Countless generations and several great filters later, we find ourselves in a more current age. At this time, it so happened that a waitress at a club had caught eyes with a big shot stock broker and they conceived a baby boy in a private room. Being a poor Cuban immigrant, Remedios was stuck with this baby while the man to his family and his lies. Remedios claimed knew the man’s identity. He had a wife and a daughter waiting for him at home. Whenever anyone asked who he was, Remedios say that it didn’t matter.
The healthy seven pound, three ounce, nineteen inch baby boy was born in Sacred Heart Hospital in Brooklyn and eight weeks later he was baptized Abraham Miguel Ramirez. Remedios recieved a dream from her saints that the boy would some day become the first American Pope. And from that moment onward, it was always expected by his mother and by Abe himself.
Over the summer following his high school graduation, Abe was planning on making a pilgrimage to the Vatican. He had to go into the city to pick up his passport, but not before his mother grabbed him on the way out the door. She divulged to him that she had receieved another dream from her saints. They told her to tell him that he should come home as quickly as possible and stay away from red roses at all costs. Abe rolled his eyes. The saints always sent her ominous messages that never much lead anywhere. Begrudgingly, he promised his mother the simple favor and set off.
Everything went well in the office, seeing as how Abe had no criminal record and all the recommendations any graduate could ask for. With his passport in hand and his path before him, he took his mother’s advice and turned back to go home. He let his mind wander and allowed himself some small sense of pride of the achievement and how sure his future had become. So much so that he grew distracted. He didn’t even realize that he bumped into a woman on the stairs. He knocked what she was carrying out of her hands.
In his flurry of apologies, he bent down to pick it up her bags before he realized that among them they were a bundle of thirteen red roses. He was immediately horrified at the idea of his mother’s prediction, but before he could run away in terror he had cast a glance at who he had bumped. It was too late however, because they instantly locked eyes, and it turns out she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He had flirted with girls before and even told a few he loved them, but in those emerald green eyes, obscured by blonde and fire hair, he suddenly came to the realization that he had never been in love before. He knew this because in that instant, he had fallen in love forever more real than words can ever say.
She was beautiful, but this was different. Hers was a deep, ancestral beauty: one that was not only born and bred, but painstakingly curated. Every fold of her half dressed hair, every crease of her surprised brow, every edge of her sharp bone structure, was orchestrated to make this other-worldly entity whose hand he grace while they tried to pick up the same rose. Her skin was soft, but it hummed with an electricity that shot up Abe’s neck and paralyzed him. After meeting her, he could smell her essence. It was like the pleasant dreams and meadow flowers. He would say that she was made in the image of Heaven itself.
He apologized once more in earnest, and the urge to run for his old life had evaporated. It was already gone. He introduced himself as she couldn’t stop smiling at him either. Her name was Essalune Zornkin, better known as Luna.
She grew up in one of the wealthiest stock brokering families in Manhattan. She was on her way to a birthday party for her cousin with roses in hand when she stopped by the passport office. That was the plan initially. Everything in Luna’s life revolved around the plan. Everything from Luna’s birth down to the day she would die had already been planned for generations. Everything, from where she would go to school to where she would live to when she would have children, was all mapped out by people that weren’t her. She was a small, yet essential cog in the great engine that kept America and it’s great fortune turning.
The effect of the plan on the Zornkin house made it a very cold and overly formal place. It wasn’t for lack of caring, but every moment of the day was assigned. It was imposed on her at a very young age that time was money and opportunity was latent in every moment. Everything, being so scheduled in advance laid out the steps in which the family members could take in order to squeeze every last drop of cash out of the waking hours. She watched her parents take cocktails of uppers and stabilizers and supplements every morning as they told her how much they envied her youth, and how someday she may have to do the same to maintain the merciless pace of the plan. She had personally paid special mind that she never wanted to be like that, so she worked even harder to compensate and promised herself that she would never get tired. She was a poor sleeper to begin with.
