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Chapter 3: The Meeting

The flashing neon sign screamed Belladonna into the night and it filled Daniel with a mixture of fear and dread as he looked up at it. Women of all shapes and sizes crowded near him as he waited in the long queue to get inside. Being around the female species was not something Daniel was comfortable with. His experience, or lack of it, had prevented him from forming any kind of relationship with them in the past. It wasn't that he didn't like women, he just had no idea how to engage with them, especially when some could be so forthright and pushy. That was part of the reason for his career choice. It was so much easier when hiding behind a collar, that way there were never any questions of why he had never settled down. Although, the collar could bring its own problems as it seemed a stronger aphrodisiac to the opposite sex. There had been situations where he’d been seen as a challenge, especially when it came to women of a certain age.

Here he had chosen to wear a normal outfit. He would just be asking for trouble if he wore the collar tonight. Every now and then a woman would scream out loud a name, causing others to cackle loudly and he found himself inwardly cringing at the sound. Although the night was below freezing many wore next to nothing, happy to show every bit of flesh they could in order to stand out from the crowd and attract any alpha males.

Slowly the queue began to move and before he knew it he was inside a new hell. He watched in horror at the mass of conjoined bodies that filled the room and it made him think of old artworks that portrayed the tortured souls of hell. It was like no one person had any self-control and all they cared about was self-gratification and indulgence.

Pushing his way through the masses, he found his way to the neon lit bar that glowed in oranges and blue. Bottle of various different concoctions lined the back mirrored wall with equally bright cardboard stars telling all that they could pay a pound for a shot of the latest poison. People serving, all wearing black polo shirts or vests, tried to keep up with the demands that were placed on them and it looked to him like they were mechanical robots who did not need to stop for breath.

‘Excuse me!’ he shouted at the young man nearest to him, but the he seemed only content to serve a group of pretty girls that propped up the bar. ‘Excuse me!’ he shouted again.

‘It’s alright Jamie you carry on. I’ll cover your lazy arse. What can I get you?’

For a moment Daniel stared open mouthed at the dark eyes that were staring back at him, waiting for his command. It was like he’d seen her before and for a moment he couldn’t think where. His insides did a double turn and it was an alien feeling. No girl had ever done that to him, but behind it was a little fear. An unknown fear. Her bleached hair, spiked at the back was held down at the front with a glittering clip and the light make up could not hide the dark circles beneath her eyes. The vest she wore showed more than he’d intended to see, but still he looked. He knew why such things were worn and he hated to admit that it probably worked. These poor girls would need the tips just to break even in places like this. But that was not why he was here and he now knew who stood before him. Gathering himself, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the photo and he saw her take a step back, her face paling.

‘Who are you? And where did you get that?’ she hissed, leaning in close.

‘I can’t talk here. Is there somewhere we can go?’ he asked.

The girl grabbed the picture from his grasp and looked at it before shoving it back at him, anger was now replacing fear.

‘I don’t know who you think I am, but I'm not her. You would do well to fuck off or I’ll call management and believe me you don’t want them on your case.’

‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to…’

‘Back off!’ she snapped.

Daniel stood as he watched her disappear round the back and mentally kicked himself for being so blunt. It was obvious she was not approachable and being the way he was did not help matters. Deciding he needed to rethink his strategy, he made his way back through the masses and gratefully drank in the cold crisp air outside.

His stomach rumbling reminded him he needed to eat and strolling towards a parked burger van he dared himself to eat whatever was on offer. Taking the polystyrene container filled with chips, he found himself a bench and sat down. Above his head he could just make out the stars and wondered how many who lived in this city actually took the time to look up or even open their eyes enough to see what was around them. So many people chose to plead ignorance, because it was easier then admitting there was a problem, but if the Church was right then what he was doing now was surely bringing the problem straight to everyone’s doorstep.

Getting to his feet, he stretched his legs and prepared to make his way back to the hotel at least there he could think a little clearer. Tossing the remains of the chips in the bin, he lifted his head and caught a small huddled figure crossing the road. As she raised her head from the comfort of her scarf he saw it was the girl. Waiting a moment, he followed her discreetly round the corner and after a few minutes of stalking, he watched as she ran inside a tall square building that looked once a grand Georgian house, but just looked old and neglected. He stood outside and weighed up his options. He didn’t have anything with him to prove who he was, but this hotel wasn’t far. Turning, he flagged down a taxi. He’d be there and back in no time and at least he could quickly change.

Cayne sighed as she closed the door behind her. She had managed to leave early claiming an upset stomach; however, the truth was she was shaken and had no idea why. Many guys had hit on her in the past, but this one had a photo and it was a recent one. In fact she remembered the day. She and Mary had been in the park discussing hair styles and it had been that day she said goodbye to her long dark locks. She now knew it had not been her imagination when she had felt watched. It was true, someone had been watching her and she now wanted to know why.

Quite frankly she didn’t need this shit either. Her day at work had started as a crap one. First of all Jamie and Colleen had arrived together but late, which meant she had to set up the bar on her own. She was in doubt the pair was sleeping together and that was just going to make shifts awkward. Jamie was a man-whore and things would soon turn bitter and Colleen would soon turn just as nasty. One good thing about the stranger it had meant she could leave them to it for the night.

Going to the window, she pulled the blind down and peeked out to the street below. There were just the usual loiterers, lit by the orange of the street light. It seemed she’d left him at the bar, hopefully he would have found a much easier target to hit on. What gave men the right to do that? And why the fucking picture? To her knowledge no one cared what she did. There was no family to try and trace her. She was alone. Unless it was a trick by Vince. A way to show her who was boss.

Grabbing the vodka bottle from the stand, she filled the glass tumbler with its clear liquid and downed the contents in one. She kicked off her shoes and made her way to the bed where, whilst laid, the poison began to work its way through her body.

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