but I will take it. Unable to conjure the words, I can only nod my head.

She holds out her hand and flashes a dimpled smile. “Then come with me.”

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