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Sunlight filtered through the voile curtains in Becky’s room, chasing away the shadows of night. The rays crept across the centre of the floor, up onto the bed and bathed the sleeping figure in soft white light.

Silently, Cain sat in the corner of the room where the walls remained untouched by the new day. He had not slept. His search for a definitive location on the vampires had taken him into the small hours. Once he’d found what he was looking for, his thoughts returned to the woman who now lay asleep across from him.

Some of Nick’s words from last night resonated with him, and he could not bring himself to leave without seeing Becky again - perhaps even talk with her. Right there and then, however, watching her sleep seemed the best option. What could he say to her after all? In his mind, he could still hear her weeping from the day before. Just what she had taken from their discussion, he was unsure, but it had made her sad.

His eyes raked over her body as she lay, tangled in the sheet - sure evidence of a restless night. A small moan escaped her, and she turned on her side, facing him. Still, she slept. He sighed, softly, continuing his vigil.

No amount of reasoning could deny the fact that here lay the woman he wanted in his life. He had known it from the moment he’d first saw her. All this while he had tried to fight it, to look at it as folly, pointless - sinful. But, he was drawn, time after time. Even his attempts at thwarting her interest in him, although sometimes sharp, were still executed half-heartedly.

The underlying fear, of course, was the possibility he could weaken and grant her the desire she so vehemently clung to - to be like him. He had given in once before, and the agony of that decision had haunted him ever since. Added to the pain, was the crippling doubt - a constant niggle - of what the Fallen angel, Zepar, had told him. Melantha had been a plant, an experiment set by the seraphs to aid them in their plan for vengeance against God.

The painful memory of Melantha’s last minutes swam before his mind’s eye once more. Cradling her in her final moments - her body weak, emaciated, his crimson tears splashed against her thin frame. She’d refused again to take the sustenance he’d offered. Filled with regret so profound, he’d begged her forgiveness for what he had done.

She’d lifted a trembling hand to his face. Even gaunt and pale, her beauty shone through when she looked at him. “There is nothing to forgive,” she’d said, her voice weak, shallow. “It is I who has failed you...”

“No!” He swept strands of hair over her ear and gently cupped her face.

“Yes,” she persisted. “Listen to me, Cain. I thought I was strong enough to walk the path you do, but I am not - as you can see. But, this is not your fault, my love. You have honoured me as no man has before, you have loved me unconditionally. For that, I am grateful beyond words. I have been fortunate -” She’d faltered at that point, her hand slipping from his cheek.

He held her closer, always gentle so not to cause her further discomfort. But, he couldn’t hide the pain he felt as she was fading from him.

“Look at me,” Melantha said. Cain did as she bade, and her lips stretched to a semblance of a smile. “One day, Cain, you will find another, one much stronger than me...”

He shook his head in denial.

“Yes, you will, this I promise you. And you will know that truth when you hold her. You are a good man, despite the weight you must bear for what happened in your past. Despair not, my love. There is one waiting for you, perhaps she is yet to be born, maybe even centuries from now, but you will find her. Love her, Cain. She will be strong, loyal and true only to you. She will succeed, where I have failed...”

His breath caught in his throat as the memory played out and dampness on his cheek brought him from his reverie. He swatted the tears away.

The morning light was starting to flood the room. Becky would waken soon. Much as he wanted to cross the distance and gather her to him, he refrained. For the first time in centuries, he was afraid. He was terrified. Denying his feelings was pointless; he knew that now, it did not make them go away.

He ached for her, even in ways he thought had been banished forever. But, his fear thrived no matter which alternative he considered; let her live as she was, to grow old and eventually pass from this life naturally, or, give her what she wanted so she could walk the earth with him forever - if indeed she could withstand the change. Which was the kindest thing to do? He wondered.

There was, however, a third alternative. To walk away and spare Becky the torment altogether. They would learn to live their lives without each other. It was just a case of reverting to what they knew. Wasn’t it?

So, why was this proving so difficult? Love was meant to be joyous, but perhaps for creatures such as him, it was unattainable. Such a privilege was not intended for the damned. In that, Melantha had been mistaken. There was much committed during his amaranthine existence which required forgiveness, and part of him realised he didn’t know if it was ever likely to be granted.

With a deep sigh, he rose. It was time.

He strode to the foot of the bed. Pensively, his eyes drank in the sight of the slumbering woman. At last, a look of serenity had settled upon her face following her restless night. Perhaps that was the best he could hope for her - contentment.

Barely in a whisper, he uttered his final words. “I do not expect you to forgive me, but I hope you will understand.”

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