I don’t want to be Zacarias anymore.
I unlock the chest and throw back the lid. The empty holes in the mask stare up at me. I kept it out of affection. I never intended to wear it again, but then I never imagined I would need the Black Fox as much as I need him now.
It’s the work of just a few minutes to change. As I dress, I feel my heart-rate steadying. The mask and hat go on, and I can think straight once more. I slip through the darkened house and step out onto the terrace. When I draw my sword, a sliver of moonlight catches the razor sharp edge.
“Hello, old friend,” I murmur, a smile on my face.
Below, lights twinkle here and there in the town. I sheath my sword, and in silent, booted feet I slip into the shadows. There’s a path leading down to the cobbled streets. I’m moving so fast that I don’t hear her, don’t see her, until I’m right on top of her.
Lolita is standing in the middle of the path, hands over her face and sobbing. The path is narrow and my body thuds into hers. Out of reflex, I scoop her up in my arms to prevent her from being knocked to the ground.
Her tear-filled eyes grow very large in the thin, silvery light as she gazes up at me. “It’s you.”
She lifts a shaking hand to touch my mask. I tense, ready to pull away, but she doesn’t try to lift it and discover my identity. Her trembling finger traces the mask, then my jaw, and then finally my lips. Her soft touch makes my heart turn over.
“Black Fox. I thought you’d disappeared. You haven’t been heard of for months, and I feared that…”
I reach up and brush the backs of my fingers across her wet cheek, searching my soul for some trace of the cruel beast that made me hurt her so mercilessly not ten minutes ago. “I was never gone. I’ve always been close by.”
Lolita’s eyes fill with grateful tears. “I knew it.”
“Don’t cry. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
My words seem to have the opposite effect, because she bursts into sobs and buries her face against my chest, her slender shoulders heaving with sobs. There’s a large, flat rock behind me and I sit down with her on my lap, pulling her close.
Lolita cries brokenly for several minutes, giving into her misery and fear. I wrap my arms tightly around her, furious that anyone could do this to her; wracked with guilt that it was me. There’s no trace of that beast anywhere in my heart now. I’m the Black Fox, and only the Black Fox.
Finally, Lolita begins to hiccup her way back to composure. She lifts her face to mine, and her gaze lands on my mouth. I’m hypnotized by the sight of her beautiful, tear-streaked face in the silvery light. She reaches for my mask once more, but I grasp her hand and press it to my thundering heart.
“I met you once before,” she whispers. “Do you remember me?”
Hoarsely, I say, “Down in the town. A summer’s night a year ago. You dropped a book.”
She cries out and throws her arms around my neck. “You remember, you remember.”
“I went back for you.” I stroke my hand through her long, silky hair, wretchedness expanding through my chest. How different things might have been if I’d only found her. “I searched the streets all night, but I couldn’t find you.”
She lifts her head. “You did? Oh, that makes my heart feel so full. Perhaps it was a good thing you didn’t find me, though, because I was only seventeen and I would have covered you with kisses and made you angry with me.”
I find myself smiling down at her. Her body is a warm bundle in my arms. “Never. I could never be angry with you.”
Lolita gives a shaky, tear-stained laugh. “Everyone’s always angry with me.”
“Not me. Never, mi dulce.”
She tilts her mouth up to mine, inviting me to do what I most crave in the world; lower my lips to hers and kiss her. I turn my face quickly away.
“But I’m eighteen now. I love you. I’ve always loved you.”
She doesn’t know me. I don’t know me. I don’t recognize the man I became tonight, and I could revert into that fiend at any moment. One kiss could be all it takes to push me over the edge. I could hurt her.
“It’s not possible,” I say through clenched teeth. “We can’t.”
Lolita smooths her hands up my chest, and nestles closer in my lap. Her plump behind rubs deliciously against my thighs and thickening cock.
“You don’t have to tell me who you are,” she whispers. “I’ll never ask you to remove that mask. Only love me, and I’ll be happy.”