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Chapter 12: Roses and Lilacs

Daniel woke with a start, his face wet and sticky from the tears that streamed down his face. It was the same dream again. What did they mean? He hated how they always made him feel so vulnerable. It was like he was helpless to stop whatever was happening and it seemed it was a feeling that was following through into his waking life. He never took stock in dreams and very often he never even remembered them, but something about these nagged at him and seemed to control his mood throughout that day.

Pulling the covers back, he rose from the bed, but the movement caused him to feel dizzy and he sat back down. The room was still dark and the rain hammered hard on the glass. Looking at the clock, he saw it was early and, sighing. Suddenly, a feeling of nausea consumed him and he ran to the bathroom and threw himself at the toilet and emptied his stomach. He looked terrible as he looked at the mirror. Tired didn't cover it. No it was like he was slowly being drained and now he was being sick. Reaching across, he turned on the water and waited for it to warm before stepping in. The shower felt purifying as he allowed the water to wash away the dream.

When he met Joshua, it was so much easier. In fact, it was as though he had been expected. Joshua’s parents had picked Daniel up from the airport and taken them to their grand suburban white-painted house. Joshua was everything that he expected, mild mannered and polite. He had a life plan and knew what he wanted in life. It was a true blessing that the world had Joshua in it. His parents words, but Daniel had to agree. There were so many young men and women falling into hard times with little direction, but Joshua seemed to be a rarity. Then there was Cayne and she was turning everything on its head. She used vile language and was less than welcoming. She was epitome of chaos with no clear goals of where she was heading, instead she seemed to fall from one thing to another. Everything that repelled, Daniel. Yet there was something about her that held him to her, but with it was this fear deep within him. Whenever he was near, he feared her and had no idea why. It went way past her being a woman. This was deeper and primal.

Closing his eyes to warmth of the shower he tried to refocus his mind. He hated being this tense and on edge and he still felt sick. He couldn't work that way. He could do this. He'd managed with Joshua, so Cayne should be no different.

The shower did relax him eventually and dressing he felt a little more positive. He was damn good at his job that was the reason Trebey trusted him. All he had to do was convince Michael that Cayne needed to be taken to Rome soon. He grabbed his phone and dialled Michael’s number.

‘Yes,’ came the reply, and Daniel frowned at its sharpness

‘Michael, it's Daniel, I need to speak to you.’

‘Meet me at Cayne’s.’

The phone went dead and Daniel looked down at his phone puzzled. Something was wrong. He could feel it. The relaxed mood he'd managed to find was now waning. He couldn't afford Michael not to be his usual self. The man was his anchor and rock. If he faltered then Daniel suffered.

An hour later, he found himself with Michael, outside Cayne’s door. Michael had barely spoken a word to him and Daniel sensed the strange mood his friend was in and could almost smell the tension emanating from him. Michael was usually so laid back he was almost horizontal, but today was different and it made him uneasy. Daniel knocked on the door and in contrast a bright and bubbly Cayne stood in the doorway, with the smell of breakfast lingering from behind her. Her bleached hair looked clean and fresh and even looked like she had make-up on.

‘You’re just in time, breakfast is nearly cooked.’ She moved to allow them inside and Michael hurried to take a seat. ‘How do you like your eggs?’

‘As they come,’ Michael answered roughly.

‘I don't mind,’ Daniel replied.

Cayne smiled as she skipped towards the kitchen where a hot frying pan was spitting out cooking fat. Daniel watched as she busied herself in the kitchen and every now and then he would hear a muffled curse as she burnt her fingers. His stomach grumbled at the cooking aroma and he had to admit it did smell good. It had been so long since he had eaten a full English breakfast and he was keen to get stuck in. But unease sat uncomfortably in his stomach and he knew food and knot would be fighting for space in there.

Soon full plates were in front of them and he waited only for Michael to say Grace, but he didn’t, instead just eating hungrily, almost devouring the plate with it. Cayne seemed just as hungry and he uneasily watched as she too ate ravenously. The room was filling with an electric tension. It felt much colder than he remembered and found the air was so thick it was difficult to breathe. He struggled to eat even though he was starved. The food felt too big for him to swallow and he chewed with effort, because he knew an empty plate could tip the uneasy balance. He tried in vain to start a conversation, but neither was interested and that made the atmosphere worse. Once his plate was finished, Cayne took them and placed them in the sink.

‘We are going to have to ask you more questions, especially about your bleedings,’ Daniel said finally.

