THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 6.3 - 'DANNY'S SPECIAL'

Riley walked beside Becky, hands in pockets. He scanned the sea of pedestrians expecting to see at least one of the brood watching them. They were cunning though, and Riley doubted they would be in plain sight. He checked his watch. It was 20:34.

“You seem nervous, Riley. What gives?”

He turned towards Becky and forced a smile. “I was just checking the time. The club doesn’t open until 10 pm, so I was wondering if you fancied something to eat first? Especially after your flight?” He knew it was lame and could cause him a whole heap of trouble in more ways than one. But, he had some money on him still - the vampires had never seen fit to take his wallet - and Luke expected Riley to win over Becky’s trust. How better than ask her to dinner? Her response, however, took him by surprise.

“I never said I flew here, what made you think that?”

Riley sucked in a deep breath, his brain churning, looking for a good answer. “I saw you hand over your passport and there was an airline tag on your case.” He noted she instantly relaxed. He laughed, although it was not through mirth, more a strange relief. “And you call me nervous?”

Becky laughed with him. He liked how it sounded. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I think I am still a bit shaken from earlier.”

“That’s understandable.” Riley nodded. He took a long shot - and a dangerous one. “Look, if you would rather forget about tonight -”

“No! I want to go. I’m not overly hungry, though. Isn’t there food available at the nightclub anyway?”

“Yes, but well... I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like us to talk more, and it’s noisy in the club. You can barely hear yourself think, let alone speak once the music starts.”

He was surprised to find even under duress he could still appreciate an attractive woman. Her smile was warm, and eyes bright, friendly, although something lay behind them which he could not identify. He wondered if it was to do with this enigmatic Cain.

“Fair enough. I don’t want anything much, though. None of your American-sized portions, thank you.”

Riley smiled and gestured ahead. “Steakhouse, pizza or Chinese?”

“I’ll share a small pizza with you,” she said.

“Sounds good to me.”


Their pizza arrived - a ‘Danny’s Special’ consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, mushroom, green pepper and onions. Food and wine helped both individuals to relax a bit more, and conversation had started easily enough; the general chit chat - ‘getting to know you’ things. Riley liked the strange little coincidence Becky worked in field advertising for a local newspaper chain while he himself was a freelance proofreader trying to pin down a copy editor’s job.

Niceties aside, he was looking for an opening to broach the subject of the pending doom which hung over them. Then he remembered her mentioning the gothic music festival - it was a shot he had to take, and he managed to move into the conversation without too much difficulty.

“So did you dress up?” he asked, tearing another piece of pizza free.

“Yes,” Becky replied. “It was a first for me, that kind of festival, gothic and steampunk I mean.”

“I would imagine it was quite a spectacle.”

“Oh, that it was.”

“And in all their regalia, what monsters did you favour?”

The briefest of smiles played on her lips. A moment or two of silence passed. “I associated with Dr Frank’n’furter, a plague doctor, an Egyptian mummy, a zombie. And a vampire.” Her involuntary sigh conveyed much.

“Only one vampire? At a goth festival?”

Her quietness shouted across the table, and the look in her eyes spoke volumes. It was now or never.

“What if I told you they do exist?” Riley ventured, his eyes holding her captive.

Becky stared as if she was trying to decide whether he was serious or not. She took a deep breath. “I know they do,” she whispered.

“Cain?”

Hearing his name, she almost spilt her wine. She fumbled to save the glass and its content. “You know him?” Her eyes were wide, disbelieving.

Riley sighed with relief. The hardest threshold was now successfully crossed. “No. But, I know of him, and I also know he’s likely to show up at the Nitelife too.”

“How? How do you know?”

The overwhelming need to spill all made the words tumble, chaotic, from Riley’s lips. “I need to tell you everything, Becky.” His voice automatically lowered to a whisper. “They hacked your computer, after some sort of report they pulled from responses to their page. They know about Cain, you, the angels. The Nitelife is too dangerous for you.” Instinctively, he reached for her hand.

“Well, isn’t this cosy,” a voice spoke, bold, causing Riley to blanch.

Becky looked up as a well-manicured hand reached out towards her. A young man, trendily dressed and with obvious good taste in tailoring stood before her. “Hello,” he said.

“H-hello,” she replied. Her eyes flitted between Riley and the new arrival.

The stranger pressed his hand forward, insistent until Becky accepted. He smiled, cocky. “I’m Luke Dubois, Riley’s - mentor. I’m most happy to make your acquaintance.”

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