Chapter 7.3 - THE GHOST OF A TOUCH
Vampiric traits flushed his skin. Cain’s mood was thunderous, furious beyond words. How could Becky endanger herself like this? Not only did she jeopardise the entire exercise by coming here, but also her own sacred, precious life.
He felt his heart hammering, pounding as if trying to break free from the confines of his ribcage. Dark veins bled an erratic path from below his eyes, down over his cheeks; their journey, rapid, sinister, sanctioned by his rage. Using his foot, he shunted the comatose man against the bathroom wall and pulled Becky inside. He then jerked up the door handle, hard, temporarily securing the lock.
“How did you know I was even here?” Becky winced, struggling against Cain’s grip as he dragged her, rather unceremoniously behind him.
“You mean apart from Craig finding the evidence you left behind?” he snarled. Only then did he release her, pushing her further into the pristine room.
With a tight “Oh!” Becky lowered her gaze, humiliation colouring her cheeks. “I still had some holiday time left, and it’s a cultural city with plenty to see,” she huffed.
“It was you obstinance which brought you here, not the sight-seeing! But, I would have found you without a crumpled note.”
"How?” Her eyes narrowed. She did not like being scolded.
“By your scent!”
Becky’s lips twitched, surprised and wretched at the same time. Her brow pinched, betraying something akin to hope. “My scent? You - you can smell my perfume now?”
Cain grunted and loomed over her, fists clenching. “Your melancholy. You reek of it!” Obsidian eyes bore into her. He had never looked at her this way before; then again, he’d never had cause to, until now.
Becky’s eyes misted, a veil of hurt covering her features. “Oh,” she muttered, then she sank against the onyx-styled wall-boarding.
With effort, Cain tethered his anger. He had not wished to upset her, but he needed her to understand the severity of her situation. “You do realise that you are in a nest of vampires, don’t you?” He glanced at her hands - she was doing her nervous little ritual, wringing the fabric of her top. She nodded.
He took a deep breath, then huffed out his frustration. “How did you find out about this place anyway? Did Craig or Nick tell you? Or did you eavesdrop again?”
"No!” She replied insensed. After a moment, she answered huffily. “You left my laptop on; you didn’t log out - as usual! I saw the invitation.”
His jaw tightened, mouth twisting at his stupidity; now his anger was aimed inward. It would appear he was as reckless as Becky. He dragged his fingers through his hair and turned away. “That still didn’t give you licence to come here. You have put yourself at risk.” He mourned the fact his voice was accusatory.
“I realise that now - ”
“You realise now?” Cain scoffed, wheeling round to face her again. His irritation was still simmering under the surface, dangerously close to erupting once more but he fought to keep his voice low. “You know what I am capable of doing. Did you think these vampires would simply be sitting around flossing their teeth and filing their nails? They are killers, Becky! Plural! With no conscience!”
“Ok. I get it! No need to lay it on so damn thick! Having said that Riley survived.”
Becky pointed to the dishevelled figure lying on the floor. “Yes, that man you scared the shit out of!” she spat, her tone denunciative.
Cain huffed and turned away, dismissive, feeling no remorse for doing what he did. “He’s a walking blood bank, Becky, look at him!”
“He has still survived.”
“At a cost!”
“Maybe he thinks the price is worth paying until -” Then her silence, ominous by its abruptness, hung thick in the air.
“Wait a minute,” Cain said, the cogs cranking, turning. “He wants to be turned? Is that what he thinks will happen? What he’s been promised?”
Becky said nothing, she just stood, trembling. She looked away, sharp.
The silence stretched for one excruciating moment. ”You’ve been promised too, haven’t you?” Cain said. A growl sounded at the back of his throat. “By him?” He pointed to Riley.
“No!” Becky replied, inching around in a bid to protect the unconscious escort.
Cain’s eyes bore into her, unconvinced.
“Not by him,” she whimpered. “It was Magpie, but...”
Suppressed rage simmered in Cain’s eyes. “So, you’ve met with their leader?”
“He found us, but...” she said, pointing between herself and Riley.
"Found you? What a coincidence!”
Flustered, Becky’s voice hit different pitches. “Let me finish!! I didn’t realise who or what Riley was until he told me they had hacked my computer after you interacted with their page or something. They must have been on the lookout for any signs since the meeting with Craig and Nick. They know about us all from my notes. A few minutes later, Magpie showed up. And for the record...”
