THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 4.0 - DO NOT PATRONISE ME

Cain entered the room quietly and closed the door. Pausing once he did so, he noted the air was heavy, laden with melancholy.

Only the subtle glow of a summer moon offered light in the place, yet he could see every detail of the woman sitting on the bed; the tips of her hair shifting, almost floating on the night’s breeze which swept in through the open window. Her chest, hypnotic with its rise and fall, held him momentarily captivated. He then became aware of the steady pulse at the side of her neck.

Correcting his focus, he found the occasional goose-bump pricking her skin, the trigger of which he was uncertain. Was it too, from the freshness of the night air, or did his presence somehow upset her?

He felt as if he’d been transported back in time, faced with the woman he’d first met nearly eighteen months ago in Whitby when she was emotionally wounded, sad, lonely. For once, the tides of sorrow washing over him were not for himself, but her. Words seemed to elude him.

He moved across the room, stopping just short of where she sat, staring out of the window. He could see the signs of her trying to ward off a surge of emotion - her fingers often kneaded her clothing when upset; in this case, it was the throw on which she sat. Guilt swamped him.

“You’re always pushing me away,” she said unexpectedly, not even looking in his direction.

“I don’t mean to,” he replied, soft, compassionate.

“Yes, you do.” Her voice hitched slightly.

He was compelled to tell her why; explain his reluctance to become too close. But, could he? “Becky, you need to understand...”

“I do understand!” She turned to face him. Her eyes were moist, swimming within restrained tears. “I know who and what you are. I have seen what you are capable of and can imagine things which, as of yet, remain unseen. I have borne witness to both your diabolic nature and your celestial greatness. So do not patronise me!”

Obliquely he was caught off guard. He lowered his gaze, momentarily bewildered as he felt chastised.

“Am I that loathsome to you?” she breathed.

His head snapped up. “Loathsome?” Hesitantly, he moved around the edge of the bed, so he was facing her. “How can you think such a thing?”

She did not meet his eyes; instead, she stared at the floor, her hair loose around her shoulders, shielding her from the intensity of his gaze. He crouched down. “Becky,” he whispered, sweeping her hair aside so he could see her face. Gently, he lifted her chin, making her look at him. Mirrors to the soul indeed, he thought, as he saw the longing behind her lashes. It tore at his heart to see her real desire, yet he could not bear for her to believe he looked upon her with indifference or displeasure. “You are my beacon of hope, the only true light I have within my dark and depressing existence. I could never loathe you.”

It was hard to gauge whether his words had eased or worsened her pain as her tears began to flow. He reached out to wipe them away. A winsome smile played upon his lips as she nuzzled his hand, pressing her cheek against his palm.

“Yet you would let me fade from your life as you continue, ageless, perfect, supreme,” she murmured almost dreamily.

His smile faltered, and he pulled away, abrupt, leaving her gasping by the suddenness of his movement. “I cannot grant you what you wish,” he said, struggling to keep the irritation from his voice.

“You mean you won’t!” she challenged, righting herself from her surprise.

He turned from her, striding to the darkest corner of the room. “Yes, you are correct. I won’t!”

She stood and faced him. “Why?”

“You know why!”

“You have only ever addressed logistics and painted a dire picture of yourself. That is not reason enough to deny me what I know I want; what I need!”

Within the blink of an eye, he was standing in front of her, gripping her upper arms. “I am a monster! Not only do I futilely try to cleanse the world of corruption, in God’s name,” he intoned; his tenuous faith vocalised with mockery. “But, I destroyed those I cared about too!”

“Through deceit of the Fallen, Cain! I don’t care what others say or have written down the ages; you were not responsible for Abel’s death.”

“Believe what you will! But even at that, I was responsible for Melantha!” His eyes, fierce to begin with, held Becky’s captive. The realisation he’d finally opened to confession gradually softened his features; he wore a look of inscrutable remorse.

Tentatively she reached out, her hands cupping his face, thumbs caressing his cheeks. “Tell me,” she whispered. “Tell me all.”

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