Chapter 23: Half Truths and Poor Relations
Cayne handed Karl the chilled bottle of beer, before sitting opposite. They had tried the cafe, but the crowd and noise proved far too much, so Karl suggested that they went back to the flat. Now, sitting there alone, memories started to flood back.
They had met two years previously while they both worked The Belladonna and it was lust at first sight. In fact, after that very first shift they had connected down in the club’s cellar where she was supposed to show him how to check the barrels. Much more than the barrels got checked and thinking about it now made her smile. Their relationship had been a fiery and a passionate one that had seen its fair share of rows and the making up which followed. There had always been a desperate need to be with each other, but it had taken him leaving for her to realise that it was more of a physical need than anything else.
She could see the changes in him from the last time they were together. His once scruffy brown hair was cut short and tidy. Gone were his piercings and she hated to admit it but the suit looked good on him. Hell! He looked good anyway.
‘What are you doing now?’ she asked taking a mouthful of beer.
‘Went back home and my father sorted me out a job at his place.’
Cayne raised her eyebrows in surprise. ‘I thought you would rather die than work for your old man.’
Karl’s eyes left hers and looked at the floor as he shifted uncomfortably. ‘I had to rethink my priorities,’ he answered cryptically.
She wanted to push him, but really she didn’t want to know. She was just glad that he was here with her now despite what may or not be going on back home.
‘Sorry I left you,’ he said after a moment. ‘I just freaked when they said it was a miscarriage.’
‘It wasn’t. They got it wrong,’ she confessed.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ he snapped.
‘Because you left before I found out,’ she threw back.
There was a moment of tension, before Karl started to smile and Cayne found herself responding. It was just like the old days. With that smile he could charm anyone.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said turning serious. ‘I was an arse and you deserved better.’
Cayne grabbed her bottle, downed the contents, then went and got some more. She offered Karl another bottle, but he shook his head and told her he was driving. Shrugging, she opened her own and started to drink. She could not help but notice his eyes watching her every move and enjoyed the feeling his stare was having on her. The rejection she had received from Daniel had knocked her confidence and since Karl there had been no one. Her self-esteem as an attractive woman was slowing dying in front of her. Yet being with Karl now was reigniting that passion. He still fancied her. That was obvious.
‘I’ve missed you,’ he said suddenly.
‘We were good together,’ she admitted.
Karl got to his feet and then sat down beside her. With his eyes not leaving her he took the bottle from her and touched her face. The sensations of his touch sent pulses of electricity through her body. She turned to him and allowed him to kiss her.
‘We could try again,’ he murmured.
Since the day Mary died she had felt lonely and abandoned. In that moment in his arms, she felt she truly belonged to somebody, but those lips that travelled from her mouth to her neck were not Daniel’s they were Karl’s.
Her body stiffened and she heard him whisper that it was alright as he pushed her into the sofa. She wanted him to stop, but didn’t say so. As he pulled open her blouse she felt herself responding. She just wanted to be touched and comforted by somebody, anybody.
It seemed all Daniel had done since meeting Cayne was cry and now his body ached while standing in the shower. Finally, the warmth of the water had allowed him to let himself go and had broken down. He’d had enough and could not take the pain anymore. He wanted out one way or another he needed to get out of the hole he’d dug himself.
With his head resting on the cold wall tiles and the hot water spraying his back he willed the tears to stop. Watching Cayne leaving with Karl, he had felt torn, knowing exactly where they would end up. She needed comfort and who better than an old lover. Someone who was safe and knew what he was doing. Daniel could never be that comfort. That time had passed over.
Then, to add to his misery he attacked Michael. He had never hit anyone in his life, but Michael’s betrayal had pushed him over the edge. He could never forgive him for taking his place with Cayne. Not when Michael clearly knew his feelings. He knew then as he walked away from his old friend that could no longer live his life like this. If he wanted it to change then it was down to him to make those changes. But this decision was going to be the hardest he had ever had to make in his life.
Turning off the shower, he was all cried out and with it came the exhaustion. He struggled to grab a towel and wrap it around his body. He wanted to just sleep. Hide behind closed eyes and shut the world out, but his dream world was worse so that option was out. On his bed was his phone. He murmured a prayer to whoever was listening and then picked it up and started to dial.
