THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 7.2 - THOUGHTS OF HER CONSUME ME

There were so many eateries off North State and its adjacent streets it was easy blending in with people milling around while they decided on which cuisine to choose. Cain pretended to check menus displayed in wall-mounted viewers or on sandwich boards outside the restaurants while he gauged the alley leading to the side entrance of the nightclub.

His keen sight noted the CCTV located on the near side of the location; it would no doubt, provide a clear view of the alley. Nothing too taxing, he thought, confident, as he prepared to move up the lane.

His path was suddenly hindered by a young girl, dressed to the nines, walking backwards, talking and laughing with a group of others - who he assumed were her friends. He tried to sidestep, but he bumped into her regardless. He apologised, offering a reassuring smile and nod.

At first, the girl he’d collided with looked incensed, as if ready to spout a stream of obscenities until one of her friends stepped forward. Pouting lips, fake tan, tits and ass emphasised in a tight little dress, she seemed to be the leader of the group. She eyed Cain suspiciously for a fleeting moment - then her glossy lips split in a temporal smile. “Tie that gorgeous hair back, handsome, and you will see where you’re going.” She pouted provocatively. “Ooh, you smell good.”

Cain was momentarily stumped, and inwardly cursing the Paco Rabanne 1 Million. These girls looked about seventeen if they were a day! All, without exception, were like a living, breathing advertisement for a strip club or brothel. Cain was not judgemental, per se, but it saddened him to see young girls present themselves as something they were not.

These youngsters were, no doubt following the ‘flavour of the day’; dress and look practically the same, emphasise their assets and paint themselves like tacky mannequins. He also knew the nature of men, and whether intentional or not, these young women were sending out signals to which some unscrupulous beasts would readily react and take advantage.

“I apologise, ladies,” he said backing up a step, hoping they would quickly move on. His response caused them to giggle. He overheard a whisper, “He’s kinda cute,” from one at the back of the group.

“Want to party with us? You’re looking lonely out here by yourself,” the pouting princess said. “We’ll show you a good time.”

Stunned again by her forwardness Cain shook his head. “Thank you, but no thank you.”

“God, you’re so damn polite!” The one he’d bumped into stepped forward, her demeanour wholly altered. “Are you waiting for someone?”

Cain nodded without thinking, still confounded by their behaviour but starting to grow agitated by the unwanted attention.

“Lucky woman,” she purred. “Girlfriend? Wife? Or is it a guy?” The girls all ‘oohed’ and laughed some more.

“No. She is - ” An odd flutter was running through Cain’s chest as an image of Becky crossed his mind.

He was suddenly aware of the girls all looking at him expectantly. “What? She’s what?” The first girl asked, eager.

The situation was beyond bizarre - five teenagers fawning over a man whose actual age, let alone his monstrous identity would shock them to the core. Yet, they were not going to relent unless he answered their question. “She is an extraordinary woman,” he replied. “Thoughts of her consume me.”

The words even surprised Cain as they tumbled from his lips. The girls, however, were in awe, gushing over his sentiment - not the reaction he had banked on; it seemed to pique their interest in him. Not good. He needed to escape - fast. “Excuse me. Enjoy your evening.”

He walked away, quick, heading for the corner of the street. He could still hear the girls voicing disappointment mixed with a few babbling romantic inferences. Once he noted they had started on their way again, he slipped back then made his way towards the alley.

He inhaled - and there it was - hanging in the air - melancholy. His eyes honed to the far end of the alley. Becky approached with a man; human, according to Cain’s senses. More surprising, he did not reek of ill-intent, he just seemed - ill, depleted. Then it registered - the man was a food source, a familiar, a tool.

Cain watched as the man opened the side-door to the club. Becky stumbled, dropping her bag, and she guddled about picking up the spilt contents. The sickly male helped her. An odd sensation flooded Cain, one he could not identify, but it led to the darkening of his eyes and fangs extending.

Noting the CCTV, he saw an opportune moment to disable it. Utilising the large metal refuse units, fire-escape route and window-ledges, Cain engaged a little parkour. Considerably swifter and quieter than his human counterparts, he quickly deactivated the camera - wires snapped, exposed - before landing next to the nightclub’s door, full vampire ‘battle-gear’ in force.

Becky’s eyes widened, and the man beside her yelped like a girl as Cain’s taloned hand clutched him by the throat. Catching the gleam of an LED up to his right, Cain swiped the interior CCTV with his free hand; it hung suspended by its wires above the familiar’s head.

“Don’t hurt him!” Becky squealed, tugging Cain’s arm.

Fierce, all fangs, talons, throbbing veins and soulless eyes, Cain closed in on the wriggling, bug-eyed man.

“Cain!” Becky demanded.

“Sleep!” He commanded with a flick of his fingers before the terrified human’s face. Instantly, the man slumped unconscious. Cain dropped him like a stone.

Becky knelt, fussing over the inert figure who lay limp, out cold. “For God’s sake! What the hell do you think you are doing?”

Livid on so many levels, Cain loomed over her. “Do not blaspheme!”

Becky’s eyes shot up at him, hard. “And don’t you dare spout your ‘holier than thou’ crap to me! You almost killed him. He’s an innocent!”

Cain kicked at the wall, frustrated, confused, seething. He noted a small gold-coloured cylinder roll from Becky’s open bag. He scooped it up then planted it in the bolt-hole, preventing the panic-bar from securing the exit.

“Hey! That’s my lipstick,” Becky protested.

“You don’t need it,” Cain growled, grabbing her arm, yanking her upright.

She wriggled against his grip. “I’m surprised you don’t just buckle the damn door with a kick!”

“Don’t tempt me! But, it would be a bit obvious someone broke in would it not?”

“What’s new?”

He grunted, deliberately ignoring her remark. “Where are you staying?”

“Why?”

“Because that’s where you’re going right now.”

“No way! I’m not moving, and I’m not leaving this poor guy,” she retorted, pointing to the unconscious figure at their feet.

“Becky - ”

“No!”

“Now!”

“No!” She stood her ground, defiant. “What you going to do Cain? Huh? Throw me over your shoulder, bounce over rooftops and swing through streets like Spiderman all night? ’Cos I’m not telling you where I’m staying. I’m not budging, and that’s it!”

“Then I’ll take you to my hotel!” He made to grab her, but she ducked under his arm, tripping over the unconscious man on the ground and then dashing to the stairwell.

The figure on the floor moaned.

Becky glanced at him, concerned, but her mouth ran off another verbal assault aimed at Cain. “Don’t tell me you’ve decided to reside above ground finally? Or is your accommodation in the basement?”

"I don’t have time for this!” Cain hissed, grabbing Becky’s companion and throwing him over his shoulder. The man grunted then fell silent again. Cain made for the stairwell. Brushing roughly past Becky, he headed to the door with a big yellow “1” emblazoned on it.

“Where are you going?” she asked, stumbling after him.

“To try and find somewhere, you two will stay put!”

He opened the door and checked along the hallway; thankfully, no more cameras. He turned left and a few feet along, he saw a small female-shaped sign on one of the doors. He pressed up against the wood, listening, checking no-one was using the facilities. Satisfied, he opened the door, lowered his cargo to the floor then grabbed Becky and yanked her inside.

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