Michael got to his feet and to his surprise Daniel watched as he stood beside Cayne and helped her wash up. Their bodies were touching subtly and he was sure that Cayne moved closer to him in almost flirtatious manner. Why would either of them flirt with the other? Unless...had Michael been in contact with Cayne without him? Surely, Michael would never do that and plus there was hardly time for such a bond to grow between them, but what did he know of relationships.

‘Cayne, did you hear me?’ he asked

Cayne turned away from the sink and he heard her sigh with annoyance. ‘I heard you. I just chose not to respond to you.’

‘Why don’t you just give him a break?’ Michael snapped.

Cayne twisted her body so she was turned to Michael’s, their faces almost touching.

‘He has to learn his place,’ she whispered.

The rain outside seemed to get louder and harder as it hammered on the windows and Daniel found himself shivering as his heart started to pound. He had no idea what he should do, he almost felt invisible to whatever both Cayne and Michael were acting out. He desperately wanted to get up and leave, but something held him in his chair.

‘He will only learn it if you teach him,’ Michael responded.

'You and I are what's important. He'll only get hurt. I can't do that.'

'You have no choice.'

'There's always a choice, my love,' Cayne uttered.

Daniel felt his heart leap at her words. Before he knew what was happening Cayne had taken Michael’s face in her hands and was kissing him gently. To his shock, Michael was responding. He watched as Michael’s hands ran over Cayne’s body and the dormant serpent of jealousy began to uncoil from inside Daniel’s stomach. This was new. He’d never known that serpent even existed and it was an evil feeling.

Getting to his feet, he realised that the temperature had dropped so low that he could see his breath. He had felt this only on one another occasion, a long time ago and its memory stirred unease in him. Instinctively, he reached into his pocket where he kept his crucifix. It had been a gift from his mother and it always made him feel safe. Michael had now lifted Cayne so she sat on the counter and were now pulling at each other’s clothes. Daniel’s hand gripped the crucifix tight, although deep down he knew it had no power, because he didn’t have the power. He was weak. He'd always been the weak one. Slowly he began to pull it from his pocket, but his hold was limp.

‘In the name of God, Michael, what are you doing?’ he pleaded.

At his words, Cayne’s head snapped round and he took a step back, her eyes had turned black and emotionless. She pushed Michael from on top of her and he slid to the floor. It was as though the fall woke something in him and Daniel saw Michael struggle to his feet with bewilderment on his face at his state of undress.

‘W−w−what’s going on?’ Michael asked.

Cayne pushed herself from the counter and walked towards where Daniel was standing.

‘What’s up priest? Do you want some of the action too?’

‘I am not interested in demons,’ Daniel hissed, taking a step back as Cayne moved forward.

‘You know nothing about devils, Priest. Your demons all have cunts,’ Cayne threw.

Daniel continued to step carefully backwards aware that he was getting closer to being cornered. He tried to negotiate his steps, but it seemed that Cayne was working him exactly where she wanted. The power emanating from her was intense and strong. She was the predator in this and the feeling of weakness was exemplifying. From behind Cayne, he could see that Michael was now on his feet and was edging carefully towards them both. He had no idea what Michael was planning to do, he just hoped whatever it was it would work.

However, his eyes gave him away and Cayne suddenly grabbed Michael throwing him with such ease, it was like watching a rag doll being chucked against the wall by spoilt child. Daniel, with his hand still on his crucifix finally tightened his grip and held it out towards her.

‘In the name of Jesus Christ...’

As the words left his mouth, he knew it was a mistake. There was blind fury in her face and he was suddenly scared. The room was now like a walk in freezer and the hair on his body was upright and shivers convulsed over his body.

‘How dare you,’ Cayne screamed.

'Cayne...' Daniel tried to reassure.

Going to the bookshelf, she pulled off a small red hard-backed book and it took a moment for him to realise what was in her hand.

'Cayne, please don't do that.'

'It's only a book Priest. No different to the erotic filth beside it,' Cayne mocked.

Michael was still slumped in the corner where thrown, Daniel knew he was on his own. Cayne flicked through the pages and read chapter and verse from the New Testament. The air was now so dense in the room that he could barely breathe. The power building was immense and terrifying. Daniel begged her to stop, but she continued until Daniel could feel tears pouring down his face. Was this what it was like being in the presence of real evil? The devil was there in front of him taunting him with something he loved. Suddenly, she stopped reading, the book open in her hands.

Daniel waited with baited breath. Hoping with every part of his being that this was over and Cayne would come back. Then with the smallest of grins, Cayne looked him in the eye and ripped the book in two. Shocked and sickened, Daniel felt the air leave his body. Not only was she desecrating his sacred book, but she was doing it with ease. It was as though the book she held was nothing more than two pieces of paper. Then in a flash she was upon him.