Michael stepped into the darkness of Ben’s shop, surprised that the door was not locked. He called out Ben’s name, but there was silence. The shop always had a less than welcoming atmosphere, but today there was something different in the air. It was as though something had made its presence known and left. Daniel had many times likened Cayne's presence to evil, but in this shop he felt real evil and it made him shiver. He called Ben’s name once more as he moved further into the shop. The sound of chair scraping on the floor startled him and realised he had kicked it. Frowning, he wondered why it was there in the middle of the floor upside down. It was then that he heard a small groan coming from the back of the shop. Michael made his way past the bookshelves and found Ben slouched against the wall with his leg twisted and bleeding.
‘What the hell?’ Michael said kneeling at his side.
‘Michael, is that you,’ Ben gasped
Shock at seeing the state the old man was in held Michael momentarily. The old man’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and he seemed to be having trouble breathing. Reaching in his pocket, Michael pulled out his phone, but stopped as Ben gripped his arm tightly and shook his head frantically.
‘There is no time. I need you to get me upstairs,’ he wheezed.
‘You need to get to a hospital,’ Michael insisted, starting to dial 999.
‘My God, Michael, when will you learn to accept that you’re not always right? Now, get me upstairs.’
‘You’re in pain, why don’t you stop being a stubborn ass,’ Michael argued.
‘You can’t ring anybody. Please Michael, I beg you. Just take me upstairs,’ Ben pleaded.
‘What’s going on?’
Michael could see Ben was now shaking even more than before. There was pure fear behind his eyes. He put the phone away and struggled to help Ben to his feet who collapsed back onto the floor. He could see that Ben’s already weak legs were not going to carry his weight, so summoning all the strength he had, threw him over his shoulders and started to negotiate the rickety staircase to the flat upstairs. Once there, Michael lowered him onto the bed and rubbed his shoulder as it ached from the weight of the old man. In the light that the sun offered in the flat, Michael could truly see the state that Ben was in. His face was sickly, almost grey, and Michael desperately wanted to get him help. Ben demanded a glass of scotch, which Michael obliged, pouring himself one also.
‘I need the bible,’ Ben said, pointing to a large leather bound book. ‘Have you yours?’
Michael shook his head as he grabbed the book and placed it on the bed in front of Ben, the weight making the mattress sag.
‘Never mind,’ Ben answered, as he began to leaf through the pages.
Uneasy at the look in Ben’s eyes, Michael grabbed a chair and sat opposite. He had come here for answers, he’d just not expected to find what he had and it made him anxious. If he didn’t know better he would say that Ben had been attacked and not just randomly, but premeditated, and yet Ben did not seem too anxious talk about how he had come by his injuries.
‘I am going to test you now,’ Ben started almost too casually. ‘Tell me what you know about angels?’
Michael looked at him a little puzzled. It was not a question he had been expecting to be asked, especially after what he had seen today.
‘I know the usual, angel Gabriel bringing news of Mary’s impending pregnancy and, of course, Michael defeating Satan and let’s not forget the old favourite of the fallen angel Lucifer himself.’ He smiled. ‘Angel lore is not really my thing.’
‘Well it should be Michael,’ Ben snapped. ‘You know that the Book of Revelation was later added to the bible. I want you to read the passage about the beast.’
‘Come on Ben, I know this. I don’t need to read it,’ Michael sighed.
‘Just read it,’ Ben snapped.
Michael sighed deeply and lifted the book onto his lap and started to read the passage about the beast worshipped by the people and the rising of the second beast with only two horns. As he neared the end of the passage, the words of the students t-shirt came to mind, and so did the rest of the passage
‘Whoever is intelligent can work out the meaning of the number of the beast because the number stands for a human name is number is 666.’
He felt chills run up and down his spine.
‘Why are you showing me this?’ Michael mumbled as he fumbled in his pocket for the squashed packet of cigarettes. Taking them out he lit one and still his fingers shook. He took one drag, then stubbed it out and he saw surprise light up Ben’s face.
‘Because I think I know what part you play in all of this and you need to know so that you can fulfil your role as heaven's avenger.’
Michael got to his feet and started to pace.
‘Come on, Ben. Next you will be telling me that I'll start growing wings,’ he half laughed.
