The rain had turned to ice somewhere between his house and the path, slicing at his raw hands and pinging against the dark glass of the windows behind him. He clutched his coat tighter, desperate to hold onto the residual heat of her. The wound on his shoulder trickled down his back beneath the layers, a viscid reminder of exactly what he was chasing after. Somewhere through the swaying trees, an eerie howl pierced the silence of the storm. She is near, he thought.
His steps quickened on the icy path as he slid his freezing hands into his pockets. His stiff fingers closed around the cold metal of a gun. Tonight, he would bid farewell to his hidden heartache. He pushed the remnants of lust from his mind, the aching need he had allowed to consume him; consume them both. A bank of clouds swept past the moon, exposing its sallow light on the path in front of him. He saw the sleet falling in sharp needles and slapping onto the stone. It looked silver in the moonlight; like thousands of silver bullets piercing the night. He clutched the gun firmly in his pocket and sauntered forward.
She was waiting for him, concealed by a thick knot of trees just beyond the path. Each knew the other was drawing nearer, as if by some extra sense they had acquired in their intimacy. He reached the knot of trees and felt his shoulder pulsing with his rapid heartbeat. Her hair was a mess of black knots around her heart-shaped face. She was sitting against a wide trunk, her bare legs bent at odd angles on the wet earth. Even from the path in the low light, he could see the dirt and dried blood caked under her fingernails.
He went to her, kneeling down to touch her filthy cheek. She felt hot as flame. Her arms opened and he planted himself on the frozen ground, leaning into the heat of her. He felt the moments as they passed, as if each one was a lifetime in itself. When he could bear it no more, he broke the silence.
“Winter’s coming, Lu.”
“So it is,” she replied, and he felt her smile against the back of his wet head. Her fingers traced over the spot on his shoulder where the gash was still bleeding. It tingled and was not altogether unpleasant.
“Are you prepared?” she asked.
“For winter?” he asked. He was aware of her legs twisting around and encircling him. They seared his skin through his thick tweed pants.
“For eternity.” She lifted her head to the sky and shut her eyes against the sallow light of the moon. Her brackish breath mixed with his own in the chilly air and spiraled upward.
He reached inside his pocket again and retrieved the gun. With a steady hand, he pointed it over his heart, where hers was beating directly behind at a steady adagio.
“Yes,” he replied, and squeezed the trigger.