Both he and Cayne fell to the floor as she scratched at his face. He tried to fight back, but her strength surprised him and he found himself unable to stop her. She continued to scream at him that he knew nothing of gods and devils. Then, suddenly, it stopped and the air changed once more. Calmer, almost serene. Like that predawn moment before life starts to kick. How could it change so quickly? There was a smell of roses and lilies that filled the room as Cayne fell onto her knees before him. Her eyes returning to her normal brown and tears streaming down her face. She moved closer and everything stopped. If there were any doubt of the power within her than all that was gone, because he could feel it drawing him in and was powerless to stop it.

‘Save me Mary,’ she whispered and then slowly kissed him lightly.

He closed his eyes tasting the sweetness of her lips and felt changes within him that he had never experienced before. An electric pulse rippled through his body as sounds and smells circled him and took over his senses. Then, as soon as it started, it was over and opening his eyes, he saw Cayne collapsed onto the floor.

‘Now do you see why she needs to be in Rome,’ Daniel said, as Michael closed the bedroom door.

After recovering, Michael carried Cayne to her bed where she remained unconscious. Satisfied that she was comfortable and her pulse was strong, they now were left to think about what had just occurred. Michael had already explained that he had no idea of what had happened. his last memory was going to bed the previous night.

‘What did she mean “save me Mary”?’ Michael wondered.

‘Michael, are you listening?’ Daniel asked. ‘She was possessed by something, surely that proves that she is not a Christ.’

Michael lifted his head, his attention now caught. ‘Why does it, Daniel?’

Daniel frowned as the sharpness returned to his voice and he found his insides jump with unease.

‘Because why else would she try and seduce a priest? You said you had no idea what you were doing.’

‘Of course I had no idea, but you know as well as I do that demons are not the only things that possess. Whatever is inside Cayne is angry, not spiteful, and we need to find out what it wants. Also what did she mean by “save me Mary”?’

‘Her flatmate was called Mary,’ Daniel answered. ‘She ripped the bible too,’ he added.

Michael shrugged. ‘It proves nothing. I dropped one in the toilet once. Just fell right out of my pocket.’

A small smile formed on Daniel’s face. Michael did have a point, but still. He struggled to understand why Michael was still giving her the benefit of the doubt. To him, it was black and white. He had seen with his own eyes there had been evil in her eyes. He felt it too. But then that kiss. It had stirred something within him and he could not forget how it felt. It seemed so pure, yet he knew that Satan could make his deeds look like the work of God. He was not to be trusted.

Both men fell into a thoughtful silence. Even though Michael had no memory of what had happened the bruises on his body were making themselves known and he could see on Daniel’s face bruises were starting to emerge also. He knew what Daniel would be thinking, but he could not help what his own instincts were telling him and they were not to take Cayne at face value. She had far too many layers that could not be ignored. Cayne had opened herself up and it was down to him to listen.

He watched her face in the darkness as she slept.

He knew he must go join the others, but he also knew this would be the last night he would ever spend with her.

His heart was breaking as he pulled himself up from the floor where she laid.

She knew, as they all did, the sacrifice he had to make.

It was what his life had been leading to.

It was his destiny.

It had all been so simple, until she entered his life.

She was the reason it was all so complicated and more painful.

Before her, he had been so head strong and determined, but now he was having doubts.

When he had met her, he had been travelling with his companions and there she stood offering water and refreshment.

They had all stayed at one of the women’s homes and it was there she caused a stir.

On her knees, with her long dark hair loose around her shoulders, she washed his feet and then rubbed oil on them.

He had heard their whispers about how her hair must be covered and how dare she use something so precious as the oil on their master’s feet.

But he was enchanted by her and how the light danced on her ebony hair and he knew then he had been captured.

All night they had talked about their childhoods in Egypt and how she had hoped to become a high priestess of the goddess Isis, but had not been good enough.

In return he told her about his own family and how he used to help his father sell his wares in order to put food on the table.

By the end of the night and to his companions dismay he had begged her to stay with him and she agreed.

Simon, his closest friend had flown into a rage, calling her a corruptible whore and for the first time his own temper had risen.

He would not back down and not be told what to do by anyone.

They all had to learn.

And they all did and all grew to love her as he did.

Her smile and laughter was infectious.

But that laugh was no longer there and tonight all he saw was strain on her sleeping face.

Her ebony skin had lost its shine and looked more grey.

Earlier, while they ate, he had told them his plans and she had left quickly.

Now, he brushed his lips against her hair and groaned inwardly at her smell.

He did not want to leave her.

Goodnight my love,’ he whispered and left for the others.

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