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The thought of losing Becky had been too great - a sacrifice Cain could not bear. He was painfully aware, even had they reached her in time, medical teams would never have been able to save her.

Her light, though barely flickering, had not yet extinguished and thus he could not subject her to the angelic fire about to be discharged. Time was short, that he knew, and he could not leave her there - ravaged and violated amid the bloodshed.

Autopilot kicked in. Cradling her broken body, Cain shielded her from further wounds and jettisoned from the nightclub through the glass-domed ceiling. Conflicted, doubting every decision he was making, he kept her hidden from prying eyes; he did not want or need the Fallen’s input - nor their judgement.

It was best Nick and Craig believed Becky’s body remained on the bloodied dancefloor, lifeless and still. They were under orders to torch the place, purify it the moment Cain left; leaving only preternatural residue, essentially undetectable, inexplicable. No-one would know.

He hovered long enough to see blue flame ignite. The building would soon be purged of all evidence.

Holding his precious cargo with reverent care, Cain returned to his hotel, swift, silent. One circuit of the building pinpointed a safe place to enter. Soft and lithe, he landed on one of the balconies. Enormous raven wings folded around him, seamlessly morphing back into human attire as he blurred his way to his room.

Once inside, he lay Becky on his bed, venerate, tender, sorrowful. He removed her clothing, taking the utmost care, assessing her injuries.

Even in the dark, he could see her body had been brutally perforated, ruptured and torn by Luke’s insane blood-suckers, not least of all around her throat, shoulders, arms, even her thighs. The vampires had been extraordinarily savage on her; the blood loss, massive.

Becky was a fighter, but her breathing was now minimal, barely detectable, almost gone. And the realisation hit Cain like an eighteen-wheeler slamming him across a highway; he was about to lose the most important person in his miserable existence. His heart was being torn asunder, his soul disintegrating, turning to ash. Blood tears slipped down his cheek, his torment intense.

Nick’s words invaded his grieving mind: “The biggest regrets are not the things we have said or done, but those we have not.”

Was their poignancy reserved for a situation like this? Cain wondered. Or was it just another one of Nick’s magniloquent verbal moments? If Cain turned her - she could still die, and her suffering would likely be greater. Much greater. As would his.

But Death’s invitation was issued; Becky was about to slip into the arms of The Almighty - if indeed He would welcome her - for she did not believe.

Cain considered the One he had served for umpteen millennia. His fealty, devotion and never-ending crusade had not been awarded amnesty, forgiveness, or hope. Cain had been robbed of love and left with only a bleak, cold and intolerable existence. It was eternal damnation; the same punishment as the Fallen endured. And even those who had not walked the vengeful path were still denied absolution. So what hope was there for the Unbelievers?

Would Becky even be accepting of the Pearly Gates should they open for her? Cain doubted it very much. All Becky had wanted was to live, to love and be loved in return. He knew, without doubt, she loved him for all she was fully aware of who and what he was, what he’d done and how he survived.

Becky’s wheeze sliced through the dark, the rattle in her chest pronouncing the end was at hand.

“No!” Cain said aloud. “It is not your time!” He loved her too, equally, if not more. He then did the only thing he could.

He succumbed.

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