THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 2.3 - DOSSIER

Although he had important matters to discuss, Cain, nevertheless, took a few moments to ensure Becky was comfortable, warm and calm. Gently he placed her on the bed while the slumber he’d induced kept her within its embrace. He removed her shoes, then draped the bedspread over her sleeping frame. Dimming the bedside lamp, he sat on the edge of the bed; just watching her breathe.

The evening breeze pushed in through the delicate voiles, allowing the soft glow from the yellow moon to reach inside and caress the sleeping woman. To Cain’s eyes, she looked radiant - but then that was how he always saw her; a beacon of hope in his dark and lonely existence.

Somehow, she comforted him. His inner battles would wane, wither, become neutralised in her presence. It was only once she’d left to return to her own world, that his ancient agonies would become prevalent once more.

A small smile played on his lips as he thought how irritated she’d be when she woke to find him gone again. As much as he enjoyed her company, he could not -would not - allow her within an inch of danger. It had been too close a call that night in Whitby - he would do everything he could to spare her that again.

Leaning in a little, he watched her lids flutter. They stilled, then shifted again as her eyes danced beneath, in a land of dreams. Quite what her mind would be conjuring he knew not, but he hoped it was nothing to cause her concern - or sadness.

He brushed aside some stray strands which concealed part of her face. As her hair fell into place on the pillow, his eyes were drawn to the pulse beating steadily on her neck; its rhythm, an invitation indeed to one such as he.

She had re-awakened many slumbering sensations and emotions in his ancient being. Thoughts he had not entertained in centuries forged their way up through the murk of a forfeited life.

He also knew, deep in his black heart, that Becky had come to care deeply for him. It was a realisation which filled him with a vacillatory joy, whilst being bittersweet at the same time.

Sometimes, when in her company, he could almost forget what he was, and imagine how it would be if he were a simple man again. These unbidden rushes of desire, however, he had to keep in check. It was one such weakness which had burdened him with a monumental regret almost 3000 years ago. What little of his libido had survived his journey through the centuries then, had been laid to rest once and for all the day Melantha had taken her last breath.

Or so he’d thought.

An added agony was the knowledge Becky wanted him to indulge; to feed, to take from her that which she offered freely, in exchange for the life he could give her. Countless times he’d refused her, although he could not bring himself to tell her why.

Occasionally, she would huff and stomp or sulk, but more often than not, she would remain silent, swallowed by her melancholy once more. That was nothing compared to the agonising torment immortality would inflict upon her, but this she could not comprehend and would try to persuade him again at a later date. She was persistent, but still, he relished his time spent with her.

A small moan escaped him. With a defiant resolve, he dragged his eyes away, focusing on the patterned bed-cover instead.

Enough! he told himself. He could not afford to linger on such thoughts. He would not taint that which he adored - he would never succumb again.

With a resigned sigh, he pushed himself up and left the room, quietly closing the door.

He moved through to the large living area, its space contemporary and subtly furnished, a tad too clinical for the vampire’s liking.

Nick approached with a glass of wine in his hand. “Is she settled?” he asked, as he sat amid the large sumptuous cushions perfectly aligned along the backrest of one of the broad sofas.

“Yes,” Cain replied, nonchalantly.

“Good. So what do you think?” Nick spread his arms, gesturing the room and careful not to spill his Shiraz.

Cain’s eyes flitted over him before scanning the room a little more carefully. Antique white walls and fixtures, including a glass-fronted focal fireplace would have been blinding had it not been for the flagstone flooring in its varying shades of ochre and taupe.

Two enormous cream sofas were positioned adjacent to a wide but low, carved table. Its surface, a once gnarled cross-section of a tree had been planed and varnished to a high-quality gloss, clearly exhibiting the many rings depicting the age of the host tree.

Injected here and there were splashes of teal, ochre and chocolate from the soft furnishings, such as cushions, throws and scatter rugs, to occasional elaborate candles on vintage cream candelabras. In each corner of the room sat a large glazed urn full of exotic grasses and peacock feathers. Even the paintings on the walls, giant canvases of abstract art, reflected the contrasting colours of the furnishings.

Enormous windows and patio doors opened to a spacious veranda, appointed in much the same manner as the interior and its colour-scheme. Solar lights dotted around the top of ornate railings, glowed against an indigo sky.

“Well?” Nick asked, impatient for the vampire’s verdict.

“Nice. If it’s your thing, I suppose.” Cain sat down, indifferent, on the opposite sofa.

Nick rolled his eyes and tutted just as Craig arrived, carrying what looked like a thick dossier. “At least it’s a notch up from where we found you,” he commented, light.

Cain grinned. “I will give you that, yes.”

He waited for Craig to sit, then wasted no more time getting straight to the point. “So, these vampires. Tell me about them.”

The two angels sat forward as Craig opened the folder and spread an assortment of pictures and scribbled notes across the table.

Cain leaned in for a closer look. He glanced up at the two Fallen and cocked an eyebrow, questioning.

“Becky’s input,” Craig answered.

“You involved her?” The vampire’s voice sharpened a note.

“No!” Nick responded, quick, defensive. “We just took a page out of her book so-to-speak. The line of work she’s in, she carries around notes, photos, layouts etc, so we thought we would do the same. Well, then at least you don’t have to rely on your super-spooky nostrils to locate the vermin, do you!”

The slow turn of Cain’s head as he eyed the Fallen implied he was offended.

Nick swallowed. “I - I wasn’t implying you were vermin, I was...erm...um...”

“I do not have ‘super-spooky nostrils’,” Cain said calmly, his gaze unwavering.

Nick fell silent then glanced a little nervously at Craig. The second angel snorted, hiding a smile behind his hand.

"Damn! Your sense of humour is evolving fast,” Nick said with a sigh of relief as he smirked at Cain.

The vampire’s mouth split into a slow smile, but it soon disappeared as he looked back at the portfolio. His eyes drifted over some of the photos; a myriad of individuals, all pretty normal apart from the haunted look in their eyes. “The nest?”

“Yes, some of them anyway,” Craig offered.

“And their leader?” Cain poached through the photos trying to ascertain which one it would be.

“We have none of him.”

“That’s disappointing.” The vampire cast the photos aside and leaned back into the cushions.

“We only have a name. Well, more of an alias, I guess.”

Cain just stared at them, waiting for the identity to be revealed.

Nick took a sip of wine, then answered. “He’s known as ‘Magpie’.”

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