“Wait! You keep notes?” Cain’s mood was not improving.
“A diary! It’s personal, not unusual for folk to do, so don’t give me a hard time about it. But - I -I didn’t think -”
Cain’s fury surfaced again. “Damn it! That’s the trouble, Becky. You don’t think! What possesses you, woman?”
Becky stood, trembling, tears pricking the corners of her eyes.
Cain honed in on her mouth, watching her lips tighten, stubborn, peeling slowly apart in a bid to answer. But, no sound came forth. He grunted, seething, and moved towards the door.
"You do!” Becky’s pained voice rang out after him. “It’s always you! I write about you to keep you close to me,” she added quickly, her voice still broken, wounded. Then, barely a whisper, “I need you. I want you.”
The words hung in the air, their implication shattering Cain’s tenacity. He halted midstride, all his anger melting away. Slowly, he turned to face her. Another portion of resolve fell away as he witnessed a tear slip down her cheek. More tears followed - trickling, becoming absorbed in her hair which hung loose, framing her face.
With a few strides, he stood in front of her. She looked up, quivering, her eyes full of remorse, swimming within their saline pools. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered. “I was so annoyed you left after barely one day - I was hurt. I wanted to be with you - for us to spend time together. When you’re near, I - I feel comforted. Safe - yes, even amid a den of vampires.” A small, subdued laugh tumbled from her lips.
Cain’s chest heaved. An overwhelming urge, one which he had managed to stem until now, held him to ransom. Becky’s precious scent was suddenly tenfold, wafting, swirling around the room, enveloping him, laying siege to the blackest of hearts. He inhaled her sadness; it was infuriatingly compelling.
He yanked her towards him, wiping away another of her rogue tears, its trace glistening on her cheek.
A clarity he had not been host to in almost three thousand years presented itself. Unable to resist any longer, he slid his hand behind her waist and pulled her tight against him.
Becky moulded against his taut body, her breath puffing out, soft, hushed. Warm brown irises looked up, adoring, desirous, offering unconditional surrender.
Cain’s breath ghosted her cheek, stirring stray wisps at her temple, which fluttered around her face. He smiled acceptance, drinking in the colour of her hair and the sweet, pink flush of her skin.
The vampire’s eyes instinctively flared as another impulse tried to forge forward, one which was treacherous, destructive. The accelerated pulse shimmering just above her collarbone beckoned his darker emotions - a provocation to which he dared not yield.
“Cain,” Becky whispered, drawing his attention back to her eyes. Pushing up on her tiptoes, she placed her arms around his neck. “I do not want what Magpie offers.”
Cain looked at her, his eyes searching, trying to decipher what had changed in her. “You don’t?”
“No. I understand now - about Melantha. At first, I was envious, angry even. But, I realise how intense the pain of her loss is for you. So I’ve decided I will no longer be selfish; I do not want to be the cause of more agony for you. I will try to comfort you though - as me, as I am - if you will allow me?”
His mouth hovered above hers a moment longer, then he pressed down, relishing the intimacy. Closing his eyes, he tried to recall the feel of a kiss; the sensation, its heat, its taste, and all the emotions it would give life. Framing her face in his hands, he pressed their mouths a little harder together, his tongue venturing between her lips, probing, aching, driven by a primal, fundamental need.
And there, hidden within a sea of timeless memories, the ghost of a touch lingered. With it, a blissful cadence, infinitely distant, almost beyond sensory cognition, but it was there - pulsing, steady. True.
He pulled her closer still - reawakened sensations firing, igniting, coursing through his body, possessing his soul. Breaking from the kiss, he wrapped Becky in his arms, protective. He felt oddly delirious; the echo of what they had just shared refusing to leave him as if the imprint of Becky’s lips was still fresh upon his own.
He ached to savour this moment, to cherish it, but he knew he had to leave. He had work to do; the coven had to be stopped. The urgency to make this world a safe place for Becky was ever more crucial now.
Riley moaned, he was beginning to stir.
Cain locked eyes with Becky; an unspoken sentiment shared, an understanding, intimate, pure.
His mouth smiled in joyful defeat. “Stay here!” He planted a soft kiss upon her brow, lingering as long as he could afford before pulling away. “Look after him.” He nodded in Riley’s direction. “And this time, do as I say!”
He left with a smile, affection pooling in his immortal eyes.