by Staci Layne Wilson
I drive women wild. Delirious with desire, palpitating with passion.
You're probably picturing me in your mind right now. Am I tall and handsome, with piercing eyes and chiseled features? Is my hair honey blonde or inky black? Do you suppose I'm a wheeler-dealer stock broker, or am I a free-wheeling rock star? What kind of car do I have -- luxury or sport? Am I young and willing, or mature and knowing?
Yes, I drive women wild. But I'm nothing so inconsequential as a man. Men come and go, but I am always here. Always a source of comfort, a thing of beauty, a pleasure to have and to hold.
And I'm your best friend. People will betray you. I'll tell you the truth. I know your deepest, secret dreams -- and I'll help you fulfill them. I'm here for you. Always.
I've been here since time immemorial. Some of my loves have a place in history -- Cleopatra, the Countess Bathory, Lizzie Borden -- but most have just been one of the many threads in the tapestry of life.
I seem to attract beautiful women. I do have my ways of drawing them to me. After all, I am quite desirable in my own right. But, a lot of it is luck.
I was very lucky to find Genevieve. Genevieve was a colt-legged beauty of twenty-six with long black hair that hung sleek like a raven's wing to her slender waist. Her eyes were emerald green and her breasts were like firm little melons. Awe-inspiring.
Best of all were her hands. Her creamy, flawless skin was set off by the pearly polish on the crescents of her nails, and her fingers were just exquisite. They were made to pluck a harp in the king's court, or to hold a paintbrush in the south of France. How I wanted to feel her hands upon me, to feel the warmth of her skin!
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I was in a lowly pawn shop when Genevieve first saw me. I prefer, of course, to meet ladies in upscale jewelry shops or specialty antique stores. The class of woman is so much better, you know.
Sitting there among the cubic zirconia and agates had been a real trial. All those fat, spotty faces peering down at me with their dull, witless expressions. I repelled them as best I could, saving myself for just the right woman.
And then there was Genevieve. Her eyes lit up when they saw me, and I sparkled at the sight of her. We both knew it was meant to be.
Her voice was sweet and pure, like the ting of crystal wine glasses in salute. "May I see that amber ring, please?"
The clerk plucked me from my bed of cheap velveteen with clumsy, sweaty fingers. I was handed over without ceremony.
First she held me up to the light and admired my design. She was smart, though -- she didn't let that clerk know how she really felt about me. Her cherry lips parted ever so slightly as she took in my rich amber infinity, the tiny fire opals that flank me and curling platinum vines that hold me in their loving embrace.
I am beautiful.
She held her delicate left hand up and slipped me onto her ring finger as if she'd done it a thousand times. I gave her my most seductive tingle as I kissed her cool, smooth skin. I felt her shiver with subliminal delight.
Then I turned sideways.
"Oh. It's too big," she said, unable to keep the disappointment from her voice.
I constricted myself, hugging Genevieve tight as the clerk's face loomed close. "Looks OK to me," he grunted.
She touched me with her other hand. "Hm. So it is.
"How much do you want for it?"
The clerk named a figure way beneath me. She knew it, too. Genevieve knew I was the bargain of a lifetime -- she simply handed the sweaty man a bill and walked out of the shop with me, into the sunlight.
That first night she took me off her finger and slipped me onto the cold, disembodied glass hand that sat upon her dresser. They usually did this at first, but at least Genevieve could see me. Luring is so much more difficult from inside a closed jewelry box.
I beckoned her as she sat upon her bed, reading a novel. Presently her green eyes were upon me. Desire. Longing. Need.
Genevieve rose and came to me. She slipped me upon her trembling finger, then sighed. I knew she felt satisfied once we touched.
It was good for me, too. She ran her hand through her hair and I was caressed by a thousand strands of midnight. Delicious.
I'll never forget how Genevieve looked at herself in the mirror that night. She was beautiful to begin with but somehow she knew that with me, she was irresistible. Invincible.
She began to crave conquests, as I did. I drove her out into the night, again and again. I felt her lust, felt her heat as she coupled with her lover. With strangers. Men, women. It didn't matter; I just wanted to feel the hearts beating, the life-force flowing from one to another.
But before long, the life-affirming acts were not enough for me. This always happens, eventually. It is my charm, my curse.
I began to feel envy: Deadly Sin. Why should they be alive, while I am trapped for all eternity in this amber tomb? It's not fair. I must punish them.
I singled out Genevieve's best friend. She was a looker too, and I knew that deep in Genevieve's soul, Genevieve envied her friend her frosty blonde, Nordic beauty. Genevieve also envied her friend's intelligence, her talent. It was this envy I used as leverage to play my game.
I planted the seed in fertile ground. It grew, then flowered like belladonna. Pretty poison.
But I didn't lie to my cherished one. I never lie. Well... not unless I have to. It was true that Genevieve's lover was also her best friend's lover. With a little help from me, yes, but they had betrayed her nonetheless.
The sun was burning high and there was a sweet, cloying breeze in the summer air as Genevieve stood still in the middle of the sidewalk, gazing at me. I was driving her to distraction more and more. I had done it many times to many women over the centuries, but no matter how often I worked my magick, it was always... magick. Sometimes Genevieve would hold up traffic after the light had changed, gazing upon me as her hand laid on the steering wheel; sometimes she didn't show up to work because she was too enthralled with me to leave the house; and sometimes when she was out she would just stop whatever she was going and admire me, as she did then.
An ugly, squat woman gave my Genevieve a dirty look as she passed her on the street. "Whacko," she muttered.
Before I could stop myself, I shot out, using Genevieve's doll-like hand to shove that awful woman in the back. The woman stumbled, then stopped and turned around to face us. There was murder in her eye.
Genevieve didn't understand what she -- I -- had done. She'd been entranced. Her stammered apology seemed to satisfy the troll-woman, and I behaved myself for the rest of the day. I shouldn't have lost control like that; I had to conserve my energy for the harvest of my flower.
I did it to perfection just a few days later. It took a lot of strength to convey just the right image. Genevieve was gazing at me with such love, searching my amber depths. Then I showed her just a glimpse of what was happening in her lover's bed at right that instant.
Genevieve saw red. My temperature rose with hers. Hot. "My best friend," her wounded cry. "How could they?" Her pain felt so real. It felt good.
But then her common sense surfaced. "Just my imagination," she told herself.
I showed her more. More than her eggshell mind could handle.
Shaking with fury, we made the trip to her lover's home. As Genevieve let herself in, I clicked against the doorknob leaving a small nick in the brass.
When my beloved Genevieve plunged the knife into their naked bodies, I positively smoldered with delight. Her ring finger still carries the burn -- the brand of my love that I have left upon so many before her.
I still tingle at the memory of their screams, their blood. Genevieve's rage, her pounding heart. So alive, so passionate was she.
For just a moment, I lived.
And so Genevieve sits here on Death Row. Her beauty could not sway the jury, and her claim of insanity was disbelieved. It won't be long now.
Make no mistake: I am very powerful. But I'm not omnipotent. Being trapped in this pile of petrified sap has its limitations. I can influence the mind, I can guide the hand as I am doing now, writing this.
But I have done my job too well. Genevieve loves me so deeply that she wants to spend all eternity with me. Her request that I be buried with her has been granted.
How the hell am I going to get out of this one?
Story copyright © 1998-99 by Staci Layne Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Artwork "Bound for Round" copyright © 1998-99 by Eric Seaholm <email@example.com>