THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 2.5 - SUCK IT UP

With news of one of the vampires having disclosed information about this renegade brood, Cain was anxious to meet with him. “I want to hear what he has to say.”

The two angels shared a look, measured, resigned. Apprehensive. Craig started to file the notes, pictures and clippings back into the dossier. He glanced at the vampire, knowing Cain wouldn’t like what he was about to tell him. “He’s gone back to the fold we believe, but its location he has kept quiet.”

Cain grit his teeth, his lips issuing a snarl. He stood up, abrupt, and moved across to the window. He fixed on the angels’ reflection in the glass. “I want that meeting. Use your contact to arrange it.”

Nick protested. “The fledgeling is gone for the time being and besides we only arrived here last night. Becky will be so disappointed...”

Cain’s eyes darkened, obsidian irises flecked with crimson, deadly. Fighting the urge to shout, he trembled as he curbed his frustration. “This is important! It has nothing to do with her!” He watched in the glass, as Nick stood and made his way towards him.

The angel stopped to his left, defiant, staring at the vampire’s image in the window. “You insensitive prick! Has your immortality rendered you bereft of any emotions other than anger and hatred? Have you learned nothing?”

He was answered with an irritable grunt as Cain’s head snapped round, a look of dark intent rippling across his face. Nick was not phased by the vampire’s anger, he held his ground. “We are all well aware of the dangers out there, especially those darker threats which the human race is unwilling to acknowledge or admit even exists. We will do our best to protect them from such atrocities, but, surely not at the cost of becoming hollow, losing our purpose, our faith or, as in your case, your humanity.”

“My benevolent nature died the day I killed my brother and became this...thing!” Cain growled.

“Stop wallowing, Cain!” Nick retorted. “Your self-pity is becoming tiresome. You are not the only one who pads across this planet, having been subjected to God’s wrath for whatever charge. But, you, like us, are here for a reason, so suck it up and deal with it!”

Silence. Angel and vampire stared at each other, heated, tense. Craig halted as if suspended, observing, waiting for a reaction.

"Suck it up, huh? An unfortunate turn of phrase to issue a vampire, Nick.”

All three preternatural beings spun on hearing Becky’s voice. She stood, hair a little dishevelled, mouth stifling a yawn as she looked at her three cohorts. Her eyes rested on Cain.

The sight of her, the hurt in her eyes, made Cain push all his angst to the back of his agitated mind. “Becky,” he whispered.

With one more scan of her friends, she simply shook her head, turned and headed back along the hall to her bedroom.

When Nick next spoke, his voice was contained, bordering sympathetic. “I know she feels for you... and you, her...”

Cain flinched, head lowering, hair falling like a curtain to hide his face. He had thought his demeanour had only ever conveyed friendship towards her - he hadn’t bargained on the angel being astute enough to see through the façade.

“What are you afraid of?” Nick asked.

Cain’s heart constricted, memories bubbling under the surface, of love long lost and regret at ever having succumbed to temptation. His fingers balled into fists as Nick’s next utterance demonstrated the angel’s infuriating ability at reading a situation. “The biggest regrets are not the things we have said or done, but those we have not.”

Only the sound of soft-soled feet moving across the floor indicated the angels were then leaving the room.

Cain glanced toward the arched doorway where Becky had stood only moments before. Regardless of what Nick and Craig derived from his manner when around her, he could not afford for Becky to interpret his interest as a potential baptism of blood. Yet, he would not be able to forgive himself for leaving her upset, thinking she was worthless, insignificant.

Staring at his feet, he questioned why he even cared. Yes, I enjoy her company; yes, she makes me feel...happy; yes, I wish our circumstances were different... He dragged his fingers through his hair, pulling it back over his brow. But, I cannot love her as she should be loved; I cannot...

Closing his eyes, he bit back memories of intimacy. Images of limbs entwined swam against his closed lids, dredged up from a time when he was untainted; a time he was still a farmer, a young man who made women smile and tremble with anticipation at his touch. Frolics in summer fields and warm, winter beds. An involuntary twitch played at the corner of his mouth as the memories swirled in his head.

Even in the earlier years of his penance, he could still lay with a woman - he had even sired children. Over time, however, such urges waned as they were replaced by a different, more primal hunger.

Then, Melantha entered his life - aeons later. Affection he could feel, love even, but he could not be with her, not as a man should be with a woman. Their intimacy was different, inevitably ending in his nursing her, trying to provide nourishment, sustenance. And it all ended in devastating failure.

He looked back at the archway. And now there was Becky. A woman who craved his company, kept asking questions, listened in awe to some of the stories he shared. And he was just as enamoured by her, relishing her warmth, her sincerity, even her sadness.

With a resigned sigh, he started toward Becky’s room, his heart beating a little quicker than normal.

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