It was clear very early in Luna’s life that there was also something dark circulating within her family. Because she was such a poor sleeper, once a month, she would catch her parents leaving the house in the early hours wearing black hooded robes. Sometimes she would wake up early and catch them coming home smelling like blood and sweat.
On her sixteenth birthday it was revealed to her that a deal had been struck by her family a long time ago. One of her ancestors, one of the first Europeans to arrive in America and settle, happened upon the arts of the natives. Luna’s ancestor saw their ability to commune with realms outside of our own. Rather than taking the many years required to learn the arts like the natives did, he and his men sneaked into the camp at night, killed the leaders and took their powers and their instruments from them. What they didn’t realize was that in doing so, they changed the energies encased in the conduits and attracted darker forces than those with which native Americans communed. When he performed the rituals it wasn’t the spirits of the Earth that answered, but rather a demon by the name of Mammon.
The creature offered a pact with the man. It would offer a plan that would never end, but it would ensure wealth and power for the man’s family until the end of humankind. All that was required was that they follow it exactly. When Abe learned of this, he noted that it sounded like they had become slaves to this demon. Luna agreed that is what it felt like.
The Zornkinds rose to prominence almost immediately in the New World and began to lay the groundwork for modern civilization as well as the cables that run beneath it. The plan had worked out perfectly for centuries. At least until that moment that Abe bent down to help Luna pick up her roses.
Neither of them could have known it, but they both fell in love in that moment. Their breath was gone and they suddenly had nothing to say. They were each in awe to see the person that they were made for. For the rest of their lives, there wouldn’t go a day where they would not think of one another. They would never have another decision in their lives where they did not consider the other. Their essences had become tangled in the great web of being, and they were together for the rest of Time.
It started with apologies and it could have ended there, but they couldn’t help but venture for more. They asked what one another was doing there. Abe explained his trip to Rome, conveniently leaving out the part where he was planning his entire life to become a priest. Luna was planning a trip to Abu Dhabi to steward under her father, conveniently leaving out that it was a deal for billions of dollars overseen by a demonic overlord for the further corruption of human civilization.
Eventually coffee came up and they both thought it sounded like a good idea. At coffee, they talked about dinner, and at dinner they talked about drinks. Neither of them were drinkers, but it wasn’t the alcohol that was making them lean into one another. Helplessly, they kissed and bound their bodies to follow their souls.
Before they knew it the sun was down. Reluctantly, they finally said their goodbyes. Abe asked for her card and put it in the back of his wallet. Abe missed his bus and in his pride and to the terror of his worried mother would spend the night in the Central Station. Luna had missed three appointments and for the first time since the pact, the plan had faltered. Forces had noticed, but a few weeks of overtime would be able to get them right back on track.
As soon as Abe got back home, he informed his mother that Pope would have to wait and he was going to enrolling in business school that day. Remedios knew that he had found the red rose that the saints warned him about and she knew she couldn’t stop him.
Nothing had ever made more sense in Abe’s life. He put in five years at the best New York university that would take him and paid it all on loans. Remedios’s credit was never the same, but she understood that it was for the cause of love. After fighting off thousands of other applicants from across the city, Abe was one of five students that found his way to an internship to Zornkin Global Industries. Many of the skills that were being prepared to make him a good priest paved his way to his career as a business man. He was charming and wore his story on his sleeve (Notably, the story of his birth, not the part about Luna). His honesty was refreshing and he genuinely cared for his clients.
All the while, Luna was his Polaris, and guided him through the late night studying and crossing the city in bad weather to meet representatives. She was in his spare shirts that he had to change into between jobs, as well as the sweat stains on the old ones. She was in his morning cup as well as the one he needed at midnight to finish his reports. She was in every one of his suitcases, on the tips of all of his pens, and he wore her tucked behind his pocket squares right in front of his heart. He was coming for her and nothing would stop him.
And none of this escaped the notices of certain forces unseen, that had a particular interest in how this all would resolve.