THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 5.3 - PLAN B

“What do you mean a change of plan?” Luke asked Fergus, notably irritated.

“I suspected Becky would follow Cain,” the hacker announced, surprised his suspicions had played out. “Looks like she has somehow found out his plan.”

"She’s coming here as well?” Luke’s expression changed, a look of exuberant anticipation.

Fergus nodded. “Yes. She booked her flight and hotel a few minutes ago. She should arrive by seven this evening.”

The crack of the vampire’s applause made Riley jump. Luke was like a child on Christmas morning; somehow, it was more disconcerting than his lewd behaviour, but the Familiar forced a taciturn countenance. Nonetheless, he felt as though he was in a boarding school for the macabre with no possibility of going home for Christmas at all - just neverending lessons about devious dealings leading, inevitably, to death.

Furthermore, something else didn’t feel right - there was an underlying sense of menace. As if being amid a den of vampires wasn’t trouble enough!

Judging by the look on Fergus’ face, Riley wondered if even the favoured bloodsucker was aware of anything ‘untoward’. He looked mildly perturbed with the clapping, bouncing Luke - if not embarrassed. Then again, to Riley, this whole situation was crazy, impossible, unnatural, so it was easy to start thinking there was more lurking under the surface.

“Well then, let us ‘extend an invitation’ to her also,” Luke announced to the gathered vampires.

Riley caught a glimmer of suspicion in Cole’s eyes. The watcher glanced between the two brothers; then, his eyes flitted briefly to Fergus. Luke was still delighted by the recent news, and he didn’t seem to notice. “And how do you propose to do that?” Cole asked. Everyone turned to look at him, but he merely shrugged and continued. “If she has hooked onto Cain making his way here, then won’t she become suspicious receiving an invitation to the club?”

Luke calmed, his eyes resting on Cole, a measure of castigation simmering in their hickory depths. “That’s exactly why he is aboard,” he said gesturing for Riley to stand next to him. Luke put his arm around his Familiar’s shoulders, clasping him tight against his side. A small grunt of discomfort escaped Riley.

Cole pushed himself away from the doorjamb he’d been leaning against and wandered over to Mia who stood beside the antique side-board on the far wall. He shot Riley a sneer as he passed before he met the leader’s eyes. “You trust this fiasco of a human?”

Luke, maintaining his grip on Riley, turned as the watcher moved to the side-board. “As much as I trust you, Cole,” he answered, his voice weighted with ambiguous implication.

Cole eyed Luke, impassive, unphased. Then a slow smile stretched the watcher’s lips before he turned his attention to Mia who sidled up against him, purring.

For a beat, the atmosphere was decidedly chilly until Fergus took the floor. “I think we should get to the club and take it from there.”

“Agreed!” Luke said, swirling Riley away and striding toward the door with Fergus.

The human wobbled to a stop and was met with Cole’s piercing stare which looked out from between his long black curls. The vampire blew him a kiss then exchanged a sly smile with Tony. Riley seriously did not like the watcher - not that he liked anyone in the coven, but Cole was particularly unlikeable.

“Run along,” Cole said to him. “Your Master is waiting.”


The club looked entirely different from what it had the night before — no more sweat-glistening bodies writhing to the beat or grinding against each other under multi-coloured lights. Not a dirty glass, empty can or bottle was seen, and every surface damn near sparkled.

It was neat, pristine; all seating had been cleaned and arranged around spotless, polished tables. The dancefloor had been washed and buffed, and the carpeting steamed fresh; no suspect stains of any description to be seen.

The lengthy bar, secured by a metallic roll-up door was now open, revealing sparkling glasses, an array of optics, coolers with a myriad of bottled beers and mixers. Mirrored shelving gleamed with an extensive range of alcoholic delights in all sizes and shapes of bottles. The bar counter was equally immaculate; clean mats, coasters and bowls readied for nuts and pretzels.

Riley’s nerves were sparking with every step, he felt hysteria building, and when that happened, the uncontrollable urge to babble came with it. “I don’t think I’ve been in such a clean nightclub before,” Riley gushed, trying to keep the tremor in his voice to a minimum.

Looking up he marvelled at something he’d missed entirely from his previous visit. The ceiling was a latticed, glass dome, under which, rigging, mounted with the disco lights ran the length and breadth of the room. It was strangely beautiful. Stumbling, he followed Luke and Fergus to the same tables they had been seated the night before.

“Our clientele pay good money to make use of the place, it is only right we ensure it is presentable,” Fergus answered.

“I get that! Still, it looks like it’s a first-night launch, an opening.”

Fergus’ warm-mocha lips split in a smile. “Our cleaners start the moment the last punter is out and do not leave until the place is immaculate.”

“I take it you pay your cleaners well to get this result,” Riley said as he plopped onto a seat, Tony and Luke sliding into the ones on either side of him.

Fergus scoffed as his hazel eyes held Riley to ransom. “Decent enough money, yes, but there are consequences if they fail to carry out their job properly.”

Riley swallowed, his mind instantly conjuring a stagnant pit below full of former staff, with throats, torn, and vermin feeding on the remains. Fergus laughed out loud. “Nothing sinister, Riley. They get fired, that’s all.”

Embarrassed at having been read so easily, Riley fell silent.

“You’d think we were monsters the way your mind works, Riley,” Luke said, his voice lilting as he eyed his Familiar with unmistakeable condescension. He sniggered as the human shifted uncomfortably.

Fergus flipped open his laptop, and after punching a few keys, some pictures came into view. Riley found himself staring into honeyed-brown eyes. The woman on the screen looked to be in her late twenties, early thirties, he guessed. She wore very little makeup - a touch of blusher, perhaps; lipgloss and mascara - unless her lashes were just naturally long and plush. Her hair of medium brown was worn in a simple ponytail draped over her shoulder. Several other selfies surrounded the main one on the screen.

“So,” the vampire leader said, candidly. “Plan B, it is.” He tapped the screen. “Riley, meet Rebecca Thomson, aka ‘Becky’. Now listen carefully, because this is what you are going to do...”

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