THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 5.1 - BREAKFAST

Riley felt like the prey which had inadvertently walked into a den of wolves. From different vantage points in the dining room, five pairs of preternatural eyes watched him as he stood near the door, nervous and self-conscious.

At first, he tried not to look at the vampires. Nevertheless, both a morbid curiosity married with an in-built instinct to flee should they seem likely to attack, had him frequently gauging their whereabouts in the room.

His discomfort was not eased any when he noted Christine was throwing him furtive glances then giggling with Mia. The other female looked at him coquettishly, her tongue tracing the crease of her lips. Never had he felt so vulnerable, so exposed. Gullible and stupid weren’t too far behind that prognosis either.

Inwardly, he chastised himself. This brood was no ordinary group he’d become inveigled with which he could suddenly leave when it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. Oh no. This little collective was death incarnate; a nightmare turned real, which could readily rip one to shreds - just for the fun of it. He huffed, ashamed of himself. When he fucked up, boy, he fucked up good.

His eyes flicked to the males in the room. The one nick-named Hobbit, along with Axl, the wanna-be biker, sat at the table talking in low voices. He tried hard to maintain eye-contact when they looked in his direction, but his courage failed him.

His situation seemed to worsen as he locked onto Cole, the dispassionate watcher who oozed menace as if it were a birthright. Riley’s heartbeat quickened as the vampire’s lips curled into a less than pleasant smile.

“Boo!”

Riley jumped, emitting a small squeal at Luke’s anomalous greeting. The others in the room laughed outright at the human’s reaction.

Smirking, the vampire leader strode confidently into the room followed by his brother Tony, and the highly regarded Fergus. “Good morning,” he said.

A synchronised response came from his fellow vampires. They all gathered around the table.

Luke turned to Riley. “Come, join us. Have some breakfast.” He indicated a seat next to him.

Hesitantly, Riley accepted and sat down, quiet. Fighting the urge to look at his hosts, he scanned the dining table. Nine places were set, an arrangement which bemused yet worried him. His rising angst was relieved, slightly, when two women - human he assumed, going by the bite marks on their arms - arrived with salvers of bacon, eggs, sausages and tomatoes. They set them on a large, ornate dresser then started plating the food up for the diners.

Transfixed, he watched as the vampires started eating. Christine, who sat opposite Riley, delighted in demonstrating a distinctly lewd display while eating her sausage. Mia giggled.

“Enough!” Luke ordered, his voice low, threatening, as he glared at the salacious female. Christine lowered her eyes and proceeded to eat her food without further taunts.

“Eat,” Luke said, nudging Riley.

Tentatively, Riley took a bite of bacon. As soon as it hit his tastebuds, he realised how hungry he was and delved in about his breakfast.

“Thank you for letting us all stay, Cole,” the leader voiced.

Riley, surprised to discover he was in the watcher’s house, afforded him a glance.

“Pleasure,” Cole replied, picking at the bacon and sausages on his plate. “I rarely have guests.”

“Well, these ones taste amazing!” Axl piped up, shovelling food in his mouth.

Riley gagged staring at his plate. He lowered his fork and knife.

The biker laughed raucously. “Oh chill, little man. I’m kidding!” Everyone, bar Riley, joined in his humour. Riley was still reluctant to continue with his breakfast. “Honestly! It’s normal food. From a supermarket,” Axl said, insistent.

Deciding to trust the vampire, Riley resumed his breakfast.

Once the vampires’ mirth subsided, Luke spoke. “We are going to engage with Cain and his companions.”

All eyes turned to him. Cole asked the obvious. “How?”

The leader turned to Riley, a wide grin spreading on his lips. “My familiar here is going to intervene.”

Cole erupted. “He’s scared of his shadow, let alone us, and you intend to send him in to meet with the father of all vampires and Fallen Angels?”

A ripple of mirth ran around the table. Riley’s appetite was once more dulled. He turned to Luke. “What can I do?”

Although his question was loaded with apprehension and dread, the leader flipped it on its side with aplomb. “Now, see that, my friends? He is eager to please me.”

Riley was shocked and struggled to keep his face as expressionless as possible. He was about to protest, confess his insufficient expertise in dealing with supernatural hierarchy, but Luke silenced him with nothing more than his forefinger held to his lips. “There is a woman. She is smitten with Cain.”

“And how do you know this?” Cole inquired, a smirk playing on his lips.

Fergus sat forward. “Tony managed to glean a little more information when he met the Fallen. And you forget I am a genius with computers.”

The watcher seemed unperturbed. “I can assure you I forget nothing. I am curious how and what else you discovered though.”

Fergus grinned. “The usual methods; checking out those who like our site and bother to make contact. Cain’s name came up, so I ... ‘ran a diagnostic’.”

“You mean you hacked him.”

“Yes.”

“And?”

Fergus’ grin widened. “It would appear the device he used belonged to another, namely the woman in question. She is Rebecca Thomson, better known as Becky, and she likes to write down her thoughts and experiences on her computer. I came across Word docs, a diary or journal I suppose you could call it, where she openly admits how she feels about Cain. She also mentions the two Fallen Angels. They go by the names of Craig and Nick, but their true identities are Kokabiel and Azazel, respectively.”

“Dumb bitch!” Mia muttered under her breath.

“On the contrary,” Luke reacted, his voice sharp. “Thanks to her confessions, we have invaluable information.”

Riley noticed the female’s lip ripple in a snarl as she averted her gaze. Mia did not like being reprimanded; it seemed.

“Invaluable? How?” Again Cole was like a rottweiler, unshakable, relentless.

“We know where they are,” Luke replied. He held Cole with a steady stare. The watcher merely cocked an eyebrow. “Tony will take Riley to their location.”

“Damn!” Christine muttered. “And I thought we’d have fun with Plan C.”

A brief rumble of laughter passed through some present. Luke cocked an eyebrow at Christine but said nothing.

“Wait!” Riley objected. “No disrespect, but these sound like serious fucking immortals. I have no experience...”

“You are going after the woman, not Cain or the Fallen,” Luke said, blunt.

Still unsettled, Riley protested again. “Listen, I’m not equipped...”

“Judging by what I saw in the shower this morning, I would say you are more than adequate!”

Silence momentarily swept through the room, broken by a few snickers and a cough.

Riley’s face was aflame. The feeling of nausea returned, all down to jarred nerves as well as the humiliation of having his morning’s ‘wake up call’ revealed to the whole coven.

“And why are you not going if you are so keen to meet Cain again?” Cole ventured, looking directly at the leader.

Luke’s bout of angst cooled as he turned his gaze to the watcher. Once more, the confident, audacious grin stretched his lips. “Because he is coming to us.”

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