The knife tumbled end over end through the air in a perfect arc as Braydon walked into the sitting room. Seeing the blade heading in his direction, he stopped just before it sped past, burying itself deep into the hardwood doorframe next to him.
“Damn it, Faith!” Braydon said, looking from her to the knife and back again. “We talked about this!”
“If you’d stop moving, maybe I wouldn’t hit the house so much,” Faith said, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she walked out of the room into the library in a huff.
Braydon shook his head, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth as he pulled the knife free. The handle was bone, inlaid with jewels, but weighted correctly with the steel blade etched with the words ‘aim for my heart, for it is yours.’ He carried the weapon through the room and into the library, where he found his wife moping on a chaise lounge.
“Here you are, my love,” Braydon said, holding the knife out, handle first to her.
“I don’t want it. It failed me,” Faith replied, turning away from it.
“It’s not the knife’s fault, dear. I should have kept moving. Your aim was true. I’m sorry I made you miss,” Braydon said, stroking her hair. “You know how much I hate to disappoint you.”
“I just really want to do it,” Faith said, craning her neck backward to look up at him, so he appeared upside down in her vision.
“You will someday, my sexy assassin,” Braydon replied, bending and kissing her forehead. “If anyone could, it would be you.”
“I don’t understand, though,” Faith said, “When we were in the Caribbean, I hired professionals to kill you. They weren’t cheap, either. They said they did their job.”
Braydon’s mind wandered to the vacation, where the five men had boarded the boat in the middle of the night while Faith was onshore. He remembered the smell of the explosives they used as he instructed them on how to arm them properly. Lucky for them he was there, they would have killed themselves.
“So it wasn’t just a fire in the engine room?” he lied.
“No, dear. I was trying to surprise you for our anniversary, but it’s getting harder and harder to surprise you. I can’t seem to kill you any better than the men that I hire. I don’t understand at all,” she said, rolling onto her back. “And then you were so understanding the first time you caught me. You still stay with me despite the repeated assassination attempts, and even encourage them.”
“It’s because I love you, my dear,” Braydon replied, petting her hair as he pressed the handle of the knife into her palm. “You have no concept of the depth of my love for you.”
“I love you, too, I think,” Faith replied.
“You think?” Braydon asked, an amused expression on his face.
“It’s complicated,” Faith said, looking up at him. Her green eyes never ceased to catch his breath in his lungs. The way her brown hair fell on the velvet couch beneath her, all he wanted at that moment was to paint her.
“Tell me, then,” Braydon said, “I swear, no judgment or recourse. Tell me the complications, and maybe I can help to untangle it with you.”
“The truth?” Faith asked.
“All of it. I didn’t go anywhere when I discovered you were trying to kill me. I certainly won’t because of your past, or your future,” Braydon said.
Faith sat up, facing away from him. She looked up at the books stacked on the shelves as light filtered through the window casting long shadows across their spines.
“I killed my last three husbands,” she said. “I never loved them, hell, I never even liked them really. It was a cold, calculated transaction for me to get my hands on their money.”
“I see,” Braydon said, a caring smile on his face, “and what’s different about me?”
“I can’t seem to kill you, for one,” Faith replied, turning to look at him. “You always look at me like I’m the sweetest person you know, for two, and for three, I-” she faltered.
“Take your time, dear,” Braydon said.
“I can be myself around you more than with anyone else I’ve been with in the past. You know I’m trying to kill you for your money, yet you still support me and even buy me the things I want to do it with,” Faith said, looking down at the knife in her hand. “I don’t feel trapped because you let me go wherever I want, with or without you, and I have access to a ridiculous sum of money already. What’s stopping me from taking what I can and leaving?”
“I don’t know that answer, my love,” Braydon replied. “All I know is that I am grateful for every day you choose to spend with me.”
“See! That’s what I’m talking about! I’m talking about killing you, with a knife in my hand, mind you, and you’re looking at me as though I could be a baby goat sleeping in your lap,” Faith said, “It’s so confusing.”
“In my experience, love is one of those finicky things that require you to accept the things that would otherwise put someone off,” Braydon said, “I would happily spend the rest of our lives together, every second you trying to kill me, rather than spend the rest of eternity without you.”
Faith stared at him, her expression soft and thoughtful. Braydon could see the knife twitching in her hand as she thought something over.
“Can I ask you to do something for me?” Faith finally asked.
“Anything,” Braydon replied.
“Would you lie down on this couch and let me stab you?” she asked.
With only a smile on his face, Braydon removed his robe, hanging it on a nearby lamp, and laid down on the lounge with his arms over his head, hands clasping each other. He looked up at her eyes as tears brimmed along the bottoms of them.
“None of that, my dear. There’s no need for tears,” Braydon said, touching the side of her face before getting his arm out of the way. “It’s time you learned more about me, anyhow.”
“Goodbye, Braydon. I really did love you,” Faith said, lifting the knife above her head with both hands.
Braydon simply smiled back at her.
Faith came down with the knife with everything she could manage. It landed between his ribs, slicing well into his lungs, she knew. Braydon’s face was a mask of pain at that moment. His eyes remained locked on hers as she twisted the knife, and he convulsed under her hands. Blood poured from the wound, dark and thick.
Faith released the handle of the knife and took a step back, covering her mouth with a blood-covered hand.
Braydon felt the sharp sting of oxygen loss, as well as the two cracked ribs where the knife had twisted. She had done right, and under normal circumstances, anyone else would have died in a matter of a few minutes. Without removing his eyes from hers, he reached down and removed the knife from his side and let it drop to the floor. The pain vanished instantly, and his breathing became regular—a sad smile on his face.
“I’m sorry, my dear,” he said without moving.
“How? I don’t understand? You shouldn’t be alive, let alone able to speak,” Faith replied.
“Come here, and I’ll show you,” Braydon said. He knew he looked like something out of a Hollywood set, blood-covered and simply a mess as he beckoned her to his side. He lifted his shirt as she walked slowly toward him. There was little more than a faint pink line where the knife had been.
“It was in there. I know it was,” Faith said, touching the spot.
“It was, and it hurt, but I can’t die, my dear. A most unfortunate circumstance, indeed. The one thing I would happily give you, I simply can’t,” He said, his smile turning to a slight frown.
“Y-you really can’t die?” Faith asked.
“Truly, my dear. I spent untold amounts of money over the last two hundred years attempting it,” Braydon replied.
Faith threw her arms around him, ignoring the blood entirely. “I’m so sorry!” she bawled into his chest.
“It’s better when you’re with me, my love,” Braydon replied, petting her hair. “If anyone could figure out how to do it, it will be you. It’s one of the things that drew me to you in the beginning. I could smell the bloodlust.”
“I love you, Braydon,” Faith whispered as she lay her ear against his chest. She could hear the air in his lungs and the thrum of his heart. “I’ll find a way to do it for both of us.”