Ben shifted on the bed and closed the bible that Michael had placed back in front of him. He could see he had thrown him. Knocked the wind out the arrogant man’s sails and usually he would have revelled in his discomfort, but all he felt was sympathy.
‘Michael, I am not saying you’re an angel, for all I know they don’t exist. But you know as well as I do, the scriptures are down to interpretation, with an element of truth. At the end of the day, the position of heaven's protector and avenger was there and you seem to have taken it.’
‘I did swear to protect her,’ Michael barely whispered.
‘What?’ Ben asked, not quite hearing.
‘This morning, I told Cayne I would protect her, messiah or not,’ Michael said turning towards Ben. ‘It caused Daniel and I to argue.’
‘Is that where you got that?’ Ben asked pointing to Michael’s swollen lip.
‘Well on some unconscious level you knew what you had to do. Daniel, however, is in denial and that makes this situation dangerous.’
‘What is it between you and him anyway?’ Michael asked sitting back down.
Ben grabbed his glass and shook it at Michael. ‘I am going to need this filling first and I’ll tell you everything.’
‘Tell me who attacked you first?’ Michael asked getting to his feet.
‘It’s an old score and not as important as what I need to tell you. So hurry up and give me that drink.’
Trebey kicked the wooden stalls in fury inside The Magdalene church where he was supposed to meet Daniel. In his hand, he still held the phone that Daniel had rung him on. After all the effort made to get here, the stupid boy was going to ruin everything.
‘I take it he is not coming?’
Trebey turned to where the huge German sat with small smirk and fought the urge to wipe it from his face.
‘He says he has formally handed in his notice and going to take the girl where no one will ever find her.’
It was Henrick’s turn to feel uneasy. It seemed even after everything done to prevent Daniel and Cayne from being together, fate was finding away, which meant he would have to change his tactics also.
‘Well I’m not giving her up that easily,’ Trebey continued to rant. ‘If I have to, I will kill them both.’
‘Why would you do that? The boy is hardly a threat,’ Henrick answered.
‘Because my foreign friend, I have seen an old friend called Ben Shaw and he has told me everything. Let’s just say if I had known who I had working beneath me then I would have dealt with Daniel long ago.’
Henrick swallowed hard as he maintained his composure. Trebey stormed off leaving him alone in the cold church. He quickly dialled Ben’s number, but only reached a dead tone. Cursing, he placed the phone in his pocket as he took in his surroundings, just to maintain composure. He couldn’t panic. He mustn’t panic.
From childhood, he had been told stories of his heritage and how his late ancestors had been the protectors of the royal family in Egypt. The Pharaoh was Osiris and his human queen Isis. Since then his family had protected and guided the royal bloodline and every Christ, right down to protecting Mary Magdalene as she fled back home after her lover’s death. His family had sat back and watched as one of the Christ’s followers built a Church with its foundation on gold and riches, while they lived modestly. Henrick hated what had become of that church. It was not what Jesus would have wanted. The true man fought his own demons and his own faith was pushed brutally, especially through puberty.
When he and his brothers had found out the time was to come again for the bloodline to be replenished, they had all worked hard to throw the Church off the scent. They too had followed the young French girl called Marie and it had been his wife who had befriended the family as Marie’s midwife. He and his wife stole the two babies as the girl lay dead on the labour bed. There was not even time to mourn the poor young girl, who’d given her life for her children. Even as he held the baby girl in his arms and his wife, the boy, he knew they would never see each other again. He was right. No sooner had she handed the boy to his new family she had been killed by a drunk driver, although he often wondered if other forces took her from him.
He had tried to hide his grief as he took the baby girl to her new home. Francesca and William King were teachers and part of a pagan order, chosen for their alternative beliefs and their desperation for a child. Months had been spent finding the right families and all they knew about their new daughter was that they should expect some changes once she reached puberty and to contact him once she reached sixteen. But that was not to be, as he soon found out Cayne had run away soon after her parents death.
He could have tried harder to trace her. In hindsight, he should have, but his attention had been diverted. He was needed elsewhere and he figured the girl could wait. Now those decisions were coming back to haunt him. If she’d been in his care from the start then he wouldn’t be standing here with that damn Cardinal desperately trying to save lives without being noticed.